My personal schedule has not allowed much time for blogging. More than that: My heart isn't in it.
This country may be gearing up to make an Iraq-sized historic mistake
, vis-a-vis Russia and Ukraine. What to do, what to do?
Whenever we face an "historical error" moment, a flight-or-fight response takes over: Either I spend every spare second trying to help right the course, or I retreat off into a corner to watch old Humphrey Bogart movies.
At this time, what sane person wouldn't
rather be watching Bogie than watching the news? Obama has never been quite so infuriating
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” Obama said, speaking at the White House. “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing.”
We just engineered a coup against a democratically elected government
! We backed neo-Nazi thugs
! By what right does Obama speak of sovereignty
If Russia had paid Mexican rebels billions of dollars to overthrow the Mexican government, you bet your ass
DC would send troops down south.
Meanwhile, John Kerry says the elections don't insure democracy
. At first, I thought his statement was exasperating, but on deeper reflection, I can't really disagree. After all, we have elections in this country -- but do we have true democracy?
If we had a true democracy, whistleblower organizations would not be reporting mysterious break-ins
The majority of the American people don't want the NSA and the CIA to be doing the kinds of things we now know they are doing, such as practicing psy-war on the American people (as detailed a few posts down). Democracy and psy-war are incompatible.
Do you honestly think that the majority of the American people want the government to eavesdrop on our Yahoo webcam conversations
? True, the afore-linked article references eavesdropping by the UK's GCHQ, but everyone knows that GCHQ and NSA work closely together.
In 2009, polls indicated that a bare majority of the American people backed a Canada-style single-payer health system, yet that idea was not even considered in the health care discussions. Isn't democracy supposed to have something to do with the will of the majority?
Those are just four examples which indicate that John Kerry may well be right in ways that he did not intend. He wasn't talking about our own country, but he might as well have. In America, we have elections, but elections don't guarantee democracy.
Come to think of it: If we had a true
democracy (instead of a "Diebold democracy"), then John Kerry probably would have been elected president in 2004.
Perhaps this writer
has it right: Our compromised democracy may be sliding toward fascism without totalitarianism
As my title implies, I do not regard fascism and totalitarianism as synonyms. The proper way to view matters is that a very pernicious form of fascism (and of course, the word fascism implies it's pernicious) can exist without totalitarian control; if totalitarianism implies near-total government control over people's lives, it strikes me that government can do a particular sort of grievous harm to its subject population--harm that fully merits the term fascism-- while still falling short of totalitarian dominance. Perhaps the best way of viewing this is that fascism inevitably tends in a totalitarian direction (because excessive power, by a well-documented psychological dynamic, always strives to tighten its grip, often to the point of overreach), but it can often achieve its toxic purposes--and arguably, achieve them more effectively--without any need for total control.
Before giving needed historical justification for my applying the F-word to current circumstances, I wish to pinpoint two practical implications of the fascism-totalitarianism distinction: one alarming and the other quite hopeful. The alarming part is that fascism can fool a nation's people and have them deeply in its grip before they've even noticed--largely because they've confused fascism with totalitarianism, and falsely conclude they're fascism-free because daily life isn't (yet) totally under their government's thumb. The hopeful part is that because fascism can exist for some time without totalitarianism, people can (if sufficiently awakened) still retain enough freedom to fight back and reverse their nation's fascist course. I think ALL these characteristics--except, scarily, the sufficient awakening--exist in today's United States.
So fascism is essentially a cancer on democracy, and would not exist without its modern democratic host. Which brings us to the quintessentially modern means by which the fascist spreads: mass propaganda, as enabled by modern communications media.
It's in its absolutely central reliance on mass propaganda that fascism proves its incestuously close relationship with democracy, for a weakened democratic body is the only kind fascism's cancer can grow in. (Not that there aren't truly awful regimes that were never in any sense democratic; my point is that they're simply not fascist.) So far from true is Americans' smug assurance "It can't happen here" that one with far greater justice identifies ours as exactly the sort of society where, if democracy fatally weakens, the cancer of fascism can thrive. Our long brainwashing by electronic media advertising has in many ways been our grade school for graduation to fascism, and it's especially sobering to realize that Goebbels learned much of his satanic bag of tricks from American advertisers.
Quite simply, it's too potentially dangerous--and too disreputably messy--to control large modern populations (especially ones that believe in democracy) by force, so mind control through mass propaganda (and its Siamese twin, censorship) has become the preferred modern means of tyranny. Since fascism is the modern version of tyranny, mind control through mass propaganda, transmitted by modern electronic media, is an essential defining characteristic of fascism. Not that sheer force is outmoded; quite the contrary, it's essential to fascism. But force against the domestic population, when not applied to official scapegoats (see below) is reserved almost exclusively for dissidents uncontrollable by propaganda.
I've already quoted too much; the entire piece is thought-provoking and definitely will reward study. The point is made: If John Kerry and Barack Obama want to argue that elections do not guarantee democracy, then why are they interfering with Ukrainian politics? In our own country, elections may soon become nothing more than the attractive package that fascism comes in.