The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism
Posted April 7, 2003 thepeoplesvoice.org
by Dr. Lawrence Britt
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism — Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. Have you EVER seen as many American flags as have been flying in the last few years?
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights — Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. Hmm. Guantanamo Bay, anyone?
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause — The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. You mean like terrorists and Islamic bogeymen?
4. Supremacy of the Military — Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. I don’t actually think the enlisted members of our military are being treated well at all. Bush likes to wave them around and pose in flight suits, though. And he REALLY doesn’t like people poking at his (lack of) service in the National Guard to avoid going to Vietnam.
5. Rampant Sexism — The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. Well that’s fairly easy to see, isn’t it. Attempts to undo Roe vs. Wade, the whole “sanctity of marriage” BS and talk of a constitutional amendment to define marriage.
6. Controlled Mass Media — Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. I think we’re doing relatively well on this front — so far. The RNC is warning stations not to show the MoveOn.org commercials. The mainstream media completely ignored the betrayal of Valerie Plame when the information first came out, and continued to do so until it was absolutely impossible to not talk about it.
7. Obsession with National Security — Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. There is that Patriot Act still in force, isn’t there?
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined — Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. Well, yes, the radical right is way too invested in BushCo and has way too much influence there.
9. Corporate Power is Protected — The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. You don’t have to look far for that one.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed — Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. Now who was that calling the NEA terrorists? I’m not a fan of theirs, but that was way out of line.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts — Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. Right now, people who disagree are “unpatriotic.” I’ll be more worried about this one is Bush is re-elected.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment — Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. Like the FBI?
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption — Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections — Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. You mean like the flawed Florida election in 2000? I wonder how much more went on that we don’t know about.