August 16, 2009 – As if that’s really news.
By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond
I really don’t enjoy writing about negative topics (I was once called “Mr. Negative” for foreseeing the present economic malaise; another time I was called “Mr. Complainer” for asking a bartender in an Irish pub to put a larger head on my next Guinness), but I just ran across a stunning, damning report that I regard as compelling evidence that the U.S. is a fascist country.
First of all, what do I mean by fascist? The word is fecklessly thrown about these days to describe anyone or any organization that’s overly authoritarian, which is not to imply that the U.S. is not authoritarian, even totalitarian as well as fascist. In fact, I believe that fascism can only exist within an authoritarian climate that inevitably devolves into a totalitarian one. I use Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism:
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. – Benito Mussolini
For decades we’ve been regaled with the mythology that the U.S. economy is based on small businesses, that small businesses are the engine of job creation. (I confess that until I read this report, I believed that myth too.) At the same time, it’s been increasingly evident, even to a blind person, that the liaisons between the state and the corporations are strengthening, and that their combined interests are increasingly contrary to those of the people. The report to which I refer above soundly lays to rest the fiction of a U.S. economy based on small businesses. A single chart pilfered from the report and shown below succinctly summarizes the findings in the report.
Similar charts depicting the data for smaller businesses run by self-employed individuals and larger businesses with up to 500 employees are more or less the same, showing the U.S. at or near the bottom of the list of countries surveyed. What these charts indicate is that, contrary to the myth we’ve been fed for so long, employment in this country is dominated by large firms and corporations. In addition, it’s been known for some time, again, contrary to the mythology commonly presented, that the U.S. offers among the lowest class mobility among these same nations. In other words, contrary to commonly held beliefs, the notion of a person in the U.S. working hard and making a “success” of their self is more fantasy than reality, limited to a very small minority of the population. The rest are firmly locked into their station in life on a perpetually spinning hamster wheel. Finally, income disparities today are worse than ever in U.S. history and worse than anywhere else in the world. While I have not researched the facts behind the growing income disparity, I suspect it has much to do with the systematic elimination of small businesses, including family farms, and the consolidation of smaller firms into larger ones that are “too big to fail,” not to mention outsourcing (a practice only large corporations engage in).
What bearing does the make-up of the U.S. employment picture have on the U.S. being a fascist country? For one thing, fascism is almost inconceivable in a nation comprised of myriad small firms. It’s only feasible in a nation dominated by a few large companies, such as the half dozen or so companies that control nearly every form of “mainstream media” in this country, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, music, films and videos. Think about it: six or so individual CEOs effectively dominate the full spectrum of information that’s disseminated in this country, the internet standing out as an exception for the time being, although it’s under dire threat. In such an environment dominated by a handful of huge corporations, a government interested in controlling the message received by the populace (e.g. “catapult the propaganda”) need only make such arrangements with a handful of individuals. If, instead, the media market in this country were distributed among hundreds of companies, the government would face a much greater challenge getting all those companies, headed by diverse and individualistic personalities, to sing its tune. This is the basis upon which bloggers are being demonized today. They represent precisely this sort of diverse, uncontrollable information outlet that rankles the fascist establishment.
Besides the handful of corporations that control the media in the U.S., there are a handful that control the banking system, another handful that control the energy system, another handful that control the food system, another that control the retail system and another that control the health care system. Literally a few dozen corporate CEOs control the bulk of commerce in this country.
Fascism is clearly on display in the “health care reform” bill moving through the digestive tract of Congress. Since fascism is a symbiotic relationship between government and corporations, each must benefit from the arrangement, although usually not in the same manner. The government will get from the new law what it covets the most, which is power: among other things, to decide what health care people will receive, how much they will pay, perhaps even when and how they will die. Corporations will get what they covet the most, which is money.
It’s quite clear that the health insurance companies had a hand in crafting this proposed new law, and no wonder, for the law mandates millions of new “customers,” forced literally under threat of violence from the government to purchase health insurance. Forced participation is simply the next logical step after government-protected monopolies have run their course and no more customers are willing to purchase a company’s product or service.
Pharmaceutical firms evidently had their hands on the nascent bill as well, an assertion which seems to be supported by a memo exposed on the liberal Huffington Post, which one might have assumed would be an avid supporter of this ostensibly socialist bill. The memo indicates that the bill demands trivial, vague and ultimately unenforceable concessions from pharmaceutical firms while prohibiting the government from taking any action to reduce the cost of drugs it purchases with our tax dollars. It’s a perfect example of the fascist symbiosis at work: the government gains the power to dictate what drugs people have access to, and the corporations enjoy unimpaired profits.
Another example of fascism in action is the so-called prison-industrial complex, in which what are effectively slave laborers toil away in prisons run for profit, manufacturing goods or performing services to the profit of other corporations. The government gains increased power to imprison people at will, even for picayune reasons such as “three strikes” laws or petty drug use, while corporations profit from building prisons, operating them and exploiting the labor of those incarcerated, no doubt kicking back a not insignificant portion of their profits to politicians in the government in order to keep this system going. (These kickbacks take the form of “legitimate” campaign contributions, financial conflicts of interest and probably illegal bribes.) The truly sick part of this system is the complicity of people seeking jobs at these prisons, who apparently have no moral compass telling them that locking up their peers in order to earn a living is wrong. In addition, perhaps because of the deteriorating economic situation, I hear more and more intelligent people advocating harsh treatment of prisoners, never even considering the possibility that some of those people don’t even belong in prison in the first place. Why, just yesterday one person I know made the appalling declaration that people in prison should be put on a boat with holes drilled in it and sent out to sea. Such attitudes are indicative of fundamentally authoritarian personalities, people who harbor an innate fondness for authoritarian government, utterly incognizant of our heritage of physical and intellectual liberty and due process. I’ve come to the conclusion that these people who support the prison-industrial complex have been successfully brainwashed by the government and its fascist allies, particularly those in the media. (The person who made the appalling suggestion above is an avid watcher of the TV show COPS.)
Finally, there are all those proliferating automatic red light and speeding cameras operated by private companies that share revenue with the governments that authorize their installation. Again, government gains control over the people, while corporations profit.
As I’ve stated in past essays and in many comments I’ve littered all over the internet, I believe there’s a small percentage of people – say 5%, for a nice, round number – who are natural born psychopaths. The simplest definition of a psychopath, as I use the term, is one who lacks a conscience. That is to say, a psychopath is one who logically looks after his or her own needs, irrespective of the harm they cause to others. They are utterly incapable of empathizing with their potential victims and thus mediating their behavior to minimize such harm. All that matters to the psychopath is his or her own well-being.
Does that attitude sound familiar? Doesn’t it sound like the attitude displayed by so many corporate executives and politicians? It ought to, because I believe – and this may sound outrageous – that the vast majority of politicians and corporate executives are psychopaths. Our system, not just our economic system, but our entire hierarchical civilization itself is geared toward psychopaths. Nice people simply do not rise to the top of the economic or political systems; only cold, calculating, dissembling, ruthless, remorseless people do, that is, psychopaths. And the higher up the hierarchy one rises, the more likely they are to be a psychopath.
So we have at least two parallel systems – politics and business – for which psychopaths are ideally endowed. It should not be at all surprising that the psychopaths running each system have a natural affinity for one another, as well as a compatibility of ideals and methodologies, thus facilitating the establishment of fascist relationships. (For two interesting essays on this subject, see Word gets around: Twilight and the trick of the psychopaths and Truth to Power: Psychopaths Rule Our World.)
What is the solution to fascism? We’re presently on the same course as the most famous case of fascism, Nazi Germany, which is that of self destruction. Given enough time – not much more, in my opinion – we will self destruct, economically, militarily, morally. Self destruction, however, is not the most pleasant way to arrest this cancer.
The simplest solution to fascism, and the one most repugnant to politicians and corporations (gee, I wonder why) is to eliminate all private political campaign contributions. Such campaigns should be financed entirely by the taxpayers, which will make the elected politicians beholden to the voters, not the corporate lobbyists. The U.S. Supreme Court – not exactly an impartial body, for as a branch of the government it’s implicitly part of the fascist system too – has absurdly ruled that corporations are “people,” entitled to all the protections afforded by the Constitution, including the right of free speech. The same court has also ruled that campaign contributions are a form of free speech. One can immediately connect the two rulings to understand the problem we face today: the wealthiest entities control the political system, while the rest of us who vote are irrelevant. To some extent I agree that campaign contributions are a form of free speech, but the harm caused by this practice is so demonstrably egregious that it must be stopped, even at the expense of the corporations’ free speech. (Frankly, I disagree with the Supreme Court: corporations are not people, and I would not shed a tear if they lost their “right” of free speech.)
A second solution to fascism, which doesn’t violate today’s ridiculous election rules, but does require a more activist, engaged populace, is to prevent psychopaths from getting into positions of power in the first place. Most people simply cannot accept that one in twenty of their peers has no conscience. Most people, myself included, want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are decent, moral people, like themselves. And for 95% of people, that’s a safe assumption, but to make the mistake of assuming that all people are like that is to bury one’s head in the sand. The fact is, and it’s been amply demonstrated, that there is a small percentage of people who would literally sell their own mothers if they could profit from it, and these people are natural aspirants in the realms of business, politics and the military. If we can get “normal” people to accept that fact, they can be more wary of those they elect to office, making at least a modicum of effort to prevent psychopaths from getting into office. Fascism is a two way street requiring the cooperation of two bodies: business and government. While we cannot control who rises to the top of the business world – unless we want to appoint a dictator to supervise corporations’ leadership and executive compensation – we can control who rises to the top of the political world, and those people are in a position to not only shun fascist ties to corporations, but regulate corporations for the benefit of the country as a whole.
A third solution, which I have long advocated and is both voluntary and non-violent, but which requires the greatest change and effort of all, is to decentralize our civilization, restructuring it into a network of small, semi-autonomous communities. Small communities, small businesses, small political systems are incompatible with fascism, and if communities are small enough – unfortunately, they have to be as small as one-hundred inhabitants – even psychopaths cannot thrive. In my reading about psychopaths I’ve learned that above all, they fear discovery, that is, until they attain a powerful enough position that they no longer care if they are discovered. In small communities where everybody else knows them, psychopaths simply cannot conceal their actions or their personalities.
Sadly, I doubt there will be much change in the status quo. One need only look at ten-thousand years of human history to see this same pattern repeated ad infinitum: civilization being established, thriving for a while, devolving into despotism and self destructing. Rinse and repeat. Maybe I should just have another Guinness.
This essay helps make my case that our business climate is geared toward large businesses and against small businesses. A key quotation from the essay reads,
Though most will deny it, I suspect there is a deeply seated anti-small business value system now at work in the U.S. While large corporations are wined and dined with huge tax credits--please come to our state, we'll pay you millions to move!--small business is left to shift for itself, receiving nothing but pandering PR about how "we value small business" served up with ever-higher taxes and regulatory burdens.
Yep, that about sums up the business climate in the U.S.
This video is delicious and disgusting at the same time (is that even possible?). What’s disgusting is that Mr Obama criticized Mr. Bush’s sweetheart deal with big pharma in the Medicare drug benefit legislation a few years ago, and then did exactly the same thing! What’s delicious about this video is that it’s the product of “progressives,” who are apparently beginning to see the light about the “messiah.”
Wow! Here is a passionate indictment of the U.S. fascist system by the esteemed Paul Craig Roberts, titled Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs.
Well, here’s a “duh” moment if I ever heard one:
On September 16, Dan Rather, the former anchor of the CBS Evening News, warned that today’s news is shaped by very powerful corporate network owners who “are in bed with powerful political interests” that are influenced by government regulatory interests. (Source: Former CBS anchorman warns of corporate influence over news)
Nevertheless, coming from an “insider,” this is a compelling observation. I wonder why it is, however, that all these ex-insiders see fit to spill the beans after they cease to be insiders. I suppose the obvious answer is that they have too much to lose while they are insiders. Perhaps a more charitable explanation is that they just don’t see the corruption when they’re immersed in it.