Can we call it "fascism" now?

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In a few decades, when the political history of the early 21st century is written, historians of American politics will try to work out how the Republican Party began and completed its slide from a "business-friendly" conservative party to one that  wound up espousing blatantly fascist ideologies.

The "objective" press dare not call it fascism, for fear that they would be labeled with that most damning of epithets: "liberal". And the word itself—"fascist"—has been thrown around by those on the right to describe anyone to the left of them so frequently and with such vehemence that its meaning has been confused in the public's mind. When Jonah Goldberg can write a book entitled Liberal Fascism, and have it taken seriously in the parlors of the Right, it's a difficult task to resurrect the word's true and dark power.

It doesn't take much research or in-depth analysis to see that today's GOP has in fact descended into a fascist pathology. And in doing so is laying, or attempting to lay, the necessary infrastructure for a fascist re-ordering of the Republic.

Republicans have adopted a blind nationalism that brooks no criticism of US actions, either in the current state or in history. Consider Pat Buchanan's statement about slavery:
America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
While Buchanan is known for saying whatever is on his mind with no thought to the consequences, he does speak a Republican truth: there is no horror of US history that cannot be explained away as something which was actually good. African Americans and Native Americans should be glad for what happened to them: they were civilized, Christianized, and suckled at the teat of European largesse. This inability to admit that the nation has ever done wrong is a sign of fascism.

In a democratic republic, it is an axiom that the military is subservient to civilian control. Military leaders should be respected as experts in their field of competence; but, in the end, policy is set by civilians. Republicans, however, have turned the military into a totemic fetish, saying that civilian policymakers should defer to military advice, rather than look at military opinion as one of many considerations. This elevation of the military leads to a bloated military budget, which serves Republicans as defense contractors are major donors to the party. The exaltation of the military as the best and truest representative of the nation is a sign of fascism.

After the Tea Party victories in 2010, anti-labor bills were introduced in state houses across the country. Labor, obviously, is a major ally of the Democratic Party. Anything that could be done to decrease its power would serve Republicans to the good. But the assault against labor didn't start in 2010; it's been going on in earnest since the air traffic controller's strike in Ronald Reagan's first term, where the government broke the union; that event was a signal to private industry that they, too, could go on a frontal assault against labor unions. The past 30 years have seen laws and regulations that limited unions' ability to organize workplaces and use union dues for political activity. Suppression of labor rights is a sign of fascism.

Of course, the corollary to the GOP's anti-union holy war is its total enthrallment to corporate power. Therein lie the roots of its slide towards outright fascism. Corporations saw the Republicans—already business-friendly—as the perfect vehicle to forward a more radical view of private corporate power. From Mitt Romney's "corporations are people" to the Paul Ryan budget which slashes domestic spending for the middle class and poor while giving exorbitant tax breaks to corporations and the rich, the GOP serves primarily as the handmaiden to corporate power. The other aspects of fascism are there: the nationalism, the sexism, the scapegoating of the "Other", the attempt to control elections. All of these are major aspects of the fascist program, but all serve as fuel for the engine of corporate control. Without the corporate money that greases Republican politics, the GOP might still be a relatively responsible conservative party. But the corporatists, the segregationists, and the social conservatives saw the crack-up of the Democrats in the 1960s as their opportunity to take over a political party, and they seized it.

Fascism is a counter-revolution to modernity. The social conservatives who provide the shock troops for the GOP will not benefit from the party's economic policies; often they are as economically disadvantaged, if not more so, than traditional Democratic constituencies. But their blind hatred to the modern world gives corporate power the soldiers it needs to attempt to implement its program. It is this confluence of corporate power and social fear that has sped the GOP's descent into a far-right party. It is also this confluence which will doom it both in the near and long term.

Numbers don't lie. The GOP base is shrinking, while the Democratic base grows. As the GOP primaries wear on, independents are becoming disillusioned and frightened by the Republicans. The favorability of the Democratic Party keeps going up, while the GOP's craters. Voters are becoming increasingly aware that there is one party that wants to govern for the benefit of the majority of people, and one party that is the political wing of the rich and the intolerant. The GOP will always pull a base of 27%; it becomes increasingly difficult to see how they go much beyond those numbers in the coming years.

Meanwhile, President Obama lays out just how far gone the Republican Party is here:

Notice the terms: "far right" and "radical". That is the essence of fascism. It's time to call the GOP for what it is.

Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.

The new savagery

Sweet Irony and the Genius of Obamanomics: High Gas Prices Drive Auto Sales to New Heights