30 July 2005

The path to fascism

Cut to the Chase mentions an important article that recently appeared in the Star Tribune. It appears that the FBI has been building massive files on Greenpeace, the American Civil Liberties Union and other law-abiding critics of administration policy. The FBI has declined to state its reasons for gathering some 3,500 pages of documents and when asked to provide copies, says that it would take too long (evidently, DC has yet to get a Kinkos).

So why should we care?

For one thing, this subversion of government entities for purely political ends is one of the first steps on the road to fascism. The Bush administration has started us down this road in a number of ways: (1) the subversion of the CIA's mission to serve administration ends, to include creating small working groups within the CIA to tailor intelligence; (2) the use of the FBI to monitor, infiltrate, and intimidate protestors and administration opponents--even when these groups are small and peaceful; (3) the creation of vague legal loopholes and precedents that undermine domestic and international law and make it possible for the president to rule by fiat--for example, the open-ended "war on terror" which eliminates Constitutional limits on the president's power to make war and the ability to arrest "enemy combatants" which makes it possible for the president and his agents to arrest anybody anywhere in the world without providing justification or a trial; (4) the use of obvious deception accompanied by a wink, which the rightwing goes along with under the assumption that these lies are essential to a robust foreign policy that would otherwise be easily thwarted by liberal passivity; (5) use of pre-emption as a standard policy with the Orwellian rhetoric of offensive military campaigns actually being defensive; (6) a rhetoric that stresses fascist notions of patriotism, exceptionalism, morality, and revenge against "barbaric" acts over the notions of legality, fairness, and due process (concepts that form the basis for democracy).

One aspect of Nazism's history that should be kept in mind by the rightwing (as well as those working in the FBI, CIA, U.S. military, and so on) is that the early supporters of Hitler (even the Wermacht itself) were ultimately undermined by the Nazi regime. (Everyone should read a copy of Bessel's Nazism and War.) We should never assume that it can't happen here. The men in brown shirts (people like Tancredo, Bush, and Cheney) are always waiting in the wings until the next terrorist attack or other event provides an opportunity.

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