Fascism uses violence, repression and control to maintain power; Liberal democracies protect the rights of the people “only so long as they comply with capitalism.”
No 2688 Posted by fw, November 30, 2020
Margaret Flowers, Co-Director of Popular Resistance, National Coordinator of the Health Over Profit for Everyone campaign, and Co-chair of the Green Party US.
For those who prefer a quick read, here is my summary of Margaret Flowers’ article on liberalism and fascism in America. My slightly edited repost of her piece appears below, along with a video and links to four articles by Gabriel Rockhill, Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. Rockhill names names of U.S. persons and organizations associated with the rise of fascism in Germany and America.
Liberalism and fascism are partners in U.S. capitalism crime – A Summary
To understand contemporary America, you must look beyond the Biden-Trump spectacle. Contrary to dominant ideology, liberalism and fascism are “partners in capitalism crime”, says Prof Gabriel Rockhill. To move away from fascism requires a mass popular movement working to create system change. Both liberalism and fascism are forms of governance that serve to protect capitalism. Settlers’ communal practices existed prior to the founding of the US. America’s 1776 founding Constitution was written to prevent participatory democracy and establish corporate rights over human rights. The reality is that both liberalism and fascism can and do exist together in the same country. Fascism uses violence, repression and control to maintain power. Liberal democracies protect the rights of the people “only so long as they comply with capitalism.”
In reality, liberal democracies serve the interests of the few while exploiting the many. On paper, liberal democracies look good. In practice, a rigged system prevents full participation in the so-called “liberal democracy.” Recent U.S. laws allow mass surveillance and restriction on human rights. Studies show Congress represent the interests of wealthy elites and fail to protect human rights.
Our foes are not Trump and Biden but the system and institutions they represent. Two paths to victory – build a culture of resistance or a culture of non-cooperation. Trump is open about what he is doing. In contrast, the 2008-2012 Obama-Biden administrations managed to deceive the public into believing it was doing one thing, while actually doing another. Consider, for example, how the Obama-Biden administration deceived the public into believing its “public option” would lead to “Medicare for All.” Will a Biden-Harris administration similarly hoodwink and divide progressives?
People power can only win by quickly building organizations and mobilizing the masses.
Below is my edited repost of Margaret Flowers’ article with added subheadings, highlighted text, some reformatting, added links, and images. In addition, at the bottom is an embedded highly recommended, 29-minute video of a conversation between Chris Hedges and Gabriel Rockhill, plus links to four recent, excellent articles by Rockhill on liberalism and fascism, past and present.
To read Margaret’s original article, published on the Dissident Voice website, click on the following linked title.
To understand contemporary America, progressives must look beyond the Biden-Trump spectacle
Last week, I wrote about what is needed in this moment and urged people to look more deeply, beyond the Biden-Trump spectacle, to understand where we are as a country and what we must do to change course.
Contrary to dominant ideology, liberalism and fascism are “partners in capitalism crime”, says Prof Gabriel Rockhill
I cited the work of Gabriel Rockhill. Read his three recent articles in Counterpunch and the fourth in the series here at Black Agenda Report for an enhanced understanding of how we got here and what we are up against. This week, I delve more deeply into the question of where we are and what Rockhill means when he writes that “…liberalism and fascism, contrary to what the dominant ideology maintains, are not opposites. They are partners in capitalist crime.”
The path away from fascism is a mass popular movement working to create system change
What it all points to is that the path away from fascism to a future that respects human rights and protects the planet requires a mass movement working to create systemic change.
Liberalism and Fascism
Both liberalism and fascism are forms of governance that serve to protect capitalism
Liberalism, meaning liberal democracy, and fascism, which can become authoritarian but this isn’t a requirement, are forms of governance that both exist and serve to protect capitalism.
Early settlers’ communal practices existed prior to the founding of the US
John Curl, in “For All the People,” explains that prior to the founding of the United States, a real democracy movement of collectives, cooperatives and communalism existed, established by the settlers out of necessity. Of course, indigenous peoples have used these democratic structures throughout time.
America’s 1776 founding Constitution was written to prevent participatory democracy and establish corporate rights over human rights
The settlers’ communal practices threatened the oligarchs, the major land and slave owners, because the people had real power that couldn’t be controlled by the colonial governments. Thus, the founding Constitution, which exists today, was written to prevent participatory democracy and to establish property rights, and later corporate rights, over human rights. In 1776, the capitalist state was born.
The reality is that both liberalism and fascism can and do exist together in the same country
Both liberalism and fascism can and do exist at the same time for different populations in the same country. In a liberal democracy, a mostly western institution, elections are held and those who hold power are supposed to represent the interests of the people and protect their rights.
Fascism uses violence, repression and control to maintain power
Fascism can take different forms in different circumstances, but it uses violence, repression and control to maintain power.
Liberal democracies protect the rights of the people “only so long as they comply with capitalism”
Rockhill explains … that liberal democracies give the illusion of protecting the rights of people, but they only do so as long as the people are compliant with the capitalist system.
In reality, liberal democracies serve the interests of the few while exploiting the many
In reality, the system serves the interests of the few while exploiting the working class and poor and degrading the planet. This is what we refer to in the Popular Resistance School as the “official policy,” what we are told something does — versus the “operative policy,” what it actually does.
On paper, liberal democracies look good
In theory, in liberal democracies,
+ people can choose to participate in governance through elections where different perspectives are represented and compete for power.
+ There are checks and balances, including the rule of law, that prevent the ruling class from trampling on the people’s rights.
That sounds good.
In practice, however, a rigged system prevents full participation in the so-called “liberal democracy”
In practice, in the United States,
Recent U.S. laws allow mass surveillance and restriction on human rights
For the past few decades, using executive orders and laws like the Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001, the power of the presidency has grown. Congress, through legislation such as the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, allows mass surveillance of the population and restrictions on our rights to due process.
Studies show Congress represent the interests of wealthy elites and fail to protect human rights
Studies show that Congress represents the interests of the wealthy elites and polls find the approval rating for Congress is extremely low, currently at only 17%. This couldn’t be more evident when looking at Congress’ current failure to protect the health and economic security of the people during a time of multiple serious crises while the wealthy have amassed more riches.
How fascism violently suppresses people
+ Fascism uses state actors, law enforcement and the military, and non-state actors, vigilantes and civil society groups, to violently suppress people.
+ This can be blatant violence such as is occurring against black and brown people and those who support their struggle
+ or it can be the structural violence of gentrification, discrimination and incarceration.
+ People who support fascism are propagandized to believe they are protecting their rights while they are actually protecting the interests of the wealthy class.
+ Once fascism achieves state power, through the process of liberal democracy, it may turn to authoritarianism.
+ Rockhill describes how Hitler and Mussolini both rose to power through the governance structure, not outside of it.
+ Fascism is used when liberal democracy fails.
+ Fascist elements have existed throughout the history of the United States.
+ Think of the slave patrols that preceded the institution of police and white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the American Legion.
+ It has been used to suppress dissent whenever segments of the population rise up to demand their rights.
+ It is no coincidence that the “War on Drugs” and mass incarceration followed the rise and successes of the civil rights movement.
+ It is no coincidence that the attack on worker rights and unions followed the period when taxes on the rich were very high and the middle class was growing.
+ The middle and upper classes live in the illusion that they are served by liberal democracy
+ while the poor and working class, especially for people of color, are controlled through fascist practices of detention, segregation, lack of rights and violence.
+ Those fascist practices will be unleashed against the middle and upper classes too if they recognize the charade and rebel.
Capitalism knows no limits. We are living in end-stage capitalism and a falling empire.
Building a culture of resistance
Our foes are not Trump and Biden but the system and institutions they represent
The current struggle is being defined as Trump versus Biden and many progressives are convincing themselves that a Biden presidency is a step on the path we are seeking. There are serious risks for the struggle no matter who wins. Once we understand who and what our opponents are, we can strategize and organize to defeat them. Our foes are not the personalities, Trump and Biden, but the systems and institutions they represent. No matter who is elected in November, the systems stay the same.
Two paths to victory – build a culture of resistance or a culture of non-cooperation
We need to find ways to work outside those systems to create the world we want to see. This requires building a culture of resistance, a culture of non-cooperation. If we are successful in building popular power, the systems will change either through what is referred to as “victorious retreat,” which means the power holders acquiesce to the demands of the people, or through attrition where new institutions built by the people grow and replace the old systems as they fade away.
Trump is open about what he is doing
President Trump is open about what he is doing in empowering the extreme right and having no regard for human life. He sharpens the contradictions by showing what he plans to do and often in response, the institutions that make up our government and the people push back, forcing him in some cases to back down.
The 2008-2012 Obama-Biden administrations managed to deceive the public into believing it was doing one thing, while actually doing another
As we experienced under an Obama-Biden presidency, and Biden has differentiated himself from Obama by declaring himself in opposition to the needs of the people, while Obama at least gave the pretense of believing in human rights, the administration was effective at dividing and weakening opposition to it. It convinced people it was doing one thing while it actually did another.
How the Obama-Biden administration deceived the public into believing its “public option would lead to Medicare for All
An example that I am very familiar with is the health reform process in 2008-2010. There was majority support for “National Improved Medicare for All” by the public and super-majority support for it by Democratic voters. The administration, working with major labor unions, ‘progressive’ organizations and faith-based groups, created a distraction, which it called the ‘public option’ and convinced people that this was achievable and would lead to Medicare for All. This divided the movement for universal health care. Tens of millions of dollars were poured into this effort and towards the end of the process, we witnessed that even this tiny crumb was never intended to be in the final legislation.
The resulting “Affordable Care Act” forced people to purchase private health insurance or pay a fine. Government resources were spent to aggressively market and subsidize health insurance products, even hiring salespeople called “navigators.” In return, people received health insurance that did not guarantee they would receive the healthcare they needed or protect them from financial ruin. Health insurers found ways to work around the regulations and their profits, along with those of the pharmaceutical, private hospital and other medical industries, soared.
Will a Biden-Harris administration hoodwink and divide progressives?
The unanswered question is whether a Biden-Harris administration will be as successful at hoodwinking and dividing progressives as they enact an agenda that will continue to cut social services, degrade worker rights, pollute the environment, foment wars and repress dissent.
People power can only win by quickly organizing and mobilizing
The actual struggle is not Trump versus Biden but putting people and planet over profit. It is people power versus the power of wealthy elites and corporations. We can only win if we organize and mobilize. Failure to do so means we will certainly continue on the destructive path we are on. Victory requires political clarity, a bold vision of a different future and building a culture of resistance, which means both stopping harmful policies and practices and creating new systems to meet our needs. We must and we can make what seems impossible in this moment inevitable.
RELATED VIDEO & ARTICLES
Chris Hedges: The Undercurrents of Fascism in America’s DNA, Hedges talks to Gabriel Rockhill, RT America, November 28, 2020 — On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to Gabriel Rockhill about the undercurrents of fascism in America’s DNA, and the US role in internationalizing fascism after World War II through clandestine activities such Operation Paperclip and Operation Gladio.
Gabriel Rockhill is a Franco-American philosopher and the founding Director of the Critical Theory Workshop and Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University.
FOUR ARTICLES BY GABRIEL ROCKHILL
Liberalism & Fascism: The Good Cop & Bad Cop of Capitalism by Black Agenda Report, October 21, 2020
The U.S. Did Not Defeat Fascism in WWII, It Discretely Internationalized It by CounterPunch, October 16, 2020
Liberalism and Fascism: Partners in Crime by CounterPunch, October 14, 2020
Fascism: Now You See It, Now You Don’t! by CounterPunch, October 12, 2020
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