The Fifth Characteristic

The GOP goes for a clean sweep of Britt’s “Fourteen characteristics”

March 18th 2012

Back in 2003, Lawrence Britt wrote “The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism” (sometimes also titled “Identifiers: An Examination of Fascism”) That essay is posted below, and can be found here:

The list seemed to fit the toxic right like a glove.

Mindless avid flag waving? Check.

Contempt for rights? Well, there’s tort reform, and hatred of “trial lawyers”. For starters. Endless sneers about “entitled minorities.”

Scapegoating? Can you say “Sharia law menace”? The Islamic threat? Liberals?

Worship the military? Check. I’ve even seen right wingers whining about how weak America will appear if they punish Robert Bale if he’s convicted of killing those sixteen Afghan civilians. Some right wingers think it’s an imposition that he even be tried.

Controlling the media? Can you say Faux News and corporate control of other media?

Endless invocations of a need for security? PATRIOT ACT.

Mixing church and state? Imagine if the president doesn’t end a speech, no matter how trivial, with “God Bless America” They’ll go nuts.

Protecting corporate power? Well, how about Citizens United, just as an example. Giving corporations sole control of America’s campaigns is a pretty good handover of power.

Hatred of Unions? Wisconsin. Ohio. Maine. And so on.

Hatred of intellectuals? Ask a rabid fundie about “evolutionists” or “climate change scientists”.

Obsession with crime and punishment? We live in a land where you can get five years in prison and be fined $150,000 for downloading a song recorded in 1923. One fellow got 25 to life for stealing a slice of pizza.

Cronyism and corruption? Two words: Wall Street.

Fraudulent elections? Ohio, 2004. Florida, 2000. Bush v. Gore. “Voter ID”. As one person known as Phlip wrote on Usenet, “Welcome to Texas, where the paperwork verifying your right to vote is much, much more important to us than the paperwork verifying you belong on death row.”

If you were counting for no sensible reason, then you may have noticed one of the fourteen characteristics was missing. It was the fifth one on the list: Rampant Sexism. That one never seemed to quite fit. Sure, right wingers held women in contempt if they were poor, or black, or in a union, but that was because they were behaving like Americans, not because they were women.

And besides, wasn’t this the party of Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Olympia Snowe? Sure, lots of women, and Snowe was there to show that they weren’t all crazy, to boot!

Thirteen out of fourteen was enough to be getting on with. In my estimation, just FOUR of the fourteen—any four—would be enough to raise red flags. With thirteen fitting perfectly, that was more than enough cause to drop any pretense that America’s toxic right—whether they called themselves “conservatives” or “libertarians” were, in actuality, fascists.

Fascism isn’t the same as Nazism, and anyone who howls about Godwin’s Law if you call them fascists needs to know the difference. Fascism is best defined (by Mussolini, who knew a thing or two about the subject) as “corporatism”. Government works to fulfill the wants and desires of corporate interests. This requires authoritarianism and a lack of transparency, since those corporate interests invariably conflict with those of the governed.

It’s inimical to American values, just as other such types of government, such as theocracy or any form of single-party rule would be. It’s not necessarily evil and mad, like Hitler’s regime was, but a fascist government is oppressive and repressive, and no sensible American would want to live under such a regime.

Thirteen out of fourteen is pretty bad. If America survives, the toxic right must not. It’s rapidly boiling down to one or the other, since both cannot coexist. Most people couldn’t see that, though. They still believe that the toxic right still hold American values at heart.

But now it’s gotten a step worse, and by taking that final step, the fascists may have finally self-destructed.

They decided that 2012 was the year to declare war on women. The other 52% of the population.

The general consensus is that with the economy improving despite their best efforts, the GOP desperately needed a new issue to use against Obama, and “family values” was always a tried and true one for a party that features Senators who go to whorehouses with packages of adult diapers underarm, or get busted soliciting to give blowjobs in airport toilets. Who better to decide what your morals should be?

It started out with the usual claptrap about abortion and crime and their other favorites, with subliminal appeals to racism and classism. There was the usual concerted push to make it ever more difficult to get an abortion, and background noise about teaching evolution and climate change, and that Jefferson Davis was closer to true American values than Abe Lincoln.

But something went out of control this time. Possibly pushed by the legislative pressure group ALEC, a large number of states suddenly found their state governments arguing, not only over forcing expensive and invasive procedures on women who wanted abortions, but over whether women should even be allowed to have birth control.

Part of this came from a battle a couple of months ago over whether the Catholic Church should have to pay for birth control as part of the insurance they provided for secular employees. Obama and the insurance industry came up with a no-brainer solution: simply provide birth control coverage free as part of all health insurance packets. That way the church has no say in the matter, and the insurers save a bundle. In a sane country, it would have been hailed as a wise and just solution.

The GOP are no longer sane, and went into paroxysms of fury, and in the process, declared battle to the death on the women of America. And the fifth of Britt’s distinguishing characteristics was fulfilled.

Rush Limbaugh spent hours sneering at Sandra Fluke, calling her a slut and making lewd suggestions that any woman getting birth control should be forced to have recordings of her having sex put up on line.

This proved too much even for the sleaziest of the outfits advertising on Rush, and suddenly he found himself missing about 95% of his advertising revenue, and facing the very real possibility that his show might be canceled.

Now the right were frightened as well as angry, and completely lost it.

The legislation against women that is being presented—and in America’s darker corners, passed—defies belief. Arizona is working on a law mandating that a woman be forced to tell her employer if she is taking contraception or not. Several states have passed laws mandating that women who get abortions be forced, at their own expense, to get uterine “examinations” and in some cases, be forced to watch the screen. The procedures are unnecessary, invasive, and expensive. Insurers not only will not pay for such, but in some cases are forbidden to.

Doctors are ordered to lie to their patients. In several states, doctors are now commanded to tell their patients that abortion causes a higher rate of breast cancer. This is a demonstrable lie, and the law should spark a revolt in the medical community. Few people become doctors so bureaucrats from a god-struck regime can order them to tell their patients nonsense. What next: government mandates that all teachers tell their children there’s as much evidence for creationism as there is for evolution?

Texas eliminated funding from their budget for Planned Parenthood, which cost them about $79 million in government subsidies. This, in the worst state in the developed world for women’s health care. It wasn’t retribution by the Feds; it was a matter of existing law, law that Perry was aware of when he signed the bill. As Medicaid Director Cindy Mann said. “Medicaid law is clear: patients — not the state government or officials — are able to choose the doctor and health care providers that are best for them and their families.” So because the state Republicans wanted to strut and puff out their narrow little chests and pretend they were protecting gawd from loose wimmin, the women of Texas get hurt even more than they already were in that backward place.
Colorado’s House has a wild one: “First Degree Homicide Of The Unborn Child Bill.” This passed the State House the other day, and while it’s expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate, just the title should give everyone the creeps. One in three women miscarry; under that law, would they be guilty of homicide, or would it just be manslaughter since intent couldn’t be shown?

It’s a war on women, and don’t let anyone tell you different. But then, the toxic right has been waging war against all Americans for thirty years; they’re just more open about it now.

It’s not Democrats vs Republicans in this election; it’s America vs fascism.

The choice is our future.

And because the fascists couldn’t wait to begin their war, it looks like women are going to have the final say.





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the 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.


7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


From Liberty Forum


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