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How Fascism Came to America (3)

March 25, 2016

Along with so many who knew him as our Supreme Commander against the Nazis, I “liked” Ike. I don’t know if, when he warned of the vital danger posed by the “military-industrial complex,” Ike was thinking of what had happened in Europe with its big-gun industry (and he surely did not foresee the privatization of the military, as in the time of Julius Caesar); but I think we should draw that connection about our present selves.

As an extension of the new global position of US military power, Ike’s Secretary of State, and his Director of the CIA, the Dulles Bros, oversaw American interventions including coups in Iran and Guatemala, and the attempted coup in Cuba.

[Update:  at the end of WWII we replaced the Rightwing Nazi Germany as the power confronting the Leftwing Stalinist USSR.  This bipolar worldview featured dthe statement in the “police action” in Korea that brought Ike to the presidency, and then Ike’s support of the French in “French Indochina”  (continued below).]

In the Fall of 1956, as a high school senior on the curb when Ike’s Vice President campaigned in our town, I waved back and shouted “Good luck, Veep!” I thought Nixon must be a pretty good guy. Two years later, as a Northern college student member of Snick, I knew his record as confirmed political crook and jerk. Now I’m a pragmatic anarchist. Reader, beware my bias.

[Update cont.:  Probably because of my bias, I didn’t do “justice” to LBJ in Vietnam.  JFK had replaced the French military beret with the “Green Berets,” making the US a colonial power in Asia.  In remarkable ignorance of Vietnamese history, the LBJ administration misread an anti-colonialist, nationalist struggle as a battlefield in the bipolar clash of civilizations, in which the USSR supported our enemy.  That blunder opened the way for the return of Nixon.]

The Left is not pure, and Stalin, as a totalitarian who emerged via the Left, rivaled Hitler for inability to value other humans; but a characteristic of the American Right is their ego-driven willingness to murder their opponents, and to lie, even to the point of treason. They are, themselves, their supreme reality, and all that is best in a shifty world of fools.

In 1968 we lost liberal leaders to murder, and Nixon lied his way into the presidency. LBJ had reached an agreement with North Vietnam to end the war, which would have propelled Humphrey into the White House. But Nixon reached an agreement with the South Vietnamese leaders to hold off until after the election, when Nixon would give the generals a better deal. The war continued, enraged voters on the left stayed home, and we got Nixon and Kissinger.

So now I’ll add Nixon’s degradation of the value of democracy, with his support of the assassination of the democratically elected president of Chile, and, which seemed amazing at the time, his “plumber” attack on the Democratic Party. “These are but instances.”

There was also his desensitization of the American people to the value of human life, with his bombing of peasants in Laos and Cambodia. He had flouted international law with his invasion of Cambodia, and now he and Kissinger demonstrated that the U.S. could not be held accountable for war crimes. It’s possible that in order to understand how much of a change these actions entailed, one has to be old enough to remember American national attitudes in support of democracy at the end of WWII (even granting our delusional history of genocide and enslavement, and the unparalleled enormity of our bombing of Germany and Japan).

And no sketch of the coming of fascism to America could omit the Nixon/Republican Southern Strategy of consolidating white racist opposition to integration and the expanded voting rights, signed into law by the Dem LBJ.

Meanwhile—and now that it’s too late—we can see how important that strategy was; the civil rights movement, especially its involvement of young people who then demonstrated against the war in Vietnam, freaked the American business elite, not only because they tend to be authoritarians who find it hard to adapt to social change, but also because they fear social disorder, with its unpredictable effect on business. In reaction, that wealthy elite turned the GOP into the party of “traditional values” (ie racism), “family values” (ie the patriarchal family style of the fundamentalist evangelicals) and “law-and-order” (ie authoritarianism, enforced by the police).

We were then ready for the triumph, in 1980, of five major strands of the psycho-pathology of American democracy: classism, sexism, racism, and militarism, plus propensity to violence, that could be combined in support of fascist government.

What a story. So much I’ve left out. Don’t miss page 4 (still being drafted). Don’t forget to breathe with deep being.

[Pages one and two and four of this episode.]

[Update 3-30-16:  I have to be in Paris for the month of April, then I’ll get back to fascism.]

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