Column No. 105 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - May 11, 2006
Fascism** engulfs nations by different routes. It can come by military conquest and overthrow of a democratically elected government, as in Franco Spain. It can come by conversion of a Constitutional Monarchy, with the acquiescence if not the open support of the monarch, as in Italy and Japan. It can come in a Constitutional Democracy through the on-the-surface legal use of Constitutional processes by a political party that first takes control of the executive branch and then proceeds to establish its dictatorship. The prime example of this is of course Nazi Germany (see my columns, “Bush is Not Hitler, I and the two-part Reichstag Fire/9-11 series). Unless the Georgites are somehow stopped, the United States will become the second major historical example of this route to fascism.
History teaches us that in a Constitutional Democracy, such as the German Weimar Republic of 1919-1933, a party or a political movement intent upon establishing a fascist dictatorship must first gain control of the executive branch of the government. To be able to establish full control over all the organs of the state over the long run they must then deal with the other two branches of the government, the legislative and the judicial. They must also deal with the single most important organ of civil society outside of government that, functioning properly, is essential to the continuance of Constitutional Democracy: the free communications media. A free press (in the generic sense of the term) is anathema to fascism. In fact, the latter cannot exist in the presence of the former. For at the center of the fascist approach to dealing with public information is the Big Lie Technique, something a free press will always eventually give the lie to.
An essential element of Georgite Republicanism has been the campaign to both devalue and take over the independent judiciary, especially at the Federal level. The tools are first a constant propaganda campaign that the judiciary is “overstepping its bounds,” is “legislating from the bench,” is “standing in the way of the will of the people,” is “in need of being reigned in.” Second, is the political campaign to remove a variety of major political-social issues from the jurisdiction of the bench through a variety of means. Third, there is the direct route of putting an ever-increasing number of Georgite judges on the bench. (Think the classic movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg.” It was about the trial not of any famous Nazis but of a group of senior judges who were adjudged to have been active collaborators and promoters of the Nazi form of “justice.”) Prominent Georgite appointees at all three levels of the Federal bench are outstanding examples of the use of this tool. In a variation fro the Nazi example, in the US the first step taken within institutions of the Federal government was the takeover of the legislative branch by proto-fascists. That started with the “Gingrich Revolution” of 1994.
Interestingly enough the element essential to the eventual fascist takeover in the U.S. that has been in place the longest is the Republican assault on the independent media. It began symbolically with the famous Nixon quote after his loss in the California governor’s race in 1962. He said to the media at the press conference after his concession speech “Now you won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.” Nixon clearly made those media elements that reported facts about him and his doings into “the enemy.” He was an early developer of the classic Republican Rightist tool of attack on the media: don’t respond to the message; kill the messenger. The Georgites have developed this technique to a very high level of sophistication.
Reagan used lying, intimidation, charm. His constant message, through the media to a gullible public taken in by a combination of his charm and his underlying, but clear racism, was “don’t trust them; trust me.” A constant message of O’RHannibaugh from the Reagan/Bush I era has been that the “mainstream media are all ‘liberals,’ and never tell you the truth.” George Bush obviously cannot stand the media personally. Then Rove makes sure that they are both shut out and intimidated to the greatest extent possible, while his boss goes “over their heads to connect directly with the people” (through those oh-so-carefully stage-managed “town meetings”).
Where does the appointment of Fox "News" Channel (F"N"C) propagandist Tony Snow as White House Press Secretary fit into all of this? It has aroused much comment. For example, very early on, the Center for American Progress drew attention to the fact that for some time now Snow has been a critic of Bush, from the Right. The question was raised, how does that make sense, how could Snow do the job, which supposedly includes defending the President?
In answering that question and indeed establishing a broad understanding of the meaning of the appointment, it first comes down to defining exactly which job Snow was hired to do. First: let us consider what the job is surely not, based on how the various Georgite operatives occupying the position have handled it up to now. The job is surely not to answer questions forthrightly, honestly, and openly. It is surely not to establish a cooperative relationship between the White House and the media. It is surely not to increase the amount of information made available to the American people about the Executive Branch of their government, how it operates, and what it is doing.
If we know what it is not, just what is it? There is a series of answers to that question, not all of which will be covered in this space. But in my view it is important to understand that the choice of Snow is neither accidental nor foolish, in terms of the march towards fascism. It does represent a significant ramping up of the attack of the independent media, with the ultimate objective of destroying it that is essential if the goal of establishing fascism is to be achieved. It helps to understand this appointment if it is seen in that context.
1. First, Snow is to revive the old CNN political show “Crossfire," where yelling and screaming was substituted for rational discussion and disagreement over significant political issues. Reduce reporters to jelly by yelling at them, literally or figuratively, whether they yell back or not, is job one.
2. Further demean and disdain the media, treating them as untrustworthy and unimportant. Obfuscate, conceal, distract, distort, and lie, with more skill than any previous holder of the position. Step one is the proposal to eliminate or curtail the televising of the daily media briefings.
3. Begin the merger of the Privatized Ministry of Propaganda, of which the F"N"C is the prime property, into the government.
4. Mollify the right-wing base by having a “Bush critic" in place, a highly visible one. Doing so also makes Bush appear as if he can be subject to criticism, while all the while he is being pushed towards even more far-out positions that in his gut he would actually like to take, but has not yet taken publicly (e.g., his sudden conversion to the “English-only” versi0on o the old British drinking song know since 184 as the Star Spangled Banner)
5. Snow is not a “newsman." He is a voice of Radical Right-wing Republicanism. Hiring him clearly demonstrates what the Georgites think that “news" is all about --- as made so clear every day by the F"N"C (which I do watch, folks): PROPAGANDA.
The Volkischer Beobachter (the Nazi Party’s daily “newspaper") is right around the corner.
Author’s Note: This column is based in part on “A Commentary on the Tony Snow Job, A BuzzFlash Guest Contribution, (http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/06/04/con06169.html) that was published on April 29, 2006.
* Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
** My short definition of fascism: ““Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.” (If you would like to see my longer definitions, please refer to my columns of May 27, 2004 “On Fascism -- And The Georgites,” Jan 27, 2005 “Comparing George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler”, and February 10, 2006, “The Georgite Version of ‘Freedom and Democracy’.”)