Friday, August 6, 2010

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism.

The 14 characteristics are:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to 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.

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

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.

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.

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 .

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 is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Cisco Kid and Pancho

At the May 17 meeting, an item on the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors consent agenda provided for the purchase of a tractor with mowers for $96,841. Supervisor Robert McMonagle asked that item be removed. When it came up for discussion, Mr. McMonagle suggested that the equipment should be put out for bid. He felt that in these economic times, the Township should not rely on the state bid list. If the equipment were put out to bid, he said, the Township could perhaps save $10,000 or more.

Mr. McMonagle’s motion carried. The approved bid on this past Monday’s agenda was $86,969. Since both Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher and Supervisor George Leonhauser had voted against the motion to bid the tractor, Mr. McMonagle decided to reinforce the notion that bidding an item would always save money by reminding them of the discussion in May.

Rather than acknowledging the validity of the cost-saving measure, Mr. Gallagher turned the fiery red we have all come to love and went into defense mode. I think it was only (only?) a $5,000 savings, he said. After being corrected by Acting Township Manager Debbie Lamanna that it was indeed almost a $10,000 savings, he then went on to say he only wanted to get it approved so it would be ready for grass cutting season, forgetting that the representative of the company that was going to supply the tractor said it probably wouldn’t be delivered until after the summer anyway.

How much overtime did we have to pay because we didn’t have that equipment, Mr. Gallagher huffed. When someone said none, he followed up with How was I to know that we would have a summer so hot that the grass wouldn’t grow much. Are you kidding me?

But wait, as the TV commercials often say, there’s more. Now it is time for the ethics-challenged Mr. Leonhauser to jump in and say, with that evil chuckle of his, well after all it was (former) Township Manager Ray Stepnoski who put the item on the agenda.

Perhaps someone should explain to Mr. Leonhauser – very slowly now – that items on the agenda must either be approved or denied by the Board. It is the responsibility of each and every member of the Board to review agenda items before the meetings and then decide if they have merit or should be questioned.

These two are a better comedy act than the Cisco Kid and his jovial sidekick Pancho. (Google the TV series if you are too young to remember.)

After note: In case anyone hasn’t noticed, there are icons at the end of the blogs now that allow one to e-mail the blog to a friend or post it to a Facebook page. Feel free to do either.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Thugs are in Charge … and Now They Have Their Chief

The mob took over the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night and proved once and for all that they now rule in Middletown.

I’m not talking about the full-moon crowd that Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher whipped into a fury last year and now forms the base of his support. These are the people who have been attending meetings since the beginning of this year, cheering, shouting people down and generally disrupting the meetings. Unfortunately, they have turned Middletown Township into the laughing stock of Bucks County municipalities.

What we saw Monday night was much more serious than that. This mob literally took over the meeting. What was frightening – and yes, as one member of the audience remarked, intimidating – was that a significant number of those comprising this mob were Middletown Township police officers. This was gleefully confirmed by the ethically challenged, former police officer and Supervisor, George Leonhauser.

If you weren’t at the meeting Monday night, you should watch the replays. Meetings are re-broadcast on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

If you were there, keep in mind that many of those shouting and intimidating members of the audience were officers sworn to protect and serve the residents of Middletown Township. Andrew Flager, a resident of Levittown for 53 years, said he, his wife and several neighbors who came to observe the meeting were intimidated by the behavior of these police officers and their supporters – “especially the women,” he said during the meeting. These are the same people who came out in force last November and openly intimidated people at the polls.

And their greatest supporter is our new chief, James Kane. They now have free reign to continue this behavior. It is indeed a sad day for Middletown Township.