Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace and Justice
  (#1 Jan. 10, 2012; #2 April 17, 2014; #3 June 8, 2017)

“Fascism” can be a confusing designation when applied to the present US executive power.  Mussolini’s fascism in its dozen or so features does not neatly fit the US experience.   The term totalitarian is more useful.   See my documents on the history of increasing US presidential and decreasing congressional power in Presidents’ Day Newsletters (#3 Feb. 18, 2019  But the label “Fascism” enjoys some popularity during the Trump era.  While reading the following notes and essays, hold the words fascism and totalitarian together in your mind.

Contents: US Totalitarianism, Fascism Newsletter #4, March 6, 2019
(in rough chronological order)
Germany: from Weimar Republic to Hitler

USA Up Through Bush II
F. H. Buckley.  The Once and Future King. The Rise of Crown Government in America.   And supportive review by Bradley Gitz.
Charlie Savage.  Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. 
Andrew Rudalevige.  The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate.
Naomi Wolf. The End of America: A Citizen’s Call to Action. 

“Expansive use of Executive Orders” by McManus.

Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright,  
 “American Fascism, in 1944 and Today” by
 “Donald Trump: A Fascist by Any Other Name” by Bill Weinberg
Numerous Executive Orders by Aimee Crochet

Overview and Resistance
Chris Hedges, YouTube:  Stop Fascism,” Roman Empire and USA
 4 Reviews of Hedges’ book American Fascists

Anti-Fascism and Democratic Restoration   
Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray.
The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America by F. H. Buckley. 

Contents of US Totalitarianism, Fascism Newsletter #3 (at end)

Noam Chomsky’s thumbnail history pp. 27-9 in Power Systems as analyzed by Dick Bennett into 10 steps. 
1920s the Weimar Republic was a “vibrant democratic society.”  It was destroyed in less than five years.
1.  Widespread anger, frustration, and disillusionment with Parties, corporations, government, institutions, professions—the political in general.
2.  Also in contrast, aristocrat General von Hindenburg was elected President by “massive popular vote” of small business owners and workers, comparable to Tea Party.   But von H. hated Hitler.  And in 1928 Nazis received under 3% of vote.
3.  Bickering political Parties ineffective
4.  World Depression and unemployment begins
5.  Spirit of nationalism and call for unity rising
6.  Von H. and Hitler both charismatic nationalistic leaders
7.  Creation of enemies: Hitler vs. communists and Jews
8.  Ingratiation with workers: 1933 Hitler declared May Day a workers holiday
9. But Hitler destroyed the Social Democratic, Communist, and other workers Parties
10. 1933 Nazi base now so large, Hindenburg had to appoint Hitler Chancellor. 
I hope a historian writes a comparison of Hitler’s takeover of Weimar and the Repub right’s of the US.    One difference: Nazis took over in about 5 years.  The Republicans powered over in 40, since 1980, the Tea Party rising to ascendancy in 2012.

From the Founding to Obama

Savage, Charlie.  Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.  2007. 

The story of the increasing power of the presidency over the other branches of government has two strands for Savage, macro and micro—the long national history of the centralization of power in the presidency and the intense period of fear and war from 9-11 to the end of the Bush administration.   The main sources of the increase in presidential power, the “politics of presidential power,” are explained particularly in the final chapter, #13, and are summarized p. 311.   A main example is the story of Vice-President Cheney’s successful ascendancy over the Bush administration beginning on September 11, 2001 on page one.  --Dick

Buckley, F. H.   The Once and Future King. The Rise of Crown Government in America.    2014.  Mullins Library internet resource
 JF251 .B83 2015  


This remarkable book shatters just about every myth surrounding American government, the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers, and offers the clearest warning about the alarming rise of one-man rule in the age of Obama.

Most Americans believe that this country uniquely protects liberty, that it does so because of its Constitution, and that for this our thanks must go to the Founders, at their Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

F. H. Buckley’s book debunks all these myths. America isn’t the freest country around, according to the think tanks that study these things. And it’s not the Constitution that made it free, since parliamentary regimes are generally freer than presidential ones. Finally, what we think of as the Constitution, with its separation of powers, was not what the Founders had in mind. What they expected was a country in which Congress would dominate the government, and in which the president would play a much smaller role.

Sadly, that’s not the government we have today. What we have instead is what Buckley calls Crown government: the rule of an all-powerful president. The country began in a revolt against one king, and today we see the dawn of a new kind of monarchy. What we have is what Founder George Mason called an “elective monarchy,” which he thought would be worse than the real thing.

Much of this is irreversible. Constitutional amendments to redress the balance of power are extremely unlikely, and most Americans seem to have accepted, and even welcomed, Crown government. The way back lies through Congress, and Buckley suggests feasible reforms that it might adopt, to regain the authority and respect it has squandered.  [See Buckley’s book on Resistance below.]

Bradley R. Gitz.  “Do Ends Justify Means?”  NADG (Sept. 8, 2014).  Rev. of Buckley’s book, citing supportive publications, that “the unhealthy accumulation of authority in the chief executive. . . . has reached its apogee” in the “presidency of Barack Obama.”

Up Through 9-11 and Bush II

Andrew Rudalevige.  The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate.  2015.  Main Library, JK511 .R83
Publisher’s description
Has the imperial presidency returned? This question has been on the minds of many contemporary political observers, as recent American administrations have aimed to consolidate power.
In The New Imperial Presidency, Andrew Rudalevige suggests that the congressional framework meant to advise and constrain presidential conduct since Watergate has slowly eroded. Rudalevige describes the evolution of executive power in our separated system of governance. He discusses the abuse of power that prompted what he calls the "resurgence regime" against the imperial presidency and inquires as to how and why—over the three decades that followed Watergate—presidents have regained their standing.

Wolf, Naomi.  The End of America: A Citizen’s Call to Action.  Chelsea Green, 2007.  The end of the US democracy caused by the “fascist shift.”  (see her essay, “Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps”).  --Dick 
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Executive Orders: Obama (see Crochet on Trump below).  Doyle McManus.  “The Limits of Lame-Duckery.”  ADG (August 19, 2014).  On Obama’s “expansive use of executive orders.”


Madeleine Albright, Fascism: A Warning.  2019.
Robin Wright reviews Madeleine Albright's new book, “Fascism: A Warning,” written in the era of Donald Trump.
Madeleine Albright decries the global rise of authoritarianism in her new book, Fascism: A Warning, and talks about Trump, Putin and the ...

“American Fascism, in 1944 and Today”

Seventy-three years ago, The New York Times asked the sitting vice president to write an article about whether there are fascists in America, and what they’re up to.
It was an alarming question. And the vice president took it quite seriously. His article, “The Danger of American Fascism,” described a breed of super-nationalist who pursues political power by deceiving Americans and playing to their fears, but is really interested only in protecting his own wealth and privilege.
That vice president was my grandfather, Henry A. Wallace. And in my view, he predicted President Trump.
To be clear, I don’t think the precise term “fascism” — as in Mussolini and Hitler — is fairly applied to Mr. Trump. Mussolini was a proponent of “corporatism,” defined by some as “a merger of state and corporate power.” And through that lens, using that term, my grandfather’s warning looks prescient.
My grandfather warned about hucksters spouting populist themes but manipulating people and institutions to achieve the opposite. They pretend to be on the side of ordinary working people — “paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare,” he wrote. But at the same time, they “distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity.”
They invariably put “money and power ahead of human beings,” he continued. “They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.” They also “claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.”
They bloviate about putting America first, but it’s just a cover. “They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism.”
They need scapegoats and harbor “an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations.”
The 19th century saw the political rise of wealthy Prussian nobility, called Junkers, who were driven by “hatred for other races” and “allegiance to a military clique,” with a goal to place their “culture and race astride the world.”
My grandfather acknowledged the great difference between American fascists and other countries’ murderous authoritarians. The American breed doesn’t need violence. Lying to the people is so much easier.
They “poison the channels of public information,” he wrote. Their “problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public” into giving them more money or power.
In fact, they use lies strategically, to promote civic division, which then justifies authoritarian crackdowns. Through “deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” he said, “their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity.”
Thus might lying about unprecedented high crime rates legitimize a police state. Lying about immigrants being rapists and terrorists might justify a huge border wall, mass expulsions and religion-based immigration bans. Lying about millions of illegal votes might excuse suppression of voting by disfavored groups.
Here’s one of my favorites: Autocrats “give currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.” That sounds like birtherism. There are other examples. “Largest” inaugural crowd ever. “I won the popular vote” and “Obama had my ‘wires tapped.’ ” Climate change is “nonexistent” and “mythical.” “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax” and the F.B.I.’s investigation into it — now jeopardized by the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, this week — was a taxpayer funded charade.”
And what is the ultimate goal? “Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
Henry Scott Wallace is a lawyer and a co-chairman of the Wallace Global Fund, a foundation founded by his grandfather.

Bill Weinberg, “Donald Trump: A Fascist by Any Other Name.”  Fifth Estate, Summer 2017.
Photos of Nazi rally with flags, and Trump with flags.  “The flags, always the flags.  A sign that the individual and the community are being diminished while the leader and the state are exalted.  Pledge allegiance to no flag.”

Executive Orders:  Trump
The Larger Picture: The Past and Now TRUMP
Aimee Crochet.  “Executive Orders Popular Among the Presidents.”  NADG (February 20, 2017).  “…most modern presidents issued more executive orders than Obama did.”  Now Trump outdoes them all:  “During his first two weeks in office, Donald Trump signed eight executive orders and 12 presidential memoranda,” some of them momentous, including building the wall along the Mexican border, withdrawing from the TPP trade deal, and a regulatory freeze.

Resistance, Revolution

“Bray’s book is many things: the first English-language transnational history of antifa, a how-to for would-be activists, and a record of advice from anti-Fascist organizers past and present … Focused and persuasive.” — Daniel Penny, The New Yorker
In the wake of tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, and Donald Trump’s initial refusal to denounce the white nationalists behind it all, the “antifa” opposition movement is suddenly appearing everywhere. But what is it, precisely? And where did it come from?
As long as there has been fascism, there has been anti-fascism — also known as “antifa.” Born out of resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s, the antifa movement has suddenly burst into the headlines amidst opposition to the Trump administration and the alt-right. They could be seen in news reports, often clad all in black with balaclavas covering their faces, fighting police at the presidential inauguration, on California college campuses protesting right-wing speakers, and, most recently, on the streets of Charlottesville, VA, protecting, among others, a group of ministers including Cornel West from neo-Nazi violence. (West would later tell reporters, “The anti-fascists saved our lives.”)
Simply, antifa aims to deny fascists the opportunity to promote their oppressive politics, and to protect tolerant communities from acts of violence promulgated by fascists. Critics say shutting down political adversaries is anti-democratic; antifa adherents argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed the slightest chance to triumph again.
In a smart and gripping investigation, historian and former Occupy Wall Street organizer Mark Bray provides a detailed survey of the full history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day — the first transnational history of postwar anti-fascism in English. Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics of the movement and the philosophy behind it, offering insight into the growing but little-understood resistance fighting back against fascism in all its guises.
Mark Bray discusses antifa on Democracy Now!, 8/16/17:
MARK BRAY is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street. He is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, and the co-editor of Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader. His work has appeared in the Washington PostForeign PolicyCritical QuarterlyROAR Magazine, and numerous edited volumes. He is currently a lecturer at Dartmouth College.

Buckley, F. H.   The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America.   2016.
Publisher’s Review:
The promise of America is that, with ambition and hard work, anyone can rise to the top. But now the promise has been broken, and we’ve become an aristocracy where rich parents raise rich kids and poor parents raise poor kids.
We’ve been told that the changes are structural, that there’s nothing we can do about this. But that doesn’t explain why other First World countries are beating us hands down on the issue of mobility.
What’s different about America is our politics. An ostensibly progressive New Class of comfortably rich professionals, media leaders, and academics has shaped the contours of American politics and given us a country of fixed economic classes. It is supported by the poorest of Americans, who have little chance to rise, an alliance of both ends against the middle that recalls the Red Tories of parliamentary countries. Because they support an aristocracy, the members of the New Class are Tories, and because of their feigned concern for the poor, they are Red Tories.
The Way Back explains the revolution in American politics, where political insurgents have challenged the complacent establishment of both parties, and shows how we can restore the promise of economic mobility and equality by pursuing socialist ends through capitalist means.

Praise for The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America.  2016.  

The Way Back makes a persuasive case that social mobility, fundamental to the American Dream, has eroded, and that people both on the left and right need to deal seriously with the problem of inequality. F.H. Buckley marshals tremendous data and insight in a compelling study.”
–Francis Fukuyama
“Inequality and immobility will be the rallying cry from the left as the 2016 elections approach. That’s a great reason to put The Way Back at the top of your reading list. F.H. Buckley offers a provocative and important commentary on the underlying problems—dysfunctional schools, barriers to entrepreneurship, a broken immigration system, sclerotic government, special interest politics, and more. He dissects who’s to blame, what to do, and what not to do—with scholarship, wit, and insight.”
–Robert A. Levy, Chairman of the Cato Institute
“Another excellent book! It is full of marvelously shrewd observation, as well as scholarship, both aimed at subjects of the greatest importance.”
–Jonathan Clark
The Way Back demonstrates that inequality and immobility are real and serious—and that nominally ‘progressive’ policies are a big part of the problem. The problem, moreover, is not unintended consequences—but rather intended consequences. With his signature combination of erudition, imagination, and wit, F.H. Buckley has produced a game-changing contribution to the inequality literature.”
–Christopher DeMuth


Fran Alexander  6-16-17
10:34 AM (22 hours ago)
to Tomilston, me
Chris Hedges Presentation on Fascism
Attachments area

 4 Reviews of Hedges’ American Fascists, Google Search 2-6-19
American Fascists by Chris Hedges - Twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists first spoke of the United States becoming a.
Feb 3, 2007 - Chris Hedges charts the rise of the US Christian right in American Fascists, says Nicholas Lezard.
Jan 7, 2007 - Chris Hedges' “American Fascists,” unfortunately, is not a worthy attempt. The examples above don't even come from his book. The first two are ...
Nov 13, 2006 - Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That ... American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

What’s at stake: Will US bulwarks of freedom, equality, and democracy (educational system, Bill of Rights, separation of powers) prevent fascism?    Or has money, our economic system, incessant warfare, and security/surveillance obsession already defeated democracy from within?   
See Newsletters on Bill of Rights, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Corporations, Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Money,  Nationalism, National Security State, Permanent War, Presidential Power, Consequences of Wars, Checks and Balances of Powers USA, more.

John Broich, “How the U.S. Press Normalized Mussolini and Hitler”: Journalists didn’t recognize the threat until too late.
Roberto, “The Origins of American Fascism”:At long last, the split in the ruling class that in the 1930s characterized the struggle between the progressive Roosevelt faction and the fascist monopolists appears to have been resolved in favor of the latter.”
From Google 6-3-17:

Nuclear Bomb and Increasing Presidential Power
Garry Wills.  Bomb Power. the atomic bomb dramatically increased the power of the modern presidency

Trump’s Totalitarianism, Neofascism
 Donald Trump and Fascism, Google Search, 6-3-17
“Who Says It Can’t Happen Here?” By Harvey Kaye (author of excellent The Fight for the Four Freedoms, a history of the rise and decline of struggle for democracy, liberty, and equality).
“This Is Not Populism” by John Bellamy Foster.  Monthly Review 69 no. 2 (June 2017). (Also see his earlier essays: Foster and Gregory Meyerson.  “Fascism and the Crisis of Pax Americana.”  Socialism and Democracy 22, no. 2 (2008).   “Neofascism in the White House.”  Monthly Review 68, no. 11 (April 2017).)

Novels about US Fascism, Totalitarianism
Google Search, 6-3-17 (first page only, keep on clicking next page)
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis [and Donald Trump], Google Search, 6-3-17

Related Subjects

Gerry Sloan’s Poem, “To the Protectors”

Earlier OMNI Newsletters on Totalitarianism in US


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