A recent study identifies characteristics common to seven fascist regimes. Laurence W. Britt examines regimes in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Chile, and Indonesia-all of them eventually overthrown - and notes these 14 patterns of national behavior that each regime engaged in to one extent or another.
- Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. This was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign.
- Disdain for human rights. Victims of human rights abuse were marginalized or abuse was concealed.
- Identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause. Scapegoating directed attention away from public problems and channeled frustration into controlled directions.
- Avid militarism. The military was used to assert national goals, intimidate other countries, and increase the ruling elite's prestige.
- Rampant sexism. Women were treated as second-class citizens. Homophobia was intensified.
- A controlled mass media. Leaders of the mass media were often compatible with the regime and kept the public unaware of the regime's excesses.
- Obsession with national security. A national security apparatus served as an instrument of internal repression.
- Religion and ruling elite tied together. Propaganda kept up the illusion that those in power were opponents of the "godless."
- Power of corporations protected. The ability of large corporations to act in relative freedom was not compromised even when personal liberties were curtailed.
- Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. The poor were seen as an underclass and viewed with suspicion or contempt.
- Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Artistic and academic freedom were considered subversive.
- Obsession with crime and punishment. Severe systems of criminal justice produced huge prison populations. Police power was almost unchecked, leading to widespread abuse.
- Rampant cronyism and corruption. The economic elite and the power elite enriched one another through unethical favoritism.
- Fraudulent elections. When elections with candidates took place, they would usually be perverted by those in power to achieve the desired result.
Does this sound familiar? Ample parallels can be found between Britt's portrait of fascism and events in early 21st-century America.
Fascism is an ideology built on fear. What breaks the allure of fascism is a faith too authentic to accept lies. One form of this faith is belief in a God of compassion whose perfect love casts out fear. Another is belief in the ability of a free people to govern themselves.
We do not strive for a justice based on repentance and encounter with the God of compassion. Distracted in countless ways, disconnected from one another, we remain deeply ignorant of how all people are one people.
This nation once engaged in a gigantic military struggle to defeat European fascism. We must now undertake a spiritual struggle to defeat the fascism now threatening our hearts and our public life.
Rev. Hoffacker's comment regarding "...belief in a God of compassion whose perfect love casts out fear" reminded me of an ayah in the Qur'an:
"It is but Satan who instils [into you] fear of his allies: so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [truly] believers!" (3:175)
Is it any wonder that the fascist neo-cons, who have built their entire philosophy upon a series of lies as flimsy as a house of cards, would choose the Muslim ummah and Islam as their enemy du jour? That they have focused their attack on a religion whose members aren't interested in submitting to mere men, but who submit only to Allah (swt)?
Governments, in both their form and as individual entities, come and go; Allah (swt) and Islam remain.
"Have they, then, never journeyed about the earth and beheld what happened in the end to those [willful sinners] who lived before their time? God destroyed them utterly: and the like thereof awaits all who deny the truth." (47:10)
Hulagu Khan (1217-65), grandson of Chinggis Khan, siezed Baghdad in 1258, killing the last Abbasid caliph and making a pyramid of the skulls of Baghdad's scholars, religious leaders, and poets. What must the people of that time felt, seeing the wholesale slaughter and destruction? And yet the Mongol civilization that sacked Baghdad was long ago reduced to dust upon the wind, just as were many other civilizations that had threatened Islam in the past.
Better for all of us to fear Allah (swt). The neo-cons are merely the latest incarnation of a failed system of government.