Capitalism, Nationalism, and Militarism: A History of American Fascism

by Joe Brunoli

There is only one party in the US, the corporatist party. This is a fact that that is readily apparent and has been well documented by many people, from pundits like Noam ChomskyGore VidalRalph NaderChris Hedges and even Ann Coulter to comedians like George CarlinLee Camp and Jimmy Dore.

And if we are to be honest, having a government that is run by and for the corporations; a government in which the line between public service and private enterprise is increasingly blurred; a government that represents the perfect “marriage” between the powers of the State and those of corporations, means, by historical definition, that we have a “fascist” system of government.

The origins of modern fascism

Benito Mussolini is credited with starting modern day fascism. The word “fascism” comes from the Italian word fascismo, which in turn derives from Latin word fasces or “bundle’.

The fasces were symbols of the Roman Empire, the all-powerful state, and were carried by powerful men and magistrates as a symbol of imperium, or executive authority. Mussolini adopted the fasces as a symbol of his fascist state because it hearkened back to the omnipotence of the state under the Roman Empire – an empire which he was seeking to rebuild in the 20th century.

Mussolini believed that his new fascist empire would eclipse the old Roman Empire in terms of both scope and longevity. It is therefore a mistake to assume that had Mussolini died, Italian fascism would have died with him. Indeed, fascism is still alive and well in today’s Italy.

Likewise, we associate German fascism, Nazism, with Hitler. It almost seems that we think that there could be no Nazi Germany without this singularly evil person. And yet Hitler designed his Reich to last 1,000 years. Certainly he did not plan to be in charge all that time. And despite decades of “de-Nazification,” and as in Italy, fascism still exists there as well.

We need to stop thinking of fascism in terms of people and more in terms of systems. The fascist states built by men such as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet and Milosevic were not the cults of personality that we believe. Rather, they were highly integrated, culturally engineered societies that worked to perpetuate and strengthen the fascist System internally, while expanding the System against perceived enemies externally.

It is the “banality of evil” that makes fascism so insidious. The beating heart of Nazism was not to be found in Hitler’s fist pumping oratory, but in the dutiful record-keeping performed by thousands of clerks in hundreds of concentration camps all over Europe.

IN THE BEGINNING. . .

Although he was obsessed with the grandeur of the Roman Empire, Mussolini invented fascism as a decidedly modern form of government. Indeed, the fact that he defined fascism as a marriage between state and corporate power meant that fascism was, in many ways, a 20th century phenomenon, since transnational and trans-generational corporations were at the time themselves fairly new.

The US, famously, has a Constitution that is one of the oldest in the world. Indeed, the US system of government was conceived and established almost a century before corporations as we know them even came into existence.

So how could a fascist system come to be established in 1776?

The answer lies more in the underlying “big picture” philosophy of the fascist project. Yes, Mussolini sought to combine corporate power with state power, but that is only because corporations were the face of Capitalism at that time, and they represented the power and wealth of Capital in Italy.

In this way, we can say that the US system was a fascist one from the start, in that it was designed specifically to serve the interests of Capital, and Capital was merged with the institutions of government from the very start of the “American experiment.”

Although there were no modern corporations in colonial America, there was Capital. Lots of it. By 1860, there were 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined.

When it came time to draft the US Constitution, almost half of the delegates to the Continental Congress were slave owners. And all of them were white men who were landowners.

Mussolini and the Framers all opposed the “tyranny of the majority”

There has been much discussion lately about the Electoral College, and how this peculiarly American institution is “anti-democratic” because it allows the election of Presidents who have failed to win popular vote. The American Framers went to great lengths to put in safeguards against majority rule and to protect the power of the slave holding elite.

When defending the current system. conservatives always argue against the “tyranny of the majority.” The nation, they argue, should not be defined by the will of the largest group.  The allocation of Senators helps prevent this. The Electoral College does as well.

The result of these safeguards, however, is to create a system that is distinctly fascistic.

Indeed, Mussolini could have been referencing the US when he wrote the following in his “The Doctrine of Fascism“:

“The State…is no mere matter of numbers, the sums of the individuals forming the majority. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number.”

In short, Mussolini would have felt right at home with those elitist Founding Fathers who were determined to have a system that did not lower itself “to the level of the largest number.”

Like Mussolini, the Founding Fathers also emulated Rome

It is fairly common knowledge that the men who created America were huge fans of the Roman Empire. The “Framers”  such as Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, etc. were well educated men who had been schooled in the Classics.  This classical education played a key role in choosing a new political system.

The resemblance between the Ancient Roman Republic and America’s political system is something that is obvious even to the most cursory observer. America’s Executive branch of President & Vice President is similar to the two consuls of Rome. Furthermore, the judicial branch (Supreme Court), and legislative branch (Senate) were directly derived from the Ancient Roman model.

The Imperial Presidency of Richard Nixon

Fascism usually coalesces around a strong leader, a figure who embodies the State and the People. Mussolini famously declared, un popolo, un Duce (one people one leader). So how could the US Government become fascist if we do not have such a powerful dictator, if in fact all three branches of our government are “co-equal”?

The short answer is that they are NOT, in fact, co-equal, and the Executive branch has become, over time, ever more powerful.

My brother married a woman from Venezuela. She was highly educated, very smart, and when it came time for her to take her US citizenship test, she got only one question wrong. That questions was: “in the US government, who has the power to declare war?” She answered “The President” – and was stunned to find out that it was, in fact Congress. She could not believe it. She rattled off a list of the times that the US went to war based on the President’s say-so.

As a South American, she was more than familiar with all the US military adventures undertaken in the past 60 years, in which a President would appear on TV to announce that he had sent in US armed forces to invade or attack someone. How can this be? She asked. How can a President just violate the Constitution whenever he wants? Sadly, no one had a good answer to give her.

Looking back, I think the answer once more lies in the US’s emulation of the Roman Empire. In times of war, the Roman Senate would elect a “Dictator” – a unitary Executive to rule the country as an autocrat until the war was over or the emergency had passed.

It seems that the US Government is still following the Roman example. And although the US Constitution has no mention of a Dictator, the fact that the country has been at war for most of its history has meant that the Commander-in-Chief role has become ever more important. And this importance has allowed the Office of the President to accrue ever more power.

The phrase “Imperial Presidency” was first coined by historian Arthur Schlesinger in 1973. He wrote a book by that same name examining how the Nixon Administration represented the culmination of a power shift away from the Legislative branch and towards the Executive.

“In the late twentieth century Presidents made sweeping claims of inherent power, neglected the collection of consent, withheld information ad libitum and went to war against sovereign states. In so doing, they departed from the principles, if less the practice, of the early republic.”

The Unitary Executive Theory of Bush and Cheney

Alas, since Nixon it seems that the Presidency has only become more imperial. In fact, the George W. Bush Administration sought to actually codify the Imperial Presidency through constitutional means. Vice President Dick Cheney and his aide, Richard Addington, put forth a legal doctrine they called the Unitary Executive Theory.

According to the George W. Bush administration’s interpretation of the Unitary Executive Theory, the President’s power is restricted only by the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Congress can hold the president accountable only by censure, impeachment or constitutional amendment. Legislation restricting the executive branch has no power.

The Trump Administration has also promulgated the theory of the Unitary Executive. most recently, they asserted that the President had the power to unilaterally fire “at will” the Head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who had been appointed by Barack Obama. The conservative Supreme Court sided with Trump in a 5-4 decision along party lines.

On a side note, this case makes clear why the Republicans are so keen to have conservatives appointed to the courts. If they subscribe to the Unitary Executive Theory, then the Supreme Court is the only check on a President’s power. And of that court is a conservative court, then they will uphold the autocratic (some might say totalitarian) powers that the Unitary Executive Theory assigns to the President.

In summary, when we look at the structure of the US Federal Government, especially given the wealth, power and beliefs of the men who designed it, we see a government that was inherently disposed to the totalitarianism of wealthy interests. The wealth and the interests of the Capitalist class of slave owners exerted their power and influence over the nascent US Government long before the existence of the corporations that formed the power base of the modern fascist state as envisioned by Mussolini.

But there are other factors stemming from the founding of the United States that contributed to the creation of a fascist state.

White Settler Colonialism – the precursor to fascism?

One of the undeniable hallmarks of fascism – or indeed any form of totalitarianism – is the need to keep the population terrified and mobilized militarily. This is done through the creation of an enemy and the demonization of forces that seek to destroy society. It is this constant threat to the country that allows fascist leaders to rally the populace to their cause. This fear of the Other is also used to justify the most draconian laws and means of enforcement.

The US, as a white settler colonial nation, has always had a “built-in” enemy, an Other to demonize and to fear. In the beginning it was the Native Americans from whom the American settlers were stealing the land they planned to use to create their own nation. The threat of “Indian massacres” was real, as native peoples sought to defend their lands and expel the invaders, and so settlers in many colonies were actually required to have firearms in their house, ready to be used to repel native attacks. These anti-native gun laws later evolved into forming the organized militias that are described in the infamous Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Americans thus suffered in fear of their first “Red Menace” for the first hundred years of the Republic.

As the native American peoples were either eliminated through genocide or sequestered on remote reservations, the demonized threat to American society became the black man. Rebellious or escaped black slaves replaced Native Americans as the marauding barbarians who were poised to massacre white American families. Again, firearms played a huge role in defending the white settler colonialists from a non-white enemy.

This fascistic persecution of various groups of Others forms the very foundation of  American society in ways most Americans fail to see or understand. For example, the famous Colt revolver was innovated as a weapon for the US Army during the wars against Native peoples. The gun later became the favorite of slave drivers in the South. In both cases, it allowed white men to kill non-white men in a disproportionate number.

The hunting and recapture of escaped slaves gave rise to the Slave Patrols, which in turn became the highly armed, violent and brutal modern day police departments that we see in the US today. Likewise, the carceral system of American prisons grew out of the jails and work farms used to house and punish rebellious or escaped slaves.

After emancipation, fear of the newly freed black men continued to spur the growth in violence, firearm sales, imprisonment and punishment of the black population. White America still lived in fear.

So in terms of the totalitarian themes of militarism, racism and demonization of enemies, the US was already a fascist state even before the term existed.

There are general attributes by which one is supposed to be able to identify a fascist regime. Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany had these. Does America?

Hyper-Nationalism

Americans are often oblivious to the hyper-nationalism that surrounds them. The over-the-top rhetoric that is so commonplace in US political discourse would seem out of place if not downright comical in other modern democracies, yet in America it is almost mandatory to sing the unique praises of the USA in every speech, every policy utterance.

“American exceptionalism” is a concept that was first developed in European countries as a slight, a piece of criticism aimed at the arrogance and hubris of their US cousins. And yet this concept is worn as a badge of honor by Americans themselves.

Ronald Reagan, who is most responsible for the rise of modern American fascism, explained the unique brand of American hyper-nationalism in an address in 1982 to the Organization of American States (OAS). In his address, he gave an undeniably religious tinge to the doctrine of American exceptionalism.

“I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the earth who had a special love of faith and freedom.”

Although Reagan and his GOP were the fiercest promoters of American exceptionalism, the uniqueness of the US is invoked reflexively by politicians of both parties. And it is weaponized against them as well.

Barack Obama, for example, was attacked by the Right because he allegedly refused to say that America was “exceptional.” This caused Obama to overcompensate, spouting jingoistic pablum like this:

“What makes us special — a lot of times we talk about American exceptionalism and how much we love this country, and there are so many wonderful things about our country. But what makes us the envy of the world has not just been our ability to generate incredible wealth for a few people; it’s the fact that we’ve given everybody a chance to pursue their own true measure of happiness.”

Likewise, Donald Trump has been constantly attacked by the Left for abandoning and endangering American exceptionalism. Under Trump, they say, the US will descend to the level of other countries. Oh, the horror!

Trump was asked by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly whether he “respects” Russian President Putin, whom O’Reilly described as a killer. “You got a lot of killers,” Trump responded. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

And with that, the collective heads of the DC elite exploded. Trump had gone against the mantra of US fascist mythology, which says that the US is unique in the world in its unselfish defense of freedom, and that anyone we kill, essentially, deserves it.

Indeed, Dan Drezner, a prominent International Relations expert, decried Trump’s crime of honesty in an article in the Washington Post entitled, “America the unexceptional”:

“The United States under Trump now looks like other post-2008 democracies in Europe, Latin America, and the rest of the world…A Trump administration will not be leading the charge on democracy, free trade, or human rights promotion. Trump’s America looks just like a normal nation-state.”

THIS more than anything else, is the reason that the US elites in the government and the media want Trump gone. Trump is exposing one of the big lies that enable the maintenance of the fascist American state: the fact that, no matter how polluted and squalid, no matter how violent and vain, the USA is a force for good in the world, and Americans, no matter how impoverished or benighted, are simply better than everyone else.

Use of religion and “traditional values”

Another aspect of fascism is its elevation of religion and tradition. As a movement that defined itself primarily as anti-Bolshevik and anti-Socialist, it needed to differentiate itself in every way from its political antithesis. Where socialism was about tearing down old ways of thinking, fascism embraced the old ways; where Socialism was neutral on religion or even anti-religion, fascism sought to be pro-religion.

The Roman Catholic Church also perceived Socialism as its nemesis. In most countries, the “Mother Church” played a role in shaping and governing the society. It was thus vehemently opposed to any system in which religion did not participate in ruling.

Mussolini signed a pact, called the Lateran Treaty, with Pope Pius Xi in 1929. This was a working agreement that set forth how the Vatican would cooperate and support Fascist Italy. Hitler signed a similar agreement, called the Concordat, in 1933.

In fascist Spain under Franco, the Catholic Church was actually virtually branch of the central government. This position was merited, after all, because when the Spanish Civil War broke out, Pope Pius XI had helped rally the people to help Franco defeat the socialist loyalists.

When the people of Spain resisted the fascist takeover, Pius XI spoke out strongly, calling everyone who was not a fascist a Bolshevik, and blessing “all those who have taken the difficult and dangerous task to defend and reinstate the honor of God and Religion.”

Religiosity has always been a hallmark of fascism, most importantly because religious faith helps delineate the fascists from the “godless” Bolsheviks and Socialists.

The US, for example, went to great lengths to emphasize its “moral superiority” over the USSR by adding God everywhere. In 1954, the US Congress voted to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance that is recited by schoolchildren every day. This small addition was made at the behest of Reverend George M. Docherty, the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church where President Eisenhower worshiped. One day the Reverend gave a sermon lamenting the fact that God was missing from the pledge. He said, “it could be the pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow.” And so President Eisenhower pushed Congress to make the change.

Not satisfied with just changing the Pledge of Allegiance, Eisenhower and the US Congress set about finding other ways to add God to the public square, so that they could further distinguish themselves from the Godless Russians. And so, in 1956, two years after havong injected God into the pledge, Eisenhower signed a law that made “In God We Trust” the official motto of the United States. And, being true fascist Capitalists, the US started printing and minting money with the phrase “In God We Trust” the following year.

Surely these changes would have made Franco and Mussolini – and Pope Pius XI – smile.

The over-use of symbolism

When I was growing up in the 1970’s I found it remarkable how the Nazis and fascists used flags and other regalia so profusely. I thought it was silly, garish and even childish. Yet today we see this in America as well: the overabundant use of flags, whether as backdrops to a podium or spread across an entire football field, are extremely fascist in nature.

The obsession with the flag in American life is unique. I am pretty sure the US is the only country where children are forced to pledge allegiance to a flag. The flag pledge was developed by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy and introduced by the National Education Association in 1892. The pledge was designed to inculcate immigrants with patriotic respect and to generate nationalistic pride during the Spanish-American War. Bellamy gave precise guidelines on how the pledge was to be recited. One of these was a straight-armed salute to the flag.

The straight armed salute remained the official practice until 1942, when Congress passed the U.S. Flag Code, which officially adopted Bellamy’s Pledge of Allegiance but with the removal of the stiff-arm salute. Enemies had changed since 1892, and it was was seen as too closely resembling the fascist salute.

In addition to forced salutes to the flag,  there are constant efforts to make any “desecration” of the flag illegal.  And any US politician who fails to properly salute the flag or who fails to wear a flag pin on their lapel is immediately condemned as being unpatriotic and possibly worse.

Hyper-Militarism

The unique role that the military plays in American life is plain to see at every American professional football game, where flags and military personnel are paraded out to cheers and solemn praise.

One might think that these extreme displays of militaristic jingoism have evolved organically from an innate desire of the American people. But that is not entirely true. In fact, the US military has shaped the development of the sport of American football since the late 1800’s. It is not a coincidence that the “Army-Navy Game” has served as a morale booster in wartime and is still one of the most popular football events of the year. And recently it was revealed that the Pentagon actually paid 14 NFL teams a total of $5.4 billion to host “Salute the Troops” and other recruiting events at their games.

There is no question that American football has taken on the importance of the “Bread and Circuses” policy of the Roman Empire during the time of its dictatorial regime.

Demonization of The Enemy

Fascism, like most forms of totalitarianism, requires that a threat to the people be identified and demonized. As I mentioned above, for the first part of its history, America had the Native People to play that role. Thereafter it was runaway or rebellious slaves. Then there was the Spanish-American War, followed by WWI and then WWII, wherein America had to defend itself against bloodthirsty hordes abroad and spies and saboteurs at home.

Following WWII, the US settled into a Manichean struggle with their arch nemesis, the USSR. Although the two countries had been allies in the war against Hitler’s Germany, the end of WWII meant that there were only two great powers left standing: the USA and the Soviet Union. And, with the development of the Russian A-bomb, that struggle expanded to engulf the entire world, as each side tried to expand its sphere of influence in every way possible short of nuclear conflict.

While the Cold War is best known for the various armed conflicts, rebellions and civil wars that it caused around the world, perhaps the most important aspect of the Cold War was its impact in domestic US society.

With the Axis threat neutralized, the fascist US ruling class had to find another enemy to demonize. And so Americans were subjected to their second “Red Menace” – the existential threat of the “international Communist conspiracy.”

The characterization of socialism and the Russians as deadly threats proved useful also in the suppression of social justice movements. Black leaders from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, Jr. were attacked as communists. People or groups that advocated for equal rights were condemned as “useful idiots” of the Kremlin. In the South, people believed that black people’s desire for equality and rights was the result of “communist agitators.”

Fear of “communist infiltration” was used as a bludgeon to eradicate and suppress all manner of progressive organizations in the US. There had always been an active labor movement in the US, and prior to WWII, the US had a very vital American Communist Party as well as the American Socialist Party. These leftist parties had been very active during the years of the Great Depression and played a role in the pro-worker policies of FDR’s New Deal.

Those New Deal policies, however, were only implemented in order to stave off a possible worker revolt such as happened in Russia. The “socialist” policies and programs enacted by Roosevelt did not represent an evolution or a movement by the US towards socialism. Quite the contrary, the New Deal concessions to the working class were meant to act as a political “fire break” to prevent any actual gains in power by the working class.

The end of WWII signaled the unfettered return of Capitalism to America. The industrial might of the US continued to grow apace, as the US took advantage of its singular position of being the only industrialized country to still have its manufacturing base intact and its economic engines unscathed by the world war. Indeed, the US accounted for almost 40% of the global GDP in the post-war period.The US was at full employment, and life for the average worker seemed to be getting better.

So with the Capitalist class firmly in charge, and the threat of a worker’s revolution removed, it was time to continue the war against socialism, America’s greatest enemy.

Indeed, if there is one thing that defines and unites all fascist movements, it is the fact that they are rabidly, completely and fanatically anti-socialist.

FASCISM IS REALLY JUST “MILITANT ANTI-SOCIALISM”

I have lived for several years in Italy and Spain, and I have always been impressed by the cavalier manner in which Italians and Spaniards identify themselves as fascists. The word simply does not have the negative connotations that it does in the US.

In Italy and Spain, where fascism enjoyed a very widespread popularity, the meaning of fascism is more anodyne. It means, more than anything else, to oppose Socialism and Communism.

Remember, fascism arose in 1920’s Italy – just a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Like Germany, Italy has always had very vibrant and active Communist and Socialist movements, and fascism developed as a reaction to Bolshevism and the move towards communism.

More than anything else, European fascism was a movement to fight socialism.

The Spanish Civil War was a bloody example of the true nature of fascism. On one side, there was the Second Spanish Republic, a socialist government that was allied with the USSR. On the other side was Francisco Franco and his fascist Falangists, allied with Hitler and Mussolini.

The people I know in Europe today who are anti-socialist, pro-military, hyper-nationalistic, religious and who revere “traditional values” are relatively happy to call themselves fascist. Because that is what they are.

But we Americans fought fascism in WWII, We cannot go around saying that we are fascists. So we say we are Capitalists.

This has never really made any sense. It is simply ridiculous to think that a farmer or a worker who owns no stocks and barely pays their bills every month – in short someone without one cent in Capital – would nonetheless proudly call themselves a Capitalist.

I really think that this is simply due to an aversion to the word fascist. Yes, the American elite have built a fascist State, but we don’t call it that. We say we are Capitalists and, as Nancy Pelosi famously said, “that’s just the way it is.”

Because of such sloganeering, many Americans believe incorrectly that capitalism is a form of society. It is not. Capitalism has no political or social component. It is purely an economic system.

By contrast, fascism is a political and social system, but not an economic one. So you can see how fascism and capitalism complement each other. Fascism is a political and social order in search of an economic system; capitalism is an economic system in search of a political and social order in which to operate.

Socialism is different from fascism and capitalism because it embodies all three components of a human society: it is at once a political, a social and an economic system.

And that is why fascists perceive socialism to be their mortal enemy. Socialism poses a “triple threat” to fascism, embodying as it does a cohesive and unified alternative to the fascist-capitalist construct.

So what do you call a self-proclaimed capitalist who has no capital? What do you call someone who works for a living, has no investments, but is nonetheless rabidly anti-socialist, pro-military, hyper-nationalistic, and terrified of enemies both at home and abroad?

The answer, at least for Europeans,  is that you call that person a fascist.

And yet there was also a time in the USA when the word fascist was not viewed as a negative. A time when Benito Mussolini was, in fact, the darling of the American ruling elite.

America’s love affair with Italian fascism

As Mussolini came to power, he was greeted with admiration and support by the US Capitalist ruling class – even by FDR himself. As Noam Chomsky pointed out in this interview:

“Roosevelt himself had a mixed attitude. For example, he was pretty supportive of Mussolini’s fascism, in fact described Mussolini as “that admirable Italian gentleman.” He later concluded that Mussolini had been misled by his association with Hitler and had been led kind of down the wrong path. But the American business community, the power systems in the United States were highly supportive of Mussolini.”

Indeed, the US is full of fascist symbology, especially in Washington, DC. Much of the planning and some of the construction for the Federal Triangle project occurred during the Hoover administration (1929–33), which was when Mussolini was at the height of his popularity – both in Italy and among US elites.

Andrew Mellon, who served as Treasury secretary until 1932, personally oversaw much of the planning and design for the Capitol area. He was an early and durable Mussolini fan, and fasces – those symbols of Mussolini’s power – are to be found everywhere in Mellon’s construction projects.

It is difficult to say whether these fascist symbols were inspired by Mussolini’s Italy or directly by the Roman Empire, but the prominent and abundant use of the fasces as a symbol of American power is undeniable.

In the late twenties and thirties, renowned US publisher Henry Luce was accused of harboring fascist tendencies. His accusers pointed primarily to the editorial practices of  Fortune and its older sibling, Time. In particular, Time was well-known in its support of Mussolini. As the historian Robert Herzstein notes, “When important issues were at stake, one knew where Time‘s editors stood …. The magazine approved of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, il Duce.”

Luce devoted the entire July 1934 issue of Fortune Magazine to Fascist Italy, praising Mussolini and his government as modern and forward thinking, and above all, moral.

2014 article in the City Journal covered the use of fascist symbolism in Washington:

“…when fasces started popping up on major federal buildings in Washington, D.C., in the 1920s and 1930s, no politically aware citizen could have been ignorant of the connotation. American architects knew of Mussolini’s grandiose building projects, and some publicly lauded them. Cass Gilbert, who designed the Supreme Court building, met Mussolini on a 1927 visit to Italy to procure marble for the project. No doubt Gilbert saw the countless fasces in Italian architecture. He was also favorably impressed by Il Duce himself.”

Whether the American elite took the fasces as a symbol from Mussolini, or whether they – like Mussolini himself – took them directly from Roman imperial iconography, is a distinction without a difference.

America’s pro-fascist postwar policies

Fascism is simply a form of extreme militant capitalism, and that is what “American exceptionalism” is all about. The one thing that unites all fascist regimes, from Mussolini to Pinochet, is a deep hatred of socialism. The fascism of the 1930’s was based on anti-Bolshevism, and the fascism of the Cold War was propped up and supported by the USA as a bulwark against the USSR.

Indeed, during the period 1973 to 1992 alone, the US actively supported and protected brutal fascist regimes all throughout Latin America and the Middle East. As Alex Henderson writes in a 2015 AlterNet article entitled “7 Fascist Regimes Enthusiastically Supported by America”:

The fascist regimes of Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain became the blueprint for a long list of fascist dictators in Latin America, from Juan María Bordaberry in Uruguay to Tuburcio Andino in Honduras to Fulgencio Batista (another U.S. ally) in Cuba. And the Mussolini/Franco model of governing was also a major influence on the Somoza dynasty, which ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for decades and did so with the blessing of the U.S. government. Torture was the norm under the Somozas.

Fascism is as fascism does. The US is a Capitalist oligarchy that views Socialism as an existential threat. It has always been that way. The US has always been willing to work with fascists, such as in Operation Paperclip and the thousands of high level Nazis that found asylum – and important government jobs – in the US after WWII.

WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE UNDER “FASCISM, AMERICAN STYLE”

The US is a fascist one party state. It has a strong authoritarian leader chosen by the oligarchy. Sometimes that leader is a Democrat, sometimes a Republican. But they all have quasi-dictatorial powers and are truly autonomous when it comes to waging war, invading countries and building and expanding the Empire.

Oh, we don’t call our Leader by vulgar names such as Führer or Duce, that would be too obvious. No, we prefer to wring our hands and warn about the dangers posed by “the Imperial Presidency” and the “Unitary Executive” – sonorous euphemisms to describe the startlingly autocratic and fascistic power structure that rules the country.

We are outraged and dismayed when we find out that we are bombing countries and killing children in a dozen countries, conducting active military and special ops in 80+ countries, spending 63% of our tax dollars on a war machine that we don’t even need. We live in a society where our own government spies on us through a sophisticated surveillance state that has been built up over three different Administrations. And yet, we are powerless to do anything. Why? Because we live in a country where Corporate Power has been merged with Government Authority. This was the very definition of fascism according to Benito Mussolini.

Photo: Getty Images

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Post-Brunch Dissident Detox Hour 9/26: AOC's "Apology," Bernie vs. CBS, Biden's Border Policies Due Dissidence

Sorry Centrists, It Was Biden’s Republican-Lite Campaign That Hurt Down Ballot Democrats

by Joe Brunoli

The Democrats have won a Pyrrhic victory with Joe Biden. They got rid of Trump, but in electing Joe Biden they may have set the Democratic Party on a death spiral that could culminate in four years.

One surprisingly disastrous aspect of the 2020 election is the poor performance of “down ticket” Democrats running for Congress and State legislatures. Democrats performed horribly: they lost 6–10 seats in the House and failed to take back the Senate.

In short, the “down ballot carnage” that Jim Clyburn warned would happen if Bernie Sanders were the nominee has come to pass — but with the nominee that Clyburn himself helped to capture the nomination.

Is the disastrous showing by the Democrats down-ballot this year a harbinger of losses to come?

One thing we must examine is the fact that there was a huge surge in voter turnout, but that surge failed to help the Democrats. Historically, such a jump in voter participation would have meant an advantage for Democrats. High turnout, traditionally, has helped Democrats because it meant that the multiracial working class and the young showed up.

Those cohorts showed up, alright. But a large and surprising share of them either voted for Trump or else voted only “against Trump” and left the down ballot races blank.

In hindsight, this should not be surprising. The one theme of Biden’s campaign, such as it was, was “orange man bad.” Biden never made the case for electing Democrats. He spent most of the race virtue signaling how Republicans were good folks and Trump was an aberration. Biden was openly courting Republicans, praised many Republicans that he had worked with, and openly vetted Republicans for his cabinet. Hell, he even suggested in one early interview that he would consider picking a Republican as his running mate.

The Democratic National Convention was essentially a cavalcade of “good” Republicans endorsing Biden as being, for all intents and purposes, another “good” Republican — one who had beaten the socialist and would go on to promote “common sense” moderate policies. One who would never let the Bernie wing “push him left.”

Exit polls from the Democratic Primaries showed that while voters preferred Bernie’s policies, they believed that Biden had a better chance to beat Trump. And so the idea of reinvigorating the Democratic Party and pursuing activist changes in policy, combating Trumpism with a Democratic political counter narrative, was lost, subsumed by the one sole Prime Directive of removing Trump from office.

In short, Biden’s one electoral mission was to achieve what 4 years of Russiagate and an impeachment trial could not do, and nothing more.

And that was how Biden campaigned. The Democratic strategy was to kick the socialist Left to the curb while “reaching out” to “Republicans of good faith” and other moderates to enlist them in the crusade to oust Trump.

In this they succeeded. Voters turned out in droves. But many of those new-found voters were Republican-leaning. And many others were casual voters who only wanted to vote against Trump.

Biden never really campaigned hard for “Democratic values”. He dared not, lest he alienate those suburban moderates and Republicans he was targeting.

And so the Biden campaign could not make the case to flip the Senate. They could not deliver a critique of the GOP in general; they could only criticize Trump.

And so a preponderance of those voters who did care about the Senate were Republicans, or else independents who dislike Democrats.

Another thing that we saw this year is that the realignment of the parties is almost complete. The GOP, especially under Trump, has now become the party of the working class, non-college educated whites and, increasingly, people of color. Trump actually increased his vote share among blacks, Latinos and women. Ironically, the only demographic in which Trump lost share was among white men. White women, like my sister, went for Trump by 54%. This was not hatred of Hillary. It was a rejection of the Democrats.

And as I mentioned up top, the expansion of voting options also helped the working class Trumpists make themselves heard.

I am looking at these down ballot races that the Democrats lost, and in every case there was a substantial number of blank ballots. Biden had zero coat tails. But then, that was never the point.

In Maine, for example, Biden won handily, but so did Susan Collins, a candidate all the polls had losing by double digits. Collins won by 55,000 votes. But 50,000 voters who voted for the top of the ticket failed to cast a vote in that Senate race. You can bet those voters were Biden voters. Or, more aptly put, they were “single issue” voters whose single issue was getting rid of Trump.

Let’s look at Florida’s 26th and 27th Congressional Districts, which include Miami-Dade County. Although Biden lost Florida, he won BOTH these Districts comfortably with 54% of the vote in each. The Cook Political Index rates FL26 a D+6, and FL 27 a D+5. So you would think the Democrats should have won in these deep “blue” districts that went so heavily for the Democrats’ top of the ticket, right?

Wrong. The incumbent Democrat for FL26, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, lost by almost 12,000 votes. Likewise, the incumbent Democrat for FL27, Clinton retread Donna Shalala, also lost by almost 10,000 votes.

It could have gone differently. Both these losers were “moderates” who opposed Medicare For All and remained silent on Florida’s Amendment 2 to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour (the amendment won with 62%). Both candidates had won primaries against progressives who did support Medicare For All as well as other progressive policies. Both were enthusiastically and publicly supported by Nancy Pelosi.

In Georgia, Jon Ossoff is down by 90,000 votes in his race against the Republican David Perdue. But 98,000 voters who voted for President failed to vote in this race. Republicans never neglect to vote. These blank ballots were from Biden voters.

I am angry because one of the main arguments against Bernie was that he would hurt down ballot Democratic candidates. Jim Clyburn dictated the results of the South Carolina race by saying that Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket would cause “carnage” down ballot.

Well, it turns out Biden did exactly that.

Joe Brunoli joined the podcast to discuss this and other election-related topics. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Post-Brunch Dissident Detox Hour 9/26: AOC's "Apology," Bernie vs. CBS, Biden's Border Policies Due Dissidence

Without the ‘Threat’ of Communism, There’d Have Been No New Deal

by Joe Brunoli

PART 1: A LITTLE REVOLUTION CAN BE GOOD

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is often credited with having “saved Capitalism in America”. Indeed, FDR even described himself as “the greatest friend the profit system ever had.” This is an obvious truth when taken in the historical context. When FDR took office, the country was in the midst of a deep depression which for many signaled the impending fall of capitalism. Working people were being recruited in droves by a very active and vital American Communist Party as well as the American Socialist Party, and populist movements were sprouting up all over. In the face of these poplar uprisings, the American ruling class was (rightly) worried that the militancy caused by massive wealth inequality and worker exploitation that had toppled the Czar’s regime only a few years earlier could spread to the shores of the USA.

In response to the perceived threat, Roosevelt instituted the New Deal with all its worker protections and social programs, but perhaps his greatest achievement was to convince the American 1% (what he called the “Economic Royalists”) that if they wanted to keep what they had, they would need to share at least a little with the other 99%. Otherwise, they would see maddened hordes of impoverished Americans storming the gated communities in wealthy enclaves from the Hamptons to the Hollywood Hills.

It can be argued, then, that had there been no November Revolution in Russia in 1917, there might not have been a New Deal in America 15 years later. And many forget that FDR was attacked repeatedly from the LEFT by grassroots populist movements led by the likes of Huey LongFrancis TownsendFather Charles E. Coughlin and the radical Iowa Farm Union leader Milo Reno. There was revolution in the air back then, and many populists and workers’ advocates looked to the USSR as a model of what could be achieved. The balance that FDR had to strike between his capitalist cohorts and the populist workers’ movements was struck in an environment in which a worldwide socialist/communist movement, spearheaded by the Soviet Union, was a very real thing.

The Marshall Plan — Keeping Europe in the Capitalist System

The USA has often been praised for its cunning pragmatism in rebuilding Europe and Asia in the wake of WWII. The Marshall Plan saw thousands of American advisors “helping” Germany, Italy, Japan, and others rebuild their countries into “thriving Democracies.” The Marshall Plan is often described in economic terms as a clever way for the US to create new markets for all its surplus production capacity, but there was also a very large political and economic component.

Indeed, the countries in Europe and Japan inserted into their new constitutions the main tenets of what FDR called his “Second Bill of Rights” — also known as the “Economic Bill of Rights.” This document stated that every citizen had the right to a decent housing, employment with dignity and a living wage, free health care, a generous pension and other “rights” that, ironically, Americans now associate more with Europe than with the New Deal. This is because FDR was unable to get his Second Bill of Rights passed by the Republican-controlled Congress. Nonetheless, his administration, under the aegis of the Marshall Plan, was able to seed these basic principles abroad and they were eventually instituted in Europe and Japan.

These Economic Rights were seen as necessary to stave off the threat of Soviet Communism, which was already being imposed in Eastern Europe and which was infiltrating Western Europe. Each major European country had an active Communist Party, and indeed one of the most blatant cases of the CIA “fixing” an election happened in 1948, when US Intelligence forces interfered to prevent a Communist from becoming Prime Minister of Italy[Side note: this is why many Italians laugh when they hear Americans cry foul about so-called Russian “election meddling”].

PART 2: THE BENEFITS OF THE COLD WAR

The Rise of the Military Industrial Complex

I am sure most of my readers are familiar with President Eisenhower’s address warning about the dangers posed by the Military Industrial Complex.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

The MIC was a major force in determining US foreign policy during the Cold War. But both America’s military and Corporate America were kept in check by a countervailing force: the USSR. The Soviet Union and the USA enjoyed a fairly stable relationship based on “mutual assured destruction” (MAD); a doctrine that was actually just a simple acknowledgment that any war between the two powers would lead to a “doomsday scenario” in which both sides would be incinerated in a massive nuclear exchange. Yes, there were tense episodes like the Cuban Missile Crisis. And yes, there was a sort of constant stress under the threat of MAD, evinced in the frequent “duck and cover” drills that young schoolchildren like me had to go through, and through various films like Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove. But by and large, the bipolar balance of power that existed under the Cold War remained relatively stable, if not exactly peaceful (Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, etc.).

The existence of the USSR gave the US a yardstick by which to measure its own dedication of resources to the military. The MIC was charged with ensuring that there was no “missile gap” — or indeed a gap in any area where the US might be behind the USSR in terms of military might. But by the same token, achieving parity or even superiority at least offered a sort of benchmark, a point at which Congress could say, “that is enough.”

Military adventurism was also held in check by the Soviets. Any move internationally had to be evaluated and even-tempered by the limitations imposed by “what the Soviets might do.”

The Civil Rights and the Peace Movements

It is not entirely coincidental that the Cold War period also saw some of the most major advances in social and economic justice take place in America. Racial inequality was a major propaganda tool used by the Soviets to portray America as a deeply divided and unequal society, and it must be acknowledged that LBJ’s Great Society was successful in part due to pressure imposed by social movements. It is now widely believed that the Black Panther Party and Stokely Carmichael had ties to the USSR.

That the Soviets would try to foment race war in the US is not in dispute; it should be also accepted, however, that the Civil Rights gains that took place in the late 60’s were partly due to that perceived influence and the sensitivity of the American ruling elite to the charges of American hypocrisy in preaching democracy and human rights abroad while denying them to large groups of people at home.

The BPP was not the only movement fueled by Sovietism. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)were increasingly militant.

SDS in turn gave rise in the early 1970’s to a campaign of bombings of US federal buildings across the country, conducted by the Weather Underground, a terrorist organization that “rationalized militancy as the only recourse remaining to combat an unjust system.”

Just as FDR saw the need to give the people economic progress in order to stave off a potential Soviet-style Communist revolution, so did LBJ and others see the need to to neutralize a growing militancy and calls for social revolution by passing Civil Rights laws and tamping down the overt militarism that had led to the Vietnam War.

Again, one needs to wonder: had there been no Soviet Union, no world power offering an alternative to US-style capitalism and imperialism, would the Civil Rights activists of the 60’s and 70’s have had the foundation and framework with which to organize their campaigns? Would LBJ and even Nixon have ever been forced — by a combination of shame, fear and pragmatism — to make concessions in terms of social and economic justice?

PART 3: THE FALL OF THE USSR AND THE RISE OF HYPER-CAPITALISM AND HYPER-MILITARISM

I am not going to discuss the socioeconomic disaster that befell Russia in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. But I will offer some background points to frame the effect that the collapse of the USSR had on America and the rest of the world.

“Yanks to the Rescue”

Americans bragged about meddling in Russian politics.

The fall of the Soviet Union offered capitalists in the West — and especially the US — an amazing chance to make money. Transitioning from a communist “command economy” to a capitalist “market economy” meant new opportunities for “economic cooperation.” And the US did everything it could to ensure that they had a willing partner in the Kremlin — that’s why they sent advisors to help Boris Yeltsin win the Presidency in 1994.

This overt election meddling by the US was seen in the West as a positive thing — a way to bring Russia into the capitalist / neoliberal fold. And it worked. Russia got all of the hard core crony capitalism and none of the pesky “watchdog” groups or legislation.

“The world is a business, Mr. Beale”

The West “won” the Cold War: Communist Russia was defeated, and the collapse of the USSR was seen not as the demise of a totalitarian power but as ideological proof that socialism and communism simply were not legitimate forms of statehood or society; that a truly egalitarian system without the profit motive and massive wealth inequality simply could not exist. Capitalism had WON.

And so the dogs of predatory capitalism were let loose upon the world. The entire world became one big market. The fevered dreams of Ned Beatty’s character in Network became, at long last, a reality.

Gracious in Victory — NOT

Yes, the capitalist West “won” the Cold War. Yet, there was no Marshall Plan to help the vanquished enemy. Russia was pillaged and looted by the West — so much so that the life expectancy in Russia actually declined in the 90’s. The standard of living in Russia rapidly approached that of a third world nation. Just as significantly, the military might of the USSR was quickly dissipated, sold off, carved up and scattered across the international arms markets. Much of the Soviet ICBM arsenal was located in the Ukraine, which decommissioned and removed them (under Western supervision) once they became independent.

Perhaps the most significant event following the collapse of the USSR, both economically and symbolically, was the Reunification of Germany. East Germany was the industrial powerhouse of the USSR and the military linchpin of the Warsaw Pact. Allowing the German Democratic Republic (East) to become part of the Federal Republic of Germany (West) was a HUGE deal. Given that 27 million Russians had died fighting the Germans in WWII, you can only imagine the trepidation with which Gorbachev and the Russian military regarded the reconstitution of a large, powerful German State.

In direct bilateral talks with the Reagan and then Bush (41) Administrations, the US and Gorbachev agreed that if Russia allowed the peaceful reunification of Germany to proceed, NATO would not expand “one inch past Berlin.”

This made sense, as the Warsaw Pact — the Russian led military alliance that had faced off against NATO all during the Cold War — was dissolved in 1991, immediately following the withdrawal of East Germany as a result of the German Reunification in 1990.

Unfortunately, this agreement not to expand NATO Eastward was never codified into a written treaty, and the Americans broke the agreement as soon as Bill Clinton took office in 1992.

NATO Expansion over the years

Clinton embarked on a program of NATO expansion, adding Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and beginning talks with other potential members.

The result: since the fall of the Soviet Union, 13 new NATO members have added. These new members completely surround Russia’s borders from the Baltic States in the north to Georgia in the South. The expansion continues today, with the US pushing hard to get Ukraine not only into the EU but also into NATO. Indeed, the Russian annexation of Crimea is widely seen as a pre-emptive move so that the Russian Black Sea Fleet Base (one of the largest Russian military bases), which is located in Crimea, would not suddenly find itself inside of a NATO country. Such a scenario could have easily triggered WW3.

The mendacity of the West in dealing with post-Soviet Russia was, perhaps, to be expected. Clinton, and the US Presidents that followed him, all insisted on doing “victory laps” to cement US hegemony. As the “lone Superpower”, the US simply cannot resist “spiking the football” even today. This is, I suppose, a way of “dancing on the grave” of Communism, and it is something that every President has done since the fall of the USSR. The net effect of this geopolitical gloating, however, has been to make the world a very dangerous place.

PART 4: THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE FALL OF THE USSR ON AMERICA AND THE WORLD

I suppose it may still be difficult to see how the fall of the Soviet Union had a terrible and negative effect on the USA and the West. Here, then, is a brief summary and analysis of just how and why the disappearance of Soviet Communism from the global stage has negatively impacted the world and its peoples.

The Rise of Neoliberalism

It is no wonder, and certainly not a coincidence, that the fall of the Soviet Union fuelled the rise of neoliberalism in the Western Democracies. Of course, neoliberalism had been around for a long time — the movie Network referenced above was actually from 1976, long before the collapse of the USSR. But neoliberalism, that is, the relentless pursuit of “market-based” solutions for society, had always been seen as a right-wing, reactionary concept.

Author’s note: If you are unfamiliar with what neoliberalism actually is, I have written a primer to explain and define the concept.

Reagan Led the Way

Reaganism, such as it was practiced, was the first beak-through in making neoliberalism “mainstream.” Reagan said that government was not the solution to the problem, but rather, government was the problem. Only the market and private enterprise could make people’s lives better and enrich society at all levels. Reagan’s famous quip regarding the ineptitude and even danger posed by the government clearly illuminates the neoliberal philosophy:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” 

This represented a complete break from the FDR New Deal philosophy in which government was seen as a force for good, a way to help people.

Reagan and his form of neoliberal hyper-capitalism were credited with having “defeated” the Soviet Union and Communism. This proved a powerful counter argument to the attacks from the American Left, which wanted to preserve the economic safety net and the social compact that had been forged by the New Deal Democrats under FDR, Truman and LBJ.

Neoliberal conservatives argued that because the US was so rich and powerful under Reagan, the Soviets collapsed because they could not “keep up” in terms of military spending. Reaganomics were working, they said, and they were making the world safe for democracy at last.

In reality, however, the fall of the USSR and the triumph of Reagan actually just made the world safe for unbridled capitalism and its resultant plutocracy. This was proven, unfortunately, by Reagan’s eventual successor, a self-proclaimed “New Democrat” named Bill Clinton.

Clinton, Blair and the “Third Way” of Neoliberalism

This is where “liberalism” went wrong, with these grinning corporate sellouts.

Bill Clinton and his counterpart, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK, were the first so-called “liberal” leaders to came to power in their countries after the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting celebration and canonization of their respective “conservative” predecessors, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
With the “fall of communism” as a backdrop, Clinton and Blair adopted the neoliberal playbook of the Reagan/Thatcher era and gave it a thin veneer of “liberal” dogma in the areas of diversity, human rights and social justice. They paid lip service to supporting Labor, even as they worked to undermine unions and the working class. They called their new paradigm the “Third Way” and called themselves “New Democrats” in the US and “New Labour” in the UK.

The New Democrats were represented in the US by the Democratic Leadership Council, a pro-corporatist arm of the Party that drew its power from a base comprised of Corporate America and Wall Street. Indeed, when Bill Clinton was Chair of the DLC, its Executive Board was made up of representatives from 28 corporations, including the Koch Brothers.

It was during this time that the Democrats and the Labour Party turned decidedly away from their working class base, in favour of big corporate and financial interests. After all, the Soviet Union was gone, international Communism was no longer a threat, and global capitalism was now the undisputed “winning side” in the great struggle between workers and owners, between wage earners and Management. Money was now everything, and making money was the only thing that mattered. A person’s worth could now be determined not by any intrinsic values, but by what “price” they could fetch in the marketplace (what they now called the “Job Market”).

This is how the Democratic Party became the party of white-collar professionals and the educated elites, as Thomas Frank so masterfully described in his seminal books, What’s the Matter with Kansas and Listen, Liberal. According to the new, DLC-driven Democratic Party, neoliberal globalization and job-killing trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP were fine, people just needed to have the right education and societal status in order to thrive in the new “global economy’. There was no longer a place for the Trade Unionist Movement in the new Democratic Party. Indeed, manufacturing was seen as “old technology” and was no longer the way of the future. Under the new, neoliberal regime, America was no longer in the business of making things. Except, of course, when it came to WAR.

Peace Dividend? What Peace Dividend?

There was a brief moment in time when people actually believed that the end of the Cold War would deliver a “Peace Dividend” to the American people in the form of renewed and increased investment in non-military development and government expenditures.

Sadly, this was not to be.

It has become painfully obvious to any rational observer that the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned about was not ready to curtail its activities — and profits — simply because the US no longer faced a global threat from international communism in the form of the USSR. No, they found plenty of other ways to keep America on a war footing, finally settling on an undefined and interminable “War on Terror”. This is actually better than the Cold War, because now there is not a single, physical, definable enemy like the Soviet Union. Now there is an enemy that is a concept – a vague, nebulous idea that can be defined in whatever way the US arms industry and the Pentagon wish to do so. The world is their oyster.

Without a Soviet Union to push back on US hegemony, the US military has expanded to encompass almost the entire world. The US currently maintains over 1,000 bases, with active duty special forces and other military personnel serving in 138 countries. It is obscene.

US Special Forces are now active in 70% of the world’s countries.

FINAL PART: HOW THE FALL OF THE USSR KILLED THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

For me, as a lifelong Democrat, perhaps the most appalling result of the fall of the USSR was the fact that it led to the destruction of the Democratic Party.

Now, when I say Democratic Party, I mean the electoral powerhouse that was built under FDR; the party that had a total lock on the Congress for 70+ years. The party that represented the vast majority of Americans: working people, the middle class, and yes, liberals and progressives.

Without the USSR there would have been no New Deal

As I mentioned above, FDR’s greatest achievement — according to the man himself — was that he saved capitalism in America. I also explained that he had to convince those of his own privileged class (the 1%) to share some of the wealth with working people. But he could only make that case by scaring them with the terrifying spectre of a communist revolution in America; of the progressive populists, farmers and factory workers, joining up to seize control of the country from those “Economic Royalists.”

But FDR could only make that threat credible because there was an example to point to: RUSSIA. What had befallen the Romanoffs and the Russian aristocracy could also happen to the Vanderbilts, the Pierponts, the Morgans, the Hearsts and yes, the Roosevelts.

But, FDR had to convince the 99% to go along with his plan as well.

The official name of almost every Communist or Socialist Party contained some variation of the word “worker”. Roosevelt, in his New Deal, had to convince the workers in America that their needs would be met, their views heard, their grievances addressed, not by the increasingly popular communist, socialist or radical progressive parties, but rather by the solid, traditional Democratic Party. Under FDR’s guidance, the Democrats became that party for working people.

Americans bought FDR’s argument; they saw the New Deal legislation take hold; they came to appreciate the new, worker-oriented institutions that were created to make life better for the working class. The move towards communism was thwarted and capitalism in America was indeed saved.

Once the USSR was gone, the New Deal came under attack – by Democrats

When the Soviet Union went away, so too did the need to keep the American working class satisfied. They had been lulled into a sense of well-being as the New Deal and the Post-WWII boom made the US the envy of the world. Wages increased, single worker households did well; blue-collar and white-collar workers were about on par, money wise, thanks to unions. The American Way of Life could be safely and effectively compared with that of the USSR because workers in America had it so good.

The trouble started when there was no longer a need to make that comparison.

Once capitalism had won, and the global economy was declared, the American worker became just another asset, a cost factor to be compared with workers elsewhere. Management determined what workers should be paid. And if the workers wanted too much, then management could just move to a cheaper country.
In the late 1990’s, at the height of Bill Clinton’s neoliberal restructuring of the American economy, Jack Welch, the iconic CEO of GE, famously said, “Ideally, you’d have every plant you own on a barge.”

This quote, and its associated fame, shows just how far America has fallen in terms of respect for workers. There is none. So-called “Right to Work” legislation is spreading across the country, making it impossible for workers to form unions, to negotiate for their wages — to have a say in their own lives. And if they try to take a stand, then management simply threatens to shut down and move to a low-wage country. It is a global “race to the bottom” that would probably not succeed if there were still a USSR acting as a global player and promulgating the idea of the ascendance, the elevation of workers in society.

The Democratic Party lumbered along for 30 years in their neoliberal fashion, led by the corrupt DLC of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, spurning workers, ignoring labor and unions, knowing that the working class had nowhere else to go. This lasted up until 2016, when workers, in desperation, turned to Donald Trump, if only to prove that they did, after all, have somewhere else to go.

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Post-Brunch Dissident Detox Hour 9/26: AOC's "Apology," Bernie vs. CBS, Biden's Border Policies Due Dissidence