Sunday, September 9, 2012

Creeping Fascism?

Not too long ago President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act. Most of it concerns funding for the military but at the end there are some sections that essentially allow the military to arrest American citizens, suspected of connections with terrorism, without warrants and to hold them indefinitely without bringing them before a judge for an arraignment. This part of the act is now in litigation. A federal judge in New York has declared those sections unconstitutional, but it is not clear that the government will respect that judicial decision.
Even more recently, a story in the New York Times reveals that since 2002 the United States government has been spying on its own citizens. The National Security Agency, established for spying abroad, since 2002 has used a programs written by one William Binney for espionage on the Soviet Union to collect immense amounts of data about every American citizens, to be stored in a very large computer facility under construction in Utah. Binney has spoken out about this top secret program--”Stellar Wind”--concerned that it was clearly illegal, convened the Constitution and Bill of Rights and constitutes a serious threat to our democracy. Spying on its citizens is typical of autocratic governments.
Here are two examples of the government blatantly ignoring the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The freedoms of American citizens apparently do not count for much in the eyes of the present administration, or of its predecessors under George W. Bush.
Is this the beginning of fascism in America?
Fascism is a complex phenomenon. One of its chief characteristics is an authoritarian government that has no regard for individual liberties and constitutional protections of free speech or against arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention. Fascist governments tend to be very nationalistic; they are supportive of large corporations, and are vicious in their persecution of labor organizations. The directors of large corporations have a significant role in Fascist governments.
Full-fledged fascist governments come into power by arresting masses of real or imagined enemies. The first act of the Hitler regime in Germany was to arrest large numbers of political opponents, union leaders, religious leaders who seemed to be hostile to the new government. The Nazis made it very clear that opponents would end up in concentration camps indefinitely.
That is not yet happening in the United States. But the NDAA and the Stellar Wind Program of the NSA may be interpreted as preparations for just such mass arrests.
It certainly appears that there are groups in the US – some of them powerful, some of them influential in the intelligence services, some of them influential in Congress, who would not hesitate to introduce a fascist authoritarian regimes in our country. The passage in Congress of the National Defense Authorization Act indicates the willingness in the highest places – even in Obama's White House – to ignore the Bill of Rights. The program to spy on citizens similarly ignores constitutional guarantees and threatens civil liberties.
America is not yet fascist but a lot of Americans are flirting with fascism.
Before you go to sleep tonight, look under your bed for a fascist or for one of their microphones. They may be recording your snores. Be sure your snores are loyal and patriotic.