Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Sirens Of Fascism

Hawaii is now testing its siren systems to prepare for a nuclear attack from North Korea. They don’t have to do this because of an inexplicable urge by Kim Jong Un to destroy his own country by pointlessly starting a nuclear war. The North Koreans agreed to a no use-first policy on their nuclear weapons last year, and Kim Jong Un has repeatedly stated he won’t strike the U.S. unless the U.S. strikes first. The sirens are going off because the U.S. government, the only real provocateur in the tensions with North Korea, knows that threatening nuclear war is the easiest way to end democracy.

Those who paid attention during the Cold War have an instinct for noticing this strategy of totalitarian takeover. The looming image of the Soviet Union was used to justify torture, unconstitutional surveillance, psyops, and the installation of right-wing dictators under guise of fighting communism. Labor and civil rights advocates were denounced as Russian agents, and prosecuted for some years by the American fascist Joe McCarthy. The fear of annihilation made democracy and human rights feel unimportant, which is what the ruling oligarchs have brought back with our current nuclear crisis.
As the corporate media spreads wildly exaggerated fears of an attack, military and corporate rule become easier to impose: the military budget has been raised by 10% twice this year, facilitating a massive expansion of the drone campaigns and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The president’s surveillance and military powers have been expanded under this year’s NDAA bill, and even more army equipment has been granted to local police departments. The armies that occupied Texas and Florida this year in response to hurricanes Harvey and Irma further show an increase of military control.
The new Cold War campaign against Russia, which NATO and the Democratic Party continue to advance, serves to distract from these and other takeovers. Despite their feuding in the early months of the administration, the Trump regime has given the CIA even more power over foreign affairs than it had previously. This helps the U.S. ruling class, made umpune by the pathetic state of American electoral democracy, further rig the tax code and attack social security and Medicare. It’s also distracted from President Trump’s successful instatement this week of the Muslim travel ban, a policy that provoked massive resistance when it was tried last winter.
McCarthyite censorship measures have been adopted by social media and tech companies, the U.S. government, and next the EU. Last month the EU Vice President Frans Timmermans, in preparation for the anti-”fake news” center that will be set up next year, issued the benevolent-sounding statement: “We live in an era where the flow of information and misinformation has become almost overwhelming. That is why we need to give our citizens the tools to identify fake news, improve trust online, and manage the information they receive.”
It’s been widely perceived something like this would happen for a century or so. The wars, economic crises, and authoritarian revolutions of the early 20th century darkened the expectations for utopia being in humanity’s future. Mechanization has made it possible to eliminate poverty, hunger and inequality, yet whenever modern societies have tried to do this they’ve eventually morphed into fascism. Even the modern Scandinavian countries, initially some of the best models for egalitarianism in history, are now being taken over by white nationalists as the region’s economic inequality has risen in recent decades. It’s like totalitarianism is the only outcome for a civilization with nuclear weapons, mass media, and the technology for complete surveillance.
The reason a society like this drifts toward authoritarianism was hinted at in Timmermans’ words: humanity has so much potential for disseminating information and ideas-and for causing mass destruction-that people eventually become desperate for stability. Stability is offered in the revolution that people like Timmermans are working towards, where human behavior is under the control of protecting elites. Without this hierarchy, they want us to think, order will be lost.
“Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life,” wrote George Orwell about this appeal of authoritarianism. “The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation ‘Greatest happiness of the greatest number’ is a good slogan, but at this moment ‘Better an end with horror than a horror without end’ is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”
With the coming ecological breakdown, fascism will no doubt become more appealing than ever in the next decades. The military and corporate takeovers that were made after Katrina and the hurricanes of this year serve as a prelude. Our tool for avoiding totalitarianism is shown in the elite’s current drive to destroy net neutrality and censor open online information: the Internet is how humanity can create a stable and peaceful civilization, one that’s democratized and connected to a global network of minds. If this effort to destroy an open Internet succeeds, the fall of the oligarchy might end in a much more broken and chaotic world than otherwise.

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