Posts Tagged ‘fascism’

Golden Dawn

Konstantinos Georgousis (2013)

Review

Golden Dawn is a remarkable documentary tracing the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece. Despite their role in several high profile murders, Golden Dawn has held 18 seats in the Greek parliament since 2012.

Their rapid rise to power relates in large part to dire austerity measures the European Union has imposed on Greece. With 28% unemployment (55% youth unemployment) and drastic pension cuts, many starving Greek citizens join Golden Dawn because of their free food distribution programs.

However as Georgousis makes clear, the strong support Golden Dawn enjoys from police (who openly admit to being members), the media, the Greek Orthodox Church and Greek security services is even more instrumental. In all respects the parallels with Nazi Germany are chilling.

Golden Dawn is notorious for openly beating up and murdering both illegal and legal immigrants – with the police looking on and, in many cases arresting legal immigrants instead of perpetrators.

Only anarchist groups have tried to protect immigrants from these attacks. When they do so, the police step in and arrest, beat and torture them.

In 2012, following the murder of a high profile Greek national, the Greek government finally arrested four Golden Dawn leaders on a charge of criminal gang activity. However instead of stripping them of their parliamentary seats, they then directed Greek jail staff to transport them between jail and Parliament.

What I found most remarkable about the documentary is its excellent footage of actual Golden Dawn meetings and its in-depth interviews with some of its members.

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The Coming Struggle for Power

by John Strachey

Victor Golancz Limited (1932)

Free download link: The Coming Struggle for Power

Book Review

In The Coming Struggle for Power, British historian makes the prediction (writing in 1932) that capitalism is in its death throes and will end by 1950. He was wrong, obviously. Strachey had no way of predicting the tremendous boost monopoly capitalism would receive from Cold War military spending, nor the “financialization” (the shift from selling products to selling financial instruments) that would happen in the 1970s.

The book is largely historical, tracing the transition all global economies underwent from feudalism to mercantilism (large scale international trade) and from mercantilism to capitalism. In Europe both transformations were violent. Strachey points to the Rebellion of 1640 (during which Charles I was beheaded) and the Revolution of 1688 (in which James II was overthrown) during the feudal-mercantilist transition. The Enclosure Acts of the 18th century marked the mercantilist-capitalist transition. During this period British troops drove tens of thousands of families off lands they had farmed communally for more than 1,000 years – with most ending up in prisons and work houses.

Strachey also stresses that neither the French Revolution nor the American Revolution was really about political freedom or equality. The real purpose of both wars was to end old feudal relationships that interfered with the right of the new capitalist class to freely produce, buy and sell goods at a profit

The Inevitable Decay of Monopoly Capitalism

Strachey takes the Great Depression of the 1930s as evidence that capitalism has reached its final stage of monopoly capitalism. Quoting Lenin, he lists the three telltale signs that monopolistic capitalism has begun to decay:

1. The monopolistic corporations that control finance capital (ie banks) essentially merge with the monopolistic corporations that control production.
2. There’s growing focus on exporting capital (ie moving factories overseas).
3. National governments, which are essentially controlled by their monopolies, are in constant conflict with one another over who will control the resources, markets and cheap labor of the Third World.

Gee, this sounds familiar. The parallels with 2017 are uncanny.

The Inevitable Rise of Fascism

Strachey also writes about the important role of fascism in end stage capitalism. The declining profits and growth (ie stagnation) associated with end stage capitalism inevitably lead to reduced wages, poorer working conditions and a claw back of social welfare benefits enacted during more productive periods. This, in turn, leads to more conflict between workers and capitalists. Ensuring that production continues during a period of heavy stagnation necessitates the rise of fascism, in which the capitalists themselves organize workers into right wing populist movements which enact laws unfavorable to working people.

How Capitalism Stifles Intellectual Life

For me, the most interesting section of The Coming Struggle for Power concerns the stifling effect of corporate capitalism on intellectual life. Emphasizing the narrow ideological framework capitalism imposes on intellectuals, he devotes one chapter each to religion, philosophy and science and two to literature.

Because “capitalist” theologians and philosophers are limited to value systems that support profit taking and wealth accumulation, humankind has made absolutely no progress in 200 years in leading more moral and ethical lives. This stifling effect is also obvious in the areas of renewable energy technology (people forget Carter had a solar panel on the White House in 1979) and health science. At present, the profit motive has distorted health care to the point that many medical interventions actually make people sicker.

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(The 1st of 8 posts describing my 2002 decision to emigrate from the US to New Zealand)

When I finally left the US in October 2002, I had been thinking of emigrating for many years. In June 1973, I shipped all my belongings to England, intending to start a new life there. Many Americans of my generation left the US in the early seventies, for Canada, Europe and more remote parts of the world. Most were draft-age men afraid of being sent to Vietnam. A few were women involved in clandestine abortion clinics that sprang up before the 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Many were artists and intellectuals like me, disillusioned by lies about Vietnam in the Pentagon Papers,  Watergate, CIA domestic spying and Nixon’s use of US intelligence for his own political purposes.

In 1973, I myself was totally apolitical. My own decision to leave the US had very little to do with Vietnam or Watergate. My disillusionment stemmed more from watching rampant consumerism overtake the humanist values I had grown up with – the strong family ties, deep friendships and involvement in neighborhood and community life that were so important to my parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

During my eighteen month stay in England, it was deeply gratifying to meet people in London and Birmingham who had little interest in owning “stuff” they saw advertised on TV. People who still placed much higher value on extended family, close friendships and the sense of belonging they derived from their local pub, their church or union, or neighborhood sports clubs, hobby groups, and community halls. All these civic and community institutions had disappeared in the US. I missed them.

A downturn in the British economy in late 1974 forced me to return to the US to complete my psychiatric training.  I never abandoned my dream of returning overseas and religiously scanned the back pages of medical journals for foreign psychiatric vacancies. Meanwhile I  joined grassroots community organizations seeking to improve political and social conditions in the US. While and

For many years I believed Nixon was an aberration. This made me naively optimistic about the ability of community organizing to thwart the corrupting influence of powerful corporations over federal, state and local government. It never occurred to me the institutions of power themselves were deeply corrupt and had been for many years.

The Murder that Turned My Life Upside Down

As I write in The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee, the 1989 intelligence-linked murder of a patient was a rude awakening. It demonstrated, in the most horrific way possible that ultimate power lay outside America’s democratic institutions. It forced me to accept that political control lay in the hands of a wealthy elite who employed an invisible intelligence-security network to terrorize – and sometimes kill – whistleblowers and activists who threatened their interests. This painful discovery lent new urgency to my political work. It simultaneously caused an increasing sense of alienation and isolation from who hadn’t shared these experiences.

There was also the slight problem that I was experiencing the same phone harassment, stalking, break-ins and hit-and-run attempts as my patient.

Most of my liberal and progressive friends were far more knowledgeable than I was about the power multinationals corporations held over elections, lawmakers and the mainstream media. Yet they reacted very differently than I did to this knowledge. My response was to devote every leisure moment to building a grassroots movement to end corporate rule. Their response, in contrast, was to become cynical and withdraw from political activity to focus on their personal lives.

The Patriot Act: Repealing the Bill of Rights

In September 2001, I expected that the Patriot Act, which legalized domestic spying on American citizens, as well as revoking habeas corpus and other important constitutional liberties, would be the turning point that would send progressives into the streets, as the 1999 anti-WTO protests had, to halt rampant corporate fascism.

It never happened. In Seattle, a small 9-11 coalition formed in October 2001 to protest Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan. Over the following year, as Bush prepared to invade Iraq, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter and others spoke to sell-out crowds about the lie the Bush administration was hawking about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Then in February 2002, evidence began to emerge that officials close to the Bush administration had played some role in engineering the 9-11 attacks. By October 2002, like most American intellectuals with access to the international and/or alternative press, were well aware that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq had played any role whatsoever in the 9-11 attacks. There was no longer any question that Bush a war criminal under international law for launching two unprovoked wars of aggression.

So long as I, as a US taxpayer, continued to work and pay taxes in the US, I shared some responsibility for these crimes. It was this knowledge that ultimately forced my hand. I had a psychiatrist friend who had spent a year working in New Zealand. He told me who to contact in the Ministry of Health about psychiatric vacancies. By September 1, 2002, I had signed a job contract to work for the New Zealand National Health Service in Christchurch. I had six weeks to close my Seattle practice, sell my house and ship everything I owned to New Zealand.

To be continued.

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Winner 2011 Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award
Fifteen years of intense government harassment leads a psychiatrist, single mother and political activist to close her 25-year Seattle practice to begin a new life in New Zealand. What starts as phone harassment, stalking and illegal break-ins quickly progresses to six attempts on her life and an affair with an undercover agent who railroads her into a psychiatric hospital.
  • Available as ebook (all formats) for $0.99 from: Smashwords
  • New and used print copies from $13 from Amazon

concentration camp

In western countries, I see a frightening tendency to make sick people personally responsible for being ill. We are all bombarded with constant media messaging that anyone can stay healthy if they eat the right foods, exercise, and manage their stress levels. Meanwhile media pundits who demonize people on disability benefits for being lazy and unwilling to work.

I find all this vaguely reminiscent of Hitler’s “useless eater” policies of the 1930s. Hitler’s definition of a “useless eater” was a German who consumed resources without participating in production. Included in this category were tens of thousands of individuals with chronic physical or mental illness and physical and intellectual handicaps – who would be the first inmates in Nazi concentration camps.

Internalizing this pressure to be and appear well, people blame themselves if they become ill. This attitude is strongly reinforced by the constant TV ads that bombard us for cough and cold remedies that enable people to attend work with colds and even quite serious illnesses, such as bronchitis and the “flu.”

The pressure on kids to attend school or daycare when they’re sick – because their parents can’t afford to stay home with them – is a public health disaster. Sick kids in the classroom expose a lot of other kids, who go on to infect their families. Many children suffer one respiratory after another, a perfect set up for asthma (which is reaching epidemic proportions) and permanent lung disease.

Human Beings Get Sick

Surely it’s healthier and more humane and community-minded to accept that sickness is fundamental to the human condition. Epidemiological studies show that only 10% of illness is accounted for by lifestyle factors (including smoking). Other studies show that people who take time off recover faster and cope better with other life stresses.

38% of US Workers Have No Paid Sick Leave

Advice that sick people stay home and look after themselves is easy in most civilized countries (like New Zealand) owing to national laws requiring that employers provide workers paid sick and parental leave. The US isn’t one of them. Thirty-eight percent  of US workers have no paid sick leave.

There are no federal laws requiring American employers to provide paid sick leave. Only Connecticut, and a few cities (New York, Portland, San Francisco, Washington, Seattle, Newark, Tacoma, and Jersey City) have them. Even more disgusting ten states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin — have enacted preemption bills that blocking cities and towns from passing paid sick leave legislation.

At present only California and Vermont have laws requiring employers to provide paid parental leave. So I guess working parents with sick kids are just out of luck.

The Campaign for Paid Sick Days

Just to be clear here. None of these cities and states have mandated paid sick leave because they were feeling kind and charitable. These laws were enacted because local activists fought for them. You won’t here about the Paid Sick Days for All Coalition on the six o’clock news. The corporate media wants you to believe the war is over and the good guys lost (to quote Leonard Cohen).

The war against corporate fascism ain’t over by a long shot. People can get get involved with the Paid Sick Days for All through their website: http://paidsickdaysforall.org/

photo credit: Rob Sheridan via photopin cc

1968

(More from my research for A Rebel Comes of Age)

1968: The Year that Rocked the World

by Mark Kurlansky (Vintage 2005)

Book Review

1968 was a year for citizen uprisings around the world. Kurlansky comprehensively reviews 19 of them.* Student activists and workers on both sides of the Iron Curtain learned from and copied one another and supported each other’s liberation struggles.

The most eye-opening section discusses the importance of violence in attracting media attention. No one understand the importance of the media in movement building better than Mohandas Gandhi, who went to great lengths to obtain Indian, British, and American coverage of every protest he organized. He also spoke and wrote about the value of British violence in enticing the media to cover the Quit India movement.

According to Kurlansky, Martin Luther King also understood the role of police violence in drawing national media attention – which would be essential in pressuring Attorney General Bobby Kennedy to enforce federal civil rights laws. Kurlansky talks about a police chief in Albany, Georgia who thwarted King’s organizing efforts by studying his nonviolent tactics and countering them with nonviolent law enforcement. Because there was no police violence in Albany, it received no national media attention. .

After Albany, King and other civil rights leaders deliberately targeted towns with hothead police chiefs and angry, volatile mayors. In a 1965 incident, a King protester named Annie Lee Cooper punched the sheriff. and then dared him to hit her. The photo of Sheriff Clark clubbing a defenseless woman made the front page of every mainstream newspaper.

The 1968 Democratic Convention

At August 1968 Democratic Convention, yet again it was police violence by Mayor Daley’s goons that drew national media attention to what was essentially a harmless prank by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Phil Ochs and other Yippies (Youth International Party). Featured events at the Yippies’ Festival of Light included snaking dancing, poetry, mantras, the Yippie Olympics, a Miss Yippie Contest and Pin the Rubber on the Pope.

The police riot magically transformed the Yippies non-violent prank into front page news. Ironically, however, they had to share the limelight with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Violent Soviet repression of Dubcek’s freedom movement also made the front page..

Prague Spring

It’s quite common for the ruling elite and corporate media to attribute the collapse of the Soviet Union to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which ultimately bankrupted their economy. Obama’s mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski still talks about ingeniously “luring” them into an unwinnable war by training and arming the Mujahideen freedom fighters.

Kurlansky believes the 1968 Soviet’s invasion of Czechoslovakia marks the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. The student/intellectual protest movement that brought Alexander Dubcek to power in January 1968 became less public but didn’t disappear in the government crackdown that followed the August invasion .It also served to strengthen reform movements in other Soviet Bloc countries – especially Romania and Poland – where government leaders were under pressure to condemn the invasion. In Kurlansky’s view the appearance of Soviet tanks on Czech streets killed the dream of eastern block reformers that socialism could be made more democratic.

His description of the background and personality of Alexander Dubceck, the father of “Prague Spring” is especially illuminating. Dubcek was no wild-eyed radical seeking to overthrow communism. In every respect he was the ultimate communist bureaucrat:  blindly loyal, dutiful, and deeply pro-Soviet. Dubcek and his subordinates, who considered the Soviets their friends and protectors, never dreamed they would invade.

In this respect, Czechoslovakia was unique among eastern bloc countries in voting in a communist government at the end of World War II (rather than having it forced on them).

Parallels Between Dubcek and Nixon

Dubcek, who was far more moderate than the students and intellectuals in the street, was actually somewhat dismayed at his sudden rise to power in January 1968. The student protest and Slovak nationalist movement had erupted simultaneously in late 1967, and Dubcek’s predecessor had been unable to quell the civil unrest.

Unlike many Communist Party officials, Dubcek who was deeply principled, viewed violent suppression of the protests as unthinkable. Aside from his refusal to invoke military force against the students, his situation parallels that of Richard Nixon’s in some ways. Nixon was also forced to enact a number of progressive initiatives  (e.g. the Clean Air Act, and legislation creating of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Social Security Supplemental Income for the disabled) in response to a large and militant protest movement.

Dubcek had no real platform until April 1968, when he issued an Action Program with three planks: 1) commitment to Czechoslovakia’s socialist political/economic system, 2) ending secret police repression of personal and political beliefs, and 3) ending the monopoly of power by the Communist Party.

The immediate result was liberalization of foreign travel, increased access to foreign periodicals, and media exposes about Czech and Soviet corruption and Stalin’s notorious purges. Freedom of artistic expression also increased, as Czech students and everywhere wore blue jeans and long hair, listened to rock and jazz, displayed psychedelic posters and even held an international film festival.

Soviets Forced to Keep Dubcek in Power

Brezhnev, one of Stalin’s henchmen in several purges, put extreme pressure on Dubcek to crack down on these “excesses.”  However even as Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia Dubcek, who was profoundly antiwar, explicitly ordered a robust, well-trained and armed Czech military not to fire on them. As in Tienanmen Square in China, the only opposition to the tanks was tens of thousands of unarmed civilians.

Kurlansky writes at length about an unsung hero named General Ludvik Svoboda, who the Soviets attempted to install in a puppet government after imprisoning Dubcek and three members of his cabinet. Though forced to agree to Soviet demands to gradually reinstate censorship and foreign travel restrictions, Ludvik released Dubcek and allowed him to remain in power until April 1969.

*Countries experiencing mass uprisings in 1968:

  • France
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Poland
  • Yugoslavia
  • Romania
  • Italy
  • West Germany
  • East Germany
  • Spain
  • UK
  • Russia
  • Nigeria
  • Palestine
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • US

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Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

$3.99 ebook available (in all formats) from Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361351

obama

Guest post by Steven Miller

(This is the 3rd of 6 guest posts in which Miller describes how Obama is re-engineering society on behalf of the ruling elite.)

Part III – Obama’s Privatization Agenda

From Obama’s State of the Union Address:

So, tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children.”  (9)

This statement is a call for privatization that follows the speculative agenda described previously. Supposedly “to save taxpayer’s money”, the President offers corporations ownership of the public infrastructure that was formerly built by and for the public. Infrastructure includes roads and bridges, also schools and universities, the electrical grid, water and sewers, parks and ports, airports and dams. Obama even proposes to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA –  see Republicans Veer Towards Socialism), Roosevelt’s signature project that electrified the South. His plans open the door to the full seizure and privatization of public resources as corporate private property. What was originally built for free public access will increasingly be available only to those who can afford the fees.

Since the financial Meltdown of 2008, the federal government has been “nationalizing” the levers of control of society in the interests of the capitalist class. The Bailout began with the proclamation that “banks are now agents of the government”. It is moot to discuss whether the banks took over the government or the government took over the banks. They are merging together. Mussolini, the theoretician of fascism, held that fascism was the merger of the corporations and the state.

Obama quickly intervened in Detroit to reorganize the auto industry, though he refuses to intervene today to protect the city government or pensions. The federal government is reorganizing both public education and health care. The NSA revelations show that the federal government has also nationalized everyone’s information.

Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security, financed at an average of some $30 billion a year, has privatized many government functions and outsourced a huge number of police activities to corporations. As Occupy demonstrated to all, DHS has virtually federalized the police.

It is important to understand the state and its powers. The state – including the army, the courts and the police – is distinct from the government. The government collects taxes and decides how to spend public money. This is essentially the administration of things. The state’s role is guaranteed by the rule of law to use coercion and force to protect the property of the ruling class and to guarantee its rule. Hence the state is principally about the control of people. This distinction is fundamental to understanding the maneuvers and powers of capitalism today.

No longer under public accountability or control, the state apparatus today plays a major role in engineering how society will be transformed for the ruling class. Just as in other periods of US history, the state operates to implement the policies of the dominant block of capitalists. Currently this means the state will use its powers of force to facilitate the privatization of everything tangible.

References and Resources

9)  www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2013

To be continued.

photo credit: SS&SS via photopin cc

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Steven Miller has taught science for 25 years in Oakland’s Flatland high schools. He has been actively engaged in public school reform since the early 1990s. When the state seized control of Oakland public schools in 2003, they immediately implemented policies of corporatization and privatization that are advocated by the Broad Institute. Since that time Steve has written extensively against the privatization of public education, water and other public resources. You can email him at nanodog2@hotmail.com

Originally posted at Daily Censored