Sunday, August 11, 2013

Well, What Would YOU Call it?

There are so many competing definitions of the term Fascism, and so many misunderstandings of the underlying gist of the thing, that the word has almost become meaningless as a descriptor. Richard Griffiths said in 2005 that it was the "most misused and over-used word of our times." Which in many cases seems to ring true. Perhaps your understanding of the term and the general concept of fascism is something like the following:

"Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism. Fascism views political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation and asserts that stronger nations have the right to obtain land and resources by displacing weaker nations."
( Wikipedia).

 In other words, a militaristic police state, merged with corporate interests, which work together to minimize or eliminate individual (and worker) rights. Or as Wiki elaborates, a "corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the 'productive sectors' under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class divisions."

If you would agree that these are accurate descriptions of where we are now, then I think we can say categorically that this is the state our government has morphed into. Some things that I came across this week really drove that idea home for me, and I find them disturbing harbingers of a repressive and iron-fisted future.

The story about Lavabit, Edward Snowden's email service shutting down, shocked many. Lavabit owner Ladar Levison posted this on the site:

 "I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

The Guardian UK says that "Lavabit's closure marks the death of secure cloud computing in the US."  Does this suggest to you a move toward a freer society, or a more repressive one?

We also learned this week how much personal information the NSA provides to other government agencies, in its massive "collect it all" domestic spy operations. Agencies like the DEA. And if you want to know how that information is then used, Think Progress relates that "as law enforcement officers continue to ramp up use of a controversial practice known as civil forfeiture, police are seizing cash, cars, houses, and other assets in the name of drug enforcement without ever having arrested or charged their owners with a crime."

Then I saw this Gaius Publius analysis of how intertwined the government has become with certain corporations, to the point where their interests cannot be separated. His must-read article, which asks "Is Google an Arm of the NSA?"  includes this: "What we’re witnessing is the revelation that big-name Corporate America (and Corporate Elsewhere as well) has been folded into the U.S. government (the State) since at least 2007, though my guess is that this has been going on slowly for a long time." See his piece, and check out the graphics with it, as well.

Op-Ed News ran a piece today by Sam Scully, who shared his experience with an apparent trend that is so outrageous, I can't believe citizens aren't raising holy hell about it. Maybe they haven't heard about it yet, but it seems that corporate landlords (and police, in some areas) are now joining forces to "randomly inspect" the private apartments of individuals. Not based on any cause or specific situation, these "apartment checks" are allegedly for safety purposes. The Waco, TX Police Dept is conducting such an operation, and in letters to tenants, they inform renters that "there will be an inspection of approximately 10% of apartments, which will be chosen at random." After informing tenants they need not be home during the inspection, they add that tenants should "be aware that your apartment may be selected."

Really??  Maybe more people will raise a fuss when it's their residence getting "inspected" by the authorities, and/or corporate lackeys for the one-percenters. And as Scully points out in his piece, "I have a feeling that even if you own, they'll eventually find a way to go there."

So, as we connect the dots, and observe the steady, ongoing changes in how this government operates, along with the status of our constitutional rights, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. Like, what are some steps we can take TODAY to speak up, speak out, and resist? If all this doesn't add up to fascism in your view, what would you call it?

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