Good-bye, America. It's been nice knowing you.
That's right; according to an Ivy League study which I cited in a previous post, we no longer live in a democracy. To refresh your memory, two researchers at Princeton University, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, have found that "...over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power."
Compiling data from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2008, Gilens and Page conclude that rich, well-connected individuals now control the direction of the country, regardless of the will of the majority of voters. "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy...while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
Extrapolated to its logical conclusion, America is now controlled by a very small cabal of wealthy and powerful elites, mostly with extreme right-wing political views, who have literally purchased the judicial and legislative branches of the U.S. government and are spending billions to recapture the executive branch by 2016. In my previous post I described this type of system as an oligarchy, but it is even worse than that. It is fascism.
What is fascism? Benito Mussolini, an expert on the subject, defined fascism as the merger of the state and corporations to form a corrupt government which services only the needs of the elite few. In order for fascism to work, government officials need corporations to fund their political ambitions without restraint or judicial oversight. The recent Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited political donations took care of that. But fascism needs much more to thrive. Shockingly, these elements are coming together in American society today.
1) A compliant, reticent, and wholly subservient media are necessary to look the other way. Investigative journalism in America is dead. Why? Because all major media outlets are controlled by large corporate conglomerates and are run for profit, not for truth-telling. We already know that FOX is not a real news network, but merely the manifestation of one sick man's (Rupert Murdoch's) pathological right-wing propaganda machine. But what is even sicker is that supposedly legitimate news organizations such as CBS (Westinghouse) and NBC (General Electric) are corporate subsidiaries unlikely to report on how America is becoming a neo-fascist state. [Note: GE contributes millions to right-wing candidates each election cycle.]
2) The greater good must be downplayed by a self-absorbed, distracted citizenry. Witness the rise of vacuous enterprises like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Take a good look at what passes for information on these sites and you will be appalled at the narcissistic trivia. Fascists want a society that is self-involved. Fascism cannot thrive under a system that is concerned with the greater good. Thus, those right wingers (neo-fascists) who attack Social Security, Medicare, and affordable health care are doing their masters' bidding.
3) War or the threat of war must be constant. Fascists control their citizens when the citizens are constantly cowering in fear of being overrun by hordes of foreigners. This fear more easily facilitates the next factor in the fascist formula--
4) The system must be rigged. Check. Sixty percent of our tax dollars go to defense contractors who, in turn, buy politicians who, in turn, continue to authorize military spending. It is a never-ending cycle; it is an out-of-control beast which cannot be killed. America runs on defense; it is a hugely profitable industry, and most American corporations feed at the pig trough. Naturally these corporations are going to buy politicians who will continue this system.
5) Truth must be trashed; pseudo-science must be elevated to fact. We see this in climate change denial and the elimination of evolution education in public classrooms. Under a fascist system the truth is malleable and for sale. Corrupt idiots like Republican Senator James Imhofe will regurgitate any sort of lie to keep their cushy jobs.
6) Minorities must be demonized and marginalized. The old fascist methods of mass murdering minorities (i.e., the Holocaust) are outdated; the new slaughter comes in the form of denigrating the worth and dignity of African-Americans and Latinos (largely liberal voters on the lower socioeconomic rungs). Right-wing pyschopaths who listen to the daily rants of Limbaugh and O'Reilly can easily justify in their deranged minds the voter suppression, welfare denial, even murder of minorities.
7) Dissent is forbidden. The media restrict real debate of issues, and left-wing advocacy is virtually non-existent on over-the-air TV, radio, and newspapers.
Had enough? I'll leave you with one more bit of warning. The following quote is from a member of Ronald Reagan's cabinet.
"Americans have given up the rule of law that protected their liberty. The silence of law schools and bar associations indicates that the age of liberty has passed. In short, the American people support tyranny. And that’s where they are headed."
--Paul Craig Roberts, inventor of trickle-down economics