The 14 Characteristics of Fascism
Dr. Laurence Britt
has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini
(Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and others. Britt found
14 defining characteristics common to each:
||1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous
lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part
of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was
always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for
unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually
coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a
hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through
clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these
human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being
targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy,
denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of
scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other
problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in
controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and
disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite
“spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists,
socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional
national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals,
and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably
labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the
industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share
of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic
needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of
nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals,
intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the
5. Rampant sexism.
Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national
culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as
second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also
homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws
that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country,
thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
6. A controlled mass media.
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct
control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line.
Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy.
Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources,
economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The
leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the
power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general
public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
7. Obsession with national security.
Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of
the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating
in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under
the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its
activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were
never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the
regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country
and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion.
The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the
precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda
kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith
and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that
opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected.
Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict
control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative
freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate
structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed
states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of
the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure
a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could
challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate
allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an
underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some
regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression
associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and
academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and
the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically
unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or
expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To
these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or
they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice
with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had
almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and
political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and
sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and
hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the
population as an excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their
position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the
power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the
economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government
favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain
vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing
national resources. With the national security apparatus under control
and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and
not well understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections.
Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were
usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they
would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired
result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election
machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters,
destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning
to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
Does any of this
ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially
a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest
elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard
against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in
verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
|Encyclopedia Britannica definition of Fascism:
of government that stresses the primacy and glory of the state,
unquestioning obedience to its leader, subordination of the individual
will to the state's authority, and harsh suppression of dissent."
· 6/2/08 - Army to deploy in the U.S. (Posse Comitatus gone) (read).
· 6/3/08 - 34 Anti-Torture Activists Convicted for Protesting Gitmo Outside Supreme Court (read).
· 6/2/08 - Students Protesting Pesticide Use Tasered (read).
· 4/21/08 - Pentagon Propaganda Program Exposed
The New York Times has revealed new details on how the Pentagon
recruited more than seventy-five retired military officers to appear on
TV outlets as so-called military analysts ahead of the Iraq war to
portray Iraq as an urgent threat. The Times reports the Pentagon
continues to use the analysts in a propaganda campaign to generate
favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime
· 4/3/08 - Bush administration suspended Fourth Amendment rights following 9/11 (read).
· 3/30/08 - 80 year old church Deacon arrested for wearing anti-war tshirt in a mall (read).
· 2/7/08 -
More than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working
quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The
members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret
warnings of terrorist threats before the public does (read).
· 1/8/08 - Eighty people were arrested at the Supreme Court in a protest calling for the shutdown of Guantanamo; they were charged with violating an ordinance that prohibits demonstrations of any kind on Supreme Court grounds (read).
· 1/8/08 - Rhode Island to test a tracking system by putting computer chips on grade-schoolers' backpacks (read).
· 12/27/07 - Tasers, Pepper Spray, and Arrests in the Struggle for Affordable Housing in New Orleans (read). (Watch video)
· 12/27/07 - FBI Effort Will Build Biggest Biometric Database (read)
· 12/14/07 - Man Who Flies Flag Upside Down Gets a Brick Through His Truck Window and a Rock Through His Daughter's Bedroom Window. (read)
· 12/6/07 - Anti-Bush protesters arrested for holding "Impeach Bush and Cheney" sign. (read)
· 12/6/07 - Anti-Torture Protesters in Arizona Jailed Without Bail.
A Catholic priest and a retired Catholic lay leader have been
jailed without bail for taking part in a non-violent protest against
U.S. torture practices. (read)
· 12/2/07 - Peace Group Barred from Florida Schools (but military recruiters are allowed). (read)
· 12/2/07 - US says it has right to kidnap British citizens. (read)
· 11/27/07 - FBI Improperly Using Patriot Act Surveillance Powers, ACLU Charges. (read)
· 11/23/07 - Firefighters taking new roles as "anti-terrorist" eyes of the US government. (read)
· 11/17/07 - Boston police to search homes without warrants
- Boston police are launching a program that will call upon parents in
high-crime neighborhoods to allow detectives into their homes, without
a warrant, to search for guns in their children's bedrooms. (read)
· 11/10/07 - 18 Veterans Arrested in Antiwar Protest (on Veterans Day). (read)
· 10/25/07 - More Than 755,000 on US Terrorist Watch List. (watch)
· 10/10/07 - Ron Paul signs not allowed at Florida man's house. (watch)
|Gov't Trying to Silence DC Sept. Antiwar Protests
· Rev. Lennox Yearwood, organizer of upcoming DC protest, arrested and hospitalized at Petraeus hearing (watch video). Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and 8 others also arrested at hearing (read)
anti-war activists were arrested in front of the White House for
putting up anti-war posters promoting the September 15 March and Die-In
in Washington DC. Those arrested include an Iraq war vet and the
mother of an Iraq war vet [VIDEO]
· Government Fines ANSWER Coalition Another $10,350
One week after it filed a free speech lawsuit, the ANSWER Coalition
received a second round of fines for $10,350 for posters promoting
the September 15 March on Washington to End the War on Iraq.
Previously, the ANSWER Coalition was hit with $10,000 fines for
postering for their Sept. 15 march.
· The Troops Out Now Coalition
has been informed that they will not be allowed to erect tents for
their antiwar rally because suddenly, it has been decided that all of
the areas on the Mall in DC where tents could be erected would be
fenced off and would under go “re-sodding”.
· 9/21/07 -
Metro newspaper in NYC refused to run an ad headlined “Who
is the Real Nuclear Threat” from the World Can’t Wait. (read)
· 9/20/07 -
The Senate voted to condemn an advertisement by the liberal
anti-war group MoveOn.org that accused the top military commander in
Iraq of betrayal. (read)
· 9/18/07 - "Don't tase me bro": Univ. of Florida student arrested and tasered for asking questions at John Kerry speech. (watch)
· 9/5/07 - CBS Early Show Removes Anti-War Protesters from View in Kansas City. (read)
· 8/23/07 - White House Office of Administration says it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. (read)
· 8/17/07 - Man arrested for holding IMPEACH sign. (read)
· 8/14/07 -
In an unprecedented action, the ANSWER Coalition received
citations fining the organization $10,000 for the placement of posters
announcing the September 15 March on Washington DC. The fines come
after a campaign led by FOX news calling for the DC government to take
action against those putting up posters for the September 15
· 8/3/07 - Bush’s Executive Order on Lebanon Even Worse than the One on Iraq.
Anyone who engages in any act—violent or nonviolent—against
the government of Lebanon can now have his or her property frozen. And
it also gives the U.S. Treasury Secretary the authority to freeze the
assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose
property is frozen. (read)
· 8/1/07 - Bush Invokes Executive Privilege for Rove in Attorney Firings (read)
· 7/31/07 - Couple Terrorized, Assaulted and Arrested For Flying an Upside Down U.S. Flag (read)
· 7/29/07 - Bush’s Critics Say Threat of Martial Law in The United States is ‘Real’ (read)
· 7/25/07 - FBI Proposes Building Network of U.S. Informants (read)
|Isn't this what dictators do?
has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted
since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any
statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of
On at least four occasions while Bush has been president, Congress has
passed laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia...
After signing each bill, Bush declared in his signing statement that he
did not have to obey any of the Colombia restrictions because he is
commander in chief.
''There is no question that this
administration has been involved in a very carefully thought-out,
systematic process of expanding presidential power at the expense of
the other branches of government. This is really big, very
expansive, and very significant." (read)
· Former Reagan Lawyer: New
Executive Order So Broad Even Senator Clinton’s Property Could Be
Seized Over Iraq Policy Questions (8/3, listen).
Jaffer of the ACLU said "This Executive Order reaches far beyond
criminal activity to activity that may be entirely innocent. A person
may find herself inadvertently in violation of this order and there is
no provision for judicial review." (7/27, read).
· 7/25, listen to Libertarian Jacob Hornberger discusses the order (about the 40 minute mark)
Post article by Walter Pincus: "Be careful what you say and whom
you help -- especially when it comes to the Iraq war and the Iraqi
government" (7/23, read).
· Center for Research on Globalization: Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement (7/20, read)
· 7/19, listen
to Thom Hartmann's interview with Paul Craig Roberts, an old-line
conservative and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under
|Related: Bush’s Executive Order on Lebanon Even Worse than the One on Iraq
- A newly declassified document from 1950 shows that J. Edgar Hoover,
the longtime director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, had
a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he
suspected of disloyalty. (read)
· 7/25/07 - Univ. of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fired after 9/11 remarks (read)
· 7/14/07 -
The White House Has a Manual for Silencing Protesters and
Demonstrations. "As a last resort, security should remove the
demonstrators from the event site." (read)
· 7/12/07 - "I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding the troops." (read)
· 7/11/07 - Surgeon general was 'gagged by White House'. (read)
· 7/11/07 -
President Bush ordered his former White House counsel, Harriet Miers,
to defy a congressional subpoena and refuse to testify before a House
panel investigating U.S. attorney firings. (read)
· 7/2/07 - Bush disregards judiciary process -- erases Scooter Libby's jail sentence. (read)
· 7/1/07 - Special Operations Prepared for Domestic Missions. (read)
· 6/26/07 - 'You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression' by Matthew Rothschild. (read)
· 5/22/07 - George Bush's Power Grab... Is Martial Law Coming? (YouTube)
· 7/1/07 - Anti-war Iraq vets arrested at military base after being told they could not wear 'political' tshirts. (read)
· 6/29/07 - ACLU Seeks to End Ban on Sale of Shirt Listing Iraq War Dead. (read)
· 6/22/07 - Is Vice President's Office Above The Law? (read)
· 5/26/07 - Protesters Barred From Cheney’s West Point Speech (read)
· 5/25/07 - George Bush's Power Grab - Is Martial Law Coming (Watch CSPAN video)
· 5/22/07 - Florida protester arrested for holding signs (read)
· 5/14/07 - 'Honk for Peace' Case Tests Limits on Free Speech (read)
· 5/13/07 - No more YouTube, MySpace for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (read)
· 5/2/07 - Protestors, media beaten by police in LA (read)
· 5/2/07 -
The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending
personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a
superior officer (read)
· 4/24/07 - Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps
From Hitler to Pinochet and Beyond, History Shows There Are Certain
Steps That Any Would-Be Dictator Must Take To Destroy Constitutional
Freedoms. And George Bush and His Administration Seem To Be Taking Them
· 3/25/07 - NYPD spied on convention protest planners (read)
· 3/14/07 - ‘Loyalty’ to Bush and Alberto Gonzales Was Factor in Prosecutors’ Firings (read)
· 3/9/07 - FBI misused Patriot Act to obtain information on citizens (read)
· 2/19/07 - Making Martial Law Easier (read)
· 2/15/07 - Neo-Nazi rally in Orlando was organized by FBI informant (read)
· 1/25/07 - U.S. Military Spied on Hundreds of Antiwar Demos (read)
· 1/24/07 -
Executive Order Expands Presidential Power Over Agencies - president
given power to oversee and interfere with federal regulations on
everything from warning labels on medicines to safety standards for
construction worksites. (read)
· 1/18/07 - Pentagon: Hearsay enough to put suspected terrorists to death (read)
· 12/1/06 -
The US plans this month to launch the nation's first airport screening
system that takes potentially revealing X-ray photos of travelers (read)
· 12/1/06 - U.S. government quietly rates millions of travellers for terrorism potential (read)
· 11/21/06 - Six Muslim imams removed from U.S. airliner (read)
· 11/14/06 - Enterprise
Terrorist Act which makes it a felony for animal rights activists to
engage in non-violent protests that result in businesses losing money (read - scroll down)
· 11/13/06 - Bush: Immigrants may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism (read)
· 11/13/06 - Administration: Gitmo Detainees Have No Rights (read)
· 11/1/06 - US near the bottom of privacy study - determined to be an "extensive surveillance society,” (read)
· 10/24/06 - US Rank of Press Freedom Slides Lower (53rd) (read)
· 10/20/06 - U.S. admits (and defends) propaganda tactic in Iraq. (read)
· 10/12/06 - Pentagon Documents Uncovered by ACLU Shed New Light on Surveillance of Florida Peace Activists
- Defense Department Tracked Quakers, Student Groups Nationwide. Report
cites acts of civil disobedience and vandalism as cause to label
anti-war protests as “radical” and potential terrorist
· 10/5/06 - Bush signings called effort to expand power
- President Bush's frequent use of signing statements to
assert that he has the power to disobey newly enacted laws is an
integral part of his "comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand
executive power." Bush
has used signing statements to challenge more than 800 laws that place
limits or requirements on the executive branch, saying they intrude on
his constitutional powers. By contrast, all previous presidents
challenged a combined total of about 600 laws. (read) -- A day after this report, Bush does it again (read)
· 10/4/06 - The
U.S. government can continue to eavesdrop on Americans' overseas phone
calls and e-mails until its appeal of a judge's ruling outlawing the
surveillance is decided (read)
· 10/3/06 - Software
Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S. - the software would let
the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its
leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas (read)
· 10/3/06 - A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today after being arrested for criticizing Dick Cheney (read)
|9/29/06 - NEW LAW MAKES TORTURE LEGAL; HABEAS CORPUS RIGHTS ELIMINATED (read)
Military Commissions Act of 2006 allows for torture and denies citizens
their right to habeas corpus, which protects people from unlawful
imprisonment. Almost anyone who actively opposes the President or the
government could be locked up indefinitely.
A New York Times editorial described the law as tyrannical... its
passage marks a low point in American democracy and that it is our
generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts (read); Senator Patrick Leahy said: "it’s Kafka", comparable to McCarthyism (read)
More: How Senators voted, "Junking Habeas Corpus", "Rounding Up U.S. Citizens - A Constitutional Shredding"
· 9/29/06 - House OKs Expanded Wiretap Program (read)
· 9/29/06 - Hundreds Arrested in Week of Antiwar Actions (read)
· 9/29/06 - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales cautions judges against second-guessing the president in wartime (read)
· 9/26/06 - The
Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests
global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of
· 9/25/06 - Newsweek (left)
removed its October 2,2006 cover story titled "Losing Afghanistan:
The Rise of Jihadistan" from the American edition and replaced it with
a story on photographer Annie Leibovitz. The Afghanistan cover story
was maintained for European, Asian, and Latin American audiences (read)
· 9/19/06 - Atty Gen. Gonzales: Internet service providers must keep records on users (read)
· 9/18/06 - Congress Considering Strip Searching Students (read)
· 9/16/06 - IRS goes after church for anti-war sermon (read)
· 9/12/06 - Military Wants to Use Microwave Weapons on American Citizens (read)
· 9/9/06 - Ten
South Florida journalists, including three with The Miami
Herald’s Spanish-language sister paper, received thousands of
dollars from the federal government for their work on radio and TV
programming aimed at undermining Castro (read) [Publisher resigns over revelations] [Report: U.S. paid many other journalists]
· 9/8/06 - Miami
airport to train all 35,000 workers to spot suspicious people -
even Starbucks coffee servers may be trained to watch travelers for
suspicious movements (read)
· 9/8/06 - War's Critics Abetting Terrorists, Cheney Says (read)
· 9/8/06 - BYU professor put on leave over 9/11 claim (read)
Ironically, Bush & Rumsfeld Playing the Fascism Card
Bush Ties War on Terror to 'Fight Against Islamic Fascism' (8/30/06)
Rumsfeld likens Iraq war opponents to those who appeased Hitler (8/29/06)