Attorney Ronald D. Glotta is a long-time human rights champion who has turned his passion into an effective and successful law career defending the rights of workers “ravaged by the excesses of capitalism.” He has been quoted or featured in numerous progressive books and publications, including Black Rage by William Grier and Price Cobbs; Detroit, I Do Mind Dying, by Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin; Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City
by Heather Ann Thompson; and Muscle & Blood, by Rachel Scott.
“How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that what was in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange longstanding American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?”
Seymour M. Hersh, Chain of Command, The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
Yes, Seymour, our democracy IS that fragile. But this didn’t just happen. It started many years ago. The playing out of it now is writ large in three of our globe’s most pivotal and revealing events: 9/11, the Indonesian tsunami, and the twin, back-to-back hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. This is an examination of how we made the wrong turn, and how we can get on the right course.
I was driving down the freeway recently, going westward on Interstate 94 from Detroit to Battle Creek, Michigan, expecting the peaceful, calm ride of what I used to know as the “open road.” I was going to listen to the radio and enjoy an open, winding highway lined with trees and wildflowers and untouched nature.
What I got instead was traffic jams, an interminable commute, pollution, road rage, environmental decay, oil impoverishment, the destruction of farmland, and urban sprawl: the inevitable result of maximum profit motive and imperialistic madness at the expense of sustainability.
The highway for Americans was once a symbol of freedom. From Walt Whitman to Easy Rider, the open road, with its vast turns and twists, with its very openness to ground and sky, cleared our minds and helped us refocus our thoughts. Whether it is the lone biker or the trucker or even the family sedan, the highway always spoke freedom to our souls.
That’s what I thought about as I drove, hurriedly and somewhat disappointed, to my destination. My thoughts refocused, though, in a different direction. Instead of individual freedom as promised at the beginning of the 20th century, the highway has become the opposite—a place where we see most clearly the effects of the worst of capitalism.
Now Americans are on another road, sinister and ominous. It is Bush’s road to fascism. Having now stolen two elections, the Bush cabal is determined to consolidate their power at every level and branch of government. This movement occurs not simply because George W. Bush is an unpardonable criminal. He certainly is that. He is a war criminal, a thief, a liar, and a murderer. His crimes are vast, but just beginning. However the more alarming aspect of this movement is that their construction of this highway towards fascism is as inevitable as the concentration of wealth is inevitable under capitalism.
For over 70 years, progressive and conservatives and all those in between have contended the abuses and crimes of capitalism can be reformed out of existence. That simply is not true. In fact, as the concentration of wealth under capitalism increases, the tendency towards fascism starts—slowly at first, then directly at us so quickly we barely have time to craft an effective response or put up an even fight.
That’s what’s happening now. It’s coming at us as suddenly and with as much devastation as Katrina, or the Indonesian tsunami last year. Significantly, the Bush cabal intends to change the Supreme Court so that more crimes can go unchecked. Anytime the multinational corporations control the state as in our current situation, the social motion is necessarily toward total control.
We as progressives know we have to respond. Many of us have. We’ve called out the Bush Administration. We’ve pointed out the contradictions and the outright lies. But to really respond effectively, we have to understand how we got here, and use that knowledge to begin a collective, cohesive counterpunch against what we can only call a frontal attack on the very foundations of freedom put in place at the start of this century.
Extreme statements? I think not. We are living in an extreme era, and we are hearing a dominant note of anger in all of our political conversations. Whether liberals, neoconservatives, reactionaries, or conservatives, instead of political analysis we hear invective, betrayal, and attack rhetoric. What we do not hear is an honest attempt to seek the truth or achieve solutions, but that is exactly what we need from all leftists, from right wing Democrats to socialists: old fashioned truth and problem solving.
Everyone, especially in this country, believes there is no solution. We then decide not to tackle economic and political issues because we feel impotent, believing that we have absolutely no ability to change or even affect the global march of capitalism. We revert back to individual methods of survival rather than demanding a change in the system. Of course, the media, the educational system and all politicians promote that view.
That is the great lie. We can not only affect the system, but help it collapse under its own weight, and even replace it with something better.
The strategy of the right wing is constantly to reduce the discussion to the lowest common denominator in order to impede or prevent such analyses. Of course, we must fight resolutely against the viciousness of the right wing cabal represented by Bush II. But we must fight with an analysis and program that both destroys the premises of the right wing and establishes a vision for the future. As George Orwell said in his book 1984: “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
How DID We Get Here?
We must recapture our history in order to understand what’s happened here, and in order to craft an effective, progressive response. In this discussion, let’s go back to the beginning of the 20th century. With that era’s consolidation of industrial power, the competition for markets by European powers led to the most destructive and murderous war in history at that time. But this war, as all wars have been since, was about making sure that political considerations remained subservient to the needs and demands of business. That is the essence of fascism: not totalitarianism or right-wing ideology, as historians have conveniently tried to argue, but nothing less than corporate control of government. As an economic unit, the corporation is totally antidemocratic in concept and application. And that explains the totalitarian nature of fascism.
Italy’s Mussolini was the first leader to give a theoretical structure to fascist political philosophy. He was the first to explicitly conjoin fascism and corporate control of government. His ability to rise to power, similar to Hitler’s, can be traced directly to WWI, a success by capitalist standards.
Capitalists benefit when there is a destruction of the means of protection. While millions of workers died and communities were destroyed in Italy, the concentration of capital meant that those with money would and could charge the price they desired because governments had no alternative but to accept. With the working class totally destitute political control flowed to the worst demigods.
By destroying the means of production, new sources of wealth could be created. That millions and millions of workers lost their lives was of little consequence to the capitalists. Germany, Italy, and Japan were economic powers that were not allowed any openings and were barred from markets controlled by other economic powers. As a result, these countries turned to fascism as a method of mobilizing their working classes in order to open up new markets.
The creation of the Soviet Union was the only source of concern. Even though capitalist imperialism had worldwide control, it had no political means of producing a structure that could or would lead to peaceful development, and especially no method of mediating differences between economic powers.
Fascism in Germany and Italy was a response to the destruction of WWI. It was considered a necessary antidote to the absence of markets, and to overproduction by a working class in those countries that had little or no resources to buy anything. Japan also faced a crisis of overproduction and a similar need to open new markets. The corporations of those countries turned to a political system that allowed total control: of the legislature or parliament, of the courts and of course of the executive branch. They then added a very important element—control of the media.
Fascism, once in control, manifests certain elements:
1) Aggressive war: The establishment of a war economy; the mobilization of the populace for war.
2) Deficit spending to justify the restriction of social benefits.
3) Anti-union activity. Actually, fascism attacks all working class organizations that are independent in any way.
4) The elimination of democracy. In Germany and Italy, it was accomplished quickly after taking power. In Japan, democracy was not an established tradition. In Spain, the entire purpose was to eliminate any democratic structure.
5) Systematic violation of human rights. In fact, as Mussolini said fascism rejects the concept of human rights. Alberto Gonzalez’s statement that the Geneva Conventions are “quaint” mirrors Mussolini’s contemptuous disdain for human rights.
6) Racism as a means of population control. Of course, the Holocaust was the most dramatic element of fascism. In Japan, similar actions were carried out against Koreans, Chinese, and in the Philippines. It is important to remember that the vicious anti-democratic, warmongering, murderous aspects of fascism are integral to the entire political structure. These are not simply aberrations of human behavior.
While these are the most salient aspects of fascism, they are not exclusive. For instance, control of the media and all information are essential to a fascist political structure. The incredible destruction of WWII, the loss of life, and the Holocaust completely discredited fascism as a viable political movement. Even today, no credible party would adopt the nomenclature or symbols of fascism.
Bait and Switch – A Change in Nomenclature
With the failure of the name “fascism,” the United States corporate powers that be knew that they would never continue the process by which they would control all aspects of society for maximum profit. So the capitalist apologists began to separate fascism from the concept of corporate control, changing the definition of fascism to totalitarianism instead of corporate control. The Holocaust became the identifying aspect of fascism, even though neither totalitarianism nor the Holocaust would have been possible without corporate control.
Fascism and Racism
Just as capitalists had to invent the pseudoscience of the Social Darwinism to provide an ideological justification for the concentration of wealth, fascism has created virulent racism as a method of political control.
Because racism has no rational or scientific foundation and because it relies on blind hatred to produce political energy, it is extremely flexible. The target ethnic group of racism may change, the rationale for blind hatred may change, but the need for virulent racism under fascism does not change. Because the United States is an imperialistic power, the entire world focuses on the political motion of the United States. People all over the world know more about our political strengths and weaknesses than do our own people. That is one explanation as to why styles and culture changes in the black community have worldwide impact.
Racism is a core ideology of the United States. It was the ideological justification of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today, the Republican Party is founded on the southern strategy. As Bob Herbert, New York Times columnist puts it:
The Southern strategy meant much, much more than some members of the G.O.P. simply giving up on African-American votes. Put into play by Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in the mid-to late 1960’s, it fed like a starving beast on the resentment of whites who were scornful of blacks and furious about the demise of segregation and other civil rights advances. The idea was to snatch the white racist vote away from the Democratic Party, which had committed such unpardonable sins as enacting the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and enforcing desegregation statutes.
The important thing to keep in mind was how deliberate and pernicious the strategy was. Last month a jury in Philadelphia, Miss., convicted an 80-year-old man, Edgar Ray Killen, of manslaughter in the slaying of three civil rights workers—Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney—in the summer of 1964. It was a crime that made much of the nation tremble, and revolted anyone with a true sense of justice.
So what did Ronald Reagan do in his first run for the presidency, 16 years after the murder, in the summer of 1980? He chose the site of the murders, Philadelphia, Miss., as the perfect place to send an important symbolic message. Mr. Reagan kicked off his general election campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, an annual gathering that was famous for its diatribes by segregationist politicians. His message: “I believe in states’ rights.”
Mr. Reagan’s running mate was George H.W. Bush, who, in his own run for president in 1988, thought it was a good idea to exploit racial fears with the notorious Willie Horton ads about a black prisoner who raped a white woman. Mr. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, said at the time that the Horton case was a “values issue, particularly in the South—and if we hammer at these over and over, we are going to win.” Bob Herbert, NYT 7/18/05, p.A23
The Bush fascists have seized power by consolidating a racist base to their Republican Party. Now, they attack the Democratic Party and marginalize its activity—expressly the activity of the Party’s most progressive individuals and groups.
Capitalism relies on and promotes racism. As the concentration of wealth becomes more extreme, the racism becomes more extreme and then turns to fascism as a means of control. In doing that, it demands a response.
Fascism and Religious Extremism
Whenever there is any discussion of economic issues, most people’s eyes glass over. That is not because they don’t or can’t understand. It is because they believe to the very depths of their souls that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change the system. They are therefore trained emotionally, psychologically and intellectually to avoid the subject.
The genuine spiritual and religious impulse always embodies compassion, altruism, love and kindness. In certain circumstances, it even includes tolerance. The spiritual exigency is based upon a vision of transformation taking the individual beyond humankind’s material senses and base proclivities of selfishness, self-centeredness, and greed.
But under capitalism and globalization, the fanatical is the only religious impulse which is nurtured, supported, and ultimately exploited. It serves the purpose of the capitalists in all aspects. In the United States, fanatical religion convinces working class adherents to ignore their economic self-interest and throughout the world it creates terrorists who sacrifice their youth without even discussing the economic system which oppresses their people.
People turn to the spiritual because that is something over which the individual has control. That also serves the purposes of the capitalists, and that is why they always support organized religion. Individuals believe they have no choice, that they cannot change the political/economic system so they turn to the spiritual for support and relief from their suffering.
The political and economic oppression, however, never lets up and that is the general source of fanatical right wing ideology. It is not simply that Bush the First supported, nurtured and developed Osama Bin Laden as a political force now known as Al Qaeda. It is not simply that Reagan and Bush sent deadly weapons to organizations that coalesced into the Taliban. It is that capitalism in the globalized form, that is, at the stage of imperialism, necessarily promotes the most extreme forms of religion.
Fascism is the inevitable result of capitalism, which concentrates wealth in the hands of the fewest possible number, and rewards the most aggressively greedy, the most control-minded, the most corrupt, the most selfish people and institutions in society. Money is the repository for value and therefore power. Once money becomes concentrated in the hands of the most aggressively corrupt elements of society, it is inevitable that those individuals and institutions will use that money to gain political power. When accomplished, they will then necessarily adopt the same anti-democratic, war mongering, racist institutional structure that brought them to power in the first place.
Where Are We Now?
By any other name, the Bush cabal represents one of the most fascist collaborations we have seen in this country. They tout corporate control. More importantly, they implement it. They ignore and attack democratic principles. They attack every institution that might benefit the working class. The best example is Bush’s attack on Social Security. Bush & Company are completely unconcerned whether the majority of people oppose their policies. They will steal any election they cannot win. Under democratic principles, in 2000, when the Bush cabal had no mandate, their responsibility was to represent all people and make no major changes. Instead, they immediately implemented the most radical attack on working people that we have seen in 135 years.
In both 2000 and 2004, the Bush cabal ran overtly racist campaigns. Sending Republican goon squads into minority communities to attack the voters, on more then one occasion the Republican campaign machine openly admitted that the strategy was to suppress the Black vote. The media, of course, never took them to task for the racist strategy. That is because the media is owned by the same corporate structure that supports the Republican party.
The face of fascism as represented by the Bush cabal changed from that of German fascism and not simply because Bush does not have a mustache and Hitler did. Racist policies are implemented but racist ideology is denied. Aggressive war to secure natural resources is implemented but the reason is masked by lies. The Bush cabal pretends to be pro-life while bombing innocent men, women, and children.
The face of Bush’s fascism is new with Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Alberto P. Gonzalez. With each revolutionary upsurge by the working class, the ruling class learns new methods of control. By establishing an ideological litmus test, the Bush cabal can colorize their fascist perspective, but uses different faces to accomplish their agendas.
The New York Times headlines for June 29, 2005 include: “Bush Declares Sacrifice in Iraq To Be “Worth It”; and “Former Chief of Health South [Richard M. Scrushy] Acquitted in $2.7 Billion Fraud”.
Morphing of the Military-Industrial Complex
After eight years in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address on January 17, 1961. The former general warned of “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” He added that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
One way or another, a military-industrial complex now extends to much of corporate media. In the process, firms with military ties routinely advertise in news outlets. Often, media magnates and people on the boards of large media-related corporations enjoy close links—financial and social—with the military industry and Washington’s foreign-policy establishment.
Norman Solomon, “The Military-Industrial-Media Complex: Why war is covered from the warriors’ perspective.” Extra Magazine, 7/8/05, p. 21.
It is now appropriately termed the military-industrial-media-prison complex. That is, the corporations control every aspect of our life and when we disagree or are the wrong color, we go to jail.
Given the extent of shared sensibilities and financial synergies within what amounts to a huge military-industrial-media complex, it shouldn’t be surprising that—whether in the prelude to the Gulf War of 1991 or the Iraq invasion of 2003—the U.S.’s biggest media institutions did little to illuminate how Washington and business interests had combined to strengthen and arm Saddam Hussein during many of his worst crimes. Extra, supra.
Ronald Reagan said that the problem with government is government. That is a pithy and accurate summary of their philosophy. We now have 25 years to experience and to assess this system. What we now see is chaos, corruption, competition and capitalism.
Absolute Failure Fails Absolutely
Crashing in the Fast Lane: The Myth of Globalization
Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time
Life in the fast lane, uh huh
Blowin’ and burnin’, blinded by thirst
They didn’t see the stop sign,
took a turn for the worse.*
*From “Life in the Fast Lane,” written by Don Henley. Elektra Records.
All of these actions from corporate fraud to war crimes are but a part of an integrated system now called globalization. Chaos, corruption, competition and capitalism—these words describe but do not fully encompass the political/economic system of globalization. Other words, however, are descriptively helpful. Fraud, both corporate and electoral, war crimes, murder, torture, rampant racism, religious extremism, intolerance— but most importantly, control. These descriptions describe our political reality but are not generally applied to globalization. The reason globalization is only seen as an economic system to describe the distribution of products is that of media control. Everything from war to religious fanaticism is controlled by multinational corporations.
It is hard even to remember that on the eve of World War II, our regular army was a mere 186,000 men. Now, the 1,400,000-strong “peacetime” military services, funded by a defense budget larger than most national budgets, are made up of both men and women living in a closed-off, self-contained base world that connects outposts from Greenland to Australia. The Pentagon has deployed a quarter of a million troops against Iraq while at the same time several thousand soldiers are engaged in daily skirmishes in Afghanistan, countless Navy crews are manning ships in the waters off North Korea, a few thousand Marines are in the southern Philippines assisting local forces in fighting an Islamic separatist movement with roots a century old, and several hundred “adviser” are involved in what might someday become a Vietnam-like insurgency in Colombia (and possibly elsewhere in the Andean region). We have a military presence in 120 of the 189 member countries of the United Nations, including large-scale deployments in twenty-five of them. We have military treaties or binding security arrangements with at least thirty-six countries.
* * * *
This is the future. When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it.
Chalmers Johnson, “The War Business,” Harper’s Magazine, November, 2003, p.58.
In this report, Chalmers Johnson takes the position that the dominance of the military industrial complex bears no “relationship to private enterprise” but, in fact, it is the inevitable result of private enterprise. We see the results of globalization and all parts of the world producing chaos, corruption, competition but we never connect the results of the political economic system which produces it – – capitalism at the stage of imperialism. Any discussion of these world problems as caused, dependent upon, or arising out of globalization is either crushed or marginalized.
The current doctrine is that globalization distributes goods in a fair and equitable manner. War, poverty, corporate and electoral fraud, corruption with rampant racism, religious extremism, and torture are all attributed to government or to the inherent weaknesses of human beings. The soldiers are punished, the poor suffer famine, and the crooked executive officers and government leaders continue to lead comfortable lives.
Corporations destroy competition and capture markets. Opposition is crushed by any means necessary. Internally, corporations prohibit all democratic processes and protections.
Where are we now? We are in a place where the political conversation and terminology is ostensibly democratic, but the corporate conversation is unashamedly autocratic. Since corporate control of our government is the order of the day, guess which system wins out, even in the political arena? We will examine where we should go in Part II. (Click Here to continue to Part 2).
Yours in Struggle,
Ronald D. Glotta
220 Bagley, Suite 808
Detroit MI 48226-1409
(313) 963-1320 – (313) 963-1325/Fax