- What is Fascism and What Does American Fascism Look Like?
- American Exceptionalism Is a Dangerously Naive Form of Nationalism
- Fascism and Its Language: America is the Greatest Country on Earth!
- The Flag, the Pledge, The Anthem: Patriotism or Nationalism?
- Dutch Police Training: From Authoritarianism to Deescalation Strategies
- Authoritarianism: Respect for Authority — the President, Teachers, Police
- American Totalitarianism: Authoritarianism and Christian Dominionism
- Government Violence, Militias and Intimidation in American History
- Toxic Masculinity: Male Aggression, Anti-intellectualism, Dictators, War
- Propaganda, Censorship and Other Suppression of Dissent
- Conclusion: American Fascism Won’t Be Gone After Trump
Both authoritarianism and Christian dominionism are powerful forces in America. Theocracies are among the severest examples of totalitarianism. Will democracy prevent a Christian States of America?
(10-21-2017, updated 07-11-2018) Sinclair Lewis wrote in his 1935 book It can’t Happen Here: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross”.
Totalitarian governments don’t acknowledge individual liberties. Everyone must support the state. If America was a theocracy, there wouldn’t be a Bill of Rights. No freedom of speech, dissent, democratic elections, or a free press. North Korea is a totalitarian state, and so are theocracies like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In a theocracy the leaders’ holy book is the supreme authority, not the laws made by the people. Christian extremists would like to see America become a theocracy as well.
Totalitarianism: centralized control by an autocratic authority; the state is supreme–the individual must totally submit to an absolute state authority and to the interests of the whole. Authoritarianism: favoring blind submission to authorities, favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people. So no labor unions, no strikes, power lies with corporations, police, government.
In America the Religious Right is using Trump’s presidency to increase the power of Christianity in all domains of public life (Christian dominionism). They have managed to get a Supreme Court ruling that says that a Christian employer can deny health insurance for an employee if it covers birth control; they are trying to get laws passed that will allow store owners to refuse service to gays if their brand of Christianity could not bear that; they have been fighting for prayer in public schools for decades, as well as including/keeping Creationism as part of the Science curriculum.
During Obama’s presidency gays got equal rights and the right to marry, and under Trump, or rather, under the Religious Right exploiting him, that’s being rolled back. In the United Nations, on the Human Rights Council, America recently did not oppose the death penalty for homosexuality. Because the Bible says it’s wrong. Trump now has a weekly Bible study in the White House and the list of lawmakers who have claimed that for them the word of God trumps the laws of the land, who base their judgments of modern social issues strictly on the literal words of the Bible, who rely for their scientific knowledge even, on the Bible, is too long to even contemplate actually mentioning here. My point is that a lot of American Christians would love nothing more than a totalitarian state, as long as it’s in the form of a Christian theocracy.
America’s History of Totalitarianism
Even though America has as yet not had a totalitarian government, Americans have had an authoritarian and totalitarian streak from the beginning — just ask Native Americans and African Americans. White Americans mostly killed the Native Americans and the rest were forced to submit completely to white Americans’ rules. Their land was taken, they were corralled into reservations in the least desirable areas and they had no rights–they were completely powerless in the face of the colonists. And it doesn’t get more authoritarian than slavery, which was what whites made most African Americans endure before the Civil War. Not only did they not have any rights and were they powerless, whites actually treated them as property, like cattle or machinery. Many White Supremacists would like to go back to that system of oppression.
No Strong Belief in Individual Rights
Authoritarianism is extremely dangerous to democracy. The Religious Right and White Supremacists are pretty open about their desire for a totalitarian and/or authoritarian government, whether they fully understand that themselves or not. They are typically not strong believers in individual rights, except for the right to bear arms. Most are also easily offended by any perceived disrespect of the American flag, which represents American values like democracy, equality, freedom, etc., so there’s some cognitive dissonance there. As for democratic elections, I already mentioned in the previous post that a poll showed that the majority of Trump supporters wouldn’t have a problem with him staying in power beyond his term limit and that the Russian interference in the 2016 election is clearly a non-issue for most of them.
Disillusionment with the Status Quo
So the above-mentioned groups openly promote totalitarian aspects of government, but certain elements are already in existence. For all the chest-beating about America being the land of the free, the greatest democracy in the world, and on and on and on, one could argue that, as in countries run by authoritarian regimes, the power here lies with a small elite that is not constitutionally answerable to the people. I’m talking, of course, about the big political donors. The reason so many people are disillusioned with politicians is that they never do what they promise, and that’s because ultimately their re-election depends on their donors, not on their constituents.
Big Donors Run the Show
The voters can be made to believe anything if you can throw enough money at them in the form of advertising and rallies. The donors determine the agenda, and the donors are people like the Koch brothers and the big corporations, who aren’t even secretive about the fact that they make their political donations dependent on lawmakers’ votes on certain issues. How many of the bills that are introduced in Congress do congresspeople even write themselves anymore? How many do the donors or their lobbyists write, leaving the congressman or -woman to just put their signature under it? And everyone knows this.
As in the definition of authoritarianism mentioned at the beginning of this post, in America corporations have most of the power, and government — even though elected–does not necessarily do what’s in the best interests of the people.
In the previous post I already discussed the power of the police.
So the idea that America’s democracy is so strong and that Americans’ desire for democracy is so strong that fascism, in the form of Christian dominionism could never take hold here is baloney, in my opinion.
(This post is part 7 in the series Fascism in America. The next post will be about violence and intimidation. It was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “Fascism in America 7: Totalitarianism”, 10-21-2018)
Header image: Rise of the Dictators. ehsushistory-ww2.weebly.com