Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fascism in America

A short analysis

By Tudor Vieru, Science Editor

I’m sure you may have heard the growing claims that the course of events in motion in the United States offer excellent premises for the installation of a Fascist rule and a police state. In this piece, I will not attempt to persuade anyone that this is or is not the case, but provide a view of status-quo from a legal perspective. A comparison between the new and old America may perhaps also be in order. Again, the goal is not to offend, but to provide a few bases for events that some people already construe as worrying, and detrimental to their freedoms.

A few definitions

According to Oxford University Press’ A Dictionary of World History, “The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.”

The general definition of a totalitarian regime states that it maintains itself in political power by means of an official ideology, as well as through propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media. Other features include a single party that controls the state (usually), personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism.

In its modern use, the word tyrant refers to a person in a position of power who tends to put his or her personal interests, or that of a small oligarchy, over the interests of the general population. In seemingly democratic states, this happens even if that person was selected in his or her position following free elections. In classical political sciences, the word also refers to a person who has taken a position of power outside of hereditary (no longer applicable except for monarchies) or constitutional frameworks.

One of the two main definitions associated with the concept of dictatorship refers to a single person, or a small group of people, controlling the government of a country. The second definition refers to an autocratic form of rule, in which the people, or person, in charge do(es) not abide by, or simply dismantle, laws, constitutions, as well as social and political factors in the state.

Propaganda, in its most basic form of acceptance, refers to using speeches, media channels, and other means for disseminating information to the general public. The general purpose of propaganda is to influence the masses so as they rally to a cause, or a point of view, established by the ones who engage in this type of action. Propaganda is regularly used by powerful groups, such as those of religious people around the world, governments, and their leaders.


Obtaining total control on a state without raising the suspicions of the general public is something that is incredibly difficult to do. As one who has studied the world’s political systems, doctrines and ideologies, I can tell you that a Fascist-type, totalitarian state is extremely difficult to construct. There are two possible ways to go about it. One is the direct path, such as the one taken by Adolf Hitler when he became the ruler of Germany, in 1933. The other one takes longer, but creates the proper conditions for the people seizing control, in the sense that their take-over will not be hostile, and will be met with minimal resistance. This carries the advantage that fewer opponents can be more easily silenced.

(read Part 1)

(Part 2)