The Coming US Fascism

from, 2001


In 1944 the Old Right journalist John T. Flynn wrote:

"The test of fascism is not one's rage against the Italian and German war lords. The test is ­ how many of the essential principles of fascism do you accept and to what extent are you prepared to apply those fascist ideas to American social and economic life? When you can put your finger on the men or the groups that urge for America the debt-supported state, the autarchial corporative state, the state bent on the socialization of investment and the bureaucratic government of industry and society, the establishment of the institution of militarism as the great glamorous public-works project of the nation and the institution of imperialism under which it proposes to regulate and rule the world and, along with this, proposes to alter the forms of our government to approach as closely as possible the unrestrained, absolute government ­ then you will know you have located the authentic fascist.

"But let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are dealing by this means with the problem of fascism. Fascism will come at the hands of perfectly authentic Americans, as violently against Hitler and Mussolini as the next one, but who are convinced that the present economic system is washed up and that the present political system in America has outlived its usefulness and who wish to commit this country to the rule of the bureaucratic state; interfering in the affairs of the states and cities; taking part in the management of industry and finance and agriculture; assuming the role of great national banker and investor, borrowing millions every year and spending them on all sorts of projects through which such a government can paralyze opposition and command public support; marshaling great armies and navies at crushing costs to support the industry of war and preparation for war which will become our greatest industry; and adding to all this the most romantic adventures in global planning, regeneration, and domination all to be done under the authority of a powerfully centralized government in which the executive will hold in effect all the powers with Congress reduced to the role of a debating society. There is your fascist. And the sooner America realizes this dreadful fact the sooner it will arm itself to make an end of American fascism masquerading under the guise of the champion of democracy.

"It should be equally clear that all this is in no sense communism.... [A] reason for the confusion is the character of the men who are authentic and honest New Dealers but who were not communists.... They began to flirt with the alluring pastime of reconstructing the capitalist system. They became the architects of a new capitalist system. And in the process of this new career they began to fashion doctrines that turned out to be the principles of fascism. Of course they do not call them fascism, although some of them frankly see the resemblance. But they are not disturbed, because they know that they will never burn books, they will never hound the Jews or the Negroes, they will never resort to assassination and suppression. What will turn up in their hands will be a very genteel and dainty and pleasant form of fascism which cannot be called fascism at all because it will be so virtuous and polite." (As We Go Marching [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1944], pp. 252-255.)


In 1969, at the height of the so-called Sixties, a New Right essayist ­ alarmed, apparently, that Jane Fonda still enjoyed freedom of speech and that college administrators were too spineless to have the police clear student radicals out of their offices ­ called for "some variety of expediential fascism":

"The very nature of the situation creates competing codes and doctrines extreme in content and alien to the balancing compromises of liberal polity. The stringent demands of such a rudimentary struggle of power and ideas invites political approaches that are totalitarian in nature: not quite in the original fascist sense that puts all aspects of life under the aegis of political authority, at least in the general sense that political theory can no longer restrict itself to general conditions and procedural rules, but must offer a comprehensive, authoritative resolution of a number of specific political and social questions." (Donald Atwell Zoll, "Shall We Let America Die?", National Review, December 16, 1969, pp. 12-62-1263, italics added.)

The phrase emphasized above ("political theory can no longer restrict itself to general conditions and procedural rules") abolishes constitutions and expresses the long-standing wish of some "conservatives" for a Government of National Emergency. FDR and Truman taught them well. National Review lives in a mental state of siege. There may be no antidote for it, but the following quotations may be of some use:


"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

James Madison, 1798 (italics added)

"Is it not just possible that we may become corrupted at home by the reaction of arbitrary political maxims in the East upon our domestic politics, just as Greece and Rome were demoralised by their contact with Asia?"

Richard Cobden, 1850

"Wartime brings the ideal of the State out into very clear relief, and reveals attitudes and tendencies that were hidden. In times of peace the sense of the State flags in a republic that is not militarized. For war is essentially the health of the State."

Randolph Bourne, 1919

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