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May 17, 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil visited Dallas. Activists here were able to mobilize a hundred or so protesters and get major statements from political and labor leaders against the visit.

What Is Fascism? What Do We Do About it?

Afterward, the conversations are turning toward really important topics such as “What Is Fascism?,” “How Does It Take Hold?,” and “What Do We Do About it?”

“What is fascism but capitalism in its death agony?” —The Journal of Albion Moonlight

To begin with, fascism is not an economic system nor a stage of economic development. It’s not a religion nor an anti-religion. It isn’t cultural tastes or outlook. It is a form of rule.

Do We Have Fascism in America?

The form of rule that we have in America is limited democracy. It is not as limited as it was before, say, the Civil War, nor even as limited as it was before Roe V Wade or Brown V Board of Education. One might notice that it’s more limited now than it was before the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United. But democracy in America is limited and always has been. We may have fascists in America, but we don’t have fascism. They haven’t taken over. At least not yet.

Democracy Opposes Fascism

When limited democracy just isn’t working well for the people in charge, they are left with fascism as their next option. The only other option would be to stop being the people in charge. In other words, fascism is a choice that desperate rulers make.

From their point of view, fascism is not as efficient as limited democracy because their workers in general willingly support them, but, from the the rulers’ point of view, it’s a lot better than giving up power.

If the corporate rulers of America decide that limited democracy isn’t working well for them any more, they will try to institute fascist rule.

Hitler Made a Deal

In Germany after World War I, the limited democracy imposed by the victors was called the Weimar Republic. It had so much debt and so many problems that it was weak. The communists and socialists, on the other hand, were on a roll. Hitler and his Nazis offered the German ruling class a way to maintain power by killing off the activists and destroying the democratic forces. In desperation, the rulers bought it.

The great powers of the day — United States, England, and France — liked the idea well enough because they had their own problems with socialists and communists. They allowed Hitler to take power, re-arm, and, just for practice, destroy the Spanish Republic.

Bolsonaro Made a Deal

Recently in Brazil, forces based on the trade union movement brought a flourishing democracy to replace the military dictatorship. It was working out great for the working people, but not so well for the capitalists. Using their control over the judiciary, they were able to jail the leaders of the democratic movement and put Jair Bolsonaro into power. Like fascists before him, he spews a lot of very divisive hatred.

They call him the Tropical Trump, and he’s a special friend of the White House here.

What’s All the Confusion?

The confusion about fascism is deliberate.

Ronald Reagan said that liberals were fascists. In one of the greatest examples of doublespeak of all time, Winston Churchill said that anti-fascists are fascists!

The Underlying Reason for Fascism

Capitalists do not prefer fascism. They prefer the efficiency of limited democracy for their rule. But they are doing something that they cannot help doing — piling up wealth for themselves at the expense of working people. Since the end of the Vietnam War, rich capitalists have taken an astonishing percentage of the world’s wealth. This year, 24 capitalists own more wealth than half the people on the planet!

It should be obvious that they can’t count on the cooperation of the people on the losing end. If we aren’t cooperating with them, then limited democracy isn’t working. The capitalists see that even better than we do.

Incipient Fascism At Home

A lot of really nasty people with billions of dark dollars are already working to establish fascism in the United States. Like their co-thinkers in Europe, they have seized on immigrants as their “threat from the other,” just the same way that Hitler and Mussolini used Jews.

In order to keep the democratic forces divided, they also throw in a lot of homophobia, religious intolerance, nationalism, and racism. The institutions of democracy such as freedom of information and the right to organize are their special targets. It worked for Hitler and it works for them. Since 1980, when the capitalists recognized that their hold was slipping, they have made a lot of progress. Mr. Trump makes a fairly good figurehead for them.

How Close Are We to Facism?

As this is written, the fascist forces have already provoked a phony constitutional crisis by refusing to recognize American law and democracy. In our ignorance, a lot of Americans support them. What they need now is the same thing that Hitler and Mussolini needed to smash democracy and establish fascist rule — a war.

Iranians are being demonized. There is an aircraft carrier task force in the Persian Gulf….

-Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program 89.3 FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site.

What Immigration Laws Do You Want?

The Wall is no solution,
but what is?

I sat in on a very nice conversation about immigration the other day. All five of us didn’t like the way things are nor the direction they seem to be heading. At the same time, I don’t think we had very clear ideas about what we’d like to see.

One guy actually had some valuable historical information. He said that the United States hardly had an immigration policy before 1920 when immigration quotas were legally made proportional to the ethnic groups counted in the 1920 census. In other words, if 9% of Eastern Europeans currently live in the United States, then 9% of new immigrants in 1921 are supposed to be Eastern Europeans. That’s the quota system.

One exception, he said, was China. In the 1880’s, they passed the “Chinese Exclusion Act” specifically to keep companies from continuing to bring in Chinese.

He went on to say that the quota system no longer exists. They have some more complicated way of saying who gets in and who doesn’t. He also said that a great many of the undocumented workers in this country today first arrived here legally. Then, instead of going home when their visa was up, they just stayed.

While we were talking history, one participant brought up the fact that the entire Southwestern United States, where all the controversy is, was stolen from Mexico.

As the conversation went on, it became more and more apparent that the immigration “crisis” as described by President Trump and capable of being remedied only by a giant wall is pretty much all nonsense. A wall won’t stop drugs, it won’t stop crime, and it won’t even stop immigrants.

But, I asked everybody, “What do you want?”

Everybody didn’t answer, but one woman said that she wanted immigration matters to be handled more humanely and respectfully. I responded that any attempt to make immigration less unpleasant will result in more immigration. In other words, if things were nicer at the border, there would be more people trying to get in.

She went on to say that United States policies create a lot of problems in other countries. We cause our own immigration problems, she said, and nicer foreign policy would cause people to stay home and not trek to the U.S. border.

And that leads me to the crux of the matter.

Capitalism Creates The Problem

Of course capitalist countries exploit other countries. That’s how it works. Each capitalist nation is a gang’s turf, defended by the gang’s “muscle.” In other words, the very wealthy people of the United States operate within a certain territory that is guarded by their military and police forces. Their “muscle” protects their riches. They foray into other countries, into some other gang’s turf, for purposes of exploitation.

The people suffering the exploitation, rather than starve, tend to pick up and leave. They go where the money is. Right now, the gangs of the United States have the most successful turf the world has ever known, and the exploited peoples of other turfs often want to come here.

Capitalist nations are set up and run by capitalists. The entire idea of a modern nation comes from capitalism.

If we had open borders, which is the only long-term solution to the immigration “problem,” we couldn’t have capitalism. That’s the answer to “What do we want?” No immigration problem. No capitalism.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site

World stock markets nosedived for a fourth day running on Tuesday, having seen $4 trillion wiped off from what just eight days ago had been record high values.

–NBC News

dark_money600x350px

Just the week before, Oxfam America announced their analysis of all the world’s wealth created in 2017. Eighty-seven percent of it went to the upper 1%!

I’m wondering if that same wealthy 1% took 87% of the $4 trillion loss? 

Probably not. The investors that took a bath this week aren’t the pros. They aren’t the ones with computers and experts doing their trading for them. They wouldn’t even know how to “sell short” like the big-time investors who are making fortunes from the downturn.

Once, before the implosion, I visited Moscow. They had a lot of fine museums made from the palatial buildings created in tsarist days. One of them had been the stock market. The Soviets, I was told, were running their economy without a stock market.

The Chinese, I understand, do have a stock market. It’s careening downward as this is written, just as other markets are around the world. The purpose of a stock market is to facilitate the flow of capital. Unfortunately, it also provides a giant gambling den where professional sharks swallow their competitors.

I’ve listened to several experts talk about the present downturn, and they are unanimous in saying that it’s just a correction and does not really reflect the basic world economy, which is sound. It seems to me that they nearly always say that during sharp downturns, because they don’t want investor panic to add to the problem, and they are nearly always right. But not always.

The experts go on to say that the selloff began when statistics were revealed showing that workers were beginning to get paid a tiny bit more. Wages, they said, were rising at the 3% rate. That’s a little bit more than inflation so, though tiny, it’s on the positive side for workers.

Why is good news for workers such bad news for capitalists?

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on KNON radio 89.3 FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

I have two reasons why we aren’t fit to govern, one reason why we are, and a firm belief as to whether or not we ever will.

voteclass

Why Americans Can’t Govern Themselves

The first reason is obvious: Americans aren’t even trying to govern ourselves. In my town, we just finished critical local elections with about 5% turnout of eligible voters. “Eligible voters” is the electorate plus the large percentage who didn’t even register.

The issues were really big and really clear. The establishment was lined up on one side and the people on the other. Everybody had a big stake, but hardly anybody responded.

The other thing against our ability to govern ourselves is the crippling divisions between those few of us who have shown that we give a damn. Example: my group called a rally last Friday, then had to try to reconcile with two other groups calling conflicting activities. We were able to come together with one of them, but the other wouldn’t budge. Here’s a laugh for you, the two groups most divided, most sectarian, least concerned about building a unified movement, were factions of “Indivisible!”

The divided progressive organizations make little effort to work together. They may call for “unity” all the time, and they do, but their idea of “unity” is “everybody follow me!” Very few of our disparate groups have a coherent strategy that makes any sense.

Hardly any of us recognize the central role of the working class in any effort to make progress against the 1%. If we did, we’d be working hard to stop Congress and the State Legislatures from undermining organized labor, but we aren’t.

Why Americans Can Govern Themselves

It’s all relative. I just made a couple of points explaining why the American people can’t govern ourselves, but I didn’t mention that we are far better prepared than the people who are running things now. One could start clicking the days off the calendar before the rich capitalists destroy all of us, including themselves, with their wars and pollution!

So the American people may not be very fit to govern, but we’re miles better than the present rulers!

Who Will Win the Contest?

Our side will win. It’s only a matter of time. Human history can be thought of as a struggle between knowledge and ignorance, between reason and superstition. In the long arc of history, knowledge and reason are the winning side.

In my fifty years of activism, I’ve seen extremely hopeful trends developing. People are better educated,  smarter, and more capable than before. Much more! Major organizations like the AFL-CIO have re-invented themselves and now promote progressive unity. Old divisions like racism and homophobia are much less effective than they were.

Folks worry today that the capitalists will soon choose to govern through fascism rather than the time-honored American method of limited democracy. I’m one of those worried people, but even a dreadful period of fascism would be temporary. The capitalists cannot solve the problems they caused that way or any other way.

Given time, the people will prevail. I just hope we live that long.

–Gene Lantz

I’m still broadcasting on http://www.knon.org/workers-beat/ at 9 Central Time every Saturday. Join me and call in 972-647-1893.

If you are courageous and tenacious about your cause, whatever it is, you will eventually,  it may take a while, reach the same conclusions as the rest of us.

giantsquid

I think of it as battling one tentacle of a monster. Darned thing will just about strangle you if you don’t fight it off. But, if you stay with it long enough, you’ll find that your tentacle leads to a monster with many other tentacles. Various other people are fighting one tentacle or another. If they don’t give up, they’ll all find the many-armed monster.

I didn’t start out with a radical world view. I started with only one cause: corporal punishment in the schools. I wanted school personnel to stop beating on the kids. I think it took me more than a year to realize that many of the school torturers were being encouraged by the kids’ parents. Then I started arguing against all kinds of aversive control of children.

One thing led to another. I no sooner quit criticizing teachers and parents than I started criticizing school administrators, then school boards, then the entire educational system. I even started a special non-aversive school and tried to get people to emulate it.

Then one day I realized that if the schools weren’t the way they are, then young men and women would stop volunteering to join the military to fight and die for someone else’s peace and happiness. Something was wrong, I figured, and it wasn’t just the schools. That thinking process took me several years. I went on from there.

Doesn’t Matter Where You Start

I was reading a long e-mail from a group that calls itself, I think, “Women’s March for Freedom.” They were passing on their revelation that women’s oppression isn’t the only kind of oppression. They listed homophobia and a couple of other forms of chauvinism. They had realized this since they organized the biggest protests in American history on January 21, 2017.

They started with the women’s oppression tentacle, the one they were feeling the most, and then generalized to a broader definition of chauvinist oppression. If they keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and keep on thinking it through, they’ll find the monster.

I think one of the problems in America is that people are too afraid to go on fighting. Many a young radical becomes a frightened, inactive, middle-ager. Maybe most of them.

Follow the Money

On the streetcar this morning, a young man drinking chocolate milk pointed out a motorcycle cop hiding behind a fence. He gestured with his bottle: “Where does he get his authority?” the guy asked me. “I think you already know,” I told him, but apparently he didn’t because he rephrased and asked the same question.

“Police, like anybody else,” I suggested, “work for whoever signs their paycheck.” I thought that was erudite enough, but it didn’t satisfy the young fellow. “And where do THEY get their authority?” he asked me. By then I had decided I was the victim of some long-range Socratic argument and didn’t really want to go on. But there was nobody else in the streetcar to talk to, so I resigned myself to being sucked in and told him, “Whoever signs the policeman’s paycheck works for whoever signs his, and then the next level and the next level until you finally get to very rich people, the 1% so to speak, who are using their money to keep this system running for their own profit.”

Following the money is like following the tentacle. It leads to the same monster.

It sure would have been cool if he had said, “Oh, I get it,” but he just glanced at the ceiling of the streetcar and resumed drinking his chocolate milk. I like to think that he might have pondered my words later, but he probably didn’t. For all I know, there might have been something pretty raunchy in his chocolate milk.

Read a Good Biography

Malcolm X started out in prison. He figured out, or was taught, that white people oppressed Black people through their Christian religion. So he became a very effective Islamist fund raiser. He didn’t stop there, and was a much broader kind of revolutionary before they killed him.

Eugene Victor Debs was just a very good trade unionist when he started bucking the system. He tried to bring the railroad unions together and nearly succeeded. They put him in jail for it, and he came out a much broader, much more capable kind of revolutionary before they put him in jail again.

Almost all of us are familiar with aspects of the life of the good Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. His cause was racial discrimination on public transportation, when he started. Then he went on to lead the entire struggle against racism, and didn’t stop there, even for a minute. He linked up with the union cause quite a lot. Lots of people, including a lot of his devoted followers, were shocked when he denounced imperialist war before they shot him.

Just from those three, you can see the two most important aspects of my exposition: 1) courageous and consistent struggle will reveal the monster and 2) Lots of people don’t keep up the “courageous and consistent struggle” because they are afraid of what they will learn, or rather, they are afraid of the thing about which they will learn, i.e. the monster. BTW, I’m not saying people should be afraid, or not any more afraid than they already are, but I do recommend being careful.

The Monster Isn’t A Person

There are nice rich people and there are lousy rich people. I think the widow Joan Kroc, who gave away the Ray Kroc McDonald’s fortune, was probably a nice rich person. I got a book against nuclear war from her once. I think she had bought thousands of them to give away.

The monster isn’t a person, it’s a system being run by several persons. Fight your tentacle long enough and you’ll find it.

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on 89.3FM and http://knon.org at 9AM Central Time every Saturday.

Germans embraced the Nazis, not because they were tired of freedom, but because they believed they had found a cure for capitalism.

doctorposter-capitalism

From the time it began to take over the world, mid 17th century, until the late 19th century, capitalism provided a better life for its subjects. That is, it was better than serfdom. Serfs were landless farm workers, one step above slaves, who had to take whatever their lords dished out. “Free” labor could leave one employer for another and, to some extent, dicker over conditions of employment.

Capitalism Works Best With Limited Democracy

If workers believe they have a voice in government, they don’t have to be guarded, guided, and pushed to do everything. They don’t run away or deliberately smash the equipment, the way slaves or serfs might. They can be educated for the higher forms of labor that capitalism needs. Consequently, the more successful capitalist economic systems use a limited democracy form of government.

From the beginning of the Republic until after World War II, American struggles made good improvements in our democracy.

What Went Wrong, When Did It Go Wrong?

Capitalism stopped benefiting workers after it conquered the world. When there were no new markets, the capitalists had to turn against one another to fight for the markets they had already saturated. That’s not what they called it. They called it “The war to save democracy,” and “The war to end all wars.”

But WW I was really a bloody turf war between gangsters. For a short period, the winners enjoyed their spoils, but it didn’t last very long because  the basic problem of saturated markets and international competition was still there.

So, they decided to have another world war. This one was complicated for workers, because the Soviet Union, try as they might, couldn’t stay out of it. After they began to fight the invading Nazis, they were incorporated into the same side the United States was on. The U.S. ended the alliance as soon as the Nazis were defeated, of course.

No More World Wars

After the U.S. nuked Japan, actually, after the Soviets and other nations showed that they could do the same thing, world wars lost their appeal as a temporary solution to the capitalist crisis. Even the gangster capitalists weren’t crazy enough to blow up their only planet. So, since the late 1970s, capitalist nations have gotten by on small regional wars, lowering their production costs by attacking their workers, and carrying a whole lot of debt. I recently read, in an investment newsletter, that all growth in the United States since 1980 basically came from debt!

Did the Nazis Solve the Capitalist Crisis?

To Germans between, say, 1933 and 1939, it appeared that fascism was the right way to go. Unemployment dived from 25% into low numbers. Lots of infrastructure was rebuilt. National pride was soaring.

But they had only changed their form of government from limited democracy to fascism, they hadn’t changed their economic system. It was still capitalist and it was still in crisis. The only real way toward a temporary solution was war. Even then, as long as they were winning, fascism still seemed pretty good to the Germans. After that, not so much.

What Looks Good to You Right Now?

To a lot of Americans, the Trump Administration and Republican political domination look pretty good. They think there will be more and better jobs. They think they’ll be making a better living and that the steady abatement of basic democracy isn’t too high a price to pay.

But we are still living in an economic system that has provided all the good it is going to provide, and things are only going to get worse if we can’t save and expand our democracy.

 

We can better understand the system we live in by taking a long historical view.

rottenapple

Our economic and government system, while a great improvement over its predecessors, rotted to its core by early in the last century.

After that time, there were no solutions for the society as a whole. There were, however, solutions for certain wealthy people.

World War I and World War II, although they cost millions of workers’ lives and reversed a great deal of progress, turned out pretty good for the wealthy people of the United States. They enjoyed a prosperous, though temporary, period after each successful war. The people in the nations that lost suffered terribly, of course, but as I said, there were solutions for certain wealthy people after the 20th century began.

That so-called “solution,” world war, isn’t available to them any more because of nuclear proliferation.

Some time during the 1970s, the “American Century” of post war prosperity began to wane. Working Americans haven’t done particularly well since then, and have in fact begun to slide backward. The temporary economic “solutions” worked only for the very wealthy, and they continue that way today. Some people call this a crisis of capitalism.

The Crisis is Natural

If an economic system has to sell its products for more than they cost, and if the workers of a given nation do not have the resources to pay, then the products have to be sold somewhere else. The wealthy owners have to compete for that “somewhere else.” Since the 1970s, the wealthy owners of the United States have stopped winning that competition. It shows in all the statistics. Their only way to beat out their competitors is to reduce the wages, benefits, and social benefits of poorer people. That’s what they have been doing and what they continue to do.

Deregulation, Privatization, Corporate Welfare and Outsourcing are Necessary Props

To prop up the wealthy, to provide a “solution” for the wealthy (not for us), they cause their government to deregulate their businesses, privatize the socially-owned sector, hand out tax breaks and outright gifts to corporations, and outsource work to countries where wages and environmental regulations are more advantageous to them.

It’s Temporary

Even though the wealthy people are able to get their government to cooperate in their economic “solutions,” the results are only temporary, because the wealthy people in other countries are doing the same thing. It’s a competition usually, nowadays, called, “the race to the bottom.” That’s what we call it. They probably call it “good business.”

Things get temporarily better for the wealthy class while everybody else suffers.

Comes the Trump Government

President-elect Donald J Trump will accelerate all of the “solutions” listed above, solutions only for the wealthy and not for us, and they will be, if anything, temporary fixes. The crisis will continue, there is no way to turn it around because the international competition will still be there.

No matter what reforms we may attempt, the overall competitive system will remain rotten and will continue to get rottener.

We need a new system.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on knon.org and 89.3FM in Dallas at 9 AM every Saturday. If you want to know what I really think, look at my life’s lessons