Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fascism For Modern Times

The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.

Winston Churchill.

By Cernig

Today at Raw Story, Nick Juliano reports on a new book by two ACLU lawyers, which is based upon over 100,000 pages of documentation released "as a result of ongoing legal fights over a Freedom of Information Act request filed in October 2003 by the ACLU and other human rights and anti-war groups".
"[T]he documents show unambiguously that the administration has adopted some of the methods of the most tyrannical regimes," write Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh. "Documents from Guantanamo describe prisoners shackled in excruciating 'stress positions,' held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months."

...The documents show that prisoner abuse like that found at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was hardly the isolated incident that the Bush administration or US military claimed it was. By the time the prisoner abuse story broke in mid-2004 the Army knew of at least 62 other allegations of abuse at different prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors report.

Drawing almost exclusively from the documents, the authors say there is a stark contrast between the public statements of President Bush and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the policies those and others in the administration were advocating behind the scenes.

President Bush gave "marching orders" to Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who asked the Pentagon to approve harsher interrogation methods at Guantanamo, the general claims in documents reported in the book.

The ACLU also found that an Army investigator reported Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani. The prisoner was forced to parade naked in front of female interrogators wearing women's underwear on his head and was led around on a leash while being forced to perform dog tricks.

“It is imperative that senior officials who authorized, endorsed, or tolerated the abuse and torture of prisoners be held accountable," Jaffer and Singh write, "not only as a matter of elemental justice, but to ensure that the same crimes are not perpetrated again.”
Unfortunately, I don't believe justice will ever be served on those members of the Bush administration who have condoned, ordered and directed crimes against humanity. They are untouchable - for no-one who has the power to actually bring a prosecution which would stick will ever have the cojones to charge a former US president and his senior officials with such crimes.

That they and their most zealous supporters are fascists within the classic meaning of the word is obvious by comparison to the writings of the classic advocates of fascism - read Larisa Alexandrovna's excellent post of yesterday for concrete examples. However, they are willing, where their aims are met thereby, to cozy up to Islamo-Stalinist groups like the MeK or to call the world's greatest state enabler of terrorism and greatest nuclear proliferator a valued ally. These sleazy alliances of convenience also echo those of past fascist states.

Even though their roots lie in neo-Trotskyite ideology - the current extremist Right movement began with those who were disillusioned by communism's failure to live up to its promise of world hegemony and so moved entirely to the other end of the spectrum to look for their total victory - we shouldn't be surprised by this. As psychologist James A.C. Brown wrote in "Techniques of Persuasion" (1963):
"Communism and fascism or nazism, although poles apart in their intellectual content, are similar in this, that both have emotional appeal to the type of personality that takes pleasure in being submerged in a mass movement and submitting to superior authority."
And before the inevitable counterarguments begin - let's please remember that a single dictator forever was never a prerequisite of fascist or communist totalitarianism - both made allowances for dynastic succession. In the modern age, and in America especially, interregnums might be expected as to outright ignore democracy would be too dangerous a gambit (although it still has its supporters). Even so, the heirs of this new fascism will always be waiting in the wings for their next shot at power - and each time, the chances of a return to democracy will be further eroded.

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