Mythic Past Indeed!

            The word “fascism” started to appear regularly, and pervasively, within the news media after the January 6, 2021 capital insurrection (definitely a news coverage event). Prior to that it was remarkably absent save for academics and lengthy news analysis columns. During the Trump administration, it was whispered and inferred, but rarely spoken outright. Analysis bears in mind that the news media are primarily corporate controlled entities. Jason Stanley’s 2018 primer on fascism, “How Fascism Works: the politics of us and them” was available well before the Jan. 6 event, and the book includes the first year of the Trump presidency. Since Hannah Arendt in the late 1940’s, it’s not like we haven’t been told. It’s more like we haven’t been able to listen — being too preoccupied, or distracted. By whom, and why? As Stanley points out, fascism is generally marked by a “strong man” authoritarian afloat on a sea of “us – them” ideology. In the introduction (pg. xiv, xv) he writes: “Fascist politics includes many distinct strategies: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity.” Stanley utilizes most of these as the chapters of his book, providing an exemplary road map of the history of fascism over the last 200+ years, both here in the US and abroad. In considering the book, Analysis found much of the description of the strategies to parallel an interpretation of corporate capitalism. Here’s a fast and dirty look: Mythic past – by definition corporations are entities which exist only in law, any self identity is purely a mythic fabrication. Strong man authoritarian – a quick look at the ranks of the 1%, specifically the .1% and .01% reveals the nature of corporate ownership/leadership (Rupert Murdoch, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk come to mind). Us and them – the integration of self identified branding into corporate myth, with the “them” being strongly dismissed, if even acknowledged. Enough said (e.g. Ford, Fiat Chrysler, GM, Honda, Toyota, etc. No parts are interchangeable though they are all makers of a product with the same function). Propaganda – think advertising, anything to get you to buy (recent summer airline overbooking comes to mind. “Fly the friendly skies,” also see mythic past and legal entities like Frito Lay, Coke or Pepsi). Anti-intellectualism – look no further than what big tobacco, Monsanto, big pharma, or the fossil fuel industry did/does through their lobbying campaigns. Unreality – welcome to the Magic Kingdom, Super Bowl, or whatever fabricated reality is better if you only shop here. Hierarchy – nothing more central to us/them than ranking what is “most” important (just recent railroad contract legislation which had the unions giving up their right to collective bargaining while the railroad corporations gave up nothing. We’re dealing!). Victimhood – the Trump administrations tax cuts to make corporations “more competitive,” level the field could only take place within the mythic propaganda of the corporations being the victims of injustice). Law and order – think what will happen after the merger of Kroger and Albertsons, food deserts and those without a house. Sexual anxiety – although legal entities are without sex, it can be projected on to the consumer, and we all know what sells. Appeals to the heartland – gun sales are up, hunting is down. Apple pie, football and Chevrolet (check out the mythic past!). Dismantling of public welfare and unity – the ongoing endeavor of privatizing public services and holding their operation up to the standards of private business, eliminating those not producing a profit or operating within their means (think Louis DeJoy and the USPS). Analysis finds the use of the word “fascism” to be  as  scary as what it is a moniker for. Its use reveals what it is we have been groomed to be, what it is we already are. Mythic past indeed!

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