â€œIn Germany they first came for the Communists and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasnâ€™t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didnâ€™t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me â€“ and by that time no one was left to speak up.â€
“-Pastor Martin Niemoller
German Protestant minister,
Leader of the church’s opposition to Hitler,
Nazi concentration camp intern, 1937-45″
In the build up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, comparisons made between Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler were effectively exploited as part of the propaganda arsenal promulgated by the spin doctors in Washington to convince the populace of the threat that Saddam presents (presented?) to world peace.
But from the beginnings of the U.S. campaign of â€œshock and aweâ€, bombing Iraq into a Stone Age de novo, an ominous vision of unrestrained power was laid bare. It is a vision which lingers even as the leading actors of this tragedy â€“ George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and company â€“ continue today to play their scripted public role of â€˜benevolentâ€™ occupiers. In the wake of the blitzkrieg against Iraq, a more apt comparison to fascism, many would feel, is one that involves the American regime of George W. Bush.
Indeed, in contradistinction to popular propaganda, a frightening image of fascism is evoked by what is already the most powerful state in human historyâ€¦
Irrespective of comparisons made, of course, it is becoming increasingly clear that the part of protagonist to be played by common citizens in rejecting and resisting these forces and their foreboding empire â€“ beyond simply protesting in the streets â€“ is crucial to our very survival.
Admittedly, it is difficult to see the value of declaring the Bush regimeâ€™s embodiment of fascism.
Who really cares what labels are assigned to different regimes? Surely such terms are merely academic compared to the stark realities of power.
Moreover, any historical comparison along these lines may be superficial or inappropriate, and can easily degenerate into rhetoric.
And besides, what point would be made beyond saying that â€˜Bush is badâ€™?
But perhaps such an investigation and explanation could actually be an effective thought-exercise and organising tool. If used effectively, it can be a means to gauge where we can actually situate ourselves morally in contrast to acquiescing to the conventional wisdom of the purported sophistication of our â€˜civilisationâ€™ â€“ especially when measured against one of the most easily recognised, demonic aspects of our popular history.
While there are changing definitions of the term â€˜fascismâ€™, the framework offered by Michael Parenti is particularly instructive.1 Essentially, Parenti frames the fascist ideology as a glorification of the leadership cult, the nation-state and military conquest. He also includes the propagation of folk mysticism, with xenophobia and racism as pertinent characteristics of the fascist ideology. Finally, he reminds us of fascist leadersâ€™ vehement opposition to left-leaning egalitarian class movements and doctrines, clearly illustrating another all-important feature â€“ the merger between elite interests and state violence.
Prominent banker and businessman Prescott Bush, George W. Bushâ€™s grandfather, certainly appreciated the value of this merger. Grandpa Bush actively engaged in business with the Nazis, both before and after the United States had declared war on Germany.2
In any capitalist economy, there is, of course, a significant role for the state above and beyond direct financial support for elites â€“ the role of policing property, for example, or setting interest rates. The basic purpose is for the state to create an environment favourable to the wants and desires of powerful forces in the market, as laid out by various lobbying groups (such as the Chambers of Commerce in Western countries).
The link between the state executive and corporate power is much more overt in examples of fascist regimes.
The support of German industrialists and corporations such as IG Farben was crucial to Hitlerâ€™s rise to Chancellor in the early 1930s. Once in power, the Nazi Party obliged its backers with attacks on the gains that had been made by workersâ€™ organisations, including minimum wage as well as health and safety laws. Privatisation (the handing over of public facilities to entrepreneurs) was also a feature of Nazi economic policies. In the symbiosis of state and corporate power â€“ thereby enshrining the command economy â€“ one component protected and enriched the other, while starving and impoverishing the working classes and marginalised populations.
The United States purportedly employs a system based on concepts of the â€˜free-marketâ€™, though the state has always played an important role in its own economy. However, perhaps in a manner unparalleled since the Reagan era, the current regime in the state executive is both staffed and backed by corporate interests, and has vehemently protected the vested interests of its members and friends. Concurrently, it has entered and exploited vulnerable foreign markets through the outright use of force.
Corporate interests clearly invest and have invested in the President, along with those in his entourage. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton until 1995. Halliburton was curiously awarded a contract to extinguish fires in post-war Iraq late in March, awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.3 National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice acted as a Chevron Corporation director from 1991 until 2001, and was even rewarded by having an oil tanker bearing her name (later renamed the Altair Voyager).4 Cheney was apparently instrumental in securing an oil pipeline through the Caspian Sea for the Chevron Corporation.5 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has had multiple affiliations with various corporations; his stock in Gulfstream Aerodynamics, where he was director, was reportedly valued at $11 million when it was acquired by defense contractor General Dynamics.6 Meanwhile, Enron (the Houston-based natural oil company which recently declared bankruptcy) was one of the largest contributors to George W. Bushâ€™s campaign during the 2000 presidential elections.7
It may be of little surprise, then, that corporate tax payments in the first six months of the 2003 budget year (as compared to 2002) have plunged by 43%8 mostly as a result of Bushâ€™s generous tax cuts for the rich. Furthermore, attacks on working people have rounded off the corporate agenda. Bushâ€™s â€˜revisedâ€™ Medicare proposal in March 2003 was a dream for Health Maintenance Organisations and other private insurance companies. Outsourcing of jobs (including federal government jobs) has increased, with Bush proclaiming in one scheme that 850,000 jobs were to be outsourced. Meanwhile welfare â€˜reformâ€™ â€“ the time that (poor) recipients of state benefits must work or train per week â€“ has increased to 40 hours.
There is also the direct injection of tax revenue into the private sector. In Nazi Germany it was a specific type of state-spending, through the process of remilitarization, that was preferred for various reasons, and which facilitated a particularly harmonious marriage between economic elites and the ruling clique. Indeed, IG Farben, for example, profited so much from the production of military materials for the Reich that many of its executive officers were convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials.
There was apparently a lot to learn from this, as military spending has, for decades, been the darling of the state-capitalist democracies. As Noam Chomsky has observed:
â€œThe fascist states of the 1930s proved that the new economics works, as economies were stimulated by programs of rearmamentâ€¦ unfortunately a great many factor â€“ the drive for domestic and global power, the need to mobilize popular support for costly government programs, the concern to recycle petrodollarsâ€¦the requirement that state-induced production must not harm but rather enhance the interests and power of the private empires that control the economyâ€¦ â€“ all converge on military production.â€9
Another perspective reaches similar conclusions. The late former Major General, Smedley Butler, was in the United States Marine Corps and a two-time recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honour who began uncovering and exposing the war-machineâ€™s deceit on his own. After his retirement from the military, in a memorable speech, â€œWar is a Racketâ€, he very astutely observed that:
â€œIt [war] is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. [â€¦] Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few â€“ the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill. And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.â€10
The infamous triad tying the state, the military and the industrial sector has been emphasised with great zeal during the Bush reign. Since the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the military budget has received inordinate attention, at the expense of other domestic issues in dire need. In July 2002, Ron Sugar of the Northrop Grumman corporation (makers of the B2 bomber) predicted an “8% to 9% compound annual growth rate in defence expenditure over the coming years and we’ll do at least double digit earnings growth.”11 In August 2002, 35-billion dollars was added to the U.S. â€˜defenseâ€™ budget, bringing total military spending for that fiscal year to 350-billion dollars â€“ the biggest expansion of the U.S. military in 20 years.12 Further, an 80- billion dollar â€˜war chestâ€™ for the invasion of Iraq was also approved by Congress in April 2003.13 By 2007, it is predicted that military spending will be 20% higher than â€˜Cold Warâ€™ averages.14
While continuing to militarise the entire world through bases scattered over all continents, the U.S. government has also funnelled tax money into the most counter-intuitive programmes of â€˜national defenseâ€™. Indeed, the resurrected National Missile Defense (NMD) system, which veritably threatens to trigger a new international arms race is a particularly salient example of the Orwellian doublespeak which characterises the U.S. executive. To quote economist Paul Krugman, such programmes â€œseem to have little to do with the actual threat, unless you think that al-Qaida’s next move will be a frontal assault by several heavy armoured divisions.â€15
Increased funding for programs such as NMD and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has ensured that even outer space is not safe from colonisation. Of course, in spite of all this, pundits like neo-conservative Newt Gingrich continue to ostentatiously proclaim that â€œWithout bold dramatic change at the State Department, the United States will soon find itself on the defensive everywhere except militarily. In the long run that is a very dangerous position for the world’s leading democracy.”16
The reality surrounding the U.S.â€™s increasing military strength is also a testament to the astounding success of modern propaganda systems. That is, it is quite remarkable that U.S. elites have managed to sell the farcical image of their hypermiliterized nation as a threatened, noble superpower.
In Nazi Germany, the use of propaganda was paramount to effectively indoctrinating the German people with the principles of the Nazi Party, the supremacy of the Fuhrer, and fear of the Other. This was the role of the infamous Dr. Joseph Goebbels at the Reichâ€™s Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda. Over the years, Goebbels made sure that the Reich had control, directly or indirectly, over all the newspapers and radio stations in Germany, with the added capacity to transmit sound waves to countries around the world.
Admittedly, with todayâ€™s media, it is more difficult to ascribe culpability to one person, or to direct control by the state. However, when considering the abstract reality that media agencies are corporate entities, motivated by profit, we can imagine that the relationship between them and the state â€“ acting as manager of the corporate environment â€“ is a mutually reinforcing one.
Indeed, the corporate media has effectively catapulted George W. Bush to a position where he could never have climbed to on his own. As suggested by former member of the National Security Council, Roger Morris: â€œCrippled by self-censorship, often by its lack of knowledge or sensibility, and without vocal opposition in Congress to report by default, American journalism will give the new imperial president publicity his forerunners could only envy.â€17
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and their â€˜reality-basedâ€™ reports paradoxically make the events happening in Iraq appear distant and utterly unreal, or at least surreal, yet American patriotism has swelled. Polls showed that many Americans who were initially opposed to the â€˜warâ€™ became resigned to â€˜standing by our troops and countryâ€™, though the immorality germane to initiating and supporting the illegal invasion and occupation of another country did not diminish.
Particularly interesting in this regard is the role of the â€˜fear factor of Saddamâ€™ that exists in the U.S. While a poll showed that 80% of the world saw the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace, a majority of Americans were actually afraid of being attacked by Iraq prior to the invasion, and a majority also believed that Iraq was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.18
In trying to explain these almost unbelievable statistics, and the fear behind them that is unique to the U.S., it is perhaps most instructive to remember the incredible propaganda campaigns of the corporate media since 9/11. Characterised by flights of ideas and loosening of association otherwise only seen in cases of acute mania and psychosis, the corporate media went from linking Osama Bin Laden to al-Qaeda to the Taliban in order to ascribe and extend culpability for the September 11 attacks, and then to justify their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Before the flames had even died down in Afghanistan, the U.S. government, in tandem with the media, began vociferating about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and Iraqâ€™s purported weapons of mass destruction â€“ though even a recent CBS News report claims that Iraq was targeted for attack on the very day of September 11, 2001.
After realising that clamouring about Iraqâ€™s weapons of mass destruction would prove insufficient (note that even a full-scale invasion was not enough to trigger the use of these supposed weapons), the media effectively conveyed the re-configuration of U.S. intent to that of dethroning Saddamâ€™s brutal regime. This was not good enough, however, and soon all Baâ€™ath party members were criminals and placed on the U.S.â€™s â€˜most wanted listâ€™. While unsuccessfully attempting to forge a link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden at one point (ignorant of the radical chasm between the religious ideologies espoused by the two men), the media nevertheless effectively demonised Saddam by reminding the American people how he cruelly gassed the Kurds and greedily invaded Kuwait. Conveniently omitted, of course, is the fact that Washington happily supported the Baâ€™ath party during its ascension to power. No mention is made of how Washington supplied Iraq and Saddam with materials to eventually make the very weapons of mass destruction which they presumably feared so tremendously. Finally, they are now beginning to spin their web of deceit to inculpate Syria for possessing chemical weapons (as though the legitimacy of the U.S. possessing weapons of mass destruction itself is somehow pre-ordained and sacrosanct), and harbouring Baâ€™ath party members (none of whom have actually ever committed any crime against the U.S). It is anyoneâ€™s guess as to how long they will take before invading Syria, consonant with their vision of carving out an American Middle East.
What remains constant throughout is the fear of the unseen enemy embodying â€˜terrorismâ€™ â€“ dubbed â€˜the evil doersâ€™ in the sophisticated political vernacular â€“ now and again personified as various â€˜hobgoblinsâ€™.
Hermann Goering was a Nazi general and the German Reichâ€™s Air Marshal. It is apt to recall his infamous (but very insightful) words, communicated to Gustav M. Gilbert on April 18, 1946, in a private conversation during the Nuremberg Trials:
â€œNaturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.â€19
Throughout this time, of course, the U.S. as lighthouse for democracy and freedom has continued to be inscribed on the American consciousness. Those who question U.S. foreign policy are labelled as unpatriotic, or worse, treasonous. The two-pronged mode of action of the corporate media (i.e. demonising the Other on one hand, while pontificating about the merits of oneâ€™s own government) has proved quite successful to manufacture consent for their unwavering and devastating â€˜war on terrorismâ€™.
9/11 also served as a powerful catalyst to justify implementation of draconian policies under the auspices of the National Security Strategy, namely the Homeland Security Act, as well as PATRIOT Acts I and II. In one fell swoop, the legal requirement of a congressional declaration of war or compliance with the 1973 War Powers Act (which limited the Presidentâ€™s unilateral power to go to war) were abolished.
The policies of USA PATRIOT (or â€œUniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorismâ€ in its full form),20 for example, that aim at â€œremoving obstacles to investigating terrorismâ€ have played a significant part in the suspension of civil rights of American citizens and the criminalisation of dissent.
Such exploitation of a national emergency to expand executive power is reminiscent of Hitlerâ€™s Enabling Act (ErmÃ¤chtigungsgesetz), enacted following the Reichstag Fire and elections of 1933. Titled the â€œlaw concerning the solving of the emergency of the people and the Reichâ€, it allowed Hitler to make laws without seeking the consent of Germanyâ€™s parliament (or Reichstag), saying that â€œthe laws passed by the Reich government do not have to adhere to the constitution.â€21
The Enabling Act was one of the first steps towards the police state that forced imprisonment of â€“ among others â€“ Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and communists. Today, there are also a wide variety of Others to be interned: Muslims, Arabs, forceful dissenters, the poor, people of colour…
Racial profiling has become an acceptable, and in many cases, welcome intervention. Indeed, in Bushâ€™s America, over 1000 Arab-Muslims were reportedly detained following the 9/11 tragedy, while accounts described how non-citizen Arabs and Muslims were being rounded up and placed into makeshift internment camps at the onset of the recent U.S.-led offensive against Iraq.
In an incredibly short period of time, immigration policy has been radically altered under the pretence of national security, making it significantly more difficult for migrants (especially Arabs and Muslims) to enter the United States, simultaneously buttressing plans for the creation of a future Fortress America.
The internal population at large has also been targeted. American citizens have witnessed the suspension of their civil liberties, including their right to assemble in public spaces and free speech. Indeed, it is frightening to think about the level of centralisation and concentration of power in domestic affairs today. Morris writes: â€œAs no other federal government before it, the Bush administration wields the authority to arrest and hold suspects without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, and deny access to legal counsel, all with unparalleled secrecy.â€22
Economic elites undoubtedly remain the beneficiaries of such policies, both then as now. To take one example, the trend in the U.S. of private companies contracting jobs out to prison labour, sometimes known as the â€˜prison-industrial complexâ€™, is frighteningly reminiscent of an aspect of Nazi-era economics. The diaries and interviews of Karl Sommer, head of Germanyâ€™s Economic and Administrative Main Office (EAMO) from 1944, revealed that the EAMO was responsible for giving companies such as BMW, Volkswagen, Krupp, Siemens, Bayer, Porsche, Daimler-Benz (Mercedes), and of course Ford, the use of thousands of concentration camp prisoners for slave labour.23
Can it be fathomed that the Bush regime may one day decide to end the esteemed American democracy and install a system of outright totalitarianism? There were certainly shades of this during Bushâ€™s dubious election as President. Was the recent controversy that reportedly saw a thousand black people in Florida magically removed from voter lists in Jeb Bushâ€™s riding, for example, a premonition of similar things to come?
Perhaps one should ask how radical the shift towards an overtly totalitarian system of governance would actually be.
Truth be told, American democracy in general is already characterised by a simple (and false) dichotomy: a two-party system existing parallel to a structure of corporate power where even distinguishing between the policies of the Republicans and the Democrats (both in service to corporate power) has become more and more difficult.
Representative democracy, for all its elections and ostensible accountability, does not safeguard against totalitarianism, especially when it is fed by a structure of private power as ominous as the corporate lobby in the U.S. Following an unprecedented and elaborate agenda of fear and intimidation, although Hitlerâ€™s party failed to attain a majority by 3 million votes, the Nazis nevertheless â€˜democraticallyâ€™ gained the most seats in the Reichstag in March 1933 â€“ with the crucial support of their corporate backers.24
Furthermore, with recent developments in the U.S., even the checks and balances supposedly intrinsic to representative democracy seem to have been neutralised. The Congress as well as the Senate are on-side with the Bush regime, with opposition to the recent military invasion and occupation of Iraq presumably being obviated by the demands of patriotism. Indeed as Morris goes on to elaborate when speaking of the political climate post-9/11, â€œthe White House was ceded sovereign authority to justify and launch full-scale hostilities â€“ a right vested by the Constitution in the Congress precisely to prevent such fateful power falling to any one president and handful of advisers.â€25 All this in spite of great resistance by many conscientious American citizens who were opposing the current invasion and occupation of Iraq, and had visions of an alternative way of reconciling the conflict. Voter apathy with respect to such developments ensures their success.
In a system which already bears totalitarian strains, the ultra-right Bush regime could certainly be said to be moving towards the further consolidation of executive power. Of particular interest, during the 1st session of the 108th Congress (on February 25, 2003), a joint resolution in the House of Representatives proposed an amendment (now known as Bill H.J.RES.25.IH) to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; section 1 of Amendment XXII states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice”. We should remember that this tendency towards totalitarianism has not been called so in the propaganda system. This harbours a particularly frightening point: that one day we may find ourselves in an overtly totalitarian system of governance, while concurrently still waking up to the myths of â€˜freedomâ€™ and â€˜democracyâ€™, hailing our internationally-envied rights.
â€˜Freedom and Democracyâ€™: The Folk Mysticism of Benevolent Power
The normative principles upon which the United States is said to have been founded (while completely ignoring the decimation and oppression of the Indigenous population as well as the African people brought over through the slave trade) do have a high moral value in themselves. Indeed, perhaps the internalisation of these normative principles by many Americans is justified, if not laudable.
That is, the rhetoric in the U.S. today is based on the notion of democracy and freedom for all. These are terms that have been and continue to be the basic demands of social justice movements all over the world. The strength and diversity of social movements in the U.S. itself over the decades has had real effects in bringing these notions to popular discourse.
However, it is in their use by power that a kind of â€˜folk mysticismâ€™ has been created around these terms when talking about the outside world. It pursues the ambitions of those in power in the U.S., while accommodating the morality of their constituents. It is the U.S. folk myth that â€˜freedomâ€™ and â€˜democracyâ€™ are worthy norms that have already been achieved in an entity known as â€˜Americaâ€™, and are to be exported to the world for the benefit of all mankind (of course, through the infallible actions of U.S. elites).
The media effectively packaged and sold the U.S. invasion of Iraq by demonising Saddam, and reminding the American people, with convenient omissions, of his brutality towards â€˜his own peopleâ€™. How could a paragon of freedom allow such barbarism to exist? Donâ€™t the long suffering Iraqis deserve democracy? Moreover, why shouldnâ€™t the American volk show them how itâ€™s done?
But if we can call this our contemporary â€˜folk mysticismâ€™, it is admittedly of a kind that is somewhat different to the rhetoric espoused by Hitler and adopted by his followers, whereby those outside the Aryan race and the German Empire were automatically rendered inferior by virtue of their very nature as Others.
This is not to say there arenâ€™t deep undertones of superiority and racism in George W. Bush proclaiming â€˜liberationâ€™ for the poor Iraqis. And in the current â€˜war on terrorismâ€™, Arabs, Muslims, and â€˜terroristsâ€™ are painted with the same brush by the elite managers of society in Washington and the corporate media, thus invoking a striking resemblance to the â€˜othernessâ€™ which characterised Jews, trade unionists, homosexuals, communists, etc. in Hitlerâ€™s times.
It is appropriate to remember that Benito Mussolini also said that his invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 was to â€œliberate and civilize.â€ As a consequence, we must acknowledge and expose the real irony of elites having to resort to a â€˜liberationâ€™ discourse to justify their nefarious actions.26
Decades of U.S. administrations have had to do their dirty work in a clandestine fashion while being able to put on the mask of affability. Bush and his cabinet, however, have shown their avarice and lust for power and wealth quite openly for all to see â€“ while cleverly cloaking it in the munificence of exporting â€˜freedomâ€™ and â€˜democracyâ€™.
Surely, the only way out is to recover these terms from the clutches of power. To organise by challenging people to think deeply about what they mean when they say â€œfreedomâ€, and to work to then bring this about.
That the United States government has gone ahead with its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq despite the millions who opposed it worldwide should not deter us, but should force us to re-double our efforts, to organise with the very noble norms that the hawks in Washington falsely profess to uphold.
A real source of optimism amid the current chaos in the United States stems from the notion of accountability that elected men and women in Washington must maintain to the population, along with the continuing emergence of social justice movements that persist in challenging the state and demanding a more substantive form of this accountability, and democracy.
Given that the ultra-right vanguard (e.g. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle) of the â€œNew American Centuryâ€, with support from extremist fundamentalist Christians, have outlined their long-term intentions, our sustained and unwavering resistance needs to operate in complete recognition of this fact. Thus, we need to continue to elucidate and forge links between the many and diverse struggles which characterise our day and age. In a strong and clear voice, we must take a united stand against entrenched and reinforcing systems of repression and oppression: â€œNo one is free until we are all free.â€
Because how can anyone who really cares about â€˜liberationâ€™ sit back, letting elites and the Bush regime continue along on their seemingly inexorable path towards galvanising the American Empire which has been materialising over the past several decades?
How can anyone who cares about â€˜democracyâ€™ cede their power to those who harbour a virulent disdain of basic democratic concepts?
How can one who cares about â€˜freedomâ€™ continue to give theirs up for some imaginary security, as their borders are tightened further, while dissenting voices of reason are concomitantly being quashed within?
How can someone who cares about â€˜equalityâ€™ bear the war against the poor, immigrants, women, people of colour, elderly, and other marginalised populations that continues to be waged with little signs of abating?
How can someone who cares about â€˜healthâ€™ not also care that the environment continues to be savagely abused and degraded to satisfy the rapacity of short-sighted corporations? That people in poor countries continue to be exploited and/or exterminated with little, if any, regard for human life?
How can someone who cares about â€˜justiceâ€™ really rest so long as disparities permeate our global and local realities?
Perhaps most fundamentally, how can someone who believes in â€˜peaceâ€™ not work for justice?
In spite of the bleak scenarios invoked herein, we have the privilege and responsibility to ensure that they never become our reality. Therefore our basic choice is actually quite clear: either we resign ourselves to an ill-conceived fate, or we remember the past to recover our present, thereby creating our own future.
Samir Hussain is a graduating medical student, independent writer, and member of the Montreal-based Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at email@example.com
Pranjal Tiwari is an historian, journalist, and activist.
1. Parenti, Michael. â€œThe Functions of Fascism.â€ ZMag. 1990. http://www.zmag.org/Zmag/articles/barparenti.htm
2. Rogers, Toby. â€œHeir to the Holocaustâ€. Clamor Magazine. Issue 14. http://www.clamormagazine.org/features/issue14.
3_feature.3.html 3. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/BUSINESS/04/21/iraq.rebuild/ . Also see: http://www.forbes.com/home_europe/newswire/2003/03/06/rtr900049.html
4. Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/bush/cabinet/cabinet.rice.asp . Also see: http://aztlan.net/oiltanker.htm
6. Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/bush/cabinet/cabinet.rumsfeld.asp
7. Roy, Arundhati. Power Politics, 2nd ed. Cambridge: South End Press, 2001 (p.58).
9. Chomsky, Noam. Deterring Democracy. Noonday Press, April 1992.
11. BBC News, July 22 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2144395.stm
12. BBC News, August 2 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2167515.stm
13. CBS News, â€œBush Gets $80bn War Chestâ€. April 15, 2003
14. Borger, Julian. â€œBush billions will revive Cold War army.â€ The Guardian. February 6, 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4350486,00.html
15. ibid. 16. http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=17729
17. Morris, Roger. â€œFrom republic to empire.â€ Commentary. Globe and Mail. 14 April 2003.
19. Gilbert, G.M. Nuremberg Diary, reprint edition. New York: DaCapo Press, September 1995.
20. Full text of the USA PATRIOT Act: http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism_militias/20011025_hr3162_usa_patriot_bill.html
21. Full text of the Ermachtigungsgesetz: http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:SCdn9s3b4uQC:www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2296/enable_1.doc+%22Enabling+Law%22+%2B+1933&hl=en&start=1&ie=UTF-8
22. supranote 17
24. Howarth, Tony. Twentieth Century History: The World Since 1900, 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 1987 (p.94).
25. supranote 17
26. Erlinder, Peter. â€œHuman Rights or Human Rights â€˜imperialismâ€™: Lessons from the war against Yugoslaviaâ€. http://www.circlevision.org/archive/events00/tribunal/pages/pe.html