A lot of people believe that fascism is on its way to making a return. Some people believe it never really went away. Howard Zinn made the point in a lecture I listened to that at the end of WW2 Hitler was defeated, Mussolini was defeated but fascism was still there – all he had to do was look at prisons or the army.
“[An] insidious tyranny is being imposed across the world…Bush has carried out the recommendations of a Messianic conspiracy theory called the “Project for a New American Century”…it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic facade: “the cavalry on a new American frontier” guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania. More than 700 American bases are now placed…at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels and encircling the Middle East and Central Asia. The powers of the president have never been greater. The judicial system has been subverted, along with civil liberties. The former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who once prepared the White House daily briefing, told me that the authors of the PNAC and those now occupying positions of executive power used to be known in Washington as “the crazies”. He said, “We should now be very worried about fascism”.
“Puritanism was primarily the religion of the new commercial classes. It attracted traders, money lenders, bankers and industrialists. Calvin had given them what the old order could not: a theological justification of commerce. Capitalism, in his teachings, was not unchristian, but could be used for the glorification of God. From his doctrine of individual purification, the late Puritans forged a new theology.
At its heart was an “idealization of personal responsibility” before God. This rapidly turned into “a theory of individual rights” in which “the traditional scheme of Christian virtues was almost exactly reversed”. By the mid-17th Century, most English Puritans saw in poverty “not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion…but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.”
So why has this ideology resurfaced in 2004? Because it has to. The enrichment of the elite and impoverishment of the lower classes requires a justifying ideology if it is to be sustained. In the United States this ideology has to be a religious one. Bush’s government is forced back to the doctrines of Puritanism as an historical necessity. If we are to understand what it’s up to, we must look not to the 1930s, but to the 1630s.”
You do start to wonder when just a quick scan of the headlines in only one newspaper on a monday morning brings you these stories…