When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he and the Republican Party began to use so many strong-arm tactics to get their way that leftists began to call his leadership style “friendly fascism.” Some liberals complained that we were doing an injustice to those who lived under fascist military governments in such places as Argentina and Chile. Yet for many of us, the similarities worked.
Still, rather than shrinking government for the common individuals he did the opposite, trying to restrict all kinds of constitutional rights—free speech, search and seizure laws, expanding the FBI and DEA and launching the fascist-like “war on drugs.”
Since the Tea Party has been making gains in the Republican Party we have a new kind of leadership that is very different and yet it is just as oppressive as the “friendly fascist.” The new word is “Libertarianism.” There is actually a whole political party that uses that name. Their ideas are showing up in the Republican Party, mostly as a part of the Tea Party movement. When the Tea Party uses it, they talked as if they are anarchist freeing all the individual people from government intrusion into their lives. They really do want less government, even an expansion of our civil liberties, especially our gun rights. But the reality is that they aren’t really taking away government oppression—they are transferring it to the private sector. Whether a person is smoking a joint or posting a comment on Facebook that is critical of the military, they will be punished. But not from the police or courts, but fired from their jobs. Repression comes from the private sector. Drug testing allows a corporation to identify a marijuana smoker and they can either force them into a drug treatment facility[i] or just fire them. Some companies have fired people for posting comments or pictures on Facebook that are critical of our country’s hero worship of veterans. They have been fired. So those who break the nation’s rules don’t have to worry about ending up in jail. They have to worry about unemployment, possible homelessness and other necessities of life that come with having a job.
The libertarians are quick to point out that our government does not oppress us for speaking out against it as would happen in Cuba or North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of…). When we point out that people get fired from their jobs they say that is different and the oppression doesn’t count because there is a private unwritten contract that people have with their employers. They made a chose to work for a company. They choose where they work and if they don’t like their employer’s terms they can chose to work elsewhere. So actions by the private sector don’t count.
The Libertarians act as if a job was just a hobby to pass the time and that jobs are easy to get or change. The reality is that jobs are scarce and a lot of people take what they can get. When they are suddenly fired their very survival is at stake. It is not just an inconvenience to get fired; it is a catastrophe for many working people. As many leftists like to say “It isn’t official censorship, but it is effective censorship.”
The new libertarians go far beyond censorship. Corporations are no longer satisfied to back a candidate and simply expect that politician to grant their businesses benefits and advantages. Now they want direct control, sometimes actually writing the laws they want and using dim-witted puppets to get them passed. That is what we have with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That organization actually merges politics and business in a way that makes them in-separatable. The organization holds large meetings and conventions that bring business people and politicians together behind closed doors that chart out political platforms that all the people will have to live with and endure. The people who vote for them are simply handing their government entities over to business organizations that hope to control all aspects of those voters’s daily life.
Elections have always been about private moneyed interests, behind the scenes, that work for their political interests. It used to be “you wash my back—I’ll wash yours.” Now it is more of a direct ownership. ALEC actually writes new laws to be passed and provides politicians with ready made speeches. The politician can be a complete political dullard as long as he or she is willing to mouth the party line of his/her handlers.
While friendly fascism is a label that tries to draw a parallel to fascist Italy, NAZI Germany or many of the past military governments in South America, libertarianism is actually closer to the warlord system that developed after the fall of the last empress in China, Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后). There was no central government or authority. Private armies of warlords took control of whatever territories they could and ran those territories with absolute power. Peasants and workers were treated as slaves. The war lords could do whatever they wanted to the people at anytime and there was no courts are government system to protect anyone against the whims of the warlords.
The idea is that large corporations can own politicians and carve out pieces of their own territories. With smaller government they can create a situation where they actually have more authority than government agencies, such as courts, regulatory agencies, even police. The Koch Brothers, David and Charles, are the most visible and active single company that has taken action to create their own empire within the US and they have their own think tanks and fake grass roots organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity.
The overall goal of the libertarians is just as right-wing as any type of fascism. Yet the mechanics of this trend are completely different. We need to be aware of the dangers of this trend and expose it to the people whenever it is possible.
Corporations are so integrated to the political system, they now mix their commercial messages with political propaganda designed to re-enforce support of the system. The above ad promotes the “American dream” to build up support for our economic system.
[i] Through my personal experiences, I have found that drug treatment facilities, which many people are court ordered to attend (DUIs, drug arrests, etc.), try to get people to “change their thinking.” In some cases they are encouraged to be more law abiding and passive towards the system. Without a doubt many promote and encourage religion, usually Christian, but not exclusively. This is a great bonanza for our conservative Christian churches, which benefit when people have lost control of their lives to addiction and begin to rely on their religion for sobriety. See War on Drugs/ War on People, 1996.