What is Fascism?

I’m so tired of defending my understanding of social democracy. The way many people tell it, all forms of socialism are bad, citing the U.S.S.R., China and Cuba as examples; they’re all somehow inherently totalitarian oligarchies.

However, if we follow this logic, how are we to view the United States? The U.S. is supposed to be a “representative democratic republic,” not a corporate oligarchy (fascist plutocracy). This is what it has become nevertheless, and it has become one of the biggest bullies in history. The U.S. is an imperialist corporate oligarchy, well on it’s way to becoming totalitarian in it’s own right. I understand it hasn’t reached that point yet; it hasn’t begun to wage war against its own citizens in earnest, although it has been very aggressive abroad–whether or not it was necessary for any reason other than profit.

It is also clear that the U.S. was never really democratic, at least not for everyone. It was always an imperialist bully.

Shall we conclude that all democratic republics are inherently imperialist corporate oligarchies just because the U.S. is? Keep in mind that the Soviet Union and China count as democratic republics, because socialism is a form of democracy. They are obviously not corporate oligarchies although they are totalitarian (or were, in the case of the U.S.S.R.). No form of democracy is inherently totalitarian. If anyone wants to contest that and say that fascism is democratic too, they should know that no form of government where only a few hundred people or so have most of the power is democratic–far from it.

It is absurd to say the Soviet Union was fascist because there was nothing at all “corporate” about their system. “Totalitarian” is the correct word. Those who wish to change the definition of fascism should say so before they declare that certain totalitarian regimes, ones founded on socialist principles, were fascist; otherwise a social democrat will ask them what the hell they are talking about.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Fascist Crony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. is showing signs of becoming totalitarian; Ronald Reagan opened the way for corporate fat cats to take over and they have done a fine job of it. It was quite easy to subvert the democratic process once those pesky regulations were lifted, too, because U.S. citizens had been primed for it early. Just ask all the people who were oppressed over here from the very beginning; as far as the United States government was (and many of its citizens were) concerned, some of those people were spoils of war; now just about everyone other than our true leaders can be called a “commodity.” Yet, this does not mean it is becoming socialist, any more than a socialist regime becomes capitalist when it moves into totalitarianism.

Most people who insist that socialism is synonymous with fascism will often be adamant that capitalism is synonymous with democracy, which simply isn’t true. Democracy doesn’t have to be capitalist, socialist, communist, direct, representative, corporatist, or totalitarian. It can be any of these except corporate or totalitarian.

This is a special case, now. Corporatism is not necessarily totalitarian, but it isn’t democratic either. Even if a corporate state does not reach the excesses of World War II Italy, it tends to make life difficult for hard-working people and people who want to work. And they thrive on turning those people against each other. This is close enough to totalitarianism to make it a threat to democracy.

Let’s examine the definition of fascism a little closer, just to be clear. Wikipedia has this to say:

Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism.

Totalitarianism is an extreme form of nationalism (i.e., Nazi Germany), and fascism is a form of totalitarianism that caters to the will of large corporations (i.e., their allies in Italy). It is “hostile” to socialism and communism–hostile to working people. And it is hostile to democracy as a whole (although it isn’t the only system like this).

This is not the only source for the definition. Merriam-Webster’s does make it sound like nationalism in general, but I would still argue the point and say it is just one kind of nationalism. Of course, for one of the examples of fascism, it quotes Anne Applebaum from the New York Review of Books who says:

On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution (25 Oct. 2007). (Fascism, Merriam-Webster.com)

Clearly indicating how they were both totalitarian and yet completely different in almost every other way.

Another source is the leader of WWII Italy himself, Mussolini. [Edit] This quote of him saying that fascism is a melding of corporate interests with the state has been disputed. However, he has said:

The Socialists ask what is our program? Our program is to smash the heads of the Socialists. (Benito Mussolini, Wikiquotes)

Something that is hostile to socialism is obviously not socialism. And socialism is a long way from being “corporate.”

Socialism isn’t the enemy. It isn’t inherently totalitarian. A system founded on democratic principles only becomes totalitarian when the people in charge have too much power and will do anything to keep it.

The enemy of the people of the United States, and much of the world today, is corporate, obsessed with profit and ownership. That is fascism. It is unequal, unfair, and very, very undemocratic.

Saying “life isn’t fair” is also just an excuse to abdicate responsibility to the human family. Nature is indifferent, seemingly cruel, but humankind is capable of fairness, and this is all the more reason to be as fair as possible in all of our interactions.

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The Diva

Sultry shadow, whistle a ride.
Without sharing, the diva confides.
Casting her ballot, petting her purse
jeering eyes, titters curt.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

Greedy masters serenade
death and hunger when the diva parades.
They turn smiles into cries.
Peasants swear by the diva’s big lie.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

Sultry shadow, stealing their pride
only her touch ever satisfies.
She’s so flaunted, setting them high
now all the people quiver and die.
Tempting cowards
won’t look backwards
sniveling bastards.

~*~

[This is still a work in progress. So far, the one person to look at it hasn’t recognized it. It’s an allusion to another work. Anyone know what it is? Once someone brings it up, or I get tired of waiting, I will update this post with the answer. I think it’s unclear what the diva represents, too, and it needs clarification. Can anyone figure it out? I probably gave it away, though.

English: Logo of Black Sabbath reunion

English: Logo of Black Sabbath reunion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gah! I can’t help myself: Except for adding some punctuation and removing caps, it follows “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath. I give in too easily. Someone might have seen it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my tribute. I’m telling you, I have a thing for this style of writing.

I hope it’s clear that the only reason money has “feminine” attributes in this piece is because the sniveling bastards see it that way. Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of women who love money just as much.]

Fix the Fool

On the playground, in the gym or the locker room, the cruel kids
play target practice with the nerd. They know they’re the cool kids.

Pinch the beat, whip his dignity—they’re the best at that too.
And when they go home they’ll laugh about it at the pool, kids.

Stand together, lean against the lockers, leer at the girls.
Make sure even the teachers know they’re the cream. They rule, kids.

Follow him through the hall; corner him in the stall. Fix him.
Thinks he’s smart, thinks he’s better than them, but he’s a fool, kids.

One day he’ll remember crushing flowers, reaping virtue,
and want to blame his defects on them, those other school kids.

Excuses, excuses, a shield for his own abuses.
And to forget, he’ll do enough drugs to drool, kids.

Get up, get up, Four Eyes, before bitterness strangles you.
Drop the sack on your back and stop being such a fool, kid.

~*~

[I wrote this for my poetry class too, back in 2011. I’ve been thinking about possibly working with the point-of-view, but still haven’t figured out a way to do it that satisfies me. For the moment, I’m going with italics.

I wanted to wait for a while before posting this, since Dilliproduct had posted a ghazal earlier. She hasn’t posted anything else since, so I will go with it. However, hers is a wonderful read; a very thoughtful visualization of the life of a full-time college student, and all the work and pressure that entails. If you read it, I am sure you will not regret it. It’s called “All Nighter.”]

To a Rocket in the Empty Sky

You for my inspiration,
You through inertial wind and fire above, the zone, the edge of the atmosphere,
You in your rumbling blast, your exhausted fuel steaming, sonic boom compulsive,
Your sleek and phallic surface, shielding lead on a sword of steel,
Your unwanted sections, ejected and rejected pods, still tumbling, lonely in the void,
Through air or space, shoot high, shoot far, when the fire dies you still fly,
Hope for the future—reaching for knowledge and glory—penetrating the stars,
For once you contemplate the multiverse, just as I envision you,
Sun storm radiating plasma flares and photon spray,
Until your plunging, burning head swells and vibrates,
Until your steamy shell cools in the sea.

Mechanical monster!
Scream in my dreams of your chaos foretold from the moon to Neptune,
With atom-splitting silence, inflating, bursting like creation, you will rise
Above your own restraints, start surfing from world to world
(Instead of just from here to orbit and back again every time),
But even as you are, full of passion,
Undaunted by escape velocity,
Streak through blackness, unbound by philosophy.

~*~

(This is one I wrote for class, an allusion to Walt Whitman’s “To a Locomotive in Winter.” I’m not really a fan of Whitman, but I saw something in that particular poem that inspired me).

Obedience School

So smug, content
lines dribbled along cracked facades
cradled words
piss-stained awards.

Another sacred hermit
has a grave on your desktop.
Nail-bitten, bleeding heirs
smiles unheard
by your shackled eyes.

“No newbs in our club,” you said.
Your epitaph agreed.

So high, surreal
the volcanoes in your hair
claw my spineless dreams.

Thoughts on Writing and Publishing

Back in college I met a guy named Ricky. It’s time to kick myself because I can’t remember his last name; but I remember talking to him about many things, especially about fiction and the kinds of writing we like. One thing he said that stood out to me was, “I think there’s a place for that kind of writing, too.”

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac...

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was in reference to my comments about I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I enjoyed the movie because it was more character-oriented. There’s plenty to like in the book too, if you want to explore philosophic questions about robotics and other scientific ideas. The book isn’t about character.

I’ve thought about what Rick said and I agree. It goes beyond that, however. As much as I want to publish something with a big house, I find many of the contemporary standards stifling to the creative process. Don’t get me wrong; subjecting your writing to peer review, especially when reviewed by people with knowledge of the publishing industry, is a great way to improve your skill. I want everything I write, even these posts, to be the best I can do. Drafts get posted, but I spend time revising them for a while, too.

Publishers have their reasons for raising the bar so high. Their editors have to sort through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of manuscripts. Many people want to get into the writing game these days. Editors simply do not have the time to read them all. And the publishers are the ones footing the bill. So they have to resort to drastic measures to eliminate as many manuscripts as possible from their lists.

Good writing will sometimes get past them. Just because they don’t publish something doesn’t mean people won’t read it. There are some literary elitists who will insist they won’t read it for things I would consider minor. I have read enough contemporary novels that do what we are told not to do, on the first page, too. Especially in science fiction; the genre practically requires a little exposition. Large info-dumps of more than a sentence or two at time do get tedious and boring; try not to dwell on it, impart only what the reader needs to know and move on. I’m still working on my tendency to info-dump.

This is why I hope that self-publishing can change the future of the industry. Because, while many writers churn out very low quality work, others have something interesting to say, engaging stories to tell, inspiring poetry to share. “Indie writer” is not synonymous with “bad writer.” Neither is “unpublished” writer.

A Cherry Picker’s Diary

(Sigh. I know I’m taking a big risk by posting things like this. But the title of the blog does warn you that I’m an idiot, and I have a big mouth. I might just be a glutton for punishment too. We’ll find out soon enough. But I intend to let people know that I have controversial positions.

EDIT: I have made certain claims here, and I am constantly re-examining them. Like anything, I should never stop questioning, probing for better understanding. The best thing anyone can do for me when they read it is challenge it. Ask me the right questions, make me think about what I’ve said and what you have to say.)

~*~

A Cherry Picker’s Diary

I am a cherry picker. I am probably the biggest cherry picker of all, if I follow the definition used by atheists and anti-theists, because I have a spiritual belief that uses the Bible as a reference. But while I refer to things in this book, what I am picking from is life in general.

The primary assertion I will make is that my belief is a form of Christian philosophy. It is different in many ways from traditional Christian belief and [I have removed this statement in the interest of promoting rational discourse] I am not so sure I want that identification.

As a philosophy, it has what I think is a strong linguistic component, and it is not “religious” in the conventional sense. Some atheists have remarked that I am religious by virtue of my spiritual belief; I say “religion” has connotations today that do not apply to me or my life. Any church or no church is fine with me (as long as the members of a church are reasonably respectful to me and my belief). All too often, the dogma of a church turns me away.

Atheists and anti-theists disagree vehemently with fundamentalist Christians, as they should, but take the position that a fundamentalist view of the Bible is a more honest interpretation. The “cherry picker’s” approach, that of a moderate or liberal Christian, is more hypocritical, and more dangerous. I don’t know how right they are about cherry pickers.

They are right that a fundamentalist approach is more honest. However, this is only because the premise of their belief, and the belief of the moderates, is that the Bible is the “True and Revealed Word of God.” I will question this statement, even as someone who has chosen to believe the essence of the words of Jesus Christ. It implies that this one book is the only source of wisdom, the only source of truth; all others are not only inferior, they are lies.

And yet, the Bible has been shown to be the source of quite a few untruths, as many in the scientific community will agree. I take this view: it is a compilation of many books by many different authors concerning two different religions, one inspired by the other. They are not all the books written on these subjects. They are merely the ones chosen by a particular group of men to represent what constituted their belief at that time. A council of cherry pickers, in fact, and a historically significant one.

King James followed this up later (for his own selfish reasons) with his cherry-picked compilation. So even fundamentalists apply their “honest” approach to a cherry picker’s book.

The Bible cannot be the “True and Revealed Word.” I still use it as a guide to what I believe is wisdom (but not necessarily “truth”): the teachings of a perhaps misunderstood revolutionary and philosopher, Jesus Christ. It is only a guide, one among many (albeit the one that first turned my attention to the words of Christ), because I have reason to suspect the words are not recorded accurately, but the essence of his philosophy can still be discerned from the gospels.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

God’s Word cannot be contained in a book, and that is because everything is the Word. It is so vast it must burst through the seams of a physical world; it can be anywhere, in anything. And it is most clearly inscribed in human hearts than anywhere else.

The word “heart” only refers to a particular organ in science. If we take it in the artistic sense to mean “spirit,” the location of which is irrelevant, and understand that it cannot be verified scientifically, then it means the essence of each of us as individuals. I am not sure there is an essence to individuals, however, and will be more inclined to think it is the essence of everything, collectively.

My position is that Jesus Christ does not have to be God, does not need to have performed miracles. According to many, he probably did not; there is no evidence. It doesn’t matter. He walked among many people, teaching a controversial and quite rebellious philosophy, risking the anger and hostility of the Temple priests. And the most significant thing he told people was to love one another.

A problem many people will have are statements like “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever shall believeth in him shall have everlasting life.” Since I am a cherry picker, how should I pick this? I have already acknowledged that I cannot trust the accuracy of the Bible. Something might have been lost in the translation; it may have been translated (or authored) by someone with specific biases (and probably was).

To me, this is a much more honest view of the Bible, and it focuses on the philosophy of love at the root of Christianity. From this view, I can conceive of a new (cherry picker’s) interpretation for John 3:16: God’s Word is everywhere but it may have been most clear to humankind through the teachings of Jesus Christ; if we believe what Jesus taught, and live our lives accordingly, we will live forever (or at least leave a lasting, positive impression on those we love). The thing is, someone might live this way without believing in Christ, the Trinity, the Bible, Hellfire, Adam and Eve; they can live this way without believing in any god or religion. Despite the wording of the text, and others like it, the belief in Christ himself, or his resurrection, is not a requirement for “salvation.” It does not give the Christian exclusive claim to morality, either.

Of course, is there even a need for salvation? I believe there is; we desperately need to be saved from ourselves. And a philosophy of love might just have the potential to do that, in more than one way, so long as we actually live it (to the best of our limited, human capabilities) and not just pretend we do.

My faith is in the essence of my philosophy, which is based on the gospel of John, chapter one, verse one and verse fourteen. This means that I do attribute divinity to Jesus Christ, at least in the sense that he opened humanity’s eyes and ears to the Word (or tried to) and because everything is divine. Also, while many of Paul’s words strike me as reactionary and regressive, I am willing to accept his assertion that God is love, because that is the God I believe Jesus introduced to the theistic argument. I will agree with Paul’s definition of faith, too: “Evidence of things unseen, knowledge of things unknowable.”

This is purely subjective “evidence” and “knowledge”; it is weak in comparison to empirical data and interpretation based on rigorous tests and peer review. There could be a subjective test to determine if a belief and the actions thereof are compatible with the idea of a loving God. However, this kind of test only has subjective meaning relative to a subjective premise. It is meaningless in a scientific context; any kind of God, let alone a loving one, is extremely unlikely. My own experience of life is enough to make me wonder where this mysterious omnipresent being is hiding.

So I balance my faith with evidence-based belief, and I make sure I fully understand my subjective reasons for believing. The reasons for my faith are love and hope: I love, and I love very much; therefore I hope my love will never end. I have objective reasons for evidence-based belief and for tempering faith-based belief with it. Although the truth is that it goes both ways. My acceptance of natural philosophy is balanced by my understanding that some things might not have physical substance and cannot be measured or explained by empirical means. In fact, something might exist “outside” or “beyond” the universe.

Whatever it is, if we claim it created everything, some observation of the universe can help us infer a few characteristics of this being, and it doesn’t look good. If it is perfect and all-powerful, God should have been able to give us free will and maintain our perfection, the perfection of everything, for eternity. All the “mystery” about an “unknowable plan” is a tactic to suppress the questioning mind, to discourage free-thinking.

We can use the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace to illustrate. God made the angels before creating humans but he did not give them free will. If angels do not have free will, Lucifer could not have rebelled unless God told him to. What does this story mean? Why would God order Lucifer, the “shining one,” the “morning star,” to rebel and still hold him accountable for it? What purpose could this possibly serve? The only logical conclusions, if God is love, are that it must be either a metaphor to promote some deeper understanding of reality or a lie. Even for a metaphor, it is deliberately confusing.

If a divine being exists, then it cannot be perfect, and the only thing really “divine” about it is the spark of life, its consciousness, and perhaps its potential to exist outside of time. God’s existence would have to be analogous to the principles of quantum physics, in a sense (which doesn’t prove anything, so please do not mistake me). The universe was not always here, but the conditions necessary for a universe to bloom were. The conditions necessary for God’s consciousness to “awaken” have always existed, and that divine consciousness could be evolving, growing, transforming into something else, something I hope is better. Although, if it has a plan, we might be able to find indications of it by continuing to observe nature and study science.

For the subjective reasons I spoke of, I have decided to believe in God and that God is love. I believe that love will see us through the hell we have made for ourselves and the indifference of nature.

I can already hear many Christians shouting, “Blasphemer! Heretic! How can you say the Bible isn’t the Word of God and belief in the resurrection isn’t necessary for salvation?” The first question I have already answered. The second also relies in part on the infallibility of the Bible. However, the resurrection and, by extension, the “eyewitness accounts” of the ascension are presented as “evidence” that God will do the same for me. My spiritual belief does not need evidence.

Significantly, Jesus’ rebellion was against the religious leaders of his people, and not so much the Roman invaders. Those who were most angered by him were the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the law passed down through Moses. Perhaps this was the only way to get anyone at all to take him seriously. Maybe God did leave hints of the new way to come through people like Isaiah and Daniel, too. Jesus did not build on an old religion, however; he introduced a new–a revolutionary–understanding of the spiritual life.

Condemning others based on our belief is unnecessary and wrong (and this is relative, because there are some judgments we can make); conversion is unnecessary and offensive. It also contradicts belief in a loving God. People do not need to be threatened with Hellfire or promised a Heavenly reward to have morals. The only “witness” we need to present is a life of love and respect for others. Anyone who does so lives according to the Word, even if they do not see it that way; although the sad truth is too many do not.

This philosophy is “Christian” in its estimation and esteem for the teachings of Jesus Christ, with or without a supernatural context. But the supernatural is real; it exists in the form of “the Word,” which is the foundation for everything.