Fascism and Democracy (and why neither is out of the fight yet)

I’ve always asked myself if there will ever be a political system which truly benefits humanity. I found that there were two ways to look at it.

On one hand, a political system could be geared towards total efficiency and dedicated to the long-term survival of the human species. With this in mind, one must imagine a world where this is the highest priority in a governing body, superseded by absolutely nothing. In such a world, what place do freedom and individualism have? Not even a back seat, actually. They are not needed. In fact it’s quite the contrary. However, in a world where security means everything, freedom cannot exist, for where there is freedom, there is a little ‘chaos’. Bear in mind that I’m using all these terms very lightly and in a broad sense. With ‘chaos’ comes the ability for someone to destabilise a system, and a governing body with the interest of security would not want that. On the other hand, you have the truly free society, where crazy, weird stuff happens everyday, and the government keeps its nose out your life and just makes sure the potholes are being filled in. In such a world, you could get your face eaten by a madman, be sued for spilling hot chocolate, or tell the government that they suck without much fear of being locked in a cell in Guantanamo Bay, where there’s only one kind of meat-based food.

Let’s get back to topic. To summarise, I believe the two paths a country can go are either towards fascism, or towards total democracy. Whether it will ever reach either one is questionable, if not impossible. I don’t think either can exist for long, anyway.

Let’s move on to fascism first, and see why a country would want to even dip a toe in that pool.

This world would by default have to be totalitarian, ruthless and honestly quite miserable. It’s comparable to that of the world described in the foremost dystopic literature, such 1984, or the film V for Vendetta (I’m not sure whether or not it’s a book adaptation). In these worlds, life is indeed tough. In order to counter the toughness, the people forsake their freedom (which they think will be a temporary situation) and hand their lives over to a fascist/communist group, which gladly cements itself in place. When the hard times are over, the institution remains. People grow accustomed to it and stop struggling. This is the typical process by which any self-respecting fascist group would do it, since just forcing it on the population can only lead to insurrection, as Uncle Sam learned the hard way in Vietnam. In a modern Western society, we are quickly taught the disadvantages of such a system, which I am confident you all know well. Let’s get something straight – I don’t like fascism, because it attempts to implement artificial selection, which I believe is not ideal to a functioning society. I also believe Communism (or any form of far-left socialism for that matter) is pretty much the same thing as fascism. BUT, the advantages it offers are not objectively ignorable, just because we currently live in a relatively ordered and peaceful global era.Here are some interesting characteristics of fascism which might make it attractive to a government or people.

1) A socialist aspect of fascism is required in any war situation, because if you need 10 million bullets, and nobody actually manufactures bullets on a regular basis in the beginning of the war, you have to force those locksmiths and brass handle-makers to start making bullets instead. This is the most widely known and acceptable advantage of such a thing. Indeed, the epitome of freedom and democracy, old Uncle Sam, took control of industry during WW2 and told everyone what to manufacture. So did Britain and every other country fighting a war, ironically using the very same methods they were trying to purge out of the Nazis and other nationalist extremists.

2) Conscription. Yes, yes, this is a thing that is used in many democratic countries, etc. But I consider it a trait of a military state, and thus a trait of fascism. Remember, just because it’s fascist, doesn’t mean it’s not being used by anyone. My own  country of origin has military conscription, because we have a lumbering giant right up north of us that would love to sink its teeth into the second half of our country. I recognise this as a fascist element. I also recognise its necessity.

3) Total security – Fascist states have no moral obligations to respect their own people. Because of this very simple fact, they can and will do whatever is necessary to prevent any threats against the country from become more than a mere nuisance. Typically, this element is represented by secret security councils, spy agencies and souped-up military spending. Back in the days of Apartheid, this concept was taken to the extreme in a place called Vlakplaas. The atrocities that occurred there by the hands of a secret security branch of the government represent how far some fascist governments are prepared to go for information. And we all say it’s in the past, but the thing is, it’s still happening, in ‘democratic’ countries, no less.

Killing Nazis has officially received the Chuck Norris Stamp of Approval.

Killing Nazis has officially received the Chuck Norris Stamp of Approval.

However, fascist principle come in many shapes and forms. The Nazis were obviously not seen for what they really were by many of Germany's citizens.

However, fascist principles come in many shapes and forms. The Nazis were honestly not seen for what they really were by many of Germany’s citizens. Sounds familiar.

The Italian guy who failed to be a Macchiavellian. More like a Macchiafaillian, AmIRight?

The Italian guy who failed to be a Macchiavellian. More like a Macchiafaillian, Am-I-Right?

Damn true, my good man. Today the world is still under threat, perhaps more than ever, as the image of fascism slowly fades from people's minds and they forget what it looks like. At least when they were fighting Germany, the average citizen was passionate enough about freedom to actually critique their government for trying anything too dodgy.

Damn true, my good man, even though you probably meant Russia. Today the world is still under threat, perhaps more than ever, as the image of fascism slowly fades from people’s minds and they forget what it looks like. At least when the democratic people of the world were fighting Germany, the average citizen was passionate enough about freedom to actually critique his government for trying anything too dodgy.

And now, let’s take a look at democracy, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and why it is the dominant system of government in the world today. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms which have been tried from time to time (good old Churchill said that in a speech).

Democracy entails handing power over to the people, more specifically the majority of the people, regardless of their ability to use it to their own benefit, or their intention to be involved in politics at all. Democracy originated several times in several places, but most notably and successfully in ancient Greece, more specifically in Athens, where oligarchy had previously been the system of the day, while the Spartans were living it up in a communist lifestyle and the Thebans were… oiling each other. The main point is that democracy was not originally designed as a group of semi-disinterested people choosing a sovereign leader who would pretty much be expected to solve everything within a few years. Real democracy is referred to as Direct Democracy. This means that every citizen takes an active role in government and debates new proposals for laws and actually elects (the equivalent of) every person in the cabinet/Senate House/Congress/whatever your country uses. Modern democracy is hardly as ‘democratic’ anymore, mostly due to the logistical impossibility of getting several million people to vote for every member of parliament and maintain an up to date knowledge of the goings-on in a parliament which might be situated hundreds of kilometres away. But electing a single president or prime minister is the most reasonable option left, so let’s get right to it.

Democracy has both advantages and disadvantages, as do all political systems. In a world where freedom is supposedly the top priority of any population, democracy is certainly very important and the most desirable system out there. Here’s the reason it isn’t perfectly cemented and is in danger of being replaced by something a little more sinister:

The more democratic a country becomes, the more chaotic and individualist it becomes. This means there is a higher probability of crazy, unpredictable things occurring. This can be exemplified in the internet, which is not a country, but is a realm in which near-total anarchy reigns. By anarchy, I mean absolute democracy! If you comment in a way that is not liked by many people, they can individually contribute to removing your comment by down voting it, etc. Parallel to that, anyone can pretty much do or say anything with little consequence. Of course, the larger crowd will drown it out with their own 2 cents. But that’s the essence of freedom, isn’t it?

Implementing Control Vis-a-vis the Citizens’ Demands – Chaos and unpredictability are any government’s nightmare, and democratic or not, a government will attempt to implement some form of control. That’s understandable. That’s natural. But where is that line meant to be drawn? How important should the citizen’s rights be, as opposed to maintaining order? This is perhaps the most difficult conundrum a governing body has to face, especially if their intentions are good. It is my belief that the citizens themselves must choose for themselves, collectively and decisively, without room for any governing body or media network to decide for them. What do I mean by this? The question: Do I want freedom, or do I want security? Because I cannot have both in disproportion. The more security, the less freedom and so-on. The citizen, the individual must take a side (After careful thought). Upon taking a side, the citizen must act, debate, argue and explain his or her view. This is the responsibility of a democratic citizen. By doing this, a government can be made aware of exactly what the citizens want and change according to their wish, even if it disagrees. That’s the way the cookie crumbles in a democracy.

Implementing Control Behind the Scenes – This is a big one. The USA has been caught totally red-handed recently by traitor/enemy of the state/hero of freedom Edward Snowden. Forget your opinion on him.  He’s not important. What is important is the information he released. I honestly can’t believe the lack of reaction the citizens of the USA have had to the subsequent info that came out from the leaked data. But that’s a whole other blog post. Even the Nazis couldn’t out-fascist the American government on this. The reason I say that is because the Nazis all knew what they were getting into. Their opponents were ready to leave the country in protest and their supporters thought they were being saved from the clutches of their captors. They (some, not all) welcomed the control, the regimented nationalism, the racism and the renewed military might, but the Americans are totally unaware! If you were to ask a random stranger on the street, they would most likely tell you that the USA is the most free and liberated country in the world. Now that is absolutely masterful fascist practice. A democratic government will often attempt to do this, and it is indeed a fascist principle. It’s probably the greatest threat to genuine democracy in the world today.

The Responsibility of the Citizen – The most neglected principle of democracy is a citizen’s total obligation to be politically active. This does not mean turning up once in a while to cast a vote for one random person whose image has been distorted either by his own media projects or his opponent’s. Genuine democratic involvement means scrutiny of your own government: making sure they do what they promised to do. It involves debating and explaining your political views to others, as I mentioned earlier. Most importantly, it involves Not Taking Shit From Your Government, lest they forget who elected them in the first place. Unfortunately, nobody remembers this anymore, nor do they practice it or teach it to youngsters. I grew up unaware of this, all through my high quality private education. I had to figure it out myself, in my own time. That’s wrong. That’s a good example of how distorted democracy is growing, and why it is getting weaker. This explains why governments can actively spy on their people and torture enemies of the state in offshore prisons while still successfully claiming to be  democratic and free.

I think I’ve ranted enough here. I’m all out of breath anyway.

If sufficient debate is generated, and enough interest is shown, I’ll continue the series on this. There’s so much to write about, it’s dizzying. It’s also  quite strenuous to write these things, as it’s hard not to wander off on a tangent. I must have deleted half the volume of this post because I had spontaneously written a whole paragraph on an unrelated topic that could solicit its own post.

I encourage any and all viewers to comment, argue, disagree and quarrel. Debating is a responsibility, not a right!

Savva

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6 Comments

Filed under Politics

6 responses to “Fascism and Democracy (and why neither is out of the fight yet)

  1. Oofta, I respect your willingness to try to tackle a topic that philosophers and intellectuals and statesmen have spent millions of words discussing – a large fraction of them spent to just trying to understand what a term like “democracy” even means.

    I think your points on American democracy are very true. Chomsky talks about how American statesmen discovered that ruling by force is much more inefficient than ruling by consumption and the illusion of choice. Just like absolute fascist governments, the ruling class gets what they want, but the population is disempowered, passive, and separated from each other.

    From my leftist perspective, It seems to me that any form of governance inevitably tends to fascism and reduction of human freedom. I’ve recently been turned out to the idea that direct democracy can only be realized in anarchist ideas, applied to highly decentralized, local communities. Moreover, it’s not just political systems and government, but also culture and morality and economic systems that have to involved in the discussion.

    Is domination inevitable? Athens and America were built on the backs of slaves. Europe was made wealthy via colonialism, and today’s forms of control are much, much more elusive than they were in the past. Keep reading and writing sir. Only by bringing these ideas to light can you start to change the things you think are wrong. If you do, I would only give the recommendation to try to narrow your scope and tackle much more specific topics or ideas.

    • Indeed. I will certainly engage with more specific topics in the future, and perhaps keep them below 1000 words, too. This article was a ball-breaker.

      I also think that every government tends to want more control, and by acting on that impulse, drives its country towards autocracy, yet that doesn’t mean we should give in to doom and gloom. The citizens should empower himself by doing the aforementioned things and creating the image of a resilient public that will not be sold short by their government. In the 21st century, it is the citizen’s responsibility to fight against the totalitarian trends of his or her government, or they are doing the equivalent of welcoming the death of freedom.

      Unfortunately, external domination in the form of colonisation and economic extraction of countries has happened in the past, and there’s nothing we can do about that now. As I mentioned in my dystopia article, there will always be many people working to death to support a few lucky ones. I truly believe that will never change. It’s a requirement of an industrialised world. Perhaps I’ll cover that one next. Thank you for your plentiful comments. I’ll be sure to keep mine up too.

      • What’s the moral or material difference between being oppressed by a political system and being oppressed by an economic system? You seem claim inevitability for one but not the other. If ‘might doesn’t make right’, then there seems to me no difference between coercion at gun point or coercion at starving point.

  2. Ah, sorry. I was referring simply to past instances, such as the domination of South America by the USA, or of colonies by Europe. Essentially, it’s still happening, but not directly through governing bodies. For example, Apple has sweatshops in Asian countries with no decent labour regulation, and for what it’s worth, the size of Apple or any other massive company makes it a powerful force which cannot be fought by individuals alone. It is a form of domination which I believe can be fought by developing countries and ensuring that the citizens are cared for to a degree, but to be totally honest, while I despise the idea of taking advantage of whole countries and turning them into labour camps, I cannot think of a reasonable way to eliminate economic equality itself, nor do I believe it should be, as long as it is a product of meritocratic principles. Do you agree?
    Damn, I wish other people would comment this much! Though nobody seems interested in reading a 2000 word post, even on a Saturday 😦

  3. Very good post! I’m a fan of Henry Wallace also. Yes Democracy can be troublesome at times, but it is important to implement which type the country should adopt. That is why I am an advocate of Direct Democracy and a Constitutional Democratic Republican form of Government.

    • Well the biggest problem with direct democracy is logistical. Trying to get the opinion of millions of people on every piece of legislation is just irrational and too expensive. Even if we ignored that problem, there’s the ever-present possibility of having a population too stupid to know what’s good for them and thus what to vote for. Furthermore, it is apparent that adopting any political or socioeconomic system in its absolute purity is never a good idea, and direct democracy is democracy in its purest form. Judging by past history, mixing and adapting our system to whatever is needed at the time is usually the best option. Thank you for the comment.

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