Well, I have written quite a number of these blog entries in the lead up to the federal election, and I am not sure that there is much left to say. Things look bad and I fear the worst. I feel like decent citizens must have felt in 1933 in the Weimar Republic as the Fascists were threatening to take control. …Yea, that’s right, I have just made and implicit comparison between this Conservative government and the Fascist parties of Europe in the 1930s. It may sound provocative but I believe that the correlation is clear and demonstrable. Let’s see, shall we…. One of the over-riding characterizes of European fascism (as defined in this case by Mussolini) was a profound cooperation between big-business (particularly finance capital) and the government. Well, this coloration is clear. Another similarity is that Fascist parties were secretive and centralized, often with one man or small group of men exercising complete control of the organization and precluding others from speaking. Sound familiar? The Conservatives have, like the Fascists did, consistently undermine democratic processes and institutions. In this case we just have to think of the Conservatives saying on a number of occasions that they would ignore bills legally passed by the House of Commons, as well as recall the hand-book they wrote and distributed to their committee chairs instructing them how to thwart committee business that they didn’t like and even close committees down. Another important similarity between the Conservatives and fascists is their efforts to foster fear of crime and social disorder as a way of gaining support. The Conservatives have done this, by the way, while crime rates have consistently gone down. This brings us to another important fascist tendency; the maintenance of some frightening foreign group, “the other,” to which we can direct our attentions to create the fear that our culture is somehow in danger. Stephen Harper, following Bush’s lead, has done this quite effectively. Another fascist method of control shared by the Conservatives is the effort to marginalize the opposition by suggesting that they are treasonous or unpatriotic. Remember how Stephen Harper consistently suggested that the Liberals were pro-Taliban just because they wanted to talk about the mission in Afghanistan? Then there is, of course, the fascist effort to continually increase military spending, an effort which is in some sense tied to every one of the above points. And let’s not forget the fascist tendency to attack and victimize vulnerable groups, and their association of Homosexuality with the moral degeneration of society. Fascism also usually included some basic level of racism. Just yesterday a Conservative candidate in Calgary was caught making racist comments. And all of this is done against the backdrop of a pseudo-populism that attempts to create the illusion that their efforts are based in a grass-roots ground-swell of support.
Now, of course, things are different today than they were in the 1930s. Today overt militarism and racism are socially unacceptable so they have to be kept under wraps and hidden. Just as the Conservative’s racism is hidden in their recent immigration bill. What I am pointing to is what political scientist Bertram Gross referred to as ‘Friendly Fascism’ in his 1980 book by that name. But make no mistake, there is a direct correlation between Harper’s government and fascism. And while other parties in Canada my be guilty of one or two of these tendencies, only the Conservative party has display all of them in a systematic manner. And the scariest similarity between now and Germany in the 1930s in particular is that the opposition is weak and divided making disaster almost inevitable.
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