Fascism Bingo!

I got a pretty large response from my last blog post, detailing both my love of America (and of future President Camacho) and my fear of tyranny, leading to the admission that I (and my family) have been constructing a plan to secure our safety, even if it has to happen outside of the USA. I took a lot of phone calls, twitter messages, texts, etc. asking about the plan. What specifically did I have in mind? How would it look?

Fascists are like Camacho, except scarier, and with fewer Super Smackdown titles

Before I dive into the specifics, I’d like to again state that I aim not to be an alarmist. Signals from the Trump transition (or Trumpsition? anyone?) have been decidedly mixed – he’s backed off on gay marriage, the wall and Obamacare, the libel laws thing, torture, a lot of the really deplorable stuff, but he’s also appointed people (or threatened to appoint people) who deny climate science and/or run fascistic propaganda outlets.* He also recently tweeted that “millions of people voted illegally”, a pretty factless claim, but one that will inspire a forthcoming blog post in its own right I’m sure.

pretty much. evidence is for losers. Sad!

*a quick note on Steve Bannon. I recently read the transcript of his Skype interview with Vatican officials as transcribed by Buzzfeed, and I must say that it was fascinating. I went into it expecting to be scared of Bannon, and I left feeling way more scared of Bannon than I thought I’d be. You see, I was expecting a standard issue bigot – blah blah blah, the problem is the black people and the jews and the arabs, us white folk are good, etc. What I saw, instead, was a brilliant man with a searing, persuasive, intellectual critique of the cronyism and corporatism that are undermining global capitalism, and a vision for a “global revolution” – his words – against a corrupt financial and political power structure. This was compelling material. But, when asked about the racism and anti-semitism that comes with alleging white oppression and global banking cabals, he said that it “all sort of washes out, doesn’t it?”. To translate – Bannon seems willing to utilize the base prejudices of average people in order to motivate them to overthrow the system, either by turning a blind eye or actively encouraging fascistic behavior. This is way more dangerous than your average klansman or skinhead. This is a man whose vision is built upon a seed of truth, planted in a garden of injustice against the lower classes. He’s like a Bernie Sanders without the commitment to diversity, racial integration, or women’s rights. To be clear – I actually doubt that Bannon is, himself, a racist or a mysoginist, but he signed off on Breitbart articles that clearly were. He’s like a dark, Bizarro Bernie Sanders. And that’s scary.

yessss

Back to the topic at hand: I’d like to note that fake news and echo chambers are not party-specific problems. Recently, I was horrified to learn of a letter apparently sent to Muslim women in the US, with the header “Dear Terrorist-Bitch”, that Reza Aslan tweeted out, saying that it was being “sent to Muslim women all over America”. My outrage lasted just until I Snopes’d it, and found that it probably hadn’t happened (at least probably not more than one time, which is still awful, but not a national news story). Both sides have their own fake news and their own echo chambers, and we actually need to do tangible things to bridge these gaps. But, I’ll write about that more another time.

This time, I want to discuss The Plan – today, we’ll talk about how we know fascism is actually happening, and next time we’ll talk specifics about dealing with it. It’s really easy to shout “fascism!” and be wrong, and that really devalues the warning signs when fascism is actually coming down on our heads. So how can we know what it looks like?

Traditionally, the descent of fascism operates like this:

Step 1: Conservative Leadership: “The problem is those-guys, not us-guys. If we get rid of those-guys, us-guys will make everything sunshine and rainbows. Let’s start rationalizing the removal of their rights and dehumanizing those-guys.”

Step 2: The those-guys freak the fuck out, “how dare you accuse us of wrongdoing you crazy fucks? You can’t take away our rights! Protest! Not my President! It’s your fault you old racist asshole fucks!”

Step 3: Conservative Leadership: “See? Those-guys are unstable and need to be stopped by us-guys. Let’s pass some laws / ordinances to give them a little bit less room to operate.”

Step 4: (Something really bad, an event, happens). “It was definitely those-guys. We need emergency powers to protect us-guys from those-guys. The time to take care of them has come” and then everyone who’s been rationalizing this behavior since Step 1 signs off on it. And, because most people are included in us-guys, nobody wants to risk their us-guys status so they stay quiet and watch as the those-guys are removed from society, until the next round of those-guys can start (and a big chunk of the us-guys get thrown into the those-guys category).

Famous example:

Germany:

Step 1: It’s the commies! And the Jews. But mostly the commies (who are also Jews).

Step 2-3: See? They’re rioting and protesting. Those dirty commies, they hate Germany and don’t want true, natural-born Germans to succeed.

Step 4: Reichstag burns. Definitely the commies, we have an emergency, we need power to take care of and eliminate the commies. Then, the commies became the Jews, the rival conservatives, the intellectuals, the artists, the gays, the blacks, etc.

More recent example:

Turkey:

Step 1: Erdogan: “The secularists and infidels are preventing Turkey from becoming the great empire / caliphate it once was.”

Step 2: (Secularists take their shirts off and make out in public squares to protest “modesty” laws)

Step 3: Erdogan: “See? Is this the example you want for your children? Rampant promiscuity and the destruction of Turkish/Islamic culture. Let’s crack down harder.”

Step 4: The coup is attempted. “Now, it’s an emergency, we need to arrest the sympathizers of this attack on the Turkish people. It’s time to arrest the secularists in government, education, military, etc.”

But, the tricky part is that some elements of fascism may exist without the whole system falling apart. This, of course, makes everyone who shrieks “the Nazis are here! fascism is coming for all of us!” look quite silly. There is some danger of crying wolf every time that conservatives take over the government (the same way people shout that Obama is a communist, if that makes sense). But, you really don’t want to be the person who was silent when fascism really is coming. So how can you know whether or not fascism is really here? Or whether or not it’s actually time to execute The Plan and leave the country (or stay and fight, depending on your preference)?

With all of this in mind, I’ve invented a game to explain how The Plan will work for myself and my family. It’s called Fascism Bingo. Ready? Let’s play the game!

ANDREW PRESENTS: FASCISM BINGO!

1-2 White Squares – Move Money & Prepare for Resettlement

  • Restrictions on free press (including legal action)
  • Restrictions on economic mobility (e.g. transferring money out of country)
  • Restriction of public assembly (beyond commonly accepted permit requirements)
  • State-sponsored violence against protesters (a la Kent State)
  • Far-ranging 2nd Amendment Restrictions
  • Limits to Social Media or other internet services
  • Prosecution of leading political opposition
  • Domestic Drone Deployment

Any Wildcard Square – WILDCARD! TIME TO GO

  • Loyalty Oaths
  • Formation of paramilitary forces
  • Religious Test or identifications
  • Outbound travel restrictions
  • Domestic deployment of military forces
  • Targeted economic restrictions (certain groups can or cannot engage in business or commerce)

In the slide to fascism, there is a spectrum. Shooting protesters is obviously authoritarian and fascistic, but arresting protesters who violate city ordinances and annoy the shit out of their neighbors isn’t necessarily the oppressive steel-toed boot of the state. But, even the killing of protesters (as happened at Kent State) didn’t signal the collapse of the Republic and the onslaught of fascism. So, in Fascism Bingo, if you get 3 of the small fish, it adds up to one of the big fish. In either case, it’s time to go.

Generally, the plan is to start making preparations (moving money, preparing a soft landing) if and when 1-2 of these bingo squares get completed. Until then, though, I’m cautiously optimistic that the Republic will continue onward.

What do you guys think? Too reactionary/alarmist? Not alarmist enough? Does anybody want to play fascism bingo with me??

One thought on “Fascism Bingo!

  1. It’s heartening that Americans are trying to improve their understanding of what fascism really is. Both Left and Right would benefit from more specificity and historical detail in their consideration of right-leaning autocracy.

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