The Tactics of Authoritarianism: Fear19 April, 2010
They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR knew his history. He understood that authoritarianism pulls society backwards in time. Today we are faced with authoritarianism — both economic and religious. Both seek to force America into the past — a past of rule by a few. And the new authoritarians use fear, naked unabashed fear, to trick the majority into vesting more and more and more power in the hands of the already rich and powerful.
Xenophobia seems to be the most powerful weapon in the authoritarian’s arsenal. Primitive fear of the other is potent — fear of gays, fear of colour, fear of other gods.
Fear of Islam has been used to justify warrantless wiretaps of American citizens and American residents. Habeus corpus, show me the body, is now a dead issue in any situation involving national security (What is national security? Whatever the President decides.) thanks to successful mass murder. And any enemy of the authoritarians is labeled as an ally of the terrorists, an ally of Islam, an ally of evil.
Fear of those with dark skin is exploited to demonize immigrants — documented or not — leading to assault and murder. The authoritarians use this fear to encourage personal greed — don’t pay taxes, the evil government will just give it the undeserving poor (who are, disproportionately, minorities). And any foe of the authoritarians is labeled as a liberal, a progressive, a communist, a socialist, an ally of evil.
Fear of science, headlined by evolution denialism, is used to put more money into the pockets of the wealthy. That human beings are, through the release of billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere, having an effect on the climate is an established fact (researchers continue argue over the details, not that it is happening) is muddied by energy companies who pour millions into anti-science think tanks. Science is denigrated at every opportunity. And any foe of the authoritarians is excoriated as anti-Christian, anti-free economy, and, of course, an ally of evil.
Fear of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community is utilized as both a fundraising tool and a wedge to divide Americans. Authoritarians use this primitive fear, this fear of difference, to justify packing courts with troglodytes willing to allow Christianism to take over governments, to excuse violence, bigotry and murder, and to convince voters to cast ballots which will economically disadvantage the one casting the vote. Any foe of the authoritarians is cast as a pawn of the gay agenda, an anti-Christian (and thus anti-American) activist, an ally of evil.
Who are these authoritarians? Are they the religious right, the neoconservatives, the reactionaries? To a point, yes. But they are not the ultimate source. Who does? Who benefits?
The funding, the creation, of this latest iteration of reactionary backlash is the same group that has been behind it damn near every single time — the malefactors of great wealth. By blocking rights for GLBT citizens and residents, billions of dollars can be raised to support the authoritarian candidates. By casting doubts on the reality behind anthropogenic global warming, the rich, especially the energy companies and their investors, can get richer. By denigrating science, any research-based conservationism and regulation can be minimized. By demonizing immigrants, the wealthy elite can shift the blame for low wages and no benefits from the owners to the new immigrants (whom, of course, the wealthy elite use as cheap labour). Fear of Islam, fear of terrorism (but only brown terrorists), fear of violence has allowed the authoritarians to restrict the right of free speech, the right to protest, the rights enumerated in the Constitution. And the GOP, the Grand Old Party, is trying to ride fear back into power.
The authoritarians seek to return to a simpler time. A time of strong churches (but only the right churches), a time of brutal and swift ‘justice’, a time of all the rights a person can buy. They seek to establish systems of government based on the subordination of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order. And it is not that for which America stands.