Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25: the many faces of fascism

Oh, you won't find any fascism in Section A news. In fact, you won't find anything in section A news.

The headline on the front page assures us the provincial government won't force bilingualism on civil servants. This is in response to a report which suggested it aim for bilingualism in the TOP RANKS of the civil service WITHIN FIVE YEARS. The government's reply is in the first paragraph of the story, the only part of the story that most newspapers readers will read, along with the headline  It gives the impression that howling mobs of Acadians are demanding control of the civil service, and that the Gallant government is bravely defending battered Anglos.

The real story is that the government is pushing the issue aside so it won't lose any votes. That's bad reporting and, more seriously, very, very bad editing. A reporter learns the ethics of journalism from his or her editors. But there ain't no learning happening in the Irving press.

A big story on A3 is that a Moncton councillor was shocked to hear that an man shot and killed two people and than killed himself in a movie theatre in Louisiana. Well, that certainly gives us a greater understanding of the killings. Perhaps we could now share the councillor's thoughts on the millions of people all over the world who are being murdered or starved to death to make sure we control the flow of oil.

And, for really big news, A mobile vendor for Real Fruit Smoothies is opening right here in Moncton. And this important news story just keeps rolling because it if does well, it will also open next summer.. God is kind to his servants.

The editorial makes a brave attempt to discuss why medical services in St. John need DNA equipment that is easily provided now by Moncton. Obviously, says the editorial, this is a problem of communications.

Nice try. But I don't see what communication has to do with it. There was communication, plenty of it. Communication is neither the problem nor the question. The question is - Why are we privatizing yet another part of our medical care system? Generally, privatizing is NOT economical. It is more expensive. And medical care is NOT a business. It's an essential public service. The function of business is to produce profit for its owners. Ensuring that we get the best possible care at a reasonable price has no connection with the purpose of private business.

Norbert has a column about a quarrel between doctors who refuse to provide services they are morally or religiously opposed to. He accuses critics of those doctors of finger-pointing, name-calling, political smears, etc. It's a good point but, in attacking it, Norbert might take a second look at finger -pointing, name-calling and political smears in his column, and at many others like it in the Irving press.

Brent Mazerolle's "commentary" is yet another trivial "What I did this summer" high school essay.

At the bottom of A 15 is a real commentary. It's by two doctors, and it's about the suffering of the 'climate refugees' in Canada's west. They say, with reason, that wildfires in the West are almost certainly a result of climate change - and that while Canadian governments are responding to the immediate effects of it, they are not doing anything for the root problem And the writers are obviously correct. Canada has one of the world's worst records in dealing with the problem of climate change. After all, we don't want to hamper our billionaires as they make profits that will, some day, trickle down to us. Yes, they will. duh.

Bill Belliveau has a column that is pretty good from paragaph 5 to 11. (The first 4 are plodding, make no necessary point, and are dreary reading - which means many people will stop reading after the first couple of sentences. And the last paragraph is, to be kind, vague. But hang in there, Paragraphs 5 to 11 make it worthwhile.
There is no news of any significance in the Canada&World section. There is,  yet again, a big story about Donald Trump - which really doesn't say anything, either, but is a good lead for us to consider what is happening in the world.

Fascism is a word that has no generally agreed upon meaning. It commonly is described as dictatorship. But we've had dictators millienia before we had fascism. To come to some real meaning, we have to look at the two, outstanding advocates of it - Mussolini and Hitler.

Both were dictators. But they certainly weren't the only dictators of their time - so that alone can't be the definition of fascism.

Both were very right wing. Hitler called his party National Socialist, but there was nothing socialist about it. If there had been,  western big business all over the western world would not have given him the support that brought him to power. Yes, Hitler was hugely admired by the wealthy of this world. And when Charlie Chaplin made "The Great Dictator", a film warning about the dangers of Hitler, the U.S. government made life to tough for him he had to leave the U.S. for most of rest of his life.
("The Great Dictator" is on youtube.)

Both Hitler and Mussolini exploited feelings of national pride. Unfortunately, a good way to do that is to base that pride on contempt for or fear of others. You can find that in almost any highly nationalist country. At the height of Empire, the British - especially the rich British - had nothing but contempt for all the 'inferior' peoples they murdered or ruled.  (I got a chance to see that in all the British that I met who worked in Hong Kong.)

The U.S. is very similar, with a nationalism that is closely linked to religion. For well over a century, it has been a common belief in the U.S. that God intended the American people to rule all of the Americas. It was called 'Manifest Destiny'. Today it has expanded to include the whole world, and is called 'American Exceptionalism'. All peoples are inferior to real Americans. (real Americans means white and non-Latino). This explains Donald Trump's campaign theme - Make America Great Again. It also explains his exploitation of Mexican men who come to American to rape white women. That's not much different from Hitler's use of Jews.)

(No. Donald Trump is not a fascist. More on that below.)

Some sources say that fascism means strict government control of private business. And that's just nonsense. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini imposed such controls. (If they had, Western big business would not have slobbered over them as it did.)

In fact, Mussolini clearly defined fascism as a way of giving big business influence and power in government. That's why its symbol was the fasces - a bundle or rods tied together with an axehead protruding. It symbolized, among other things, all the elements of society coming together in government - and the rich doing it without the need to get elected.  Yes, the rich doing it without the need to get elected.  Those who were wealthy became 'partners' of the government automatically. 'Partners of government'. Ever hear that term in New Brunswick?

Remember when the former Alward government of New Brunswick got elected. That's when Mr. Irving wrote in his newspaper that he was in "coalition" with the government. Coalition. That doesn't mean he's cooperating with it. After all, everybody is expected to cooperate. No. It means that without getting elected, he was a MEMBER of the government simply because he was rich. That's what coalition means.

And that is a textbook definition of  fascism. Mr. Irving promptly used his 'position as a member of the government' to hold a conference that would plan the provincial economy. He also told the premier who to pick as advisors to the minister of finance (who was also an old employee of his.).

In short, Mr. Irving is the man who has been planning our disastrous economy for the last six years or so. That's not just finger pointing. That's taking his word for it. That's what he wrote he was going to do.  Funny - Alec Bruce and Prof. Saillant never mentioned that.

Generally, capitalists cheered for fascism in the 1930s, even as they knew what was happening to the Jews. I agree that it's unfair to target the Queen for giving a Nazi salute when she was eight. What's significant about that photo of here is the man teaching her the salute is the man who became Edward VIII who was a great admirer of Hitler, and who curried Hitler's favour to use the conquest of Britain to get him back on the throne. And the woman who is also saluting with a big smile was Elizabeth's mother, and the woman who became Queen when Edward abdicated.

The reality is that enthusiasm for Hitler was high among the British wealthy and the aristocracy. The great fear of the wealthy all over the world was of socialism, not fascism. Hitler and Mussolini were widely seen as barriers against dreadful things like medicare and pensions. And that's part of the reason why international bankers are getting tough with Greece. That country is now ultra-fascist as all powers of government have been taken over by bankers.  (In the case of Ukraine, which is never m mentioned in our news media, they are bleeding the country out of pure greed.)

We aren't just at risk of fascism. It's here. Harper has a chance of winning the election because he has huge campaign funds from the very rich. The race for party leaderships and then for the presidency in the U.S. will cost at least a billion. And we shall have a heavy price to pay for the generosity of the very rich. And in both cases almost all our information about national and world affairs comes from private news sources owned by those same billionaires.

Fascism is something fairly new for Russia and China. But the U.S. has always had a  streak of fascism going all the way back to George Washington; and it's become far more obvious in recent decades. But for Trump, the only ism is egoism. And he's doing the thing he does best - playing on fear and hatred to attract attention. But the fact that it's working so well suggests that the U.S. is very, very close to social breakdown.

The Faith Page has a disappointingly trivial sermonette - disappointing because it was written by the only person I can remember writing something intelligent on that page. For a world in which people are dying by starvation, bombing, random killing and misery mostly inflicted by the Christian world, when a great many Americans and Canadians are living in poverty to satisfy the greed of the rich, the message to the faithful is  "roll with the punches." Jesus may have said that - but I can't recall the passage.

And the popularity of Pope Francis is dropping in the U.S. - from 76% a year ago to 59% now. The thinking is that this is because of his stands on climate change and uncontrolled capitalism. That's good. I would be worried if the country that elected George Bush and Obama and is now adoring Donald Trump were also to be universally liking the Pope.

Besides, it's a welcome relief to see a man of faith with both intelligence and guts.

I have a couple of readings that might be of interest..

 The first is from a reader, and it concerns the American and British strategy of destroying states to create instability in whole regions. The source is a pro-Russian one - but I have generally found it doesn't lie. It avoids criticism of Russia and its allies. But what  it says about other countries is generally true.

The other is a note by Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians. She is championing a court case to cancel a very new voting rule which is designed to turn away many voters from the ballot box, especially those likely not to vote for Harper. This could crucial in a close election - which is what this one is likely to be.

And the Dear Malcolm it opens with is me.. (Malcolm is my first name which I never use because it was also my father's first name - lots of confusion in my childhood home.)
Dear Malcolm,

When I wrote you last week to say that we aren’t done fighting the Harper Conservatives’ so-called “Fair” Elections Act, I meant it.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students and three voters have filed to appeal the court’s decision last week not to grant the injunction we seek against onerous voter ID restrictions in the Conservatives’ new election laws.

An injunction would permit Elections Canada to allow all registered voters to use their Voter Information Cards as proof of address at the polls.

The court’s ruling found that there was a serious issue to be tried and the legislation would cause irreparable harm to registered electors who are denied the right to vote under these new rules.

As Council Executive Director Garry Neil told media today, “we contend that the judge failed to follow Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence underscoring the need to protect the right to vote as fundamental to our democratic system.”

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, who has intervened in the case, has said he will allow all electors to use their Voter Information Cards, together with another piece of authorized ID, to vote in the October election if a decision is made in time.

Evidence from Harry Neufeld, former chief electoral officer of British Columbia, filed in support of the application, concludes that without an injunction “many tens of thousands of otherwise fully qualified and properly registered voters will be disenfranchised.”

Justice Stinson wrote in his ruling that "if the provision in the Fair Elections Act “is ultimately found to be unconstitutional, there will be no way to restore the right of improperly disenfranchised voters to participate in a past election.”

I know how deeply you care about repairing Canada’s broken democracy. Together with your support, we’re working hard to achieve that very goal.

I will have more to report back to you shortly.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow
National Chairperson 



    1. I would prefer Randy Newman for the Faith Page any day.

  2. Excellent post and again I offer appreciation for taking on the Irving media and the Empyah! The Empire of tax dodgers borne in the good old days when running booze to the US was a sure fire road to riches.

    Just a couple of thoughts on your post. Hitler's National Socialists did indeed begin as a populist Workers Party and through that gained significant membership. The redirect toward right wing industrialists and banking elite came later when Hitler realized such an alliance was the only way to finance his ambitions.

    A review of the rise and fall of Ernst Rohm, who was and continued to be a staunch advocate for the Party's original goals provides details.

    On Edward VIII and the commonly accepted views of him being a Nazi sympathizer, I have something to add that came from a family member who was born in England and lived there during those times.

    According to the account |'ve been told, Edward was a person who was concerned with the plight of the common people and was very troubled by many aspects of their treatment by the wealthy class, particularly the plight of the Welsh coal miners. His sentiments toward Hitler came from the early policy positions of the National Socialists, when they were advocating for the Workers and not aligned with the aristocrats and the old elite.

    According the this version of events, this made Edward a target among the wealthy and it was decided he had to go. Politics and finance have always been a nasty business.

    Lastly, I read a piece not long ago about McKenzie King meeting Hitler and his subsequent assessment. Apparently King was very impressed with Hitler and concluded he was not only a very sincere person and in his opinion did not represent a danger, but that Hitler was also a very caring person.

    One always has to bear in mind that propaganda isn't a recent invention.

  3. Edward's problem, which seems to run in the family, was his brain. It was running, but was never in gear. I'm sure he expressed concern for the poor. But never in life, despite all his spare time, did he lift a finger to help them. And his friendship with Hitler was going strong long after he began his persecution of Jews.

    Mackenzie King was a real case. He was, without doubt, the canniest politicians this country has even produced. But, somehow, that was coupled with a fuzzy spiritualism that made him see qualities in people that just weren't there. He wrote in his diary that Hitler reminded him of Joan of Arc.

  4. Googled this 'Edward Viii concern for welsh coal miners.' 5th item down the page, The People's King: The True Story of the Abdication

    That said, I saw in a Globe article the Irvings got a million dollar property tax rebate from the City of Halifax on their shipyards. That after cajoling the Gov't of NS into giving them better part of $300 million in a forgivable loan. .