Have you become convinced that the only way to improve the moral and/or physical status of your country is to get the State to whip everyone into line? Do the defenses of individual rights and individual freedoms leave you feeling both bored and resentful? Are you daring enough to contemplate a nation where no-one does anything except what he or she is told by government officials, and find it to your liking? Are you inclined to dismiss defenses of freedom as mere apologetics for license and/or anarchy?
If you got through the above series of questions with all "okay"s, then you may very well be a fascist. A fascist is someone who affirmatively believes what question three asks about. Given that the military is the only way to keep such a system together, it’s a short leap of practical logic to conclude that military dictatorship is the only way to keep the populace in line. There have been experiments in democratic fascism during most of the last century, but the historical record does indicate that there is something inherently contradictory between fascism and democracy. The State seems to run more smoothly, not to mention efficiently, when the people aren’t consulted in a substantive way. Show elections, of course, are an option, but the representatives have to have their wings clipped to keep them mere windbags. This last point is important to remember.
It’s a tricky process to bring fascism to a nation with a tradition of individual rights, and its concomitant, self-motivation. If you live in a nation that combines initiative with orneriness, you may as well save your secret dream for your grandkids. A people who balk when the government tells them what to do, when that "what" is genuinely good for them, leaves little hope for the fascist. Better luck next century.
If the people around you are becoming complaisantly obedient, however, things are looking ripe. There’s no more tractable whipped dog than one who asks for regularity in the whipping schedule. If you hear your neighbors seriously wonder who’s going to tell them how to vote, then you’re laughing.
What do you do once you’ve got the in-signal? Here, for your contemplation, is a quick guide on how to move your country’s government — whups, "your country" — to fascism:
- Promote wholesale nationalization of industry while having no fallback plan for the resultant economic chaos that this spree will engender. This is the most reliable method to "go fascist." Because such nationalization leads to "planned chaos," it will quickly be discovered that the industries in question have to be de-nationalized pronto in order to keep the economy from collapsing. If you think that the economy’s collapse will be good for the moral fiber of the people, I’m afraid you’re reading the wrong sales pitch; you’ll have to wait for the one on socialism.
- Promote "open-ended" guarantees of cold cash from the State to citizens. Believe it or not, this one works just as well as the first one; it just takes longer to work its magic. Open-ended commitments, like government-guaranteed health care, have a magnificent budget-busting potential. The bigger the mandated deficit spending, the better. Comprende, mi amigo?
- Passivity Is Your Noisy Friend. Unfortunately, many options that seem to be the magic solution have a notoriously vulnerable underbelly: they can be vitiated by citizens taking active steps to counteract them. A guarantee of health care forever loses its budget-wrecking potential if a bunch of yahoos decline the more expensive treatment and take their chances with the cheaper remedy. The trouble is, any such yahoo can justify taking this option through old-style patriotism, of the community-chest kind. Perhaps the same kind of yahoo can save for his or her retirement rather than depend upon the government’s retirement "fund." If the government pension plan is already in a crimp, said yahoo can squirrel money offshore and even justify it patriotically. There are, indeed, sneaky ways of being patriotic in this way: the fellow who’d rather starve on welfare than take a much more lucrative government grant is an underminer in his or her own way.
If you find it odd to bring fascism by promoting socialism, you evidently lack the cunning needed to be a successful political operative. Shame on you, and pay attention: by filling the heads of your fellow citizens with an impossible political dream that you yourself don’t believe in, you’ll shoot your competitors right down. Just make sure that you’re ready to plump for what you really believe in when the embarrassing backtrack is enacted.
Always remember: what makes socialism the most excellent running dog for fascism is not its end, but its means. People use even impossible ideals as guides to action; socialism, as a guide to action, entails hogtying every legitimate business that’s out there. What better way can you come up with to make the traditionally unruly business class grateful for the State’s leash? And the best part is: by letting the socialist do your sapping work for you, you can pose as being "pro-business" while it happens! You don’t even have to take off your white gloves!
Unfortunately, von Mises’ Socialism, despite its thoroughness and rigor, has acquired an unexpected popularity amongst the general public. Tragic this is, but the most sure-fire way to bring fascism to your State is unfortunately not do-able in our time. I’d better put this idea back on the table.
Unfortunately, bills have to be paid, eventually. Eventually, the interest payments the government will have to make, to keep the guarantees a’flowing, will put a rather large crimp on the government’s budget. This is the point when the fascist option comes into its own. What better time to scoff at rationality when rationality implies "we have to pay for yesterday’s deficit-driven exuberance?"
More to the point: in order to keep the As We Go Marching fox-trot on a semi-even keel, impromptu financial fiddles will have to be relied upon. What better way to prepare the populace for the much simpler means of plunder-thy-neighbor for the remedy of budgetary embarrassments? Even better, any old-style conscientious citizen, who takes his or her civic duties seriously, is going to find it mind-numbingly confusing to figure out what got spent where, once these fiddles become normalized. This mind-numbing is almost as effective as the one that a citizen eager to abide by "the law," one who ends up plowing through the socialist-encouraged proliferation of regulations, has to endure in the regulatory state. And, as a bonus, such financial fiddles are just as unsupervised by the legislature as those proliferating regulations, if not more so! When you live in a country whose legislature is undercut to this degree, it’s only a short step to "Potemkin elections."
Yes indeed, this is the blind spot of all plans to bring fascism to your homeland. The general public may take matters into its own hands. This is why so many attempts to promote fascism through appeals to super-patriotism have fallen into ruin. Super-patriotism can also mean going out of one’s way to ease the burden on one’s fellow taxpayers, and upon one’s government. Taking this option leads to the cultivation of obstreperous habits, such as acting on one’s own recognizance.
Passivity works much better. In fact, it provably does. The kind of new Republic most vulnerable to fascism is one whose people have been freed by foreign conquest, rather than being freed through domestic exertions. The latter course of development means that the citizenry have already developed the habits of self-government. The former course means that they haven’t, and don’t quite know what they entail. It’s a useful fact that merely reading a diet book, no matter how rigorously, does nada for your weight. It’s an even more useful fact that reading "Get Active!" does nothing for your activity level. It won’t, until you get the gumption to make the inevitable mistakes that accompany getting active. You also need the necessary will-power to overcome the atrophy of your initiative, if the passive lifestyle has been for ye up to now. As long as the free will is lacking, "Get Active!" may as well mean "Do As I Tell You!"
- Christian Peace Movements Are "Of The Devil." If fascism is your goal, remember this well. Any peace movement that goes out of its way to treat military personnel as if they were human beings too, is likely to result in reciprocal respect from the military. Mutual respect will result in an alarming number of veterans, and even of active-duty personnel, believing seriously that a state of peace is a better way to be than a state of war, even war for conquest and glory. Once the military is full of peace lovers, the fascist dream is dead, dead, dead. What good would it be to present promises of glory and conquest to a group of soldiers who have little use for either? Even if all the factors are in your favor, this one is the killer.
Christian pacifists are most notorious for this kind of undermining, but don’t put it past the others.
There are many other details and tips that can be supplied, even by me, but these four are reliable enough to get you off to a good start.
Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Lest you be accused of rank hypocrisy, you will have to cultivate the same passivity that’s your "in." Sorry.
Daniel M. Ryan [send him mail] is a Canadian with a known aversion to theocracy, whether real or covert. He is currently burning his pretty pink thumb with pen and paper.