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Now and Then- Part III
Hitler's Playbook: Bush and the Abuse of Power
by    July 4, 2002

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." (Benito Mussolini, Encyclopedia Italiana)

According to David Gergen (1999), the 2000 election was about raw political power. He termed it a hinge point in history. The last time the GOP controlled the White House and the Congress was when "Ike" was in charge and he didn't want to rock the boat. "Conservatives have very different ideas in mind if they can grab the helm now." What Gergen and other members of the media didn't mention to the American people is that if the Far Right could control the White House and Congress, they could also control the judiciary and the fate and face of America for generations to come. (Gergen, David (November 15, 1999). Editorial: A Hinge Point in History. U.S. News and World Report)

And grab the helm they did, not by winning the White House by a majority, but by Supreme Court fiat ( with at least two judges violating several statutes of Title 28 Sec. 455 of the Judicial and Judiciary Procedure). Even with the legitimacy of the Bush presidency in question, the Conservatives -- those with the Far Right agenda -- grabbed the raw political power that Gergen predicted would be the outcome of that election. The abuse of power in the guise of pushing an agenda which the majority of the electorate voted against would now become a perverted rule of law. The Far Right transformed into the Far Reich. We need only to look at Bush's nominations and appointments to fully appreciate this tactic. Corporate America's cronies were placed in every powerful position within the Bush administration. From Alcoa's O'Neil as Secretary of Treasury to Enron's White as the Secretary of Army, this administration represents Totalitarian Corporatism. And what precisely does Totalitarian Corporatism look like and how does this play out in the United States? Will the outcomes be any different for America than they were for Germany?

When most people hear the word "fascism" they think of racism and anti-Semitism, the hallmarks of the totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. But do not forget there is an economic policy component of fascism known as "corporatism," an essential ingredient of economic totalitarianism (DiLorenzo 1994). This is why corporate leaders played key roles in financing Hitler as Chancellor and George W. Bush's run for the White House. Corporate heads from the United States, England and Germany financed Hitler's rise to power. These same powerful worldwide forces from the Military-Industrial Complex, Oil, Energy, and Media spent millions of dollars to influence the American 2000 election. And when the election could not be bought, they used five members of the United States Supreme Court to stop the Florida vote, thereby giving election "victory" to the eldest son of George Herbert Walker Bush. Now why was this election so important to the Far Right forces? And having gained the White House, what -- besides greed and power -- motivates them to change the face of America? Why would a political party supposedly dedicated to "states' rights" use the Supreme Court to usurp those rights? Why would a political party with slogans such as "get the government off our backs" move to take over the government and all its vast financial resources? There is only one explanation. Totalitarian corporate industrial policy. From the Department of Energy to the Departments of Justice and Defense, the Bush administration has worked to establish policies that do not serve the interests of the people, but serve the interests of rich and powerful corporations.

"Totalitarianism is a form of government in which all societal resources are monopolized by the state in an effort to penetrate and control all aspects of public and private life, through the state's use of propaganda, terror, and technology. Totalitarian ideologies reject the existing society as corrupt, immoral, and beyond reform. They project an alternative society in which these wrongs are to be redressed, and provide plans and programs for realizing the alternative order."

These ideologies are supported by propaganda campaigns and demand total conformity on the part of the people. Can we honestly say that the Bush Far Reich agenda is any different from that of Hitler's Third Reich when it comes to this form of ideology?

Parallels Between Hitler's and Bush's Power Game Plan

As Chancellor, Hitler manipulated President Hindenberg into dissolving the Reichstag to permit new elections. He sought a Nazi majority in the Reichstag to rubber-stamp whatever laws the big corporations that financed him wanted. Hitler abused democracy to establish his dictatorship. Is this any different from the methods Mr. Bush used to secure the presidency -- by Supreme Court fiat rather than an election by the people? And then he used a slim Congressional majority to push through legislation favorable to corporations.

Following his inauguration Vice President Dick Cheney was all over the Congress and Senate imposing the Far Reich agenda. This is the "raw power" that Gergen meant in his "Hinge Point in History" editorial. Deals from energy to defense were made in secret in the Vice President's office. Enron wrote Cheney's Energy Policy that cost Californians and North Western citizens billions. Texas and international oil interests had the entire country by the tail and a Republican majority in Congress rubber-stamped everything from the tax cut for the wealthiest 2% to the rape of the environment. And with few notable exceptions, the media were silent. How very much like Hitler's Third Reich and his propaganda machine.

Bush's cabinet was installed to serve the interests of corporations, not the people. His actual disdain for regular American citizens is typified by his quote about those citizens who objected to his administrative choices. "My picks obviously activated the voices of a few, the fringe people, the special-interest groups whose job is to make a lotta noise in Washington, DC." If you are not with Bush, you are fringe. If you want to stop global warming, you are fringe. If you object to any of his policies, you are fringe. How very much like Hitler's marginalization of the people, group by group.

And then came September 11, 2001, with the direct attack on America followed by the counter-attack on Afghanistan. This unleashed a whole new level of Far Reich control over the American people and the agenda. To keep a population in line, both Hitler and Bush declared perpetual war. Or in Hitler's words: "Another weapon I discovered early was the power of the printed word to sway souls to me. The newspaper was soon my gun, my flag-a thing with a soul that could mirror my own." But in this case technology has moved light years ahead of Hitler's time and Bush's Far Reich uses the power of television, controlled by a few corporate heads, to control and sway. Following 911 the patriotism of the American people was twisted to suit the purposes of the Far Reich Agenda just as patriotism of the German people was twisted following the Reichstag fire to suit the purposes of the Third Reich.

  • You are with us or against us. In Germany if you were against Hitler and the Nazis you were subjected to tribunal "justice." Civil rights were discarded and many ended up in concentration camps. In Bush's America, an unknown number of Arab detainees are being held in U.S. jails and the Guantanamo Naval Base. They do not have access to legal representation. Their resources are frozen, and the American public is assured that if they are charged they will have access to legal representation. Though their actual numbers and identities were kept secret, we were told that these detainees were not American citizens. Now we learn that an American citizen, Jose Padilla, is being held without legal counsel in a catch-22 situation that is worthy of a Joseph Heller plot. (Heller, Joseph (Reprint edition 1966). Catch-22. NY: Scribner Paperback)

  • Secrecy is the Far Reich Bush policy and if you question that policy, you are unpatriotic. German citizens learned very early to keep quiet and not ask questions. American citizens are learning the same painful lesson. The Bush administration is the most secret in our recorded history and those who dare question the administration's secrecy are labeled "unpatriotic."

  • Fear and isolation are weapons. The German people were not stupid or unaware. They saw their neighbors beaten and threatened. They saw them disappear. And they did not want this to happen to themselves or their families. Now we are seeing the same situation in the United States as members of the FBI intimidate people who dare dissent. Those who choose not to stand miles away in the "First Amendment Zones" whenever a Bush official speaks in a public arena do so at risk to their freedom. This happens and the media remains silent. The TV cameras focus on those in agreement with Far Reich policies and ignore those who dissent. News people who dissent lose their jobs. Professors who dissent are held up to ridicule by university administrators. It did not take long for all in the news business to realize that Bush praise is the secret formula for survival in a tough competitive market.

  • Attack Intellectualism. Hitler's Playbook specified that Intellectualism must be attacked and did so by book burning and destruction of news sources unfriendly to the Third Reich. Goebbels presided over a communications monopoly. Nazi youth groups heckled professors until administrators forced them out of universities. We need go no further than Lynne Cheney's American Council of Trustees and Alumni () to see the corollary of Bush's Far Reich. "Lynne Cheney's right wing, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization collected "unpatriotic" utterances and issued its report, "Defending Civilization: How our universities are failing America and what can be done about it" (Foley, 5/22/02). Germany lost incredible intellectual talent in the 1930s (e.g., Einstein, Freud). Will the United States lose its most talented university people by 2004?

  • Closely allied with Cheney's ACTA is William Bennett's Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT) project. According to their campaign literature "AVOT is designed to combat those who would weaken the nation's resolve and erode our commitment to end the international menace of terrorism." One of their articles stated that "anti-war ferment in America is growing." In other words, speak praise of Far Reich policies or expect to be attacked. Will ACTA and AVOT grow so powerful that we will be afraid to dissent? At what point will the media notice that our right to free speech is gone?
The abuses of power before and, especially, after 9/11 by the Bush Reich have been unsettling, to say the least. The world is watching us, believing we all support the policies Bush and his thugs are pursuing. They see the similarities. But our former main source of information, television and the newspapers, seems silent in the face of such a threat to what our founding fathers had in mind.

There has been no attention paid to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where uncounted numbers of American citizens are being held without charge while Ashcroft petitions the courts to allow their deportation. The defense counsels of John Lindh, Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid and Jose Padilla have had their hands tied by the DOJ in the name of "national security." If George and his gang decide to call you a "hostile combatant" then you can just kiss your rights goodbye. Some still argue that these people and others like them are proven enemies of the country or just "very bad people," but how long will it take before the precedent being set with these accused "terrorists" trickles down to folks like you and me?

There is an ugly secret being kept from all of us. Some of us recognize this -- especially those who see it from afar -- and then there are those who continue to refuse to believe it could happen here. And there lies the danger. Arthur Livingstone (2001) asked the question, "Does history repeat itself?" and the answer, unfortunately, is yes. (
) We, in America, are seeing a reincarnation of the Third Reich, and its name is Corporatism. If left unchecked, the worst case scenario will be that Americans will be left without liberty, justice or freedom. Thomas Jefferson saw the threat in 1816: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance of the laws of our country."

The only thing standing in the way of the Far Reich's goal of corporatism is the American public. One stumbling block that Bush faces that Hitler didn't have to contend with, is the vast amount of information available with today's technology. The Internet has brought a world together in ways never dreamed of in the days of WWII. It is both a source of comfort that we are not alone and a source of frustration as it causes us to wonder when will the rest of the country catch up?

We all know that our European neighbors notice the similarities discussed in this series. They wonder when we are going to finally wake up. So many Americans have given their lives to defend that which makes this country a unique and special place. Will we let the noble experiment in democracy die in the 21st Century? Will we let it die at the hands of George W. Bush's version of the Third Reich?