Category Archives: Rogue’s Gallery

Reality check for Gina Rinehart

http://broelman.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/broelman-march8.jpg?w=500

Greedy old fatcat, Gina Rinehart has been in the news in the last few days complaining about welfare recipients. Of all people, she should know exactly how hypocritical this is. This megalomaniacal, ignorant pig has had her snout in the trough of taxpayers since she inherited her abhorent father’s wealth, wealth that was built up with the aide of taxpayers money. It would be very hard to put a price tag on the amount of support her family’s empire has received (and is still receiving) but if it was a loan with interest she would probably have to declare bankruptcy if she was required to pay it back. Of course that hasn’t stopped her from sinking the boot into the most vulnerable by basically accusing them of having a handout mentality by saying that taxpayers’ money isn’t a “bottomless pit”. Well you greedy pig, you’re absolutley correct. It isn’t. How about instead of using your substantial taxpayer subsidised wealth to leverage support for laws that allow you to avoid paying tax, you actually do the right thing and refuse the substantial subsidies you recieve and pay your fucking taxes!

The ultimate parasite...like an overfed leach..or tapeworm

Gine Rinehart- the ultimate parasite…like an overfed leach..or tapeworm

Anyway, someone much more polite than I, Kevin Price, had this to say to Gina.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Gina Rinehart and the reality of entitlement

 

I want to say this to Gina Rinehart and others who continue to ply this ‘tirade of entitlement’. First up, Ms Rinehart, my grandfather knew your father, quite well I believe, and although he did not particularly like the man, I’m told he held him in some regard as someone who had a vision and the balls to solicit substantial government assistance to realise it. I know this because the relationship between the two men was of entrepreneur and government minister responsible. They talked often.

So you need to be aware, Ms Rinehart, that you are the beneficiary of that government largesse that enabled your father and his partner, Peter Wright, to explore and….

READ THE REST HERE

1 Comment

Filed under Rogue's Gallery

Denier Comment of the Day March 6, 2014

I have been avoiding doing these because it really is a bit of a waste of time in that it doesn’t really educate anybody other than to reinforce our perception that a number of climate change deniers really do lack some critical thinking skills. That said, sometimes I feel compelled to do this… for reasons that I hope become obvious.

I tend to scroll through my WordPress reader a couple of times a day looking for important news on many issues including climate change, markets, politics and a few specialised blogs related to my two areas of scientific endeavour. I also have a couple of oddball denier blogs that I follow because they give me a good laugh at times. Yes, just as my favourite part of the circus is the clown act, I like to laugh at deniers too… the really silly ones of no consequence anyway. So I checked in on “Watching Those Who Watch the Deniers”. This site was set up allegedly to refute the hugely successful Watching the Deniers blog. They are both cracker blogs for completely opposite reasons.

Well it seems the author at the former site wants to be educated about global warming…or so she claims… but then sets up some conditions on the information she wants to receive. If it isn’t to her liking she plans to not publish the responses to her questions. Some of the conditions are pretty funny and designed to confirm her bias but that’s not what I plan to write about. I was having a good chuckle at what she was writing when I came across this absolute cracker.

If the oceans rose, people would move inland (they would not be refugees–sorry.)

There is no context for this comment so she wasn’t referring to any particular country or region. It was a blanket statement. Ok…..definition time. Refugees by UNHCR definitions are people outside of their own country unable to return to their country due to fear of persecution, conflict etc and it’s pretty clear on that point, so she is correct that people leaving their homes due to rising sea levels are not technically refugees, but I have to wonder if playing semantics with words for the sake of making some inane ideological point about people who are genuinely in serious need is morally acceptable? The fact is, there are plenty of people who are internally displaced in places like Pakistan and Bangladesh due to climate change induced extremes in seasonal flooding and random weather events who are effectively homeless. They have lost everything and don’t have the means to simply “move inland”. To ignore these people by hiding behind vocabulary semantics is immoral.

But let’s get to the main point of this idiotic statement, that people will simply move inland to avoid rising sea levels…if they rise. First, to question if the oceans are going to rise is to ignore the fact that they are rising currently and just through inertia in the system constrained by the laws of physics will continue to rise through thermal expansion and ice melt from projected temperature rises we have already locked in, based on our current levels of atmospheric CO2….and that’s if we were to stop increasing GHG  tomorrow. So, oceans will continue to expand. That is undeniable. What are the projections?

Anywhere from half a metre to a metre by 2100 depending on various scenarios. So, let’s go to Tuvalu. There’s not much to say here other than the inhabitants of Tuvalu can’t simply move inland as the sea level rises. It is well established in the scientific literature that a sea level rise of 40cm by 2100 will make the atolls of Tuvalu “uninhabitable”.  At least there won’t be an refugees as defined by the UNHCR.

And then there are the islands of the Maldives. The population of the Maldives currently live in the 11th highest density in the world and while a sea level rise of 1m won’t make the entire country uninhabitable, the ~300000 inhabitants will be forced to live in the 15% or so of land still inhabitable…..though I’m not sure what they will eat or do for a living? At least they won’t be refugees.

Finally, there’s Bangladesh. The 8th most populous nation and the 12th densest losing more than 10% of its habitable land….but at least they won’t be refugees, although if wars start being fought over food and water they could well become that….as defined by the UNHCR, but they could still travel inland I guess.

Many low-lying countries, particularly island nations, are at threat from rising sea levels associated with anthropogenic climate change. Many of these are 2nd and 3rd world countries, the least able to adapt technologically as they just cannot afford it. Many people from those countries will become climate refugees…not in the UNHCR mould, but just as desperate and just as homeless nonetheless. Hopefully, they will encounter people who care enough about them to take them in. That is the moral and humane thing to do. I’m not sure the people who play word games will.

Anyway, to read the whole silly blog entry, go here. Have a go at answering the questions too and let me know if you get published. The author wants to learn apparently.

 

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under Classic denier comments, Climate Change, Rogue's Gallery

A few odds and ends.

Cleaning up my computer (I’m hopeless at storing files in an orderly fashion) I’ve decided to stick a few posters I’ve created in a post here to share before deleting them. I’m certainlyno graphic artist having only Paint and Powerpoint to make them. Naturally they are political and I’mquite pleased with them but I do need to make space….

wordsmatter too expensive Morrison says MARCH malcolms median Lip Service 101 hansen FionaNashLiar dr karl dodgy reporting republic troll ultimate conservationists batman brandis bookcase ludlum notinmyname on the nose

4 Comments

Filed under idiot politicians, Rogue's Gallery, Uncategorized

When religion and ecology meet…

I bang my head on the desk. Here is an excerpt from a speech given by Tony Abbott in Canberra last night…

“Man and the environment are meant for each other. The last thing we do – the last thing we should want – if we want to genuinely improve our environment is to want to ban men and women from enjoying it, is to ban men and women from making the most of it and that’s what you do. You intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us.”

Allow me to translate…

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

I think the key here is the final sentence, “You intelligently make the most of the good things that God has given us.” The problem is, Tony Abbott is not an intelligent man. Relying on the Bible to inform you about decisions that should be soundly informed by science is not intelligent. Presumably, if Tony Abbott was intelligent, he would recognise the contradiction between what he says and what he does and he would certainly understand the inference in the first sentence of this excerpt. He basically states that man and the environment depend on each other for survival and he absolutely correct…but not in the way that he probably thinks.

While we exist, we do indeed need the environment for our survival, and while we exist, the environment needs us for its survival in that it needs us to look after it and not over-exploit it for resources or damage it. I am 100% confident that if humans disappeared tomorrow, the environment and every living thing in it would breathe a collective sigh of relief and just get on with living and under a lot less pressure. What Tony Abbott doesn’t seem to understand is that it we are more than capable of damaging the environment to the point that it can no longer sustain human life on it. As most of my readers are intelligent, there is no need for me to go beyond referring to the end-Permian extinction that resulted in no land animal bigger than about 10kg surviving and 90% of living things disappearing. Tony Abbott doesn’t get it. It is beyond his abilities and highlights the lies in his speech.

More and more I am convinced that Tony Abbott is cut from exactly the same cloth as a large number of the loony far right Republicans in the USA, the hypocritical Bible literalists, who use their faith to justify pretty much any decisions they make no matter how wrong or stupid.

So, what does Tony Abbott view as intelligently making “the most of the good things that God has given us”? In the case of Tasmanian forests where he wants to liberate the trees, it is less of this…

and more of this…

Less of these…

and more of these…

To read all of Tony Abbott’s speech, put on your headgear, keep a bucket handy and go here.

6 Comments

Filed under Classic denier comments, Climate Change, denier contradictions, idiot politicians, Rogue's Gallery

Going for the youth vote…inadvertantly

I promised myself I would ignore the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party (CSP) because quite frankly I found them to be so far on the right hand fringe of Australian politics, they have a tiny tiny following and so are really of no consequence and very little interest except in a kind of old school, circus freak show kind of way. No offence meant to any circus freaks by the way.

I used to write about the CSP a fair bit, mostly focussing on the dishonesty of a few of their hierarchy. Nothing too serious of course, just making up grossly exaggerating professional credentials, misrepresenting blog comments and lying about stuff including their nonsense claim that they are a centrist party. Their position on climate change is out there with the wackiest of the wacky as evidenced by their devotion to the ever loopy Christopher Monckton and their endless spouting of just about every denier canard ever uttered. You will notice I’m not providing any links to anything I’ve written about them because it’s easy enough to find. Just search my blog for “CSP” and you’ll have plenty to read.

Anyway, I was sent an email today by a colleague pointing me to the AEC website and this announcement…

regI was wondering why they changed their name? Not catchy? Perhaps they realised that it’s a bit too prescriptive? Maybe a name change will result in a better result at the next election? Maybe it’s all three. In the last election they saw their vote for the Senate positions drop from 0.2% in 2010 to 0.13% in 2013. They could do worse I guess. Anyway, given the timing it’s clear they have seen how easy it was for a couple of morons from other fringe parties to get elected by vote harvesting and they want to try to get their own moron elected in the rerun for the WA Senate spots next month. They even admit as much….not the moron part but the rest, in their own Press Release. Try and ignore the spelling and grammatical errors and poor setting out.  Whoever wrote it was probably a bit excited. Link here.

Nice logo…very American looking and the Party name also has a very American feel about it. I’m almost inclined to think whomever came up with both has been spending a lot of time visiting The American GOP sites and watching Glen Beck or Sean Hannity videos on YouTube. They are always carrying on about attacks on their freedom and future prosperity. You could have gone all out and whacked “liberty” in there somewhere. The Freedom, Liberty and Prosperity Party (FLAP) Now, before anyone discounts FLAP and says that’s a bit silly, what was pointed out to me in the email, was this part…

FAP

Oh dear….. Anthony, you are either completely out of touch or a bloody genius! Even I, in my 40′s, know enough about youth culture to know there is an internet meme attached to the word FAP. Fap is…..ummmmm. Well according to the Urban Dictionary…

ud

 

Yes yes I know that the Urban Dictionary isn’t a real dictionary but I can guarantee that if you go out into the street and ask a heap of people aged 15 to 25 what “FAP” is, most of them will give you the Urban Dictionary definition. It is of course a lot older than that and it originally was an adjective meaning drunk or befuddled. Either way, whomever came up with it, clearly didn’t think it through…. or did they? I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of apathetic politically naive young voters see FAP, have a chuckle and vote for them. No harm in that, FAP will need all the help they can get. Now that people are waking up to the wrecking ball Abbott, they are hardly likely to give their vote to a party that is even further to the right than him.  The turmoil that he has created will see voters wanting stability in the Senate and these knucklehead fringe dwellers that try to vote harvest and do shady preference swaps won’t get a look in, especially if voters go and look at the policies. Speaking of which, I’m pleased to see that FAP are continuing with all their principles, including their conspiracy ideation about “Agenda 21″. Good stuff. That’s the sort of thing the loony right- wing Tea Party in the USA carry on with. Maybe I am sensing a theme here. American looking banner and American sounding name, American culture has permeated into our youth, our youth are fairly apathetic but will find FAP funny…hmmm. Genius! Anyway, speaking of American politics…

we-choose-to-fap-not-because-it-is-easy

 

2 Comments

Filed under Classic denier comments, idiot politicians, Rogue's Gallery

Black Swan and denial

One of my favourite Youtubers is Derek with his channel Veritasium. He has a PhD in science communication and all of his videos exploit his expertise in this area. He likes to present a problem to random people and see how they solve it, usually demonstrating the weaknesses in human nature when it comes to laypeople understanding science. This next video is one of his good ones…

and that is the difference between scientists and climate change deniers. The latter tend to suffer from confirmation bias and lack the objectivity, intellect and courage to challenge their predetermined beliefs and also unlike the people in this video who eventually found the solution, refuse to accept any possibility that they are wrong.

1 Comment

Filed under AGW comments, Climate Change, Rogue's Gallery

China’s Plan to Clean Up Air in Cities Will Doom the Climate, Scientists Say

Coal-to-gas projects in rural areas could double carbon footprint of fuel burned in cities, spelling disaster for earth’s climate, warn scientists.

By William J. Kelly, InsideClimate News

China is erecting huge industrial complexes in remote areas to convert coal to synthetic fuel that could make the air in its megacities cleaner. But the complexes use so much energy that the carbon footprint of the fuel is almost double that of conventional coal and oil, spelling disaster for earth’s climate, a growing chorus of scientists is warning.

Read the full story and be prepared to get angry at the pictures here

 

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Rogue's Gallery

Asking too much?

Any blogger knows what a pain spam is. Thankfully the WordPress spam filters are excellent and manage to catch nearly all of it. Sometimes they work too well and we have to scroll the endless spam folder to retrieve genuine comments that have unfortunately been picked up.

With the success of spam filters, big companies are emailing bloggers directly asking them to run “stories” or “visual samples” which contain links to their commercial webpages. It is essentially advertising. I now receive about 5 of these emails every week. I realise that isn’t many but it is annoying because these companies make bucketloads of money and want free advertising. I have now decided to start responding directly.

email hi deniseIs asking for a $1M donation asking too much or should I ask for more?

8 Comments

Filed under Rogue's Gallery

Why does Australian PM Tony Abbott support fossil fuel subsidies?

from The Guardian

Why does Tony Abbott support $10 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies but oppose an aid package for food manufacturer SPC-Ardmona?

An open cut mine in the Hunter Valley. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

An open cut mine in the Hunter Valley. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was only elected in September 2013, but already has a rapidly growing list of broken promises and inconsistent decisions regarding public funding support for private industry and non-profit organisations.

This includes the Australian car manufacturing industry (Ford and Holden),  scrapping the Home Energy Saver Scheme, axing $2.5 million in funding for community radio stations, stopped support for Caterpillar in Tasmania which has cost over 1000 jobs, and last Thursday rejected an aid package for Victorian-based food processing company SPC-Ardmona (despite supporting a similar aid package for Cadbury).

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has intervened into Toyota’s workplace affairs by supporting cuts to employee wages, has privatised the Australian Valuation Office, is in the process of winding back Tasmania’s forest World Heritage listing, defunded all international environmental programs (including those run by Oxfam, Save the Children and Caritas) and cut $4.5 billion from international aid programs, has started to dismantle Australia’s marine park protection system, repealed poker machine reform designed to protect victims of gambling addiction, and approved coal-baron Clive Palmer’s coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

What’s more, the prime minister seems very happy to continue to give taxpayer’s money to fossil fuel companies to the tune of $10 billion per year in subsidies.

The fossil fuel subsidy decision is particularly inconsistent with his stance on industry support for SPC-Ardmona and the car industry. This is a prime minister who in December declared an end to corporate welfare.

But he said “we don’t want to see corporate welfare … we don’t believe in corporate welfare”.

“This government will be very loth to consider requests for subsidies, we will be very loth to do for businesses in trouble the sorts of things they should be doing for themselves,” he warned.

Fossil fuels subsidies are the most pernicious and distorting of subsidies. The biggest in Australia is the fuel tax credit scheme, which is worth $2 billion per year to mining companies, the equivalent of each taxpayer in Australia handing over $182 to the mining companies.

The national president of the Mining Union, Tony Maher called out this squandering of public funds in an article for The Drum:

I’m pro-mining to my core. But a mining sector that grows too fast causes social and economic problems that will cause damage for decades to come, if we let it. …

Down the track, it would also make sense to look again at tax and whether we are getting a fair return from mining company profits.

Ditto, subsidies. Does it really make sense for taxpayers to be funding a rebate on diesel fuel for the mining industry at a cost of $2 billion a year?

The union is a firm supporter of an emissions trading scheme, and a renewable energy target, and opponent for the fuel subsidy. In a Senate submission in 2008, it wrote:

It has been especially glaring that the mining industry, one of the most profitable industries in Australia, has received the highest rate of fuel tax credit. It is rebated the full 38.143¢ per litre, and so effectively receives its fuel free of excise. This has provided the mining industry with an incentive, in relative terms, to use liquid fossil fuels, and it has taken up that incentive with gusto.

The Australian Taxation Office has stated that for the 2006-07 year, the mining industry was easily the heaviest user of the fuel tax credit schemes, claiming $1.47 billion of the $4.9 billion claimed. The next highest claim by an industry was transport and warehousing with $1.28 billion.

The latter industry made 171,085 claims for the credits, while the mining industry made just 6,735. This vast difference demonstrates that mining industry claims are made by a relatively small number of very large companies, while the transport claims often come from small businesses.

The mining industry’s claims on the public purse have grown rapidly over the last decade, from $754 million in 1999-2000 to $1.47 billion for the most recently-reported year. It has virtually doubled over the course of 8 years. …

That the mining industry receives such extensive fuel tax credits while claiming to be internationally competitive and unsubsidised has attracted significant criticism from an environmental perspective.

The continuing level of significant subsidy weakens the substantial argument that the industry is otherwise able to make that is it one of Australia’s great success stories. Industries that rely on subsidies or other forms of protection are not generally able to be portrayed as a success story.

Further, the mining industry is not a deserving case. There are no grounds in terms of equity, social justice or industry development to justify a significant subsidy to the mining industry.

Tony Maher made a good call when he said “Let’s stop being fooled that the interests of a small club of mining billionaires are the same as the interests of the broader Australian economy. They’re not.”

Despite global warming posing an imminent threat to Australia, and its predominate cause being the burning of fossil fuels, the Australian government is using your tax dollars to literally pay these fossil fuel companies to pollute.

As I’ve noted in the past, Tony Abbott and his government seem intent on turning Australia into a reckless “charco-state” (the coal equivalent of a petro-state).

These fossil fuel subsidies don’t just pay companies to pollute our air, water and atmosphere. They also distort our markets by making fossil fuels, like diesel and gas, artificially cheap. Special tax treatment for big oil, gas and coal projects allows fossil fuel companies to rapidly depreciate their assets, like drilling rigs. This means they get away with paying taxes that other companies are forced to.

Finally, fossil fuel subsidies are socially dangerous because many pension and superannuation funds have fossil fuel investments, risking tens or hundreds of billions in retirement savings in a carbon bubble.

What’s the basis for these decisions?

Why are massive $10 billion subsidies for one industry acceptable, but a relatively modest aid package for SPC-Ardmona unacceptable?

No doubt there are many answers to these questions.

One possible answer can be found in the work of Drew Westen, professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The author of The Political Brain, Westen describes the neurological differences in the brains of conservatives and (in US terms) liberals.

Westen, and the likes of liberal neuro-linguist George Lakoff, posited that the way that conservatives viewed money was tied to morality.

To very briefly summarise, if a person is rich, it is proof that they are a good and moral person. It demonstrates that they must be hard-workers, wise investors, who are self sufficient and possess personal discipline.

The corollary of this is that poor people, who lack money, also lack morality. To a conservative, lack of money proves that you must be lazy, ill-disciplined, self-indulgent, deviant and dependent on others.

The role of government is to support morality and punish immorality. Thus, people on welfare are immoral and thus should be penalised, while rich people should be further rewarded and incentivised to continue to be moral.

This moral system, in my view, underpins the Abbott’s government’s approach to corporate welfare, and especially to the environment.

In the conservative world-view, companies like Holden and Ford, or SPC-Ardmona are unworthy of government support because they lose money. By definition, because they need government aid, they’re immoral, dependent, ill-disciplined and lazy.

Meanwhile, companies like hugely profitable fossil fuel companies and coal miners like Clive Palmer, are good, moral companies. Their enormous profits are proof of their morality.

What does this have to do with climate change?

The conservative world view is threatened by the very existence of climate change and global warming.

If making money and profits through mining and burning fossil fuels are moral behaviours, but those activities cause dangerous climate change which threatens you and your loved ones, then can it be moral? Any suggestion that fossil fuel extraction is harmful therefore threatens the basis of conservative morality.

If nature and natural resources exist as things to be conquered, exploited or used to make moral profits, then regulation that prevents this by definition is immoral. When it comes to conservation, environmental protection and climate change mitigation, the conservative morality of Abbott sees laws that protect biodiversity and our natural heritage as illegitimate hindrances to the moral activity of making profits.

Regulation is a form of interference in moral activities, and at worst, creates dependency. Renewable energy subsidies and targets distorts the profit-meritocracy.

Tony Abbott will always support subsidies for fossil fuel companies because they are moral companies, although at times his political instincts have made him a weather-vane on the issue.

Support for renewable energy, assistance for disadvantaged people, foreign aid, or industry packages for Holden, Ford and Australian manufacturing should be opposed because it is the role of government to punish immorality, and lack of money is proof of that immorality.

As I said, there are many possible reasons for Tony Abbott’s stance on fossil fuel subsidies and “corporate welfare”. You may have your own view; let me know in the comments.

Find out more about fossil fuel subsidies here.

Original story here

6 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, idiot politicians, Rogue's Gallery

Fascism anyone?

This following short essay comes from  Laurence W. Britt in the Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2 and can be found on the secularhumanism website.

Did somebody say LNP?

Fascism anyone?

Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the “Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles” on the inside cover of the magazine. To a secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, and so crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Hitler’s Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by past and present proto-fascist regimes at various times. Both the original models and the later proto-fascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and proto-fascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or proto-fascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as criminals or terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infra-structure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and proto-fascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Victims and opponents often just disappeared or discredited with trumped-up criminal charges, leading to long-term imprisonment or the death. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? – of course not.

After all, America, Great Brittan and Australia are officially recognized democracies with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils.

Any historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics – or maybe not.

Notes

1. Defined as a “political movement or regime tending toward or imitating Fascism”—Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.

References

Andrews, Kevin. Greece in the Dark. Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1980. Chabod, Frederico. A History of Italian Fascism. London: Weidenfeld, 1963. Cooper, Marc. Pinochet and Me. New York: Verso, 2001. Cornwell, John. Hitler as Pope. New York: Viking, 1999. de Figuerio, Antonio. Portugal—Fifty Years of Dictatorship. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1976. Eatwell, Roger. Fascism, A History. New York: Penguin, 1995. Fest, Joachim C. The Face of the Third Reich. New York: Pantheon, 1970. Gallo, Max. Mussolini’s Italy. New York: MacMillan, 1973. Kershaw, Ian. Hitler (two volumes). New York: Norton, 1999. Laqueur, Walter. Fascism, Past, Present, and Future. New York: Oxford, 1996. Papandreau, Andreas. Democracy at Gunpoint. New York: Penguin Books, 1971. Phillips, Peter. Censored 2001: 25 Years of Censored News. New York: Seven Stories. 2001. Sharp, M.E. Indonesia Beyond Suharto. Armonk, 1999. Verdugo, Patricia. Chile, Pinochet, and the Caravan of Death. Coral Gables, Florida: North-South Center Press, 2001. Yglesias, Jose. The Franco Years. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977.

Laurence Britt’s novel, June, 2004, depicts a future America dominated by right-wing extremists.

2 Comments

Filed under Rogue's Gallery, Uncategorized

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 198 other followers