Introduction: Fascism is in the news again: Islamo-fascist,
Judeo-fascist, Christo-fascist, crypto-fascist, neo-fascist. Everyone
knows fascism was terrible, therefore the word creates a strong emotional
reaction in the listener, but few still understand what fascism was, is,
or why some recent name-callers are themselves fascists. As unsupported
name-calling is no more than naked propaganda, analyzing propaganda itself
is the best place to start, and who better to start with than a past
master of the form, Adolf Hitler himself.
THE 9 PRINCIPLES OF FASCIST PROPAGANDA
1. The Big Lie - Always choose the big lie over the small; the masses
will believe it more readily.
2. Focus Use only one or at most two selling points.
3. Repeat Use them over and over until even your enemies know them by
4. Blame - Never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame - never
credit - the other side.
5. Provoke - First attract attention, then appeal to emotions.
6. Crisis - Shades of gray don't work: The issues must be black and
white: love/hate, good/evil, life/death.
7. Emotional Symbols - Good slogans have no literal meaning, only a
strong emotional appeal.
8. Pander - Ignore intellectuals and reasonable arguments; target the
unthinking masses with powerful emotional pitches.
9. No Limits Ignore all moral limits when you believe stakes are
In the eighteen months since I happened upon these principles -- extracted
and interpolated from Hitler's
Kampf," written while he was in prison in 1925 -- every significant
Republican statement I have heard or read uses one, two, three or all of
them. The longer the statement, the greater the number of principles used.
These principles are not printed on the first page of the Republican Party's
campaign playbook. Nonetheless, Karl Rove, campaign Kommandant, and Frank
Luntz, chief propagandist of the GOP, know them all implicitly and use them
to great effect.
Copy these principles and keep them at hand. These principles will help you
dissect their statements and learn exactly which emotional buttons they are
pushing. Understanding their tactics of emotional manipulation is the first
step towards comprehending how sinister these people are and toward
defending yourself against their ubiquitous attacks.
WHY ARE THESE PROPAGANDA PRINCIPLES FASCIST?
These nine principles were Hitler's personal recipe for propaganda success.
It's easy to see why so many Americans have bought into the repetitive,
unwavering, anti-intellectual, blunt emotional message, as well as the
blatant lies, provocations and fear-mongering during seven years since Bush
appeared on the national scene, despite the ever-mounting evidence of the
numerous, costly and dangerous failures and machinations of the Bush
Bushspeak is propaganda: pure, simple, powerful, unremitting and,
unfortunately for America, very successful. Pre-fascist Germany was one of
the most literate, philosophical, cultured, and intellectual nations on the
planet, yet these principles worked there with stunning success, sparking
the greatest social catastrophe to date in human history.
Here are some excerpts from "Mein Kampf," followed by examples of how
Republicans have used these 9 principles of propaganda in recent years. You
will undoubtedly think of many more examples.
1. The Big Lie. Always choose the big lie over the small; the masses
will believe it more readily. This principle is based upon the
"All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual
level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is
addressed to." - Chap 6 - Ibid. - Par 25
"The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence
is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of
these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points
and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public
understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. Ibid. - Par 29
"…the rabid, impudent bias and persistence with which [the big] lie was
expressed took into account the emotional, always extreme, attitude of the
great masses and for this reason was believed. Ibid. - Par 46
Now compare the previous with the following: "You
can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you have
to concentrate on." (G.W. Bush 2001 Washington D.C. Gridiron Dinner
Because everyone tells small lies, they more easily recognize them.
Most people are too afraid to tell big lies, so we are less apt to doubt
them. This makes us psychologically unequipped to cope with our leaders'
enormous lies. We swallow lies that cause wars, destroy lives, ruin nations,
alienate the world and run up trillions in debt, yet choke on minor
peccadilloes. "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."
Here are a few recent lies that people still believe: Iraq attacked us; our
economy is healthy; we desperately need ANWAR oil; Venezuela is our enemy;
Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and we found them; Saddam was
in league with Osama bin Laden and al Qaida, Saddam's sons fed people into
wood chippers; Bush's "war on terror" has made us safer; we desperately need
tax relief; God loves us and hates them; John Kerry lied about his Vietnam
service; liberals hate Jesus and are damned; "They" hate us for our
freedoms; there is no civil war in Iraq.
2. Focus.Use only one or at most two selling points.
"When there is a change, it must not alter the content
of what the propaganda is driving at, but in the end must always say the
same thing." (Mein Kampf - Par 53).
Bush has the same one or two responses to all questions and
his responses are often completely unrelated to the question. Even
when initially relevant, they immediately morph back to that week's official
talking points. By prohibiting follow-up questions, Bush easily avoids
having to concoct pertinent and truthful answers.
3. Repeat. Use the selling points over and over until even your
enemies know them by heart.
"Propaganda must confine itself to a few points and
repeat them over and over." (Ibid. - Par 50).
Bush is always "on message", as was noted as early as the
2000 primary campaign. Other voices, Administration, GOP and corporate
media, echo the points. Karl Rove well earns his pay with his thorough
organization of this deluge of toxic propaganda.
4. Blame. Never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame - never
credit - the other side.
"…unloads every bit of blame on his adversary." Ibid. -
"…made no half statements that might have given rise too doubts." Ibid-Par
The Iraq war was right, still is, always will be. Everyone
else is wrong. We'll go it alone if need be because we're right. We
stick to our "core" values, never flip-flop (aka integrate new information
into previous decisions). Bush is "morality" and "family values"
personified. Bush still claims to believe invading Iraq was a good idea:
[paraphrase] "Would you rather have Saddam still there, threatening us with
the WMD's he had the potential to build Huh, wudja, huh"?
5. Provoke. First attract attention, then appeal to emotions.
"The art of propaganda lies in understanding the
emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically
correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the
broad masses." Ibid. - Par 27
"But the masses are slow moving, and they always require a certain time
before they are ready even to notice a thing, and only after the simplest
ideas are repeated thousands of times will the masses finally remember
them." Ibid. - Par 52
Now consider the following: Loud, repetitive unrelenting
emotional appeals; aborted fetuses; dead soldiers; insane enemies who hate
our freedoms; nuclear clouds; liberals want to kill Christmas.
6. Crisis. Shades of gray don't work: issues must be love/hate,
"It does not have multiple shadings; it has a positive
and a negative; love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie never half this
way and half that way, never partially, or that kind of thing." Ibid. -
"At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have
fundamentally different views on national security. Republicans have a
post-9/11 worldview - and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview…... it
does make them wrong - deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong. Karl
Essence of Republican National Committee points:
Conservative Godliness vs. sinful liberality; national survival vs. armies
of insane suicidal bombers; us vs. "them"; life or death struggle; good vs.
evil; God's Saved vs. Satan's hordes; "You are either with us or against
7. Emotional Symbols. Good slogans have no literal meaning, only a
strong emotional appeal.
"…a slogan must be presented from different angles, but
the end of all remarks must always and immutably be the slogan itself."
Mein Kampf - Par 53
"Ignorance is strength. Freedom is slavery. War is peace."
(George Orwell - 1984)
The most effective slogans have no real meaning whatsoever,
only a strong and immediate emotional impact. Phrases such as "stay the
course," "cut and run," "support the troops," "family values,"
"compassionate conservatism" or "pro-life" have the desired emotional
impact, yet no certain meaning.
Bush's most successful therefore most meaningless slogan is "War on Terror."
When 9/11 occurred, the initial phrases were "war on terrorists" and "war on
terrorism", but those were quickly replaced by the now omnipresent "war on
terror." Terrorists can be hunted down; terrorism can be combated; terror
itself is an emotion, existing only within the human heart, and can never be
extinguished. Terror begets terror. By declaring "war on terror", we have
created a self-sustaining and perpetual war on ourselves. This perpetual
state of terror, the mind-set that creates a "fog of war" and short-circuits
our ability to act rationally, is exactly what the Republicans yearned for
and exactly what they have achieved. Everyone, of any political persuasion,
who uses this phrase, knowingly or unknowingly, is an infected carrier
spreading the disease of fascist propaganda.
8. Pander. Ignore intellectuals and reasonable arguments; target the
unthinking masses with powerful emotional pitches.
"It must be addressed always and exclusively to the
masses." Mein Kampf - Par 20
"the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the
masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the
soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign." Ibid. - Par 26
"…limited to a few points, devised exclusively for the masses,
carried on with indefatigable persistence." Ibid. - Par 56
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president
represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some
great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their
heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright
moron." -- H.L. Mencken, 1920.
This was Hitler's most persistent point. Karl Rove's
acolytes have adhered to it admirably. Bush's folksy, common, "guy you'd
have a beer with" charm fits this principle hand-in-glove. Whether or not
Bush actually is the blithering idiot he appears to be, his
anti-intellectual, "gut-reaction" persona has vast appeal to many, no matter
how disastrously dangerous his actions.
And don't forget about: "Latte-drinking, sushi-eating, eggheads";
"God-hating intellectuals"; "God is in the White House"; "They" are all
evil-doers; "Moral Values" guide our every move.
9. No Limits. Ignore all moral limits when you believe stakes are
"At first the claims of the propaganda were so impudent
that people thought it insane; later, it got on people's nerves; and in
the end, it was believed." Mein Kampf - Par 56
"…that this…weapon can succeed only if it is applied on
a tremendous scale, but that success amply covers all costs." Ibid. - Par
That you are perceived as willing to do anything to advance
your cause is sufficient emotional proof to the masses of the righteousness
of your cause. Some examples are: We kill them by the hundreds of thousands
because they force us to, we depend on false information because we're on
the brink of annihilation; we lie to you because it's in your best interest;
we spy on you to protect you; we jail you indefinitely to keep you free; we
kill you to save you.
If people become aware that these time-tested principles of propaganda - the
same used so successfully by the Nazis - are being used on them, can they
steel their minds and hearts against this insidious menace? I don't know.
But we'd better start finding out before we complete our slide into some new
and unique form of American-brand fascism.
AN AMERICAN BRAND OF FASCISM?
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a
lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." - G.W. Bush, 12/18/02 (Sort
of reminds one of Bush's recent: "I am the Decider.")
"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I
do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing
about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they
say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." --
Quoted by Bob Woodward in "Bush at War"
But this is not "the American way." As Theodore Roosevelt
said: "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand
by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in
which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him
insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to
oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in
his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to
tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote "It Can't Happen Here". In this novel, he gave
an imaginative description of a Christian Fascist takeover of America. These
days, it seems frighteningly prescient. I highly recommend the book.
When people hear the word "fascism," they mistakenly think back seventy
years to the Fascist systems of Germany and Italy. Brown and black shirts.
Stiff armed salutes, perpetual repetitions of "Mein Fuehrer!", swastikas,
goose-stepping storm troopers. Every nation, if it became Fascist, will
express it in its own unique fashion. We may never have a "Kristallnacht".
No torchlight parades in the stadium. No "pounding of the blood". No "master
race." No death camps filled with Jews and Gypsies. We will have our own
expression, our own style, our own methods. Because our situation today
differs significantly from those in Germany and Italy between the world
wars, it is more accurate to use the term Neo-Fascism in order to highlight
the fact that we are in a new and perhaps more perilous time.
<b >FOLLOW THE DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS
Webster's Dictionary gives the following characteristics for fascism:
A system of government characterized by: rigid one-party dictatorship,
forcible suppression of all opposition (unions, other-especially
leftist-parties, minorities, etc.), private ownership of the means of
production under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism
and racism, glorification of war.
Our current Republican Neo-Fascist US government and economy now contains
all of these elements, but none of the elements are exactly like they were
70 years ago. Here are a few of the symptoms. Again, I am sure you can
list many more.
1. One-Party Dictatorship. Although many disagreed, in 2004 Ralph
Nader argued at every opportunity that the Democratic and Republican parties
are now two sides of the same coin, controlled by the same people, with no
significant difference between them. The same people - by and large - fund
both parties. As "Deep Throat' said (remember Watergate?), "Follow The
Money". But….the GOP now controls the White House, House of Representatives,
the Senate, about 75% of state governors and state legislative bodies; our
Supreme Court, the final law of our land, has an increasingly strong
conservative bias. The Neo-Fascists' control is not yet absolute, but close.
With Tom DeLay's "little black book" of political donors, bribery and
corruption became openly institutionalized and freely practiced.
2. Suppression of Opposition. Our freedoms are rapidly vanishing.
Almost daily we learn of some new governmental domestic spying operation.
Nothing is sacred anymore save our governmentally mandated responsibility to
hate and fear the enemies the Neo-fascists appoint for us. The Bush
Administration couldn't even be bothered to request warrants for domestic
wiretaps when only four out of
over 5,200 applications more than 99.9%% - were approved, such approval
available by phone within a few hours, with backup documentation to follow.
This is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Union power has been in significant retreat for decades. While unions
contribute significant money to Democrats, their membership often votes GOP
despite the fact that they thereby cut their own economic throats. Our
airwaves notably Fox "News", Clear Channel radio and Sinclair Broadcasting
- are filled with hate, libel and jingoism. Hate and war-mongering has even
invaded our Sunday religious services, as churches eager for free,
no-need-to-account-for-this,, money for "faith based initiatives" pander to
the Republican line.
The Republicans worked hard for over 40 years to make the word "liberal"
inspire the same knee-jerk, irrational and emotional fear and loathing that
"Commie" did in the early 1950's. On Jan. 10, 2005,
editorial by Neo-Fascist David Horowitz appeared in the Los Angeles
Times which virtually branded all liberals as traitors that should be
arrested and tried. "Whatever the outcome of the [Attorney Lynne E.] Stewart
trial, the larger trial of the left a trial that will one day pronounce a
verdict on its loyalties and its integrity will go on." There is no Liberal
Party, so its membership cannot be hauled off to hard labor camps. The right
wing has skillfully stripped "Liberal" of its original meaning. Now it means
whatever disgusting, hateful, satanic thing the Neo-Fascists want it to
mean. It could mean you.
3. Government & Industry Control. We have this situation right now,
but the nexus of power is different from that in Nazi Germany, where
government control of industry was the rule. In the USA, it's reversed, with
the industrial magnates running the government to their own liking; not the
other way around. In 1960, shortly before leaving office, President
Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. That particular mutual
relationship is now far more solidified. But now the energy and media
companies have consolidated from many thousands into a very few companies.
They deliver money and voters to the GOP and the government gives back to
them whatever they ask for, whenever they ask for it.
4. Nationalism & Racism. Our belligerent nationalism is so obvious
that only the ethically blind cannot see it. Our racism is more subtle,
unless of course you happen to be black; then it's obvious as well. We
have demonized Muslims, beginning with Bush's Freudian slip "crusade". Many
Americans now believe that all Muslims want to murder us all. Meanwhile
Muslim-looking people such as Sikhs from India have been murdered here. Even
Jews aren't safe because, as Jerry Falwell, self-described Christian,
stated, "God doesn't hear the prayers of Jews."
5. Glorification of War. As did Germany and Italy in the 1930's, we
glorify war. Soldiers are lionized (while benefits and medical care are
slashed.) People cry "Support our Troops!", yet such support consists of
yellow ribbons on car bumpers, shopping, and watching them die in pointless
conflicts. To support our soldiers, we must support whatever the government
says. Otherwise we're "anti-American." The great mass of Americans as were
the Germans and Italians under fascism - have been propagandized to believe:
we can do no wrong, war is justified, we have overwhelmingly superior
military strength, and God is on our side. One dead American, is worth fifty
dead of anyone else (approximately the current ratio in Iraq).
IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE?
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does
oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains
seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware
of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the
darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
If you're read this far, you will not be surprised to learn
that it not only can happen here, but that the job is almost complete. Act
now, before it's too late. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free." John 8:32
for different yet complementary views on fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt and
Chuck Almdale describes himself as a writer, retired
accountant, a lifelong student of psychology, religion, politics and natural
history, and strongly repelled by fascism in all its forms.<-i