Leonid Savin l
Professor of Political Science and President of the US Society for General Systems Research, Bertram Myron Gross, introduced the term “friendly fascism” in 1980. Gross applied this epithet directly to the US (see Gross B.M. Friendly fascism: the new face of power in America. — South End Press, 1980.) and predicted the emergence of a new form of totalitarian politics. This is essentially embodied in the policies of the US and a number of EU countries in recent years as the merging of the interests of corporations, large private businesses, the military-industrial complex, and political groups dominating the minds of ordinary taxpayers.
Unlike ordinary fascism, which figured among the political systems of a number of European countries in the first half of the 20th century, friendly fascism operates more subtly, using technology for indirect repression while justifying such with the need to protect human rights and civil liberties, meanwhile destroying the traditional values of society (a prime example being the legalization of homosexual marriage and the politicization of homosexual issues and other perversions).
The categories of the new fascism
Gross attributes seven main categories to this new form of fascism.
Type of power structure: the merging of big capital with the state apparatus. A new technocratic ideology arises that is expressed in a more developed art of ruling and brainwashing people.Somewhat earlier, the French philosopher Guy Debord called this new type of ruling political processes none other than the “society of the spectacle,” where real meanings are hidden behind imposed, attractive images.
The method of suppressing opposition: secret, subversive activities expressed in the manipulation of democratic mechanisms and human rights, as well as control over the activities of political parties. The Watergate scandal which led to Nixon’s resignation blatantly shows that such kind of operations was already practiced in the US much earlier, in the 1970’s.
Plus Hollywood stars, singers, athletes, and other celebrity figures aid in presenting the imposed choice (for example, Angelina Jolie’s supposedly spontaneous desire to remove her breasts, behind which stand the interests of pharmaceutical companies).
The method of eliminating undesirables: open terror with a lower level of violence through professional and low-cost military operations is combined with secret terror, or the incitement of ethnic conflicts, the search for numerous “external threats,” and the organizing of mass riots.Events in many countries in both Europe and other regions clearly demonstrate what the friendly fascism lobby can do by using Trotskyists, anarchists, ethnic separatists, migrants, and pseudo-cultural figures as allies.
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Methods of persuasion: information war, reinforced high-tech control means and surveillance, the aim of which is subordinating the consciousness of elites and immobilizing the masses. This means television, Internet technologies with social networks behind which stand the military and politicians in tandem, all kinds of surveillance systems from cameras to satellites, and fingerprinting and other means of biometric data collection which are already the norm in the EU and US. Plus Hollywood stars, singers, athletes, and other celebrity figures aid in presenting the imposed choice (for example, Angelina Jolie’s supposedly spontaneous desire to remove her breasts, behind which stand the interests of pharmaceutical companies).
Means of Promotion: gradual rewards in the form of posts and large sums of money for the elite; professional growth; expanding consumer rights for some groups of the population; a social security system for the broad masses in return for good behavior; methods usually called lobbying, social mobility, and modern reforms (although in recent years, as a rule, the interests of even the well-behaved masses are no longer considered, and repressive and manipulative apparatuses have become quite sophisticated).
Means of diverting attention in more diverse, consoling ways: sex, hallucinogenic substances, fanatic religious cults, alcoholism, gambling, sporting competitions, as well as the staging of extremely violent scenes. These have all already become the norm in Western society and been actively imposed in other regions of the world. In the Soviet Union, such methods were regarded as elements of bourgeois culture, while dissidents sang about them and demanded “bread and circuses.” After 1991, all the inhabitants of post-Soviet countries had the opportunity to personally experience these “consoling charms.”
It is necessary to note that Gross himself gave no advice as to fighting against such a form of neo-fascism and did not believe in the ideas of Marxism. In other words, he was a skeptic in relation to the planet’s future.
Type of system survivability: internal viability based on elaborate military expansion, reforms that reinforce the existing political system, multilevel co-optation of dissatisfied persons, and the political apathy of the masses. The US is a vivid example of this system with its military campaigns, although a number of EU states have in recent times distinguished themselves by a return to neocolonialism (for example, the French military operation in Mali, the use of NATO troops in Libya as well as their presence in Afghanistan and Iraq).
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It is necessary to note that Gross himself gave no advice as to fighting against such a form of neo-fascism and did not believe in the ideas of Marxism. In other words, he was a skeptic in relation to the planet’s future. Quite revealing is the fact that, while in the USSR during Perestroika, Gross rather clearly predicted what the latter would lead to, remarking that “starting with the ecstasy of Perestroika, our (Soviet) television is going to end up handcuffing the brain. The new fascism will be ‘fascism with a smile’ – lovely to look at and listen to. But this does not change its essence.” This is what subsequently happened under the usurpation of power by Boris Yeltsin and the beginning of neoliberal reforms in Russia in the early 1990’s.
In connection to this, Gross introduced yet another, the similar term: so-called dependent or subordinate fascism, which describes the US-supported regimes in El Salvador, Haiti, Argentina, Chile, South Korea, the Philippines, and other countries in the second half of the 20th century. In this regard, various activists’ statements to the effect that fascism was instituted in Ukraine under Yushchenko or Poroshenko, or in Georgia under the reign of Saakashvili, fit entirely into Gross’ logical schema with one correction: these were simultaneously subordinate and friendly fascism.
One the one hand, Kiev, and Tbilisi implicitly followed the instructions of Washington and Brussels, while on the other they spoke of a bright future, democratic reforms, the liquidation of remnants of the past, and transforming society and the state according to Western templates.
In regards to the EU and US, the emergence of friendly fascism was rather natural for these countries. Liberalism as an ideology and the Leviathan as a state holding citizens in a “war of all against all” plus imperialism in the form of armed enrichment through feeding new resources seized in other countries (the so-called Second and Third Worlds) into the mouth of capitalism – the combination of these mechanisms worked almost to the end of the 20th century until there were virtually no new markets and globalization began yielding the opposite effects (the development of technology in developing countries, migration to the industrialized countries of the Rich North). Managing these processes came to necessitate a tightening of the screws in these countries.
The EU is the second largest economy in the world after the US and also has the second largest defense budget (20% of global military spending).
Having learned from the experience of the Second World War, the new oligarchic political elite began to implement its plan through institutionalism. This is a relatively new doctrine in the field of international relations that is founded on the introduction of various institutions of “civil society” supposed to lead to changes first in certain states and then in the international system. This institutionalism was a kind of competitor with liberalism in the field of international relations. Here one can find Scholasticist-Catholic roots and rudiments of Western philosophy from the Enlightenment epoch. However, its current form manifested in the formation of the EU is neo-institutionalism, which rejects narrow interpretations of the concept of the institution and instead presents a hybrid doctrine synthesizing different approaches. In this model of international relations, politics is seen as a free market exchange and, as follows, everything that happens is done for the benefit of a certain social group to the detriment of others. In the EU, this, in fact, yielded a certain model of governance where decision-making mechanisms are left to a small group of people. For example, voting in the European Parliament is done by lists in line with a scheme prepared beforehand, and if a parliamentarian violates the rules, he is compelled to pay a fine from his salary. EU member-states have no choice in regards to economic partners abroad insofar as they are compelled to work with quotas handed down from Brussels.
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The EU is the second largest economy in the world after the US and also has the second largest defense budget (20% of global military spending). The EU’s military interventions are no less intense, as 66,000 soldiers are stationed at different bases and on combat duty around the world (even in South Asia, British military bases are located in Brunei, Nepal, the island of Diego Garcia, and the French Army has troops in Tahiti), not to mention private military companies. In addition, the EU’s friendly fascism is realized through diplomatic channels comprising around 57,000 officials from agencies dealing with foreign policy (for comparison, India, with a population of over one billion, has only 600!).
The American publication Foreign Policy has noted that the EU is a fundamentally technocratic project built on the “Monnet method” named after the French diplomat Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of integrated Europe.
The EU and US’ stances coincide on many issues related to expansionism (the form of subordinate fascism), a fact which has been confirmed by statistical data research. For example, according to one of the leading analytical centers for Transatlantic policy, the German Marshall Fund, 49% of Americans and 48% of Europeans supported the intervention in Libya while 68% of Americans and 75% of Europeans were in favor of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
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The American publication Foreign Policy has noted that the EU is a fundamentally technocratic project built on the “Monnet method” named after the French diplomat Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of integrated Europe.It was Monnet who proposed to create a common space, not immediately, but gradually through concrete achievements – first through the Coal and Steel Community, then a common market, then a common currency, etc. This is exactly how the contemporary cartel of European oligarchs and officials works: by spreading the hegemony of friendly fascism within the EU and, gradually, step by step, imposing new laws substituting old ones and traditional institutions, establishing control over European citizens’ freedoms (justified by reasons of internal security or the threat of terrorism), and sexual perversion lobbies achieve amendments to legislation (appealing to gender equality) through the Trotskyist policy of entryism, etc.
We can also mention Jonah Goldberg’s book entitled Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.This book caused quite an uproar in the West largely because of its loud and paradoxical title, but the study overall closely follows the general line of Bertrand Gross pertaining to the threat of the emergence of a new type of totalitarian government.
Subordinate fascism does not shy away from its older brother. Integration projects and “support” initiatives are realized beyond EU and US borders for developing countries (i.e., states included in plans for further economic and social expansion as part of Euro-Atlantic policy). The Eastern Partnership project which became one of the causes of the current political crisis in Ukraine is also one of these tools initiated by Washington but promoted by the EU under the guise of promoting common values through Brussels’ “soft power.”
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We can also mention Jonah Goldberg’s book entitled Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.This book caused quite an uproar in the West largely because of its loud and paradoxical title, but the study overall closely follows the general line of Bertrand Gross pertaining to the threat of the emergence of a new type of totalitarian government. As we can see, this threat is real and more global than before, since it emanates not from a state but from corporations and shady oligarchic elites who do not stop at national borders or the risk of humanitarian disasters.
Leonid Savin is Director of the Foundation for monitoring and forecasting of development of the cultural territorial spaces; Editor-in-Chief of the “Geopoliticа.ru” internet portal; Senior Expert of the Center of Geopolitical Research (Russian think-tank established in 2000); Head of Administration of the International social movement “Eurasian Movement”, editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Eurasian Affairs” magazine issued by this NGO; Expert of the Strategic Culture Foundation.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.