Fascism

Henry Gray (the original anatomist, not the TV show) notes that “fascia” is Latin for “bandage”, a simple fact that conveys the helpful image. Like bandage, fascia wraps around, covers, protects, and binds.

Your friendly local etymologist must take issue with this statement. Fascia, as every good student of the Roman Empire knows, does have the overt meaning of bandage or streak of cloud, but it comes from fasces meaning ‘bundle’. A bundle of sticks – faggot – derives from this, as does the bundle of reeds called a basket.

The fasces in Roman life comes from a story in which three sons were fighting over a putative inheritance, and their father, discovering them, showed how one stick could be broken easily, but a bundle of sticks could not – and so,in this Aesopian way, urged them to band together. This story led to the fasces, a bundle of sticks tied together with an ax handle in the middle and the ax blade sticking out of the top. This was supposed to symbolize the united and powerful nature of the ‘bundled’ Roman empire, and one of these things followed the emperor everywhere for some time.

There was even one on our money – the mercury dime had a fasces on the ‘tails’ side, but the rise of modern Fascism led us to the Roosevelt dime without such an imperial symbol.

Mussolini, determined to resurrect this power of the Roman empire, had a simple idea: the power of government ‘bundled’ hand in hand with dominant corporate interests. That’s what fascism is – government working together with large corporations. Bush’s idea is simple: get the telecom companies to help out with the fight against terrorism. The bundling together of the U.S. government with information companies is, in fact, a very powerful control mechanism, and the legislating of immunity for those companies that helped the government by disclosing our information is a very fascist act.

Who cares?  Any good citizen would say “I have nothing to hide”, and besides this is protecting us from terrorism.  In fact, dear friend, Bush and his government have plenty of tools to stop terrorism, and do not need this extra power.  Every tyrant uses an external threat to scare their people into giving up their rights.  And every time it works, because it is just the thin edge of a wedge that gets wider and deeper each increment it is driven in, until we no longer live in a land of laws.

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”  “Those who give up their freedom for security deserve neither.” “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants.”  The words of the founding fathers still speak to us across the centuries.
Will Congress go along with this new bid for fascism?  Remember, Eisenhower only at the last minute left ‘Congress’ out of of the ‘Military-Industrial’ complex he warned us about in his outgoing speech. Congress is an essential part of the deal, and it leads to a fascist handshake between the profiteering of the large corporations and the continued power to entrenched interests in the government. 50 years after Ike left, and our current president wants telecoms legally protected from laws they broke in helping the government spy on Americans (though he even equivocates as to whether they did help), and our vice-president is openly an arms dealer.

I don’t know enough about the current situation to know whether Verizon and AT&T should get a pass on this one. But I do know that we are turning feudal, with democracy meaning less and less – despite the fun of this year’s election – as the real fiefdoms and vassals and serfs are not determined by the political realities but by the transnational corporate needs.

We are getting used to the hologram of democracy, because the reality is disappearing gradually as we speak. I still like the old bumper sticker: “It’ll be a great day when schools have all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to build a new bomber.”

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