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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:54 PM

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair

How prophetic about the right wing, including the religious right, Minnesota-born Nobel-prize-for-literature-winning author and playwright Sinclair Lewis was. He knew his onions, as the saying goes, or in this case human nature and behavior, specifically conservatives, and he apparently had shrewdly observed early on the same symptoms that were later correlated as right wing authoritarian syndrome. The term really became well known during his lifetime, born in 1885 in Sauk Centre, MN to 1951 when he died in Italy; so he used it from direct observation of fascism in his lifetime.

Because when one hears the word fascism or sees it used, it usually refers to a coercive, authoritarian, conformity requiring entity or part of the political spectrum.

As the right becomes increasingly desperate in the face of losses and failures, it is reasonable to expect they will continue to double down on the same causes of that failure, or retreat into greater extremism. The lack the capacity to adapt, modernize, or change. Change terrifies them, and they seek consolation and comfort in ideology no matter how badly failed, like their economic policies, by ignoring the reality of that failure.

A tip of the hat and a thank you to my co-blogger on penigma, Laci for permission to cross post part of this from his own blog. It is eerily appropriate to some of our contemporary events :

By Lawrence W Britt, NOT Dr. Lawrence Britt - there is no such person as Dr. Britt; the author has no such academic credential. Lawrence Britt is a former corporate executive who wrote a dystopian novel back in 1998, set in the mid 2000's. The following is however from an email that widely circulated from this interview originally appearing in July, 2004. That does not change that Britt appears to have quite correctly identified themes or characteristics common to fascism. While I'm still trying to confirm that the obit I found is for the same person, not someone who shares a name, if correct, Britt was born in 1939 and died in 2010, which would have given him at least some overlap in time with Sinclair Lewis during the rise and fall of fascism during WW II. The following is not Sinclair Lewis Nobel prize winning literature, but it is still shrewd observation from lowly chain emails.

Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

read the rest here:

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Reply "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair (Original post)
Dog Gone at Penigma Jan 2013 OP
craigmatic Jan 2013 #1
Jeff In Milwaukee Jan 2013 #2
Dog Gone at Penigma Jan 2013 #4
Manifestor_of_Light Jan 2013 #3
Dog Gone at Penigma Jan 2013 #5
Dog Gone at Penigma Jan 2013 #6

Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:24 PM

1. That's a very compelling piece but is there a difference between fascists and just plan old


reactionaries? If not then I'd say that the republicans are fascists. I don't see the military as being glamorized because they are kind of used and ignored once they get back here injured although they gets tons of perks. Also, if bush was a fascist regime are we back on the path of democracy since Obama won?

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Response to craigmatic (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:42 PM

2. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The BIG question is...

why don't people read Sinclair Lewis anymore? Dude won the friggin' Nobel Prize for Literature. Virtually every other Nobel Laureate (who wrote in English) are still read today -- and some who are available in translation also get attention. But Lewis? He can't get arrested in most literature courses these days.

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Response to craigmatic (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:23 PM

4. Take a look at some of the right wing exploitation of the military

Yes, they use and discard them in practice.

But they idealize themselves as pro-military, even though that couldn't be further from the truth.

I don't know how far back from the extreme right we have come. The whole entirety of our political spectrum was hi-jacked to the right for a long time. It will take a lot more than the election/re-election of Obama to swing us back to the middle, to the path of democracy.

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:40 AM

3. Huey Long said the same thing.

Fascism will come to America under the guise of patriotism.

My dad told me that one when I was a kid.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:24 PM

5. I know the phrase has been around for a long time - Lewis was born in the 19th century after all.

But do you have any citation for Huey Long using it?

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 11:45 AM

6. I looked further into the Sinclair Lewis/Huey Long attribution

It seems a bit iffy in that form for either person - although consistent with / similar to other things they said.

I did find these quotes though, under Talk Sinclair Lewis, on wikiquotes

From It Can't Happen Here: "But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."

From Gideon Planish: "I just wish people wouldn't quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls."

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