Among the lies and hypocrisies which characterize media reportage on NATO’s aggression against Serbia is the absurd notion that NATO is somehow "fighting fascism". Ironically, the exact opposite turns out to be true.
Fascism wears many faces – not all of which involve stormtroopers and racial paranoia – and fascism wasn’t always in such disfavor as it is today. Many in the US and Britain, especially among industrialists, openly welcomed the "order" brought by Hitler and Mussolini, and fascist governments have been supported by the US throughout the Third World in the postwar era. The history of fascism – and its role in preserving capitalist domination – provides an omionous perspective on NATO’s actions in the Balkans.
Someone wrote to me that the important question about fascism is "How could anyone fall for it?". I suggest rather the question for our time is: "How can you recognize facism when it pretends to be something else?".
Fascism was, to begin at the beginning, an invention of capitalism, or shall we say, it was a collective invention of prominent Western industrialists and officials.
Hitler was originally recruited by German military intelligence to infiltrate a socialist labor party, which he eventually tranformed into the Nazi party. Hitler and Mussolini were financed, encouraged, and supported (mostly covertly) by Western industrialists, and Western governments, for the express purpose of suppressing grass-roots democratic forces (labor, socialist, communist, and anarchist movements) which were seeking to overcome capitalist domination.(1,2)
I looked up some Readers Digest articles from the thirties, just to sample the media party line of the day. I found an interview with two young Germans, one male one female, in which they explained all about the shiny new Germany, the virtues of eugenics, and about how Jews were like a cancer that had to be rooted out, even if unfortunate human suffering might be necessary. The article was a sympathetic one, not a crtique.
Hitler’s Mein Kampf, written by Hitler while he kept a picture of Henry Ford on his desk, and whose main agenda is the subjugation of Russia, was on the public record. The extensive US investments and technology transfers to Nazi Germany contributed significantly to Germany’s ability to eventually invade Russia, the avowed enemy of the capitalist system. General Motors and Ford (along with other US firms) operated manufacturing plants in Germany both before and throughout the war. The bombers which blitzed England were built in a General Motors plant.
After the war, Allen Dulles made it his mission to see that no US firm was punished for collaboration with the Nazis. In fact, far from denying their collaboration, General Motors and Ford demanded and received something like $30 million in compensation from the US government for damage to their plants from Allied bombing. More recently, when these facts reached public light, they were again not disputed – instead Ford and GM offered the excuse that their "subsidiaries were outside their control". This is all conclusively documented, and references are supplied at the end of this article.(1,2,3,4)
The US and Britain withheld their invasion of Europe until Russia began to turn the tide against the Nazis. Only then did Allied troops land in Italy and Normandy. This timing, along with other evidence, indicates a strategy aimed at limiting the western advance of Russian forces, more than a strategy of defeating Nazism as quickly as possible.(5,15) In fact Truman said outright:
If we see that Germany is winning we should help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible . . .
– Harry S. Truman, 1941 (I believe the original source was a local newspaper in Independence, Mo.)
The use of fascist governments by the West to suppress local democracy was not abandoned after WW II, despite propaganda rhetoric about "free-world" democratization. Throughout the Third World, by means primarily of covert and military US interventions, fascist military dictatorships were installed in order to suppress local populations and facilitate exploitive capitalist operations.(11,12,13,15)
Racism and nationalism were both characteristic of German Nazism, but neither is characteristic of fascism in general. Racism and nationalism sold well in thirties Germany; in Mussolini’s Italy the packaging involved a romantic revival of the Roman Empire; the packaging was different again in Franco’s Spain, the Shah’s Iran, Pinochet’s Chile, and Marcos’ Phillipines.
What characterizes fascism in all cases is police-state suppression of the population, and the delegation of economic operations to capitalist interests.
Mussolini was explicit about the relationship between fascism and capitalism, and took pride in the fact that he "got the trains running on time". Pinochet’s first action in office was to restore the operations of the transnationals in Chile. Hitler was less explicit about the association, given the pseudo-socialist component of Goebbel’s propaganda line, but it was Herr Krupp who was made Oberfuhrer of Industry for all Third Reich territories, and the majority of concentration camps were run as corporate slave-labor operations rather than as death camps per se. Krupp had to argue this point with Hitler, finally convincing him that it made more sense to work Jews to death rather than "wasting" them by killing them outright.(3)
Fascism is thus not a phenomenon which can be usefully studied in terms of the isolated national context, and certainly not in terms of the psychology of individual leaders. Power-mad leaders, charismatic or merely ruthless, can always be recruited – you only need one per target country. And any nation, if subjected to sufficient externally-driven destablization, can fall prey to fascism. How and why fascism arises can only be understood from the larger perspective – in the context of capitalist strategies to maintain global dominance.
Fascism is only one of many such strategies. Liberal pseudo-democracy is the strategy employed in the West, and in some third world countries (eg, Phillipines) when the oppressiveness of the fascist strategy threatens to bring about an autonomous, locally initiated, change of regime.
Theocracies (eg Iran) are another of the strategies. The Shah had faithfully played the fascist role, and when a popular rebellion threatened to bring in an autonomous local regime – most likely labor-socialist and non-aligned – the Ayatolla was dusted off in his Paris sanctuary, transformed by the global corporate media into a manufactured "peoples’ choice", and installed by the US, France, and Britain just-in-time to prevent local autonomy of an unapproved variety.
Western rhetoric pretended to be disappointed when the Ayatolla turned out to be a tyrant, but in fact he serves Western interests perfectly, both as "someone to hate" – justifying military expenditures and all sorts of anti-Bill Of Rights, "anti-terrorist" legislation – and as a general destabilizing force in the Arab world. Fear of Arab solidarity has been a central driving force in Western Mideast policy since at least the end of WW I.
Destabilization and regional devololution is another general strategy for global capitalist dominance. In this case, the goal is to break a region down into smaller, more manageable chunks, as in Russia and Eastern Europe.
US/NATO policy in Yugoslavia, or in Iraq, it seems to me, must be examined primarily in terms of the strategies revealed.
The "threat" posed by Iraq was to become a model of Arab modernization – a model based on the reinvestment of oil profits to build a modern national infrastructure. Such a modernization model is contrary to the Western model for managing the Mideast, which seeks to keep the oil-producing states in a permanent state of medievalism. This is why Kuwait was encouraged to engage in provocative oil dumping, and why the US tricked Saddam into invading Kuwait.
That sequence of orchestrated events provided the pretext for the US military to go in and destroy Iraq’s "unapproved" national infrastructure. The fact that Saddam is a dictator was of no strategic significance, except for its propaganda value. All the oil-producing states are dictatorships, mostly installed by the West, and any pretense that Saddam’s style of government was a reason for Desert Storm is transparent hypocrisy. Protection of the Kurds was revealed as equally transparent hypocricy when the US invited Turkey to bomb the same Kurds which Saddam had threatened – but who had in the meantime been magically transformed by the corporate media, ala Orwell, into "terrorists".
In Yugloslavia, the strategy obviously being deployed is that of destablization and devolution. Local fascism has little strategic relevance to the situation – and most certainly US/NATO policy has never been organized around any intent to promote human rights in the region. By encouraging the fragmentation of Yugoslavia, by secretly providing arms to militant factions, and by preventing any useful attempts at negotiation or mediation, Western policies have led inevitably and predictably to what is being called, at the level of individual episodes, "ethnic cleansing".
In fact ehnic cleansing, at the macro level, is the precise aim of Western policy: the creation of several mini-nations, each of which has its own ethnic identity, and each of which is in conflict with its neighbors. This is a textbook example of Samuel P. Huntington’s "Clash of Civilizations" model for global capitalist domination.(16)
You may recall Dr. Huntington – he’s the one who wrote the infamous "Crisis of Democracy" essay in 1973 which proclaimed that "something must be done" to reduce the "excess" democracy that had arisen in the sixties. His earlier words helped pave the way for Reagan-Thatcher reactionism, and his later words are now hearlding a shift in the global regime – to something the right-wingers like to call the "New World Order", and which, as will become clear below, could as well be called Global Fascism. More about that in a moment.
If one or the other local governments in the Balkans happens to be fascist, that has little relevance to Western policy. If any government there deserves to be painted with the fascist brush, Croatia would certainly be high on the list – and Croatia is being treated as a friendly ally by the West. It was Croatia which took the fascist side in WW II, and I recall reading a year or two back about a soccer match which was delayed so the Croatian fans could finish their enthusiastic round of Nazi songs. I’m not trying to shift any finger of blame from Serbia to Croatia – they are both ultimately victims in this scenario – I’m rather making the point that local fascism isn’t strategically relevant to the situation. The more relevant strategic factors, I suggest, are –
(1) regional destabilization
(2) framentation along Huntington’s "civilization boundaries"
(3) most of all – the establishment by de facto precedent of an end to territorial national sovereignty and its replacement by a pseudo-legitimized, capitalist-controlled, corporate-media celebrated, global military regime.
Thus, as we look deeper, fascism is indeed of primary relevance to what’s going on in the Balkans – but at the global level, not the national.
At the national level, the hallmarks of fascism are police-suppression of populations and the delegation of economic affairs to capitalist interests.
At the global level, the US/NATO hi-tech military machine serves to suppress whole national populations at a time, in order that economic affairs can be more conveniently managed by global capitalism.
Far from promoting human rights and fighting fascism, the US/NATO actions amount to the consolidation of a global fascist regime – the military arm of globalization – the muscle that makes real the global sovereignty of those institutions which manage the global economy on behalf of their TNC constituency – the WTO, IMF, World Bank, OECD, WIPO, ad nauseum acronymium.
Human rights and human welfare, as we can see evidenced throughout the Third World, are of no concern to global capitalism. In the calculus of transnational "market forces", as interpreted by the almighty IMF, maximizing TNC profits is the only goal. Human welfare and human rights are not to interfere, even if that means mass starvation, which is precisely what it does mean.(17,18,19)
There’s one more of capitalism’s oft-used strategies which deserves mention in this regard, and that is genocide. In North America, Australia, and South Africa, to name three examples from the nineteenth century, wholesale genocide against indigenous peoples was the method used to clear the land for expansion of the capitalist system. It seems that some cultures don’t domesticate well, from a capitalist perspective, and outright genocide is necessary to free up the land and resources being "wasted" by people who live "outside the cash economy". Local self-sufficiency is anathema to capitalism, as is economic sustainability. Both are fundamentally incompatible with what capitalism calls economic growth and development.
Sub-Sahara Africa is today’s version of "Injun Territory" – a vast land occupied by semi-indigenous economies and peoples which aren’t particularly productive from the perspective of global capitalism. Against the American "Injuns" the weapons were the US Cavalry, the destruction of the Bison herds, and media demonization of "savage heathens"; against the people of Sub-Sahara Africa the weapons are covertly-sponsored civil wars, the destruction of economies via IMF diktats, and media attribution of the genocidal civil wars to "primitive tribalism". The predictable consequence, now as in the US Old West, is publicly tolerated genocide on a continental scale.(17)
Of all the human rights – as enumerated by documents such as the US Delaration of Independence or the UN Delcaration of Human Rights – the one least respected of all by global capitalism is that of democratic self determination. Local autonomy, democratic or otherwise, is the ultimate deadly sin in the eyes of global capitalism. The mechanisms for preventing local autonomy, and for selling the prevention process to Western populations, have been steadily refined over at least the past three centuries, and are recently enjoing an unfortunate renaissance of demonic inventiveness – from free-trade treaties, to NATO blitzkrieg, to state-of-the-art wag-the-dog journalism.
Respectfully Yours, Richard K. Moore, Wexford, Ireland is a former software developer, lived in Ireland where is writing a book on globalization and moderates cyberjournal (http://cyberjournal.org) Copyright 1999 by Richard K. Moore, All Rights Reserved.
(Please accept my apologies for not having at hand names of current publishers and other details for some of these references)
(1) George Seldes, "Facts and Fascism".
(2) James Pool, "Who Financed Hitler", 1978, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, New York.
(3) William Manchester, "The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968".
(4) Charles Higham, "Trading with the Enemy".
(5) Holly Sklar, ed, "Trilateralism", 1980, South End Press, Boston.
(6) Zinn, Howard, "A Peoples History of the United States", 1980, Harper & Row, New York.
(7) William Greider, "Who Will Tell the People, the Betrayal of American Democracy", 1992, Touchstone Press, Simon & Schuster, New York.
(8) Lederer, William J, "A Nation of Sheep", 1962, Fawcett World Library, Crest Books, New York.
(9) Michael Parenti, "Inventing Reality", 1993, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
(10) Parenti, "Make-Believe Media – The Politics of Entertainment", 1992, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
(11) Parenti, "The Sword and the Dollar – Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race", 1989, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
(12) William Blum, "Killing Hope, U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", 1995, Common Courage Press, Monroe Maine.
(13) John Stockwell, "In Search of Enemies – A CIA Story".
(14) David Horowitz, editor, "Containment and Revolution", Beacon Press, Boston, 1967,
(15) John Bagguley, "The World War and the Cold War".
(16) Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order", 1997, Simon and Schuster.
(17) Michel Chossudovsky, "The Globalization of Poverty", 1997, Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia.
(18) Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, ed, "The Case Against the Global Economy, and For a Turn Toward the Local", 1996, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.
(19) Frances More Lappé, "World Hunger, Twelve Myths", 1986, Grove Press, New York.
Shoup and Minter: Imperial Brain Trust Bertram Gross: Friendly Fascism
Covert Action Quarterly
Christopher Simpson: The Splendid Blond Beast (US postwar use of fascist assets in Europe) Among the lies and hypocrisies which characterize media reportage on NATO’s aggression against Serbia is the absurd notion that NATO is somehow "fighting fascism". Ironically, the exact opposite turns out to be the case.