Fascism is characterized by three core elements: concentration of power, hyper-nationalism, and right-wing conservative political and social views. Fascists consider every domain of social order – security, economics, education, religion, and politics—as malleable in whichever direction supports the imposition of their will. Coercion is the lifeblood of fascism. Whether accomplished through overt violence or oppression of any modality, individualism—human and civil rights—are its enemy. Identity is imposed, as a reflection of the values of elite ideologues who seek power in what they view as perilous times, when social and political trends are threatening their nationalistic disposition. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were perhaps the world’s most famous fascists, but a few radical American neo-conservatives appear to be leaning toward the fascist model more and more everyday, led by Dick and daughter Liz Cheney, John Yoo, and William Kristol.
This new small group of emerging neo-fascists, might be easily dismissed as a sideshow that should be considered as little more than fodder for the entertaining rants of late night, quasi-news programs like Jon Stewart’s Daily Show except for the fact they are intelligent and highly connected to the existing political apparatus of this country with plenty of sympathetic followers in the media. In addition, they have the support of Christian nationalists (aka the Religious Right), akin to Mussolini’s relationship with the Vatican in the run-up to World War II. In short, they have a huge head start over what Hitler and Mussolini had, and like these ideological predecessors, they are rising at a time of political, social, and economic instability. We ignore or dismiss them at our peril. And, as they incite fear at every opportunity, they will no doubt gain support from the disaffected and dispossessed whose numbers are increasing at an increasing rate, and whose principal interest is to recapture their position in an ever-organic social order that appears to be selecting against them.
While the content of Dick Cheney’s legacy is being revealed slowly, concealed by a steady invocation of national security, the nature of his legacy has been cast. His incessant summons of fear, support of executive power, affinity for war, and disregard for legal rights and the rule of law are his corner posts. Recently, his daughter Liz, joined by William Kristol, in (Dick) Cheney-esque style, called for the identification of those attorneys in the Department of Justice who previously had represented Guantanamo detainees. Labeled the “al-Qaeda Seven” by Liz Cheney, she characterized them as Osama bin Laden sympathizers in an attempt to expose them reminiscent of McCarthyism in the 1950s. John Yoo is the inscrutable legal counsel who penned the rationale that twists the Constitution in favor of a unitary executive by employing abstractions of narrowly selected founding history to offer absolution to his neo-fascist brethren. As Mickey Edwards at The Atlantic characterized them, “they are statists, pure and simple, dismissive of law, dismissive of the Constitution, dismissive of freedoms. They love power, not freedom.”