Thursday, 23 October 2014

Is Singapore a Fascist State?

I found this website with 14 characteristics of a Fascist State.

And as I read them I couldn't help comparing them to Singapore, and also the bastion of democracy, USA.

This is my "report card" on the two countries:

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.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.


Final score: US 9, SG 7.

I used a very "biased"  scoring system. There may be several characteristics, and as long as one fits, it is scored.

For example, #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." 

Singapore spends quite a bit on defence, and while I agree with the need for spending on defence, I will concede that others may find it "disproportionate". However, we do not glamourise military service. Nevertheless, I scored US and SG on this.

Some are more "obvious" (at least to me).

Take #9. "Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."

I scored the US on this as there is significant evidence that political power is influenced by Capitalists and Wall Street. Now some may say this is the same in Singapore and point to the GIC, Temasek and other GLCs as evidence. Not exactly. Those are GLC - government-linked companies. It's not the same as the Koch brothers "buying" political influence.

Number 13 is a little borderline to me. Conspiracy theorists will point to the various family links of our political leaders and business leaders. Is this "rampant cronyism and corruption".  The problem is that it is hard to argue with conspiracy theorists. I'll just put it there. 
The US situation is not quite the same and again, I am not sure that I would call it "rampant cronyism and corruption", but there is a revolving door system where government regulators quit and become consultants to the "regulated" and vice versa. 

It is rather suspicious.

Number 14 is another borderline. I do not think any official charge that Singapore's or US's elections are fraudulent will stick. Nevertheless, there are attempts to disenfranchise voters in the US (Voter ID laws), and there are arguable evidence of gerrymandering (in both US and SG). So, I'd scored both countries on this point.

In researching this question, I found this:

How is America NOT a fascist state?

Naomi Wolf has just written a terrific book called "The End of America: Letter of warning to a young patriot"
She investigated fascist regimes throughout history and identified 10 things they all had in common"
1) Invoke an external and internal threat
2) Establish secret prisons
3) Develop a private, paramilitary police force
4) surveil ordinary citizens
5) Infiltrate citizens groups
6) Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
7) Target key individuals
8) Restrict the press
9) Refer to criticism as espionage, and dissent as treason
10) Subvert the rule of law
These were true of the Nazis in the 1930's down to Pinochet in Chile, and numerous others.

None of the fascist governments assumed power by force, they were democratically elected, and then used the tools of democracy to concentrate power with an elite.

So, tell me, how is the USA not a fascist state?
Update : First of all, I am an outside observer...Canadian, so those who say "get out if you don't like it" I already have (thank God...who by the way, doesn't exist...i don't live in the USA !!!)

Second...I didn't say it was, I said here is an interesting book that has found 10 things all fascist countries have in common...and it is quite clear at least 7 of them have already happened in the USA

Third, people seem to associate the term "fascist" just with the horrors of the Nazi holacaust. Sinclair Lewis once said "..when fascism reaches America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.."

I think many of the right wingers who "answered" my question prove that point.

Fourth: All those people in fascist regimes didn't realize it at the was a slow eroding away of civil rights and a gradual climated of fear....does that sound familiar to anyone. only THINK you live in a democracy. It is possible for elections to be suspended in the event of a crisis.

I present the above "question" (and answer) not as proof that the US is a Fascist State, but evidence that Fascism does not have a universally accepted "DNA" for identification. And the comparison with SG is simply to point out that if SG has some characteristics identified by some expert as being indicative of a Fascist state, for which there is no consensus as to whether these truly are indication of Fascism, but for which the USA scores higher than SG, then it is not possible to conclude definitively that SG or the US are fascist states.

Again, it is also not proof that SG is NOT a fascist state.

I submit that Fascism is on a continuum. Just as being Liberal or Conservative is also on a continuum. Or being Socialist or Capitalist. States can be more or less Fascist.

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