February 7, 2013
While many concerned Americans express their worries regarding the direction of the country by repeating the tired warnings of “creeping” Fascism, the reality is that predictions of our dissolve into total tyranny are no longer appropriate. This is because what once was “creeping” has finally reached its destination. Now, it is only beginning to show itself more and more openly.
|Anthony Freda Art
In all honesty, when one wishes to begin a conversation regarding Fascist elements in the United States, it would be hard to know where to start, given the developments that have accelerated since 9/11, each Presidential election, and, indeed, every passing year.
Yet, while many Americans, brainwashed by years of television and intellectual obsolescence, expect Fascism to rush in riding waves of tanks, parading soldiers, and dictators on megaphones, the fact is that Fascism has arrived in a slightly less advertised form.
However, while it may not have arrived in the United States in the way that Americans believed it might, there are at least two developments that have indeed followed the traditional track of the Fascism that emerged in Europe during the 1930s.
One of these forms was recently detailed by Susanne Posel of Occupy Corporatism in her article “DHS Are Militarizing Local Police to Create Federalized Law Enforcement Agencies,” where she discusses the ongoing agenda of consolidating and merging local and state police forces into one all-encompassing national police force structure.
In this regard, much of the consolidation agenda is being accomplished by virtue of private security firms, a topic which I have been forced to cover for similar reasons in the past.
In her article, Posel begins by mentioning the 2011 consolidation of police forces in Utah where an entirely new agency, the Unified Police Department (UPD) in the Salt Lake City area, was created. She writes that the UPD merged various jurisdictions and municipalities that were previously under the purview of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department and placed all of these jurisdictions under the authority of the UPD. Very soon after, Posel claims, the UPD became the standard for other police departments across the country.
Utah is by no means the only state with a private police force problem. States such as Florida, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, and Massachusetts, have either replaced or attempted to replace local police departments with private security firms in at least some capacity over the last two decades.
Many may remember the case of Hardin, Montana which was essentially occupied by American Police Force, a private security firm that paraded itself around town as Hardin’s police force in 2009.
In 2012, Delaware introduced legislation that would have removed the power of the Sheriff and stripped the deputies and Sheriff Departments of their arrest powers. Thankfully, H.B. 290 was not passed.
Likewise, a move was made in Kershaw County, South Carolina to remove power from the county Sheriff and create a countywide police force which was not directly accountable to the citizens. Ironically, because this move required approval from Kershaw County voters, Sheriff Jim Matthews and his position were saved by the very activists whom he labeled “domestic extremists” only months prior. Clearly, these activists were more adept at perceiving danger where it actually exists than the Sheriff himself.
Nevertheless, Horry County, South Carolina has already created a countywide police force. It should be noted, however, that the Horry County version exists (and has existed for at least 50 years) alongside the Horry County Sherriff’s office so the consolidation that has taken place in Salt Lake has not yet been fully realized in Horry.
Yet consolidation of traditional law enforcement agencies into an organization that no longer has elected officials as the head of operations is not a situation that exists only in the states mentioned above. Denver County, Colorado, for instance, maintains the Denver County Police Department, with the Sheriff’s Department assuming responsibility over mere care, custody, and transport of prisoners and detainees.
Indeed, one need only search the Web to find numerous cases of police departments and Sheriff’s offices that have been merged together to effectively remove the power of the electorate (for what it is worth) and enable larger-scale ramifications in the event that the County police department is privatized.
Of course, in reality it is obvious that the privatization of police forces has its roots in a much more sinister agenda than mere corporate greed and a desire to escape accountability.
For instance, in early 2012, a document was released by the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group, an organization closely tied to the Department of Homeland Security and co-chaired by former DHS chief Michael Chertoff, entitled, “Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission,” which states the desire of DHS and its related federal police state agencies to consume and centralize control over state and local law enforcement agencies as well as to infiltrate and co-opt the private sector. The report reads,
Partnerships and collaboration will be a determining factor in whether this refined mission succeeds. As threat grows more localized, the prospect that a state/local partner will generate the first lead to help understand a new threat, or even an emerging cell, will grow. And the federal government’s need to train, and even staff, local agencies, such as major city police departments, will grow. Because major cities are the focus for threat, these urban areas also will become the sources of intelligence that will help understand these threats at the national level, DHS might move toward decentralizing more of its analytic workforce to partner with state/local agencies in the collection and dissemination of intelligence from the local level.Indeed, one can easily see the agenda coming into view by virtue of the emergence of fusion centers infiltrating state and local law enforcement agencies all across the country, only furthering the federalization of police.
This new approach to intelligence -- serving local partners’ requirements, providing intelligence in areas (such as infrastructure) not previously served by intelligence agencies, and disseminating information by new means -- reflects a transition in how Americans perceive national security. For this reason, state/local agencies, as clients for DHS intelligence, should also be involved in the development of requirements for what kinds of intelligence on emerging threats would be most helpful, from changing tactics for smuggling aliens into the United States to how to understand overseas terrorist incidents and translate them into analysis for the US.
Similarly, different private sectors in the United States, from the hospitality industry to
transportation, should drive requirements for DHS, in addition to serving as sources for information about what emerging vulnerabilities these industries are seeing. DHS should utilize existing public private partnerships to both drive requirements and aid distribution.
Without a doubt, the privatization of police forces is only one method of converting local and state law enforcement agencies to federally-controlled DHS public management organizations that are themselves interchangeable to the point of being one and the same as the U.S. military.
The evisceration of the rule of law (except for the force of law aimed at keeping the “little people” in check) is indeed one of the hallmarks of Fascism. But, while this may be seen in the privatization of police forces, nowhere is it more obvious than in the context of the “Emergency Manager” dictatorship being established in Michigan.
In what can easily be described as an openly Fascist law, Michigan’s Emergency Financial Management Law which was passed in March, 2011, essentially gives the Governor the authority to take over local governments and municipalities and appoint his own directors in place of elected leaders.
Although the concept of an “Emergency Manager” is not entirely new since Michigan has had a form of the Emergency Manager in place since around 1988 by virtue of a law which was passed and signed by then Governor James Blanchard, a Democrat, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has taken full advantage of both the Emergency Manager concept and the new powers of the Financial Management Law. It should also be noted that Emergency Managers have since been utilized by both Democrat and Republican administrations.
“Emergency Managers” are those individuals who are appointed by the Governor when the Governor judges a city or other municipality’s budget deficit to be in default, bankrupt, or otherwise irreparable. The Emergency Manager, as William Copeland of Dominion of New York writes, “has the absolute power to disincorporate the city, sell its assets, remove its elected leaders, privatize or eliminate services, and break union contracts, among other measures.”
The vast majority of Copeland’s claims are not only proven accurate by the history of the Emergency Manager system, they are admitted by the Michigan State Government itself. The only disagreement held by the State Government with criticism such as Copeland’s is the manner in which the Fascist method of Government is presented to the public.
One of the reasons why the term “Fascist” is appropriate here is the method of application. The EM (Emergency Manager) program is obviously a form of top-down control. It is administered and directed by those at least as high as the State government, although it is obviously controlled by interests at even higher levels still.
In this regard, the Emergency Managers act as the modern versions of Satraps, circumventing the elected governments of the cities and local municipalities. Elections are held, but are largely irrelevant in terms of finance and economics because the real authority is held by the Emergency Manager. The elected officials are mere formalities. With only a few minor aesthetic differences, this is the same system of “governance” that was used by Hitler in the form of his Gauleiter regional dictators.
Interestingly enough, the system also bears a striking resemblance to the Soviet model of “rule by council.”
Although the Snyder administration (and most of the Michigan State government) denies that the Emergency Manager has been granted the unconstitutional authority of removing elected leaders from their posts, history shows these denials to be inaccurate.
During the period of 1999-2005, when Detroit’s deficit was once again an issue, the public school system was taken over by an Emergency Manager and the elected school board was subsequently disbanded.
This type of post-democratic behavior has even been the subject of a lawsuit filed in the Ingham County Circuit Court. Several groups are involved in representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, two of them being the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Sugar Law Center. John Philo, the legal director for the latter, stated in regards to the Emergency Manager Law, that “What you’re saying is that an emergency manager now controls all, including the right to enact or repeal local ordinances. What you’re saying is that one individual now without any sort of legislative process gets to enact a law.”
Another individual involved in the suit, Edith Lee-Payne, states, “We have the right to elect people and hold them accountable. We don’t have that right with an emergency manager.”
Obviously, something must be done about city budget deficits, debt, crumbling financial structure, corruption, and the like.
However, the Emergency Manager options being exercised by the Michigan State Government must be recognized for what it is – asset stripping, union busting, and repeated fleecing of the taxpayer.
Essentially, what happens in the Emergency Management process is, after the budget deficit balloons out of control and Emergency Managers are sent in, the elected officials (whether responsible for the deficits or not) are reduced to mere formalities for the policies being dictated to them by their Emergency Manager who is, in turn, merely an agent for those in higher places.
When this occurs, elected officials may remain in order to placate and fool the public, but in other cases, such as with the School Board, elected officials may be removed altogether along with any pretense of representative government.
It is here that the asset stripping begins. In a fashion which is almost identical to the methods used by the IMF over debt-laden countries, austerity measures are ordered for the paralyzed city/municipality. Drastic spending cuts are imposed on essential services while taxes are raised on the already strapped citizenry. Privatization runs rampant, allowing services and infrastructure that were once developed, maintained, and paid for by taxpayer money to be turned over to private companies whose only goal is to make a profit. After fees are raised and the infrastructure is abused and destroyed, these services are usually turned back in to the taxpayer in order to use public funding to build them back up until it is time to privatize them yet again. Other times, the services just disappear altogether.
Of course, city workers and teachers become victims of the fleecing as well. Any union contracts (where they still exist) are immediately cut off, lowering wages and the general standard of living, while teachers are undercut by outside workers and government subsidized scabs, unwitting and well-meaning as they may be.
When living standards are sufficiently lowered and books are fixed and warped to appear to have reduced the city deficit to a manageable level, the Emergency Manager leaves. However, as history shows us, cutting and gutting, particularly in difficult economic times, only produces a bigger deficit the next year. So, essentially, the Emergency Manager only leaves temporarily because he actually left the city with yet another load of debt to be collected at a future date. When the time comes for the piper to be paid, the Emergency Manager will return for yet more cutting and gutting, starting the process all over again.
Bear in mind, the Emergency Management Law also allows for the Governor to declare the need for an Emergency Manager for a variety of new reasons. No longer is the issue merely financial. As The Michigan Citizen writes, the State seized control of the DPS (Detroit Public School System) mainly because of a gap between State test score averages and DPS scores.
It should also be mentioned that, according to the Michigan Citizen, after the State returned control of the DPS to the elected School Board, the bond money had been spent and the district was looking at a projected deficit of $198.7 million.
One need only look to the three cities who were forced to take on an Emergency Manager to see the pattern. Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Flint were all subjected to the austerity programs under their Emergency Managers at some point between 2000-2007. In 2012, all three are broke and are once again being considered for an Emergency Manager.
All of this austerity and grandstanding on behalf of the State government and the Snyder administration, of course, is nothing more than an exercise in boundless hypocrisy. As Detroit City Councilwoman Joann Watson stated, “It is outrageous that a state which has its own deficit, in a country that has its own deficit, has the nerve to point fingers at our city.”
Clearly, the Emergency Manager option is not a legitimate solution to the economic issues that plague Detroit, Michigan, or the United States. The Emergency Financial Management Law is an exercise in IMF-style austerity, privatization that benefits a select group of pet businesses, union busting, lowering the standard of living, and Fascist “governance.”
As the Michigan-based Electablog expertly states:
Emergency Managers do not solve the systemic problems that bring cities and school districts to the crisis point. They are simply a band-aid on a gaping wound, temporarily staunching the flow while private businesses reap profits and anti-union forces play out a long-awaited plan to rid the state of public employee unions. Given the history of the Emergency Manager/Emergency Financial Manager system in Michigan, there is no reason to believe that they will provide the meaningful solutions that our cities and school districts so desperately need.Indeed, something must be done about the Emergency Manager dictatorship. However, when moves are made to amend the Fascist endeavors of Governor Snyder, what results is only more Fascism.
For instance, when voters mobilized to reject Public Act 4 (aka, the Emergency Manager Law), the Michigan legislature simply passed another version which was almost identical to the one cast down by voters in the referendum. Predictably, Snyder immediately signed the new bill into law. But, while the new law contains some token provisions designed to placate voters (but with very little substance to them), many consider the new version to be even worse since the new law will not be subject to voter referendum.
While the consolidation of police forces and the Emergency Manager’s Law in Michigan may at first appear to be completely unrelated issues, the fact is that they are much more closely related that one may believe.
Fascism does not always come in the middle of the night with armies marching in the streets, uniformed dictators clamping down on the population in one fell swoop, or stormtroopers pulling off a coup of the national governance. Fascism is capable of taking hold in many different forms and it is usually more successful if its campaign is gradual.
Thus, the term “creeping Fascism” is an accurate term for the developments we have seen taking place inside the United States for many years. Unfortunately, in 2013, it is an outdated term. Fascism is no longer creeping. It is here. The only question is what are we going to do about it.
 Collier, Martin; Pedley, Philip. Hitler and the Nazi State. Heinemann Educational Publishers. 2005. P.42.
Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 190 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.