I am worried about our future, and you should be, too. Not only do we have problems threatening our very existence, but the responses to them have been the same old hackneyed ones based on failing ideologies. The anarchy of hand wringing and flailing one's arms about will not save us. Fascism can, and the following argues why.
We are on a cosmic spaceship and the more astute members of this subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens are announcing, "Uh, Houston, we've had a problem." News articles reflect social events that have not changed in character for millennia. However, there is one distinct fact. Look about you and you should notice your environment deteriorating – social and natural. These two signposts point to our demise. If there is not a radical change of direction – and soon, we very well may not survive. Scientists have been warning for years about the Holocene Extinction, popularly known as the “Sixth Great Extinction” (SGE). Typing these phrases into an Internet search utility will display millions of scholarly entries. Wikipedia has an excellent summary under “Holocene Extinction”, the first word referring to our current epoch.
Figure 1 – Extinctions correlated with human population increase (Scoll, 2008)
Ninety-seven percent of all scientists concur that the increase in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is anthropogenic, i.e., human-caused. Again, typing this phrase into the search utility will yield millions of entries (egs: Skeptical Science, 2018; Cook et al., 2016). No national or international scientific body denies global warming (DiMento and Doughman, 2007; Brigham-Grette; et al., September 2006). There are many other factors contributing to the SGE: overpopulation, resource depletion, consumerist waste, mounting complexity, and poor human responses.
We are living in a world increasingly dominated by technology. In particular, our very lives have become dependent upon computers. Go to the Sans Institute (www.sans.org) and you will see its newsletter Sans Newsbites, which can be downloaded free. On a regular basis, the Three Stooges of poor software development – Microsoft, Adobe, and Java (by Oracle) – have serious design flaws and require regular patching. Notice I say, “patching”, as in putting one bandage over one that already is bloodied, rather than re-engineering, cleaning the wound, suturing it, and putting on a new dressing. I worked for Microsoft and saw repeatedly slack design and this “Devil may care” playboy/girl attitude towards development. At Microsoft and many other places I worked over the years (like Data General, Nortel, and Pliant Technologies – all bankrupt), it was all about getting it out the door, beating the competition and the bottom line. James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, said,
… Software vulnerabilities resulting from manufacturers’ refusal to incorporate security into their software development, organizations’ failure to protect their systems and client data and the responsibility of governments to “manage, secure, and disclose discovered vulnerabilities. Global attacks are the new normal. (Talmadge, 2017)
Guillaume Poupard, chief of the French government’s cybersecurity agency warned on 1 June 2017 that the world is facing “permanent war”, due to governments, criminal organizations, and others by introducing malware into the Internet, hacking, theft, spying, and other malicious activity ( Leicester, 2017). Similar observations were made by Adm. Michael Rogers, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command of the National Security Agency to the Senate Armed Services Committee on 9 May 2017 in speaking of:
...the persistence of adversary attempts to penetrate critical infrastructure ... As advanced states continue to demonstrate the ability to combine cyber effects, intelligence, and asymmetric warfare to maintain the initiative just short of war, challenging our ability to react and respond. Today, consumers who can hardly keep up with patching their laptops and updating their cellphone operating systems are wondering how to upgrade the firmware … Technological developments are outpacing laws and policies, and indeed will have long-term implications that we have only begun to grasp. (Rodgers, 2017)
Another example describing the anarchistic responses to a critical problem is knowledge quality, reflected by the substantial complaints of “fake news”, predatory academic journals, and inability to provide evidence for assertions. Academicians and publishers have been crying in their beer to no avail, and in this predatory social environment organizations have “stepped up to the plate”, profiting from the crisis by charging substantial fees to participate in monitoring quality or even accessing lists of those who are predatory (Cabell website, 2018). Efforts by this author to establish a knowledge quality standards organization, along the lines of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have been to no avail, one major publisher citing the fear of litigation. In fact, all across the spectrum of liberal societies this whining and fear dominates, placing efforts to coordinate solutions in utter paralysis.
Poor knowledge quality, fake news, and inability to form sound or strong arguments is a result of a failed school system (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2001, 2017). You can go to the U.S. National Science Foundation (2014) and and learn that a quarter of U.S. adults believe the Sun orbits the Earth and a half think that antibiotics are effective against viruses (NSF, 2014). Basic geographic knowledge is no better. According to The National Geographic–Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey,
About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. [18-24 year-olds] couldn't even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. … Half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map (50% and 43%, respectively.) (National Geographic Society, 2002, p. 3 et seq.).
Against this backdrop, 50% of all U.S. adults cannot read past the eighth grade. The following 2003 data are telling, although it is egregious that the U.S. Department of Education is not more diligent in obtaining more recent data. After all, this IS 2018, some 15 years out of date!
Figure 2 – Percentage of adults – literacy level (NAAL, 2003)
Proficiency in literacy declined two points from 1992 to 2003. That is, only 13% of U.S. adults can read enough to, in NCES’ words, “perform complex and challenging literacy activities”. Further, “proficiency” means:
Figure 3. - NCES Proficiency levels defined (NAAL, 2005, p. 16)
The NCES chart is somewhat vague in metrics, but let's look at the minimal baseline. In the above table, if a “compare and contrast” exercise is regarded as “complex”, then we are in trouble. Even animals can do this! This is something supposedly learned in the eighth grade. “Comparing the cost per ounce of food items” is what a fifth grader is expected to do with ease – at least when I was going through grammar school. Complex decision making requires familiarity with complex literature, but if the typical tasks are on par of that of a fifth grader, suffice it to say that far fewer than 13% are equipped to read with any meaningful comprehension a newspaper on par of that of the New York Times. As somewhat of an aside, finding documentation on the grade level at which this newspaper is written is more of a formidable task than it would first appear, as may be found by typing in “New York Times reading level” and related phrases. Here is another problem, failure to provide support for one's arguments. If the average person cannot manage an exercise fit for the average eighth grader, it hardly can be expected that s/he would be able to research, document, and analyze that information.
Of course, the most critical problem of all is global warming. Everywhere we can see more renewable energy, and there are international efforts such as the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but these are sporadic and uncoordinated, far short of what is needed. Too, when major signatories like the U.S. withdraw in calling global warming a hoax (Matthews, 2017), the problem is seriously exacerbated.
The world is now more than ever is integrated, each “piece” dependent upon the rest for its existence. A forest fire in Spain can have a greater impact across a great ocean, as in the fire wiping out a vital crop on which a far distant country depends. Depleting the chromium supply in a country can devastate steel production worldwide. Blocking the Strait of Hormuz would cripple shipping to the point where Europe would impact 20% of worldwide oil shipments (Strait of Hormuz, 2018). It should not take much imagination to see how an anarchistic approach to these situations would cause worldwide pandemonium. Yet, among other major factors, it is the lack of planning, coordination, and basic cooperation that is leading us to that Sixth Great Extinction.
A common thread in historical social tumult is that people are not satisfied with their governments. We need to review history a bit to see the increasing impact this tumult has had not only on humanity but more important, the environment.
When people were running about heaving rocks and spears at each other thousands of years ago, there was not any significant change in the environment. Roman legions did not do any real damage either. However, about this time, humanity was making an impact on the environment, as in the Greeks denuding the landscape of trees (Hatzistathis, 2003). North American indigenous peoples did their share as well in altering the landscape (Denevan, 1992).
Yet, it was possible to recover. The Industrial Revolution brought a different set of circumstances in initiating planetary contamination. The Crimean War (1853-1856) and the U.S. Civil War (1860-1865) heralded the devastating effect of the human subspecies on its surroundings. Both world wars accentuated the capacity for our destruction, but moreover the capacity to destroy the environment entirely. Witness the systematic industrial extermination of six million persons by the Nazis. Witness the atomic bomb.
One trend can be observed over time: the ebb and flow of authority, with a turning point – at least in the West – being the Magna Carta, a document signed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215 and which limited the power of the king and gave some protection to the barons. The Enlightenment ushered in the growth of science and philosophy that challenged the dogma of the Catholic Church. Towards the end of this period, the increasing focus on the individual resulted in the U.S. and French revolutions. The latter turned into a tyranny within 15 years; the former has been turning into one, especially within the last decade. The various upheavals throughout Europe have resulted in the same fate as the U.S. over time, with the average person's vote effectively having little meaning and socioeconomic elites still dominating the landscape.
Plato in his Republic and Aristotle in his Politics argued 2500 years ago that any participatory society can survive only if those selecting its leaders are educated and not materially dispossessed. I will add mental health, ethics, and participation in decision-making (civic duty). People with little or no education and poor in a democracy will be more susceptible to electing demagogues, who more often than not will be corrupt and mismanage the government. Democracy leads to the impoverishment of the country and authoritarian rule, often becoming intolerable to the point of the people revolting. A new “democracy” is established, this repeating the cycle. The French Revolution of 1789, Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and Chinese one in 1949 were stark reminders of this cycle. Now we have the whole Middle East in turmoil resulting from the howls for “democracy”.
Through the centuries, one fact stands out: everything is becoming more complex. Responses to the problems are disjointed and anarchistic. People often are alienated in society; they have no place. We have more people, technology, and ways to get things wrong in a very serious way. In short, there is more of everything. More management capability is required, as well. Such is not optional. Governments have refused to take ownership of problems, as in the deteriorating U.S. infrastructure, malware and other cyber threats, and providing basic human services (even when it has been demonstrated that capabilities and resources exist).
A major pushback from people is heralded by cries of “the economy”, that needed responses would place too much strain on businesses. It is easy to counter this greedy selfish argument by stating the simple fact that without the environment, the holy “economy” will not exist. Only with a major and coordinated program by governments combining and collectively creating a mandated worldwide alternative energy production can we begin to reverse the trend. A worldwide sharing of resources and knowledge sharing on an open source platform is necessary. Privatization to satisfy narcissistically motivated greed will be fatal to the human subspecies. Voluntary anarchistic efforts we see now only will foster the false notion of effectiveness. A solution will emerge because of an intelligent authority directing it (the people through the State and the State because of the people), or there will be continued anarchy because of the myth of the supremacy of the individual. There are a lot of “will” here, but either humanity finds within itself the mental faculty to continue or else Earth will become a planet bereft of a species that could have saved itself.
Towards a solution
As a rule, complex problems require complex solutions but ones that require a coordination of many resources, institutions, and people. That is, it will be cooperation, coordination, and coherence. - call these the “three Cs”. Neither “the individual” nor “the government” can do these things. Neither can “liberalism”. “Liberal” here in passing deserves mention, as it signifies a tradition beginning, as we noted above, the primacy of the individual above all else. One can “blame” the Enlightenment as a response to the oppressive yoke of dogma imposed by the Catholic Church with its monarchical puppets over the centuries in stifling scientific inquiry. The power to discover was then for the individual, and, along with it, all decision-making power. Social character has been changing though, as there have been more social units; they have been forced to be more aware of each other in close proximity. “Rugged individualism” that rejects society in this age of complexity will be fatal for humans.
There is a substantial body of writing explaining how these societies not only are systems (egs: David Easton, Walter Buckley, and Talcott Parsons) but can be regarded as organic, or at least taking on the characteristics of organisms. “Organic society” formally organized is embodied in the State. We are not talking about anything new. Read Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831), Auguste Comte 19 January 1798 – 5 September 1857), Johann Caspar (also Kaspar) Bluntschli (7 March 1808 – 21 October 1881), and Emile Durkheim (15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917), among others. All of us interact in an integrated way under the umbrella of an institution known as “the State”. Hegel's (1833/1896/2001) Philosophy of Right (readily downloadable from www.archive.org, given in the reference), sets forth the philosophical foundations of the State, an entity he regarded as an organism. Hegel is highly recommended reading. So where does the organic theory of society lead? You should start with Giovanni Gentile, Benito Mussolini (of course), Fausto Pitigliani, and Alfredo Rocco. An excellent work is a 1931 work edited by Tomaso Sillani, What is Fascism and Why, which is a sampling of fascist writers – both theorists and practitioners. (All these are accessible, with their works – again – available free on-line.) Yet, we need to bear in mind several facts.
First, a side note is in order. A government is not the State. It is a collection of leaders and their hirelings drawn from society in the form of an institution to make decisions for the rest of society. There is no particular binding philosophy between a government and its people. Phrases like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are from the individual's perspective, the government only being an instrument to preserve the integrity of those individuals. The government, itself, has no identity of its own or other raison d'etre. Literally, it has not being for itself. The State is a special being, the embodiment of society, an organism with a consciousness. The consciousness is derived from the interrelationship of its “organs”, the citizens. We see this in fascism.
Fascism is not a particular political ideology. It is not a collection of people operating under the guise of a government or in a country. It was not Mussolini's Italy. It definitely was not Germany under National Socialism (a topic that requires a different article). How people try to implement a philosophy can go seriously awry, and many observers will make the mistake of confabulating the philosophy with the practice, or outcome. Mussolini was not fascism; Marx was not socialism; Rousseau was not contract theory. Each wrote about the theories; each had a specific point of view. You need to read a number of philosophers to obtain a more encompassing idea of the foundations. Consider it like statistical sampling. The desire to be to live up to the ideal, but as with other ideals living up to the ideal of fascism is no different. But, what is the ideal of fascism?
One need only to look at the word “fasces” to see why, the “ism” meaning the concept institutionalizing the property or characteristic, i.e.,
1590s, from Latin fasces "bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade projecting" (plural of fascis "bundle" of wood, etc.), from Proto-Italic *faski-"bundle," perhaps from PIE *bhasko- "band, bundle" (source also of Middle Irish basc "neckband," Welsh baich "load, burden," perhaps also Old English bæst "inner bark of the linden tree"). Carried before a lictor, a superior Roman magistrate, as a symbol of power over life and limb: the sticks symbolized punishment whipping, the axe-head execution by beheading. Hence, in Latin it also meant, figuratively, "high office, supreme power."(Fasces – etymology, 2018)
This means that strength comes from unity. It is the fist made up of fingers coming together, the waterfall made up of drops, and a society made up of members united. Yet, this is not a mere organizational convenience, as there has to be a mindset, one that affirms that without the unity the individual is vulnerable, but without the individual so is the society. In other words, fascism is a way of being, a state of consciousness. It is a philosophy of interdependence, integration, cooperation, and harmony. From a different perspective, it is the ideal of Buddha and Christ.
Fascism is the unity of opposites, a term that easily can be researched on the Internet. However, a simple exercise can bring the point home clearly. Picture yourself in a room without light. You cannot see, as there is no contrast. The same is true when looking at a solid color panel.
Figure 4 – The dialectic illustrated
As soon as there is texture, shown by incident light rays, we can discern meaning. We apprehend a phenomenon by what it is not. Something cannot be apprehended simply by itself. The right-hand swirls above present themselves because they are not the solid blue, but the solid blue (save for the white background of this document) would not be perceivable alone. Speaking of documents, you would not be able to read any of these words were it not for the white background, and the white background would be meaningless without these words. Meaning comes through the unity of these opposites. Another term is “dialectic”, a subject written about extensively by Hegel, arguably the father of modern dialectical thinking.
So, too, does an individual's status. S/he stands alone in what Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan referred to in theory as a “state of nature”, at the mercy of the elements and fellow humans and animals. Survival depends upon solely on one's own abilities; no aid is forthcoming from others. It is a war of all against all, no different than any other predator attempting to survive.
How does one turn things around? So far, I only have written generalities and theories. How would I like to see these translated into a program? Let me emphasize that I see the following not only as representative of what is desirable but necessary if we are to survive as a subspecies. It is a programme that turns the organic theory of society into the reality of fascism, a way of being. For example (taken from CPP and in some places paraphrased; spelling original):
Public control of the banks (creation of an ethical national bank; banks are separated in investment, deposit and credit banks, with a distinction between long-, medium- and short-term credit, a ban on creating money out of nothing; support of smaller and local credit banks such as cooperative and artisanal banking institutions; legal ban of usury inasmuch perceived as crime against the national community; ban on derivatives exchange concerning government bonds and bonds issued by public companies)
Employment as social duty (“socializzazione” of bankrupt company; cultural re-evaluation of manual work in need of increased remuneration with added guarantees on the work place, with less years to retirement and less weekly working hours; permanent contract as the foundational work relationship, allowing other type of contracts only as exceptions and only for a brief amount of time determined by law; apprenticeship law with a respective trial period as sole mean to access the world of employment
Safeguard of common resources and strategic industries (state- and people-controlled liability car insurance; strict control by the department of health over pharmaceutical policies centralized public medical research to avoid that interests of pharmaceutical companies and investors hinder cures for main illnesses as is often the case nowadays; nationalisation of energy, telecommunication and transport sectors; nationalisation of all natural resources (water, gas, etc.) and their distribution)
Social rights (fixing of pension income with automatic re-evaluation according to cost of life; free medical care, drastic reduction of resorting to private facilities inflated by public reimbursement; state production of main pharmaceutical active ingredients to avoid financial speculation in the main common drug development)
Right to maternity leave and the right to life (all-inclusive free child care for all; revenue support through tax deduction for all expenses relating to childcare; support to single mums)
Energy sovereignty (concrete and resolute public funding for research on: hydrogen, fuel cells, non-siliceous photovoltaic cells; nationalization of electric energy from production to distribution; return to thermonuclear energy; concrete and resolute funding for clean renewable energy: biomass, solar, wind, nuclear fusion
Home ownership rights through social mortgage (social securitization. in other words homes controlled by public housing associations to be sold solely to tenants at a fair price granting them all rents paid over the years as purchase credits, construction on behalf of the state on public land of houses and neighborhoods to be sold at a fair price to struggling families)
State-funded schools (stop to the influence of private business into universities, selection at regional level of a single book for each subject, chosen by a commission made of students as well as teachers to combat publishing houses speculation, unconditional support to state schools. private schools are not to receive funding.)
Non-conformist ecology (development of all organic farming, ban on privatization of state properties, repopulation of at-risk wildlife, strengthening and empowering of natural reserves and parks with connected education);
Real justice (abolishment of lobbyism, meritocracy, strict regulation of wiretapping,
Free culture (national cultural body, culture Olympics)
Defense of our national sovereignty (against national subjection and for cooperation with others)
Sovereign authority, against police state. (CPI Programme, 2018)
As a former professor, I will leave researching the details to you by going to the Casa Pound Italia programme, itself (CPI Programme, 2018). If you are convinced that at least something like the CPI Programme is required and want to tell others, arguably the best way for them to “see the light”, is to: 1) explain what you know to be the problems associated with the Sixth Great Extinction; 2) simply present them the program, removing all references to “Italy” and Americanizing it (spellings, U.S. institutions, etc.). Let it stand on its alone without labels or identification with any party or movement. Frankly, I think that only an extreme narcissist or an outright predator would reject it. Affirmation of CPI Programme is an affirmation of humaneness and humanity (and its environment), themselves.
Of course, it would be foolhardy to expect anyone to agree to everything in the CPI Programme but implementing the bulk of these ideas most likely would save this subspecies and its environment, as well as making this world a harmonious and nice place in which to live.
Given the continued downward spiral of events and no one offering any viable philosophy or matching structure to forestall events, people will be looking around for answers. Provided that the voice is loud enough people will be coming to fascism, not the other way around. We are the lake among many that has been providing water during the rainy season but now that there is a prolonged drought that promises not to abate, we will stand as the only fountain in the area... …
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The author, who prefers to remain anonymous, is an academician having published worldwide in philosophy, concentrating in logic and political philosophy. He holds a Ph.D. in this field, a Master in Political Science, and has taught at several distinguished universities. Currently he is working on a book about organic societies that has been accepted for publication, due out later this year.