Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fascism in the Empire

To some people, these historical characteristics of fascism may be old news, but on the offchance that some are unaware (and that’s what we’re all about here at the Edge, news for the unaware…) here they are again:

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. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6.) Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the 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 is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
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.

To read more on this subject, see this piece with underlying contemporary examples on all points. Kinda makes one think, doesn’t it?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Peak Oil Today : Increasing Awareness, More Lies

Catching up on the slowly growing awareness of Peak Oil, we find the bleeding edge news program The Daily Show featuring guest Peter Tertzakian, author of A Thousand Barrels a Second (which Chaos has not read, nor heard of prior to the airing). Peak Oil on The Daily Show! OMFG! (Kindly excuse the vulgarity...) Only for five minutes or so, and some of that sacrificed to Stewart's jocularity, but still, an important milestone in media awareness.

Meanwhile, on another front, the "Official Energy Statistics From the US Government," the Energy Information Administration (known as the EIA), has released it's latest report (suggest reading the "Overview"pdf file). What would be the odds, do you think, that this report has realistic projections of oil and gas production and prices? Congratulations if you said "not very good," because in fact this report is filled with delusional figures and projections. For example, US lower 48 oil production is projected to magically rise between now and 2016, defying the gradual and continual decline that has gone on since 1970. Oil prices are projected to increase to $54.08/barrel in 2025 and $56.97/barrel in 2030 (for reference, yesterday's oil price was $57.25/barrel). A rosier picture of our energy future can hardly be found, and one seemingly calculated to drive the country completely off the cliff when reality begins to set in.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Avian Flu Marches Forward

Here's the newest and most important news on avian flu to date: migration to Nigeria. Unlike in the previous regions, Africa is ideally suited for an epidemic: large population of fowl, primitive conditions, uneducated natives who resist killing off "valuable" livestock, poor health conditions, very little veterinary support. If this virus is going to jump from bird to human, it will almost certainly happen here, where it can exploit the conditions. Nigeria, apparently, lies in the migratory path from central Asia--how unfortunate. Just a little more entropy in the world to start the day...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Somnolence in the Republic

Chaos has long considered the citizens of the Empire to be rather, shall we say, sleepy regarding some of the most pressing issues of the day. Apparently, though, waking unconsciousness is quite common, but actually falling asleep is less so. In today's paper of record we find that 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written last year. Could it be that the stress and strain of having to "run in place," economically speaking, contributes to the sleeplessness, or is it just that Big Pharma spends so much money on convincing the sheep that there is in fact, a pill which covers every ailment? Chaos observes that a drugged citizenry, while it may be a happy citizenry, is not a particularly well-informed one.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Best Take on Imperial Speech

From poster Twilight at The Oil Drum, commenting on the Emperor’s speech on energy and its subsequent retraction by Imperial officials:

     “The things that are said by these people mean nothing.  Their commitments mean nothing.  There is no truth, only spin.  Facts and propaganda are indistinguishable to them.  Their strength is that people listen to what they say and attempt to ascribe meaning to it where none exists, and expect them to behave according to traditional conventions - but that means nothing to them.  Merely by hearing them you are at a disadvantage.
     But we as a society are so used to the constant barrage of lies called advertising, that we don't expect anything more - we're not alarmed by it at all.  When you combine this with the lack of education and curiosity of the public, you get situations like this - where the POTUS can stand before the nation and say something preposterous, and then the next day his staff can retract it, and no one will care.
Do not listen, watch the actions instead.”
In this instance, Chaos has nothing to add…