This piece appeared in newspapers as an op/ed in August, 2022.
One of the major dramas in the world in these times is a battle between Democracy and Fascism.
- Democracy is a system in which power is controlled by the people. With Fascism, by contrast, the ruling Power controls the people.
- Democracy creates on open space for Truth to prevail. Fascism blocks unwanted truth in order to control the people through propagandistic lies.
- In Democracy, government serves the common good. Fascism enables an unaccountable few to exploit the many for their own purposes.
The battle between Democracy and Fascism is a modern version of a struggle that arose with civilization, when the division first arose between the rulers and the ruled.
Out of the Anarchy into which the rise of civilization inevitably plunged humankind, and thus into “the war of all against all” that Anarchy inevitably generates, it would be – just as inevitably — the Warlords (or Gangsters) who would prevail and dominate civilized societies.
That was true in the ancient world, where cruel imperial rulers enslaved the many. And it has been true of the Fascist regimes of the past century (like we see today in Russia, whose fascist dictator has cruelly sacrificed young Russian men to serve his imperial desires).
This chronic sacrifice of the many to fulfill the desires of the power-hungry few identifies this problem as a major arena of what can reasonably be called “the Battle Between Good and Evil.”
“Evil” can usefully be defined as “A coherent force that consistently spreads a pattern of brokenness.” Meaning that “Evil” consistently undermines whatever helps life to flourish (and sentient creatures to find fulfillment) in our world. And it is Life-vs-Death and Fulfillment-vs.-Misery that are the ultimate criteria for Good-vs.-Evil.
By that definition, Fascism is clearly an Evil.
It’s coherence is obvious: Fascism presents not as a bunch of individual lives, but a mass mobilized as a fist.
And Fascism’s “spreading a pattern of brokenness” is demonstrated by these general tendencies displayed by regimes with strong fascistic elements:
- Its impulse is to set the world at war (Hitler, 1939; Putin, 2022). “Peace on Earth” is what Wholeness calls for.
- It manipulates the people with lies to act in ways they wouldn’t if they saw the reality. (Like the Nazi’s Big Lie, and Trump’s, and Putin’s lying to his people about his “special military operation” in Ukraine.) Honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of Wholeness.
- It stokes people’s hatreds, directing their rage against vulnerable scapegoats. (Jews in Nazi Germany, Blacks and immigrants with the fascistic force in America today.) By contrast, it is “Goodwill to Men” that makes the world better.
- Fascistic rulers exploit the many to serve themselves. (As when Putin’s kleptocracy steals billions for his oligarchs, while the people’s condition languishes; and like the Republican Party showing consistent indifference to the quality of life even of its own supporters, pursuing only its own power.)” Wholeness would have the rulers to serve the people, because “All men are created equal” means that each person’s well-being deserves equal weight.
Fascism’s alignment with Brokenness is demonstrated in both of the main arenas of this battle in this historical moment: i.e. the Russian and the American battlefields.
1) In Russia, brokenness has been spread by Fascism through its criminal invasion:
- tens of thousands of people killed, many war crimes committed.
- cities leveled in a genocidal attack on a nation and a people.
- world economies damaged under the impact of dislocations and sanctions.
- the kindling –in Fascism’s victims — of hatreds that will take generations to heal.
- the traumatization of millions, leaving life-long painful effects.
(Not for the first time, Fascism destroys the domain it rules:
- Russia now losing power, prosperity, and world-standing;
- Germany, in 1945, in rubble.)
2) In the United States, one of America’s two major political parties — becoming something more fascistic by far than any party in American history – has inflicted brokenness on the whole nation in multiple ways:
- Refusing, unprecedentedly, to acknowledge the outcome of a legitimate election.
- Responding corruptly to a deadly pandemic, resulting in hundreds of thousands of avoidable American deaths.
- Transferring wealth to the richest at the expense of the rest, widening inequalities that were already dangerously degrading the health of American society.
- Betraying its supporters with its blatant lack of caring about using power to make people’s lives better.
- Making a dogma out of an obvious and destructive lie.
- Stoking antagonism between groups of Americans on the basis of race, and political and religious viewpoints.
- Working to replace the democratic order with a minority-rule authoritarian regime.
With Fascism’s perverse insistence on making things more broken, it is one of the main modern vehicles for Evil to do its work in the world.
In the battle against Fascism, Democracy therefore necessarily represents the Good.
And it is a hard-won Good.
While it was inevitable that tyranny would be the first power-arrangement in full-blown civilized societies, it took millennia of painful history before some civilized societies could create the possibility for Democracy to emerge, able at last to turn power from a weapon used against the people into an instrument wielded by the people and for the people.
Democracy, as an instrument of the Good, has in turn built a foundation for greater human flourishing.
Those who are morally committed to the Good are called upon to throw themselves into the battle to assure that the rising destructive Force of Fascism is turned back.