America’s Mussolini 3

One of our readers, A.G.S., sent us an idea he had for an article comparing America now to the early days of Mussolini’s Italy. The thought came to him, he wrote, when he read Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann. He outlined the article he had in mind and asked me [JB] if I would complete it. At first I was a little skeptical; I felt he was exaggerating. But the more I thought about it, the more I found myself in agreement with him. The following is the result of our collaboration.

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In his famous story Mario and the Magician, Thomas Mann demonstrates how fascism under Mussolini corrupted the Italian populace. At the start of his regime a general feeling spread among the Italians that it was right to impose conformity, and society was gripped by a mood of collective censoriousness. In the story, set in an Italian holiday resort, a child takes off her bathing suit to wash the sand out of it in the sea, and her momentary nudity arouses the wrath of the crowd on the beach, the police are informed and the child’s family is fined. The story as a whole is about the destruction of individual will during an evening’s entertainment by an evil hypnotist. The allegorical implications are unmistakeable.

As in Italy then, an atmosphere of authoritarian regulation is spreading in the US now. There is a powerful demand, emanating from the president and his circle, for mental and physical conformity.

Proofs of this intent abound. Group action and community involvement are encouraged, with the aim of inducing non-conformists to fall in line. The Department of Homeland Security issues a memo warning that persons who have a political point of view different from the present federal government majority are a threat to society. Anyone challenging the theory of anthropogenic global warming, which the Democrats in power have embraced as an orthodoxy, is denounced as a heretic. In the cause of mitigating the projected undesirable effects of climate change, the government proposes to dictate what sources of energy you may use and to what extent.  It will regulate the temperature of your house, the clothes you may wear, the food you may eat, and the car you may drive. In sickness and infirmity your body will be treated as the government decides when its nationalized health policy is imposed. Government will decree what opinions you may express on talk radio, in the universities and schools, and soon in any public forum. By ‘spreading the wealth around’ it will set a limit to how high any individual may rise by his own efforts.  Government will rule on how much business managers may be paid and under what union-dictated terms an employee may work.

When conformity is legislated and imposed by force, dissent criminalized and punished, authoritarianism has become tyranny. 

Obama is the Mussolini of America.

  • What you say about Peron, r in f, is persuasive. A book about this would be valuable.

    Of course, Peron and Mussolini had at least one thing in common with each other and a whole bunch of others. The 20th century was full of dictators – and this century is not short of them.

    Hawk, you’re right. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Hawk

    I agree with this as far as it goes, but in one important respect Obama and Mussolini are not alike. Mussolini was a nationalist (though not a racist). Obama seems to favor internationalism and even perhaps world government. It’s the difference between national socialism (like Hitler’s) and international socialism (like Lenin’s).

  • roger in florida

    This is an interesting idea, certainly Obama is an authoritarian, a socialist of some stripe although it is difficult to pin him down. We can also say with confidence that he does not value the “Anglo” concepts of individual liberty, property rights, constitutional and limited govt. I do not see the similarity with Mussolini beyond that, in particular Mussolini had dreams of military conquest and a new rise of the Roman Empire, Obama has none of that. As I have said before I believe the path the US is on our most closely follows that of Argentina from the rise of Juan Peron to today. Obama is a dead ringer for Peron; a cynical manipulator who pays off his constituencies and seeks to expand the public sector. Peron paid off the unions, particularly govt. workers and supported private sector unions in making ruinous claims against private industry. He also had dreams of govt. investment into technology driven industries to make Argentina a “World Leader”, in particular huge sums were spent on developing an Argentinian aircraft industry. As costs on private industry rose companies moved out or closed, causing more imports of goods and services previously home supplied, as this happened govt. employment skyrocketed as previously productive employees in the private sector became bureaucrats. The previously strong but weakening Peso encouraged huge borrowings to finance Peron’s dreams and his payoffs. This cycle continued until the Argentinian economy was ruined, the Peso worthless, massive inflation ensued as govt., unable to borrow more hard currency, attempted to finance it’s spending by printing more pesos.

    Does any of this sound familiar? Substitute “Green Energy” for aircraft. General Motors becomes Govt. Motors, making cars that please the politicians but that consumers won’t buy (unless forced). The US is already well on the way down this road. Private sector employment plummets but govt. hiring is way up. Perhaps I should write a book on this!