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.