Fascism

I often hear people throwing around the word: “Fascism.” The Bush administration has been calling ‘terrorists’ Islamo-Fascisist. Some Liberals claim the Bush Administration is a Fascist government. This got me to thinking: What is Fascism? Fascism is a social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms. Historically this has taken the form of extreme anti-communistic and anti-liberal. I found the following definition, which I like because it also provides the etymology of the word:

Fascism
The name comes from the Latin fasces – a bundle of rods with a projecting axe, which was the symbol of authority in ancient Rome. The term was applied by Mussolini to his movement after his rise to power in 1922. The Fascists were viciously anti-Communist and anti-liberal and, once in power, relied on an authoritarian state apparatus. They also used emotive slogans and old prejudices (for example, against the Jews) to bolster the leader’s strongman appeal. Fascism had a direct influence on Hitler’s Nazism.

Provided the term liberal, above, I’m forced to ask: In this context what is meant by liberal? The same site provides this definition:

Liberalism
A term that gained significance in the 19th century, when it meant the limiting of government power and the increase of social reform. In the 20th century, capitalist democracies occasionally described themselves as ‘liberal’ to indicate that they didn’t attempt to control thought and action to the same extent as Communist regimes.

Historically Liberal means a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties. Almost every definition defines a Liberal as someone who is concerned with the protection of civil liberties. I think this is important to point out. By this definition I consider myself Liberal. I believe government should, mostly, stay out of business and let the markets manage themseleves (within common sense) and, by God, businesses should stay the hell out government. Also, religion and government do not mix. In general, I’m fiscally conservative and consider myself to be Libertarian and very big on education. I bring this up because as a Libertarian I find Fascism terribly frightening.

Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, published an article on fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20) This was the summary of a study he conducted on the fascist regimes of Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Suharto, and Pinochet. Dr. Britt posits each of these regimes all shared 14 charateristics, which he defines as the “identifying characteristics of fascism.” The following is an except taken from Free Inquiry in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  2. 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.

  3. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
  4. 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.

  5. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
  6. 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.

  7. Supremacy of the Military
  8. 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.

  9. Rampant Sexism
  10. 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.

  11. Controlled Mass Media
  12. Sometimes to 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.

  13. Obsession with National Security
  14. Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

  15. Religion and Government are Intertwined
  16. 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.

  17. Corporate Power is Protected
  18. 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.

  19. Labor Power is Suppressed
  20. 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 .

  21. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
  22. 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.

  23. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
  24. 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.

  25. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  26. 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.

  27. Fraudulent Elections
  28. 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.

Is it possible to read this without concluding that we, in the United States, are living in a regime that has been for the last six years sliding toward fascism?

SunNimbus?

What happened to SunNimbus? Wellllllll…I’ve sat on this domain: http://www.nblogn.com for at least a couple years now and SunNimbus is a bit of a pain in the ass because whenever I tell someone: S-U-N-N-I-M-B-U-S they’re always confused. Also, typing it sunnimbus.com for email is a bit of a pain. In short, nblogn is just hella cool, a lot easier to remember, and easier to speak to someone. That’s the story.

MidTown Global Market

Midtown Market (34)Midtown Market (12)Having only lived in the Twin Cities for just over two years now I had heard of an ethnic market in South Minneapolis on more than a few occaisions, but we hadn’t visited it until today. The Midtown Global Market [d] is an internationally-themed public market featuring fresh and prepared foods, ethnic restaurants, and vendors of arts and crafts from around the world. Ron and J.J. mentioned the market a week or so ago and Tara and I figured we should check it out. Ashby loves being out and about. She is really into people watching. We didn’t make it to the market until 3:30 PM today (Sunday); so, it was pretty slow, but it was really fun. We had some food at Safari, which was some type of African/Island fusion that was just wonderful! We got some proscuitto and a couple types of salamis (still not the same as being in Italy). Also, I had a great cup of coffee at Mapps Tea and Coffee, which was truly one of the best cups of Joe I have had in some time. Finally, some Latina took to the center stage in the market and provided us with some lovely music and enterntainment that Ashby danced to as she watched this darling chica with some maracas. I’d like to know the history of the building. It looks like an old grain exchange or something. I didn’t see any historical plaque on it though. I hear there are several other ethnic markets in the Midtown neighborhood.

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Celtic Punk at the Office 2.0 Con

Office 2_0 Con (39)This week I attended the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, CA. I’ve already provided a few posts on my blog at OpenGarden.org: Intro, 900 lb Gorilla, Big Announcement, and Parade. What did I get out of it? Well, I think Wufoo is super cool and 3Tera is bad ass. Other than that…well, read my posts.

The event was held in the St. Regis hotel, which is super nice. It’s adjacent to the SFMOMA and the art in the hotel is, as you might suspect, modern and quite nice. After the festivities of the first day Pete and I retired to the hotel bar to mingle with the conference attendees. Office 2_0 Con (38)I was speaking with some fellow who asked me if I am a fan of The Pogues [w]. YES! I’m a big fan! I hadn’t seen them since Joe Strummer did the last tour with them. By the way, who would have ever thought MacGowan would outlive Strummer? Not me. After hearing my interest in the band, the fellow (Pat I think his name was) merrily handed me over the extra ticket he had to the concert that night at The Fillmore. The freakin’ Pogues at The freakin’ Fillmore! How could I pass that up? Apparently Pat (the fellow) had been the night before, had tickets for all three nights, and couldn’t find someone to use the extra ticket he had for that night. I was so damn exhausted, but I knew I would be kicking myself for years if I didn’t go. I got there about 8:00 PM and the crowd broke up at 11:15 PM or so. In general, I was rather displeased with how mellow the audience was. I’ve seen The Pogues do EIGHT encores and the crowd only stuck around long enough to get two out of them. The pit was pretty sedate too. Not like the last time I saw them with Strummer. I think part of this was MacGowan’s fault b/c he simply isn’t too energetic these days. However, I heard many concert-goers commenting on how wild the pit Office 2_0 Con (29)was. Wild? Bah! That was super mellow. MacGowan looks alright though having put on some weight (maybe he’s off the white horse). Anyhow, I had a blast.Thanks Pat (I hope that’s your name).

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the opening band Murder by Death, which I only caught about thirty minutes of, was really great. Too bad the audience was pretty lame for them because these guys (and gal) were seriously heavy (and they had a Cello).

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Madeline Island and Bayfield's Applefest

AppleFest in Bayfield, WIThe family and I travelled north this weekend to spend a couple nights on Madeline Island. It happened to coincide with Bayfield’s Applefest, which was a fortuitous circumstance as we had never been, but I have heard tons about it. Bayfield is a pituresque town on the south shore of Lake Superior, which seems to be an eclectic mix of ex-hippies and farmers. As you’ll see from the photo’s the Fall colors were in full bloom.

The cabin we stayed at on Madeline Island was allegedly “waterfront,” which apparently means lake superior isMadeline Island Cabin about 75 yards away through some trees and across the road (photo to the right). However, the beach was the best damn beach I’ve ever seen on Lake Superior. Quite stunning. I was told the beach in the state park on the Island is the significantly better than any other place on the Island, but this was such a short visit we didn’t get a chance to see it up close. From a distance it looked to be a very deep beach, similar to what you would expect to see from an Ocean beach and not a Lake beach.

Ashby JuliaAshby turned 9 months old on this trip and had some other milestones. It was the first time she was ever on a boat. She had previously stayed in a cabin and has been to Wisonsin before. To date she has been to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, and California. She has already flown twice by now. She will be flying again when we go to California at the end of October again. KMWorld is in San Jose and rather than missing Ashby’s first Halloween we’re going to spend Halloween with Julie (my sister) and the Ekstroms.

MindTouch Represented at Bayfield's AppleFestAs we walked around Bayfield on Saturday, which was packed with people, I stumbled across this fellow wearing a MindTouch Tshirt!! Ok, so it’s really my father in law. Although, I was recently related a story by a friend of mine in which he and his wife were in the Badlands camping when someone recognized the MindTouch shirt his wife was wearing and excitedly proclaimed: “hey I know those guys!” Evidently our brand has developed some equity as I have heard similar stories to this more than a few times. The setting is usually an urban one though.

Bus: Big Pretty and Red RocketsThere was this band playing music at Bayfield that got my attention when they announced they were from North Carolina. I’m unclear as to what their band name was, but they were quite good. I’m not sure if they were called “Bus”, “Big Pretty” or “Red Rockets.” Anyway, they had a suuuper unique sound. It was like ska fused with hip-hop with a tinge of folk/rock, and I’m certain I even heard a blue grass influence in a couple songs. Sounds weird, but it worked. At any rate, it turns out the fellow on the Cello (to the right) graduated two years earlier than me from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Computer Science program. Apparently after a stint at IBM he decided to pursue music full-time. We even had mutual friends, he knew Matt McCallus and John Crouch (Matt is at Red Storm still, I think, and John I believe is a full-time musician now). Crazy.

In general, it was a good mini-mini-vacation. If you do make it to Madeline Island definitely stop by the “Island Oasis” bar on a weekend night after 9pm. It’s a trippy local hang-out that is open only in the Summer and Fall (I’m told). Kind of hard to describe, but certainly worth stopping at.

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Dandelife and autobiography

I recently did a little experiment over at Dandelife.com to see if this could replace my personal blogging space. I think this is a really cool service. It’s been a long while since I did any real blogging as is evident by perusing the archives here at SunNimbus. I thought Dandelife may reignite my interest in personal blogging. It did, but I’ve now decided to stop blogging at Dandelife. Why? Well, I want to own my data (plus they’re not open source). Sure, I really like Dandelife’s cool timeline view and how easy it is to add my Flickr photos, but what happens to all my content? Who owns it? I think it would be great for my daughter, Ashby (photo here at Coon Rapids Dam), to be able to read my crap ten years from now. However, where is Dandelife going to be 2 years from now? Where will all these other hosted services be? Who Knows!! As an employee of a ~”Web2.0″ company that is constantly evangelising data custody maybe I’ve drunk my own Kool-Aid. Or, have I? There are ample stories of hosted companies, like Flickr, blocking competitors from using their API to allow ‘we the users’ to pull our content out and /or expose it elsewhere. Who owns my content…If it’s not on my server? So, why am I using Flickr still…I don’t know…I still have high res copies of all my photos. Is there a better photo sharing service out there? Anyhow, I’m going to move all my posts from Dandelife to SunNimbus and abandon that space. I want data custody! Nonetheless, I think Dandelife’s timeline view is cool and overall I think they have a slick interface; moreover, I think their emphasis on providing an autobiography is a really good idea, perhaps more so now that I have a progenitor. After all, who else would really give a damn?

Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi

Tara and I tried to make it out to the Apple orchard near Stillwater, MN with the neighbors Ron, JJ, and Alla (sp?). Ashby, after visiting the Como Park Zoo the day before, had some terrible nightmares the night before, we think she was freaked out by the gorillas; so, she wasn’t up for the orchard, but later that day we visited the Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi river. It was pretty cool. The dam is actually these big inflated tubes that they deflate or inflate to facilitate water flow.

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Como Zoo

We headed out to the Como Zoo today. Ashby had a blast. I can’t believe how nice that place is and it’s essentially free! I’m not a fan of zoos, but they have a wonderful children’s amusement park with rides, some really nice children’s rides in fact. Not that Ashby is old enough to enjoy them. Anyway, check out Ashby’s little mushroom outfit. It’s awesome! Mushrooms good…Notice her hat even has little mushrooms hanging off it. We were stopped by four distinct women who wouldn’t stop talking about how damn cute Ashby is. Gerber baby…baby.

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Minnesota Historical Society

Tara, Ashby and I visited the Minnesota Historical Society today. It was really nice. Ashby really enjoyed being outside of the museum with a view of the state capitol, cathedral, and downtown. They had this wonderful exhibit titled: Open House: If These Walls Could Talk, which features a house there in St. Paul that was built in 1888 and has had 50 families reside in it. It was super cool! The first family was a German family, then Italians, then a mix, and now it’s inhabited by Hmong families. Quite a story.

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