Who are the real fascists: Marine Le Pen - or the United States?

May 3, 2012
Alexander Cockburn

Americans worry about the rise of extremism in Europe, but they aren't overly concerned by their own 'proto-fascist' country

AMERICAN discussions of Europe swivel between rationality and hysteria. A discussion of Europe's awful unemployment figures and swelling mutiny against austerity suddenly mutates into tremulous wails about the menace of fascism in France, rancid racism in the Netherlands, the anti-Semitic beast unchained in Germany (in the terrifying form of Günter Grass's new poem).

A lot of this has to do with Marine Le Pen, leader of France's National Front. Now and again I'll mention her in something I've written without the obligatory insults about her family heritage and presumed totalitarian agenda. Furious letters pour in, particularly since she made a strong showing in the first round of the French presidential elections.

Marine Le Pen is a nationalist politician, quite reasonably exploiting the intense social discontent in France amid the imposition of the bankers' austerity programs. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard put it in The Daily Telegraph recently, she "presents herself as a latterday Jeanne d'Arc, openly comparing France's pro-EU camp with the Burgundians who plotted 'English Annexation' in the 1430s - or indeed 'Les Collabos' who bought peace after 1940. 'Let us break the chains of the French people. Bring on the French Spring,' she tells Front National rallies."

Anti-Semitism? Diana Johnstone, an excellent journalist who has been reporting from France for years, writes to me, "There is absolutely nothing attesting to anti-Semitism on the part of Marine Le Pen. She has actually tried to woo the powerful Jewish organisations, and her anti-Islam stance is also a way to woo such groups. The simple fact is that the best way to destroy someone in this country is to call him or her 'anti-Semitic'."

Marine Le Pen certainly has made some unsavoury comments about immigrants and Islamisation. But she has gone to the heart of the matter, asserting that monetary union cannot be fudged, that it is incompatible with the French nation-state. She has won 18 per cent of the vote by campaigning to pull France out of the euro and smash the whole project. As Johnstone explains, a new poll shows only three per cent of French voters consider immigration the main issue. So logically, Le Pen cannot owe her 18 percent to that issue. The number-one issue is employment.

It's true, things could get ugly. Europe's politics are being refashioned before our eyes. Greece has 21 per cent unemployment, and the socialist Pasok party could face near-extinction in the upcoming elections. In Spain, one-in-four is out of work, and the right-wing prime minister insists on maintaining austerity. As Evans-Pritchard points out, "We forget now, but Germany was heavily indebted to foreigners in 1930, like Spain today. It was the refusal of the creditor powers (US and France) to reliquify the system and slow monetary contraction that pushed Germany over a cliff. The parallels are haunting."

But there's another aspect to this habit of flinging the charge of fascism at Europe, and that's the simple matter of national hypocrisy. The mobs who flooded into the streets to revel in the execution of Osama bin Laden a year ago were not exulting in America, land of the free and of constitutional propriety. They were lauding brute, lawless, lethal force. In this year of political conventions we'll be hearing a lot of tub-thumping about American freedoms, but if there's any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the admittedly vague label of 'fascist', surely it's the United States.

Fascism, among other things, is a system of extreme, methodical state repression, violent in contour and threat, buttressed by ultra-nationalist mythology, a militarist culture and imperial ambition. In the 1980s America started locking up its poor people. Seven million adults were under correctional supervision in 2009. A fascist system uses constant harassment. Last year there were more than 600,000 stop-and-frisks in New York City, overwhelmingly of blacks and Hispanics. Historically, fascist regimes have been particularly cruel toward what is deemed to be sexual deviancy. US sex offender registries doom three-quarters of a million people - many of them convicted on trumpery charges - to pale simulacra of real life. Others endure castration and open-ended incarceration.

Fascist regimes, ultimately the expression of corporate power, repress labour in all efforts to organise. The onslaught here began with Taft-Hartley in 1947 and continued with methodical ferocity during the Reagan and Clinton years. Obama reneged on pledges to make organising easier, froze the wages of federal workers and advanced free trade across the globe. Attacks on collective bargaining are pervasive. Big money's grip on both parties ensures corporate control no matter who's nominally in charge. Fascist regimes show open contempt for democracy while deifying a leader who embodies the national spirit. We salute democracy while suppressing it.

A fascist regime is the sworn foe of the right to assembly, 'unauthorised' marches and encampments. We're sure to see more signs of this around the Nato summit and the national conventions. America is a network of Swat teams and kindred state-employed thugs on permanent red alert.
A fascist regime spies obsessively on its citizens. Study US laws on secret surveillance since the Patriot Act and you will find procedures that would have been the envy of the East Germans.

Ultimately a fascist state claims the right to imprison its victims without term or hope of redress or legal representation. As the executive power, in the form of the president, it claims the right to kill its enemies, whether citizens (Awlaki) or others (Guantánamo), without judicial review. In other words, rule by decree - which is what Hitler's Enabling Act won him in March 1933.

We live in a fascist country - 'proto-fascist' if you want to allay public disquiet, though there's scant sign that most Americans are disturbed by the trends. So quit beating up on Europe.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

Absolutely right.  The Americans should look to their own back yard and worry about fascism.  Add this to their extreme Christian right-wing, their frighteningly uneducated, yet very popular, politicians (Palin, for example) and you have a blueprint for fascism.  Not all fascists are white, and sport a silly moustache.

In many ways America has parallels to its enemies:  Driven by religious extremes, blindly jingoistic, under educated, protectionist and ambivalent to cultures other than their own.

 God bless and save America!

Being an American I must agree with, and add that William Brown's comment has succinctly illustrated the face of a rapidly imploding culture - one whose values and ethics are founded upon the same barbaric fascism that began its infancy when Columbus first planted the flag of Spain in its soil and subsequent western European cultures brutalized and pillaged its original inhabitants. By the way, my heritage is western European.   

Well Alexander, you may as well relocate to a European non-fascist country of your choice. Every country tries to destroy its mortal enemies as is their right to protect their citizens.

Germany is well on the way to taking over the EU,so watch out !

Funny, funny Cockburn.  Dissembling and, "look over there, nothing to see here", babble-fest is apparently what he considers a defense of the spiral into 1920's decadence and 1930's response that's fallen on the failed socialist states of Euro-land?   And funnier yet, that he's now suddenly discovered that his US golden boy, Euro-loving POTUS is a Liberal Fascist and Equivocator, who makes GWB look like a benevolent Philospher King, is rich with irony.  As to fascism in the US, he misses the point entirely as in reality the out-of-power conservatives battle the subversive forces of the Obama regieme's pet Occupy movement and their Kristallnacht  May Day tactics of jackbooted enforcement of "Fairness".  There are fascists and anti-semites running about in America, and they're wearing Guy Fawkes masks, hoods and  carrying Obama in 2012 signs.  

Something that all Brits should know about Marine Le Pen and her husband:  They are France's equivalent of the BNP.  'Nough said....

well said............

Obama doesn't support Israel Apartheid.  Therefore he is a Fascist.   It is no wonder Europe is growing tired of the Jews (again).

 As to Mr. Cockburn leaving the U.S. just imagine being a correspondent for the U.S. of a British publication and doing that, say, from Ireland?  Get real!
I had it after 21 years in the U.S. in 2004 and returned to Germany because my "fascism-alarm" went off back then already all the time.   I wasn't a correspondent covering the U.S. and could well afford it.
As to destroying one's mortal enemies, why not begin avoiding making them in the first place.  If the U.S. wouldn't mingle in other nations' business all over the world and attempt to reap their resources, it would be actually liked as a friendly behemoth, yet that illusion was lastingly destroyed by the Cheney/Bush jr. administration and the war crimes that are still committed to this day, be it the CIA or the uniformed goons. 
As Obama said, there is light on the horizon, ... but it indicates the demise of this fascist construct.  Once the US-$ no longer is needed for resource-transactions, this is it!!  Mark my words!

Are there so many Jews in Europe to get fed up with? Your namesake did a through job. I am proud that my native country Britain and the country where I now live stood up to scum like Hitler. Remember what happened to Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne etc? That's what happens to Nazi scum. As for the US being fascist, the fascist economy is based on tight control of key industries, import controls, the end of free speech etc. Whatever the USA's faults, taking over utilities etc is not on its agenda. As for the original author's comment about Ronald Reagan and fascism, he should grow up.

All too sadly, it is France as well. Napoleon, Hitler, the Kaiser. Nothing changes.

I am British. I have lived in the US for 16 years. I travel regularly back and forth across the Atlantic.

Few things depress me more about the British press than ignorant and trite crap like this screed from Cockburn. Just lazy, lazy, lazy.

The Islamist regimes hate the West because of what we are, Christians & Jews & therefore unbelievers (of Islam)-Kaffirs. Jews are "sons of pigs & monkeys according to the Hadith. Christians have committed the greatest sin by claiming that Jesus was the 'Son of God'. They hate the Hindus and Buddhists in the East because they are also non-believers(of Islam). The are involved in virtually all the wars that are going on now, they murdered Somalies in Africa, they burn Churches in India. They have treated prisoners in the most awful way, by beheadings and torture, yet you only blame the West for human rights abuses. 

It was Lenin that said "Fascism is capitalism in decay"

"As for the US being fascist, the fascist economy is based on tight control of key industries, import controls, the end of free speech etc"

Er, exactly: this US already has tight control of key industries (e.g.cifius regulation) and massive import controls... Free speech is basically non-existent unless what you say agrees with Waspish idiots.

I am British. I have lived all over the US over the past 5 years. I studied at Oxford for undergrad and Harvard for post grad.

It's not lazy articles that are annoying, just plain, unthinking comments from people who may commute regularly but are clearly probably one of the least intelligent of the UK's citizens.

This article was bang on.

This is bizarre.  The Islamists "were made" because of US/UK-policy and also the French lent a hand, keeping the corrupt strong-men in power throughout the region (Sadat & Mubarak in Egypt, the Assads in Syria, Hussein in Jordan, Ben Ali in Tunesia, and all the Persian Gulf fiefdoms with most prominently Saudi Arabia and their Wahhabite loonies (one can't even bring a bible into that medieval place) and the Shah of Iran prior to 1989 -- all these were corrupt to the core and their subjects grew increasingly tired of the conditions.
Iraq was a secular nation when it was attacked by the U.S., so try again.
The placement of this artificial construct Israel into the region along with the associated radical Zionism  radicalised  a few more.  So what's your point?
The Islamists say nothing else than the Jews about their respective non-believers.
Ludicrous is the claim of Islamist-involvement "in virtually all the wars": there is not a single war that the U.S. has missed ever since WW I, so for the last century.  It would help you not watching FOX-news for a while.

...ummm....I think that was the point of the article.

Huge population of angry, unemployed youth? Check.
Economy in the tank, nation perhaps feeling like a bit of an international whipping boy? Check.
Fertile ground for fascism.

The United States foreign policy has  far far far too much Jewish influence.  The USA is a sovereign country.  We can't let the evil bolsheviks do to the USA what they did to Mother Russia.  No more Yagoda, Kaganovich's, Trotskys, and Stalins (including his wives). 

I am worried less about Fascism and much more about the greatest killing machine on the face of God's Green Earth - Bolshevism.  Bolshevism is rearing its ugly head again and it has far too much control of the political scene and the media.  We must all be diligent to eliminate bolshevism.  God will bless you my friends.

Lenin was a protege of the devil.  He surely burns in hell. 

The biggest killer of all time was not Nazi scum but was bolshevik scum.  Look at what yagoda, kaganovich, and stalin (and his wives) did just for starters.  They were part of a killing and raping machine that murdered 66 millino people.  Unforgivable.  Look at the millions of Ukrainians Yagoda starved to death.  Unforgivable.  Kaganovich murdered millions and yet the world court did not even prosecute him.  Look at the bolshevik murderers who fled to Israel and got away with their murders.  Shameful.  Shameful.

he should grow up ... or he'll get burned up like Dresden. THAT;S WHAT HAPPENS

What is really Bizarre is your thinking that it was Europe &
The US which made Islamists. The Islamic 
culture of wiping out non-Muslim peoples is enshrined in the Koran and
the Hadiths. Your blindness in this regard is breathtaking.  You admit this the whabists, founded well
before any interventions by Europe don’t only disallow bibles but do not allow
non-Muslims into Mecca. Are you saying that this is because of Western
interference? They also don’t allow Hindus and Buddhists into Mecca and in
Afghanistan, they destroyed the famous Buddha staues which had been displayed
there for centuries. Is that also because of western interference?

The claim that Israel is an artificial construct is a particularly
bit of nonsense. Jews have lived in the geographical area known as Palestine
for at least 2000 years, even after the Roman expulsion. Even the names of
places in ‘Palestine’ are Jewish, for example: Jerusalem comes from the Hebrew,
Yerushalaim (Hebrew for the ‘City of peace), Hebron is a biblical Jewish city,
Beerseba is Hebrew for ’’Seven wells’, Armageddon is from the Hebrew  Har Megiddo (Mount  Megiddo). Interesting that no other nation
changed those names at any time. Even the ‘West Bank’ was called, until 1949, Judea and Samaria,, again Hebrew.  Archaeologists
have repeatedly shown the Jewish connection to the land.

Now, lets look at the real artificial constructs in the Middle

In 1919, in
the wake of World War I, England and France as Mandatory (e.g.,official administrators
and mentors) carved up the former Ottoman Empire, which had collapsed a year
earlier, into geographic spheres of influence. This divided the Mideast into
new political entities with new names and frontiers.

Territory was
divided along maps without regard for traditional frontiers (i.e., geographic
logic and sustainability) or the ethnic composition of indigenous populations.

The prevailing
rationale behind these artificially created states was how they served the
imperial and commercial needs of their colonial masters. Iraq and Jordan, for instance,
were created as emirates to reward the noble Hashemite family from Saudi Arabia
for its loyalty to the British against the Ottoman Turks during World War I,
under the leadership of Lawrence of Arabia. Iraq was given to Faisal bin Hussein,
son of the sheriff of Mecca, in 1918. To reward his elder brother Abdullah with
an emirate, Britain cut away 77 percent of its mandate over Palestine earmarked
for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah in 1922, creating the new country of
Trans-Jordan, now known as Jordan. Abdullah moves his huge Beduin tribe from
Saudi Arabia to the new country.

We can now
move on to the most obvious false construct of all, Pakistan, which against the
wishes of India was carved out of the Indian sub-continent to please the
Muslims.  Milliuons died in the ensuing
population exchange.

Furthermore, as
far as your assertion that ‘The Islamists say nothing else than the Jews
about their respective non-believers’. The Jewish religion does not denigrate Christians or
Muslims in any way and I challenge you to show otherwise.

I have never
watched Foxtel but you may want to stop reading papers like the Guardian for a


 Because the American people are being brain-washed by faux religion.

 I don't get any pleasure out of criticising ANY country, but I wouldn't want to be poor or ill in the US now.

But how could the underprivileged fight the system, - big money rules ? 
And the "Alantic Bridge" mob want to bring it all over to the UK !!

Shades of 1984

What pure pearls of wisdom, AlexanderCockburn! I make similar remarks all the time,although I  am careful to whom I direct my comments. It was quite a shock to me to discover how totally brain washed many Americans are and how much of the bragged about freedom is largely of the negative variety! And racist Holland, tut, tut. Remove first the beam etc etc.

Perhaps one of Mr Cockburn's staff could send this story to a woman named Julia Gillard, c/- The Lodge, Canberra, ACT. Mme Gillard prostrates her nation at the feet of Uncle Sam. Greasy-grinning at Omama's well-tailored shoulder, she announced the US Marines will set up a presence at Darwin, in the Northern Territory. Mme Gillard has clearly never heard of the late Chalmers Johnson, Charile Savage, Glenn Greenwald, Craig Ungar and a host of other American authors who have ilndelilbly outlined the contours of USA in the 21st century in deeply-researched and civilly-expressed books.  Darwin is a port that Mme Gillard has sent up the river, reducing its citizens -- her putative charges -- to second or third class citizens as the most over-bruited fighting force in history, the US Marine Corps, swaggers and aggravates, and inevitably mission-creeps through the Northern Territory and elsewhere.

Dont ya just love the leftist europeans who love to dump on the US while taking american money and trade benefits?  The US had the right idea in the 30's - stay isolationist and let the europeans kill each other off and blow themselves to pieces.

The real fascists:

Belgian police, arresting French Comedian Dieudonné, for his "anti-semitic" jokes on TV. He is one of founders of "Parti Anti-sioniste" in France, one of those millions of French people who are sick and tired of Zionist dictatorship in France, headed by two Zionist French Presidents, first Sarkozy, now Hollande, both aligned on the USA and ISRAHELL, bombing the shit out of Libya, now aggressing Syria with their KOSHER NOSTRA French secret services.

Those are the real fascists in France.

"presumed totalitarian agenda"

I gather you don't speak French and haven't been near the Affront National's website, otherwise (I hope) you wouldn't be so accommodating of her reactionary, xenophobic; head-in-the-sand views.