Friday, June 22, 2007

Bertram Gross: With "Friendly Fascism," A Prophet Without Honor In His Homeland

By Manifesto Joe

I recently dug up an old copy of a sociopolitical classic, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, by Bertram Gross, published at the dawn of the Reagan era in 1980. I did Web searches and can't determine whether Gross is dead or alive. He would be quite old, if living. His bio on the jacket says he "was the major architect of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978, and the Employment Act of 1946, in their original forms." He served in many official and advisory roles as a government planner, and was a political science professor at Hunter College (CUNY). He seems to have written an enduring classic in this book, one of chilling prophesy. He set up a table that is most telling:

Classic Fascism: Drives by capitalist laggards to build new empires at the expense of leading capitalist powers.
Friendly Fascism, U.S.A.: Drive to maintain unity of Free World empire, contain or absorb communist regimes, or else retreat to Fortress America.

Classic: A tight Government-Big Business oligarchy with charismatic dictator or figurehead, and expansionist, scapegoating, and nationalist ideologies.
Friendly: An integrated Big Business-Big Government power structure with new technocratic ideologies and more advanced arts of ruling and fooling the public.

Classic: Liquidation or minimalization of multiparty conflict and open subversion, with little use of democratic machinery and human rights.
Friendly: Subtle subversion, through manipulative use and control of democratic machinery, parties, and human rights.

Classic: Negative sanctions through ruthless, widespread, and high-cost terror; direct action against selected scapegoats.
Friendly: Direct terror applied through low-level violence and professionalized, low-cost escalation, with indirect terror through ethnic conflicts, multiple scapegoats, and organized disorder.

Classic: Ceaseless propaganda, backed up by spies and informers, to consolidate elite support and mobilize masses.
Friendly: Informational offenses backed by high-technology monitoring, to manage minds of elites and immobilize masses.

Classic: Widespread benefits through more jobs, stabilized prices, domestic spoils, foreign booty, and upward mobility for the most faithful.
Friendly: Rationed rewards of power and money for elites, extended professionalism, accelerated consumerism for some, and social services conditional on the recipients' good behavior.

Classic: Anxiety relief through participatory spectacles, mass action, and genuine bloodletting.
Friendly: More varied relief through sex, drugs, madness, and cults, as well as alcoholism, gambling, sports, and ultraviolent drama.

Classic: Internal viability based on sustained, frantic, and eventually self-destructive expansion.
Friendly: Internal viability based on careful expansion, system-strengthening reforms, multilevel co-optation, and mass apathy.

Mr. Gross seems to have been a classic prophet without honor. But his half-life as a prophet may have been only 20 years or so. Lately, that classic model is starting to look somewhat eerily like the contemporary scene. Or vice versa.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

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