From Freedom to Fascism – and Back

By Steve Bhaerman

Keeping the field of truth moving forward.

How unreal are we going to let reality get before we get real?
-Swami Beyondananda

The other night, I watched the most heartening disheartening movie I’ve seen in a long time. Huh?? Let me explain. The movie was called “From Freedom to Fascism,” and while the content was disheartening, the context was heartening indeed.

At a time when America has surely been divided and just about conquered, segregated into two rival cultural/political tribes that are discouraged from having civil discourse, here finally is an attempt to create a unifying context. “From Freedom to Fascism” is the work of Libertarian activist and film producer Aaron Russo (“The Rose,” “Trading Places”), and it takes on the illegality of the Internal Revenue Service and the private ownership of the Federal Reserve Bank – pet libertarian issues generally associated with the right wing. The movie also criticizes the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and other recent attempts to turn due process into “doo-doo process.” The result is a film that shows how both political parties operate to the detriment of the vast majority of Americans. Could it be that we the people finally have a unifying tool to help grow the “up-wising?”

Consider that earlier this year, Jefferson Public Radio (Ashland, Oregon) talk show host Jeff Golden (author of “As If We Were Grown-ups”) co-sponsored a showing of the movie with a right-wing Rush Limbaugh-clone talk show host from nearby Medford. The film played to a full house, roughly half of whom identified themselves as “progressive,” and half “conservative.” As the final credits rolled, the entire crowd stood up and cheered together.

This should be cause for all of us to cheer.

While strategically it makes all the sense in the world to throw the Republicans out of power in Congress this fall, throwing the Democrats in will not in and of itself alter the corporate influence in government. A Democratic victory should definitely be seen as the first step for “we the people” taking back America, but it is only a first step. And given the Democrats’ uncanny knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – primarily by not facing the fundamental issues that are apparent to more and more Americans daily – their regaining Congress would be even more an expression of changing political will in this country.

Lasting change of direction can only come when a significant number of Americans choose to step away from the limiting positions of “left” and “right” and come together to thoughtfully face the real issues that confront us:

  • What really creates safety and security in a shrinking world that could use a good shrink?
  • How can we use our human and planetary resources to feed the whole – instead of the “hole” we seem to be feeding now?
  • How can we nourish independence and interdependence at the same time?
  • How do we turn issues like global warming, peak oil and environmental reconstruction into economic and spiritual opportunities?

But before we talk about what could be happening in this country, it’s essential that we face what is happening here. Put another way, before we put the body politic on a bodybuilding regimen, we must address the life-threatening situation it’s in right now.

First the good news: The Law of 75

Several years ago, spiritual psychologist Patricia Sun was speaking at a “new age” bookstore being picketed by four Christian fundamentalists. When she suggested going out and talking to the pickets, the bookstore owner rolled her eyes and said, “You can’t talk to those people.” Patricia decided to do it anyway. She went out there, looked them in the eye and spoke from her heart. After a short while, three of the four put down their signs. “You’re saying what Jesus said!” they said, and hugged her. The fourth refused and continued picketing.

This story led me to conclude that three out of four people – whatever their ideological orientation – are capable of transcending that belief system in the face of something greater: the power of love and respect. Or as the Swami has said, “Get ’em by their hearts and their heads will follow.” Hence what I call “The Law of 75.”

Of course, in this divide-and-conquer atmosphere where the media tends to spark heat instead of light, the “you can’t talk to those people” mentality prevails. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether those people are Christian fundamentalists or Muslim ones. Merely the disdainful designation as “those people” is enough to tear the thin membrane of mutual respect, even before a word is uttered.

A recent article in the Washington Post suggests that “those people” might not be what we’ve been led to think. According to the article, from 20% to 35% of so-called “evangelicals” actually subscribe to progressive values like economic equity, environmentalism (which they call “Care for Creation”) and ending the war in Iraq. So, if these evangelicals make up 25% of America’s population, and at least one fifth of them don’t buy into the religious right’s religious wrongs, that means that the “base” of the religious right is less than 20% of American voters.

So how is it that the Neocon Republicans can rule on the basis of such a small base? Well, as we will see it’s not their base that has debased our democracy and put freedom in the basement. It’s their baseness.

And now the other news: It’s not the base, it’s the baseness

On a recent Saturday night in Santa Rosa, the Swami had the honor of opening for Mark Crispin Miller, author of “Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One (Unless We Stop Them).”

Miller, a respected writer and professor at NYU, has been – in the parlance of the 60s – “radicalized.” That’s when some significant emotional event springs you from the matrix of conventional beliefs, and all of a sudden you find yourself saying things you never dreamed you’d be saying. Miller’s radicalizing experience came when he began investigating election fraud before the 2004 election, and then had his suspicions fully confirmed afterward. As Miller said to open his talk, when you allow yourself to look at the evidence, there is no doubt whatsoever that not only are voting machines hackable, they have been hacked and they will be hacked again.

The issue, Miller maintains, is not just the electronic voting machines but the electronic counting of ballots, where “black box” technology is used and no one is allowed to monitor the process! “Faith-based vote counting,” Swami calls it. Thanks to an article earlier this year by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Rolling Stone, the voting fraud issue has broken through the “soundless barrier.”

Indeed, a recent Zogby poll indicates that 45% of Americans now believe that it was election fraud that put George Bush in office the past two elections. And the other 55%? They just don’t want to go there. However, as Miller so starkly pointed out, “there” has already come here. Sadly, what has kept this neo-fascist regime in power – in addition to their willingness to do anything to stay in power – is “Not-Seeism,” the choice too many Americans have made to not see what’s right in front of them.

This is understandable. Who wants to go to bed (or wake up) with the thought that the leaders we have supposedly elected have fixed elections, lied us into war, and possibly allowed or caused our nation to be attacked precisely so that we could go to war? However, as someone who has been a student of politics since I was a kid – and not someone given to paranoid pronouncements – I have concluded that this current regime is a different creature from any in America’s history. We keep wanting to imagine them as simply a pesky and persistent brand of “conservatives” who will get their comedownance at the polls someday. In reality, they are the most toxic sociopathogen our body politic has ever had to endure, and their goal is what can only be called “the final solution to the democracy problem.”

They have violated, flouted, twisted and defied the most basic common understandings of our 220-year-old political system. Their proven corruption is unbounded, and it doesn’t seem to matter to them who knows it. They act as if they will never really have to face the electorate nor be held accountable. One alarm bell is that a panoply of true conservatives – from the far-right Cato Foundation to William F. Buckley to Richard Viguerie to John Dean – have condemned the abuses of power on the part of the neocons and say that neo-conservatism has no resemblance whatever to real conservatism. Ironically, conservatives with conscience have been more pointed in their critique of this un-American regime than many mainstream Democrats.

According to Miller, the recent Bush campaign to “rally his base” by invoking 9/11 and security issues is a ruse. He knows his base is a minority to start with and shrinking daily. The ruse, says Miller, is merely a cover so that if and when the election is stolen – as in 2004 – the Republicans can crow that their “base” showed up at the polls, when it was their baseness that showed up instead. And if for some reason the Republicans still lose their grip on Congress? We can expect – as Thom Hartmann reported on his show recently – that THEY will cry foul, and say the Democrats perpetrated voter fraud!

So … what to do?

From bad news to good news: The antidote for big brother is bigger brotherhood

As anyone who’s ever been to a 12-step program will tell you, the first step is acknowledge you have a problem. So here is the problem as clearly and starkly as it can be stated: We have a de facto dictatorship in America now, and the only thing to prevent it from becoming an “in facto” one is the awakening of we the people. As Mark Crispin Miller pointed out, even if the vote IS stolen the one thing we the people can do to assert ourselves is to vote in record numbers anyway, and to vote for regime change. The more overwhelming the turnout, the less able they will be to steal it – and in case they do, the more overwhelming the outcry.

It’s taken the body politic years to lose its muscle tone, so it would be unreasonable to expect that we can get our “mojo” back all at once. Consequently, we should do all we can to win at the polls this time and realize the “up-wising” and subsequent revitalization of America’s true values is a longer term conversation. We should soberly face the likely truth that the only thing that can shore up their regime is more force, and that their ultimate goal is neo-feudalism disguised as Big Brother totalitarianism.

And the only way to outstrip Big Brother is by cultivating “bigger brotherhood.” Let’s remind ourselves of the Law of 75 and realize that at least 75% of Americans want an open society, not totalitarianism. That means, we should – as Patricia Sun showed us-speak face-to-face and heart-to-heart with the “heartland.” I would even suggest replacing the word “Republican” with “Neocon” to describe this regime, and become familiar with what true conservatives and even Republicans (like former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia) have said about Bush and company.

One hope is to “convert” Republicans to turn away from neocon fascism in favor of true conservatism. A good innocent opening question when talking with those who identify as conservatives is, “Do you trust our government to tell you the truth?” Second question is, “Would you prefer to have a government that is truthful and responsive or one that lies to you for its own benefit?” Then finally, “So what are you going to do about it?”

One likely response you’ll get is the cynical one: “That’s the way things are, and that’s the way they’ll always be. There will always be corruption, abuse, etc.”

A possible answer to that is: “That’s exactly what they want you to believe – that greed and evil are our nature. But maybe they want you to believe that to provide cover for their own actions. Are people in your own family greedy and evil? Or are they, just like you, trying to get by and provide for their families?”

On the progressive side of the fence, contextualize pet progressive issues from peace to environmentalism to civil rights to social security reform as all part of the bigger conversation of restoring “government of, by and for the people where our government does the people’s bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.”

Know that you are a part of a growing energy field, no matter what the results this time around. Consider that the current gang of misleaders have the media in their pocket, have zillions of dollars to spend and have the power of force and fraud on their side. And still they are concerned about losing. Keep this in mind: Their greatest weapon is fear, and their greatest fear is truth.

Finally the most valuable-and perhaps underrated-action you can take is to keep the field of truth moving forward. In every conversation, in every meditation, in every prayer move the truth forward fearlessly. The more the field expands, the more likely change is to unfold, often in a surprising way. Last week, Trudy and I did a prayer and visualization for the body politic to “operate from the qualities of the intelligent heart” and that “the transition to the truth is safe and just.”

The next morning, the headlines were full of Rep. Foley’s resignation-and the subsequent exposure of the hypocrisy of those who hide behind puritanism and yet cynically live by their own rules. The Republican misleadership immediately activated their spin and blame machine, but all indications were people just weren’t buying it.

As a “coincidence theorist,” I can only conclude this surprising outbreak of truth was merely a coincidence, and it sure would be nice if we could create more of them. So, here’s my “tell a vision”: Let’s create the greatest coincidence ever-that the reality of what America is finally coincides with the dream our founders had. And there’s no one here to do it but us.

This article was originally published on November 22, 2006.