A Foretaste of Fascism

July 26, 2021 Updated: July 27, 2021

Commentary

How can we make sense of the Biden administration’s project to establish a shadow state in which the federal government achieves its unconstitutional objectives—mask mandates, forced vaccines, suppression of religious freedom and free speech—by recruiting private corporations to do its bidding? What is the official name for this public-private partnership in opposition to our liberties?

Before I answer this question, let’s zoom in on precisely what the administration seeks to do. It recognizes, of course, that any attempt to impose a nationwide mask mandate or to force Americans to take the vaccine would run into serious constitutional problems. Where does the Constitution give the federal government the power to require such things? Nowhere.

Moreover, there are practical obstacles. How exactly would the federal government go about enforcing such mandates? It would take a nationwide reporting system of unimaginable complexity to ensure full compliance with a mask mandate. No less than a national vaccine database would be needed to ensure that all citizens took their compulsory vaccine. In either case, it’s unclear what penalties could be imposed on those who refused.

Consequently, the Biden team has come up with an easier way. What if private corporations imposed mask mandates and required COVID-19 vaccinations? What if the government could enlist a wide array of private-sector entities that provide essential services to citizens to carry out what the government itself might find very difficult to carry out? In this way, the government would create a national passport system without having to administer it all from Washington.

Let’s say that you need proof of vaccination to fly on a plane, or to eat at a restaurant, or to go to a baseball game, or to return to work. This would put pressure on citizens to get vaccines or run the risk of being excluded from the basic activities of life. They could hold out and refuse to be vaccinated, but the consequence would be dire: They would, in effect, become second-class citizens.

Now add to this the administration’s attempt to coordinate with digital platforms not merely to enforce mask or vaccine compliance, but also to enforce viewpoint compliance about masks and vaccines. And why stop there? Since we’re on this track, there’s no reason to stop at public health; how about viewpoint compliance on a host of other issues, from gender identity to election fraud to climate change?

Pause to consider the staggering implications. Social media platforms that were created to foster communication and debate, and were given special immunity from lawsuits to foster a vibrant public square, are now the instruments of suppressing public discourse. The very tools of freedom have become tools of oppression—a clear and present danger to democracy itself.

Citizens who don’t fall into line with the enthroned orthodoxies not only face the risk of being kicked off a plane or being fired at work; they also face the risk of being excluded from the public square. In effect, they become “non-citizens” in that their participation in democratic debate has been circumvented.

To the degree they can’t even communicate with friends, relatives, and other associates, they have virtually become “non-persons,” and all with the active collaboration of the U.S. government. To quote press secretary Jen Psaki, it’s not enough that one digital platform ban purveyors of supposed misinformation; all platforms must simultaneously ban them.

There’s a name for such a partnership between the state and the private sector to force all the citizens into lockstep: fascism. In invoking this term, I’m not trying to engage in rhetorical hyperbole. First, let’s clarify that fascism is not the same thing as Nazism. Fascism preceded Nazism by a quarter of a century, and the quintessential fascist was Mussolini, not Hitler. There were powerful fascist movements in England, France, Belgium, and Italy before Hitler devised his own distinctive type of fascism—a fascism built upon anti-Semitism—that came to be known as Nazism.

To understand fascism, I’d like to focus on Giovanni Gentile, the preeminent philosopher of fascism, a prominent Italian educator who also became a close adviser to Mussolini. Gentile argues that there are two types of democracy that are “diametrically opposed.” One is liberal democracy, which envisions society as made up of individuals and the state as the protector of individual rights.

Gentile rejects this form of democracy and recommends a different type that he terms “true democracy,” in which individuals are fully subordinated to the authority of society and the state. Gentile argues that the individual doesn’t precede society; society precedes the individual. Society forms the individual and represents what he calls each person’s “larger self.”

Private action, according to Gentile, must be mobilized to serve the public interest. There’s no distinction between private interests and the public interest. That’s because society represents “the very personality of the individual divested of accidental differences … where the individual feels the general interest as his own.” In the same vein, Gentile argues that corporations must serve society and the public welfare and not just seek their own private benefit.

Who, then, speaks for society as a whole? For Gentile, there’s only one answer to this question: the state. Gentile views society and the state as basically the same. “The authority of the state,” he writes, “is not subject to negotiation. … It is entirely unconditioned. … It could not depend on the people; in fact, the people depended on the state. … Morality and religion … must be subordinated to the laws of the state.”

This is fascism, a philosophy that Gentile didn’t hesitate to term “totalitarian.” For him “totalitarian” was a positive term, invoking as it did a unified state and a unified national consciousness in which all citizens and private entities fall into line and march behind a single banner and a single authority. Fascism, in this sense, represents a special variant of socialism, one in which private entities aren’t taken over by the state but nevertheless do the bidding of the state.

Isn’t this the big picture that the Biden administration is attempting to draw on the American canvas? I recognize that Biden team members would heatedly and emphatically deny the fascist elements of their policies, but this wouldn’t be because the label is incorrect. Rather, their denial would be largely based on the public relations disaster of acknowledging that they are introducing an American version of fascism. Admittedly, it’s a long way from today’s America to the kind of nightmarish regimes that fascism foisted on the world, but anyone familiar with the relevant history can see that we are moving quietly and steadily in that direction.

Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker, and daily host of the Dinesh D’Souza podcast.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Dinesh D’Souza
Dinesh D’Souza
Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker, and daily host of the Dinesh D’Souza podcast.