Change blindness: research and history how Americans are as blind to US fascism as Nazi-era Germans
December 12, 4:25 PM
LA County Nonpartisan Examiner Carl Herman
Psychological research demonstrates that large-scale dramatic change can escape attention when the change is unsuspected, unannounced, and agents causing the change act as if nothing is different. Two areas of this cognitive study are “change blindness” and “inattentional blindness.” When we include consideration of “cognitive dissonance,” the rejection of facts when they conflict with important beliefs, we can approach an explanation of how educated citizens could accept fascism when it was unsuspected, unannounced, and the responsible agents fraudulently represented the new government as no different from the old. Cognitive dissonance would deter many people to accept the new reality, even when the facts were clear.
The definition of “fascism” has some academic variance, but is essentially collusion among corporatocracy, authoritarian government, and controlled media and education. This “leadership” is only possible with a nationalistic public accepting policies of war, empire, and limited civil and political rights.
Yes, I am making the argument that the US is no longer a constitutinal republic, but a fascist regime that Americans are struggling with cognitive dissonance, change blindness, and inattentional blindness to recognize. Let’s look to history before we consider the US of the present and if we are afflicted with a kind of cognitive blindness to American fascism.
Fascism in Germany
Historically in Nazi Germany, Hitler wrote of the power of the “Big Lie”:
"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so are brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes."
- Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf , vol.1, ch. 10, 1925
This psychological factor, combined with German resentment against blame and payment for WW1, the Nazi partial implementation of monetary reform that created full employment and a successful economy in the middle of the Great Depression, set a frame of relative trust in government. Dissent was “re-educated” or crushed in work camps, propaganda and education lauded genuine economic infrastructure improvement parallel to military build-up. The downfall was the result of a critical mass of the public believing their government’s overall trustworthiness, and subsequently their story that the invasion of Poland was defensive against Germany being attacked. Germany framed their War of Aggression as their “War to save Europe;” a noble national defense against Britain and France's determination to keep Germany weak and non-competitive to their goals for imperialistic global domination, and against the rise of Bolshevism in Russia.
The demonized Jews were at first framed as dangerous to German national achievement. Their economic success as a group was framed as parasitism, and influence in the press as self-serving rather than in service to the nation. As a group, they became synonymous to terrorists.
Nazi Germany’s Master Plan
We now know that Nazi leadership’s goals were European domination and partnership with Britain in exchange for non-competition of their empire, and written by Hitler in his unpublished second book in 1928. The Nazi’s saw their goal of a unified Europe under their “superior” governance as a greater good that justified their “creative destruction” of inferior humans. They would lie to the German public as they advanced forward to accomplish what they perceived as a noble future for Germany, Europe, and eventually the world when Britain and Germany’s alliance would eventually absorb or defeat the US around 1980.
Does the US have a similar plan of fascist Nazi Germany for a “superior” American future that is worth wars and lies to accomplish? Let’s explore.
America’s Master Plan?
The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) contributed over 20 of the Bush Administration’s “leadership,” including Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and other key positions in Defense and State Departments.
In 1992, then Secretary of Defense Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz produced a paper for the future strategic goals of the US following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The paper was leaked; among the goals was for the US to expand as the world's Superpower through our military to "establish and protect a new order." The report endorsed “pre-emptive” attacks and ad hoc coalitions for military objectives, but as an unrivaled Superpower should act independent of international agreement if "collective action cannot be orchestrated." The strategy included military plans for intervention in Iraq for US "access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil."
In 1998, PNAC lobbied President Clinton for war with Iraq, independent of UN Security Council legal authority. In 2000, PNAC issued its report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for the New Century" (summary here). The report stated the goal of a “Pax Americana,” an American “peace” that would achieve US interests by the method of "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major-theater wars." The US would usurp UN authority: "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations." The US would ensure its dominance through expansion of global military bases, now at over 700.
The report ominously included on page 63: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor." This would conveniently happen on 9/11; kicking in plans for invasion and hegemony in Afghanistan, Iraq, rhetoric for war with Iran, and now attacks in Pakistan.
How close is the US to fascism?
We’re there; the US is fascist. As a teacher of US government, I spend a lot of time with these basic definitions. Let’s look.
The US was formed as a constitutional republic; a political philosophy of limited government, separated powers with checks and balances to ensure the federal government’s power stays limited within the Constitution, protected civil liberties, and elected representatives responsible to the people who retain the most political power.
The US ideals that we embrace is equality under just laws, freedom of opportunity expressed through inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence, and creative independence to cooperatively compete for our best ideas to be rewarded.
Is this what we have today? Hardly. Let’s consider the salient evidence.
The US brazenly violates our laws of war, both demanded by the Constitution and the UN Charter, with open invasion of Afghanistan in abject violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and their government’s agreement to help extradite Osama bin Laden upon US presentment of evidence that he was involved in any crime of UN and/or international law. The US refused both the Afghan standard legal requirement of extradition and the UN resolution for cooperation under law and attacked. The new administration of Obama does not acknowledge this illegal history, but expands the invasion and attacks Pakistan. This policy is fascist, not limited by US law.
The US openly lied about reasons to justify an attack upon Iraq, destroying any semblance of argument of “self-defense.” The Obama administration won’t acknowledge the disclosed history from our own House and Senate investigations, and violates his oath of office to prosecute clear crimes. This policy is authoritarian, fascist, and does not hold equality under just laws. It is an un-American policy by definition.
The US tortured, with Obama refusing to prosecute and giving empty rhetoric to end it. The destruction of civil liberties to enforce authoritarian government is fascist, not American.
The US lies for more war with Iran, rejecting inalienable and legal rights for Iranians. Obama continues this policy of unlawful aggression, including official policy for first-strike nuclear weapons upon conclusion that Iran poses a possible future threat to the US and/or our allies. Political leaders and corporate media ignore the ignoble history of US vicious domination of Iranian government through coup and backed invasion. Fascist policy; un-American.
The US violates numerous treaty law with WMD, and hypocritically asserts our war targets' alleged violations justify US armed attack. This rejection of limited government under the law is a fascist empire on the loose, not a law-abiding neighbor. Added hypocrisy is the psychopathic front of American political leaders as Christians.
American corporatocracy is dominated by Enron-like cartels, headed by banks receiving the transfer of TRILLIONS of our tax dollars to pay-off their gambling debts in exotic derivative markets the federal government regulates only in more empty rhetoric. This socialization of corporate-insiders’ losses is fascist, and fundamentally in opposition of the American ideal of cooperative competition on a level playing field. Obvious financial solutions for the public good are ignored in their corporate and not public policy commitment.
While our government's official line is respect for Islam, their wars betray this analysis. If extremists were the small minority, why not peacefully cooperate to marginalize and arrest those in violation of just laws? Muslims as a group are often demonized in US media, and often the entire group is branded as terrorists. For example, consider the segment from the radio talk show of Michael Savage below.
The corporate media will not present such disturbing facts and analysis. Their outright lies of commission and omission are prima facie evidence of a controlled media, supported by revealed documentation from whistle-blowers. American freedom of the press is left to independent websites and those few media outlets who tolerate reporting such as you read now.
I was not rehired as a government teacher for presenting these documented facts in consideration of the most basic definitions among the first lessons in studying government. I am a Harvard-educated and National Board Certified teacher with a history including two Los Angeles mayors honoring me as one of the city’s top few teachers. I present facts far more boldly to a targeted adult journal audience than to high school-aged children preparing to enter adult civic participation. I put the disturbing information of US disclosed facts of war (mostly from House and Senate Committee reports) in writing and submitted it to peer-review to my social studies department colleagues and principal before distribution to students. No factual errors or bias was reported; the department chair and I met for an hour’s conversation of how to bridge expected denial of facts from cognitive dissonance. We concluded our first step to send a co-signed e-mail in affirmation of allowing professional factual discovery and discourse to lead our teaching. Despite having no error in fact or pedagogy reported to me, I was not rehired by the school board (we had moved back to California and as a second-year teacher in that district they could do so without explanation). I was denied any opportunity of discussion regarding the reason for my non-rehire. Although not a federal government example, I think it suggests a de facto control.
This is a good transition to consider cognitive blindness.
The 20th Century German public were well-educated, leaders in cultural achievement, and on the forefront of science. They were duped by emotionally-laden and polished propaganda to support brutal military aggression and mass murder.
We know from the Milgram Experiment and Stanford Prison Experiment that human beings are susceptible to vicious behavior under the veneer of authorized actions.
And we know from the following 4-minute video documenting a form of cognitive blindness, that unexpected fundamental change can go unrecognized when authority pretends nothing changed and nobody is there to point it out.
Policy response: Gandhi and Martin Luther King advocated public understanding of the facts and non-cooperation with evil. I’m among hundreds who advocate:
1.Understand the laws of war. These were legislated after WW2 and are crystal-clear that only self-defense, in a narrow legal meaning, can justify war. This investment of your time takes less than an hour and empowers you to legally stand for ending these Wars of Aggression.
2.Refuse and end all orders and acts associated with these unlawful wars. Those involved with US military, government, and law enforcement have an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution. Unlawful acts only move forward with sufficient cooperation and public tolerance. Stop cooperating with the most vicious crime a nation can commit: war. Stop tolerating it.
3.Prosecute the war leaders for obvious violation of the letter and spirit of US war laws. You can only understand how these wars are specifically unlawful by investing the time to do so. Because the crimes are so broad and deep, I recommend Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) to exchange full truth and return of stolen US assets for non-prosecution. This is the most expeditious way to understand and end all unlawful and harmful acts. Those who reject T&R either by volunteering their name and/or responding when named are subject to prosecution after the window of T&R closes.
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