The humble Farmer at Bowdoin College, January 31, 2003
Below is a March 28, 2007 letter from Etienne Perret, which he titled "Should We Renew Our Membership?" and my comments on Mussolini that I read on the radio on August 25, 2006
Etienne Perret writes:
Well it is that time of year again.
Our Maine Public Broadcasting membership is due to be renewed again.
We have been members for as long as I can remember. OK, maybe we let it slip here and there over the last 30 years.
When I first joined MPBN it was a beacon of hope in a world where all the media had the same story. I had come from the New York area and survived the Vietnam war era by listening to WBAI a listener sponsored radio station, as well as the New york public radio station WNYC.
Times have changed which is to be expected, unfortunately Maine Public Broadcasting has chosen to tow the corporate/ government line in order to support its bloated budget. Apparently the staff no longer dares to allow individual thought. So much of the programming all has the same propaganda.
What a disappointment it has been to see how our local down home favorite "The Humble Farmer" has been treated. He has been a highlight of my week with his ramblings about the state of the world. It seems the day has come that artists are no longer welcome to express their thoughts on Public Radio. If it were not for the broad-based subscriber support for Garrison Kehler I am sure he too would have been told to keep it down. I guess the public is no longer so public.
In today's world there are many other options. MPBN is no longer the only show in town. I can listen to WERU on my radio or hundreds of other stations on the Internet. My dollars can go to support news and editorial content from thousands of sites from around the world that give me a wide view of opinions rather than same old perspective that I get from MPBN.
So I must inform you that this year I am going to send my dollars to journalists and bloggers that express a fresh view of the world. Maybe if enough of us speak up you will get the message. If not you can always turn to the Gates Foundation or another of your deep pockets to keep the shows on the air.
"Nobody Treats Diamonds Better"
While reading in my Encyclopedia Britannica about Salvatore Quasimodo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959, I also learned that Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, extreme nationalism, anti-liberalism, militarism and authoritarianism. Unfortunately, Fascism is much like streptococcus bacilli: most of us donít even know it when we see it and even specialists in the field might quibble over a comprehensive definition.
Because I have recently not only been forced to take off my shoes before boarding a plane but have been patted down to strip me of my toothpaste and bag balm --- arguably meaningless symbolic gestures implemented to acclimate a population to mindless obedience --- I read further, hoping to learn to identify Fascism and thereby determine if it could be gaining a foothold in this land of the free and the home of the brave. This is what I read.
Around 1921 an Italian Prime Minister named Giolitti permitted the usual government influence on elections by corruption. This gave Mussolini and his fledgling fascists a slight edge and they immediately attacked Giolitti for his support of the League of Nations (a world government organization) and for his belief in the methods of parliamentary democracy. Gradually building up a nationwide party organization containing extreme undesirables, the fascists nearly always had more money than their opponents and moved with greater ruthlessness, although, at every step, Mussolini claimed to be the defender of law and order.
The industrialists were naturally in sympathy with a movement that stood for lower wages and fat, padded contracts. Although the economy had improved it was to their advantage to create the impression that without Fascism, economic breakdown was right around the corner, caused by Socialist incompetence.
The uneducated were naturally receptive to Fascist propaganda and disorderly elements on every level of society welcomed the violence and its attendant opportunity to plunder. Even then, it was not the strength of the Fascists that assured their success but the disorganization and silence of their opponents in the intellectual community. Italians discovered only much later that handing over power to people who claimed to be protecting their country with murder and openly proclaimed their contempt of parliamentary institutions would cost their country dear.
For years there was no overt establishment of dictatorship. Only gradually were old ways and old institutions changed and nothing was done abruptly that might alarm people or make them realize that a revolution had taken place. The wealthy were courted by cutting their taxes. For permission to become rich and corrupt the gerarchi supported their leaderís irresponsible decisions. The inefficiency and graft of his department heads were accepted as inevitable.
When an Italian was killed by bandits in the Balkans, Mussolini and other indignant, patriotic profit-seeking Italians had their long-hoped-for excuse to go to war. To his credit, until they strung him up by the heels, Mussoliniís self confidence never waned and he continued to have a pathetic trust in his own powers of intuition, even after plunging his country into that disastrous war for which he was obviously so unprepared.
As you know, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a fat volume, there is much more in there about the rise of Fascism in Italy, but a continuation and refining of my studies would be no more than an unproductive, academic exercise. Because --- in reading the few paragraphs above, you can see that my premise was shaky: Nothing that I have copied there could suggest a parallel between the rise of fascism in Italy in the 1920s and what is happening in our country today.
You may sleep well tonight. It simply couldnít happen here.
Please click here if you do not care for Fascism
© 2007 Robert Karl Skoglund