US citizens increasingly facing austerity dictatorship

Monday, April 1, 2013
By Paul Martin
Mon Apr 1, 2013

To the extent that the modern world thinks at all about the problem of fascism, there is a tendency to regard this form of bankers’ totalitarian dictatorship as something which happens suddenly and all at once.

Historians can remember Mussolini’s march on Rome in October 1922, and Hitler’s seizure of power in January 1933. But we must also recall that the definitive seizure of power by fascism in these two countries was preceded by dress rehearsals and pilot projects of fascist rule on a more limited scale.

Mussolini’s dictatorship had its precursor in the dictatorship of the fascist literary man Gabriele d’Annunzio in the city of Fiume, bordering Yugoslavia, in 1919-1920. Here many of the rituals, methods, slogans, and other paraphernalia of fascism originated. The stalking horse for Hitler was the coup d’état by Chancellor von Papen in the state of Prussia in July 1932, which ousted the Social Democratic government there, ending government by elected leaders and replacing them with Reichskommissars sent by von Papen from Berlin as Prussia went into receivership.

Von Papen’s Prussian coup gets us uncomfortably close to what has just happened this past week in the great American city of Detroit, Michigan, well-known as the capital of the automobile industry but now especially hard hit by the world economic depression. The Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has just ousted the Mayor and City Council of Detroit, replacing them with a single outside overseer who will combine both executive and legislative functions to enforce austerity.

The lawyer Kevyn Orr took power as dictator of Detroit on Monday, March 25, 2013. He is expected to begin voiding labor contracts, imposing unilateral sacrifices on city workers, autocratically cutting the Detroit city budget, selling off city assets to Governor Snyder’s cronies and backers at bargain basement prices, and privatizing or simply terminating city services. Orr has signaled that one of his priorities will be to renege on Detroit’s pension and healthcare commitments to retired policemen, firemen, teachers, and other municipal workers. He does not rule out a haircut for the bondholders, but this must be considered window dressing unless and until it occurs.

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