Fascist Law and the Dissolving of the Public, Private Dichotomy
One of the most common misperceptions applied to totalitarianism and more narrowly, fascism is the idea that the individual would be completely subservient to the State, being nothing more than a slave existing to carry out the orders of his/her masters from the nation’s capital. Behind this idea is the fallacious notion held by populaces raised in a liberal democracy that the State is an artificial imposition, something imposed upon people to restrict their freedom of action and movement, a necessary evil. This thinking once embedded produces a mindset which views the State in an adversarial role qua society. If the State is artificial, it therefore must be limited, retaining powers only delineated by the true sovereigns, the people. Fascism and other political doctrines that fit into the totalitarian mold would by default be placed directly against liberal democracy and since the view of the State differs with the former and challenges the nature of the political good held by the latter. Fascism would be held in the most negative light possible. The differences we encounter and attempt to work through are embedded in the subconscious of our opponents and need to be fought with ideas which are more coherent and logical, avoiding the innuendos and dogmas of liberal democracy.
I’m sure we’ve all heard sayings such as “What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom.” “The wall separating church and state needs to stay strong.” These are only a couple amongst the numerous dictums used to justify the present regime and its ideological framework. The exaggerations and dishonesty become apparent once one study’s history or engages in empirical observation. No government in history has attempted to seriously regulate conduct in the bedroom and even if that was their true desire, the ability to do so has never existed. The closest we’ve come in this country to violating people’s privacy in the bedroom are the anti-sodomy laws which prohibited a certain type of sexual intercourse. The few people who were actually arrested under these statutes were as a result of making their actions known publicly in the hopes of creating political change. The anti-sodomy laws existed as a moral statement and not as a practical means to regulate behavior. Whether its sex, drugs or any of the other myriad number of behaviors people engage in through the privacy of our own homes, the ability of the government to regulate that conduct is seriously limited, it always has been and will continue to be in the near future. However, the resulting conclusion should not be a fall back to the opposite point of view that these issues should be ignored by the State; that there is a purely private realm and a purely public domain, both of which have their own separate jurisdictions. As we continue to deconstruct the antiquated nature of liberal democracy, the reality of contemporary society becomes progressively clearer; that there is no longer a public and a private, they are both one and the same thing, and while the reach and power of the State may by its very nature be limited it has and interest in everything and everybody which falls under its jurisdiction.
The idea of the artificiality of the State presupposes a certain degree of intelligence and social structure existing prior to its arrival, albeit this social structure would be one plagued by a significant amount of lawlessness and violence. Not enough however to drastically alter the nature of society. If government were limited to nothing more than a protection of property and enforcement of contract then the fundamentals of the society which gave birth to tit would for the most part be solid. Here’s the fundamental contradiction in liberal democratic social contract theory. If the State of Nature (which even amongst the proponents of the social contract, was admitted to have existed) were at any time, a reality then its essential brutishness would make it unlivable. Would a simple enforcement of contract and property rights really be adequate to address a social landscape characterized by constant anarchy and warfare? The conception of property rights itself requires cognitive thought, something which could not exist in a subsistence lifestyle where all physical resources would have to be applied to acquiring the bare means of survival. This environment would serve as a constant antagonist to any attempts to establish a social structure. Social structures require a certain degree of respect for boundaries and customs. A life characterized by anarchy would make it impossible for this respect to become established, as individuals just to survive would have to violate the boundaries of other individuals to acquire the means of survival.
On the other hand, the perpetuation of humanity argues for the permanence of the State as an institution. The act of pro-creation produces a connection between male and female, which is cemented through the birth of offspring. The emotions produced from this relationship gives birth to a mind divorced from pure subsistence needs and directed towards creation of an environment suitable for the heirs of this union. This is the beginning of the State, it’s impossible for it never to have existed. Through changes in shape and form, it has always been and always will continue to be. It is us and we are it.
There’s always seemed to be a strain within fascism which warms to the interpretation of the idea not out of a desire to help individuals but to take out internal frustrations upon society using the State as the tool to accomplish this. Even though this has always been a fringe element within the movement the media and public have not wasted any opportunity to expose these individuals and make them representative of fascist thought in general. This point of view ignores a key element within fascist thought and that is the importance of idealism. The belief that reality is the product of the mind; and within this field of philosophy emphasis has always been placed on the importance between the relationships of individuals with their larger social context, including but not limited to the State, occupations and families. While spiritual growth happens on an individual level, the individual is incapable of generating this growth as an autonomous individual. Instead he/she can only engage in thought after internalizing their interactions with other individuals and social units which compose the larger social context. Hence, the importance fascism places on society and individuality not as a product of the individual, but as the creation of the society as a whole.
Fascist law cannot be regarded as an attempt at repression. This is where viewing law through the lenses of liberalism comes into play. Law isn’t an artificial source of punishment used solely for the sake of order, but a reflection of our innermost values put into a legal code. Laws designed to restrict certain behaviors and actions aren’t created out of ill will and a desire to punish the wrongdoer but out of a desire to help the individual and by extension society. This doesn’t mean that a fascist State would delve so deeply into a person’s private life that personal workouts be mandated, or surveillance systems would be set up inside people’s homes. Conversion through force alone is always inadequate to convert someone to a fascist consciousness, that decision must be made by the individual. The job of the State is to create an environment conducive to fostering this consciousness. The Corporatist State through its cooperative structures would work primarily on a subconscious level to transform individuals, to ween them away from the dependence upon a market mentality and outlook. We can see a parallel to this in contemporary society and the influence it puts on individual behavior through its institutions; how advertising and television color how we think and behave, how the growing substance abuse in this country is a direct product of the inability of people to live up to the empty material promises which society always seems to offer. People don’t engage in immoral behaviors because they were born bad people. We live our lives according to the paths, and obstacles put in front of us and after internalization, we adjust to our environment. If these paths and obstacles lead to a corrupt environment then the resulting product will resemble that corruption which encourages good behavior.
No law can be truly ineffective if the will is there to implement it. Case in point, laws covering supposedly private behaviors. Let us take marijuana laws, even with usage of the drug being illegal, the ability for someone to smoke a joint in their own home was not seriously impaired and if it was then the sentence for such usage was usually light. This state of affairs along with the failure of the war on drugs and increased marijuana usage across society has lead to a situation where the perception that attempts to control private behavior was useless became reality. What was ignored was the lack of any will to enforce the values which the law represented. At the same time as the war on drugs was being waged, popular entertainment through movies, and music was openly promoting usage of the drug. The contradiction inherent within American law that because of the first Amendment open encouragement to disobey the law is tolerated, disrespect of the law and an inability to see its values become reality became the new norm. A scenario involving mass arrests and kicking down doors to apprehend marijuana users and put them out of circulation with long prison sentences was unrealistic and more often than not being offered up as a bogeyman by legalization proponents. Instead, cutting off the virtual supply of the drug through a regulation of the material coming out of the entertainment industry would most likely have reduced usage in a much greater fashion without the drastic social costs involved.
Now, we have a situation where not only has usage become legalized, but also with that legalization has come the inevitable commodification of the drug. In states where marijuana is now legal it’s common to see billboards promoting it and shops selling marijuana candy bars and gummi bears in an attempt to expand market share by increasing their customer base. As usage will continue to spread, its roots within the culture will grow deeper until its use will become not only encouraged but also expected, as those who abstain from consumption from will be looked upon as social anomalies, much like those who abstain from alcohol usage completely.
With technological growth and development, our society has changed. It’s easy to understand why the founders thought how they did over 200 years ago, when most of the population lived on farms in relatively self-sufficient homesteads. The perception then that the private sphere was distinct from the public had more validity. Bad ideas had much more trouble traveling long distances in short periods of time. However, as a primarily agricultural society became industrialized and then technological, the distance between neighbors shrunk. What was previously a society characterized by limited social interaction outside the community is now characterized by communities composed of millions of people. Social interactions take place between countless number of individuals most of who we have little if any knowledge of. The basic nature of social interaction though has remained the same; that we internalize these interactions and create a new individual as the resulting product.
In an agricultural society, an individual with an addiction problem to a deadly substance will most likely remain an individual with a deadly addiction problem. Put this person into a contemporary urban setting and the inward drive we all must perpetuate ourselves through advocating our ideals and lifestyles takes over and what was previously an individual problem now becomes social in orientation. This applies not only to drug usage, but also to sex, morality, and abortion, all of those topics which compose the social issues which colorize contemporary politics. As referenced above with the consequences of marijuana legalization, not only does the particular activity become legalized but the context surrounding the activity also becomes affected. Promotion of the activity, selling, buying and promoting are all legalized and cannot be effectively curtailed because of American Constitutional Law. The nature of humanity being what it is, the human development, both spiritually and biologically, those inputs we receive produce outputs which come to define us. In addition, as this relationship grows and becomes more intense the more relevance fascist thought will continue to have. The fundamental idea first expressed by Ugo Spirito that “public and private are one and the same” will prove prophetic.