The United States Drifts towards Political Irresponsibility


John Scales Avery – TRANSCEND Media Service

John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery

The recent Republican presidential debates were held in the gaudy and luxurious Venetian Casino in Los Vegas, a building whose billionaire Republican-backing owner Sheldon Adelson held a private meeting with fellow-billionaire Donald Trump before the debate.

In the two-hour hate-show that followed, the Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination competed with each other over who could be the most avid in advocating war and racism. To worried observers, the scene was disturbingly reminiscent of the slide into fascism seen in Germany and Italy in the 1930’s. At that time too, there were serious economic problems, and there was a desperate need for reassurance among populations.

Hitler and Mussolini appealed to the lower instincts of their electorates, especially to the primitive instinct of tribalism; and this is why these two hate-mongering politicians of the 1930’s were genuinely popular, just as Donald Trump is today.

There are other parallels with the 1930’s: The Nazis used the Reichstag fire as an excuse for attacks on civil rights, just as terrorism today is used as an excuse for suspending civil liberties.

The dominant role of corporations today also parallels their role in the rise of fascism in the 1930’s. According to Benito Mussolini, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power”.

For those of us who feel affection for the United States, it is sad to see the country slide towards political irresponsibility and fascism. Even more importantly, just as in the 1930’s, political irresponsibility led to an all-destroying world war, so today there is a great danger of a world war; and the threat today is far greater because of the terrible power of thermonuclear weapons.

But there are many very good people in the United States. We know this because of the great popularity of Bernie Sanders. It is time for them to speak out and act. We cannot have a situation where, as Yeats put it, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” We must prevent the rough beast of fascism from slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf).


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Dec 2015.

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