My father’s generation pretty well put paid to Fascism. Sure, Juan Peron and Francisco Franko were still running things in Spain and Argentina as I moved from teen to adult – but the big name Fascists departed our time-space continuum before I was born.
While members of the Greatest Generation did hang Benito Mussoline by his heels, they couldn’t abolish the memory of the Palazzo Vidoni Pact. In 1925 that pact established the employers’ association and the trade unions as the only representatives of employers and employees. This was the legislation that melded government power with corporate power – what we know as Fascism regardless of our political persuasion.
Over the past several years, I have encountered the miniature fascists in several locations. Usually, the mini-fascist tells me what I have to do, and when I ask the big question, “What authorizes you to demand I do this?” the response is either “Our (corporate) policy requires it.” or “Such and such a law requires it.”
These mini-fascists can be nice, polite people, or they can be obnoxious folks that have decided to make me jump through a few hoops – I really don’t know why they make that decision. If they don’t have a badge and a gun, I can respond with an impolite comment and walk out. (If they do have a badge and a gun, I can ask “Am I free to leave?” and escalate into a civil liberties case if I am not.
My most recent encounter with mini-fascism was as a signatory on a fraternal organization’s checking account. The organization has its own tax ID number, and the bank was insisting on me providing my Date of Birth, Email address, Mother’s Maiden name, home and cell number, Employer/Occupation and Social Security Number. “The Patriot Act demands compliance.”
Neither account was a new account – both have been around for over 40 years. Changes in signature are normal – but it is easier to ask for more information than is legally required. That’s where the mini-fascists come into their own – not because they are consciously evil people, but because it is easier to demand compliance with law and corporate regulations than to enforce the law as written . . . to infringe upon the individual as little as possible.
This time, it took several weeks, but it turned out that the bank didn’t require my Social Security Number. Since it’s over a century since my maternal grandfather got the place where I live in Trego, I don’t figure “Mother’s Maiden Name” is a particularly hard piece of information to get, and as a retiree I have neither employer nor occupation. I don’t keep a cell phone number. Finally, the decision was that a photocopy of my drivers license was all they needed.
The problem with mini-fascists is that it is quicker and easier to go along with them – and that cooperation keeps the mini-fascism going.