Buzzflash: Legislated Dictatorship: Coming to a State Near You?

March 16, 2011- In the past, modern dictatorships have been established in a variety of ways. In 1919, in response to a short-lived communist revolution, the King of Hungary appointed the first modern civilian absolute ruler, Admiral Nicholas Horthy, who became the first fascist dictator in history. In 1922, after much maneuvering, Benito Mussolini organized the "March on Rome" by his unofficial "Black Shirt" militia. King Vittorio Emmanuel III acquiesced in replacing the sitting Prime Minister chosen by Parliament with Mussolini. By 1924, with the acquiescence of Italian ruling class, Mussolini had established himself as dictator and in fact coined the modern meaning of the word "fascist" to describe his form of absolute rule.

In 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor (Prime Minister) of Germany by the President, Paul von Hindenburg. Just about two months later, following the Reichstag Fire (which had been set by men under the command of Hitler's then number-two, Hermann Goering, [see "The Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933-2008" (Tigar, M.E. and Mage, J., The Monthly Review, Vol. 60, No. 10, March 2009]), in a rigged Reichstag [parliament] Hitler gained absolute power with the passage of the Enabling Act. (It was rigged because the elected Communist deputies and many of the elected Socialist deputies had been expelled, some exiled and some of the former arrested by Hitler.) Thus although he seemed to have been voted into his dictatorship, the vote was hardly democratic according to the former rules of the Reichstag.

In 1936, with the full active cooperation of the Catholic Church and the material support of the two major European fascist powers, Germany and Italy, Gen. Francisco Franco led an invasion of Spain to overthrow the democratically elected government (with his initial mainly Muslim strike force flown from North Africa to Spain in German planes). The Western "democracies" continually ignored the legitimate Spanish government's pleas for help. It was eventually defeated and April 1, 1939, Franco's fascist dictatorship was established, by conquest. It proved to be one of the longest-lived, ending only when Franco died in 1975.

There were a number of other dictatorships established in the 20th century in countries ranging from major world powers like Japan to very minor ones, like the land-locked Paraguay. But none of them arrived on the scene through legitimate parliamentary means. In the 21st century, in the United States, the scenario for just such an advent of dictatorship may be unfolding, at least at the state/local level. This is one that bears watching. In Wisconsin what has gained much well-deserved publicity is the crushing of the public employee unions by the GOP Gov. Scott Walker, using parliamentary means.

What some might consider to be even worse is a proposal by the Governor to grant himself what amounts to dictatorial powers in two particular arenas of government (–20110223; He has proposed a law that would give him the sole power to sell Wisconsin public utilities to private corporations, under no-bid contracts, with the explicit exclusion of any of the review processes governing such transactions currently on the Wisconsin books. He has also proposed that his appointed state Commissioner of Health could change any law regarding medical assistance, on his/her own authority.

But hey, one might say, those provisions would apply to only two relatively narrow sectors of the state's economy. But hey, one might also say, the establishment of one dictatorial power, to ignore regulations, and then another, to ignore the law, could lead to the establishment of others, could it not?


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