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Southern Fascism

July 7th, 2013

Sweet Fascism in the Piney Woods

It should be a constant source of amazement to foreign observers that Americans, while proudly insisting that Fascism is Un-American and must never be permitted to find a foothold in the United States, so insistently ignore the fact that the long-leaf pine and pellagra belt which stretches from the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River has been governed by Fascist methods since 1876.

All of the stigmata of European Fascism are there — though none of the glory.  There is a Government by a single political party–the Democratic instead of the Nazis or the Fascisti; there is coercion and terrorization of the opposition and minority by armed bands of licensed bullies–Ku Kluxers, night-riders, lynching mobs instead of Storm-Troopers and Squadistri; there is of course the issue of racial supremacy and the proscription of a subject race–Negro instead of Jewish–with respect not only to public office and economic power but also with respect to culture and marriage; there is the rigid regimentation of the individual in matters of opinion and conscience, as witnessed by Tennessee’s “monkey-law” and the short shrift given Northern investigators into social conditions, and there is the effective dragooning of organized labor by deputy sheriffs, militias and legislation,

Students of current trends in Europe could do far worse than study the revolution led by the lower middle class in the south after the plantation-owners had been discredited by their defeat in the civil War, and their establishment of a crystallized Fascist type of civilization south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Here and there the South is beginning to stir under the iron grip of this “bourgeois” dictatorship, allied as in Europe with powerful corporations, but generally de facto Fascism still reigns in the piney woods and offers the most determined resistance to the reforms and reconstruction proffered by the New Deal.

–John Franklin Carter (“The Unofficial Observer”), American Messiahs, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1935

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