Andrew Cuomo’s Idea of Democracy is Fascism

January 31, 2015


As one who believes in the primacy of language, I try my best to use words as responsibly and precisely as I can. With that in mind, as a person of the Left, few things have annoyed me more than the promiscuous use of the word “fascism” by a certain kind of would-be -Leftist who uses the word not as a description of identifiable political policies, but as a verbal bludgeon to bash in the skull of anyone with whom they disagree. Like all words and more so, fascism is a word to be used judiciously.

That said, anyone with knowledge of political systems who has perused Andrew Cuomo’s proposals on education, and especially his proposals on teacher evaluations for the state of New York, would have to conclude that Cuomo has stepped out of the bounds of known democratic policy and into the realm of fascism. Well into the realm of fascism.
The ideology of fascism has certain very identifiable characteristics, none more so than the consistent invocation of the primacy of the state over both the local and the individual. Bearing that in mind, consider Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for statewide teacher evaluation.
50 % of the evaluation will come from state test scores.
35% will come from an observation from an “independent “ evaluator hired by the state.
15% will come from the principal of the school in which the teacher works.

I do not wish to discuss here the research that completely discredits the idea of standardized tests scores as anything approaching a fair and adequate criteria for evaluating a teacher’s ability to teach. Nor do I wish to discuss the enormous sums of taxpayer money that will be needed for the state to hire “an independent evaluator “ to evaluate the hundreds of thousands of teachers in New York state.

What I wish to do here is merely point out the immense amount of professional autonomy Andrew Cuomo is attempting to usurp in one fell swoop from all principals in all communities in all of New York state, and that such massive and contemptuous usurpation of authority has no place in any meaningful democratic policies or traditions.

It does, however, fit perfectly into the fascist belief of the primacy of the state over all things and all people.

It is a profound indictment of the naked degeneracy of our contemporary political climate that such policies have been posed not by some nut job fringe candidate of a white supremacy group like David Duke but from the sitting Democratic governor of New York in his state of the state address, and there was not immediate and massive resistance.
It is breathtaking and terrifying that, absent a major and sustained resistance of the kind we have not seen in generations anywhere in America, such fascistic policies could well become state law.

The usurpation of local and individual control in the issue of teacher evaluation is, however, merely one example of identifiable fascist ideology in Cuomo’s education policy. Under fascism, for example, labor unions are suppressed or eliminated altogether. Cuomo has made no secret of his desire to suppress or eviscerate the power of all unions but he has shown a particular animus toward teacher unions.

Under fascism, certain groups or people are identified by the powerful as enemies, and campaigns are created via any and all forms of media to convince a populace to unite against them as a common foe. Due to limitless funding of billionaires, the concentration of media by a handful of ideologically driven mega-corporations, and the utter spinelessness of most politicians, precisely such a campaign against teachers has been underway and massively financed for over a decade.
Cuomo has profited from this campaign and consistently and cleverly echoed it. The disdain Cuomo has showered on public school teachers is palpable and growing more so all the time.

Fascism seeks to degrade or completely remove the human element. Cuomo’s proposals seek to achieve this disgusting goal both by the inter-position and domination of bureaucracy ( the outside state hired “expert evaluator”) or, better still, by interposition and domination by techno- bureaucracy ( a standardized state test ) as the latter provides the veneer of “progress” that is used by the wily to fool and trap the uneducated.

The conflation of corporation and state as well as contempt for the intellectual and the arts, both of which can be found in Cuomo’s’ incredibly vulgar test based notion of education, are also principles of fascism.

I am under no illusions that a man as powerfully ensconced, immensely financed, impervious to truth and monstrously ambitious as is Andrew Cuomo can be moved to alter his grotesque perception of teachers and principals across the state. Nothing will stop Cuomo from attempting to bully New York state legislators into supporting policies built on the tacit belief that New York State’s teachers and principals are so utterly incompetent and untrustworthy that they need the ever present eye of the ever growing and all powerful state led by Andrew Cuomo.

I do believe, however, that the overwhelming majority of people are beings of good will and good faith who seek, above all things, a life of dignity and decency, not merely for themselves and their children but for all people, including their children’s teachers and principals.
Dignity and decency for teachers and principals are impossible under Cuomo’s plan.
Slow motion, daily degradation, perpetual demoralization and, in a year or two, mass firings are a virtual certainty.

I do not believe, that is, that the overwhelming percentage of people are in anyway in favor of what Andrew Cuomo is really intending to do to our teachers, to our principals, our schools, our communities, and to our government.
But nor do I believe that many are truly aware of the gravity and long term effects of what Cuomo is proposing. Many, perhaps most, will need to be educated.
It is our job and duty to educate them. In whatever way we can.
Somewhere, many years ago, I recall reading the following words: Good government will come when all things are called by their right name.
I believe there is great truth in those words.

Andrew Cuomo’s education policies are way past even the radical right wing and nothing less than fascistic. We need to call them by their right name and do so repeatedly and loudly until this is understood.

Addendum: Herein is a kinder, gentler version of Cuomo’s policies. See the section on school boards.

24 Responses to “Andrew Cuomo’s Idea of Democracy is Fascism”

  1. Cuomo sell out soul for mighty dollar Says:

    Cuomo has sold his sole to the devil for the money…it has to be….I mean why in the world would this guy suddenly so interested in “fixing” public education?? Its the charter people and their hedge fund billions who keep stuffing money in front of Cuomo’s face. Now suddenly, Cuomo is the education guru?? Most educators in NYC will tell you that Cuomo was in a NYC school once and that was to watch a speech Obama was giving at a high school in brooklyn. Other than that Cuomo has never visited ANY NYC schools – yet he want to fix them….quite hysterical but not too surprising because money has ruined many people’s lives and careers and Cuomo is on the verge of doing just that. If you listen to him you can tell that he does not have a solid grip on the english language and lets not all forget cuomo failed the bar exam 4 times – enough said

  2. unreceivedogma Says:

    Almost any article that starts off with a telegraphed faux mea culpa is in for trouble. This one is no exception: he says one should never use the word “fascist” indiscriminately, then he goes on to use it … 11 times!!! Very poorly conceived and written, and I’m a sympathizer.

    • patrickwalsh Says:

      Almost any faux critique of a post that starts off with a completely erroneous understanding of the Latin phrase “mea culpa ” as well as the common English word, “indiscriminately”, is in for trouble. This one is no exception: I wrote that one should never use the word “fascist” ( or any other words) indiscriminately, then I went on to use it 11 times, as Cuomo’s fascistic proposals were, in fact, the point of the post. Your response is very ignorantly argued and written. I humbly suggest you take a course in basic Latin and consult an English dictionary before the next time you feel compelled to respond to a post as if you were the writer’s teacher.

      • unreceivedogma Says:

        Me thinks thou dost protest too much, yet a very weak rejoinder: I did hit a raw nerve.

        Yes, not an exact fit, but I did use the word in the manner that I intended.

        I’ve been around the NY left maybe since before you were born: this writing strikes me as a perfect example of that which you are criticizing (and trust me, I have read too much of it).

        • patrickwalsh Says:

          Think what you will: nasty, ignorant and utterly pointless though such thoughts be. Tis too starved an argument for my sword.

      • unreceivedogma Says:

        Calling Cuomo a fascist just sounds silly and petulant: if I were to use the word at all, I would use it sparingly, and to describe a class of political and cultural behavior, not to just single out one individual with whom I have a particular spat.

        • patrickwalsh Says:

          I beg you forgive my silliness and petulance, wise and all knowing one. Meanwhile I await your essay on the situation. Send it to me as soon as you write it.

          • unreceivedogma Says:

            I have my own issues with Cuomo. I have been on the front of the anti-fracking war, since the winter/spring of ’08.

            Seems we’ve won that one for the time being. :)

            Good luck with your battle. I am not 100% with you. I am not so old as to not remember sitting in a class with a teacher who was clearly clueless. There does need to be a mechanism to weed them out.

            • patrickwalsh Says:

              I agree. There is and always has been a mechanism to “weed out” bad teachers. In fact, most weed themselves out before two or three years, that many more after five years. Cuomo is using a manufactured crisis — legions of bad teachers, thousands of “failing schools” — as a pretense to use unprecedented state power to destroy the public school system and fatally wound the last union of any power left in the US. I implore you to read up on what this person is proposing. This is not “reform.” It is a right wing revolution. Good luck to you as well.

              • unreceivedogma Says:

                Unprecedented state power? Since when is the state ipso facto the enemy? That sounds like a right wing trope to me. This is the 21st Century: I think schools should be standardized nationally, brought under federal control, eg as in what Roosevelt did with social security, FHA, WPA, the last time capitalism was really in danger of collapsing. Federal control means national standards: no more allocation of school funds based on real estate taxes, which stratifies education quality based on class distinctions.

                Cuomo is a product of the DNC. That wing of the Democratic Party has long ago ceased being an ally of the working class…if it ever was. We need to go after the whole party. Cuomo is just a straw man.

                • patrickwalsh Says:

                  You have no idea of what you speak.

                • unreceivedogma Says:

                  You want fascism? Check out this video. This is fascism:


                  I think you may be the hyperventilating one, the one who has no idea.

                • patrickwalsh Says:

                  Sorry, ISIS is horrific, barbaric and theocratic but they are not, except in the FOX NEWS sense of the word, fascistic. You don’t seem to grasp that Fascism is a doctrine concerned largely with using the power of the state to dominate. ISIS is not a state. Furthermore, to compare what FDR did using the federal government to create jobs and some modicum of security and relief with programs like social security, FHA, WPA to the campaign to “break the last monopoly, — Cuomo’ s description of the public school system– the sooner to privatize it and destroy the teachers’ union, is just obscene.

                  I have no doubt that FDR, JFK, and LBJ (for all their faults) are rolling in their graves.

                  Lastly, it is not capitalism that is now in danger of collapsing ( and if it does, so what, we will simply be forced to bail it out again ) it is the working people.

                  Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on what is happening to the American public school system before you start blathering about it. A good place to begin would be Reign of Error/ The Hoax of the Privitization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools or The Death and Life of the Great American School System, both by education historian Diane Ravitch.

            • rastamick Says:

              No fool like an old fool if you even are an old fool. I suspect more of the garden variety Cuomo bootlicker using one of the oldest troll scams in the book. It’s the I’m more like you than you are but wow even I can’t allow you to say what you said. Maybe drop off your Che shirt and beret at the Socialist dry cleaners’ or probably more likely get your TFA lessons ready for tomorrow. Methinks your vitriol is akin to Eliot’s objections to Hamlet. Emotion in excess of the facts my fakeass left sagging comrade. Now bigger off while the grownups are talking.

              • unreceivedogma Says:

                Whoa horsie! Look at who is getting emotional here. Ad hominem attacks are a flaccid, limp substitute for a reasoned response.

                I simply called this writer for his hypocritical and lazy use of emotional language, and look what this has turned into.

        • I always enjoy Patrick’s articles, this one included. I found nothing silly nor petulant about it. This “particular spat” will cause an epic disaster. Do you have any idea what is going on? Do you know wht he wants to do to our students, our schools, and to us teachers? This is way more than “spat” and if he gets his way, it will just be a matter of time till public education and their unions are destroyed. This is no conspiracy theory. Follow the money. You will NOT like what you see.

  3. Stacey Eno Says:

    Well written and confirms everything I have been saying about educational “reform”. Everyone knows fascists come for the children first! Sharing widely!

  4. Michele Hamilton Says:

    Thanks for this Patrick. Unfortunately as we have seen in the past, too many teachers remain passive. I have not heard one colleague comment on Cuomo’s new plans, nor have we had a meeting regarding “the plan.” And where do the principals stand? Where is the outrage from them?

    • patrickwalsh Says:

      I know, Michele. But we cannot let them drag us down to similar slug like passivity. That is a death sentence. Talk to them. Photo copy articles. Try to get them to see that they will be unemployed in two years should this go through. As I understand, the principals union is meeting to address this. Cuomo’s plans are shockingly insulting to principals. The UFT is also mobilizing. Do not despair. Keep the faith and your hand on that plow. In fact, both hands.

  5. Norm Scott Says:

    Also under fascism are faux unions that become part of the state machine – the proverbial seat at the table the teacher unions so hunger for.

  6. rastamick Says:

    Funny how closely we listen depending on who’s doing the talking. Until now I had a vague inkling that Sheriff Andy was going for 50% of the APPR to be from test scores. I had no idea he was going to send out his own state issued evaluator to snatch up another 35% leaving too little of the score to a teacher’s actual classroom chops to save their job. Thanks for setting me straight on this. Your post is about the third place this week I’ve encountered an informed person connecting the dots to Cuomo’s own post modern version of Empire State Fascism. I am really hoping for Bharara ex machina to descend on this sorry state at any minute and cart Andrew away a la’ Kafka’s Josef K.

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