As it's the case in every generation, the general public has a tendency to miss the signs of the rise of fascistic threats until it's too late. We are now entering a new phase in that threat, and unless there is widespread awareness, that trend is only going to accelerate.
First, let me start by describing the current state of affairs in the United States, in order to set the stage for an explanation (or interpretation) of how these rising armed right wing vigilante groups (in the making) will fit into the whole equation.
By now most informed readers have a pretty good understanding about the damaging effects organizations like the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have had on our democracy. Many readers are also aware of the decades-old effort by right wing business groups to dismantle democracy and install an exploitative corporatist hegemony in its place.
Here's the bottom line... These efforts have resulted in the wholesale corruption of the entire country. Hence, the role of the government as a fair arbiter of individual rights has been weakened, in favor of the consolidation of power by corporatist right wing groups.
What are the practical implications in this situation? As the government and its institutions continue to be corrupted to the core, they use their power to chip away at individual rights, weakening democracy (whatever is left of it), and bringing about an increasingly oppressive regime.
I call this stage we're in "Neo-Fascism." For the purists out there, I understand that I'm using the term rather loosely, but it is meant mainly to make a point about the seriousness of the situation. Future historians may come up with a better term.
Right now we are still into the final stage of the imposition of the neo-fascistic infrastructure, including the militarization of law enforcement at the national level, a sophisticated surveillance/police state, and what I term, "economic terrorism."
Just one example of economic terrorism: Wall Street and financial industry criminal cartels defrauded the entire country, plunging millions of people into economic despair. This resulted in millions of people being thrown out unto the streets through illegal and fraudulent foreclosures. All done with total impunity, and under the protection of the government--which is in the pockets of these corporatist criminal cartels.
Another example is the systematic ghettoization of those who fail to conform to the new order. Millions of people lost their jobs, lost their homes, and got their credits ruined. As the current (manufactured) great recession wore on, millions of people went years without being able to find a job. As time goes by, the fact that they have been out of a job "too long" it's then used against them by potential employers.
Yet another example is the increased use of draconian background check methods by employers, who now conduct informal and subjective investigations of social network accounts on potential employees. Did you attend an Occupy protest? Are you an activist against social injustice, against criminal banks (which are being protected by the government)? Now it can all be used against you...
The end result is the marginalization of people who fail to conform with the ethos of the rising (anti-democratic) corporatist hegemony.
Add to all that the rapid de-funding of the middle-class enabling infrastructure (public education, government services, libraries, pensions, etc.), creeping draconian increases in fines, parking tickets, traffic tickets, sales taxes (which affect the working class and the poor disproportionately), bridge and highway tolls, and you end up with an increasingly oppressive society that is actually enslaving the average individual.
Right Wing Vigilante Groups
If the gentle reader has any doubt about this proposition, just think about one thing... The so-called "stand-your-ground" laws that are spreading across the country were pushed mainly by ALEC lobbyists who created cookie-cutter legislation for several states.
The neo-fascist group, the National Riffle Association, along with ALEC, were instrumental in spreading these laws across the country.
Of course, and again, like in any other time in history, these fascistic trends creep in under the radar, as their proponents use all kinds of subterfuges and smokescreens to impose oppression. In this case, they use fear of crime, of so-called street thugs. After all, who wouldn't want to take on criminals wanting to break into your house to commit rape and to pillage, right?
But the practical result will be having a huge amount of easily-manipulated yahoos, many of whom are right-wing extremists, racists, and religious fundamentalists, armed to the teeth, and imbued with a sense of righteousness about being able to "stand their ground" and use deadly force against what they subjectively consider "criminals."
I argue that one must look at the current (and tragic) case of Travyon Martin in this light. As many have pointed out, the imposition of SYG laws have resulted in a tripling of "justified" homicides in many regions--license to kill.
I also argue that the real danger here is that as the corporatist control on our government becomes more apparent, and as corruption spreads, and the ruling class criminals continue to commit massive crimes with total impunity, and the thievery and looting of the treasury continues, and as poverty and ignorance and oppression spread, the system will eventually remove its mask, and we'll enter a true fascist stage.
Things that may precede that stage could include the imposition of more draconian laws resulting in the criminalization of more individuals (feeding the for-profit prison camps), further marginalization of nonconformist individuals (by denying jobs, government assistance), and the perfecting of the 24/7 surveillance state.
The thinkers behind these trends probably anticipate that at one point the pressure on society will get to a boiling point which will result in social unrest and protests.
Most of it will be controlled through the sophisticated fascistic police surveillance state infrastructure that has been put in place, and through economic terrorism and marginalization of individuals.
But these right-wing armed groups that are being formed in state after state, right before our eyes, will one day come to play an important role in the neo-fascist jigsaw puzzle.
In the final analysis we're talking about very dangerous, spiteful and hateful individuals. Many of them are motivated by crazy messianic religious fundamentalist beliefs; others by deep-seeded racism, ethnocentrism, and other low-brow instincts such as jingoism.
The thing is that this type of individual is easily manipulated by the unholy alliance between corporatist neo-fascists (i.e., ALEC, the NRA), and religious fundamentalists.
Behind it all is a very powerful influence of puritanical thought in this country, which associates piety, believe in God, and righteousness with economic success and blessings.
In my humble opinion, this is where we're heading when it comes down to the so-called stand-your-ground laws, and conceal-carry laws.
One day, these groups will be more organized and cohesive, and will be used to intimidate those who try to rise in protest against the imposition of corporatist neo-fascism.
For years now the right wing hate machine, including Fox News, and radio miscreants like Limbaugh, and others, have been making allusions to violence against Liberals, and associating us to communists, and socialists, and accusing us of being responsible for the death of millions of people... They've been demonizing the Left, and on many occasions they make references to using actual violence, or say that "we have the guns."
They've been telling us what they're going to do... So if (or when) it actually happens, people should not be surprised about it.