As in Weimar Germany, the function of the state in North America is being reduced to that of a steward for the interests of the moneyed elite.
All that would be required now for a more rapid descent into fascism are a few reasons for the average person to forget he is being ripped off.
Hatred of Arabs, fundamentalist Christianity or an illusory sense of perpetual war may well be taking the place of Hitler's hatred for communists and Jews.
Neo-liberal intellectuals often recognize the need for violence to protect what they regard as freedom.
Thomas Friedman of The New York Times has written enthusiastically that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist," and that "McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15."
As in pre-fascist Germany and Italy, the laissez-faire businessmen call for the state to do their bidding even as they insist that the state should stay out of the marketplace. Put plainly, neo-liberals advocate the use of the state's military force for the sake of private gain.
Digging deeper into 20th century history, one finds the exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism.
Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business, and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity.
These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it.
Indeed, Huey Long, one of America's most brilliant and most corrupt politicians, was once asked if America would ever see fascism. "Yes," he replied, "but we will call it anti-fascism."