I'm tired of right-wingers and teabaggers screeching "Fascism" at every turn. They don't have the vaguest idea what they're talking about, and are just echoing a hateful word fed to them by Fox.
If Fox viewers would make a concerted effort to take time & research the concept of fascism, they'd be surprised to learn that the label they're pasting on our President and Progressives is really one that describest them!
The definition of fascism and fascist governments can be a disputed, complicated, and contentious subject. Here are some excerpts taken from Wikipedia, and that might surprise most right wingers.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
|“||The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.||”|
The Encyclopedia of Marxism defines fascism as "right-wing, fiercely nationalist, subjectivist in philosophy, and totalitarian in practice", and identifies it as "an extreme reactionary form of capitalist government." However, it also goes beyond this traditional definition and lists nine fundamental characteristics of fascism:
- Right Wing: Fascists are fervently against: Marxism, Socialism, Anarchism, Communism, Environmentalism; etc – in essence, they are against the progressive left in total, including moderate lefts (social democrats, etc). Fascism is an extreme right wing ideology, though it can be opportunistic.
- Nationalism: Fascism places a very strong emphasis on patriotism and nationalism. Criticism of the nation's main ideals, especially war, is lambasted as unpatriotic at best, and treason at worst. State propaganda consistently broadcasts threats of attack, while justifying pre-emptive war. Fascism invariably seeks to instill in its people the warrior mentality: to always be vigilant, wary of strangers and suspicious of foreigners.
- Hierarchy: Fascist society is ruled by a righteous leader, who is supported by an elite secret vanguard of capitalists. Hierarchy is prevalent throughout all aspects of society – every street, every workplace, every school, will have its local Hitler, part police-informer, part bureaucrat – and society is prepared for war at all times. The absolute power of the social hierarchy prevails over everything, and thus a totalitarian society is formed. Representative government is acceptable only if it can be controlled and regulated, direct democracy (e.g. Communism) is the greatest of all crimes. Any who oppose the social hierarchy of fascism will be imprisoned or executed.
- Anti-equality: Fascism loathes the principles of economic equality and disdains equality between immigrant and citizen. Some forms of fascism extend the fight against equality into other areas: gender, sexual, minority or religious rights, for example.
- Religious: Fascism contains a strong amount of reactionary religious beliefs, harking back to times when religion was strict, potent, and pure. Nearly all Fascist societies are Christian, and are supported by Catholic and Protestant churches.
- Capitalist: Fascism does not require revolution to exist in captialist society: fascists can be elected into office (though their disdain for elections usually means manipulation of the electoral system). They view parliamentary and congressional systems of government to be inefficient and weak, and will do their best to minimize its power over their policy agenda. Fascism exhibits the worst kind of capitalism where corporate power is absolute, and all vestiges of workers' rights are destroyed.
- War: Fascism is capitalism at the stage of impotent imperialism. War can create markets that would not otherwise exist by wreaking massive devastation on a society, which then requires reconstruction! Fascism can thus "liberate" the survivors, provide huge loans to that society so fascist corporations can begin the process of rebuilding.
- Voluntarist Ideology: Fascism adopts a certain kind of “voluntarism;” they believe that an act of will, if sufficiently powerful, can make something true. Thus all sorts of ideas about racial inferiority, historical destiny, even physical science, are supported by means of violence, in the belief that they can be made true. It is this sense that Fascism is subjectivist.
- Anti-Modern: Fascism loathes all kinds of modernism, especially creativity in the arts, whether acting as a mirror for life (where it does not conform to the Fascist ideal), or expressing deviant or innovative points of view. Fascism invariably burns books and victimises artists, and artists which do not promote the fascists ideals are seen as “decadent.” Fascism is hostile to broad learning and interest in other cultures, since such pursuits threaten the dominance of fascist myths. The peddling of conspiracy theories is usually substituted for the objective study of history.
In a 1995 essay "Eternal Fascism", the Italian writer and academic Umberto Eco attempts to list general properties of fascist ideology. He claims that it is not possible to organise these into a coherent system, but that "it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it". He uses the term "Ur-fascism" as a generic description of different historical forms of fascism.
The features of fascism he lists are as follows:
- "The Cult of Tradition", combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism (often disguised as a rejection of capitalism).
- "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake", which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.
- "Disagreement Is Treason" - fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.
- "Fear of Difference", which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.
- "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class", fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.
- "Obsession with a Plot" and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often involves an appeal to xenophobia or the identification of an internal security threat. He cites Pat Robertson's book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.
- "Pacifism Is Trafficking with the Enemy" because "Life is Permanent Warfare" - there must always be an enemy to fight.
- "Contempt for the Weak" - although a fascist society is elitist, everybody in the society is educated to become a hero.
- "Selective Populism" - the People have a common will, which is not delegated but interpreted by a leader. This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because "it no longer represents the Voice of the People".
- "Newspeak" - fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.