Fascism

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The 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted that fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." [1]

According to Matthew N. Lyons in Eyes Right [2], fascism is:

"...a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a 'spiritual revolution' against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge 'alien' forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race."
"Fascism's approach to politics is both populist--in that it seeks to activate 'the people' as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies--and elitist--in that it treats the people's will as embodied in a select group, or often one supreme leader, from whom authority proceeds downward. Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power."

Characteristics

"The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."—Vice President of the United States Henry A. Wallace, 1944[3]

Lawrence Britt calls these the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism. [4]

  • Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  • Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
  • Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
  • Supremacy of the Military
  • Rampant Sexism
  • Controlled Mass Media
  • Obsession with National Security
  • Religion and Government are Intertwined
  • Corporate Power is Protected
  • Labor Power is Suppressed
  • Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
  • Obsession with Crime and Punishment
  • Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  • Fraudulent Elections

However, critics say the Britt list above is oversimplifed, and point to the earlier list of 14 characteristics of "Ur-Fascism," or Eternal Fascism, by Umberto Eco:"Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt."

  • The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
  • Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
  • Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
  • The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
  • Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
  • Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
  • To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
  • The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
  • For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
  • Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
  • In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
  • Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
  • Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
  • Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

External links

Primary Documents

General bibliography

  • Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Eatwell, Roger. 1996. Fascism: A History. New York: Allen Lane.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart. 1953. The United States and Italy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bibliography on Fascist ideology

  • Fritzsche, Peter. 1990. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London: NLB/Atlantic Highlands Humanities Press.
  • Schapiro, J. Salwyn. 1949. Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Sternhell, Zeev with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri. [1989] 1994. The Birth of Fascist Ideology, From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution., Trans. David Maisei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Bibliography on international fascism

  • Coogan, Kevin. 1999. Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.
  • Griffin, Roger. 1991. The Nature of Fascism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Weber, Eugen. [1964] 1982. Varieties of Fascism: Doctrines of Revolution in the Twentieth Century, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, (Contains chapters on fascist movements in different countries.)

Further reading

  • Seldes, George. 1935. Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism. New York and London: Harper and Brothers.
  • Reich, Wilhelm.1970. "The Mass Psychology of Fascism". New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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