A century of attempts to define and whitewash Fascism
In Georgia we’re breathing a sigh of relief. Warnock won over a Trump endorsed candidate, Herschel Walker. Hoping this is a real death blow to Trumpism here! I’m not naïve enough to believe that it’s gone already, but it’s a step in the right direction!
John, congratulations to you and Georgia for doing the right thing (big sigh of relief). That a Herschel Walker could even be considered a serious candidate is mind boggling.
Ruth, thank you for this essay and all you do.
I, for one, had been looking for clarification of the term ‘fascism’ and how it differs from‘totalitarianism’ and ‘authoritarianism.’
Herschel Walker Will realize that Trump just used him as his political pawn, as he does many others!
Great Essay, thanks for this, it explains so much!
Historical words like "fascist" and "fascism" certainly fit Mr. Trump. But I must say that after Trump's latest tweet urging the abandonment of the constitution, the descriptor I prefer is "mad man." Trump is clearly insane, criminally insane, and extremely dangerous. How will the corrupt Secret Service deal with his confinement?
There is no doubt that the term "fascist" applies to Mr. Trump. However, after his renunciation of the U.S. constitution, the descriptor I prefer is "mad man." He is clearly insane, criminally insane, and very dangerous. How will the corrupt Secret Service deal with his confinement?
Thank you, Ruth, for this excellent and comprehensive piece on “fascism.”
Great essay as usual, Thanks.
Thanks for this piece. Given what's been going on in the USA, Italy, and in Germany in just the past 24 hours, it's as timely as ever.
I'm reminded of the "Philosophic Basis of Italian Fascism" (see below), written by the fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who, as you point out, co-wrote the "Doctrine of Fascism" with Mussolini in 1932. For Gentile, the disillusioned paradigm shift following the Great War was not only social or political, but also spiritual, and Fascism’s idealistic and sacrificial form demanded the surrender of individual life to the eternal life of the State.
It's amazing how such common human virtues of spirituality, sacrifice, selflessness, and service can so easily be turned into vehicles for destruction. This phrase has always haunted me in Gentile's 1928 piece: “the individual has a law and a purpose in obedience to which and in fulfilment of which he alone attains his true value […] he must make sacrifices, now of personal comfort, now of private interest, now of life itself.”
In this renewed era of populist extremism in all of its forms, pieces like yours are an essential reminder of how easily *everyone* can slip into modes of thinking that champion virtues to justify violence.
From all I've read and heard, fascism is just a way to put an ideological face on criminal endeavors. At the heart of fascism is theft and murder and absolute, unquestioned power.
Thanks for this important and necessary essay regarding the experiences of many students and families and the histories/environments of those periods that have touched their lives in school and in other ways. Many of these experiences have caused people/groups to have to straddle differing positions in their (or their ancestor’s) lives and you for example separate two periods: (1922-1945) and (1945-1998) with so many differing aspects within each. Also an earlier period which I had heard about from my grandfather’s family, the “fasci Siciliani,” that one never hears anything about (in school or elsewhere) was the democratic and socialist movement in Sicily (around 1893) you mention. During this movement there was the development of a socialist consciousness with some of that “bundling” you mention where there were protests, strikes, social conflicts, that led somewhat to worker reforms, compensation, pensions, but also led to the suppression of these strikes and reforms that in turn led to some Sicilians migrating to other countries as my grandfather did. I remember hearing stories that my great-grandfather was a “border patrol officer” in Sicily during this time but my father would also ask in a laughing manner what border was he patrolling? However, that does makes some sense that in 1893 there was an unstable/changing environment between the aristocracy and the social movements that pushed protests, strikes and borderline types of insurrections.
Your essay fills in gaps and much needed missing information that is helpful in our understanding of fascism/authoritarianism, where it came from, how it developed, how it is changing and so on! Again, thanks!
Thank you for such an illuminating piece on Fascism. Earlier today, I read an article about how a Qanon-related group headed by the Reichsburger Movement who tried to attack and take over the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany. At least 25 were arrested. He even had some German Military personnel and a Judge in his group! This reminds me of an article I read by German-born Katrin Bennhold of the NYT who documented a large contingency of right-wingers in the German military about a year ago. Was this the German version of our Jan 6th Insurrection? If so, shouldn't we have arrested Trump just as the Germans arrested Reichsburger? Why not?
What happened to my comment??!
Merloni attacking LGBTQ and press yesterday. Germany breaks up plans for a coup, today. Indonesia passes extraorninary sexual repression laws. DHS warns of probable attacks on LGBTQ, Jewish and Blacks in this country. Shooting of electric stations to sabotage service in NC. Warnings today of concern for contamination of water supplies. China is about to be brought to its knees by COVID. Fascism will look, act and manifest differently around the globe. There can be long debates on definition, and folks can drop their guard, or back off of vocal platforms, but it remains a very real threat. "American Fascism", Brynn Tannehill, highly recommended. We are reaping what was sown in this country, the results of slavery, oppression, Plutocracy, Union busting, voter suppression and attacks on individual liberties. We suck folks, and we are about to get the results of Cause and Effect. Do not hide. Do not drop out of the fight. Do not think we are turning a corner. This is going to get a lot worse. If we fight, we have a chance, slim. If we hide, we are doomed. Do not back away from the fight. Those who are leaving because of "Righteous, Moral positions", are only kidding themselves and weakening the rest of us. Get on every platform you can, stand up, fight, tell the truth, be the leader in your world. It is wrong to leave the fight, when it is just beginning. This is Fascism.
On a related note to the fascism topic of today, I just read this week that journalists in Italy are being targeted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Neofascist party. Paolo Berizzi who is a journalist with a large newspaper in Italy is receiving social media messages such as: ”Die.” “Hang yourself.” “We’re coming after you.” Castor oil.” Which the article is saying is an explicit reference to a form of torture favored by the supporters of Mussolini.
Now I am thinking about our rapid “Media Consolidation” in America and how the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who founded and owns “Mediaset” the largest mass media company in Italy and beyond and only competes with public broadcasting. Berlusconi had a net worth of 8 billion in 2009 on Forbes list and recently tried to buy full ownership of Spanish TV for 855 million to consolidate into MediaForEurope (MFE)!
This is happening in America as I write this as well and I just read that CNN to Gannett in the Media Industry is laying off workers amid recession fears. What recession? It sounds like consolidation and then downsizing within to have more control! (Isn’t Elon Musk laying off (downsizing for more control) just before the holidays as well?)
Is this what is happening in Neofascist Italy? Is going after journalists another feature of the Strongmen playbook? Is this what we should be watching out for currently in America?