fas·cism – noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government
I would add into this particular definition that the government is a “socially conservative, one-party” government, not so much with regard to money matters, but with how it approaches social needs and issues with its controlled corporate money. It promotes some element of its morality through religious means to get the people on the bandwagon. This type of government is typically associated with Hitler’s regime during the World War II era, though I recall better Italy’s Mussolini.
And of course there was my mother carrying forth the dictatorial precepts after WWII….. just kidding, mom. If you are reading, I’m just so impressed you made it here!
Here is what fascism looks like in the modern-day social media mindset:
Notice the elements necessary to make “the people” accept the whole idea. You first invoke a threat. Pick any you like….communism, terrorism, Somali pirates…anything that perceptibly threatens our modern-day way of life. The threats are often real and actually have a grain of truth to them. I dare say back in the 1800’s, the threats involved were along the lines of indigenous people, or the companion fear of the white invaders, crimes involving horse theft and a version of drunk “driving” by horse in the U.S., tribal battles over resources, natural disasters and weather-related fears.
Towards the bottom of the list, you see that the press is restricted and dissent about the evolving process is cast as “treason.” Here would be the propaganda machine’s active work towards discrediting any voices who call out warnings.
Though in modern-day we now have probably a new #9: our opinions on social media act as ‘fact’. I see it often. We tend to not take the time to research good information. How many of us read information from Wikipedia and assume it is correct information? How many times have we passed a shocking piece of information around Facebook, only to find out from Snopes that it is an urban legend and never happened? I have actually done the very deed in this post. Can you find it?
Now, consistent with good investigation, I seek out deflation of a concept. I went looking for an understanding of the term and potential merits of fascism. In all honesty to myself and to you the reader, families have a tendency to be run in a one-party dictatorial fashion, merging the corporate and government functions into one entity. If children are raised well, they are probably subjected to a large dose of fascist regime in the guise of good parenting.
Let us be honest with ourselves then and honor the yin and yang of the concept. Check out “What Fascism Is Not: Thoughts on the Deflation of a Concept” by Gilbert Allardyce, published in the American Historical Review, vol. 84, No. 2 (April 1979) pp. 367-388. Now, in this article, Allardyce parses meanings and tells us that we probably associated an evil intent into the very definition of the word by associating it with a bad example of how it is implemented. “As long as the fascism problem is the Nazism problem we cannot separate it from visions of the Final Solution; for this reason discourse on the subject will remain charged, moralistic, and pulpitarian.” I had to look up that word: noun -preacher; an advocate of preaching as essential to worship.”
Hitler’s regime is a strikingly good example of a bad implementation example. I used to have a law professor who would tell us something like, “hard cases make bad law” because it was the unique and bizarre cases that actually made it to court to set case precedent, rather than the normal everyday cases and situations. Citing Stuart Woolf’s 1968 European Fascism (you can purchase on Amazon), Woolf begins:
Although some scholars attempted from the start to restrict the use of the term fascism to Mussolini’s movement in Italy, most have joined in a process of proliferation that began as early as the 1920s. After Mussolini’s success, observers thought they recognized men and organizations of the same type arising in other nations. From this beginning emerged a popular image of fascism as an international movement, a phenomenon that found purest expression in Italy and Germany, but also appeared in a wide number of other countries. When stripped of national trappings, it is commonly believed, all of these movements had a common characteristic that was the essence of fascism itself. Although that essence is difficult to define, the prevailing hope is that continuing research will eventually reveal the nature of facism more clearly. Thus, while the thing itself continues to elude us, the name goes on as before….
It appears to me then that there is a fascist under every bush. My mom was a fascist by that definition. Probably very many people are “fascist” on some level, and therefore no one is because it loses any meaning if everyone fits the definition. And therein lies the frustration with the academic and intellectual community. I have just spent 1000+ words trying to define a word so that I have something usable for my upcoming piece, forgetting completely that the term doesn’t matter nearly as much as the process I am describing. Fair enough.
Nonetheless, I find the process something to consider when we the people find ourselves cast into the cauldron of fear about global issues threatening our personal security and the mysterious shift in authority that results.