Decades of intellectual spin combined with revisionist history have made a serious engagement of Fascism and its motivations difficult. The facts, however, lead to a singular conclusion. Fascism, despite being a frequent epithet hurled at conservatives, is a product of the European left. That Fascism grew out of European Socialist movements is empirically undeniable. Italy, Spain, Germany and the American left all embraced Fascism or aspects of Fascism, in all cases it was an evolution of Socialist thinking. Fascism became the vehicle by which to achieve a permanence of power that had not been accomplished at the ballot box by Socialist political parties.
While academic definitions of Fascism do not enjoy absolute uniformity there are identifiable commonalities. Fascism is such a horrific danger to liberty that a periodic reality check is in order. Fascism does not arrive fully formed; it is the result of a process and it is this process that we must be capable of seeing for what it is. I accuse no one of Fascism and leave broader judgments to the reader.
The Fascism checklist:
A key fundamental of Fascism and a typically agreed commonality inherent in any number of definitions is that Fascism represents “government control of all aspects of public, private and political life”.
Fascism is, typically, dependant on the creation and elevation of a youth culture whereby the young are ceded a status beyond that justified by experience and education. They are carefully guided to the tenants of Socialistic thinking, absent a discussion of consequences and alternatives. Churchill put a fine point on his view of this philosophical evolution stating “if you’re not a Socialist when your young you have no heart, and if you’re not a Conservative later in your life you have no brain”, Young hero’s are created: the courage of Socialistic behaviors and dogma elevated as an ideal, resulting in a youth focused mythology of political purity. The emphasis rests on political ideology as theology.
Health Culture and Holistic Dogma:
Prevalent in Fascism is the guiding principal that government, or the party, must, in the interest of all, control behavior that is judged as unhealthy, unproductive or a burden to society. Fascism as applied resulted in the denial of, or limitation of health services to those judged “inferior” either by their physical condition, race, ethnicity or age. Abortion was rampant, accepted and encouraged to eliminate “problem” pregnancies or children. The principals of eugenics and euthanasia were embraced and applied. The definition of the iconic “new man” was typical, all in the interest of a greater social good. The “new man” was a perfect visage of strength, healthy behaviors, manliness, ideological purity and political courage as defined by the state.
Faith & Religion:
Engagement with the history of Fascism invariably leads to the realization that traditional, organized religious beliefs have to be denigrated, devalued and punished at every turn. The Socialistic idea of replacing a faith in God with a faith in the “state” was critical to both the Socialistic and Fascist agendas. Organized religions were considered to be a competing political movement to be demonized, especially amongst the young.
Experts know best! The people are best served by experts empowered to “do what is best for you and what is “necessary””. The reliance on experts “expedited” solutions and minimized messy democratic processes. Public accountability for experts was typically absent as they were carefully selected for political integrity and accountable only to central authority.
Cult of Personality:
In Italy, Spain, Germany, and for a time in the U.S. the idea that “the leader” was beyond the normal restraints of civil society prevailed. The reigning idea that freedoms must take a back seat to “making the trains run on time” was a fundamental basis of Fascism. Fascism promoted the concept that the benefits of control by central authority (the leader), typically portrayed in the initial stages as benevolent, was the only path out of the political or economic chaos that characteristically existed as the necessary context for the rise of “the leader” and the Fascist ideal.
Fascist corporatism is simple; “play ball with our policies and we will allow you to survive”. Don’t play ball and you’ll be demonized, controlled and finally nationalized. The ever present justification was that of the “common good”.
Fascism rested in part on control of a compliant media and by extension public opinion. It carefully managed the manner by which “news” and information were delivered to the masses. The ability to control the flow of information was critical under Fascism and combined aspects of Corporatism into the essential points of control.
The leading intellectual lights of radical Socialism and Fascism contended that the truth was fungible. They relied on the idea that the masses were incapable of understanding the issues and making cogent choices. Control of the masses, by whatever means, was justifiable. These leading lights supported the idea of the “Big Lie” as a fully justifiable means to their vision of a utopian end. The end, state control, fully justified the means, no matter the nature, violence or oppressiveness applied.
Emergency and Crisis:
Once the initial degree of political power or significant political position was accomplished, typically by legal means, a crisis or series of crises were fabricated or enhanced for the purpose of justifying “emergency powers” and expansion of government intervention private life and enterprise. Emergencies were a critical component in the process of convincing the populace that more “control” was in order and in their best interests. Most typically the crisis revolved around economic issues, creation of “enemies” or rampant nationalism.
Are these ideas at play today? You decide. If you’re first reaction is “not here, not in America”, think again and have a good hard look at the writings of Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt. It not only could happen here, it already has.