Because fascism is such an insidious thing, we must be vigilant and well-informed about how it looks in the early stages, before it’s too late.
[First published in November of 2016, this is pretty pertinent today, as the fascist elements released into our society by the Trump Effect are rampant, though seeming to lose much of their momentum lately. We need to remain vigilant.]
Fascism has been sneaking into our lives, into the hearts and minds of our countrymen, slipping into the national dialog in the guise of patriotism, strength, purity, religious piety, safety – all things that seem positive and non-threatening.
Trump and his appointees are pretty clearly leading us to an authoritarian state in the name of protecting us from “outsiders” and that’s why it’s problematic. From Dave Neiwert, a researcher on fascism who’s been following its rise for many years, here are a few of the characteristics that struck me as particularly noticeable in the current political climate:
— Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships and style and with the goal of a mass party militia
— Positive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use, violence
— Extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance, while espousing the organic view of society
— Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not the command is to some degree initially elective. — [from Stanley Payne, in Fascism: Comparison and Definition]
— a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. [from Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism]
From Paxton’s “mobilizing passions” of fascism:
— the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against the group’s enemies, both internal and external;
— dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effect of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;
— the need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny;
— the superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason;
From Roger Griffin: “Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as freedom and individual rights, and often presses for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy.”
Neiwert’s entire essay is worth reading: http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2015/11/donald-trump-may-not-be-fascist-but-he.html