“The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.”
Differently worded, it is attributed to
First, let’s clarify the meaning of fascism, as it has become a word that’s tossed reflexively like a grenade at Donald Trump or at anyone who supports him or who challenges, Progressivism, or the morality of the welfare state. It sounds scary and package-deals so many political and social realms that have little or nothing to do with fascism. Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote in a much needed analysis “What Fascism Is, and What It Isn’t”:
The f-word has been destroyed through overuse, its original sense and power diluted by a million op-eds branding unpleasant politicians ‘fascists’ and by radical marchers hollering ‘fascist scum’ at anyone who irritates them: President Donald Trump, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the cops. On the right, too, the accusation of fascism has become a Tourette’s-style cry. It’s the left who are the real fascists, they say. Ugly alt-right barbs like ‘feminazi’ and ‘eco-fascist’ confirm that right-wingers are now as likely to scream ‘fascist’ as they are to have it screamed at them.
O’Neill is a tad off-track concerning how and why “right-wingers” use the term fascism. They are a bit more perceptive of the Left’s assertions, ends, and methods (whereas leftists are blind to the consequences of their beliefs), and there’s no reason why they should refrain from calling face-masked goons fascists. Rampaging leftists walk like ducks, and so are ducks. They’re just as not nattily garbed as Nazi Brown Shirts or Fascist Black Shirts.
However, I left this comment on O’Neill’s column:
Ask a true contemporary "fascist" – i.e., one of the Berkeley rioters and window smashers, or one of the Women's March pussy hat wearers – what fascism is, and all you'll get for an answer is a rapid blinking of the eyes, a careening, stuttering search for words, or some hackneyed warbling about Hitler; it would do you no good to remind the person that "Fascism" was not the same as Hitler's Nazism, and that the only true or original Fascist was Benito Mussolini, and that the term is derived from the Roman fasces, a bundle of elm or birch rods with an ax head protruding from them, carried by servants of the Roman Senate. Today's "activists" – violent or otherwise – are woefully ignorant of the meaning of the words they use or throw at their enemies, and don't care.
Let’s look at some definitions of fascism.
The Merriam-Webster definition:
….a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition [e.g., censorship or punishment; my addition]
Adolf Hitler addressing a rally in Germany, c. 1933.
(Holton Archive/Getty Images)
The Business Dictionary definition:
Political ideology that imposes strict social and economical measures as a method of empowering the government and stripping citizens of rights. This authoritative system of government is usually headed by an absolute dictator who keeps citizens suppressed via acts of violence and strict laws that govern the people. The most noted form of Fascism was implemented under Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who both stripped citizens of their rights and maintained strict regimes that resulted in the deaths of thousands of humans. Some of the defining characteristics of fascism are: (1) racism, (2) militarism, (3) dictatorship, and (4) destructive nationalistic policies.
Auburn University definition:
A class of political ideologies (and historical political regimes) that takes its name from the movement led by Benito Mussolini that took power in Italy in 1922. Mussolini's ideas and practices directly and indirectly influenced political movements in Germany (especially the Nazi Party), Spain (Franco's Falange Party), France, Argentina, and many other European and non-European countries right up to the present day.
The different "fascist" movements and regimes have varied considerably in their specific goals and practices, but they are usually said to be characterized by several common features:
1. Militant nationalism, proclaiming the racial and cultural superiority of the dominant ethnic group and asserting that group's inherent right to a special dominant position over other peoples in both the domestic and the international order
2. The adulation of a single charismatic national leader said to possess near superhuman abilities and to be the truest representation of the ideals of the national culture, whose will should therefore literally be law
3. Emphasis on the absolute necessity of complete national unity, which is said to require a very powerful and disciplined state organization (especially an extensive secret police and censorship apparatus), unlimited by constitutional restrictions or legal requirements and under the absolute domination of the leader and his political movement or party
4. Militant anti-Communism coupled with the belief in an extreme and imminent threat to national security from powerful and determined Communist forces both inside and outside the country
5. Contempt for democratic socialism, democratic capitalism, liberalism, and all forms of individualism as weak, degenerate, divisive and ineffective ideologies leading only to mediocrity or national suicide
6. Glorification of physical strength, fanatical personal loyalty to the leader, and general combat-readiness as the ultimate personal virtues
7. A sophisticated apparatus for systematically propagandizing the population into accepting these values and ideas through skilled manipulation of the mass media, which are totally monopolized by the regime once the movement comes to power
8. A propensity toward pursuing a militaristic and aggressive foreign policy
9. Strict regulation and control of the economy by the regime through some form of corporatist economic planning in which the legal forms of private ownership of industry are nominally preserved but in which both workers and capitalists are obliged to submit their plans and objectives to the most detailed state regulation and extensive wage and price controls, which are designed to insure the priority of the political leadership's objectives over the private economic interests of the citizenry. Therefore under fascism most of the more important markets are allowed to operate only in a non-competitive, cartelized, and governmentally "rigged" fashion.
Mussolini had hypnotic “charisma”
The Encyclopedia Britannica begins its definition with:
There has been considerable disagreement among historians and political scientists about the nature of fascism. Some scholars, for example, regard it as a socially radical movement with ideological ties to the Jacobins of the French Revolution, whereas others see it as an extreme form of conservatism inspired by a 19th-century backlash against the ideals of the Enlightenment. Some find fascism deeply irrational, whereas others are impressed with the rationality with which it served the material interests of its supporters. Similarly, some attempt to explain fascist demonologies as the expression of irrationally misdirected anger and frustration, whereas others emphasize the rational ways in which these demonologies were used to perpetuate professional or class advantages. Finally, whereas some consider fascism to be motivated primarily by its aspirations—by a desire for cultural “regeneration” and the creation of a “new man”—others place greater weight on fascism’s “anxieties”—on its fear of communist revolution and even of left-centrist electoral victories.
One reason for these disagreements is that the two historical regimes that are today regarded as paradigmatically fascist—Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany—were different in important respects. In Italy, for example, anti-Semitism was officially rejected before 1934, and it was not until 1938 that Mussolini enacted a series of anti-Semitic measures in order to solidify his new military alliance with Hitler. Another reason is the fascists’ well-known opportunism—i.e., their willingness to make changes in official party positions in order to win elections or consolidate power. Finally, scholars of fascism themselves bring to their studies different political and cultural attitudes, which often have a bearing on the importance they assign to one or another aspect of fascist ideology or practice. Secular liberals, for example, have stressed fascism’s religious roots; Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars have emphasized its secular origins; social conservatives have pointed to its “socialist” and “populist” aspects; and social radicals have noted its defense of “capitalism” and “elitism.”
For these and other reasons, there is no universally accepted definition of fascism. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify a number of general characteristics that fascist movements between 1922 and 1945 tended to have in common.
Bosnian (Muslim) Nazi soldiers boning up on Islam
Hezbollah’s Nazi salute evokes memories of
Hitler’s support for Arab agitators –
Mein Kampf is popular in the Mideast
Britannica expands its discussion of fascism:
Neofascism, political philosophy and movement that arose in Europe in the decades following World War II. Like earlier fascist movements, neofascism advocated extreme nationalism, opposed liberal individualism, attacked Marxist and other left-wing ideologies, indulged in racist and xenophobic scapegoating, and promoted populist right-wing economic programs. Unlike the fascists, however, neofascists placed more blame for their countries’ problems on non-European immigrants than on leftists and Jews, displayed little interest in taking lebensraum (German: “living space”) through the military conquest of other states, and made concerted efforts to portray themselves as democratic and “mainstream.” The National Front in France, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the Liberal-Democratic Party in Russia, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, are often cited as neofascist.
In the broadest sense, totalitarianism is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression. Examples of such centralized totalitarian rule include the Maurya dynasty of India (c. 321–c. 185 bc), the Ch’in dynasty of China (221–206 bc), and the reign of Zulu chief Shaka (c. 1816–28). The totalitarian states of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler (1933–45) and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin (1924–53) were the first examples of decentralized or popular totalitarianism, in which the state achieved overwhelming popular support for its leadership. This support was not spontaneous; its genesis depended on a charismatic leader; and it was made possible only by modern developments in communication and transportation.
Totalitarianism is often distinguished from dictatorship, despotism, or tyranny by its supplanting of all political institutions with new ones and its sweeping away of all legal, social, and political traditions. The totalitarian state pursues some special goal, such as industrialization or conquest, to the exclusion of all others. All resources are directed toward its attainment regardless of the cost. Whatever might further the goal is supported; whatever might foil the goal is rejected. This obsession spawns an ideology that explains everything in terms of the goal, rationalizing all obstacles that may arise and all forces that may contend with the state. The resulting popular support permits the state the widest latitude of action of any form of government. Any dissent is branded evil, and internal political differences are not permitted. Because pursuit of the goal is the only ideological foundation for the totalitarian state, achievement of the goal can never be acknowledged.
Under totalitarian rule, traditional social institutions and organizations are discouraged and suppressed; thus the social fabric is weakened and people become more amenable to absorption into a single, unified movement. Participation in approved public organizations is at first encouraged and then required. Old religious and social ties are supplanted by artificial ties to the state and its ideology. As pluralism and individualism diminish, most of the people embrace the totalitarian state’s ideology. The infinite diversity among individuals blurs, replaced by a mass conformity (or at least acquiescence) to the beliefs and behavior
sanctioned by the state.
Italian Fascist Symbol
Large-scale, organized violence becomes permissible and sometimes necessary under totalitarian rule, justified by the overriding commitment to the state ideology and pursuit of the state’s goal. In Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, whole classes of people, such as the Jews and the kulaks (wealthy peasant farmers) respectively, were singled out for persecution and extinction. In each case the persecuted were linked with some external enemy and blamed for the state’s troubles, and thereby public opinion was aroused against them and their fate at the hands of the military and the police was condoned.
Police operations within a totalitarian state often appear similar to those within a police state, but one important difference distinguishes them. In a police state the police operate according to known, consistent procedures. In a totalitarian state the police operate without the constraints of laws and regulations. Their actions are unpredictable and directed by the whim of their rulers. Under Hitler and Stalin uncertainty was interwoven into the affairs of the state.
The German constitution of the Weimar Republic was never abrogated under Hitler, but an enabling act passed by the Reichstag in 1933 permitted him to amend the constitution at will, in effect nullifying it. The role of lawmaker became vested in one man. Similarly, Stalin provided a constitution for the Soviet Union in 1936 but never permitted it to become the framework of Soviet law. Instead, he was the final arbiter in the interpretation of Marxism–Leninism–Stalinism and changed his interpretations at will. Neither Hitler nor Stalin permitted change to become predictable, thus increasing the sense of terror among the people and repressing any dissent.
It is the "total" in totalitarianism that gives the best clue to its meaning. The term refers to the type of government that attempts to assert total control over the lives of its citizens. This form of tyranny was a 20th-century development that was instituted to serve the goal of transforming society according to socialist principles. Totalitarian governments first appeared shortly after World War I.
The ever-present swastika – a Hindu good luck symbol –
beneath the German eagle
The core, essential attributes of fascism are an unreserved, manipulated, mass personality-cult of the movement’s “leader”, substituting the group for the individual, the suppression of dissent in any form (in word and action), and fiat force, or its threat, to compel unreserved obedience.
Now, about Islamofascism:
I must have said it two dozen or more times in my columns over the years: Islam can't be "reformed" without destroying it as an ideology or even as a "religion," it can't be tamed without killing it. Which part of Islam would need to be made "moderate," or amenable with Western values, to render it tolerable? The misogynist element? Kill the Jews? Attack and enslave the infidel? Not one aspect of it can undergo a "make-over" without robbing Islam of its essential identity and purpose, and if that could be done, what, then, would be the attraction to Islam? You'd need to turn its "ideal man," Mohammad, into Santa Claus. All the evil -- that is, the anti-human -- aspects of Islam, that is, the most blatantly evil ones, are linked together. Remove one link and the chain of totalitarianism in Islam falls apart. There are no weak links in Islam, if that is what a "reformer" is looking for. In that sense, Islam can be said to reflect a paraphrase of Mussolini's dictum about Fascism: "Everything inside Islam, nothing outside it, nothing against the caliphate." For example, I wrote about the futility of “reforming” Islam, “The Muslim’s Conundrum” in January 2015:
….Except that Islam can’t be reformed without killing it. The violent verses in the Koran are the principal sources of any power it might have. Remove them, or concoct pretzel-like explanations of what they do or don’t mean, and what you’d have left is an unstructured mishmash of banal homilies and exhortations to be a “good” Muslim, whatever that might mean. “Kill the Jew hiding behind a tree” doesn’t mean “make him die laughing with Seinfeld jokes,” and “by your right hand possess” doesn’t mean embracing a woman’s waist during a ballroom dance….
The violent verses in Islam’s sacred texts, whether they’re read in Arabic or in English or any other translation, are quite clear and unambiguous. Because they are supposedly Allah’s own words, one must take those verses literally, and not attempt to “interpret” them or quote them out of the context, as Allah’s words as supposedly whispered into Mohammad’s ear are unalterable and exempt from correction, emendation, and line-editing. They mean what they mean. Period. For example, in the Shi’ite view of the rape of women captured by jihadists, goes, Koran 4.24 says:
An Al Qaeda-ISIS flag
Given the base nature of Islam, how could it not be fascist, as well? Its core essentials mesh perfectly with Western style fascism: The core, essential attributes of fascism are an unreserved, manipulated, mass personality worship of the movement’s “leader”, substituting the group for the individual, the suppression of dissent in any form (in word and action), and fiat force. The chief attributes of Western fascism and Islamofascism The chief ingredients of fascism are enforced collectivism of an entire population and arbitrary, fiat force, or its threat, to compel unquestioning obedience.
A note: The term “Radical Islam” is an oxymoron, just as the term “free inquiry” is a redundant term. It implies that there is just plain, ordinary Islam which wouldn’t hurt a fly and wants to coexist in peace, while “Radical Islam” suggests that it’s the flyswatter designed to exterminate all flies. “Radical Islam” is just as ludicrous and confusing a term as is “Radical Nazism” or “Radical Communism.” Islam is already “radical” in its fundamentals, and is “extremist” in that it commands a literal acceptance of its Koranic diktats. Instead of a living “leader” the object of a personality cult, Islam furnishes dual icons: Allah as an omnipotent/omniscient deity, and Mohammad as his “Prophet.”
By the same token, the term "Radical Islamic Terrorism" is a conceptual mare's nest and a straw man.
Western fascism and Islamofascism are copasetic, and share commonalities too obvious to dispute or to ignore. Islam is as totalitarian as were Nazism and Communism.