What's the Deal with Fascism?

Photo by  Katie Moum  on  Unsplash

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

What’s the Deal with Fascism?

Fascism is a far right ideology rooted in authoritarianism and nationalism. I’m going to emphasize that again. Fascism is a far right ideology rooted in authoritarianism and nationalism. It is not, nor can it be a left wing ideology. Anyone who claims that the left are the real fascists are lying or do not understand what fascism is.

Fascism also sometimes has racially based prejudices as well and often promotes a sense of superiority among those who fit into some set of prescribed norms, namely white, heterosexual, male, and Christian. There are other ideologies that mirror similar ideas of superiority for different groups but at this time those are not considered the mainstream for fascism.

I’m not really into the etymology of words but I think it’s interesting to note that the word fascist is connected to or derived from the word fasces which is a bundle of rods. Often fascists will use the symbol of a bundle of rods around an axe or a  fascio littorio which is supposed to symbolize strength through unity as if to say a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.

Fascism actually takes quite a few different forms but is characterized in ideology with a few similarities.

First they are always anti-liberal and anti communist, and they are often anti conservatism, though many current iterations of fascist ideology that we see in North America and in many parts of Europe include a kind of adherence to what they view as traditional western culture.

Fascism is also authoritarian in nature and nationalistic with a well regulated and protectionist attitude towards the economy. Though very pro private industry it is a very anti globalization ideology. Which basically means fascists are cool with people owning businesses within their country or state and think most things should be privatized but they want to regulate them and they don’t want outside interference.

Another thing that most versions of fascism have in common is that they are quite fond of symbols and charismatic leaders that can unite a group and promote a positive view of violence and masculinity.  Not to put too specific a name to it but you can see why the fascists in the alt right would follow a guy like Richard Spencer who is decent looking, well built, and is quite articulate.

Fascists hate weakness, they see themselves as the strong ones and they view practically every other political ideology as the weak ones. They are also obsessed with the decline of society and consider themselves the only ones able to repair it. Which they will do by eliminating undesirables whether by banishment or extermination. They view these undesirables as impure. Impurity can mean any number of things depending on which group of fascists we’re talking about.. Many consider members of the LGBTQ community or people with disabilities to be impure and think of them as disposable or degenerates.

There are a small number of fascist regimes that have taken power in a few countries since it became a political ideology in the late 19th century. Italy was fascist under Mussolini, Germany was fascist under Hitler, some historians consider Napoleon the third to have been one the first fascist, though it wasn’t called that at the time, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil is a fascist who is in power right now. Most references to fascism refer to Italy in the early 20th century as that is where the name first appeared and the ideology became more cohesive.

Economically speaking fascists are corporatists which means they organized society by corporate groups, such as agricultural, labour, military, scientific, or other associations based on common interests.The idea is that when each group performs its designated function, society will run properly. This is not entirely unlike the syndicalist structure of society that some anarchists adhere to except for the coercive nature of corporatism versus the voluntary nature of syndicalism. The Italian fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations.They banned workers' strikes and lock-outs and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers' rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes.In practice, the sectoral corporations had little to no independence and were controlled by the fascist regime. Employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves, but instead by appointed Fascist party members. This created a system in which employees had essentially no say in the conditions under which they labored.

But why am I talking about fascism now. Well, I’m concerned with the mainstreaming of fascist ideas that we’ve seen over the last couple of years and in that vein I want to cover just a little bit of a video by Contrapoints that she put out in September of 2017 and then I want to try to talk a little bit about where modern fascism seems to have gone since that video.

In Contra’s video she lays out 3 main beliefs by today’s fascists

  1. People of European heritage constitute a biological, cultural, and political unity known as “the white race” which is also often referred to as “western culture” (just as an aside, we now often see people in Canada referring to Canadian values or in the US as American Values. This is also a dog whistle to this white race unity though it often includes a religious aspect as well aka Christian values)

  2. Jews are masterminding the destruction of the white race through multi culturalism and non white immigration. Fascists often refer to this as the white genocide or ethnic replacement (This fits into the idea of the decline of society that I mentioned earlier and is why you hear them chanting slogans like “You will not replace us” and “blood and soil”)

  3. The only way to save the white race is to establish a white homeland or ethnostate from which non-whites and degenerates can be purged. (This is also fundamentally informed by their narrative about the decline of society and their view that they are strong enough to fix it as long as they expel the weak)

Contra has done a number of videos basically debunking these core beliefs of fascists but fascism persists. In her video Decrypting the Alt-right she points out that society under late stage capitalism kinda sucks and it leaves a space in the sense of identity that white men are seeking for fascism to sneak into their mindsets. White dudes are ,actually, facing a number of challenges in modern society. I think the line from fight club actually says it pretty well when it points out that we were promised fame, fortune,and decadence as long we worked hard and now that we find that not only are we worse off than before we have to compete with more than just other white dudes. We also have to compete with women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the lgbtq+ community. We were told by tv, movies, and marketing departments that we were entitled to be at the top of the pyramid and we found out that not only are we not entitled to that we won’t even come close to it. I personally blame the rich but for many men it is much easier to blame those who don’t have power over us but are starting to gain equal footing to us. Thus the rise of fascism and the resurgence of hostility to social progress in the mainstream.

So, who are the modern fascists? Well, if you look online you might see some people talking about race realism or race science. You might find people comparing slaves to drug dealers and espousing the value of having a whites only nation. If you go into the boards on 4-chan or 8 chan you will find them in there pretending they’re sharing nazi memes ironically or giving pointers to each other on keeping a low profile until the time is right. In 2017 they marched in the city of Charlottesville. They are the Alt-right, the Proud boys, and the KKK. You’ll find some in red hats chanting build the wall,  and I think it’s fair to say that in Canada they’re wearing yellow vests. Jair Bolsonaro is currently in charge of Brazil and plans to wipe out the indigenous peoples in the region so he can sell off Brazil's valuable rain forests.

I’m currently very concerned with the rise of fascism and while they’ve take some heavy blows in the last year or so they still keep coming back and as long as the US has a president that won’t straight up disavow them then they likely won’t ever be gone there. I recently watched a video called a Night in the Garden which showed 20000 Americans in New York city in the year 1939. They were wearing swastikas, and performing Nazi salutes and talking in much the same way we see Donald Trump talking now. Talking about an ethnic group that isn’t white as though they are the root of all trouble and espousing the idea of American values. Fascism was always a part of American culture and by extension Canadian culture. I don’t know how to defeat it but the key in my mind is to keep an eye on them and to never let them hide. If you see a fascist, let them know you see them. If they know we’re watching then they can’t build power unchecked.

Also, vote for anyone who isn’t a conservative or right winger because frankly, they’ve all been compromised since the election of Trump. I wouldn’t have called Harper a fascist but I most certainly will call this new crop of Conservative politicians we’re seeing in Canada at least fascist friendly.