What is ‘Fascism’?

Thank you for indulging me in a purely fun philosophical musing on the nature of thought and existence…which, if I am not mistaken, established a consensus that my own existence is defined by ‘being annoying’ rather than by ‘thinking’ … implied feedback loop, and all – and don’t go saying that it’s an infinite loop…   :0)      

So, please, let me move now to other topics:  less abstract, but hopefully no less thought provoking….  I promise to stay as annoying as ever! 

Children say the ‘darndest’ things…and ask the toughest questions.  Except that I didn’t realize this one would be a ‘tough question’.   

After all, ‘everyone’ knows what ‘fascism’ is, right?  Jackboots and swastikas and Italian right wing dictators – images of WWII appear before our eyes and we know EXACTLY what ‘fascism’ is.  Except…when I got asked this question, I found verbalizing the answer was nowhere as easy as my mental picture made me think it would be. 

Italian fascism (under Mussolini) was a ‘right wing’ dictatorship.  So were the ‘fascist’ dictatorships that plagued South America.  So, many people think that ‘fascism’ is a synonym for a right-wing dictatorship.  Except that it isn’t…  Yes, we also think of Hitler’s Nazi Germany as being a ‘right wing dictatorship’ – except that … it wasn’t.   

Not exactly, anyway.  The word ‘Nazism’ is a short form of ‘national socialism’ – and that is decidedly a ‘left wing’ terminology.  And even a cursory look at the policies instituted in Nazi Germany will demonstrate that Hitler’s dictatorship was ‘left wing’ in practice, as well as in name.  He nationalized many industries, and established more of a ‘nanny state’ than constitute most of today’s western socialist’s wet dreams.  He even said his two idols were Lenin and Stalin…  So, how could Nacism also be ‘fascist’? 

Some reading and thinking shows that the definitions and descriptions vary, based on the time and social climate and political views of the commentator…yet there are always a few features that are common across the definitions/descriptions.  Now, here are my own little observations: 

1.         In its deepest core, fascism is the ‘dictatorship of the majority/privileged minorities’.   

It does not matter if the government is left-wing, right-wing, or whatever.  It invariably ‘clips the wings’ of its citizens, and makes them feel special for it!  How?  By either turning ‘wing-clipping’ into a matter of ‘national identity and pride’, and justifying it in the most reasonably-sounding terms, at first… and the ‘moral majority’ is either ‘impassioned’ or ‘guilted’ into supporting them…and tramples down anyone who does not ‘run with the flock’….  After all, if your wings have been clipped, you can either ‘run with the flock’ or ‘be trampled’ – because soaring high in the skies is no longer an option and the very desire for it will be vilified. 

As such, fascism elevates the rights of groups over the rights of individuals who make up these groups.  This feature is the unmistakable mark of ‘fascism’. 

2.         Fascism often gains control gradually and insidiously. 

Remember, even Hitler was voted into power…  So how can fascism gain control ‘gradually and insidiously’?  By becoming indispensable to the individual, to force its citizens to ‘go along’ with things…  It does this by appealing to a call for unity (be it racial, social, religious or ‘under attack by an outside enemy’) and by forcing the citizens to ‘buy-in’ into government sponsored social programs to such an invasive degree, the citizens will no longer be able to exist independently (either because these services become government monopolies, or because the citizens no longer know HOW to take care of themselves).   

Anybody see the ghost of a ‘nanny state’? 

These are my ever-humble (or is that ‘never-humble’?) opinions….though this ‘sketch’ seems rather ‘rough’, in need of refinement. 

So, please, how would YOU define fascism?