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Thread: fascism: a new definition

  1. #1
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    fascism: a new definition

    Fascism: A New Definition

    So I know that fascism is a notoriously slippery term to define. If I recall correctly, @ferrus for one has commented that fascism as such can really only apply to Mussolini's Italy. Referring to fascism as a specific political-economic system, he may very well be correct.

    But as the word "fascism" is generally thrown around much more broadly than that, I believe that it does have another meaning, one that can be described and delineated, and one that might even be useful.

    Thinking of the root of fascism - Mussolini envisioned the fasces, a bundle of rods tied together and supporting an axe - all the rods in line, bound together and strong together, transformed into a weapon - I propose that fascism can logically and meaningfully refer to any extreme form of chauvinist intolerance.

    So a fascist ideology would be one in which:

    - Our way is the One True Way
    - You are either with us or against us
    - If you are against us you will be destroyed

    For added weight:
    - We put our money and power where our mouths are

    Thus, fascism would refer to:

    - Formally fascist societies, and also:
    - Nazi Germany
    - The Medieval Catholic Church/Papacy
    - ISIS
    - the KKK
    - North Korea?
    - Stalinist Russia?

    Perhaps this is simply describing totalitarianism, but when I think of totalitarianism I think of the state dictating what you are allowed to *do*. They don't really care about what you think about it. Whereas with fascism, I think of a core of true believers carrying out their faith to its most monstrous ends.

    ...Maybe totalitarianism really is the more accurate term, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it... Hmmm...

  2. #2
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    Looking at how Mussolini defined Fascism I think 'chauvinisitic intolerance' captures the spirit of it, except for me chauvinism is as problematic a term as fascism. If nothing else, it's a term that is about individual attitudes and actions, whereas fascism is about nation states.

    Reading Mussolini's words several times, analogies that come to mind are:
    -The fascist state is similar to an aggressive ant colony
    -The fascist state would have the internal cohesion/spirit of ancient Sparta with the external aggressiveness of the late Roman Republic
    -The fascist state is like a predator in nature. The individual cells have no meaning or purpose outside the animal itself, and the relation between animals is the strong survive and get what they want from force.

    Putting into principles
    1. The individual exists to serve the state (rather than the state exists to serve the individual as in socialism, democracy etc)
    2. The state is authoritarian internally and aggressive externally
    3. The individual conceives of life as duty, struggle and conquest for the state. Freedoms are limited in whatever manner best serve the state by the state
    4. (implied) The individual finds meaning and reward through the success of the state

    This sounds like a religion, initially requiring faith on the part of the individual to buy in, and later when the whole thing gets going the inquisition will keep everyone in line.

    In terms of game theory and the Prisoner's Dilemma, it's the a solution where both parties cooperate because their personal payoff matrix doesn't matter, they are looking at the average payoff (the state). Socialism tries to do the same thing, but fascism puts a much tighter grip on the individual's actions through authoritarianism rather than cooperation.

    As for what states are Fascist-like, I'd look at principles 2-4 and then apply #1 as the ultimate test (does the state serve the individual or vice-versa). I think a strong case could be made for North Korea and Stalinist Soviet Union in practice, whatever the slogans. Remember that on the path to perfect communism a dictatorship of the proletariat was necessary. However, both states were/are less aggressive than the text book fascist states of WW2 Italy and Germany and seem(ed) more interested in internal control than external war/conquest.

    Note: Oddly enough, your typical fascist is then a heroic patriotic robot-like lackey.

  3. #3
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    You're right about it not being an actual philosophy of government. I think you need

    - a charismatic leader
    - socialist plays towards the center
    - the support of industrial powers
    - fear of immigrants/vilification of racial categories of people
    - totalitarian control

    the communist governments are different in that industry is centrally controlled and the purges are against classes of people, like landlords in mao's china, or doctors and lawyers in the khmer rouge.

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