What is a fascist?

The following definition comes from the website of King’s College, often rated one of the top universities in the nation. It was also, until recently, the college where one Dinesh D’Souza was employed. The full text can be found here:
Fascism can be defined as a political attitude and mass movement that arose during time between the first and second World War. Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader.  Fascism basically rejected the idea of Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy. Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance.  It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race. Fascism isn’t limited to one culture alone.  Each culture can believe that it is better and each person can consider himself to be better than his fellow man. Fascism is used to categorize censorship and oppression.  Ones who take away freedom from others can be considered fascist. 
In this day and age of reactionary political correctness, it is often seen as going too far to label someone as a “fascist.” This is, of course, discounting the fringe mania of the past few years wherein a center-right, compromising American President has been repeatedly called everything from a socialist to a Nazi to, yes, a fascist for the egregious crime of wanting people to have affordable access to private-run health care. Yet, for all of the furor and hatred on the far right of the current American political spectrum that has been given not only credence by right-wing leaders, but has been embraced by several prominent Republicans, there is little to none of the same boisterous opposition and loosely-reality-based hyperbole coming from the opposite direction. I feel I must preface this letter with a few statements:
I am not a registered Democrat.
I am in favor of the death penalty.
I am in favor of the right to own firearms in America.
I am not a supporter of the process of abortion.
I do not believe that collectivism, communism, or socialism can truly work given the current human condition and temperament.
With all that said, I want to say that it is not hyperbole or out of the question to label the current dangerous right-wing shift as a movement toward fascism in America. The last time fascism began gaining ground in the western world followed the Great Depression, a time of great uncertainty, fear, and anxiety after the collapse of the worldwide financial market. Here again we are faced with a similar economic crisis, both foreign and domestic, and it is not unfair nor untruthful to say that people are scared again. They have every right to be. However, fear is irrational and will often lead to a suspension of disbelief when it comes to facts, truth, decency, decorum, and compassion. The very idea is “I need to worry about myself, and I need a leader who will take care of me and no one else.” This selfishness is understandable, but still deplorable: in all honesty, the time when our outlook is bleakest is when we should band together the most… but we won’t. At least, we won’t while we still have leaders who want to stoke those fires of fear and ignorance for their own greedy and personal gain, a penultimate selfishness that is, in a word, fascism.
Let us examine the definitions posited above:
Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader.  
This is today’s Republican party, plain and simple. The current Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney, was videotaped saying, to a similarly wealthy and homogeneously white group of supporters, that his job is not to worry about 47% of the country who is not successful enough to pay taxes on their income. Weeks later, the hard-right governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, claimed that the current President, Barack Obama, was licking his wounds after a tough debate by hiding out in “one of the most liberal places in the nation.” This would be an innocuous claim if it was not referring to the capital city of Walker’s own state, Madison. This statement is openly practicing divisive policy and statements, seeking only to give support to those who believe, think, and act like themselves. This Republican party is going out of its way to “other” anyone who doesn’t join in lock step with their policies, as evidenced by the expulsion of formerly moderate Republicans like Dick Lugar in Indiana for favor of more “ideologically pure” candidates who are championing a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-woman agenda. This is policy and thought put in place to champion one group, one race: wealthy, landed aristocracy who are predominantly White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
On the topic of Anglo-Saxons, there was a small amount of fuss made over a comment made by Mr. Romney’s campaign during a disastrous trip to England that the current President, a man of African-American descent, did not have the correct “Anglo-Saxon values.” A Romney surrogate has been quoted as saying that “this President needs to learn how to be an American.” Signs and t-shirts have shown up urging Americans to “but the white back in the White House,” and directly preceding the last presidential debate a surrogate of Fox News claimed that the President would “throw spears” at the debate. This racially charged rhetoric against what should have been a landmark, America’s first black president, further lends credence to the fact that today’s Republicans are pursuing a fascist policy.
Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance.  It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race. 
This current Republican party has been chastised for wire-tapping American citizens without warrants. Recently, the Republicans have taken aim at removing abortion rights for American women, citing specious science and backwards doctrines in order to justify old, white men seemingly knowing what is best for the young women of this nation, even going so far as championing and passing legislation that requires women to undergo state-mandated, forced, and unwanted vaginal probings. Several Republican controlled legislatures are now trying to make is harder to vote for a disproportionately minority segment of their populations. A Republican senator was recently quoted as saying that the Republican party needed to excite within its base “angry white guys” in order to win this upcoming Presidential election. Every policy choice and rhetorical movement in the Republican party, particularly since the year 2010, has been to marginalize and attempt to hold on to power for a group of Americans than are seeing their percentage of the population and, ergo, their power within the American system wane as a new, racially mixed and increasingly un-religious generation begins its rise. There is no other word to describe this drastic shift in the Republican party towards racist, sexist, and classist policies than Fascism.
This is not hyperbole. This is not propaganda. This is fact. The Republican party is following a tactic of preying on fear and using convenient scapegoats to shake loose an electorate at a time when it seems like all is falling apart and people are willing to believe anything to make sure that A) they are not to blame for their own problems and B) someone will make everything better by fighting those “others” than are ruining the country.
” Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind (4). Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (artistic, religious, scientific) (5) and the outstanding importance of education. Hence also the essential value of work, by which man subjugates nature and creates the human world (economic, political, ethical, and intellectual).

This positive conception of life is obviously an ethical one. It invests the whole field of reality as well as the human activities which master it. No action is exempt from moral judgment; no activity can be despoiled of the value which a moral purpose confers on all things. Therefore life, as conceived of by the Fascist, is serious, austere, and religious; all its manifestations are poised in a world sustained by moral forces and subject to spiritual responsibilities. The Fascist disdains an “easy” life (6).

 The Fascist conception of life is a religious one (7), in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the in­dividual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. “Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought.”

1. Know that the Fascist and in particular the soldier, must not believe in perpetual peace.
2. Days of imprisonment are always deserved.
3. The nation serves even as a sentinel over a can of petrol.
4. A companion must be a brother, first, because he lives with you, and secondly because he thinks like you.
5. The rifle and the cartridge belt, and the rest, are confided to you not to rust in leisure, but to be preserved in war.
6. Do not ever say “The Government will pay . . . ” because it is you who pay; and the Government is that which you willed to have, and for which you put on a uniform.
7. Discipline is the soul of armies; without it there are no soldiers, only confusion and defeat.
8. Mussolini is always right.
9. For a volunteer there are no extenuating circumstances when he is disobedient.
10. One thing must be dear to you above all: the life of the Duce.

These are words from Benito Mussolini’s articulation on Fascism, which can be found here in its entirety. The second block comes from the Fascist Decalogue, to which I have provided the link as well. The ideas laid forth here are similar, if not identical, to the ideas currently being trumpeted by the American Republican party: it has its own media, it has its own culture. The current American Republican can exist in an echo chamber where only its ideas are championed: it can buy Republican movies, watch Republican TV, read Republican books, and have Republican discussions with other Republicans on places such as Conservapedia.
(According to Conservapedia, Mussolini loved FDR’s ideas so much… he then went to war with him less than ten years later.)
In current weeks, the Republicans have begun to claim that everything from non-partisan polling, to non-partisan employment figures, to debate moderators, to even the cameras at the debates themselves have somehow allied against them, further driving the conspiracy and cover-up fetishism that is the hallmark of a movement that wishes to constantly paint itself as the victim, to strike out at anything contrary, and attempt at all costs to remove the idea of compromise. The increasing insular nature of the American Republican party, seen most disturbingly in the “Tea Party” movement of the past two years, is nothing more than a move toward fascist policies that seek to hold up a shrinking minority of Americans as ubermensch to be worshiped by the rest of society, fattened by government, and most importantly, never questioned or challenged in the hegemony they have created.
There is no better time and no better way to say it. There is fascism in America. It is coming, and it can happen here. In many ways, it already is. I leave you with those quote, often misattributed to the author Sinclair Lewis, and explained here:
  • When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
    • Many variants of this exist, but the earliest known incident of such a comment appears to be a partial quote from James Waterman Wise, Jr., reported in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century that in a recent address here before the liberal John Reed club said that Hearst and Coughlin are the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascismcomes, he added, it will not be identified with any “shirt” movement, nor with an “insignia,” but it will probably be “wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution.”[1]
    • Another early quote is that of Halford E. Luccock, in Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938): When and if fascismcomes to America it will not be labeled “made in Germany”; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism.” Harrison Evans Salisbury in 1971 remarked about Lewis: “Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can’t Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling ‘The Star Spangled Banner.'” [2]
  1.  The Christian Century, Volume 53, Feb 5, 1936, p 245
  2.  p. 29, The Many Americas Shall Be One, Harrison Evans Salisbury. Published by W. W. Norton, 1971.

2 thoughts on “What is a fascist?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.