To be wrong about fascism | Gene Veith

“You keep using that word,” Inigo Montoya said in Princess Bride. “I don’t think it means what you think it means.” The word they were referring to was “inconceivable”. The statement also applies to the word “fascism”.

President Biden calls Donald Trump and his supporters “semi-fascists”. Progressives frequently warn that Republicans are “fascists.”

The term has become, as has been said, a general term of abuse. But it has a specific historical significance. Fascism, as a political and economic ideology, refers to a system in which the state controls everything. It’s a totalitarian, which means that the scope of the government is total. Communism is also totalitarian, but Fascism sticks to “national socialism,” which allows for private ownership in an economy totally run by the state. It is collectivist, in that it opposes individualism, civil liberties, and all forms of dissent, with the aim of creating a single national body.

Trump could without charity be accused of being a demagogue or even a so-called authoritarian, but that does not make him a fascist or even a “semi-fascist”. Those who believe in small, limited the government cannot be fascist.

Lance Morrow – who is not a fan of Trump – explains it in his the wall street journal column titled Biden’s Speech Had It All Backward with the bridge “Biden Democrats Seek One-Party State. Trump supporters want freedom from government power. The room is behind a paywall, but here’s a sample:

If there are fascists in America these days, they are likely to be found among left-wing tribes. This is Mr. Biden and his people (including the lion’s share of the media), whose views have, since January 6, 2021, hardened in absolute faith that any party or political belief system other than theirs is illegitimate – impermissible, inhumane, monstrous and (a nice touch) a threat to democracy. The evolution of their overprivileged emotions – their fanatical sentimentality – led them, in 2022, to adopt Mussolini’s formula: “All in the state, nothing out of the state, nothing against the state”. . . .

Believe it or not, Mr. Trump and his supporters are essentially anti-fascists: they want the state to stand aside, impose as little interference as possible, and allow market forces and entrepreneurial energies to work. Freedom is not fascism. Mr. Biden and his vast tribe are essentially enemies of freedom, although most of them have not given the matter much thought. Freedom, the essential American value, is not on their minds. They desire maximum, that is, total, state or party control over every aspect of American life, including what people say and think.

I wrote a book on the subject, Modern Fascism, which shows that ideology was a modernist phenomenon, favored by the modernist vanguard, as illustrated by the poet Ezra Pound, and more precisely the faction of modernism which would evolve into postmodernism. This is evident in the commitment to the Nazi party of Heidegger, whose brand of existentialism was the basis of postmodernism, and of Paul DeMan, who is the father of “deconstruction”. I also examine the centrality of ‘will’ to fascist thinkers, which has survived today in ‘pro-choice’ ethics. Fascist religion ranged from overt neopaganism to theologians who sought to purge Christianity of its “Jewish” elements—that is, of the Bible—by employing higher criticism and rejecting biblical authority.

There are other elements of fascism in which I touch – including Darwinism, eugenics and anti-rationalism – but I show that it is anything but “conservative”.

Sure, you can get to fascism from the right – I worry about “conservative” intellectuals flirting with “illiberalism” – but right now that mindset is more evident on the left.

Photo by Alisdare Hickson from Canterbury, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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