Let’s talk about the fascist state. By which I mean, let me talk about the fascist state. Not of yesteryear, not of days long gone, but of today. Fascist state meaning fascist government, nation, ruling party—fascism out in the open, trying to hide itself as, what? Nationalism? Populism? Nativism? Freedom from oppression and tyranny? Self-rule?
It’s around today, still. Right out in the open. Have you ever heard anyone try and paint the century-old organization known as antifa as the most riotous, villainous menace in America, without providing anymore information or clear, factual evidence regarding it? Or in the same breath, forget to point their finger at any right wing militant group actually labelled a terrorist organization by the FBI?
Then you’ve probably met or seen a closet fascist—someone so far on the right that the thought bubbles over their heads read, ‘Hey, were fascism to come back along into power, hypothetically speaking, well, that wouldn’t be such bad thing, would it? We’d have or independence from foreign influence, we could keep out all those immigrants (beat them up, even, legally), we could have our global freedom, sovereignty, keep that Chinese influence out of our business, finally be one cemented nation under God’, or any other ridiculous justification they may spew or bandy back back and forth with their own kind (or just poison the politically gullible with), behind closed doors.
You can even do the math on something like that. If you aggressively try and disparage or speak ill of an antifascist organization, what does that make you? Well, what happens when you multiply a negative rational number by a negative rational number? You get a positive rational number. And by positive rational number, I mean a closet fascist.
Now, you may argue, ‘Well, if someone speaks ill of fascism, does that make them a member of antifa?’ No, informal fallacy spewer, it does not. It just makes them against fascism. ‘Well, then, if I don’t like antifa, it just makes me…’
Yes, informal fallacy spewer, a closet fascist.
Fascism began in Italy during World War I, when the whole of European powers were at war, and the whole of a belligerent nation’s citizenry were in some form or another connected to the military machine, because the military machine had become the entire nation, fighting for its (assumed) survival. World war eventually ended for a while in Europe, but then a couple decades later, another one came about. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, since the Second World War, few (if any) political parties have outright identified with fascism, though they may very well be in bed with it, or recognize themselves as one of its shameless lovechildren. But this past week a far-right party with ties to it suddenly got voted into power in Italy (again), and I got real interested in the grounds gained by the far right in democracies all over the world in the last few years.
Now, fascism is fascism; there are a number of clearly-defined conditions and modi operandi that need to be met and exercised for a state to be considered fascist, and today none really do. Just because they have dictators, or close-minded, repressive a–hole leaders at the helm, it doesn’t mean they’re fascist.
It just means they’re kind of close.
Things can change in a virtual instant if you stop paying attention to them for any given length of time. And political spectra are abstractions, sometimes nothing more than theoretical charts drawn up to oversimplify a way-too-generalized point and be able to speak of it in concise shorthand before going to commercial break, or before your listeners’ attention spans reach their limits.
How close is the far-right to fascism? And does it really matter, if the results are, in many cases to many people, the same? Or very, very similar?
What we are, in fact, seeing today are political parties with the strongest of roots to (for being the actual lovechildren of) the founders and progenitors of actual fascism, not only in Italy, but in France, Sweden and Hungary, too, and we see them moving away from the established democratic norms countries and their people have fought wars against fascists and dictators to secure.
For example, The National Rally Party (formerly the ‘National Front’) in France just procured in parliament ten times the seats they had just five years ago. Fascists? No. Far-right? Yes. Proudly. The policies with which the party aligns itself are clearly laid out: nationalism, economic nationalism, sovereigntism, conservatism, populism, protectionism, anti-immigration and Euroscepticism.
It doesn’t qualify as fascist. But, hell, it’s close. I can’t help but see a disturbing amount of overlap. How many leagues, how further a consolidation of power or how grand a national emergency would be necessary to push it over that hump? In the world today, outside of the crypto-fascist state of Russia, of martial law in Myanmar, of the socialist dictatorship in North Korea, of the tightly-controlled, social state of China, of civil-war-because-of-a-dictator-torn Syria, fascism will likely never return outright. But that doesn’t mean some serving up some cocktail with many of the same key ingredients wouldn’t get innocent people who just want to live their lives just as f—ed up.
And then we have what happened when the far-right’s best and brightest stormed the American Capitol building to stop the legal transfer of power based on their collective gut on January 6th, 2021, and the sedition charges that are being leveled at one of America’s best and brightest, far-right, terroristic organizations this week because of it. And alongside that, the wife of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in an interview with the congressional commission saying she is absolutely convinced the 2020 election, still, was fraudulent. Based on a gut feeling, i.e., without any actual evidence.
So, what’s all this the result of? I don’t know. Nativism (meaning ‘racism’)? Populism (meaning people pissed off at their corrupt, out-of-touch governments)? Nationalism (no idea why that even still exists)? Freedom from oppression (which is ironic, since one of the elements that defines fascism is economic dirigism, which means direct, centralized control of the economy by the government, along with direct control of the press, the national legislature, the judiciary and pretty much everything else)?
A highly progressive (or “woke” as some people disparage it), almost rabid culture, coming largely from out of America via social media, seeming to infect the ideas of the youth of the world like a virus?
Yeah, largely. In the eyes of the right.
In the end, if you ask me, setting the benchmark so high that when the meter hits FASCISM people should begin to argue and question and feel afraid, well, I say: Check your spectrum. That meter’s already too high. There’s plenty of activity that has historically preceded fascism going on all over the world, sometimes right in your own neighborhood.
And what you need to do is make sure it doesn’t get voted back into power.