The formula to recognize and defeat Fascims
Would you be able to recognize a fascist movement, if you were to witness it?
Would it appear to you as a copy of Mussolini’s regime?
If you think so, according to the famous Italian writer, Umberto Eco, you are terribly wrong.
It is far too easy to say that you are against the opening of the “next Auschwitz”. The reality is that any future oppressive or totalitarian regime/movement will have a different envelope than the one we witnessed last century.
Let’s try to list some features that Uberto Eco in his book “the eternal fascism” underlines that would help us recognize the “new-Fascism”.
- Cult of tradition:
Our roots are already given. There is no reason to foster innovation, everything we need to know is there (in whatever form you wish: old scripts, old myths, old stories, etc.) embedded in our past. It is possible to acquire more knowledge by reading past authors, even the most liberal and pacifist are a valuable source for new-fascists because their message is interpreted and not understood.
they interpret old realities in their way
2. Rejection of modernism:
the tradition does not encompass progress, therefore no advancements in technology. This is valid as long as the aforementioned technology is not useful. However if it is useful (the trick is easy) it is not the fruit of progress, but handwork.
progress generates internal conflicts
3. Cult of Action:
act first and then think, action is inherently beautiful and more efficient. Culture and intellectuals are enemies, they criticize regimes and slow down the process of action. Intellectuals are conspirators.
better acting than thinking
4. Critics are not allowed:
they are brought up by intellectuals and are seen as treason to the regime. They are rejected because might be the seed of disagreements, and the regime needs unity.
critics are poisonous
5. Disagreeing creates differences:
differences are scary, there is only THE race, those outside it are enemies. The consensus is obtained by unifying the community, often against another community.
rejection of differences
6. Peace means colluding with the enemy:
life is a permanent war. Against enemies, intellectuals or whoever threatens the well being of the community. There is always in imminent danger around the corner, which has to be addressed quickly and strongly (Act!)
constant feeling of being at war
7. The Elitism:
the followers are part of the best community, the perfect citizens (”shame to the others!”). Everyone should join the movement. He starts with the assumption that the leader gained power with violence. The leader gained power with violence, therefore he has to keep it by weakening the mass, his community.
the members feel part of the best community, the “others” are enemies
8. Everyone is educated to be a hero:
the new-fascist follower embraces death, as the final reward. Oftentimes this impatience of dying is compensated by killing others.
the mythology of the national hero
9. Permanent war and heroism are hard to accomplish:
this frustration is translated into machismo: dispising women, condemning whatever expression of love that differs from.
10. Qualitative populism:
in a democracy people have individual rights, their political impact is quantitative though, because the majority wins. For new-Fascism, individuals do not have rights and their political impact is seen as a “quality”, something that expresses the “common good”. In this way, the leader is the only one able to interpret them since they do not count as a majority. Every time a politician casts doubts upon parliament’s (or whatever other collegial organs) legitimacy, we can smell new-fascism.
the mass expresses a quality that is interpreted by the leader, at his own way
11. The use of language is simple:
hard syntax fosters reasoning and critics, which as said before, have to be fought. It is important to be attentive, the manifestation of this syntax can also come from other sources such as TV or social media.
poor language is sign
Features of the members:
12. New-Fascism comes from frustrated people:
the other groups are threatening the integrity of the race therefore its members are rightly exasperated.
the members are frustrated
13. Those without identity are provided with one:
the most common one…being part of THE race, the highest privilege. That is why these movements or regimes thrive in nationalist contexts. The identity however does not exist alone but as a duality. WE are WE because there are enemies outside. Here is also explained why the existence of xenophobia and conspiracy theories.
people without identity are provided with one
14. The followers of this movement have to feel humiliated and scared by the “enemy” as well as capable of beating it at the same time. Following this rhetoric, the enemy is at the same time too weak and too strong. Here comes the inability to correctly estimate and plan a real action program, the target is constantly shifting.
the members have ambiguous and unstable feelings
To speak about new-Fascism we do not need to see all the points in the list. A few of them are enough to start smelling its odor. When speaking about a leader we can also intend it as a political party, not necessarily a single person.
The scope of this list is to have a glanceable formula to consult to have a clearer picture when speaking or thinking about politics.
Does your favorite leader fall into any of these categories? If the answer is yes you might consider rthe idea of spending more time understanding why and how and eventually, change idea!
Umberto Eco: "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt"
Writing in New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15. Excerpted inUtne Reader, November-December 1995, pp…