3 Apr '16    home | previous

Essence of Fascism?

A good article titled "The Essence of Fascism," by Michael Brenner, appears in today's Huffington Post. It differs from my recent claim that "fascism" should be understood in the context of the 1920s. But it is not a point I want to be doctrinaire about.

Brenner 's article begins:

Fascism is back. Not just as a political expletive thrown at opponents. But as a doctrine, as a movement, and — above all — as a set of feelings. It has been easy to view fascism as a freak historical phenomenon of the inter-war period that was embodied by Mussolini, Hitler, Franco and one or two other minor characters. We assumed that the end of WW II relegated it to the history books. It ceased to be studied and was barely remembered.

Brenner extends fascism as a doctrine to the Ba'ath parties of Iraq and Syria. He writes that,

... across Europe and even in America, we should see recrudescence of the attitudes, the rhetoric and the inspirations that marked Fascism's rise 80 or 90 years ago.

He lists eleven "defining features" of Fascism. Here are five of them:

  • A mythologizing of tradition that glories innate virtues and heroic deeds

  • A rejection of Enlightenment ideals with their emphasis on rationality, individualism and the pleasure principle

  • The exalting of action for action's sake – especially physical action with a penchant for violence

  • Intolerance for criticism from any source – domestic or foreign

  • Contempt for the weak stigmatized as life's losers and nature's failures

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