eternal f word
August 22, 2011, 7:18 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Today, the word fascism is overused by anyone who wants to demagogue his enemy.  So a real definition is important.  Excerpted below is Italian author Umberto Eco’s fourteen qualities of fascism.  He was a child in Rome when Mussolini fell, so he has a particular insight into the Italian version of the movement.

Lifted directly from Eco’s fourteen points, the hallmarks of fascism are:  traditionalism, action trumps intellectualism, opposition to discernment, fear of the ‘other,’ racism, call to consensus, personal and shared frustration, nationalism, shame by a perceived dominant class, shared struggle, permanent warfare, popular (as opposed to aristocratic) elitism, power through machismo and misogyny, leaders who claim to speak for ‘the people,’ and a new form of speaking that includes “impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  Then perhaps you’re living in a fascist state and should either protest or move or both.

There is the hint of a better society in the final quotation below spoken by FDR.  He warned that only a society committed to continual change – “to better the lot of our citizens,” – could hold fascism at bay.

Here are the first lines of the fourteen attributes.  They give a taste, but to really understand his meaning you can find a link to the full text below:

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

Ur-Fascism, JUNE 22, 1995, Umberto Eco

“I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.”

Franklin Roosevelt November 4, 1938

2 Comments so far
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Good post.

Comment by blackwatertown

Glad you liked it. It’s a misunderstood and misused word. In theory now I know a little more about it.

Comment by Peter Rudd

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