What is Fascism?

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What is Fasicm?. OK, I admit it, I never did take a political science class. Was too busy doing the engineering thing. The other day, someone mentioned that sounds Fascist. I had always though Fascism was about being in Nazi Germany or Mussolino’s Italy. It has a broader definition though (of course scholars can’t agree).
But here is one scholars view:
bq. Beginning in the 1970s, some historians and political scientists began to develop a broader definition of fascism, and by the 1990s many scholars had embraced this approach. This new approach emphasizes the ways in which fascist movements attempt revolutionary change and their central focus on popularizing myths of national or ethnic renewal. Seen from this perspective, all forms of fascism have three common features: anticonservatism, a myth of ethnic or national renewal, and a conception of a nation in crisis.

A. Anticonservatism
Fascist movements usually try to retain some supposedly healthy parts of the nation’s existing political and social life, but they place more emphasis on creating a new society. In this way fascism is directly opposed to conservatism?the idea that it is best to avoid dramatic social and political change. Instead, fascist movements set out to create a new type of total culture in which values, politics, art, social norms, and economic activity are all part of a single organic national community. In Nazi Germany, for example, the fascist government in the 1930s tried to create a new Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community) built around a concept of racial purity. A popular culture of Nazi books, movies, and artwork that celebrated the ideal of the so-called new man and new woman supported this effort. With this idealized people’s community in mind, the government created new institutions and policies (partly as propaganda) to build popular support. But the changes were also an attempt to transform German society in order to overcome perceived sources of national weakness. In the same way, in Italy under Mussolini the government built new stadiums and held large sporting events, sponsored filmmakers, and financed the construction of huge buildings as monuments to fascist ideas. Many scholars therefore conclude that fascist movements in Germany and Italy were more than just reactionary political movements. These scholars argue that these fascist movements also represented attempts to create revolutionary new modern states.
B. Myth of National or Ethnic Renewal
Even though fascist movements try to bring about revolutionary change, they emphasize the revival of a mythical ethnic, racial, or national past. Fascists revise conventional history to create a vision of an idealized past. These mythical histories claim that former national greatness has been destroyed by such developments as the mixing of races, the rise of powerful business groups, and a loss of a shared sense of the nation. Fascist movements set out to regain the heroic spirit of this lost past through radical social transformations. In Nazi Germany, for example, the government tried to “purify” the nation by killing millions of Jews and other minority groups. The Nazis believed they could create harmonious community whose values were rooted in an imaginary past in which there were no differences of culture, “deviant” ideologies, or “undesirable” genetic traits.
Because fascist ideologies place great value on creating a renewed and unified national or ethnic community, they are hostile to most other ideologies. In addition to rejecting conservatism, fascist movements also oppose such doctrines as liberalism, individualism, materialism, and communism. In general, fascists stand against all scientific, economic, religious, academic, cultural, and leisure activities that do not serve their vision of national political life.
C. Idea of a Nation in Crisis
A fascist movement almost always asserts that the nation faces a profound crisis. Sometimes fascists define the nation as the same as a nation-state (country and people with the same borders), but in other cases the nation is defined as a unique ethnic group with members in many countries. In either case, the fascists present the national crisis as resolvable only through a radical political transformation. Fascists differ over how the transformation will occur. Some see a widespread change in values as coming before a radical political transformation. Others argue that a radical political transformation will then be followed by a change in values. Fascists claim that the nation has entered a dangerous age of mediocrity, weakness, and decline. They are convinced that through their timely action they can save the nation from itself. Fascists may assert the need to take drastic action against a nation’s “inner” enemies.
Fascists promise that with their help the national crisis will end and a new age will begin that restores the people to a sense of belonging, purpose, and greatness. The end result of the fascist revolution, they believe, will be the emergence of a new man and new woman. This new man and new woman will be fully developed human beings, uncontaminated by selfish desires for individual rights and self-expression and devoted only to an existence as part of the renewed nation’s destiny.

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