Is It Fascism Yet?

  • Posted on: 8 March 2017
  • By: thecollective

From Destroy Everything

What is fascism?

For maybe the first time since World War II, the word “fascism” has entered the popular lexicon. For years, relegated to poorly thought out anarchist screeds, or used by punks to describe any sort of authority at all, “fascism” has once again entered the mainstream. Donald Trump’s candidacy and election has put the word on more tongues since figures like Mussolini and Hitler actually ran fascist governments. Bolstered by “alt-right” figures such as Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos, it would appear to many that fascism is an immediate threat, and many have already mobilized with this in mind.

Is fascism right around the corner for America? Probably not…but just because the future is not called fascism does not make it any less dangerous. It could be argued that America’s current obsession with the term could be obscuring equally dangerous futures. While everyone is arguing about fascism, is it possible that something just as bad could slip by undetected?

So, what is fascism? Firstly, it is important to look at the definitions given by the coiner of the term, Benito Mussolini…

“Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.

…above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society…

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society…

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State…

For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence.”

Is Trump fascist?

While there are some obvious parallels to the ideas propagating around Trump currently, to call Trump a fascist would not quite be accurate. Trump, while still as much of a warmonger as every other president, does not praise a state of eternal war as the fascist does. He does not place socialism or communism at the forefront of his enemies, instead opting for a vaguer enemy of “terrorism”. While definitely attacking the current democratic structure and practices, Trump does not go as far as to attack the idea of democracy. He does not place the state above everything, and as a businessman, at times even expresses interest in limiting the state.

By Mussolini’s standards, Trump would absolutely not be a fascist. Trump’s politics include a definite measure of authoritarianism, backed by a populist racism, but he is not a fascist. This is a point that many of those throwing around the word “fascist” today might concede, but only so that they can point at figures surrounding and promoting Trump’s politics. The “alt-right” has been conflated with fascism for almost as long as “alt-right” has been a term. People like Richard Spencer, Steve Bannon, and Milo Yiannopoulos receive the “fascist” label almost as much as Trump does.

Is the alt-right fascist?

There are likely many in the alt-right that harbor fascist ideas, however to call the alt-right fascist is another mistake. Fascism is very open in its ideas. The alt-right likes to hide their agendas, and often backtracks on their own ideology when called out for it. Some alt-righters will deny the concept of fascism when confronted…others will even go as far as to say that their ideas are not racist. The alt-right hides behind disingenuous terms like “race-realism” or “cultural libertarianism”, or pretends that it is just another form of American conservatism. Some may still even cling to the label of Republican. Those who are currently called fascist will object to the term, and direct the accusation in other directions, but in the end, to be called a fascist is exactly what these types want.

The alt-right knows it is not actually fascist, regardless of any fascist influence. In fact, when people like Bannon or Spencer evoke the ideas of Julius Evola, they are demonstrating just how not fascist they are. An authoritarian monarchist like Evola would have scoffed at the populism of fascism. The alt-right, and the president they lay claim to, is not so much a unified ideology as one that picks and chooses from the authoritarian ideologies of past. It is a nebulous grouping of anti-democracy, monarchy, fascism, racism, and all other sorts of reaction. While their critics focus on the false label of “fascism”, the alt-right is laughing at all the other authoritarian ideology that goes by unnoticed or unannounced.

Because of their opponents’ focus on fascism, it is possible for the alt-right to deflect accusations in other directions. “I’m not a fascist, I simply prefer a strong state” or “I’m not a fascist, I’m a race-realist” are easy defensive options, as they are largely true. When using “fascism” as a blanket term, it is extremely easy for the alt-right to sidestep any accusations of fascism. Milo Yiannopoulos is a great example of how this is accomplished…

“If white privilege is a thing, why are people working so hard to be black? All of the award shows and cultural events favor black culture…

Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy…

Black Lives Matter is the culmination of racial divide. They’re nothing more than the last socially acceptable hate group in America.”

None of these Milo quotes are particularly fascist. They might qualify as racist or sexist, but there is nothing about them that makes them fascist. When called out as a fascist, it is easy for Yiannopoulos to dodge the accusations of fascism, because he isn’t advocating for fascism. He is really just advocating extremely authoritarian ideas, and hoping that his opponents call it fascism. By attempting to play the “fascism” card, the left, and anyone opposed to the alt-right, is really just playing into the alt-right’s hand. The alt-right wants to be called fascist. Being called a specific ideology which existed only for a few decades in the 20th century provides them with an easy out. It obscures the trove of other awful ideologies than both Trump and the alt-right draw from, and it makes those using the word “fascism” factually wrong.

What is to be done?

While fascism was a very outward ideology that concretely stated its aims, and at times even its racism, the authoritarian ideology of the future seeks to constantly obscure its goals. The characteristic brutal honesty of fascism has disappeared, and has been replaced with endless layers of clever redirection. Racism has been replaced by “race-realism”. Sexism has been replaced with an aversion to feminism. White supremacy has been replaced with “white nationalism”. Calling people out for authoritarian behavior is being met with reversed claims. The idea that silencing fascists is itself a fascist act is beginning to gain more and more traction.

The authoritarians of our current day have laid out a maze of smoke and mirrors, and their opposition has played right into it, by focusing on the term “fascism”. The left and anti-fascists have almost shot themselves in the foot by declaring “No platform for fascists”. Does that mean that “race-realists” get a platform? Does that mean that monarchists get a platform? Fascism is too niche of a term, and its specificity has become a boon to those who are being identified with it. Instead of a general “No platform for authoritarians”, those who would oppose Trump and the alt-right are left throwing punches at something that isn’t there, and being laughed at in the process.

Is it fascism yet? No. Will it ever be fascism? Probably not. Fascism was a specific ideology that while influential now, no longer actually exists. It comes from a time where ideologies operated openly. Now, we live in a time where even the most insidious of ideologies can be rationalized by using the correct buzzwords and tactics. Fascism is not the enemy…coercive authority is. Whether that authority wants to coerce people via a specific Italian-bred ideology, or if it wants to operate behind thinly veiled racism is of no consequence.

To truly oppose the alt-right and Trump, the opposition needs to get rid of “fascism” as a dirty word, and start directly opposing the smokescreens that the alt-right puts up. The terms that the alt-right uses to obscure their racism, sexism, and reaction need to be brought into the open, and then opposed. Instead of fighting ghosts of German and Italian dictatorships, the tangible populace that has no problem being influenced by them must be fought. Outside of a few fringe groups, fascism no longer exists. What does exist is a growing population of people that are growing more and more emboldened into outright authoritarian behavior due to the success of Trump and the alt-right. What exists is the continuing normalization of bigotry and xenophobia, all under the guise of democracy and the “American Dream”. In order to be truly opposed, this behavior must be called out for what it is, and not labeled as something that it is not.

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Comments

there are a number of people, some of them very close to me, who have been decrying the focus on fascism, but without following through with the argument that this article makes clear.
the point, as the article states, is NOT that we're not in a dangerous place, the point is that using a margarine word like fascism HIDES the danger, rather than helps us figure out and combat the danger.
thank you DE, this is very appreciated.

There was a way to deal a powerful blow to the current regime -fascist or not- just like there was a way for the '30s German antifascists to vastly weaken the Nazi regime during its first few years.

It's the networks of power. It's their infrastructure. It's the fluxes of capital. It's the pipelines, for instance... BTW where were YOU, antifascists and anarchists, when the Standing Rock camp was getting raided? I don't recall many reporting about DAPL on this site neither...

Fascism, indeed, ain't this kind of ghost materializing out of thin air, and making SS Totenkopf creeps suddenly appear. It was power dynamics uniting corporate and State interests, behind military and brutal aesthetics. The setting -for the rapist ultra-violent aesthetics, the Police State, and endless military might- was there already. The political movement that is Trump -more than just the orange clown himself, who's really just a kind of actor- is celebrating it, and seeking to push it further.

The problem lies not exactly in how the rhetorical focus on "fascism", but rather on the lack of focus on the real-life power dynamics that make this kind of authoritarian regime consolidate. I'm anti-fascist though the antifa have been ignoring that elephant in the room all these years. They just saw its reflection on the glass, and thought that the glass only needs to be broken...

This is such a pathetic strawman and I can't believe you spent four paragraphs on it

Author of the original piece here...

While I generally agree with what you're saying here, the Standing Rock example is not a very good one. Having been to Standing Rock, I can tell you that the last thing the Standing Rock people wanted would be an outright antifa or anarchist presence. While I met plenty of antifa and anarchists there...people were generally told to keep their ideologies to themselves. Also, I'm not sure if the antagonistic nature of many antifas would even be welcome. The tribes were not looking for frontline confrontation, and generally wanted to stay away from violence.

Where were antifa and anarchists while Standing Rock was going on and getting raided? Many were there, but they respected the native people enough to not make their presence about anarchism or antifa. Most of the anarchists were content to help out, shut up, and leave the indigenous resistance to the indigenous people.

As Bakunin said - " In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer."

In the matter of native resistance, anarchists should be deferring to natives. To show up at Standing Rock outright repping antifa and anarchism would be unwelcome, and honestly sort of western chauvanism.

That's not what I was saying. Antifa don't need to be bringing antifa tactics and discourse to such a frontline of (non?) resistance in order to be opposing Trump's regime.

The pipelone only had to be opposed. So if the Native clans wanted Standing Rock to be non-confrontational that's a thing, but to clamp down on anyone willing to opposite more fiercely eslswhere, that's pure cop behavior... And there are highly coppish, treacherous people among Natives. There are many. Some notorious massacres wouldn't probably have been ao bad without their copping.

What you're saying doesn't make any fuckin sense ... Started with "where were Antifa and anarchists at standing rock?" You got a thoughtful answer, then you switched topics.

If Crimethinc was too narrow in defining what fascism is, then this piece is misleading.
There appears to be a tendency to describe fascism as an event from 'back then' which can be juxtaposed to that which it is not 'today', another event. This reasoning either says that fascism never truly existed or that it always exists as a potential which is constantly being manifested in various ways on the micro level.
To say that fascism denotes the drive toward a perpetual war, yet imply what is not denoted as fascism (democratic capitalism or whatever you like) doesn't, is to clearly contradict the necessary trajectory of the element of 'primitive accumulation' which is required for the expansion of capitalism.
To take but one part of the OP' quoting of Mussolini:

'The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State...'

This, by definition, requires any state to be considered, at the very least in its overarching existence, fascist. Anarchists shouldn't be confused by this.
This definition was Arstotle' as well, as written in the first and second parts of The Politics, wherein the individual is recognized as such in relation to its ultimate representation in the form of the state; in other words, the individual is only that in relation to being realized in the state. Aristotle was of the time when what is called democracy, the city state formation, is what the organization of society was called.

Hegel borrowed from Aristotle in positing that the end goal of the development of the individual consciousness, formed through the relation to the consciousness which is not for itself (ie another consciousness) was the state. The state was the highest achievement of Reason, upon which individuals based their conflicting relations to each other, found it's necessary and greatest form in the state.
Hegel wrote this under a monarchy.

Neither of these thinkers had the term 'fascism' to describe their political theories, yet they both conclude with essentially the same definition as the quote from Mussolini.

This is all to say that whether one calls what is being signified 'fascism' or 'democracy' or 'monarchy', the general tendency remains the same.

I believe that the attempted distinction persued in pieces like this is arbitrary.
The fundamental problem isn't the appearance of how a set of social relations are organized, but rather the mechanisms which are used to facilitate such perceptions.

Antifa and classical anarchism use the same means of repression as the tankie or the liberal. The interfacing technologies which facilitate various forms of passivity and perpetuate or allow the perpetuation of a veneer of distinction, whilst containing these individuals who believe themselves to be operating within different parameters, within a virtual matrix.

Fascism is only the word, given by Mussolini to a political conception, which expresses a culmination in Western authoritarian politics, that's been existing since ancient Greece. Without the myth of Athenian democracy and the Platonic Republic, Aristote wouldn't have came up with the essentialist, unitarian view of the State as the empire that every intellect should lean forward to. The Athenian philosophers truly were phallocratic sacks of shit.e Taleb.

Just because fascism actually only gained state power for a few decades doesn't mean that fascism doesn't exist anymore or that only fascists in power are fascists. There are still plenty of fascists out there, who would love to be in power, and the alt-right includes a lot of them. I agree that we should challenge all of the terms they are using, but just because they aren't using the term fascist doesn't mean they aren't fascist.

I made a post about that yesterday that for some silly reason got deleted, but anyway, it might be a good idea to star undermining the new deal 20th century seeing as it came at the expense of a more libertarian world.

My reply to your deleted comment was deleted also because of its description of an ' if the Axis had won ' environmental paradise and a scathing critique of its war-lusting Christian humanism and its quest for racial purity,,,,,,That's how bad things are getting.

Maybe you two could go somewhere else where no one likes you.

Most of us have been saying it for years now …

This is a really perplexing piece which seems to be written by someone with very little actual knowledge of the 1930s politics. It's filled with statements which sound authoritative but make staggeringly little sense to anyone familiar with fascism. Saying something like "An authoritarian monarchist like Evola would have scoffed at the populism of fascism" is just kinda bizarre - why not just quote what he actually said about it? There's just so much you could say about this self-described "superfascist", from his leading role in the far-right and fascist intellectual sphere (before, during and after the war), personal friendships with leading Nazi party members or service for Germany during the war, but instead the author chose to speculate about how he "would have" felt. If citing Evola is evidence that someone *isn't* a fascist, does that mean that his fanboy Mussolini wasn't a fascist?

Similarly, the claim that in the 1920s/30s "fascism was a very outward ideology that concretely stated its aims" is just wrong. Mussolini never actually defined fascism, and his descriptions of it varied a lot over the years. Fascism has always been a mess of contradictions - Catholics and occultists, "socialists" and business tycoons, "revolutionaries" and cops, etc. Nazis in 1930 were a pretty diverse bunch who represented a wide range of contemporary counter-cultural trends, from gay socialists like Ernst Rohm to followers of Rudolph Steiner (creator of biodynamic farming and Waldorf schools). Plenty of the stuff they did, including the holocaust, was never explicitly promised (even in internal party documents), which is a big part of why things like the Nuremberg prosecutions and holocaust deniers were/are such a pain in the ass. This is all really basic Nazi/fascist history, and it's hard to take an article about fascism seriously that doesn't at least acknowledge it. Anyone can (and everyone does) cherry-pick Mussolini quotes to support the story they want to tell, but it doesn't make them an expert on the subject, just another windbag on the internets.

What we have now has been spelled out in Betram Gross' book, Friendly Fascism, written in the 80's and becoming more real everyday. Here's a short doc that ties these ideas in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nnYwsj5BWk

Think maybe I've identified a pattern of misunderstanding, not to throw all you stirner cultists under the bus because you're not the only ones but for the ease of explanation, I'll debunk stirner-worshipper logic. It seems like the primary assumptions with the critique of the Antifa tendency (the only ones worth responding to anyway) are that antifascists don't appreciate nuance and are mindlessly repeating tactics and rhetoric out of context with the current times, etc because they believe in "spectres" blah blah blah.

Obviously, making categorical statements about Antifa dramatically increases your likelihood of sounding like a jackass because it's mostly just a set of tactics within a contextual framework BUT that's not my point today.

More interestingly, it never seems to occur to these critics that people could be using the Antifa lexicon in a cynical manner, to efficiently communicate with large groups of strangers, utilizing the spectacle and deploying rhetoric that is tried and tested to get a reaction, polarizing the discourse and puncturing the social peace. My desire is to be part of a community that is ready, willing and able to defend itself and endless, often pointless, theoretical discussion is a detriment to my goals.

It's not that I can't argue the definition of fascism all night, it's that I got that out of my system many years ago and I'm much more interested in the shifting tactical terrain and what makes people move. For me, discussion is a means to an end or it's a tedious form of masturbation. My egoism tells me the antifascist tendency is a useful tool for the job of shifting away from the paralyzing narcissism of the social media age.

Don't tell me you have opinions, I don't give a fuck! Tell me that you have enemies and that they consider you a threat.

Ya but "egoists'" enemies are "the left" which doesn't actually exist in America so they have fuck all to do but bitch online

That's the thing. Putting aside the fact that threat level to power is overrated and the fact that enemy binary based warfare is no way to anarchy in the now, antifa is no threat and at most an auxiliary tool of universalist liberalism and umbrella leftism.

Post your address and let's find out if antifa is a threat

He's at his mom's house, believe me, I should know

Lol, oooo! Watch out, you guys! We got a bad ass over here!

/infinite eyeroll/

Post yours too, tough guy

Post a picture of yourself trying to eat a sandwich but a fist keeps coming out of the sandwich and punching you and the fist is wearing a balaclava and meanwhile out the other side of the sandwich another hand is dropping a banner that says antisa

Still no address from SE.

Oh ziggy … how little you would have to say to me in person, I assure you ;)

But more importantly, you've demonstrated over and over that you have extreme anti-antifa views and that they have no basis other than these categorical statements you like to make. I covered that in my post (and several others), you can't make these sweeping, authoritative condemnations about thousands of different people doing completely different things without sounding like a jackass and you just ... do it anyway. Carry on ...

Obviously nobody is seeking your approval but the total failure of logic is worth remarking on. You can't possibly know everything about the topic so if you keep pretending that you do, you'll continue to make an ass of yourself. Carry on...

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