What is fascism? These days, it seems like it’s mostly an insult to be hurled at political opponents. The English author, journalist, and essayist George Orwell once wrote that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless”, though he conceded that underneath all the “mess” of definitions “there does lie a kind of buried meaning”.

At it’s heart, fascism might be defined as the collective use of violence against individuals, minorities, and outsiders. Most would accept that fascism is authoritarian, and that its appeal to legitimacy is based on the monolithic “will of the people” (always embodied by the leader and his or her party). Different political opinions are often considered “treasonous”, and democratic institutions are “thwarting the will of the people”.

Fascism calls for extreme pride in one’s nation (and often race). It condemns liberal values as decadent and unnatural, and seeks to return the nation to a purer, more virile imagined past. Where fascism breaks with other political traditions is, perhaps, in its willingness to resort to collective violence (both street violence and state brutality).

At the moment, no government in Europe could truly be called “fascist”. The “Golden Dawn” party in Greece is genuinely neo-fascist, though its electoral fortunes have waned in recent years after its leaders were arrested for forming a criminal organisation responsible for multiple murders. In Hungary, critics argue the country’s democracy has been dismantled and replaced with a “hybrid regime” which some have labelled “soft fascism”, though it is wrong to call Hungary a “fascist” state because state violence is not systemic there.

Could fascism ever make a comeback? Or was it consigned to the ideological dustbin of history after the 1940s? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – dimbar43


38 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?


  1. avatar
    GD

    “At it’s heart, fascism might be defined as the collective use of violence against individuals, minorities, and outsiders.” It seems to me this kind of purely pejorative definition is exactly the kind Orwell wrote about.

    By this definition, just about every society in existence – from ancient Athens to modern America – has been “fascist.”

    I think Roger Griffin’s definition is better: “[F]ascism is best defined as a revolutionary form of nationalism, one that sets out to be a political, social and ethical revolution, welding the ‘people’ into a dynamic national community under new elites infused with heroic values. The core myth that inspires this project is that only a populist, trans-class movement of purifying, cathartic national rebirth (palingenesis) can stem the tide of decadence.”

    In terms of practice, fascism rejects parliamentary democracy, sectoral conflic, and individualism, in preference to an autocratic, hierarchical (but ideally meritocratic), and communitarian ethos. Democracy is faulted for promoting instability and selfishness (witness consumerism..) rather than the common good and adherence to values, understood (in the fascist case) as national power.

    Demoliberals do not recognize the tension between democracy and the adherence to values. If late-liberal values are being challenged now, it’s because social media has enabled MORE of the ideological pluralism which democracies claim to have. Social media has allowed both the majority and ideological minorities to express themselves more, against the monopoly previously held by the largely liberal-globalist media-political class. Postwar liberalism was triumphant precisely to the extent Western societies were anti-democratic, dominated by the thinking of audiovisual media managers in particular. The advent of real democracy, today, is undermining liberal values, because in fact democracy qua democracy undermines all values other than those promoting the majority’s individual and immediate interests (as Plato & Tocqueville explained very well).

    Fascism is not necessarily particularly cruel or exclusionary. Until the rapprochement with Germany, Italian Fascism was if anything less racist than the American and British liberal-democracies. The fascist revolutions in Italy and Germany required far less loss of life than did the American, French, or Bolshevik revolutions (although, obviously, the Nazis had a very high wartime kill count, which arguably had more to do with their particular racism than fascism as such).

    Assuming climate change is not a hoax, a eugenic ecofascism is likely in the Twenty-First Century as the democracies fail to rein in in the consumer capitalism which is ecologically wrecking our planet and the science concerning heredity becomes increasingly undeniable.

    Obviously, none of the national-populist spasms across the West right now come even close to “fascism,” but are the increasingly democratic aspect of our liberal regimes.

  2. avatar
    gd

    * but are [the product of] the increasingly democratic aspect of our liberal regimes.

  3. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Q: Could a booming economy in the EU or in the whole of Europe ever make a comeback- considering that the present EU has been captured by its federal political agenda?

    Who has a vested interest to constantly and deliberately disseminate unproductive (“USE- federal”) political thoughts, which diverts attention to “history” and inhibit focus on present & future economic planning?

    Are our national leaders asleep or too distracted by local issues and (ab)used as convenient rubber stamping Members in the four yearly EC decision making process?

    A: Not as long there is an obsession by EU politicians, the political theorists & think tanks to divert attention away from the primary and original goal of an Economic Union, safeguarding and growing this Union and its prosperity to remain globally competitive and fully employed.

    It is high time that all “National political parties” incorporate a chapter in their party manifesto about their policy direction they will follow- by clearly setting out their choices how a future EU has to evolve. To drive- not be driven!

    It is not “very democratic” that all EU Treaties are written by contracted lawyers under instructions from supposedly EU/National politicians, quickly rubber stamped by the EC/National Leaders and than presented to the voting public under disguise of the many rosy, but mainly national “advantages”.

  4. avatar
    Olivier

    Yes. Islamofascism is taking over thanks to EU

  5. avatar
    Olivier

    Most people look at fascism in the wrong direction like they did on 1936

  6. avatar
    Victor

    If you keep importing muslims and 3rd worlders do you think native Europeans will just keep their arms folded!?

  7. avatar
    Enric

    Probably if the EU don,t change its policies, we will see new forces emerging.

  8. avatar
    Nuno

    Could?
    Really?
    The actual verb should really be one “could”?

  9. avatar
    Zsolt

    Yes. No. Maybe. Who knows. Who cares. Next stupid, provocative question please… Social media journalism AT ITS BEST. Pathetic…

  10. avatar
    Dirk

    It already has done a comeback. Look at Italy, Hungary…

  11. avatar
    Maria

    No. Not the same way. But if EU, doesnt change policies, something will come for sure

  12. avatar
    Pedro

    It’s already here, look at the italian, hungarian or polish governments. Outisde Europe look at the US, philipines, Rússia.
    It’s not if it’s gonna come back, it’s what are we gonna do about it!

  13. avatar
    George

    Opportunists who flirt with power, social inequality and economic downfall, all this give a fertile ground for fascism to make the come back.

  14. avatar
    Marc

    We already have top down democracy.

  15. avatar
    Bernard

    Both Fascism and Communism could make a comeback. We might also have something that’s equally totalitarian but can’t be classified under one of those two categories.

  16. avatar
    Николай

    Too late it’s already here

  17. avatar
    Eggsy

    is already here and its is called ONU and EU

  18. avatar
    Salvador

    It’s already here with another face… Democracy

  19. avatar
    Olivier

    Really… You decently cannot say that Hungary and Italy are fascists. Be serious

    • avatar
      Max

      Sure from an FN/RN-Perspective they are left wing. What did your Father do in the war? He obviously didn’t teach you what fascism and it’s collaborators did to your country.

    • avatar
      Olivier

      my father got the military cross my grand father was a resistant and it s a shame that your father did not teach you was fascism really was. Change your spectacles
      Islamofascism is the real danger. Who kills in Europe? RN? Come on be serious

  20. avatar
    Manuel

    already in action, with stupid people loving it

  21. avatar
    Isabelle

    It is already back in Europe, and it name is islam.

  22. avatar
    catherine benning

    Could fascism ever make a comeback?

    Has it ever gone away? In reality I mean.

  23. avatar
    Zoltan

    It will, if these naive political pygmies currently squabbling in Brussels don’t act now to role back on the fanatics driving for ever closer integration.These nut jobs dream of this huge soviet style superstate,and don’t think they will be stupid enough to ballot the citizens on this project.Now you tell me what would the likes of Napoleon,Hitler or Mussolini find objectionable about that.

  24. avatar
    Adam

    In our desperate need to be seen as politically correct, we are once again fighting the wrong enemy. Swedish cities with a large share of new migrants have the highest reported rates of sexual assault in the EU, with Sweden in third place worldwide by some counts (UNODC). Now one can argue about the statistics, but even a cursory study of the Quran reveals the hallmarks of a fascist ideology. Muslims are proud of their convictions, and that’s fine. But let’s call a spade a spade. If you tolerate Muhammadists, you have no ground for criticising other ‘illiberals’. History is an evolutionary struggle, and our European ethnic cultures are losing due to declining demographics combined with a liberal immigration policy. Now if you are a liberal and believe that people are just numbers and that 100k Belgians can simply be substituted by 100k Arabs, that’s your right. But then say it openly.

  25. avatar
    Julia

    Like Turkey. Specifically Erdogan. However, his supporters and order-followers are also directly responsible too. As well as the majority of Turkish citizens as they are keeping him in power. So by your articles definition Turkey is a fascist country, with a fascist leader; with the majority of Turkish citizens supporting and enabling fascism. They really do not belong in the EU, not even in the long-term. Imagine how many fascist Turkish Meps will get voted in EU parliament by their mainly fascist supporting Turkish citizens.

  26. avatar
    Παπαιωαννου

    Never left it…

  27. avatar
    Anonymous

    Too late. The fascism is back already. At least twice, and each time very seriously, I could say, fundamentally.

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