Fascism: Why should we care?
“Fascism was the major political innovation of the 20 century and the source of much of its pain.” –
Fascism: Some Features
• ‘Fasces’ : refers to a bundle of rods that were bound together- unite together, people as one, with
an axe head at the top – representation of political authority (axe) and social unity (bundle)
• Strength through unity
• Totalitarian- total control from the top down of all aspects of society. Everyone group is subject to
that state and ruler itself. Demands total loyalty from the people. No separation of the public and
the private – Dictatorship (one ruler with supreme power). Violence against anyone who
• Reactionary – reacts against the enlightenment (humanism, rationalism, liberalism, secularism,
progress, moral universalism) – all are rejected by fascists. Liberals value individuals which is
wrong. Rejects the socialist idea of identity based on classes
• Cult of Leadership: quasi-religious belief in the leader
• Mass Mobilization through a Monopolistic Political Party – mobilizing the people (bringing
them in). People as a ‘mass’ are mobilized. No room for individual independent political parties or
interest groups. No way for individuals to express opinions in a public forum
• Destruction of all Intermediate Organizations (eg trade unions) – there are structures but
they are meaningless. No allowed to control their own organizations
• Abolition of Privacy: no private thought or activity. Family should report disloyalty from their
family members to the state.
• Rule of Law Replaced by Arbitrary Violence:
Fascism: Background Ides
• Counter-Enlightenment: against the idea of the role of reason, science, citizenship, equality.
Fascists emphasize what divides humans, not what unites us. (Divided by sex, race, nationality).
Fascists are anti-intellectual . A revolt against ideas associated with the enlightenment and the
“1789 is dead” “Fraternity, revolution, liberty is dead”
• Nationalism: idea that there are mutually unintelligible national culture. Fascism has orienting
function. Who am I? – a part of this national culture. The world is divided into distinct nations –
enemy with those from a different nation • Elitism: inevitably, not matter how you organize a group, a elite will