Fascism is an extreme form of nationalism that has as its core an autocratic worldview with a profoundly racist component. A disturbing aspect of fascism is its tendency towards violence in order to impose a rigid conformity on the population it governs.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
The Allure of Fascism
To maintain its unrelenting control, the leadership of such a society relies upon the fanaticism of its followers and a propaganda-based political machine that has no regards for the truth and utilizes the “big lie” to both rationalize and perpetuate its existence.
The most vivid example of fascism in recorded human history was provided by the nation of Germany – and to a lesser extent, Italy - in and around the devastating era of World War II in the twentieth century (1939-1945) that ultimately claimed the lives of fifty million human beings worldwide.
As stunning evidence for the destructive tendency of fascism is the fact that in twelve short years (1933-1945) Adolph Hitler brought his country and his people to nearly absolute ruin. Yet, in spite of what history might teach us, there is disturbing evidence that this crazed viewpoint is on the rise once again. On first examination, this might seem inexplicable; yet, in my judgment, there are definitive reasons for this tendency.
Fascism tends to flourish when populations feel desperate and their lives seem out of their control. This philosophy offers clear and simple answers to seemingly intractable problems. Fascism paints a picture of life that is absurdly black and white and draws clear distinctions between those in the society who are the chosen – usually around race or ethnicity - and those who represent the enemy and who are supposedly the real source of all the nation’s problems. In fascist Germany, the enemies were primarily the Jews, and the Communists.
In the modern era, globalization of the economy and regions of extreme unrest has led to consequences in which nation states that have had long histories in which their populations have been ethnically homogeneous find themselves “inundated” with peoples of different color and cultural backgrounds. This reality has led to feelings of personal insecurity and economic uncertainty that provide fertile grounds for fascism to take root.
One of the most worrisome victims of fascism is the truth; for, truth is the real enemy of this viewpoint. Truth undermines the premises upon which fascism is based. Of course, without an acceptance of truth, real problems cannot be solved. For example, in Germany, when it was under the spell of fascism, the Jews and Communists were not the source of its ills – annihilating them solved nothing. The supposed savior of the German people was not Hitler; he was, in fact, their destroyer.
There is, of course, this unsettling tendency for human history to repeat itself. In my estimation, we must be vigilant protectors of the truth and avoid giving in to the alluring simplicity of convenient lies that offer up false hopes and empty promises.
There is, in fact, no substitute for applying rigorous methods of investigation to define the real causes of national problems and employing well-reasoned and informed policies to address these issues. To do otherwise is to ultimately invite disaster.