Fascism is going to be the most looked up word in 2016!
When throwing the term around as a political slur, people were forced to look it up to see what it actually means! (Before writing think pieces to support their accusations with cherry picked historical evidence!)
It certainly has an ugly ring to it. Calling someone a communist is so 1955! Calling someone a Bolshevik sounds ridiculous. Calling someone a Nazi, with the weight of genocide behind it, must be taken with a bucket of salt.
And so in 2016 ’Fascist’ was a two-for-one: used as an insult by the left (and occasionally the right) and making its user sound credible.
But as with all political systems, context is key.
Economically, fascism has its roots in the left. Like socialism it was meant to combat the unpredictable nature of the free market by centrally planning the economy. It was not meant to be democratic; it was meant to use the people to strengthen the state. When he created it in 1919, Mussolini learned that people were more loyal to their country than their class. He could use this loyalty to mobilize nationalism, instead of stoking a class war from inside. In this way, fascism broke with traditional socialism.
What makes fascism slightly less extreme than socialism is its corporatism. Where socialism abolished all markets, fascism kept the appearence of markets by nationalizing industries that once belonged to property owners, requiring them to use their property in the national interest. Competition was eliminated, and prices were fixed. Revenue was used towards public projects like roads, buildings. Political representation was not based on geography or population, but trade and industry. Unlike the extremity of socialism, there was still a profit incentive for corporations, which aimed to be self-sufficent and not trade outside the country’s borders. When necessary resources were unavailable in the homeland, conquest was the line fascists took to secure them.
Due to the unparalled tension of the time, (there is a castrated European Union today) when combined, fascism and nationalism lead to war. Spain, Portugal and Greece were fascist dictatorships, but did not enagage in straightforward warfare like Germany and Italy.
It is argued that elements of fascism have been used in democracy. FDR’s New Deal had tendencies of a corporate state. Backed by taxpayer money, programs like the National Industrial Recovery Act and the National Labor Relations Act granted government control over all aspects of manufacturing, commerce and labor relations.
Interpretations for fascism can vary, because it has taken so many forms across so many countries during historically signifigant times. However, accusing modern politicians of fascism can only be done as a smear tactic. For America to turn fascist would require a revolution, not an election. Ironically, the fascist accusers might prefer fascism themselves, and not just for the bigotry definition, but because those that appeal to emotion by shouting names are usually the revolutionary types that prefer the collectivist economic planning in the trending, oxymoronic “Democratic Socialism.”
Calling someone a fascist because their rhetoric sounds hateful is a terrible argument to make against their economic policies, but I prefer it to the historical Fascism of the 20s & 30s.