Many Americans are witnessing the most politically polarizing times of their lifetimes. Both sides have and continue to make remarkable claims and accusations about the other side. One of those claims have been claiming the other sides are engaging in fascism.
Is this really true? Is American seeing one of her major political parties become fascists? Maybe we should examine this charge more closely.
The Real World of Fascism
To begin with, the word fascist is hardly ever used correctly. The present use totally ignores the historical precedent as well as the precise environment that is needed before a country can become fascist.
Actually, fascists do not come from Germany and the Nazis. Instead they come from Italy. The Italian leader Benito Mussolini started the National Fascist Party during the years of 1919 to 1921, right after the conclusion of World War I. As a matter of fact, the very word “fascism” is derived from “fascio littorio”, which is a group of rods that are tied to an axe, which is a symbol for the magistrate’s authority that originated in ancient Rome. And this authority could be used to order capital punishment if necessarily.
What has to happen for a country to go fascist?
1) Fascism requires a militaristic society. One of the reactions to World War I was the extreme militarization of several countries. Nations such as Germany and Italy believed there was a great need for having the ability to quickly mobilize millions of people very quickly in order to fight wars and for various means of economic support.
2) Fascists reject democracy. They do not believe in governments where the general population is allowed to select government powers, because it is felt that the populous is not capable of picking proper leaders. Thus, people’s rights and freedoms are limited.
3) Fascists prefer a totalitarian rule of one-party with a strong sole leader (a dictator). They believe that this configuration allows for the country to enjoy an unparalleled national unity of purpose, to have a much more ordered society, and to maximize readiness for any armed conflict. It is also believed that these societies are better prepared to react quicker to economic measures as well, particularly during times of difficulties. This is what causes fascist countries to isolate themselves, and then they tend to blame international economics for its problems.
4) Fascism is not solely a left-wing or right-wing society. It can actually have elements from both sides of the political spectrum. Even Mussolini described the fascist movement as one that will strike “against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left”.
The historian Roger Griffin from Britain wrote that fascist societies from the 20th century possessed such elements as “a rebirth myth, populist ultra-nationalism and the myth of decadence.” In other words, fascism makes the claim that these radical and nationalist new politics will left a nation out of decadence and into a renewal period of renewal.
5) Fascism causes people to freely give up their ideals out of great fear for their safety. Nations who got the short end of the stick after World War I were quite ripe for a fascist movement because many of them greatly feared the rest of the world. This is a very important element of fascism as people are required to give up their rights in exchange for safety and security.
Is the US Really Ready for Fascism?
What would it actually take for the United States to brush aside democracy for the dark side? There are many out there who become fearful upon hearing the slogan “make America great again”, which does indicate a need for the renewal of America. But then there are others who fear a stronger government would only bring tyranny that take their guns away, take their money, and even dissolve their religion. Thus, both parties see elements of fascism in the other. The strong presence of state within the fascist structure directly defies the beliefs of the US Republican party, while potential social restrictions do not sit well for the Democratic party. This means in reality, fascism is a government that doesn’t really fit either political party in America.
As a matter of fact, these fascist conditions are not currently present in our country – at least not on a national level. Quite honestly, it appears to be impossible for any movement to attain the required militarization, get complete control of the media, and then have the social power that would be needed to become a serious threat to the democracy of the United States. However, as the old saying goes, never say never.