So...What Is A Fascist?
Posted on: 2009-10-20 18:05:34

The stated ideology of the Italian fascists and the German Nazis often did not marry up completely with the political policies they pursued.

"Fascist" and "fascism" are terms that one might suppose to be simple badges, but dig beneath the surface and there are myriad complexities and a morass of academic debate.

It is more than six decades since the end of World War II and the fall of Nazi Germany, but those events are the prism through which the word "fascism" is still viewed.

The first "fascist" movement to gain power was Mussolini's Blackshirts in Italy in 1922. Their movement could certainly be said to be nationalist and authoritarian, as well as accepting of violence in the struggle for political power, but much of the rest of its characteristics have been subject to academic dispute.


But the clearest problem in the definition of the word "fascist" is the very wideness of its application over the years. There is a plethora of uses from Rick in the Young Ones deploying it as an insult, to the Oxford English Dictionary's differing definitions "(loosely) a person of right-wing authoritarian views" and "a person who advocates a particular viewpoint or practice in a manner perceived as intolerant or authoritarian". So you have "body fascism".

Broadly speaking, in political discourse, it is a "boo word", a term used more for purposes of condemnation than precise categorisation. The Nazis were bad, and in this view their ideology was fundamentally linked to fascism, meaning that fascism is fundamentally bad.

"It is a useful political weapon to say a modern political movement is like fascism," says Mr Passmore.


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