If there is no indisputable definition of fascism there are anyhow specific characterizations of the phenomenon. The basic one, at the same time the most despicable, is lack of empathy for other human beings (outside a closed circle). Among fascists, the reasons for living are instead Race, Honor, War, Blut und Boden and equivalent concepts. (Empathy is something that a fascist occasionally may feel for animals.)
In line with these characteristics it follows that fascists see as deadly enemies all democratic movements in favor of equality and solidarity, such as labor movements and other associations engaging ordinary human beings. Fascists embrace mainly people and things that are strictly theirs in some sense, such as their ego, their family, their clan, their nation.
Fascism started, and is responsible for, the Second World War. Itâ€™s equally true, but nowadays repressed, that the Soviet Union carried by far the heaviest burden to defeat the worst and strongest of the monstrous fascist war machines. Soviet was then considered by many to be a workersâ€™ state, and workersâ€™ unions thus gained a strong position in most of Europe the years after the war.
This period have been called a Golden Age in industrialized countries. Economies flourished with high growth; income distribution was fairly equal (very much so by todayâ€™s standards), welfare measures were carried through and ordinary working families could acquire a comfortable life. Fascists were practically non-existent during these optimistic years (we had a few hibernating Nazis in Sweden, but they were commonly regarded as complete dimwits).
The backlash came in the late 1970s, when the capitalist class finally managed to regain political and ideological hegemony by using its economic power. In the name of neoliberalism, they could enable a strong reaction against wage workersâ€™ acquired rights. Pitched as globalism, the new march backwards became international. One instrument of this redistribution of production results to the very rich was deregulation of the financial markets, resulting in repeated financial crashes hitting poor people the hardest.
With this capitalist reaction the groundwork for resurrection of fascism was laid. We had been through it once before in near history and should have learned, but those in real power doesnâ€™t want us to learn. They obviously prefer fascism before progressive development that really deals with peopleâ€™s grievances. The right wing paves the way for right wing extremism. Their most important objective is to keep progressives away from power.
A more polite term for right-wing extremism is populism, and both have kinship with fascism. The connections are illustrated in a recent article in New York Times dealing with the ideological preferences in the head of Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist in the most powerful administration in the world. He is said to be influenced by, or at least open to, the world of Julius Evola, an extreme traditionalist that inspired Mussolini and now is openly hailed by Alt-right leaders.
Evola himself broke with the Italian Fascists â€œbecause he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.â€ (Evola is called an influential â€œthinkerâ€ which is an odd epithet for a man who conspicuously prefer feeling ahead of thinking.)
Evola was Anti everything enlightened, rational, modern, liberal, progressive and humanitarian one can think of. An American scholar has described his ideal order to be based on â€œhierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritualâ€. This points a straight way back to the heart of medieval darkness. A way that Stephen K. Bannon, on the face of it, at least not entirely abstain from recommending.
All while our media are outraged by silly scandals, alleged leaks, fake news (including their own) and above all: The Russians. There is something rotten in the state of affairs, but itâ€™s more dire than the headlines in our newspapers suggest.