It was April 2020, and Tesla founder Elon Musk was angry. The target of his ire: social distancing measures imposed by California state officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“If somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s slap-up,”
in an earnings call reviewed by CBS News. “…But to say that they cannot leave their house and they will exist arrested if they do, this is fascist.”
But is information technology? Before 2016, the word “fascism” popped upward mostly in history lessons or political analysis of autocratic states or the occasional terror group. But President Donald Trump’s years in part accept seen a surge in “fascism” talk from both supporters and opponents using the discussion to describe their political adversaries. Can all of them be right? Of class not.
Before you lot recollect almost using the term yourself, here’s what yous should know about what “fascism” actually means… and what information technology doesn’t.
Fascism is generally defined as a political motility that embraces far-correct nationalism and the forceful suppression of whatsoever opposition, all overseen by an authoritarian government. Fascists strongly oppose Marxism, liberalism and commonwealth, and believe the state takes precedence over individual interests. They favor centralized rule, often a single party or leader, and embrace the idea of a national rebirth, a new greatness for their state. Economic self-sufficiency is prized, frequently through country-controlled companies. Youth, masculinity and strength are highly fetishized.
The first modern fascist parties emerged in the aftermath of World War I. The ideology swept through Italy — the birthplace of the term — so Deutschland and other parts of Europe. German intellectual Johann Plenge expected that class divisions would disappear in favor of “racial comrades,” and that the future of Germany lay in “national socialism.” That phrase is often shortened to “Nazism,” which is a form of fascism.
The motion gave nascency to infamous strongmen such as Adolph Hitler in Germany and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, who, like many fascists, saw violence — tearing revolution of governments, violent punishment of opponents — as key factors in fascism.
Fascists also tend to embrace imperialism and the conquering of weaker nations. Mussolini was especially impressed with the aggressive expansion and militarism of aboriginal Rome. Hitler, an early admirer of Mussolini and his tactics, modeled his Nazi party on Italy’south fascism in the 1920s.
Fascist regimes often meddle directly in their national economies, casting a suspicious center on the perceived decadence of a organization that relies as well heavily on capitalism. The result: nationalized companies and cartels in key areas, such equally manufacturing.
The finish of Earth State of war Two saw the downfall of several fascist regimes, simply non all. In Spain, Francisco Franco, who incorporated fascist elements in his military dictatorship, hung effectually for several decades, while other governments, such as that of Juan Perón in Argentine republic, enacted a kind of fascism-calorie-free, modeling its economy somewhat after fascist Italy.
Non a compliment
Amid the horrors of World War Ii, the word “fascist” eroded from a neutral clarification to an insult.
“Except for the relatively minor number of Fascist sympathizers,” George Orwell wrote in 1944, “almost whatever English language person would take ‘nifty’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is nearly as nearly to a definition as this much-abused word has come.”
More recently, people also started to utilize the word to — inaccurately — describe whatsoever kind of far-correct or violent grouping, besides equally a range of authoritarian socialist or communist regimes such equally Cuba’southward.
Then-Congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican, did not intend any compliments in 2012 when he warned, correctly or not, that America was “slipping into a fascist organization.”
“Nosotros’ve slipped abroad from a truthful commonwealth,” Paul said. “Now we’re slipping into a fascist system where it’due south a combination of government and large business concern and authoritarian rule and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.”
A rising threat
In the 21st century, foreign policy experts have raised the alarm well-nigh a number of government shifting in the direction of fascism, or, at least, fascism-lite.
Sometime U.S. Secretary of Country Madeleine Albright has pointed to the emergence of increasingly authoritarian leaders in countries such equally
“We should exist awake to the assault on democratic values that has gathered strength in many countries abroad and that is dividing America at home,” she writes in her 2018 book, “Fascism: A Warning.”
But is Donald Trump a fascist?
President Trump’s approach to campaigning and leadership has fatigued comparisons to fascist-style absolutism. In a September 2020 interview, his Democratic rival Joe Biden pointed out some similarities.
Trump is “sort of like [Joseph] Goebbels,” Biden told MSNBC, referring to the head of Nazi Germany’s infamous propaganda machine. “You lot say the lie long plenty, keep repeating information technology, repeating it, repeating information technology, it becomes common knowledge.”
Political scientists see some troubling parallels, too.
“‘Making the country great again’ sounds exactly like the fascist movements. … That is a fascist stroke,” Robert Paxton, a leading say-so on fascism, told Slate. “An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed pass up. That’s another one. And so, there’southward a 2d level, which is a level of fashion and technique. He fifty-fifty looks like Mussolini in the style he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the rant, the skill at sensing the mood of the oversupply, the skillful use of media.”
Fifty-fifty somehave likened President Trump to fascist leaders. Simply is that comparison accurate?
It’s truthful Mr. Trump has signaled encouragement for some of his more than violent supporters, and he’south
into cities where protests were simmering. That “Make America keen again” slogan does sound a lot like a call for a national rebirth. He has publicly flirted with holding onto the presidency beyond the legal limit of two terms, and has repeatedly
to a peaceful
if he loses the 2020 election — prompting critics to warn those expect like steps toward authoritarianism.
But in at least a few key areas, the fascism label doesn’t fit. President Trump has non embraced foreign military invasions equally a way to make America great again — in fact, he campaigned on a hope to bring troops abode. And he doesn’t obsess over youth as peculiarly important in America’southward keen rebirth.
Fifty-fifty Albright doesn’t think Trump quite falls into the fascism category, though she’s disturbed past the similarities.
“I recollect Trump is the most undemocratic president I have ever seen in American history,” she has said. “I’m saying that there’due south certain elements of the kinds of behavior that he has that reminds me of a diversity of issues that have taken place.” Among them, she said, were Trump’s
and acting “as though he’southward
Despite the differences, vocal opponents of fascism — such as the loosely affiliated activists who go by
(short for “anti-fascist”) — generally come across themselves as anti-Trump as well.
A Person Who Believes in Fascism Thinks That: