Fascism

A guide for study and resistance

Posted: February 27, 2017
Updated: April 6, 2017

Suggestions for reading and action.

Definition

From “The Anatomy of Fascism,” by Robert Paxton:

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

  • a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of traditional solutions
  • the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it
  • the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external
  • dread of a group’s decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences
  • the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by violence if necessary
  • the need for authority by natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who is capable of incarnating the groups’ historical destiny
  • the superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason
  • the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group’s successes
  • the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint

Quotations About Fascism

Eric Fromm:

“The working class had entered the post-war period with strong hopes for the realization of socialism or at least for a definite rise in its political, economic, and social position; but, whatever the reasons, it had witnessed an unbroken succession of defeats, which brought about the complete disappointment of all its hopes. By the beginning of 1930, the fruits of its initial victories were almost completely destroyed and the result was a deep feeling of resignation, of disbelief in their leaders, of doubt about the value of any kind of political organization and political activity.”
Wind-Up Fascists
“The representatives of big industry expected that Nazism would shift the emotional resentment which threatened them into other channels and at the same time harness the nation into the service of their own economic interests. On the whole, they were not disappointed.”
“The love for the powerful and the hatred for the powerless…explains a great deal of Hitler’s and his followers’ political actions…He admired the industrial and military leaders because they had power. He never fought against established strong power but always against groups which he thought powerless.”
“Although they did not get more bread, they got 'circuses.' The emotional satisfaction afforded by these sadistic spectacles and by an ideology which gave them a feeling of superiority over the rest of mankind was able to compensate them--for a time at least--for the fact that their lives had been impoverished, economically and culturally.” – Escape from Freedom

Chris Hedges:

“Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.” – American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America

George Mosse:

“The traditional nationalist myths and slogans, the use of the nationalist liturgy, the constant and unremitting appeals to national solidarity and greatness, informed all of fascism—and should have made nationalism‘s importance obvious.” – The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism

Robert O. Paxton:

“Hatred of the left in all its guises, from the most tepid to the most outré, is thus not incidental to fascism; it is at its core. The fascist route to power has always been passed through cooperation with conservative elites; without the acquiescence or even active assent of the traditional elites [fascists] could never have attained power.”

“Fascist regimes had to produce an impression of driving momentum—‘permanent revolution.’ They could not survive without that headlong, inebriating rush forward.” [This] “deliberate arousal of expectations of dynamism, excitement, momentum, and risk” was “inherent to fascism’s appeal.”

“Fascism does not require a spectacular 'march' on some capital to take root; seemingly anodyne decisions to tolerate lawless treatment of national 'enemies' is enough.”

“The truth was whatever permitted the new fascist man (and woman) to dominate others. . . . It was the unquestioning zeal of the faithful that counted, more than his or her reasoned assent.”

The Anatomy of Fascism.

Articles About Fascism

Samir Amin. "The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism." Monthly Review. September 2014.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat. “An American Authoritarian: The Republican presidential candidate is not a Fascist, but his campaign bears notable similarities to the reign of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.” The Atlantic. August 10, 2016.

Mark Bickhard. " The scary parallels between Trump and Musollini." Rawstory. March 21, 2017

Aaron Blake. “Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned.” Washington Post. February 13, 2017

Paul Blumenthal. "This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains the World. Huffington Post. March 4, 2017.

Roger Berkowitz. "Why Arendt Matters: Revisiting 'The Origins of Totalitarianism'." Los Angeles Review of Books. March 18, 2017

William Boardman. “Constitutional crisis deepens as Trump fights checks and balances.” Reader Supported News Online. February 11, 2017.

Christopher Browning. "Lessons from Hitler's Rise." New York Review of Books. April 20, 2017.

Isaac Chotiner. “How much do the early days of the Trump administration look like the Third Reich?” Interview with historian Richard Evans. Slate. February 10, 2017.

Issac Chotiner. “Is Donald Trump a fascist? Yes and no.” An Interview with Robert Paxton. Slate. February 10, 2016.

Fascist

Isaac Chotiner. “Too Close for comfort: how much do the early days of the Trump administration look like the Third Reich? Interview with historian Richard Evans. Slate. February 10, 2017.

The Economist. “America’s system of checks and balances might struggle to contain a despot.” February 4, 2017.

Ellen Grey Ellis. "The internet protocols of the elders of Zion." Wired. March 12, 2017.

John Feffer. "The Trump dystopian nightmare: Nucelar war, climate change and a clash of civilizations are all on the horizon." Alternet. March 12, 2017

Reza Fiyouzat. "Trump in perespective: Fascism or just more barbarism?" Counterpunch. March 12, 2017.

John Bellamy Foster. "Neofascism in the White House." Monthly Review. April, 2017.

David Frum. “How to build an autocracy.” The Atlantic. January 30, 2017.

Megan Garber. “‘First they came’: The poem of the protests, Martin Niemöller’s lines, written just after the Holocaust, argued against apathy—and for the moral connectedness of all people.” The Atlantic. January 29, 2017.

Masha Gessen,Autocracy: Rules for survival.” New York Review of Books. November 10, 2016.

Henry Giroux. " The Hardening of Society and the Rise of Cultures of Cruelty in Neo-Fascist America." Counterpunch. March 17, 2017.

Amy Goodman. “Noam Chomsky: Trump's victory recalls memories of Hitler & fascism's spread across Europe.” Democracy Now. Interview with Noam Chomsky. December 6, 2016.

Rosie Gray. “The nationalist right is coming for Reince Priebus.” The Atlantic. February 14, 2017.

Josh Harkinson. “The dark history of the White House aides who crafted Trump's ‘Muslim ban’: Here's how Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller have been boosters of Islamophobes and white nationalists. Mother Jones. January 30, 2017.

Josh Harkinson. “Meet the white nationalist trying to ride the Trump train to lasting power: Alt-right architect aims to make racism cool again.Mother Jones. October 27, 2016.

Thom Hartmann. “It can still happen here: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and the “American fascists” among us. Sinclair Lewis feared demagoguery and a corporate ruling class. The right is bringing his dystopia to fruition.” Salon. November 4, 2015.

Head Space Blog. “History repeats itself: National Socialism – past and present: The psychology of Nazism.” February 15, 2016.

Chris Hedges. “Donald Trump: The dress rehearsal for fascism.” Truthdig.com. October 16, 2016.

Chris Hedges. "A Last  Chance for Resistance." Truthdig.com. March 19, 2017.

Chris Hedges. “Make America ungovernable.” Truthdig.com. February 5, 2017.

Kathleen B. Jones." The Power of Ordinary People Facing Totalitarianism." Alternet. March 21, 2017.

Josh Jones. "Hannah Arendt explains how propaganda uses lies to erode all truth & morality." Open Culture. January 24, 2017

Allegra Kirkland. “Did Gorka really wear a medal linked to Nazi ally to Trump inaugural ball?Talking Points Memo. February 13, 2017.

Josh Marshall. “Know your fascist dictators.” Talking Points Memo. December 9, 2015.

Peter Maass. "For Donald Trump, a terror attack will be an opportunity  not a curse." The Intercept. March 19, 2017

Dylan Matthew. “I asked 5 fascism experts whether Donald Trump is a fascist. Here's what they said.” Vox, May 19, 2016.

Ben Norton. "Some of Steve Bannon's biggest intellectual influences are fascists and white supremacists." Alternet, March 8, 2017

Ray Pensador. “Have the American people accepted corporate state fascism?DailyKos. Thursday Apr 18, 2013.

Rober Reich. "7 signs American democracy is sliding into tyranny." Atlernet. February 22, 2017

Robert Reich. “Donald Trump, 21st-Century American fascist.” Alternet. March 9, 2016.

Steven Rosenfeld. "If we don't act now, fascism will be on our doorstep, says Yale historian" Alternet. March 13, 2017.

Matthew Rothschild. “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address.” Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. January 20, 2017.

Matthew Rothschild. "Trump, the fascist?" The Capital Times. March 2, 2017.

Peter Schrag. “An American Reichstag Fire?The American Prospect. February 24, 2017.

Anis Shivani. "Trump and Mussolini: 11 key lessons from historical fascism." Alternet. March 17, 2017.

Timothy Snyder. “We have at most a year to defend American democracy, perhaps less.” Süddeutsche Zeitung. February 10, 2017.

Ullrich Von Volker. “Adolf Hitler: Wait calmly.” Zeit Online. February, 2017.

Henry Wallace. “The Danger of American Fascism.” New Deal Network. Originally published in The New York Times, April 9, 1944.

Cornel West. “Goodbye, American neoliberalism. a new neo-fascist era is here.” Reader Supported News Online. November 18, 2016.

Rick Wilking. “A short history of ‘America First.’ The phrase used by President Trump has been linked to anti-Semitism during World War II.” The Atlantic. January 21, 2017.

Additional Resources on Fascism

Books

Eric Fromm. Escape From Freedom. Holt, 1994.

Robert Griffin. The Nature of Fascism. Palgrave Macmillan, 1991.

Chris Hedges. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America. Free Press, 2007.

George Mosse. The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism. Howard Fertig, 1999.

Robert Paxton. The Anatomy of Fascism. Vintage, 2005.

Stanley Payne. A History of Fascism, 1914-1945. University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

Cartoons

Click on a cartoon to see a larger version.

Click for larger version and article

Compilation

Introducing Fascism. A new Slate Academy asks what happened in the 20th century—and whether it’s happening again. Podcasts and articles. Moderated by Rebecca Onion, et al.

Welcome to Fascism: A Slate Academy, where we’ll be reading about, and then comparing and discussing, the history of 20th-century fascism in six countries: Italy, Spain, Romania, Britain, the United States, and Germany.

In the first five episodes of this series, we’ll be stepping back from our contemporary context to look at the way fascisms developed across European countries in the interwar period. We’ll be inviting historians who study the countries in question onto the podcast, to help us answer any questions that linger after we do our reading. And in the final episode of the podcast, we’ll bring our new knowledge to bear on the question that started it all: Are we witnessing a rebirth of fascism in 2017?

Resistance

Howard Zinn:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

“If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. … To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Timothy Snyder. “20 lessons from the 20th century on how to survive in Trump’s America.” In These Times. November 21, 2016.

Matthew Rothschild. “12 things you can do.” Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. February 3, 2017