Fascism is not just a hyperbolic accusation du jour nor is it confined to a region, a religion, or a nationality. It is not just a moment of time in our collective past.
It is a clearly defined form of holding political power.
During the cold war three out of every four failures of democracy came at the hands of a military coup. But there is another way a democracy can collapse as recorded in the pre-WW2 history of Italy and Germany. It can fall at the hands of democratically elected representatives.
Neo-fascism begins with the usual consolidation of political interests to form a winning coalition. It then uses the levers of the state to silence opposition, insulate power and achieve permanent minority rule. It has historically come with a strong-man personality at the top who gathers traction by knitting together marginalized groups with deep resentments born of minority position status.
It utilizes religious fundamentalists and/or foundation myths to gloss itself with the pretense of moral superiority. It subjugates women and minorities and always paints the opposition as an existential threat, dehumanizing them at every juncture.
They use the rhetoric of fear while they paint themselves as the victim of the dreaded other.
At its heart Fascism seeks to disempower the middle-class by the maximization of profit at any cost and socializing every negative result through deregulation and antiunion laws. It controls the population through heavy handed court systems and control of information across media. Books are banned and history is revised
Education becomes state sponsored propaganda. It consistently pursues the collapse of resources upwards building governance by the elite for the elite. It wraps itself in protection from accountability by keeping a tight grip on power.
It is antidemocratic at its core.
Without an actively involved electorate committed to democratic ideals, any system can degenerate into fascism.
Fighting fascism is a complex and multifaceted issue, however, there are some steps that can be taken:
Education: Educate yourself and others about the history and dangers of fascism. Learn about the tactics and strategies used by fascist groups to gain power and influence. Share your knowledge with others and engage in discussions to raise awareness about the issue.
Speak out: Speak out against fascist ideologies and actions. Challenge hateful rhetoric and discriminatory policies. Support marginalized groups that are targeted by fascist groups.
Organize: Organize with others to resist fascist movements. Join or support groups that are actively working to combat fascism. Attend protests, rallies, and other events that aim to resist fascist agendas.
Vote: Vote for political candidates who reject fascist ideologies and promote policies that promote equality and human rights. Hold elected officials accountable for their actions and call them out when they act in ways that support fascist agendas.
Take action: Take action to resist fascist movements in your community. This can include engaging in direct action, such as blocking fascist marches or disrupting their events, or supporting campaigns that promote tolerance and diversity.
Ultimately, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of Israeli’s in the streets fighting for their courts, combating fascism requires a sustained and coordinated effort by individuals, groups, and communities. We must band together, recognize these forces in our body politic here at home, and focus our efforts on protecting our democracy.