What is fascism?

I found the following video to be an excellent summary of fascism.

Rick Steves’ The Story of Fascism

Since the words “fascism” and “fascist” are used in a vague manner as terms of abusive castigation, I will not try to define them; rather I will focus on the characteristics of so-called “fascism” which are feared and rejected.

Since all so-called “fascist” states have had a leader, who was a dictator, it is dictatorship which is not wanted. And dictatorship is not wanted because of what a dictator does. So, what do dictators do that is unwanted? They invariably try to secure their power, by eliminating opponents. They have their supporters — a party; and they forbid the existence of any other parties. Furthermore they forbid any protest to their rule: no protest of any sort is allowed, especially no worker protests. All speech critical of the leader or the government is forbidden. Propaganda is used to ensure conformity to the wishes of the dictator. And what is preached — because it unifies — is nationalism.

These features characterized the regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and Franco. By suppressing worker protests, these regimes were against socialism in the sense of worker-controlled enterprises. They were all in favor of capitalism; and in the Soviet Union, in favor of state-capitalism.

By the fact that these regimes embraced capitalism, there was a built-in pull towards imperialism. Consequently, fascism was characterized by militarism.

Since most of the countries in the world already have dictators or elected leaders, they have the potential to become fascist. If such a country with a single leader, also were to suppress criticism and protest, I would say it has become fascist. By this criterion, Russia, for example, is a fascist state.

As to the United States, it already has an ambitious irresponsible leader, and if it jails Julian Assange for his journalism, it will have moved closer towards fascism.

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