[A friend sends along information about additional lists of fascist characteristics. We should be alert to this phenomenon in its various manifestations, as it lurks as an on-going threat to liberal democracy. Note that the term liberal, itself, is under attack in the U.S. Ed Kent]

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There are many lists of the characteristics of fascism. One that I have often used as a reference is Umberto Ecco’s list from his essay “Eternal Fascism”.

The list, minus Ecco’s excellent commentary, can be seen, along with other such lists, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_fascism

* “The Cult of Tradition”, combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism (often disguised as a rejection of capitalism).

* “The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake”, which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Ecco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.

* “Disagreement is Treason” – fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.

* “Fear of Difference”, which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.

* “Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class”, fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.

* “Obsession With a plot” and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often involves an appeal to xenophobia or the identification of an internal security threat. He cites Pat Robertson’s book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.

* “Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent
Warfare” – there must always be an enemy to fight.

* “Contempt for the Weak” – although a fascist society is elitist, everybody in the society is educated to become a hero.

* “Selective Populism” – the People have a common will, which is not delegated but interpreted by a leader. This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because “it no longer represents the Voice of the People”.

* “Newspeak” – fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.

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“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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