[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]
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.
* “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 This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because “it no longer represents the Voice of the People”.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.
“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]