Given the calamitous outcome of fascism in the countries where it’s been fully implemented (e.g., Italy and Germany in WW II), Americans have every reason to be vigilant about and to act against this dogma. The polycrisis nature of the Anthropocene makes it and everyone living in it vulnerable to the emergence of extremist ideologies.
Unlike “Authoritarianism” or “Totalitarianism”, Fascism is an easy word to say, and that may be why it’s used (and misused) a lot. Just because fascism is a term that is overused and loosely applied, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a political ideology that has specific components. They are worth knowing and reflecting upon.
Fascism is characterized by:
Unwavering and unquestioning loyalty to the “strong man” leader, and his oligarchic supporters. (And it’s almost always a ‘he’ because Fascists, e.g., the Proud Boys, see women as “the weaker sex”).
The Rule of Fear rather than the Rule of Law. Flagrant lying and rumor-mongering to gin up anxiety and terror in the population
Conformity and the loss of individualism. People who don’t agree with the Leader are to be ostracized and/or hunted down as threats to the stability of the State
Militaristic nationalism and a state of perpetual warfare. Enemies are everywhere. Only “pure” folks, whatever that means, are true citizens. “Foreigners” who don’t have the proper pedigree (e.g., don’t speak a society’s official language well) are suspect.
Minority groups and people with skin color or religious traditions that are not held by the majority of the population constitute a threat. Even if they reside in a territorial possession or colony of the Leader’s society, they are not “one of us.”
The majority is aggrieved usually by a supposedly nefarious and secretive "elite" minority whose allegiances to some other homeland or creed outweigh its members' commitment to the dominant culture and its ways. They should be watched closely and, under various circumstances, interned or expelled.
War and chaos are better than peace and tranquility. War gives men a chance to be real men. Chaos makes you tough, and helps you face “the mean world with the required strength.” Peace activism is feminine.
An independent media is the enemy of the state. The function of the media is to propagandize the point of view and fine character of the Leader.
Many people are considered no better than vermin; they are subhuman “infestations.”
One of the best ways to conduct foreign policy with other authoritarian regimes is to pay no attention to the topic of ‘human rights because every society has its malingers and malcontents who question the authority and probity of the Leader. Critical thinkers like artists, intellectuals, and scientists are frequently the worst offenders.
Doctrinaire Religious Leaders join the government in calling for subservience to authority.
Election fraud is widespread and campaigning is a one-party farce. Corruption and cronyism are rampant.
In the United States, through our system of checks and balances, the behavior of any individual or group seeking to be the singular voice of authority over national affairs is constrained.
Our Constitution was designed to protect the republic from every brand of tyranny. Attempts to debase the power of the Justice Department by Trumpism feels fascistic.
Fascism’s un-American tendencies are all too ascendant in the current era. There are many reasons why this is the case. For example, our educational system and our media have not and are not preparing us to engage the complexity of the Anthropocene within which we are embedded. We are distracted, ill-informed, and, therefore, vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories. Much more can and will be said on this topic.
In my opinion, it will be simpler for those of us who understand the centrality of the Constitution to the American project to name the fascist tendencies of the MAGA Movement. If the shoe fits, make them wear it! Clearly articulating the parallels between current regimes worldwide (e.g., Russia, India, Hungary, etc.) and Fascism can awaken those in the thrall of the short-term benefits and the emotional fire of authoritarianism to the real dangers and long-term risks fascism poses to our freedom and our form of government.
Roosevelt's The Four Freedoms are the Antithesis of Fascism
Norman Rockwell's depiction of them:
Freedom of Speech
Freedom to Whatever Form of Spirituality is True for the Individual
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear