What fascism is, and isn’t

It is probably futile now to argue for the proper use of the word fascism. To rail against the transformation of ‘fascist’ into a casual insult. To insist that fascism doesn’t mean ‘evil’ or ‘illiberal’ or even ‘demagogic’, but rather has a more specific meaning, and a more profound one.

The f-word has been destroyed through overuse, its original sense and power diluted by a million op-eds branding unpleasant politicians ‘fascists’ and by radical marchers hollering ‘fascist scum’ at anyone who irritates them: President Donald Trump, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the cops. On the right, too, the accusation of fascism has become a Tourette’s-style cry. It’s the left who are the real fascists, they say. Ugly alt-right barbs like ‘feminazi’ and ‘eco-fascist’ confirm that right-wingers are now as likely to scream ‘fascist’ as they are to have it screamed at them.

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