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the debate on international affairs and influencing decisions emerging from the Congress."
“….squads, militias, often created by local leaders, swept through the countryside, burned offices, terrorized the local population. Blackshirt squads began to attack local government institutions. The government, dominated by middle-class liberals, did little to combat this lawlessness, both through weak political will and a desire to see the mainly working-class defeated.”
That might well describe today in certain cities in the US.
But it doesn’t. It’s a slightly edited extract from the Encyclopedia Brittanica on the rise of the Fascists in Italy
What is fascism?
The word is used a good deal, along with a few others: socialism and marxism come to mind. So what is fascism? And what does it have to do with “the Right?”
The Fascists... Mussolini and Hitler are, of course, the two leading figures; Mussolini was both the first one out of the chute and the intellectual senior to Hitler until the mid 1930s. The Fascists believed in centralized rule, a very strong central government, a state controlled economy, and a state controlled society. Social and cultural standards were set and controlled by the state. As it evolved, children eventually became de facto property of the state, to be raised to be ideal citizens.
Where does the word come from? From Fasces, the symbol for state power in the old Roman Republic, an ax wrapped in a bundle of sticks or rods. The symbolism was that of the rods representing lictors - civil servants of the republic, and the axe represented the power of the office holders (higher ranks had more rods in their fasces - more subordinates, hence more power). Also of note, when an elected official entered the city, the axe was removed from the fasces - real power inside the city rested in the hands of the people. Only outside the walls, where they faced the wide world, was the axe in the hand of the government.
The Fascist movement was begun by Mussolini because he was kicked out of the Italian Socialist Party after a major dispute; the Socialists wished Italy to remain out of World War I, Mussolini after a great deal of thought, decide Italy needed to enter the war and help defeat the Germans. Mussolini felt that his was necessary for the eventual victory of marxism. By the end of the war - during which he was wounded, he became a strong opponent of the Italian socialists. Fascism soon took on a very strong nationalistic streak. Hitler - and Germany - followed along.
Several other fundamental points then developed and the very large companies and banks soon “got onboard.” By agreeing with the government they realized they could not only guarantee their own security, they could also prevent competition. After all, the government controlled virtually every facet of life. And, they could also prevent unpleasant things like trouble with labor, labor costs variances, etc. Sure, the big banks and companies lost their independence, but for the folks at the very top life was even sweeter - no risk of loss, just had to make sure they kept the leadership happy.
Which leads to some interesting observations…
1) Fascists loved regulation. The current president may be a businessman, but he is the one de-regulating the economy… That doesn’t sound fascist.
2) Fascism is about power. The Fascists changed the law with great speed and deliberateness, the better to turn their social structure and culture on its head. Courts became a major tool to turning over the social apple-cart. Appointing nearly 200 judges who were chosen for their perspective that the law should be static rather than interpreted is, again, something that doesn’t sound fascist.
3) The Fascists were big believers in changing the genetic make-up of society to suit their “vision.” Restrictions on marriage, forced sterilizations, and eventually exterminations (Death Camps) were all part of that effort. Efforts to restrict abortions doesn’t sound fascist.
4) Schools curriculums were turned into education and indoctrination centers for the regime. Everyone needed to learn the new terminology, the new history, the new mores. Advocacy of private schools, school vouchers and home schooling… this don’t sound terribly fascist.
5) Media and Movies, newspapers, radio - everything was twisted into a mouthpiece for the new thinking for the Fascist Party. Truth was what they said it was. If you tried to print the truth, it was “edited,” and you were cautioned. Keep it up and you would be labeled a liar and you might be forced off the air. Hmmm… Who does that sound like?
And on and on.
There are folks out there yelling “FASCISTS!” at the top of their lungs and pointing at the White House and at anyone with whom they disagree. Meanwhile, the same folks are doing all the things that the real Fascists did to seize power and remove freedom and denigrate rights - even as those they accuse are taking deliberate steps to preserve freedom, rights and the rule of law.
The words have been stood on their heads. And more significantly, many of those who are yelling simply and clearly have no idea what it is that they are yelling. They are caught up in a movement that may well destroy the nation, but will almost certainly destroy a great many of them.
Which leads to an observation by one of those bright folks who is thankfully among my friend:
I have no doubt that any public demonstration of my contempt for the Democratic nominee would have me labeled a “fascist” and “racist.” That would, I imagine, result in having my car disfigured or me shot. Or both.
I care about words and their meaning. We have arrived at a junction where we no longer share a common belief system. It gets more fundamental. We now no longer share the same language.
Just so. We have no common belief system nor do we have a common language. The first makes war of some sort nearly inevitable. The second makes finding common ground and a peace nearly impossible…
About Pete O'Brien
Peter O’Brien has more than 30 years of successful leadership and planning experience in a wide range of organizations afloat and ashore on three continents. Mr. O’Brien’s Navy career included ten years at sea, more than a dozen years stationed overseas and multiple ...