Camouflaging Fascism

By Lauren McCoy

The camouflaging nature of fascism was a major theme in this week’s content. While we had previously discussed the gamification and coding that comes with modern fascist symbols, the ideological basis of those symbols was not discussed. Prior to this week, I had assumed that the discourses that grounded interwar fascism were inherited by neo-fascist, without considering how Europe’s political and cultural context would influence those rhetorics. I thought Griffin’s argument regarding the shifting nature of fascism from its interwar context to the postwar context was compelling and spoke to the modern challenges that come with defining current fascist movements – if fascism is only defined by its interwar appearance, then new iterations of fascist ideology relating to the modern context will never be taken seriously as “true fascism”, regardless of their potential for harm.

I believe Griffin’s quote summarizes the situation well: “ “Fascism” nor “racism” will do us the favour of returning in such a way that we can recognize them easily” (Griffin, 36). Where overt fascist dialogues are no longer acceptable, new discourses have emerged that conceal their ideological foundations. This is best observed in Bar-On’s reading, where Alain de Benoist could spread Nouvelle Droite’s ideology without raising alarm in an anti-fascist postwar era by “avoid[ing] the ‘outdated vocabulary’ associated with fascism, racism, colonialism, and antisemitism.”  (Bar-On, 24).

The question that I am left with revolves around whether modern fascists are truly unable to see the relationship between their beliefs and fascist regimes of the past as a result of this heavily coded discourse. The inability to admit the fascist basis of their ideologies is a repeated occurrence in this course, where fascist disassociate themselves from the term “fascism” for something more appealing and less controversial. Is this just a technique to gain a broader appeal, or is there some truth to the idea that neo-fascists do not see themselves as fascists?

One Reply to “Camouflaging Fascism”

  1. Hello Lauren,

    I was also struck by the recurrent theme of ‘camouflaging fascism’. In regards to the question you posed at the end of your post, as to whether the New Far-Right is aware of their fascistic basis, I would agree that the answer is rather complicated. I believe that you are right to note how fascists are aware that terms like ‘fascism’ is controversial and using them would turn people away, thus they turn towards other terms. To me, this would reflect an awareness of the fascistic nature. However, given the strategic use of rhetoric discusses in a majority of this week’s readings, I believe it is fair to say that there are people who wouldn’t immediately associate these beliefs with fascism. Ultimately, I think this is a very intriguing question with no clear answer.

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