This week’s examination of Italian Fascism brought to light several ideas that are essential to keep in mind when examining the rise of fascism generally. Some of the important points that were brought up, both in class and in the primary responses, were ideas about the way in which fascism began in contrast to other ideologies.
One of the main points that stood out in class was taken from Federico Finchelstein’s reading. It is the idea that fascist movements in different countries are not just imitations of what happened in Italy. In each different country there were circumstances that lead to the rise of a fascist group. For example, it could come from general social anxiety and a loss of faith in institutions.
Another idea that stood out in particular to me, and in my classmates responses, is the premise of fascism being distinct from other political theories, like communism. The main principles of fascism seek to distinguish it from other ideologies. In particular, this theory was developed to counter enlightenment ideals. This is clear in some of the twelve attributes of fascism that we discussed, such as the glorification of violence, and a leader cult.
Clearly, this is an ideology based on sentiments that reflect a desire to react to the social and political situation of a given moment, such as the post WWI landscape of Mussolini’s Italy. As my classmates have noted, this movement that sought to bring back an ideal, by any means possible. Many of my classmates noted in their blog posts one of the driving forces behind this, and one of the twelve attributes, a way of defining oneself in opposition to the other.
The introduction from the textbook From Populism to fascism in History provides an insight into the history of populism and fascism and where the terms come from. One of the arguments that intrigued me most was how people from the media to pundits and to politicians misuse the terms when labeling politicians, they do not agree with. The reading proposes that they do not know the historical context of these words which provides a danger in throwing them around when describing a right-wing politician whose ideological stripe does not align with them. One can find many blogs and articles that describe former Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a fascist. This hyperbole used to describe a democratically elected politician is damaging because it likens him to real fascists such as Mussolini and Hitler. When describing moderate politicians as fascist one downplays the actual atrocities that are committed under ultraviolent regimes. Do pundits really believe far-right politicians are fascists or do they use the terminology for shock and awe to improve their audience base?
The reading from Amy Kaufman titled The Birth of a National Disgrace: Medievalism and the KKK discusses how the myth of medieval times that was constructed of a white male patriarchy affirms the roots of the ideology of the KKK and other white nationalist movements. The myth of medieval chivalry is nothing but a form of blinders similar to those used by race forces to enforce the ideas of weak minded individuals to justify their actions. If the white-nationalists would take a step back from their narrative of protecting white virtue they would realize how far behind their rationales are. These people are trying to turn their America into a utopian Camelot by closing their minds to what is going on around them and not realizing that they are on the wrong side of the coin. The movement of white nationalism reared its head during the Trump campaign but does it have the strength to continue on to 2020?