How to Spot a Fascist

Umberto Eco, an Italian writer and professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, wrote in the New York Review of Books, June 1995, an essay titled “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.” The article is an excellent reminder to watch out for the real threats to liberty. They don’t come from the overt racism of skinheads or Neo-Nazi’s (too obvious), but from the subtle chipping away of basic freedoms in the name of “security.”

He breaks down the ways of the fascist into fourteen characteristics:

1. Tradition is king–even if the tradition is created by the fascist.

2. All truth is known within the fascist’s new system (one that combines bits and pieces from varying and often contradictory sources)–there is no need for further learning.

3. Enlightenment and learning threatens cherished values.

4. Thought before action is a sign of weakness.

5. Disagreement is treason.

6. Diversity is evil.

7. The middle class must rise up to oppose the forces of evil.

8. There is a plot, possibly an international one, to keep the fascist’s followers feeling besieged.

9. The enemy is so much more wealthy or powerful than the poor followers of the fascist.

10. Pacifism means giving in to the enemy. Life is a struggle. The weak are to be despised. Death for the cause is glorious.

11. Women and “deviants” like homosexuals are corrupting our society.

12. The people speak with one voice (which happens to come through the fascist). There is no individual–only the people.

13. The current government is evil and must be replaced.

14. The fascist uses “Newspeak”–Orwell’s name for the double-talk and strange vocuabulary, designed to limit debate and enforce “right thinking.”

It’s very scary, but I can identify most of these characteristics within our own government since September 11. So, the next time someone asks you to give up a little freedom in the name of “national security,” give it a bit of thought before jumping to with the salute.

[ With thanks to Feral Living. ]

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6 Responses to How to Spot a Fascist

  1. F. McSweeny! says:

    I agree with #13. Am I a fascist or just hopeful?

  2. Solonor says:

    Yes, Nazi swine.

  3. Ejen says:

    Well I am off to get the local newspaper, filled with Ingsoc….hehe

  4. Scott says:

    Hmm. Good stuff. I’ll be lifting this, iffen ya don’t mind! 🙂

  5. Solonor says:

    Lift away! Just don’t forget it’s attributed to Mr. Eco…I’d hate to get sued for copyright violation! 🙂

  6. Solonor says:

    I need to amend number 13. It’s not that the people in the current government need to go away; it’s that the entire form of government itself is evil. Everyone seems to be jumping on that one with immediate agreement! (Bloody fascists…)

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