Friday, March 08, 2013

Fascist: Either Words Have Meaning or You're Doing It Wrong

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless.
George Orwell, 1944

And probably even more true today. Which is unfortunate, because it was once understood to be a a fairly specific variant on the unfortunately common meme of nationalist statist autocracy.

Nationalist statist autocracies came in many flavors: that of Louis XIV, for example. We need to do better than calling them all fascist.

Fascism Classic added some additional wrinkles: corporatism, anti-Marxism, valor as a universal male virtue, imperialism as a proactive virtue, and public politics as performance art.

(There were of course, British imperialists that were rather proud of their empire when they awoke to the fact that they had somehow stumbled into having one. I think this is fundamentally different from the Fascist notion that your national honor requires you to proactively march off and conquer stuff and erect triumphal arches)

Also, an inordinate fondness for snappy color-coded uniforms and chilly monumental architecture.

So, when people describe the late Hugo Chavez as fascist, the rectification of names is clearly called for.

Yes, nationalist statist autocrat, granted.  There have been a lot of those.

Corporatism? No, a classic nationalizing pro-union socialist. Anti-Marxism? BFF with Fidel Castro. Valor? Who has he invaded lately? Imperialism? He was against it.

Snappy color-coded uniforms? Red polo shirts without a matching tie? Mussolini is spinning in his grave, Also, no Fezzes. Fezzes are cool.

And what has Venezuela done for chilly monumental architecture lately?

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