Advice On Defeating Fascism
From all the information I’ve gleaned from a modest study of the subject, fascism is not going to be beaten back with hypocrisy and fear. It will be conquered neither with histrionics nor with a smug insistence that we know better than the fascists and those who are on the fence about fascism.
You can’t defeat fascists by threatening them because they’ve already wedded themselves to a doomsday cult. People will do anything, even die and kill, in order to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves. A fascist is one who is already committed to dying for a cause, while those considering putting their support behind a fascist movement are already asking themselves if there is anything else worth investing their energies and their hopes into.
People don’t lightly join a doomsday cult. They do so because the world has given them no real opportunity to advance themselves. It has given them no sense of safety or belonging. Perhaps they were cruelly treated as children and bent beyond their ability to straighten themselves. Or perhaps they were shown a modicum of love and guidance from parents who tried their best, but the crushing realities of a cruel system have given them no options for a decent life. Broken people do broken things and desperate people do desperate things. Those to whom no mercy or compassion were shown are willing to embrace an ideology that tells them they need not show any to others, that they themselves are not broken despite the lack of humanity that has been shown to them. They are forced to believe in a system devoid of pity, and it is only further driven home by those who speak of pity and yet offer none to them. To those who have never received pity for their brokenness, pity is a lie spoken by hypocrites.
Those who are teetering towards embracing fascism, who are inclined toward it due to a broken life, can only be reached by giving them healthy alternatives. They try us as a drug addict tests the family he belongs to, because in the process of dealing with his disease, we are forced to confront the dysfunction within the family. The drug-addicted family member is most often started upon his road to addiction because of undealt with family trauma. And he is further permitted along his road because the family he belongs to is unwilling to confront the very issues the addict is revealing about the unhealthy situation within the family. The family members of an addict will be tested. Hypocrisy and weakness will be exploited. Those dealing with someone like this must be strong, yes, but they must also be honest and open to healing the trauma that exists within the family and within themselves.
Fascism will not be conquered by proxy, either. We can’t just hand the problem of fending off fascism to those who offer their services, the intelligence agencies, entrenched government bureaucrats, and powerful capitalists. Because history show us that those are exactly the kind of people who are going to throw their support behind a fascist movement the instant they realize their power and their wealth are being threatened. Giving our institutions the power to combat fascism will only strengthen the institutions fascists will use against us. History shows quite clearly that you cannot hand a problem off to those who seek power and get the results you want.
There will always be an element of fascism in our society. I remember people dressing up in Nazi uniforms and marching in Skokie in the ‘70’s. The thing is, back then people mocked them. The Blues Brothers included them in the movie where Jake and Elwood run them off the road into the river. People mocked Nazis then because they weren’t desperately looking for answers to life’s problems. If things are different nowadays then it is up to non-fascists to provide a suitable alternative to fascism so that such an ideology does not seem appealing.
I don’t know why this does not seem obvious to others, but growing fascism is a sign of an unhealthy society. Just as a healthy body is more likely to keep illness at bay, a healthy society will lessen the risk of fascism.
It won’t be an easy battle and I can’t help thinking everyone is looking for an easy solution so that they can go back to their normal routines. But it is precisely the routines they have been engaged in that have permitted fascism to rear its ugly head in a way we haven’t seen in quite some time. This is going to call for a real gut check. This will call for a deep questioning of assumptions. This will not call for the sacrifices of a few we can send off to war but the sacrifices of the many to not only change the way they look at life but the way they live their lives.
This, I believe, is the answer to fascism. To not try to rely on the system for solutions. Because after all, that’s what fascists do. We cannot rely on authority to solve fascism, because that IS fascism. We can’t rely on censoring fascists, because using the tools of the enemy only justifies the behavior of the enemy. We must be other than fascists ourselves. Fascism at its roots is fear lashing out. It is weakness masquerading as strength. It is the rationalization that we must sometimes choose irrationality over reason, hatred over love. We must not only be something different than this, we must do whatever we can to cleanse ourselves of such tendencies.
This won’t be easy. This will require real sacrifices. It will often leave you feeling alone and vulnerable and it will be up to you to be strong when you just want to feel part of the herd, even if the herd is an angry mob. I think that fascism is a battle that must be fought in each individual’s heart and mind. The word fascism derives from the word fascio, meaning “bundle of sticks”. The symbolism is that a single stick is relatively easy to break, whereas a bundle of them is strong. The key to undoing the power of fascism is to lure those who are tempted to join away from the herd, to motivate them with something other than fear. One must show them it is both possible and preferable to be a strong individual with a sense of purpose and community. And the only way to do that is to exemplify that in yourself, not by trusting the system to set things right.