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Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The term is new to me. Antifa is short for "anti-fascism". It's the term of choice for the groups in all the news demonstrating against fascism.

But what is facism? The dictionary says it is "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." That's fine, except that almost all definitions include "right-wing system" in that definition. Wikipedia has all that stuff in it and adds, "Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum."

I'm not actually understanding. If "fascism" is essentially "radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce" and is "far-right", what is the "far-left" version of radical authoritarian nationalism marked by forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce? Because we see a lot of that. The far-left does indeed wish to forcibly suppress opposition and control industry and commerce (think everything from ecology to socialism). The far-left (face it, any version of any stance, right or left) does indeed want power. So what is "fascism" that the current "We will not tolerate those who don't agree with our view on these topics", "We will declare as 'hate' views that disagree with ours", "We will work to pass laws to prevent others from believing and practicing those things we consider wrong on these issues" kind of thinking is not? When Bernie Sanders said that those with Christian values were "really not someone who this country is supposed to be about", how is that different than fascism? When the far-left bans people because they're saying things this group doesn't like, how is that different than fascism?

The Atlantic has an article titled The Rise of the Violent Left. They detail violence from the anti-fascist side, the Left. While assuring us that "Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism", they point out that "in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not." The left is growing in intolerance of the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom to assemble, just to name a few.

What I want to know is how is this different than "fascism"? When the voices opposed to fascism exhibit the same defining characteristics as the definition of fascism, how am I supposed to tell them apart?


Craig said...

I find it interesting that fascism is automatically equated with the political right, when it's clearly in opposition to conservatism in the US. Usually, one groups socialism to to left of the political spectrum, yet the National Socialist Party is somehow "right wing". Virtually every distinctive in the Wiki article (especially the commitment to Darwinism) lines up more closely with the American political left than with the right.

To me, it's one more instance of losing the battle of the definition and allowing others set definitions that run counter to reality.

When you couple this with the leftist assault on free speech, it doesn't seem a stretch to connect any totalitarian movement with the left.

Essentially ther argument is that conservatives are simultaneously trying to dismantle and privatize the federal government and install a totalitarian fascist central government. Clearly, neither characteristic is accurate. Clearly, they are opposed to each other. Yet that's the narrative.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

What they've done, as with so many other words, is to redefine "fascism" to suit their agenda. All the actions of Antifa have been pretty much the same as fascists!

Craig said...

I'd go so far as to say that the battle over definitions is one of the most critical things happening in modern culture. If words can be defined to mean the opposite of what they've meant historically, then it's difficult to win.

Stan said...

What is it they tell me? "Whoever controls the language controls the debate." It makes it impossible to argue. Define "marriage" one way and then try to talk about it with someone who has defined it another and you're lost. Define "assault weapons" one way and then try to discuss it with someone who defines it another. Define "hate" one way and then try to discuss the problem with someone who defines it another. On and on.