'Fascist' - it has become a term of abuse, intended to induce guilt, a contemptuous dismissal of opinions which the speaker doesn't like, but can't rebut convincingly.
What is the correct use of this word?
Fascisti was the name of Mussolini's political party in Italy, 1922-1943. The Latin fasces means a bundle, and was used for the axe bundled in rods which was the symbol of a Roman magistrate. Fascism came to be the group name for similar political movements and governments in other European countries in the 20's and 30's; in Germany, Spain, Croatia and Romania. There was a British Fascist Party in the 1930's, but it never achieved mass support.
Italy had been a single state only for a half-century when the fascist movement began: the bound bundle of rods had a significance we easily overlook.
Paranoid nationalism is a key feature of fascism. The nation is threatened or unjustly treated by enemies within and without. Militarism is one response. I remember seeing a faded slogan painted on a house wall in Italy:
Il Credo Del Fascismo E L'Eroismo.
Another response is oppression of those perceived to be hostile, or secretly plotting against the nation.
Judeophobia is intrinsic to fascism.
Fascist patriotism demands submission to the state as embodied in the fascist party and its leader. Democracy is a danger and a distraction: the party, by definition, knows best, and will be violent towards any that demur.
Fascist parties typically include paramilitaries: brownshirts, blackshirts and so on: street brawlers marching, drinking, singing, and fighting opponents. In Germany they became official private armies - the SA and SS.
Idolatry of The leader is perhaps the distinctive feature of fascism: Der Führer, Il Duce, El Caudillo. A leader endowed with mystical wisdom and power, who will lead the Nation to salvation. Remember those grainy films of huge crowds, enraptured to hysteria by the sight and words of the Führer? We may gaze in disbelief now, but it happened.
Fascist economic policies are socialist; a command economy, driven in part by preparations for war. "Far right" is an absurd name for fascist parties.
But fierce anti-communism is universal in fascism, despite the close similarities between the two. Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung: these were fascist leaders in most respects, except title.
In Ireland Sinn Fein - 'ourselves alone' - is arguably fascist, except it never had a great leader. But it had dangerous paramilitaries, and its founder was notoriously judeophobe.
I perceive very little native fascism in Europe today. There are nationalist parties of varying popularity, but none has the intensity, paranoia and idolatry of fascism.
Yet the evil that Fascists did lives after them. The shame and guilt of the fascist era corrodes the self-confidence of modern Europeans, inhibiting action if any echo of fascism is perceived.
Fascism enjoyed mass support for a time: from this memory comes the suspicion of democracy so prominent in the godfathers of the European Union.
Today the shadow of fascism taints even the benign nationalism needed to counter the unelected Eurocracy in its quest for Napoleonic powers.
Real Fascism today is mostly religious.
Islam, for example, is a hierocracy with strong fascist features: paranoia, warrier-worship, submission, crudely socialist economics, judeophobia, and idolatry of leaders who claim to be agents of the Greatest Leader of all. It also has paramilitaries; young men [and some women] persuaded that suicidal violence is the sure way into God's great Playboy Mansion in the sky.
In the 1930's and 40's many muslims made common cause with European fascists.
So it is bizarre to see muslims demonstrating and brawling under the banner of "Unite Against Fascism". It is equally bizarre to see communists making common cause with them.
The great struggle of the 21st. century is between those who pray to God the Father, and those who prostrate to God the Führer.