Or How to Make a Word Meaningless
Oh, fascism! Perhaps the most incorrectly and overused word of recent months. He’s a fascist! You’re a fascist! This is a fascist bill! This is a fascist ideology! and on and on we drone, slapping labels on everyone and everything with whom we disagree. It’s only fascist, of course, when the other guy is doing it, whatever it is. While the government has drawn imaginary lines in quickly shifting sands, it pretends to fight itself and the vast majority of Americans are heartily entertained by these suit and tie gladiators hurling empty words at one another across various media outlets, outlets that are more often than not in the pockets of the very politicians they pretend to report. And the independents? Let’s call them terrorists. That ought to shut them up.
And those labeled fascist? Today they are legion. Is the label, or libel, accurate? No. Then what is a fascist? The definitions vary, of course. Historically, fascism arose from a war-torn landscape. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so a dictator is born. A fascist dictator is meant to hold absolute power over his subjects and his country, pulling both from a crisis situation. Any who disagree with his methods or oppose him are silenced. By this generic definition, no one in American politics today rightly qualifies as an outright fascist. Many, possibly most, may have fascist leanings (read hero complex and/or power trip) but such may be a necessary character trait for anyone mad enough to step into a political ring in the first place. Is this a condemnation? No. A certain personality is required for an on-the-stage leader and they may well all have a dose of fascism running through their veins. Such is the nature of the beast.
Then why all the name calling? Imagine if you will the politician of your choice staring intently into a mirror. His opponent approaches from the other side and so he points around the mirror and calls him or her the last thing he saw in his own reflection – that which he buries deeply, that which he knows will frighten his constituents. Accurate or not, the masses hate the word and any who bear its mark.
Let’s take one of these anonymous masses and drop him pint-sized onto a bookshelf. Over the years he’s wandered the oddly prophetic pages of Nietzsche, Rand, and Bradbury’s book burnings. Now he’s hopped straight into Orwell’s 1984. Ah, now here is fascism! Here is a distorted reflection of current trends, enough to frighten anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. Out with the books! Out with freethinking! In with floods of mind-numbing technology, diluted language, and illusory class divisions! Just do your job. Just keep your head down and wear a false smile. Everything will be fine. Let the government take care of you.
What does that sound like? US. Perhaps we are the true fascists, the ones who went along with it all, bit by constricting bit. Dictators, after all, are not just born amidst the rubble and ashes of war. They are born amidst the crushed hopes and dreams of a people who no longer want to think or do for themselves. Dictators are created by those whom they rule. So scream fascist if you will. Just remember that you, too, were looking in a mirror but a moment ago.