I hereby ban the word “fascist” from this blog…

03 Jan

… unless of course the discussion really is about European politics or history from 1918 to 1945.

I have, I find, used the word very sparingly anyway, so I will hardly notice the difference.

How devoid the term is of any real meaning was made plain by Imre Salusinszky in his piece (not online) in today’s Australian. He was alluding to Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Jacob Goldberg – the review at the title link comes from The American Enterprise Institute, but does give you an idea of its highly contentious reworking of “fascist” to mean anything The American Enterprise Institute would find objectionable. Rather than elucidating something called “fascism”, Goldberg has, it would seem, quite emptied the word of any usefulness at all. But as Imre wryly points out, conceding Goldberg’s use of the term is “too wide to be entirely defensible”, the Left have been using the word as a bludgeon for years. True. Imre goes on to discuss views he finds objectionable – anyone who isn’t John Howard really, except he hasn’t written Obama off entirely – as if Goldberg’s definition really did make sense. (Before someone notices Goldberg is probably Jewish I should mention that so was Einstein, so was Hannah Arendt, so indeed was Trotsky… And the grocer in Vermont Street Sutherland in the mid 1960s.)

So a word I had little use for in the past has now become a word I have no use for at all, except for specific historical instances.


Posted by on January 3, 2009 in English language, politics, weirdness


5 responses to “I hereby ban the word “fascist” from this blog…

  1. Benjamin Solah

    January 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

    It’s true that the word is often used too liberally. I didn’t agree with calling Howard a fascist, as there were much worse right-wing forces around that deserved it more. But there is a place for it. There is a small resurgence in fascist forces within Australia such groups like the Patriotic Youth League have made their mark driving Sudanese students out of Newcastle Uni. Also in Melbourne, there is a group called the Citizens Electoral Council (from La Rouche’s teachings) that are very close to formal fascist politics.

  2. Neil

    January 5, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I was trolling a bit here, Benjamin. I would call the kinds of outfits you refer to extremists, nutters, right wing extremists, ultra-nationalists, fruit loops, authoritarians, enemies of freedom, and a whole host of other things depending on the nature of the beast. But I would still tend to use fascist historically.

  3. Bruce

    January 8, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I’m perpetually reconsidering the term “theofascist”. What I had in mind when coining the neologism involved actual philosophical and psychological similarities to brownshirts et. al., and I wanted to avoid singling out various religious traditions as if there was a special relationship with fascism (as is problematic with neologisms like “Islamofascist” and “Christofascist”). Nor could the term, at least in as far as I meant it, applicable in the general, careless fashion as say “Islamofascist” is.

    I had something rather more specific in mind.

    But every wingnut and his dog seems to be drawing spurious relationships between whom or whoever they oppose and some fascist group – an extension of Godwin’s law. I’m quite ticked with the carelessness.

    I don’t have another “ism” to describe fascism that I can further qualify with a prefix. Consequently my ability to communicate the point I’m trying to make is stunted. I want the nutters to give the term back!

    I’m rather miffed about it.

  4. AV

    January 9, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us. (Michel Foucault)

    From the preface to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, I think. Bannable?

  5. Neil

    January 9, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Not really, but it really is a questionable use of the word “fascism” — as if only fascists have been into domination and power. Augustus, Genghis Khan, Stalin and Robert Mugabe were/are all fascists? It is such uses of the word that have in the end made the word useless, separating it so far from what fascists or neo-fascists — and I would use that term to describe actual latter-day fascists — are concretely about. It does end up that everyone one doesn’t really like is a “fascist”. The word has just been overused and has tended to become a mere snarl word. Of course it (and parallel expressions) can have amusing uses: “soup nazi” comes to mind, if you recall your Seinfeld.

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