Of course, people being people, such a unified state is deeply unnatural—so it must be imposed. Here is where many of the negative qualities we associate with fascist societies emerge. To unify the populace, fascist governments frequently identify scapegoat minorities, on whom are placed the blame for all the ills of society.
Militarism, the virtues of force, and strict discipline are emphasized. Repression becomes rampant, imagination is squelched, and justice becomes arbitrary and capricious.
Fear and intimidation, torture and disappearances become societally accepted methods of control. These qualities make fascist societies seem strong, almost invincible in their early days, but actually contain the seeds of their inevitable downfall.
But could it happen here? In recent decades, some commentators and columnists have looked around America and identified numerous signs that they interpreted as symptoms of incipient fascism. (Search “Britt fascism,” or “Naomi Wolf, fascist America” to find a couple of those analyses.)
Their fears were neither fully realized, nor entirely dispelled.
Fortunately, there’s another way to think about fascism, how to respond to it, and how to make sure that it can’t happen here.
But more about that next month…