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Your counter-fascism toolkit

July 17, 2013

According to numerous public health studies, just washing your hands on a regular basis—a simple, mundane activity if ever there was one—actually provides one of the most effective measures for preventing the spread of many diseases. Preventing the spread of the “social disease” called fascism is a bit more complex, but many of the preventive measures that are available to each and every one of us are similarly simple and mundane.

But before we can understand how that works, first we need to recognize that fascism is more than just a form (or style, actually) of government. It is not just a matter of structure—of laws, agencies and regulations. It is also a cultural phenomenon in which the media, the arts, the educational system, the church, and all the other institutions, traditions and customs that make up “society” are enlisted (or drafted) into the cause of imposing the artificial “unity” that fascist propaganda makes to seem so attractive. And to the extent that individual citizens accept and internalize the fascist agenda, it affects even our day-to-day interpersonal relationships.

So, counter-fascist actions must take place at all three levels—the structural, the cultural and the personal. Of these three, perhaps the cultural is most important, for in order to establish their dominance, fascists first need to create an apparent groundswell of “popular support” for the structural changes they desire. (It is far more likely that fascist power will be established in the USA through apparently “free and fair” elections than through some kind of armed rebellion or coup d’etat.)

What kinds of tools do we have, then, in our “counterfascist toolbox”?

The first tool is simple vigilance—just paying attention, and keeping ourselves informed about what is going on, both in our immediate vicinity and in other places around the country. Not paranoia, mind you; fearfulness can paralyze us, and make us think we are powerless when in fact we are not. Legislatures are still passing laws in the open, even if some of those laws are being composed behind closed doors by special interests. (If you haven’t heard of an outfit called “ALEC,” you might want to check out; it’s a good place to start.)