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The Eternal Return of Fascism


Fascism is the consequence of a crisis of civilisation, it is rooted in a lack of ideas. Menno Ter Braak wrote: ‘You can recognise it from the clichés of hatred, the inflections of malice, the shrillness of its slander…’ Populism is present in politics. It is present where politicians exchange principles, visions and ideals for the false currency of votes. The populists in politics can be found on the right and the left, in the government and in the opposition.

Geert Wilders and his political Party for Freedom (PVV)  are much more than populists, though. They are prototypes of contemporary fascism. Of course they will never admit that, and they won’t wear brown suits or go about saluting. But the fascist mind can be recognised by its vision of society and its political techniques. Amongst other things, it consists of the following:

A stifling nationalism and xenophobia.
A deep aversion to the arts and spiritual values, and therefore a desire to destroy the transmitters of culture.
An aversion to intellectuals, artists and anyone who is different.
A politics of resentment and hatred.
A fierce resistance to the European spirit and to a cosmopolitan Europe of multiple traditions and cultures.
An anti-democratic spirit: there is no democracy in the party and instead of serious public debate and arguments, there’s a chatting and twittering of buzz words,   slogans and propaganda.
An aversion to judicial power.

How is it possible that the nationalist and fascist parties in Europe receive so much support? The main political parties have renounced their own intellectual tradition; intellectuals cultivated a pleasure-seeking nihilism; universities proved not to be worthy of their description; the business world is busy moneygrubbing; and the mass media would rather be the people’s ventriloquist than a critical mirror.

‘Fascism always arises from a provincial spirit, a lack of knowledge of real problems and people’s refusal – through laziness, prejudice, greed or arrogance – to give their lives deeper meaning. Worse, they boast of their ignorance and pursue success for themselves or their group, through bragging, unsubstantiated claims and a false display of good characteristics, instead of drawing from true ability, experience or cultural reflection. Fascism – Fellini continues – cannot be fought if we don’t recognize that it is nothing more than the stupid, pathetic, frustrated side of ourselves, which doesn’t belong to any political party and of which we should be ashamed. To curb that part of ourselves we need more than activism for an anti-fascist party, because latent fascism hides in all of us. It once gained a voice, authority and trust and it can do so again…’
Federico Fellini


The Eternal Return of Fascism