How Fascism Takes Over

Have you ever watched a historical documentary or perhaps a Second World War movie and wondered how the fascists ever took over? How did they convince people to follow them? How did they reshape a nation in their mould? How could anyone support that kind of hatred? Why weren’t they stopped, why did more people not stand up to them? Have you ever wondered what you would have done if you were in that situation? Surely you would have stood up to them, right? Surely they would have no appeal to people like you?

A lot of people don’t see the relevance of Fascism today and view comparisons with modern day as exaggeration, if not hysteria. To them, Fascism is a dusty museum relic, a black and white film of men marching in military uniforms and giving straight armed salutes. A strange and incomprehensible idea where thugs attacked Jews and started wars. A nasty thing, but one from long ago and far away, that no longer has relevance. That sort our thing doesn’t happen in our country.

But before we get too complacent and think that we are forever safe and it will never happen here, we should read the warning of history. Germany was one of the most developed countries in the world, it was a leader of science and culture, it’s people were intelligent. So how did Fascism take over? It cannot be said that the German people were stupid and gullible, at least no more than the rest of us are. If a developed country fell under its spell, then could the same happen to us?

nazi-brownshirts-march-through-braunschweig-1932-dyexjj

One of the great misunderstandings and misconceptions people have is that Fascists wear uniforms and round up Jews, therefore anyone who isn’t calling for the Jews to be sent to a gas chamber or wearing a uniform, isn’t a Fascist. So many people honestly believe that only Germans with tiny moustaches are capable of the hatred of Hitler. Or that Hitler was a freak accident of history no more likely to re-occur than the Black Death.

But Fascism doesn’t start off by promising war and racial extermination. Had Hitler began his career by promising concentration camps, gas chambers and oppression, he would have never become Chancellor. Instead, Fascism takes over the way all change occurs, slowly. It took years of Fascism to take roots and to take full control. It takes years of propaganda, of speeches and articles that gradually chip away at tolerance, and make their hatred seem normal. Even against the Jews, Hitler acted slowly, it took years of unopposed power until the racial laws were fully implemented and almost a decade before the Final Solution began. There was no one day when Germany was lost, but rather there was a gradual process over years when Jews and opponents of the regime were dehumanised.

Fascism begins by promising to make the country strong again, to restore pride. It wants to help, it wants to build a better country, it wants to improve your life. It wants to challenge a corrupt establishment and change a broken system. It wants to get people working again and get tough on crime. It doesn’t present an image of violent thugs to you, instead it shows the face of ordinary respectable people, people just like you, who have had enough.

Fascists have been demonised as uniformed clowns and skinhead thugs, to the point that many think this is the only form they take. While mockery is a powerful tool, an over-reliance can make us blind to the real dangers posed. Fascism can also come in the form of a friend or a relative, someone you trust, someone you like and admire. I know from personal experience that nice, friendly, attractive people can hold hateful, racist views. My grandfather, after whom I am named, was a Blueshirt. I know many lovely people who suddenly spit venom when Travellers and gypsies are mentioned. My best friend frequently tells me that they’re scum.

salute

So it starts with things a lot of people find attractive: national pride, restoration of glory, fighting the establishment. Then it pushes this further and further to the extreme. The nationalism become more extreme. Not only are we the best people, but all others are inferior. They only appear better because they cheat, they lie, they steal. The establishment is corrupt, the system is rigged, it is undeserving of support, it is illegitimate. The opponents are crooks, they should be put in jail. The media is suppressing the facts, censoring the truth, spreading lies, their dishonest must be silenced.  Democracy only leads to indecisive and ineffective politicians, it only elects liars too corrupt to serve the people. If only we had a strong and decisive ruler, then we could solve the country’s problems. Drastic problems require drastic solutions.

Fascism has a major selling point in that it tells people that they are not to blame. Our country is suffering not because of anything we did, no, we don’t need to blame ourselves or feel guilty. The fault lies with others (the targets vary depending on country but it’s usually a different ethnic/religious group). They cheated, they undermined us, they sabotaged us, they are holding us back. If only we could lessen their stranglehold on us, we could prosper and thrive. We’re not attacking them, we’re just protecting ourselves. We’re the victims, but we won’t be pushed around anymore, now we’re going to stand up for ourselves.

But “they” didn’t act alone. No, they had help from the establishment, from traitors within. The media lied and misled us (but Fascism will force them to be truthful). The politicians cheated without punishment (but Fascism will bring them to justice). The courts are too soft on criminals (but Fascism will crack down on crimes committed by “them”). The nation is lost and hopeless (but the strong arm of Fascism will guide it in the right direction).

Fascists are the not the attackers, no, no, they are the defenders. “They” are attackers us, them, foreigners, Jews, Communists, they want to destroy our nation, they want to keep us weak. They attack our rallies, we merely defend ourselves. They are suppressing us, silencing us, censoring us, rigging the system against us.

female-blueshirts

A key point that is often missed in the films of marching with flags and street brawls, is how banal Fascism can be. In hindsight we can see the damage done, but at the time Fascists were just another political group. How can they be any worse than the current crowd? How can a failed painter dominate a country? The first bigoted speech against “them” is shocking and unbelievable but after hundreds of them over months and years, they fade to background noise. It becomes just another political opinion as worthy or unworthy of support as any other. The kind of thing people can shrug their shoulders at and say “well one side is as bad as the other” or “I don’t care about politics, it’s boring and doesn’t affect me.”

So people, weary of years of disruption and decline, people give the Fascists a try. What’s the worst that could happen? There will be checks on their power and once they reveal how clueless they are, they’ll lose support. Many thought Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor would marginalise him as his cabinet was a coalition of “moderates” who would manage him. The parliament and courts would block any of his crazy ideas and he would have to act moderately in order to maintain support. They can’t be any worse than the other politicians, maybe they’ll finally provide the tough action the nation needs.

Fascism could have never taken over without the damage of war and depression. War legitimised violence, made it something to be proud of, made it an ordinary everyday occurrence, made it the proper way of getting things done. Defeat in war particularly boosted the sense of national decline and betrayal. It’s hard to speak of peace and tolerance with people trying to kill you. Economic collapse undermined the establishment and the current system, while making people desperate for a change. With oceans of unemployed, it was obvious that the system was broken so why not try something new? People with no work or money (and people afraid this would happen to them) have little to lose and are willing to cut corners to get results.

There are some differences between the Fascism of 1936 and 2016, but the core principles are the same. Military uniforms are not worn (mainly because they are still illegal in many countries). The Jews are no longer the main enemy, instead they have been replaced by Muslims. Communism is no longer a major force to be feared, although some still try to whip up fear of this phantom menace. Instead Muslims are the new enemy within, who are supposedly plotting our demise and planning to take over and dominate us. The language and symbols have changed, now the main threat are SJWs and “political correctness” but the sentiment of national decay caused by effeminate erosion of traditional tough culture remains.

There is still the belief that others are undermining our culture and country. There is still the yearning for a strong decisive leader who can solve our problems in a no-nonsense manner. There is still the belief that establishment is corrupt and selling out the people. There is still the sense of persecution, the belief that rather being attackers, the Fascists are actually the defenders. This New Fascism looks different to the Old Fascism but the core principles are the same.

The main thing holding the Fascists back is that the system is still standing. Fascism thrives in a vacuum, when the establishment has become discredited. Had the 2008 recession lead to an economic collapse similar to the Great Depression then perhaps they would already be in power in some countries. If the Fascist propaganda was actually true, if criminals really were running rampant without punishment, if the political system was rotten to the core, if the economy was hopelessly mired in depression, if there were really were waves of immigrants drowning us and if they really did want to destroy our culture, then Fascism would be far more popular. As it is, the establishment is weakened by not destroyed.

Now most of the readers are probably going to compare this to the current American election, but I am not speaking about one individual or even one country. The rise of New Fascism is an issue across the Western World and my comments are as relevant for Hungary, France, Britain and Slovakia as they are for America.  So far, Ireland has escaped this trend but we are only fooling ourselves if we believe that it can’t happen here or that Fascism only happens to other people.

I sometimes fear that

 

people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

 

Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you…

 

It doesn’t walk in saying,
“Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”

 

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46 thoughts on “How Fascism Takes Over”

  1. In Italy, fascism arose as an anti-communist movement. In Germany, it rose as a response to the Great Depression.

    “But Fascism doesn’t start off by promising war and racial extermination.”

    -Which means Clinton can’t possibly a fascist, because she’s already started off promising war with Russia abroad and White Genocide at home. Pfew. Dodged a bullet there.

    “It wants to help, it wants to build a better country, it wants to improve your life. It wants to challenge a corrupt establishment and change a broken system. It wants to get people working again and get tough on crime. It doesn’t present an image of violent thugs to you, instead it shows the face of ordinary respectable people, people just like you, who have had enough.”

    -That’s literally every politician.

    “My best friend frequently tells me that they’re scum.”

    -Have you checked whether they are? They certainly could be.

    “Fascists are the not the attackers, no, no, they are the defenders. “They” are attackers us, them, foreigners, Jews, Communists, they want to destroy our nation, they want to keep us weak. They attack our rallies, we merely defend ourselves. They are suppressing us, silencing us, censoring us, rigging the system against us.”
    -Hm…

    “Instead Muslims are the new enemy within, who are supposedly plotting our demise and planning to take over and dominate us.”

    -If a Muslim terrorist attack didn’t take place in the West every week, perhaps people might not start thinking that. Meanwhile, the Dems think it’s the Russians, even though nobody has yet seen a Russian terrorist attack in the West.

    “Now most of the readers are probably going to compare this to the current American election,”

    -Of course. All the above applies to Clinton, except she’s pro-crime, anti-White, and pro-militant-Islam. All the costs of fascism, but none of the benefits. Vote Trump. The stakes are too high for you to stay home:

      1. Exactly – see how reasonable and justified the opinions are. Fascism isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s just a way to quickly turn things round and fix all the problems. It’s simple and easy. Let the brave, courageous leaders take the strain and do the thinking for you. All you have to do is comply and fit in. Marvellous stuff, thank you so much for voting to make our country great again, for restoring democracy and avoiding the tyranny of the current system.

    1. “-Have you checked whether they are? They certainly could be.” – I’ve checked myself out – I’m not scum – You are!

      1. I have met quite a number of Romany gypsies and found them to be interesting, intelligent and lovely people. I’m afraid that post sounded like a defence of fascist Trump and fascist doctrine, to me, and is therefore of absolutely no value whatsoever.

    2. Great article, actually as you began your article fascism is a concept and set of ideologies rather than as you state something attached to Hitlerism and his National Socialist Party (I think that the term fascism comes from ‘fasicimo’ and was Mussolini’s party with its far right origin as far back as 1880 Italy) but yeah, a wonderful article about the neo-right and extreme right wing. Trump is also now proving to be a sociopath/psychopath who has problems in delegation, extreme views that change with his differing audience and a inability to differentiate the truth from his own lies. A good historical read about how fascism and in particular national isolation and interests coupled with subjugation ignominy of particular groups can pervade into a society.

  2. While the United States and certain European counties are flirting with fascism, almost in all of these countries right-wing nationalist parties are minorities (if pretty sizable), Russia has probably moved much closer to fascism than anyone else: it has an authoritarian leader right-wing tendencies, while the state propaganda machine turns the population more and more nationalist. It’s not yet close to 1940s Germany, but there are quite a few elements of 1930’s Germany that make me (and not just me) worry. And Putin is still genuinely popular, both because Russian economic conditions have improved since he became president, and because there isn’t much of a real opposition left.

  3. There is an alternative view to the steps to fascism. “Intellectuals” believe the economy can be planned – and society organised – so they veer towards socialism. At each step the system fails because capitalism cannot be planned and you end up with a more hard line version each time, and eventually with a Hitler (national socialist) or a Stalin. It was precisely because Germany was so advanced (along a socialist path) that they ended up the way they did. Could easily have been Britain.

  4. If you use Hitler’s rise as a model of how fascism develops, Hitler’s popularity with a disaffected class of people is what gave him standing and then it was rather pure politics after that point. Most fascists appeal to populist memes to gain “popularity” and then use the institutions available to them. Look at Donald Trump’s relationship with the RNC and its Chair. Trump had popularity on his side and the RNC was caught between a rock and a hard place and had very limited choices thereafter.

    Before primary season, the Republicans were bragging about their “deep bench” and what a large number of quality candidates they had (Jeb, Christie, Rubio, etc.). They basically turned their process into a popularity contest, giving huge leverage to their most vociferous base. If they ahd done some culling ahead of time … but that harkens back to when the parties had real power.

    1. Oh they have power. But they have sold out democracy for personal political gain and a partisan agenda. The republican congress – save a few very lonely voices – is the most decadent and corrupt group of politicians – thoroughly out of touch with and indifferent to the majority of Americans’ interests. Bannon is a White Supremacist who ran an alt-white propaganda sheet that advocates for “nationalism”; euphemistic for ethnic cleansing. He is behind the immigration and Muslim bans and appointed cabinet of people who are anathema in record and ideology to the agencies they now oversee; he has stayed his desire to destroy democracy and start a Holy War. This guy is running the country while Republicans look the other way. Thank god for the people, who will not let up on these hate merchants who represent very few Americans.

  5. I lived in Germany for 6 years. Germany is one of the most unbiased countries I’ve lived in and the people are so civilised and great believers of seeking truth and justice in a fair and objective manner. The people (unlike the people of the UK and Ireland) learn from their history (not just the last century) and use this to move forward. Ireland, in my experienced and well travelled opinion, has replaced the 4th Master with the 5th Master. Alas, like the 4th Master the present Master is controlled by religion, still promises that what cannot be delivered, still lies to its voters and celebrates mediocrity. Ireland to me represents a mild Fascism, and the people being mostly Roman Catholic, are brainwashed and obscenely obedient. Thus consequently being easily ruled by nationally socialistic and so-called democratic parties since the start of independence. Note: NDSAP was the official name of the NAZI party. By the by, the GARDA (a terrible name for a Police Force) are no more professional than the SA of the 1930’s in Germany!!

    1. You are delusional.

      In 100 years nobody will give a shit about WW2. Just like we don’t give a shit about some stupid 15th century conflict.

      Give me a break with your pathetic “lest we forget” attitude.

      Your grandchildren will talk about WW4 or WW5.

    1. Elaborate, Julie? Ironically, your statement itself is very simplistic!
      As far as I can tell there is nothing ‘left-wing’ in this blog post, just a clear description of how Fascists rise to power. If anything, the post is conservative as it maintains that maintaining the current system – stability – is the best way to prevent the power-vacuum in which fascism rises.

    2. Fascists, like Trump and Bannon, co-opt so-called left wing rhetoric to obfuscate and legitimize extreme right-wing ideology and policy.

  6. My worry is that the ghettoisation that has occurred in the UK coupled with a declining economy and the virulence of the right wing press (Daily Mail and Daily Express) aren’t sowing the seeds of fascism in the United Kingdom.

  7. This sort of thing is a good try but in turn it just spreads a whole other bunch of historical confusion. If we want to look for what the fertile ground for fascism looked like, and possible parallels for our own time, we’re best looking at 1920s Germany BEFORE Hitler took over.

    That had it all – hateful rhetoric, street violence, political assassinations, economic turmoil, anti-semitism, even if you don’t include the nascent Nazis at all. Most importantly a large part of the population, particularly the educated population was not committed to democracy at all, and to the degree they were they were more scared of Communists, who were active and also trying to overthrow German democracy. Combine that with constitutional arrangements that made strong democratic government almost impossible and you had the recipe for Hitler’s rise.

    Germany was an intelligent, civilised nation, etc but one where the educated elite had little to no attachment to democracy, or history of entrenched democratic or liberal norms or loyalties.

    If we want to stop Fascism ever arising we should look at what it was like before Fascism arrived when democratic society was collapsing around them rather than making confused comparisons to the very different type of society after fascism became established.

  8. A few specific points about the claims made in this article:-

    A couple of It says a bunch of times that Fascism doesn’t necessarily mean wearing uniforms and beating up Jews. Well, actually Fascism did mean uniforms and rounding up Jews. Uniformed party members and paramilitaries and anti-Semitism are among the defining features of Fascism.

    We risk just drifting into the territory again where everything right-wing, populist and not sufficiently PC is fascism. While we can loosely use Fascism in that way for rhetorical purposes, accurately, historically speaking that isn’t what it was or means. And maintaining the distinction, as between the awfulness of Weimar Germany, which wasn’t fascism, and that of Hitler’s Germany, which was, is significant if we want to be accurate.

    This says “Fascism begins by promising to make the country strong again, to restore pride. It wants to help, it wants to build a better country, it wants to improve your life.”. This is vaguely true, but so do a lot of people who aren’t fascists, so this isn’t very useful to point out. This says “It doesn’t present an image of violent thugs to you,”. Well actually it does, street violence and paramilitary organisations well before coming to power are one of the features of basically every fascist organisation.

    Then there’s some largely good stuff, then it starts on the “There are some differences between the Fascism of 1936 and 2016, but the core principles are the same.” Again, no they’re not. Let’s ignore the fact that by 1936 Germany and Italy were dictatorships and Spain was undergoing a civil war caused by a military coup. Not really like Britain, America, France, etc today.

    The core principles of actual historic Fascism included corporatist government and economic policy, economic autarky, dictatorship, personality cult around the leader, mass political parties including a uniformed paramilitary wing and a mass youth movement, control of every branch of society by the government, total control of the media, arbitrary imprisonment, anti-communism, anti-semitism, Militarism, violent expansionism, etc.

    The idea this has any meaningful comparison to disgruntled basement dwellers mouthing off online about ” SJWs and “political correctness”” is just silly.

    None of this really matters to the general point. But if we’re going to be historically accurate then let’s actually be historically accurate.

  9. Of course most politicians would try to do most of these things, and be applauded if they managed them, the trick is spotting the ones who are, or will turn into, fascists by taking it further… I deleted the last one, were all human.

    It will restore your honour,
    make you feel proud,
    protect your house,
    give you a job,
    clean up the neighbourhood,
    remind you of how great you once were,
    clear out the venal and the corrupt

    Trump seems to be more a nationalist than facist, even then a good deal of what he said was to sell himself to those he needed to in order to win.

    Also, seems lately nationalism is always a dirty word too. Unless you are Scottish, who seem to get away with it and do little harm too. People need an identity, sense of place etc and human – the world doesn’t fit for many, it’s too big and impersonal. But national feelings don’t mean we need to hate and destroy everyone else. Globalisation and its marriage with capitalism does currently seem to mean we need to consume and destroy everything else though!

  10. When anyone tries to make you proud of your prejudices, you can be 100% sure they think you’re a little bit dumb. Clinton did not do this.

    America, you have voted someone in who uses words of hatred and cruelty, and lies to win This is therefore a person of low moral worth. They know just how to play your suffering for their advantage — not yours. You’ve been played I think, by an economic incompetent. He has been bankrupt several times, and boasts about not paying his taxes. He has no genuine compassion for the poor and the sick.

    It would be great if I were wrong. We think you are in serious trouble. You would have been better to vote for Bernie Sanders, who would actually make changes to benefit you, not this master criminal.

    1. You are speaking the truth. But the people actually voted for Clinton – screwed by the electoral college again. Well now at least the hate mongerers are out in broad daylight. We know who you are and we will defeat you.

  11. I can’t help but laugh at this idiotic post.

    Literally the point being made is that of a basement shut nerd who thinks world outside is what he reads in newspapers and what he saw yesterday in Schindler’s List. His worldview is shaped by up-to-post-WW2 propaganda where good and holy Allies defeated the ebul Natzees.

    “Jews dindu anything wrong, they weren’t at all behind Capitalism and Communism and Communist revolution of 1918-1919 in Germany that caused Germans to lose the War Hitler hated Jews for simply being Jews *autistic screeching*”

    Now, let’s debunk this crock of shit.

    1) Main premise is that Fascism takes hold because Fascists think that the government is corrupt and there are alien influences threatening at their country and their way of life

    – This is the truth.

    The world we see today is a logical conclusion to 70 years of Social Democracy and International Jewry.

    Holy shit, I’ve just debunked this retarded blog post in two sentences.

    The summa summarum is that the author wants his five minutes of attention by making an poorly constructed essay about stereotypical “dangers of fascism” while ignoring the “dangers of capitalism and communism”.

    Newsflash, you fucking dolt, you can’t stir shit up anymore by accusing someone of being Fascist or a Nazi. That is a badge of honor today,
    seeing how Hitler was absolutely right about everything.

    If only he had won! But fortunately we will invent time machine one day!

  12. Well, I think Blackshirt is demonstrating for us one of the personality types that are attracted to fascist ideology: rude violent language that reveals an underlying cauldron of anger. In 1930’s Germany he would be a Brownshirt, later a concentration camp guard. Someone has screwed up his programming. He was probably abused, rejected, disrespected, unloved in his developing years and finds he can temporarily enhance his self-respect by attacking others with rude language.

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