Fascism as a Methodology rather than an Ideology

Introduction

My father attempted to do a PhD in Germany from 1937-39, but it became increasingly obvious that things were deteriorating rapidly in Nazi Germany and that war was coming. He returned to Dublin in July ’39, a few months after the British navy finally withdrew from its occupation of Irish ports.

Berlin 1938 photographed by Kevin Danaher (father of the author)

He believed strongly that there was nothing intrinsically different about the Germans that made them more susceptible to fascism than other nations. He thought some form of fascism would return, but almost certainly not to Germany. I was instilled with the belief that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and that democracy was fragile.

I have been increasing uneasy about the politics in both the US and UK. The methods used by both Trump and the current Tory party increasingly resemble those employed by fascists.

I don’t expect gas chambers, but believe that in both countries amoral techniques are being used to gaslight the public and consolidate power in the hands of a very wealthy global elite.

The 26 richest people on earth in 2018 have the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people.

There is no question that many of the “elite” would like to keep things that way. This “elite” of course also includes mega-corporations, many with wealth greater than even middle-sized nations. Much of this wealth is hidden in offshore accounts and tax evasion and avoidance by the 0.01% is rife. Globally, the only organisation with the power and will to tackle this is the EU, which is why it has enemies on the right.

The EU is also a bastion of citizens rights. Workers rights, in particular, limit the profits that the wealthiest individuals and corporations can make. The “level playing field” is detested as it prevents a race to the bottom.

Standards, in quality of goods, food and environment, very much a part of “the level playing field” are also a brake on libertarian capitalism. The EU is by far the greatest champion of these issues globally and is increasingly effective.

There is good reason for the less scrupulous global elite to try to weaken or even destroy the EU. But how is this to be done? Could fascism or fascist techniques be used to do so?

While struggling to articulate my thoughts Steve Bullock alerted me to this article How fascism works which is an interview with the Yale philosopher Jason Stanley.

The interview is striking as it frames fascism in a very useful way. It is aimed at an American audience, but here it is reframed for a British one.

What is Fascism?

Stanley describes fascism as a technique for gaining power – a methodology rather than an ideology.

I think of fascism as a method of politics. It’s a rhetoric, a way of running for power. Of course, that’s connected to fascist ideology, because fascist ideology centers on power. But I really see fascism as a technique to gain power.

The Tory party is, above all, a party that likes to stay in power and has redefined itself a few times to do so. The modern reincarnation indeed could most certainly be described as populist, but is a fascist label a stretch?

Key indicators of Fascism

The key thing is that fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group (usually the majority group), and smashing truth and replacing it with power.

To get fascism to work you identify real or imagined enemies — in the UK’s case primarily the EU. The in-group is the “true people of England.” There is little appeal to the Scots and even less to the Irish (apart from the Unionist/Loyalist group who currently self-identify as British). You also need to smash the truth (more of this later).

Use of Victimisation

In the past, fascist politics would focus on the dominant cultural group. The goal is to make them feel like victims, to make them feel like they’ve lost something and that the thing they’ve lost has been taken from them by a specific enemy, usually some minority out-group or some opposing nation.

The primary imagined enemy is the EU. The EU is not our enemy, but now that we have left, will give priority to the interests of its citizens, not special treatment to those of the UK. Naturally, this will be decried as punishment.

There are also worrying signs of minority groups being othered, in particular Afro-Caribbeans, like the Jamaica 50, about whom David Lammy speaks very powerfully here. Other enemies will be needed in future to sustain the feeling of victimisation.

Nostalgia and Loss

This is why fascism flourishes in moments of great anxiety, because you can connect that anxiety with fake loss. The story is typically that a once-great society has been destroyed by liberalism or feminism or cultural Marxism or whatever, and you make the dominant group feel angry and resentful about the loss of their status and power. Almost every manifestation of fascism mirrors this general narrative.

The thing is, people willingly adopt the mythical past. Fascists are always telling a story about a glorious past that’s been lost, and they tap into this nostalgia. So when you fight back against fascism, you’ve got one hand tied behind your back, because the truth is messy and complex and the mythical story is always clear and compelling and entertaining. It’s hard to undercut that with facts.

The narrative is that the EU has stolen our sovereignty, impoverishes us by sucking vast amounts of money (£350m) per week. It is determined to destroy the British national character through legislation imposed from Brussels. Freedom of movement causes the country to be swamped by benefit cheats and criminals, causing “true Brits” to be belittled and impoverished. This, of course, is fantasy, and wrong on every point.

Growing nostalgia for an imaginary past is part of the delusion. An imagined 1950s or WWII when Britain stood alone against the might of the Nazis and triumphed against the odds, is endlessly invoked by a generation that remembers none of the reality. The greatness of the Empire is also there but more as background music.

The fact that the ’50s were in fact pretty dreadful in many ways, or that WWII was largely won by the combination of Soviet blood and American capital, amount to complexities that cannot be admitted as they spoil the exceptionalist narrative of the British, and the English in particular, being a race apart.

In the North of England, there is a deep sense that things have gone very badly wrong. This all the more powerful because it is true. Many of the once-prosperous industrial towns, such as Barnsley and Stoke on Trent, now have some of the worst deprivation levels in Europe. Successive governments rather than the EU caused this decline, but this has to be hidden. In fact, without EU structural funds, things would be even worse.

The appeal of Brexit is strong, almost visceral. Facts seem to ricochet off the impregnable armour of local convictions. But how has this been achieved?

Gaslighting and Propaganda

Truth is required to act freely. Freedom requires knowledge, and in order to act freely in the world, you need to know what the world is and know what you’re doing. You only know what you’re doing if you have access to the truth. So freedom requires truth, and so to smash freedom you must smash truth.

There has been a relentless campaign in the right-wing press to vilify the EU and vile headlines regarding immigrants are run periodically to ramp up anger, victimisation and resentment.

Fake news has been peddled, as Prof Mike Dougan says “on an industrial scale“. Falsehood has been elevated to the level of truth, given equal debating time on even the BBC. Absolute, objective truth has disappeared or become impossible for most to discern. As in Russia, “nothing is true and everything is possible.” Experts have been vilified as motivated by self-interest. Journalists have been bullied with threats of exclusion from access and faced with endless contradiction by unqualified grifters funded with dark money. The incessant political lying and attempts to discredit the integrity of anyone who might resist is chilling. The tactic of Steve Bannon of discrediting any media that might hold power to account by “flooding the zone with shit” — to disempower or simply weary the electorate who just “want it done” appears to work with the less educated and less capable of critical thinking.

The End Point

Part of what fascist politics does is get people to disassociate from reality. You get them to sign on to this fantasy version of reality, usually a nationalist narrative about the decline of the country and the need for a strong leader to return it to greatness, and from then on their anchor isn’t the world around them — it’s the leader.

A few years ago I used to say Brexiters lived in Cloud Cuckoo Land. I stopped arguing this. It just annoyed them and made them dig in (the Backfire Effect), but things are now far worse.

I’m less sure, however, if the strong leader narrative fits the UK today.

Do we have the “leader” in PM Johnson? I find him a buffoon, a man promoted far beyond his capabilities. He is however admired by a certain tranche of society. Can he, and does he wish to, get to the stage that “the will of the leader is the will of the people?

Time will tell. Johnson is less far down the road than Trump, but both have a belief that they were born to lead. Johnson fancies himself as a reincarnation of Churchill. He seems to have surrounded himself by sycophants, which he may be able to bend to his will. Only a few, notably Gove and Cummings, seem to have much independent will or indeed ability.

One bright spot has been Julian Smith, the NI Secretary. He proved to be remarkably effective, surprisingly so given the ignorance and incompetence of his four predecessors. His willingness to be even-handed in his dealings appears to have cost him his job in the short-run (and his offence of outshining the master sealed it). In the longer term, if the Conservatives survive the explosion they are clearly intent on creating — who knows — he could emerge as a leader.

While writing this post, there has been a major cabinet reshuffle. In addition to Julian Smith, Andrea Leadsom, Ester McVey, Theresa Villers and Geoffrey Cox are out.

Far more dramatically Sajid Javid has resigned, reportedly because he was unwilling to sack his Special Advisors and have them replaced by Dominic Cummings shills. His replacement, Rishi Sunak, has no such qualms and once again more power is being further concentrated at the centre.

I am no fan of Javid, but concentration of power in the leader is a hallmark of fascism.

Conclusion

Prof Stanley’s framing of fascism is very interesting. It fits much of what has become manifestly evident in the UK over an extended period. I’m not sure it will result in power being concentrated in one person as seems to be happening in the US with Trump.

Certainly, we can now expect power to be more and more concentrated in the executive, with the judiciary, civil service and even parliament itself being sidelined.

EU27 citizens living in the UK will very much be an outgroup made to feel increasingly unwelcome. Citizens rights for minorities will become a key testing ground as Steve Bullock explains.

Fascist methodologies are being used. Time will tell whether this will further develop into a full ideology and what havoc will result before it ends badly — it always has.

It is not July ’39 in Germany as yet, but I will keep an eye on things. Certainly following my father’s footsteps and returning to Dublin gets more and more tempting.

Comments

  1. Ed -

    My parents are brexit voters, my father strongly so, I suspect my mother influenced somewhat by my father as she is generally less political. My father got very angry last year at what he called ‘the continued Boris bashing’ so I suspect, although we haven’t talked about it for reasons of familial harmony, that he is one of Boris’ fans. My father was an engineer and my mother a University lecturer at the end of her career. They are working class by upbringing but they live in a nice house in a village in the West Country, have enjoyed several foreign holidays a year for as long as I can remember and sent both of their children to the local private school, albeit on assisted places handed out like alms to a select few local oiks, such as myself. They are firmly middle class now, as am I. My partner is Swedish and she is, naturally, worried about her place in the UK – ‘should I talk to my family on the bus in Swedish?’, for example. We have spoken (argued) briefly about their decision that I believe is against the best
    My parents just dont believe what I am saying in respect to the changing political climate in the UK. They refuse to believe that immigrants will be treated badly, they just dont want to believe that they have played a part in what could be damaging to a lot of people. Including me and my partner.

    I have never thought as my parents as unreasonable or unkind and you have to assume that a large majority of people who support both a hard brexit (‘I think we just need to start again from nothing’ – my father) and an authoritarian Johnson government are also reasonable and kind in their day to day lives. I agree with much that you say in this article. Fascism is a process of gaining power. Look at where we are, the institutions of the state are being dismantled, the government is closing ranks and the central purpose is to execute the logical conclusion of the narrative that Brexit voters have suffered a systemic and unrelenting betrayal of their democratic rights and that those who have brought this about or appeased it in any way must be purged, punished and silenced. My father would approve. He would also give you some tomatoes from his greenhouse.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Depressing isn’t it. I know quite a few Leave voters, most thoroughly decent people. My decorator who voted Tory. He though before the GE
      Labour caused the GFC and austerity was necessary.
      Labour is not to be trusted with the economy.
      Corbyn was not a patriot unfit to be PM – didn’t even know when the Queen’s Speech was.
      Freedom of movement had to be ended. He was resentful that his son had gone to live and work in Spain. Should stay home and was unpatriotic.
      The 350m per week we pat into the EU is a complete waste of money
      Endless laws and red tape from Brussels
      The 27 other EU countries (this was before we left) consistently ganged up on the UK

      I’m sure there were othere

  2. Chris B -

    this artticle rang so many bells with me it feels like an air raid siren. a very clear and thoughtful exposition of where we seem to be. The warning voices that have spoken over the past few years have been shouted down and rubbished even by BBC. Journalism doesnt know what its for any more so critical analysis is confined to small spaces that are hard to find. Thank you for this.

  3. Samuel Johnson -

    I was in London on the day of the referendum and the day after. After hearing the news at 7AM I went to a coffee shop near to where I was staying. Waiting in the queue I overhead someone say

    “It feels like 9/11 1939“

    In terms of shock, rupture, impending dislocation after which lives would be changed forever, it struck a chord. I will not forget it.

    Happily I had already left the UK and was just visiting. It seems now that UK is in a phony war stage. The Johnson govt is intent of a trial of strength with the EU, with the implementation of Irish sea border controls as a likely flashpoint and trigger for the EU to apply sanctions. Food riots, regime change in London & the break-up of the UK are where this could yet end up. A comprehensive data leak from the British Virgin Islands or something similar could save us all a lot of unpleasantness.

    I have yet to listen to it but I’ve discovered a podcast that may resonate with the readers of this blog: Pitchfork Economics.

    Nick Hanaeur is behind it. He’s a multi-billionaire interested in saving capitalism from the pitchforks he feels are inevitable if the 0.01% don’t change course. He was an early Microsoft millionaire who put a few million into Amazon early on, and then went to make even more money.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      I’ve heard of Pitchfork Economics but haven’t listened. I’ve seen Nick Hanaeur being interviewed, can’t remember where but he seemed very sensible.

  4. Korhomme -

    I have to agree with what you say, though it seems to me to be a very English phenomenon, rather than a ‘British’ one; perhaps that’s just my prejudices.

    The recent cabinet changes strongly suggest that power is being concentrated at the centre, with alternative voices being silenced. It’s as if there is now a ‘cabinet of the sycophants’; this cannot be a good thing. There needs to be people who will question decisions, lest unforeseen consequences appear.

    It also suggests that the PM is insecure. Indeed, it’s not very clear what his policies are, other than ‘get Brexit done’. You might just think, given how driven he was to become PM, that it’s the journey to being PM rather than actually being PM which motivated him. It’s not difficult to see a parallel with the thrill of the chase, where the prey are women. If so, how long before there is a backbench rebellion?

    1. Sean Danaher -

      It is an English problem I think. But only with about 50% of the English – the other 50% are absolutely fine. Worrying the new NI sec Brandon Lewis seems clueless. It may not end well in the short term for England.

      Johnson seems a man who does not do complexity and I agree it is the chase that motivated him. The backbenches will want results for the North of England and may resent free school meals in NI as well as the fact that NI costs more to keep then EU membership.

      1. Joe Reynolds -

        Perhaps he doesn’t do complexity.
        But he has no problem lying.
        I don’t believe English imperialists will ever give up on the idea of hanging onto the north of Ireland for as long as they possibly can.

    2. Boris Holgate -

      @Korhomme: Are you the same person that frequents or used to frequent the Maggie McNeill blog. Apologies if it’s not you.

  5. Peter May -

    Excellent analysis. The worrying thing is there is no real separation of powers in the UK constitution – it is all more or less still the (now Protestant) Divine Right of Kings, which has effectively been taken over by the new supposedly democratic executive. As if!

    PR is, it seems to me the last effective bastion against a fascist takeover.

    Whereas FPTP is an accelerant.

    I also feel that at least the buffoonery of Johnson would never allow him to become a ‘sole leader’ but dictatorship of/by the executive overall – aided by the largely supportive or otherwise supine media is, I fear, certainly a realistic possibilty.

  6. Guru Singh -

    An excellent article. Future generations will wonder how all this came about. It’s the political version of “The perfect storm”. The Tories could not have won such a landslide if the opposition was strong enough. Even in the dying days of May’s government if Jeremy Corbyn had realised that he is such a divisive and ineffectual figure, resigned or agreed to back someone else like Kenneth Clarke or Keir Starmer to form a government of national unity, all this mess could have been avoided.

    In the ensuing mess that this country is now entering where the poorest in society will suffer the most I wonder if the greatest enabler of it all, Jeremy Corbyn, will sleep easy at night.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks, Guru

      I agree. Much as I agree with many of Corbyn’s policies he was at heart a Lexiter. He was a poor leader in my opinion and lacked broad appeal. I left the Labour party and joined the Greens. I had left before after the Iraq war.

    2. Andrew Dickie -

      Sorry, Sean and Guru,

      I don’t agree re Corbyn and the 2017 Election,when he increased the Labour vote by a greater percentage than any Labour Leader since Clement Attlee, and came within, at most, 5,000 votes (and maybe fewer) of becoming PM.

      (For example in my constituency, Norwich North, Chris Jones came within 507 votes of beating Chloe Smith – back up to 4,800+ in 2019. There were many such constituencies in 2017 that could have given Corbyn enough seats for a minority, or coalition government.)

      The person against whose door the real claim for this current BREXIT collapse into penury and nascent Fascism should be laid is Jo Swinson and her unicorn politics of “I could be PM, heading Lib-Dem majority Government, that led her to refuse to back a Corbyn-headed caretaker government – one Kenneth Clarke was willing to back, as he saw the REAL threat from the Fascist forces behind BREXIT – whi h would have negotiated a softer BREXIT deal (one from which we could more easily escape back into the EU, which CERTAINLY won’t be true of anything Johnson cooks up), which could have been put to referendum, along with the option to stay – a referendum FAR closer to the Irish-style referendums Sean quite rightly commends to us, since people would have clearly understood what they were voting for, either way.

      The blame should lie, like the tree, where it falls.

  7. Sean Danaher -

    Replying to Joe Reynold’s comment.

    A good point and a blog post will come out soon on NI and Scotland. I think Gove is a classic Imperialist whereas Cummmings would ditch NI in an instant.

    The power play will be interesting. The future is difficult to predict.

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  10. Ivan Horrocks -

    An excellent and timely piece, Sean.

    Coincidentally, Rachel Maddow featured Prof Timothy Snyder on her show twice this past week. His book – On Tyranny: 20 lessons from the 20th century – was published shortly after Trump came to power in the US – and after the events of the past two weeks, and with even the rule of law now under threat in the US, Maddow revisited what Snyder has to say.

    Unfortunately there are only short clips of her interview with him available to UK viewers (see here for example: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show) but even those give a taste of what he has to say on what we – that is, citizens – need to do to combat what is undoutedly (as you argue) a steady but deliberate drift to facism/authoritarianism. Whether these measures and actions can be effective is another matter.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks, Ivan
      I am a fan of Rachel Maddow and ut is a good clip. By chance, I was listening to series II of Dr Brian Class’s Power Corrupts podcast today https://www.powercorruptspodcast.com/episodes#/the-dark-art-of-propaganda/ and Jason Stanley has a starring role. I would strongly recommend – quite a lot about Lord Haw Haw as well!

  11. Samuel Johnson -

    This ought to be here somewhere, though I think you’ve mentioned it before: Umberto Eco on Ur-fascism

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/

    A comment I saw today: problem isn’t that the country is drifting unawares toward fascism, but that it knows what it is and wants it. True for some, I am sure. But I’m also inclined to the view that those are the people who will likely be looking for Brexiters with pitchforks in hand if the get what they’re demanding – – a no deal Brexit.

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  14. Jon Cloke -

    I just finished reading a piece in DeSmog about the relationships between the Kochs, some organization called the Atlas Network (presumably after the risible Randian work Atlas Shrugged) and the Elliott family. It claims that Matthew and Sarah Elliott apparently act as a bridge between the billionaire hard right in the US and various US-funded organizations in the UK such as the IEA and the so-called ‘Taxpayers Alliance’. If you’ll forgive the cross-posting, it’s well worth a read – https://www.desmog.co.uk/2018/11/18/matthew-sarah-elliott-uk-power-couple-linking-us-libertarians-and-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-brexit

    Depending on how much you read into this kind of theorization, it seems to me to fit into your depiction of fascism. Since the ‘triumph’ of capitalism over the socialist bloc in 1989-1990, those elite groupings (the global 1%) which most profit from the system status quo have been building alliances across the western liberal democracies which have absorbed national governments, legacy media, intelligence services and strategic sectors of the global economy (especially financial services) on the premise that, now there is no alternative global system of governance, functional democracy has served its purpose and is no longer required.

    Bear in mind that Mussolini (the grand-daddy of fascism who Hitler hero-worshipped in his youth) defined fascism as “Everything inside the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”. The entire focus is on the state, not racism, not antisemitism, but the state, which again agrees with your thesis of fascism as a technique for gaining power. Racism, antisemitism, appeals to the past and the constant construction of fear of an internal/external enemy are parts of the technique, but not the core of fascism itself.

    But in our globalized era, the state is no longer at the nation-state level; these are global alliances between elites that have more in common with the elites in other countries than they do with the average punter in their country of origin; indeed, many of these people (most of them?) have multiple nationalities. This is an elite alliance to control the global state and puppets like Jobbik Johnson are just that, puppets dancing to the tune of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

    Anyhoo, in support of your ideas (again) we in the UK are in the honeymoon period with the Johnson puppet regime, which is racist-nationalist because that’s what it takes ‘to get Brexit done’. Nonetheless, as the economic consequences of Brexit drag down the UK economy, the current regime and our racist-nationalist media will turn their spotlights, in true fascist fashion, on a search for scapegoats – migrants, EU Remainers, lefties, black/brown people, whichever combination of these it takes to blow smoke in the eyes of a dazed and confused public…

    Extinction Rebellion is already on a Police ‘watch’ list, because they’re directly opposed to elite interests. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of others joining them shortly.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks, there is also an interesting piece by Ferdinand Mount https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n04/ferdinand-mount/apres-brexit, which finishes
      Is this then the new end of history, a sort of low-tar fascism which you don’t actually have to inhale? Faced with this dismal prospect, the first priority is surely to revive our remaining links with European institutions and to devise fresh ones to meet the altered reality. But there is a challenge at home too. I would have thought this was also the moment to defend and improve our present constitutional settlement: to entrench the human rights of ordinary people, to improve their access to local power, enable them to travel and work where they please, give trade unions a voice in the workplace, give constituency parties back their ability to choose their candidates, give local authorities back their financial freedom, defend the BBC and the Supreme Court and even the House of Lords and any other institution that the simplifiers are attacking. Does this all sound a bit high-flown? Probably, but when the weather is closing in, there’s something to be said for flying high.”

  15. Robin Stafford -

    A useful piece thanks Sean that goes well with Umberto Eco’s definition of fascism mentioned above. Eco describes the what and you describe the how
    To add to your reflections on your father’x experiences, its been observed by others that those who actually fought in the last war were much more supportive of the EU than those who came just after it – the so called boomers of whom I am one. Both my parents and in laws, whilst solid conservatives would not have been anti-EU.
    After my mother in law died we found in her possessions some photographs from when she went on an exchange to Germany in her mid teens in we think 1937. She had fond memories of her experiences and after the war even went back to Hamburg to try and find them. What was revealing was a photo of the family on the beach in Germany, which on closer inspection revealed multiple swastika flags on the sandcastles.
    We’ve reflected on how middle class, well off people in Germany in the 1930s would have gone along with Hitler and his actions and turned a blind eye to what was really happening. They in their way were as guilty as the uniformed thugs who did the actual dirty work.
    Not so different to those comfortably well off people who have voted for Johnson and Brexit, whilst refusing to recognise the profoundly negative consequences that we are now seeing

  16. Neil Foxlee -

    “Stanley describes fascism as a technique for gaining power – a methodology rather than an ideology.”

    This sounds impressive, but I’m not sure it stands up to scrutiny. Peter Šurda, a German-based Amazon reviewer of Stanley’s book How Fascism Works, writes: “The author conflates fascism, a political ideology, with populism, a rhetorical methodology, which can be used by proponents of any political ideology.”

    You would, of course, have to read Stanley’s book to see whether he differentiates between fascism and populism, and if so, how. But as the phenomenon of left-wing populism shows, there is definitely a difference.

  17. M Griffiths -

    Good article, thanks.

    Any discussion of fascism needs mention of Professor Roger Griffin’s work, particularly the “Core of fascism” which he describes as “palingenetic populist ultranationalism”:

    palingenetic – rebirth, phoenix-like
    populist – ‘us and them’
    ultranationalism – the nation being for the ‘real true natives’

    quote
    ————
    “…… the ideological driving force of fascism which informs all its empirical manifestations (organization, style, policies, behaviour, ethics, aesthetics etc.) and determines its relationship with existing political, social and cultural realities, including rival ideologies, is the vision of the nation being capable of imminent phoenix-like rebirth from the prevailing crisis and decadence in a revolutionary new political and cultural order embracing all the ‘true’ members of the national community.”

    end quote

    SOURCE:
    https://www.libraryofsocialscience.com/ideologies/resources/griffin-the-palingenetic-core/

    ———————

    Worth remembering too that any fascism, being an ultranationalist movement, will always have characteristics of its own as it is born out of the national myths, character and history of the host nation in which it finds expression. Non-natives might struggle to understand its appeal or discern underlying meaning in the rhetoric of idiom and myth etc though they might be better able to judge it objectively: as Umberto Eco suggested, fascists see their enemy as both impossibly powerful and pathetically weak and so are incapable of objectively assessing the strength of ‘the enemy’. [This rhetorical shifting is evident in Brexiters views of the EU too – it is both too powerful and too weak; both too rigid and too flexible; incapable of pursuing its self-interest and overly concerned with self-interest etc]

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Thanks all good points. A very welcome contribution.

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