Written By: Anthony Bennet
(Edit: There’s something extremely fundamental that I didn’t weave in to this essay. Fascism is also a response to decadence)
I don’t view fascism as a coherent political ideology. To me, it is more like a trend within populations. If nations were people, I’d call fascism an emotion. (Someone please help me out here getting the wording right). So, I ask that you check your prior thoughts and beliefs at the door. Just listen to me ‘til the end, then collect what you checked and make your own judgement.
There is no algorithm for defeating fascism. It replicates like a virus, faster than the system it consumes by definition. Fascism preys on the weakness of the system it invades, on the contradictions of the society it infests.
People themselves acting on their own convictions fight fascism. Then, they win or they lose. Fascism is neither top-down or bottom up. It adopts the form it needs to survive, but it necessarily has both and as such can defeat both top-down and bottom threats. Megalomaniac individuals inspire devotion from a mass of people clamouring for a leader, a human God if you will. The people want a living God to tell them what they need to do, an Übermensch that can connect with the people he’s leading, and a core of disciples to organize the people and project the will of the Über.
The Über comes from the people–how else can he understand them so well? The connection is direct, intimate, and most of all, passionate. He is the tribal leader. The Fürher . The Duce.  Hitler and Mussolini were both middle class as fuck. Once power is seized, there is to only be one Über. Others are threats and will be killed,sent far far away, or otherwise disposed of. But until then, subÜbers like Ernst Röhm can make for very effective disciples!
The people must generate their own disciples too as the mass grows. These disciples follow the same trend as the Über. They must be of the same mold for they are walking and talking symbols of their Über. They are people trying to live up to the ideals their Über has laid out for them and inspirations to the masses they herd.
These are the three main cogs I have recognized. Without an enthusiastic populace, an Über and his henchmen are nothing more than a pimple. Without an Über to unify them, subgroups of the people lead by disciples will spend their time fighting each other instead of achieving power. Without an effective disciple, the Über won’t be able to keep his mass together, or grow it beyond a certain level.
Fascism is a center-out process! It’s mother class is the middle class. The elites try to coopt it. The poor want a part of it. The middle drive it.
The middle class origins of fascism are what I find so scary about it. It takes self-awareness and self-acceptance together to recognize it (but more on that later for fascism is also an opportunity in the form of an enemy to defeat).
It’s an often quoted meme that the Nazis achieved power legitimately. This meme doesn’t lend itself to true or false. The Nazis DID exploit legitimate means, use legitimate fronts, and did win votes. They fooled the people in the middle, on the fence into thinking they were democrats, which they were when it suited their interests. They talked like democrats when it suited their interests! But they also rigged votes, beat up the opposition, and then killed them once the legitimate means of power were dominated by people who no longer respected the offices they controlled. They abused the parliamentary process to weaken the Czechoslovak state from the inside and create a fake humanitarian crisis that isolated Czechoslovakia from the UK and France when it became clear that the Czechs would stand up to the Nazis.
To be clear, I am indeed portraying fascism like a ghost or an invisible boogey man that haunts industrialized nations. Until it is too late, until the cancer has metastisized, fascism usually IS very hard to see, or hides in plain sight as something appealing. I see you Milo and the alt-right. No one in 1933 forsaw the Reich. No one in ‘36 forsaw the Reich. Hell, there was still plenty of faith in “Herr Hitler” even as Panzers rolled into Poland.
I suppose I am implicitly laying out a strategy for defeating fascism. In plain English it is this: learn the game it is playing and play it better. That game is war. Fascist humans derive personal meaning from war and conflict. On personal meaning I write from personal experience as a former fascist-sympathizer; I write from talking to fascists, befriending fascists, and playing war games with them; most importantly and holding pretty much all the weight here, I am write from reading what fascists of history themselves had to say:
“I sank to my knees and thanked heaven…….that it had given me the good fortune to live at such a time.” –Hitler reflecting on his service in WW1
“There followed terrible days and even worse nights – I knew that all was lost…in these nights hatred grew in me, hatred for those responsible for this deed.” –Hitler on his days immediately following Germany’s defeat in WW1.
“I am still today a soldier and only a soldier.” Ernst Röhm (long after being not-a-soldier)
Let’s borrow from Sun Tzu to learn how to fight this culture war, and win before it’s a shooting war. From the Art of War:
The best policy is to attack while the enemy is still planning. The next best is to disrupt alliances. The next best is to attack the opposing army. The worst is to attack the enemy’s cities.
If you outnumber them five to one, attack them.
If you outnumber them two to one, divide them.
If you are equal, then find an advantageous battle.
If you are fewer, defend against them.
If you are much weaker, evade them.
Small forces are not powerful. However, large forces cannot catch them.
The essential factor of military success is speed, that is taking advantage of others’ unpreparedness or lack of foresight, their failure to catch up, going by routes they do not expect, attacking where they are not on guard. This you cannot accomplish with hesitation.
Realistically, you have to become the enemy you’re swearing to defeat, at least a little. You have to mirror their tactics at least a little or your integrity will be leveraged against you. Fascism preys on weaknesses and contradictions wherever it can find or create them. In fantasy, Paladins carry swords, wear armour, and take orders like soldiers like the orcs they fight. But they are not mindless zombies either like the orcs they fight. They are beings who believe in their moral code and swear to protect it. They think for themselves when necessary. They are people afterall, even clad in armor. If the king is evil then the Paladins may turn cloak and kill the man they swear to protect.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the Arcane prowess of Dungeons and Dragons Paladins. We need something else. I’m tempted to go into a spiel about thinking for yourself, taking orders from yourself, being an Übermensch/Überfrau. And that’s part but missing something.
We need to connect to our own humanity, all of it. All your inner lightness and inner darkness. All our love and hate. Our convictions. We must connect with the things that our ideals are based on. This is the one thing that preys back on the weakness of fascism because the moral contradictions they prey on fall away when we stop relying on the letter of our ideals but the spirit of our ideals.
Luke won by first defeating Vader with the love/hate combination, second by flipping him back to who he really was–Anakin–and third by teaming with Anakin Skywalker against Palpy.
When we accept that we may be labelled a hypocrite, an imposter, even a fascist, or whatever the fascist is trying to impose, their power loses its edge. When Nazis get punched in the street, opinion bloggers may condemn the act but their words ring hollow and forced. The words of people defending the attack might be able to be leveraged against them yet the feeling of sympathy in our guts surprisingly remains squarely with the puncher. The Nazis were defeated not by political rhetoric, integrity, and “trust that things will work out” but by millions of armed men of the USSR and millions of armed machines produced by the Allied Powers. And the associated blood.
I end this essay with a question and a muse on its answer. What do we call love and hate channelled together in harmony? To me, it matches with the feeling associated with ‘conviction’.