HERE'S a post from awhile back that explains what it actually means. Everybody's using it now, as nothing more than a term of opprobrium with no actual semantic content. So, to try to straighten this all out, communists are not fascists, Obama is not a fascist, Republicans are not fascists, the tea party isn't fascist, and Jonah Goldberg notwithstanding, liberals are certainly not fascists. Despite the illustration, there's much more than a dime's worth of difference between fascism and these other creeds.* For one thing, a very simple thing, fascists are nationalists, and except for a few in the Tea Party, none of the groups mentioned are nationalist, and most are virulently anti-nationalist.
In tandem with that, fascism is a strong defender of traditional Western culture, and most of the groups, again, aren't much interested in that, and most are multiculturalist.
But one thing seldom discussed is fascist esthetics. Here's a review of a new book that deals with that and other aspects of fascism:
Fascism & the Meaning of Life
Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
Roger Griffin, Professor in Modern History at Oxford Brookes University, first introduced the idea of “Palingenesis” to the field of fascist studies over 15 years ago, making him immediately a leading figure in his chosen vocation. He isolated the syncretic fascist core as being palingenetic, populist ultra-nationalism, with overtones of a phoenix-like heroic rebirth. Since then he has extended and elaborated his theory that essential to the definition of the “fascist minimum” is the notion of national rebirth or renaissance — “myths that generated policies and actions designed to bring about collective redemption, a new national community, a new society, a new man…engineered through the power of the modern state.” — culminating in this masterwork which rightly places fascism at the centre of wider modernist movements.
Epiphanic versus Programmatic Modernism
Griffin’s insights have previously been recognized as audacious and perceptive, no more so than here. Part One of the book tackles the at first seemingly tricky concept of Modernism itself, which Griffin clarifies brilliantly. Modernism’s “common denominator lies in the bid to achieve a sense of transcendent value, meaning of purpose despite Western culture’s progressive loss of a homogeneous value system and overarching cosmology (nomos) caused by the secularizing and disembedding forces of modernization.” Modernization is experienced by those caught up in its slipstream as a relentless juggernaut unzipping the fabric of meaningful existence and leaving in its wake the abyss of permanently unresolved ambivalence. In short, Modernism is defined as a reaction against the decadent nihilism of intellectual, societal and technical modernization.
While Marx, other Leftists and liberals consider modern man’s condition as one of angst and alienation induced by class warfare and industrial production, the Right sees anomie as both the cause and the principle symptom of our modern malaise. “It is the black hole of existential self-awareness in all of us, our fear of ‘the eternal silence of infinite spaces’ that so alarmed [Blaise] Pascal, which produces culture.”
This modern culture is further divided by Griffin into what might be called introvert and extrovert reactions: the introvert reaction is generally individualistic and in Griffin’s expression an “epiphanic modernism” — the path of the artist — while the extrovert, collective reaction is defined as “programmatic modernism.” The latter seeks to change the world and resolve the permanent crisis of modernity (“all that is solid melts into air” – Marx) by a collective act of “reconnection forwards” (Moeller van den Bruck). It is not difficult to make the short step from “programmatic modernism” to fascism; the transcendent politics proposed by van den Bruck at the beginning of the Twentieth Century are not so different from Guillaume Faye’s “Archaic Futurism” at its end. Both are, in the phrase of Guy Debord, “technically equipped archaism.”
Amongst the epiphanic modernists Griffin includes Nietzsche, Eliot, Joyce, Proust, van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Malevich, but perhaps the truth of Griffin’s argument is demonstrated by the man widely acknowledged as the greatest modern painter: Picasso. In his earlier cubist works, Picasso sought inspiration from the primitivism of African masks, and later in the archetypal Mediterranean symbols of horses and particularly bulls (which surprisingly Griffin doesn’t mention).
(Read the rest HERE)
*For those of you who don't know, that's a fasces on the dime, and that's the origin of the word 'fascism.' The fasces is actually a very nice symbol, with layers of meanings, and you can read a nice article on that HERE.