The Invisibility of Fascism in the Postwar United States

Vials, Chris

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/01/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20339

Vials examines the use of the term "fascism" in post-war United States politics since the Tea Party have twisted its meaning to denote a left-wing phenomenon.



When thinking about the survival of fascism after 1945, we must distinguish between two things: first, the continuing existence of fascist or fascist-like movements, and second, the nightmare return of a dictatorial fascist state power. The second is unlikely in the West. An irony-driven consumer culture, a general belief in parliamentary democracy, and the absence of a truly, fear-inspiring political left make a Fourth Reich unlikely for the foreseeable future in Western Europe and the United States.

But it is undeniable that fascist movements continue to exist. This is particularly obvious in Europe, where a number of fringe parties have moved from margin to mainstream in recent decades: the Front National in France, Jörg Haider's Freiheitspartei in Austria, the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) in Italy, the National Front in Britain, the particularly frightening Jobbik party in Hungary (clad in the symbols of the fascist Arrow Cross party from WWII), and most recently the Golden Dawn in Greece.

These groups have done a lot of damage -- to immigrant communities and to public life generally -- even though they have failed to take the state apparatus in its entirety.

But what about the United States? Certainly there has been a proliferation of small militia, neo-Nazi, white supremacist and neo-Confederate groups in recent years. In 2012, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed 1018 active "hate groups" in the United States. While these groups have not cohered into a major, national political party and are not likely to do so in the foreseeable future, they should not be dismissed, as they continue to terrorize and even murder people with frightening regularity.

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