How often have you viewed images from a protest – either left or right – and noticed that some sign-maker failed to spell the term fascist correctly? The moral outrage is diminished by the mental laxity.
For many words in our vocabulary, it’s easy enough to overlook such minor errors. But a handful of political terms call attention to themselves because they function as the heavy artillery in our arsenal of partisan language. The term fascist is one of them. It ranks just behind racist ( rascist? ) in its ability to dismiss a political opponent’s ideas.
Is there anyone left who hasn’t been labeled a fascist? Republicans, democrats, wokesters, evangelicals, the military, and anti-war protesters have all been linked to the Nazis by some angry opponent. This trend has caused an important concept to devolve into overuse and hyperbole.
There’s not much we can do about the name-calling, or bad spelling, of our fellow citizens. But we can assess the confusion that surrounds this pejorative. At the heart of that dysfunction lies today’s one-dimensional political paradigm.
For example, liberals often claim that fascists are “far right.” Visually, this describes a position at an extreme edge of the horizontal line.
Conservatives don’t like this label. They argue that “far left” figures have killed more innocents than those on the right. This leads to the assertion that fascism includes actors like Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot ……
The “who is a fascist?” debate exposes the limitations of America’s dominant political paradigm. A one dimensional model simply can’t describe where these actors reside on the spectrum. Instead, a two-dimensional framework must be applied ……
Thus, the true fascist can only be identified at the spatial level of analysis. When political terminology is viewed visually, we see that fascism can lean either left or right, but it always sits at the top of the circle. History’s villains really aren’t that far apart on the spectrum.
Is every person who holds a high position on the circle a fascist? Certainly not. But specific conditions do embolden latent sinister forces at that location. The primary prerequisite is an imbalance toward centralized power. In other words, when top down hierarchies (state or corporate) dominate the political system, too much control becomes concentrated in too few institutions. Cunning, psychopathic individuals then plot to take over.
Politics must be analyzed from a visual orientation first, before proceeding to definitions of terms. Fascism is one case in point. This crucial concept must be applied with precision to become useful on the public square. Under the left-right-only paradigm, it was understood as poorly as it was spelled.