A brief post using an old War Department film to ask the question, what is fascism? This post is to get people to ask questions and contemplate the topic. I want to get this post up in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend.
“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
“When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.”
“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
In light of what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia I am going to put up a 1943 War Department training film on fascism that is called, “Don’t Be a Sucker.” For those of you who do not know the United States Department of Defense was formerly called the War Department. The War Department was renamed to the Department of Defense in 1949. When this film was created Henry Stimson was the Secretary of War under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I would like to leave you with some discussion questions on fascism. However, before I proceed let me leave you with a couple of articles to contemplate about fascism. These represent differing sides, and as I often say I want you to think for yourself and learn through discernment and questioning. I am hoping you will read the different articles and wrestle with this topic yourself.
- The London Guardian “Hiding in plain sight: how the ‘alt-right’ is weaponizing irony to spread fascism.”
- Henry Wallace in the New York Times “American Fascism, in 1944 and Today.”
- Live Science “What is Fascism.”
- The American Conservative “Fascism in the White House?”
- George Orwell “What is Fascism?”
Now if you have watched that War Department film, these are some questions I have for you about fascism. Some come from watching the film, others come about in doing some reading.
- What is politically motivated social engineering?
- How do fascists regard the free press?
- Where can fascism occur?
- Do fascists play people against each other to wear them down, and tear apart culture and society?
- In fascism where do immigrants fit in?
- Can prejudice be a weapon in fascism?
- Does fascism play with people’s emotions and appeal to their fears?
- How do fascists view intellectualism and education?
- Can fascism manipulate science?
- Can fascism occur gradually and people not see the indicators and warning? Can good people be fooled?
- What is the difference between fascism and patriotism?
- Does fascism corrupt people into doing things they would not otherwise do?
- How did George Orwell regard fascism?
- Is there a difference between populism and fascism? If so, what is it?
- Are there variations of fascism that are unique to differing parts of the world? For example is Peronism in Argentina fascism?
- How did American industrialist Henry Ford view fascism? If you can tell me that I will buy you a beer in the Washington, D.C. area.
I will leave you with two videos to watch. The first one is the closing speech by Charlie Chaplain in The Great Dictator. This film by Chaplain was a reaction to the emergence of dictatorship and fascism in Europe. The second is by Mel Brooks and is considered a classic. It’s called The Producers and features a musical number called “Springtime for Hitler.” I hope this post will give some people something to contemplate. Take care of yourself!