It’s a valid question, folks: if democracy is dead, why are we still free to say so on our social media accounts? As a swelling tide of authoritarianism washed over the world, we end up asking ourselves if fascism has indeed come, because it seems so different from the dire, life-or-death images we got during the second world war, where we saw evil on a scale we never deemed imaginable.
Today, nobody is going to lead 6 Million Jews into gas chambers without the rest of the world putting a stop to that. But when you cut the number down to 11, and suddenly, half the people around could only offer “thoughts and prayers” and not a single ounce of action. So yes, the horrors are still there. But they’ve gotten more sophisticated about it, and unless we recognize the pattern, then this is going to keep coming up.
Let’s take a look at how the fascism has changed over the decades…
THEN: Let’s curtail civil liberties to get our way.
Fascism has always been about trampling over human rights and civil liberties in the service of some vague notion of the greater good, often with a nationalistic slant. In taking away civil liberties, they manage to assert control over everyone under them, and contain any dissent.
NOW: Let’s let them give up their civil liberties to get our way.
By engulfing the people in a culture of fear, fascists realized that it’s far easier to have people willingly give up their civil liberties than to forcibly take them from people, if the government can somehow manufacture a threat big enough to scare people into doing so. And it works so well, shockingly. Instead of valuing the freedom so many of those who came before us died for, we instead wonder aloud if we have “too much freedom,” as we willingly decide that we should give up said freedom to our overlords.
THEN: Let’s shut the media down and take control.
Take control of the media, and seize the narrative. Whether it be blocking the media networks that contradict you or outright killing their personnel, shutting the media down was often one of the most blatant moves a fascist government has to go through in order to control the narrative.
NOW: Let’s discredit the media and take control.
Why would you have to go through all the effort to forcibly silence your critics if you can instead gaslight them to the point where people themselves want these media outlets shut down? In discrediting the media, the fascist government turns their media detractors into targets and enemies of the public when what they’re serving is precisely the public trust. When you discredit your opposition, you disempower them far more than making martyrs out of them ever will. But sometimes, that wouldn’t be enough. You’ll try finding any technicalities available to you to go old-school on them and shut them down, too! “Fake news” and accusations of fake news have become effective tools to undermining the role of the fourth estate in recent years.
THEN: Propaganda is a pure government effort.
Propaganda had to emanate from the government back then because in taking control of the media, then the only media game left in town would obviously be the government. After all, the platform was monopolized back then, and with that, any information that came in or out had to happen under the say-so of a fascist administration.
NOW: Propaganda is collaborative.
Troll farms? Genuinely radicalized sycophants? These people now have platforms of their own with followings that the government wants to get their claws into. At this point, propaganda ceases being a monopoly of the government, and instead a collaboration between the government and their preferred agents. Who knew that our legacy would be finding new and exciting ways to make the Makapili an even more enthusiastic traitor to this country?
THEN: The enemy are the Jews.
The Holocaust happened. Full stop. The greatest of atrocities happened because nobody questioned it, nor stood up openly against it.
NOW: The enemy are the (depends where you are). And the Jews.
Communists? Drugs? Doesn’t matter. These enemies are beneath us, and we need to eradicate them to make our nation great again. And, oh, the Jews are somehow to blame for our woes, too.
Indeed, while technology and social dynamics can change the fascism playbook in significant ways, the core still remains the same: ultimately, the result remains the same. And remains tragic, at that.
What’s your take on the current events in the country? Tell us below.