Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Peter Turchin Can Fascism Happen Here?

Peter Turchin equates fascism with tyranny, but I don't think that is correct. Fascism is a modern political theory, while tyranny is a political category proposed by Plato, as Professor Turchin notes. The "tyrants" of history were what now call "dictators," although the Latin term "dictator" had a somewhat different meaning classically from the Greek "tyrannos." Thus, equating fascism with tyranny as usurpation of absolute power as sole ruler involves a category error, on one hand, and it also fails to consider the range of meaning of both terms.

Fascism is a totalitarian concept of political theory based on authoritarian nationalism that doesn't necessitate a sole absolute ruler that has usurped power. Being grounded in authoritarian nationalism, fascism as a political theory has elements of tyranny associated with it, but it is not equatable with tyranny as a political category.

In the ancient sense, a tyrant was a military usurper that seized absolute power over the state. Solon was careful to deny that he was actually a tyrant, even though he held that power. In modern times, tyranny is no longer associated exclusively with military dictatorship but is extended by analogy to administrative or bureaucratic tyranny (Mill) and "the tyranny of the majority."

"Fascism" today is most closely associated with the Hitler regime and Mussolini doesn't come to mind, even though he was the originator of the modern term. Hitler was influenced by Italian
Fascism, but Nazism was an separate creation.

Ok, this is nitpicking a bit and the author is dealing the limitations of a blog post. But, I think it is useful to point out for the sake of discussion since "fascism" is a term that getting lot of use now, which risks Godwin's law by conflating "fascism" with "Hitler." But Nazism its a form of fascism rather than being the paradigm case of fascism as often presumed.

So asking whether it can happen here has deeper implications that often considered or admitted. Thinking not is letting one's guard down. And maybe the question is better framed as to what degree has fascism crept in.

Cliodynamica — A Blog about the Evolution of Civilizations
Can Fascism Happen Here?
Peter Turchin | Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Research Associate in the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford, and Vice-President of the Evolution Institute

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