Phil Graham on 13 Oct 2000 08:07:28 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] The elements of fascism

Some confusion over fascism has become apparent (e.g. "You're a fascist!" 
... "No, you're a fascist!"). Its vulgar perjorative and mantric utterance 
merely serves to blur any sort of definitive meaning. That makes it 
impossible to identify or define and thus act against.

Brian Carroll's questions are very instructive, I think.

Here is what I think are the necessary elements to define a _system_ as 

1. Militarism
2. Corporatism
3. Ethno-linguistic, cultural, and/or religious Nationalism
4. Authoritarianism (not necessarily in the form of a single party 
5. Expansionism (cultural, corporate, legal, political, and/or militaristic 
- usually a mixture of all)
6. High levels of (inter-)personal surveillance at the most intimate levels 
of existence (e.g. emphasising thought and language crimes)
7. Suppression of competing opinion (mainly via consensus relationships 
between corporate groups, political parties, labour organisatons, education 
systems, media, and religious and youth groups)
8. High levels of "integration" and "coordination" of individuals through 
conscious, widespread, systematic efforts to eradicate individual will in 
favour of state and/or corporate authority and its stated purposes (the 
difference between state and corporation is indistinguishable in a 
corporatist regime).
9. Organised around heroic personalities.

If anyone can add to these or correct me, please do. I think that in the 
absence of any of the above elements, you can't call a regime "fascist". If 
a person systmatically advocates governance based on these elements, they 
are most likely advocating fascism whether they realise it or not.

["fasci" = bundle [usually of sticks or rods - cf the Roman eagle] -- i.e. 
like the literal meaning of "faggot" and "facus"].

"Whole-of-government" and "joined-up government" = "totalitarianism", the 
literal meaning of the term as coined by Mussolini.

Usually has a "friendly" (esp media-friendly) and benevolent public face.

Has a system of voting.

Fairly sophisticated philosophically. Relies heavily on relativist 
philosophy, nominalism, and attributive (as opposed to identifying) public 
discourse (i.e. substantively empty). Often attributes are construed as 
identifiers, making heavy use of the relational-attributive cline and 
intertextual evaluative loading (e.g. "you are a fascist"; "business is 
efficient" - here both are attributive whereas the first poses as a 
taxonomising identifier).

Its social theory relies on stupid and inappropriate uses of Darwin's 
"origin of the species" to describe, e.g., relationships between "races", 
businesses, language groups, countries, and cultures.

Usually characterised by high levels of bureaucratic labour demarcations, 
thus engendering secrecy and odd concentrations of power within large, 
extremely centralised bureacracies, although this seems to be a feature of 
most contemporary regimes ... but then as Brian Carroll asks not so 
obliquely: what the hell is this system?.

Any thoughts?


Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
Phil Graham, Lecturer (Communication), Graduate School of Management
University of Queensland, Ph:  617 3381 1083; Fax:  617 3381 1083;
Mobile 0401 737 315; homepage:

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