Fascism and the Weaponization of Words

Nigel Farage is a fascist. Tommy Robinson is a fascist. Donald Trump is a fascist. This term, among many others, has been shooting from lips like bullets from muskets in the front lines of an infantry. At first, such terms were supposed to fire at volleys, in regimented formation, at the command of the officers. In practice, however, as battle ensues, each soldier fires a musket at their own discretion. Which of course brings total confusion to the battlefield, soldiers being enveloped by the smoke of the discharged rounds, hindering accurate shooting. Fire at will!

Language suffers most of all in this melee because what we are left with is a smoky vagueness. Let me explain. This is the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of fascism:

“An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization”

Here’s dictionary.com’s definition:

“A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce etc, and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism”

Wikipedia:

“Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe”

There’s a great deal of debate in academia over what fascism really means, but the one thing that everyone agrees upon is that it involves authoritarianism. The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of authoritarianism:

“The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom”

The prerequisite to qualify for this description is to either be in power or to advocate for it in a way that will subdue personal freedom.

How can Nigel Farage be a fascist when he is a leader of a minor political party, and is unlikely to be in power for at least several cycles given the fabric of the British political system? How can he be a fascist when his political position over many years has essentially been at odds with a political power which has refused to acknowledge the will of the majority of the British people?

Tommy Robinson has no power and is in fact the subject of power, Big Tech removing him from their platforms under increasingly draconian hate speech laws, which are effectively suppressing the freedom of speech under the guise of “tolerance”. He has also recently served a custodial sentence, being found guilty of contempt of court by the British justice system for exposing decades long child rape gangs, something covered up by other branches of the British justice system, for which he already served 10 weeks in jail.

As for Donald Trump, he does have the power to qualify for the term, but unlike Big Tech, he is not enforcing strict etiquette in the modern marketplace of ideas, nor monopolizes it.

These huge companies have power and they’re exhibiting striking signs of authoritarianism by curtailing personal freedom through censorship. As is the British justice system, which is swiftly prosecuting someone who has exposed endemic corruption within the system, rather than swiftly prosecuting those who were preying on children. These profiles are more befitting of the term “fascist”.

The entire political discourse is awash with insults and accusations. A fog bank of pejoratives sweeps in, blurring meaning and covering up understanding. If those engaged in political debate are using words so flippantly and without context how can anyone comprehend the debate itself?

Indeed, many political words have been so abused by dishonest and slovenly use that they’ve lost their original meaning. Terms like ‘fascism’, ‘far-right’, ‘racism’, ‘nationalism’, have become so broad and vague that they can hardly be distinguished from one another, like the polished stones on a riverbed which have been eroded by time and the torrent of water. As far as I can tell, in terms of use, they all now essentially mean the same thing: “something deeply unpleasant”. But, clearly, it’s those who are quick to use inflammatory labels who are the most unpleasant.

It’s axiomatic that in an intellectual tussle the first person who throws stones always loses. Not that those who try to control the lexicon are interested in winning debates. Their interest lies in suppressing them.