You Say Tomato

Bob wrote a post last week, wondering if the term “Islamofascist” is really correct when applied to our current enemy.

The most topical objection is when Bob correctly points out that the main problem with using this term to indicate radical Islam is due to the fact that religion is subordinated to the state in Fascist regimes. This is exactly the opposite condition when talking about Islamofascists.

This doesn’t hold much water with me. While the above was true 70 years ago, the term has since evolved to include any repressive regime with strong central control that brutally oppresses dissent. This certainly describes our enemies to a “T”.

There are other objections as well. Bob remarks that Fascist states are traditionally centered on strong national pride, and it’s not unusual for an element of racism to be present. (“We are the master race!” sort of thing.) Considering the extreme reaction that radical Islam has towards any other religion, even other Islamic sects, I would have to say that it sure looks the same to me. Any differences are cosmetic at best.

So is the label correct? Are our enemies truly Fascists?

I’d have to say that it’s close enough for government work.

8 thoughts on “You Say Tomato”

  1. Fascism isn’t an ideology, rather a set of prejudices and resentments aimed at vatious targets – ethnical and religious minorities, modernity and its various expressions, any deviation of traditional (or what the fascists claim is tradional) mores and customs etc, etc. It’s not a useful term anymore, due to its broad application over the lst decades. I think it’s accurate enough to call regimes like that authoritarian or, in the more severe cases, totalitarian. Let’s call Mussolini’s Italy facist, and Hitler’s Germany national socialist, and leave it at that.

    Btw, Fascism and Nazism aren’t the same, really. The Italian Fascists weren’t genocidal, their fascism simply was an aggressive form nationalism, embellished with Roman symbols like the fasces. Contrary to that Nazism was inherently genocidal.

  2. Niall Ferguson prefers the term Islamo-bolshevik for their use of terrorism as oposed to the fascists preference for taking over the state by conventional means.

  3. Baathism is definitely a form of Fascism being directly descended from European Fascism by way of Arabic Fascist sympathizers who brought it to the middle-east in WWII. It is strongly based on the idea of Arabic cultural superiority and has long had dreams of welding the Arab dominated nation-states of the middle-east back into one giant Arabic empire. Baathism is in principle a secular political philosophy based on regional culture and language. There are Arabic Christian Baathist for example. In reality, it is dominated by Muslims, especially in the last 20 years.

    The religious fundementalist Islamist may or may not be Fascist depending on how closely you draw the line but certainly the case can be made. Their economic ideas are more socialistic than not which puts them in Fascist camp. They have a powerful conception of volk and untermensch based on religion and they believe they have to perfect right to kill or enslave anybody not volk. They believe that individuals who can trace their descent to Mohammed are superior to those who can’t. They loathe democracy and believe that all decisions should be made by an narrow elite who possess a special moral vision.

    The last attribute is to my mind the defining attribute of Fascism. Communism believes in the rule of the specially educated but Fascism believes in the rule of people who are inherently superior for some innate reason. I think the Islamist fall into the Fascist camp in this regard.

    I’m going to keep using the term in my own writing.

  4. “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against [above] the state.”
    –Benito Mussolini

    Substitute Islam for “the state” and you have a motto that well describes the Islamist program.

  5. James, I just hung up on a discussion with my friend, a Special Op’s warrior who is prepping to ship-out to Saudi Arabia this week. He spoke about how this war is against “Communism.”

    It seems any culture at war searches for the correct rhetorical tag to attach to its enemy. The words, “Communism” and “Fascism”, summon the same will to fight in the American libertine psyche. Neither is exact, but add the preffix, “Islamo-“, and the semantic graph is close enough to the images of the robed bin-Laden for, as you say, “government work”.

    George Orwell would be proud. “Lock and load.”

  6. Ginny: despite the fact that the generalizations in no way explain reality or literature, they apply them with abandon.

    I thought this was apt commentary on “good enough for government work” definitions of fascism. In fact, Steve is right–if all we need is a label for propoganda and killing, then either fascism or communism will work, and it doesn’t matter what we call our enemies. I hoped for something more nuanced, though, on my favorite conservative blog. Ralf didn’t disappoint:

    Ralf’s idea that “Fascism isn’t an ideology, rather a set of prejudices and resentments aimed at vatious targets” aligns with David Neiwert’s more nuanced discussions of fascism here at home: “It is not a typical “ism” in that its ideology is indistinct at best; it is, as I’ve often discussed, better understood as a cultural and political pathology, which like psychological pathologies comprises not a single core principle but a constellation of traits, beliefs, and behaviors.” [] Neiwert, for the record, doesn’t think we have a serious case of it here, even though some of our colleagues like Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, and William Grigg do.

    Prof Roger Griffin describes a scholarly consensus “with highly fuzzy boundaries” that “fascism is best approached as a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism. As such it is an ideology deeply bound up with modernization and modernity, one which has assumed a considerable variety of external forms to adapt iself to the particular historical and national context in which it appears, and has drawn on a wide range of cultural and intellectual currents, both left and right, anti-modern and promodern, to articulate itself a s a body of ideas, slogans, and doctrine. In the inter-war period it manifested itself primarily int he form of an elite-led ‘armed party’ which attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to generate a populist mass movement through a liturgical style of politics and aprogramme of radical policies which promised to overcome the threat posed by international socilism, to end the degeneration affecting the nation under liberalism, and to bring about a radical renewal of its social politcal and cultural life as part of what was widely imagined to be the new era being inaugurated in Western civilization. The core moblizing myth of fascism which conditions its ideology, propaganda, style of politics, and actions is the vision of the nation’s imminent rebirth from decadence.” []

    He goes on to offer an abbreviated definition: “Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism.” I’m hesitant to adopt the label “islamo-fascism”, but certainly the idea of populist rebirth, renewal of the country fits the rising Islamic fundamentalist tide. I don’t have a good sense of whether the Islamic countries are ultra-nationalistic? Shannon-you’d have a better read on that.

  7. Ralf, You distinguished between Germany and Italy, but there are some people that argue for structural similarities there:
    Ian Kershaw has evaluated the similarities between Italian and German fascism:
     Extreme chauvinistic nationalism with pronounced imperialistic expansionist tendencies;
     an anti-socilist, anti-Marxist thrust aimed at the destruction of working class organizations and their Marxist political philosophy;
     the basis in a mass party drawing from all sectors of society, though with pronounced support in the middle class and proving attractive to the peasantry and to various uprooted or highly unstable sectors of the population;
     fixation on a charismatic, plebiscitary, legitimized leader;
     extreme intolerance towards all oppositional and presumed oppositional groups, expressed through vicious terror, open violence and ruthless repression;
     glorification of militarism and war, heightened by the backlash to the comprehensive socio-political crisis in Europe arising from the First World War;
     dependence upon an “alliance” with existing elites, industrial, agrarian, military and bureaucratic, for their political breakthrough;
     and, at least an initial function, despite a populist-revolutionary anti-establishment rhetoric, in the stabilization or restoration of social order and capitalist structures.
    Quoted by Anis Shivani at:

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