"Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?" (Marx and Engels, 1848)
Recently, and due to political events mainly in the US and Europe, fascism has become a matter of concern. Words like "fascism" and "fascist" suddenly appear in popular discourse.
But, what is fascism?
Back in 1944, the end of WW2 in sight, George Orwell asked precisely that question. He observed that the word "fascism" was used as an insult. Nobody, however, seemed able to say exactly what "fascism" was. He did not acknowledge any precedents to his observation, but Marx and Engels made a similar comment nearly 100 years earlier, referring to socialism/communism.
At the time, Orwell didn’t answer that question, either. Almost seventy years later, most still seem equally incapable of offering an answer.
In the next three posts I’d like to explore a preliminary answer, in the process hopefully shedding some light on the philosophical genealogy of fascism and its relatives.