Vice insists that we’ve got to start calling an awful lot of people fascists. Unfortunately, the definition of fascism that they use includes Antifa, BLM and those who participated in the Capitol riot. This isn’t a useful definition.
As Vice says: “There’s a word for the embrace of violence and intimidation as a political tool. It’s called ‘fascism.’”
The use of violence and intimidation in politics is the use of violence and intimidation in politics. It’s entirely true that many European fascist parties used both in their rises to power between 1920 and 1940. But then so did many socialist and communist political movements. The Russian Revolution wasn’t exactly free of either for example.
This is not just some quibble over language and descriptions. There are two separate problems here. One is whether anyone is actually recommending fascist policies, evidence for this being scarce. Then there’s whether people are using that violence and intimidation. For which the evidence is much stronger. But the policies being advocated by the violent don’t seem to be fascist.
What’s actually happening here is that we all agree that fascism is bad, in a way we don’t yet about the other great mistake of the 20th century, violent leftism. So, everything that is thought to be bad gets labelled as fascism, just because we all agree that’s bad.
But it’s not actually the fascism that’s the bad thing, it’s the violence and intimidation. Which are tactics, strategies even, which have been used by other political movements. We should be against those too because of the violence and the imposition of the ideas through it.
Vice is a significant media resource for millennials. The TV stations reaches 60 million houses, the print run of the magazine is 900,000 copies. The website gains near 30 million views a month.
In order to inform that audience it’s necessary to distinguish between the views being advanced and the tactics used to advance them. This being something Vice is signally failing to do. Fascism is not just politics by violence, nor is all politics by violence fascism. History shows us that plenty of other regimes have been imposed using that intimidation and it’s necessary to distinguish between the methods and the beliefs.
After all, if violence were the definition of fascism then both the Capitol riot and also Antifa – possibly even significant protests like Black Lives Matter – would be fascism in action. Which makes it either wrong or at best useless as a political description.