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14 Common Features of Fascism

This is from six years ago but it’s worth revisiting as I don’t think it’s too much of a push to see these elements at play in the USA right now. Which, if you think about the role that country played up until recently, is staggering.

Fascism and authoritarianism change over time, however, and so it’s worth also listening to a recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed programme on ‘Strongmen’. For example, instead of banning elections, fascists/authoritarian allow the democratic veneer to remain, they just ensure that the result goes they way they want.

While Eco is firm in claiming “There was only one Nazism,” he says, “the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” Eco reduces the qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism” down to 14 “typical” features. “These features,” writes the novelist and semiotician, “cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Source: Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism | Open Culture

Are we really calling it #Elongate?

There’s been a noticeable influx of people to the Fediverse over the last few days due to Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

What I find really interesting are three things:

  1. Those arriving inevitably compare five year-old, federated, open-source software developed mainly by two people with a fifteen year-old publicly-traded company. The fact that they’re even comparable is frankly amazing, if you think about the money poured into Twitter over the years.
  2. Some people already on the Fediverse seem to think they have to act differently and/or take time to explain all of the things to people arriving from Twitter. I’m not sure that’s necessary. People learn by watching, imitating, and practising.
  3. There’s plenty of people (including me, I guess, to some extent) who are keen to point out that they’ve been around on the Fediverse for quite a while, thank you very much.

There are, of course, many more compatible federated social networks than just Mastodon. Check out fediverse.party!

“Funnily enough one of the reasons I started looking into the decentralized social media space in 2016, which ultimately led me to go on to create Mastodon, were rumours that Twitter, the platform I’d been a daily user of for years at that point, might get sold to another controversial billionaire,” he wrote. “Among, of course, other reasons such as all the terrible product decisions Twitter had been making at that time. And now, it has finally come to pass, and for the same reasons masses of people are coming to Mastodon.”

Source: After Musk’s Twitter takeover, an open-source alternative is ‘exploding’ | Engadget

Dedicated portable digital media players and central listening devices

I listen to music. A lot. In fact, I’m listening while I write this (Busker Flow by Kofi Stone). This absolutely rinses my phone battery unless it’s plugged in, or if I’m playing via one of the smart speakers in every room of our house.

I’ve considered buying a dedicated digital media player, specifically one of the Sony Walkman series. But even the reasonably-priced ones are almost the cost of a smartphone and, well, I carry my phone everywhere.

It’s interesting, therefore, to see Warren Ellis’ newsletter shoutout being responded to by Marc Weidenbaum. It seems they both have dedicated ‘music’ screens on their smartphones. Personally, I use an Android launcher that makes that impracticle. Also, I tend to switch between only four apps: Spotify (I’ve been a paid subscriber for 13 years now), Auxio (for MP3s), BBC Sounds (for radio/podcasts), and AntennaPod (for other podcasts). I don’t use ‘widgets’ other than the player in the notifications bar, if that counts.

Source: Central Listening Device | Disquiet