[artinfo] Umberto Eco's 14 features of fascism

Molly Hankwitz mollyhankwitz at gmail.com
Sat Nov 26 11:22:42 CET 2016

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.

     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

     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

     7. The obsession with a plot. "The followers must feel besieged. The
        easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia."

     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

    This abridged list (available in full at [1]The New York Review of
    Books) comes to us from [2]Kottke, by way of blogger [3]Paul Bausch,
    who writes "we have a strong history of opposing authoritarianism. I'd
    like to believe that opposition is like an immune system response that
    kicks in."

         1. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/
         2. http://kottke.org/16/11/the-14-features-of-eternal-fascism

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