Oct 28, 2016

On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions
Sections                                                                     crisis index

About definitions of "fascism" and other terms
2. About 21 "definitions" of fascism
3. Some intermittent conclusions

4. A reasonable definition of "fascism"
5. A reasonable definition of "neofascism"
    P.S. on propaganda and surveillance


This is a Nederlog of October 28, 2016. It is part of the crisis series, but is special in that it explicitly considers no less than 21 definitions of the term "fascism" and also several items on the term "neofascism".

I do end up with two definitions of myself, one for fascism and one for neofascism, and if you are not interested in social theorizing you may check these two definitions (under the last two links) and not read the rest.

Those interested in social theorizing are adviced to read all, simply because (i) fascism was a social system that existed from 1922 till 1945, and (ii) because neofascism may become a social system in the USA and Europe quite soon now, while (iii) especially fascism, which has been studied quite a lot, also has been defined in quite a few often rather different ways.

1. About definitions of "fascism" and other terms

This Nederlog is given to considerations of quite a few definitions of the terms "fascism" and will give my own definitions of "fascism" and "neofascism", but it starts here with a few brief remarks about definitions:

By a definition I mean: a statement
to the effect that in certain conditions C a term A may be replaced by a term B and conversely without making any difference in the truth or falsity of the statement(s) in which the substitution(s) are made.

This seems the clearest basic definition of "definition". Two normal reasons to justify this are that, in those conditions C, the meaning of A and the meaning of B are the same, or A is just a conventional abbreviation for B, with the same import. The reason this is then a formally valid inference is that terms with the same meaning have the same denotations, and hence statements P and Q that are all the same except that P has at one or more place a definition of A  instead of A itself must have the same truth-value in the same conditions C.

I will presume this (brief and incomplete) definition of "definition" because it makes logical sense, and indeed I also accept the two reasons for the basic definition of "definition": Two terms that are defined to be the same must be intersubstitutable (in all contexts that satisfy C) without making a change in the truth-values of the propositions in which they are replaced.

But this is all that I presume now about definitions.

The rest of this essay is given to four sections: Section 2 lists and briefly discusses no less than 21 definitions of "fascism"; section 3 argues (briefly) that only 6 of these are minimally adequate as definitions of fascism; section 4 gives my own definition after a precisification on definitions for "fascism"; and section 5 gives my own definition of the term "neofascism" and briefly discusses the differences with the earlier definition of "fascism". There also is a brief P.S. on  the reason surveillance is not mentioned in my definition of "neofascism".

Incidentally, section 2 is by far the longest section in the essay, but should be interesting for those interested in social theorizing in general or in fascism in particular (for whatever reasons).

In case you merely want to see my definitions (which both are derived - mostly - from the 21 definitions in section 2), here are the links: fascism and neofascism.

2. About 21 "definitions" of fascism

Because both "fascism" and "neofascism" have been much contested, there are quite a few different meanings for either term. And because I want to give a reasonably based overview of quite a few definitions of fascism and of neofascism I decided to base the present article on this Wikipedia lemma:

Since Wikipedia changes regularly, I have uploaded the version I've used to my site, indeed with the explicit proviso that I've used this version of the article, and not others.

I also will be mostly concerned with the first item - definitions of fascism - although I will end with a consideration of neofascism (as I prefer to write, that is without a hyphen).

But before considering the diverse definitions (or attempted definitions: many are not what I consider proper definitions - and see section 1) I will give two definitions (also) from other sources.

Definition 1: The first is by George Orwell (<-Wikipedia) (from 1944, known to me since the 1970ies, and with bolding added by me):

...the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else ... Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathisers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

In fact, this does also occur in the Definitions of fascism - and is specifically and correctly put under the heading "Fascism as insult" - but I list it here because I knew this "definition" (actually, it is hardly one, but I let that pass) very much earlier than I knew Definitions of fascism, and also because it was personally relevant to me, in a rather solid sense:

I have been called "a fascist" and "a dirty fascist" from 1977 till around 1989 in the University of Amsterdam (mostly in the beginning of the stated period) for absolutely no good reason at all, other than that I was called that by what were often (I think) members of the Dutch Communist Party, and nearly always or always by members of the student party the ASVA, and I was called so because I had replied (quite politely also) that I knew Marx but preferred Peirce as a philosopher. [1]

Nobody who called me "a fascist" knew me personally; nobody knew anything about me (notably not that both my parents were communists since before WW II, and that my father and grandfather had been arrested in June of 1941, and been put in the concentration camp (by Dutch collaborating judges) as "political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive) - but all who said so (sometimes screaming it together with others) meant it seriously, and what they hated and despised about me was that I was neither a Marxist nor a communist. [2]

In fact, this is also the reason why I disagree (somewhat) with Orwell's synonym of "bully" for "fascist": I was not a bully. I agree quite a few nominal fascists also are nominal bullies, but even so, I would suggest that a better term than bully might be "somebody worthy to be hated and despised because he does not believe what the speaker does believe".

This description is also not quite adequate or correct, but since I had in fact decided that what those who called me "a fascist" simply wanted to insult me and did not and could not insult me as "a bully", I think it is satisfactory enough.

Finally about this definition of fascism as an insult: While it is intellectually quite insufficient, I agree with Orwell that this is very often what one means and wants to say if one calls another "a fascist": That he (or she) is hateworthy and despicable and deserves to be insulted. (And certainly that was the reason I was called a fascist.)

Defintion 2: The second definition is by The American Heritage Dictionary (<- Wikipedia) from the year 2000, and is quite good in my eyes. I will call this a socio-political and economical definition:

Fascism a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
-- The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed., 2000

I think this is a quite good definition, which is also why it is placed second, after that of of Fascism as an insult (which does correspond to its most common usage).

Definition 3: The third definition was given by Georgi Dimitrov (<-Wikipedia). In fact, I know this definition (or one like it) from the 1960ies onwards, for Dimitrov - who was a Bulgarian communist who defended himself in the trial about the Reichstag fire in the 1930ies - was admired by my father, and was the probable main reason that my father became a member of the Dutch CP in 1935 [3] (bolding added by me):
"Fascism is an open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of the financial capital... Fascism is neither the government beyond classes nor the government of the petty bourgeois or the lumpen-proletariat over the financial capital. Fascism is the government of the financial capital itself. It is an organized massacre of the working class and the revolutionary slice of peasantry and intelligentsia. Fascism in its foreign policy is the most brutal kind of chauvinism, which cultivates zoological hatred against other peoples."

In fact, my father gave another and somewhat better definition of fascism, but it was related to the given one.

And I'd say it is better and briefer defined thus: Fascism is a terrorist dictatorship by the imperialists, and is the government of the financial capitalists; it is counterrevolutionary, against the working class, and is explicitly racist.

Then again, this is still not explicit enough in the ways definition 2 is.

Definition 4: In fact, this is not a definition, but a list of criterions put forward by Umberto Eco (<-Wikipedia). There are eleven of them, and I will list them all, but in an
abbreviated form:
  • "The Cult of Tradition"
  • "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake"
  • "Disagreement Is Treason"
  • "Fear of Difference"
  • "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class"
  • "Obsession with a Plot"
  • "Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy"
  • "Contempt for the Weak"
  • "Selective Populism"
  • "Newspeak"
  • "Non-truths & Lying/Spread of Propaganda"
This is a decent list of various interests, concerns and characteristics of fascists. It is not a definition, and it also is a bit "too psychological" for my tastes, but the reason for this is that Eco did not study the classical fascisms of Spain, Italy and Germany, and was concerned with "the modern form" of fascism.

Definition 5: This is by the American rightist John T. Flynn (<-Wikipedia),  and is from 1944. It is mostly based on Mussolini's Italy. There is more in the Wikipedia, but here I give this definition (that does not appear, as such, in the Wikipedia):
Fascism is an anti-socialist social system, that is also anti-capitalist, involves direct economic planning, uses corporatism, is militaristic and imperialistic, and has suspended the rule of law.
I'd say this is not bad if partial, if indeed it is also limited to Mussolini's Italy, but it is not a really good definition.

Definition 6: This is by Emilio Gentile (<-Wikipedia). It is not a definition, but I think the ten criterions Gentile selected are quite good. Here they are, in a shortened form and with boldings added (to read all, click on the Definitions of fascism):
  1. a mass movement with multiclass membership organized as a party militia, that aims at conquering a monopoly of political power by using terror, parliamentary politics, and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys parliamentary democracy;
  2. an 'anti-ideological' and pragmatic ideology that proclaims itself antimaterialist, anti-individualist, antiliberal, antidemocratic, anti-Marxist, is populist and anticapitalist in tendency;
  3. a culture founded on mystical thought and the tragic and activist sense of life conceived of as the manifestation of the will to power;
  4. a totalitarian conception of the primacy of politics,
  5. a civil ethic founded on total dedication to the national community, on discipline, virility, comradeship, and the warrior spirit;
  6. a single state party;
  7. a police apparatus that prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by using organized terror;
  8. a political system organized by hierarchy of functions named from the top and crowned by the figure of the 'leader,';
  9. corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty;
  10. a foreign policy inspired by the myth of national power and greatness, with the goal of imperialist expansion.
This is quite good, but is not a definition and it is rather long (there is more text in the Definitions of fascism: the above is a simplification).

Definition 7: The next definition is by Roger D. Griffin (<-Wikipedia) and can be stated in a single statement, with some explanations. This is one of three similar definitions in the Definitions of fascism article (bolding added):
Fascism is best defined as a revolutionary form of nationalism, one that sets out to be a political, social and ethical revolution, welding the ‘people’ into a dynamic national community under new elites infused with heroic values. The core myth that inspires this project is that only a populist, trans-class movement of purifying, cathartic national rebirth (palingenesis) can stem the tide of decadence
Indeed "palingenesis" refers to notions of national rebirth. In other words: Fascism is a kind of nationalism that is revolutionary, aims at a dynamic national unity led by new elites, and is populist and anti-decadent.

I think it is not bad, but it misses considerable amounts.

Definition 8: This is simply not a definition, at all. It is by F.A. Hayek (<-Wikipedia) and consists (in this presentation of his views, at least) mainly in insisting that fascism and socialism have similar intellectual roots, and that
"Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion."
In fact, I do not know why this is in the Definitions of fascism article: it really is neither a definition, nor in any sense adequate.

Definition 9: This is again not a definition, but a list of 13 extremely vaguely formulated criterions by Dmitri Kitsikis (<-Wikipedia): Nine of them start with the (very vague) phrase "The attitude towards" (women, tradition, rationalism, religion etc.) all without any specification of any attitude.

There is something there that makes some sense viz. "Private ownership, the circulation of money, the regulation of the economy by the state, the idea of ethnic bourgeois class, economic self-sufficiency
" but again it is neither precise enough, nor adequate for specifying fascism.

Definition 10: The next "definition" is by a French rightist (himself not - quite - a fascist), Charles Maurras (<-Wikipedia). He is quoted to the following effect (bolding added):
What in fact is Fascism? A socialism emancipated from democracy. A trade unionism free of the chains of the class struggle had imposed on Italian labour. A methodical and successful will to bring together in a same fascio all the human factors of national production ... A determination to approach, to threat, to resolve the worker question in itself ... and to unite unions in corporations, to coordinate them, to incorporate the proletariat into the hereditary and traditional activities of the historical State of the Fatherland.
This is an attempted definition, but it seems mostly a list of some criterions, that moreover mostly appear in "the future".

Definition 11:
The next "definition" is by Benito Mussolini
(<-Wikipedia) and again it is not a real definition, nor adequate, although it is somewhat interesting (bolding added):
We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State.

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.

...everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state.

This is somewhat interesting because Mussolini had the power for 21 years in Italy, and because it does mention a number of fascist tendencies:

Fascism is anti-individualist, collectivist and totalitarian; it turns around the state (and its leader, no doubt); the state is all embracing, indeed in the sense that "
everything [is] in the state, nothing [is] against the State, nothing [is] outside the state".

Then again, while I think this does state a number of important points, it is again neither a definition nor adequate.

Definition 12: This is a definition, by Ernst Nolte (<-Wikipedia):
"Fascism is anti-Marxism which seeks to destroy the enemy by the evolvement of a radically opposed and yet related ideology and by the use of almost identical and yet typically modified methods, always, however, within the unyielding framework of national self-assertion and autonomy."
However (1) this is clearly not adequate (compare definition 2), while also in the Wikipedia lemma on Ernst Nolte precisely the same definition is given as a definition of the relation between fascism and Marxism (which is something quite different from fascism).

I think that this is probably a lot closer to what Nolte meant to say, and so, once again, I don't know why this is among the
Definitions of fascism.

Definition 13:
This is by Sergio Pannunzio
(<-Wikipedia), who was an associate of Mussolini, and all we are told is that
...the spirit of fascism was National Syndicalism as formulated by Mussolini before the battle of Vittorio Veneto.
I say. Perhaps not very amazingly, Pannunzio started as a syndicalist, while that
"battle" was in 1918. But I do not comprehend why this is in
the Definitions of fascism.

Definition 14: The next definition is by Kevin Passmore. This is something like a definition, and it is not bad. I give it here partially: if you want to see all click on Definitions of fascism (bolding added):
Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community. Fascist nationalism is reactionary in that it entails implacable hostility to socialism and feminism, for they are seen as prioritizing class or gender rather than nation. (...) Fascists are pushed towards conservatism by common hatred of socialism and feminism, but are prepared to override conservative interests - family, property, religion, the universities, the civil service - where the interests of the nation are considered to require it. (...) All aspects of fascist policy are suffused with ultranationalism.
This is not bad but not sufficient interest is given to the economy, the state, corporatism, and dictatorship, or so it seems to me: Fascism is both an ideology and it existed, indeed for over 20 years in Italy, and for 12 years in Germany (if Nazism is a kind of fascism), and a good definition needs to incorporate both ideals and practices and institutions.

Definition 15: The next definition is a definition by Robert Paxton (<-Wikipedia) with bolding and the first two words added:
[Fascism is] a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
Robert Paxton is a political scientist and a historian, and since I got my degree as a psychologist (after having been removed from the right of taking a degree in philosophy, briefly before taking my M.A. in that subject) I can assure him this has too much psychology in it, and too little sociology, economics, and politics. I don't think this is adequate. (Compare definition 2.)

Definition 16: The next is not a definition, but a list of characteristics that may be used to define fascism. It is by Stanley G. Paine (<-Wikipedia):
  • A. Ideology and Goals:
    • Espousal of an idealist, vitalist, and voluntaristic philosophy, normally involving the attempt to realize a new modern, self-determined, and secular culture
    • Creation of a new nationalist authoritarian state not based on traditional principles or models
    • Organization of a new highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure, whether called national corporatist, national socialist, or national syndicalist
    • Positive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use violence and war
    • The goal of empire, expansion, or a radical change in the nation's relationship with other powers
  • B. The Fascist Negations:
    • Antiliberalism
    • Anticommunism
    • Anticonservatism (though with the understanding that fascist groups were willing to undertake temporary alliances with other sectors, more commonly with the right)
  • C. Style and Organization:
    • Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships and style and with the goal of a mass single party militia
    • Emphasis on aesthetic structure of meetings, symbols, and political liturgy, stressing emotional and mystical aspects
    • Extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance, while espousing a strongly organic view of society
    • Exaltation of youth above other phases of life, emphasizing the conflict of the generations, at least in effecting the initial political transformation
    • Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not the command is to some degree initially elective
I copied everything, because I think that these are good characteristics of various aspects of fascism and indeed the above list does give a fair and non- simplistic kind of view of what fascism is, and may well be used to give a fairly long but rather convincing definition of it.

Definition 17: The next item is not a (proper) definition and is by Franklin D. Roosevelt (<- Wikipedia) (bolding added):
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."
The first statement is true (and explains to a considerable extent why I am so much against the TTP, the TTIP, the CETA and the TISA: all are means of making multi-  national corporations much more powerful than states), but the second statement is not an adequate definition of either fascism or its essence, even if does represent something like a dictatorship (of one or the few) - but what is defined is more like an oligarchy rather than fascism.

Definition 18: The next item also is certainly not a definition. It is by John Weiss, and all we are told is that he "describes fascist ideas", such as these:
organicist conceptions of community, philosophical idealism, idealization of "manly" (usually peasant or village) virtues, resentment of mass democracy, elitist conceptions of political and social leadership, racism (and usually anti-Semitism), militarism and Imperialism.
I agree these ideas are in some sense fascistic, but the point was that I want an interesting and adequate definition of fascism, and that is (in this present- ation at least) not given.

Definition 19: The next item is called "Marxist definitions" (<- Wikipedia) and indeed one definition is given plus "nine fundamental characteristics of fascism". The definition (from 1935) is this (bolding added):
Fascism in power is the open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of finance capitalism.
My father (who was a Marxist for 45 years) would have recognized this and would have agreed. I don't think it is bad, but it is not complete (and I don't see the real intellectual point of all three "the most"s). And while I like the mentioning of "finance capitalism", I think my father quoted this definition with "monopoly capitalism" in its stead.

There is also a specification given, by Trotsky (that my father might have disagreed with had he known the source, but which also does correspond with what my father thought):
The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.
For me, this is too Marxistic but it does correspond to the experiences of my father (who  was arrested in 1941 and put in the concentration camp for being a communist (aka "political terrorist") according to his - collaborating, Dutch - judges), where he met very many communists and socialists from other European countries (most of whom died in the camps, from exhaustion, starvation or punishments).

Finally, the above definition + specification are not complete (also not according to most Marxists) and here is an additional list of "nine
fundamental characteristics of fascism".

I will give them all, but without their explanatory texts (which you can get by clicking on
Definitions of fascism, and I don't give them here in full mostly because of the length):
I think this is mostly correct (the source is the Encyclopedia of Marxism which is (very probably) from after WW II). I will return to this in the next section, but I also do want to quote parts of the texts that supplement the above points here.

First, there is this from the above item Hierarchy:
Fascist society is ruled by a righteous leader, who is supported by an elite secret vanguard of capitalists. Hierarchy is prevalent throughout all aspects of society – every street, every workplace, every school, will have its local Hitler, part police-informer, part bureaucrat – and society is prepared for war at all times. The absolute power of the social hierarchy prevails over everything, and thus a totalitarian society is formed. Representative government is acceptable only if it can be controlled and regulated, direct democracy (e.g. Communism) is the greatest of all crimes. Any who oppose the social hierarchy of fascism will be imprisoned or executed.
I think this is mostly correct, and quite important, in part because this describes what a fascist society would look like if one lived in it (and the above is clearly derived from Nazism).

To end this item, there is this from the
above item Capitalist:
Fascism exhibits the worst kind of capitalism where corporate power is absolute, and all vestiges of workers' rights are destroyed.
Again, my father would have recognized this and very probably would have agreed. And I note "corporate power".

Definition 20: There is this, which definitely is not a definition of fascism. This is by Linda & Morris Tannehill (<- Wikipedia) (bolding added):
Fascism is a system in which the government leaves nominal ownership of the means of production in the hands of private individuals but exercises control by means of regulatory legislation and reaps most of the profit by means of heavy taxation. In effect, fascism is simply a more subtle form of government ownership than is socialism.
Really, now? If so, all of the other writers in the Definitions of fascism are talking baloney. So no, this is definitely not a definition of fascism (even though I agree it is presented as one).

Definition 21:
I started with George Orwell and will end with George Orwell. Here is his (more serious) definition, from Why I Write:
Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes... It is a planned system geared to a definite purpose, world-conquest, and not allowing any private interest, either of capitalist or worker, to stand in its way.
This is also not a good definition (also not of Nazism): I am missing the ideology, the state, dictatorship, totalitarianism, lack of personal freedom, and the economy (apart from planning) in this definition.

3. Some intermittent conclusions

Having compiled the above list, that was based on
the Definitions of fascism, to which I refer you if you want more detail or read all of it, the first thing to do is to not consider the definitions (or "definitions", since many aren't real definitions) that I consider inadequate.

These are definitions 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20 and 21. I think I have said enough in section 1 and section 2 to justify these exclusions.

In any case, I think these "definitions" are mostly not very useful as definitions of fascism, but the reasons why not vary rather a lot, and I also do not think it a bad idea, if you are giving around 20 different definitions of the same term, to include some that have some popularity but are less useful than other definitions.

And indeed, from x definitions of the same term, there is probably but one that is the best, especially if the somewhat formal but quite reasonable demands on definitions that opened this essay are kept in mind.

So we are left with definitions 2, 3, 6, 11, 16 and 19, which is a considerable reduction, and this refers to the Dictionary definition, Dimitrov's, Gentile's, Mussolini's, Payne's and the Marxist's definitions.

4. A reasonable definition of "fascism"

Next, I am going to use my findings to compile - what I shall call - a reasonable definition of "fascism", and start by listing some formal characteristics such a definition must satisfy:

  • First, it must be a correct form of definition in the form of one or several statements that together form a minimal definition of the term:
    Lists of criterions may be interesting, but they are not sufficient to define a term, because (so I shall maintain, but not defend here) a definition and its defining terms should be interchangeable in many arguments, while both are true or both are false in all the contexts in which they are interchanged. (This also may show why a definition doesn't hold: if there are situations were one or the other of the defined and the defining terms holds but the other doesn't.)
  • Second, justice must be done to the fact that fascism and nazism are both (political) ideologies and were complete societies (in Italy and Germany, at least): there were fascist/nazist states for at least 33 years (supposing we take Nazism as a form of fascism): the politics, the economy, the social structure, and the ideals of a fascist society should all be mentioned somehow, in any minimally adequate definition of "fascism".
  • Third, once a reasonable definition has been given, it may be extended by a number of fundamental characteristics that all belong to it in the sense that any society or ideology that is called fascistic should also have these properties (though it may be that none of these properties is itself sufficient to define "fascism").

    Then again, any list of fundamental characteristics makes sense only on the basis of some minimal correct definition.
Here is the definition of fascism that I reached on the basis of the 21 definitions (partially or wholly) listed and briefly discussed in section 2 and section 3. It is most like definition 2, but it contains several important differences. Here it is:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
The differences between the above definition and definition 2 of the American Heritage Dictionary are these:

First, I define a social system much rather than a government, and next I explicitly list the characteristics of its government, its ethics, its politics, and its economy, and I use some more characteristics than definition 2 did, simply because I think authoritarianism, totalitarianism, anti-individualsm, anti-liberalism, anti-equality and rightism ought to be included, as should the fact that the economy is corporatist.

I think this is a reasonable definition, though I have one criticism: it is fairly long. There is one obvious cure: Quite a few of the given characteristic could have been put in a list of criterions that would follow the definition.

But I did not use that cure, mostly because I think a definition must be given (preferably) in the form of a statement that the defiendum has precisely the same properties as the definiens, and the two terms are intended to be substitutable for one another, salva veritate [4].

Finally, one more remark on corporatism: I gave a link above that links explicitly to "fascist corporatism", but within a lemma on corporatism. What is meant, in any case, may be formulated thus:

An economy is corporatist if (i) it is analyzed into several blocks that are more comprehensive than the individual firms that make up the blocks, and (ii) the resulting blocks are the main and first units through which the government deals with the economy.

Note that much depends on the distinctions of the blocks, and these may be distinguished in quite a few quite different ways.

5. A reasonable definition of "neofascism" 

Finally, I will define neofascism rather than neo-fascism [5].

There was less help available for this definition on the Wikipedia than there was for defining "fascism", in part because the lemma "Neo-fascism" only lists political groups in various countries without attempting any definition, and the same is true of the lemma "Neo-Nazism".

I did not find these last two lemmas helpful, but found the following long lemma "Fascism and ideology" quite good and interesting, also because it discusses the histories of fascism and nazism, and shows that there were quite a large number of (somewhat) different kinds of fascism.

And the following graphic was the most helpful item. It is by Chuck Spinney who bases it on texts by Mike Lofgren:

I find it quite interesting that both Spinney and Lofgren come from the Pentagon or the Republican Party. Also, I would say that the above "Winner-Take-All" constellation is in fact best described as a kind of fascism or neofascism.

And my definition of "neofascism" is as follows. I first state it and then briefly discuss its terms and the differences from my earlier definition of "fascism"

Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

This clearly derives from my definition of fascism, for it has a very similar structure and also considers the government ethics, politics, and economy that neofascists desire, while it shares quite a few of its characteristics.

But it differs in several important respects: First, it doesn't require a dictator, although it does require a centralized powerful authority; second, it doesn't resort to terrorism (of its own people) to the same extent as fascism; third, its ethics is quite different:

It simply makes profit the main norm (which also means it is strongly pro-rich and regards riches as a sufficient ground to consider a man better than a non-rich man); fourth, while it is still rightwing, nationalistic, capitalistic, anti-liberal, anti-equality and anti-leftist, it is less extremist rightwing than fascism (thus, while it is often racist, it doesn't make racism essential to it, and also it is often less totalitarian); and fifthly it does not see the (national) state as superior to everything, but it sees the multi- national corporations as superior to everything.

In other words, neofascism may be said to be an authoritarian rightist movement that is nationalistic, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, that is strongly profit-oriented and that considers the - profitable, well-functioning - multi-national corporations as its social ideal.

Here is a remark on the two main distinctions from fascism: The moral end of profits, and the ideal of multi-national corporations:

First, I grant both became part of my definition because I had considered both as highly characteristic of what I earlier defined as "corporate fascism", that is best represented here (but dates back to December 25, 2012). This is well worth reading (if you are interested in theories and rational explanations), but was much more concerned with explaining the crisis than explaining forms of fascism.

Second, there are good reasons to insist on profit as the moral end of the organized rich: It is very prominent in their propaganda, and indeed it is the main thing that greed and egoism - both of which are considered good and healthy and desirable by Ayn Rand - are after, in the present world.

Besides, it is clearly used in a moral sense: The more profits you make, the better you are, and conversely the less profits you make, the worse you are (which also results in a kind of ableism: only the able - especially those who make profits - are real men/real women), and indeed the best, who almost always are CEOs of multi-national organi- zations therefore have the right to receive milions or tens of millions each year for their services to their multi-national corporations.

Third, the reason to insist that multi-national corporations are the ideal of neofascists is in part due to Marxist definitions of fascism, that - correctly in my view - stressed the high importance of the economy in fascism, and in part to history that showed that states now either are or risk being made the subjects of many of the economical desires of multi-national corporations, which they also can't resist, because their once existing laws have been deregulated, and their powers - especially if small - are much less than the powers of multi-national corporations (that also generally do not need to do what states need to do to keep having authority, and who can only consult their number one motive: maximal profits).

P.S. on surveillance

Finally, there is one term that is quite important to neofascism, that I did not mention or discuss, and that is surveillance (<-Wikipedia) in the sense in which this is currently done by the NSA, the GCHQ, and very many other secret services of diverse nations, and also by very many commercial data-miners.

I think this is very important, but I have left it out of the present treatment of fascism and neofascism, because it exists some 15 years now, because it is in many ways still quite secret and not very well known by anybody who does not belong to governments or secret services, and because I think I can and should define both fascism and neofascism
initially without complicating matters by also considering surveillance.

Then again, I think surveillance is very important; it is, as it has been conducted for the last 15 years, a very strong way towards neofascism; and it is totallly anti-democratic.

There will be more on surveillance in later Nederlogs on fascism and neofascism.

[1] Incidentally, this happened several times (at least three times), and last time by the leader of the ASVA in the University Parliament in 1982, and also specifically for that reason. The leader of the ASVA reasoned as follows (quite explicitly, also): "Peirce was an American, everyone knows Americans are fascists, therefore he" - meaning me - "must be a fascist as well".

I also should say that by 1982 I was quite used to it (indeed because I was an opponent of the ASVA, who had nearly all the power in the university) but in 1977, when this happened for the first time, I was initially quite amazed.

But then I also rapidly concluded that all they wanted to do was insult me, simply because I did not believe like them: They acted and spoke as real totalitarians (and while they were quite wrong about my being a fascist, they were right that I opposed them).

In case you want to know why I didn't mention my background or my parents' (and grandparent's) communism: I believed (probably quite correctly) that those who called me "a fascist" were members of the Dutch CP, like my parents, but both my parents still lived in the 1970ies, I liked and respected them, and I did not want to bother them with the fanatic utter idiocies of some 20-year olds, and indeed I never did.

And in case you want to know why it took 12 years: I was ill since 1.1.1979, as was the woman I lived with, and I did not study all these years (in fact I stopped and started several times), simply for lack of energy.

[2] One of the things you have to understand here (which is quite difficult) is that the University of Amsterdam, like all Dutch universities, (i) had been given in 1971, by a parliamentary decision, to the students, with (ii) a formal parliamentary structure, with both a comprehensive University Parliament, that was supposed to rule the whole university, rather like parliament in society, and with Faculty Parliaments for each faculty, and (iii) with the rule that all and only members of the university could vote, and that all votes - of the students, of the secretaries, of the toilet cleaners, of the professors, and of the lecturers - all counted as one: "1 man, 1 vote".

It was especially rule (iii) that gave almost all power to the students, for the students were in the vast majority, and nearly all (in the 1970ies and 1980ies) were leftists. The rest of the power fell to the Board of Directors of the University, that in Amsterdam was always taken from members of the PvdA (Dutch social democrats, who in fact had most of the power in Amsterdam between 1948 and well after 2013). Since these were professionals in their forties of fifties, they had considerably more power than they seemed to have, but formally their actions in the university were all subject to the approval of the University Parliament.

[3] To explain (in part) why my father was much impressed by Dimitrov, here is a part from the Wkipedia's lemma on him:
During the Leipzig Trial, Dimitrov's calm conduct of his defence and the accusations he directed at his prosecutors won him world renown. On August 24, 1942, for instance, the American newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal, declared that in the Leipzig Trial, Dimitrov displayed "the most magnificent exhibition of moral courage even shown anywhere." In Europe, a popular saying spread across the Continent: “There is only one brave man in Germany, and he is a Bulgarian.”
[4] "Salva veritate" means (approximately) "with the same truth".

The general idea is that a good definition is of the form
      term1 = term2 & ... & termN         or else of the form
      proposition(Term1) IFF proposition(Term2 & ... & TermN)
(where "IFF" means "if and only if") and the identity or equivalence imply that the term or proposition on the left and on the right are everywhere (in arguments of kind C) intersubstitutable without making a change in the truth or falsity of the propositions in which they occur.

[5] The reasons for this are that there is a term neo-fascism (<-Wikipedia) but that article is restricted to a survey of political parties or groups in diverse countries, and does not give any definition (though I agree most of the groups that are treated seem inspired by and sympathetic to some form of fascism), and because I do want to use my own term with my own definition.

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