Trump! The Fascistic Fascist of Fascism! Oh, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Supressing an urge to reference Super Furry Animals…

At mm:ss==34:14 of this CSPAN video, a member of the Irish Senate, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, made a speech in which he said:
What is happening in Britain and across Europe is appalling. It has echoes from the 1930’s. And America, …, has just elected a fascist.

A fascist? Fascist. Hmmmm. What is that? Hmmmm. The mind reels with possibilities and images. Words, too.

From pages 188 to 191, The Tyranny of Words, 1938, by Stuart Chase:

     Well, what does “fascism” mean? Obviously the term by itself means nothing. In one context it has some meaning as a tag for Mussolini, his political party, and his activities in Italy. In another context it might be used as a tag for Hitler, his party, and his political activities in Germany. The two contexts are clearly not identical, and if they are to be used one ought to speak of the Italian and German varieties as fascism1 and fascism2.
     More important than trying to find meaning in a vague abstraction is an analysis of what people believe it means. Do they agree? Are they thinking about the same referent when they hear the term or use it? I collected nearly a hundred reactions from friends and chance acquaintances during the early summer of 1937. I did not ask for a definition, but asked them to tell me what “fascism” meant to them, what kind of a picture came into their minds when they heard the term. Here are sample reactions:
Schoolteacher: A dictator suppressing all opposition.

Author: One-party government. “Outs” unrepresented.

Governess: Obtaining one’s desires by sacrifice of human lives.

Lawyer: A state where the individual has no rights, hope, or future.

College student: Hitler and Mussolini.

United States senator: Deception, duplicity, and professing to do what one is not doing.

Schoolboy: War. Concentration camps. Bad treatment of workers. Something that’s got to be licked.

Lawyer: A coercive capitalistic state.

Teacher: A government where you can live comfortably if you never disagree with it.

Lawyer: I don’t know.

Musician: Empiricism, forced control, quackery.

Editor: Domination of big business hiding behind Hitler and Mussolini.

Short story writer: A form of government where socialism is used to perpetuate capitalism.

Housewife: Dictatorship by a man not always intelligent.

Taxi-driver: What Hitler’s trying to put over. I don’t like it.

Housewife: Same thing as communism.

College student: Exaggerated nationalism. The creation of artificial hatreds.

Housewife: A large Florida rattlesnake in summer.

Author: I can only answer in cuss words.

Housewife: The corporate state. Against women and workers.

Librarian: They overturn things.

Farmer: Lawlessness.

Italian hairdresser: A bunch, all together.

Elevator starter: I never heard of it.

Businessman: The equivalent of the NRA.

Stenographer: Terrorism, religious intolerance, bigotry.

Social worker: Government in the interest of the majority for the purpose of accomplishing things democracy can not do.

Businessman: Egotism. One person thinks he can run everything.

Clerk: Il Duce. Oneness. Ugh!

Clerk: Mussolini’s racket. All business not making money taken over by the state.

Secretary: Black shirts. I don’t like it.

Author: A totalitarian state which does not pretend to aim at equalization of wealth.

Housewife: Oppression. No worse than communism.

Author: An all-powerful police force to hold up a decaying society.

Housewife: Dictatorship. President Roosevelt is a dictator, but he’s not a fascist.

Journalist: Undesired government of masses by a self-seeking, fanatical minority.

Clerk: Me, one and only, and a lot of blind sheep following.

Sculptor: Chauvinism made into a religious cult and the consequent suppression of other races and religions.

Artist: An attitude toward life which I hate as violently as anything I know. Why? Because it destroys everything in life I value.

Lawyer: A group which does not believe in government interference, and will overthrow the government if necessary.

Journalist: A left-wing group prepared to use force.

Advertising man: A governmental form which regards the individual as the property of the state.

     Further comment is really unnecessary. It is safe to say that kindred abstractions, such as “democracy,” “communism,” “totalitarianism,” would show a like reaction. The persons interviewed showed a dislike of “fascism,” but there was little agreement as to what it meant.

Did that help?

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