One dictionary defines fascism as, “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.” The first fascist party was founded by Mussolini in Italy in 1915. Its etymology is traced to the Latin word meaning a bundle of rods tied around an axe, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Today, the term, for many, immediately conjures up horrific images of storm troopers. But contemporary fascism has undergone a major wardrobe change. Could it happen here? Some see elements of it now with what is called populism, America First, coupled with a largely imagined past, Make America Great Again. The media are denounced as “the enemy of the people,” a phrase Stalin used. Critics of the Leader are bullied and insulted.
Chris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has covered wars in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central America. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig.com and is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of many books including Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, The World As It Is, and Wages of Rebellion.