The Psychology of Fascism

Hits: 784

Some recent studies have reminded us of the characteristics of fascist movements and individuals, particularly as they manifest among politically active fascists. For example, in his recent book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us And Them Professor Jason Stanley has identified ten characteristics shared by fascists which have been simply presented in the article ‘Prof Sees Fascism Creeping In U.S.’

These characteristics, readily evident in the USA, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere today, include belief in a mythic (false) past, propaganda to divert attention and blame from the true source of corruption, anti-intellectualism and a belief in the ‘common man’ while deriding ‘women and racial and sexual minorities who seek basic equality as in fact seeking political and cultural domination’, promotion of elite dogma at the expense of any competing ideas (such as those in relation to freedom and equality), portrayal of the elite and its agents as victims, reliance on delusion rather than fact to justify their pursuit of power, the use of law and order ‘not to punish actual criminals, but to criminalize “out groups” like racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities’ which is why we are now ‘seeing criminality being written into immigration status’, and identification of “out groups” as lazy while attacking welfare systems and labor organizers, and promoting the idea that elites and their agents are hard working while exploited groups are lazy and a drain on the state.

In an earlier article ‘Fascism Anyone?’, published in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry Magazine, Professor Laurence W. Britt identified fourteen shared threads that link fascists. These include powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, disdain for the importance of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats (such as communists, socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals and ‘terrorists’) as a unifying cause, obsession with national security and avid identification with the military, sexism, a controlled/compliant mass media that promotes the elite agenda, a manufactured perception that opposing the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion, corporate power protected by the political elite while the power of labor is suppressed or eliminated, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, expanded police power and prison populations in response to an obsession with the crime and punishment of ordinary citizens (while elite crimes are protected by a compliant judiciary), rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections defended by a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Offering a more straightforward characterization of fascism in the US context, which also highlights its violence more explicitly than the characterizations above, the eminent Norwegian peace research scholar Professor Johan Galtung explains it thus: ‘US Fascism? Yes, indeed; if by fascism we mean use of massive violence for political goals. US fascism takes three forms: global with bombing, droning and sniping all over; domestic with military weapons used across race and class faultlines; and then NSA-National Security Agency spying on everybody.’ See ‘The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?’

Among other recent commentaries, one draws attention to a recent fascist gathering in the USA – see ‘Davos For Fascists’ – another to the ways in which fascism, under various names, is being effectively spread – see ‘How the new wave of far-right populists are using football to further their power’ – and another warns of focusing too narrowly on one issue and missing the wider threat that fascism poses. See ‘Fascism IS Here in USA’.

In any case, for those paying attention to what is happening in places like the United States, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere, it is easy to see that the rush to embrace fascism is accelerating.

But why? Surely, in this ‘enlightened’ age, notions such as freedom, democracy, human rights and equality are deeply embedded in our collective psyche, particularly in the West. We believe that elections should be, and are, ‘free and fair’ and not determined by corporate donations; we believe that the judiciary is independent of political and corporate influence. But are they?

Well, in fact, the evidence offered by the casual observation of events in the places mentioned above, as well as elsewhere around the world, tells us that none of this is any longer, if it ever was, the case. Let me explain why.

Fascism is a political label but, like any such label, it has a psychological foundation. That is, the political behavior of those who are fascists can be explained by understanding their psychology. Of course, all behavior can be explained by psychology but I will focus on the psychology of fascist behavior here.

There have been attempts to understand and explain the psychology of fascism, starting with the early work of Wilhelm Reich in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. So what is the psychology of individuals who are fascists?

You might not be surprised to read that the psychology of fascists is complex and is a direct outcome of the nature of the extraordinary violence to which they were subjected as children.

The Psychology of Fascists

Let me briefly identify the psychological profile of fascists and the specific violence (‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) that generates a person with this psychology. For a thorough explanation and elaboration of this profile, and explanations of the terms ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

First, fascists are terrified and they are particularly terrified of those individuals who perpetrated violence against them when they were a child although this terror remains unconscious to them. Second, this terror is so extreme that fascists are too terrified to consciously identify to themselves their own perpetrator (one or both parents and/or other significant adults who were supposed to love them) and to say that it is this individual or individuals who are violent and wrong.

Third, because they are terrified, they are unable to defend themselves against the original perpetrator(s) but also, as a result, they are unable to defend themselves against other perpetrators who attack them later in life. This lack of capacity to defend themselves leads to the fourth and fifth attributes – a deep sense of powerlessness and a deep sense of self-hatred. However, it is too terrifying and painful for the individual to be consciously aware of any of these feelings/attributes.

Sixth, because they are terrified of identifying that they are the victim of the violence of their own parents (and/or other significant adults from their childhood) and that this violence terrified them, fascists unconsciously delude themselves about the identity of their own perpetrator. They will unconsciously identify their ‘perpetrator’ as one or more individuals of whom they are not actually afraid from an existing ‘legitimized victim’ group such as children or people from a different gender, race, religion or class. This is also because their unconscious terror and self-hatred compels them to project onto people who are ‘controllable’ (because their original perpetrators never were). For this reason, their victims are (unconsciously) carefully chosen and are always relatively powerless by comparison.

This is easy to do because, seventh, children who become fascists have been terrorized into accepting a very narrow-minded and dogmatic belief set that excludes consideration of those in other social (including gender, racial, religious or class) groups. The idea that they might open-mindedly consider other beliefs, or the rights of those not in the ‘in-group’, is (unconsciously) terrifying to them. Moreover, because they have been terrorized into adopting their rigid belief set, fascists develop an intense fear of the truth; hence, fascists are both bigoted and self-righteous. In addition, the belief set of fascists includes a powerful and violently reinforced ‘lesson’: ‘good’ means obedient; it does not mean intrinsically good, loving and caring.

Eighth, and as a result of all of the above, fascists learn to unconsciously project their self-hatred, one outcome of their own victimhood, as hatred for those in the ‘out-groups’. This ‘justifies’ their (violent) behavior and obscures their unconscious motivation: to remain unaware of their own suppressed terror and self-hatred.

Ninth, fascists have a compulsion to be violent; that is, they are addicted to it. Why? Because the act of violence allows them to explosively release the suppressed feelings (usually some combination of fear, terror, pain, anger and powerlessness) so that they experience a brief sensation of delusional ‘relief’. Because the ‘relief’ is both brief and delusional, they are condemned to repeat their violence endlessly.

But the compulsion to be violent is reinforced by another element in their belief set, the tenth characteristic: fascists have a delusional belief in the effectiveness and morality of violence; they have no capacity to perceive its dysfunctionality and immorality.

And eleventh, the extreme social terrorization experience to which fascists have been subjected means that the feelings of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy, as well as the mental function of conscience, are prevented from developing. Devoid of conscience and these feelings, fascists can inflict violence on others, including their own children, without experiencing the feedback that conscience and these feelings would provide.

What Can We Do?

There is no simple formula for healing the badly damaged psychology of a fascist (or those who occupy a proximate ‘political space’ such as conservatives who advocate violence): it takes years of violent parental and adult treatment to create a fascist and so the path to heal one is long and painful, assuming the support for the individual to do so is available. Nevertheless, fascists can heal from the terror and self-hatred that underpin their psychology. See ‘Putting Feelings First’. And they can be assisted to heal by someone who is skilled in the art of deep listening. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Unfortunately, given their cowardice, fascists are unlikely to have the courage to seek the appropriate emotional support to heal. In the meantime, those of us so inclined must resist their violence and, ideally, this should be done strategically, particularly if we want impact against fascist national leaders. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

The good news is that we can avoid creating fascists. If you want to nurture a child so that they become compassionate and caring, live by their conscience and act with morality and courage in all circumstances, including when resisting fascists, then consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

You might also consider joining the worldwide movement to end all violence, fascist or otherwise, by signing the online pledge of  ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In essence: Fascists are terrified, full of self-hatred and powerless. But, too scared to feel their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness, they unconsciously project this as fear of, and hatred for, the people in one or more ‘legitimized victim’ groups, including their own children (thus creating the next generation of fascists). They then try to ‘feel powerful’ by seeking violent control over these people themselves or by seeking to have violent control exercised over these people by various ‘authorities’, ranging from school teachers and religious figures to the police, military and various corporate and government agencies.

No matter how much control they have over others, however, it is impossible to control their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness. So they are unconsciously and endlessly driven to seek (delusional) ‘relief’ by violently controlling those in legitimized victim groups. It is because their own children are the most immediately available ‘uncontrollable’ target that fascism is readily perpetuated.

Originally published on 2018-10-24

About the author: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

 
READ MORE!
Zagreb, Independent State of Croatia, 1941
The consumption of history seems to be more widespread than ever: from general-interest history magazines and historical dramas and documentaries to historical fiction, popular history seems, well, unprecedentedly popular. The evolution of the TV historian reflects this trend: where once real working historians who had written serious books hosted television programmes, these days they are as likely to be photogenic media presenters with minimal, if any, actual history qualifications. The attraction of history and being a historian are not hard to work out. In the public imagination, historians are usually considered to be intelligent, objective people, if a little eccentric, who tell ...
READ MORE
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II
World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering. The Violent American Century addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized ...
READ MORE
A Refugee Problem in Europe
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]Save
READ MORE
The First NATO: British and French Joint Aggressions in the Mid-19th Century
The two most militarily powerful nations in the West, both free to project naval power and maritime domination anywhere in the world, get together to punish and overthrow regimes they find guilty of human rights abuses and political repression in the name of human rights and promoting democracy: What could possibly go wrong?It is of course NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s new call for NATO, which has already over the past decade exercised its nation-building and promotion of enlightened regime policies with such brilliant success in Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan to spread its mantle of protection, enlightenment and peace over ...
READ MORE
George Soros’s False Flag Factories
Global hedge fund tycoon and political provocateur George Soros is leading a war of symbols, namely flags and banners either resurrected or conjured up by his myriad non-profit groups, to stir religious, racial, and ethnic tensions the world over. From the Serbian OTPOR! movement and its clenched-fist symbol adopted by protests groups around the world to the menacing black and white flag of the Islamic State, which first appeared during the Soros-backed «Arab Spring» rebellions, Soros’s «false flag» factories have been running at break-neck production speeds.Soros and his acolytes saw the importance of symbology in the writings of Gene Sharp ...
READ MORE
Why is Kosovo’s Rebellion Our War?
“What we are really talking about is a humanitarian disaster precipitated by the cold political calculus of an autocratic leader who has pursued a political strategy against his own citizens,” said U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, supreme allied commander in Europe.Gen. Clark’s target was Slobodan Milosevic. Yet his words might have been used by another American general named Robert E. Lee, about another “autocratic leader” named Abraham Lincoln.The day Clark made his statement bolstering the case for air strikes in Kosovo, the fall issue of Independent Review arrived. In a piece on Lincoln, “micromanager of the war effort,” scholar Thomas DiLorenzo ...
READ MORE
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review
THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATOAuthor:  Mahdi Darius NazemroayaClarity Press (2012)ISBN:  978-0-9852710-2-2 Pages:  411 with complete indexAvailable to order from Global ResearchThe world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and ...
READ MORE
Exporting Jihad: Bosnia and Kosovo
Bosnia and Kosovo are two of the biggest exporters of jihadists joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) from the Balkans. As The Cipher Brief reported last month, legacies of the Communist era and the wars of the 1990s – presence of foreign fighters, economic and physical destruction, a lack of funding to rebuild, and the near eradication of moderate Islamic institutions – paved the way for Islamic extremist groups to establish a foothold in both countries. Now, ISIS recruiters are targeting Bosnia and Kosovo, and many Bosnians and Kosovars have left to fight in Syria and ...
READ MORE
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
For the fourth year in a row, representatives of Croatia’s Jewish and Serbian communities, as well as anti-fascists, will boycott the official commemoration of the victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac on April 14.That means there will again be a separate, unofficial and much more well-attended commemoration for more than 83,000 Serbs, Roma, Jews and anti-fascists killed at the camp by the Croatian WWII fascist Ustasa movement, which will be held at the site on April 12.Representatives of the Roma community, Jasenovac’s second biggest victim group, will again attend both commemorations.For the fourth year in a ...
READ MORE
The “Pro-Western Revolution” in Ukraine has been a Fascist-infested Fraud
The great deception of “a real democracy” in the Ukraine, which the New York Times insisted on 31 March 2019, shows little sign of relenting. For five years, Western populations have been consistently misled through skewed and slanted reporting, assuring the readership that what is unfolding in Kiev is a “fledgling democracy”, as a Washington Post editorial further outlined on 6 April 2019.In reality it was a United States-funded coup d’état. During the months prior to Viktor Yanukovych‘s February 2014 ousting, elite American organizations bankrolled the “anti-government protests”, revealed as much in December 2013 by Victoria Nuland, then a high ...
READ MORE
NATO Attack on Serbian State TV Wiped from Record
On 23 April 1999, a NATO missile attack on Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) headquarters killed 16 employees of the state broadcaster. The forgotten war crime occurred during the Kosovo War (March 1998-June 1999), and was part of NATO’s aerial campaign alongside the US-backed Kosovo Liberation army, in opposition to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.In the aftermath of the attack there were no great public campaigns launched for the 16 murdered journalists and employees, no outpouring of emotion for those killed, no calls for solidarity and togetherness in the face of aggression. On the contrary the West justified this grievous ...
READ MORE
Falsifying History: The Holocaust and Greater Albania
History is in many ways a myth we create for ourselves. History is constantly falsified to justify wars and territorial claims. Albanian apologists have falsified the role Albania played in the Holocaust to justify an illegal US/NATO war against Serbia and to allow for the creation of a Greater Albania that would include the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija.The Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Albania are estimated at 591 from 1941 to 1944, when a Greater Albania was sponsored by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. There were 33 known families of Albanian Jews living in pre-war Albania. The largest Jewish ...
READ MORE
U.S. Conceals Thousands of Airstrikes in Middle East
On February 5, Military Times published a report stating that Washington has failed to publicly disclose potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The investigation reveals that in Afghanistan in 2016 alone, the U.S. air force carried out at least 456 bombings. The open-source report published by the Air Force Command doesn’t include these figures.According to the Military Times, the information was obtained from “Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups” and it shows that much of what the Pentagon has disclosed may be misleading or simply ...
READ MORE
Zionism and Israel
ZionismThe term Zionism is derived from the word Zion that in the Hebrew language and cultural-historical tradition of the Jews refers to the citadel (acropolis) of the city of Jerusalem but as well as to the Kingdom of Heaven. From the matter of politics, Zionism refers to the political-national movement of the European Jews in the very late 19th century for the very purpose to re-create a Jewish homeland in the form of a nation-state in the Middle East – Israel.[i]This Zionist movement was to the great extent expressed as a consequence of the European (mostly West European) anti-Semitic (better ...
READ MORE
Mother Teresa India Charity ‘Sold Babies’
A woman working at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has been arrested for allegedly selling a 14-day-old baby.Two other women employees from the centre have been detained and are being questioned about other possible cases.Police took action after the state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC) registered a complaint.The charity has not responded to BBC requests for comment.“We have found out that some other babies have also been illegally sold from the centre,” a police official told BBC Hindi’s Niraj Sinha. “We have obtained the names of the mothers of these babies and are further ...
READ MORE
Denying the Holocaust
Kosovo Albanian Muslims and their unthinking and duped supporters in the US are denying the Holocaust when they claim that Albanians rescued 100% of the Jews in Kosovo and in Albania. Albanian Muslims are Holocaust deniers like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yet Albanians are not ostracized. Why? Why are Albanian Muslims and their lackeys and stooges in the US allowed to get away with denying the Holocaust, with falsifying their role in the destruction of European Jews? The ignorance of the Albanian lobby is appalling. Albanian Muslims played a role in the Holocaust. Who claims this? Raul Hilberg, the founder of Holocaust studies and ...
READ MORE
An Idea of the Yugoslav Unification (3)
The Yugoslav Youth Movements The idea of the Yugoslav unification became a leading ideological force of several youth movements among all Yugoslavs either of those living in an independent Serbia and Montenegro or of those living in Austria-Hungary. Their political-ideological inspiration was a pan-Italian unification movement – Young Italy (La Giovane Italia), established by Giuseppe Mazzini in 1831 in France. The Yugoslav youth movements flourished between 1903 and 1914 by having different regional or other names but not exclusively ethnic ones in various Yugoslav lands like Omladina (Youth), Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia), Mlada Dalmacija (Young Dalmatia), etc.[1] The Austrian general of the ...
READ MORE
What is Power in International Relations?
Power in politicsPower is the ability to make people, states, movements, organizations, or things to do what they would not otherwise have done. It is a matter of fact that politics is seen to be about might rather than right.  It can be said that, in essence, politics is power or in other words, the ability of some international actor to get desired results of his/her political behavior by using whatever instruments (legal or not, moral or not, etc.). In the very broadest sense of its meaning, power can be understood as the ability to influence the results of certain ...
READ MORE
Hillary Clinton Wants to Do this Again — Now to Syria
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and President Obama — and some NATO partners) did it previously to Libya, and here was the result (as discussed by the retired British career diplomat Craig Murray, at his craigmurray.org.uk, who has kindly allowed me to distribute it to other newsmedia) [and I as editor will add a few clarifiers and questions in brackets] (and then afterward, I shall add my own comments); so, here is Craig Murray:This is the result of NATO bombing of Sirte to “enforce the no-fly zone” in Libya.When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a ...
READ MORE
The Name ‘Macedonia’ cannot Work
Although my grandfather, Josip Broz Tito, “gave” the name “Macedonia” to one of the six constituent republics of Yugoslavia, it is obvious that this act did not aim to create irredentist claims with its neighbors, with which Yugoslavia developed friendly relations and fruitful cooperation.For many years Skopje’s authorities had been presenting maps of “Greater Macedonia,” extending “the geographical and ethnic border of Macedonia” into Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Greece. Is that the model of regional cooperation that our friends in Skopje preach to follow?The European Union, the United Nations and the international community have invested considerable political and economic capital ...
READ MORE
How Holocaust Revisionists Remake History as Nationalist Sham
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II
A Refugee Problem in Europe
The First NATO: British and French Joint Aggressions in the Mid-19th Century
George Soros’s False Flag Factories
Why is Kosovo’s Rebellion Our War?
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review
Exporting Jihad: Bosnia and Kosovo
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
The “Pro-Western Revolution” in Ukraine has been a Fascist-infested Fraud
NATO Attack on Serbian State TV Wiped from Record
Falsifying History: The Holocaust and Greater Albania
U.S. Conceals Thousands of Airstrikes in Middle East
Zionism and Israel
Mother Teresa India Charity ‘Sold Babies’
Denying the Holocaust
An Idea of the Yugoslav Unification (3)
What is Power in International Relations?
Hillary Clinton Wants to Do this Again — Now to Syria
The Name ‘Macedonia’ cannot Work
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share