The Psychology of Fascism

Share

Hits: 776

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!
Stepan Bandera's monument in Buchach, Ukraine with the flag (right) of a neo-Nazi Ukrainian political organization
In late November 2013, the 'Euromaidan' in Kiev began as a popular protest against a generalized state of corruption and cronyism in Ukraine. The spark that ostensibly ignited the protests was the inability of then President Yanukovych to sign an EU Association Agreement that would cut Ukraine's economic and military ties to Russia in favor of a closer relationship with the EU and NATO.The EU had made the release of former Ukrainian prime minister and "gas princess" Tymoshenko a precondition for signing the agreement. But the fact that Tymoshenko was/is a convicted embezzler of state funds, combined with the rather ...
READ MORE
Article in Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others for Them
On the eve of President Obama's April 2016 visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Congress began debating the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), that would, inter alia, allow the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue the Saudi government for damages. Also in April 2016, the New York Times published that a 2002 congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks had found that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. The commission's conclusions, said the paper, were specified in a report that has not been released publicly.[1] ...
READ MORE
Documentary Movie: “God and Croats” (English Subtitle)
The Serb holocaust during the WWII in the Independent State of Croatia is not a misnomer, an accusation, and even less a speculation. It is an historical fact. Rabid nationalism and religious dogmatism were its two main ingredients. During the existence of Croatia as an independent Catholic State, over 700,000 men, women and children perished. Many were executed, tortured, died of starvation, buried alive, or were burned to death. Hundreds were forced to become Catholic. Catholic padres ran concentration camps; Catholic priests were officers of the military corps which committed such atrocities. 700,000 in a total population of a few ...
READ MORE
Eight Reasons Why Ukraine is New Yugoslavia
When the civil war in Ukraine started, the question that arised is whether there are similarities between Ukrainian and Yugoslavian civil wars. So let’s compare these two countries, one that is falling apart – Ukraine and the other one that doesn’t exist anymore – Yugoslavia.Multinational countryYugoslavia was a multinational country with different national and ethnic groups coexisting together and two dominant nations Serbs and Croats. Ukraine is also quite a diverse country with Ukrainians, Russians (around 20% of Ukrainian population) and few minorities (Rusyns, Romanians, Hungarians) living together. Once the Yugoslavia collapsed, in a newly created ex-Yugoslav republic Croatia and ...
READ MORE
The Vatican and Albanians in Kosovo
Does the Vatican know what the Albanian bishops in Novo Brdo are doing? – the question many Serbs asked these days.The Albanian Roman Catholic mass was Served in Serbian ancient town and mine, Novo Brdo, in Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Nikola. All was done secretly and illegally, as is usually done by those who are self-aware of the guilt, Albanian Roman Catholic bishops held a mass at the remains of the ancient Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novo Brdo, Kosovo and Metohija.The Mass, served by the Roman Catholic Bishop of so-called Kosovo Dodd Jerji and the Archbishop ...
READ MORE
The Birkenstock Bomber: When Bernie did Serbia
The most useful parable about progressives is that offered by Bernard Sanders, self-styled “socialist-progressive-independent” rep from Vermont. Sanders owes his political career to rage against the Vietnam War among radicals, many of whom moved into the state in the early 1970s. They forthwith planned a long-term, carefully organized, assault on Vermont’s two-party structure. Sanders linked his political ambitions to this effort to organize a third force, the Progressive Alliance. He became mayor of Burlington and, later, congressman.At a rapid clip the emphasis moved from party-building to Sanders-building. By 1994, it was apparent that the only movement B. Sanders was interested in ...
READ MORE
Mainstream Media: Fake News Through Lying by Omission
Fake news is simply a new, Trump-popularized descriptive for media lying that occurs in 2 basic forms, lying by omission and lying by commission. Lying by omission is far, far worse than lying by commission because the latter can at least admit refutation and public debate. Western Mainstream media impose a huge burden of fake news on Western societies through entrenched and pervasive lying by omission. Indeed the most egregious and pervasive Mainstream media lie of omission is suppression of reportage of such lying by omission. The unimpeded, remorseless, corporate-dominated Mainstream media, politicians and pliant intellectuals are now going further, and ...
READ MORE
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
On October 20, 2011, Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi was brutally murdered by a mob of NATO-backed ‘rebels’, after first being beaten and violated in the most barbaric fashion. History leaves no doubt that not only was the Libyan leader murdered on this day but Libya itself.The regime-change crew who dominate Western governments have a long indictment sheet against their names. Since 9/11 they have wrought havoc and human misery on a grand scale in their determination to reshape and own a world that has never been theirs to own. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – Syria currently embroiled in a pitiless conflict for ...
READ MORE
Kosovostan Albanian Monstrous Crimes
Serbian girl Jovana was only 11 years old when Albanian terrorists captured, beaten and detained her together with rest of the family. They were taken in a camp in the village of Klecka, Lipljan, along with her mother and grandmother. The camp was under direct rule and control of Fatmir Limaj (acquitted by the Hague cangaroo court) and Hashim Thaci. Hasim Taci used to visit the camp. One day little Jovana was taken by the Albanian KLA bandits, Luan and Bekim Mazrreku, who, before the eyes of her mother and grandmother raped the eleven years old girl. They tortured her, cutting her body ...
READ MORE
US Had a ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism in 1930s
While the typical narrative of American history positions the United States as a supporter of democracy and opponent of fascism which helped to defeat the Nazis, key figures in Washington also supported dangerous dictators in Italy and Germany in their early days of power.Noam Chomsky, the renowned political philosopher, historian and scholar, examined the flip side of U.S. opposition to dictatorship in a conversation with Zain Raza, a senior editor at the independent media outlet acTVism Munich. An excerpt from the conversation was published Sept. 30 as part of acTVism Munich’s “Reexamining History” series.Speaking to Raza about Italian dictator Benito ...
READ MORE
EU Demands Serbia to Help Kosovo During Coronavirus But Restricts Assistance of Bosnian Serbs
The Working Group for the Chapter 35 of the Serbian National Convention on the European Union (EU) has called for the authorities in Serbia and Kosovo to create a cooperation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.“We witness the coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) representing a great danger everywhere in the world and the health systems increasingly burdened with the number of infected patients. The pandemic has shown that the spread of the disease goes beyond borders, national and ethnic origin or religion of the affected, and can only be combatted through joint action, cooperation and solidarity. Cooperation is necessary primarily ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: What Everyone (Really) Needs to Know
Preface Kosovo is today one of the most disputed territories in Europe and a real Balkan powder keg which can explode again at any time. It is a province within the Republic of Serbia, recognized as such by both Serbia’s constitution and the Resolution 1244 by the Security Council of the United Nations (the UNSC Resolution 1244, June 10th, 1999). However, Kosovo parliament with a clear Albanian majority proclaimed the independence of Kosovo (without a referendum) in February 2008 that was recognized by the majority of the Western countries followed by their puppet clients all over the world (in reality, today ...
READ MORE
The 1929 Lateran Treaty: B. Mussolini’s Faith-Based Initiative
This Wednesday, February 11 [2009], will mark the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Treaty and related agreements, in which Benito Mussolini’s Italy recognized the Vatican as an independent state and showered it with money and other benefits. Mussolini got what he paid for. For well over a thousand years prior to 1929, Popes exercised absolute civil authority over central Italy, a region known as the “Papal States.” Their power was based on a document called the “Donation of Constantine,” in which the 4th century Roman emperor Constantine was supposed to have granted the successors of St. Peter control ...
READ MORE
Why America Needs War
GR Editor’s Note: This incisive article was written on April 30, 2003, by historian and political scientist Jacques Pauwels. A timely question: Why Does Hillary Want War… ? And why do people support her?  *     *     * Wars are a terrible waste of lives and resources, and for that reason most people are in principle opposed to wars. The American President, on the other hand, seems to love war. Why? Many commentators have sought the answer in psychological factors. Some opined that George W. Bush considered it his duty to finish the job started, but for some obscure reason ...
READ MORE
A Tale of Two Nations: Russia vs USA Economic Prospects
Taking the extraordinary USA and EU economic sanctions against Russia and low oil prices since 2014 into account, Russia’s economic outlook looks excellent going forward while that of Trump’s America looks bleak, to put it mildly. Paraphrasing the memorable 1992 Presidential candidates debate between a then-young William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush, “It’s the debt, stupid.” In the past few years too many US economists and analysts such as Moody’s Credit Rating have tried to dismiss the economy of the Russian Federation as a near-bankrupt Soviet-era oil and gas-dependent economy, devastated by the 2014 collapse in oil price. This is ...
READ MORE
Bellamy Salute in the U.S.
The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy, Christian socialist minister and author, to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the "flag salute". Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which had a similar form, and which was derived from the so-called Roman salute. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the ...
READ MORE
Jasenovac – the Glossed Over Auschwitz of the Balkans
Unfathomable as that may appear, yes, it was quite possible for the second-ranking slaughterhouse in Europe in recent memory to have slipped off the radar screen. Even such a renowned authority as Professor Gideon Greif is having an exceptionally difficult time of it in trying to put it back on.Precisely because it has not been the theme of any Hollywood spectaculars, Jasenovac does not attract any school excursions and textbooks are largely silent about it. Some background information on Jasenovac therefore seems like a good place to start.The Jasenovac death camp (1941 – 1945) is inextricably bound up with the ...
READ MORE
America’s Top Scientists Confirm: U.S. Goal Now is to Conquer Russia
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published a study, on 1 March 2017, which opened as follows: “The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing — boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three — and ...
READ MORE
Nightmare by Design: NATO’s Takeover of the Kosovo Town of Orahovac
IntroductionBelow are TENC's October 1999 interviews with three Serbian women from the Kosovo town of Orahovac. They recount how, prior to the June 1999 NATO-UN takeover of Kosovo, they believed NATO's promise that it would institute multi-ethnic harmony. They discovered too late that for NATO multi-ethnic meant rule by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).In September, TENC had published its first interview with an eye-witness to the NATO-UN Kosovo takeover: Cedomir Prlincevic, President of the Jewish community and Chief Archivist in Pristina, capital of Kosovo.Mr. Prlincevic described how he and the rest of the small Jewish  community were driven from their ...
READ MORE
New World Order: Muslims to be Majority in Europe within Two Generations
Within 40 years, given current demographic trends, the white population in France and the rest of old Europe will recede, creating a Muslim majority, a French researcher says.Charles Gave, an economist, fund manager and political commentator, published his conclusions this month on the webpage of his think tank, Institute des Libertes. He writes of the “disappearance of the European populations” as native populations shrink and Muslims continue to exhibit a robust fertility rate.Mr. Gave, president of Gavekal Research, acknowledges that his decidedly unpolitically correct view may bring him scorn and possibly censorship. The political left generally protects Islam from criticism. ...
READ MORE
Euromaidan: Anatomy of a Washington-Backed Coup D’etat
Article in Saudi Daily: U.S. Planned, Carried Out 9/11 Attacks – But Blames Others for Them
Documentary Movie: “God and Croats” (English Subtitle)
Eight Reasons Why Ukraine is New Yugoslavia
The Vatican and Albanians in Kosovo
The Birkenstock Bomber: When Bernie did Serbia
Mainstream Media: Fake News Through Lying by Omission
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Kosovostan Albanian Monstrous Crimes
US Had a ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism in 1930s
EU Demands Serbia to Help Kosovo During Coronavirus But Restricts Assistance of Bosnian Serbs
Kosovo: What Everyone (Really) Needs to Know
The 1929 Lateran Treaty: B. Mussolini’s Faith-Based Initiative
Why America Needs War
A Tale of Two Nations: Russia vs USA Economic Prospects
Bellamy Salute in the U.S.
Jasenovac – the Glossed Over Auschwitz of the Balkans
America’s Top Scientists Confirm: U.S. Goal Now is to Conquer Russia
Nightmare by Design: NATO’s Takeover of the Kosovo Town of Orahovac
New World Order: Muslims to be Majority in Europe within Two Generations
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share

About White Nettle

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published on this website. The views of the authors presented on this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government, or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically, or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu