The Psychology of Fascism

Hits: 778

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!
Angelina Jolie and CNN Perpetuate Srebrenica Fake News Narrative
Long before Donald Trump successfully hung the “fake news” label on CNN, more discerning observers of the wars of the Yugoslav succession of the 1990s came to similar conclusions regarding the network’s news coverage of that tragedy. Headlined by Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s reporting, especially from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, showed a clear pro-Muslim, anti-Serbian bias, painting the conflict in stark black-and-white colors, where the Christian Serbs were always the “black hat” “aggressors,” perpetrators of “genocide” and such, while the Bosnian and Albanian Muslims were inevitably the “white hat” “victims,” in dire need of U.S. and Western “humanitarian” intervention to spare them from extermination at ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Under Nazi Germany: Nazi-Created Albanian Security Forces in Kosovo During the World War II
Greater Albania under Nazi GermanyDuring World War II, 35,000 to 40,000 Kosovo Albanians were recruited by Nazi Germany as part of the German occupation forces and security formations in Greater Albania, a state created by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini that included Kosovo-Metohija, western Macedonia, and territory from Serbia and Montenegro. In Albania, there were 30,000 Albanians who were in the German occupation forces. In 1941, the German occupation forces created a Kosovo Albanian Gendarmerie with headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica. In 1944, these forces were incorporated into the Skanderbeg Nazi SS Division. In 1942, Balli Kombetar organization battalions were established ...
READ MORE
Human Rights Violations: North Korea vs the U.S.
UN Third Committee Resolution L.23 IN, Legitimizes Stranglehold Economic Sanctions., Used as a Means to "Obliterate" North KoreaOn November 15, 2016 the United Nations Third Committee adopted the resolution:  “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea".Among the co-sponsors of the Resolution were United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, etc.Disassociating themselves from the resolution, which they denounced as invalid, were China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and three other countries opposed to the biased character and double standards that typify “country-specific” resolutions.  The so-sponsors of this resolution are themselves guilty of  criminal human rights violations.The very ...
READ MORE
The Killing of History
One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.  Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its ...
READ MORE
Balkan ‘Genocides’ are not to be Questioned
Genocide accusations are, it would seem, the latest fashion spreading out of the Balkans. On December 5, a former minister in the “government” of NATO occupied and administered Kosovo, Ivan Todosijević, who happens to be an otherwise occupation friendly and cooperative ethnic Serb, was sentenced to a two-year prison term. The court found him guilty of making what it considered the outrageous claim that the so-called genocidal “Račak massacre,” which in 1999 triggered NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, was an imposture. Since the trial began just two days before, by Balkan standards the swiftly reached verdict was remarkably expeditious, suggesting the ...
READ MORE
Saudi Arab Islamist beheading Serbs in Bosnia in 1992
The conflict that raged throughout the former Yugoslavia was met by a wall of silence when it came to important issues. These important issues apply to America and the United Kingdom supporting Islamists in a brutal civil war in Bosnia and then installing a new nation by ignoring international law in Kosovo. Also, is it credible to believe that the vast majority of major news agencies and national governments did not know about thousands of Islamists in Europe who were sent to slit the throats and behead Orthodox Christians? After all, if the reality of what really happened in Bosnia and ...
READ MORE
Kosovo’s Conflict: A Devastating Precedent in International Relations
During the last decade of 20th century, leading “analysts” of the New World Order were presenting the Kosovo’s issue as a democratic matter rather than a historical and geopolitical dispute. It was perceived as a political case in which one ethnic minority (Albanians) was oppressed by a “non-democratic regime” of Slobodan Milošević.The refusal of the Rambouillet Accords by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, served as a justification for the unilateral action against Yugoslavia in March, 1999. The Rambouillet Accords called for:1) NATO administration of Kosovo as an autonomous province within Yugoslavia;2) A force of 28,000 NATO troops to maintain order ...
READ MORE
Political Language Explained
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & 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.
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
The Demonizing of a Nation
For centuries, the strategic Balkan Peninsula has featured as a slice of Europe over which wars have been fought, treaties made and broken. It became a vital pawn in the carve-up of nations after World War i, had the boundaries of its ethnic enclaves confused under Tito’s regime, then its various nationalist feelings taken advantage of and played against each other in the latest push for its colonization by the EU. In this latest process, one nation has been demonized in the mind of the public: Serbia. In the words of British political economist Rodney Atkinson, “The grossest calumny in the continuing ...
READ MORE
The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves
They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.We don’t really need to go through all of the ...
READ MORE
Jomo Kenyatta on Africa and Europe
Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1891 – 22 August 1978) was a Kenyan politician and the first President of Kenya. Kenyatta was the leader of Kenya from independence in 1963 to his death in 1978, serving first as Prime Minister (1963–64) and then as President (1964–78). He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation. Kenyatta was a well-educated intellectual who authored several books, and is remembered as a Pan-Africanist. He is also the father of Kenya's fourth and current President, Uhuru Kenyatta (Source: Wikipedia)Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate ...
READ MORE
EuroMaidan Ukraine – (Selection of the Best Photos)
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"]SaveSaveSave
READ MORE
Five Facts about Kosovo the #Fakenews Media is Lying to You about
1. Kosovo is not ancient Albanian landIts very name comes from the Serbian word “kos,” meaning blackbird. Its Albanian name, “Kosova,” means nothing whatsoever.Kosovo was the heartland of medieval Serbian state and the site of the 1389 battle in which both the Serbian prince and the Ottoman sultan died, checking the Turkish expansion into the Balkans for almost 70 years. Ethnic Albanians were settled there by the Ottomans over the intervening centuries, and became a majority due to pogroms and persecution of Serbs – which began under Ottoman rule but continued under Austro-Hungarian occupation in WWI and German/Italian occupation in ...
READ MORE
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister
A news compilation on New Cold War.org on March 8, 2017 reported the controversy that has broken out in Canada surrounding the family history of Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her maternal grandfather edited two pro-German newspapers in Poland and Austria during World War Two. He and his family settled in Canada after the war. The minister told a March 6 press conference in Ottawa that inquiries into her family history constitute a ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign directed at her and the Canadian government. The minister as well as sympathetic journalists state that the ‘disinformation’ has been aided and abetted by ...
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
Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West was Checkmated
A quick review of Ukraine,  Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West Was Checkmated is simple – this amazing work should be in everyone’s reading library.  Anyone who cares to understand the situation of what has happened, and is happening in Ukraine needs to read this book.  It covers the history of the dissolution of the USSR, the resulting creation of Ukraine, and the history of the U.S.’ attempts through various government and non-government organizations (e.g. Soros) towards the first failed colour revolution (Orange, 2004), then on towards the second attempt resulting in the successful installation of the noenazi puppet ...
READ MORE
Croatian Ministers Salute Criminals and Dishonour the Dead
Last week was marked by the moral acrobatics of two Croatian ministers – War Veterans’ Minister Tomo Medved and Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic – who publicly endorsed two convicted Croatian war criminals, Tomislav Mercep and Mirko Norac. A WWII Independent State of Croatia in which 700.000 Serbs were brutally killed Croatian news site Index reported last week that Mercep, who is serving a prison sentence, spent a total of 45 days at a spa instead of in jail this year and last year. As Mercep is a Croatian war veteran, Medved said he vouched for him as worthy recipient of the spa ...
READ MORE
Turkish Position at the “Southern Wing” of the NATO and Turkey’s Relations with the EU
The present-day Republic of Turkey is a legal successor state of the former Ottoman Empire (Sultanate). The Republic was founded and proclaimed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on October 29th, 1923 as a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the lost WWI. A republican Turkey originally was based on the following six principles:Republicanism – Republic instead of a monarchical sultanate.Nationalism - An aggressive anti-minority policy within the state especially against the Kurds.Populism – It was attended in the atmosphere of the absence of a multiparty democracy to gather as much as popular support for the one-party political system.Statism ...
READ MORE
The US/NATO Orchestration of the 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine
Contents 1. NATO is born from the Bomb2. In the post-Cold War, NATO is renewed3. NATO demolishes the Yugoslav state4. NATO expands eastward to Russia5. US and NATO attack Afghanistan and Iraq6. NATO demolishes the Libyan state7. The US/NATO War to Demolish Syria8. Israel and the Emirates in NATO9. The US/NATO orchestration of the coup in Ukraine10. US/NATO escalation in Europe11.  Italy, the aircraft carrier on the war front12. US and NATO reject the UN treaty and deploy new nuclear weapons in Europe13. US and NATO sink the INF Treaty14. The Western American Empire plays the war card15. The US/NATO planetary war system16. Exiting the war system of NATO1. The operation conducted by the USA and ...
READ MORE
Angelina Jolie and CNN Perpetuate Srebrenica Fake News Narrative
Kosovo Under Nazi Germany: Nazi-Created Albanian Security Forces in Kosovo During the World War II
Human Rights Violations: North Korea vs the U.S.
The Killing of History
Balkan ‘Genocides’ are not to be Questioned
Bosnia and Kosovo: Radical Islam, Organ Trafficking and Western Mainstream Media Bias
Kosovo’s Conflict: A Devastating Precedent in International Relations
Political Language Explained
Kosovostan Albanian Monstrous Crimes
The Demonizing of a Nation
The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves
Jomo Kenyatta on Africa and Europe
EuroMaidan Ukraine – (Selection of the Best Photos)
Five Facts about Kosovo the #Fakenews Media is Lying to You about
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister
US Had a ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism in 1930s
Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard – How the West was Checkmated
Croatian Ministers Salute Criminals and Dishonour the Dead
Turkish Position at the “Southern Wing” of the NATO and Turkey’s Relations with the EU
The US/NATO Orchestration of the 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share