Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil has led to global handwringing about the emergence of ‘actual fascism’ in the fourth largest democracy in the world. In response, we republish Brendan O’Neill’s 2017 essay on what fascism really is.
It is probably futile now to argue for the proper use of the word fascism. To rail against the transformation of ‘fascist’ into a casual insult. To insist that fascism doesn’t mean ‘evil’ or ‘illiberal’ or even ‘demagogic’, but rather has a more specific meaning, and a more profound one.
The f-word has been destroyed through overuse, its original sense and power diluted by a million op-eds branding unpleasant politicians ‘fascists’ and by radical marchers hollering ‘fascist scum’ at anyone who irritates them: