1. About definitions of
"fascism" and other terms
2. About 21 "definitions" of fascism
3. Some intermittent conclusions
4. A reasonable
definition of "fascism"
5. A reasonable definition of "neofascism"
P.S. on propaganda and surveillance
This is a Nederlog of October 28, 2016. It is part of the crisis
series, but is special in that it explicitly considers no less than 21
definitions of the term "fascism" and also several items on the term
I do end up with two definitions of myself, one for fascism and one for neofascism, and if you are not
interested in social theorizing you may check these two definitions
(under the last two links) and not read the rest.
Those interested in social theorizing are adviced to read all, simply
because (i) fascism was a social system that existed from 1922
till 1945, and (ii) because neofascism may become a social
system in the USA and Europe quite soon now, while (iii) especially
fascism, which has been studied quite a lot, also has been defined in
quite a few often rather different ways.
definitions of "fascism" and other terms
Nederlog is given to considerations of quite a few definitions of
the terms "fascism" and will give my own definitions of
"fascism" and "neofascism", but it starts here with a few
brief remarks about definitions:
By a definition
I mean: a statement to the
effect that in certain conditions C a term A may be replaced by a term
B and conversely without making any difference in the truth or
falsity of the statement(s) in which the substitution(s) are made.
This seems the clearest basic definition
of "definition". Two normal reasons to justify this are that, in those
conditions C, the meaning
of A and the meaning of B are the same, or A is just a
conventional abbreviation for B, with the same import. The reason this
is then a formally valid
is that terms with the same meaning have the same denotations,
and hence statements P and Q that are all the same except that
P has at one or more place a definition of A instead of A itself
must have the same truth-value
in the same conditions C.
I will presume this (brief and incomplete)
definition of "definition" because it makes logical sense, and indeed I
also accept the two reasons for the basic definition of "definition":
Two terms that are defined to be the same must be intersubstitutable
(in all contexts that satisfy C) without making a change in the
truth-values of the propositions in which they are replaced.
But this is all that I presume now about definitions.
The rest of this essay is given to four sections: Section
2 lists and briefly discusses no less than 21 definitions
of "fascism"; section 3 argues (briefly) that only 6
of these are minimally adequate as definitions of fascism; section 4 gives my own definition after a
precisification on definitions for "fascism"; and section
gives my own definition of the term "neofascism" and briefly discusses
the differences with the earlier definition of "fascism". There also is
a brief P.S. on the reason surveillance is not
mentioned in my
definition of "neofascism".
Incidentally, section 2 is by far the longest section in the essay, but
should be interesting for those interested in social theorizing in
general or in fascism in particular (for whatever reasons).
In case you
merely want to see my definitions (which both are derived -
mostly - from the 21
definitions in section 2), here are the links: fascism and neofascism.
2. About 21 "definitions" of
Because both "fascism" and "neofascism"
have been much contested, there are quite a few different
meanings for either term. And because I want to give a reasonably
based overview of quite a few definitions of fascism and of neofascism
I decided to base the present article on this Wikipedia lemma:
Since Wikipedia changes regularly, I have
uploaded the version I've used to my site, indeed with the explicit
proviso that I've used this version of the article, and not others.
I also will be mostly concerned with the first
item - definitions of fascism - although I will end with a
consideration of neofascism (as I prefer to write, that is without a
But before considering the diverse definitions (or attempted
definitions: many are not what I consider proper definitions -
and see section 1) I will give two
definitions (also) from other sources.
Definition 1: The first is by George Orwell
(<-Wikipedia) (from 1944, known to me since the 1970ies, and with
bolding added by me):
...the word ‘Fascism’ is almost
entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more
wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers,
Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the
1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek,
homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women,
dogs and I do not know what else ... Except for the relatively small
number of Fascist sympathisers, almost any English person would accept
‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a
definition as this much-abused word has come.
In fact, this does also occur in the Definitions of fascism -
and is specifically and correctly put under the heading "Fascism as
insult" - but I list it here because I knew this "definition"
(actually, it is hardly one, but I let that pass) very much
earlier than I knew Definitions of fascism,
and also because it was personally relevant to me, in a rather
I have been called "a fascist" and "a dirty fascist"
from 1977 till around 1989 in the University of Amsterdam (mostly in
the beginning of the stated period) for absolutely no good
reason at all, other than that I was called that by what were often (I
think) members of the Dutch Communist Party, and nearly always or
always by members of the student party the ASVA, and I was called so
because I had replied (quite politely also) that I knew Marx but
preferred Peirce as a philosopher. 
Nobody who called me "a fascist"
knew me personally; nobody knew anything about me (notably
not that both
my parents were communists since before WW II, and that
my father and grandfather had been arrested in June of 1941, and been
put in the concentration camp (by Dutch collaborating judges) as
"political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive) -
who said so (sometimes screaming it together with others) meant it seriously,
and what they hated and despised about me was that I was
neither a Marxist
nor a communist.
In fact, this is also the reason why I
disagree (somewhat) with Orwell's synonym of "bully" for "fascist": I
a bully. I agree quite a few nominal fascists also are nominal
but even so, I would suggest that a better term than bully might
be "somebody worthy to be hated and despised because he does
not believe what the speaker does believe".
This description is also not quite
adequate or correct, but since I had in fact decided that what those
who called me "a fascist" simply wanted to insult me
and did not and could not insult me as "a bully", I think it is
Finally about this definition of fascism
as an insult: While it is intellectually quite insufficient, I
agree with Orwell that this is very often what one means and
wants to say if one calls another "a fascist": That he (or she) is
hateworthy and despicable and deserves to be insulted. (And
certainly that was the reason I was called a fascist.)
Defintion 2: The
second definition is by The
American Heritage Dictionary (<- Wikipedia) from the year
2000, and is quite good in my eyes. I will call this a
socio-political and economical definition:
Fascism a. A
system of government marked by centralization of authority under a
dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the
opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of
belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A political philosophy
or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 2.
Oppressive, dictatorial control.
-- The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th
I think this is a quite good definition,
which is also why it is placed second, after that of of Fascism
as an insult (which does correspond to its most common
Definition 3: The third
definition was given by Georgi Dimitrov
In fact, I know this
definition (or one like it) from the 1960ies onwards, for Dimitrov -
who was a Bulgarian communist who defended himself in the trial about
in the 1930ies - was admired by my father, and was the probable main
reason that my father became a member of the Dutch CP in 1935  (bolding
added by me):
"Fascism is an open
terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic,
the most imperialistic elements of the financial capital... Fascism is
neither the government beyond classes nor the government of the petty
bourgeois or the lumpen-proletariat over the financial capital. Fascism
is the government of the financial capital itself. It is an organized
massacre of the working class and the revolutionary slice of peasantry
and intelligentsia. Fascism in its foreign policy is the most brutal
kind of chauvinism, which cultivates zoological hatred against other
In fact, my father gave another and
somewhat better definition of fascism, but it was related to the given
And I'd say it is better and briefer defined thus: Fascism is a
terrorist dictatorship by the imperialists, and is the government of
the financial capitalists; it is counterrevolutionary, against the
working class, and is explicitly racist.
Then again, this is still not explicit enough in the ways definition 2
Definition 4: In fact, this is not a
definition, but a list of criterions put forward by Umberto Eco
(<-Wikipedia). There are eleven of them, and I will list them all,
but in an abbreviated form:
This is a decent list of various
interests, concerns and characteristics of fascists. It is not
a definition, and it also is a bit "too psychological" for my tastes,
but the reason for this is that Eco did not study the classical
fascisms of Spain, Italy and Germany, and was concerned with "the
modern form" of fascism.
- "The Cult of Tradition"
- "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake"
- "Disagreement Is Treason"
- "Fear of Difference"
- "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class"
- "Obsession with a Plot"
- "Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy"
- "Contempt for the Weak"
- "Selective Populism"
- "Non-truths & Lying/Spread of Propaganda"
Definition 5: This is by the
American rightist John
T. Flynn (<-Wikipedia),
and is from 1944. It is mostly based on Mussolini's Italy. There is
more in the Wikipedia, but here I give this definition (that does not
appear, as such, in the Wikipedia):
Fascism is an
anti-socialist social system, that is also anti-capitalist, involves
direct economic planning, uses corporatism, is militaristic and
imperialistic, and has suspended the rule of law.
I'd say this is not bad if partial, if indeed
it is also limited to Mussolini's Italy, but it is not a really
Definition 6: This is by Emilio Gentile
It is not a definition, but I think the ten criterions Gentile selected
are quite good. Here they are, in a shortened form and with
boldings added (to read all, click on the Definitions of
This is quite good, but is not a definition
and it is rather long (there is more text in the Definitions of fascism:
the above is a simplification).
- a mass movement with multiclass
membership organized as a party militia, that aims at conquering a
monopoly of political power by using terror, parliamentary politics,
and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys
- an 'anti-ideological' and pragmatic ideology
that proclaims itself antimaterialist, anti-individualist, antiliberal,
antidemocratic, anti-Marxist, is populist and anticapitalist in
- a culture founded on mystical
thought and the tragic and activist sense of life conceived of as the
manifestation of the will to power;
- a totalitarian conception of
the primacy of politics,
- a civil ethic founded on total
dedication to the national community, on discipline, virility,
comradeship, and the warrior spirit;
- a single state party;
- a police apparatus that
prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by
using organized terror;
- a political system organized by
hierarchy of functions named from the top and crowned by the figure
of the 'leader,';
- corporative organization of the
economy that suppresses trade union liberty;
- a foreign policy inspired by
the myth of national power and greatness, with the goal of imperialist
Definition 7: The next
definition is by Roger
D. Griffin (<-Wikipedia) and can be stated in a single statement, with some
explanations. This is one of three similar definitions in the Definitions of
fascism article (bolding added):
Fascism is best defined as
a revolutionary form of nationalism, one that sets out to be a
political, social and ethical revolution, welding the ‘people’ into a
dynamic national community under new elites infused with heroic values.
The core myth that inspires this project is that only a populist,
trans-class movement of purifying, cathartic national rebirth
(palingenesis) can stem the tide of decadence
refers to notions of national rebirth. In other words: Fascism is a
kind of nationalism that is revolutionary, aims at a dynamic national
unity led by new elites, and is populist and anti-decadent.
I think it is not bad, but it misses considerable amounts.
Definition 8: This is simply not
a definition, at all. It is by F.A. Hayek
(<-Wikipedia) and consists (in this presentation of his views, at least)
insisting that fascism and socialism have similar intellectual roots,
"Fascism is the stage reached
after communism has proved an
In fact, I do not know why
this is in the Definitions of
fascism article: it really is neither a
definition, nor in any sense adequate.
Definition 9: This is again not
a definition, but a list of 13 extremely vaguely formulated
criterions by Dmitri
Kitsikis (<-Wikipedia): Nine of them start with the (very
vague) phrase "The attitude towards" (women, tradition, rationalism,
religion etc.) all without any specification of any
There is something there that makes some sense viz. "Private
ownership, the circulation of money, the regulation of the economy by
the state, the idea of ethnic bourgeois class, economic self-sufficiency"
but again it is neither precise enough, nor adequate for specifying fascism.
Definition 10: The next
"definition" is by a French rightist (himself not - quite - a fascist),
Maurras (<-Wikipedia). He is quoted to the following effect (bolding added):
What in fact is Fascism?
A socialism emancipated from democracy. A trade unionism free of the
chains of the class struggle had imposed on Italian labour. A
methodical and successful will to bring together in a same fascio all
the human factors of national production ... A determination to
approach, to threat, to resolve the worker question in itself ... and
to unite unions in corporations, to coordinate them, to incorporate the
proletariat into the hereditary and traditional activities of the
historical State of the Fatherland.
This is an attempted definition, but it seems
mostly a list of some criterions, that moreover mostly appear in "the
Definition 11: The next "definition" is by Benito
Mussolini (<-Wikipedia) and again it is not a real definition, nor
adequate, although it is somewhat interesting (bolding added):
We are free to believe that this
is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a
Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual
(liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is
the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State.
The Fascist conception of the State is
all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist,
much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian,
and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all
values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.
This is somewhat interesting because
Mussolini had the power for 21 years in Italy, and because it does
mention a number of fascist tendencies:
...everything in the state, nothing
against the State, nothing outside the state.
Fascism is anti-individualist, collectivist and
totalitarian; it turns around the state (and its leader, no doubt); the
state is all embracing, indeed in the sense that "everything
[is] in the state, nothing [is] against the State, nothing [is] outside the state".
Then again, while I think this does state a number of important
points, it is again neither a definition nor adequate.
Definition 12: This is a
definition, by Ernst
"Fascism is anti-Marxism
which seeks to destroy the enemy by the evolvement of a radically
opposed and yet related ideology and by the use of almost identical and
yet typically modified methods, always, however, within the unyielding
framework of national self-assertion and autonomy."
However (1) this is clearly not
adequate (compare definition 2), while also in the Wikipedia lemma on
Ernst Nolte precisely the same definition is given as a
definition of the relation between fascism and Marxism (which
is something quite different from fascism).
I think that this is probably a lot closer to what Nolte meant to say,
and so, once again, I don't know why this is among the Definitions of
Definition 13: This is by Sergio
(<-Wikipedia), who was an associate of
Mussolini, and all we are told is that
...the spirit of fascism was National Syndicalism
as formulated by Mussolini before the battle of Vittorio Veneto.
I say. Perhaps not very amazingly, Pannunzio
started as a syndicalist, while that
"battle" was in 1918. But I do not comprehend why this
is in the Definitions of
Definition 14: The next
definition is by Kevin Passmore. This is
something like a definition, and it is not bad. I give it here
partially: if you want to see all click on Definitions of
fascism (bolding added):
Fascism is a set of
ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in
exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all
other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.
Fascist nationalism is reactionary in that it entails implacable hostility
to socialism and feminism, for they are seen as prioritizing class or
gender rather than nation. (...) Fascists are pushed towards
conservatism by common hatred of socialism and feminism, but are
prepared to override conservative interests - family, property,
religion, the universities, the civil service - where the interests of
the nation are considered to require it. (...) All aspects of fascist
policy are suffused with ultranationalism.
This is not bad but not sufficient interest
is given to the economy, the state, corporatism, and dictatorship, or
so it seems to me: Fascism is both an ideology and
it existed, indeed
for over 20 years in Italy, and for 12 years in Germany (if Nazism is a
kind of fascism), and a good definition needs to incorporate both
ideals and practices and institutions.
Definition 15: The next
definition is a definition by Robert Paxton (<-Wikipedia) with bolding and
the first two words added:
[Fascism is] a form of
political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community
decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity,
energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist
militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with
traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with
redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of
internal cleansing and external expansion.
Robert Paxton is a political scientist and a
historian, and since I got my degree as a psychologist (after having
been removed from the right of taking a degree in philosophy, briefly
before taking my M.A. in that subject) I can assure him this
has too much psychology in it, and too little
sociology, economics, and
politics. I don't think this is adequate. (Compare definition 2.)
Definition 16: The next is not
a definition, but a list of characteristics that may be used to define
fascism. It is by Stanley G.
I copied everything, because I think that
these are good characteristics of various aspects of fascism
and indeed the above list does give a fair and non- simplistic
kind of view of what fascism is, and may well be used to give a fairly
long but rather convincing definition of it.
- A. Ideology and Goals:
- Espousal of an idealist, vitalist,
and voluntaristic philosophy, normally involving the attempt to realize
a new modern, self-determined, and secular culture
- Creation of a new nationalist
authoritarian state not based on traditional principles or models
- Organization of a new highly
regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure, whether
called national corporatist, national socialist, or national syndicalist
- Positive evaluation and use of, or
willingness to use violence and war
- The goal of empire, expansion, or a
radical change in the nation's relationship with other powers
- B. The Fascist Negations:
- Anticonservatism (though with the
understanding that fascist groups were willing to undertake temporary
alliances with other sectors, more commonly with the right)
- C. Style and Organization:
- Attempted mass mobilization with
militarization of political relationships and style and with the goal
of a mass single party militia
- Emphasis on aesthetic structure of
meetings, symbols, and political liturgy, stressing emotional and
- Extreme stress on the masculine
principle and male dominance, while espousing a strongly organic view
- Exaltation of youth above other
phases of life, emphasizing the conflict of the generations, at least
in effecting the initial political transformation
- Specific tendency toward an
authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not
the command is to some degree initially elective
Definition 17: The next item is
not a (proper) definition and is by Franklin
D. Roosevelt (<- Wikipedia) (bolding added):
"The first truth is that the
liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of
private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their
democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism —
ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other
controlling private power."
The first statement is true (and
a considerable extent why I am so much against the TTP, the
TTIP, the CETA and
the TISA: all are means of making multi- national corporations
much more powerful than
states), but the second statement is not an adequate
definition of either fascism or its essence, even if does represent
something like a dictatorship (of one or the few) - but what is defined
is more like an oligarchy
rather than fascism.
Definition 18: The next item
also is certainly not a definition. It is by John Weiss, and all
told is that he "describes fascist ideas", such as these:
conceptions of community, philosophical idealism,
idealization of "manly" (usually peasant or village) virtues,
resentment of mass democracy, elitist
conceptions of political and social leadership, racism
(and usually anti-Semitism), militarism
I agree these ideas are in some sense
fascistic, but the point was that I want an interesting and adequate
definition of fascism, and that is (in this present- ation at least) not
Definition 19: The next item is
(<- Wikipedia) and indeed one definition is given plus "nine
characteristics of fascism". The definition (from 1935) is this
Fascism in power is the
open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary,
the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements
of finance capitalism.
My father (who was a Marxist for 45
years) would have recognized this and would have agreed. I don't think
it is bad, but it is not
complete (and I don't see the real intellectual point of all three "the
most"s). And while I like the mentioning of "finance capitalism", I
think my father quoted this definition with "monopoly capitalism" in
There is also a specification given, by Trotsky (that my father might
have disagreed with had he known the source, but which also does
correspond with what my father thought):
The historic function of fascism
is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations,
and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves
unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.
For me, this is too Marxistic but it does
correspond to the experiences of my father (who was arrested in
1941 and put in the concentration camp for being a communist (aka
"political terrorist") according to his - collaborating, Dutch -
judges), where he met very many communists and socialists from
other European countries (most of whom died in the camps, from
exhaustion, starvation or punishments).
Finally, the above definition + specification are not complete
(also not according to most Marxists) and here is an additional list of
"nine fundamental characteristics of fascism".
I will give them all, but without their explanatory texts
(which you can get by clicking on Definitions of fascism,
and I don't give them here in full mostly because of the length):
I think this is mostly correct (the source is
the Encyclopedia of Marxism
which is (very probably) from after WW II). I will return to
this in the
next section, but I also do want to quote parts of the texts that
supplement the above points here.
First, there is this from the above item Hierarchy:
Fascist society is ruled by a
righteous leader, who is supported by an elite secret vanguard of
capitalists. Hierarchy is prevalent throughout all aspects of society –
every street, every workplace, every school, will have its local
Hitler, part police-informer, part bureaucrat – and society is prepared
for war at all times. The absolute power of the social hierarchy
prevails over everything, and thus a totalitarian society is formed.
Representative government is acceptable only if it can be controlled
and regulated, direct democracy (e.g. Communism) is the greatest of all
crimes. Any who oppose the social hierarchy of fascism will be
imprisoned or executed.
I think this is mostly correct, and quite
important, in part because this describes what a fascist society would
look like if one lived in it (and the above is clearly derived from
To end this item, there is this from the above item Capitalist:
Fascism exhibits the worst kind
of capitalism where corporate power is absolute, and all vestiges of
workers' rights are destroyed.
Again, my father would have recognized this
and very probably would have agreed. And I note "corporate power".
Definition 20: There is this,
which definitely is not a definition of fascism. This is by Linda &
Morris Tannehill (<- Wikipedia) (bolding added):
Fascism is a system in
which the government leaves nominal ownership of the means of
production in the hands of private individuals but exercises control by
means of regulatory legislation and reaps most of the profit by means
of heavy taxation. In effect, fascism is simply a more subtle form of
government ownership than is socialism.
Really, now? If so, all of the
other writers in the Definitions of fascism are
talking baloney. So no, this is definitely not a definition of
fascism (even though I agree it is presented as one).
Definition 21: I started with George Orwell and will end with George Orwell.
Here is his (more serious) definition, from Why I Write:
Fascism, at any rate the
German version, is a form of capitalism
that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it
efficient for war purposes... It is a planned system geared to a
definite purpose, world-conquest, and not allowing any private
interest, either of capitalist or worker, to stand in its way.
This is also not a good definition (also not
of Nazism): I am missing the ideology, the state, dictatorship,
totalitarianism, lack of personal freedom, and the economy (apart from
planning) in this definition.
3. Some intermittent conclusions
Having compiled the above list, that was based on the Definitions of fascism, to
which I refer you if you want more detail or read all of it, the first
thing to do is to not consider the definitions (or
"definitions", since many aren't real definitions) that I consider
These are definitions 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20
and 21. I think I have said enough in section 1 and section 2 to
justify these exclusions.
In any case, I think these "definitions" are mostly not very useful as
definitions of fascism, but the reasons why not vary rather a lot, and
I also do not think it a bad idea, if you are giving around 20
different definitions of the same term, to include some that
have some popularity but are less useful than other definitions.
And indeed, from x definitions of the same term, there is
one that is the best, especially if the somewhat formal but quite
reasonable demands on definitions that opened this essay are kept in
So we are left with definitions 2, 3, 6, 11, 16 and 19, which is a considerable
reduction, and this refers to the Dictionary definition,
Dimitrov's, Gentile's, Mussolini's, Payne's and the Marxist's
4. A reasonable definition of
Next, I am going to use my findings to compile - what I shall call - a
reasonable definition of "fascism", and start by listing some formal
characteristics such a definition must satisfy:
- First, it must be a correct form of
definition in the form of one or several statements that together form
a minimal definition of the term:
Lists of criterions may be interesting, but they
are not sufficient to
define a term, because (so I shall maintain, but not defend here) a
definition and its defining terms should be interchangeable in
many arguments, while both are true or both are false in all the
contexts in which they are interchanged. (This also may show why a
definition doesn't hold: if there are situations were one or the other
of the defined and the defining terms holds but the other doesn't.)
- Second, justice must be done to the
fact that fascism and nazism are both (political) ideologies and
were complete societies (in Italy and Germany, at least): there were
fascist/nazist states for at least 33 years (supposing we take Nazism
as a form of fascism): the politics, the economy, the social
structure, and the ideals of a fascist
society should all be mentioned somehow, in any minimally
adequate definition of "fascism".
- Third, once a reasonable definition has
been given, it may be extended by a number of fundamental
characteristics that all belong to it in the
sense that any society or ideology that is called fascistic should also
have these properties (though it may be that none of these properties
is itself sufficient to define "fascism").
Then again, any list of fundamental characteristics makes sense only
on the basis of some minimal correct definition.
Here is the definition of
fascism that I reached on the basis of the 21 definitions (partially or
wholly) listed and briefly discussed in section 2 and section 3. It is
most like definition 2, but it contains several important differences.
Here it is:
is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that
suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror,
that propounds an ethics founded
on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is
totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist,
anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian,
rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or
advocating such a social system.
The differences between the above
definition and definition 2 of the American Heritage Dictionary are
First, I define a social system much rather than a government,
and next I explicitly list the characteristics of its
government, its ethics, its politics, and its economy, and I use some more
characteristics than definition 2 did, simply because I think
authoritarianism, totalitarianism, anti-individualsm, anti-liberalism,
anti-equality and rightism ought to be included, as should the
fact that the economy is corporatist.
I think this is a reasonable definition, though I have one criticism:
is fairly long. There is one obvious cure: Quite a few of the given
characteristic could have been put in a list of criterions that would
follow the definition.
But I did not use that cure, mostly because I think a
must be given (preferably) in the form of a statement that the
defiendum has precisely the same properties as the definiens, and the
two terms are intended to be substitutable for one another, salva
Finally, one more remark on corporatism: I gave a link above
explicitly to "fascist corporatism", but within a lemma on corporatism.
What is meant, in any case, may be formulated thus:
An economy is corporatist if (i) it is analyzed into several
blocks that are more comprehensive than the individual firms that make
up the blocks, and (ii) the resulting blocks are the main and first
units through which the government deals with the economy.
Note that much depends on the distinctions of the blocks, and these may
be distinguished in quite a few quite different ways.
5. A reasonable definition
I will define neofascism rather than neo-fascism .
There was less help available for this
definition on the Wikipedia than there was for defining "fascism", in
part because the lemma "Neo-fascism" only
lists political groups in various countries without attempting any
definition, and the same is true of the lemma "Neo-Nazism".
I did not find these last two lemmas
helpful, but found the following long lemma "Fascism and
quite good and interesting, also because it discusses the histories of
fascism and nazism, and shows that there were quite a large
(somewhat) different kinds of fascism.
And the following graphic was the most
helpful item. It is by Chuck Spinney
who bases it on texts by Mike Lofgren:
I find it quite interesting that both Spinney
and Lofgren come from the Pentagon or the Republican Party. Also, I
would say that the above "Winner-Take-All" constellation is in fact
best described as a kind of fascism or neofascism.
And my definition of "neofascism" is as follows. I first state it and
then briefly discuss its terms and the differences from my earlier
definition of "fascism"
is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
clearly derives from my definition of fascism, for it has a very
similar structure and also considers the government ethics, politics,
and economy that neofascists desire, while it shares quite a few of its
But it differs in several important respects: First, it doesn't require
a dictator, although it does require a centralized powerful authority;
second, it doesn't resort to terrorism (of its own people) to the same
extent as fascism; third, its ethics is quite
It simply makes profit the main
norm (which also means it is strongly pro-rich and regards riches
as a sufficient ground to consider a man better
than a non-rich man); fourth, while it is still rightwing,
nationalistic, capitalistic, anti-liberal, anti-equality and
anti-leftist, it is less extremist rightwing than fascism (thus, while
it is often racist, it doesn't make racism essential to it, and
also it is often less totalitarian);
and fifthly it does not see the (national) state as
superior to everything, but it sees the multi- national corporations
as superior to everything.
In other words, neofascism may be
said to be an
authoritarian rightist movement that is nationalistic, anti-liberal,
anti-equality, and anti-leftist, that is strongly profit-oriented and
that considers the - profitable, well-functioning - multi-national
corporations as its social ideal.
Here is a remark on the two main distinctions
from fascism: The moral end of profits, and the ideal of
First, I grant both became part of my
definition because I had considered both as highly characteristic of
what I earlier defined as "corporate fascism", that is best represented
here (but dates back to December 25, 2012). This is well
worth reading (if you are interested in theories and rational explanations),
but was much more concerned with explaining the crisis than
explaining forms of fascism.
Second, there are good reasons to insist
on profit as the moral
end of the organized rich: It is very prominent in their
propaganda, and indeed it is the main thing that greed and egoism - both
of which are considered good and healthy and desirable
by Ayn Rand - are after, in the present world.
Besides, it is clearly used in a
sense: The more profits you make, the better you are, and
the less profits you make, the worse you are (which also
results in a
kind of ableism: only
the able - especially those who make profits - are real men/real
women), and indeed the best, who almost always are CEOs of
multi-national organi- zations therefore have the right to
receive milions or tens of millions each year for their services to
their multi-national corporations.
Third, the reason to insist that multi-national
are the ideal of neofascists is in part due to Marxist definitions of
fascism, that - correctly in my view - stressed the high importance of
the economy in fascism, and in part to history that showed that states
now either are or risk being made the subjects of many of the
economical desires of multi-national corporations, which they also
can't resist, because their once existing laws have been deregulated, and their powers -
especially if small - are much less than the powers of
multi-national corporations (that also generally do not need to
do what states need to do to keep having authority, and who can only
consult their number one motive: maximal profits).
P.S. on surveillance
Finally, there is one term that is quite important to neofascism, that I did not
mention or discuss, and that is surveillance
(<-Wikipedia) in the sense in which this is currently done by the
the GCHQ, and very many other secret services of
diverse nations, and also by very many commercial
I think this is very important, but I have
left it out of the present treatment of fascism and neofascism, because
it exists some 15 years now, because it is in many ways still quite
secret and not very well known by anybody who does not
belong to governments or secret services, and because I think I can and
should define both fascism and neofascism
initially without complicating matters by also considering surveillance.
Then again, I think surveillance is very
important; it is, as it has been conducted for the last 15 years, a
very strong way towards neofascism; and it is totallly
There will be more on surveillance in
later Nederlogs on fascism and neofascism.
Incidentally, this happened several times (at least
three times), and last time by the leader of the ASVA in the University
Parliament in 1982, and also specifically for that
reason. The leader
of the ASVA reasoned as follows (quite explicitly, also): "Peirce was
an American, everyone knows
Americans are fascists, therefore he" - meaning me -
"must be a fascist as well".
I also should say that by 1982 I was quite used to it (indeed because I
was an opponent of the ASVA, who had nearly
all the power in the
university) but in 1977, when this happened for the first time, I was
initially quite amazed.
But then I also rapidly concluded that all they wanted to do was insult
me, simply because I did not believe like them: They acted and
spoke as real totalitarians
(and while they were quite
wrong about my being a fascist, they were right that I opposed
In case you want to know why I didn't mention my background or my
parents' (and grandparent's) communism: I believed (probably quite
correctly) that those who called me "a fascist" were members of the
Dutch CP, like my parents, but both my parents still lived in the
1970ies, I liked and respected them, and I did not want to
with the fanatic utter idiocies of some 20-year olds, and indeed I never
And in case you want to know why it took 12 years: I was ill
1.1.1979, as was the woman I lived with, and I did not study all these
years (in fact I stopped and started several times), simply for lack
 One of the things you have to
understand here (which is quite difficult) is that the
Amsterdam, like all Dutch universities, (i) had been given in
a parliamentary decision, to the students, with (ii) a formal
parliamentary structure, with both a comprehensive University
Parliament, that was supposed to rule the whole university, rather like
society, and with Faculty Parliaments for each faculty, and (iii) with
the rule that all and only members of the university could vote,
and that all votes - of the students, of the secretaries, of the toilet
cleaners, of the professors, and of the lecturers - all counted
"1 man, 1 vote".
It was especially rule (iii) that gave almost all power to the
students, for the students were in the vast
majority, and nearly all (in the 1970ies and 1980ies) were leftists.
The rest of the power fell to the Board of Directors of the University,
that in Amsterdam was always taken from members of the PvdA
(Dutch social democrats, who in fact had most of the power in Amsterdam
between 1948 and well after 2013). Since these were professionals in
their forties of fifties, they had considerably more power than
seemed to have, but formally their actions in the university
subject to the approval of the University Parliament.
 To explain (in
part) why my father was much impressed by Dimitrov, here is a part from
the Wkipedia's lemma on him:
During the Leipzig Trial, Dimitrov's calm conduct of
his defence and the accusations he directed at his prosecutors
won him world renown. On August 24, 1942, for instance, the American newspaper, The Milwaukee Journal,
declared that in the Leipzig Trial, Dimitrov displayed "the most
magnificent exhibition of moral courage even shown anywhere." In
Europe, a popular saying spread across the Continent: “There is only
one brave man in Germany, and he is a Bulgarian.”
 "Salva veritate"
means (approximately) "with the same truth".
The general idea is that a good definition is of the form
term1 = term2 & ... &
termN or else
of the form
proposition(Term1) IFF proposition(Term2
& ... & TermN)
(where "IFF" means "if and only if") and the identity or equivalence
imply that the term or proposition on the left and on the right are
everywhere (in arguments of kind C) intersubstitutable without
making a change in the truth or falsity of the propositions in which
 The reasons for
this are that there is a term neo-fascism
(<-Wikipedia) but that article is restricted to a survey of
political parties or groups in diverse countries, and does not
definition (though I agree most of the groups that are treated seem
inspired by and sympathetic to some form of fascism), and because I do
want to use my own term with my own definition.