What is Soft Fascism, Anyway?

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fascismI keep writing about soft fascism. Why is that, anyway?

Soft fascism is a process of anti-democratic governing that is not as overtly totalitarian or authoritarian as more historically memorable fascist states. Soft fascist governing has features like:

  1. corrupt electoral processes
  2. legislative tactics that undermine democratic engagement
  3. warrantless monitoring of citizens
  4. limiting the time that legislatures sit
  5. silencing of public servants
  6. disregarding court rulings against legislative abuses
  7. criminalizing dissent

Naomi Wolf’s 2007 book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, and her article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper helped begin an analysis of how relatively free societies can begin to close, with fascist tactics, while remaining ostensibly free societies. Thus, the fascism is of a softer variety.

Also in 2007, US Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul began talking about soft fascism, referring to the military-industrial complex and corporatism as motivating a reduction in civil liberties.

Groups, people and actions emerging or growing since 2007 that oppose soft fascist governance include the Indignados, those opposing corporate rights treaties and agreements, the Occupy Movement, Edward Snowden, Anonymous (group), The Yes Men, Chelsea Manning, and WikiLeaks.

Here’s the basic question: does the action of a government enhance or inhibit democracy, civil rights and freedom? These days, while feeling like the frog in the slowing boiling pot, we need to be aware of the hot water. If we don’t jump out, it’s our fault.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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5 thoughts on “What is Soft Fascism, Anyway?”

  1. The simple answer is that acts of government can either enhance or inhibit democracy, civil rights and freedom.

    One example, Stephen, was government’s concern to regulate concentration of ownership and media cross-ownership in order that Canada should have a broadly-owned mass media offering a wide range of information and political opinion, the lifeblood of an informed electorate. It was government that later relaxed those strictures to facilitate the rise of the corporate media cartel we endure today. In the process, the media transformed from the watchdog of government to government lapdog even as the corporate media went from being a source of information to a peddler of messaging.

    When Harper gagged the public service there was but a grumbling of dissent from the media that rapidly passed. Virtually nothing was said when he did the same thing to the armed forces or when he politicized the state police force into his partisan political agency. Harper was able to corrupt the institutions of our government with the invaluable complacency of our corporate media barons. Even as he did this(and so much more) they kept endorsing him in general elections.

    The Wright-Duffy-Harper affair revealed how this prime minister corrupted the Senate by packing it with obedient Tory stooges. The PMO chief of staff manipulated the Tory Senate leadership like so many marionettes, even getting them to launder Duffy’s audit report.

    I could go on and on, tracking every scandal and democratic abuse by just this one government but that’s just too depressing a path for this early in the morning.

    The question now becomes, having watch a government trample our democracy, civil rights and freedoms, do those that clamour to replace it have any intention of rectifying the abuses we’ve borne?

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