Why is it that so many people get the definition of fascism wrong? Basically, because it's a complex thing to define, and it's become a word people use to describe their enemies in order to boost their political agenda or promote their cause.
Mr. Beat's definition of fascism: the idea that the group is more important than the individual.
Thanks to The Felt Show for helping me out with this one. This may be the first video about fascism ever that has puppets in it! Check out this Felt Show video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r8q_...
Yo, I’m Mr. Beat. In 2010, when I was a young lad, I began teaching World History at Blue Valley High School. Fun fact that’s where Michael Stevens from Vsauce went to high school.
Anyway, when I tried to teach these poor kids about fascism, I had a hard time explaining it. For starters, there were so many definitions out there, and when I finally did find a definition that was historically accurate, it was ridiculously complex.
And since then, I’ve noticed that a lot of people confidently talk about fascism but apparently have no clue what it actually means. Rarely is a word so often misused or mischaracterized. So let’s look at what fascism actually means. I planned on making a video about this awhile ago, but I held off after my friend Tristan from Step Back History beat me to it. That’s right. He beat Mr. Beat.
Anyway, he released this video back in October 2017. Tristan does a great job as he always does, but he mostly dives into the early history of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and frankly, he was still a bit too vague with his definition of fascism.
In the comments of the video, I attempted to simplify the definition of fascism as I used to simplify it for my World History students so they’d better understand. Fascism is essentially “conform or else.” Well, it got a lot of likes, so that’s cool, but then the “well actually” crowd hopped on, and one of the responses, from Eli A, was “That's just authoritarianism. Not all authoritarians are fascists, but all fascists are authoritarians” and….Eli kind of has a point. Maybe, I simplified a bit too much. Violence usually is associated with fascism, but not always.
So let me revise. Fascism is the idea that the group is more important than the individual. Diversity is a threat to the group. Individualism is a threat to the group. Immigration is a threat to the group. New ideas could potentially be a threat to the group. Basically, anything that undermines the country, nation, or even ethnic group is a threat to the group. The people in a fascist society are expected to have limited choices and strict guidance. In other words, conform to the group.
Some argue fascism had its roots in the Jacobin movement, with leaders of the French Revolution like Maximilien Robespierre. Others argue it had its roots as a backlash against the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment, when more and more people were raving about individualism, laissez faire economics, liberty, and equality, dudes like the British philosopher Thomas Carlyle were like hold up. Hierarchy is good. Democracy is bad. Some are leaders but most are followers. Absolute rulers were good for society. These ideas gained popularity during the late 1800s and early 1900s. To add to the backlash, Social Darwinism, the idea that the evolutionary concept of natural selection also applied to human societies, became a big thing. This fit right in with what would eventually be called fascism.
The term “Fascism,” wasn’t first used until 1915 by supporters of a guy you probably know about named Benito Mussolini.