Wednesday, April 20, 2005

fas·cism (fash iz m) n.


fas·cism (fash iz m) n.

often Fascism

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.

A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.

Oppressive, dictatorial control

[Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.]

Word History: It is fitting that the name of an authoritarian political movement like Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini, should come from the name of a symbol of authority. The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, "bundle, (political) group," but also refers to the movement's emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power. The name of Mussolini's group of revolutionaries was soon used for similar nationalistic movements in other countries that sought to gain power through violence and ruthlessness, such as National Socialism.

Really, nobody does fascism better than the Italians. I do not mean that as an insult, just as an observation. Hell, they invented the word!

Fascism fell out of favor in Western Civilization when Adolph Hitler brought it to its ultimate degeneration. In fact, I think today's definitions of fascism are rooted more in Hitler's atrocities than Mussolini's dictatorship. No other nation in the Western world perpetrated as criminal a form of fascism as Hitler's Germany. Well, one might argue that Stalin surpassed Hitler, but then one would have to toss-in a discussion of Soviet-style communism. We'll save that for a different post!

As I will save the Asian fascists for another discussion. (Pol Pot comes to mind. Yikes!) I want to stick to Westerners today!

Nazi Germany was really the ultimate fascist state, but hardly the most successful. We are lucky that there are not a lot of fascist states left in the world.

America, France, and England should be proud of their efforts and millions spent spreading democracy after World War II.

America doesn't really do it anymore, but we really played a huge role in saving the world fifty years ago. Now we are really only interested in profiteering, which when not coupled with benevolence is vulgar. But, as the Italians have done fascism, Americans have done vulgarity.

I was moved to investigate definitions of the word fascism when Pope Benedict XVI was introduced to the world. The Vatican is one of the few fascist states remaining in the world. Some might argue that The Vatican's form of government is benevolent in the way I think most Italians in the early-20th century envisioned fascism; and I might agree to some degree.

Still, I think that absolute power corrupts absolutely and The Vatican, with its illusions of papal infallibility, represents absolute power more than any other sovereign nation. It is, by definition, a fascist state.

Can a sovereign nation based on a fascist system ever do good in the world?

Is it ironic that the new leader of one of the last remaining fascist states is German?

God bless Pope Benedict XVI.

I pray that he will meditate more on the teachings of Jesus, and less on the teachings of bankers from Chicago and politicians from Boston.

I thank God he is so old, and I hope his reign is short and confused.

I pray that Rome can leave Catholics to use their energy and God-given brains to make the world a better place, instead of being mindless puppets providing lip-service to a narrow political agenda rooted in disdain and hatred.

I pray he will emulate the actions of John XXIII and Paul VI, who used their authority to promote harmony, relief of pain and provision to the needy.

I pray that he can lead a billion Catholics not backwards, as did his immediate predecessor, but forward into the world to stem greed, gluttony, war and sloth and replace them with charity, hope, faith, wisdom, and humility.

I know my prayers are a long-shot; but, still I pray.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Hitler's Pope
John Cornwell

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