A man with a beard and glasses taking his hat off and scratching his head, looking upward out of frame

Can You Define Fascism?

By Elise DeYoung

Fascism. It is a term widely used but hardly understood.

Are you aware of the history and philosophy surrounding this term? Can you define it?

When these questions arise, men like Benito Mussolini are often accredited with the philosophy of fascism, and words such as “authoritarianism” and “right-wing extremism” are frequently given as synonyms. Armed with these ambiguous and frightening words as arrows in their quiver, left-wing politicians commonly use the word fascism to attack their right-wing opponents. We are all familiar with CNN anchors referring to Donald Trump as a right-wing, MAGA fascist.

Where did this term originate? Is fascism really right-wing extremism? Are there fascists in America today?

By exploring each of these questions, we will come across three misconceptions of fascism that have distorted our understanding of this powerful word.

These misconceptions are:

  1. Benito Mussolini founded fascism.
  2. Fascism is a radical right-wing ideology.
  3. The modern Left is anti-fascist.

Misconception One: Mussolini and Fascism

Contrary to popular belief, Benito Mussolini was not the founder of fascism. Instead, he explicitly recognized the real founder of fascism as Giovanni Gentile, and gave him the title, “The philosopher of Fascism.”

Gentile lived from 1875 to 1944 and was an extremely prominent Italian philosopher, politician, and educator. He established the idea of fascism, and with his ideology, he paved the way for the dictatorship of Mussolini, which lasted from 1922 to 1943.

Gentile, like Marx, sought to create a form of government that resembles the family unit. What would this look like exactly? Well—if you think of the family unit, who is the head of the household? Traditionally, it is the father. And what is the role of the father? It is to provide for and to protect his family.

Likewise, Gentile ordered his fascist ideology in such a way that the government would be the father of civilization—its sole provider and protector. With this structure, personal responsibility and individual liberty, which Gentile condemned as “selfish,” are thrown out the window and replaced by slothful dependence and security through submission to Father Government. It is obvious why authoritarianism is so closely attributed to fascism; they have many similarities. Now that we understand Gentile’s philosophical intention, we can define his term.

Fascism is a political movement that seeks to establish an authoritarian system of government that resembles the family unit.

There is one final fact about Gentile that must be understood to have a well-rounded understanding of his philosophy of fascism. That is—Gentile was a Leftist. This may come as a shock because fascism has been attributed to the right for many decades, but when we consider the philosophy of fascism in relation to the modern right and left, it begins to make sense.

Misconception Two: Fascism and the Right

As I said before, fascism has been viewed as the end game of radical right-wing politics for many decades. Republican politicians have seemed to accept this abuse of language and have allowed it to continue all these years.

However, a brief comparison of conservatism and fascism will expose the ridiculous claim that fascism is rooted in the right. Allow me to ask this simple question: Do conservatives want big government? The answer is an obvious and resounding no.

If there is one thing that has not changed in the Republican party, it is the desire for small government. To claim otherwise is folly.  

Additionally, what true conservative wants to surrender personal responsibility and individual liberty to Father Government? The answer is none.

For fascism to work at all, liberty and responsibility must be discarded and replaced by a far-reaching, powerful, all-consuming government that rules its complacent society with an iron fist. That is what happened in Italy under Mussolini’s fascist reign, and that is precisely what conservatives are actively fighting against.

Misconception Three: The Left and Modern-Day Fascists

So, if Republicans are not undercover fascist dictators, are there fascists in America at all?

I am not here to make the argument that all leftist politicians and Democrat voters are fascists. Because that is not the case, however, there are clear-cut agreements between the two political movements that we must acknowledge.

PragerU makes this comparison in their video, “Is Fascism Right or Left?”,

“At the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family where, through the government, people all take care of each other.”

They continue by saying,

“Nothing has changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention was, ‘The government is the only thing we all belong to.’ They might as well have been quoting Gentile.”

The left has taken Gentile’s idea of collectivism under Father Government and applied it to their political philosophy. We must be aware of the left’s implementation of this core fascist ideal in its policies and plans for our country.

Fascist Philosophy Embedded in Leftist Policies

Just to name a few, the Welfare system has resulted in a complete dependence upon the government by large swaths of the American public. In addition, the left’s movement to ban assault rifles would instantly create a total dependence on Father Government for protection. These two examples prove that the left is furthering our dependence on the government for provision and protection; Gentile would be proud.

The most glaring example, however, of fascist philosophy embedded in leftist policies was the effort by Democratic politicians to instate federal mask and vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have exponentially multiplied the scope and influence of the state and greatly increased our submission to it in the name of security. Gentile’s philosophy continues infiltrating institutions today, such as education and healthcare, through Democratic policies.

It is abundantly clear that there are extreme misconceptions surrounding the term and ideology of fascism. Thankfully, we can know the facts behind the philosophy. With a newfound clarity of the origin and political affiliation of fascism, we must now boldly oppose all efforts to instate Father Government in our fascist-free country.

You can read other articles written by Elise here.

Elise DeYoung is a PR & Communications Associate as well as a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

a window view of a Christmas store, with Christmas trees, wreaths, and presents on display

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas

By Lauren Gideon

There is something special about childhood. Overlay the beauty and simplicity of childhood with the sacred spectacular atmosphere of the holidays, and that intersection seems nothing short of magical. This wedge, where those two events overlap, is so powerful that grown adults constantly search for ways to replicate that experience and those sentiments. Our song lyrics and storylines are strong indicators of this reality. What changes as we age? Why can’t we always (only) experience that perceived magical atmosphere? Why does everything feel so complicated? 

A few years ago, I was in line at the grocery store, listening to the conversation between the cashier and a customer unfolding in front of me. As the customer prepares to depart, the cashier extends the farewell of “Happy Holidays.” In disgust, the customer replies with a harsh and sharp, “Merry Christmas!” 

Wait. What just happened?

My thoughts started taking inventory. “Did that customer just use a Christmas salutation as retaliation?” In true sports commentary fashion, let’s look at the replay. In this scenario, the cashier was perceived to have been using the “happy holidays” greeting as a way to deny the real “reason for the season.” But was she? Is there anything wrong with “happy holidays”? Was the cashier maliciously trying to cancel Christ? Was the offended customer claiming to be a Christian? The irony of the retort was amusing, to say the least. There was nothing merry about her tone or her intent. And I’m not very confident that Person, whose birth she thought she was defending, would have been pleased by her style. 

However, can we sympathize with both parties? The grown-up world is complicated. We struggle even to greet a stranger this time of year. You see, in addition to the holidays, we have learned there are conflicting worldviews. We have learned that the holders of these worldviews are frequently hostile to holders of other worldviews. As Christians, we know that in this world we will have trouble, but that Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) 

How many times have we met Christians who not only go looking for trouble but also for a chance to be this type of “overcomer.” This customer was clearly frustrated; hopefully, her misstep is a cautionary tale to other Christians. Still, we can understand that navigating a bold allegiance to Christ in a world full of people we are called to love is…complicated.  

A Free Society Will Bring Confusion, and That’s a Good Thing

This year, I was told another story about a workplace DEI book club. The week’s topic was how not to talk about Christmas in the workplace. Contrast this with those who insist that we must speak about Christmas all the more because it’s our “first-amendment right.”  

Highlighted here is the deep complexity of the free market, the civil sphere, limited congress, public-policy-governing employers, confusion over the origin of rights, the Constitution, natural law, and the Creator.  

We confuse spheres of governance vs. mechanisms of enforcement and fail to consider the consequences of misunderstanding and misusing these. Additional elements include mechanisms of the free market, obligations of citizens, obligations of consumers, and labor providers in a free market. Each one of these components is an inescapably complicated layer that adds to the weight of responsibility. This makes our simple childhood memories much more precious and explains why grown adults prefer discovering a path back to childhood than navigating a way forward. 

While it seems that Christians’ primary conflict is with those outside the faith, this is evidently false. Is there an answer to all this madness? 

How to Navigate With Romans 14

Romans 14:5-9 gives us a 3-part navigation process.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

Part One: Be convinced. 

Convinced has nothing to do with opinion. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines convinced as persuaded in mind; satisfied with evidence; convicted. Being blessed with freedom, both civilly and economically, comes with responsibility. Embrace it, steward it, protect it, and afford it to others. Gather and wrestle through the evidence, and put the evidence on trial until you reach a satisfactory verdict. And then, when new evidence presents itself, rinse and repeat.

Part Two: Be gracious with others. 

They bear the same responsibility, and they also will give an account. We know the stakes are high, and the task is heavy; therefore, we should not complicate what is already sufficiently complicated. If anything, we should model the diligence, sobriety, and reverence we have for this responsibility and the ability to stay out of our neighbor’s figurative courtroom. 

 Part Three: Chill out, be thankful, and live and die for an audience of One. 

The whole passage can be summed up with a single parallel text, Micah 6:8. 

He has told you, O man, what is good;

     and what does the Lord require of you

 but to do justice, and to love kindness,

     and to walk humbly with your God?

So, to my friends near and far who may read this: happy holiday, and Merry Christmas.  

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.