09.09.2011 10:39 AM

Fourteen defining characteristics of fascism

It’s a well-known, well-read list. Items 1, 2 and 3 certainly are interesting.


  1. Ted says:

    I’ve never seen that list. Thanks. Helpful, if frightening.

    It also draws a nice and fine line that distinguishes the core elements that make a totalitarian leader/regime or wannabe totalitarian a fascist one vs a communist one in items 8, 9 and 10. It’s a line conservatives like to blur, but fascism leans right and communism leans left on those items.

  2. Dan says:

    You missed # 5

  3. Marc says:

    I need to dig a deeper bunker.

  4. Ted H says:

    Quite obvious that many right wing commentators and political figures in North America match up with a majority of those characteristics and their sentiments are in fact drifting towards fascism. Who was it said “when Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag.”

    Many of these same people refer to the “common enemy” as “Islamofascists”. Islamic radicals are certaily no stranger to totalitarianism but to call them fascists show a complete ignorance of political polarity. Fascism = extreme right, Communism = extreme left.

  5. smelter rat says:

    Reads like the Conservative Party of Canada’s consititution.

  6. JStanton says:

    Yes, Mr. Harper’s play-book is clearly based on these tactics.

    But sociopath megalomaniacs have been playing this game since humans first stood on their hind legs, and that’s why the list is so easily recognizable.

    Indeed, the political hit-men closest to Mr. Harper, hired at vast government expense , have been routinely implementing these tactics in the UK, the US and Australia, whenever extremist right-wing leaders have opened up the government coffers to them.

    Now, alas, it’s Canada’s turn to pay the toll for allowing Mr. Harper’s type to be elected.


  7. gretschfan says:

    I find that the word fascism gets thrown around far too easily in political discourse. And that comes with a risk. The more it’s used as lazy rhetoric, the harder it might become for people to recognize and mobilize against it should the real thing come knocking. Yes, there are elements of that list in play in many western democracies today. But are any of them fascist governments? No way.

    • The Doctor says:

      Exactly. This kind of hyperbole (routinely calling conservatives fascists) only appeals to the most hard-core partisans, and turns off moderate and centrist voters. It’s one of the reasons most normal people want nothing to do with party politics, don’t follow politics closely and don’t join or donate to political parties.

      Meanwhile, on other comment threads on this site, you have people accurately describing the fact that Jason Kenney and the CPC have been intensely reaching out to immigrant and visible minority communities for years now and have formed deep connections with those communities. Hitler threw these kinds of people out of their jobs, threw them into ghettos and concentration camps, forced them into slave labour and killed them en masse. Normal people instinctively understand and appreciate that difference. Certain political partisans don’t.

    • Pat says:

      Conservatives call Liberals and Dippers communists… Sarah Palin got off on calling Obama a socialist at every turn… I would say – after years of studying political history – that the modern Liberals and Democrats are much further from communism than Conservatives/Republicans are from fascism.

    • Africon says:

      An interesting list with plenty of good points but hardly applicable to any Canadian party.
      One could focus on any number of these points and gleefully point a finger – see below.

      To use the PC’s of Canada as an example of excessive nationalism is in my view a bit over the top. Was it only Conservatives waving our flag at the winter Olympics?
      This one fits the Quebec separatists better, imo.

      Human rights both Libs and PC’s have been in power when human rights could have been better in Somalia and in Afghanistan.

      “Rampant sexism” – both parties could do better in terms of % of MP’s but at least women have the vote here – count your blessings.

      “A controlled mass media” – CBC comes to mind along with the censorship right here for any that disagree with WK.

      9. Power of corporatio­ns protected – and just where did most Lib donations come from for decades ?

      13. Rampant cronyism and corruption – Adscam anyone ?

      It is such a fine line between well intentioned humanity and the kind of anarchy seen recently on many so called cities.

      • Pat says:

        Africon – you missed a ton there though:

        Human Rights – who wants to scrap the human rights commission? Who cut funding to groups that provide aid in other countries for no aparent reason (besides ideological reasons)?

        “Rampant Sexism” – who slashed funding for women’s programs?

        “Controlled Mass Media” – using the definition of indirect control, Harper won’t let the media take pictures of him anymore (he gets his own team to do it). He by-passes the media as much as possible, and he is known to have a bad relationship with any media outlet that challenges his views. He has basically written off everything but Sun as a liberal-run rag, when they are objectively not (except the Star, that thing stinks of ridiculous partisanship).

        I could literally give an example from the Harper government for any one of the 14 items listed. No problem.

        I think that that is the problem a lot of people like me have with the current federal tories – I would probably vote CPC if they were actual conservatives, but I think they have strayed from that a bit. They certainly aren’t Nazi-level fascists, but they are certainly much closer to the list’s definition of fascism than they were under Mulroney or Dief the Chief.

        • Africon says:

          No doubt I did, Pat.
          I’m sure we could go back and forth all day long but to what end?

          I THINK I agree with you re “if only they were actual conservatives” but maybe not if you mean the PC’s of old.
          I would vote for ANY party that truly believed ( scratch that – truly practiced) small government and in balanced budgets like any responsible family or business.

          I’d agree with you if I truly believed that HRC’s are about human rights but sadly I know from personal experience that they are not.
          They tried to make me out as a horrible discriminator for giving a handicapped employee 2 weeks notice while ignoring that I had actually hired numerous handicapped and minority folks for decades – DUH !
          Best way to avoid that experience ever again – don’t hire any such people, eh ?

          Are Feminists really women ?


          • Jon Adams says:

            “I’d agree with you if I truly believed that HRC’s are about human rights but sadly I know from personal experience that they are not.”

            “Are Feminists really women?”

            Sometimes we invite hardship upon ourselves.

  8. Someone says:

    Also interesting are #s 7 and 11-13.

  9. Marc L says:

    I can’t believe some of these comments. So now you think there’s little difference between Conservatives and Fascists based on three criteria which you use in a very very Liberal (no pun intended) way.? Well, that’s like saying there’s little difference between the NDP and Communists based on a few characteristics of communism that the NDP exhibits in a watered down version. Or that since an Apple is round and an apple is red, averything round and red is close to being an apple. Really…your frustration at being in opposition has really gotten the best of you. I’m still shaking my head (wait, since I’m shaking my head, and punk rockers shake their heads, I must be becoming a punk rocker).

    • Warren says:

      Take a Valium. It’s you who have linked Conservatives and fascists. Not I.

      • Pat says:

        I did it too, Warren. And I certainly think that THESE conservatives are much closer to that definition than PREVIOUS conservatives. Mulroney wouldn’t have fit this mold, in my mind at least. Neither would Diefenbaker. But this one is so far right ideologically… it isn’t actually fascist, but it is approaching the definition provided by the list. If I can find numerous examples from the last 5 years for each of the 14 items, examples that pretty close to objectively aligned with the list, then the CPC should be worried.

        • The Doctor says:

          Yes, we’re just a short step away from gas chambers and crematoria.

          I’m not making this up.

        • Africon says:

          Pat, please go experience life in an actual fascist State like Venezuela, Nicaragua or Congo or Zimbabwe etc then you will know just how far off you are from needing to be worried about Mr Harper wearing a sweater and singing Beatles songs.
          Quebec separatists (apartheid-ists) fit far more of the 14 points.

      • Marc L says:

        I wasn’t referring to you but to some of the posts above (see my first sentence). Although I do wonder what you are implying exactly…

    • JStanton says:

      Nobody credible is actually claiming that Mr. Harper is a fascist… although we are having a bit of fun.

      The point is that when enough fascistic behavior is evident, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the nature of the protagonist in question, and that of widely recognized fascists.

      Mr. Harper’s record thus far is notable for its undemocratic, opaque and regressive tactics, and for its highly manipulative and deceitful propaganda.

      If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck…


      • The Doctor says:

        So let me see if I can get this straight: you’re not actually claiming that Harper is a fascist . . . but you are saying that it’s impossible to distinguish him from widely recognized fascists.

        Got it.

        A mentor of mine once referred to your rhetorical tactic there as “a distinction without a difference.”

        • JStanton says:

          … no, I’m not saying that at all … pay attention now: “when enough fascistic behavior is evident, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the nature of the protagonist in question, and that of widely recognized fascists”.

          Mr. Harper’s behavior has elements that match the characteristics listed. If he deepens this behavior, and adds additional elements described in the list, then it will become impossible to distinguish between his aggregate behavior and that of widely recognized fascists. Got it?


        • nic coivert says:

          There is no doubt that Harper typifies fascist behaviour more than any other Canadian Prime Minister.

  10. Rick Thomson says:

    I see by some of the comments that paranoia is still alive and well on the left side of the equation.

    • smelter rat says:

      Keep your blinders on. If you take them off now, god knows what will happen.

      • The Doctor says:

        So when will we see the gas chambers and crematoria? 2012?

        • nic coivert says:

          Godwin’s Law just bit you in the ass. If your foot starts swelling while its in your mouth, go see a Doctor, a real one.

          • The Doctor says:

            Godwin’s law tends to be breached when people start saying that person X or group X is the equivalent of the Nazis. I wasn’t the one who started that on this thread. I’m the one who brought up and pointed out the absurdity of equivocating Harper and Co. with the Nazis. And here’s the thing — you start accusing people of being fascists, it’s pretty much inevitable that the Nazis are going to come into the discussion, being, you know, the most well-known example of fascism in human history and all.

          • The Doctor says:

            Vocabulary brain fart on my part: I should have said “equating”, not “equivocating”.

        • smelter rat says:

          Don’t get too literal Doc. As to fascism, I’m sure a lot of Germans said something similar in 1934.

    • Attack! says:

      I tried to stay out of it, but you really are protesting too much, Herr Doktor.

      A person — or governing group of them — can certainly have fascist TENDENCIES without, you know, ‘going all the way.’

      Just as one can have psychopathic tendencies, and be only too willing to manipulate and exploit people — but not murder them (albeit maybe only because he/she calculates there’s an unacceptable risk of being caught and punished).

      Anyway, here’s an old school psychological test to see if someone’s got fascist tendencies (which might manifest in one’s personal life, if not at work, if they have any authority over anyone): the F-Scale:


  11. walt says:

    Warren, I’m serious. Linking to Rense is a really bad idea.

    “Jeff Rense is an Ashland, Oregon-based Internet and satellite radio host who maintains a virulently anti-Semitic Web site, Rense.com. His radio show promotes a wide variety of conspiracy theories, often focusing on extraterrestrial aliens but including a great deal of anti-Semitism expressed both by Rense’s guests and Rense himself.”

    From the American Anti-Defamation League.

    You really want to leave this one up?

  12. Anne Peterson says:

    These characteristics are pretty well what all political scientists agree are characteristics of fascism and you must be blind not to see them creeping into Canadian life. Forget who wrote this particular list. That has noting to do with it. The symbols, the militarism, the targeting of groups, the fear mongering, the move to punishment, the tolerance of nasty police activities. I am an old lady and I have never seen this sorts of things happening in Canada before in my lifetime. It’s common for citizens of countries moving toward fascism not to see it coming.

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