Is Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, a fascist?

Is Bolsonaro a fascist ? Like many people, I resist throwing the word “fascist” around too often. Logically, if anyone is a “fascist,” then nobody is – which ends up being extremely disrespectful to victims of real fascism and banalizing what should never be banal. One could go to the other extreme, saying that no-one today is […]

Is Bolsonaro a fascist ? Like many people, I resist throwing the word “fascist” around too often. Logically, if anyone is a “fascist,” then nobody is – which ends up being extremely disrespectful to victims of real fascism and banalizing what should never be banal. One could go to the other extreme, saying that no-one today is really a “fascist,” as fascism was something limited to a certain period of history. OK, but that would mean ignoring that historical fascism continues to inspire many people – explicitly or not.

If you try to seek a textbook definition for the term, you’ll find they vary a lot. However, they all converge to an essential element, which may or may not be associated with others. Fascism is defined by the belief that social organization (politics) is built through physical violence against the “other,” whether this other be “Jews,” “communists,” “incapable people,” “degenerates,” “gays”… Order doesn’t come from communication, but rather from the murder, torture, or beating of the “other.” Society organizes itself around the promise, expectation, or practice of such violence.

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