The Line Between Nationalism and Fascism
Robert A. Levine 10-5-22
Right-wing nationalism and tribalism is a growing threat to democracies globally, with the boundary between nationalism and fascism often unclear. A number of supposed democracies are nationalist states verging on fascism. In many of these nations, nationalists were elected by popular vote and the nationalist leaders subsequently transformed the governments into fascistic polities under the control of a supreme leader. Included among these nations are Turkey led by Recep Erdogan, Hungary controlled by Victor Orban and India dominated by Narendra Modi. In addition, however, newly elected right-wing nationalist parties and leaders place Italy and Sweden at risk. Iran may perhaps also be considered a religious fascistic state.
Nationalist rule gives members of a particular ethnic, tribal, racial or religious group a preferred status in a state, conferring a lesser status among other individuals. Blood and soil are the defining characteristics of nationalistic groups. In other words, they are people who share the same blood as other members of the clan and perhaps have shed their blood in defense of the nation. They and their ancestors tilled the same soil and lived in the same land through the ages. However, this is often a myth as there is often mixing of the genes of different groups and ethnic communities are generally not pure blooded.
As nationalistic precepts gain in strength, a nation tends to become more fascistic and authoritarian, usually directed by a single man and the political party he controls. People who do not belong to the select ethnic group may not have the same privileges or prerogatives as those who are considered to have the same national origin and usually belief in the same religion. Fascists relegate outsiders to second class citizenship. In some fascist states, members of different ethnic groups were expelled or killed by the ruling ethnic group as was seen in Nazi Germany.
Immigrants are looked down upon by members of the ruling party and the nationalistic or fascistic state. In fact, many of these nations try or actually exclude immigrants or asylum seekers, especially if they are of a different race or religion. They do not wish to dilute the purity of their ethnic group or their nation. Nationalists and fascists often act in ways that are against their economic interests by not permitting immigrants into their countries when unemployment is low and many industries need more workers.
In the United States, right-wing political groups and Christian nationalists are against immigration even though workers are badly needed. Virtually all advanced nations have low birth rates and are not replacing their populations, making immigrants vital to care for and support the aged and take jobs that are now going begging. Population declines are present not only in the U.S. and Europe but also in Japan, Korea and China.
The line drawn between nationalism and fascism is not clear cut. Submission to an authoritarian leader who determines those who are acceptable members of a nationalistic society and places all other people beneath them is one way of defining fascism. Fascists tend to distort history to serve their own version of events. Fascism also places nation and race above the individual and subsumes individual rights in favor of the nation and the authoritarian leader. One can see that nationalism and fascism are very close in ideology and actions, and in fact labeling may just be a matter of degree.
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