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Fascists, Fascists Everywhere

The newest stupid term to refer to religious people are “fascists” is predictable enough: theofascist.  It takes all that is absurd from the liberal hysteria about creeping theocracy in America and mixes it with most of what is absurd about talk of “Islamofascism,” and gives you a word that means absolutely nothing.  

I will keep stating this for as long as it takes: fascists are not extremely or even moderately religious people (their turn to find meaning in the nation and the state is their remedy for a world that seems deprived of transcendent meaning and if historic fascists were nominally Christians, their Christianity was almost always purely conventional and had essentially nothing to do with their fascism), and extremely and even moderately religious people are not fascists.  Fascism is a political religion, which means that it replaces and subsumes whatever religious loyalties a fascist may have had.  You do not exalt the nation-state into a virtual deity if you still have strong faith in the real Deity; you do not treat political leaders as if they were prophets and saviours unless you have already given up on real prophets and your real Saviour.  There is no such thing as Hanson’s “religious fascism” or this so-called “theofascism,” either here or anywhere else in the world, because it is a contradiction in terms.  The absurdity of “theofascist” illuminates the absurdity of “Islamofascist,” as they are both absurd and wrong for exactly the same reasons; the former simply happens to reveal just how empty the word fascist is, since here it clearly functions as nothing more than a word used to demonise and distort.  This is one of the things I don’t understand about the recourse to words such as “Islamofascist.”  Aren’t the jihadis‘ crimes and villainies already demonic enough without this talk of fascists?  Must we fall back on this laziest and most inaccurate of labels to work up sufficient contempt for what they represent?

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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