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The Financial Times’ Disingenuous Sermons on Fascism

State of the Union: Oh, is this what fascism looks like?


If a work of writing is intellectually shoddy, it can be attributed to either stupidity or dishonesty. I have not met Martin Wolf in person, so I have no idea whether he is a functional imbecile or not, and so have no other option than to give him the benefit of doubt. Perhaps his heart wasn’t in it, and he was in a rush to finish his weekly quota of writing. We have all been there. 

Whatever it is, it is unjustifiable for the Financial Times to publish his nonsense. 


Consider this statement: “One feature [of fascism] is the cult of tradition. Fascists worship the past. The corollary is that they reject the modern. ‘The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason,’ [Umberto] Eco writes, ‘is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.’”

Eco was obviously an arch-liberal, but Wolf’s assertion that fascism is opposed to modernity—and modernism—is frankly so absurd that one almost questions his comprehension skills. Italian Fascists committed state power to crush dissent while perpetuating a novel state-sanctioned version of spirituality, architecture, and art. Early 1920s sanctioned style of architecture in Italy was known as Architettura razionale (one can guess the translation). A noted artistic school that supported fascism to its end was Futurism. The clue is in the name

Wolf isn’t a historian, so I am guessing he failed to read any original sources, but here is a quote from a book that might be considered an authority on Fascism: Benito Mussolini’s succinctly titled The Doctrine of Fascism.  

The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet…. The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State.

In our times, on one hand you have localized reactionary uprisings, from questions of parental rights and national sovereignty, from Loudon County all the way to Texas, Florida, and Great Britain. On the other, you see the all-encompassing state, all-powerful, ever-growing, capable of shutting down countries and livelihoods for years in the name of science and modernity, albeit backed up by a powerful quasi-theology, its own holy months, holy flags, saints, sinners and sacrilege; a state with the enormous surveillance power and bureaucracy, with five to ten top corporate entities all mouthing the same theological underpinnings of modernity; a state that revises and relitigates the historical memory of the worst of 1920s Euro-American eugenicist ideas, from forced vaccination to abortion to euthanasia; a state that opposed localism of any form, in favor of ideological homogeneity. 

Anyone—from Donald Trump to Elon Musk to the Asian nerds discriminated against at Harvard—who dares to oppose the state dicta on any questions of merit, neutrality, race, gender, or sovereignty faces the full wrath from state-aligned major media mouthpieces (and they are somehow all state-aligned), including that of Herr Wolf. They all somehow speak the same language, support the same worldview, and are funded by the same plutocrats and oligarchic entities. All in the name of democracy, future, science, people, and progress. 

Which side sounds more fascistic to you? 


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