1. The first [basic] feature of [fascism] is the cult of tradition...[T]here can be no advancement of learning. Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism...The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense [fascism] can be defined as irrationalism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection...Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of [fascism], from Goering’s alleged statement ('When I hear talk of culture I reach for my gun') to the frequent use of such expressions as 'degenerate intellectuals,' 'eggheads,' 'effete snobs,' 'universities are a nest of reds.' The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
4. ...In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For [fascism], disagreement is treason.
5. [Fascism] grows up and seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus [fascism] is racist by definition.
6. [Fascism] derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, [fascism] says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the [fascist] psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside...
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies...However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.
9. For [fascism]...life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such a “final solution” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament..
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the [fascist] transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the [fascist] hero tends to play with weapons – doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
13. ...In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view – one follows the decisions of the majority. For [fascism], however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People...There is in our future [our present, now] a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
14. [Fascism] speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in 1984, as the official language of Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show...
[When Mussolini was arrested, I saw the newspaper] celebrated the end of the dictatorship and the return of freedom: freedom of speech, of press, of political association. These words, “freedom,” “dictatorship,” “liberty,” – I now read them for the first time in my life. I was reborn as a free Western man by virtue of these new words.
We must keep alert, so that the sense of these words will not be forgotten again. Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier, for us, if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Black Shirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling:
'I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.'"
~ Source: "Ur-Fascism," by Umberto Eco