It is rightly said that prevention is better than cure. To save democracy and to prevent the onslaught of fascism, we must learn what renowned political scientist, Dr Lawrence Britt, had identified as the 14 common symptoms of fascism after his extensive research on fascist regimes.
The first symptom is that a regime having an inclination towards fascism makes constant display of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs and flags. Second, it views human rights as roadblocks to eliminate enemies. It gives tacit support to lynching and assassinations. Third, hysteria is created to make the people rally into a unifying patriotic frenzy to banish a perceived common enemy. Fourth, military issues outweigh domestic ones. Fifth, in fascist regimes, the traditional gender roles tend to get more rigid. Sixth, it tries either to directly control the media or at least to indirectly pull strings by regulating or by creating sympathetic media spokespeople and anchormen. Seventh, it has an obsession with national security because it wants to use fear to motivate the common people. Eighth, fascist nations use majority religion to control public opinion. Ninth, elite market players and a fascist government have a symbiotic relationship. Tenth, it suppresses labour power as it is the only real threat to a fascist government.
Eleventh, there is disdain for intellectuals and the arts. Fascist nations promote hostility towards higher education and academia. Twelfth, the people are forced to forsake civil liberties for patriotism. Thirteenth, there exist rampant cronyism and corruption. And, finally, the fourteenth – smear campaigns are staged against opposition candidates, legislation is used to control the voting numbers, the media is sometimes manipulated to manipulate elections.
If we want to enjoy democracy, which is undoubtedly the best and the most nonviolent form of government, we have to be cautious about the symptoms of fascism. Simultaneously, we ourselves must try to be truly democratic in our family and workplace as it is rightly said that in a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.
Sujit De, Kolkata