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How the Shadows of Fascism Falls Unseen: The Dangers of Ignorance – Part II

This is the second post of this blog series ‘How the Shadows of Fascism Falls Unseen: The Dangers of Ignorance’. Read the previous post here. 

Listen to this blog post using the audio player below:

Messaging (Slogans) in Fascism

Benito Mussolini, the infamous father of Fascism, sought to revive the glory of the ancient Roman empire, inspiring Italians to join his cause. 

Today, we see similar dangerous ambitions in the political views of leaders: in Turkey, who dream of resurrecting the Ottoman Empire; in Hungary, who champions himself as the defender of European Christianity; and in India, who allegedly aims to create a Hindu-only nation. 

Powerful striking slogans are one of the most effective tools used by marketers and propagandists alike to appeal to the masses . To evoke an emotion among their audience to buy a product or to subscribe to an idea. 

Fascist propaganda also often relies on the use of emotional appeals, such as appeals to patriotism, nationalism, and sacrifice. 

By appealing to people’s sense of duty and sacrifice, fascist leaders are able to mobilize large numbers of people to support their cause, even if it means putting their own lives at risk.

Slogans: Manipulating thoughts and emotions

  • Make America Great Again 

One of the best recent examples for the use of slogans to spread ideologies and evoke emotions is Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign phrase – Make America Great Again. 

The slogan suggests that America was great in the past and needs to be made great again, which can be interpreted as a rejection of progress or a call to return to a mythical “golden age” that never really existed. 

We can see the anti-globalization and anti-liberal view of Fascism hiding behind the foxy slogan. 

  • Mussolini is always right

Mussolini’s most famous slogan was “Fascism is the doctrine of national strength” (in Italian: “Il fascismo è dottrina della forza nazionale”). 

However, he also used other slogans throughout his political career, such as “Believe, obey, fight” (in Italian: “Credere, obbedire, combattere”) and “Mussolini is always right” (in Italian: “Mussolini ha sempre ragione”).

  • One People, One Empire, One Leader

The Nazi Party’s slogan “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer” (One People, One Empire, One Leader) was a simple but powerful statement that appealed to people’s sense of national pride and identity.

These slogans and the political language center around the glorious mythical past and anti-liberal views, which we saw in the previous post.  

These slogans are designed to be easily remembered and repeated, and often use powerful language that creates a strong emotional response in the listener.

  • ‘Parasites’ and ‘Aliens’

Another technique used in fascist propaganda is the use of dehumanizing language to demonize the enemy. 

By portraying the enemy as subhuman or evil, fascists are able to create a sense of fear and hatred among their followers, which can be used to justify violence and aggression. 

For example, the Nazi Party referred to Jews as “vermin” and “parasites”, which helped to justify their persecution and genocide. Donald Trump used the word ‘aliens’ to spread fear about immigrants among his followers.

In 2019 during an election rally, the present-day Indian Home Minister referred to immigrants from Bangladesh as “termites”. His exact words were: “Illegal infiltrators are like termites in the soil and they are eating the grain that should go to the poor, they should be thrown out.

  • Lock her up 

This is yet another phrase used by the Donald Trump Campaign to smear his opponents image. 

It was a powerful and emotional slogan that played on the fears and frustrations of many Americans who were unhappy with the political establishment and felt that Clinton was corrupt and untrustworthy.

However, it should be noted that Clinton was never charged with any crimes related to her email use during Trump’s tenure. It was only a temporary strategy used to disillusion his White American voter base. 

These powerful one-liners slogans are controlled by the propagandists  to manipulate and control the thoughts and emotions of the masses. These one-liners are carefully crafted to appeal to people’s fears, prejudices, and desires, and are often repeated over and over again to create a sense of unity and purpose among followers.

In India, the government has used slogans to promote its new policies and initiatives.  However, the misguided, emotionally charged angry Hindu mobs have used slogans like Jai Shri Ram extensively in their party rallies. 

Jai Shri Ram is a war cry used by the ape-like devotees of Lord Ram while defeating their demon enemies from Ceylon (the present day Sri Lanka) near South India. 

The slogan has become very popular and it’s considered to be a political slogan rather than a religious chant. The phrase is a battlecry used by angry mobs while lynching minorties, defeating their demonized enemies.

‘Love Jihad’ is another phrase used by right wing extremists to demonize minority young men falling in Love with Hindu girls. This is also a means for the fascists to protect their racial purity.

Such slogans that drive division among the social fabrics are slowly becoming mainstream in India.

The Good Vs Bad Slogans

Liberal governments may use slogans that promote unity, equality, and progress for all members of society. 

These slogans may aim to build a sense of community and belonging, and may appeal to a wide range of people with different backgrounds and beliefs. 

For example, “Yes, we can” was a slogan used by the liberal government of former US President Barack Obama, which aimed to inspire hope and promote a sense of collective action among the American people.

On the other hand, far-right extremist governments may use slogans that promote nationalism, populism, and exclusivity. These slogans may aim to create a sense of “us vs them” and may appeal to a narrow group of people who share a specific set of beliefs or characteristics.

Intelligence Vs raw emotions

Human beings are political animals and intolerant. Their emotions of fear, anger and frustration can be easily catered to. It’s easy on the part of Fascism to evoke these raw emotions with targeted messages. 

On the other hand, liberal views are more intellectually inclined as opposed to raw emotions and it needs some transformation of the raw human instincts to have a full understanding of liberal worldviews. 

There is a lesson for liberals from what Fascist regimes do perfectly.

Merely relying on intellectual appeal in liberal slogans might not be enough to captivate and motivate people. 

It could be more effective if they also include emotionally charged messages that resonate with people’s passions and values.

To be continued

Researched books:

How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

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