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How the Shadows of Fascism Falls Unseen: The Dangers of Ignorance – Part 10

Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it. – Wilhelm Reich

Do Fascist leaders create rigid and remorseless human beings? Or is it the repressed emotions and internal struggles of the masses that draw them to the political ideology of Fascism?

Both are true and interdependent. We will look at how the 

Analogous to how the economic insecurity and cultural anxiety due to globalization became contributing factors for the re-emergence of Fascism in the early 21st century, it was the fear of socialism that led to the rise of Fascism in Europe after the First World War.  

During its emergence and reemergence, it is the mass hysteria demanding a social revolution that provoked leaders to adopt Fascist principles to their political agenda. 

Layers of Characters 

According to Wilhelm Reich, the author of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, there are three layers of characters in a (wo)man. 

The surface-level character is what the external world looks at. This is not essentially who you are but this set of characters are developed by you so that you become a responsible payer in the society. These skills are cultivated. 

In the middle layer lies your suppressed emotions which you had to bury because of what you wanted to become by exhibiting the characters at the surface level. Human beings are not tolerant by nature. In the case of Fascists, at the surface level, they have to display tolerance to become a responsible social animal. Their intolerance is a repressed emotion, which will come to the forefront with external stimuli.

The deepest layer is the biologic core, which is the true self. In this layer, a human being can be caring, loving, and honest. With some external motivation, this core can be filled with hatred.

Reich argues that what is in touch with your deep biological core is the secondary layer of repressed emotions which is diabolical. 

And this is the layer far-right extremists tap into by exploiting the fear and anxiety of the masses. 

Fear and anxiety

For example, in 2018, the Census Bureau of the US released a report that predicted by 2050 minorities will be 50% of the population becoming the majority resulting in a minority-majority shift. 

For a white supremacist, this is an alarming study; something that impacts the intermediate character layer which will cause a serious change to the biological core of who s(he) is. To them, (who believe themselves to be the founders of the civilization), when the destroyers of civilization become the majority the will of nature and the creator is in grave danger; To them democracy is a will against the natural law. And collectively they end up waging a war against democracy.

In another example, the Republican party was quoted as the Parent’s Party when Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s election in Virginia. 

The younger generation learning the history of racism in the US is a fear, residing in the intermediate layer, for a white supremacist parent. 

Contrary to Reich’s quote mentioned at the start of the article, the right-wing extremists let fear, anxiety, and intolerance govern society. In authoritarian states like Russia, Turkey and India, this stands to be true. 

Isn’t Liberalism at fault?

Is it only Fascism that is evil? Isn’t liberal values equally evil?

Is it safe to argue that Democrats let the inequality problem spiral out of control and that’s why economic populism is on the rise leading to white nationalism in the US? 

That’s an oversimplification of the issue at hand. Restoring economic inequality takes time and moreover, Democratic Party is not a monolith and there will be different approaches and inputs to handle the economic pressures in the society.

The liberal ideology advocates the cultivation of the intermediate characters that can interact with your deeper self. And this cultivation of virtuous intermediate characters happens under favorable social conditions. Does everyone have these favorable conditions? Maybe not. But there is definitely a lot of improvement. 

In 1700, life expectancy at birth was around 35 years which has grown to 78.6 years in 2023. Similarly in 1700, a majority of the population was living in poverty and in the US today only 10% of the population suffers from poverty.

These improvements are due to improved nutrition, healthcare, education, economic growth etc.

To have a harmonious environment that can catalyst growth, it is important not to let fear and anxiety govern us. 

Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it. – Wilhelm Reich

To be continued…

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