"When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." (Matt 16:2-3)
Umberto Eco, in a forward to American Fascists: the Christian Right and the War on America, by Chris Hedges (Free Press, NY, London, 2006) presented an essay titled "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt." He began by saying,
"In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outlive a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it."
His list of features included the following:
"Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism. In this context Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
Disagreement is a sign of diversity. Thus Ur-Fascism is racists by definition.
Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. Fascism appeals to a frustrated middle class.
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only priviledge is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
For Ur-Fascism there is not struggle for life, but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies conte…mpt for the weak.
In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to paly, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak."
So…given Umberto Eco's description of Ur-Fascism, where do we find outbreaks of this tempting range of social, political, relational and spiritual actions and reactions?
As a progressive I can easily see Ur-Fascism in the words of folk in the realignment crowd. Some from there have seen it in the attitudes of some of the Progressive crowd. Where do you see outbreaks of, say, "the cult of tradition"?
George Orwell gave us an image of a new fascism, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." Such a future, God help us, may be the future for human societies. Such societies will exhibit many of the characteristics that Umberto Eco described. But can we not imagine another future for the Church? Perhaps not as ekklesia (organized church) but as koinonia (community).