22A016 Terms of Disparagement by Jim Davies, 4/19/2022
"Fascist Pig!" is a protest often used by those harassed by government police, but the second of those words gives me a problem. What's wrong with pigs? I've never heard of a pig wielding a club or firing a water cannon or rubber bullet, nor of one using a taser or preventing someone breathing or breaking up a peaceful gathering, demanding to know why you're traveling during a lockdown, springing a radar trap or deploying handcuffs; so why demean them that way?
Muslims, Jews and Seventh Day Adventists declare that pigs are "unclean," but that would mean the pigs' alleged creator is also unclean, yet they worship him as perfect. That says quite a bit about the absurd contradictions of religion, but nothing about the merits of pigs. Me, I think they are rather cute.
The "fascist!" part of the cry is, on the other hand, quite accurate. Anyone imposing authority on someone can validly be called a fascist. It's what the word means.
It comes from the Latin fasces, a major symbol used in the Roman Empire two thousand years ago. These were bundles of rods or canes, wrapped with an ax. The message was clear: We (the ruling clique, whether the Caesar alone or the SPQR, Senatus Populesque Romanus) make laws, and require you to obey them, and if you don't we will cane you. Or perhaps remove your head.
"Fascism", therefore, is synonymous with "government". That's what they do, no matter what label they give themselves. They may be Conservative Fascists or Liberal Fascists or Democratic Fascists or Socialist Fascists but at root, they are there to wield authority and therefore they are fascists. They may be mild fascists or harsh ones, and they may only occasionally call themselves Fascist, but they wield authority over people and companies so they are fascist. Except for Communist Fascists they don't pretend to own companies - but they closely regulate and meticlously milk them.
But not in America, surely? - oh, yes. Either side of the podium in the Chamber of Congress is a wood carving of a bunch of fasces, like those pictured. Our attention is usually on the speaker instead, but look carefully and you'll see them right there, larger than life. We here make the laws, and will punish you should you fail to obey them.
"Fascist", therefore, is an appropriate term of disrespect, applied to government and its agents. But not to our porcine pals.
"Nazi" is a German slang term meaning a "half-witted yokel", I recently discovered, so was never used about themselves by National Socialist Party members - it's a term of disparagement. They were Fascists who had the particular flavor of hatred for Jews. Like most fascists they were patriotic, but so fiercely patriotic that they did not tolerate Jews as good Germans - because they had and have a loyalty to the Jewish people too. So the National Socialist government forbade them to hold key jobs, and eventually deprived them of property and eventually of their very lives. The stated intention was to liquidate all Jews in the Reich. They killed about half.
Today some fascists despise Jews, but none that I can think of that operate states (there are governments, like Iran's, hostile to the Israeli State, but they don't hate Jews for being Jewish.)
So "Nazi" is a term which aims to scorn authoritarians in intimidating costumes. To my surprise Mr Putin used it about the government of Ukraine recently; his stated war aims are to destroy that country's military ability to hurt Russophiles in its East, and to de-Nazify Kiev.
That's impossible, because while (like his) the Kiev government is fascist, it's not Nazi, for it does not persecute Jews. Its President is himself a Jew! Why Putin used that obviously false phrase I don't know; possibly, he was trying to arouse in Russians a feeling of hostility towards Ukraine that had been inherited from the veterans who had defeated Nazi Germany. My informants in Russia report that opinion there about the war is sharply divided, so he has a lot of popular opposition. Maybe that explains his terminological inexactitude.
You and I should avoid such loose talk, and keep our nouns and adjectives clear. A "liberal" is one who values freedom, not government. An "entitlement" is what A grants B pursuant to a contract, nothing else. A "right" is what we each have by Nature, not by government, for all government is fascist, based on force and not on rights, reason or persuasion; and should therefore be disparaged.