The word "fascism" gets used frequently these days. Does it have any relevance or weight anymore? If so, does the word fascism denote a certain left or right political bias?

  • A proposed rewording of this question would be "How did the definition of Fascism lose its precision over time? Fascism used to refer to a specific form of governance but now it is used as a blunt instrument against political opponents all over the spectrum." Mar 9, 2017 at 17:03
  • Possible duplicate of Is fascism left or right wing?
    – agc
    Oct 24, 2020 at 7:04
  • If you keep crying wolf, eventually people will stop answering
    – user35972
    Mar 2, 2021 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Journalist George Orwell addressed this topic in The Tribune back in 1944:

It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.

  • I can get why the question got downvotes (It's an interesting question but was phrased... poorly). But why was this excellent answer heavily downvoted?
    – user4012
    Mar 9, 2017 at 1:02
  • 1
    @user4012 It might have been down voted because it is answering a poorly asked question. Some questions shouldn't be answered; reference - second to last paragraph of this link: politics.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer Mar 9, 2017 at 1:11
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    @DrunkCynic - such an attitude is clearly in opposition to SE's official intent, given the existence of "Reversal" Gold badge - SE philosophy is that badges are only awarded for desirable actions, especially gold ones. Taking a crappy question and producing a good answer is laudable, not condemnable.
    – user4012
    Mar 9, 2017 at 1:13
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    @DrunkCynic - actually, IMHO this question does NOT fit any of the bullets listed under "Answer well-asked questions" on Help. The guidance there is aimed from preventing people from answering a question that basically cannot be answered objectively - whereas this one can be; it merely is written poorly but is quite clear what is being asked.
    – user4012
    Mar 9, 2017 at 1:25
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    I downvoted. Here are some of my reasons: This "answer" is basically a block-quote. A good answer would have synthezised that quote into a meaningful explanation. Second, that quote isn't from an applicable source. A good answer would be based on the views of experts, not a novelist. Third, a good answer should explain why it is correct. This answer just drops a quote and expects the reader to do any heavy-lifting. Mar 9, 2017 at 15:26

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