Reading some tweets, here and there I felt the need to gain a deeper understanding of their meaning and intention. As connected as we are through the internet, the never-ending flow of information doesn’t allow us to be informed. There is more to do to gain an understanding of what it describes.
In this case, the tweets were aimed at the upcoming election in the US, pointing out some current events and connecting them with the existing leadership.
The trigger that spiked my interest was the word fascist as well as the fact that this type of information was spreading fast.
The trigger brought me back to Fascism, a book written by Madelaine Albright I had read around 2018. The book had already taught me then, that there is no single definition of Fascism that is widely accepted. Connecting her experience with discussions she had with her students she comes to a definition, one that helps to see how easily fascism can spread into democracy.
It’s a description that reads like the perfect action plan for those who seek to make change happen, have an ethic that allows them to use manipulation to its full extent, and seek to focus on their goals.
Fascism is more of a means for seizing and holding power than a political ideology.
The main element to seize power is emotions.
In every country, there are people who are upset for some reason. It gives them a sense that there are things they ‘should’ have and an idea of what they fear. It can be that a war was lost, that enough people lost their jobs, that they see themselves as having been humiliated, or that they have a common perception that the country is in a steep decline.
They will also be those people who find that the promises society has made them have not been fulfilled. Changing such a situation is attractive for them. It’s one where it’s possible to be an idealist or to see oneself as a reformer. These people are emotional about it as it links with their self-interest. They feel a sense of injustice. They also see how participating in changing the situation makes them part of a meaningful quest. It connects them with a near universal human desire.
From a marketing point of view, this is a well-defined audience. One that is even waiting for someone to take the lead. They are willing to contribute letting the movement draw its energy from them.
Once it has established its power the movement needs to consolidate its authority. Its first move will be to control information. Given the internet, there is the possibility to try to control the internet or the people using it. A means to do so is to collect every possible bit of information about them. Then there is the possibility to highlight the overwhelm of false information as well as the possibility to use the fact that specific types of news spread easily. The later even constantly regenerating themselves.
Taking all of this into account, Madelaine Albright describes a fascist as “someone who identifies strongly with and claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use whatever means are necessary – including violence – to achieve his or her goals.”
Using the lens of fascism gives an option to analyze how change can be initiated and led.
It doesn’t make the leadership better (my point of view), but it does help to see its effectiveness.