Federico Finchelstein: “The populisms of the 21st century are getting closer and closer to fascism”

First modification: 08/04/2021 – 21:59

Fascism was born 100 years ago in Italy thanks to Benito Mussolini and spread throughout Europe during the 20th century. He also came to America, he was defeated, but the fascist temptation lives on. Some leaders of the 21st century have been called frequently and according to the conjuncture “fascists.” What is fascist about current populisms? In this edition of Escala en París we answer the question with Federico Finchelstein, Argentine historian, professor at the New School for Social Research in New York and specialist on fascism.

In his latest book entitled ‘A Brief History of the Fascist Lie’ (Taurus), Finchelstein argues that the populist leaders of the 21st century borrow from fascism tools such as questioning reality, promoting paranoia – and also violence – or spreading lies.

Many of today’s populist leaders and politicians are called fascists, but what exactly do they have about fascist leaders like Trump, Bolsonaro, Vox in Spain, Salvini in Italy, Orban in Hungary or Narendra Modi in India?

With them “a populism arises that is closer and closer to fascism because they once again present racism, xenophobia, hatred, discrimination as the central axis of politics, they return to violence and the militarization of politics; and he returns above all to that form of lying, and worse still, transforming reality so that it resembles the lie that is more typical of fascism than of populism ”, affirms Finchelstein.

The author lists four typically fascist elements: violence, racism, lies and dictatorship, to which he would also add the coup.

A paradigmatic case was the assault on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. That day, Trump supporters stormed the headquarters of Congress in Washington, occupying various parts of the building for hours, angry at the result of the elections they won. Democrat Joe Biden.

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“A month before I published an article in the ‘Washington Post’ in which I warned, precisely because of what we know about Latin American dictatorships, that what it seemed that Trump was planning was a coup based precisely on that great fascist-style lie. , that he had won the elections when in fact he had not won them. That is what would have happened if democracy had not defeated this great Trump lie ”, analyzes Federico Finchelstein.

There is a lot of talk about right-wing fascism, but is there left-wing fascism? The expert responds with a resounding ‘no’. “The fascists are anti-left and define their enemies as fascists when they are the fascists,” he emphasizes.

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