Dec 102015

The words “fascism” and “terrorism” are used a lot these days.  Their meanings – perhaps never very precise – have been extended to the point where they are essentially meaningless.  The residuum of meaning in “fascism” is “I don’t like you or what you do or say”, with implied but definite reference to Hitler, and in “terrorism” is “any violent act”, with implied reference to famous and very nasty acts by very evil people in the past, and usually applied by the victim to gain attention and sympathy.

This is not a new problem.  Devin Foley on the Intellectual Takeout blog notes that George Orwell wrote about the meaning of fascism in 1944 and quotes the article.

As I understand the original terms, fascism has to do with a totalitarian system, with the twist that the economy remains in private hands while being under the total control of the state.  Terrorism has to do with acts of violence committed by a small, unpopular group in an effort to change the government.  They might attack the government directly, but almost always attack soft civilian targets, to convince the people to change their government.  When I use these terms, I try to stick with these definitions.  You might consider something similar.

Disclaimer: I do not support Mr. Donald Trump.  I say this in case anyone thinks I’m actually defending him, to whom “fascist” is often applied.  If it comes down to him or The Honorable Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton, I’ll have to abstain.