The Rhetoric of Fascism: Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique
Fascism has resurfaced as one of the most pressing problems of our time. The rise of extremist parties and candidates in Europe, the United States, and around the globe has led even mainstream political commentators to begin using the term fascism to describe dangerous movements that have revived and repackaged many of the strategies long thought to have been relegated to the margins of political rhetoric. No longer just confined to the state regimes of the past, fascism thrives today as a globally self-augmenting, self-propagating rhetorical phenomenon with a variety of faces and expressions. The Rhetoric of Fascism defines and interprets the common persuasive devices that characterize fascist discourse to understand the nature of its enduring appeal. By approaching fascism from a rhetorical perspective, this volume complements established political and sociological understandings of fascism as a movement or regime. A rhetorical approach studies fascism less as a party one joins than as a set of persuasive strategies one adopts. Fascism spreads precisely because it is not a coherent entity. Instead, it exists as a loosely bound and often contradictory collection of persuasive trajectories that have attained enough coherence to mobilize and channel the passions of a self-constituted mass of individuals. Introductory chapters focus on general theories of fascism drawn from twentieth-century history and theory. Contributors investigate specific historical figures and their relationship to contemporary rhetorics, focusing on a specific rhetorical device that is characteristic of fascist rhetoric. A common thread throughout every chapter is that fascist devices are appealing because they speak to us in the familiar language of our culture. As we are seduced by one device at a time, we soon find ourselves part of a movement, a group, or a campaign that makes us act in ways we might never have imagined. This volume reveals that fascism may be closer to home than we think.