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Thoughts about Ur-Fascism

Parody of fascism posterWe saw this poster today, which is a great parody of 1930s-1940s propaganda posters. Rather than dismiss it as paranoid, we read some of the articles the authors of the poster had on their page. When we came across Umberto Eco’s “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt”, by Umberto Eco, we were eager to read the whole 1995 essay. He’s a magnificent novelist and a provocative thinker .

The last point in his piece really rang some bells, particularly when it comes to the subject of the media:

Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak

Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

This is just an aside, but tomorrow is the anniversary of the completion of Dachau. (1933) The Eco article is here. You can find the poster and the other articles they have linked here.

We’ll return to writing humor tomorrow. Assuming we can get over being freaked out.


  1. Yes, it’s interesting to review Newspeak. I think much of the media use “brain stem speak” that is, appealing to our most primitive emotions of fear and rage. This, more than right/left biases, seems to control the media – and it’s not in service to the truth which is always more nuanced. Apparently the truth is too boring for the rabble.

  2. I agree — the truth is always more work to report as well, because it requires so much context. m.

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