The Night of Broken Glass in Rome

05/26/08

FASCISM

Gaither Stewart
From Tom Paine's Corner

(Rome) On Saturday last Fascist goon squads armed with wooden clubs carried out a “punitive expedition”, that is, an organized raid on shops of Asian immigrants in Italy’s capital. Ten or so men masked in scarves adorned with swastikas swooped down on immigrant-run grocery stores, a telephone call center, a laundry and various shops along the streets of one of Rome’s most multiethnic districts, smashing windows and the interiors of the stores. Yelling “dirty foreigner” and “bastards” the hoodlums beat up an immigrant from Bangladesh who was treated in a hospital. TV newscasts showed broken windows and glass along the sidewalks recalling similar events in the 1938 pogroms in Nazi Germany which came to be called Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) for the shattered store windows along city streets of Germany.

The Night of Broken Glass became a symbol of violence organized by the Nazi-Fascist state against Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and the other. Despite the regrets expressed this Sunday by post-Fascist political leaders, violent segments of the extreme Right today feel legitimized by the Right’s recent electoral victory which swept so-called post-Fascists into power in Italy.

The words Fascism and Fascist have again become commonplace in world languages. Let’s take a look at what those words mean in our daily lives.

Three hundred and fifty words about Fascism

Fascism is insidious.
Fascism comes about gradually.
Fascism emerges from the evil side of mankind.
Fascism as a social-political expression is hardly noticeable at first.
Fascism begins in backward social classes as a reaction to losing their role in society.
Fascism has two faces: an anti-political establishment face, in the USA the old familiar anti-Washington stance; and a reactionary face created by false consciousness.
Fascism on its way to power allies with capitalism and becomes the establishment’s mouthpiece and its police.
Fascism is the armed violent wing of capitalism.
Fascism defends private property against the threat of revolutionary expropriation.
Fascism in power exists on the backs of enemies.
Fascism in power becomes a deviate state power.
Fascism is mixed with the military hierarchy.
Fascism tries to resolve international problems with bluff and guns.
Fascism in practice is rooted in meanness and narrow-mindedness, its doors wide open to social bullies of all colors and provenance.
Fascism is an all-is-permitted state.
Fascism’s promises of impunity justify the out-flowing of pent-up hate of bullies.
Fascism in power is cloaked in a veneer of nationalism and idealism.
Fascism becomes a popular demand for totalitarianism.

Fascism is partly a class phenomenon, a movement with a specific social goal.
Fascism bursts every barrier and framework of control.
Fascism unleashes the most evil elemental forces of man.
Fascism is moral decay and decadence.
Fascism is marked by cruelty and an absence of sympathy for the misfortunate.
Fascism is an atmosphere marked by a false face of sentimentality with an enormously high rate of violence.
Fascism is distinguished by arbitrariness, destructiveness and reaction.
Fascism abolishes the concept of balances and control and fairness and compassion.
Fascism in power is uncontrollable.
Fascism in power is total and authoritarian, characterized by a centralized, autocratic state governed by a dictatorial chief.
Fascism operates for the benefit of a few.
Fascism is aggressive repression of opposition.
Fascism is nationalistic to the extreme, reducing the interests of the individual to the interests of an elite.
Fascism promotes promises of national rebirth with “cults” of unity, exceptionalism and supremacy over other nations and races.
Fascism is super-patriotism, super-nationalism, militarism, populism, anti-liberalism, elitism.
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May 26, 2008 GAITHER STEWART is a Senior Special Contributing Editor and European Correspondent at Cyrano's Journal, a novelist and journalist. His stories, essays and dispatches are read widely on many leading venues. His fiction, Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger and Once In Berlin are published by Wind River Press. (www.windriverpress.com). His recent novel, Asheville, is published by Wastelandrunes, (www.wastelandrunes.com)