Why is Facism on the Rise?
When there is tumultuous change, what happens?
Change means that something significantly new has happened. Decisions have to be made. Since the situation is new, the decision has to be made under uncertainty. The higher the rate of change, the greater the uncertainty. The decision needs to be implemented. That entails risk. The higher the rate of change, the greater the risks.
How do people handle increased uncertainty and risk? There are two major alternatives.
The first is to try to reduce uncertainty and risk by tightening the control over the situation; by trying to control the rate of change. That is done by autocratic decision making, rejection of diversity, reduction of freedom of speech and of the media, increase in controls by higher authorities, etc. In this alternative, risk is thought to be reduced by eliminating dissension—by all means necessary.
This alternative does not apply only to a country: When this happens in companies it is not called fascism, it is called corporatism, inflexible hierarchy, centralization, and an autocratic managerial style. It can occur in families and personal life as well. The person becomes intolerant, inflexible, and excessively conservative.
The other alternative to reduce uncertainty and risk is to encourage diversity and cross-pollination of ideas. This method reduces uncertainty because diversified points of view balance one another, shining light on the problem as different styles look at it from different angles. If this diversity is based on mutual trust and respect, which is the prerequisite for a working democracy, the respect enables this cross-pollination to occur and thus better decisions are made.
If there is mutual trust, there is faith that a commonality of interests exists. Thus, people share the burden of implementation, and that reduces risk. Without mutual trust, each party is fighting for its individual needs, increasing the risk of implementing a decision made under uncertainty.
This second alternative is the liberal alternative, the opposite of the fascist alternative.
The liberal alternative is not attractive in the short term: there is too much dissension, too much discussion. It feels as if uncertainty grows rather than being reduced. The discussions give the impression of major conflicts of interests, which also nurture the perception of increased risk.
The fascist alternative looks more attractive in the short term. There is big papa who will take care of everything. Everyone stop worrying, there is a savior to take care of it all…somehow.
The problem with the fascist alternative is this “somehow.” The autocratic, closed-minded, decision maker will eventually make a decision that reflects exclusively the biased values system of the autocrat, which eventually will be erroneous and damage the system. He can’t be right all the time on every decision in a time of uncertainty.
Throughout history dictators were attractive to populations in time of change. But eventually they made a major decision that was disastrous because they were making decisions in a vacuum. No one dared to dissent and share the information that they had. Although fascism is attractive in the short term, it is a disaster in the long term.
Liberalism and democracy may feel like a disaster in the short term because of the perceived increase in uncertainty and risk, but this approach is more successful in the long term because better decisions are made and implemented more effectively although not efficiently.
Because fascism is more attractive in the short term, individuals with those ideas might be elected to power more easily than those promoting diversity and democracy, to the detriment of society.
The faster, more acute the rate of change, the more attractive the fascist alternative appears to some.