And as I reread it, I realise how much worse it's become in 15 years!
Umberto Eco On The Attack
In a speech that he gave at Columbia University, Umberto Eco spelled out fourteen features that he considered were typical of Eternal Fascism (which he also calls Ur-Fascism ); adding however this explanatory detail: " These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it."
Comment: Fascinating isn't it? The features can't be organised into a system, may contradict each other and are typical of other kinds of bad systems but, "it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it." In other words, these are fourteen things Eco doesn't like and therefore they are typical of Ur-Fascism!
Umberto Eco:  The Cult of Tradition. "Truth has already been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message."
Comment: Pretty well takes care of 95 per cent of believers, doesn't it, Christian or not? Also note the snide "obscure"!
Umberto Eco:  "Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism …The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense [Eternal fascism] can be defined as irrationalism."
Comment: Note the false equation "rejection of modernism"="irrationalism".
Umberto Eco:  "Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake …. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been symptom of Ur- [or Eternal Fascism ]."
Comment: He has a point! The Church has always defended reason against its attackers, but of course, in this case Eco defines the terms.
Umberto Eco:  " No syncretistic faith can withstand analytical criticism. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism (or Eternal Fascism), disagreement is is treason."
Comment: Again, notice the snide "syncretistic". Eco's assumption is that all faiths are syncretistic and untrue.
Umberto Eco:  "Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-fascism (or Eternal Fascism) grows up and seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist movement is an appeal against intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism (or Eternal Fascism) is racist by definition."
Comment: Another false equation: "appeal against intruders"="racist". This is the standard ploy of Islamophiles since Islam is not a race!
Umberto Eco:  "Ur-Fascism (or Eternal Fascism) derives from individual or social frustration."
Comment: As does almost any movement, including modernity, the Enlightenment, etc!
Umberto Eco:  " …Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside."
Comment: Eco claims to be trained in philosophy. Has he never heard of Occam's Razor, defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy as 'The principle (attributed to the English philosopher and Franciscan friar William of Occam, c. 1285–1349) that in explaining a thing no more assumptions should be made than are necessary. ...?' It is much more philosophically elegant to accept a conspiracy against Græco-Roman Catholic Civilisation and Culture, led by its original enemy, Satan, than it is to try to explain in a convoluted manner the attacks upon it.
Umberto Eco:  "The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies ….However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy."
Comment: Again, he may have a point, but note the segue into why fascist governments are doomed to lose wars, a unproven assertion. No one, fascist or not goes to war without hope of winning.
Umberto Eco:  "For Ur-Fascism, (Eternal Fascism) there is no struggle for life, but rather life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare."
Comment: See St Francois de Sales favourite book The Spiritual Combat, by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli.
Umberto Eco:  "Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak. Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people of the world, the members of the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party …"
Comment: Again, notice the unproven assertion, "aristocratic ..... elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak." Also, the last sentence strikes at the very root of believers' proselytism.
Umberto Eco:  "…Everybody is educated to become a hero …This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity ; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By, contrast, the Ur-Fascist craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death."
Comment: While, according to Eco, the "Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die" there is no proven evidence that "In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death."
Umberto Eco:  "Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of non-standard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality)."
Comment: Oh, we have to get the "human rights" angle in! Men and women are identical and all "sexual orientations" are equally valid, didn't you know?
Umberto Eco:  "Ur-Fascism (Eternal Fascism) is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view – one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism (Eternal Fascism), however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter..."
Comment: Substitute the word "State" for "Leader" and this is true of every government that follows a revolutionary ideology whether, fascist, collectivist or liberal democratic. Remember Hilary's "It takes a village"? It was not true and cannot be true of its very nature of a government informed by the Social Magisterium.
Umberto Eco  "Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in 1984, …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 thinking."
Comment: Frightening if you've looked at the textbooks in use in the US today! And let's not even touch upon the modern MSM and its influence on "limit(ing) the instruments for complex and critical thinking!"