1. TheDankTank

    TheDankTank Member

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    Fantasy Fascists

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by TheDankTank, Jun 4, 2017.

    So. In a world broken apart by centuries of ruthless civil war, is it potentially feasible to see a rise of a fascist (or very similar) group? What potential motives/ideology could such an entity have? How much support from the general public could these guys get? Is this a potentially interesting idea, or is it as moronic as it sounds?
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    yes - Fascism tends to rise in those circumstances (as does communism and other forms of dictatorship) - Fascist ideology is nearly always national pride .. we are the chosen ones, the other group is different and to blame for all our problems so we should kill/deport them and take their money to make XYZ country great again.

    They gain popular support worryingly easily because desperate people will support someone who promises to change the desperate situation

    Its not really a plot on its own, but its a suitable back drop for a plot
     
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    I think the larger issue here is your civil war. If it lasted centuries, whatever cultural identity that initially united your warring factions (making the conflict "civil") would have long passed beyond living memory. For example, if the US was still fighting their civil war today there would no longer be any "US" worth fighting for. The North and South would have long ago adopted new identities that made them separate cultures.
     
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  4. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    It's certainly an interesting idea.

    I'll agree that a civil war that lasted for hundreds of years of continuous fighting is unrealistic; on the other hand, you could have hundreds of years of internal political instability, with a few years of outright civil war cropping up after the death of every ruler. The longest period of prolonged civil war that springs to mind is the Crisis of the Third Century, which lasted something like 49 years, and nearly led to the Roman Empire collapsing about two centuries early.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_of_the_Third_Century

    China in the Early 20th Century was in a similar position.

    Unless you're writing fantasy with the trappings of the modern world (probably 1800 and up) I wouldn't actually say fascism within the story itself. That would be too jarring. You'd also likely need to steer towards absolute monarchy rather than the strong man dictator without a crown that's commonly associated with fascism. That's not a huge deal, since a number of proto-fascists supported absolute monarchism with their social and economic goals grafted onto it.

    The Crisis of the Third Century gives you all the basic ingredients for a fascist style movement (or other populist movements, like communism/socialism) to succeed: political instability including outright rebellion, foreign invasion, poor economy including inflation, and a general decline from previous glory. So if you take your scenario in that direction, I can see a fascistic movement arising.

    As for motives and ideology, fascist movements are usually defined by a few things: mytholigization of some past golden age (Imperial Germany, the HRE, and ancient Germanic culture in general for Nazi Germany, Rome for Mussolini's Italy) and a promise to restore it, ultranationalism and militarism, scapegoating of some group for causing the end of the golden age ( in our world Jews, communists, anarchists, liberal democracy, capitalism, bankers, and more have all been scapegoated by fascist regimes), mixed economy aiming for self sufficiency, and basically all power being concentrated in the state.

    As for popular support, that all depends on the target society and their circumstances. People don't turn to populist ideologies like fascism unless something is going wrong, or at least is perceived to be going wrong.

    With what you've described in the OP, let's sketch out a generic fantasy situation where a fascist style movement might rise to power:

    The past century has been a time of chaos for the people of Empire A. Fifty eight men and women have sat on the throne in that time, and dozens of others have tried to take it by force. Several provinces on the fringes have successfully revolted and set themselves up as independent realms, while other revolts have been put down with great effort. One of those kingdoms has just added the empire's agricultural heartland to its territory. Barbarian tribes keep invading from the west, orcish raiders harass shipping and plunder the coasts, and elven slaves are starting to get dangerous ideas about freedom from a new religious movement.

    Because of all the violent dangers, internal and external, past rulers have taken to paying the military massive accession bonuses. If they don't want the troops putting a new butt on the throne while they aren't looking, they have to upstage their predecessors. More recent rulers have found out devaluing A's currency is a relatively easy way to accomplish that. But the next thing you know, there's massive inflation and the economy is teetering on collapse.

    Into this situation comes Joe, a rising general in A's army. Over years of campaigning, Joe defeats the rebellious provinces and returns them to the empire, then drives back the barbarians and orcs. Troops and common citizens alike love him. Joe decides that the chaos can't ever be allowed to come back, and begins gathering a group of prominent like-minded individuals. He meets little opposition when he declares himself emperor.

    Once he has power, things begin to change. A vast network of spies and informers arises, rooting out everything from political dissenters to rebels and the subversive elven religion. Dwarven merchants are scapegoated for the poor economy, and their property confiscated. Same for those aforementioned dissenters. Those who won't worship the state cult are persecuted. The imperial government takes direct control over certain industries, like those which make arms and armor and supply the materials for those things. Patriotic rhetoric whips up the populace, and military campaigns are launched against the human tribes and orcs beyond the frontier, as well as smaller realms back east. The people of A are taught that they're superior to non-Aians, human and nonhuman alike. A has basically come to fit Mussolini's summation of fascism : all within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

    That's just one way you could go with this. The movement might not fix anything before gaining power, it might simply promise a solution. Everything could be backstory, the rise (and probably fall) of this movement could be the whole focus of the work, or anything in between.
     
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  5. socialleper

    socialleper Member

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    I'm going to pull out my history nerd card for a moment:
    The term Fascism relates to a very specific sort of government style prevalent in the early 20th century. What is actually means has become a little muddy, and now we tend to use it as a catch-all for anything oppressively authoritarian, or that includes racism.
    Real Fascism starts with the concept of the nation state, which didn't really exist under the feudal system of "kingdoms." There was not national or cultural identity for the average person to get behind and fight for, because there were only two distinct classes: Aristocracy and peasants. Peasants or serfs, were slaves to a degree, and viewed as little more than a resource to be used as their lords saw fit. There was no pride in the Kingdom, the lord, and their was no unifying culture to rally behind.
    Economics plays a part in that Fascism saw the state as the best means for providing for the needs of the citizens, and rejected free market capitalism. Neither of these concepts existed in Medieval times as concepts in macroeconomics simply didn't exist. There wasn't an academic class to sit around and rub their chins about it. That would require wide spread literacy, which if present, tends to rebuke Feudalism.
    Ethnocentrism and all out racism existed long before Fascism. Leaders using ethnic minorities as scapegoats for military exercise is a pretty old concept.
    It can be done, but I think you would have to walk away from the European Feudal\Peerage model most people use in fantasy. Which is fine, because too many people have gone to that well too many times, myself included.
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Very good points. I'd like to add that fascism in the classic sense (Pre-WW2 France, Spain, Italy--Nazism is kind of its own thing beyond characterization, though it had many fascist elements) was a reaction to communism. Essentially it was a mass political movement of the Right where no mass politics had existed before communism came around (on the Left). The term doesn't have much relevance now, though we certainly do throw it around a lot for any authoritarian political movement that is not inherently leftist or of the military coup/dictatorship variety.
     
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  7. socialleper

    socialleper Member

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    The irony was that they were a stones throw from each other. If we imagine the political spectrum as a line, and that communism and fascism are at the ends, if you bend the ends together, they end up in the same place- Authoritarian dictatorship.
    I personally always thought fascism was at least honest about what its goals were. Communism sounds great in theory, but in practice it takes an apparatus similar to fascism to make it work. Its Animal Farm's pigs all over again.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  8. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    Along the same lines as @X Equestris , but with a twist. Perhaps the fascism is the "pacifist" left, tired of centuries of war and demanding its end At All Costs. So they end up becoming the big bad that they allege to despise. Sort of a "monsters we are lest monsters we become" sort of scenario.
     
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  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Fucking right...
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Communism is, according to the online dictionary :
    a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.

    There is nothing in the notion of communism that implies a dictatorship, military posturing, or anything bad. Unfortunately the success of communism does depend on everybody in the 'community' agreeing to uphold the ideal, and that's where the dictatorship can come in. There will always be some who will be greedy, will attempt to take more than their share, or refuse to contribute as much as they should—or are perceived by those around them to be taking more than their share, or refusing to contribute. This can lead to cronyism, or actual persecution of the perceived non-participators. That's why nearly all 'communist' societies that actually succeed are small and often based on shared religious ideology. People really do have to believe in the ideal for it to work. Imposing it on an unwilling population automatically causes problems. Implementing it on a large scale has proved to be impossible to sustain.

    Communism is an economic and social ideal. Comparing it to Fascism is like comparing apples and oranges. Communism is a theory, while Fascism is a result.

    Communism and Capitalism are the two ends of the spectrum here. Fascism can result from either one.

    I do believe that greed is at the centre of all life, which is why this kind of ideal is so difficult to sustain. It truly is dog eat dog out there. Life requires the consumption and/or displacement of other living things in order to sustain itself. It's the sad truth. Even being a vegetarian requires the killing of plants.

    Competition for the resources that sustain life seems to be the bottom line for all of us, and that's a reality Communism struggles against all the time. It makes perfect sense to share resources—as we do within a family or even within a small community. However, even in these small units, there can be individuals who want and take more than their share of what's available. Capitalism gives free rein to the impulse for accumulation that lies within all of us, which is why it is the more successful of the two systems. Successful—in the sense that it's always with us, and probably always will be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  11. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    Amazing post!
     
  12. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    The heart of a fascist ideology is always: "Some people are more worth than others*". Which groups of people that are is up to the specific situation.

    Now, what can we derive from this idea?

    For example that some people do not deserve human rights because they are not valuable humans. Slavery can be justified by this. Killing people in KZs also. Letting them drown in the mediterranean sea, too. Torturing them in secret prisons. What is it in your fantasy world?

    The idea of a monolithic in-group is also a part of this. Everybody who somehow does not fullfil certain norms, does not belong to the in-group and is therefor subject to repression. If your in-group is characterized by "healthy body, healty mind", you discard disabled people. If the characteristic is "belong to a certain faith or ethnicity", you discard all who do not belong to it. If it's "contribute to the economy", then you discard unemployed people.
    What are the characteristics of your fantasy fascists?

    Of course you might want to construct your in-group in a way that at least so many people can identify with it that you need to seize the power. That's why national identity was so popular: Because within a certain country even the ugliest, poorest idiot can fullfil that criterium.
    Then you load the in-group with popular characteristics that everybody would like to have. For example: "The German is hard-working, honest and brave." Boom - everybody who happens to have been born to German parents wants to show his*her germanship to be labeled hard-working, honest and brave. And now it's easy to say: Those Jews (or refugees nowadays) are not German, therefor they are lazy, lying and cowardly.

    If you have defined the out-group(s), you need to make sure to rid your in-group of them. At first you need an organization that finds hidden out-groupers. And at second you need a plan for what to do with them.

    In the end you might not have a modern fascist system, but a fantasy thing with similar characteristics that can be recognized as an analogy.



    * which makes it different from communism/socialism where the credo is "all people are equal". That's why I disagree with the idea that the left and the right extremists are basically the same.
     
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  13. nlspeed

    nlspeed New Member

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    I'm glad that people here differentiate between nationalism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, fascism, and Nazism. You should do your research on all those terms. Because usually, someone using 'fascist' is simply using a meaningless word to say 'I don't like you'.

    There is no 'fascism', just as there is no 'communism'. There is Marxism, and Stalinism, and what Mao did, and what Pol Pot did, and so on... As another poster noted, there is nothing inherently dictatorial about communism. Indeed, Lenin employed democratic councils, and the very word 'Soviet' means 'council' - communism can very well be democratic, and logically speaking, that makes sense. Communism, just like capitalism, is an economic policy. You can have it in an autocracy, an oligarchy, or a democracy. And think of it; we do not call capitalism a totalitarian ideology, do we? But the vast majority of dictatorships have used capitalism.

    Anyway, this thread is about fascism. Fascism is... Extremely hard to define. It is emotion, not - and explicitly against - reason. It generally propagates youth and virility. It harkens back to a mythical history; the glory of Rome, the superior Germanic peoples (but the specific people part is more National-Socialism; with the master race and the corrupting Jew and whatnot)... It is, therefore, inherently unequal. It is a struggle. Emotion, violence, the glorious past must be forged anew, with iron and steel and blood and passionate outbursts of violence. In fact, fascism demands violent action. Hitler - but that is National-Socialism! - wanted the German people to resist to the very end, because the Slavic people had proven themselves to be superior, and so, the German people should die.

    Fascism, therefore, is so much more than generic authoritarian ('you cannot do this and that') or totalitarian ('you can only do this and that') dictatorships. But what it exactly is? Well, was Salazar's regime fascist? It tried to turn Portugal into a multiracial empire, with its overseas territories being just as Portuguese as Portugal (stressing the 'tried to' part, but even so, can you imagine Hitler doing that?). And Franco, who co-opted the Catholic church, speaking of crusades and the Reconquista. 'Fascism' is quite fluid. But I believe the above paragraph outlines some core tenets.
     
  14. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    It's important to note that fascism is any government that uses any means necessary to achieve its goals and silences all its opponents. Communism, absolutism, theocracy, even so-called anti-fascist movements can all be fascist if they use fascist tactics and principles such as suppression of free speech, excessive gun control, and make sure the religion they choose is the only one in power-- or atheism, its doesn't matter since they'll force you to do it.

    Actually, I think the only polar opposite of fascism is an-cap, provided nobody forms a gang that takes over and initiates government all over again. Any system, however good, can corrupt into fascism. The smartest thing fascism inadvertently did was give itself a bad name, so that all you have to do to get people on board with fascism is say you're fighting it. Fight fascism with fascism, and fascism wins. It just depends on whether the fascist ideas spread through free speech win or the fascism that crushes them do.
     
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  15. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    Except it seems to invariably devolve into a dictatorship, at least all the communist regimes that I'm familiar with. Communism isn't compatible with human nature.
     
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  16. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    In my experience, a lot of humans aren't exactly compatible with human nature.
     
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  17. nlspeed

    nlspeed New Member

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    No, that is utterly and completely wrong.

    'Excessive gun control' is a thing only relevant in the USA. It has nothing to do with fascism, and most of the world has, presumably (in your eyes), excessive gun control. I can point out Spain's use of Christianity, German's use of Christianity and paganism, as well as fascist regimes that didn't do much with religion at all.

    You would be arguing the vast majority of the world is toiling under fascist regimes. And you are taking an extremely USA-centric perspective, by listing free speech and gun control, the two (extremely odd, and oddly extreme, for outsiders) pet peeves of the USA. Is the USA the only non-fascist country present today (well, together with Somalia)? You also list an economic policy, an autocratic form of monarchy, and an autocratic or oligarchic form of government. That, too, is telling.

    How would you differentiate between authoritarianism and totalitarianism? How would you define a dictatorship? What makes a dictatorship fascist? When does fascism turn into National-Socialism?

    I invite you to at the very least read the basics of a Wikipedia article on this. You would be arguing that Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece, and so on, in the relevant time period, weren't fascist. That is possible. You can analyse all the various differences their regimes had and conclude such a thing (though you really can't argue against Germany). But you don't even know what fascism is.
    That can't really be concluded. I could point to the Paris Commune for the most often used counter-example, but that would be a useless debate. It may well be, that it isn't compatible with human nature - because greed - but then, the entirety of civilisation - laws, regulations, order - isn't, and yet it is undeniable that these same laws and regulations, all these institutions, make our modern life manifold better than 10.000 years ago.

    It is certainly likely that, when communism calls for a strong man to oversee the transitioning to a communist state, this strong man stays forever in power (Stalin). An important point here is whether the autocracy was in place first, and if it then decided to adopt communism? Was there an autocracy that shaped communism in such a way as to perpetuate autocracy? Or was it all free and fair, and eventually, unfortunately enough, slid into autocracy? The USSR started out (well, it wasn't the USSR yet, back then) with democratic principles, so I would have that count as an example of communism sliding into autocracy. Logically speaking, it is likely, for a strong man - necessary to oversee the transition, per Marx - to simply stay in power. But communism merely means having the ownership of the means of production in the hands of the workers, so the whole of Marx's ideology doesn't need to be relevant for a new communist state (he was also wrong, looking at the industrialised west for communism to arise, but it did in the rural and agrarian nations, such as Russia and China).

    It is also true that communism was merely used as a decoration to give legitimacy to a host of dictators (Stalin et cetera); the state wasn't so much communist as it had communist window-dressing. It may be that communism is only likely to succeed in a world verging towards post-scarcity, or being there already. Who knows?

    It doesn't mean that communism can only exist under an autocratic government. Again, there have been democratic examples. They are few and far between, yes, but compare the amount of communist nations to the amount of capitalist nations. Most capitalist nations have been autocratic as well, but it would be silly to argue that capitalism inevitably devolves into an autocracy.
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    I think can be extrapolated from context in terms of a Fascist society.
    While it may not be Fantasy, it still has inference. :)
     
  19. Hervey_Copeland

    Hervey_Copeland Member

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    Democracy is a relative new invention, and it isn’t all that widespread. Thus it is very likely that fascism, despotism etc. will supplant democracy, given the right circumstances.

    Sad but true
     
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  20. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    A fascist can arrive at any moment in history in which people become desperate. Communism arrived when the working class became desperate. Nazi Germany was formed when Germans became desperate after a severe economic crisis following World War I that made our depression look like a booming economic success. They need only three things:

    1. A scape goat. Something to blame all the problems on. And they need to be someone that people can easily view as doing better than they are. In Nazi Germany, the biggest lie you hear in school is that the reason they hated Jews is because they were all Christians and Jews killed Christ. That is bullshit and if you believe it, go soak your head in a bucket for several hours because you're nothing short of an idiot. (I don't mince words when saying that because I am so damn sick and tired of "They killed Jews because Jews killed Christ." No, you fucking moron. Please do not procreate. Because you're not going to stop fascism and prevent the Holocaust from every happening again, if you don't know what caused it to begin with.) If you read actual German literature from 1500-1800 or whatever, you'll plenty that casts Jews as a bad guy. But one of the things that surprised me when reading that is because the authors of those stories were less concerned about the son of God then they were about the money that Jew stole.

    So how did Hitler use the scape goat so effectively is because the Jewish community as a whole was doing quite well. Germans were struggling. They were paying One million marks for a loaf of bread. It was awful. So Hitler basically sold them on this lie. He said, "Hey they got rich because they stole it from you!" And Germans believed it. How else could it be that Jews were rich while they were poor. Never mind that Jews were just very good at networking and managing money. While Germans are good at managing money too, the Jews were just doing something that Germans weren't that wasn't even unethical. But it's easier to blame than to take responsibility. That's human nature.

    Today we like to blame the 1%. We like to say things like "Homeless exist because Bill Gates is rich" even though that makes no sense. If Bill Gate's goal is to make money how is having people around him with no money helping that cause? Your guess is as good as mine. It's ludicrous, but you don't want people thinking about things for too long. That's going to undermine you.

    2. Control over the narrative. So you got your scape goat, the person you're going to blame everything on, now you have to control the narrative. You have to silence all debate. And this is surprisingly easy to do. Just label all your opponent's narratives as "dangerous" in some way or another. If I stand up and say, "I believe that a lot of the poverty we're facing today is because of an overwhelming number of single mothers. It has been proven children from fatherless homes have a higher rate of poverty, less likely chance of finishing school, and more chances of having issues with the law." And that's where you stand up and accuse me of something terrible. "You sound like you have something against women" even though nothing I said has anything against women or accusing of anything. I'm just stating statistical truths that have been proven across numerous studies, both independent and institutional. You can even go further and start citing antecedents as though they disprove facts. "What if a woman is in an abusive relationship? You're suggesting she has to stay." Which is also not what I stated. Necessity doesn't negate consequences. But ultimately, I just might choose not to say anything out of fear of being considered "Anti-Woman." In other words, it's more important that I avoid an accusation, no matter how ridiculous it is, then it is to speak the truth. You can get people to start ostracizing me too. That's the system you have to create.

    And you can go a lot of fun ways with this one. You can put pressure on my job for having me as an employee. Threaten to shut them down because they have this evil misogynist in their midst. And they will have to cave into pressure. Eventually, if you play your cards right, you can even have enough influence to arrest people for having an opposing narrative. You can't be having all those misogynists running around. Oh no. They might eventually turn violent and start shooting women and children and puppies and all that. And we'll suddenly regress back to the era where women were slaves and doomed to being pregnant all the time. They're just too dangerous to have walking around the street.

    3. Promises, promises, promises. Every great fascist state was built on promises. Even if those promises are absolute stupid and you have no hope of actually keeping, you still need to make them. And if you're really clever, you can put the burden of keeping those promises on the society. "If you get rid of the bourgeois's (what Karl Marx called his scape goat in his book "The Communist Manifesto") then ruins of society will right themselves (or whatever)." That way, when you can't keep the promises, you can just blame something else. You can blame it on your scape goat. "Oh, raising taxes didn't get you your affordable car... I'm really sorry about that. You know that's because that 1% that's suppose to pay for it? Yeah, they went through all these tax loopholes. Dang those guys, they're so clever. But hey don't worry. We'll get that tax code revised and start taxing that place where they invest their money. That'll get them." Just make sure you never tell the population that the place where the rich invests their money is also the place where the poor's retirement trusts are funded and attacking those investments are going to hurt them too... But hey, what they don't know, can't hurt them. Just always keep that in mind. Or if you can't blame your scape goats because you just stole all their property and shipped them to a ghetto where they conveniently disappeared into gas chambers, just start blaming the population itself. "You don't have enough faith in the system! You have to work harder!" That always gets good reactions too. If someone opposes? Just accuse them of being a racist and throw them in jail for having a dangerous viewpoint. That's always a good way to keep your evil state alive.

    Make sure you justify all your stamping out of people's rights as something in the benefit of the "common good." That's absolutely important. The common good has got to come first at all costs. Even at the cost of human life. Human life should be the least of your concerns in fact.

    Yes, I realize that this is a very scary sort of post. There is a lot of sarcasm in it because it is a topic that is very scary topic for me. Fascism gets my blood boiling much to the same degree that racism and actually misogyny does. It's all scary stuff.
     
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