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Dear Friend,

When we consider the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol a couple weeks ago, it is critical to spotlight the role of fascism in both the build up and response to this event. Many people are asking, is fascism the right label for what’s going on? Sociologists and historians might disagree on whether it exactly meets the criteria of fascism, but its pervasiveness leads us to believe that it’s worth delving into in the US context so that we don’t lose sight of why fascism is also a growing global trend. 

Based on philosopher Jason Stanley’s speech, “How Fascism Works” we would like to share our synthesis of his schema, with what we’re calling the Five Facets of Fascism.

Five Facets of Fascism

  1. White Supremacy: Historically, fascist regimes have justified oppressive measures by dehumanizing specific groups of people as a threat to the cultural or ethnic purity of a nation. We see this in the U.S. with only around 11% of people in labor unions leaving workers to falsely blame outsiders for taking their jobs. As a consequence, xenophobia and racism misplace the source of poverty and class oppression away from predatory corporations onto immigrants. Another example is the repeated demonization of Jewish people positioned as a covert threat within the state (harkening back to the KKK in Charlottesville, VA), which reveals the scapegoating used to uphold white Christian institutions. Meanwhile in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is forcing Indian Muslims to prove their Indianness, relegating them in effect to non-citizens, in an Islamophobic strive for ethnic purity.

    Photo by SOPA Images 2020
    [Image Description: A Muslim Indian man stands with his back turned among a group of people protesting India's new anti-Muslim law.]

  2. Law and Order: While ‘law and order’ may sound positive to some, as a tool to keep ‘us’ safe, we know that the law is used to target certain communities, criminalising their very existence. Whether it’s the National Guard used against Black Lives Matter protesters, the militarisation of the “nation’s” borders illegalising certain groups of people, ICE raids, legislation against trans children playing sports in school, or the Muslim ban, the law is routinely used to maintain the oppressive social order. As such, when Democrats use legislation to label the attack on the Capitol as an act of terrorism, this will ultimately strengthen the enforcement of laws (i.e. giving more money and power to the Police and other state security forces) that we know disproportionately target marginalised groups. We see this in Brazil as well, with President Jair Bolsonaro pushing forward a bill that protects police and soldiers who kill civilians. This heightened militarisation of the state is justified as needing to “protect” liberal values, but in fact only really harms those who are targeted by racism and islamophobia and other oppressions. 

  3. Traditional Family Roles: From the images of dozens of (mostly) men storming the Capitol, to defunding abortion clinics, to banning healthcare for transgender people, we are witnessing a strengthening of traditional gender roles that feeds directly into the hyper-masculinity of fascist ideology. In India, supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismiss sexual assault and violence against Dalit women by covering up murder cases and scapegoating Dalit protesters as inciting divisiveness. 

  4. Silencing the Media: Stanley said “Fascism thrives only when there is a sense, often manufactured, of the threat of communist takeover.” Even while the U.S. is very far from this end of the spectrum, we see massive attacks on any attempt to discuss equality in the media and Universities, and right wing propaganda attempting to delegitimise the Black Lives Matter movement by calling them “Marxists.” In Brazil, President Bolsonaro has denied climate change by accusing NGOs and scientific institutions of “playing the game of international communism.” 

    Photo by Trent Nelson / The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
    [Image description: A man with a sign that says "No cultural Marxism" disrupts a BLM protest.]

  5. Authoritarian Leadership: While many people have been abhorred by the dictatorial tendencies of former President Trump, leading to his inevitable impeachment, we must examine the fierce loyalty of his followers in order to understand why many Americans desire this kind of saviour from the “threat of others.” Trump’s behaviour paves the way for future leaders to wield power through undemocratic methods - while firing up huge swathes of ordinary citizens to take up arms in his name and values.

As the Biden administration steps into office, it may be easy to dismiss the Trump era as a dark and stressful nightmare that has come to an end. But this fails to place any agency in the institutions themselves that made space for this fascistic dynamic or what history tells us about these movements. Perhaps you and your colleagues were shocked by the events at the Capitol, and think this has nothing to do with any of us. Perhaps you might feel that ‘politics’ has no respectable place in our companies. This would be a very dangerous response during a time that requires proactive, deep investigation into our own organisations to see how they might enable these facets of fascism to thrive, because the forces of fascism have not disappeared. 

Virtual Workshop - Thinking Outside the Boxes:
A Holistic Approach to Inclusion

Monday, 15th February from 9:15-11:30 am GMT 
As unfashionable as it is to say it, creating an inclusive culture in your organisation relies on understanding the complexity of the underlying issues that prevent robust change. Leaders who care about inclusion therefore need new, sharper tools to make this a reality. This workshop will be an introduction to how leaders who care about making inclusion happen can sharpen their thinking outside of and across inclusion silos as you design and lead on making inclusion a reality. If you are interested, sign up below.
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Thursday, 18th March from 10:30AM-12:30 pm EST/ 3:30-5:30 pm GMT

In celebration of International Women's Day, we are dedicating the 2021 theme 'Choose to Challenge-' to visibilising the struggles women face in the workplace and beyond. Traditional approaches to gender equity see gender in a single silo. Ignoring other inequities means our endeavours end up focusing on white, middle class, heterosexual, cis gender, non-disabled women, erasing the experiences and struggles of women who exist across multiple silos. If you are a leader who cares about gender equity, sign up below.

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