In my workshop “‘IF YOU CAN KEEP IT’: Care and Feeding of a Constitutional Republic,” we discuss the nature of fascism, and whether or not the US is in danger of sliding into it. (Short answer: not at the moment, but it’s always a possibility to watch out for.)
In this workshop, we consider fascism from the metaphorical perspective of public health – that is, as a kind of disease of the body politic, with symptoms and etiologies, but one that can be prevented by ongoing prophylactic measures.
One of the key points of the workshop notes that fascism spreads virally in a culture, as individuals adopt its ways of being – so one line of defense against incipient fascism is the individual refusal to internalize the qualities of a fascist society. This means that you can help counteract a societal trend towards fascism via the actions and choices you make in your individual everyday life. For example:
- If the fascist state is merciless… then showing mercy to others is a counterfascist act.
- If the fascist state requires unthinking and unquestioning obedience… then encouraging creativity and critical thought is a counterfascist act.
- If the fascist state bases its power on xenophobia, suspicion and fear… then learning about other cultures, and living with courage and joy are counterfascist acts.
See how it works? Try devising similar statements yourself…
There’s a lot more to the discussion, of course – and I would love to share this workshop in your community – at your church, public library, civic group, wherever. All I need is to at least be able to cover travel expenses, and I’m there. The workshop is fun (surprisingly so, considering the seriousness of the subject matter), interactive, and transpartisan (really!), and takes about 90 minutes or so. I provide handouts and other materials; you provide a space and a computer projector, and we’re good to go. Drop me a note at smendler(at)yahoo.com if you might be interested in helping sponsor this workshop in your area!