Did fascism end when Nazi Germany surrendered to Allied forces in May of 1945? Some scholars would say yes. But others suggest that fascism has actually evolved over time throughout the world, and in the United States.
Author and Texas State University digital history professor Louie Dean Valencia-García says the storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump extremists on Jan. 6 represents the collision of fascist ideologies that have existed in the United States since its inception. Valencia-García told Texas Standard that many scholars had taken the position that fascism had ended with World War II, as a way of moving forward. But he says there’s plenty of evidence that fascist ideology survived Hitler and Mussolini, and has reappeared in cycles over the years.
Valencia-García says many political and cultural movements in the United States have been fertile ground for fascism.
“I tend to think of it as – if there were a formula of some sort – it would be racism, anti-intellectualism, anti-liberalism … it’s xenophobia, it’s ethnocentrism, it’s nationalism, it’s queer-phobia, misogyny, it’s ableism,” he said.
Valencia-García says that the term “liberalism” doesn’t refer to liberal political parties, but to “small l” liberalism, which prizes liberty and the consent of the governed as a means of organizing society.
When they took power, German fascists marginalized many groups of people, including migrants, racial minorities, queer people and people with disabilities.
Valencia-García says countering fascism requires using tools that are “outside the fascist’s toolbox.” That means more pluralism – bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and ideas.
“It sounds cheesy and corny, in a lot of ways, but I think it’s really the only way out of this,” he said.