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by Paul Gottfried

What does calling someone a fascist really mean? Today, it is the equivalent of calling him or her a Nazi. But as intellectual historian Paul E. Gottfried points out in this thought-provoking yet fair study, the meaning of the phrase has changed over time. In his analysis of the term's semantic evolution since the 1930s, Gottfried finds its polemical role within the framework of current ideological conflicts.

Progressives, multiculturalists, and libertarians oppose fascism even though they do not provide a single, cogent explanation for the historical evil it represents. This is similar to how "conservatism," "liberalism," and other words whose meanings have changed over time have been used arbitrarily over the years. The rise of a post-Marxist left that expresses primarily cultural opposition to bourgeois society and its Christian and/or national components, as well as the equating of all fascisms with Nazism and Hitler, are some factors that have contributed to the term's imprecise usage, according to Gottfried. He argues that those who oppose social change are labelled "fascist," a term that is no longer associated with state corporatism and other fascist characteristics that were previously crucial but are now largely disregarded. Gottfried explains the term's precise historical connotation and makes the case that it shouldn't be applied arbitrarily against people who have controversial beliefs. Political scientists, intellectual historians, and readers interested in politics and history will find his important study to be of interest.

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— Paul Gottfried, Fascism