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  • Writer's pictureKrista Bontrager

What is Fascism?

SEASON 5 KICK-OFF: The word fascism is being thrown around a lot these days. But what does it actually mean? Uncle Carl Trueman came on the show to help us sort it out because we are BIG confused.

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Discussion with Carl Trueman

We are hearing cries of "Fascist!" all over the place today. These are just two (of many!) examples of how this term is being used (see attached Twitter posts). How did we get here?! Carl Trueman helped bring some clarity.

Dr. Trueman is an author and professor at Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania. He teaches in the Biblical and Religious Studies Department, specifically teaching in the Core Humanities. Currently, a big focus of his work is Identity Politics, particularly the sexual revolution. Dr. Truman considers himself an Intellectual Historian, rather than a Theologian.

Three ways to think about Fascism:

  1. General term of abuse; pejorative catch-all that can be thrown at opponents we don't like

  2. Historically, specific political parties that would identify as Fascist (ie Mussolini in Italy)

  3. Typically used today to refer to any perceived politician or political movement or social/cultural idea that opposes the tenets of Progressivism

How do we differentiate between Fascism and Communism/Socialism?

Historically, Fascism and Communism have a common root...and there are several parallels between Marxist/Communist and Fascist philosophies, such as:

  • Essential moral relativism

  • Iconoclastic attitude toward the past

  • Focus on being liberated from the constraints of the past

  • Rejection of any higher, sacred order

  • Closing down open discussion/freedom of speech by antidemocratic and violent means

Should we look at Fascism as Nationalism/far-right ideology versus Communism/Socialism being on the far left?

No, the right-left division is not actually helpful. Instead, a better way of looking at this is in terms of attitudes to democracy and the democratic process.

Ironically, one of the most Fascist organizations in terms of method, approach, and attitude is the Antifa group in the US. Even though their name infers "anti-fascist" they operate in Fascist ways. For example, they want to "burn it down", they have no respect for established institutions, and they want to close down free discussion...these are all traits of Fascism!

How would we know if our government was drifting into Fascism? What would be some of the telltale signs?

  1. Suspension of the Constitution would be one of the most radical

  2. Closing down or undermining democratic institutions

  3. Engaging in propaganda or behavior that delegitimized democratic or constitutional organizations

  4. More and more routine use of "states of emergency" in order to suspend the rules or go around the typical norms of accountability in order to push forward certain policies

What are democratic institutions?

In the United States, examples would be the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. These all work together to provide accountability and checks & balances.

However, the people who make culture are not politicians! The people who make culture are the people who make movies, tv shows, sitcoms, and children's shows. Nowadays, the people who are in power (government/politicians) do not actually hold the power; instead, the power is held by the Influencers, social media, etc.

Should we be concerned that America may succumb to Fascist movements or threats?

No, we should not keep ourselves up at night fretting...America has a well-established democratic institution, but we should not be complacent either. We should utilize our democratic freedoms and responsibilities to keep our nation healthy and accountable. Let's not despair because despair leads to paralysis.

Monique's encouragement:

It is easy to get discouraged with all that we see around us that seems to be going wrong. It can be overwhelming to look at the giant 5,000' x 5,000' canvas "out there" while we're holding a tiny paintbrush. But, let's focus on the 6'x 6' square directly in front of us instead!


  1. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces (Eph 6:12)

  2. We need to remember where we are called--first and foremost, we are called right to our own family!


Dr. Trueman's recent book: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

The abbreviated version of Rise and Triumph is called: Strange New World

Be sure to check out "Live Not By Lies" by Rod Dreher

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