Ur-Fascism in 1984

Ur-Fascism by Umberto Eco is an article about Eco’s personal experience with Italian fascism along with a synopsis of how it compares to German fascism and the general connotation of fascism. He talks about how his heroes considered of war heroes and how there was no peace without war. In his views German fascism consisted of Nazism and was bad while Italian fascism was not like that and therefore should not be grouped into the general term of fascism with a negative light. He then goes on to describe common traits and characteristics of what he considers to be Ur-Fascism. Some of the most interesting features of Ur-Fascism included: the rejection of modernism, the fear of diversity and disagreement, and qualitative populism.

From the beginning of the article it’s clear how it relates to the theme of the class as Eco’s own experience of fascism shares the same dystopian traits talked about in class. His whole life was surrounded by the topic of war in his country and looking up to war heroes as someone you should aim to be. When there was no more war, it was hard to find peace in his life because he knew nothing else. This relates to 1984’s doublethink concept. In the book, Winston was surrounded by Big Brother propaganda and a common phrase seen was “War is Peace”. Both the Italian fascist society and 1984’s society wanted their citizens to be focused on the progression of their country and for the identity to be with the county. To do this, one of the tactics in 1984 was to constantly stay at war and to see others as the enemy.

Another way this article relates to the class is the numbered list of the features of Ur-Fascism. The traits corresponded with our class discussion of traits of a dystopia along with common issues we found with the system in 1984. In one of items of the list, Umberto Eco talks about how in Ur-Fascism disagreement is treason. In both dystopian and fascist society, the government or system wants everyone to think and feel as one unit. They’re identity and thoughts must be of one that promoted the future power of the country. This means that there’s no personal social identity, individuality and opinions can’t exist. In 1984, the system made sure of this through different tactics such as the two minutes hate, the invention of newspeak, the work and fitness programs, and the sudden disappearance of individuals. They used scare and controlling tactics to keep everyone in the same mindset just as Ur-Fascism aims to do.

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