Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil has led to global handwringing about the emergence of ‘actual fascism’ in the fourth largest democracy in the world. In response, we republish Brendan O’Neill’s 2017 essay on what fascism really is.
The stability, or stasis, of the technocratic era, with its hostility both to ideology and to change, has led some to see all political upset, and even politics itself, as terrifying. One consequence of technocracy is that it denuded people, especially influential people, of the means of politics, of the very language of politics, of any ability to read the world politically and to understand that politics is the clash or interplay of competing interests, not, as they had imagined it, a managerial process of ensuring the relatively healthy maintenance of social and bureaucratic life. They are utterly unprepared for politics, and so the return of politics, the very political statements of Brexit and Trump, has convinced them not simply that they face a political challenge, but that their entire class and worldview and even their existence is under threat.