What is Fascism?
14 characteristics of fascism
Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about  fascism, which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine—a journal of  humanist thought.

Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).  He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. Dr. Britt's article is titled "Fascism Anyone?" and appears in Free  Inquiry's Spring 2003 issue on page 20.

The 14 characteristics are:

In terms of oversimplification...
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism—Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. Ethnocentrism: Oversimplify by ignoring (perhaps because comprehension is elusive) the concerns of any group but one's own.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights—Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need".  The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
Egocentrism:  Oversimplify by ignoring  (comprehension elusive?) the human rights of others.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause—The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Punitiveness: Oversimplify by egocentric urges to scapegoat others.
Follow Gabriel Garcia Marquez for contrast.
4. Supremacy of the Military—Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. Authoritarianism: Oversimplify through a wish to not think for oneself--and by failure to understand multi-dimensional ranking.
5. Rampant Sexism—The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. Bigotry: Oversimplify by failure to properly sort through multiple factors and failure to sort relevance from irrelevance among those factors.
6. Controlled Mass Media—Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common. Propaganda: Effective control of public opinion because of widespread difficulty of seeing how multiple interacting influences relate--coupled with self-deceptive beliefs in anything desirable.
7. Obsession with National Security—Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. Paranoia:Oversimplification that fails to comprehend mutual reciprocity -- subject to false notions that everything revolves about oneself, that what seems threatening refers to oneself when it really doesn't.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined—Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. Authoritarianism:  And failure to recognize the logical contradictions between deeply held beliefs of other people, including the beliefs of science as well as of conflicting religions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected—The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Authoritarianism & Tollgating:  Especially that which ranks people, not by their multidimensional value to others, but by the single measure, wealth.
Ctrl-a for important bottom-of-page text on Autonomy.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed—Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed. Authoritarianism: With a strong desire to maneuver the "lesser" people into servitude or slavery.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts—Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free-expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. Anti-intellectualism: Failure to comprehend abstractions deeper than the metaphor level.  (Math level is seen as "not real.")
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment—Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. Punitiveness: Oversimplify by egocentric urges to scapegoat others–especially when the scapegoater himself engages in depraved behavior which he almost recognizes as such.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption—Fascist regimes are almost always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. Egocentrism: Oversimplify by ignoring  (or because of inability to comprehend) the human rights of others...and, of course, the "privatization" of tollgate economy.
14. Fraudulent Elections—Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. Anti-democratic: A flavor of anti-intellectual egocentrism -- supported by PAP, gullibility, scapegoating, and failure to comprehend human and civil rights.

Let's take a poll

Personal opinions are derived from perceptions and reasoning, and those reasoning skills vary widely from person to person.  Perceptions, too, vary somewhat from person to person, but the all-important reasoning skills lie in a many-dimensional configuration of diverse abilities, abilities to see the abstract patterns in the world around us.

So when a pollster cites his poll results -- "70% of the American people are solidly behind their president" -- something essential has been left out.  What are the relationships, if any, between the various relevant reasoning skills of the 70% compared with the 30%?

Is there some habitual metnal laziness involved?  Wish to be conforming?  Is one group more anti-intellectual than the other?

And then ask, Is there a difference in gullibility? -- perhaps measure gullibility by the nature of the advertising that works in guiding behavior.  Advertising is a kind of information (although sometimes it's disinformation or pure persuasion), and the ways we process information to guide our behavior is our intellectual skill pattern.

And another thing about those polls:  the percentage of people who understands statistics well enough to actually use statistics to advantage is a lot smaller than many think.  Statistical reasoning is a "fourth level" thinking skill (It's math!) that evokes an awful lot of anti-intellectual rejection.

So let us work harder to root out the oversimplifications that could steer our species into extinction.  Correcting oversimplification is never wrong.  It is likely to be insufficient, but it's always necessary.

What's the difference between sufficiency and necessity?  It's easy to demonstrate that about 70% of adults can't reliably recognize the difference when it's relevant to the question.

Saddam is evil; 9/11 was an evil act.
Therefore, Saddam was at least in part responsible for 9/11.
This "reasoning" was used to persuade.
Polls indicate that about 65% of the American people were persuaded.

Recent experiences of the physics teaching community
show that everybody can master a lot of abstract concepts
which have always seemed beyond reach.

Teaching techniques of the past didn't have the power.
Approaches used today do--and they will be unfamiliar to most.
Reasoning skills can be acquired.
It' an important aspect of education.

How might a person who sees something
when someone else does not?
Follow the trail to the beakers and flasks!