...Student and other demonstrators shouted, “Sarko, fascist! The people will have your hide!” (A Reuters story is here.) That, I submit, is the authentic voice of Leninism. Note the reference to “the people,” the presumption of speaking for “the people” — and this was after a free and fair election, in which “the people” really and truly spoke! It was the kind of election that these demonstrators would never permit, in their ideal society.
And “The people will have your hide.” Yes, behind these shouters is Leninism, or Jacobinism, or whatever we choose to call it. We are reminded that it never dies; that civilization must be always on guard against it.
And then there is “fascist”: “Sarko, fascist!” All of us who are conservative, or classically liberal, have had to be called fascist. It goes with the territory. And yet it’s no fun. I have been called fascist since I was in college. And those who do it are either malicious or ignorant — sometimes, I guess, they are both (and what a brutal combination: malice and ignorance).
Ordinarily, it does no good to try to reason with people: Fascists are centralizers of power; we are decentralizers. Fascists are nationalizers of industry; we are free-marketeers. Fascists are collectivists; we are anti-collectivists. It is no use to say any of this: “Fascist” is an epithet used by mean or stupid people against those they dislike who are perceived to be “on the right.” One result is that, when a real fascist comes along, there is no word left for him.
I know someone — a British conservative intellectual — who refuses to say “Nazi.” Always, always, to him, it is “National Socialist.” Makes some people very uncomfortable.