The ruination of the word in the U.S. arguably started around 1913 with a President openly hostile to a Constitutional Republic. A dedicated racist who RE-segregated the Federal civil service, and an oligarch who bypassed the Bill of Rights with the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918; Woodrow Wilson.
His ideas picked up steam in 1932. That’s when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nudging the Enlightenment political definition of Liberal, “a belief in individual liberty,” toward a phrase made popular by another collectivist snollygoster: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
FDR admired the man who uttered it: “‘I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman’”
–Henry Wallace, New Frontiers, p. 31.
That admirable gentleman was Benito Mussolini, and it’s no wonder FDR was interested. Benito put the principles of the New Deal more plainly than FDR dared:
“The … State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State.”
-Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore. p 41.
The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.
State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.
-Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers pp. 135-136
Do you detect any similar policy tendencies in current American Maim Scream Media™ headlines, or in Biden executive orders?
Il Duce’s characterizations are authoritative. So, China, among many others, is clearly a fascist state. It may not surprise you that Mussolini was a socialist before he took up the fascist cause, and you may be forgiven if you wonder whether fascism was just a way to avoid the word “nationalization.”
By the time FDR took office there were many Americans who had good things to say about Benito Mussolini’s fascism. Here’s a link to the Leftist WaPo, a site your Progressive frenemies cannot easily dismiss. It manages to bash Trump, always a Progressive treat, and lists many prominent American Mussolini enthusiasts. The author manages to get through the whole thing while never mentioning FDR, and includes this hilarity:
Mussolini’s powerful handlers tapped into widespread misgivings about the domestic cost of Wilson-style democracy and growing anxieties about gender equality by pitching Mussolini as a strong male leader with a nationalistic brand of effective governance.
‘Handlers’? Ha. You want handlers? Look up Edith Wilson in the context of Woodrow’s stroke, and think about Jill Biden. The 25th Amendment had to wait until 1967 to be added to the Constitution, and until 2020 to be part of Democrat election strategy.
‘Wilson-style democracy’? Wilson was an oligarchist.
‘Misgivings’? Ha, ha. While our Democrats were making Henry Wallace FDR’s Veep?
Implied misogyny’? Ha, ha, ha. The Italians were worried their leader didn’t respect women, while FDR was … well, not worried about it:
“Franklin deserved a good time,” Alice Longworth, a confidante of FDR, once said. “He was married to Eleanor.”
‘Gender equality’? A construct beyond the imagination of Italians or Americans of the time. In 1932 “gender” was rightly regarded as a feature of some Romance languages, not a social justice crusade necessitating a redefinition of “sex.”
The Great Depression helped FDR get away with the New Deal, and when WWII came along to actually end the Depression (FDR had prolonged it), it only reinforced FDR’s power to shift the country to acceptance of the “dollar a year man” authoritarian bureaucracy. It’s not so cheap anymore.
We still see this autocratic urge expressed through redefinition today. The word “science” used to mean “falsifiable,” for example. Now it means whatever the consensus of government dependent boffins come up with. From “climate change” to lockdowns and mask mandates. From denials of biological sex to outcome equality. For example:
Translating Social Justice Newspeak – Law & Liberty
Liberals Redefine Words
Worth reading, but both neglect some important redefinitions. “Democracy,” for example.
I don’t know when that started, but the false premise is that the United States is a Democracy rather than a Constitutional Republic (Thanks, Woodrow.). Now Democracy “belongs” to Democrats, and you aren’t part of that if you object to voting without regard to legality, dislike open borders, believe sex is binary, think the Second Amendment applies to individuals, or get grumpy when someone calls you a murderer for not wearing 2 masks. Here’s a 4 minute video worth watching for how the Democrats view “Our” Democracy.
WSJ Opinion: The Progressive Push to Redefine ‘Our Democracy’
Another important word that’s been redefined is “Capitalism.” It’s depressing how many people describe China’s economic system as capitalist. If you look at Mussolini’s definitions, China is fascist. In America, it’s fashionable for Progressives to blame “free market failures” for botched government interventions. American corporatism pays homage to the blustering Italian, and is familial with the Chinese Communists.
What words mean matters. Those who make the changing of meaning their tactic for gaining political advantage are characters in 1984.