It’s all too common to see people on the left call someone — whether it be a major politician or simply a random person they don’t like and who’s politics they disagree with — fascistic, or even an outright fascist. Likewise, it is easy to find a plethora of examples on social media of people calling certain governments, militaries, political movements and so on, fascist (such as in this delightfully vile thread on r/anarchism).
This is dangerous, and wrong. Fascism is not a word to be thrown around lightly, a term to blindly apply, blasé-like, to things which we do not like, things which you may considerer ‘authoritarian,’ nationalistic, and so on. Fascism is a very specific form of far-right politics based around a broad alliance of economic and social classes spearheaded by the petite-bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy to both dethrone the haute bourgeois industrialists and the major banks, who they identify as being responsible for the periodic crises in capitalism that regularly cast down entire sections of the petty bourgeoisie into the mass of proletarians, and to check the advance of and then curtail, fight, and destroy the working-class movement that seeks to overthrow capitalism altogether, petite- and haute-bourgeois varieties alike.
Political science is not a thesaurus in which to find new words to decry our opponents and rally people around short-sighted ‘us and them’ dynamics. Serious, meaningful, and useful political analysis and comment simply cannot function like this, and at a time in which the forces of international fascism are undeniably on the rise, muddying the water and obfuscating just what it is we’re fighting helps no one but the fascists themselves. Fascism is a genuine thing and genuine threat. Marxists, neoconservatives in a liberal democracy, military dictatorships and religious governments, are not it.
Politics advances through accurate theory leading to effective practical programmes. Mudslinging and devaluation-through-over-saturation of terminology of the very utmost importance and specificity is diametrically counterproductive to this.
Apply your politics and your analytic frameworks consistently. Question, rigorously, the class character of every state, movement, and party. Do not blindly follow the fundamentally biased and unreliable media that holds a stranglehold on our access to information and so plays a pivotal role in establishing hegemony of thought. Ask yourself, every time you maybe want to do so, why am I calling this fascist?, and if it is not because it matches the actual definitions of a fascist entity or politics, then do not. Find better words; we’re certainly not lacking them.