You might have recently seen in the news yet another photo of police being beaten by members of the Jan. 6 mob at the U.S. Capitol. Beneath it you read that tens of millions of recently radicalized Americans now support political violence to remove Biden from office. They firmly believe that Democrats, who can’t even get a bill through the Senate, were, however, clever enough to steal a presidential election, unnoticed by the world press.

If you did not then tear your newspaper into shreds and stamp it into the floor, you then read a quote from former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt who noted that “the Republican-fascist movement will support any strategy or tactics they believe will help preserve their ‘way of life’.”

It has taken the mainstream American press 15 years to finally say the “f-word” –  fascism – that I chanced to read in the encyclopedia 15 years ago.

Unfortunately, I was foolish enough to copy the article and use the verboden f-word on my radio program. Being 15 years ahead of my time terminated a program that had informed and entertained Maine people for 29 years.

If you were listening to Maine Public Radio on Aug. 25, 2006, you heard me say these few fateful words:

“While reading in my Encyclopedia Britannica about Salvatore Quasimodo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959, I also learned that Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, extreme nationalism, anti-liberalism, militarism and authoritarianism. Unfortunately, Fascism is much like streptococcus bacilli: most of us don’t even know it when we see it and even specialists in the field might quibble over a comprehensive definition.”


I read further, hoping to learn to identify fascism and thereby determine if it could be gaining a foothold in this land of the free and the home of the brave. This is what I read.

Starting in the early 1920s, Mussolini’s Fascists gradually built a nationwide party organization. They nearly always had more money than their opponents and moved with greater ruthlessness, although, at every step, Mussolini claimed to be the defender of law and order.

The industrialists were naturally in sympathy with a movement that stood for lower wages and fat, padded contracts. Although the economy had improved it was to their advantage to create the impression that without Fascism, economic breakdown was right around the corner, caused by Socialist incompetence.

The uneducated were naturally receptive to Fascist propaganda and disorderly elements on every level of society welcomed the violence and its attendant opportunity to plunder. Even then, it was not the strength of the Fascists that assured their success but the disorganization and silence of their opponents in the intellectual community.

For years there was no overt establishment of dictatorship. Only gradually were old ways and old institutions changed and nothing was done abruptly that might alarm people or make them realize that a revolution had taken place. The wealthy were courted by cutting their taxes. For permission to become rich and corrupt the “gerarchi” – high ranking party members – supported their leader’s irresponsible decisions. The inefficiency and graft of his department heads were accepted as inevitable.

When an Italian was killed by bandits in the Balkans, Mussolini and other indignant, patriotic, profit-seeking Italians had their long-hoped-for excuse to go to war. Until they strung him up by the heels, Mussolini’s self-confidence never waned and he continued to have a pathetic trust in his own powers of intuition, even after plunging his country into that disastrous war for which he was obviously so unprepared.

As you know, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a fat volume, there is much more in there about the rise of Fascism in Italy, but a continuation and refining of my studies would be no more than an unproductive, academic exercise. Because in reading the few paragraphs above, you can see that my premise was shaky: Nothing that I have copied there could suggest a parallel between the rise of Fascism in Italy in the 1920s and what is happening in our country today.

You may sleep well tonight. It simply couldn’t happen here.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.