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Left-wing fascism (sometimes also known as left fascism) [1] is a term used to describe tendencies in left-wing politics that contradict or violate the progressive ideals with which the Left is usually associated. These tendencies include absolutism, intolerance, irrationality, terrorism, and anti-Semitism. The term also refers to resemblances to, or alliances with, fascist or totalitarian movements, including Islamism or Jihadism.

The philosopher Juergen Habermas was the most prominent early users of the term. He used it during the 1960s to distance the neo-Marxist perspectives of the Frankfurt School (which influenced him) from the violence and authoritarianism of left-wing terrorists. [2][3] Habermas, whose work emphasizes the importance of rational discourse, democratic institutions, and opposition to the use of violence, has made important contributions to conflict theory and is often associated with the radical left.

To sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz, left-wing fascism in the United States consists of a denial or rejection of the American democracy, and devotion to socialism that is merely an idealized abstraction, combined with an unwillingness to confront the actual history of communism. It operates through mystified language, attributes faults "everywhere and always in an imperial conspiracy of wealth, power or status," and uses anti-Semitism as a pseudo-populist tool to create a focal point for hatred.[4]

Historian Richard Wolin has used the term left fascism to refer to European intellectuals' infatuation with post-modernist or anti-enlightenment theories, opening up the opportunity for cult-like, irrational, anti-democratic positions that combine characteristics of the left and of fascism.[5] Bernard-Henri Levy's refers to this hybrid political form as neo-progressivism, new barbarism, or red fascism. To Levy, its outstanding characteristics are that it is anti-liberal (liberal referring to regimes providing economic and political freedoms), anti-American, anti-empire (in which empire refers to alleged world domination by American, multinational, capitalist interests), anti-Semitic, and pro-Islamofascist.[6]

The term has also been adopted by conservative American political commentators to describe extreme or intolerant forms of leftist ideology. The term is also in increasing use in contemporary thought to explore unusual hybrid alliances characterizing late 20th and early 21st century political movements.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Winners and Losers: Social and Political Polarities in America By Irving Louis Horowitz Published by Duke University Press, 1984 ISBN 0822306026, 9780822306023 328 pages pp 219 et seq [1]
  2. ^ Wallace, R.A. and A. Wolf. (1991). Contemporary Sociological Theory: Continuing the Classical Tradition. Third Edition, p116. (The term used by Habermas was 'left-fascism.')
  3. ^ Reappraisals: Shifting Alignments in Postwar Critical Theory By Peter Uwe Hohendahl Published by Cornell University Press, 1991 ISBN 080149706X, 9780801497063 247 pages pp 9-10 [2]
  4. ^ Irving Louis Horowitz, Winners and Losers: Social and Political Polarities in America,Duke University Press, 1984,pp. 210-217
  5. ^ Richard Wolin, The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism : from Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Princeton University Press, 2004
  6. ^
  7. ^ TELOS, Fall 2008 issue (no. 144)

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