It is fashionable among the radical left to demonize the growing number of elected conservative governments in the Western world as the rise of the extreme or alt-right. This is most pronounced in the anti-fascist (antifa) movement, particularly on university campuses. However, the anti-fascist movement has a sophomoric misunderstanding of fascism and its location on the political spectrum. More disturbing, this lack of understanding extends to its own social media and even physical tactics that mimic the mob psychology, street rage and bullying that are hallmarks of the fascism they denounce.
Fascism is best thought of as a nationalistic version of socialism, embodied in Hitler’s National Socialist party, which was shortened to the Nazis. Fascist governments like those of Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini (and, to some degree, Spain’s Francisco Franco) in mid-20th century Europe believed in totalitarian control of the economy and oppressive state curtailment of individual liberty. Those are the antitheses of conservative principles. Fascism subsumes all ideology to the goals of the state and the need for state surveillance. The extreme version of conservatism isn’t fascism, as the left wants us to think. It’s libertarianism.