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The 12 warning signs of fascism according to Umberto Eco

The 12 warning signs of fascism according to Umberto Eco

November 27, 2021

Politics has always been an integrated element in human life , both in what affects us collectively and in what has to do with our individuality. However, some social phenomena leave more traces than others, and in some cases, for worse.

Throughout the last decades, there are numerous social psychologists, sociologists and thinkers who have devoted themselves to look back to recognize what have historically been the first symptoms of the emergence (or reappearance) of excluding ideological movements and based on the criminalization of minorities.

Among these efforts to understand these dynamics are the warning signs of the emergence of fascism proposed by the philosopher and writer Umberto Eco .


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What is fascism?

Technically, fascism is a political movement and an ideology associated with it that are based on the defense of a policy based on the "essential" identity of the population, the use of violence to repress the political opposition and the use of a state-led economy that, in turn, favors large corporations because of their corporatism.

In the beginning the term fascism was used to call the political drift driven by Benito Mussolini in the first half of the 20th century , but you can also call other recent political proposals similar to the original one. Specifically, the resurgence of political parties that use openly xenophobic discourses has made comparisons with the old regime of the Italian leader become frequent.


In this sense, look at the warning signs of fascism devised by Umberto Eco can be useful to know how to separate the grain from the chaff.

Signs that this ideology resurfaces

For the writer, the symptoms of fascism gaining ground in state or regional politics are the following.

1. Use of fear of what is different

The stigmatization of minorities that do not exactly fit the archetype of "average citizen" or that they live through different forms of cultural expression is frequent in fascist regimes. This allows to reinforce the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčnational identity, which can serve to claim any political objective.

2. Control and repression of sexuality

The control of sexuality, especially of the female, is a propagandistic system thanks to which you think about the political project even in the most intimate and domestic moments . On the other hand, it also allows for the repression of minorities, either based on their sexual orientation or on the way in which the sexual and affective are conceived.


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3. Systematic opposition to the slightest criticism

The total rejection of criticism allows to make and undo any kind of initiatives without having to explain or answer to anyone .

4. Valuing strength and action above the intellect

The distrust towards the intellectual it causes the critical thinking of the country to be mortally wounded. It is considered that reason is a way of concealing interests based on reason and that, therefore, it is a waste of time.

5. Constant appeal to a threat that does not disappear

Be all the time appealing to an eternal threat allows to introduce the state of exception , thanks to which the political party can break the current law "for the good of the people". The cases of state terrorism are a clear example of this.

6. Use of simple vocabulary and topic-based discourses

The use of words with a very broad meaning allows to produce discourses that, Although they seem very clear, they do not contact reality . Normally the only message that is given has to do with the most powerful ideas, such as who is to blame for something or the attitude that the party is going to have in front of a fact, but it does not materialize too much.

7. Ridicule of the innovative or novel

T Everything that separates from the traditional way of seeing the world is rejected and ridiculed as if it were a distraction, a lie or a banal pastime.

8. Emphasis on the importance of tradition and national identity

Constantly appealing to the identity of a people and to tradition is an easy way to vindicate it as the "natural" mirror of the voice of that collective. There is no need to propose policies that benefit the majority , simply symbols, icons and customs are used as pieces of propaganda.

9. Constant appeal to a discontented social class

This is not a characteristic that in itself defines fascism, since it is done from many political tendencies. But nevertheless, Fascism is claimed as the only voice of that part of the population , as if there were no plurality in it.

10. Use of a charismatic leader who represents the people

The leader is the reflection of the people, and as such speaks in their language and tries to express the same concerns as the stereotype of the part of the population to which they appeal. Your personal decisions and your likes and preferences are taken as a public matter , since it is the embodiment of the popular will.

11. Constant search for external culprits

Blaming everyone who is outside the propaganda system and can not be defended allows shift attention to party failures or, if they are revealed, they are shown as mistakes made in the fight against a greater evil.

12. Constant appeal to the will of the people

You try to appropriate the popular demands making them go to the institutional and there they dissolve and become confused with the political objectives of the leaders of the fascist movement.


Understand Socialism, Communism, Fascism, & Nazism in 15 Minutes (Part II) (November 2021).


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