Cannon, Paul: Fascism characteristics and Australia

Cannon, Paul

The characteristics of Fascism and how we might note its presence today‘, Parallax (blog), 27 January 2014

Update 2015: there is a speech here, another 1937 snapshot here and a discussion here.


Compares the defining characteristics of Fascism, as discerned by Lawrence Britt (2003) and Umberto Eco (1995), with Western polities today. The characteristics are nationalism, disdain for human rights, scapegoating as a means of unifying, supremacy of the military, sexism, controlled mass media, obsession with national security, religion and government intertwined, protection of corporate interests, suppression of labour power, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, obsession with crime and punishment, rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections.

While the piece does not touch on history specifically it is worth comparing it with other depictions, including fictional ones, of Australia’s past, such as Michael Cathcart’s book on the 1930s, DH Lawrence’s Kangaroo and Andrew Moore’s work on proto-Fascism in New South Wales. (See Moore’s bibliography.) There is also George Venturini, David Bird, and the Solidarity blog. Louis Nowra concludes his review of Bird’s book with this remark: ‘The past is not so much a foreign country as a template of what could happen again when nationalism becomes an essential part of our cultural and political discourse.’

As for Australia today, Cannon makes some judgements and concludes as follows: ‘With seven of the fourteen points by Britt recognisable in current [Australian] government action and rhetoric there should be more concern in the community about our identity as a nation and therefore our future as a nation.’ Any judgement, though, really needs to look at how far we have proceeded against each of these criteria; there are questions of degree to be addressed.

Cannon’s piece attracted some comments both in Parallax and when reprinted. Elsewhere, Anthony Loewenstein writes on far right fringe groups in Australia today. The British fascist movement once kept an eye on Australia. This discussion was prompted by anti-terrorism initiatives in 2014 though the article originally appeared 12 years earlier.

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