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What Do Words Matter? Preliminary Reflections On Fascism, Socialism, Liberalism And Semantics

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Chapter Summary

Before addressing the question of what fascism actually is, one must first grapple with semantics, since some of the most important questions pertaining to the nature of fascism involve the way certain words were, and still are, used. This introductory chapter places fascist ideology at the heart of the discussion. Zeev Sternhell's approach has become something of a hegemonic paradigm. Within the theoretical framework, the words "socialism" and "liberalism" become crucial in grasping the fascist phenomenon. Number of historians, ever since Talmon, attest to the common root of both fascism and communism in the "totalitarian democratic" thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The habitual fascist rejection of liberalism implied an approximation, however "dialectical" to socialism. The focus of this research is, for the most part, on ideology, on what liberals and fascists said and wrote.

Keywords: fascist ideology; liberalism; semantics; socialism; totalitarian democratic; Zeev Sternhell



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