2. So, can "progressives" really be fascist?
Yes, certainly. Remember, fascism is a mood in politics, not a specific set of policies. And the further left the progressives are, the more likely they are today to exhibit the fascist mood.
Notice the unhinged anger, the sense of grievance, the eagerness for conspiracy theories on the far left today. That is not because they are left-wing but because they are fascist. Right-wing fascists behave similarly - but in North America today, right-wing fascists are simply not as numerous or powerful.
Before the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left-wing adherents in Europe and the United States: the horror of the Holocaust completely changed our view of fascism as something uniquely evil and ineluctably bound up with extreme nationalism, paranoia, and genocidal racism. After the war, the American progressives who had praised Mussolini and even looked sympathetically at Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s had to distance themselves from the horrors of Nazism. Accordingly, leftist intellectuals redefined fascism as "right-wing" and projected their own sins onto conservatives, even as they continued to borrow heavily from fascist and pre-fascist thought." (P. 9)How did that happen? Goldberg says it was one of Stalin's rhetorical tricks, happily embraced and endorsed by his fellow travellers in North America and Western Europe.
... Stalin stumbled on a brilliant tactic of simply labeling all inconvenient ideas and movements fascist. Socialists and progressives aligned with Moscow were called socialists or progressives, while socialists disloyal or opposed to Moscow were called fascists. Stalin's theory of social fascism rendered even Franklin Roosevelt a fascist according to loyal communists everywhere. And let us recall that Leon Trotsky "was marked for death for allegedly plotting a "fascist coup." While this tactic was later deplored by many sane American left-wingers, it is amazing how many useful idiots fell for it at the time, and how long its intellectual half-life has been." (P. 10)So don't be fooled by the use of the term "fascist" to mean, say, traditional Christians who don't support the gay lifestyle. Remember, the hallmark of fascism is: Aggrieved identity group fingers enemies, proclaims crisis, treats leader as a god who ushers in a new age, demands money and action from government against its perceived enemies, and has little or no respect for traditional values or civil rights.
Philosophically, organizationally, and politically the progressives were as close to authentic, homegrown fascists as any movement America has ever produced.(Goldberg, p. 12)One reason that the traditionally religious population of North America tends less to fascism just now is that it already has a religion, one that discourages the very behaviour that fascist political cults encourage.
Next: 3. Are "left" and "right" a useful political spectrum any more?