|Of course, fascism can come again! Almost anything is possible, while
no-one on pen-l has denied the possibility of future fascism as far as
I know. The main problem is the bandying about of the word "fascist"
in an indiscriminate way, almost becoming equivalent to "bad." Of
course, anyone can use any word any way they want to, but I hope for
more coherence, to promote communication if nothing else.
The key issue is "do we have fascism now?" since some people
(including CB, if I remember correctly) have asserted that we do. The
answer is no, since fascism (at least as I define the term) involves
not just an authoritarian and usually "puritanical" government under
capitalism, but a system of "corporate" bodies that unite capital and
the state, with labor as a nominal but powerless partner, along with a
mass movement (usually of the middle classes and the lumpen) to push
and pull that government toward fascism. It's not a local affair but
something that involves an entire nation-state or a larger political
unit. (It's horrible but significantly milder than Nazism, a type of
system that seems _sui generis_ in many ways..)
As I understand the common usage on the left, Pinochet's regime after
1973 was extremely authoritarian ("fascistic," if you will, but that's
stretching) but not fascist. Instead of being based on a corporate
system, the whole point was to atomize society -- especially the
working class -- by imposing the "free" market. It was more a
predecessor of the neoliberalism of the 1980s than a return to the
fascism of the 1930s.
Of course, we _always_ see "fascism" in the sense that some people
have fascist personalities (scoring high on the F Scale) and engage in
fascist acts. But the political-economic definition seems much more
useful if we want to put the present in an historical context (the
"present as history," to use the late Paul Baran's phrase) and to
understand it. A fascist system attracts and encourages those with
fascist personalities, while encouraging those without them to act as
if they had them.
It's also possible to go down the road toward fascism, just as it's
possible to go up the road away from it.