What if I told you that the US House of Representatives is the very seat of Fascism on earth? Half the US population would say "Aha! I knew it." The other half would scoff "Ha!"
All this is true… and more.
Here are the facts. How many times have you seen this image, the rostrum of the House and the site of State of the Union speeches (paper tearing and all)? What are those immense golden objects on either side of Old Glory?
They're faggots. Literally. Trust me on this.
Ha! You thought you knew what a faggot was. Well, you do. Sadly, we're more comfortable with what we think we know about the definition of faggot than we are the definition of fascism.
The motif is actually called a "fasces" and actually predates the ancient Roman Empire (but would be popularized again in modern Italy). In old Latin, the symbol was called a bipennis, but obviously that's a different story. Fasces has always been a visual metaphor for the bundling power of government. Whether people, states, wealth, manufacturing, or other categories, the word fasces means, shall we say, strength in numbers. But why was I leaning into the whole faggot narrative? That was uncomfortable, right?
In fact, the word faggot holds precisely and exactly the same visual reference as fasces. In times long past by, a homosexual was not a highly regarded member of society. In fact, in Europe for many centuries, homosexuals were punished with various tribulations, often by being burned at the stake. Now, in the creativity of your mind, how do you think the burning fire was stoked? Yes, dear, by throwing bundles of wood – faggots – at the feet of the un-treasured person. If, however, the grace of the community or potentate fell upon the homosexual and they were spared the flame of faggots, they would likely be tattooed or otherwise labeled with… a bundle of sticks. Kind of a born-this-way scarlet letter.
This package is a junior high boy's snicker in America, but in Italy (here we go again), it simply means bundle – a bundle of minced food wrapped in a pasta bandana (bundle and bandana being etymologically related, of course).
And fagottini are not the only delicioso food that hold the meaning of bundle. My beloved fajitas are simply a bundle of muscle fibers. Some of us aging un-athletic persons suffer pain of the plantar fasciitis which is a bundle of connective tissue in the dadgum foot… but in polite society we don't eat that part.
So that leaves only one f-word for us to still explore – fascism. Cognitive dissonantly, the same image of a bundle of sticks (with hatchet) that is the symbol of the pro-capitalist, pro-private ownership of property American democratic republic was also a chosen symbol of the Italian fascist movement (fascismo) of the early-to-mid-20th century. It's all true.
In the label-crazy 21st century, the word "fascist" is hurled more frequently and zealously than yo-mama-so-fat jokes. But, alas, there is only one definition and one political ideology aspiring to actually achieve modern fascism. Limited government, free and open democratic elections, private capitalistic enterprise, private ownership of property, and individual freedom of association and self-determination are not the hallmarks of fascism.Mussolini (Bennie the Moose, to his friends) sought an economic system in which employers (known in polite society as business founders/owners/investors) and employees are bound together in "associations" that bundle with the state to set national economic policy. Although the great dictators of the 20th century disagreed on which label/logo to use, Fascism is in the same category of political/economic theory as Marxism, Communism, Nazism, etc. Why do I say that? Simply because in these isms the State owns/controls the means of production and goods, services, and benefits are distributed to individuals by the central command of the government based on its rubric, not the individual's merit. (If you'd like an great explanation from someone with a bigger microphone than me, I recommend this.)
When previously private/corporate healthcare "insurance" gets bundled with federal government power you have a great example of Fascism. Housing solutions funded, owned, or managed by government is another wonderful example. If you need more examples, why, just ask me!
I once ate a pizza in San Francisco at a cute little joint named Cinecittà. Now closed, you can still almost hear the echoes of waiters lilting "scuze" and "pronto" out over Washington Square. How charming… until you do your research and come to the gross realization that the original Cinecittà* was a full-blown movie-industrial complex run by Mussolini's own son, Vittorio. The slogan? Why of course, "Il cinema è l'arma più forte!" ("cinema is the most powerful weapon!"). Just imagine America's Hollywood, not run by Harvey Weinstein. Martin Scorsese, and Quinton Tarantino, but by Rahm Emanuel, Anthony Fauci, and Elizabeth Warren. Now that's some bundling that even Progressive Insurance would be proud of!
Faggots, fajitas, fascism. What a fascinating bundle of words. Fascinate. (It gets weird.)
* - You'll be more than a little surprised at some of the major - old and new - movies filmed at Cinecittà studios.