I learned a new word today: clero-fascism. Apparently its been around for a while but up to now I’d completely missed it. It is a more efficient way to say “clerical fascism,” with the added benefit of not conjuring images of goose-stepping administrative assistants. The prefix, clero, means clergy in Spanish and Italian; the other part you know.
An example of the meaning:
“The close alliance of Catholicism and Fascism was not unique to Slovakia, of course. It was found in many other European countries, as well: in pre-war Austria under Dollfuss, in Salazar's Portugal, in Romania under the Iron Guard, in Pavelic’s Croatia, in Horthy’s Hungary, in Vichy France and, of course, under Generalissimo Franco, who called himself “Leader of Spain by the grace of God”. All of these, to varying degrees, exemplified “clerical fascism”, that is to say, “fascist regimes in which clergy played a leading role.”
And of the usage:
“This situation only confirms the position of peace activists and defenders of human rights in Serbia. Our security is endangered by the state as well as by neo-Nazi and clero-fascist individuals and groups.”
Not only am I excited about adding a word to my already fantabulistic vocabulary (have I mentioned 8,000 times my perfect score on the GRE verbal section? Let's make that 8,001), I also think the term is very useful. Though it appears clero-fascism has been used only in the context of Europe and Christianity, I don’t see why it couldn’t apply to fascists among our homegrown Christian fundamentalists, or fascists of the Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or what-all else varieties. (Remember, not all fundamentalists are fascists - for example, the Amish).
Its more wieldy that the “religious-political extremist” some of us have been taught to use, and much less offensive than “Islamo-fascist” as used by Republicans. Using a term that captures both the Taliban and Human Life International gets right to the point – the anti-democratic, anti-choice, wholly intolerant ideology that blends religion and politics and would make religious leaders into political leaders – without besmirching an entire faith.
I plan on using it a lot, even in inappropriate situations. Example:
Waiter: Would you like the chips or the salad with that?
Me: I don't know. Are the chips clero-fascists?
- and -
Dr. P: How long have you had that rash?
Me: Ever since I bumped into a clero-fascist at Metro Center.
Clero-fascist. It works for me. I recommend it.