(I'm reading around this area, and will gradually extend these notes as I learn more)
In the modern world most people link fascism only to the Nazis, so think fascism can only exist if the military are goose-stepping in the streets and there's a war.
In reality fascism can be a political ideology seeping into daily national life.
"Fascist politics includes many distinct strategies: the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, unreality, hierarchy, victimhood, law and order, sexual anxiety, appeals to the heartland, and a dismantling of public welfare and unity.
"The dangers of fascist politics come from way in which it dehumanizes segments of population. By excluding these groups, it limits capacity for empathy among other citizens, leading to justification of inhumane treatment, repression of freedom, mass imprisonment, and expulsion"
— 'How fascism works' by Jason Stanley
Often fascists focus a population's attention on the past, creating some idea of how things were better then until these 'others' interfered somehow.
"Seduction by a mythicized past prevents us from thinking about possible futures. Dwelling on victimhood dulls the impulse of self-correction.Politics becomes a discussion of good and evil rather than a discussion of possible solutions to real problems." — Timothy Snyder
Fascism is a political dogma that is seeping into our lives, and does not look like armies goose-stepping through the streets behind tanks. It looks just like any other politics. It's the results that are dangerous. The changes in society. The impact on lives.
It becomes a dangerously seductive philosophy to many in tough times because it preaches that problems are created by 'others' and they must be punished harshly — so we must give our leaders unchecked powers in order to reclaim what's 'rightfully ours' as a 'superior' people.
That's much easier for a population to hear than the more complicated and hard truth. It can be someone else's fault and someone else will sort it. And therefore it's better for the leader's job prospects/power/wealth than if they communicated reality and worked on improving it. Even if they don't succeed, they can hold that up as showing how powerful and cunning the enemy is, and how we need to give our leaders more power in order to defeat them.
Many who have studied the rise of fascism in Germany in the 1930s have been ringing alarm bells about what is happening in the political discourse of western nations in recent years.
We have to be careful to see it early, understand it, explain it, and stand up to it. I believe part of that responsibility falls to writers.