Popular understanding of “Fascism” comes more from Hollywood/Commercial publishing products like Stars Wars or Harry Potter than history. Or rather what is recognized as history are narratives that perpetuate the cliches of the cultural industry: Uniforms, salutes, sinister symbols (like skulls), corny march music, obsession with blood(of enemies and of the pure stock), (non-heroic) machismo, charismatic leaders, cringing conspiratorial followers. Fascism is understood in a reductive, liberal manner as simply belligerent authoritarianism plus a lack of inclusivity (such as racism, or whatever it’s fantasy analogue is). It is unambiguously the opposite of “normal” (bourgeois) democracy, and is essentially a fluke. The Big Bad was stealthy, and the righteous few were sleeping. Any deeper problem is laid down to the “corruption” and “softness” of the old republican order (a telling diagnosis..). Fascists are bad news for failing to follow the norms of parliamentary procedure (so like the Hero and co ), being aggressive, and not wishing to share “rights” with certain of the others who wish to participate in normalcy. Fascism is the consolidated State attempting to destroy individual uniqueness supposedly represented by the hero, A suspiciously ”communist” threat.
The most obvious sign that the antimony between the champions of freedom and the hiss-worthy goose-steppers is not all what it appears to be is the sheer emotional investment and interest lavished on the latter. Darth Vader and Char Aznable (from Gundam) are far more remembered by their respective fan bases than the earnest but banal Siegfrieds they are the foils to. So there is a libidinal imbalance within the economy of these texts. The fascination flows towards the Fascist Villain, like light towards a Black Hole. The hated enemy is a symbol of a repressed desire in these stories that their popular reception brings to the open. This leads to the question of what is the substantive base for distinguishing the charismatic heel from the typically blank main character.
“The ‘others’ must be defended” appears to be the decisive ethical formula proving rectitude and marking out vice in such stories. Concern is the sign of the heroic. But who are these others? In these narratives it is mostly the victim, the subservient, and the snitch. The deserving inferiors:
“They’re not meant ter live together, giants … they can’t help themselves, they half kill each other every few weeks.” -Native Informant Rubeous Hagrid, Housekeeper and Good (Half) Giant
“Ah, if Harry Potter only knew!” Dobby groaned, more tears dripping onto his ragged pillowcase. “If he knew what he means to us, to the lowly, the enslaved, we dregs of the magical world!- Uncle Tom Dobby, “House Elf” (house slave)
This should be a clear sign of what the real difference between the heroes and magical “fascists” of such narratives consists in. We are proper parents to the lesser breeds, not their tyrants or their exterminators. British gentlemen, not SS officers. Forgetting that the Nazis were trying to do just that, become proper Anglo Saxon imperialists, and fell upon the solution of the gas chamber only when the shadow of total military defeat in the East fell on their dreams of a Slavic Raj. Forgetting the massacres, the labor/concentration camps, and the ethnic cleansing inflicted by the English speaking nations. This disavowal and projection of white supremacist hegemony is enough by itself to prove a kinship in these tales between the heroes and their adversaries.
(Note: Oddly the stand ins for Nazis are often blamed with causing uppity revolts from the those lower in the imperial hierarchy. So Voldemort inspires the Giants to rampage, Sauron calls up the Arab like Harradim against Gondor, and the Hilterian Principality of Zeon is itself a rebel space colony fighting Earth’s domination. A dim memory of the Indian National Army and similar opportunistic episodes of alliance between anti-colonial rebels and the Axis. Or perhaps just another example of the conflation of fascism with communism preferred by liberalism)
But there is one more category of “other” in which the liberal fantasy’s characters, and their audience, latch onto, That is the worthy assimilated one, the hard working social climber. Of it them it can even be said:
”You’re the cleverest witch of your age I’ve ever met”
This is spoken of Hermonie Granger, the only main character of the Potter series with a non-magical background. Those others who sincerely want to be like us, and can “merit” it, are to be accepted. The existence of such persons is a reason for the protagonists to decline fascist extremism. They are also the supreme justification for inequality. For it is not a closed inequality that is being defended, but a prudent inequality that carefully awaits the coming of any who combine nature and merit, a combination which the “Death Eaters” of the world wastefully want to kill in the bud through undiscriminating hate.
This is the meaning of being liberal, in fantasy and reality. “White” Capitalist Hierarchy plus access for the local elites, the compradors, of every color and nation.The real distinction between the liberal heroes and the fascist foes stands reveled, not a radical difference in ends but a difference in means. Instead of the destabilizing sterile and clearly illusory cult of literal blood privilege, the perpetuation of the status-quo is sought through bringing in fresh talent.
So you can even have a black president and marry a muggle if you want. For whiteness is not really about a skin color, just as wizardry is not really about the blood. It is the certification of being a member of the eternally youthful planetary gentry, of which all the stars predicted in the immemorial past, and around which all the classes of creatures move within their spheres. Of having become an adept, who only needs to say the words, and it shall be done. And any toil that can’t be done by spells alone will be done out of sight by more humble beings, who are just happy to have a job.
(“The Soccer’s Apprentice” without the Master is a Hopeful Tale)
All of these fantastic tricks of evasion and misdirection work towards the final delusion of capitalist ”normalcy”. That “our” (first world) present day order has nothing to do with fascism is the final comforting Aesop of such elevated fantasy stories. We don’t discriminate against the aliens/mutants/Mugbloods in our midst. We (personally) don’t throw people in Gothic dungeons. We are too hip to strut to the tune of any “Imperial March” . If there are latent fascist threats, they are just criminal gangs from an “urban” setting , who respectable people don’t have to deal with. Or they may be people who vote for the other party. But the latter we can still shake hands with at the end of the day. For after everything is said and done, we are all Americans, all Englishmen, all patriotic, but global citizens. Enjoying mutually our customized enchantments, standing in solidarity against the envious darkness.
And as we dream of being pupils of wizards, the captive brooms work away, and the waters rise.