Fascist discourse

Authored by: John E. Richardson

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138826403
eBook ISBN: 9781315739342
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter introduces and discusses critical approaches to the analysis of fascist discourse. Although in comparison with other topics – inter alia, newspaper reporting, race/racism, sex/gender – the examination of fascist discourse is thin, recently this has started to be remedied with notable contributions to the analytic and empirical literature. Whilst some may argue that this relative infrequency is reason to exclude a chapter on fascist discourse from a handbook on Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), I maintain that fascist discourse is vitally important to analyse, understand and oppose. Most obviously, fascist politics is inimical to the emancipatory agenda of CDS. CDS should be aimed at analysing and counteracting power abuse, and how this is variously represented, enacted, justified and achieved in and through discourse; fascist political projects (whether ideology, party or movement) epitomise power abuse in extremis. Studying such political outliers yields additional benefits in that it brings into better focus the dialectic between extremisms and the social and political mainstream. Consider, for example, the ways that mainstream UK parties censured the British National Party (BNP) whilst simultaneously aping their language in order to appear tough on immigration (Richardson 2008; see also Wodak 2011); or the way that the BNP adopt slogans and communication tactics of mainstream UK parties in order to appear more moderate (Copsey 2008; Richardson and Wodak 2009a).

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