These Quotes Will Inspire You in Your Fight Against Fascism

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s a collection of quotes about fascism we reposted at some point in the dreadful abyss between the 2016 election and President Low Turnout’s inauguration. Out of everything we’ve ever posted to Deceleration, this post has consistently been top of the most-viewed-posts ticker, to our mild surprise. That said, we noticed more recently that this list of quotes (since significantly modified) bears a high level of dudebrocentricity. So, we’re issuing a call for additional inspiration from anti-authoritarian womyn, queer, and BIPOC thinkers. We kick things off below with the amazing Masha Gessen and Judith Butler. Send others our way at

“Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable.”
—Masha Gessen (New York Times Review of Books, Nov 26, 2016)

“To speak truth to power is not fundamentally an individual act. Before we ask what it means to speak truth to power, we have to ask who can speak. Sometimes the very presence of those who are supposed to remain mute in public discourse breaks through that structure. So many of the public demonstrations against austerity and precarity present bodies in the street and within public view who are themselves suffering from displacement and disenfranchisement. They also assert political agency in common by gathering as they do. So although we can think about parliamentary assemblies as part of democracy, so too can we understand the extraparliamentary power of assemblies to alter the public understanding of who the people are. Especially when those appear who are not supposed to appear.

“Although demonstrations and assemblies are often not enough to produce radical change, they do alter our perceptions about who the people are, and they assert fundamental freedoms that belong to bodies in their plurality. There can be no democracy without freedom of assembly, and there can be no assembly without the freedom to move and gather. When the undocumented assemble, or when those who have suffered eviction assemble, or those who suffer unemployment or drastic cuts in their retirement, they assert themselves into the imagery and the discourse that gives us a sense of who the people are or should be. Of course, they make specific demands, but assembly is also a way of making a demand with the body, a corporeal claim to public space and a public demand to political powers. As long as “security” continues to justify the banning and dispersion of demonstrations, assemblies, and encampments, it serves the decimation of democratic rights and democracy itself. Only a broad-based mobilization—a form of embodied and transnational courage, we might say—will successfully defeat xenophobic nationalism and the various alibis that now threaten democracy.

—Judith Butler (Mediapart)

“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

—All Thinking People of Conscience Everywhere

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
— Sinclair Lewis

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punishedunless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”


“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

— Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

“Are you a communist?”
“No I am an anti-fascist”
“For a long time?”
“Since I have understood fascism.”

— Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.  This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications… In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

— President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his televised farewell speech (1961)

“Fascism is not just a word. It`s not just a way to insult someone with whom you disagree. It is a specific thing. It is a specific form of far right politics that involves a sort of narcissistic cult of superman action around the leader of the party.”

— Rachel Maddow

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

— Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”

— Henry Wallace

”Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.”

— Arthur Miller

“When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.”

— Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

“It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions. You take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.”

— Noam Chomsky

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

— Benito Mussolini

”In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

— (Probably-Not-But-Often-Attributed-To) George Orwell

”The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who during times of great moral crisis maintained their neutrality.”

— Dante Alighieri

“Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic.”

— Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

“The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

— Henry Kissinger, New York Times, October 28, 1973

“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

“If…the machine of government…is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”

— Henry David Thoreau

“Show, by your actions, that you choose peace over war, freedom over oppression, voice over silence, service over self-interest, respect over advantage, courage over fear, cooperation over competition, action over passivity, diversity over uniformity, and justice over all.”

— Anthony J. Marsella

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