Prejudices shape our world: The benefits of changing perspective

by Elizaveta Rushinova

Opinion Contributor

Prejudices have a significant influence on the way people perceive, understand, and interpret diverse events in the world around us. I am taking a history course and we learning about different political movements of the twentieth century right now. I noticed that one of the biggest prejudices of my generation is in regards to ideologies that bloomed in the first half of the last century: Fascism, Nazism and Communism.

Some of my peers would never even touch the topic of Fascism because of their prejudice. The word “fascism” causes an association with the 2nd world war, whether it be enormous casualties, innocent deaths, or cruelty and madness of ruling leaders. Why in that case did some of the European states adopt this kind of ideology? It is impossible to imagine that all Italian or German people went insane and, despite understanding the cruelty of this ideology, decided to accept it. It is also difficult to picture that whole nations craved war and thirsted for blood in order to revenge the rest of the world.

It is also doubtful that a system of the total control was easily imposed on people or installed against the will of the sober majority of civilians in the period after the 1st world war, when governments of Italy and Germany were weak, exhausted, and, above all, under the threat of the new possible upcoming revolution and change of the regime. So, why did not the “sober majority of civils” just block the passage of the power to the “insane” fascists or simply overthrow them immediately as they came to the power? I think that in overall generation from generation does not change that much in the way they think and perceive the world.

Therefore, I consider people, who lived in 20s and 30s of the previous century as pretty adequate ones. Even though their decisions were slightly influenced by such consequences of the 1st world war as national humiliation, economical destruction, global grief and complexities of restructuring the society from “war times” framework back to the “peace” pace of life, they were still intelligent. There must be also something logical and adequate in the Doctrine of Fascism, if it could attract European generation of the twentieth century.

While I was trying to find this “La dottrina del fascismo,” which was, of course, officially written by Benito Mussolini (the true author of the first chapter was Giovanni Gentile) in 1929 and published in 1932, I unexpectedly faced the fact, which surprised me, that this book was banned on the 18th June of 2010 in my country. I didn’t expect that, despite an obvious modern hostility to the ideas of fascism, it could be considered as a threat nowadays. Nevertheless, here are some of the main, basic ideas of the Doctrine that can, from my perspective, shine light on the people’s choice of a such totalitarian regime and, for some of us, break ignorance of its ideological initial statements.

  • Fascism rejected the material understanding of the happiness. Using this attitude, they actually rejected the evolution of the states’ structures and society according to the struggle for economical prosperity and material satisfaction. P.S.: it sounds unrealistic, but elevated
  • Fascism also appreciated religion and emphasized moral principles and spiritual strength. This ideology praised the elevated, noble features of individuals, such as self-sacrifice for the good of the nation, heroism, and the suppression of egoism.
  • Positive perception of the life as a struggle. It proclaimed the necessity of labor and constant physical, moral, and intellectual cultivation.
  • Established a connection between the nation and the state and view it as the highest and most powerful “personality.” Fascism saw the state as a complete, indivisible unit despite its greeting of inequality and “healthy” class struggle within the state.

Even though Fascism was against liberalism, it still allowed freedom in the way of the liberty of the state and individual within it. People after the 1st world war were trying to find an exit from the chaos and, thus, searched for a stable, strong authoritarian government that could protect them. Fascism seemed to be a suitable ideology.

Everyone has many prejudices, which prevent him/her from attempts to continue to search the actual truth. We fall victim to stereotypes and sometimes can’t even imagine how strong we are influenced by the dogmas of the community into which we were born. It makes us narrow-minded, as if we were wearing blinders. Leaving our comfort zone, talking to people with attitudes that contradict our own and actually trying to understand them, makes us to look at things from a different perspective. It forces us to be less patterned, develop the thirst for knowledge, and increases the interest in a multi-faceted life. Adjusting our paradigms actually build true, purely individual and valuable assumptions that reflect your constantly growth, development, and enlightening personality.

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