From a friend:
A lot of art that “looks” fascist, isn’t particularly, though. The
Fascisti, Nazis, and Soviets all fell back on monumental stuff
combined with self-consciously modern or futuristic (or Futurist)
elements. In this way, though, in retrospect a lot of architecture,
graphic design, objets and so forth tend to look “fascist” but they’re
really just Art Deco or Futurist (and, yes, I know there was some
overlap between the Futurists and the Fascisti).
I basically agree with this. It’s an important point to keep in mind that fascist movements appropriated popular aesthetics because they were popular. Moreover, they were sometimes really good at this stuff, so it’s no wonder that some “fascistic” imagery just looks cool and that some cool images look fascistic.
But I think this is illustrates a point I try very hard to illustrate in the book but which has been lost on many critics. Fascism was not some wholly alien, other-wordly phenomenon that can be contained neatly within a discrete group of people and events we call “fascist.” These ideas were in the water and in the air, materializing in all sorts of places. The fact that much of the imagery — for want of a better word – of the New Deal, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy was so uniform or commonplace should bolster my case that there was indeed a “fascist moment” in the West. If it makes you feel better to call it a “collectivist moment” go right ahead.