The word “fascism” is being tossed around a lot these days. Here in America, it has recently been employed by those in mortal fear of a Donald Trump presidential administration, to describe the latter’s political approach and ideology. In Europe, it is often used to describe—again, in an obviously negative light—the ascendant right-wing political parties that have made electoral gains on the continent over the past few years.

“Fascism” as a political theory is hard to explain. It is not at all like the American brands of conservatism or liberalism, which can usually be broken down into their component beliefs for easy classification of a politician, based upon his or her espoused views. Fascism is harder to nail down. To quote the eminent wordsmith Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

As always, at SOFREP, we are here to help you sort out your confusion. To do this, your author had to first sort out his own confusion—a time-consuming endeavor, rest assured—and dig out his dusty, cobweb-covered graduate school textbooks and research papers, which were buried in cardboard boxes, hidden deep in the recesses of his closets. Thank God for the occasional hoarding tendency.

Now that he is sufficiently refreshed on his admittedly limited knowledge of classical fascism, we are ready to explore the phenomenon, and its definition within the bounds of political science. What we will not be doing is taking a deep dive into its manifestation under Benito Mussolini, nor any other specific fascist, neo-fascist, or proto-fascist regime. Rather, we will examine fascism strictly as a category of thought, political practice, and ideology. Bear with me. I promise this will not be as boring as it sounds. Furthermore, in today’s political environment, we need to be briefed up on this school of thought. It is important.