Posts Tagged ‘blackshirts’

Aphorism XCIX

Monday, July 11th, 2016

One sure sign of ascendant fascism is a group that forcefully takes over a stage and microphone from another scheduled speaker. Such acts are especially offensive in a university setting, where theoretically freedom of speech and inquiry should rule.

This bullying tactic hearkens back to the shirt movements such as the Brownshirts and the Blackshirts that brought the Fascism of Hitler and Stalin to power in the 1920s and 30s.

Such public bullying today is no longer a virtual shirt movement online, simply multiplying tweets, but political thugs of the worst kind trying to wrestle control of the physical public square. Such a group will not moderate its use of force to simply take over stages from other speakers, but is capable of much more coercion and even violence.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


The Rise of Virtual Shirt Movements

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

In a 2010 post, I wrote about the history of “shirt movements” like the Blackshirts and the Brownshirts, and how these violent thugs drove more moderate associations and leaders from the public square in the 1920s, 30s, and thereafter, allowing Fascist and other totalitarian movements to take power.

Thanks to Twitter and other social media, it is now possible to mount a virtual shirt movement of hundreds of thousands of participants (but usually a much smaller, but very vocal group) to marginalize individuals and one’s political or social opposition.

Since this virtual shirt movement phenomenon is still immature, many individuals are shaken when seemingly thousands of persons virtually gang up on them. However, as this phenomenon does mature and become better understood, we may see a situation in which only virtual reactions involving one million or more participants will be taken seriously, and only if they sustain themselves over time. Universities are especially susceptible to relatively small virtual shirt movements.

Right now, virtual shirt movements seem very powerful. This power may degrade as it is better understood, and as information countermeasures are established.

A virtual shirt movement may seem “fierce,” but these “virtually fierce” ones eventually can be virtually discredited and even ignored as their manipulative efforts are themselves revealed and better understood.

But if virtual shirt movements are taken too seriously and are allowed to succeed, we will see the makings of a new virtual fascism or totalitarianism. One sure harbinger of Fascism is a group of thugs who drive their opposition from the public square, virtually or otherwise.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


“Shirt movements” and Catholic Action

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Because in the 1930s European Catholic Action movements and the “shirt movements” occupied some of the same “political space,” Catholic Action was seen as a threat to fascist movements, which heavily relied on different forms of mob action and intimidation to rule over public life until their leaders seized full control of the government and the military.

Fascist governments used the “shirt movements,” the blackshirts in Italy and the SA or brownshirts in Germany, to consolidate power. Hitler’s goal was actually to finalize his control over the military and the government, and his strategic turning upon his previous supporters, the leadership of the brownshirts during the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934 was merely a means to an end: the acquiescence of the military and political elites to his leadership. To Hitler, the shirt movements were merely a path to power, not the enduring exercise of it.

Authoritarian governments in Latin America have also used turba, or mob action to silence the opposition from the public square. Similar mini-turba are seen on college campuses from time to time, where they suppress public opinions which differ from theirs.

Today Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez leads a red-shirted throng, and Thailand witnesses street violence between red-shirted and yellow-shirted mobs. These “red shirts” have an ominous predecessor movement, the infamous and murderous anti-Catholic “Red Shirts” of Mexico in the 1930s.

Hitler’s 1934 purge of the SA, like the Jacobean purge after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in England, was expanded to include members of the current or even potential opposition, not just the brownshirts–ostensibly to protect the government in the name of civil society–but through the means of select summary execution, followed by show trials. Tyrants have been using this same playbook for centuries.

One of the very first victims of Hitler’s 1934 purge was Erich Klausener,


the leader of Catholic Action in Germany, shot at his desk, whose crime against Hitler was to co-author the Marburg Speech by German Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, which criticized the violence and mob rule of the Nazis.

Erich Klausener is considered one of the first Catholic martyrs against Hitler, and is memorialized as such in a Berlin church, Maria Regina Martyrum.

Those who criticize the “silence” of the Catholic Church in Germany during the 1930s conveniently forget that this silence had an external cause: the martyrdom of the likes of Klausener, the Nazi’s systematic closing of the Catholic schools, the shutting down of the Catholic press, and the arrest and deportation of the Catholic clergy–after a long campaign by Joseph Goebbels against–Guess what?–clerical sexual misconduct.

Today in the US, we do not have Catholic Action as it was known from the 1920s through the early 1960s. The Knights of Columbus, under attack from several quarters, are sometimes likened to Catholic Action, but they have deeper roots in the 1800s as a fraternal organization.

While the anti-tax Tea Party movement has witnessed scuffles with today’s closest approximation of a North American shirt movement, the “purple ocean” of the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, large-scale 1930s-style street-fighting has been rare during 2010 in the US.

Let’s hope that the US gets nowhere close to a true “shirt movement.” Unlike certain Latin American or European countries of the past or present, we have nothing close to a Catholic Action movement in the US to oppose the consolidation of political power by such mob action.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved