FASCISM IS A CRUCIAL HUMAN INSTINCT, NOT JUST A POLITICAL MOVEMENT.
Fascism was first explicitly discerned as such an important mode of behavior of the human primate by the Romans, that they made it the symbol of their republic (so did the French republic). The Romans then proceeded to use fascism properly for centuries, greatly explaining the rise of the Roman republic.
Fascism allows to strike fear in enemies, and, by uniting the primate group into one superorganism with just one thought (how to prevail), and one feeling (death to the enemy), it provided savannah dwelling primates with the necessary condition for their survival, in spite of the existence of super predators (most of them now extinct, thanks to the genus Homo). When intelligent social predators (such as lions, dogs and hyenas) fight, they fight in groups, because the group with the largest mass wins. Primates came to the same observation.
Fascism was more than an advantage: it was a necessity. It was either fascism, or staying in the trees. Such a vital trait could only get hardwired in Homo psychobiology.
The full fascist mode is more than totalitarian: not only it encompasses everything in the mental world, it floods the brain with combat hormones, and even fight-to-death hormones. The totality fascism creates is shrunk to a sharp point of behaviors meant to dominate, strike terror, injure and kill. They are bundled tight around the weapon, like the Roman fasces. Fascism is not about preservation, it’s about absolute destruction. It makes death into a joyous, obvious opportunity to visit destruction onto the enemy; “Viva la Muerte!” indeed.
Fascism is the most powerful instinct, because it’s existential: without it, the genus Homo would not have come to be.
Politically fascism can be both a savior (Leonidas and the 300 at Thermopylae) and a tragedy (when the Athenian democracy, a generation after Leonidas, succumbed to fascism in the name of democracy, thus leaguing nearly all Greek City-states against her, an example the historically challenged USA should meditate). It can also be a bore, as when giant empires succumb to it, and civilization just twist in the wind for ever, not going anywhere, until catastrophe(s) strike(s). The imperial Roman Principate being the most splendid example of this. Islam is another (sorry for Teddy bear Mahomet!).
Thus the distinction some make between fascism and socialism rest on a confusion of categories. Fascism can be used by a people, just as it can by an oligarchy. Stalin was one of the greatest fascist in history (killing more people, he boasted, than Hitler did). Stalinist propaganda proclaimed he was no fascist, because, at some point he was attacked by some (that he had befriended before, quite a bit like the USA with bin Laden).
When the likes of Putin or Chavez (or, for that matter, Bush) gather exaggerated powers in the hands, by activating fear (Putin, Chavez), or terror (Bush), they are activating the fascist instinct. It’s totally baboon like, and sure it was appropriate when Churchill drew the line at the Channel. But overactivation of fascism kills democracy, hence intelligence, hence what made primates superior. Fascism is an existential instinct, but it’s made to kill, and if there is no genuine enemy, it kills unintended targets, and even those who activate it erroneously. Thus the USA taught and activated bin Laden to defeat Soviet sponsored secularism in Afghanistan.
It goes without saying that, in a time when WMD are so easy to make, the activation of fascist behavior is a deadly threat to all. Whereas fascism could locally kill millions earlier, the potential exists now for it to kill billions.
And fascism beckons fascism. To kill the nascent Russian democracy, the fascist generals of the Prussian General Staff, sent the fascist Lenin to Russia. Lenin himself amplified Russian fascism to new heights, just to discover, to his dismay, that the Man-of-Steel (Stalin) outdid him. Stalin, in turn, made friends with the new generations of German fascist generals. This intermezzo, for two long decades, was never quite explained by rabid communists, but is not strange at all, since, viewed from the correct perspective, they were all fascist.
The Roman republic’s decline and fall was caused by its plutocracy using fascism to great effect. It led to ever more fascism, culminating, after a few centuries, in the establishment of “Roman Catholic Orthodoxy” a fascism so great, it self devored, destroying nearly all books, schools, teachers, because all these represented mindstuff possibly contradicting the leader (the Roman Catholic emperor). Civilization collapsed.
Fascism is a risk in a country such as Venezuela, sure. But Venezuela is not a great risk to the world. Fascism is also a risk in the USA, and there it’s clearly a much greater risk to the world. It makes potential US fascism much more worrisome. As the USA decided to invade the Middle East in 2003, for oil and gaz, (because it is what it is!), the collective hysteria which gripped America was typical fascist behavior: the war leaders were charging forward, followed by the screaming masses. Nobody was thinking much on his own: it was all about screaming.
Because fascism is an instinct, not a political movement, all and any polity is at risk, even democracies. But the larger they are, the more risk they make us run. We have to admit fascism will happen again, bigger and deadlier, lest we are aware of the threat it represents. 5C BCE Athenians, or early 20C Germans, believed that they were the apex of civilization, and nothing less they would ever be, whatever they did. We don’t want to emulate them: the consequences would be way more terrible.