Last week as I was waiting for the subway at Times Square sta-
tion, I noticed a woman as she was coming oﬀ the train, ﬁxed as I was by the
enormous purple button pinned to her coat. In large white letters it asked,
“Is It Fascism Yet?” I exchanged a knowing glance with a fellow passenger
as we pushed into the car. “It’s getting there,” he said wanly as we pulled
Fascism—as name, idea, political system, worldview, culture—seems
ever to produce the diﬃculty of knowing whether or not it has arrived, yet.
Historically referencing Germany and Italy circa 1930, ever beholden to par-
ticular European times and places, fascism provokes uncertainties about its
reach, metaphorical and otherwise. How will we know when it’s fascism?
Just like the question “Are we having fun yet?” the question “Is it fascism
yet?” spurs us to wonder “Well, is it?” (“Well, are we?”). Or, alternatively, of
course, with the barb already embedded in the question, we feel sure of the
implied irony: we know that it is fascism, already. How much fascism is
necessary before one can answer the question in the aﬃrmative? When do
we know fascism is fascism?