Enforcing organisational values is a fascist goal

Pretty much every company over a certain size has its ‘values’. They are considered a cornerstone of defining company culture. They may be used in hiring people who already have a predilection for the same kinds of values and to assess the ongoing behaviour of employees to ensure they remain aligned. Deviating from the company values can result in corrective measures being applied to the rebellious employee. The question here isn’t whether companies choose admirable values, the question here is how morally acceptable it is for them to enforce their values on their employees.

The term ‘Fascism’ is used in many different ways; historically, socially, politically and as a pejorative. It lacks a single agreed definition and although there are many thinkers who have put forward the means to recognise it, this isn’t an easy thing. For the purposes of this discussion we can say fascism is the enforcing of an ideology of conformity and elitism, where some people are considered more valuable than others. There are two parts to that definition. Fascism is an ideology of conformity. Everyone must agree and accept. There is no room for alternative views, no deviation allowed. And fascism enforces it’s ideology. It believes in taking violent action to further the adoption of it’s beliefs, and that action can be in the worst of ways but also in using propaganda to do harm to the psyche of those it attempts to convert.

Where the historian Stanley Payne talks of what he terms ‘Fascist goals’ he includes “the regulating and transforming of social relations within a culture”, and Robert O. Paxton, the American political scientist, states that fascism “reconfigures the relationship between the individual and the collectivity so that, at it’s most extreme, the individual has no rights outside those that benefit community interest”. In the words of both of these thinkers we can see how fascism uses the power of authority and the collective to control the individual. If an individual cannot choose their own values then they suffer fascist rule.

Company values seem, at first glance, to be a positive thing; a means of setting agreed cultural expectations and achieving behavioural harmony. Where an organisation draws the line between the promotion of its chosen values and the indoctrination of those values in ways that prevent challenge and discussion or the adoption of other values, is the line between seeking equality and enabling fascism. But it’s not a line that is easy for all to see. If we’re serious about taking action to be anti-fascist then we are honour-bound to examine fascism wherever it might be and however subtly it might manifest.