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Left-wing fascism and left fascism are sociological and philosophical terms used to categorize tendencies in left-wing politics otherwise commonly attributed to the ideology of fascism. Fascism has historically been considered a far-right ideology, but crossovers may be expected according to the horseshoe theory, where the touching point between the far-left and the far-right may be the use of power and/or political terrorism.
The most prominent early user of the term "left fascism" (linker Faschismus) was Jürgen Habermas, a sociologist and philosopher influenced by the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School. He used the term in the 1960s to distance the Frankfurt School from the violence and authoritarianism of left-wing terrorists and to criticize the violent methods of protest of the Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund. Habermas, whose work emphasizes the importance of rational discourse, democratic institutions and opposition to violence, has made important contributions to conflict theory and is often associated with the radical left.
Sociologist Irving Louis Horowitz in his 1984 book Winners and Losers built on Vladimir Lenin's work "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder. Lenin describes the enemies of the working class as opportunists and petty-bourgeois revolutionaries operating on anarchist premises. Horowitz claimed that "left-wing fascism" emerged again in the United States political life during the 1980s in the form of a refusal to disengage radical rhetoric form totalitarian reality.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term "left fascism" has been used to describe unusual hybrid political alliances. Historian Richard Wolin has used the term "left fascism" in arguing that some European intellectuals have been infatuated with post-modernist or anti-Enlightenment theories, opening up the opportunity for cult-like, irrational, anti-democratic positions that combine characteristics of the left with those of fascism. Philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy calls this political hybrid "neoprogressivism," "new barbarism" or "red fascism" in his 2008 book Left in Dark Times. Lévy argues that it is anti-liberal, anti-American, anti-imperialist, anti-Semitic and pro-Islamofascist.