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Crypto-fascism is the secret support for, or admiration of, fascism. The term is used to imply that an individual or group keeps this support or admiration hidden to avoid political persecution or political suicide. The common usage is "crypto-fascist", one who practices this support.
The term is sometimes credited to Gore Vidal, though the Oxford English Dictionary cites several earlier uses, including The Guardian using the term more than once in the 1920s. In an ABC television debate during the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Vidal described William F. Buckley, Jr. as a "crypto-Nazi", later correcting himself as meaning to say "crypto-fascist". However, the term had appeared five years earlier in a German-language book by the sociologist Theodor W. Adorno, Der getreue Korrepetitor (The Faithful Répétiteur).
The term was famously used by German Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll in a 1972 essay (titled "Will Ulrike Gnade oder freies Geleit?") that was sharply critical of the tabloid newspaper Bild's coverage of the Baader-Meinhof Gang left-wing terrorist organization. In the essay, Böll stated that what Bild does "isn’t cryptofascist anymore, not fascistoid, but naked fascism. Agitation, lies, dirt."
- Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 15, p. 191.
- Böll, Heinrich (1972-01-10). "Will Ulrike Gnade oder freies Geleit? Schriftsteller Heinrich Böll über die Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe und "Bild"" (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- Political Animals: Vidal, Buckley and the ’68 Conventions - Page dedicated to the debate in which the crypto-Nazi statement was made by Gore Vidal.
- "Soundtrack of the debate (MP3)". pitt.edu. University of Pittsburgh.