The mission of the April Institute is to promote interdisciplinary research and public education about the history of fascism and antifascism in the United States in order to enhance the public’s ability to identify and resist threats to democratic norms and marginalized communities.
What is Fascism
Fascism is a type of far-right ultranationalism, which varies in form depending on the context of its emergence. Common features include the promotion of vigilante violence, race hatred and antisemitism, patriarchy and heteronormativity, victimhood identity among supporters, mythical narratives of national decay and rebirth, and an authoritarian leader that claims to personify “the people.” Commonly suppressed are democracy, dissent, press freedom, and fact-based reasoning or shared epistemic norms.
Opposition to fascism is most successful when an informed public recognizes emerging fascist tendencies and disrupts fascist movements before they gain state power. To date, however, public narratives about the history of fascism and antifascism in the United States are sporadic, uneven, and often distorted. This is due in part to the failure of state institutions to confront and educate the public about fascist movements, past and present, and in part to the successful campaigns of far-right groups to intentionally misrepresent those movements and their opponents. The result is that the public understanding of contemporary fascist tendencies lacks the context of their deep historical roots, and those engaged in resistance are deprived of the insights gained by a long antifascist tradition. For these reasons, the April Institute is dedicated to three goals:
The Significance of the Institute’s Name
In 1945, the month of April witnessed the deaths of Hitler and Mussolini, the liberation of several concentration camps by the Allied powers, including Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, and Dachau, and victory by the Resistance in Northern Italy (April 25 is now an official Italian holiday). The likely etymology of April is the Latin verb aperiō, which means to open or make visible and thus aligns with the Institute’s mission to disclose our past and create openings for change and renewal.