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The Strenuous Life Podcast with Stephan Kesting

This is the Stephan Kesting's Grapplearts Radio Podcast where we discuss BJJ, Grappling, MMA, and all manner of martial arts training.

Stephan runs, where he has published many hundreds of martial arts videos, articles and tutorials.

His free guide to learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, A Roadmap for BJJ, has been downloaded more than 10,000 times and has become a foundational text for the art. Click here to download that book for free as well.

Stephan has a lengthy career in martial arts, spanning more than 3 decades.  He has dedicated many years to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and you can find his accessible and practical expertise on all BJJ matters at

A black belt in multiple martial art systems, he brings a range of approaches to self defense, and a critical eye for what works in the street.

Stephan has been featured in Black Belt Magazine, Ultimate Grappling, Tapout Magazine and Ultimate Athlete.

He is also a frequent guest on martial arts related podcasts, including The Fightworks Podcast, Atlantic MMA, Combatives Corner, The Warrior’s Den, The Spartan Underground and many more.

Nov 6, 2022

In episode 379 of The Strenuous Life Podcast I talk with podcaster, martial artist, and history professor Daniele Bolelli about the characteristics of fascism.

This is a loaded topic for both of us, because both of our families lived in fascist states during World War 2 (mine in Germany, his in Italy).  Which is why I almost went with an alternate title, namely A German and an Italian Walk Into a Bar...

The terms 'fascism' sure gets thrown around a lot these days. But words have meaning, and so you can't just use it as an insult to describe anything you don't like. S0 what is it?

As Daniele explains, there isn't a single definition of fascism; instead it's a checklist and the more items an ideology checks off then the closer they are to fascism.  Here are some of the major items for Daniele...

  • Nostalgia for a mythic past
  • Reliance on an authority figure who will fix everything
  • Nationalism
  • A cult of masculinity and cracking down on anyone who doesn't embody traditional values
  • A hawkish desire for war against internal and external enemies
  • Strong alliances with traditional power structures like industry and religion
  • Anti-intellectualism and a distrust of expertise
  • Conservative values,
  • Subordination of women, anti-abortion, anti-birth control
  • Anti-democratic values
  • Emphasis on law and order

Other things we discuss are Giorgia Meloni (the Prime Minister of Italy), economic situations before the rise of fascism, horseshoe theory and the eventual convergence of extreme left and extreme right, and the danger of fascism in the world right now.

More Daniele Bolelli...

Here are some places you can get more Daniele Bolelli...

More Definitions of Fascism

Fascism is a tricky word, and many different people have taken stabs at defining it.  Here are a few of my favorites...

I found Jason Stanley's 10 traits of a fascist movement a very useful starting point.

Umberto Eco's essay Ur-Fascism, originally published in the New York Review, included a 14 point list of the features of fascism. He identified that, for fascists, the enemy must simultaneously be very weak and very strong, which I found fascinating because I see it so often in the discourse these days.

British political scientist Roger Griffin has defined the fascistic core as an ultranationalism focused on the idea of rebirth of a people or a nation (or palingenetic ultranationalism).  

As is so often the case, the Wikipedia article on the definitions of fascism is a useful starting point if you want to go deeper into this topic.