“Fascism” is a word too loosely tossed about, and I know because I’ve done a bit of that tossing myself most of my 69 years.
But studying people like Hannah Arendt, which one can do better over time, who teaches us so well about the growth and manifestation of totalitarianism tells us that, while fascism may be lurking in many corners, it isn’t here yet. Far closer in places like China, Russia, Hungary and even the Philippines.
Which isn’t to say it won’t come or can’t. You’re absolutely right about the economic challenges that might bring it about. But Arendt is certain that other factors not presently as close as we might imagine here in North America need to take place. We have a strong and vital free press, for one thing. And an active and free military separated from the political sphere (believe it or not, and this was proved beyond a doubt when the Turd Reich was in our White House).
Otherwise we are looking at an ever-present danger, now, all over the “free world.” All of our institutions are being questioned and facts themselves are under siege. This, Arendt argues, is the key. Undermining of basic institutions and the reality of the facts that hold them together.
As you noted, social media is a powerful trigger here, and economic forces hold a terrific sway over peoples’ emotions. Small coteries like QAnon and the Proud Boys—the factions who led that attack on our Capitol in January—can start riots and do (they did again just the other day in Portland). But so far not enough to start a general uprising.
Because the people in general do not buy in to their lunacy. The people in general are stable. The basic institutions and the reality that holds them together are still stable. For now.