Deceiving Sincerely: The Embrace of Sincerity-as-Truth in Fascist Rhetoric

Publication Date

January 2022

Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

The Rhetoric of Fascism


Nathan Crick


For anyone interested in how a leader rises to power and maintains support even when he or she is demonstrably at odds with truth, Donald Trump represents a fascinating case study. But he is not the only—nor even the best—example of this phenomenon. In fact, Trump is just one recent practitioner of a rhetorical device widely used in fascist rhetoric for nearly a century to undermine a society’s faith in factual truth.I call this device “Deceiving Sincerely.” Drawing on the work of historians, philosophers, and rhetoricians, I argue that Deceiving Sincerely is inextricably connected to fascist rhetoric. In the fascist version of truth, truth is felt, it is authentic, it is sincere. Whether or not it’s also factual is beside the (fascist) point. Sincerity becomes the ultimate sign of truth, irrespective of “facts,” and the performance of sincerity binds people to the cause. I intend to take this claim a step further, as well, and argue that blatant, obvious, egregious forms of deception can actually reinforce people’s beliefs in a fascist leader’s sincerity. I contend that lying obviously and egregiously, but sincerely, signals a speaker’s virtue because, while a fascist leader may misrepresent the facts, they cannot mask their “true” feelings.


rhetoric, fascism, sincerity, truth, fascist rhetoric