| It doesn't stop|
at the water's edge
“”It is usual to speak of the Fascist objective as the "beehive state", which does grave injustice to bees. A world of rabbits ruled by stoats would be nearer the mark.
|—George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier[Note 1]|
Fascism was a term coined by Benito Mussolini for his nationalistic and totalitarian political movement, which came to power in Italy between the 1920s and 1940s. The term has been widely used to refer to other right-wing nationalist governments, such as Francisco Franco's rule in Spain, and, prior to World War II there were unsuccessful fascist movements in other European countries, including the UK.
In the 1920s and '30s, communists came to lump all their radical opponents together under the label of "fascist" (alongside "imperialist"), and conversely to regard their fascist enemies as defenders of capitalism, despite the original fascism being not only anti-socialist, but also anti-capitalist. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler described both capitalism and socialism as two sides of the same coin (i.e. both being controlled by Jews), and most of fascism's reputation as a right-wing philosophy came from its staunch anti-communism, nationalism, and reactionary social views. Nonetheless, its economic program was broadly populist and called for heavy state intervention in the economy.
From this line of thinking was born the time-honored tradition of using "fascist" as a snarl word to refer to any opponent at all, a practice which has proliferated to the point that the word fascist - as commonly used by people in the vernacular - has, in a sense, lost all specificity to its original meaning.
“”All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.
Fascist ideology centres on national unity behind a single revered dictator and for the idea that citizens must serve the state (as opposed to most forms of liberal democracy, which have an inverse view of this relationship). Fascism is largely remembered for its oppressive treatment of citizens, infringements on personal freedoms and ruthless crushing of opposition. It usually requires a cult of personality around a single central figure, hero worship, and a strong emphasis on a particularly militaristic view of national security. A running theme in fascist regimes is the concept of palingenetic ultranationalism, or that there must be an "organic" revolution that will lead to a national rebirth to a more pure era that will do away with decadence and weakness within the nation. Rarely are there many specifics given on what this may look like or how to reach this "rebirth" but it is nevertheless strongly identified with fascism, to the point where some say it is the primary difference between fascist regimes and other right-wing dictatorships. In this way fascism could be considered an extreme (or just different) take on reactionary political philosophies.
While the theory of fascism calls for society to be ordered in a corporatist fashion — favoring collective bargaining for all groups in society, such as workers, farmers, employers, clergymen, etc. — in practice this translated to the fascist states simply favoring and strengthening the largest and most sympathetic businesses, exercising heavy state control on them in return. In contrast to communism, these businesses will remain formally under private ownership, with their profits (after taxation) going to the owners rather than the state.
Fascist dictatorships are usually not just content with a silent, obedient population, but expect the people to actively come out and support the regime. A successful fascist dictatorship will rely more on public opinion than on sheer oppression. This is another point where fascism differs from other right-wing dictatorships, which usually rely on little more than oppression and try to shut down public opinion.
 Fascism and Nazism
“”The common elements of fascism — extreme nationalism, social Darwinism, the leadership principle, elitism, anti-liberalism, anti-egalitarianism, anti-democracy, intolerance, glorification of war, the supremacy of the state and anti-intellectualism — together form a rather loose doctrine. Fascism emphasises action rather than theory, and fascist theoretical writings are always weak. Hitler's Nazism had rather more theory, though its intellectual quality is appalling. This greater theoretical content is mostly concerned with race, and it was Hitler's racial theories that distinguished Nazism from Italian fascism.
|—Ian Adams, Political Ideology Today|
Fascism is often associated with the Nazism of Adolf Hitler's regime in Germany, another oppressive nationalist ideology. However, while there were many similarities, and a very strong alliance between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, there were subtle differences. For example, while Hitler was obsessed with racial purity and racial hierarchies, Mussolini did not support racialism and antisemitism until fairly late in his rule, and seems to have mostly been doing this to help cement his alliance with the Nazis. Mussolini instead saw the nation rather than race as the rallying point for Fascist unity.[Note 2]
The Nazi party did strive for a unified state and was extremely heavy-handed against dissenting voices and those deemed undesirable or not useful to the state, so Nazism could still be seen as a subset of fascism, whether or not it is a prime example. Furthermore, fascists post-WWII do tend to be antisemites.
 The balance sheet of fascism
In Introducing Facism: A Graphic Guide, Stuart Hood provides what he likens to a "balance sheet" of Fascism — which is to say, a non-exhaustive list of traits and attitudes that make out the core of the historical Fascist regimes;
 Fascism and conservatism
 In practice
It is clear that fascists received some support from conservatives who saw them as allies in opposing communism. In a climate of increased polarization and instability, in which a communist takeover was viewed as a serious threat, conservatives formed coalitions expecting that the fascists would eventually be co-opted or abandon their radicalism. Hence, Hitler was allowed to form a government by Paul von Hindenburg on the advice of Franz von Papen (who were both conservatives), Mussolini was appointed prime minister by the conservative Italian king, and Spain's monarchists supported the Falange during the Civil War. In Italy, conservatives were somewhat successful at moderating the more radical elements of fascism, with the original corporativist economic policy being scrapped in favor of a more economically liberal policy; in Spain, the conservatives in the coalition eventually won out with Franco being succeeded by the hereditary King Juan Carlos I, who led Spain to democracy following Franco's death (a fascist coup attempt failed to stop it). In Germany, by contrast, Hitler elbowed the conservatives aside quickly after the death of Hindenburg, creating a much more totalitarian government.
 In theory
Many political philosophies called fascism in retrospect (Austrofascism, Spanish National Catholicism, etc.) were just radicalized, populist spins on conservatism. There were two exceptions to this: Italian fascism and Nazism.
Mussolini was originally a democratic socialist, and his original fascism started out as a right-wing spin on this. He continued to accept the idea of class struggle, although changing his ideas on how to end it: for him, it could be ended by all the classes within a certain country working together ("class collaboration"). This unification of classes was to be brought about by emphasizing a shared national heritage; in Italy's case, recalling the days of the Roman Empire. In this way, the fascist program shares many similarities with social conservatism, but the two philosophies approach the question from different angles, social conservatives seeing the preservation of a traditional or pseudo-traditional social order as an end in itself, fascism seeing it as a means to a further end.
Hitler's Nazism also saw the nation (in his case, racially defined) as a unifying point, but instead of viewing this as a solution to the class issue, he saw it as a means of opposing the perceived machinations of "Jewish" communists, bankers and businessmen (yes, he imagined there was a conspiracy between communists and bankers, based on their common Jewishness), and promoting the interests of "pure-blooded" German people. Nazi ideology insisted very strongly on race-based policies and the need for unity among members of the "Aryan race", to the exclusion of everything else (such as individual interests or class interests). Thus, Nazism positioned itself against socialists and communists who focused on class, and also against liberal capitalists who focused on the individual.
 Radicalism, spheres
Conservatism does not share the revolutionary or radical nature of fascism, and does not in general make populist appeals as fascism does.[Note 3] Also, the original fascist program sought restructuring of the economy along corporatist lines, which is not generally supported by conservatives.
There was also the problem of the "public" versus the "private" spheres of society. Conservatives (pre-Moral Majority conservatives, at least) usually want the government to respect the private sphere: family and religious life were places conservatives did not want the government interfering. Fascism and Nazism, however, tried to place all social life under the influence and control of the State, causing some within the Catholic Church to go against them.
 Fascism and the Church
“”Your Excellency! The priests of Italy invoke over your person, your work as the restorer of Italy and the founder of the Reich and the Fascist government the blessing of the Lord and an eternal halo of Roman wisdom and virtue, today and forever! Duce! The servants of Christ, the fathers of the peasantry honor you loyally. They bless you. They swear loyalty to you. With pious enthusiasm, with the voice and heart of the people we call: hail the Duce!
|—Father Menossi, January 12, 1938, Palazzo Venezia, to which seventy-two bishops and 2,340 priests broke out into shouting: "Duce! Duce! Duce!"|
So why was the Catholic Church ever involved in this? Well, during the early 20th century, there were two major ideologies of various flavours floating around; Liberalism and Communism. Liberalism and the ideas of freethought were very much against the structured order that an organized religion requires to thrive in, especially with ideas such as freedom of speech and all the "immorality" provided, so that was right out. Communism, while practically being a religion in itself,[Note 4] mandates atheism, which is something the Church would have difficulty compromising on (there have been religious forms of communism, but they didn't catch on). So along comes a third ideology, Fascism, with the ideas that we should return to the glory days of thousands of years past, we should have a very ordered and rigid society, authority should be adhered to without question, and dissenters should be forced into line or "dealt with"; this worked perfectly for the Church. The Catholic Church endorsed Fascism for a time, until it became clear that the Fascist leaders never had any intention of becoming subservient to the Church. So the Church has always been opposed to
East Asia Fascism.
 The Catholic church and European Fascism
“”We shall always remember with gratitude that which has happened for the benefit of religion in Italy, even if the good deeds performed by the party and the regime were not smaller — indeed, they may even have been greater.
|—Pope Pius XI, 1931|
The late, great Christopher Hitchens relates the dreadfully close and well-documented eager collaboration between the faithful members of the Catholic church and the openly fascist right-wing extremist parties of Europe, writing;
 Broadness of the term "fascism"
“”It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
|—George Orwell, What is Fascism?|
Hood comments on the apparent definitional wideness of the term "fascism" in contemporary society, writing;
|"Fascist" has become an all-purpose word. We often use it to describe people and things we don't like. It is applied indiscriminately to figures of authority, to modes of behaviour, to ways of thinking, to kinds of architecture.
But this catch-all use of the word raises obvious questions. Are all people who could be defined in these terms really "Fascists"? Are all right-wing parties or groups, all conservative right-wing governments, necessarily "Fascist"?
Random yet typical everyday examples he provides of this loosely defined, vernacular usage of the term "fascist" include;
- People who insist that sexual liberation led to AIDS.
- People who, in a broad stroke, would systematically dismiss art as being "crap".
- People who think the educational system is in a liberal mess due to lack of old-fashioned discipline.
- People who think there's "too many damn immigrants" in their country.
- People who think law enforcement is fascist by necessity.[Note 5]
As is apparent, while some of these examples could be recognizable, the point stands that the term has been allowed to slide away from the actual specifics of fascist ideology. In response to this bewilderment of definition, Hood suggests a tentative ballpark definition for the wider term;
|What "Fascists" have in common is that they are the enemies of liberal or left-wing thought and attitudes. They can be seen as threatening, aggressive, repressive, narrowly conservative and blindly patriotic.|
 Fascism and the political spectrum
“”Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.
There is a considerable dispute in some circles over whether fascism is a left- or right-wing idea. This dispute consists mainly of attempts to deny that one's own side of the political spectrum has anything in common with fascism, or alternatively to slime people on the opposite side of the political spectrum by claiming such commonalities. These tactics have been carried pretty far, as mentioned above, with "fascist" becoming a general insult or accusation hurled around loosely, usually inappropriately and often childishly, to criticise anyone or anything we find even slightly overbearing or restrictive.
The first bunch of people to make these sorts of claims were communists attempting to bunch fascists together with supporters of capitalism by claiming that the fascists were merely the hired guns of the Bourgeois Oppressors; completely ignoring that fascism, besides being anti-communist, was also to some extent anti-capitalist, supporting limited welfare programs and other non-laissez-faire economic ideas. In Germany in particular, the right-wing parties had never been on board with extreme capitalism anyway; significant state intervention on behalf of big business had been the norm since the days of Bismarck. In the Nazis' case, Hitler stated that he wished to remove the influence of the "capitalist class," whom he believed to be largely Jewish and/or Jewish-controlled, and partially restore the traditional pre-capitalist ruling system; these ideas were partially implemented when the Nazi officials nicked Jewish-owned property for the enrichment of the German people and/or themselves.
However, in practice, the fascists and Nazis didn't really change much of the economic status quo from before they took power. After all, they had come to power with the support of conservatives who wanted a strong "law and order" regime to keep down the communists, social democrats and trade unions. A large influx of conservatives forced the fascists and the Nazis to moderate or abandon anti-establishment programs — as when the anti-clerical Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Catholic Church, or when Hitler appointed the pro-capitalist Hjalmar Schacht as economics minister — and marginalize or eliminate more economically-radical factions within the fascist movements, as when Hitler purged the brothers Strasser during the Night of the Long Knives.
More recently, some conservative luminaries such as Jonah Goldberg (and also some conservative non-luminaries) have been claiming that liberals and everyone else to the left of them are "fascists." This tactic usually relies on taking the straw man broadsides heaved at liberalism by wingnuts and finding commonalities between them and some fascist program; for example, noting that Nazi Germany had large public works projects, and since liberals also favor public works projects while conservatives do not, liberals must also be fascists.[Note 6]
The Political Compass generally rates fascists as in the economic center, well to the left of today's right-wing politicians but well to the right of socialist figures. Generally economics is considered of secondary importance to fascists anyways except as an extension of their nationalistic and reactionary cultural views, hence the populist economics.
 Left-wing fascism
The term left-wing fascism (also known as left fascism) denotes real or perceived tendencies in extreme left-wing politics that are otherwise commonly attributed to the supposed polar-opposite ideology of fascism. Conceiving of the extreme left as somehow being completely different to the far right signals that one has not fully grasped the implications of horseshoe theory. In fact, fascism has always been wrapped up in leftist-sounding language — it's "a workers movement", "a populist struggle for justice", et cetera — while much of radical leftism has always endorsed the methods of fascist regimes, especially by excepting acts of terror from condemnation as long as they're done in the name of radical leftism.
That being said, however — the term has gained popularity among cranks, who will gleefully settle for complete non-sequiturs while bashing progressivism and feminism. Anything to generate those echo chamber clicks!
Left-wing fascism could be considered a sort of "inverse third positionism". Common qualities taken on by these extreme leftists that could be viewed as having what is essentially "fascist" traits include:
- Vehemently supporting nationalism (e.g. Socialism in One Country, Third World Socialism)
- Hijacking progressive anti-colonial efforts to push for ethnocentric rogue dictatorships taking the place of the former colonial masters
- A reliance on ethnic scapegoating (sometimes delving into pure racialism) and at the most extreme not-so-subtle support for a race war
- Celebrating a brutal "will to power" wherein violence is considered one of the greatest expressions of just protest or, especially, is seen as a tool with which to "rejuvenate" a certain people/culture
- Drawing its inspiration from the same philosophical traditions as fascists — notably Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Romanticism generally — in clear opposition to the anti-authoritarian, rationalist, democratic ideals espoused by Enlightenment philosophy
- Rallying a popular movement via "channeling" a specific people or culture, often with pseudohistorical undertones and a focus on an organic "redemption/rebirth" for this group in direct opposition to more universalist liberal humanist values
- The cultivation of frustration and outright aggression as a prime creative force for change
- Rampant paranoia, whereby the perceived threat of "cultural marxism" is "replaced" by the fear of financial imperialist scheming
- Wide overlap with various far-right conspiracy theories
One clear divergence between "traditional" fascism and modern left-wing fascism is that the authoritarian arm of the New Left draws powerfully from postmodernist thought, which even contemporary fascists do not. The resulting blend thus ultimately motivates goals and methods that rhyme perfectly with those of fascism, but applies and rationalizes them with a social deconstructivist approach to historically dominated cultures/identities — as opposed to "traditional" fascism, which instead argues from a romantic mythologizing of historically dominant cultures/identities. For this reason (and for reasons of horseshoe theory), proponents of left-wing fascism actually end up cheering on the successes of leaded far-right movements within their preferred cultures — one example being narrating the establishment of Iran's theocracy as a true expression of these "purer" cultures against the decadent open societies of the west.
 Historical examples
Movements that have been accused of embodying some, or most, traits of left-wing fascism include:
- The Jacobins
- Lyndon LaRouche's movement
- The Italian Red Brigades
- The Red Army Faction
- Leninism, Stalinism, Juche and Maoism[Note 7]
- National Bolshevism
- Third International Theory
- National communism
- The Nation of Islam
- George Galloway and much of what he touches
- Yuri Kochiyama ended up around here
Countless third-world dictatorships (often drawing on irredentism, tribalism, and millenialist theocracy) have also come to embodied this ultimately null difference between the authoritarians on both the far right and far left, including those of:
- Muammar al-Gaddafi
- Saddam Hussein
- Idi Amin
- Jean-Bédel Bokassa
- Francisco Macías Nguema
- Robert Mugabe
- Pol Pot
- The Kim family in North Korea
 See also
- "The Strange, Strange Story of the Gay Fascists" -- a 2008 Huffington Post essay on rampant homophobes with fascist beliefs who turn out to be in the closet (at least to outsiders)
- "Ur-Fascism" by Umberto Eco: the first and last word on the qualities of fascism.
- ↑ Stoats being natural predators of rabbits.
- ↑ Hitler probably saw both as the same thing.
- ↑ In the 20th century. Today, well...
- ↑ Karl Marx is the wisest man of all and is never wrong, the Communist Manifesto is the best book ever written and you may not make any criticisms of it, the economics of communism have never been found to be flawed, the global revolution will occur and we will have an eternal worker's paradise, and those who don't advocate for Communism are living in a False consciousness.
- ↑ Be they Freemen or lifestyle Anarchists.
- ↑ Take WWII, where all the Allies were doing it. (We await the first conservative to call Churchill the spawn of Mussolini.)
- ↑ "Tankieism" may be the most common gateway drug to full-blown left-fascism, and vice-versa. In practice the only real difference is that authoritarian commies put more emphasis on class along materialist lines, whereas modern left-fascists drop class almost entirely in favor of revolution along racial/cultural lines via its unhinged postmodernist influences, but transitioning between the two is surprisingly easy.
- ↑ George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), Ch. 12
- ↑ Speech to Chamber of Deputies (9 December 1928), quoted in Propaganda and Dictatorship (2007) by Marx Fritz Morstein, p. 48
- ↑ http://www.libraryofsocialscience.com/ideologies/docs/staging-the-nations-rebirth/index.html
- ↑ https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fascism#A
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Introducing Facism: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books, 2013, ISBN: 978-184831-612-6, page 88-89
- ↑ http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11FAC.HTM
- ↑ http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_14031937_mit-brennender-sorge_en.html
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 God and the Fascists - The Vatican alliance with Mussolini, Franco, Hitler and Pavelić, Karlheinz Deschner, Prometheus Books, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-61614-837-9, p. 23
- ↑ Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (p. 235-237)
- ↑ "George Orwell: What is Fascism?". http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc.
- ↑ Life and Fate (1959).
- ↑ For a detailed study of this phenomenon with specific regard to fine art, see the book and film, The Rape of Europa.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Left-wing fascism.
- ↑ Warning: Direct link to Return of Kings
- ↑ https://books.google.com/books?id=Au_Ktn22RxEC&pg=PA217&dq=%22left+fascism%22#v=onepage&q=%22left%20fascism%22&f=false
- ↑ http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7705.html
- ↑ http://www.philosophersmag.com/index.php/reflections/80-michel-foucault-s-iranian-folly
- ↑ Wallace, R.A. and A. Wolf, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Continuing the Classical Tradition, 3rd ed. (1991) p. 116.
- ↑ Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick. Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared. New York, New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 33-37.
- ↑ https://notgeorgesabra.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/self-destruction-of-pseudoleftist-the-case-of-george-galloway/