From email@example.com Tue Apr 20 16:45:14 2004
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2004 13:36:29 -0500 (CDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bernard Switalski)
Subject: Roots of fascism...
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
The best way to learn the nature of fascism is from the fascists themselves. To wit....
I am a Socialist, and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow. ... What you understand by Socialism is nothing more than Marxism.
We National Socialists are enemies, deadly enemies, of the present capitalist system with its exploitation of the economically weak ... and we are resolved under all circumstances to destroy this system.
When reading fascist theologians, one quickly realizes that fascists
are as obsessively anti-capitalist as any Bolshevik or Social
Democrat, and, during the 1920s and 30s, everybody knew it. For
example, in the late 1930s, while in Spain during the civil war,
George Orwell lamented at the fighting between fascists and socialists
because, after all,
Aren't we all socialists?
During the German election campaign in 1932, Hitler's National
Socialists ran against both Marxism and,
the American system, or
high capitalism, promising to take the best from each and create,
a new socialist man.
If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.
In his, The Coming American Fascism, 1936, Lawrence
Dennis—noted American economist and anti-Semite—boasted
that classic liberalism—that is,
Americanism—would soon become a
laughing stock, and
liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private
rights, would be replaced by fascism, that is,
of public welfare and social control. And, Dennis stated
[Fascism] does not accept the liberal dogmas as to the sovereignty of
the consumer or trader in the free market.... Least of all does it
consider that market freedom, and the opportunity to make competitive
profits, are rights of the individual. Such decisions should be made
by a 'dominant class', an 'elite'.
I am proposing the integrated State, which will bring economic justice, and which will say with due authority: no more strikes, no more lock-outs, no more usury, no more starvation wages, no more criminal conspiracies against full production, no more capitalist abuses.
... if this be the Fascist State, then I proudly declare myself a Fascist!
(A few months after his speech, a hit-squad composed of Republican army officers and agents from the Spanish Socialist-Communist Youth League murdered Sotelo, thus triggering the Spanish Civil War.)
Fascism, which is the very antithesis of Individualism, stands as the nemesis of all economic doctrines and all economic practice of both the capitalist and communistic systems.
As late as 1932, Mussolini acknowledged Fascism's affinities with Communism: 'In the whole negative part, we are alike. We and the Russians are against the liberals, against democrats, against parliament'.
The mainspring of the socialist ideas that arose under the combined influence of the Industrial and the French Revolution was the conviction that the uncontrolled concentration of wealth and unbridled competition were bound to lead to increasing misery and crises, and that the system must be replaced by one in which the organization of production and exchange would do away with poverty and oppression and bring about a redistribution of the world's goods on a basis of equality. .... Beyond the general conception of equality, socialist programmes and ideas differed in every respect. Not all of them even proposed to abolish private ownership of the means of production.
It is a common mistake to regard National Socialism as a mere revolt against reason, an irrational movement without intellectual background. If that were so, the movement would be much less dangerous than it is. But nothing could be further from the truth or more misleading. The doctrines of National Socialism are the culmination of a long evolution of thought, a process in which thinkers who have had great influence far beyond the confines of Germany have taken part. Whatever one may think of the premises from which they started, it cannot be denied that the men who produced the new doctrines were powerful writers who left the impress of their ideas on the whole of European thought. Their system was developed with ruthless consistency. Once one accepts the premises from which it starts, there is no escape from its logic. It is simply collectivism freed from all traces of an individualist tradition which might hamper its realization.
What, then, caused these views held by a reactionary minority finally to gain the support of the great majority of Germans and practically the whole of Germany's youth? It was not merely the defeat, the suffering, and the wave of nationalism which led to their success. Still less was the cause, as so many people wish to believe, a capitalist reaction against the advance of socialism. On the contrary, the support which brought these ideas to power came precisely from the socialist camp. It was certainly not through the bourgeoisie, but rather through the absence of a strong bourgeoisie, that they were helped to power.
... the socialists of the Left approached more and more to those of the Right. It was the union of the anticapitalist forces of the Right and of the Left, the fusion of radical and conservative socialism, which drove out from Germany everything that was liberal.
The connection between socialism and nationalism in Germany was close from the beginning. It is significant that the most important ancestors of National Socialism—Fichte, Rodbertus, and Lassalle—are at the same time acknowledged fathers of socialism. .... From 1914 onward there arose from the ranks of Marxist socialism one teacher after another who led, not the conservatives and reactionaries, but the hard-working laborer and idealist youth into the National Socialist fold. It was only thereafter that the tide of nationalist socialism attained major importance and rapidly grew into the Hitlerian doctrine.
[In Mussolini] Socialists should be delighted to find at last a socialist who speaks and thinks as responsible rulers do.
... better go down with Bolshevism than live in eternal capitalist servitude.
First clue: the Nazis called themselves,
The National Socialist
German Workers Party, not,
The National Capitalist German
Plutocrats Party, and the National Socialists boasted that Hitler
had created in Germany,
the most modern socialist state in the
Fascism is but a sect of socialism. In Mussolini's early days,
before his rise to power, many of his Marxist critics viewed his
fascism as a curiosity and recognized it as
more of a heresy from,
rather than a mortal challenge to revolutionary Marxism. (See
Agursky's, The Third Rome, 1963.)
In the first few paragraphs of
Capital, Marx decreed private
property to be the root cause of capitalism and, thereby, the root
cause of evil, and no self-respecting Marxist-socialist will ever let
go that cardinal article of faith. And therein resides the critical
difference between Marxist-socialism and fascist-socialism: Marxism
prohibits the private ownership of property, and fascism does not -
which is the ultimate heresy to Marxists and thereby inspired the
unbridgeable and often violent schism between Marxism and fascism
which has lasted until this day. (Later, more on how this schism came
During the 1920s and 30s, because such little practical difference
existed between fascists and Bolsheviks, critics of Hitler's
National Socialism routinely called it,
Bolshevism. The Bolshevists, stung by being throw on the same
theological pile with fascists, contrived the
agent theory of
fascism, and decreed through the Comintern that the international
Marxist propaganda machine should immediately associate fascism with
capitalism, and, thereby, per formal Stalinist/Leninist dogma, fascism
the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary,
most chauvinist, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.
The machine acted with such vigor and lasting effect that even today
people wrongly perceive fascism as a necessary attribute of
capitalism, and critics of the socialist gospel get tagged as
Other sectarian differences existed between the old
Marxists-socialists and fascists-socialists. For example,
internationalist; that is,
Marxists-socialists dismissed national frontiers as the obsolete
vestiges of capitalism, and, to destroy capitalism, all the
world's proletariat must rise up and act as a single, unified
entity without regard for geography or nationality or
ethnicity—as Marx proclaimed in his
working men have no country. (A cannon still fundamental to
today's left, latched on to especially hard by
environmentalists. See the first few citations in
On the other hand, fascists-socialists tended to be
nationalist; that is, the socialism of most fascist parties was
specific to a specific nation, appealing to prejudices and petty
hatreds of a specific nationality.
Or one might have a variety such as Hitler's National Socialism, a
flavor of fascist-socialism meant specifically for the
whom National Socialist theology portrayed as a kind of mystical
Nation, bounded not by geography but by
blood—and non-Aryans need not apply.
Because so many variations existed, scholars disagree over a precise
definition of fascism. In the
Enciclopedia Italiana (1992),
Emilio Gentile, in an article on
fascismo, takes a shot at a
comprehensive definition by listing a series of ten generally-accepted
sets of characteristics common to all fascism's varieties. Two
excerpts from Gentile's list...
[Fascism is] anti-materialist, anti-individualist,
anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, and anti-capitalist.
[Fascism is] ... an organization of the economy that ...
broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks, by principles of
technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the 'productive
sectors' under control of the regime, to achieve its goals of
power, yet preserving private property and class divisions. (More
organization of the economy, later, when we'll talk
about Mussolini. And if you think he's not important to this tale,
Ernst Roehm, a dedicated socialist, leader of the SA, second only to Hitler in power in the National Socialist Party, in a letter to a friend, observed how often his street thugs switched back and forth between Roehm's National Socialist gangs and the Communist gangs, uncertain on whose side they rightly belonged.
Road to Serfdom, Hayek remarks upon how, during the
1930s, the propagandists of both parties recognized the
ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or
vice versa and how university professors in the U.S. and Britain
noticed that students returning from study in Germany could not decide
whether they were Marxists or fascists, but were certain only that