CalJunket

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A response to RepBast1984 on Fascism

This response got too big for the comments section:

“why was fascism considered right wing? Because they opposed socialism?”

True, it’s not enough to simply point out that the fascists dismantled unions or opposed socialism. There are many reasons why Fascism is understood to be right-wing. They actively opposed liberalism and communism while forming coalition government with conservatives. Fascists (like Mussolini) were financially supported by wealthy industrialists and landowners. They did so for the same reason that they supported other conservatives: because fascists made were against progressive reforms and were better for the bottom line. The Fascists often had support from the religious community. They did so for the same reasons religious groups support other conservatives: Fascists believed in “traditional values”, and in strengthening the role of faith in the public sphere. Mussolini in particular had the support of the Vatican (which was even more conservatives at the time).

On a more basic level, if you look at the Lakoffian “frames” used by fascists, it’s clear that they were using a “strict father” frame in governing. The believed in strongly in reward and punishment to the exclusion of nurturance. They believed that strength came from the strong leader at the top (one of the more obvious trait of fascism). They idealized the past and framed their goals in those terms. I could go on but I think the analysis is clear.

“If you want to talk Italy, yes Italy was not industrialized untilt he 1930's”

Italy was industrialized as of 1930 at least in the north which is where the fascists had more power. Though it was still poor, industry and trade unions were a powerful political force. In the south (where my family lives) there was little industry and little support for fascism since the rich needed no protection against socialists.

“Italian Fascism is different from Nazism because of the focus on national unity as opposed to racial unity. Racial unity is not Fascism.”

This is just weird. Why is racial unity/ national unity a meaningful distinction when the nations in question are mostly racially homogenous? The Italian fascists were also against Jews and Roma, even the ones that had lived in Italy all their lives. German fascists identified a “greater Germany” which included places like Austria where ethnic Germans lived. Italy identified a “greater Italy” which included lands outside Italy where ethnic Italians lived. This is a distinction without a difference - and I don’t see why you are trying to make it.

“Stability was destroyed, their businesses were confiscated by the state and the fascists brought wars to their countries.”

True, but they hardly campaigned on this. I mean, by that standard, communism is right wing since it didn’t really help the poor.

“Interesting, communism was supposed to be a movement that did not include the agricultural poor.”

You are right in a sense. It is a great historical irony that Marx (and most other communists) assumed that their system would come about because industrialized workers would become exploited and overthrow the existing order. Instead, Communism took hold only in unindustrialized countries like Russia, China, Korea, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam through agricultural peasant revolts.

“As we've found out from this year's electiont he agricultural poor are conservative reactionaries guided by religion.”

This is wrong on a couple levels. 1. Due to mechanization, the US doesn’t really have an agricultural poor anymore. 2. The poor vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. 3. Are you seriously trying to extrapolating the mindset of Chinese peasants from modern day election results? 4. Read a history book, bud. The communists came to power in Russia, China, Cuba, and Vietnam with a powerbase of peasants. Not being industrialized, there was no other political base to launch a revolution from.

“The communists knew that no peasants were going to be involved in a revolution that would provide equity and abolish capital. Peasants who were poor (petty bourgeoisie), just wanted more money. this is why communist regimes fell. They never adhered to Marxist theory, mainly because Marxist theory would work nowhere.”

I have no idea what you are arguing here. Let’s get back to the Fascism.

Update: David Neiwert hits this issue hard in this post:

Of course, as I just got done explaining a little bit ago, the conservative charge that fascism was a leftist phenomenon is a rightist attempt at David Irvingesque historical revisionism. There is not a single serious historian of either fascism or World War II who does not consider it a right-wing phenomenon: its anti-liberalism and anti-socialism were its defining characteristics, regardless of the rhetoric adopted by early adherents and leaders.

This quote really doesn't do him justice though. Read the whole thing.



Comments:

"True, it’s not enough to simply point out that the fascists dismantled unions or opposed socialism."

You're right, but many left wing governments did the exact same thing. Centralized planning in the Soviet Union meant that unions could not oppose the government's planning.

"They actively opposed liberalism and communism while forming coalition government with conservatives.'

The conservatives threw their weight beind the fascists because between the fascists and the communists, the fascists didn't openly support killing the capitalists. I would support the fascists if I was a capitalist and the communists argued against my existence. Fascist ideology incorporated both industrialists and workers.

"The Fascists often had support from the religious community."
Hitler was openly anti-Christian (he was a pagan), but he understood the church was still an important rallyign point for people. You forget that the fascist regimes were all very secular because the leader is supposed to be higher than anything, including God.

"Fascists believed in “traditional values”, and in strengthening the role of faith in the public sphere."

So did the Communist regimes. Does this make them right wing as well?

"On a more basic level, if you look at the Lakoffian “frames” used by fascists, it’s clear that they were using a “strict father” frame in governing."

And Stalin wasn't the father? I will refrain from quoting the rest of the points listed because they can also be attributed to Communist regimnes as well.

“Italian Fascism is different from Nazism because of the focus on national unity as opposed to racial unity. Racial unity is not Fascism.” This is just weird. Why is racial unity/ national unity a meaningful distinction when the nations in question are mostly racially homogenous?

There was a huge difference that amounted to a couple hundred people being killed within italy's borders for political reasons and 6 million Jews being annihilated. When you claim the "race creates the nation (Nazis)", you are excluding huge segments of the population. Mussolini believed in the "nation creating the race", which was very inclusive, and incorporated all races in Italy's borders. Notice how few people were killed in Italy during Mussolini's rule.

"because fascists made were against progressive reforms and were better for the bottom line."

Is the state controlling businesses not a progressive reform? The fascists also promoted universal health care and universal education, which before the fascists came to power there was none. I am not saying that this makes the fascists overall good but consider their economic programs.

"Not being industrialized, there was no other political base to launch a revolution from"

Then perhaps the communist revolutions were not communist at all. This brigns me to my last point...

Maybe we should drop this left/right distinction. Whatever claims are brought up they can apply to both fascist and communist regimes. Let's just look at this as democratic and anti-democratic distinction. Have you taken Poli Sci 137 with Professor Gregor? It's a good class.
 
"1. Due to mechanization, the US doesn’t really have an agricultural poor anymore. 2. The poor vote overwhelmingly for Democrats."

So are you saying illegal immigrants and poor whites in small towns in agricultural areas aren't poor?

There must be some reason why the poor states voted for Bush and the wealthier states voted for Kerry. Have you been to Bakersfield lately? Also, why were the Democrats saying the uneducated poor people who voted for Bush were too "ignorant" and voted "against their economic interests." Does this infer that the poor actually voted for Bush this time?
 
RepBast1984 wrote, "Maybe we should drop this left/right distinction. Whatever claims are brought up they can apply to both fascist and communist regimes. Let's just look at this as democratic and anti-democratic distinction."

Perhaps a better way to look at such movements is the one Eric Hofer chose in his book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.
 
RepBast1984,

Take a look at the National Exit Poll from the 2004 election. Scroll down to the section "Vote by Income". You'll see that Kerry took the votes of those earning less than $50,000 per year by 55 to 44 percent; Bush took those earning $50K+ by 56 to 43%.
 
Hey, thanks for the exit poll data, here are some interesting interpretations:

Bush has made a lot of gains amongst Asians and Hispanics, who are very close to being equal in vote share. This means the Republicans and Democrats will pay more attention to these voters and probably less attention to Jewish and Black voters.

20% of the people who said Bush was doing a bad job voted for Bush.

More people who believe in civil unions voted for Bush. All in all, 65% of the country was against gay marriage.

Most people who feel that the government should do mroe to solve problems voted for Bush, even though Bush has the government more than any other president to solve problems. Similarly, people who opposed Iraq voted for Kerry, who believed in Iraq fromt he beginning.

Bush and Kerry split the suburbs, but Bush wont he rural vote and Kerry won the urban vote. Makes sense. Suburbs are about evenly split between liebral and conservative, urban areas tend to be liberal and rural areas tend to be conservative.

23% of people that identified as gay, bisexual or lesbian voted for Bush, which is amazing within itself since one hot button issue was gay marriage.

An interesting thing: Democrats claimed that Bush used "fear tactics" to win the election, but the data shows that more people who feel safer voted for Bush and more people who didn't feel safer (fearful), voted for Kerry.
 
"There must be some reason why the poor states voted for Bush and the wealthier states voted for Kerry."

This is a misleading factoid that often shows up on right-wing sites. Yes, poorer states voted for Bush, that doesn't mean poor people voted for Bush. I know it's a subtle point, but within each state, the poor voted for Kerry more than Bush. It's just that in porrer states, the rich are more adamantly Republican.
 
And the National Exit Poll data confirms your observation Tommaso.
 
Communism and Fascism certainly have a lot in common. That's why we have the word Totalitarianism. But the fact remains that Communism is a creature of the left, and Fascism is a creature of the right. They have distinct differences that are easy to spot. They affected different kinds of countries and took distinctly different routes through history. We cannot be vigilant against either communism or fascism if we refuse to understand their roots.

Hitler was not anti-Christian though he was indeed pro-pagan. Though the Nazi party line changed quite often, at the beginning, there was a lot of support for Hitler in religious communities. Being a Catholic I’m familiar with this sad history.

As for traditional values, I don't think you know your history. Communist rejected traditional values. Everything that came before was broken and old. They looked forward to the new Communist utopia cleansed of all the primitive evils of religion and superstition. The specifically rejected ethnic divisions (philosophically if not in practice). Fascists looked back to a golden age. The Nazi's in particular took this to the extreme of positing a prehistoric Germanic empire that spanned Europe and beyond (even Tibet!) which was eventually overwhelmed by the lower races. Italy’s fascist only had to look as far back as the Roman Empire which they consciously emulated.

Generally this may be seen as a distinction without a difference. The fascists rejected modern art because it was pluralist (Jewish) relativism. The communists rejected modern art because it was not utilitarian and a frivolity of base capitalism. But it is important to note what these differences are because in the early forms, before they converged on totalitarianism, Fascism and Communism were very different indeed. After all, for many years, Hitler was just another European politician.

Germany and Italy both had fascist government with an incredible amount of central control. Both of them had fascist dictators who operated with complete autonomy. Both instituted laws designed to put down Jews, Roma, and other outsiders economically and politically. Both put Jews and undesirables into camps. Both talked about cleansing the state through eugenics about the racial purity of their citizens. One had a dictator whose monomania took the form of extreme genocide and ordered it. One didn’t. I have no doubt that had Mussolini ordered the extermination of the Jews he would have gotten away with it. There was nothing to stop him. Similarly, Stalinist Russia had similar totalitarian genocides with essentially no racial component.

“Whatever claims are brought up they can apply to both fascist and communist regimes”

This is crazy. According to you, Communism and Fascism is the same except for German fascism which isn’t and maybe Spanish, Greek, French and Austrian fascism which may or may no be real fascism or a “racist state” (since apparently they can’t be both) or whatever it is that you claim the Nazis are.
 
"Communist rejected traditional values. "

Yes, but they continues to instate values that looked very similar to the values of the Fascists. Whatever you want to call these, they had similar social values of respecting the state, leader and military.

"The specifically rejected ethnic divisions (philosophically if not in practice)"

Fascist Italy also rejected ethnic divisions in place of nationalistic divisions (philosophically if not in practice). Mussolini was not anti-Jewish, neither were ANY of the philosophers of Fascism (read Origins and Doctrine of Fascism by Giovanni Gentile). Hietlewr was, of course. mussolini even helped Jews escape the Nazi regime through Italy. It was a fact that Mussolini's regime did not treat Jews as unequals untilt he Nazis took over and forced Mussolini to adopt an anti-semitic policy. This makes sense because under fascism, people are all equally seen as subservient to the state regardless of race or religion. Fascists like Mussolini and Sun Yat Sen describe the Italian race or Chinese race to mean the people who have lievd and breeded in the nation's borders obviously encompassing a large amount of races within the "race". La Raza, for example, encompasses a range of people's from European Mexicans to mestizos to indios.

"After all, for many years, Hitler was just another European politician."

This of course makes sense because Hitler ran under and won with a legitimate political party, the Nazi party, as opposed to Stalin and Lenin who came to power through violence. Of course, democratic origins do not justify the Nazis' actions in office.

"Similarly, Stalinist Russia had similar totalitarian genocides with essentially no racial component."

Before Stalin's death there is evidence to prove that he was mounting a genocide of the Jewry in Eastern Europe. Germans were also treated savagely int he Soviet Union but mainly as prisoners of war. The Slavic race was often a rallying point for the Russians, as was it in Serbia, etc. during the ethnic cleansing.

"Both talked about cleansing the state through eugenics about the racial purity of their citizens. One had a dictator whose monomania took the form of extreme genocide and ordered it. One didn’t. I have no doubt that had Mussolini ordered the extermination of the Jews he would have gotten away with it."

1) Show some evidence of Mussolini and eugenics (there is already plenty on Hitler).

2) Mussolini would not have gotten away with it. Italians never believed in racial superiority, and Mussolini had many Jews in his cabinet. Mussolini's mistress was Jewish. Italians would have nothing of it if Mussolini tried a racial campaign. A friend of mine said that people regarded Mussolini as a hero until he allied with Hitler and was forced to send Jews to camps. They felt he betrayed the Italian nationalist movement.
 
Mussolini's eugenics programs were not nearly as intrusive as Hitler's but he still had a whole program devoted to increasing birthrates in certain populations (the north more than the south).

I am a big man so I can admit when I was wrong. Now that I look at the data again it does seem like Mussolini's anti-sematism was just an artifact of his Alliance with Hitler. This however, doesn't change the fact that as a dictator he operated in a consequence free zone. He could have easily ordered anything he wanted and the will of actual Italians would have had very little bearing on his ability to do it. Remember, Hitler killed those 6 million Jews without most Germans knowing about it.

But this is still a red herrign. I see no reason why Nazis should not count as Fascists when they came to power in the exact same way as Franco Franco, Mussolini, and the rest - a way which was distinctly different from the communists - and acted in very similar ways even offering each other aid during war time.

And als of course, this all proves my original point. Jonah Goldberg's Book conflating Liberalism with Fascism is just silly on it's face.
 
I agree that equating liberals or conservatives as fascists is kind of stupid. And counter-productive.

"he still had a whole program devoted to increasing birthrates in certain populations (the north more than the south)."

This is not racism in the way we think of Hitler's racism. Also, is there any proof of this, if it is true?

"He could have easily ordered anything he wanted and the will of actual Italians would have had very little bearing on his ability to do it."

But he didn't, did he? He didn't even kill people on a large scale save the invasion of Ethiopia and Libya which, of course, caused atrocities. But then again so did all of the wars tha America started. But for some reason Mussolini's name brings shudders to the nerves and, for example, no one even knows who Pol Pot was, the man who killed the most people in his own coutnry percentage-wise.
 
In a sense, the Nazis were facist (with a small f) but they were not Fascist int he Italian Model sense. The Nazis had most of the origins and aspects of a fascist regime: nationalism (in their case, racism), extreme control over the economy, antidemocratic postures, irredentism, rapid industrial development (not capitalism!), militarism. On the other hand, the Soviets embraced all of these traits as well (the Soviet regimes were built in nationalism, they never fully embraced classism).

As long as people are stuck on this Soviets left wing and Fascists right wing continuum, no one is really understanding anything.
 
Again, this is wrong, DTI. Communists and Fascists were both totalitarian, but they got that way by very different paths. Fascists destroyed capitalism essentially by fostering crony capitalism and by getting rid of unions (if you actually believe that Fascist corpratism actually represented the workers and the owners instead of just allowing the owners to do whatever they want then I guess that Fascist propaganda is better than I thought). The Communists explicitly rejected Capitalism and dismanteled it directly.

If we fail to understand the differences between Communism and Fascism, and if we fail to understand how one is a creature of the left and the other is a creature of the right, then we will never understand anything.
 
"If we fail to understand the differences between Communism and Fascism, and if we fail to understand how one is a creature of the left and the other is a creature of the right, then we will never understand anything."

Why is it so important to you to explain why one is right wing and one is left wing? Does it really matter that Fascists and Communists both came to power with the help of unions and then destroyed them right afterwards? Is understanding "left and right" really a prerequisite to understanding anything?
 
Are you kidding? Fascists came to power by crushing unions (who were aligned with socialists at the time) and putting down strikes. Communists revolutions only happened in unindustrialized countries that didn't have unions in the first place!

This is exactly why we need to understand the left/right distinction and the dual nature of totalitarianism in general! Otheriwse people will just make things up that conform to their preexisting stereotypes.
 
It sounds as though some of you might benefit from reading (or perhaps re-reading) the classic, Today's ISMs: Socialism, Capitalism, Fascism, Communism and Libertarianism.
 
"Are you kidding? Fascists came to power by crushing unions (who were aligned with socialists at the time) and putting down strikes. Communists revolutions only happened in unindustrialized countries that didn't have unions in the first place!"

Except I said that "Fascists and Communists both came to power with the help of unions and then destroyed them right afterwards?" I admitted they crushed unions! Communists crushed any form of organized labor. Look at the evidence again, more than 500,000 union workers sided with the Fascists.
 
Actually, the evidence says that Union workers were split between the Fascists and Socialists who both offered workers better conditions. The Fascists and Socialists both called upon government control, universal health care, education, better working conditions. However, much of the leadership sided with the Fascists. Most of Mussolini's leadership were Syndicalist leaders.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

"Renegade socialist thinkers, Robert Michels, Sergio Panunzio, Ottavio Dinale, Agostino Lanzillo, Angelo Oliviero Olivetti, Michele Bianchi, and Edmondo Rossoni, turning against their former left-wing ideas, played a part in this attempt to find a "third way" that rejected both capitalism and socialism."

I'm not sure how the core Fascist leaders can count as being "right-wing." The right wing embraces capitalism. This sounds like the origins of Fascism. For deeper information read Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, Gentile.
 
You know anonymity, when someone claims that "Fascists and Communists both came to power with the help of unions" and then I show that they didn't come to power with Unions at all (either becuase they set themselves against unions or becuase Unions didn't exist) ussually, the person disagrees with me or explains why they think I'm wrong. Very rarely does someone take my point and then pretend it means the exact opposite of what it actually does.
 
don't you guys have anything better to do?
 
What could be more entertaining than intellectual discussion? WHy don't you do some researcha nd offer an opinion, anonymous?
 
Francisco Franco's regime I would argue was not Fascist because it was too religious, not that the people were more religious than in Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany but because Franco derived his power from religious aspects. It was also different from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in that it did not derive its power from the industrial workers, nor did it claim to support workers. Franco derived his power fromt he army, the church, the industrialists and the peasantry.

However, this was not in any way fascists. Just because he allied himself with the Fascists didn't make him Fascist in the Italian Model. We allied ourselves with the communists in World War II but that didn't make us communist.

Franco started out as a religious conservative before the Spanish Civil War and was opposed to Fascism. It wasn't until the Falangists needed a charismatic leader that they turned to Franco and with it merged religion and fascism together. When Franco gained power, he turned to the army for power as opposed to being a revered Godlike figure as we see in most other regimes like Mussolini's.
 
Too religious? Look, Hitler gained prestige through being the harbinger of the fulfillment of germanic myths about their globe spaning empire. Similarly, Mussolini claimed to be the herald for a rebirth of the myth of the Roman empire reborn. Franco (and similar fascists in some small eastern european countries that escape me right now) happened to get their myths from established religion instead. This is not a meaningful distinction.
 
Tomasso, the difference is that in Nazism and Fascism there was no being respected more than the Fuhrer/Duce; Hitler and Mussolini based their power from the state. Thus, everything they said was the gospel truth, totalitarianism. Franco accepted God as the highest power and therefore, everything he said was potentially not gospel truth. He was limited by structrual deficiencies and his regime was authoritarian.
 
Again, it's a distinction witout a difference. I'm just curious we you keep trying to find new ways of making them even though historians consider this a closed issue. Hey, you know what else? Mussolini spoke Italian and Hitler spoke german therefore Mussolini was the real fascist and Hitler was a Tutonic-Totalitarian-Racial-dictatorship. Oh wait, that's not an important distinction either.

Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco all had dictatorial powers. All of them ruled their country with no oversite and no opposition. They all came to power by promising to save the country from flabby liberalism and violent socailism. They all used violence to intimidate their *political* opposition. They fundementally saw the state as histories actors. They all tried to identify the state with their own selves as leader. Hilter, Musslini, and Franco, all used popular myths and embeded themselves in them. More interestingly, for the most part they all spoke of themselves as "harbingers" not the actual superman themselves.
 
Post a Comment