A Twitter friend (
@ScuzzaMan ) that I have followed for a long time now in the comment area of anti-war writer G. Greenwald and who I knew even before I found Twitter wrote the following:
“The following offers an interesting discussion of fascism, its origins and operations, and (e.g.) why it is often considered as ‘right wing’ (a topic that has been subject of some heated debate in prior GG threads).”
“I’d be interested in your take on it.”
Fascism, like socialism and communism, is another “ism” that seeks to justify the role of the state in the means of production and the organization of society. Fascism was originally the work, apparently, of Italian “national syndicalists” who proposed the system in the wake of the social chaos emerging from World War I. The initial proposition sought to combine socialist goals with corporatist mechanisms. In other words, society would achieve prosperity for the masses of people by having the state closely supervise capitalist enterprises.
Fascism, historically, deemphasizes formal collectivism, with its adherents preferring to use the corporatist mechanisms created by capitalism itself. It is for this reason perhaps that fascism is seen as a “right wing” political philosophy as it attempts to manufacture prosperity by using the corporate instruments of capitalism within a larger state-supervised command and control environment.
Hallmarks of fascism during its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s in Germany and Italy (and to a lesser extent in Japan) included a “Strong Man” leader backed by the corporate elitists that organized the means of production (and resources) of the larger society. Unlike socialism and communism, fascism seems to emphasize the nation-state itself and a mysterious manifest destiny that bestows on the Strong Man leader and his backers a legitimacy they would not otherwise have.
The glue of culture and history – instead of socialist and communist economic/internationalist theories – are used to justify fascist empowerment. Like communism and socialism, individualism is de-emphasized in favor of the role of the state, though the justifications are different and the systems of collectivism (corporatism in the case of fascism) diverge as well.
Like communism, especially, fascism justifies the creation of a single-party state to realize the nation’s manifest destiny. And because of the emphasis on the state and its “Strong Man” leadership, fascist states tend to be aggressive and expansionist. While this is justified on cultural grounds, the reality is that the Strong Man must be seen as leading the nation to prosperity and greater glory.
Since authoritarianism and the reduction of free-markets essentially leads to statist ruin and bankruptcy, the only way that a Strong Man can illustrate the power of his vision is by expanding the boundaries of the state, usually through war. A Fascist state justifies its system by being aggressively expansionistic. War is often the solution to Strong Man leadership, affirming in the body politic the bonds of comradeship and a vision of national greatness through the subjugation of inferior nations and ethnicities.
In the 20th century, after World War II, fascism fell out of favor as a formal organizing force of state power. Instead, communism and socialism were espoused along with capitalism itself, which became the dominant stated sociopolitical system of the West. What is true in reality however is that fascism brought together all the mechanisms that strong-man leaders have used throughout the ages to justify their rule. Thus it could be said that fascism is the purest expression of authoritarianism and as such has never truly gone out of style. It may not be referred to by its name, but if one looks around the world one finds its signature in many nation states, especially in the developing world.
What is also true and unfortunate is that Fascist methodologies are increasingly evident in Western countries. The Anglo-American power elite seems to be deliberately driving Western societies toward more authoritarian forms of government using the mechanisms of fascism that were developed in pre-war Europe and successfully put into practice, notably in Germany under Adolf Hitler. It is an uncomfortable fact that Western banks and industry provided a large amount of funding for Hitler and that many approved of the German statists model prior to World War II. Perhaps Germany was only a “dry run” for what money power intends to implement throughout the West.
Well Mr. ScuzzaMan, I agree with the Mises Wiki that “Fascism” is “an authoritarian, collectivist political ideology which stresses the importance of the national interest over the rights of individuals. However, while a collectivist ideology, fascism attempts to preserve private property rights and some of the associated benefits, such as the profit motive, but only when they do not come into conflict with what the political authorities deem to be the national interest.”
A wonderful short history of Germany Fascism leading up to the war (WWII) can be found here.
In 1936, Göring’s Four Year Plan was inaugurated. This made Göring, who was almost as ignorant about economics as Hitler, Germany’s economic dictator. In the drive for a total war economy, protectionism was decreed and autarchy the desire-the so-called “Battle of Production.” Consumer imports were nearly eliminated, price and wage controls were enacted, and vast state projects were built to manufacture raw materials.
The bureaucratization of the economy necessarily followed suit. Walther Funk, who replaced Walther Schacht as minister of economics in 1937, admitted that “official communications now make up more than one half of a German Manufacturer’s entire correspondence” and that “Germany’s export trade involves 40,000 separate transactions daily; yet for a single transaction as many as forty different forms must be filled out.”
Businessmen and entrepreneurs were smothered by red tape, were told by the state what they could produce and how much and at what price, burdened by taxation, and were forced to make “special contributions” to the party. Corporations below a capitalization of $40,000 were dissolved and the founding of any below a capitalization of $2,000,000 was forbidden, which wiped out a fifth of all German businesses.
For most of my lifetime, I have noticed that the word “fascism” normally just means “stuff I hate” in most people’s mind and is hardly ever used as a dispassionate descriptor of a particular political/economic ideology. In fact, most progressives or liberals will use the term fraudulently to smear others with the taint of Nazism when they call others fascists. This is, of course, ridiculous since the idea of fascism started on the “left” and continues to be a collectivist ideology. I see by internet searches and interactions that now the collectivists on the left have decided that libertarians who despise government interventions both at home and overseas are “fascists”! Yes my friends, those who preach voluntarism, freed markets, and non-coerced cooperation are somehow trying to sneak Hitler in through the back door, or so the enemies of liberty and freedom are crying these days.
The fundamental idea of fascism is that, like communism, there would be a small group of “experts” at the top who would dictate all policies to the masses and control all aspects of life. Much like America today, there would be enough freedom to keep the engines of free market capitalism working but with heavy chains of government control on every participant. Those men who came up with fascism allowed individuals to “own” property but if “ownership” means control then the “ownership” under fascism is only a illusion. The ruling masters own all — if you agree that ownership means the right to control the disposition of an object.
The USA has been a fascist country since the 30s. Perhaps it is better to say “corporatist” or “crony-capitalist” instead since the word “fascist” carries such emotional baggage to so many people, but by all indicators the US Empire has followed a uniquely American brand of fascism for decades on end. We have all the “private property” you could want as long as you obey the government and pay them tribute. As with fascist Germany “private property” is all an illusion in modern America.
The fact of the matter is that both fascism and communism are evil systems that have come from what we call today “the left”. The “left” is another miss-used term, but that topic is for another day. Broadly speaking, the “left” loves collectivism and the denial of any individual rights. The modern leftist loves “the people” as a concept but hates with passion the individuals who want to act independently. Scuzza, my friend, I think you know that all political systems end up being used by a small minority to enslave the masses. It has always been thus, and always shall be. For that reason alone one should embrace anarchy.