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Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

How many times have you heard a liberal call a conservative a “fascist” or “neo-fascist”? The Left apparently thinks that only right-wingers can be fascists. But the truth is that fascism is wholly a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum. Only liberals can be fascists because modern American liberalism is a product of communist and fascist ideology.

This can be most clearly and immediately seen by examining the term “Nazism,” which is actually short-hand for National Socialism in German. The Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Socialism is an ideology of the Left! Communism is global socialism, and fascism is national socialism. The ONLY real difference between the two is one of scope and geography.

Mussolini: Communist Heretic
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, dictator of fascist Italy and conventionally labeled the father of fascism (the term “fascism” is Italian in origin), was a lifelong socialist and follower of Karl Marx. He was named after two socialists: Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa. His father was a stalwart socialist who was a member of the First International and served on the local socialist council. His father read him passages from Das Kapital (I know that’s what I read when I want to put myself to sleep, haha). Benito started early in his socialist activism: he called himself a socialist while in high school and became the secretary of a socialist organization at Forli at the age of 18.

In his youth, he carried a medallion of Karl Marx. He also became close friends with Angelica Balabanoff, a longtime colleague of Lenin. In fact, Lenin and Mussolini were mutual admirers. Lenin wrote, “Mussolini? A great pity he is lost to us! He is a strong man, who would have led our party to victory.”

Mussolini seriously began his political career as a left-wing journalist and intellectual. He was very well read in socialist theory. He wrote countless socialist tracts and articles that both examined and translated socialist literature. In 1911, he became the editor of La lotta di classe (Class War), which served as a mouthpiece for the Italian Socialist Party. In 1912, he attended a Socialist congress.

Leading socialist Olindo Vernocchi said, “From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of the Romagna Socialists but the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy.” This was how he received the nickname Il Duce, literally “the leader.” He was the Duce of Socialism!

Leda Rafanelli, an anarchist intellectual, wrote “Benito Mussolini…is the socialist of heroic times.”

Mussolini joined the formal leadership of the Italian Socialist Party and became editor of its paper called Avanti! , which would become socialist gospel for a whole generation of socialists. Lenin would comment approvingly of Mussolini’s efforts in Pravda.

Mussolini’s break with strict, dogmatic socialism would begin with the outbreak of World War I. His support of the war contravened the principle of international solidarity and the elimination of national borders (nationality itself to be precise). He saw it as a practical necessity, but he received a backlash from hardline believers. He responded, “You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood.” Again, he countered, “You think you can turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.”

Mussolini did not move to the right or radically change his political philosophy. He merely rejected one tenet of orthodox Marxism: class must come before nationality or any other group identity. “I saw that internationalism was crumbling,” Mussolini later observed. “The sentiment of nationality exists and cannot be denied.” He thought it was “utterly foolish” to believe that class consciousness could trump national loyalties and culture. Thus was born national socialism, a modification from traditional socialism only in the sense that it was less ambitious in scope and recognized that the natural power of nationalism could be harnessed as a means to socialist ends. Thus Mussolini said that its was “necessary to assassinate the Party in order to save Socialism.” It was this little heresy that would divide Europe’s socialists. And the Italian people would choose national socialism (fascism) over international socialists and communists.

And thus Mussolini came to power as a very popular dictator. He proceeded to create a totalitarian state (a term that he coined) as communism requires: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” There was hardly a difference between it and the Soviet Union with regard to policy. The State would control everything and had the final authority.

Before his death, he selected a socialist journalist to record some of his last thoughts and wishes: “I bequeath the republic to the republicans not to the monarchists, and the work of social reform to the socialists and not to the middle classes.”

Hitler: Man of the Left
Hitler wrote approvingly of Italian fascism in Mein Kampf: “The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.” He realized the necessity of having an idea that would arouse the masses.

For years historians have tried to portray Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism. The role of industrialists has been exaggerated while the clear and substantial socialist aspects of Nazism have been ignored or downplayed. Nazism did not destroy the communist Left in Germany; it merely replaced the communists on the Left side of the spectrum in Germany. The fact of the matter is that the working classes (the bloc that typically supported the communists) comprised a substantial part of the Nazis electoral base. German Nazism and Italian Fascism were both populist movements that attracted support from all levels of society. Moreover, the industrial sector came to support Hitler much later than the working masses. Businesses hopped on the band wagon when they saw it was in their best interests.

Like any good leftist, Hitler was a revolutionary and exploited anti-capitalist rhetoric in his rise to power. He despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order. Because he wished to remake German society entirely, he was no conservative! He wrote in Mein Kampf, “Either the German youth will one day create a new State founded on the racial idea or they will be the last witnesses of the complete breakdown and death of the bourgeoisie world.” He rejected traditional Christianity; he wanted to revive Germany’s so-called pre-Christian authenticity, or in other words, to create a modern paganism. He was well read in German mythology and pseudo-history. His idols were Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.

He rhetoric mirrored Lenin’s: “Our bourgeoisie is already worthless for any noble human endeavor.” Once he was entrenched in power he clarified his opposition to communism thus: “Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for awhile.” Hitler didn’t disagree with the German communists in principle or policy, especially with regard to economics; he was enraged at their undermining of Germany with strikes during WW I and antiwar mobilization. He thought they were part of a coalition that had stabbed Germany in the back. Indeed, Hitler often spoke with grudging admiration of Stalin and the communists. Hitler studied Marxism, which both fascinated and repulsed him, appreciating its ideas but becoming utterly convinced that Marx was the architect of some Jewish plot.

Hitler entered the Nazi Party because of a talk given by Gottfried Feder entitled “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?” The party stood for everything he believed in, and thus started his career as the party’s best salesman. The Nazis campaigned as socialists.
What exactly did the party stand for? Its platform included:

“We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.” Sounds like nanny state liberalism.

“Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.” Can you say death tax and rent control?

“We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).” That doesn’t sound free market.

“We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries” Hmmm, a “windfall” profits tax?

“We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.” Sounds like FDR’s Social Security, no?

“The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program…. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State….” Sounds like a government monopoly on the schools. Isn’t that what Democrats are for?

“The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.” Hmmm, you think Hitler would have banned trans fats?

“…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.” This is what liberals mean when they say “the common good.”

“For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich.” Centralization of power in the national government? Does that sound right-wing to you?

Read the platform for yourself. There is nothing conservative about it.

Racism was not an element of fascism originally in Italy. Anti-Semitism was an innovation of Hitler’s. Mussolini considered it a silly distraction. But Hitler’s identity politics was powerful and successful (hmmm, which modern American political party practices identity politics?). Of course, anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. We should not forget that Stalin and Karl Marx himself hated Jews. Jews were seen (and are still seen today to some extent) as the archetypal capitalists. Thus it was only natural that the Left, including Hitler, should hate them!

Nationalism isn’t inherently right-wing at all either. Consider Stalin, Castro, Arafat, Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, Pol Pot, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The only reason nationalism came to be seen as right-wing is because the communists, who were internationalists, labeled the fascists as right-wing. Why the heck should we be adopting the political lens of communism in order to find out what fascism really is?!

Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser was straightforward about it: “We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!”

Hitler dedicates an entire chapter in his Mein Kampf to how the Nazis can appropriate socialist and communist imagery, rhetoric, and ideas to attract leftists to the party. The Nazis made use of the color red deliberately: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man.”
Hitler would often exaggerate his identity as an “ex-worker”: “I was a worker in my youth like you, slowly working my way upward by industry, by study, and I think I can say as well by hunger.”

Fascism and communism are kindred spirits. As communist ideologue Karl Radek noted, “Fascism is middle class Socialism….”

(Reference Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg)

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15 Responses to “Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism”

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  2. damien said

    Unbelievable. To use Strasser to further your weak argument, a man who because of his opposition to Hitler’s far-right nationalist and racist ideology, and who because of this stance and his attempts to move the party to the centre-right was murdered by the Gestapo in the Night of the Long Knives, is a perversion not only of history, but also a cynical use of a man who wanted to stop Hitler before he got too powerful.

    Yes, the National Socialists started off as a socialist party, but Hitler and ideologues such as him systematically stripped the party of political socialism and moved the party to the far right keeping only those populist elements of the old party that they believed would keep the people placid. Even a cursory glance over the actions, nevermind the rhetoric, of the Nazis while in power undermines practically everything you’ve written.

    To sum up your argument that Nazism and Fascism are idologies of the left with a quote from Mein Kampf about Hitler’s use of socialist imagery and rhetoric is laughable. You might as well argue that they were actually a Hindu or Buddhist organisation or steeped in the political convictions of the Roman Republic because they used imagery and concepts from both.

    You are a poor political historian and typical of the Rovian mindset that seems to dominate your movement. Go and read Toland’s weighty book “Adolf Hitler”, or Speer’s autobiography, you may learn a thing or two.

  3. foospro86 said

    The Nazis never abandoned socialism. They NEVER established anything like free market capitalism. The Nazis wanted a classless society just like the socialists.
    Furthermore, don’t you realize that populism is also merely a form of socialism as well? All these different movements advocate some form of redistribution of wealth.

    All rhetoric aside, the economic policy of fascism and socialism are virtually indistinguishable. Name me even one or two differences.

    Also, it is interesting how you focus on Hitler rather than Mussolini. Are you going to tell me that Mussolini wasn’t a socialist too?!

  4. damien said

    ^ Mussolini started as a socialist, of that there is little doubt, but as with many in politics, and seemingly those with a desire for power above all, he moved from the left to the right. The NSADAP started as a workers party, but moved progressively to the right and dropped more and more of its socialist policies until it stood in violent opposition to Socialism and Communism. People, and parties, move across the political spectrum. Profoundly socialist Old Labour became centrist business friendly New Labour, transformed by the former Stalinist communist, and now darling of the business world, Peter Mandelson. Gordon Brown used to be a Trotskyite! People, and parties shift.

    Just because the Nazis didn’t develop full on free market capitalism doesn’t mean that they were socialists. Neither the US Republican Party nor the Conservative Party of the UK attempted free market capitalism until the 80s and you could hardly call them socialist. If the Nazis or Mussolini’s fascists were socialists I doubt very much that they would have recieved the funding from the businessmen they did in the 30s, or received support overseas from media and economic moguls who were clearly as opposed to socialism as those German and Italian businessmen who supported them. But you want to gloss over this and suggest that any support they received from such sources has been exaggerated. Cite sources, provide evidence.

    The nazi opposition to socialism and communism can be seen from the pitched battles they had with socialist parties, the violence towards political opposition, the banning of trade unions, the repealling of progressive systems of taxation, and the embracing of Corporatism. The same can be said of Mussolini’s Italy. Fascism from tip to toe held to the concepts of Social Darwinism, as espouced by Herbert Spencer and co. Socialism does not accept the concepts of Social Darwinism seeing it as divisive.

    As to economics… Socialism and Marxism have well defined economic philosophies, Fascism less so, indeed they appeared to pick and choose their economic policies on the basis of how well they served the best political interests of the state and the party. However, there are economic policies which differ between fascism and socialism:

    Socialism dictates the common ownership of the means of production and that class differences was something which needed to be addressed through social and economic policies until class was no longer an issue. Fascism, under Mussolini, had a corporatist economic outlook and believed that class differences were necessary and of use, and that the only role of the state was to mediate between the classes where problems arose. Both the Nazis and Mussolini nationalised industries only when they needed absolute control of production, and did so for nationalist and expansionist reasons, not for the elimination of class differences or and certainly not “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.

    Apart from determining what the focus of the economy should be and limited nationalisations as a means of improving the future expansionist policies of the government, fascist economies in both Italy and Germany were based on private enterprise. Socialist economies nationalise everything; look at the UK after WW2 where every national industry was nationalised and remained that way until the 80s.

    Read up on De Stefani, Mussolini’s finance minister and his laissez-faire policies, and how progressive methods of taxation introduced by previous socialist governments were repealed to placate the wealthy. Look at the attacks on trade unionists who seized factories in an attempt to gain better wages.

    True, Mussolini adopted limited Keynesian economic policies during the Great Depression, but who didn’t? They did, however, also adopt a corporatist economic model, which was strained significantly on Italy’s entry to WW2.

    As to the Nazis… Yes, Hitler said “we are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system”, but he went on to clarify what he meant by socialism and how it differed from the economic and political philosophy of the left. His socialism “has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism,” saying that “Marxism is anti-property; true Socialism is not.”

    Hitler was also quoted as saying “Socialism! That is an unfortunate word altogether… What does socialism really mean? If people have something to eat and their pleasures, then they have their socialism.”

    Also “I had only to develop logically what social democracy failed…. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd ties with a democratic order…. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings….”

    Hitler was also quoted as saying “I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative”.

    As I outlined earlier, one of the core elements of fascism is the adoption of populist policies where necessary, Hitler acknowledged that one of the strenghts of the Nazi Party was that it didn’t have a precise economic policy “The basic feature of our economic theory is that we have no theory at all”. It did, however, have a radical racist model which is not seen in socialism. Go and read the Frankfurt Declaration of 1951.

    If you have any genuine interest, and aren’t just a right-wing ideologue, go and read some of Stanley Payne’s work on fascism. Part of your problem is the fact that you define fascism in terms of economics… fascism is not an economic philosophy, it doesn’t even have a core political philosophy, and in this way it differs significantly from socialism. Fascism can be understood in terms of the political parties which it opposed, and in terms of those who aligned themselves to them. In this way it can clearly be seen that fascism was a movement of the right.

    • Lee said

      I suggest that you look up how many definitions outside of trying to describe it as just socialist there are and you will see that all in all they lead back to socilaism. The only reason why Hitler and Mussolini disliked socialism was the that the collective good did not embolden the leader to ‘lead’ the nation as the ‘supreme’ leader while fascism did and that Hitler went further than Mussolini by deciding that the national collective only constituted ‘certain peoples’ and not everyone who was apart of the nation.

  5. damien said

    my apologies, when i say “Fascism, under Mussolini, had a corporatist economic outlook and believed that class differences were necessary and of use, and that the only role of the state was to mediate between the classes where problems arose.” I mean that the only role the state had in terms of social power structures was to mediate between the classes where problems arose.

  6. damien said

    My last word. I understand where you’re coming from. I think, in all honesty, that fascism is an extreme, and one which can be applied equally to the right and the left. Zinoviev and Stalin were Social Fascists and saw socialism as a brother of fasism. Lenin realised that Stalin was a believer of Zinoviev’s Social Fascism and warned the Party about it, but to no avail. Trotsky also tried to warn against the trioka (which included Kamenev) and that it was leading the country away from marxist ideology and in league with fascism. Indeed, many socialist and communist parties followed the message outlined by the troika at the 6th international and allied themselves in street battles against the German state with the nazis believing them to be brothers and comrades, and this was the case in some areas even until 1933! Hitler proved otherwise, renewed the battles against the communists which had been the norm in the 20s, and proceeded to lock them up. It was only then that the German communists realised that nazi claims to be a party of the workers was a nonsense, and social fascism was dropped at the 7th international. Stalin remained a fascist (as the party were warned by Lenin), but one who used the imagery and language of socialism to legitimate his actions… the same can be said of Hitler and Mussolini, and to some extent, Franco.

  7. […] have seen communism and fascism, leftist ideologies both, deny human dignity and use the power of the state to commit genocide and enslave human […]

  8. Todd said

    Everything I read about Adolph Hitler concerning his ideology and his political tactics I can substitute the name Barack Obama and it still fits. Scary.

    • BlackBeaver said

      Todd,

      There are many striking similarities, to be sure. But there are at least two important differences. First, Hitler was an Anti- Semite. He saw anyone who was even remotely Jewish as nothing more than vermin. Though some of his associates (notably Rev. Wright) are Anti- Semites, I have seen no evidence that Mr. Obama is anti- Semetic. Second, Hitler was a nationalist, while Mr. Obama is clearly an internationalist who wants the US to be subserviant to a world government.

      In my view, Mr. Obama more closely resembles Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was a fervent nationalist, but he was not anti- Semetic.

      Take a look at the 1930 Nazi Party Platform. You will see some chilling similarities with today’s Progressive goals. You’ll have to weed out the putrely Post WWI German concerns and the anti- Semitism, but in what’s left you’ll see the kinship.

      And, of course, each day we see similarities in the news: from “it takes a village’ programs which interfere with individual rights to government take overs or intimidation of large companies, take- over of media outlets, strong- arm ‘demonstration’, campaign and election tactics; smearing any opposition, outright lies, etc. It’s all been done before.

  9. […] To drive the point home, Fascists were declared to be (gasp) right-wing.  The party faithful in the media, especially in America, did such a good job of distancing themselves from the fascists, and painting them in such negative hues, that many believe Fascists to be a right-wing phenomena, to this day.      (Link) […]

  10. […] To drive the point home, Fascists were declared to be (gasp) right-wing.  The party faithful in the media, especially in America, did such a good job of distancing themselves from the fascists, and painting them in such negative hues, that many believe Fascists to be a right-wing phenomena, to this day.      (Link) […]

  11. BlackBeaver said

    The trouble with political discourse is that Socialists of one brand or another have defined all the terms! “Liberal” once meant someone who respects the Constitution,limited government and individual liberty. A “Liberal Education” was one that exposed students to many different ideas, so the individual could decide the best one on his/her own. “Liberals” trusted the individual.

    Toward the end of the 19th century, Socialists began calling themselves “Progressives” because of their belief that the old customs and rules- even the old Religion- were outdated by Social Darwinism and it was now possible for society to evolve- using an unrestrained government with their guidance- to become Heaven on Earth.

    Progressives began calling the “Liberals” “Conservative, to make the image of ‘an old stick- in- the- mud’, who still believed in individual God- given liberty.

    When “Progressivism” lost its luster because of the misdeeds of such great Progressive heroes as Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, they began calling themselves “Liberals”!

    Now, with “Liberal” being unmasked for what it is, they are increasingly again calling themselves “Progressives”, thinking everyone has forgotten.

    Whatever they call themselves, they are a threat to individual liberty.

  12. JPM said

    It is a shame that the author sees all “socialism”, whose primary tenet is social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as “state socialism”, which advocates state ownership of the means of production. This is the only way fascism can be seen as a product of the left. It should be noted that state socialism was first explicitly expounded by Ferdinand LaSalle who, in contrast to Marx, rejected the concept of the state as a class-based power structure whose main function was to preserve existing class structures. Indeed Marx’s essay Critique of the Gotha Program is written in part as a reaction to Lassalle’s conception of the socialist state. Marx and Engels thought that Lassalle was not a true Communist as he directly influenced Bismarck’s government (albeit in secret) in favor of universal manhood suffrage, among other issues.

    In sum, the progenitors of modern socialism did not consider state socialism to be a leftist ideology. Marx’s socialism was hijacked by right wing thinkers and turned into an authoritarian form of state capitalism in the 50 years following the 2nd International. This then morphed into Fascism. Hence Fascism is actually a product of the right, wrapped in the skin of the left.

    • Tony Listi said

      Explain to me how “social ownership and democratic control of the means of production” is possible without a State. Whether the State is a democracy of some sort or not is irrelevant. The State is merely the concentration of power and force which, in economic matters, enforces a certain system of ownership . Using the words “social” and “democratic” does not and cannot dispense with the reality of the State that exists in one form or another in every society.

      “state capitalism”
      What does that even mean? That’s an oxymoron to a capitalist. Capitalism envisions the State punishing fraud and coercion in economic matters, nothing more. “Crony capitalism” and “state capitalism” are not capitalism.

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