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Fascism and fascisms… July 6, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Fascinating Slate.com podcast, part of its Trumpcasts – examining the nature of the Trump phenomenon. An interview with University of Wisconin professor Stanley Payne delivered the verdict that, no, Donald Trump was not a fascist. Some useful detail squirrelled away in the piece – not least the cleavage between Italian fascism and national socialism (I have to admit to tending to viewing them as very similar but ideologically distinct). And in relation to the former the comment that anti-semitism wasn’t necessarily crucial to fascism, that indeed until 1938 the Italian fascist movement had contained a fair number of Jewish members. Wiki suggests that they had their own paper – La Nostra Bandiera. It’s important to note that various anti-semitic measures came in that year and there was a realignment with National Socialist attitudes and actions in relation to that.

Christopher Duggan’s “Fascist Voices An Intimate history of Mussolini’s Italy” deals with some of this history. It’s a book I’d strongly recommend to anyone curious about how Italian fascism worked. Reading it my own sense was that while overt anti-semitism wasn’t initially intrinsic, the nature of this variant of fascism meant that if triggered conceptually there was sufficient latent anti-other hostility to shift into over anti-semitism. There’s lessons there, surely?

Perhaps it is a relief to hear Payne’s opinion that fascism as such was, in his view, a historically distinct movement unlikely to reoccur in its original format. Which, of course, raises the question what would it be like today, or tomorrow?

Comments»

1. Phil - July 6, 2016

My understanding is that anti-semitism never really took root in Italian Fascism – even after they’d been encouraged to emulate the National Socialist example, anti-Jewish policy was implemented with so many exceptions and special cases, and enforced so laxly, that it made very little difference. You’d have been much worse off being a Jew in Vichy France than in Fascist Italy. The Revisionist Zionists – Jabotinsky’s & subsequently Menachem Begin’s faction – even made Fascist Italy their base; Jabotinsky’s advice to any member who was asked about politics was to say that they were firmly opposed to class struggle, but otherwise didn’t have any political position.

So I don’t think anti-semitism is necessarily the master key to understanding fascism; we need to get away from the way of thinking that defines Fascism in terms of Nazism & Nazism in terms of the Holocaust.

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Michael Carley - July 6, 2016

That seems right and actually when Italian neo-Fascists went to Lebanon, some joined the Israeli proxy there because they were anti-Arab and pro-Jewish and some joined militias (some after converting to Islam) because they were anti-Semitic.

There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between Italian Fascism and anti-semitism.

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2. Michael Carley - July 6, 2016

Perhaps it is a relief to hear Payne’s opinion that fascism as such was, in his view, a historically distinct movement unlikely to reoccur in its original format. Which, of course, raises the question what would it be like today, or tomorrow?

England’s in the process of finding out.

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FergusD - July 6, 2016

A friend of mine heard a UKIP spokesman on the TV/radio explain that just because Brexit won UKIP isn’t going away (you know) because there was unfinished business:

– ensuring immigration was halted (and repatriation?)

Natch.

But also:
– reaching out to small business pissed of with big business and the banks
– reaching out to the working class abandoned by New Labour and worried about job losses etc (all down to the EU and immigrants of course)

So he described the social basis of facism. UKIP isn’t facist but the germ is there I think.

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3. gendjinn - July 6, 2016

I’m starting to get a sick feeling in my stomach that Trump is going to win. The Clinton team/supporters’ response to the email investigation yesterday was classic blithe unawareness of how bad it is. They are celebrating as if Clinton was exonerated and vindicated when she has been categorically exposed as a serial liar by an FBI investigation.

And Comey is still running an investigation into corruption between Clinton SoS & the Clinton Foundation. If he drops that report after the convention or in Sept/Oct…..

So it’s a good thing we are reading up on the various strains of authoritarianism and fascism because it’s beginning to look like we’ll be getting a front row seat.

Yay.

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4. Jim Monaghan - July 6, 2016

The newish La Pen has substituted anti-moslemism for anti-semitism. And has had some success, as long as she can keep the father hidden.

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5. Dermot O Connor - July 6, 2016

Glad nobody here has cited the old (and phoney) Mussolini ‘definition’ about fascism being the merger of ‘corporations’ (businesses) & state power.
http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html

Fascism is a collectivist / corporate (group) ideology; the people who support Trump & right wing demagogues are ‘rugged individualists’ who wouldn’t have much truck with sublimating themselves into a mass (or at least a mass without ‘rights’. The use of the word ‘fascist’ to describe them doesn’t help to understand them, though there may be a great deal of Venn overlap commonality regarding their authoritarianism & nationalism
.
Useful definition – actual words of Mussolinin & Gentile (trying to solve ‘the problem of the party’, and create a post-hoc description:

http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp

QUOTE:Fascism…believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. …

…Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production…. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society….

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage….

…Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of “happiness” and indefinite progress….

..given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority…a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State….

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State….

…The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone….

…For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude….

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Starkadder - July 6, 2016

“Fascism is a collectivist / corporate (group) ideology; the people who support Trump & right wing demagogues are ‘rugged individualists’ who wouldn’t have much truck with sublimating themselves into a mass (or at least a mass without ‘rights”.

Good point Mr. O’Connor. The average Trump supporter is more
of a “Pinochetista ” than a full-blown fascist. They’d probably be quite happy with a Reaganite economic system protected by violence than 1930s corporations.

If you look up the book “Hitler’s Table Talk”, there’s a revealing passage where Adolf confesses his admiration for his fellow
murderous totalitarian:

” I have myself seen in a dozen different episodes in Italy how very popular the Duce is with the majority of the people; and there is no denying the unparalleled achievements of this man and of Fascism…Over and above all this he overcame Bolshevism, not by military force, but by superior intellect, and it is him we have to thank for showing for the first time, by his decisive defeat of the inner power of Bolshevism, that even in this twentieth century it is possible to recall a people to a sense of purely national pride.”

The best answer to the “Fascism is left-wing” rubbish peddled
by Jonah Goldberg, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn,
Daniel Hannan, George G. Watson and others is to read what Fascists and Nazis actually wrote and spoke about.

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WorldbyStorm - July 6, 2016

+1 and to DOC too.

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Starkadder - July 7, 2016

That should be “than 1930s Corporatism”.

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6. Starkadder - July 6, 2016

“My understanding is that anti-semitism never really took root in Italian Fascism – even after they’d been encouraged to emulate the National Socialist example, anti-Jewish policy was implemented with so many exceptions and special cases, and enforced so laxly, that it made very little difference.”

I believe you’re correct, but anti-semitism did have a strong appeal
to some Italian Fascist thinkers. Umberto Eco has written of Julius Evola’s admiring article on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”,
and Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke notes Evola also wrote rants about “The Judaic Horde”.

An aspect of British Fascism which I believe has been neglected is
the admiration of Oswald Mosley for the productive power of American capitalism.

“America made a god of unregulated anarchy in private enterprise. …Throughout the boom she achieved, on a basis purely temporary, what organised planning and Corporate institutions can set on a permanent footing. The very energy of American libertarianism is the best argument for Fascist institutions.”

https://archive.org/stream/BUFandOswaldMosley/Greater%20Britain,%20The%20-%20Oswald%20Mosley_djvu.txt

Now there’s an odd, but interesting, occurrence of that phrase….

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WorldbyStorm - July 6, 2016

Evola is, I think a key person. His influence on later and contemporary fascism is enormous and I agree he was anti-semitic. I’d go quite some way in agreeing with Brian too that once unleashed Italian fascism was viciously anti-semitic.

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7. Brian Hanley - July 6, 2016

I think there is a danger of sanitising Italian Fascisms record on anti-Semitism. The racial laws were disgusting by any standard and even if sometimes implemented half-heartedly placed severe restrictions on Italy’s Jews. Once Salo was in place after 1943 about 10,000 Jews were deported to the death camps.
Apart from that, Italian Fascist forces carried out savage atrocities in Greece, Albania and Abyssinia.
On the general point about Fascism, Hitler was actually very influenced by Mussolini’s movement but in every country where distinctive fascist movements evolved, (as opposed to copyists) they built on their own native traditions. In much of Europe that did mean anti-Semitism was important to them.

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