Fascism and ideology


Fascism and ideology

Fascism and ideology is the subject of numerous debates. The position of fascism on the political spectrum is a point of contention.

Contents

Ideological origins

Fascism is based upon a number of ideologies from across the political spectrum. Benito Mussolini had a strong attachment to the works of Plato.[1] In The Republic (c. 380 BC), Plato advocated a system of elite minority rule by highly educated, intellectual rulers called philosopher kings, who were allowed to exercise total control over the politics and security of a society. This argument has been considered an inspiration for fascism's promotion of elite rule by a supreme leader and a single-party state.[2] Similarly, Vilfredo Pareto's endorsement of an elite minority-led oligarchical government was an influence on fascists.[3] Mussolini and Margherita Sarfatti identified Plato and Pareto as the sources of fascism's constantly changing character.[4] They claimed that movement and correction of flaws in ideas renews an ideology and keeps it from becoming corrupt or outdated.[4]

Mussolini modeled his dictatorship and totalitarian aims on Julius Caesar.[5] Mussolini described his personal admiration of Caesar, claiming that Caesar had "the resolve of a warrior and the resourcefulness of a wise man".[6] The Fascists' March on Rome in 1922 was based on the crossing of the Rubicon river by Caesar and his forces when they seized power in Rome in 49 BC.[7] Shortly after seizing power with the March on Rome, Mussolini went to the Roman Forum and stood before the ruins to pay homage to Caesar.[6] The Italian Fascist government presented Caesar as a national hero and had multiple statues of Caesar constructed across Italy.[6]

Mussolini studied The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli and produced a thesis on it for the University of Bologna in 1924.[4] He admired Machiavelli as a capable statesman and a thinker.[4] Mussolini identified Machiavelli's conception of "the prince" as the personification of the state and sympathized with Machiavelli's negative conception of most people as tending to be self-centred and unethical.[4] Mussolini, like Machiavelli, claimed that populations were unfit to govern themselves, and that they needed leadership to direct their lives.[8]

Fascism is believed to have been significantly influenced by the political concept of absolute monarchy as conceived by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan (1651).[9][10]

Fascism is connected to the theories of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This connection to Hegelianism is shared by Marxism, but fascism focuses on the elements of Hegelianism that Karl Marx detracted.[11] While Marxism focuses on the rationalist and empiricist elements of Hegelianism, fascism focuses on its spiritualist elements.[11] Fascism's relationship with Hegelianism is linked to the nationalistic Italian neo-idealist movement, which adhered to Hegel's positive perception of the state and his advocacy of a corporative organic state.[12] One of fascism's major philosophers, Giovanni Gentile, was a Hegelian.[13] Gentile faced opposition from some Italian Fascists, who attacked him for being too attached to Hegelianism and for being too dominant to be considered loyal to fascism and to Mussolini.[13] After the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Gentile's influence in the National Fascist Party (PNF) collapsed, with philosophical influence being centralized to Mussolini's will.[13]

Mussolini was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of übermensch ("overman" or "superman") and his themes of living dangerously, which were adopted and put into political practice by Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio, whom Mussolini also admired.[14] D'Annunzio played an important role in bringing Nietzsche's themes into Italy.[15] Like Nietzsche, d'Annunzio idealized the Renaissance as a period of time during which übermensch ruled and the power of decadent nobility was disintegrating.[15] Nietzsche, d'Annunzio, and Mussolini all held contempt for Christianity, the bourgeoisie, democracy, and reformist politics.[15] D'Annunzio supported the creation of a new state based on an aristocracy of intellectuals, a cult of strength, and opposition to democracy.[15] He believed that the best ideology to exemplify Nietzsche's themes was aggressive nationalism.[16] During World War I, d'Annunzio evoked Italian nationalist themes of irredentism, claiming that Italy was the heir to the Roman Empire.[17]

According to Dave Renton, fascism first emerged in France in the 1880s as an intellectual movement that absorbed and synthesised socialism and nationalism and created a new ideology of "a socialism without the proletariat".[18]

Prior to becoming a fascist, Mussolini was a socialist influenced by Nietszche's anti-Christian ideas and negation of God's existence.[19] Mussolini saw Nietzsche as similar to Jean-Marie Guyau, who advocated a philosophy of action.[19] Mussolini's use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, because of Nietzsche's promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views.[19] Mussolini felt that socialism had faltered due to the failures of Marxist determinism and social democratic reformism and believed that Nietzsche's ideas would strengthen socialism.[19] By the 1900s, Mussolini's writings indicated that he had abandoned Marxism and egalitarianism in favour of Nietzsche's übermensch concept and anti-egalitarianism.[20] Unlike fascists, however, Nietzsche did not admire the state; in his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he referred to the state as "the coldest of all monsters".[21]

Mussolini's early political views were heavily influenced by his father, Alessandro Mussolini, a revolutionary socialist who idolized 19th century Italian nationalist figures with humanist tendencies, such as Carlo Pisacane, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Giuseppe Garibaldi.[22] Alessandro Mussolini's political outlook combined the views of anarchist figures like Carlo Cafiero and Mikhail Bakunin, the military authoritarianism of Garibaldi, and the nationalism of Mazzini.[23] In 1902, at the anniversary of Garibaldi's death, Benito Mussolini made a public speech in praise of the republican nationalist.[23]

Syndicalist philosopher Georges Sorel is considered a major inspiration for both Bolshevism and fascism, both of which Sorel supported because they challenged bourgeois democracy.[24] Sorel's work Reflections on Violence (1908) claimed that violence could be moral, especially revolutionary violence that brought substantive positive change in society.[25] Sorel rebuked Marxism, accusing it of becoming decadent and arguing that it should not resist the free market and free competition, because they would quicken the demise of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat.[25] Sorel argued that socialists should reject the materialism and rationalism of Marx and instead adopt moral and emotional appeals of ideals and myths to promote their cause.[25] He wrote that excessive rationalism is a trait of the bourgeoisie, and that the proletariat's mind is more "primitive", more able to accept myths.[26] Sorel believed that this was beneficial, because the proletariat would be more willing to accept moral renewal.[26] Reflections on Violence was highly popular amongst Italian revolutionary syndicalists,[25] one of whom was Mussolini, who later acknowledged Sorel's influence on him, saying "What I am, I owe to Sorel".[24]

Fascism initially had close connections to futurism; the Futurist Manifesto (1909) by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti "glorified action, technology, and war" and promoted irrationalism over rationalism; the revolutionary entrenchment of modernist and violent art and aesthetics; the destruction of all past aesthetic traditions to liberate modern aesthetics; the promotion of patriotism and militarism; and contempt of women and feminism.[27] Futurism, like fascism, identified the state in a corporatist manner as an organic body connected to the nation.[28] However, unlike fascism, the futurist conception of the state proscribed the continuation of democracy, with Marinetti arguing: "Italian democracy is for us a body which must be liberated", a liberation which would be achieved through technological development.[28] Marinetti was initially drawn to fascism but rejected it when it adopted more moderate conservative aesthetics once it attained power in Italy.[29]

Conservative influences became a strong factor in Fascism in Italy in spite of its differences with other more revolutionary factions of the Italian Fascists.[30] Conservatism in Italy was less of an organized political movement than other ideologies; it involved common social traditions, such as the emphasis of family, landownership, and faith in religion.[31] Conservative nationalism was a particularly important ideological influence upon fascism. Italian Fascism was influenced by conservative nationalist Enrico Corradini, writer of the prominent nationalist newspaper Il Regno and one of the founders and key members of the Italian Nationalist Association.[32]

Corradini combined nationalism with social Darwinism and spoke of the need for Italy to overcome its weaknesses by accepting the "iron laws of race", including eliminating foreign influences, pursuing imperialism, incorporating workers into the nation, and regenerating the bourgeoisie, while opposing "feminine humanitarianism", liberalism, democracy, and socialism.[32] Two prominent concepts promoted by Corradini inspired fascism: Corradini's theory of "war as revolution" and his theory of "proletarian nationalism".[33] Though Corradini opposed the revolutionary socialism in Italy for its anti-patriotism, anti-militarism, internationalism, and its advocacy of class conflict, he and other nationalists admired its revolutionary and conquering spirit and, in a 1910 meeting of the Italian Nationalist Association, declared support for proletarian nationalism, saying:

“We are the proletarian people in respect to the rest of the world. Nationalism is our socialism. This established, nationalism must be founded on the truth that Italy is morally and materially a proletarian nation.” Manifesto of the Italian Nationalist Association, December 1910.[33]

Corradini also studied Sorel's Reflections on Violence and claimed that, in spite of some ideological differences between syndicalism and nationalism, he desired "a syndicalism which stops at the nation's shores and does not proceed farther".[33]

Another conservative nationalist from the ANI who became a Fascist was the prominent economic theorist Alfredo Rocco.[30][34] Rocco was a proponent of economic corporatism and was a key figure in designing the fascist economic policies in Italy that mandated employers and workers to negotiate under the supervision and arbitration of the state, that enhanced state power over the economy, and that forbade trade union strikes.[35] Rocco's economic policies were deemed conservative due to their repression of dissent by organized labour and the limited rights they accorded to workers, which resulted in animosity toward the policies by a number of fascists associated with organized labour.[35]

Rocco, as Minister of Justice of Italy during the Fascist era, spoke of fascism constituting a "conservative revolution" that supported orderly and controlled political change to be carried out by elites who would create policy while resisting pluralism, independent initiative, and attempts at political change by the masses.[36] Italian Fascist factions that favoured conciliation with traditional institutions like the monarchy were met with resistance by "Intransigent" Fascists, hardliners commonly associated with the militant Blackshirts, who wanted the total entrenchment of Fascism as the basis of Italy's government.[37]

The theories and perspectives of Oswald Spengler also influenced fascism.[38] In his work Decline of the West, Spengler's major thesis was that a law of historical development of cultures existed, involving a cycle of birth, maturity, aging, and death when each reached its final form of civilization.[38] Upon reaching the point of civilization, a culture will lose its creative capacity and succumb to decadence until the emergence of "barbarians" to create a new epoch.[38] Spengler viewed the Western world as having succumbed to decadence of intellect, money, cosmopolitan urban and irreligious life, atomized individualization, and the end of both biological and "spiritual" fertility.[38] He believed that the "young" German nation as an imperial power would inherit the legacy of Ancient Rome and lead a restoration of value in "blood" and instinct, while the ideals of rationalism would be revealed as absurd.[38] Other works by Spengler were also highly respected by fascists, including Der Mensch und die Technik, Preussentum und Sozialismus, and Year of Decision.[38] Spengler's ideas were openly admired by a number of leading fascist figures, including Mussolini, Benedetto Croce, and Alfred Rosenburg.[39] While fascists respected Spengler's works, they typically rejected his fatalism and pessimism.[39] Spengler's staunch anti-Marxist views deeply impressed Mussolini.[39]

Italian Fascist Corrado Gini used Spengler's theory that populations go through a cycle of birth, growth, and decay to claim that, while nations at a primitive level have a high birth rate, as they evolve the upper class birth rate drops, while the lower class inevitably depletes as their stronger members emigrate, die in war, or enter into the upper classes.[40] If a nation continues on this path without resistance, Gini claimed, it would enter a final decadent stage where the nation would degenerate, as noted by decreasing birth rate, decreasing cultural output, and the lack of imperial conquest.[41] At that point, the decadent nation, with its aging population, could be overrun by a more youthful and vigorous nation.[41]

Fascism's relations with other political and economic ideologies

Mussolini saw fascism as opposing socialism and left-wing ideologies: "If it is admitted that the nineteenth century has been the century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy, it does not follow that the twentieth must also be the century of Liberalism, Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the "Right," a Fascist century." [42]

Capitalism

Fascism has had mixed relations regarding capitalism. Fascists commonly have sought to eliminate the autonomy of large-scale capitalism to the state.[43] Fascists support the state having control over the economy, although they support the existence of private property.[44] When fascists have criticized capitalism, they have focused their attacks on finance capitalism, the international nature of banks and the stock exchange, and its cosmopolitan bourgeois character.[45] Under fascism, the profit motive continues to be the primary motivation of contributors to the economy.[44] Along with support of private property and the profit motive, fascists also support the market economy.[46]

Mussolini praised "heroic capitalism", which he found useful, and criticized what he termed "supercapitalism". He argued,

I do not intend to defend capitalism or capitalists. They, like everything human, have their defects. I only say their possibilities of usefulness are not ended. Capitalism has borne the monstrous burden of the war and today still has the strength to shoulder the burdens of peace. ... It is not simply and solely an accumulation of wealth, it is an elaboration, a selection, a co-ordination of values which is the work of centuries. ... Many think, and I myself am one of them, that capitalism is scarcely at the beginning of its story.[47]

To Mussolini, the capitalism of his time had degenerated from original capitalism, which he called dynamic or heroic capitalism (1830–1870) to static capitalism (1870–1914) and then finally to decadent capitalism or supercapitalism, which began in 1914.[48] Mussolini, in 1933 amid the Great Depression, announced that modern supercapitalism was a failed economic system that was the result of the long-term degeneration of capitalism.[49][48] Mussolini denounced supercapitalism for causing the "standardization of humankind" and for causing excessive consumption.[50] Fascists argued that supercapitalism "would ultimately decay and open the way for a Marxist revolution as labor-capital relations broke down.[51]

Mussolini argued that dynamic or heroic capitalism and the bourgeoisie could be prevented from degenerating into static capitalism and then supercapitalism if the concept of economic individualism were abandoned and if state supervision of the economy was introduced.[52] Private enterprise would control production but it would be supervised by the state.[53] Mussolini claimed that in supercapitalism, "[it] is then that a capitalist enterprise, when difficulties arise, throws itself like a dead weight into the state's arms. It is then that state intervention begins and becomes more necessary. It is then that those who once ignored the state now seek it out anxiously."[54] Due to the inability of businesses to operate properly when facing economic difficulties, Mussolini claimed that this proved that state intervention into the economy was necessary to stabilize the economy.[54]

Italian Fascism presented the economic system of corporatism as the solution that would preserve private enterprise and property while allowing the state to intervene in the economy when private enterprise failed.[53] Corporatism was promoted as reconciling the interests of capital and labour.[55] Italian capitalist industrialists had opposed the Fascist government's intervention in arbitration of labour relations, and dominant groups in finance were strongly opposed to Mussolini's decision to reevaluate the Italian Lira to be the same as the British Pound in 1926-1927.[56] Gino Olivetti, head of the Italian Confederation of Industry, remained suspicious of the possibility of government intervention in the economy to support Fascist trade unions.[57]

From 1937 to 1939, Mussolini encouraged Italians to foster an anti-bourgeois attitude by having Italians send in anti-bourgeois cartoons to be published in newspapers, and by denouncing "social games, five o'clock tea, vacations, compassion for Jews, preference for armchairs, desire for compromise, desire for money" as indulgent bourgeois practices.[58] In 1938, Mussolini excalated a public relations campaign against the Italian bourgeoisie, accusing them of preferring private gain to national victory.[59] Mussolini ordered Fascist party members to detach themselves from bourgeois culture, including abstaining from going to nightclubs, drinking coffee, wearing formal evening dress and starching their collars, which were all considered bourgeois traits.[59] That year, Mussolini's anti-bourgeois theme spoke of removing first-class compartments, dining cars, and sleepers on railroads, and possibly closing the stock exchange.[59] Also in that year, Mussolini appointed Achille Starace to his cabinet. Starace criticized Northern Italian bourgeosie for Fascism's inability to permeate across the Italian nation, accusing them of being pacifist and pro-England.[59]

The German Nazis argued that capitalism damages nations due to international finance, the economic dominance of big business, and Jewish influences within it.[60] Adolf Hitler, both in public and in private, held strong disdain for capitalism; he accused modern capitalism of holding nations ransom in the interests of a parasitic cosmopolitan rentier class.[61] He opposed free-market capitalism's profit-seeking impulses and desired an economy in which community interests would be upheld.[62] He distrusted capitalism for being unreliable, due to it having an egotistic nature, and he preferred a state-directed economy.[63]

Hitler said: "It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, but the time will come when man will bow down before a higher god. Many things owe their existence solely to the longing for money and wealth, but there is very little among them whose non-existence would leave humanity any the poorer."[64] Hitler told one party leader in 1934, "The economic system of our day is the creation of the Jews."[65] In a discussion with Mussolini, Hitler said that "Capitalism had run its course".[63] In another conversation, Hitler stated that business bourgeoisie "know nothing except their profit. 'Fatherland' is only a word for them."[66]

The Spanish Falange also held anti-capitalist positions. Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1935 declared that "We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property and transforms the workers into shapeless masses prone to misery and despair".[67] The Romanian Iron Guard espoused anti-capitalist, anti-banking and anti-bourgeois rhetoric.[68] The Arrow Cross Party of Hungary held strong anti-feudal and anti-capitalist beliefs and supported redistribution of property.[69]

Conservatism

Conservatives and fascists in Europe have held mutual positions on issues, including anti-communism and support of national pride.[70] Conservatives and fascists both reject the liberal and Marxist emphasis on linear progressive evolution in history.[71] Fascism's emphasis on order, discipline, hierarchy, martial virtues, and preservation of private property appealed to conservatives.<refBlamires, Cyprian, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2006) p. 147.</ref> Fascists' promotion of "healthy", "uncontaminated" elements of national tradition such as chivalric culture and glorifying a nation's historical golden age have similarities with conservative aims.[72] Fascists also made pragmatic tactical alliances with traditional conservative forces in order to achieve and maintain power.[72]

Unlike conservatism, fascism specifically presents itself as a modern ideology that is willing to break free from moral and political constraints of traditional society.[73] The conservative authoritarian right is distinguished from fascism in that such conservatives utilized traditional religion as the basis for their views while fascists focused based their views on more complex issues such as vitalism, nonrationalism, or secular neo-idealism.[74]

Many of fascism's recruits were disaffected right-wing conservatives who were dissatisfied with the traditional right's inability to achieve national unity and its inability to respond to socialism, feminism, economic crisis, and international difficulties.[75] With traditional conservative parties in Europe severely weakened in the aftermath of World War I, there was a political vacuum on the right which fascism filled.[76]

Liberalism

Fascism is strongly antithetical to liberalism. Fascists accuse liberalism as being the cause of despiritualization of human beings and transforming them into materialistic beings in which the highest ideal is moneymaking.[77] In particular, fascism opposes liberalism for its materialism, rationalism, individualism, and utilitarianism.[78] Fascists believe that the liberal emphasis on individual freedom produces national divisiveness.[77] Fascists and Nazis, however, support a type of hierarchical individualism in the form of Social Darwinism, as they believe it promotes "superior individuals" and weeds out "the weak".[79]

One issue where fascism is in accord with liberalism is in its support of private property rights and the existence of a market economy.[78]

Socialism

Fascism has mixed relations towards socialism. A number of fascist figures had previously been associated with — and later rejected — Marxism, such as Benito Mussolini and Kita Ikki.[43] Fascism was founded in Italy by a number of people formerly associated with the Italian Socialist Party, including Mussolini, who opposed the Italian Socialist Party's internationalism.[80] Other fascists, including some Nazis, openly declared themselves socialists.[80] Mainstream socialists have typically rejected and opposed fascism.[80] Fascism is opposed to mainstream socialism for its internationalism, universalism, egalitarianism, anti-nationalism, horizontal collectivism and cosmopolitanism.[80] Benito Mussolini considered Fascism as opposed to Socialism, "Therefore Fascism is opposed to Socialism, which confines the movement of history within the class struggle and ignores the unity of classes established in one economic and moral reality in the State; and analogously it is opposed to class syndicalism..."[81] Adolf Hitler at times attempted to redefine the word socialism, such 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."[82]


Communism

Fascism is strongly opposed to communism. Fascism opposes communism's intention for international class revolution.[51] Fascists attack communists for supporting "decadent" values, including internationalism, egalitarianism, and materialism.[51] Fascists have commonly campaigned with anti-communist agendas.[83]

Fascism and communism, however, have common positions in their opposition to liberalism, individualism, and parliamentarism.[51] Fascists and communists also agree on the need for violent revolution to forge a new era.[51] While fascism is opposed to Bolshevism, both Bolshevism and fascism promote the single-party state and the use of political party militias.[83]

Democratic socialism

Fascism denounces democratic socialism as a failure.[84] Fascists oppose it for its support of reformism and the parliamentary system that fascism reject.[85]

Syndicalism

Italian Fascism had ideological connections with revolutionary syndicalism, in particular Sorelian syndicalism.[86] The Italian Fascist regime officially acknowledged revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel — along with Hubert Lagardelle and his journal Le Mouvement socialiste — as major influences on fascism.[87]

The Sorelian emphasis on the need for a revolution based upon action of intuition, a cult of energy and vitality, activism, heroism, and the utilization of myth was utilized by fascists.[86] Many prominent fascist figures were formerly associated with revolutionary syndicalism, including: Mussolini, Arturo Labriola, Robert Michels, Sergio Panunzio, and Paolo Orano.[88]

Nazism

Nazism, the political movement led by Adolf Hitler in Germany, is widely viewed as a form of fascism. The Nazis shared the extreme nationalism, militarism, anti-communism of the Italian fascists, and Hitler admired Mussolini, going as far as to copy the Roman salute used by Italian fascists and make it the basis of the Hitler salute. However, the Nazis added racism and anti-Semitism to the original fascist ideas. The Italian fascists were not interested in racism at first, but by the 1930s adopted a staunch white supremacist doctrine in Italian African colonies.[89] In the early 1930s, there were tensions between fascist Italy and Nazi Germany over the increasing possibility of an Austria-Germany merger (Anschluss), which would create a more powerful Greater Germany.

Italian fascism responded to Hitler's rise to power and need for alliance with Germany by increasingly adopting anti-Semitic rhetoric, and eventually anti-Semitic policies. In 1936, Mussolini made his first written denunciation of Jews by claiming that anti-Semitism had only arisen because Jews had become too predominant in the positions of power of countries, and he claimed that Jews were a "ferocious" tribe who sought to "totally banish" Christians from public life.[90] In 1937, Fascist party member Paolo Orano criticized the Zionist movement as being part of British foreign policy, which aimed to secure a British hold of the area without respecting the Christian and Muslim presence in Palestine. On the matter of Jewish Italians, Orano said that they "should concern themselves with nothing more than their religion" and not bother boasting of being patriotic Italians.[91]

As a result of anti-semitic laws introduced in 1938, the fascist regime lost its propaganda director, Margherita Sarfatti, who was Jewish and had been Mussolini's mistress. A minority of fascists were pleased with anti-Semitic policy, such as Roberto Farinacci, who claimed that Jews through intrigue had taken control key positions of finance, business and schools. He noted that Jews sympathized with Ethiopia during Italy's war with that country, and that Jews had sympathized with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.[92] In its alliance with Nazi Germany, the fascist regime aided the Nazis in the deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration camps, labour camps, and extermination camps during the Holocaust. Italy established its own concentration and internment camps across its held territories, but these camps were not like those of Nazi Germany, as families were allowed to stay together and there was no campaign of deliberate mass murder.[93]

Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who is often considered a fascist, remained neutral during World War II. Hitler had supported Franco in his rise to power during the Spanish Civil War, and Franco was sympathetic to the Axis, but he refused Hitler's pleas for military assistance.

Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism is a term used in political science to refer to an ideology or organization that aims to control every aspect of life. For technological reasons, totalitarianism became an issue only recently. Before the 20th century, communications were not fast enough to allow a central government to collect information on a large number of its citizens in real time, the mass media was not developed enough to allow the existence of all-pervasive propaganda, and weapons were not effective enough to allow a relatively small number of armed soldiers to control a much bigger unarmed population. In the 20th century those technological barriers fell, and totalitarian government became a possibility.

Many authors have argued that totalitarian governments existed in the 20th century, though there is disagreement on which governments were totalitarian and which ideologies created them. Nazism and Stalinism are the two ideologies most often considered to be totalitarian, and Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are the two people most often given as examples of totalitarian leaders. They both held absolute power in their countries and had personality cults built around them. They both used similar means - extreme forms of censorship, police state tactics, and mass murder. In the early 1920s, Joseph Goebbels and Otto Strasser regarded Stalinism as a Russian form of Nazism and wanted to form an alliance with the Soviet Union.[94] However, Hitler rejected their proposal at a Nazi Party meeting in February 1926. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union did form a mutually beneficial non-aggression pact just before the Second World War, but Germany later broke the agreement and invaded the Soviet Union.

Hannah Arendt, in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), was the first author to give a lengthy description of a form of government called "totalitarianism", and she asserted that the governments of Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union fell under this category. However, she believed that Fascist Italy had not been totalitarian, but merely a traditional form of dictatorship which did not submit the state to the party. Other authors, such as Karl Popper, included Fascist Italy in their list of totalitarian governments.

Eric Hoffer claims that mass movements like Communism, Fascism and Nazism had a common trait in picturing Western democracies and their values as decadent, with people "too soft, too pleasure-loving and too selfish" to sacrifice for a higher cause, which for them implies an inner moral and biological decay. He further argues that those movements offered the prospect of a glorious, yet imaginary, future to frustrated people, enabling them to find a refuge from the lack of personal accomplishments in their individual existence. Individual is then assimilated into a compact collective body and a "fact-proof screens from reality" are established.[95]

There is an ongoing debate on whether all fascist governments and Communist states can be considered totalitarian, or whether only some of them fit this description. It has been argued, for example, that the Soviet Union ceased to be totalitarian soon after Stalin's death. There are also critics of the notion of totalitarianism, who argue that the label "totalitarian" is too vague and tries to bring together governments that use similar methods but have little else in common. Primo Levi, for instance, argued that there was an important distinction between the policies of Nazi Germany and those of the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China: while they all had their idea of what kind of parasitic classes or races society ought to be rid of, and they all used similar means to dispose of them, Levi saw that they identified their targets by very different criteria. The Nazis assigned a place given by birth (since one is born into a certain race), while the Soviets and Chinese determined their enemies according to their social position (which people may change within their life). Therefore, in Levi's view, revolutionary communists would accept the son or daughter of a wealthy capitalist as a productive member of society if he agreed to change his original social position and oppose capitalism; but to the Nazis, one born a Jew will always remain a Jew, and he is a parasite who must be disposed of.[citation needed] However, according to Michel Foucault, in the 19th century the essentialist notion of the "race" was incorporated by racists, biologists, and eugenicists, who gave it the modern sense of "biological race" which was then integrated to "state racism". On the other hand, Marxists transformed the notions of the "race" and the "race struggle" into the concept of "class struggle."[96] The theme of social war provides overriding principle that connects the class struggle and the race struggle. For Foucault, these concepts are neither independently derived ideologies nor alternate persuasive views; their etymology is one and the same.[97]

See also

References

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  45. ^ Walter Laqueur, editor, Fascism - A Reader's Guide: Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, paperback (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978) pp. 20, 357.
  46. ^ Sternhell, Zeev, Mario Sznajder, Maia Ashéri. The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1994) p. 162.
  47. ^ "As We Go Marching" By John Thomas Flynn. page 49
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  49. ^ Mussolini, Benito. Four Speeches on the Corporate State: With an Appendix Including the Labour Charter, the Text of Laws on Syndical and Corporate Organisations and Explanatory notes (Laboremus, 1935) p. 16.
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  52. ^ Salvemini, Gaetano, Under the Axe of Fascism (READ BOOKS, 2006) p. 134.
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  56. ^ Walter Laqueur, editor, Fascism - A Reader's Guide: Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, paperback (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978) p. 140.
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  96. ^ In a letter to Friedrich Engels in 1882 Karl Marx wrote: You know very well where we found our idea of class struggle; we found it in the work of the French historians who talked about the race struggle. - quoted in Society Must be Defended by Michel Foucault (trans. David Macey), London: Allen Lane, Penguin Press (1976, 2003), p. 79
  97. ^ Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's "History of Sexuality" and the Colonial Order of Things , Duke University Press (1995), p.71

General bibliography

  • De Felice, Renzo Interpretations of Fascism, translated by Brenda Huff Everett, Cambridge ; London : Harvard University Press, 1977 ISBN 978-0-674-45962-5.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart. 1953. The United States and Italy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 978-0-299-14874-4
  • Eatwell, Roger. 1996. Fascism: A History. New York: Allen Lane.

Bibliography on Fascist ideology

  • De Felice, Renzo Fascism : an informal introduction to its theory and practice, an interview with Michael Ledeen, New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Books, 1976 ISBN 978-0-87855-190-3.
  • Laqueur, Walter. 1966. Fascism: Past, Present, Future, New York: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Griffin, Roger. 2000. "Revolution from the Right: Fascism," chapter in David Parker (ed.) Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West 1560-1991, Routledge, London.
  • Baker, David, "The political economy of fascism: Myth or reality, or myth and reality?" New Political Economy, Volume 11, Issue 2 June 2006 , pages 227 - 250
  • Schapiro, J. Salwyn. 1949. Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London: NLB/Atlantic Highlands Humanities Press.
  • Sternhell, Zeev with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri. [1989] 1994. The Birth of Fascist Ideology, From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution., Trans. David Maisei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Fritzsche, Peter. 1990. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505780-5
  • Gentile, Emilio. 2002. Fascismo. Storia ed interpretazione . Roma-Bari: Giuseppe Laterza & Figli.

Bibliography on international fascism

  • Coogan, Kevin. 1999. Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.
  • Griffin, Roger. 1991. The Nature of Fascism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Weber, Eugen. [1964] 1982. Varieties of Fascism: Doctrines of Revolution in the Twentieth Century, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, (Contains chapters on fascist movements in different countries.)

Further reading

External links


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