Isn't fascism a right wing ideology?

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Fascism is categorized by some as "right wing", because in Europe (historically), left and right isn't liberalism vs. conservatism, it often means individualism (left) vs. authoritarianism or collectivism (right). So by that definition, British and American Liberalism (Libertarianism) was considered left wing, and Fascism was right wing because it was authoritarian and collectivist (not individualist) - but that means Socialism and Communism are right wing well.

While in America, our terms reversed: individualists (libertarians, classical liberals, conservatives) tend to pool on the right, not the left, so the terms/meanings/roles are directly reversed. If Fascism is right wing in Europe, it's left wing in America (or they were using a different dimension to compare it on. The same way in America, Conservatism means go backwards: back when we had less government control, but in many European countries, conservatism can mean going back to when they had Monarchs and more authoritarian control. These terms don't translate as well as some people think.

What is fascism?

Main article: What is fascism?

Fascism (Nationalism+Socialism) is overloaded (and means different things to different people/groups), with a brutal history, so no one wants to be associated with it and both sides play, "I know you are, but what am I?". But fascism is more than an ad hominem attack: we can clarify conflicting meanings, and look at real history and motives, for those who value the truth more than their own agenda.


Overview

  • When Marx's Communism (revolutionary socialism) failed to deliver on it's promises, the far left ideologies started fracturing: and one branch was this hybrid Socialist system that believed in still allowing private business, as long as it was doing what the authoritarian state dictated. (High regulation, taxes, and central control).
  • They fundamentally believed that Socialism (state planning and control) lead to better organization, output, and was more advanced than western liberalism (individualism), this is often what their long speeches and ceremonies were about: the superiority of their beliefs in their collective, and attacking anyone outside it as inferior (whether based on nation, race, religion, or political beliefs, everyone else was inferior, and needed their wisdom forced upon them, for their own good). (This ties in with the Law of Jante).
  • Their symbol is a bundle of sticks tied together, often with an axe in the middle representing "all of us, are stronger than any of us" and collective power [1].
  • Fascisms roots, origins and leadership, all came from the left: Socialist, pro-worker, populist, secular-progressive intellectuals, haters of existing society (and especially of its most bourgeois aspects: "eat the rich"), nationalistic tendencies of anti-immigrant/anti-competition labor, and they frequently used pseudo-science to rationalize their quest for power (Eugenics, Gini Coefficient, belief in top-down command-economies being governed by a "brain trust", and so on).
  • National Socialism, was a branch of fascism that added in cultural components of Germany (the anti-semitism) and came specifically from a branch of socialism called National syndicalism. [2] (A syndicate is a group of workers/unions unifying an industry, and these groups of syndicates/unions came together to unite the nation). [3] The leadership and followers had branched off and became National Socialists German Workers' Party to better describe their philosophy of collective socialism and nationalistic purity. [4]
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  • Fascists despised the status quo and were not attracted by a return to bygone eras (e.g. the opposite of conservatism or right wing movements).
  • Those that call it a "right wing" movement are either intentionally misleading (by being pedantic in a way that they know will be taken wrong), or are blatantly ignorant of what the terms mean or the history of the movement[5].

The 3rd Position

Fascisms view of individuals and property rights:

  • Communism/Socialism is the idea that you have no property rights, (only the state does: e.g. everything is "communal"), and thus it is the states job to redistribute it's property (wealth) fairly amongst the people
  • Capitalism (in the extreme) is the idea that only individuals have property rights. You can pool those rights briefly with government or corporate agencies (and let them be stewards of that private property). But property as a concept, is reserved for individuals.
  • Fascism was the third position [6]: that business (and the individuals) could have property rights, but only as proxies for the state (if they were doing what the state decided was in the public/national good).

Thus everyone was part of the collective (and a ward of it). You could have corporations, businesses and private property, but only if they were putting the states interests first (as defined by the political class). Mussolini described it as a "merger of state and corporate power", over the individual (anti-libertarianism). (The same rhetoric and position as the Occupy Movement). Today we'd call it Crony Capitalism, or a regulatory state -- private business being the proxies of government, along with government subsidies to support them (Solar Power, Electric Cars, subsidies like that).

So capitalism is an individualist (libertarian) ideology, while Communism, Socialism and Fascism are all collectivist (authoritarian) ideologies.

Wikipedia Debate

I watched some great debates in Wikipedia on this topic (in the Talk section on Fascism), that covered all of this.

Some political historians were complaining that "right wing" completely deceived the American audience (since the terms were reversed/opposed), and it should be called out or clarified. It went back and forth, and this faction won the logical/historical argument for the U.S. audience. But once losing the logical/factual argument, the lefty-faction "won" by declaring that it was better to cater to the Euro-centric definition of left-right than the American-centric one, AND it would be a waste of space to clarify that for either audience. So they rejected/removed those edits... AND then purged the debate from the talk section AND then they purged/blocked the people that disagreed with them -- that way there would be no hope of balance/education leaking into the threads on fascism.

Thus ended my illusions that "anyone with a valid point" could contribute to wikipedia. All the correct points were made, and supported with facts and links, but it didn't fit the agenda, so bye-bye.

Theoretical Socialism

Now some will claim, "but theoretical Socialism/Communism is a left wing ideology". Which is sort of true. In theory, individuals vote on everything and get a say (thus it is individualist, and "left wing"). But theoretical socialism, only exists in theory. Since you can't vote on everything, you need to put a command-hierarchy (authority) in place, and practical socialism is authocratic and right wing, and there's no theoretical socialism in the real world.

In THEORY, socialism/communism (SoComs) is a revolutionary ideology where "the people" voluntarily give up everything they own (to the collective), and run government via direct democracy deciding everything (Occupy's consensus & hand signal model), thus it is the ultimate left-wing (people's) ideology. They see every other ideology as to the right of them; since "those other movements" are willing to compromise with private ownership (and businesses), install a hierarchy/bureaucracy, and create command economies to get things done, and use force to get what they want. Once they compromises, they're no longer "pure", thus they're on the fascist/progressive side of the spectrum.

In PRACTICE theoretical Socialism/Communism can't exist in the real world. Consensus for everything doesn't scale to a family let alone a country, so they create a command hierarchy. And since the producers demand unequal reward for unequal effort/talent, they either get better outcomes, or they leave or work less. So they need to be coerced (forced) to comply (taxed/regulated/law). That force requires a political class, hierarchy, and command structure. Poof. No more pure Socialism. Thus all THEORETICAL Socialisms either suffocate under their own weight, or they end up implementing a PRACTICAL socialist systems and they became fascist/progressives/autocrats they hate. So Fascism/Progressivism IS the practical implementation of Socialism/Communism, since pure Socialism (or Communism) can't exist beyond a small community, for a short amount of time.

Purists claim there are no failures of Socialism/Communism because it's never been tried in pure form -- ignoring that Socialism/Communism is one of the most tried systems of government out-there. The problem is that pure theoretical socialism can't exist, they collapse into practical forms (fascism), and then they say, "see: that doesn't count, because it's not pure".

Ironically, these same people flip when you talk about Capitalism. If you talk "invisible hand", they scream, "that's a fantasy that only exists in theory", and they won't talk about theory and want to talk only about the failings of practical capitalism (in caricature form: far worse than it actually is). If you talk about real-world Capitalist systems (like Hong Kong or Singapore), which are far closer to theory than any Socialist country has become, they change the topic. Whatever you do, you can't compare worst-to-worst or best-to-best, because both show Socialism to be worse.

NOTE: Socialists imaginary capitalism requires an oligarchy of monopolistic industrialists controlling us (crony capitalism). But they ignore that the consumer and employee can still choose to not buy or work there, whereas in socialism, those choices are removed. And that historically, the way industrialists got power was to encourage the rise of progressive government, then manipulate government into granting them things that gave them competitive advantages over their competition: e.g. it wasn't failures of capitalism, but of centralized government that was the problem.

Who says it's right wing?

What is interesting is that those that claim fascism is a right wing philosophy come in a few flavors:

  • (a) those who know nothing about the history/origins in all this
  • (b) polemics who know it is misleading to claim it is "right wing" (in the American context), but they don't care
  • (c) those who are sincere socialists and looking at the world from only their provincial/biased world view

None of those are really good options.

If we give the majority (in the media and history books) the benefit of the doubt, then we know they're biased/socialists: in order to sincerely believe their view, you must start by adopting the ideology of a theoretical socialist (thus everything is to right of them, or at least they're too ignorant to know better). Thus many deniers that Fascism is a left-wing ideology, are proving their own bias towards views of Socialism (that appeal to teens and ideologues).

But this gets pretty meta, so the less intelligent side wins, as they can usually stall or confuse the argument long enough for the masses to have their eyes glaze over, and forget the question. And if you point this out, they'll just claim you're attacking the messenger fallacy, instead of trying to look at the realistic options. So it's a wasted path in most discussions.

Other dimensions of Right/Left

Of course there are other, mostly less valid for this context, ways to look at political spectrums, and those too can muddle the left-right debate a bit. But they still lead to the same conclusion: the left is more fascist. Here's some:

  • Some measure left/right versus "Forward/Backward" direction of progress. Liberalism is hope and change, versus conservatism is return to our roots. Well, fascism was not a philosophy of "change back to what they had before". All the fascist rhetoric was for building something "new", making them a left wing (pro-change) philosophy -- using the same appeals to youth, creating some new, and sloganeering that's still popular amongst our left wing.

    Trends and direction matters. America started as a very non-authoritarian government, that moved more authoritarian over time, thus progressives in America are usually for more centralized control (federalism) and conservatives are more individualist. While Europe starts as completely authoritarian (autocratic monarchies), that moved more libertarian (individualist) over time -- thus their progressives are often more for decentralization (individualism), and their conservatives are for more authority/oppression. So the term progressive/conservative means almost exactly opposite things in the two political systems.

  • Nationalism/Imperialism versus globalism/Non-intervention is right/left. Only in the 1800's, and most of the 1900's, American progressivism was nationalistic and imperialistic (just like the fascists), and conservatism was isolationism in wars (and globalist in trade). Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson (Mexican-American, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Cuba, and many other lesser conflicts) -- they were all the nationalist/imperialists. It wasn't until Vietnam that the left moved on that one. And still, the left is perfectly happy being selectively nationalist or imperialist for the right cause (Bosnia, Kosovo, LIbya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, etc). Today, imperialism on the left is usually replaced with the idea of a super-state (the U.N.), which displaces nationalism with super-nationalism -- but with a similar ideology of tolerance by force, they just want super-nations to rule instead of individual nations. (Anything that reduces individual choice).
Remember Socialism is Nationalism at its core: National Socialism is almost redundant. Socialism (collectivism), is the idea that you create a group (collective/insiders) and protect them from the market forces of an unjust world. And by nature of that, that means there are outsiders (those not part of the community) that must be protected against. So us vs them is a prerequisite. The philosophy of "the collective", means the exclusions of those "not in the collective" -- collectivism is about exclusion.

Usually, they build these boundaries on culture/country and ideology -- but it's easy to see how that devolves into race, nation, or Trump supporters, with contempt for anyone that doesn't belong. Socialists are NOT fighting for the betterment of humanity, just those in their mean-Girls club -- which explains how they're not for free trade, and are isolationist and protectionist, even if knowing those policies hurt the poor in other nations.

Socialists will might against the 1%, but point out those making more than ≈$30K are the 1% globally and ask them if they willing to tax our poor at 90% and give it to the rest of the world, and they look at you like you're a leper asking for oral sex. They don't want to distribute more to those outside their clique/club, are you nuts? So whether nationalism is build on national borders, racial ones, or just the borders of their belief, Socialists are almost always exclusionary nationalists.
  • Religion/Secular spectrum: this one is fuzzier. In statism (Communism/Socialism) you can't have any religion above state-worship, so they tend to be more secular, and less religious. But it's not required. In the Middle East, Islamic theocratic socialism is more common (they are Islamic and Socialist). So while it's true that there's often less tolerance of dissent in Socialism, and this extends to religion, there's no clear rule. Whereas liberalism (individualism) tolerates religious liberty, some capitalist democracies have state religions (see UK, France, Italy, even Germany). So this isn't a clear differentiator of anything.

  • Enemy of my enemy: Some claim that since the Communist/Socialist fought the fascists, they must be different "wings", but that's silly. There are many factions on either side of the aisle, and they fight over the same voters even harder. Socialist factions fight especially hard because a fundamental tenet of socialism is telling others what to do, so you HAVE to agree with them. You're either with them, or a threat to their power consolidation. Fascists also attacked the conservative or the old establishments with even more gusto than the communists-- so to be accurate/consistent, if being against them, made them the opposite, then they were more anti-right-wing than they were anti-left wing.

Conclusion

Don't take my word for it, I list a lot of Hitler and Mussolini quotes below (or study Corrado Gini and his book).

  • Hilter/Nazi's felt they were people's workers party Socialists.
  • Mussolini described fascism as a, "merger of state and corporate power", a merging Socialism and Capitalism into something new/better than either.
  • Bernie Sanders uses a similar term as they did, with Democratic Socialism, without realizing that terms origins.

Some don't want to take the fascists word for what they thought of their own party and motives (and ignore their rhetoric, history, policy, and teachings). I think that's cherry picking to fit a political agenda. But fine, let's look to the Marxists/Communists, and what they thought of Fascism instead.

Leon Trotsky, one of the preeminent Marxists and contemporaries of that time, watched the whole fascist movement grow and succeed.

Trotsky wrote of what he thought of fascism[7].

  • He didn't think Primo de Rivera (and thus Franco) was a fascist, as he was a dictator brought to power through military coup (and an aristocrat), restoring older institutions. While Germany and Italy were organic workers movements creating something new in the name of the people, making fascism, socialism and communism three aspects of the same loose ideology (jockeying for power).
  • He thought the communists were the revolutionary party of hope and change, while the fascist was the revolutionary party of despair and change. (And socialists wanted change without revolution). But they were all appealing to the same voters, with similar promises of redemption, similar polices/values, with leaders coming from similar belief systems, and it turns out, willing to use the same methods to achieve their ends.
  • The primary differences were the purity tests of allowing private businesses versus none. But from a libertarian point of view, that's sort of a distinction without a difference: both were trying to cause mass uprisings, using the least educated worker-masses, in order to bring themselves to power, under the guise of helping the 99%. The fact that Communists wanted to abolish private companies and directly control them from a political class, and the fascists (and socialists) wanted to do so more by proxy (use the government to control the private businesses through taxes/regulation/laws), still leads to the same ends.

Fascist Quotes

Main article: Fascist Quotes
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These are a bunch of quotes from the worlds famous Fascists on what they thought about Socialism, Guns, or Social Justice -- just to remind people that they were left-wing activists, thought of themselves as Socialists, and had the same policies and ideologies as the progressive left does today.

Fascist Memes

Main article: Fascist Memes

Memes about Fascism


Written: 2013.10.19 Updated: 2015.12.25, 2017.05.06