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?

Fascism is overloaded (means different things to different people/groups), with a brutal history, so no one wants to be associated with it. Thus the side that it came from is going to do everything they can to obfuscate and pretend it came from "others". But fascism is more than an ad hominem attack: we can clarify conflicting meanings, and look at real history and motives. Just know that while some of us can handle the truth, reasonable intellectuals aren't usually found on internet forums or Facebook feeds. more...


Third 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 state's job to redistribute its 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 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 (a ward of the state). You could have corporations, businesses and private property, but only if they were putting the interests of the state 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. more...

What they were for and against


The tenets in common across fascist countries were:

  • a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of political elites
  • the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community” / , "we are the 99%") in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation
  • highly controlled (taxed/regulated) collaboration between the state and private businesses

They were against:

  • classical-liberalism (individual rights)
  • conservatism (the establishment and prior traditions/religions) and striving to create a regulated economic structure to transform social relations with a focus on youth and charismatic leadership.
  • slogans like, "Change you can believe in!", "Foreward", "Hope and change", "A political revolution is coming" would all fit well with their ideology and methods.

The only thing that doesn't fit modern western progressivism is militaristic nationalism, and that fit at the time. American progressives in this era were highly supportive of fascist ideology. However, since WWII, the term "fascism" fell out of vogue, progressives replaced national-militarism and racism with multinational-militarism and Social Justice Warrior programs (forced equality) as the premise for why they should have supreme national power. This is not a huge stretch -- instead of having a nations military forcing your agendas on others (national imperialism), you'd have a super-national organization (the U.N.), using the military force of many nations to force your agendas on others ("New World Order", etc). That's just replacing national-fascism with super-national fascism; a pretty subtle distinctions that doesn't require much of a philosophical shift at all.

History and it's origins

Key take-aways:

  • Fascism arose from the left (and with the support of the left), not the right (at least not in Italy and Germany)
  • all their founders were Socialists (or Marxists or Unionists): no famous Fascist came from the right wing
  • It was a branch of socialism / syndicalism (not a right wing philosophy) -- basically there were revolutionary socialists (Marxists), and evolutionary (incrementalist) Socialists (Fascists). The latter wanted Socialism, but felt in the short term, the better way to get there was to not destroy economies, but work with business to get to socialism: under the threat of nationalizing any business that didn't cooperate with their tax/regulation/federal oversight
  • Fascism had virtually no alignment with or support from conservatives or the right, at all. While the left supported fascism, and generally support it at their rallies, "first brown, then red": it was anti-Capitalist, anti-establishment, and anti-traditionalism movement, thus the left saw fascism as a progressive step towards their ultimate ideology of a more pure Socialism/Communism as it was a sibling revolutionary philosophy, headed in their direction.

Similarities to today include leftist movements such as Occupy or Black Lives Matter, which are the same kind of populist uprisings that the Socialists, Communist and Fascists all supported: a remaking of the country because of injustices. They may not be identical in cause, but they have many of the same supporters. Whereas these movements are in direct conflict/contradiction to right wing movements/philosophies, which are trying to move society to more moderation or traditional (past) systems/solutions. (not remake society into something new)

Even the rhetoric of Occupy is amazingly similar to historical fascists. I've joked that the only way you can tell the difference between the 30's fascists speech and todays occupy ones, was if they include the word Jewish when they scapegoat the 1% as, "rich Jewish bankers, media magnates, and industrialists that controlled the system and oppressed the workers". But even back then, Italian fascists didn't have the anti-semitic streak that the Germans had (making distinction harder), but they weren't as anti-business/corporate either. The solutions in common is always a new authoritarian government (controlled by the people, this time) to fix things -- and pick winning and losing sectors (some deserve subsidies, others penalties), all in the name of the greater good (think "Green Energy and Solar Subsidies).

Progressives of today, even use the "Gini Coefficient" (an arbitrary measure of rich-to-poor income inequality, as if they know what that ratio should be, and non-compliance to their construct is a known problem) to proclaim why we need their authoritarian guidance, while they completely fail to recognize that this ratio was created by Corrado Gini -- the guy who literally wrote the book, "The Scientific Basis of Fascism", which was the pseudo-science justification used by both Hitter and Mussolini as economic justification for their policies.

NOTE: Antisemitism was a German thing (not in Italian or other fascism) -- but again, it stemmed from German Socialism. Socialism is about workers uniting and being part of the club. Germans formalized this with paramilitary like organization, and a hierarchy, salutes, symbols, pins, greetings (signals) and ways of showing you were an socialist insider (Nazi's borrowed these from the Socialists they stemmed from). Having a secure Socialist job was a status symbol (making you more desirable mate/provider/etc). And for there to be secure insiders (Unions/Trades), others had to be outsiders that had unsecured jobs subject to market forces (Capitalism), made worse by the protected parts of the economy (for some to get more, others must get less). Thus the socialists (unions) both excluded Jews and drove the Jews outside of these Trade Unions and Socialism Clubs, and then resented them for not being part of the clubs and being beyond their sphere of influence. Antisemitic resentment was really the same thing as anti-capitalist resentment (and vise versa), "you do things like are the merchants, traders, bankers, insurance men, etc". That Socialists dropped the anti-Jewish sentiment doesn't change much, because they use the same invectives and disdain in their Anti-Capitalistic rhetoric, they've just broadened the terminology to include all the non-Jewish bankers, merchants, and investors as well.

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.

Is Socialism left-wing or right-wing?
Some will claim, "Socialism/Communism is a left wing ideology". Which is sort of true, in theory (it is egalitarian). In practice, it is right wing (authoritarian).
  • Assuming left-right on the individual/authoritarian dimension, in theoretical socialism, 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, people only vote on their leaders and they decide everything: so it is autocratic and right wing.
  • Another dimension is that left wing ideologies support using government power to fight against inequality or accept natural order (and accept that inequality is unavoidable). Theoretical Socialism rises to power promising to fix income, racial, gender or class inequality (left wing). But the only way to combat inequality with the government is by making things less equal/fair and granting special privilege or punishments based on which groups/individuals the public or political class favors at the time. There's a truism that no American leftist supports Socialism expecting to become a farm worker, they all expect to become part of the ruling/political class. Practical Socialism replaces a semi-merit (or luck) based natural-order system, with an artificial political order system -- and they end up more classist than before, just status is granted based on political connections instead of money/business ones. That's right-wing authoritarianism.

Anyone that thinks Socialism is left wing (egalitarian) is a rube or someone that is thinking only of the theory, and not of every attempt at application. more...

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.

Political Spectrum
There's confusion over what is left or right wing, and it means different and often opposing things in the U.S. versus the rest of the world. So if anyone says, left or right wing, I want to know, on which spectrum are they talking about:
    • Authoritarian/Liberal/Anarchist : traditionally authoritarian means right-wing. In the U.S. left-wing authoritarianism is far more common than right.
    • Collectivist/Moderate/Individualist : traditionally individualism is left-wing, while in the U.S. it is right-wing.
    • Progressive (Postmodernist)/Moderate (Modernist)/Traditionalist: traditionally this didn't map to left or right, in the U.S. it's mostly progressive left and traditional right.
    • Tribalist/Nationalist/Globalist: traditionally this didn't map to left or right, in the U.S. the right still has all three while the left purged most non-globalists from their ranks.
    • Isolationist(Pacifist)/Moderate/Interventionist(Militarist) : traditionally this didn't map left/right. While the left pretends they are the isolationist/pacifist, in practice, they've been as bad or worse.
    • Secular/Agnostic/Religious: traditionally this didn't map left/right. In the U.S. the left has purged more of their religious from their leadership, leaving more diversity on the right.
    • Social Justice/Realist/Hedonist: traditionally this didn't map left/right. In the U.S, the left thinks they're about Social Justice and the others are just selfish, but it's really just arrogance, myopia and hypocrisy. How is stealing from and controlling others not hedonistic? Both sides want to help the downtrodden: the right by equality opportunity (and more of it), the left by equality of outcome (punishing success and rewarding failure). While the left vilifies the right as greedy, the right gives more to charity, and in the U.S. most crime is by leftists in leftist cities/regions.


Fasism on that spectrum

When you look at fascim on the different dimensions you see"

  • Authoritarian/Liberal/Anarchist: fascism is extremely authoritarian. More like the left than the right in the USA.
  • Collectivist/Moderate/Individualist : fascism is very collectivist and was anti-Individualist. More like the left than the right in the USA.
  • Progressive (Postmodernist)/Moderate (Modernist)/Traditionalist: fascism was progressive and not a philosophy of "change back to what they had before". All the fascist rhetoric was for building something "new", using the same appeals to youth, creating some new, and sloganeering that's still popular amongst our left wing. Far more like the left than the right in the USA.
    • 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 (and left/right) can mean opposite things across on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
  • Tribalist/Nationalist/Globalist: fascism was globalist (not really nationalist), though they used jingosim and appeals to nationalism to motivate their countries into making everyone else more like them, by force. This is far more like the left than the right in the USA.
  • Isolationist(Pacifist)/Moderate/Interventionist(Militarist) : the facists were extremely militarist. While some claim that's "right wing" in gloabl terminology, in American terminology, most wars were started by our left. And both sides have hawks and doves -- they just come out for different reasons.
  • Religious/Agnostic/Secular: traditionally this didn't map left/right as both had a spectrum. Intolerance towards religion is stronger on the progressive left, and tolerance towards prayer and stuff is stronger with the right (in USA). And the fascists were more tolerant of religion than the Communists and some Socialists are. So in this muddled dimension, there's some implication that the fascists were more right wing.
  • Social Justice/Realist/Hedonist: Both sides want to help the downtrodden: the right by equality of opportunity, the left by force and equality of outcome. The fascists were all about central control and force -- they just say their working classes as the ones that needed to be protected from evil Jewish bankers and the like, and rationalized anything they did for that cause. The only difference is that back then the German (Nazi's) saw the white working class as the downtrodden, and today the left sometimes see the Jews as the downtrodden: but the idea of using the state to bully for thier favorite victimhood group hasn't changed much at all. A lot like Occupy rationalizes vandalism, harassment and violence for their cause. As does Black lives matter, Antifa, and other leftist movements. So it's pretty weak gruel to make the entire political spectrum about that one minor point and then ignore all the ways it doesn't hold up.

There are other ways to look at political spectrums, and those too can muddle the left-right debate a bit. But in most dimensions, the American left is far closer to fascism than the American right. Which is why they get so angry when you point out History, or try to discuss the facts -- their only defense is distraction or re-defining history of language to protect themselves. Thus the truth (and those that preach it) are their enemy. So the become indignant, irrational and emotional if you start trying to decompose their arguments, or want to write articles like this to really look at History or what the terms mean.


📚 References


3rd Position:

Fascist Quotes

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, they thought of themselves as Socialists, and they had similar policies and ideologies as the progressive left in America.

  • " Title: Chief editor for Avanti, the most powerful Socialist paper in Italy " ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative." ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " Democracy is a kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive, tyrannical and destructive than one, even if he be a tyrant." ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity." ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " [fascism is a] merger of state and corporate power " ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty" ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " 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 " ~ Benito Mussolini
  • " We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions." " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " National Socialism is the determination to create a new man. There will no longer exist any individual arbitrary will, nor realms in which the individual belongs to himself. The time of happiness as a private matter is over " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " [My task is to] “convert the German volk (people) to socialism" " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " I have learned a great deal from Marxism … as I do not hesitate to admit " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish we shall be in a position to achieve. " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " We must “find and travel the road from individualism to socialism without revolution " ~ Adolf Hitler
  • " While not a quote, "Forward" has long been a term used by unions and socialist/left leaning orgs (and now by the President) as their slogan. Again, this is the opposite of conservatism, which they play as "Backward" (towards tradition). " ~ Obama Campaign Slogan
  • " Unity in faith is theocracy; unity in politics is fascism. " ~ Maajid Nawaz
  • " Fascism was a counter-revolution against a revolution that never took place. " ~ Ignazio Silone
  • " A revolution without firing squads is meaningless. " ~ Vladimir Lenin


Written: 2013.10.19 Updated: 2015.12.25, 2017.05.06, 2019.06.06