A Revisionist "History Lesson"

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Andrew Sullivan links to this blog post by science fiction writer John Scalzi as a "history lesson" for Jonah Goldberg. Now I haven't read Jonah's book, and I'll abide by Ross Douthat's wise council to refrain from commenting until I have, but Scalzi's "history lesson" amounts to, it seems, a few minutes of googling to determine that Benito Mussolini was "happily right-wing and not a socialist." Scalzi quotes Mussolini declaring Italian fascism as a movement of the right ("We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century") and concludes, therefore, that fascism was "anti-socialist and right-wing." Well, no. Italian fascism is a complicated animal, as evidenced from the hundreds of books attempting to define it. Scalzi could have just as easily proved that Mussolini's movement was distinctly left-wing by quoting another passage in Dottrina del fascismo: "This is the century of the collective, and hence the century of the state."

Rather than googling "Mussolini" and "right-wing," Scalzi might want to consult the works of UC Berkeley professor A. James Gregor, the preeminent American scholar of Italian fascism. As Gregor ably demonstrates, the Marxist critique of fascism, which argued that its opponents were "bourgeois" and, by its own definition, creatures of the right, has long obscured the movement's left-leaning ideology and radical socialist origins. "Italian fascism was more anti-Leninist," Gregor observers in Faces of Janus (Yale University Press, 2000), "in its insistent anti-nationalism, than it was specifically anti-Marxist."

Indeed, the document linked by Scalzi was ghostwritten by fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, a neo-Hegelian intellectual schooled in Marxism and, according to Gregor, who wrote a biography of Gentile, a man whose writings "won the admiration of Lenin himself." This is hardly surprising, as Italian fascism's roots are a mishmash of left-wing ideology (socialism and Marxism) and right-wing nationalism (Futurism). Gregor convincingly argues that "fascism's most direct ideological inspiration came from the collateral influence of Italy's most radical "subversives"-the Marxists of revolutionary syndicalism."

After a New Economic Policy-like period of laissez-faire economics (the market-based economics of the 1920s Italy, historian Stanley Payne writes, was "considered by radical Fascists but a transitory phase"), Italian fascism shifted to corporativism by 1933, which required, Mussolini proclaimed, the "complete and organic and totalitarian regulation of production with a view to the expansion of the wealth, political power and well-being of the Italian people." This wasn't, it should be mentioned, limited to Italian fascism (I previously wrote about the German variation of corporativism and the Nazi welfare state here). Indeed, Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, argued that real "economic freedom" could only be produced under a fascist government, and that "real freedom means good wages, short hours, security in employment, good houses, opportunity for leisure and recreation with family and friends." In other words, garden variety socialism.

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  1. Similarly: Ron Paul had some racist comments in his newsletters, and Adolf Hitler was a racist — proving the connection between Libertarianism and Fascism.

    That’d make a fun book. But no one’s scared enough of Libertarians to write it.

  2. So if we pretend that only socialists support a strong state, we can define all philosophies that support a strong state to be socialist.

    Brilliant. Sadly, none of the founders of fascism, who can be said to know a thing or two about it, considered a strong state to be inherently socialist, and based their appeal (as Mussolini’s quote makes clear) on their ability to create a strong state that isn’t socialist.

  3. obligatory julius evola recommendation here.

    if nothing else he’s like the transcendental statist.

  4. He even misrepresents what Scalzi slaps down Goldberg for:

    Goldberg claimed that “the only reason Mussolini was considered a fascist was because he supported World War One.”

    As Scalzi points out, Mussolini was considered a fascist because he called himself a fascist, founded the Italian Fascist Party, adopted the Fascii as that party’s logo, and articulated a philosophy he called “fascism.”

  5. Until you guys start calling Soviet Communists ‘hammer and sickleists’, Democrats ‘donkeyists’, Republicans ‘elephantians’, Maoists ‘starrists’, STOP calling National Socialists ‘fascists’.

  6. FWIW, Sheri Berman’s “The Primacy of Politics” is a really excellent short treatment of the tangled skein of far-right and far-left ideologies of the early 20th century.

  7. Interestingly enough, Mr. Goldberg’s position on why the Italian National Socialists were first tarred as the Right, by the Marxists, was for supporting WWI. He said so in his own words on C-SPAN2 while talking about this book.

    Look up his Abe Lincoln/Harry Anderson axe story too.

  8. I’m just going to say I agree with this political compass more than any other.

    Its not about right and left. One one axis, there is “rationalism” or the belief of a person that human society can be perfected. On the other axis is the attitude towards the state.

    Note that all mainstream ideologies in western countries are very close. We aren’t as far apart as our leaders sometimes make us seem in what we believe.

    Now, back to the stupid left/right shouting match.

  9. Joe,
    Scalzi is right on his first point about Goldberg, as Goldberg himself apparently acknowledged. I am addressing the second part of his post only; that is not “misrepresentation.” (Need I really explain that?) As for Mussolini being a man of the right, I recommend Stanley Payne’s “Fascism: Comparison and Definition,” all of Gregor’s books and Zeev Sternhell…though I won’t hold by breath that you will actually engage the (abridged) point that I made above.

  10. Interestingly enough, Mr. Goldberg’s position on stated why the Italian National Socialists were first tarred as the Right, by the Marxists, was for supporting WWI. He said so in his own words on C-SPAN2 while talking about this book.

    Fixed that. Plus, there is a well documented history of any Socialist movement that stoped taking it’s direction from Moscow being “cast out” and called “fascist” for no longer being International Socialists, which Mr. Goldberg went over too.

  11. One major difference between Fascism and Socialism lays in the conception of what factors grant the moral authority for any individual to join the ruling elite. This in turn determines which version of collectivism any particular individual gravitates to.

    In socialism, the right to rule is based on having a specialized education in socialist theory. In Fascism, the right to rule is based on a vague linkage with the national spirit. Clearly, socialism appeals to those with intellectual pretensions and fascism appeals to those without those pretensions.

    I think most socialist are so keen to distance themselves from fascism because they fear its vision of a society in which intellectuals play no special role. Certainly, history has shown that it is not brutality of fascism that they have problems with since they eagerly embrace Leftist-socialist regimes every bit as nasty.

  12. Communism is 18th century Enlightenment rationalism taken to its logical extreme.

    Fascism/Nazism is 19th century nationalism, romanticism, and racism taken to its logical extreme.

    Neither result is very pretty, but don’t pretend they’re the same thing.

  13. So there were seemingly contradictory interests with a common goal of controlling people’s lives led to fascism? That sounds vaguely familiar.

  14. Here is some modern history:

    tReason and STATO, the “cosmotarian” cocktail and cocaine party policy wonk crowd, team up with the bigots on both sides to throw the Paleos, and Ron Paul, under the bus. Pretty nice of STATO to help out neoliberal warmonger James Kirchick, wouldn’t you say?

  15. To pretend that this is anything but “I want to bash Team X” is missing the whole point.

  16. Cesar,
    They are most certainly not the same thing, which is why I specified that they are a mishmash of right and left. But to say that Italian fascism was simply “right-wing”, as Scalzi did, is simply incorrect.

  17. I reiterate joe’s posts. It sure takes a lot of print to explain why Italy’s corporatist fascists of yesteryear were actually “garden variety socialists.” And it ultimately doesn’t persuade very many people.

    Was Franco a closet leftist too I suppose? BTW: I find the trend of right wing historical revision to be truly disgusting. From Christian fundamentalists arguing that Hitler was an atheist, to these articles arguing that right wing dictators were actually left wing dictators, it’s all rather lame.

  18. Michael-

    If you leave aside for the moment the fact that the right-left spectrum is broken, then take the right-left spectrum literally–as in, what side would Mussolini have been on in the French Revolution–theres little doubt he would have been with King and Church.

  19. So if we pretend that only socialists support a strong state, we can define all philosophies that support a strong state to be socialist.

    The central philosophy of socialism is collectivism — that what counts is the group interest, not individual interests. A strong state, one where a great deal of taxes are extracted from individuals and used for collective interests, appears to almost almost always result in varying degrees of socialism.

    The only counter-example I can think of would be a society where individuals voluntarily contributed a great deal and time and money to a state or state-like entity, and little or no confiscatory taxation was levied. The Mormon church, which is a state-like entity with its own courts and other government-like functions, and which collects a lot of tithing, but all voluntarily, springs to mind. Any other examples?

    Italian fascism did not rely on voluntary support, and relied heavily on collectivism, so I would define it as socialist.

  20. Not for nothing, Shannon, but I too fear the dethronement of the intellect as a guiding force in favor of some crass nationalism. Sure, the institutionalization of the educational elite (the “Ivory Tower”) has its own problems, but historically-informed and theory-informed well-studied opinions are valuable in a way that anti-intellectual populism cannot be.

  21. Just to note, whether Fascism is classified with the Left or the Right really isn’t the issue. It’s really just a matter of marketing. We fought a massive overt war against fascism and occupied their death camps. By contrast, we fought a cold war with communism and most of death camps remained politely out of sight. People fear being associated with fascism more than with socialism even though both have an equally grim record, no matter how one classifies.

    The real division lays between those who believe that the violent coercion of the state can solve most problems and those who seek non-violent solutions. Fascist and socialist alike see the power of the state to kill as the means to fine control the behavior of individuals and groups to reach some imagined preferred state. As they fail, they must inject more and more violence into society in a vain attempt to reach their goals.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter how they start out. They all end in death and destruction because of their faith in the role of violence in human affairs.

  22. There is a point of commonality between fascism and communism (though not socialism), in that the former looked towards the latter’s theories about how to conduct a revolution. Mussolini certainly got the idea of “fighting leagues” from the Commlunists.

    But that just demonstrates that fascism and communism are both revolutionary philosophies, not that they are the same.

  23. Lamar,
    The only point you addressed in my post, you got wrong. The garden variety socialism was referring to Mosley, not Mussolini. The Italian fascists, as I said, were a “mishmash of ideologies left and right.” The argument I made was that Italian fascism was not exclusively “right wing,” as Scalzi argued.

  24. “He even misrepresents what Scalzi slaps down Goldberg for”

    Paragraphs spent slapping down Goldberg for “the only reason” comment: 2.

    Paragraphs spent discussing what Moynihan disputes: 7.

    Points to joe for reading the whole article, and comprehending what was in it: 0.

  25. prolefeed, the modern Catholic church also qualifies in a similar way to the LDS.

  26. “Fascism/Nazism is 19th century nationalism, romanticism, and racism taken to its logical extreme.”

    Yes Fascism was a romantic movement at its heart. Marxist Communism was anything but that. Marxism had no use for indingenous cultures. It claimed that the scientific and the rational examination of history. Marxism was “science” and was anything but relativistic. When modern liberals do things like embrace environmentalism at the expense of human exceptionalism and espouse the multicultural view that all cutures are equal and none morally superior to the other, they are embracing romantic notions and when taken to their extreme fascist ones, not leftist ones.

  27. Elemenope,

    … historically-informed and theory-informed well-studied opinions are valuable in a way that anti-intellectual populism cannot be.

    Like say, Marxism? Freudism? A lot of hicks rejected Marxism because of its atheism and got morally offended at the idea that they wanted to have sex with their parents. Who turned out to have made the better choices in the end, the hicks or the intellectuals?

  28. “Mussolini have been on in the French Revolution–theres little doubt he would have been with King and Church.”

    Mussolini and Hitler both hated the Catholic Church, which is covered in Mr. Goldberg’s book.

  29. Until you guys start calling Soviet Communists ‘hammer and sickleists’, Democrats ‘donkeyists’, Republicans ‘elephantians’, Maoists ‘starrists’, STOP calling National Socialists ‘fascists’.

    Hey man, I’m not the one who changed the common usage. I personally wish I could say “I’m excellent at discrimination” without people thinking I was a KKK member, but sadly, words change…

  30. prolfeed,

    You’ve demonstrated that fascism is a collectivist ideology, but you still have a step to go – you need to demonstrate that socialism and fascism are the same collectivist philosophy.

    You define collectivism well here: The central philosophy of socialism is collectivism — that what counts is the group interest, not individual interests.

    So if we acknowledge that the centrality of the group is central, wouldn’t distinctions in how that group is defined be important?

    Fascists believed that national or racial identity bound people of different economic classes into a collective, and that struggles between these national or racial groups are the driving force of history. Ideas about class solidarity binding people of different nations or groups together were dismissed, by fascists, as falsehoods intended to destroy the natural solidarity of the nation.

    Socialists believed that economic class bound people of different nations into a collective, and that struggles between these economic groups are the driving force of history. They dismissed ideas about national and racial identity binding people of different classes together as falsehoods intended to destroy the natural solidarity of the nation or state.

    There is, surely, an individual-collective axis in politics, but it is a different axis from left-right.

  31. Elemenope — agreed. Protestantism I wouldn’t classify as a strong state-like entity, since there is no central authority and each sect operates by their own rules, with many little independent churches operating on their own.

    Any non-church, non-coercive strong state-like entities anyone can think of?

  32. I read the article last night, Josh.

    Why do you think I’m able to put together a substantive commentary on it, and you’re not?

  33. Mussolini and Hitler both hated the Catholic Church, which is covered in Mr. Goldberg’s book.

    Only so much as it served as an alternative source of influence and power. Thats unacceptable to anyone seeking to create a “total state”.

    Again, the left/right spectrum is broken when you enter the 20th Century, and I don’t know why its still given so much use.

    John-

    Thats right, and thats why the “American counter-culture” is “irrational” according to the Pournelle chart.

  34. John is quite right. For the yammering we hear about “watermelons,” environmentalism’s roots come from precisely the opposite antecendents of Marxism.

    Seriously, deep ecologists as critics of “the idiocy of rural life?”

  35. joe,

    The parallels between communism and fascism exist because one had to do certain things to acquire unrestricted power in modern Europe. You had to gain the favor of the working classes, you had to promise to take our everybody, you had to create an outgroup to hate, you had to control media and speech, you had to control the economy, you had to create a police state, you had to create a large military.

    Theory and rhetoric counted for nothing. Once a group of people believed in the power of violence and that they and only they understood what needed to be done, the parameters for the eventual state where set a firmly as if they had been engineered.

    One can quibble about how similar the rhetoric and theory of fascism and socialism are but they both share a passionate belief in the utility of violence. As a result, all socialism will eventually evolve into a brutal, totalitarian state if left free to do so.

  36. Shorter Josh:

    Yeah, well, what about all the parts Moynihan didn’t represent? Huh, smart guy? Why don’t we ever hear about them?

  37. From the ‘arguments’ here, one could exclude the Italian National Socialists from being ‘fascists’ for their protection of their Jews all the way until the Germans occupied Italy after Mussolini was voted out and jailed.

  38. Guy-

    Fascism != National Socialism. The latter is a more extreme, vicious form of the former.

  39. Shannon,

    Very well put! I agree completely.

    My comments are about the philosophical roots of fascism and socialism, not their behavior once they became extant political movements.

  40. Shannon seems to have done the best job of summarizing what’s at issue here. I note that no one cares to engage her comments.

    Communism v. Fascism – about the only real difference is what the power-crazed megalomaniacs thought would make the better marketing wrap on their campaign for the Total State with themselves at the head.

    These hairsplitting arguments about how this collectivist mass murderer differed from that one are frankly quite uninteresting to anyone who isn’t invested, at some level, in supporting one of the collectivist mass murderers.

    The fact that fundamentally collectivist ideologies with similar goals – the creation of a totalitarian state – should steal freely from one another should come as no shock. Yet we see those who are unwilling to accept that the differences between fascist and communist movements are, at the end of the day, more cosmetic than substantive. The roots of this unwillingness, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

  41. You’ve demonstrated that fascism is a collectivist ideology, but you still have a step to go – you need to demonstrate that socialism and fascism are the same collectivist philosophy.

    joe, I’m not arguing that socialism and fascism are the exact same thing. Rather, I’m arguing that Italian fascism is essentially a subset of socialism, with elements of some other abhorrent philosophies mixed in, such as corporatism and racism.

    Basically, much of this stuff is splitting hairs, with the object of leftist intellectuals to try to distance socialism from fascism, and argue that they’re entirely different beasts, to avoid being tarred with the repellent image of Nazism.

    But the reality is that socialism carried to its extreme has, historically, always resulted in mass misery. Leftists would have us believe that THIS TIME it’ll be different, that we can keep building a more and more collectivist state and not go off the tracks so long as we keep the RIGHT PEOPLE in power.

    But, sooner or later, the wrong people seize power. A viable system has to be able to deal with bad people in power — should anticipate that asshats will periodically seize power, and be defensive oriented to prevent too much damage, and minarchy is what limits the damage the most.

  42. Fair enough. I see my mistake. My point still stands:

    Generally, corporatism is considered a right wing ideology. Fascist Italy’s main ideology was corporatism by 1933. Therefore, Italy’s main ideology was right wing. Let’s not forget that right wing is just a crude handle.

    I think the “garden variety socialist” line was incorrect as well. You say that “real freedom means good wages, short hours, security in employment, good houses, opportunity for leisure and recreation with family and friends” is equivalent to “garden variety socialism.”

    Call me crazy, but I say that these things are the most powerful arguments for free markets.

  43. Chris,

    tReason? STATO? Wow, did you think those up all by yourself.

    I’m off to a new thread, Chris, you’re way too clever for me…

  44. Please pretend I did not bold that.

  45. From the ‘arguments’ here, one could exclude the Italian National Socialists from being ‘fascists’ for their protection of their Jews all the way until the Germans occupied Italy after Mussolini was voted out and jailed.

    Only if you define the racist/nationalist aspects of fascism strictly as anti-semitism. Mussolini certainly incorporated pro-Italian nationalist ideas into his philosophy, including the idea that the Italin People had the right to be a ruling people over the other peoples of the Mediterranean region.

  46. But that just demonstrates that fascism and communism are both revolutionary philosophies, not that they are the same.

    Both Fascism and Socialists believe the state should control the means of production. Both Fascists and Socialists believe in the welfare state. This is undeniable.

    Fascism != Socialists, I agree… but both are collectivists and authoritarians. They are not conflicting theories of economics or state, they essentially agree on the role of government. Fascism and Socialism are conflicting theories of statism… the differences between Fascism and Socialism are what the goals of totalitarian government should be, or how leaders of a totalitarian government are selected, but neither are opposed to totalitarian government.

    So the differences between Fascism and Socialism are very very important to Fascists and Socialists… not so important to people who don’t fall in either category. Kind of like how Catholicism and Protestantism are seen as widely different to Catholics and Protestants, but not so different to Muslims or Athiests.

  47. Facism was in many ways simply a form of Right-wing populism and you can see the true roots of the movement(which at the beginning had semi-socialist ideas) in the fact that the Facist rise to power in Italy was welcomed by the conservative business elites because they were afraid of a Marxist revolution, Facists in fact spent much of their early days in office mounting attacks on socialist party headquarters and in violence against Communists. While facism is not a pure form of socialism or communism, it is highly dubious to call it a left-wing movement.

  48. Cesar,

    WTF? NO, National Socialism IS Fascism. International Socialism IS Communism.

    The rest of you, try going to C-SPAN2 and watching Mr. Goldberg’s talk at the Heritage Foundation to see what he says about his book.

  49. Any non-church, non-coercive strong state-like entities anyone can think of?

    Any entity that is not coercive is not particularly state-like. At the most basic level, at state’s job is to make people do something (or in the case of enforcing laws, not do certain things) by some means.

  50. “Both Fascism and Socialists believe the state should control the means of production.”

    I thought the communists controlled the means of production while the fascists regulated the means of production. Big diff.

  51. Hitler and Mussolini were both politically successful because they told people what they wanted to hear, which included elements of a socialist message (among much else). It’s usually considered foolish to assume that because a politician said something, he meant it; and that because two ideas have been bundled together, the one entails the other; or that the resemblance of one statement today to one from a hundred years ago means that the two statements are identical in their meaning. Why this advice is so seldom followed when applied to people we don’t like, I can only wonder.

  52. For Chrissakes all you have to do is say Heritage Foundation and Jonah Goldberg and any idea that a credible argument is going to issue forth is preposterous!

  53. In the case of a church, its coercion would be “do this or go to hell”.

    Point being, if you don’t impose something on people and enforce it, you aren’t a state or state-like.

  54. fascists are just socialist whom aren’t kidding themselves. They quickly learned what it actually takes for state dominance and organized themselves in a nationalistic way to make it easier.

    Max eastman, lenin’s friend, called stalinism superfascism. ALL fascists start as socialist.

    It might be paleolib, but hasnt anyone read ‘road to serfdom’. Instead of talking about it 60 years hence, we might want to look what people said in that time period.

  55. One of the important attributes of Facismo is Nationalism, look at the decendents of the Italian Facist party, it is a right wing party.

  56. WTF? NO, National Socialism IS Fascism. International Socialism IS Communism.

    Guy, conflating Fascism with National Socialism is like conflating Pat Robertson with Osama bin Laden. Yeah, they’re similar in some ways, but one is clearly more extreme, vicious, and violent than the other.

    Socialism isn’t Communism, either. Theres a big difference between a Social Democrat and a Stalinist. Its a matter of degree.

  57. “A more obscure strand of right wing thought, often associated with the original right wing from the times of monarchy, supports the preservation of wealth and power in the hands that have traditionally held them, social stability, and national solidarity and ambition.”

    Mussolini, no?

  58. James Gregor is the best professor ever.

  59. “Scalzi could have just as easily proved that Mussolini’s movement was distinctly left-wing by quoting another passage in Dottrina del fascismo: ‘This is the century of the collective, and hence the century of the state.'”

    Well, no. That proves that Mussolini’s movement was collectivist and statist, neither of which is inherently left-wing. That’s you presenting your own interpretation there, even if it is clearly a locally popular interpretation.

    On the other hand, Mussolini declaring his movement to be a “right” movement rather explicitly shows the intent of the founder, in terms of how Fascism was to function and be viewed.

    And directly to the point, contrary to Mr. Goldberg’s quote to which I was responding, Mussolini wasn’t “only” called right wing because he opposed WWI. He was called right wing because he himself declared Fascism to be so, and he was its founder.

    You can argue whether Fascism was “really” right or left in the final reduction, if you like (I think it is, although enthusiastically grant that boiling down everything to “right” and “left” is wildly simplistic), but Mussolini himself thought it was, and in his role has the leader of the Fascists, certainly saw himself so as well. So Mr. Goldberg’s assertion as to why Mussolini was seen as right wing is easily refuted.

  60. Can we skip the whole left versus right BS? My daughter was given a school assignment to say whether Jefferson and Hamilton were conservative and liberal. I walked her through how the phrase “conservative” in 2008 means nearly the opposite of what it meant pre-WWII, and how “liberal” does mean the exact opposite of what it meant in the 1800s. Then, I pointed out that Jefferson worked to eliminate internal taxation, which would be anathema to modern liberals and conservatives alike despite their rhetoric, and that both Jefferson and Hamilton would probably challenge someone to a duel who sullied their good name by associating them with modern liberals and conservatives, and that they were in fact both libertarian minarchists.

    My daughter dutifully wrote all that down. I hope she doesn’t get flunked by her liberal Democratic teacher for derailing her attempt to pigeonhole Jefferson and Hamilton.

  61. Errr, conservative OR liberal.

  62. Basically, much of this stuff is splitting hairs, with the object of leftist intellectuals to try to distance socialism from fascism, and argue that they’re entirely different beasts, to avoid being tarred with the repellent image of Nazism.

    The real arguement should be if Socialism is or isn’t a form of totalitarianism. Leftists like to say “Socialism isn’t totalitarianism, because while the state does have absolute authority over the economy, education, family, etc., there will be elections every few years under socialism”… or they want to say “Socialism isn’t totalitarianism, because when we give the state absolute power it is on behalf of the people”.

    Socialism is totalitarianism though. Maybe not the liberal form of “Socialism” of say Sweden, but then again Sweden is rated in the top 20 most free-market economies of the world… if one of the most extremly free market countries of the world, one with a lower corporate tax than the United States and one that is privitizing its old-age pension system, one that is home to many highly successful multi-national corporations, is somehow the epitome of successful “Socialism”, then I would say that socialism is dead as anything more than a slogan.

    But *REAL* socialism is a form of totalitarianism.

  63. You can’t say using the right-left spectrum, but you can say that Jefferson was am irrational anti-statist (all the romanticization of the countryside, his support for the French Revolution and so forth), Hamilton a rational statist.

  64. It should be noted that there is a long running argument amongst socialists as to what the primary attributes of socialism are.

  65. The point here is that the Goldberg and Heritage are propagandists doing what right-wing propagandists in America have done for 150 years, equating liberalism with socialism and socialism with communism and comunism with Stalinism. Talk about a slippery slope, this entire idea is predicated on the idea that if you are left of Tom DeLay you are de facto Stalin.

  66. Shannon —

    Like say, Marxism? Freudism? A lot of hicks rejected Marxism because of its atheism and got morally offended at the idea that they wanted to have sex with their parents. Who turned out to have made the better choices in the end, the hicks or the intellectuals?

    That proves little, other than that hicks occasionally get one right. Were the hicks right when they endorsed Nazism? I don’t think so. That was my point…not that Marxism, Fascism, et al. are necessarily right because smart educated people supported them, but that a necessary (obviously not a *sufficient*) condition of a political theory being viable is that someone has thought hard about it, both in the theoretical and historical contexts. It woudl be more impressive if the hicks didn’t reject those theories because of cultural hang-ups or superstitious baggage, but rather because they had thought hard about the ideologies and their consequences. But hey, they *are* hicks. Fire…BAD!

    Hick populists have never produced anything except hick populism, and we *know* that leads nowhere. As opposed to intellectually buttressed movements like, say, *Libertarianism*.

    I find anti-intellectual bias without cause to be fairly nauseating…about as nauseous as professorial certitude, in point of fact. 🙂

  67. Isn’t the problem with Gregor that he takes fascism seriously?

  68. Right-wing is good, left-wing is bad; fascism was bad, ergo fascism was left-wing and Hillary is Hitler.

    Can I write for National Review now?

  69. Do all you poli-sci majors live for this shit? These threads always put me in mind of angels-on-pins arguments.

  70. Daze

    I think you have just become the most intellectually articulate person working for the National Review:)

  71. [claps for James] How was the latest International?

  72. In the case of a church, its coercion would be “do this or go to hell”.

    Point being, if you don’t impose something on people and enforce it, you aren’t a state or state-like.

    Big difference between forcing someone to do something or else go to jail, versus requesting someone do something to earn a non-earthly reward, with no temporal consequences.

    The LDS Church doesn’t threaten many people with damnation. You have to really, really work at being evil to get to the Mormon version of hell. Much of the emphasis is on, “do this and your life here on earth will be better, and as a really nice bonus you get a celestial reward.”

    The LDS Church is, despite this lack of overt coercion, very much a state-like entity, with ecclesiastical courts, bylaws, a well-defined church hierarchy with defined duties, etc.

    My acquaintance with the Catholic Church is that, though it does rely more on celestial threats of damnation than the LDS church, it still encourages people to behave because that is the right thing to do.

    “Impose” and “enforce” are relative concepts — there are degrees to which they can be carried out.

  73. No less a personage than Noam Chomsky notes V.I. Lenin’s interesting dictum: “Socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people.”

    Chomsky adds:

    This doctrine affords the ‘radical intellectuals’ the right to hold State power and to impose the harsh rule of the ‘Red Bureaucracy,’ the ‘new class,’ in the terms of Bakunin’s prescient analysis a century ago. As in the Bonapartist State denounced by Marx, they become the ‘State priests,’ and “parasitical excrescence upon civil society” that rules it with an iron hand.

    Chomsky continues:

    [A]ny modicum of free expression and organization — was destroyed “in the interests of socialism,” as the term was redefined for their purposes by Lenin and Trotsky, who proceeded to create the basic proto-fascist structures converted by Stalin into one of the horrors of the modern age.

    Just saying.

  74. Cesar,

    Maybe YOU need to look this stuff up. Next thing you will be telling me is that the Green Party did not dust off a bunch of National Socialist German Worker’s Party nonsense and use it in their charter.

    Deny all you want that Fascist is merely a party symbol for a National Socialist Party all you wish. Got something to show us all where the difference is?

  75. Daze:

    Close, need more emphasis on the imminent threat of islamofascism and how those same people that pose an existential threat to us really crave democracy.

  76. Deny all you want that Fascist is merely a party symbol for a National Socialist Party all you wish. Got something to show us all where the difference is?

    If I create a party called “The American Socialist Party” but the platform of my party (and the goals that my members in the legislature attempt to complete) is on a very general level free market capitalism and individual liberty, is my party socialist?

  77. Deny all you want that Fascist is merely a party symbol for a National Socialist Party all you wish. Got something to show us all where the difference is?

    The symbol for the National Socialist party was the Swastika, dumbshit.

    Yes the Green Party shares their irrational environmentalism with the Nazis. Thats because they are both irrational philosophies. Did you miss the link I posted upthread? Did you miss what John said?

  78. prolefeed,

    joe, I’m not arguing that socialism and fascism are the exact same thing. Rather, I’m arguing that Italian fascism is essentially a subset of socialism, with elements of some other abhorrent philosophies mixed in, such as corporatism and racism.

    You would be wrong, then. The fundamental principle of socialism is the universality of class conflict, across national, cultural, and racial lines. Not only does fascism not include this, in thoroughly inverts it. A subset of (A,B,C,D,E,F and G) might be (A,B andC). It cannot, however, be (B, notC, notD, notE, notF, and M).

    Yes, you can get to totalitarianism from different starting points. That does not make objectively opposite starting points the same thing.

    No one is arguing that the right is the only starting point that can lead to totalitarianism, as you seem to fear. But someone IS arguing that the left is the only starting point that can lead to totalitarianism (Jonah Goldberg). While I wouldn’t call people like Goldberg intellectuals, it is they who are attempting to revise our understanding of history in order to put the blame for all the world’s ills on the other side, and exonerate their half of the political spectrum. It is not some leftist, revisionist idea to call fascism a rightist philosophy. Its founders called it that, its supporters called it that, its opponents called it that, and the vast majority of those who have studied it called it that. Maybe they’re wrong, and Jonah Goldberg is right, but it is very odd to see you level a charge of politically-motivated revisionism on those of us who are taking the standard line that most people across the spectrum believe.

    You claim that you are concerned about revisionist history being used to deny the possibility that one’s own “half” of the political spectrum could lead to totalitarianism, and then you critique those of us who slam Goldberg for doing exactly that. Perhaps you should join me and Scalzi in pointing and laughing at him as he fumbles while attempting to propagate this dangerous, ahistorical idea.

  79. Yeah, Chomsky says a lot of shit, Ron Bailey.
    The man can’t even define what it is that he would impose on the rest of us in his anti-capitalist utopian view of human action.

  80. Perhaps something more simple

    Socialism:Can be broken doown to;International Socialism; National Socialism. They can be broken into individual party names and other sub groups.

    I swear, only Holocost deniers can be more blind.

  81. Cesar,

    Such grown up discussion! No, the Swastika was the symbol for the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. The Fasci was the symbol of the Italian National Socialists.

  82. “So Mr. Goldberg’s assertion as to why Mussolini was seen as right wing is easily refuted.”

    Mussolini was “right” AMONG SOCIALISTS, of which he was one. “Right” was the “national,” as opposed to the international (Communist), flavor of socialism to which he subsceribed. By the time Mussolini took power, there were no “right wingers” (that is, American-style conservatives) in Italy. There was nobody arguing for, say, free trade, or smaller government. Communists at the time were under orders from Moscow to describe anybody not part of the Party who was competing for the support of the working class (independent trade unions, social democrats, whatever) as “rightists” or “fascists.” This terminology stuck where everything else the Communists did failed.

    Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review. He was much closer to FDR (of whom Mussolini had many good things to say, as quoted in Goldberg’s book).

  83. Jonah Goldberg

    Goldberg has also been critical of the French and claims credit for popularizing the term “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”
    –Wikipeda

    WTF, this guy is an adolescent moron, if you can’t see the political motivation behind this pseudo-intellectualism you are not looking.

  84. Socialism isn’t Communism

    True. Not all socialists are communists. However, all communists are socialists.

    Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production is controlled by the state (or society or some collective). Communism, National Socialism, Fascism, Social Democrats, etc are all socialists. They are not equal to each other.

  85. Chomsky’s point about the Stalinists not being true leftists, because they became like the fascists, undercuts the idea that there is no difference between them.

    But only if you pay attention to Noam Chomsky.

  86. Such grown up discussion!

    Just coming down to a level you’re capable of understanding, Montag.

    No, the Swastika was the symbol for the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. The Fasci was the symbol of the Italian National Socialists.

    There was no such thing as a “Italian National Socialist” party. There was the Fascist Party.

    Next you’ll be telling me theres no such thing as the Conservative Party, just the “American Republican Party” and the “British Republican Party”.

  87. Fortunately, we have a real world example of socialism that defined itself in a national, rather than international, way, so that we can compare it to fascism: Stalin’s “Socialism in One Country.”

    Socialism in One Country postulates class conflict as the driving force of human history, and solidarity among economic classes as the natural ordering of human society. However, it looks at this things as taking place within a nation, rather that across them.

    Fascism postulates national conflict as the driving force of human history, and solidarity of people of different economic classes within that nation as the natural ordering of human society.

    Those are not remotely the same thing.

  88. Goldberg has also been critical of the French and claims credit for popularizing the term “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”

    [But] The phrase was first popularized in the Simpsons episode “‘Round Springfield” (first aired on April 30, 1995).

    -Wikipedia

    Goldberg is running with his intellectual equals, I see.

  89. Scalzi,
    Thanks for the response. But I don’t buy that collectivism from a bunch of ex-syndicalists is in anyway a project of “the right” and “anti-socialist.” As I acknowledged in my response, Italian fascism isn’t “right” or “left” in any modern sense, but strongly influenced by a toxic stew of extreme nationalists (like Marinetti and D’Nunnzio, both of whom I should have mentioned in the post) and radical socialists. Industrialists in Italy, most of whom refused to sanction the March on Rome, were, contrary to the Marxist interpretation of fascism as “capitalist”, nonplussed by Mussolini (see Adrian Lyttelton on this point). You tell me what that statism and collectivism are not necessarily left-wing. I disagree, but ok. So what is it that is right-wing about Italian fascism? And why is it, in your rendering, exclusively a movement of the right and “anti-socialist” when most (non-Marxist) scholars of the period seem to disagree with you?

  90. This ridiculous tete-a-tete about what’s “right” and “left” only underscores the point that the terms are meaningless, in that they’re used by those in power to loosely to foment antagonism to their opponents.
    Was Hitler “right”? Stalin certainly believed so, as he implemented the machine of death that killed 30 million people, and included many of the racist policies of the Reich.
    The point is, there really are only two types of government: Those that recognize and uphold individual rights, and those that don’t.
    Socialism, communism and fascism are the former type. Other than their inner workings, they did, do and will always have the same outcomes.
    You can’t “tweak” socialism to get its alleged utopian benefits, nor can you “tweak” fascism to create a paradise.

  91. Richard writes By the time Mussolini took power, there were no “right wingers” (that is, American-style conservatives) in Italy. There was nobody arguing for, say, free trade, or smaller government.

    There were few American-style conservatives in Italy, but there most certainly was a right. Monarchists, Catholic parties, anti-socialist/labor industrialists, and Italian nationalists were all over the place. Mussolini got along very well with them when he founded the Italian Fascist Party, and sent his goons to fight their common enemies, the socialists.

  92. Will you guys reach some kind of consensus and let me know if I’m a fascist or not? I’m kind of curious to know. I do assume fascists get hotter chicks, right?

  93. A prime example of the link between fascism and leftism can be seen in the attitudes of prominent liberals in America at the time towards fascist policies. FDR, for example, admired Mussolini’s strong regimentation of the Italian economy. There’s a book that was recently reviewed on this site that pointed out this and numerous other links, but for the life of me I can’t remember its name.

  94. The reason it is important to smack down the lie that totalitarianism is only a product of the left, or of the right, is so that people don’t make the mistake of thinking that their ideology and their political leaders cannot fall into the totalitarian pit by virtue of their intellectual heritage.

  95. I think you are either a utopian or an anti-utopian. Utopeans believe that the power of government can solve even the world’s most intractible problems and therefore any means is justified in pursuit of these ends. If you are an anti-utopian you beleive some problems or ends cannot be achieved through government action. Therefore, anti-utopians believe in esoteric ends like individual autonomy rather than concrete ends. I think everyone fits somewhere along that scale. The bottomline is the greater the ends you think can be achieved through government action, the worse the means someone will endorse to achieve those ends. What is the death of few million if you are ushering in paradise?

  96. “Goldberg’s whole point is that Mussolini does not belong grouped with, say, the writers of National Review.”

    Actually, his whole point in the comment I quoted and responded to was that Mussolini was only seen as fascist and right wing because he opposed World War One. Which is not true.

    And of course, while I certainly agree Mussolini was at one time a socialist, he stopped being one, at the very least at the time he formed the Fascists, which had anti-socialism as one of its planks. People are known to change their political views from time to time; Ronald Reagan was a Democrat up until 1962, for example (NB: no comparison between the philosophies/morals of Mussolini and Reagan is intended here).

  97. “You can’t “tweak” socialism to get its alleged utopian benefits:

    So are European Socialist parties no different than Stalin or Mussolini? Is Sweeden which has one of the worlds hightst qualities of life the same as the gas chambers or the marches on Rome?

  98. So, are kibbutzim right-wing or left-wing totalitarian hell-holes?

  99. While nobody would say that modern conservatism and facisim are the same, facisim did dump a lot of its socialist programs in order to be accepted by the Italian conservative business owners. They were indeed allies against the Italian Left.

  100. “So are European Socialist parties no different than Stalin or Mussolini? Is Sweeden which has one of the worlds hightst qualities of life the same as the gas chambers or the marches on Rome?”

    Huh? Who said that?

  101. By the time Mussolini took power, there were no “right wingers” (that is, American-style conservatives) in Italy. There was nobody arguing for, say, free trade, or smaller government.

    Are there any American conservatives who arguing for these things?

  102. Moynihan points out that Mussolini was once an avowed socialist, before he was not, and that we should take this as evidence that his political philosophy when he came to power stemmed from socialist ideas.

    Michael, didn’t you describe in the interview with Reason when you first started how you yourself used to be a left-wing socialist, beofre you stopped being one? Shall we trace the intellectual roots of your libertarian ideology back to socialism, then?

  103. James, you obviously don’t know the history of your beloved socialist philosophy. Prominent American leftists, such as Walter Duranty, were shills for Stalinism. Duranty travelled to Stalin’s Russia at the time “Uncle Joe” was attacking kulaks and starving Ukrainians, most likely saw these atrocities, and conveniently left these out of his accounts. Maybe if the left does not want to be associated with the most extreme manifestations of its ideals, its members shouldn’t associate themselves with those actions.

  104. “Are there any American conservatives who arguing for these things?”

    Yes, there are.

  105. So are European Socialist parties no different than Stalin or Mussolini? Is Sweeden which has one of the worlds hightst qualities of life the same as the gas chambers or the marches on Rome?

    Of course not, James, there are degrees. And Sweden is is largely capitalist, with a very generous public welfare program.

  106. I’m off to a new thread, Chris, you’re way too clever for me…

    See ya. Take the Divide and Conquer Libertarians with you.

    Libertarianism is retarded. Nothing but a bunch of divide and conquer cannibal curs eating their own to try in the hope that the establishment will throw them a bone.

    And Libertarians wonder why people think Libertarianism is bullshit and it hasn’t gotten NOWHERE in 20 years…. Maybe the “Mainstream Libertarians” can take some lessons from the Greens when it comes to infighting and ideological divide and conquer cannibalism?

    Keep fighting the good fight in the bush leagues.

  107. Moynihan points out that Mussolini was once an avowed socialist, before he was not, and that we should take this as evidence that his political philosophy when he came to power stemmed from socialist ideas.

    Joe,
    Huh? Where did I say that? Reread the post; address the arguments of Gregor and Payne; acknowledge that I wrote that Italian fascism was a “complicated animal” and a “mishmash” of left and right. I am consistently amazed at the disingenuous arguments you put forth. And while you are arguing with my phantom point, It should be pointed out that Mussolini didn’t undergo some sort of David Horowitz conversion. Rather, as Gregor argues, he shifted away from the Leninist faction more than mainline socialism.

  108. I really don’t get the point of this. Yes, fascism and socialism are collectivist and favor strong states. Yes, there are differences between them. Those differences aren’t large enough to make either of them worth espousing, but they are useful in explaining why various movements have clashed with each other.

    But these comparisons and contrasts aren’t what get the blood pumping on this issue. Rather, what gets people excited is that they can compare or contrast with the goal of bashing some political team that isn’t actually in either camp.

    Boring.

  109. Cesar,

    What Guy probably was alluding to was that the *fasces* was the symbol for the Fascists, who might or might not have been identical in spirit with their National Socialist counterparts in Germany. I can’t follow his argument any further….

    Elemenope,

    “Hick populism,” if we’re talking about the same thing, did produce lynchings. It also (inadvertently) prepared channels for fascism — those bankers who kept screwing the farmer were pretty easily compared with Jews, etc. Even the most sympathetic historians acknowledge that much.

    Jamie,

    I believe what you are making is a pseudo-empirical statement. What I mean is that you could not possibly prove what you say, in the way you say it can be proven. You can say that some principles entail certain consequences logically, and that is about as far as it goes. You’d still have to contend with the fact that there’s a very circular and uncertain relationship between ideologies and actual historical events and policies.

    This is more serious, I think, than your slippage between “right” (as in right-wing) and “right” (as in morally justified). Which is just goofy. We get your point that these people were monsters — duh. Monsters come in different shapes and sizes, which is why there is a point in this conversation.

  110. Michael Moynihan, you are making a completely ahistorical argument. You ask So what is it that is right-wing about Italian fascism?

    The answer is very simple – it was supported overwhelmingly by people who considered themselves right-wing conservatives and opposed overwhelmingly by people who considered themselves liberal, anarchist or socialist. And not just in Italy, it’s no secret that conservatives in the US and the UK were often big fans of Mussolini, big fans of Franco, and in many cases were fans of Hitler, at least in the beginning.

    While it is quite true that Fascism and National Socialism borrowed rhetoric and even policy ideals from the far left – you have to remember that the 1920s/30s were a time when traditional conservative ideals such as monarchy and center-right liberal ideas such as free markets appeared to many to have failed. Fascism was the RIGHT-WING response to the tremendous growth of the left (Communist Revolution in the USSR, Socialists in power in Germany, in Spain, in France, etc. etc.). To claim that just because Fascists/Nazis/Falangists borrowed some ideas from the left in order to succeed politically somehow makes them the intellectual heirs of American liberals is just historically illiterate. You can make a great argument that the left harbors authoritarian, cruel, anti-human tendencies but these were part of the left long before fascism came along, and are, for that matter, going to be true of any political movement that values political and state power over the rights of the individual. The defining characteristics of Fascism and Nazism are nationalism, open racism, expansionism and militarism. Now it is true you can also find these tendencies in Chinese or Soviet Communism, or the far far American left – but you have to squint pretty hard to accuse American liberals of sharing these ideals.

  111. Joe was going strong there for a while, but I believe the thread goes to James.

  112. To be clear, for this:

    So are European Socialist parties no different than Stalin or Mussolini? Is Sweden which has one of the worlds highest qualities of life the same as the gas chambers or the marches on Rome?

    re: “you can’t tweak socialism”

  113. Michael,

    Right here:

    But I don’t buy that collectivism from a bunch of ex-syndicalists is in anyway a project of “the right” and “anti-socialist.”

    If you wish to “clarify,” and state that you don’t consider Mussolini’s former beliefs in socialism to be indicative of a socialist heritage to his fascist philosophy (that is, to renounce one of the main arguments of those, like Goldberg, who claim that fascism is a leftist philosophy), then that would be great.

    As a hint, it’s easier to keep your own arguments straight if you make them in good faith. Then, you don’t have to get all red in the face at someone for bringing up something you forgot you wrote.

  114. “Are there any American conservatives who arguing for these things?”

    Yes, there are.

    None by the name of Jonah Goldberg.

  115. LMNOP,

    “To be clear, for this:

    So are European Socialist parties no different than Stalin or Mussolini? Is Sweden which has one of the worlds highest qualities of life the same as the gas chambers or the marches on Rome?

    re: “you can’t tweak socialism””

    Understood. It still doesn’t make sense. That you cannot tweak socialism to get it’s utopian benefits does not mean that it’s the same as “gas chambers or the marches on Rome”. And of course, no one claimed that it is.

    I can’t tweak tofu to taste like a filet, but that doesn’t mean that ‘tofu=rat poison.’

  116. “Of course not, James, there are degrees.”

    Jaime,

    Facism and Communism used vast intimidating state violence, did not elect their officials for the most part were totalitarian and whimsically abridged civil liberties of the populace…I would say that it is not simply a matter of degrees but a qualitative difference. This is like saying that anybody who is even moderately spiritual is just degrees different than James Dobson who is just degrees different than Bin Laden. No I think there is real fundamental differences between the three.

  117. Gregor was the best professor I ever had at Cal.

  118. John,

    If you ever meet any self-described anarchists, you will discover that their utopianism is equalled only by their opposition to state violence.

    Utopian vs realist is one axis along which political philosophies can be laid.

    So is collectivist vs. individualist.

    And so is left vs. right.

  119. You would be wrong, then. The fundamental principle of socialism is the universality of class conflict, across national, cultural, and racial lines.

    joe, the class conflict thing is another subset of a broader Venn diagram grouping of socialism. I’m going to stick with collectivism as the principle feature of socialism — the idea that social groupings are most important than individuals. Hint: it’s called SOCIALism, not PROLETARIANism.

    Maybe you could adopt the handle “socialfeed”?

  120. Prolefeed: All governments are collectivist.

  121. “All governments are collectivist”

    Yes. This is true fundamentally…and libraries are socialist institutions

  122. “If you ever meet any self-described anarchists, you will discover that their utopianism is equalled only by their opposition to state violence.”

    I am not really sure that would take anarchists seriously enough to even consider them.

  123. You can define terms any way you want, prolefeed.

    Just don’t expect anyone else to know what you’re talking about if you don’t use terms in the standard fashion.

    Socialism actually does have a history, you know. And no, grouping people by race or nation, and denying that they can be meaningfully grouped by economic class, is not part of that history.

  124. I don’t take them terribly seriously either, John.

    But still, if you wish to use the eagerness to use state violence to classify political ideas, you have to acknowledge them.

  125. “Socialism actually does have a history, you know. And no, grouping people by race or nation, and denying that they can be meaningfully grouped by economic class, is not part of that history.”

    True Joe but it is still all just the denial of the individual and collective responsibility. In fascism you are guilty by virtue of being the wrong race, in socialism you are guilty by virtue of being the wrong class. Both embrace the idea of historical determinism and reject individual morality and responsibility. Two sides of the same coin.

  126. I love the irony of a bunch of commenters discussing socialism and fascism as if there is a unified consensus on the topics (that they fully grasp as well), and then calling Jonah Goldberg a “pseudo-intellectual” because he popularized a joke from The Simpsons. Talk about pseudo-intellectualism.

  127. The reason it is important to smack down the lie that totalitarianism is only a product of the left, or of the right, is so that people don’t make the mistake of thinking that their ideology and their political leaders cannot fall into the totalitarian pit by virtue of their intellectual heritage.

    Agreement with joe, duly noted.

  128. has mr. goldberg’s book sold well?

    because i presume that’s why he wrote it, yes?

  129. has mr. goldberg’s book sold well?

    It is in the top ten on Amazon and is expected to be on the NYT best seller list. Yes it has done quite well.

  130. John,

    How do you figure out how books are doing on Amazon? You see it some times on blog posts – so-and-so’s book is #120 on Amazon and every time I’ve looked I could never figure out how people know that.

  131. WTF, this guy is an adolescent moron, if you can’t see the political motivation behind this pseudo-intellectualism you are not looking.

    James, I adore your use of the erudite and nuanced “WTF”. Clearly you must be a member of the intellegencia whose sophistication I am not fit to worship.

  132. How do you figure out how books are doing on Amazon? You see it some times on blog posts – so-and-so’s book is #120 on Amazon and every time I’ve looked I could never figure out how people know that.”

    I think it is in the top 10 for “political books”. But frankly I don’t follow Amazon and only know it was in the top ten from Instapundit. I am not sure what he means.

  133. Yes. This is true fundamentally…and libraries are socialist institutions

    That’s true unless they’re for-profit libraries, but we call those “bookstores” for some weird reason.

  134. How do you figure out how books are doing on Amazon? You see it some times on blog posts – so-and-so’s book is #120 on Amazon and every time I’ve looked I could never figure out how people know that.”

    Go to a book and look at the Product Details. It has the rank and a link to the list. Liberal Fascism is currently #4 in books:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/ref=pd_dp_ts_b_1

  135. So if we pretend that only socialists support a strong state, we can define all philosophies that support a strong state to be socialist.

    As usual joe beats the hell out of a strawman.

    A “strong state?” No. Socialism is government control of the economy for at least the ostensible purpose of greater equality. The more control, the more socialist.

    Modern governments are all somewhat socialist, as they all regulate commerce and production to some extent. The question is the degree. The U.S. is moderately socialist, European countries a bit more so, the Soviets were very socialist. Taiwan is much less socialist than the PRC (though the latter is liberalizing).

    Mussolini seems to have left the economy alone at first, but later wanted more or less total control of the economy, so I’m tempted to call him a “progressive socialist.”

  136. Cesar,

    Cute quip and you managed it without an obscenity.

    So, your assertion is that American Republichans are NOT Conservatives (in the general sense) in the same manner that you assert that Italian Fascists are not National Socialists. Somehow in that mix, NAZIS are not Fascists? Is that because of the little designs on their outfits, rather than some common ideology?

    Run along, don’t believe me, don’t read Mr. Goldberg’s book, or the Black Book of Communism for that matter. Just believe whatever you like and have a lovely Leftist day of denial.

  137. “Cesar | January 15, 2008, 2:28pm | #

    Communism is 18th century Enlightenment rationalism taken to its logical extreme.

    Fascism/Nazism is 19th century nationalism, romanticism, and racism taken to its logical extreme.

    Neither result is very pretty, but don’t pretend they’re the same thing.”

    I’ve never bought the argument that romanticism is really a true release (or course change) from the problems with excessive rationalism. Someone like a Heidegger can critique rationalism and claim to have found something new… but the something new is just the same dysfunctional nonsense that those embracing excessive rationalism display. Re: the [euro right wing] political romantic and the [euro left wing] ideologue are pretty similar personalities? with pretty similar quirks. Despite what they might say?

  138. Ron Bailey,

    In addition to what you quoted from Chomsky, George Orwell used to use the term “Right-Wing Communists”, as he did at least once in “Homage to Catelonia”. Forgot his context though, it was in a jumble of all of the factions he was encountering in Spain during his work with the P.O.U.M. I think he used it in other writings too.

  139. joe | January 15, 2008, 4:35pm | #

    “Socialism actually does have a history, you know. And no, grouping people by race or nation, and denying that they can be meaningfully grouped by economic class, is not part of that history.”

    A: Hitler was a class warrior type… Ranting about the inequity of unearned income and promising to rid Germany of class distinctions.. He wanted respect based on service / duty / sacrifice to the state / community… not on money.
    B: the left groups people by race and cultural group (maybe not nation)… Western = bad. Anything else = oppressed good guys.

  140. You’re all a bunch of goddamn FASCISTS with your “definitions” and “theories”… Grouping them into “sentences”.. with “words”. STOP OPPRESSING ME YOU FASCISTS!1!

    Does that pretty much sum up the common definition of fascism?

  141. Michael Moynihan wrote:”Industrialists in Italy, most of whom refused to sanction the March on Rome, were, contrary to the Marxist interpretation of fascism as “capitalist”, nonplussed by Mussolini (see Adrian Lyttelton on this point).”

    What difference does it make how eagerly the Industrialists welcomed Mussolini?

    Seems to me what is important is how Mussolini treated the Industrialists.

    And he treated them pretty well, did he not? He didn’t seize their factories, did he? He didn’t confiscate their fortunes, did he? He didn’t line them all up for execution, did he?

    How is that consistent with Socialism or Communism?

  142. Rex Rhino | January 15, 2008, 3:11pm | #

    “Maybe not the liberal form of “Socialism” of say Sweden”

    A friend of mine from Sweden won’t let me call it a socialist country. He corrects me and calls it a ‘social democracy’ and always sticks to that term. Oh, and he is a libertarian…

    So, its not, ‘socialism gone crazy’ in Sweden, he’ll say ‘social democracy gone crazy’… et cetera. Anyways, he is right in my opinion. It’s not a socialist country. The USSR was a socialist country.

  143. Mutts,

    If you can’t follow that the Nazis and the Fascists were just party names for different National Socialists then don’t bother.

    Richard @ 3:39 PM

    Got it right on the nose. What is going on with the rest of you is puzzling. Not really.

    economist,

    A book about FDR and Stalin was reviewed over at TNR about a year or so ago, My Dear Stalin. The TNR summation was pretty much that FDR did not blow Stalin enough and all those Eastern Europeans died because of us. They even blame the Soviet tanks rolling into post-war Europe on FDR.

  144. Cesar | January 15, 2008, 2:34pm | #

    “theres little doubt he would have been with King and Church.”

    I dont buy that for sec.

  145. Jon H,

    You are joking, right? You are making up some funny new definition of nationalized industry or something.

  146. “All governments are collectivist”

    All the more reason to view them with deep distrust and do everything possible to restrict them to the smallest possible sphere.

    Collectivism has no built-in limiting principle – it is a slippery slope to the Total State. We’re all sliding down that slope now, at different rates of speed. Libertarians, self-aware or not, are those trying to put the brakes on and climb back up.

  147. And he treated them pretty well, did he not? He didn’t seize their factories, did he? He didn’t confiscate their fortunes, did he? He didn’t line them all up for execution, did he?

    Clearly, he had learned from the mistakes made by the communists who had done these things and then found out the hard way that no one was then remaining who could run the factories efficiently.

    What we have here is a difference of degree with the trick being to see how much taxation and regulation business could tolerate in order to maximize the pillaging of profits from business for the same old collectivist ends.

  148. “You are joking, right? You are making up some funny new definition of nationalized industry or something.”

    Fiat was nationalized? Nope.

  149. John,

    True Joe but it is still all just the denial of the individual and collective responsibility. Absolutely, they are both violent collectivist ideologies. Can we call that issue settled, and move on to something else? I, for one, think it would be interesting to discuss whether the intellectual roots of each of those violent, collectivist ideologies are the same, or if they are different.

    TallDave,

    If Socialism is government control of the economy for at least the ostensible purpose of greater equality., the Mussolini could not be said to be a socialist, as his support for government involvement in economic planning was not in any sense intended to promote greater equality, but to maintain a heirarchical system that was threatened by socialism.

    Thomass,

    Leftists do recognize that there are different racial and cultural groups, but they do not 1) hold out any of these groups to be superior to or entitled to power over each other, or 2) define the People in terms of their membership in such groups.

    Hitler, like any politician, included in his rhetoric the idea that wealthy, powerful interests were working against the common good. However, this is not something that is limited to socialists – libertarians like to scare us with stories about well-connected developers, for example. he also adopted the word “socialism” and other bits of doggerel for rhetorical purposes, but this tells us nothing about his ideology.

    Fascists adhere to the Fuhrer Principle, the concept that there are natural leaders who are entitled to the power they seize, and that lesser men owe them their obedience. This, of course, is completely the opposite of socialism, which posits (like our own republican democracy) that rightful authority flows from the public’s consent.

    Here, I’ll let Hitler’s favorite economic advistor speak for me: Ley promised “to restore absolute leadership to the natural leader of a factory – that is, the employer…’Only the employer can decide. Many employers have for years had to call for the ‘master in the house.’ Now they are once again to be called the ‘master in the house.’ – Shirer, William, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp 282-283.

    Earlier, the Law Regulating National Labor of January 20, 1934, known as the ‘Charter of Labor,’ had put the worker in his place and raised the employer to his position as aboslute master…The employer became the ‘Leader of the Enterprise,’ the employees the “following,” or Gefosgschaft. Paragraph Two of the law set down that the ‘leader of the enterprise makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise.'” – Ibid, p. 363

    Hitler certainly was a class warrior. He devoted the power of his state to enforcing the right of businessowners – not just the government, mind you, but the little fuhrers who owned the shops and factories – to command and control their workers, who were said to have a natural duty, in line with the Furher Principle, to obey them.

  150. I see I posted those quotes about the fascists’ view of businessmen just in time.

  151. Fiat was nationalized? Nope.

    Some members of the Krupp family were found guilty of war crimes.

    So much for fascists keeping businessmen around just for technical expertise. They held top ranks in the regime!

  152. joe wrote: “So much for fascists keeping businessmen around just for technical expertise. They held top ranks in the regime!”

    So did Fiat’s Agnelli, which got him and Fiat in a little trouble after the fascists’ downfall.

  153. I can’t read even halfway down this comments page. So many people talking past each other and arguing about some idiotic designations for different manifestations of totalitarianism.

    I haven’t read the book, and I’m not normally the sort to glance twice at Goldberg or Instapundit, but I did listen to the podcast that Bailey linked to when he posted on this. Goldberg pointed out some interesting connections between progressivism and totalitarianism.

  154. “Run along, don’t believe me, don’t read Mr. Goldberg’s book, or the Black Book of Communism for that matter. Just believe whatever you like and have a lovely Leftist day of denial.”

    Ahh, since SIV ain’t around much these days it is nice to have Guy Montag, the voice of authoritarian Republican goofiness. Take if from one of the few actual “leftists” on H&R, Cesar is no leftist!

    Cesar, you have to remember that right wing types are very, very much literalists. Guy thinks the Fascists and Nazi’s must have both been the “same thing”, i.e., “National Socialists” because they both were “nationalists” (they promoted their nation above others) and “socialists” (they took over some private property or something). I mean, how COULD they be different when they both were plainy “national” “socialists?”

  155. It’s nice ol’ Guy could take time off from his busy schedule of cursing Jimmy Carter.

  156. Here’s my take on this, which I’m sure you’re all waiting for.

    Both leftist state socialism and fascism are forms of (let’s be precise) state socialism.(1) That is, the economy is managed by the government, whether or not the means of production are nominally in private hands. Under fascism the businesses may not be owned outright by the government, but are kept on a short leash. The business owners do not all necessarily mind this; they become “partners” of the government and, if they are able and willing to comply with the state’s controls, are protected from competitors who can’t or won’t. It is a form of socialism that not only has populist appeal to the resentful have-not little guy, but also has something to offer the Big Industrialist protectionist types.

    (1)(Voluntary socialism also exists, where the members in a non-state group — as a condition of membership — make contributions for the good of the whole, and to be redistributed as the decision-makers of the collective see fit. Commenters have already cited the Mormon church [LDS] and the modern Catholic church as examples; I would also add [to some extent] the family, especially the extended family where people pull together not only as parent-dependent child but as adults.)

    Besides the outward forms of economic control, other differences are that leftist state socialism is internationalist socialism, while fascism is nationalist socialism. The USSR did not present itself as an incarnation of the Russian empire, but as the vanguard of an international movement. (If there were elements of Russian nationalism in it, they were not the central pillar that nationalism is in fascism/nationalist socialism.) Internationalist socialism seeks to inspire and socialist revolutions abroad that are home-grown, or at least appear to be. As far as I know, the fascists never based much of their strategy on exhorting native fascist uprisings in, say, Ethiopia or Poland or other conquests before they marched in.

    And leftist internationalist socialism tends to emphasize rational planning. Citizens are exhorted to follow the economic plan, and all will be well. Whereas fascists/nationalist socialists, while they may think the men at the top are capable of rationally planning a national economy, draw upon less rational means to motivate the population: glory of the particular “race” of the nation, the volk, or Immortal Italy. As well as the cult of personality invested in the leader, who personifies the nation’s glory.

    The nationalism and the appeals to race and glory are right-wing characteristics; the internationalism and faith in the competence of rational planners are left-wing characteristics. But in either case these are joined with a high degree of government management of the economy, which is state socialism. It is true that fascism/nationalist socialism combines left and right elements.

    Also, joe makes a point that a very totalitarian government need not be socialist by definition. For example, I can see an autocratic gov’t that does not focus on controlling the economy but enforces edicts on who can marry who, which church you must belong to and support, whether you can criticize state officials, whether you can chew gum in public, which foods you can eat on which days of the week, whether you can sing certain songs, etc.

    However, you can’t really make a neat separation between what most people think of as “economic matters” and the rest of human activity. If I as Maximum Leader forbid you to read certain books, that also means I must exercise some control over the buying and selling of books — the book market. If I order you to support the state church, I force you to contribute tithes to that church instead of spending your money elsewhere, on other churches or perhaps secular charities. If I order you to eat fish instead of meat on Fridays, or have totally vegetarian Wednesdays, then I influence when you buy certain foods during the week, or overall demand for types of foods, and therefore exert control over the food market. If I forbid the drinking of wine, I strongly affect the market for grapes.

    And so on. The more totalitarian and controlling a government seeks to be, inevitably the more it must move into a state socialist direction — even if that is not the leadership’s conscious intention. So up to point joe is right that the totalitarians need not be socialists, at least not ideologically or in intent. But all totalitarianisms tend to converge at the extremes.

  157. “What Guy probably was alluding to was that the *fasces* was the symbol for the Fascists, who might or might not have been identical in spirit with their National Socialist counterparts in Germany. I can’t follow his argument any further….”

    Hey Mutts, if it makes you feel better I usually can’t follow his arguments very far either…And I imagine neither can he…

    Here he emphatically denounces lumping the two together:
    Guy Montag | January 15, 2008, 2:17pm | #

    Until you guys start calling Soviet Communists ‘hammer and sickleists’, Democrats ‘donkeyists’, Republicans ‘elephantians’, Maoists ‘starrists’, STOP calling National Socialists ‘fascists’.

    And here he sure seems to be, well, lumping them together:
    Guy Montag | January 15, 2008, 5:45pm | #

    Mutts,

    If you can’t follow that the Nazis and the Fascists were just party names for different National Socialists then don’t bother.

    The moral of the story: the Nazi’s and the Italian Fascists were the same, but DON’T refer to them with the same term, darn gummit!

  158. My random ramblings based on a partial reading of the thread…

    Socialism does not equal fascism, but it is a debatable question whether the USSR under Stalin was more socialist or more fascist (see Chomsky).

    It is important to keep real-world examples, which are imperfect and complex, distinct from the idealistic definitions of terms, however.

    In the real world, socialism was the natural enemy of fascism much like Republicans are the natural enemies of Democrats as much due to the shared features of the two systems as the differences. Opposites require a large degree of coherence along the non-essential parameter.

    Socialism and fascism held very different views on how the total state should operate and why…even if they both were very authoritarian. It was, at least partially, that shared belief in state power that made them natural enemies.

    A difference, however, was that fascists saw the total state as the end, while socialists saw it as a necessary evil/transitional phase towards an anarchist utopia.

  159. Stevo Darkly,

    I can see an autocratic gov’t that does not focus on controlling the economy but…

    For some reason I get images of Singapore and Dubai

  160. What a worthless discussion. It’s simply beyond me how some people who are otherwise intelligent get so worked up regarding political labels. Look, folks, just acknowledge that both Mussolini and Lenin (and many others) were willing to use the state as a coercive force, and then just move on. We have better thongs to do.

  161. Uhh… THINGS to do. (That was NOT a Freudian slip. I swear!)

  162. If a well-known chef wrote a book whose thesis was that you can only get food-borne illnesses from raw beef, and not from raw chicken, would you consider it worthwhile to correct him?

  163. joe,

    I understand where you’re coming from, but the conundrum is that people can’t seem to agree on even what the left and the right represent. And as you may well know, libertarianism in America means something rather different in Europe, where the term has (or at least used to have) more in common with syndicalism. One more example: Many “radicals” of the French Revolution who were supposedly hostile to the bourgeoisie were also almost fanatical supporters of free trade. Given this hodgepodge I find it more constructive to dissect actual policies rather than ideological labels that usually don’t amount to much.

  164. “I can see an autocratic gov’t that does not focus on controlling the economy but…”

    For some reason I get images of Singapore and Dubai

    Singapore popped into my head too, which led to the mention of forbidding chewing gum (actually, I think in Singapore you get caned or something for dropping gum in the street). Although I don’t know a lot about Singapore, and less about Dubai.

  165. Such a government would not be fascist, because of its generally free-market approach to economics, but some other variety or rightist tyranny.

  166. “joe | January 15, 2008, 2:17pm | #
    He even misrepresents what Scalzi slaps down Goldberg for:

    Goldberg claimed that “the only reason Mussolini was considered a fascist was because he supported World War One.””

    So Jonah mis-spoke one thing over the course of an hour and a quarter lecture, and that invalidates all his arguments?

    Weak.

    Really weak.

  167. We have better thongs to do.

    Typo of the week!

  168. There is misspeaking and then there is making a statement that so profoundly wrong that it undercuts any claim you might have to authority on the subject. It’s actually worse than getting on stage and saying, “The only reason people called Hitler a Nazi was because he opposed World War One,” because Hitler did not actually found the Nazi Party. (He also didn’t oppose WWI, but let’s not move off the central point.) If you had just finished writing a book entitled Liberal Nazism and then you couldn’t remember or misunderstood even for a second why anyone called Hitler a Nazi…well, you might not be taken very seriously.

  169. R C Dean,

    Man, you had to come out and say it. I HATE YOU! I DATE YOU!

  170. Oh BTW, that last sentence was a deliberate typo. Not that that would’ve freaked you out…right?

  171. Wow! the only time I recall Alan Colmbs going irrationally, insanely, “off the rails” on television was hearing hom go off at Jonah Goldberg just like the folks in the above comments go off about National Socialists being ‘some other word’ besides Leftists.

    Amazing.

    At least he did not do any of that intentional “misunderstanding” or “ununderstanding” crap that filled this thread.

    If any of you Left = National Socialist = Nazi = Fascist deniers are interested, take a gander at http://liberalfascism.nationalreview.com

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