Fascism, A Left Wing Heresy

It would be difficult to find a progressive on the planet that would agree with the following proposal to the issues we face in society:

“You know what? We should bring back Apartheid.”

The suggestion from the outset sounds absurd, and one would think immediately of South Africa and the words that have come to be associated with that regime and that period of racial discrimination and oppression. One would more than likely assume this person to be a bigot and not entertain the notion of giving him or her a platform to air their views.

The above is just one example of an idea that people at the time thought would be a great idea and would mean progress or a solution to a problem which either in practice was unachievable or led to the opposite of what it intended to achieve resulting in oppression and tyranny. A progressive minded person would also hardly accept the proposal to abolish democracy and freedom in favour of a totalitarian dictatorship or a theocracy as we have seen from history that this idea has been tried in a number of different cases and most of us in the western world know which of these systems we would prefer to live under, a Liberal, capitalist, democracy.

But there is one movement that has slipped through the net, which had achieved political prominence and resulted in tyranny and oppression but yet its followers and advocates have remained uncompromising in their beliefs, with no shame, that speak in a language of peace and non violence and push to bring down the Liberal world order and replace it with its own. This ideal is communism.

Communism manifested itself in the former Soviet Union; it was an oppressive regime that eventually fell with the symbolic event of the Berlin wall coming down and the reunification of East and West Germany. In accordance with the trend of all other regimes that have been defeated or self defeated because of their faults, communism should have been thrown in the rubbish bin of history and any new proposals for change should be new just as communism too was once new, yet until this day we still find advocates for this proven to be oppressive regime in practice. If one points to the Soviet Union as a challenge to a communist, a common response is for them to claim, “that wasn’t really communism.”

Well what was it? The economist Friedrich Von Hayek in his book The Road to Serfdom pointed out that any planning of the economy will require a central authority with absolute power, we have learned from Lord Acton’s famous quote that “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Communism gives absolute power to the state and therefore those running the state become corrupt. The Liberal idea is that power should be dispersed; in a Liberal democracy power is distributed between the state and the private sector, the market. The objective is to limit one authority’s ability to attain absolute power, whether that is the market or the government having absolute power but to create the balance whereby there is competition, capitalism does not thrive without competition and therefore monopolies are dangerous for capitalism, democracy and progress.

It is primarily for this reason that communism turned out not to be the Utopian paradise that it sought to be. If we look at the Kibbutz movement for example, such a system was only sustainable provided that everyone was willing to accept that they must think of the collective before themselves, such pioneers of the State of Israel were not born with these ideals, they were taught them by youth movements, and those who wanted to practice such ideals, moved to Palestine and joined a Kibbutz voluntarily and those who didn’t want to, didn’t. It worked well in so far as that it was voluntary. The following generations of Israelis born and raised on a Kibbutz started to look at the world outside of the Kibbutz at opportunities that the city had to offer them that the Kibbutz could not offer them, or who simply did not share the values of the Kibbutz and had further ambitions than milking cows or working in a factory. Fortunately a member of a Kibbutz can leave if they wish to, but the Kibbutz will eventually become unable to sustain itself if all of its members decide to follow in their footsteps.

Most of us have learned the lessons of history but we still find that they persist in our societies advocating what will become tyranny but claiming to be the heirs of peace, anti-war and the voice of freedom and equality. The question is how has this become so?

I will attempt to explore why this is so and why the term right wing has come to be associated with evil and left wing has remained in people’s minds immune from wrongdoing.

Communism and the former Soviet Union was not the only manifestation of left wing Marxist thinking. Such ideas embodied themselves in other movements and regimes as well, including fascism and socialism. The term fascism has been misplaced (on purpose) as a right wing ideology, in spite of the fact that almost all evidence of influence on fascist regimes point to the contrary. Fascism is at best the right end of the left, as opposed to the far right beyond Laissez-faire capitalism. The author Jonah Goldberg in his book Liberal Fascism notes that:

“Certain quarters of the left assert that “Zionism equals racism” and that Israelis are equivalent to Nazis. As invidious and problematic as those comparisons are, why aren’t we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza – that is, “The Race” – to the radical Hispanic group MEChA, whose motto – “Por La Raza todo. Fuerro de La Raza Nada” – means “Everything for the race, nothing outside the race”? Why is it that when a white man spouts such sentiments it’s “objectively” fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it’s merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?

The most important priority for the left is not to offer any answer at all to such questions. They would much prefer to maintain Orwell’s definition of fascism as anything not desirable, thus excluding their own fascistic proclivities from inquiring eyes. When they are forced to answer, however, the response is usually more instinctive, visceral, or dismissively mocking than rational or principled. Their logic seems to be that multiculturalism, the Peace Corps, and such are good things – things that liberals approve of – and good things can’t be fascist by simple virtue of the fact that liberals approve of them. Indeed this seems to be the irreducible argument of countless writers who glibly use the word “fascist” to describe “bad guys” based on no other criteria than that liberals think they are bad.

Fidel Castro, one could argue is a textbook fascist. But because the left approves of his resistance to U.S. “imperialism” – and because he uses abracadabra words of Marxism- it’s not just wrong but objectively stupid to call him a fascist. Meanwhile, calling Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and other conservatives fascists is simply what right-thinking, sophisticated people do.

The major flaw in all of this is that fascism, properly understood is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been a phenomenon of the left. This fact – an inconvenient truth if there ever was one – is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites. In reality, they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space.”

(Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism)

When one refers to Nazism it is generally portrayed as being a phenomenon of the ‘far right,’ the clue is the name for a start. Nazism is National Socialism. National socialism and fascism are hardly ideas influenced by liberal; individualistic, free market economic thinking. They are both populist movements seeking to eradicate the class struggle and create national unity. National unity or any kind of unity unfortunately often is very hard to achieve without a common enemy, it is for this reason that I feel that both Israeli and Arab leaders in spite of their words of looking for peace or looking to defeat the other side, both are nationalist movements that are strengthened by the need for unity against those who are hostile to the people, or external threats to their existence or survival. In some instances that enemy or threat is real, in others it is fabricated or exaggerated. Hitler found that in the Jews, without someone to blame for the troubles Germany suffered as a result of the treaty of Versailles he may not have arose to power.

Both Hitler and Mussolini were always members of left wing parties, Mussolini wrote for L’Avvenire del Lavoratore (The Future of the Worker) the socialist parties newspaper, where they differed from traditional international communism was that they came to believe that the appeal of solidarity based on class was not as strong as ones kinship to the nation and fellow countrymen. Fascism and National Socialism therefore were left wing pragmatists, who gave up on the universal goal of spreading communism to other peoples but only wished to transcend the class struggle and to confine the benefits to that of their own nation.

But nonetheless this does not make these totalitarian regimes, right wing. It is merely an embarrassment to the left, and has been very successful in misleading the public up until this very day that Nazism and fascism is something that the left have had nothing to do with and is somehow a product of the “far right”, it is as I mentioned earlier the far right of the left at best.

It has been cleverly crafted that fascist and Nazi are of the worst things one could be branded as yet the left have successfully managed to convince people that these tendencies come from the right, and that communism as practiced by the Soviet Union was somehow not true communism. That being the case, I suppose that one could argue that apartheid wasn’t really what apartheid was supposed to be about, perhaps it wasn’t supposed to be about segregation and discrimination but it aimed to create a system to preserve identities in a difficult situation, but if implemented properly may have resulted in something similar to what is trying to be achieved in the Middle East of a two state solution, two states for two peoples.

The left have for a long time been infiltrating themselves into calling themselves something that they are not, because it makes them sound innocent, we have in recent years heard people refer to a group known as ‘the Liberal left’. Perhaps 50 years ago these two words together would have been considered an oxymoron. Liberal is not left, socialist is left, communist is left and fascist too is left. We also have long heard of the United States of America referred to as a fundamentally ‘right wing nation’. They are right wing, not because they are ‘fascists’ or ‘Nazi’s’ but because they are ‘Liberals’ and ‘Republicans’, both are right wing parties.

In Britain we have seen how the Labour Party became more Liberal in its policies as it changed its platform under Tony Blair from Labour to New Labour, which essentially sought to emulate the Liberal Democratic party in America. And we have seen the Liberal Democrats in Britain fill the space that Labour vacated on the left. And we now see more and more left wing policies taking over the American Liberal Democratic party under Barak Obama’s leadership.

In Israeli political history the pattern has too not deviated much. The left wing parties in Israel were very uncompromising in their policies. Left wing Zionism too had utopian, peace loving ideals of the highest nature, but that didn’t change the fact that in practice it was under left wing governments and leaders that all the way up until the 1970’s led Israel through all of its wars, had a prejudiced attitude towards Mizrachi Jews, the religiously Orthodox and despised the non socialist opposition let alone issues with the Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Today the adherents of the left in Israel fall into two camps, those who still identify with the movements goals and history and those who seem to wish to disassociate themselves from the history of the Israeli left. They would typically look at the Israeli left and its faults and too say, “That wasn’t really what labour Zionism was supposed to be about.” And then proceed to demonize the ‘evil’ Jabotinsky, Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu. But it is just the frustration that an idea that inspired so many people to create a better and fairer world, didn’t work in practice.

The Israeli left have long called Jabotinsky a fascist, the same way that conservatives in America are referred to as fascists by the American left, which could not be further from the truth, Jabotinsky was a liberal full and through.

Why is all of this so important, because it has blurred our outlook on where the true dangers we all face really lie and from where they are likely to spring up. We focused too much on watching groups like the BNP, and we now find ourselves surprised to find enemies from the left. We should not be surprised at all to find anti-Semites on the left. Marx in spite of his Jewish origins was an anti-Semite, Hitler was from the left, Stalin and Lenin were of course left and not immune from anti-Semitism, and even Oswald Mosley was a member of the Fabians society in the 1920’s and 30’s. Or up until today we see anti-Semitism in Ken Livingstone and George Galloway who incidentally would probably be referred to more as Labour back benchers or the left of the left.

I am not saying that all forms of left wing political theory are anti-Semitic but it is far from immune from it. I am however saying that liberalism which has been significantly better for the Jews (not only Jews but everyone) than communism is not the source of fascism, or Nazism.

The New Liberal Left has not forgotten about the Jews, nor have they given up on their attempt to bring an end to capitalism. It will typically adhere to the view that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and hold double standards towards those who it perceives as powerful and oppressive and always rooting for whom it sees as the underdog.

It is the task of the true Liberals to reclaim their political history by exposing to the world that fascism is a left wing problem and that to be right wing means to believe in individual freedom and democracy. The propaganda has reached unbelievable lengths; you will notice how the few Liberals who have spoken up against either Islamism or communism today have been branded as Islamophobic, Neo-cons (which seems to have become a code word for Imperialistic Nazi) or bigots. It is time for the Left to take responsibility for their history and for Liberals to stand up for themselves, and some day, people will look at a pin up of Che Guevara on a wall as if it were a poster of Hitler today.

5 thoughts on “Fascism, A Left Wing Heresy

  1. If you first define the terms left and right then it may be easier to group political leaders or ideological movements accordingly.

    Right wing politics tend to revolve around the preservation of societal traditions, while left wing politics focus on advancing equality amongst all participants of a society.

    Fascism was a movement that sought to establish a unified people connected by a historical collective shared identity, traditional hierarchies could be preserved, adapted or replaced, while a strong nation was led by a single dictator.

    Communism was the opposite, it sought to achieve equality of all citizens regardless of historic identities in the pursuit of a more just and equal society. The abandonment of state and traditional hierarchy meant that unlike fascism and other right wing movements – the preservation of cultural lines was in contrast to the movement.

    To suggest Mussolini and Hitler were left wing is to redefine the term left wing.

    • Left and right is generally defined in either one of two ways, economically or in terms of leadership. Capitalist or Communist or Authoritarian or Democratic. These are the extremes and of course there are those who reside somewhere in between. Left wing politics may focus on advocating equality, but predominantly the equality of outcome and not equality of Opportunity. This is a big part of where the right and the left differ, the Liberal believes that one should strive to give everyone the equality of opportunity but the outcome is not equal, there will be winners and there will be losers, whereas the Communist or Socialist strives to achieve an equality of outcome, that there are no real winners, hence why a common left wing policy is high taxation on the middle classes, less privatization, more power to the state, more public services…

      The left are not the exclusive bearers of progressive thought, this is just what people have been misled to believe, even if they claim to be acting in the name of progress, equality and freedom, there is little evidence from the history of left wing inspired regimes to suggest that implementation of their theories results in what they set out to achieve.

      Fascism is a left wing phenomenon as I explained, it comes from a pragmatic left wing view steering away from Internationalism but focusing on redemption for the nation and became popular after the first world war. Mussolini was a Socialist his whole life, so was Stalin and even Hitler was influenced not by the right by by the left, he despised of Capitalism and America and sought to nationalize all German industry under the the control of the Nazi party. These are not policies that bear any relation to right wing politics of a free market or equality of opportunity and minimal state.

      The point is that these facts are just too inconvenient for the left to admit that their school of thought is associated with, or were movements that grew out of their own principles that they instead have invented this evil, dangerous position on the political spectrum called “the far right”. which doesn’t exist at all. It has been done on purpose so that they can now call themselves liberals (when they are not) with their socialist policies, and can blame the right when they feel like it, and call conservatives fascists and true liberals conservatives (and therefore fascists) whenever they want.

      • Fascism can be a mixture of both left and right wing policies, you’re focusing on the economics of both movements – yet this is only one part of a much greater picture.

        So it’s probably easier to deal with the individuals.

        While Mussolini started life in Partito Socialista Italiano at the age of 31 he did a u-turn when he was rejected from the party he gradually embraced nationalism, which evolved into fascism. By his mid 30s he was stating “Socialism as a doctrine was already dead; it continued to exist only as a grudge”. His newly formed party looked to preserve the class system, rejected the equality socialism strived for, built up the nation state through force and introduced corporatism to Italy. None of which are left wing values, however corporatism did mix right and left wing economic policies.

        Stalin was left wing.

        Hitler was unquestionably right wing in almost every respect; supremacy of a race, the belief in the nation state, the taking of a German empire, the the economic policies however took on an almost centralist position which is best encapsulated by the feuding between the free-market policies of Schact and Goerdeler against the Goring nationalist clique.

        To try to define fascism as left or right is to simplify complex political and economical philosophies. On the whole the consensus is that Fascism is a far right movement, however it borrows from the left (as you documented).

        I wont go into the Left v Right argument as I’m sure we’re both pretty stuck in our ways 🙂

  2. I think though that you have pointed out something fundamental though, which is what I have tried to convey which is that if fascism can be both left or right then it still leaves us with the question of how it is more often than not a term that people associate with something called “the far right”, fascism differs from place to place, people to people, the Italians were fascists under Mussolini, the Spanish under Franco, the Germans under Hitler, but the Italians and the Spanish did not incorporate the Racist element that Hitler did. Mussolini condemned Nazi anti-Semitism and Jews were prominent supporters of the Italian fascist party, who refused to hand over Italy’s Jews to the Germans, Franco too was not an anti-Semite like Hitler, but nonetheless all of them were fascists.

    The branding of fascism as not left was something that Moscow began, as it deviated from International socialism towards national Socialism. But Nationalism and Socialism do mix, but that does not somehow shift them to the other far end of the political spectrum because it resulted in some cases in genocide.

    It runs even deeper, if you look at the origins of left wing thought, even before Marx at Rousseau, who is viewed as a precursor to Marx, who was against the state, one of the founders of Social contract theory, against private property and pretty much individual freedom. He was a proponent of what Isaiah Berlin termed Positive liberty. The individual must must give up on his individualist ambitions and act in accordance the “general will” and think of the greater good of society. He spoke much about how human desires was something that we were not all in control of, it is here where the term Self realization appears in left wing thought, where we are contempt with our basic needs and give up on our desires. Those who believed that such great ideas such as Marxism were possible were those who believed much in Hegals idea of the dialectic that humanity will reach an evolutionary stage where we will transcend human nature of being selfish. But unfortunately reaching such a pious state cannot be achieved through politics on a societal level, without coercion, the masses simply did not know what was best for them and must be told and forced to behave accordingly (see Hayek “The Constitution of Liberty”).

    I have focused on how economically fascism does not fall into the category of far right but neither does it from an authoritarian point of view. To suggest that right wing means authoritarian is too misunderstanding. That would suggest that those who believe in right wing economies also favor authoritarian leaderships, in fact the opposite, they want minimal state. The far right of that would be the opposite to more authority it would be no authority, Anarchy and nihilism, this is what prompted the Islamist founding father Sayidd Qutb to write his works, on reflection on his experiences in America where he felt that the progressiveness of America in a post modern age of moral relativism was threatening the shared values that held societies together in his opinion, where Islamism was originally a movement that wanted to re instill traditional religious (Islamic) values in society but to contain the modern western technological benefits, just because that’s what they wanted to achieve doesn’t detract from the fact that most groups professing to be Islamist’s are homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-feminist, anti-America, anti-Western, will advocate violence to achieve their goals and want to impose their ideas onto everyone else whether they are Muslim or not Muslim.

    You mentioned how right wing tends to be more to do with preserving hierarchy, the status quo and the current order. The Nazis certainly did not wish to preserve the previous order. Quite the contrary, they considered themselves to be revolutionaries, who people voted for because he promised to solve all their problems by just giving him a chance and voting him into power, much similar to the election campaigns of both Nick Clegg and Barak Obama. When a people are disillusioned with politics they look for a third way, this is when people start to look not so much at policies but more in the character of the leader, his leadership skills, how charismatic he/she is….

    Nazis were not conservatives, nor Liberals, we know what their attitudes towards Jews were, but they were also hostile towards Christianity. In fact, one of the reasons that they were so hostile towards Jews was because were it not for the Jews there would have been no Judaism and therefore no Christianity. The Nazis wanted to return to a pre-Christian Pagan Germany. Like their Communist counterparts, they were anti-religion and admired much popular renaissance ideas that can be see in European Art at the time of a revival of interest in the Pagan Gods and other forms of Polytheistic religions of the pre-Christian era.

    The only thing left about them that people feel makes it impossible for them to be of the left is their Racism, and that somehow Racism is something that only occurs from people who are right wing. Anyone can be racist, prejudiced or generalize about a group… no matter who you are. You only need to look at how people who profess to be modern, forward thinking, open minded individuals will love all peoples, blacks, whites, Muslims, Jews….. but have a special place in their hearts for the Palestinians at the expense of considering Israelis to be the worlds biggest threat to peace and Zionism as a racist ideology…. Or how it is fine for people to make bigoted statements like “Americans are Fat and Stupid,” and quite simply think that its not racist, it is a simple observation and a fact. When one could not get away with a comment like “Blacks mug people,” because one is politically correct and will be heard even by University professors and academics in Europe and elsewhere, whilst the other is inaccurate, racist, a generalization, untrue or any other way of attacking such a remark. But the point is that Political orientation does not determine whether you are capable of being a racist or not. In fact many people who are being racist, holding a double standard towards one group or another, don’t even realize they are doing it, because they think that they are not victimizing anyone, that they are defending the downtrodden against the evil exploiting Americans for example, or the imperialistic Nazi Israelis, and that it is a just struggle.

    At that time in history in Germany, racial theory was the latest thing, and many believed that the advances in Europe in modern progress in their culture was because the White race was the most superior, and that their culture was a result of their race. And that other races in say Africa for example were backward, primitive, barbarians practicing Voodoo and incapable of being civilized like Europe. According to perhaps the most important Western Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant:

    “The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the trifling. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to cite a single example in which a Negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was every found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even though among the whites some continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble, and through superior gifts earn respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between these two races of man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in colour. The religion of fetishes so widespread among them is perhaps a sort of idolatry that sinks as deeply into the trifling as appears to be possible to human nature. A bird’s feather, a cow’s horn, a conch shell, or any other common object, as soon as it becomes consecrated by a few words, is an object of veneration and of invocation in swearing oaths. The blacks are very vain but in the Negro’s way, and so talkative that they must be driven apart from each other with thrashings.”

    It is not right wing thinking that made the Nazis or people racist. Racism or hatred of something different or unknown to a group or something one doesn’t understand is more of a social phenomenon, it is more psychological, based on ignorance, fear and emotions. People become more susceptible to irrational tendencies at different times, often when there is a need for a scapegoat, someone to blame for their problems or their misfortune… And once again, just because this happened on the left doesn’t make it right wing. Anyone can become racist whether they are aware of their prejudices or not.

    Sometimes ideas that sounded good or were in reaction to something else that was perceived as problematic turn out to be either just as bad in practice or possibly worse.

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