Fascism: a love story

The most popular fallacy in the world today is the idea that it’s inevitable that humankind is being carried toward socialism, and that this is a good thing. The books that have been written up to now have not succeeded in countering this thesis. You must write new books. You must think of these problems. It is ideas that distinguish human beings from animals. This is the human quality of all people. But according to the ideas of the socialists the opportunity to have ideas should be reserved to the Politburo only. All the other people exist only to carry out what the Politburo tells them to do.

It is impossible to defeat a philosophy if you do not fight in the philosophical field. One of the great deficiencies of American thinking — and America is the most important country in the world because it is here, not in Moscow, that this problem will be decided — the greatest shortcoming is that people think all these philosophies and everything that is written in books are of minor importance, that it doesn’t count. Therefore they underrate the importance and the power of ideas.Yet there is nothing more important in the world than ideas. Ideas and nothing else will determine the outcome of this great struggle. It is a great mistake to believe that the outcome of the battle will be determined by things other than ideas.

— von Mises, Unmasking Marx

The word fascism is a derivative of the Latin word fasces, which means a bundle of sticks (usually birch or elm, and often with an ax in the middle, from an ancient Roman symbol), and that metaphor — the bundling together of individuals pieces — is significant.

Benito Mussolini, who as you know popularized the term “fascism” for his political party, was, as you may not know, a devoted socialist that began as a marxist, was expelled from the socialist party proper, and, like his friend Adolph Hitler, remained a devoted socialist to the day he died.

This is one of several reasons for the love-fest between Mussolini and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with whom Mussolini was also good friends, and if you’d like to read more about this subject — specifically, how FDR modeled much of the New Deal off of Mussolini’s fascist-economic ideas — I cannot recommend highly enough the book Three New Deals, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. Wolfgang Schivelbusch is an independent scholar from Berlin, Germany, not affiliated with any school or academy and is totally non-partisan. He’s also an extraordinarily scrupulous writer — scrupulous in his gathering and presenting of historical facts and data. I repeat:

If you truly want to understand fascism and its historical roots — and you should, especially in this day and age of deadly “anti-fascist” protestors who advocate the same politico-economic tenets of fascism proper — and, more specifically, the protracted propaganda machine that has successfully convinced the world that fascism was somehow “Republican-Conservative,” you should read this book. You will not think about fascism the same ever again, and that is a good thing: because you will actually understand it more.

Mussolini’s so-called Corporatism was his version of Syndicalism, which is the type of economic structure many if not most democratic-socialists today advocate. Please don’t confuse 1920’s corporatism with the anti-corporation mentality so in vogue now. Corporatism is a word which ultimately derives from corpus (for “human body”) and dates clear back to Ancient Greece and Rome. For Mussolini, and others, it was, I say again, a form of Syndicalism, and that is one reason the Wikipedia entry for Corporatism lists itself as “part of a series on Syndicalism”:

Italian Fascism involved a corporatist political system in which the economy was collectively managed by employers, workers and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level. Its supporters claimed that corporatism could better recognize or “incorporate” every divergent interest into the state organically… When brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State…. [The state] is not simply a mechanism which limits the sphere of the supposed liberties of the individual…  This prospect of Italian fascist corporatism claimed to be the direct heir of Georges Sorel’s revolutionary syndicalism…

The difference between marxism versus the Nazi socialists and the Italian Fascist socialists was, as Hayek and von Mises were about the only two to first point out, purely a difference of form: the marxist preached the proletariat (i.e. workers) as primary, whereas the Nazis and the Italian Fascists preached “the nation.” But the common denominator among them all was the same common denominator, as it is also the common denominator to this day which unites every and all strains of socialism.

Do you know what it is?

It is the subjugation of the individual to a so-named collective.

It is collectivism.

It is control over the means of production, which is economics, in the name of a collective — any collective.

I implore you to commit that to memory.

“Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same,” said Adolph Hitler.

“I have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit,” said Adolph Hitler.

“Profit is the source of all evils,” said Joseph Goebbles, whose hatred of laissez faire was stupendous.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate [i.e. worker] power,” said Benito Mussolini.

It was by means of the Food Estate guild, the Estate of Trade and Industry guild, and the Labor Front guild that the Nazis were able to take control of every group of producer and consumer in Germany.

German and Italian socialism assumed complete control of the means of production, while maintaining the facade of a market economy. The crucial point here, however, which one must never overlook, is the fact that prices and wages were all “fixed by the central authority.” Thus, they were only ostensibly prices and wages — meaning: in actual fact, prices and wages were determined by order of the socialist government, not the free-market and free exchange. In this way, both systems masqueraded as systems of free-enterprise, but in reality they was socialist up to their gills.

The difference between National Socialism (Nazism), Italian Fascism, and communistic socialism is, I say again, purely a question of form: the Nazis, unlike the Marxists, did not advocate public or governmental ownership of the means of production. Nazism, rather, openly demanded that government oversee and regulate the nation’s economy. The issue of ‘legal’ ownership, explained Adolph Hitler, is secondary; what counts is the issue of control.

“Under Nazism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under Marxist socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it — at least until the next purge” (Dr. George Reisman, economist).

George Reisman continues:

This system of de facto socialism, carried out under the outward guise and appearance of free enterprise, in which the legal forms of private ownership are maintained, has been aptly characterized by Ludwig von Mises as socialism on the German pattern. The Germans under Ludendorf and Hindenburg in World War I, and later under Hitler, were the foremost practitioners of this type of socialism. (The more familiar variant of socialism, in which government openly nationalizes the means of production and establishes socialism de jure as well as de facto, von Mises calls socialism on the Russian or Bolshevik pattern.)

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that [Fascist Italy and] Nazi Germany was a socialist country and that the Nazis were right to call themselves National Socialists. This is something everyone should know; yet it appears to have been overlooked or ignored by practically all writers but von Mises and Hayek.

In Nazi Germany, the government controlled all prices and wages and determined what each firm was to produce, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to turn over its products. There was no fundamental difference between the Nazis and other socialists.

The quasi economist Paul Krugman, corrupted irreparably by tendentious partisan nonsense (and who, incidentally, used to understand 101 economics, such as the facts about minimum wage and even wrote articulately about it in one of his early books), recently complained that it’s “difficult to have a conversation” with any side other than his own, when the other side only ever charges you (him) as socialist. Cry me a fucking river, Paul. Because the fundamental fact remains, and it must be dealt with:

There are at root only two types of government — only two: the government that recognized the primacy of the individual over the collective, and the government that doesn’t.

The rest is strictly a question of details. This is why the fight is always a fight for principle, and that principle is this: should the individual be subordinated to the so-named collective — any collective — or should each individual human, regardless of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, color, class, or creed, possess the full and inalienable right to her own life and property?