The Doctrine of Fascism – 1932

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)
The leader (Il Duce) of Fascist Italy from 1922 to 1945

Excerpts from the entry “The Doctrine of Fascism” which appeared in the Italian Encyclopedia (Enciclopedia Italiana) of 1932 as written by Benito Mussolini, but was written with the assistance of fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile.


There is no concept of the State which is not fundamentally a concept of life: philosophy or intuition, a system of ideas which develops logically or is gathered up into a vision or into a faith, but which is always, at least virtually, an organic conception of the world.

Thus fascism could not be understood in many of its practical manifestations as a party organization, as a system of education, as a discipline, if it were not always looked at in the light of its whole way of conceiving life, a spiritualized way. The world seen through Fascism is not this material world which appears on the surface, in which man is an individual separated from all others and standing by himself, and in which he is governed by a natural law that makes him instinctively live a life of selfish and momentary pleasure. The man of Fascism is an individual who is nation and fatherland, which is a moral law, binding together individuals and the generations into a tradition and a mission, suppressing the instinct for a life enclosed within the brief round of pleasure in order to restore within duty a higher life free from the limits of time and space: a life in which the individual, through the denial of himself, through the sacrifice of his own private interests, through death itself, realizes that completely spiritual existence in which his value as a man lies.

Therefore it is a spiritualized conception, itself the result of the general reaction of modem times against the flabby materialistic positivism of the nineteenth century. Anti-positivistic, but positive: not skeptical, nor agnostic, nor pessimistic, nor passively optimistic, as arc, in general, the doctrines (all negative) that put the centric of life outside man, who with his free will can and must create his own world. Fascism desires an active man, one engaged in activity with all his energies: it desires a man virilely conscious of the difficulties that exist in action and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle, considering that it behooves man to conquer for himself that life truly worthy of him, creating first of all in himself the instrument (physical, moral, intellectual) in order to construct it. Thus for the single individual, thus for the nation, thus for humanity. Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (art, religion, science), and the enormous importance of education. Hence also the essential value of work, with which man conquers nature and creates the human world (economic, political, moral, intellectual).

This positive conception of life is clearly an ethical conception. It covers the whole of reality, not merely the human activity which controls it. No action can be divorced from moral judgment; there is nothing in the world which can be deprived of the value which belongs to everything in its relation to moral ends. Life, therefore, as conceived by the Fascist, is serious, austere, religious: the whole of it is poised in a world supported by the moral and responsible forces of the spirit. The Fascist disdains the “comfortable” life.

Fascism is a religious conception in which man is seen in his immanent relationship with a superior law and with an objective Will that transcends the particular individual and raises him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Whoever has seen in the religious politics of the Fascist regime nothing but mere opportunism has not understood that Fascism besides being a system of government is also, and above all, a system of thought.

Fascism is an historical conception in which man is what he is only in so far as he works with the spiritual process in which he finds himself, in the family or social group, in the nation and in the history in which all nations collaborate. From this follows the great value of tradition, in memories, in language, in customs, in the standards of social life. Outside history man is nothing. consequently Fascism is opposed to all the individualistic abstractions of a materialistic nature like those of the eighteenth century; and it is opposed to all Jacobin utopias and innovations. It does not consider that “happiness” is possible upon earth, as it appeared to be in the desire of the economic literature of the eighteenth century, and hence it rejects all teleological theories according to which mankind would reach a definitive stabilized condition at a certain period in history. This implies putting oneself outside history and life, which is a continual change and coming to be. Politically, Fascism wishes to be a realistic doctrine; practically, it aspires to solve only the problems which arise historically of themselves and that of themselves find or suggest their own solution. To act among men, as to act in the natural world, it is necessary to enter into the process of reality and to master the already operating forces.

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose from the necessity of reacting against absolutism, and which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value,-outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.

Outside the State there can be neither individuals nor groups (political parties, associations, syndicates, classes). Therefore Fascism is opposed to Socialism, which confines the movement of history within the class struggle and ignores the unity of classes established in one economic and moral reality in the State; . . .

Individuals form classes according to the similarity of their interests, they form syndicates according to differentiated economic activities within these interests; but they form first, and above all, the State, which is not to be thought of numerically as the sum-total of individuals forming the majority of a nation. And consequently Fascism is opposed to Democracy, which equates the nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of that majority; nevertheless it is the purest form of democracy if the nation is conceived, as it should be, qualitatively and not quantitatively, as the most powerful idea (most powerful because most moral, most coherent, most true) which acts within the nation as the conscience and the will of a few, even of One, which ideal tends to become active within the conscience and the will of all — that is to say, of all those who rightly constitute a nation by reason of nature, history or race, and have set out upon the same line of development and spiritual formation as one conscience and one sole will. Not a race, nor a geographically determined region, but as a community historically perpetuating itself a multitude unified by a single idea, which is the will to existence and to power: consciousness of itself, personality.

This higher personality is truly the nation in so far as it is the State. It k not the nation that generates the State, as according to the old naturalistic concept which served as the basis of the political theories of the national States of the nineteenth century. Rather the nation is created by the State, which gives to the people, conscious of its own moral unity, a will and therefore an effective existence. The right of a nation to independence derives not from a literary and ideal consciousness of its own being, still less from a more or less unconscious and inert acceptance of a de facto situation, but from an active consciousness, from a political will in action and ready to demonstrate its own rights: that is to say, from a state already coming into being. The State, in fact, as the universal ethical will, is the creator of right.

The nation as the State is an ethical reality which exists and lives in so far as it develops. To arrest its development is to kill it. Therefore the State is not only the authority which governs and gives the form of laws and the value of spiritual life to the wills of individuals, but it is also a power that makes its will felt abroad, making it known and respected, in other words demonstrating the fact of its universality in all the necessary directions of its development. It is consequently organization and expansion, at least virtually. Thus it can be likened to the human will which knows no limits to its development and realizes itself in testing its own limitlessness.

The Fascist State, the highest and most powerful form of personality, is a force, but a spiritual force, which takes over all the forms of the moral and intellectual life of man. It cannot therefore confine itself simply to the functions of order and supervision as Liberalism desired. It is not simply a mechanism which limits the sphere of the supposed liberties of the individual. It is the form, the inner standard and the discipline of the whole person; it saturates the will as well as the intelligence. Its principle, the central inspiration of the human personality living in the civil community, pierces into the depths and makes its home in the heart of the man of action as well as of the thinker, of the artist as well as of the scientist: it is the soul of the soul.

Fascism, in short, is not only the giver of laws and the founder of institutions, but the educator and promoter of spiritual life. It wants to remake, not the forms of human life, but its content, man, character, faith. And to this end it requires discipline and authority that can enter into the spirits of men and there govern unopposed. Its sign, therefore, is the Lictors’ rods, the symbol of unity, of strength and justice.


From Michael J. Oakeshott:
The Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe,
pp. 164-168.
Copyright 1939 by Cambridge University Press.

The Doctrine of Fascism – 1935

Mussolini, Benito. 1935. The Doctrine of fascism. Firenze: Vallecchi.

This is the text published in English and based on an official government document.

Subtitles added by the World Future Fund.



 

Like all sound political conceptions, Fascism is action and it is thought; action in which doctrine is immanent, and doctrine arising from a given system of historical forces in which it is inserted, and working on them from within (1). It has therefore a form correlated to contingencies of time and space; but it has also an ideal content which makes it an expression of truth in the higher region of the history of thought (2). There is no way of exercising a spiritual influence in the world as a human will dominating the will of others, unless one has a conception both of the transient and the specific reality on which that action is to be exercised, and of the permanent and universal reality in which the transient dwells and has its being. To know men one must know man; and to know man one must be acquainted with reality and its laws. There can be no conception of the State which is not fundamentally a conception of life: philosophy or intuition, system of ideas evolving within the framework of logic or concentrated in a vision or a faith, but always, at least potentially, an organic conception of the world.

SPIRITUAL VIEW OF LIFE

Thus many of the practical expressions of Fascism such as party organization, system of education, and discipline can only be understood when considered in relation to its general attitude toward life. A spiritual attitude (3). Fascism sees in the world not only those superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself, self-centered, subject to natural law, which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish momentary pleasure; it sees not only the individual but the nation and the country; individuals and generations bound together by a moral law, with common traditions and a mission which suppressing the instinct for life closed in a brief circle of pleasure, builds up a higher life, founded on duty, a life free from the limitations of time and space, in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists. The conception is therefore a spiritual one, arising from the general reaction of the century against the materialistic positivism of the XIXth century. Anti-positivistic but positive; neither skeptical nor agnostic; neither pessimistic nor supinely optimistic as are, generally speaking, the doctrines (all negative) which place the center of life outside man; whereas, by the exercise of his free will, man can and must create his own world. Fascism wants man to be active and to engage in action with all his energies; it wants him to be manfully aware of the difficulties besetting him and ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind (4). Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (artistic, religious, scientific) (5) and the outstanding importance of education. Hence also the essential value of work, by which man subjugates nature and creates the human world (economic, political, ethical, and intellectual). This positive conception of life is obviously an ethical one. It invests the whole field of reality as well as the human activities which master it. No action is exempt from moral judgment; no activity can be despoiled of the value which a moral purpose confers on all things. Therefore life, as conceived of by the Fascist, is serious, austere, and religious; all its manifestations are poised in a world sustained by moral forces and subject to spiritual responsibilities. The Fascist disdains an “easy” life (6). The Fascist conception of life is a religious one (7), in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the individual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. “Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought.THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION

In the Fascist conception of history, man is man only by virtue of the spiritual process to which he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation, and in function of history to which all nations bring their contribution. Hence the great value of tradition in records, in language, in customs, in the rules of social life (8). Outside history man is a nonentity.

REJECTION OF INDIVIDUALISM AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STATE

Fascism is therefore opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on eighteenth century materialism; and it is opposed to all Jacobinistic utopias and innovations. It does not believe in the possibility of “happiness” on earth as conceived by the economistic literature of the XVIIIth century, and it therefore rejects the theological notion that at some future time the human family will secure a final settlement of all its difficulties. This notion runs counter to experience which teaches that life is in continual flux and in process of evolution. In politics Fascism aims at realism; in practice it desires to deal only with those problems which are the spontaneous product of historic conditions and which find or suggest their own solutions (9). Only by entering in to the process of reality and taking possession of the forces at work within it, can man act on man and on nature (10).

Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity (11). It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual (12). And if liberty is to he the attribute of living men and not of abstract dummies invented by individualistic liberalism, then Fascism stands for liberty, and for the only liberty worth having, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State (13). The Fascist conception of the State is all embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism, is totalitarian, and the Fascist State – a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values – interprets, develops, and potentates the whole life of a people (14).

No individuals or groups (political parties, cultural associations, economic unions, social classes) outside the State (15). Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But 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 (16). Grouped according to their several interests, individuals form classes; they form trade-unions when organized according to their several economic activities; but first and foremost they form the State, which is no mere matter of numbers, the suns of the individuals forming the majority. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number (17); but it is the purest form of democracy if the nation be considered as it should be from the point of view of quality rather than quantity, as an idea, the mightiest because the most ethical, the most coherent, the truest, expressing itself in a people as the conscience and will of the few, if not, indeed, of one, and ending to express itself in the conscience and the will of the mass, of the whole group ethnically molded by natural and historical conditions into a nation, advancing, as one conscience and one will, along the self same line of development and spiritual formation (18). Not a race, nor a geographically defined region, but a people, historically perpetuating itself; a multitude unified by an idea and imbued with the will to live, the will to power, self-consciousness, personality (19). In so far as it is embodied in a State, this higher personality becomes a nation. It is not the nation which generates the State; that is an antiquated naturalistic concept which afforded a basis for XIXth century publicity in favor of national governments. Rather is it the State which creates the nation, conferring volition and therefore real life on a people made aware of their moral unity. The right to national independence does not arise from any merely literary and idealistic form of self-consciousness; still less from a more or less passive and unconscious de facto situation, but from an active, self-conscious, political will expressing itself in action and ready to prove its rights. It arises, in short, from the existence, at least in fieri, of a State. Indeed, it is the State which, as the expression of a universal ethical will, creates the right to national independence (20). A nation, as expressed in the State, is a living, ethical entity only in so far as it is active. Inactivity is death. Therefore the State is not only Authority which governs and confers legal form and spiritual value on individual wills, but it is also Power which makes its will felt and respected beyond its own frontiers, thus affording practical proof of the universal character of the decisions necessary to ensure its development. This implies organization and expansion, potential if not actual. Thus the State equates itself to the will of man, whose development cannot he checked by obstacles and which, by achieving self-expression, demonstrates its infinity (21). FASCIST STATE AS A SPIRITUAL FORCE

The Fascist State, as a higher and more powerful expression of personality, is a force, but a spiritual one. It sums up all the manifestations of the moral and intellectual life of man. Its functions cannot therefore be limited to those of enforcing order and keeping the peace, as the liberal doctrine had it. It is no mere mechanical device for defining the sphere within which the individual may duly exercise his supposed rights. The Fascist State is an inwardly accepted standard and rule of conduct, a discipline of the whole person; it permeates the will no less than the intellect. It stands for a principle which becomes the central motive of man as a member of civilized society, sinking deep down into his personality; it dwells in the heart of the man of action and of the thinker, of the artist and of the man of science: soul of the soul (22).

Fascism, in short, is not only a law-giver and a founder of institutions, but an educator and a promoter of spiritual life. It aims at refashioning not only the forms of life but their content – man, his character, and his faith. To achieve this propose it enforces discipline and uses authority, entering into the soul and ruling with undisputed sway. Therefore it has chosen as its emblem the Lictor’s rods, the symbol of unity, strength, and justice.

POLITICAL AND SOCIAL DOCTRINE – EVOLUTION FROM SOCIALISM

When in the now distant March of 1919, speaking through the columns of the Popolo d’Italia I summoned to Milan the surviving interventionists who had intervened, and who had followed me ever since the foundation of the Fasci of revolutionary action in January 1915, I had in mind no specific doctrinal program. The only doctrine of which I had practical experience was that of socialism, from until the winter of 1914 – nearly a decade. My experience was that both of a follower and a leader but it was not doctrinal experience. My doctrine during that period had been the doctrine of action. A uniform, universally accepted doctrine of Socialism had not existed since 1905, when the revisionist movement, headed by Bernstein, arose in Germany, countered by the formation, in the see-saw of tendencies, of a left revolutionary movement which in Italy never quitted the field of phrases, whereas, in the case of Russian socialism, it became the prelude to Bolshevism.

Reformism, revolutionism, centrism, the very echo of that terminology is dead, while in the great river of Fascism one can trace currents which had their source in Sorel, Peguy, Lagardelle of the Movement Socialists, and in the cohort of Italian syndicalist who from 1904 to 1914 brought a new note into the Italian socialist environment – previously emasculated and chloroformed by fornicating with Giolitti’s party – a note sounded in Olivetti’s Pagine Libere, Orano’s Lupa, Enrico Leone’s Divenirs Socials. When the war ended in 1919 Socialism, as a doctrine, was already dead; it continued to exist only as a grudge, especially in Italy where its only chance lay in inciting to reprisals against the men who had willed the war and who were to be made to pay for it. The Popolo d’Italia described itself in its subtitle as the daily organ of fighters and producers. The word producer was already the expression of a mental trend. Fascism was not the nursling of a doctrine previously drafted at a desk; it was born of the need of action, and was action; it was not a party but, in the first two years, an anti-party and a movement. The name I gave the organization fixed its character.

Yet if anyone cares to reread the now crumpled sheets of those days giving an account of the meeting at which the Italian Fasci di combattimento were founded, he will find not a doctrine but a series of pointers, forecasts, hints which, when freed from the inevitable matrix of contingencies, were to develop in a few years time into a series of doctrinal positions entitling Fascism to rank as a political doctrine differing from all others, past or present. “If the bourgeoisie – I then said – believe that they have found in us their lightening-conductors, they arc mistaken. We must go towards the people… We wish the working classes to accustom themselves to the responsibilities of management so that they may realize that it is no easy matter to run a business… We will fight both technical and spiritual rear-guirdism… Now that the succession of the re­gime is open we must not be fainthearted. We must rush forward; if the present regime is to be superseded we must take its place. The right of succession is ours, for we urged the country to enter the war and we led it to victory… The existing forms of political representation cannot satisfy us; we want direst representation of the several interests… It may be objected that this program implies a return to the guilds (corporazioni). No matter!. I therefore hope this assembly will accept the economic claims advanced by national syndicalism … Is it not strange that from the very first day, at Piazza San Sepolcro, the word “guild” (corporazione) was pronounced, a word which, as the Revolution developed, was to express one of the basic legislative and social creations of the regime? The years preceding the march on Rome cover a period during which the need of action forbade delay and careful doctrinal elaborations. Fighting was going on in the towns and villages. There were discussions but… there was some­thing more sacred and more important… death… Fascists knew how to die. A doctrine – fully elaborated, divided up into chapters and paragraphs with annotations, may have been lacking, but it was replaced by something far more decisive, – by a faith. All the same, if with the help of books, articles, resolutions passed at congresses, major and minor speeches, anyone should care to revive the memory of those days, he will find, provided he knows how to seek and select, that the doctrinal foundations were laid while the battle was still raging. Indeed, it was during those years that Fascist thought armed, refined itself, and proceeded ahead with its organization. The problems of the individual and the State; the problems of authority and liberty; political, social, and more especially national problems were discussed; the conflict with liberal, democratic, socialistic, Masonic doctrines and with those of the Partito Popolare, was carried on at the same time as the punitive expeditions. Nevertheless, the lack of a formal system was used by disingenuous adversaries as an argument for proclaiming Fascism incapable of elaborating a doctrine at the very time when that doctrine was being formulated – no matter how tumultuously, – first, as is the case with all new ideas, in the guise of violent dogmatic negations; then in the more positive guise of constructive theories, subsequently incorporated, in 1926, 1927, and 1928, in the laws and institutions of the regime. Fascism is now clearly defined not only as a regime but as a doctrine. This means that Fascism, exercising its critical faculties on itself and on others, has studied from its own special standpoint and judged by its own standards all the problems affecting the material and intellectual interests now causing such grave anxiety to the nations of the world, and is ready to deal with them by its own policies. REJECTION OF PACIFISM

First of all, as regards the future development of mankind, and quite apart from all present political considerations. Fascism does not, generally speaking, believe in the possibility or utility of perpetual peace. It therefore discards pacifism as a cloak for cowardly supine renunciation in contradistinction to self-sacrifice. War alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets the seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it. All other tests are substitutes which never place a man face to face with himself before the alternative of life or death. Therefore all doctrines which postulate peace at all costs are incompatible with Fascism. Equally foreign to the spirit of Fascism, even if accepted as useful in meeting special political situations — are all internationalistic or League superstructures which, as history shows, crumble to the ground whenever the heart of nations is deeply stirred by sentimental, idealistic or practical considerations. Fascism carries this anti-pacifistic attitude into the life of the individual. ” I don’t care a damn „ (me ne frego) – the proud motto of the fighting squads scrawled by a wounded man on his bandages, is not only an act of philosophic stoicism, it sums up a doctrine which is not merely political: it is evidence of a fighting spirit which accepts all risks. It signifies new style of Italian life. The Fascist accepts and loves life; he rejects and despises suicide as cowardly. Life as he understands it means duty, elevation, conquest; life must be lofty and full, it must be lived for oneself but above all for others, both near bye and far off, present and future.

The population policy of the regime is the consequence of these premises. The Fascist loves his neighbor, but the word neighbor does not stand for some vague and unseizable conception. Love of one’s neighbor does not exclude necessary educational severity; still less does it exclude differentiation and rank. Fascism will have nothing to do with universal embraces; as a member of the community of nations it looks other peoples straight in the eyes; it is vigilant and on its guard; it follows others in all their manifestations and notes any changes in their interests; and it does not allow itself to be deceived by mutable and fallacious appearances. REJECTION OF MARXISM

Such a conception of life makes Fascism the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of the class struggle and by changes in the processes and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else.

That the vicissitudes of economic life – discoveries of raw materials, new technical processes, and scientific inventions – have their importance, no one denies; but that they suffice to explain human history to the exclusion of other factors is absurd. Fascism believes now and always in sanctity and heroism, that is to say in acts in which no economic motive – remote or immediate – is at work. Having denied historic materialism, which sees in men mere puppets on the surface of history, appearing and disappearing on the crest of the waves while in the depths the real directing forces move and work, Fascism also denies the immutable and irreparable character of the class struggle which is the natural outcome of this economic conception of history; above all it denies that the class struggle is the preponderating agent in social transformations. Having thus struck a blow at socialism in the two main points of its doctrine, all that remains of it is the sentimental aspiration, old as humanity itself-toward social relations in which the sufferings and sorrows of the humbler folk will be alleviated. But here again Fascism rejects the economic interpretation of felicity as something to be secured socialistically, almost automatically, at a given stage of economic evolution when all will be assured a maximum of material comfort. Fascism denies the materialistic conception of happiness as a possibility, and abandons it to the economists of the mid-eighteenth century. This means that Fascism denies the equation: well-being = happiness, which sees in men mere animals, content when they can feed and fatten, thus reducing them to a vegetative existence pure and simple. REJECTION OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY AS A SHAM AND A FRAUD

After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies, and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements. Fascism denies that numbers, as such, can be the determining factor in human society; it denies the right of numbers to govern by means of periodical consultations; it asserts the irremediable and fertile and beneficent inequality of men who cannot be leveled by any such mechanical and extrinsic device as universal suffrage. Democratic regimes may be described as those under which the people are, from time to time, deluded into the belief that they exercise sovereignty, while all the time real sovereignty resides in and is exercised by other and sometimes irresponsible and secret forces. Democracy is a kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive, tyrannical, and destructive than one, even if he be a tyrant. This explains why Fascism – although, for contingent reasons, it was republican in tendency prior to 1922 – abandoned that stand before the March on Rome, convinced that the form of government is no longer a matter of preeminent importance, and because the study of past and present monarchies and past and present republics shows that neither monarchy nor republic can be judged sub specie aeternitatis, but that each stands for a form of government expressing the political evolution, the history, the traditions, and the psychology of a given country.

Fascism has outgrown the dilemma: monarchy v. republic, over which democratic regimes too long dallied, attributing all insufficiencies to the former and proning the latter as a regime of perfection, whereas experience teaches that some republics are inherently reactionary and absolutist while some monarchies accept the most daring political and social experiments. In one of his philosophic Meditations Renan – who had prefascist intuitions remarks, “Reason and science are the products of mankind, but it is chimerical to seek reason directly for the people and through the people. It is not essential to the existence of reason that all should be familiar with it; and even if all had to be initiated, this could not be achieved through democracy which seems fated to lead to the extinction of all arduous forms of culture and all highest forms of learning. The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature’s plans, which care only for the species and seem ready to sacrifice the individual. It is much to be feared that the last word of democracy thus understood (and let me hasten to add that it is susceptible of a different interpretation) would be a form of society in which a degenerate mass would have no thought beyond that of enjoying the ignoble pleasures of the vulgar.” REJECTION OF EGALITARIANISM

In rejecting democracy, Fascism rejects the absurd conventional lie of political equalitarianism, the habit of collective irresponsibility, the myth of felicity and indefinite progress.

DEFINITION OF FASCISM AS REAL DEMOCRACY

But if democracy be understood as meaning a regime in which the masses are not driven back to the margin of the State, and then the writer of these pages has already defined Fascism as an organized, centralized, authoritarian democracy.

REJECTION OF ECONOMIC LIBERALISM – ADMIRATION OF BISMARCK

Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere. The importance of liberalism in the XIXth century should not be exaggerated for present day polemical purposes, nor should we make of one of the many doctrines which flourished in that century a religion for mankind for the present and for all time to come. Liberalism really flourished for fifteen years only. It arose in 1830 as a reaction to the Holy Alliance which tried to force Europe to recede further back than 1789; it touched its zenith in 1848 when even Pius IXth was a liberal. Its decline began immediately after that year. If 1848 was a year of light and poetry, 1849 was a year of darkness and tragedy. The Roman Republic was killed by a sister republic, that of France. In that same year Marx, in his famous Communist Manifesto, launched the gospel of socialism.

In 1851 Napoleon III made his illiberal coup d’etat and ruled France until 1870 when he was turned out by a popular rising following one of the severest military defeats known to history. The victor was Bismarck who never even knew the whereabouts of liberalism and its prophets. It is symptomatic that throughout the XIXth century the religion of liberalism was completely unknown to so highly civilized a people as the Germans but for one parenthesis which has been described as the “ridiculous parliament of Frankfort ” which lasted just one season. Germany attained her national unity outside liberalism and in opposition to liberalism, a doctrine which seems foreign to the German temperament, essentially monarchical, whereas liberalism is the historic and logical anteroom to anarchy. The three stages in the making of German unity were the three wars of 1864, 1866, and 1870, led by such “liberals” as Moltke and Bismarck. And in the upbuilding of Italian unity liberalism played a very minor part when compared to the contribution made by Mazzini and Garibaldi who were not liberals. But for the intervention of the illiberal Napoleon III we should not have had Lombardy, and without that of the illiberal Bismarck at Sadowa and at Sedan very probably we should not have had Venetia in 1866 and in 1870 we should not have entered Rome. The years going from 1870 to 1915 cover a period which marked, even in the opinion of the high priests of the new creed, the twilight of their religion, attacked by decadentism in literature and by activism in practice. Activism: that is to say nationalism, futurism, fascism.
rengt­en The liberal century, after piling up innumerable Gordian Knots, tried to cut them with the sword of the world war. Never has any religion claimed so cruel a sacrifice. Were the Gods of liberalism thirsting for blood?

Now liberalism is preparing to close the doors of its temples, deserted by the peoples who feel that the agnosticism it professed in the sphere of economics and the indifferentism of which it has given proof in the sphere of politics and morals, would lead the world to ruin in the future as they have done in the past.

This explains why all the political experiments of our day are anti-liberal, and it is supremely ridiculous to endeavor on this account to put them outside the pale of history, as though history were a preserve set aside for liberalism and its adepts; as though liberalism were the last word in civilization beyond which no one can go. THE FASCIST TOTALITARIAN VISION OF THE FUTURE

The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet. Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes. Neither has the Fascist conception of authority anything in common with that of a police ridden State. A party governing a nation “totalitarianly” is a new departure in history. There are no points of reference nor of comparison. From beneath the ruins of liberal, socialist, and democratic doctrines, Fascism extracts those elements which are still vital. It preserves what may be described as “the acquired facts” of history; it rejects all else. That is to say, it rejects the idea of a doctrine suited to all times and to all people. Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ” right “, a Fascist century. If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the “collective” century, and therefore the century of the State. It is quite logical for a new doctrine to make use of the still vital elements of other doctrines. No doctrine was ever born quite new and bright and unheard of. No doctrine can boast absolute originality. It is always connected, it only historically, with those which preceded it and those which will follow it. Thus the scientific socialism of Marx links up to the utopian socialism of the Fouriers, the Owens, the Saint-Simons ; thus the liberalism of the XIXth century traces its origin back to the illuministic movement of the XVIIIth, and the doctrines of democracy to those of the Encyclopaedists. All doctrines aim at directing the activities of men towards a given objective; but these activities in their turn react on the doctrine, modifying and adjusting it to new needs, or outstripping it. A doctrine must therefore be a vital act and not a verbal display. Hence the pragmatic strain in Fascism, it’s will to power, its will to live, its attitude toward violence, and its value.

THE ABSOLUTE PRIMACY OF THE STATE

The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State. Instead of directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community, the liberal State restricts its activities to recording results. The Fascist State is wide awake and has a will of its own. For this reason it can be described as ” ethical “.

At the first quinquennial assembly of the regime, in 1929, I said “The Fascist State is not a night watchman, solicitous only of the personal safety of the citizens; not is it organized exclusively for the purpose of guarantying a certain degree of material prosperity and relatively peaceful conditions of life, a board of directors would do as much. Neither is it exclusively political, divorced from practical realities and holding itself aloof from the multifarious activities of the citizens and the nation. The State, as conceived and realized by Fascism, is a spiritual and ethical entity for securing the political, juridical, and economic organization of the nation, an organization which in its origin and growth is a manifestation of the spirit. The State guarantees the internal and external safety of the country, but it also safeguards and transmits the spirit of the people, elaborated down the ages in its language, its customs, its faith. The State is not only the present; it is also the past and above all the future. Transcending the individual’s brief spell of life, the State stands for the immanent conscience of the nation. The forms in which it finds expression change, but the need for it remains. The State educates the citizens to civism, makes them aware of their mission, urges them to unity; its justice harmonizes their divergent interests; it transmits to future generations the conquests of the mind in the fields of science, art, law, human solidarity; it leads men up from primitive tribal life to that highest manifestation of human power, imperial rule. The State hands down to future generations the memory of those who laid down their lives to ensure its safety or to obey its laws; it sets up as examples and records for future ages the names of the captains who enlarged its territory and of the men of genius who have made it famous. Whenever respect for the State declines and the disintegrating and centrifugal tendencies of individuals and groups prevail, nations are headed for decay”. Since 1929 economic and political development have everywhere emphasized these truths. The importance of the State is rapidly growing. The so-called crisis can only be settled by State action and within the orbit of the State. Where are the shades of the Jules Simons who, in the early days of liberalism proclaimed that the “State should endeavor to render itself useless and prepare to hand in its resignation “? Or of the MacCullochs who, in the second half of last century, urged that the State should desist from governing too much? And what of the English Bentham who considered that all industry asked of government was to be left alone, and of the German Humbolt who expressed the opinion that the best government was a lazy ” one? What would they say now to the unceasing, inevitable, and urgently requested interventions of government in business? It is true that the second generation of economists was less uncompromising in this respect than the first, and that even Adam Smith left the door ajar – however cautiously – for government intervention in business.

If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. The Fascist State is, however, a unique and original creation. It is not reactionary but revolutionary, for it anticipates the solution of certain universal problems which have been raised elsewhere, in the political field by the splitting up of parties, the usurpation of power by parliaments, the irresponsibility of assemblies; in the economic field by the increasingly numerous and important functions discharged by trade unions and trade associations with their disputes and ententes, affecting both capital and labor; in the ethical field by the need felt for order, discipline, obedience to the moral dictates of patriotism.

Fascism desires the State to be strong and organic, based on broad foundations of popular support. The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporative, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their res­pective associations, circulate within the State. A State based on millions of individuals who recognize its authority, feel its action, and are ready to serve its ends is not the tyrannical state of a mediaeval lordling. It has nothing in common with the despotic States existing prior to or subsequent to 1789. Far from crushing the individual, the Fascist State multiplies his energies, just as in a regiment a soldier is not diminished but multiplied by the number of his fellow soldiers. The Fascist State organizes the nation, but it leaves the individual adequate elbow room. It has curtailed useless or harmful liberties while preserving those which are essential. In such matters the individual cannot be the judge, but the State only. The Fascist

State is not indifferent to religious phenomena in general nor does it maintain an attitude of indifference to Roman Catholicism, the special, positive religion of Italians. The State has not got a theology but it has a moral code. The Fascist State sees in religion one of the deepest of spiritual manifestations and for this reason it not only respects religion but defends and protects it. The Fascist State does not attempt, as did Robespierre at the height of the revolutionary delirium of the Convention, to set up a “god” of its own; nor does it vainly seek, as does Bolshevism, to efface God from the soul of man. Fascism respects the God of ascetics, saints, and heroes, and it also respects God as conceived by the ingenuous and primitive heart of the people, the God to whom their prayers are raised.

The Fascist State expresses the will to exercise power and to command. Here the Roman tradition is embodied in a conception of strength. Imperial power, as understood by the Fascist doctrine, is not only territorial, or military, or commercial; it is also spiritual and ethical. An imperial nation, that is to say a nation a which directly or indirectly is a leader of others, can exist without the need of conquering a single square mile of territory. Fascism sees in the imperialistic spirit — i.e. in the tendency of nations to expand – a manifestation of their vitality. In the opposite tendency, which would limit their interests to the home country, it sees a symptom of decadence. Peoples who rise or rearise are imperialistic; renunciation is characteristic of dying peoples. The Fascist doctrine is that best suited to the tendencies and feelings of a people which, like the Italian, after lying fallow during centuries of foreign servitude, are now reasserting itself in the world. But imperialism implies discipline, the coordination of efforts, a deep sense of duty and a spirit of self-sacrifice. This explains many aspects of the practical activity of the regime, and the direction taken by many of the forces of the State, as also the severity which has to be exercised towards those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of XXth century Italy by agitating outgrown ideologies of the XIXth century, ideologies rejected wherever great experiments in political and social transformations are being dared. Never before have the peoples thirsted for authority, direction, order, as they do now. If each age has its doctrine, then innumerable symptoms indicate that the doctrine of our age is the Fascist. That it is vital is shown by the fact that it has aroused a faith; that this faith has conquered souls is shown by the fact that Fascism can point to its fallen heroes and its martyrs. Fascism has now acquired throughout the world that universally which belongs to all doctrines which by achieving self-expression represent a moment in the history of human thought.

EndNotes

Philosophic conception

(1) If Fascism does not wish to die or, worse still, commit suicide, it must now provide itself with a doctrine. Yet this shall not and must not be a robe of Nessus clinging to us for all eternity, for tomorrow is some thing mysterious and unforeseen. This doctrine shall be a norm to guide political and individual action in our daily life.

I who have I dictated this doctrine, am the first to realize that the modest tables of our laws and program the theoretical and practical guidance of Fascism should be revised, corrected, enlarged, developed, because already in parts they have suffered injury at the hand of time. I believe the essence and fundamentals of the doctrine are still to be found in the postulates which throughout two years have acted as a call to arms for the recruits of Italian Fascism. However, in taking those first fundamental assumptions for a starting point, we must proceed to carry our program into a vaster field. Italian Fascists, one and all, should cooperate in this task, one of vital importance to Fascism, and more especially those who belong to regions where with and without agreement peaceful coexistence has been achieved between two antagonistic movements.

The word I am about to use is a great one, but indeed I do wish that during the two months which are still to elapse before our National Assembly meets, the philosophy of Fascism could be created. Milan is already contributing with the first Fascist school of propaganda. It is not merely a question of gathering elements for a program, to be used as a solid foundation for the constitution of a party which must inevitably arise from the Fascist movement; it is also a question of denying the silly tale that Fascism is all made up of violent men. In point of fact among Fascists there are many men who belong to the restless but meditative class.

The new course taken by Fascist activity will in no way diminish the fighting spirit typical of Fascism. To furnish the mind with doctrines and creeds does not mean to disarm, rather it signifies to strengthen our power of action, and make us ever more conscious of our work. Soldiers who fight fully conscious of the cause make the best of warriors. Fascism takes for its own the twofold device of Mazzini : Thought and Action  (Letter to Michele Bianchi, written on August 27, 1921, for the opening of the School of Fascist Culture and Propaganda in Milan, in Messaggi e Proclami, Milano, Libreria d’Italia, 1929, P. 39).

Fascists must be placed in contact with one another; their activity must be an activity of doctrine, an activity of the spirit and of thought. Had our adversaries been present at our meeting, they would have been convinced that Fascism is not only action, but thought as well (Speech before the National Council of the Fascist Party, August 8, 1924, in La Nuova Politica dell’Italia, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 267).

(2) Today I hold that Fascism as an idea, a doctrine, a realization, is universal; it is Italian in its particular institutions, but it is universal in the spirit, nor could it be otherwise. The spirit is universal by reason of its nature. Therefore anyone may foresee a Fascist Europe. Drawing inspiration for her institutions from the doctrine and practice of Fascism; Europe , in other words, giving a Fascist turn to the solution of problems which beset the modern State, the Twentieth Century State which is very different from the States existing before 1789, and the States formed immediately after. Today Fascism fills universal requirements; Fascism solves the threefold problem of relations between State and individual, between State and associations, between associations and organized associations. (Message for the year 1 October 27, 1930, in Discorsi del 1930, Milano, Alpes, 1931, p. 211).

Spiritualized conception

(3) This political process is flanked by a philosophic process. If it be true that matter was on the altars for one century, today it is the spirit which takes its place. All manifestations peculiar to the democratic spirit are consequently repudiated: easygoingness, improvisation, the lack of a personal sense of responsibility, the exaltation of numbers and of that mysterious divinity called n The People a. All creations of the spirit starting with that religious are coming to the fore, and nobody dare keep up the attitude of anticlericalism which, for several decades, was a favorite with Democracy in the Western world. By saying that God is returning, we mean that spiritual values are returning. (Da the parte va it mondo, in Tempi della Rivoluzione Fascista, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 34).

There is a field reserved more to meditation upon the supreme ends of life than to a research of these ends. Consequently science starts from experience, but breaks out fatally into philosophy and, in my opinion, philosophy alone can enlighten science and lead to the universal idea. (To the Congress of Science at Bologna , October 31, 19,26, in Discorsidel 1926. Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 268).

In order to understand the Fascist movement one must first appreciate the underlying spiritual phenomenon in all its vastness and depth. The manifestations of the movement have been of a powerful and decisive nature, but one should go further. In point of fact Italian Fascism has not only been a political revolt against weak and incapable governments who had allowed State authority to decay and were threatening to arrest the progress of the country, but also a spiritual revolt against old ideas which had corrupted the sacred principles of religion, of faith, of country. Fascism, therefore, has been a revolt of the people. (Message to the British people; January 5, 1924, in Messaggi e Proclami, Milano, Libreria d’ Italia, 1929, p. 107).

3. Positive conception of life as a struggle

(4) Struggle is at the origin of all things, for life is full of contrasts: there is love and hatred, white and black, day and night, good and evil; and until these contrasts achieve balance, struggle fatefully remains at the root of human nature. However, it is good for it to be so. Today we can indulge in wars, economic battles, conflicts of ideas, but if a day came to pass when struggle ceased to exist, that day would be tinged with melancholy; it would be a day of ruin, the day of ending. But thaver discloses new horizons. By attempting to restore calm, peace, tranquility, or. A would be fighting the tendencies of the present period of dynamism. Ore must be prepared for other struggles and for other surprises. Peace will only come when people surrender to a Christian dream of universal brotherhood, when they can hold out hands across the ocean and over the mountains. Personally I do not believe very much in these idealisms, but I do not exclude them for I exclude nothing. (At the Politeama Rossetti, Trieste, September 20, 1920 in Discorsi Politici, Milano, Stab. Tipografico del « Popolo d’ Italia » , 1921, p. 107).

(5) For me the honor of nations consists in the contribution they have severally made to human civilization. (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, London, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 199)

Ethical conception

I called the organization Fasci Italiani Di Combatimento. This hard metallic name compromised the whole program of Fascism as I dreamed it. Comrades, this is still our program: fight. Life for the Fascist is a continuous, ceaseless fight, which we accept with ease, with great courage, with the necessary intrepidity. (On the VIIth anniversary of the Foundation of the Fasci, March 28, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 7, p.98 You touch the core of Fascist philosophy. When recently a Finnish philosopher asked me to expound to him the significance of Fascism in one sentence, I wrote in German: ((We are against the “easy life”! (E. Ludwig: Talks with Mussolini, London, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 190).

5. Religious conception (7) If Fascism were not a creed, how could it endow its followers with courage and stoicism only a creed which has soared to the heights of religion can inspire such words as passed the lips, now lifeless alas, of Federico Florio. (Legami di Sangue, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 256).

6. Historical and realistic conception

(8) Tradition certainly is one of the greatest spiritual forces of a people, inasmuch as it is a successive and constant creation of their soul. (Breve Preludio, in Tempi della Rivoluzione Fascista, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 13)

(9) Our temperament leads us to appraise the concrete aspect of problems, rather than their ideological or mystical sublimation. Therefore we easily regain our balance. (Aspetti del Dramma, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 86).

Our battle is an ungrateful one, yet it is a beautiful battle since it compels us to count only upon our own forces. Revealed truths we have torn to shreds, dogmas we have spat upon, we have rejected all theories of paradise, we have baffled charlatans white, red, black charlatans who placed miraculous drugs on the market to give a happiness n to mankind. We do not believe in program, in plans, in saints or apostles, above all we believe not in happiness, in salvation, in the Promised Land. (Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 223). We do not believe in a single solution, be it economical, political or moral, a linear solution of the problems of life, because of illustrious choristers from all the sacristies life is not linear and can never be reduced to a segment traced by primordial needs. (Navigare necesse, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 233).(10) We are not and do not wish to be motionless mummies, with faces perpetually turned towards the same horizon, nor do we wish to shut ourselves up within the narrow hedges of subversive bigotry, where formulas, like prayers of a professed religion, are muttered mechanically. We are men, living men, who wish to give our contribution, however ‘modest, to the creation of history. (Audacia, in Diu­ turna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p.233)

We uphold moral and traditional values which Socialism neglects or despises; but, above all, Fascism has a horror of anything implying an arbitrary mortgage on the mysterious future. (Dopo due anni, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 242).

In spite of the theories of conservation and renovation, of tradition and progress expounded by the right and the left, we do not cling desperately to the past as to a last board of salvation: yet we do not dash headlong into the seductive mists of the future. (Breve preludio, in Diuturna, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 14) Negation, eternal immobility, mean damnation. I am all for motion. I am, one who marches on (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, Lot Jon, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 203). 7. The individual and liberty

(11) We were the first to state, in the face of demo liberal individualism, that the individual exists only in so far as he is within the State and subjected to the requirements of the state and that, as civilization assumes aspects which grow more and more complicated, individual freedom becomes more and more restricted. (To the General staff Conference of Fascism, in Discorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 280).

The sense of the state grows within the consciousness of Italians, for they feel that the state alone is the irreplaceable safeguard of their unit and independence; that the state alone represents continuity into the future of their stock and their history. (Message on the VIIth all anniversary, October 25, 1929, Discorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 300).

If, in the course of the past eight years, we have made such astounding progress, you may well think suppose and foresee that in the course of the next fifty or eighty years the onward trend of Italy, of this Italy we feel to be so powerful, so full of vital fluid, will really be grandiose. It will be so especially if concord lasts among citizens, if the State continues to be sole arbitrator in political and social conflicts, if all remains within the state and nothing outside the State, because it is impossible to conceive any individual existing outside the State unless he be a savage whose home is in the solitude of she sandy desert. (Speech before the Senate, May 12, 1928, in Discorsi del 1928, Milano, Alpes, 1929, p. 109).

Fascism has restored to the State its sovereign functions by claiming its absolute ethical meaning, against the egotism of classes and categories; to the Government of the state, which was reduced to a mere instrument of electoral assemblies, it has restored dignity, as representing the personality of the state and its power of Empire. It has rescued State administration from the weight of factions and party interests (To the council of state, December 22, 1928, in Discorsi Del 1928, Milano, Alpes, 1929 p.328).

(12) Let no one think of denying the moral character of Fascism. For I should be ashamed to speak from this tribune if I did not feel that I represent the moral and spiritual powers of the state. What would the state be if it did not possess a spirit of its own, and a morality of its own, which lend power to the laws in virtue of which the state is obeyed by its citizens?

The Fascist state claims its ethical character: it is Catholic but above all it is Fascist, in fact it is exclusively and essentially Fascist. Catholicism completes Fascism, and this we openly declare, but let no one think they can turn the tables on us, under cover of metaphysics or philosophy. (To the Chamber of Deputies, May 13, 1929, in Discorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 182). A State which is fully aware of its mission and represents a people which are marching on; a state which necessarily transforms the people even in their physical aspect. In order to be something more than a mere administrator, the State must utter great words, expound great ideas and place great problems before this people (Di­ scorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 183).

(13) The concept of freedom is not absolute because nothing is ever absolute in life. Freedom is not a right, it is a duty. It is not a gift, it is a conquest; it is not equality, it is a privilege. The concept of freedom changes with the passing of time. There is a freedom in times of peace which is not the freedom of times of war. There is a freedom in times of prosperity which is not a freedom to be allowed in times of poverty. (Fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Fasci di Combattimento, March 24, 1924, in La nuova politica dell’Italia, vol. III, Milano, Alpes, 1925, p. 30). In our state the individual is not deprived of freedom. In fact, he has greater liberty than an isolated man, because the state protects him and he is part of the State. Isolated man is without defence. (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, London, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 129).

(14) Today we may tell the world of the creation of the powerful united State of Italy, ranging from the Alps to Sicily; this State is expressed by a well-organized, centralized, unitarian democracy, where people circulate at case. Indeed, gentlemen, you admit the people into the citadel of the State and the people will defend it, if you close them out, the people will assault it. (speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 26, 1927, in Discorsi del 1927, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 159). In the Fascist regime the unity of classes, the political, social and coral unity of the Italian people is realized within the state, and only within the Fascist state. (speech before the Chamber of Deputies, December 9, 1928, in Discorsi del 1928, Milano, Alpes, 1929, p. 333).

8. Conception of a corporative state

(15) We have created the united state of Italy remember that since the Empire Italy had not been a united state. Here I wish to reaffirm solemnly our doctrine of the State. Here I wish to reaffirm with no weaker energy, the formula I expounded at the scala in Milan everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state. (speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 26, 1927, Discorsi del 1927, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 157).

(16) We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state. We stand for a new principle in the world, we stand for sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy, plutocracy, free-masonry, to the world which still abides by the fundamental principles laid down in 1789. (Speech before the new National Directory of the Party, April 7, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 120).

The Ministry of Corporations is not a bureaucratic organ, nor does it wish to exercise the functions of syndical organizations which are necessarily independent, since they aim at organizing, selecting and improving the members of syndicates. The Ministry of Corporations is an institution in virtue of which, in the centre and outside, integral corporation becomes an accomplished fact, where balance is achieved between interests and forces of the economic world. Such a glance is only possible within the sphere of the state, because the state alone transcends the contrasting interests of groups and individuals, in view of co-coordinating them to achieve higher aims. The achievement of these aims is speeded up by the fact that all economic organizations, acknowledged, safeguarded and supported by the Corporative State, exist within the orbit of Fascism; in other terms they accept the conception of Fascism in theory and in practice. (speech at the opening of the Ministry of Corporations, July 31, 1926, in Di­scorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 250). We have constituted a Corporative and Fascist state, the state of national society, a State which concentrates, controls, harmonizes and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure. Whereas, during the years of demo-liberal regime, labour looked with diffidence upon the state, was, in fact, outside the State and against the state, and considered the state an enemy of every day and every hour, there is not one working Italian today who does not seek a place in his Corporation or federation, who does not wish to be a living atom of that great, immense, living organization which is the national Corporate State of Fascism. (On the Fourth Anniversary of the March on Rome, October 28, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 340). 9. Democracy

(17) The war was revolutionary, in the sense that with streams of blood it did away with the century of Democracy, the century of number, the century of majorities and of quantities. (Da che parte va il Mondo, in Tempi della Rivoluzione Fascista, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 37)

(18) Cf. note 13.

(19) Race: it is a feeling and not a reality; 95 %, a feeling. (E. Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini, London, Allen and Unwin, 1932, p. 75). 10. Conception of the state

(20) A nation exists inasmuch as it is a people. A people rise inasmuch as they are numerous, hard working and well regulated. Power is the outcome of this threefold principle. (To the General Assembly of the Party, March lo, 1929, in Discorsi del 1929, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 24).

Fascism does not deny the State; Fascism maintains that a civic society, national or imperial, cannot be conceived unless in the form of a State (Stab, anti-Slato, Fascismo, in Tempi della Rivoluzione Fa­scista, Milano, Alpes, 1930, p. 94). For us the Nation is mainly spirit and not only territory. There are States which owned immense territories and yet left no trace in the history of mankind. Neither is it a question of number, because there have been, in history, small, microscopic States, which left immortal, imperishable documents in art and philosophy. The greatness of a nation is the compound of all these virtues and conditions. A nation is great when the power of the spirit is translated into reality. (Speech at Naples, October 24, 1922, in Discorsi della Rivoluzione, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 103). We wish to unity the nation within the sovereign State, which is above everyone rid can afford to be against everyone, since it represents the moral continuity of the nation in history. Without the State there is no nation. There are, merely. human aggregations. subject to all the disintegration’s which history may inflict upon them. (Speech before the National Council of the Fascist Party, August 8, 1924, in La Nuova Politica dell’Italia, vol. III; Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. 269). 11. Dynamic reality

(21) I believe that if a people wish to live, they should develop a will to power, otherwise they vegetate, live miserably and become prey to a stronger people, in whom this will to power is developed to a higher degree. (Speech to the Senate, May 28, 1926).

(22) It is Fascism which has refashioned the character of the Italians, removing impurity from our souls, tempering us to all sacrifices, restoring the true aspect of strength and beauty to our Italian face. (Speech delivered at Pisa ,

May 25, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 193). It is not out of place to illustrate the intrinsic character and profound significance of the Fascist Levy. It is not merely a ceremony, but a very important stage in the system of education and integral preparation of Italian men which the Fascist revolution considers one of the fundamental duties of the State: fundamental indeed, for if the State does not fulfill this duty or in any way accepts to place it under discussion, the State merely and simply forfeits its right to exist. (Speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 28, 1928, in Discorsi del 1928, Milano, Alpes, 1929, p. 68).

Trump a Fascist?

Some Early Analysis with Crabby Comments by Chip

Right-Wing Populism is a more useful term at this stage than Fascism and Totalitarianism, even though Trump’s rhetoric, persona, and policies have echoes of both.

For the website for the book Right-Wing Populism in America, Click Here.

The words Fascism and Totalitarianism have evolved over time, but while a contentious debate continues in academia, there is a core general consensus emerging as to an acceptable range of definitions.

Trump certainly has evoked various styles and rhetorical content linked to Fascism’s twin terrors, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Yet the term right-wing populism is a better fit, as Cas Mudde explained in the Washington Post (below).

Read more here about how right right-wing populism can devolve into fascism~~~

Cas Mudde, Washington Post:

“Trumpism” is far too big a term for the incoherent and ever-shifting views of Trump. It is impossible to discern an ideology that Trump adheres to. He never developed a real ideological platform and has been inconsistent on core issues – from pro-choice to anti-abortion, from pro-universal health care to anti-Obamacare, etc. However, his current popularity does seem to be based on a combination of features that defines Europe’s contemporary populist radical right: nativism, authoritarianism, and populism. Just like politicians like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands – whose main campaign poster reads: “More Security. Less Immigration” – Trump links immigration and crime in his speeches. He thereby plays on widespread beliefs that illegal immigration is causing an increase in serious crime.

(bold highlight added)

What follows is an informal review of and analysis of articles involving the 2015 candidacy of Donald Trump and the political concepts of Fascism and totalitarianism. I usually create several timelines for fact-checking any major article that I am writing. I usually add short notes, but here I have added more and lengthier comments than usual.

July 7, 2015 – Tucker in Newsweek

It seems that much of the media maelstrom over Trump and Fascism was prompted by a well-written polemic in Newsweek, by Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist,” published on July 7 2015.[1]

Itake issue with almost every paragraph in Tucker’s essay because it is pure propaganda for so-called “Free Market” capitalism as being the savior of democracy. I argue that “Free Market” capitalism has created a form of predatory elitist oligarchy that has gutted American democracy like an Oregon salmon.

Tucker commenting on Trump and Fascism in Newsweek is like the editors like asking a member of the flat-earth society to write an essay on geography–only a tiny fraction of scholars of fascism support Tucker’s view.

Tucker slaps down the unwashed masses by writing “The thousands who attend [Trump’s] rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world…”

Then Tucker slips in the glimmering silver shiv: announcing that not only the “screaming masses” but all of us in the United States are “partaking in the highest standard of living experienced in the whole of human history, granted courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules.“ so Tucker praises the invisible hand of the free market, while most in our country feel that hand slapping us in the face on a daily basis.

In an amazingly elliptical paragraph, Tucker observes:

===Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

The paragraph above can be read as an ode to the fascist theory articulated by Mussolini that the “great man” national leader organically personifies the will of the people without the need for democracy or elections. “Trump believes himself to be that man” Tucker states. I really, really hope I am reading this wrong.

Then Tucker write an excellent defense of democracy by writing that Trump and his rhetoric can never:

=== serve a whole nation well. Indeed, the very prospect is terrifying and not just for the immigrant groups and foreign peoples he has chosen to scapegoat for all the country’s problems. It’s a disaster in waiting for everyone.

Right On Dude! And this is a lesson for all of us. Even a right-wing ideologue like Tucker is sometimes right in the analytical sense –as in having a correct political analysis (pun intended).

According to Newsweek, “Tucker asks that we describe him thus: Jeffrey A. Tucker is Director of Digital Development at the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of Liberty.me. This article first appeared on the Anything Peaceful blog on the FEE website.”

So Tucker is an operative for one of the oldest and most influential “Free Market” pro-capitalist organizations in the United States: the Foundation for Economic Education. The group’s economic theories are founded on the research of Ludwig von Mises and his ally Friedrich August von Hayek (I don’t make these names up).

The progeny of this legacy tend to claim that Fascism is a left wing phenomenon.

For example, Tucker writes that:

===“In the 19th century, this penchant for industrial protectionism and mercantilism became guild socialism, which mutated later into fascism and then into Nazism. You can read Mises to find out more on how this works.”

This view is right-wing dogma but it is rejected by most scholars.

This idiosyncratic view was featured in the book “Liberal Fascism,” by Jonah Goldberg reviewed in an History News Network sponsored online forum in which some of the leading scholars of Fascism in the world ripped Goldberg’s thesis and research to shreds. The introduction is here. My essay is included. Goldberg’s response is here.

According to Tucker:

===What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is not leftist in its cultural and political outlook (see how he is praised for rejecting “political correctness”), and yet it is still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.

Well, no. Trump is not demanding “no limits on state power” and thus is not a totalitarian. Meanwhile Tucker gets to take another shot on the left by pointing out that Trump is rejecting “political correctness” a very bad thing. Of course the current use of the term “political correctness” to imply censorship was inserted into our vocabulary as part of a coordinated right-wing media campaign launched to denigrate concern for equality and respect for traditionally oppressed, identities. But for that story you would have to read the Wikipedia page from 2005, before the page was commandeered by right-wing fanatics.

Conor Lynch, Salon

“Donald Trump Is an Actual Fascist,” trumpeted a July headline in Salon. It was a misleading headline—in the article, journalist Conor Lynch writes that the “GOP are obviously not fascists, but they share a family resemblance”

The resemblance, according to Lynch, is explained in the famous quote attributed to Italy’s fascist dictator during World War II, Benito Mussolini:

===Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

According to Lynch, this “definition may very well fit the GOP ideology: a kind of corporate fascism.”

Alas, the quote is a hoax, widely circulated on the internet but debunked years ago. Mussolini never wrote or said anything like that, since the fake statement refutes Mussolini’s actual views on fascism.

Lynch cites from Tucker’s article on Trump, and then adds some excellent analysis and commentary. Conor asks, “So is the GOP becoming the new fascist party?” then writes:

===“That might be an exaggeration, but it does share many similar features, and Trump, with his demagogic style, is simply exposing how very similar the passions of the GOP base are to the passions of fascism of the early 20th century.

===The modern GOP is a party of unwavering and dogmatic patriotism mixed with traditionalism and intolerance. The social progression we have been witnessing over the past decade in America, most clearly with the acceptance of the LGBT community, seems to be triggering a reactionary movement on the right.

Despite a few missteps, much of the Conor article is quite good.

Thom Hartmann, Alternet

Tea Party and the Right
The Sad Truth of Our Politics:
It’s Basically Turned into a Competition Among Oligarchs to Own Everything
It could still happen here.

November 1, 2015

Hartmann repeats the hoax Mussolini quote and much of Hartmann’s post  is based on outdate social science or statements by politicians from the 1940s era, as well as earlier posts by Hartmann.

Chris Hedges: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

In his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges, has lumped together Christianity, fascism, totalitarianism, the Christian Right, right-wing populist movements, and Republicans. This is neither accurate nor useful for progressive organizers.

While a tiny set of religious movements within the Christian Right are neofascist, the main body of the US Christian Right is not fascist. Movements such as Christian Reconstructionism are accurately considered quasi-fascist or fascistic by some scholars.[2]

Gentile sees totalitarianism as the “sacralization of politics,” while others refer to it as “political religion” in the sense that a political movement confers on itself the status of religious veneration and the demand of strict obedience.[3] But these concepts are often misunderstood to imply all rigid, bigoted, and demanding right-wing religious movements are totalitarian. This is not accurate.

Hedges warns of movements whose followers:

=== “commit evil to make a better world. To attain this better world, they believe, some must suffer and be silenced [and the] worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach such grand, utopian visions, those who seek to implant by force their narrow, particular version of goodness.”[4]

This is entirely true and was expressed succinctly by historian Richard Hofstadter in his quip “I believe…that an unbridled passion for the total elimination of this or that evil can be as dangerous as any of the delusions of our time.”[5] By “Paranoid Style” however, Hofstadter did not mean clinical paranoia, no matter how deranged conspiracy theories may sound.

Damian Thompson argues that the conspiracy theories that Hofstadter described as the “paranoid style” in right-wing movements are really derived from Christian apocalyptic beliefs such as those spread by the contemporary Christian Right in the United States.[6] This adds to the difficulty to parsing these matters since fascist and totalitarian movements often employ conspiracy theories. In addition fascist and totalitarian movements sometimes graft onto various religions.

Lawrence Britt

Frequently cited in defense of suggesting the US is on the road to Fascism is the essay “Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism” by Lawrence Britt. It was originally titled “Fascism Anyone?” and as the following endnote explains, the essay has been misrepresented without Britt’s permission.[7] Though earnest, Britt’s list fails the test of logic that states that things similar in many elements are not necessarily identical. Britt’s list is not an accurate definition of fascism. For that, see Umberto Ecco’s essay popularly known as “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.”[8]

Henry A. Giroux

More complicated is the detailed and erudite polemic in Truthout (9/15/15) by Henry A. Giroux, expanded from Tikkun (9/9/15). In “Political Frauds and the Ghost of Totalitarianism,” Giroux invokes the theories of world-famous philosopher Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism. He warns that widespread civic illiteracy in the US population is more than the media manufacturing “ignorance on an individual scale”; it is, in fact:

===producing a nationwide crisis of agency, memory and thinking itself…a kind of ideological sandstorm in which reason gives way to emotion, and a willful limitation on critical thought spreads through the culture as part of a political project that both infantilizes and depoliticizes the general public.

According to Giroux, “Donald Trump is not the singular clown who has injected bizarre and laughable notions into US politics; he is the canary in the mineshaft warning us that totalitarianism relies on mass support and feeds on hate, moral panics” and what Arendt called the “the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude.”

Yet long before the appearance of totalitarianism in the modern era, the United States saw mass movements that used force to subjugate or purge the degraded and demonized “Other.” As a nation, we enforced white Christian nationalism through the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement and mass murder of black people for profit. For many decades, immigrants including those who were Irish, Italian, Polish or Russian were second-class citizens, not considered “white.” Women had few rights and were treated as the property of their fathers, then their husbands. Jews were perpetual outsiders. People with unpopular religious views were shunned and in some instances killed. Chinese were excluded, Japanese were interned in camps. Nativist racism periodically has cut a bloody gash through our body politic, without reliance on totalitarianism.

 

[1] Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?,” Newsweek Online, 7/17/15.

[3] Gentile, Emilio. 1996. The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

[4] Chris Hedges. (2008). American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. London: Vintage.

[5] Hofstadter, Richard. 1965.  Anti–Intellectualism in American Life, Alfred A. Knopf, 1963, p. 23.

[6] Damian. Thompson, The End Of Time: Faith And Fear In The Shadow Of The Millennium. (Great Britain: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996).

[7] Lawrence Britt, 2003. “Fascism Anyone?” Free Inquiry. 23: 20-22. Britt’s essay originally appeared in, a respectable publication. Note that Mr. Britt is not a professor and does not hold a Ph.D., although these claims are often attached to Britt’s essay without his permission. Britt did not name his piece to be similar to the earlier essay by Umberto Eco mentioned in the next endnote. Britt’s work is online without permission of the publisher or Mr. Britt at http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm Note that this page is from a Google search which pops up the Rense URL as the top ranking page for the Britt essay. This is the website of crackpot bigot Jeff Rense who is among the royalty of conspiracy cranks online. Mr. Britt has no control over this.

[8] Umberto Eco, “Ur Fascism,” also known as “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt,” New York Review of Books, June 22, 1995. A shortened and edited version adapted from Utne Reader is Online at http://www.buildinghumanrights.us/task/umberto-eco-on-fascism/. For the full original essay, consult a print copy of  New York Review of Books, purchase the full article online; or purchase Eco’s collection of essays: Five Moral Pieces. As of the date of this publication, there is an archival copy of “Ur Fascism” here.

Trump, Fascism, and Totalitarianism

The outlandish rhetoric of Republican presidential wildcard Donald Trump has left many journalists at a loss for words—words such as bigotry, xenophobia, racism, sexism and demagoguery.

Some media outlets raised these issues. Yet many reporters (or perhaps their editors) still seem reluctant to move past the aphasic and simplistic sports-reporting model, in which ideological content analysis is renounced.

An example of a typical article is the piece on Trump’s stump speech by Michael Finnegan and Kurtis Lee in the Los Angeles Times (9/15/15). It is well-written, colorful and even includes the obligatory single sentence from an anti-Trump protester.

Yet there is little serious political or historic context.

One line does note that Trump borrowed from “Richard Nixon’s polarizing pledge to stand up for the ‘silent majority’ amid the social upheaval of the 1960s.” Nixon’s speech, however, concerned support for the Vietnam War. A more apt comparison would have been Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” to garner votes from white voters (The Nation, 11/13/12).

Journalists and scholars familiar with the rise of contemporary right-wing populist political parties and social movements in Europe, however, recognize that xenophobic, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric can lead to acts of violence.

For several years, I have had editors tell me that the contention that right-wing rhetoric can lead to violence is a liberal myth. Right-wing media pundits certainly reject this claim. Yet this is a well-studied chain of events, analyzed by scholars since the rise of fascism in Europe following World War I and the Nazi genocide during World War II. So I wrote a survey of the scholarship as a book chapter titled “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence.” In it, I summarized the consensus:

The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of “Others” is plotting to destroy civilized society. History tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough—it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up.

Freedom of speech is not the issue. A free and open debate is a necessity for democracy. Trump therefore is not legally culpable for any acts of violence against his named scapegoats. Trump should be held accountable on a moral basis by the media for his using the tools of fear, such as demonization and scapegoating, that put real people at risk for attacks.

The progressive press has done a better job of pointing out this ugly potential. Writing for The Nation (9/14/15), Julianne Hing argued, “It’s clear that the xenophobia at the core of Trump’s campaign is resonating, and his antics are already echoing beyond the campaign trail into both culture and policy.” Hing quotes Mario Carrillo of the immigrant rights group United We Dream as saying Trump’s “rhetoric is leading to real-life consequences.”

Many instances of physical attacks are chronicled in Hing’s article, although motivation is usually unclear. One pair of attackers did tell police they were directly influenced by Trump’s rhetoric, according to the Associated Press (9/3/15). Trump said he does not condone violence. Nonetheless, immigrant rights activists worry violence will increase.

Adele Stan in the American Prospect (9/9/15) put it boldly:

What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.

The headline for Evan Horowitz’s piece in the Boston Globe (8/19/15) claims “Donald Trump Blazes a European Path in American Politics,” and Horowitz asks, “Does Donald Trump represent the emergence of a new force in American politics, a right-populist movement that could reorganize the American” political spectrum? Missing is the fact that, from President Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s through George Wallace in the 1970s to Pat Buchanan, there have been right-wing populist movements in the United States. It is not a European import.

Part of this confusion over Trump is definitional: Scholars write entire books trying to map out the contours of right-wing political and social movements, especially the line dividing right-wing populism and neofascism. The pre-eminent scholar in this area, University of Georgia’s Cas Mudde, explained in the Washington Post (8/26/15):

The key features of the populist radical right ideology – nativism, authoritarianism, and populism – are not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.

For many scholars, right-wing populism is classified as part of the “radical right,” while the term “extreme right” is reserved for insurgent groups seeking to overturn the constitutional order.

In his book Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Mudde lists as common “extreme right” features nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the strong state, including a law-and-order approach.

In his Ideology of the Extreme Right, Mudde wrote:

The terms neo-Nazism and to a lesser extent neo-fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich (in the case of neo-fascism the Italian Social Republic) or quote historical National Socialism (fascism) as their ideological influence.

That’s not Trump. His ideology and rhetoric are much more comparable to the European populist radical right, akin to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the Danish People’s Party or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. All of them use the common radical right rhetoric of nativism, authoritarianism and populism.

Matthew N. Lyons, with whom I co-authored Right-Wing Populim in America, argues that there are several newer strains of neofascism that do not harken back to Italian Fascism or German Nazism, but Lyons still agrees that Trump is not a full-fledged neofascist as he explains in an essay: “On Trump, Fascism, and Stale Social Science.”

There are a number of published articles linking Trump to Fascism.

Thom Hartmann’s essay, “The Sad Truth of Our Politics,” was published on Alternet and reposted on Salon. In it Hartmann repeats his use of the hoax Mussolini quote, and the usually erudite Hartmann then follows with some flawed analysis that skips the last 20 years of scholarly work on fascism.

The Hartmann piece was reposted on Salon as “It can still happen here: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and the ‘American fascists’ among us; Sinclair Lewis feared demagoguery and a corporate ruling class. The right is bringing his dystopia to fruition.” Hartmann has been using outdated research on fascism since 2004, when he used the hoax Mussolini quote in a lengthy article. Hartmann returned to the subject again in 2009, still using outdated research but not mentioning Mussolini. .

“Donald Trump Is an Actual Fascist” trumpets the headline in Salon (7/25/15) for Conor Lynch’s article on Trump. Ignoring the current rise of xenophobic neo-fascist groups in Europe, Lynch tells us that “fascism died in the mid-20th century.”

Undermining Salon’s headline, Lynch tells us the “GOP are obviously not fascists, but they share a family resemblance.” The resemblance, according to Lynch, is explained in the famous quote attributed to Italy’s fascist dictator during World War II, Benito Mussolini:

Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

According to Lynch, this “definition may very well fit the GOP ideology: a kind of corporate fascism.” Alas, the quote is a hoax, widely circulated on the internet but debunked years ago. Mussolini never wrote or said anything like that, since the fake statement refutes Mussolini’s views on fascism.

More complicated is the detailed and erudite polemic in Truthout (9/15/15) by Henry A. Giroux, expanded from Tikkun (9/9/15). In “Political Frauds and the Ghost of Totalitarianism,” Giroux invokes the theories of world-famous philosopher Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism. He warns that widespread civic illiteracy in the US population is more than the media manufacturing “ignorance on an individual scale”; it is, in fact

producing a nationwide crisis of agency, memory and thinking itself…a kind of ideological sandstorm in which reason gives way to emotion, and a willful limitation on critical thought spreads through the culture as part of a political project that both infantilizes and depoliticizes the general public.

According to Giroux, “Donald Trump is not the singular clown who has injected bizarre and laughable notions into US politics; he is the canary in the mineshaft warning us that totalitarianism relies on mass support and feeds on hate, moral panics” and what Arendt called the “the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude.”

The full quote from the Arendt website makes it clear that she did not consider totalitarianism to be an aspect of a defective democracy, but a new form of government tyranny:

In the concluding chapter to The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt argues that totalitarianism must be understood as a new “form of government” in its own right, rather than as a transitory or haphazard series of external catastrophes afflicting classical forms like democracy or monarchy.

Essentially different from the extralegal form of tyranny as well, totalitarianism’s emergence marks a terrifying new horizon for human political experience, one that will surely survive the passing of Hitler and Stalin.

Arendt’s point is that the totalitarian form is still with us because the all too protean origins of totalitarianism are still with us: loneliness as the normal register of social life, the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude, mass poverty and mass homelessness, the routine use of terror as a political instrument, and the ever growing speeds and scales of media, economics, and warfare.

"Yellow Terror in All Its Glory" (Wikimedia)

Hitler and Stalin were the analytical icons for Hannah Arendt in her masterwork The Origins of Totalitarianism. Long before the appearance of totalitarianism in the modern era, the United States saw mass movements that used force to subjugate or purge the degraded and demonized “Other.”

As a nation, we enforced white Christian nationalism through the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement and mass murder of black people for profit. For many decades, immigrants including those who were Irish, Italian, Polish or Russian were second-class citizens, not considered “white.” Women had few rights and were treated as the property of their fathers, then their husbands. Jews were perpetual outsiders. People with unpopular religious views were shunned and in some instances killed. Chinese were excluded, Japanese were interned in camps. Nativist racism periodically has cut a bloody gash through our body politic, without reliance on totalitarianism.

Trump is not an example of creeping totalitarianism; he is the white man growing hoarse with bigoted canards while riding at the forefront of a new nativist movement. Adele Stan bluntly suggests that to “ask if the rogue Republican’s surge is good for Democrats is the wrong question.” Instead, we need to ask what is wrong with America, “that this racist, misogynist, money-cheating clown should be the frontrunner for the presidential nomination of one of its two major parties?”

Trump feeds the resentment felt by many people who are white, male, straight or Christian who feel displaced by “Others” taking over “their” nation. These people see themselves as the real producers of value in the United States, and consider the disparaged “Others” to be parasites. Thus the 2012 campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was built around the clandestine theme of mobilizing the “makers” against the “takers,” as reported by Eric Schulzke in the Deseret News (9/19/12). This is called “producerism” by scholars, and it is a central element of right-wing populism in the United States.

What fuels this sort of bitter backlash movement now? The late scholar Jean Hardisty of Political Research Associates argued in 1995 that a confluence of several historic factors has assisted the success of the right in the United States:

  • a conservative religious revitalization,
  • economic contraction and restructuring,
  • race resentment and bigotry,
  • backlash and social stress, and
  • a well-funded network of right-wing organizations.

“Each of these conditions has existed at previous times in US history,” wrote Hardisty:

While they usually overlap to some extent, they also can be seen as distinct, identifiable phenomenon. The lightning speed of the right’s rise can be explained by the simultaneous existence of all five factors. Further, in this period they not only overlap, but reinforce each other. This mutual reinforcement accounts for the exceptional force of the current rightward swing.

Scholars Michael Omi and Howard Winant, in Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, suggest that this set of circumstances makes many Americans fear the end of the “American Dream.” This backlash is picking up speed. The Republican voter base in the Tea Party long ago shifted its attention away from fiscal restraint toward anti-immigrant xenophobia, banning abortion and pushing gay people back into the closet.

Many scholars of fascism and neofascism now suggest right-wing populism can metamorphosize into these fascistic totalitarian forms, but they recognize that it seldom does–and that fascist movements seldom gain state power. Yet the demonization and scapegoating that accompanies right-wing populism in the United States is breeding a counter-subversion panic targeting immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, feminists, gay people, liberals and leftists. Planned Parenthood has become a special target to appeal to the Christian Right.

While racism is not confined to the American South, a recent study by sociologists Rory McVeigh and David Cunningham, described on Brandeis Now (12/4/14), found that a significant predictor of current Republican voting patterns in the South is the prior existence of a strong chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the area in the 1960s. McVeigh writes on the London School of Economics website (12/17/14) that although “populist politics appealed to many Southern voters in earlier times, the Southern Democratic Party was also a key instrument in the defense of white privilege and racial oppression.”

The passage of federal Civil Rights Act in 1964 propelled many Democratic Party “Dixiecrats” into the Republican Party, where they now appear at campaign rallies in freebie “gimme hats” touting Monsanto, Koch brothers fertilizers and Coors beer. They choose racial privilege over economic security. That’s What’s the Matter With Kansas. Now this mass base cheers Trump on while he is Mobilizing Resentment–the title of Hardisty’s 1999 book about the rise of right-wing politics in the US.

McVeigh argues that it is shifts in power dynamics and hierarchies in economic, political and social spheres that launch the processes in which radical right-wing groups attract members, and sometimes a mass base large enough to intrude into the larger society.

Using as his analytical example the Klan in the 1920s, McVeigh demonstrates that the right-wing KKK in the 1920s was composed of white people attempting to defend their relatively more privileged position in the social, political and economic life of their communities (E-Extreme, 2-3/10).

According to McVeigh, in his book The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics, “the Klan can best be understood as a response to devaluation in the economic, political and status-based ‘purchasing power’ of the movement’s constituents.” McVeigh adds that “right-wing movements often provide individuals with an effective vehicle for preserving status-based interests as well as political and economic interests.”

During the 1920s, millions of Americans joined the Klan, turning it into a major electoral force in several states with an important role in national politics. The tropes of racial threats posed by people of color as rapists and murderers were glued to the American psyche even before decades of stories planted by Klan organizers in their stump speeches for membership, notes Gerald Horne of the University of Houston, whom I interviewed for the Washington Spectator (8/1/15) after Dylann Roof allegedly murdered nine black people in a historic Charleston, South Carolina, church. Roof told a participant in a Bible study: “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country…and you have to go.”

In covering the Charleston story, the New York Times (6/22/15) invented a cowardly phrase, “white primacy,” to describe the blatantly white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, where Dylann Roof apparently learned this storyline.

On the day of the Republican candidates debate, the New York Times (9/16/15) burnished Trump’s rising star, declaring that Trump was starting to:

conform to some of the demands of a presidential race, making him, in some ways, more of a typical politician. It suggests that, as much as the Republican electorate is becoming more comfortable with the idea of Mr. Trump as its standard-bearer, he is embracing the rituals and expectations of the role, too.

The Trump candidacy and the shooting in Charleston are connected thematically by a mobilization to defend white nationalism while the racial and ethnic face of America changes hue. The populist right and the extreme right fuel each other. This backlash is picking up speed. The Republican voter base in the Tea Party long ago shifted its attention away from fiscal restraint toward anti-immigrant xenophobia, banning abortion and pushing gay people back into the closet.

The more we as a nation ignore this process of nativist demonization, the more targets will be painted on the backs of our neighbors. History will record how long these right-wing backlash movements will spread their virulent rhetorical venom in our nation. But as Arendt observed, history judges us as individuals as to whether or not we stood up and spoke out against the banality of evil.


The Trump Collection Landing Pages:
>>>The Trumping Democracy page for in-depth analysis of Trump’s use of right-wing populism
>>>Trumped Up: A collection of articles on Trump in reverse chronological order starting from July 2016
>>>Trumpism: Resources on Trump’s Voter Base


 

Hartmann’s Research on Fascism is Deadly Wrong

The full title  of Hartmann’s essay is:
Tea Party and the Right
The Sad Truth of Our Politics: It’s Basically Turned into a Competition Among Oligarchs to Own Everything
It could still happen here
by Thom Hartmann
November 1, 2015

Thom Hartmann’s essay, “The Sad Truth of Our Politics,” was published on Alternet and reposted on Salon. In it Hartmann repeats his use of the hoax Mussolini quote, and the usually erudite Hartmann then follows with some flawed analysis that skips the last 20 years of scholarly work on fascism.

Reposted on Salon as “It can still happen here: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and the ‘American fascists’ among us; Sinclair Lewis feared demagoguery and a corporate ruling class. The right is bringing his dystopia to fruition, Nov 4, 2015,

Hartmann has been using outdated research on fascism since 2004, when he used the hoax Mussolini quote in a lengthy article. Hartmann returned to the subject again in 2009, still using outdated research but not mentioning Mussolini. .

The right-wing media watchdog group MRC Newsbusters attacked Hartmann’s recent post in an article titled: “History According to Liberal Radio Host Thom Hartmann: US Fought Spain in World War II.”

I have never cited MRC Newsbusters’ posts before because they are almost always reactionary drivel. Alas, in this instance, Mr Coleman accurately points out that the US did not fight Spain in WWII. The rest of Coleman observations are reactionary drivel.


 

Older articles:

Thom Hartmann, Transcript: Thom Hartmann talks about fascism. 07 Dec ’09 http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2010/02/transcript-thom-hartmann-talks-about-fascism-07-dec-09.

Jack Coleman, “History According to Liberal Radio Host Thom Hartmann: US Fought Spain in World War II,”MRC Newsbusters, http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/jack-coleman/2015/11/05/history-according-liberal-radio-host-thom-hartmann-us-fought-spain.


Superficial and flamboyant articles do nothing to confront the growing right-wing menace in the United States. The Tea Party and the right-wing Republicans are pursuing

Trump and the Republicans are

Right-Wing Populists — not Neofascists

Getting the moment wrong can have deadly consequences.

Oligarchy is what we have in the United States today—not real democracy. That must be challenged. by effective organizing. But oligarchy is not Fascism. If we were facing actual neofascism our strategies and tactics would have to be very different.

I already addressed this in part in an article for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:

Corporate Press Fails to Trump Bigotry

As professor Cas Mudde, explained in the Washington Post, Trump is a right-wing populist, not a fascist.

The Trump phenomenon and the European populist radical right

===The key features of the populist radical right ideology – nativism, authoritarianism, and populism – are not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.
(Washington Post 8/26/15).



More details are here:
Later incorporated into
Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort
by Chip Berlet & Matthew N. Lyons

bk05p

 

Mussolini: the Fake Quote

Mussolini on the Corporate State:
Debunking a Hoax Quote

by Chip Berlet


Fake quote–> “Fascism should more properly
be called corporatism because it is the merger of state
and corporate power.”

— Benito Mussolini <–Not True


A Google™ search on January 12, 2005 turned up some 5,000 hits
on the following “quote”

In 2015 there were over 10,000 hits,
but some of them now note
it is a fabricated quote

Mussolini_mezzobusto

He Never Wrote It!

When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations.
He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds.

corporatism

This specific article on Wikipedia on Corporatism
explains this rather well.

Most scholars of fascism dismiss not only the fake Mussolini quote, but other dubious sources of information that claim that “late stage” or other forms of advanced capitalism or “neoliberalism” are all undifferentiated forms of naked fascism:

The book “Friendly Fascism” is a popular argument in this regard.

Gross, Bertram Myron. Friendly fascism. New York: M. Evans, 1980.
Alas, while well-intentioned, the book is highly misleading, especially in the erroneous conflation of the Italian word “corporatism” with contemporary business corporations. This specific article on Wikipedia on Definitions of Fascism explains this all rather well.
Also:
Georgi Dimitrov’s definition of fascism at the
Seventh World Congress of the Communist International
is often abbreviated to this snippet:

“Fascism is the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”

This is a seriously misleading misquote
and inadequate summary what Dimitrov actually wrote:

Click here for the details.

…And even Dimitrov began his speech by crediting an earlier study–yet failed to mention that it was written by Clara Zetkin in 1923.

The Fake Mussolini Quote

The fake quote is generally attributed to an article written by Mussolini in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana with the assistance of Giovanni Gentile, the editor. The quote, however, does not appear in the Enciclopedia Italiana in the original Italian.

It does not appear in the official English translation of that article: Benito Mussolini, 1935, “The Doctrine of Fascism,” Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

And it does not appear in the longer treatment of the subject by Mussolini in: Benito Mussolini, 1935, “Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions,” Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.

Where the quote comes from remains a mystery, and while it is possible Mussolini said it someplace at some time, a number of researchers have been unable to find it after years of research.

It is unlikely that Mussolini ever made this statement because it contradicts most of the other writing he did on the subject of corporatism and corporations. When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations. He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds. The article on Wikipedia on Corporatism explains this rather well.

Here are some typical Mussolini quotes from original documents:

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State–a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values–interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. (p. 14)

Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which diverent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State. (p.15)

Yet if anyone cares to read over the now crumbling minutes giving an account of the meetings at which the Italian Fasci di Combattimento were founded, he will find not a doctrine but a series of pointers… (p. 23)

“It may be objected that this program implies a return to the guilds (corporazioni). No matter!… I therefore hope this assembly will accept the economic claims advanced by national syndicalism.” (p. 24)

Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere. (p. 32)

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State. (p. 41).

Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

The Labour Charter (Promulgated by the Grand Council ofr Fascism on April 21, 1927)—(published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, April 3, 1927) [sic] (p. 133)

The Corporate State and its Organization (p. 133)

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu [sic] [typo-should be: useful] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)

Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.


 

Note to Chris Hedges:
please stop using this fake quote
–thanks.

 

And I look forward to debating Chris Hedges
Left Forum in 2019 on the subject of the Christian Right and Fascism

 

Fascism & Neofascism

Selected Resources

Right-Wing Populism

This set of resources will help you understand the mass support for Donald Trump

What are the Core Elements of Right-Wing Populism in the United States?

  • White Nationalist Racism and Ethnocentrism
  • Vilification and Demonization of a Scapegoated “Other”
  • Xenophobia and Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric
  • Dividing the Nation into the “Producers” and the Parasites
  • Conspiracy Theories Claiming a Subversive Threat
  • Apocalyptic Warnings that Time is Running Out
  • Aggressive Misogynist and Heterosexist Male Egocentrism
  • Building a Mass Movement Using Authoritarian Appeals
  • Mobilizing Resentment for Political Gain

Producerist White Nationalism

Demonization Scapegoating

Conspiracism

  • Elites, Banksters, & Intellectuals
  • Money Manipulation
  • Liberal Treachery
  • Leftist Totalitarian Plots
  • Islamophophobia
  • Antisemitism

Apocalyptic Narratives &
Millennial Visions

  • Christian Nationalism
  • Apocalyptic Aggression

See Also

Right-Wing Populism as a Breeding Ground for Neofascism

Trump, Right-Wing Populism, and Neofascism

[maxmegamenu location=max_mega_menu_6]