Fascism: Left, Right, or Neither?

An article under the above title will appear in a forthcoming issue of The Independent Review. A summary of it follows

Where does the fascism of Mussolini’s Italy fall in the spectrum of political doctrines? Italy’s fascist government conducted a policy of partial socialization of private property, total collectivization of consciousness, and large-scale redistribution of wealth. Therefore, even if fascism was theoretically conceived by its founders as not belonging to either the Right or the Left, its practical implementation showed that the whole building of fascism gravitated toward the right flank of the Left.

You can however download a preprint in PDF. I give an excerpt below from it

Fascism: Left, Right, or Neither?

Although it was short-lived from a historical perspective, its basic ideology and practice have confounded political scientists until the present day. There is no consensus among various political and academic circles (sociological, historical, and economic) regarding its place on the political spectrum. Fascism has become the most controversial politico-economic doctrine, for which no answer has yet been found that would satisfy all interested parties.

The reason is that fascism was theoretically conceived as a compromise between liberal capitalism and socialism, and as such, was deemed to possess the properties of both doctrines. One of the disputing parties has the opportunity to exaggerate the features of individualism in fascism and to assert its belonging to the reactionary form of capitalism. Another sees the features of collectivism and classifies fascism as a kind of socialism. Finally, the third argues that fascism occupies its own unique niche on the political spectrum: it is neither the left nor the right.

The unprecedented ambiguity in defining and understanding fascism was, first of all, the result of vicious interspecific struggles among different socialist currents. In particular, the initial response to the phenomenon of fascism predictably came from the communist camp in the inter-war period. It also marked the beginning of the direct and thoughtful falsification of the nature of genuine fascism. Bolsheviks insisted that fascism did not dismantle a capitalist state. They asserted that fascism was the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie, which had captured the state’s machinery.

The Marxist-Leninist arguments were as follows: The fascist core consisted of former social-chauvinists, reformists, and revisionists, who, in Lenin's words, “went to the right” and therefore are agents of the petty bourgeoisie. It follows, then, that fascism is a counter-revolution organized by this reactionary class stratum. Trotsky (1932) stated, “Italian fascism was the immediate outgrowth of the betrayal by the reformists of the uprising of the Italian proletariat.”

However, the identification of fascism with the petty bourgeois counterrevolution turned out to be a rather unconvincing and to some extent emotional explanation. Indeed, as a subclass that did not receive due attention in Marxism, except that it had to disappear from the face of the earth because of the concentration of capital tendency, could arrange a counter-revolution? Surely other, more powerful and understandable forces described by Marxism had to be involved. Of course, the Marxist ideologues immediately found such counter-revolutionary forces. Bulgarian communist Georgi Dimitrov (1935) asserted that “fascism in power was … the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Furthermore, he stated, “Fascism is the 4 power of finance capital itself.”

The communist camp began discrediting fascism on several fronts. They did not accept a mass character of the fascist movement; they described bourgeoise of all ranks as a driving force of the fascist counter-revolution; they theorized about various forms that fascism could take in different countries and assigned all authoritarian regimes to fascism, except the Soviet one. Such lines of thought have remained unchanged for years and were reinforced after World War II, as the Soviet Union and Western allies were victors, and the Left had an opportunity to write and rewrite history at will.

Marxists tried hard to camouflage the actual features of fascism, producing several conflicting explanations of the phenomenon that all insisted the doctrine has nothing to do with either socialism or the worker movement. Reverberation of the Marxist approach can be found in many scientific treatises on fascism and its place on the political spectrum that appeared after World War II

It is truly amazing the way the Left distort reality to support the Marxist view of Fascism. You can see it in summary form in that well-known Leftist rag "Wikipedia". Wikipedia says Fascism was Rightist on two main grounds: Its authoritarianism and its nationalism. The first ground is a real laugh. Without a doubt the most authoritarian form of politics is Communism. So is Communism Rightist? Its authoritariansm in fact identifies Fascism as Leftist

The second focus in Wikipedia is on Fascism's Nationalism. That argument has better traction because modern-day Leftists reject Nationalism. But Leftists did not always do that. Hitler was born in the 19th century (1889) and in the 19th and early 20th century, many Leftists were nationalist. One of the most fervent 19th century nationalists was in fact Friedrich Engels, the collaborator of Karl Marx. So the nationalism component of Fascism was thoroughly Leftist in its day. Wikipedia deliberately ignores history.

For a fuller historical treatment of Fascism, see my extensive article on the subject

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