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Pretty good explication of 'fascism' in five paragraphs(25 posts)

Pretty good explication of 'fascism' in five paragraphsOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 7:00 AM
Since some on this board seem confused.

What is Fascism?
Some General Ideological Features
by Matthew N. Lyons

I am skeptical of efforts to produce a "definition" of fascism. As a dynamic historical current, fascism has taken many different forms, and has evolved dramatically in some ways. To understand what fascism has encompassed as a movement and a system of rule, we have to look at its historical context and development--as a form of counter-revolutionary politics that first arose in early twentieth-century Europe in response to rapid social upheaval, the devastation of World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution. The following paragraphs are intented as an initial, open-ended sketch.

Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a "spiritual revolution" against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge "alien" forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

Fascism's approach to politics is both populist--in that it seeks to activate "the people" as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies--and elitist--in that it treats the people's will as embodied in a select group, or often one supreme leader, from whom authority proceeds downward. Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power. It seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision of organic community, usually through a totalitarian state. Both as a movement and a regime, fascism uses mass organizations as a system of integration and control, and uses organized violence to suppress opposition, although the scale of violence varies widely.

Fascism is hostile to Marxism, liberalism, and conservatism, yet it borrows concepts and practices from all three. Fascism rejects the principles of class struggle and workers' internationalism as threats to national or racial unity, yet it often exploits real grievances against capitalists and landowners through ethnic scapegoating or radical-sounding conspiracy theories. Fascism rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government, yet it advocates broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels in its drive to power. Its vision of a "new order" clashes with the conservative attachment to tradition-based institutions and hierarchies, yet fascism often romanticizes the past as inspiration for national rebirth.

Fascism has a complex relationship with established elites and the non-fascist right. It is never a mere puppet of the ruling class, but an autonomous movement with its own social base. In practice, fascism defends capitalism against instability and the left, but also pursues an agenda that sometimes clashes with capitalist interests in significant ways. There has been much cooperation, competition, and interaction between fascism and other sections of the right, producing various hybrid movements and regimes.
Sounds great, Ed! Where do I sign up?Dale Brigham
May 19, 2003 7:21 AM
This looks like just the ticket to get the US of A out of it's doldrums. Masculinity, regenerative power of violence, ethnic scapegoating -- what's not to like?

I'm tired of my loser party (da' Dems). When's our first meeting?

Heil Ed!

We won't allow no pantywaste creeps to join! nmOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 7:26 AM
basically a dictatorshipDougSloan
May 19, 2003 8:05 AM
Dictatorships use whatever means they can to preserve power. Of course they are at odds with everything else -- that's how dictatorships survive. To me, communism (in reality) and fascism are nearly the same thing -- they both rely upon central power, do not tolerate any opposition, control all means of production; fascism is nothing but communism with a little pseudo-religion and racism thrown in. Can either work without essentially dictators at the helm?

While the description you cite seem adequate, I hope you are not implying anything by it, whether to people here or the present administration.

I'm sure I have creepy hidden Anti-AmericanOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 8:20 AM
motives lurking somewhere, but no, I just came across this and remembered a recent debate about fascism as a phenomenon of the Right that seemed to get bogged down in misinformation. This seems like a pretty fair summary, and I was thinking about it since I watched that Hitler thing last night.
'Means to preserve power' You mean like...rwbadley
May 19, 2003 8:34 AM
these phony baloney tax cuts? (We all know) These tax cuts are just a ploy to 'pay off' a naive population base so Bush and co. may enjoy another four years in office.

The chickens will come home to roost, and boy, is it going to be messy...
oh, come on; don't even go thereDougSloan
May 19, 2003 8:42 AM
Really want to discuss government give a ways to preserve power? Democrats invented the idea and have spent 60 years perfecting it.

Baldly false.OldEdScott
May 19, 2003 8:50 AM
I know you hate Democrats, and are eager to levy every political ill upon them, but politicians 'invented the idea' of preserving power from the first moment government existed, all those centuries ago.

I'll grant you REPUBLICANS have never tried to preserve themselves in power. They throw down the reins like hot potatoes as soon as they get 'em.
true, forgive meDougSloan
May 19, 2003 9:00 AM
Yes, you are right. That is what the Roman Colliseum was all about, wasn't it?

I had to fast all night and this morning, no coffee as well, for a life insurance blood test. It's killing me, and I can't think. I need food.

I thought you sounded bonky! nmOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 9:12 AM
This is the BEST time to write a rant, Doug. Trust me. nmsn69
May 19, 2003 9:18 AM
BaloneyCaptain Morgan
May 19, 2003 9:02 AM
Bush has two choices:

1) Cut taxes in hope of spurring the economy and have the Democrats criticize him for doing it; or

2) Do nothing and have the Democrats criticize him for doing nothing to help the economy/employment/etc.
or 3 use that money in ways that will actually stimulate economyrufus
May 19, 2003 9:11 AM
Like ??? (nm)Captain Morgan
May 19, 2003 9:30 AM
read my post on "challenge for liberals".(nm)rufus
May 19, 2003 1:28 PM
or 4, throw down the reins like hot potatoes ;-)rwbadley
May 19, 2003 9:31 AM
One thing I notice about some of the conservative element, when my (liberal) business gets the guvment contract it's waste; when your (conservative) business gets the contract, it's lucrative... ;-))
of course, cause those conservative businessmenrufus
May 19, 2003 1:30 PM
know how to use that money wisely, rather than pissing it away frivolously.
The lack of understanding of Fascism always amazes meMcAndrus
May 19, 2003 9:09 AM
Today the term Fascist has simply become an epithet to be hurled at whomever you find offensive. Because it is always available to use to insult an opponent and it means whatever you want it to mean it has lost its power as an historical reference.

While the definition OldEd found is accurate, it is also incomplete. It is in economics where Fascism most strongly resembles Communism.

Both Fascism and Communism treat capital (money) as the realm of the government (or the people, if you will). All efforts are to be directed to the benefit of the people (or the government if you will). The structural difference is that property, under Fascism, is nominally held by individuals who must use it for the benefit of the state.

It really doesn't take a historian to look at Nazi Germany and recognize this economic factor. After all, it wasn't called National Democratism or National Republicanism - it was called National Socialism.
Citing 'socialism' in the name 'national socialism'OldEdScott
May 19, 2003 9:35 AM
is a little misleading. The Nazis were virulently anti-socialist (and anti-communist). One of the reasons they came into being was to halt the ascendant Left. And in power they never nationalized the means of production, although (as in America) much of industry was pressed into service for the war industry.

I've always suspected 'socialism' was in the party name just as a political ploy in the early days to try to draw in working people. But Nazism's aim was to recast German society according to racial categories, not to restructure society by socializing the means of production.

I should also point out that the Nazis didn't think of themselves as Fascists, Mussolini-style, and in fact thought of the Fascist Party as a bunch of pantywastes who wouldn't kill Jews etc etc.
Ah! From Bartleby online ...OldEdScott
May 19, 2003 10:04 AM
After World War I a number of extremist political groups arose in Germany, including the minuscule German Workers' party, whose spokesman was Gottfried Feder. Its program combined socialist economic ideas with rabid nationalism and opposition to democracy. The party early attracted a few disoriented war veterans, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and Hitler. After 1920 Hitler led the party; its name was changed, and he reorganized and reoriented it, stamping it with his own personality. 2

By demagogic appeals to latent hatred and violence, through anti-Semitism, anti-Communist diatribes, and attacks on the Treaty of Versailles, the party gained a considerable following. Its inner councils were swelled by such frustrated intellectuals as P. J. Goebbels, and by the element of riffraff typified by Julius Streicher, while its public adherents were heavily drawn from the depressed lower middle class. Hitler minimized the socialist features of the program. National Socialism made its appeal not to an economic class but rather to the insecure and power-hungry elements of society.
The economics of FascismMcAndrus
May 19, 2003 11:25 AM
I agree on the political behaviors of Fascism - that the most dangerous attribute is its virulent aggressiveness. My point is that there's an economic element that resembles socialism.

I don't picture political ideologies as a spectrum: with Communism on the left, Fascism on the right, and democracy somewhere in between. I view them as a circle with Communism and Fascism on the bottom, very close together.

Yes, there are substantive and substantial differences between them and yes, Hitler hated Communists with an insane passion but they agreed on one point: the state supercedes the individual.

Here's a quote from Sheldon Richman from the website of the Library of Economics and Liberty. As best I can tell this organization leans toward the Milton Friedman end of the economic spectrum.

"The best example of a fascist economy is the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Holding that liberalism (by which he meant freedom and free markets) had "reached the end of its historical function," Mussolini wrote: "To Fascism the world is not this material world, as it appears on the surface, where Man is an individual separated from all others and left to himself.... Fascism affirms the State as the true reality of the individual."

This collectivism is captured in the word fascism, which comes from the Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods with an axe in it. In economics, fascism was seen as a third way between laissez-faire capitalism and communism. Fascist thought acknowledged the roles of private property and the profit motive as legitimate incentives for productivity—provided that they did not conflict with the interests of the state."
Fascinating. Good link. nmOldEdScott
May 19, 2003 11:42 AM
Capitalism too!czardonic
May 19, 2003 10:09 AM
Let's see. . . Centralization of power among the wealthy elite. Intolerance for opposition. Control of the means of production. It's even got the pseudo-mysticism of the "Free Market". Okay, okay, "pseudo" is an overstatement.
What's often left out of history books...mohair_chair
May 19, 2003 8:21 AM
This is excellent. Note the paragraph that starts "Fascism is hostile to Marxism...." The rise of fascism in the 1930s had a lot to do with the rise of Marxism in 1920s and 1930s. Marxism was a real threat to Europeans, and a lot of them supported fascist movements like Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler because it was the only other option. What do you want to be, Communist or Fascist? There wasn't much middle ground. That doesn't excuse the horror that these movements led to, but it helps explain the mindset that allowed them to take hold.

Even in the USA, many were flirting with Communism, and it would come back to haunt a lot of them in the 1950s. It was one hell of a crazy world back then. Anything could happen.
Recipe for fascism--Majority rule without minority rights nmContinental
May 19, 2003 8:22 AM