Is Fascism Left- or Right-Wing?

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Is fascism a left or right-wing ideology?

“We know the name of the philosopher of capitalism: Adam Smith. We know the name of the philosopher of Marxism: Karl Marx. But who’s the philosopher of fascism?

“Yes—exactly. You don’t know.

“Don’t feel bad. Almost no one knows. This is not because he doesn’t exist, but because historians, most of whom are on the political left, had to erase him from history in order to avoid confronting fascism’s actual beliefs. So, let me introduce him to you. His name is Giovanni Gentile.

“Born in 1875, he was one of the world’s most influential philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. Gentile believed that there were two “diametrically opposed” types of democracy. One is liberal democracy, such as that of the United States, which Gentile dismisses as individualistic—too centered on liberty and personal rights—and therefore selfish. The other, the one Gentile recommends, is “true democracy,” in which individuals willingly subordinate themselves to the state.

“Like his philosophical mentor, Karl Marx, Gentile wanted to create a community that resembles the family, a community where we are “all in this together.” It’s easy to see the attraction of this idea. Indeed, it remains a common rhetorical theme of the left.

“For example, at the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family where, through the government, people all take care of each other.

“Nothing’s changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention was, “The government is the only thing we all belong to.” They might as well have been quoting Gentile.

“Now, remember, Gentile was a man of the left. He was a committed socialist. For Gentile, fascism is a form of socialism—indeed, its most workable form. While the socialism of Marx mobilizes people on the basis of class, fascism mobilizes people by appealing to their national identity as well as their class. Fascists are socialists with a national identity. German Fascists in the 1930s were called Nazis—basically a contraction of the term “national socialist.”

“For Gentile, all private action should be oriented to serve society; there is no distinction between the private interest and the public interest. Correctly understood, the two are identical. And who is the administrative arm of the society? It’s none other than the state.

“Consequently, to submit to society is to submit to the state—not just in economic matters, but in all matters. Since everything is political, the state gets to tell everyone how to think and what to do.

“It was another Italian, Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943, who turned Gentile’s words into action. In his Dottrina del Fascismo, one of the doctrinal statements of early fascism, Mussolini wrote, “All is in the state and nothing human exists or has value outside the state.” He was merely paraphrasing Gentile.

“The Italian philosopher is now lost in obscurity, but his philosophy could not be more relevant because it closely parallels that of the modern left. Gentile’s work speaks directly to progressives who champion the centralized state.

“Here in America, the left has vastly expanded state control over the private sector, from healthcare to banking; from education to energy. This state-directed capitalism is precisely what German and Italian fascists implemented in the 1930s.

Leftists can’t acknowledge their man, Gentile, because that would undermine their attempt to bind conservatism to fascism.

“Conservatism wants small government so that individual liberty can flourish. The left, like Gentile, wants the opposite: to place the resources of the individual and industry in the service of a centralized state. To acknowledge Gentile is to acknowledge that fascism bears a deep kinship to the ideology of today’s left. So, they will keep Gentile where they’ve got him: dead, buried, and forgotten.

“But we should remember, or the ghost of fascism will continue to haunt us.”

19 thoughts on “Is Fascism Left- or Right-Wing?

  1. Jonah Goldberg did a deep dive on this in his book Liberal Fascism.

    To large extent this is nice to know but irrelevant.

    When the boot of the State is stomping on your face, do you really care if it’s the right or left boot doing the stomping?

    1. Well said, the right boot is just as bad as the left one.
      And the right is as bad when it comes to trying to control peoples’ lives in minutiae as is the left, I’d say in some ways the right is worse.

      It’s not the left who’s guilty of wanting to ban bikinis on public beaches for being “immoral”.
      It’s not the left who want to lock up homosexuals and transgender people for being “freaks” (I’m not talking about the criminal ideologues among either group who’re using the groups as excuses for their actions).
      It’s not the left who want to ban any religion but their own (though one may argue that socialism is a religious movement).

      The list goes on and on of things where the political right demands conformity on punishment of being cast out from society, if not killed outright.

      1. To a certain extent you are complaining about your father’s conservatives. Many/most conservatives don’t care about any of that except to the extent that it is being shoved in their faces and being told they need to not only accept it but celebrate it.

      2. I can see that from 50-60 years ago…. about the same time Tipper Gore was grilling Dee Snider about obscenity.

        But I haven’t seen anything like that for 40 years, at least. Have you? When and where?

        1. it’s happening constantly still.
          Here every year there are calls to ban bikinis and “revealing clothes” as being “immoral” for example.
          People who don’t conform to “the norm” are constantly being threatened and marginalised by conservatives as well.

          Just look at the way conservatives react when it comes to transgender people and homosexuals. Open calls to ‘lock them all up in insane asylums’ are the least threatening.

          And that’s all happening in both the US and Europe.

          1. “Here every year there are calls to ban bikinis and ‘revealing clothes’ as being ‘immoral’ for example.”

            “Just look at the way conservatives react when it comes to transgender people and homosexuals. Open calls to ‘lock them all up in insane asylums’ are the least threatening.”

            Again, when and where? I mean sure, you can find cranks in any group. Find me a mainstream conservative politician or member of the media who’s doing it.

            On the other side, I can point to the President, the Vice President, the Speaker, several members of both the House and the Senate, and nearly the entire staff of several different media outlets.

            Show me something that is remotely comparable.

          2. Sorry just don’t see it, nobody gives a damn unless they are being told you must accept and celebrate it. From what I see conservatives are more: just leave me alone, and let me live my life while you live yours.

        2. About 30 years ago the city of South Miami Beach tried to ban thong-bikini-clad hot dog stand vendors. I don’t know if this was a result of complaints to the city or not. The city attorney made the claim that the car crash rate went up when the vendor was present. The vendor’s lawyer gathered the actual data and showed the judge that the car crash rate actually went down when the vendor was present. The judge was PISSED. IIRC, he fined the city attorney for contempt (officers of the court are supposed to not lie to judges), and found in favor of the vendor.

          I moved to Brevard county in mid-1992, before this happened (about 200 miles North), and we had such vendors as well. I still live there, but haven’t seen any in several years. I guess either the novelty wore off, or I don’t drive past the places where they operate any more.

          I’ll leave it as an exercise for the student as to the political flavor of the city at the time, because I don’t remember and don’t care enough to look. For those who do care, I think there’s enough information above to find out.

        1. LOL, I’ve never been a leftist in my life, nor will I ever be.

          Though the right is making it harder and harder to consider myself one of them every day.

          I’ve always considered myself moderate right wing, with the result that the rabid left calls me a right wing extremist and ever more the right calls me a left wing extremist simply because I’m neither a right wing nor a left wing extremist, but a realist who sees the bad and good things in both.

          1. Clue for you, genius; WHO was it, way back in the early 90’s who was calling for all of the censorship regarding “explicit lyrics,” in the popular music being listened to by the youth of the day?

            Tipper Gore.

            Hole one.

            History, even recent, of The Left acting as NannyKnowsBetter is all around you if you’ll just look. You want to shut the Hell up or get embarrassed some more?

            Punk.

    2. Good point. This has been publicly documented for over a decade at this point, without discernable impact on the public discourse. The same old faction movers just keep repeating their Big Lies, and the same old suckers hork it down and pass it along.

      Remember, kids: Democracy is the premise that people who parrot Big Lies get to have a say in the conduct of your affairs.

  2. The “we’re all in this together” mentality works on the small scale of family/small community of relatives. It’s pointless at large scales. Humans are not wired to care
    about outcomes for people they don’t know. So trying to impose the socialistic type of government never works. Capitalism works simply because it rewards innate human
    personality…..the desire to acquire and have stuff. The desire to be comfortable. Prior to Capitalism to attain these desires invariably involved conquest, war, bloodshed, misery.
    Capitalism changed all that and allowed people to succeed at attaining what they want while actually providing things that other people also wanted. It’s the ONLY methodology in history that has done that.

    1. “More than three can’t agree on when to have dinner, much less when to strike.”

      – Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

  3. It has gone from being a semantic annoyance to understanding a critical point: fascism isn’t “right-wing”. Back in the (I believe) Thirties, the Soviets were becoming increasingly bothered by the fact that some of the representatives for the various communist movements in several industrial countries within the Communist International (COMINTERN) organization were not interested in the Soviet version of communism — international communism — and, instead, favored national communism, i.e., they were working toward communism for their own country, i.e., Italy, Denmark, Britain or whatever. This culminated in Stalin decreeing (and I’m paraphrasing him) that if you were not for international communism, then you weren’t a communist; you were to their (the Soviet international communists’) political right. That is, you were where the fascists were. And so, parroting their communist masters, the media began labeling anyone to the “right” of communism as fascists. This, as far as I’ve been able to discern, is the origin of fascism being used as a label against the “right-wing”. This practice effectively created the political spectrum that is commonly used today — i.e., that communism is on the far left but fascism is on far right.

    It, of course, is not. Fascism and communism are simply two flavors of the same political end: totalitarianism. With communism, the state owns the means of production; with fascism, there is “nominal” private ownership of the means of production but, in fact, the state controls what business makes, how much they make of it, to whom it is sold and at what price. In other words, politically, there is technical (and meaningless) difference between the two but economically, it’s fundamentally the same. If the state controls business — be it a communist state or a fascist state — you have no freedoms in either the economic or the political realm. And the correct political spectrum, of course, should therefore put both fascism and communism on the far left and no state — i.e., anarchy — on the far right.

  4. To think that there is any difference whatsoever between the unfortunate circumstances of left and right is to walk in a club and think the stripper really likes you.

    I guess the true individuals have forgotten Operations warpspeed, paperclip, Northwoods, et al.

    They are all little armband wearing hall monitors we used to knock the shit out of in government mind washing camps in the 80’s, only now

    They want to control your trashcan, tailgate parties, toilets and tampons to a point that makes me sick.

    Voting just encourages these thieving fucks to do more senseless theft (taxation), and violence on behalf of this thing we all know shouldn’t even exist.

    Sean in Tucson

  5. For those who are familiar with me as “Grumpy Old Fart” on Disqus, I thought I’d let you know I have changed my name there.

    You now can find me on Disqus as Leonard Pinth-Garnell. I figure only fellow old farts will get the reference.

  6. There is this …

    https://www.city-journal.org/putins-moralizing-barbarism?wallit_nosession=1

    And if you want to read about how Nazi Germany operated before WW2 then I recommend The Vampire Economy by Gunter Reimann which was published in America in 1939. The preface is dated 8th September 1939, New Youk. It is recently republished by the Mises Institute.

    As J.P. pointed out above, the mechanism of the two regimes differed in ints implementation but the results are functionally identical.

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