Totalitarian twins

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The term "Totalitarian Twins" was used by François Furet[1] to link Communism [2] and Fascism.[3]

Fascism and totalitarianism

  • Max Eastman, an early communist who later saw the light and rejected communism, wrote in his 1937 book The End of Socialism in Russia that the Soviet Union was “a totalitarian state not in essence different from that of Hitler and Mussolini.” Eastman later wrote in a subsequent book, Reflections on the Failure of Socialism (1955): “Stalin’s totalitarian police state is not an approximation to, of something like, or in some respects comparable with Hitler’s. It is the same thing, only more ruthless, more cold-blooded, more astute, more extreme in its economic policies, more explicitly committed to world conquest, and more dangerous to democracy and civilized morals.”

Gary M. Grobman wrote:

  • Totalitarian regimes, in contrast to a dictatorship, establish complete political, social, and cultural control over their subjects, and are usually headed by a charismatic leader. Fascism is a form of right-wing totalitarianism which emphasizes the subordination of the individual to advance the interests of the state. [1]

Michael Parenti both acknowledged and criticized the linkage:

  • Both the Italian fascists and the Nazis consciously tried to imitate the left: youth organizations, mass mobilizations, rallies, parades, banners, symbols, slogans, uniforms. And I think for this reason, too, many mainstream writers treat fascism and communism as totalitarian twins. But most workers and peasants could tell the difference. Industrialists and bankers could tell the difference. And certainly the communists and the fascists could tell the difference. [2]

Daniel Singer wrote:

  • Central to Furet's argument is the belief that in a Europe shaken by World War I, Communism and Fascism were propping each other up. ... The Nazi-Soviet pact is for him perfect proof of complicity between the two systems.
  • While the totalitarian nature of Stalin's Russia is undeniable, I find the thesis of "totalitarian twins" both wrong and unproductive. ("Exploiting a Tragedy, or Le Rouge en Noir")

Notes

  1. "Furet, borrowing from Hannah Arendt, describes Bolsheviks and Nazis as totalitarian twins, conflicting yet united." (Daniel Singer, The Nation - April 17, 1995)
  2. "The totalitarian nature of Stalin's Russia is undeniable." (Daniel Singer)
  3. "The government of Nazi Germany was a fascist, totalitarian state." (Gary M. Grobman)
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