Fascism and National Socialism
George Orwell, a socialist who fought for the Soviet-backed government of Spain in the Spanish Civil War, wrote prophetically in 1936 that "Socialism, in the form in which it is now presented, appeals chiefly to unsatisfactory or even inhuman types," including, among others, "the astute young social-literary climbers who are Communists now, as they will be Fascists five years hence, because it is all the go." Five years later, Hitler and Stalin were partners in the Nazi-Soviet pact, the joint invasion of Poland and the division of Europe; Orwell watched in despair as his former comrades supported the pact, even as Hitler launched his Blitz on London.
When Britain declared war on the Nazis, German Communist Party leader Walter Ulbricht denounced not Naziism but "English Imperialism" as “the most reactionary force in the world”: “The [Nazi] German government declared itself ready for friendly relations with the Soviet Union, whereas the English-French war bloc desires a war against the socialist Soviet Union,” declared Ulbricht. “The Soviet people and the working people of Germany have an interest in preventing the English war plan.” When France fell to the Nazi invaders, French Communist Party leaders Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos celebrated, declaring that "the struggle of the French people has the same aim as the struggle of [Nazi] German imperialism." During the battle of Britain, "Communists in the factories actually fomented strikes, and spread defeatist propaganda in the blitzed areas of London," writes Orwell prize winning journalist Peter Hitchens.
By the time the war was over, it had become impossible even to discuss the issue: “The word 'Fascism' has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’," wrote Orwell. “Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism?” Particularly in the United States, the word "fascism" had become confused with the rights of private property and economic freedom, which had previously been called "liberalism"; meanwhile, the word "liberalism" had been redefined to denote the very "state-capitalist" mixed economy that characterized Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany. "As a supreme, if unintended compliment," quipped Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter, "the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label." This debasing of meaning, making reasoned discourse and clear thinking impossible, was precisely what Orwell was illustrating in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by means of "Newspeak."
Those policies that are today called "liberal"—big government, high taxation, regulation, state intervention in or control of the economy, public-private partnerships, state control over the use of private property, etc.—were all pioneered by the fascists, who called this economic system corporativismo (corporativism). Contrary to revisionist socialist propaganda, the name has nothing to do with incorporated firms, but refers to the medieval system of guilds, theoretically modernized as syndicalism. Corporativist ideas had been popular with British socialists and Fabians, as well as American progressives such as Herbert Croly, Edward Bellamy and Colonel House, since the late 19th century. Far from being capitalist, corporativism was stridently anti-capitalist. “So substantial are the limitations under which private property and capital are exercised in Italy, that the conception of ‘capitalism’ is avowedly destroyed and replaced by corporativismo,” wrote Herbert Steiner in his classic 1938 study of fascism. Under fascism, writes the progressive writer Roger Shaw, "capitalistic laissez-faire of the old, familiar type practically disappears under state-planning."
Even Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas admitted, the "fascist revolutions definitely abolished laissez-faire capitalism in favor of one or another kind and degree of state capitalism." “The programme of the Fascists, as drafted in 1919, was vehemently anti-capitalistic,” wrote Ludwig von Mises. “The most radical New Dealers and even communists could agree with it.” It demanded “Suppression of incorporated joint-stock companies, industrial or financial. Suppression of all speculation by banks and stock exchanges,” and “Control and taxation of private wealth. Confiscation of unproductive income.”
"Originally, fascism saw itself as profoundly revolutionary—not conservative (as the left now sees it)," writes Christopher Harmon, professor of International Relations at the US Marine Corps University. Mussolini had been a Marxist, who took over the Italian Socialist Party at the Congress of Reggio Emilia in 1912, expelling the syndicalist heretics and espousing doctrinaire Marxism—prompting Lenin to write, “the party of the Italian socialist proletariat has taken the right path.” Five years later, Lenin took over Russia, the following year imposing socialism (“War Communism”); it quickly and spectacularly failed, producing mass famine and economic collapse. In response to this failure, Marxists and other communists scrambled for a "Third Way" between socialism and capitalism: an alternative to the market, but one that might actually work. Lenin thus introduced his New Economic Policy, based on Oskar Lange's theoretical "market socialism"; Mussolini, meanwhile, resurrected the ideas of the syndicalists he had previously ousted. "The most important influence upon Mussolini's development," writes his biographer Renzo De Felice, "was that exercised by revolutionary syndicalism." Most, but not all, of the of the leading organizers of Italian syndicalism became active fascists. Syndicalism (syndicalisme) was the French name for the British idea of "guild socialism." Being Italian nationalists, Mussolini and his followers gave it an Italian name, corporativismo (corporativism or corporatism), from corporazione (guild). The fascists ordered all labor unions and industries into cartels, (corporazioni)—administrative units of the government, through which it set production levels, wages and prices.
It is often claimed that corporatism means "the power of business corporations over society." For example, in the wake of his upset defeat by Tea Party backed challenger Dr. Nan Hayworth, then-Congressman John Hall (D-NY) said, "I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is called Fascism." Likewise, an article published by the Council for Secular Humanism claims that under fascism, "the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised." While he didn't mention business, President Franklin Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat, said, "in its essence... fascism [is] ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power" (a statement approvingly quoted by secret Communist George Seldes). Such claims are often buttressed by an apocryphal quote, attributed to Mussolini, that "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."
But there is no evidence that Mussolini ever said this, and as one self-proclaimed "progressive activist" admits, "it contradicts most of the other writing he did on the subject of corporatism and corporations." Corporatism has nothing to do with incorporated firms or businesses; all fascist movements have in common the aim of "eliminating the autonomy (or, in some proposals, the existence) of large-scale capitalism and major industry."
While it may preserve the appearance of ownership, corporatism strips owners of control of their property, thus stripping "ownership" of meaning. Under fascism, "the state directs and controls" business, exercising "absolute authoritarian control of production." As Mussolini put it, "the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production." He demanded "State intervention in economic production" whenever "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." Under fascism, the "private employer is retained, but he is stringently regulated by the state," writes progressive writer Roger Shaw. "Communism eliminates the private employer and profit-maker, but Fascism, at least in economic theory, retains him as a slave of the state." The state thus becomes the de facto owner, reducing de jure owners to bureaucrats, carrying out government orders. It is therefore more accurate to say that "corporatism" means government control of corporations than corporate control of government.
National Socialism, emerging from the shattered remains of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the wake of World War I, promised yet another a “third way” between capitalism and communism. Whereas Communism sought to unite the working class of all nations to fight for their class, and fascism sought to unite all the classes with a country to fight for the State, National Socialism sought to unite all members of a race, from whatever class or nation, to fight for their race. It was this "Third Way" that attracted Adolf Hitler.
As early as 1933, Nobel prize winning economist F.A. Hayek warned William Beveridge, director of the London School of Economics, that "National 'Socialism' is a genuine socialist movement." As Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas admitted, "In no way was Hitler the tool of big business." Hitler stated that under Nazism, "the attitude of the State towards capital would be comparatively simple and clear. Its only object would be to make sure that capital remained subservient to the State." David Schoenbaum notes that the Nazi Party census found the single largest category of Party members was “Workers” (30.3%); the second-largest category was “White collar,” (19.4%), of which 59.1% were in sales; the third-largest category, “Independent”/“Self-Employed” made up 19%, the largest group of whom were in “handicraft” (43.7%). Schoenbaum adds that of the two exhibits most often trotted out in defense of the Naziism-as-capitalist-plot thesis—Fritz Thyssen and the Krupps—that Thyssen eventually had to flee Nazi Germany for Switzerland, while even the Krupps “did not finance Hitler before 1933,” when his victory had become a fait accompli. Moreover, some business people likewise supported FDR's policies (e.g., "Although I'm a capitalist, I happen to believe in [Roosevelt's] program"). Even Ronald Reagan was a New Dealer, back when he was a liberal Democrat and a Roosevelt man (although he later saw the light, saying, "Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal").
|“||the West's first real experience with totalitarianism—political absolutism extended into every possible area of culture and society, education, religion, industry, the arts, local community and family included, with a kind of terror always waiting in the wings—came with the American war state under Woodrow Wilson."||”|
Likewise, Nazi "domestic policies were remarkably friendly toward the German lower classes, soaking the wealthy and redistributing the burdens of wartime to the benefit of the underprivileged," including "transferring the tax burden to corporations."
Along with its well-known anti-Semitic and expansionist planks, the Nazi Party program included a number of less-remembered demands that were (and are still) considered “progressive.” For example: “the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood”, “a generous increase in old-age pensions”, “specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State”, “help raise the standard of national health” by “providing maternity welfare centers, banning child labor, increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young,” etc.
The Nazi platform attacked the concept of economic freedom, asserting that the “first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically”, that “all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished... breaking of the tyranny of interest”, that “usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race”, “total confiscation of all war profits”, “nationalization of all trusts that have gone public [i.e., publicly-traded companies]”, “profit-sharing in large industries”, “ immediate communalization of large stores”, “enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose... abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land”, etc. (Nazi newspapers ran frequent polemics against landlords.)
As against individualism and the free market, the Nazis demanded “creation of a strong central authority in the State”, “COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD” [Capitalization in original], that “No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all”, that “ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare”, etc.
Finally, the Nazis wiped out free speech and religious freedom, demanding “a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press”, that “Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed”, disingenuously promising freedom for all religious faiths “in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence” or “offend the moral and ethical sense” of the Germanic race. The Party statutes of May 22, 1926, state of these points: "This program is unalterable." "Architect of the Holocaust" Adolf Eichmann wrote in his memoirs, "My political sympathies inclined towards the left and emphasized socialist aspects every bit as much as nationalist ones.” He and his comrades, said Eichmann, viewed Nazism and Communism as “quasi-siblings." Likewise, in a 1944 article titled "Our Socialism," Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels boasted that “We alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures.” In contrast, he wrote, "The Jews are the incarnation of capitalism.”
By confiscating and redistributing the property of Jews, the Nazis sought what they called “a truly socialist division of personal assets.” To this end, the Nazis enacted price controls, rent controls, exorbitant corporate taxes, farm subsidies and harsh taxes on capital gains, which Hitler denounced as “effortless income.” It was in this atmosphere that the New Deal took shape.
Even the Kremlin itself would on at least one occasion admit that Nazi Germany was a socialist nation. On October 7, 1939, the 22nd anniversary of the Bolshevik coup, the Comintern issued a statement describing the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland as "an example of cooperation of socialist nations against Anglo-French imperialism."
- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1958) ISBN 0156767503, p. 182
- "[T]he Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Lincolns' willingness to change their position on the antifascist struggle in order to conform to Soviet policy would forever cast a shadow on their legacy, as it would with the other elements of the Communist Left." Before Pearl Harbor, World War II Letters from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives
- Sozialistische Mitteilungen, No. 8 (April 18, 1940)
- Die Welt, February 1940. Cited in: Walther Hofer: Die Entfesselung des Zweiten Weltkrieges, 2007, Lit Verlag, ISBN 9783825803834; S. 224–225
- Peter Hitchens, theorwellprize.co.uk
- A Final Word, The Mail on Sunday, July 5, 2010
- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," Horizon, vol. 13, issue 76 (April 1946), pp. 252-265, reprinted in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, Eds., The Collected Essays, Journalism, & Letters, George Orwell, Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950 (David R. Godine, 2000) ISBN 1567921361, pp. 132, 139
- "The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership in the means of production.... All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand." Ludwig Von Mises, Liberalism: In the Classical Tradition (Irvington, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education and San Francisco: Cobden Press, 1985), p. 19. It was in this sense that Mussolini wrote, "Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere" (Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism [Firenze: Vallecchi Editore, 1935], p. 15); that cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch wrote, "Italy had several years earlier begun the transition from a liberal free-market system to a state-run or corporatist one" (Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939 [Macmillan, 2006] ISBN 080507452X, p. 22); that Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek wrote, "It was the union of the anticapitalist forces of the Right and of the Left, the fusion of radical and conservative socialism, which drove out from Germany everything that was liberal." Friedrich August Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (University of Chicago Press, 2007) ISBN 0226320553, p. 182
- Schumpeter "believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes," as it made possible the existence of "a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class’s existence." Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund)
- Joseph Alois Schumpeter, History of economic analysis (Psychology Press, 1994) ISBN 0415108888, p. 372
- Newspeak, wrote Orwell, was "devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.... The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.... All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality, for instance, were contained in the single word crimethink." The Preamble of the American Declaration of Independence, according to Orwell, could not be expressed (and hence was unthinkable) in Newspeak: "The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink." George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Reprint: 1st World Publishing, 2004) ISBN 1595404325, pp. 372-373, 379, 386-387
- H. Arthur Steiner, Government in Fascist Italy (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1938), p. 92
- Roger Shaw, "Fascism and the New Deal," The North American Review, Vol. 238, No. 6 (Dec., 1934), pp. 559-564
- Norman Thomas, A Socialist's Faith (Norton, 1951), pp. 55
- Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (Yale University Press, 1951), p. 576
- Count Carlo Sforza, Contemporary Italy - Its Intellectual and Moral Origins (Read Books, 2007) ISBN 1406760307, pp. 295-296
- Christopher C. Harmon, Terrorism today (Psychology Press, 2008) ISBN 0415773008, p. 17
- V.I. Lenin, "The Italian Socialist Congress," Pravda, No. 66 (July 15, 1912), reprinted in V.I. Lenin Collected Works, Volume 18 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), pp. 170-172
- Famine in Russia: the hidden horrors of 1921, International Committee of the Red Cross. Cf. Francis Haller, "Secours en temps de paix – la famine en Russie," Le Temps, August 12, 2003
- "...fascism was seen as a third way between laissez-faire capitalism and communism..." (Sheldon Richman, Fascism, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics); "...Fascism, the 'third way' between liberalism and socialism..." (David Ramsay Steele, "The Mystery of Fascism Liberty, 2003); "...fascism as a 'third way' distinct from liberalism and Marxism..." (Ruth Ben-Ghiat, "Italian Fascism and the Aesthetics of the 'Third Way'," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 31, No. 2 [April 1996], pp. 293-316); "...fascism could pose as the 'third way' alternative between capitalism and Bolshevism... (Philip Morgan, Fascism in Europe, 1919-1945 [Psychology Press, 2003] ISBN 0415169437, p. 186). Cf. Philip Hanson, “Is there a third way? Capitalism, socialism and the reform of the Soviet economy,” in B. Dallego, H. Brzezinski and W. Andreff, eds. Convergence and System Change: The Convergence Hypothesis in Light of Transition in Eastern Europe (Dartmouth, 1991) ISBN 1855212188, pp. 149-169, 235 et seq; Ulrich van Suntum, The Invisible Hand: Economic Thought Yesterday and Today (Springer, 2005) ISBN 3540204970, p. 204
- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, 4th Ed., (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes 1996), p. 817
- Quoted in Sheri Berman, The primacy of politics: social democracy and the making of Europe's twentieth century (Cambridge University Press, 2006) ISBN 0521817994, p. 77
- David D. Roberts, The syndicalist tradition and Italian fascism (Manchester University Press ND, 1979) ISBN 0719007615, p. 12
- Luis Suarez-Villa, Technocapitalism: a critical perspective on technological innovation and corporatism (Temple University Press, 2009) ISBN 1439900426, p. 1
- David Freedlander, "Soon To-Be Ex-Congressman John Hall Warns Against Creeping Fascism," New York Observer, December 28, 2010
- Laurence W. Britt, "Fascism Anyone?" Free Inquiry, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Spring 2003)
- INDUSTRY: Anti-Monopoly, Time, May, 9, 1938
- Haynes, John Earl; Harvey Klehr, Alexander Vassiliev (2009). Spies: the rise and fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300123906. Retrieved on 9 January 2011.
- George Seldes, One thousand Americans (Boni & Gaer, 1947), p. 6
- Joseph Burrell, The Republican Treason: Republican Fascism Exposed (Algora Publishing, 2008) ISBN 0875866670, p. 137, n. 1
- Q: Quotation search: "Benito Mussolini - Fascism should more appropriately be...", Google Answers
- Chip Berlet, Mussolini on the Corporate State, Political Research Associates
- Stanley Payne, A History of Fascism (Routledge, 1996) ISBN 1-85728-595-6, p. 10
- R. E. Pahl and J. T. Winkler, "Corporatism in Britain," in The Corporate State-Myth or Reality? (London: Centre for Studies in Social Policy, 1976), as cited in Bob Jessop, State theory: putting the Capitalist state in its place (Penn State Press, 1990) ISBN 0271007354, p. 133
- Ludwig Von Mises, Planned chaos (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1947) ISBN 1933550600, pp. 3-4, 62-63
- Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions (Rome: 'Ardita' Publishers), pp. 135-136
- Roger Shaw, "Fascism and the New Deal," The North American Review, Vol. 238, No. 6 (Dec., 1934), pp. 559-564
- Artur Moeller van den Bruck's book The Third Reich (1923) was originally entitled The Third Way. (George Lachmann Mosse, Masses and Man: Nationalist and Fascist Perceptions of Reality [Wayne State University Press, 1987] ISBN 0814318959, pp. 84, 166) On Fascism as “third way,” see Zeev Sternhell, Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France (Princeton University Press, 1996) ISBN 0691006296, p. 94, and Roger Eatwell, Fascism: A History, (London: Allen Lane, 1996), ISBN 071399147X, p. 11.
- Memorandum: Hayek to Beveridge, Nazi-Socialism, Spring 1933 (F.A. Hayek Papers (Hoover Institution), Box 105, Folder 10, in Friedrich August Hayek, The road to serfdom: text and documents (University of Chicago Press, 2007) ISBN 0226320553, p. 245
- Norman Thomas, A Socialist's Faith (Norton, 1951), pp. 53-35
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf: zwei Bände in einem Band, Vol. 1 40th Ed. (Bottom of the Hill, 1938) ISBN 1935785079, p. 183
- David Schoenbaum, Hitler's Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1997) ISBN 0393315541, p. 67
- Lorena A. Hickok, et al., One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression (University of Illinois Press, 1983) ISBN 0252010965, p. 218
- Howell Raines, "Reagan Denies Plan to Answer Carter," The New York Times, August 17, 1980, p. 1
- Southington, Connecticut. School children pledging their allegiance to the flag, United States. Office of War Information. Overseas Picture Division. Washington Division; 1944 (Library of Congress)
- Even the term "national socialism" was coined by American socialist Edward Bellamy. (Alison Ravetz , Council Housing and Culture: The History of a Social Experiment (Psychology Press, 2001), ISBN 0415239451, p. 49; c.f. Sylvia Strauss, "Gender, Class and Race in Utopia," in Daphne Patai, ed., Looking Backward, 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy (University of Massachusetts Press, 1988), ISBN 0870236342, p. 71). He was the author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward, which was read by most early progressives as is said to have kicked off the Progressive Era. Robert Weir, ed., Class in America: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2007), ISBN 0313068356, p. 65
- Jim Lindgren, 1938 Gallup poll data, The Volokh Conspiracy, October 21, 2004, 4:03am
- Karlheinz Weissmann, "The Epoch of National Socialism," The Journal of Libertarian Studies Vol. 12 No. 2 (Fall 1996), pp. 257–294
- Robert A. Nisbet, The Twilight of Authority (Oxford University Press, 1975), p. 183
- Gotz Aly, Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, tr. Jefferson Chase (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0805087265, pp. 7, 38
- Gotz Aly, Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, tr. Jefferson Chase (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0805087265, p. 63
- Louis Leo Snyder, Documents of German History (Rutgers University Press, 1958), p. 393 et seq.
- Cullen Bryant Gosnell and Raymond Blalock Nixon, Proceedings: Institute of Citizenship, Vol. 18, Iss. 7, 1932 (Emory University)
- Gotz Aly, Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, tr. Jefferson Chase (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0805087265, pp. 16-17
- Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942-1945 Vol. 2 (Random House, Inc., 2001) ISBN 0375756973, p. 317
- Gotz Aly, Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, tr. Jefferson Chase (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0805087265, p. 300
- Michael C. Moynihan , "Hitler's Handouts: Inside the Nazis' Welfare State," Reason, August/September 2007
- Gotz Aly, Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, tr. Jefferson Chase (Macmillan, 2008) ISBN 0805087265, p. 65
- [1939 September 17]