Sunday, October 03, 2004

Orcinus: What is fascism?: "Put simply, fascism is maybe best understood as an extreme reaction against socialism and communism. It was explicitly anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and corporatist, and it endorsed violence as a chief means to its ends. It was also, obviously, authoritarian, but claiming that it was oriented toward 'socialism' is just crudely ahistorical, if not outrageously revisionist. Socialists, let's not forget, were among the first people imprisoned and 'liquidated' by the Nazi regime."

In an otherwise excellent series of articles on fascism, it seems to me that Orcinus misses the nature of the connection between fascism and socialism. It is not a coincidence that Mussolini came out of the Italian socialist movement and that the Nazi party was the 'National Socialist' party. Socialism needs to be understood as a democratic and popular movement, which sought to use the state to provide economic and social justice to the masses. Fascism attempts to provide the same appeal, except that it is a deception. Its real purpose is to protect the corporate and oligarchic elements and block democratic reform. In other words fascism (at least of the mid 20th Century kind) is a type of 'wedge' politics, which seeks to detach the masses from their support for socialism or social democracy. Modern conservatism is of course also 'wedge' politics, which attempts to divert the masses from their real economic and social interests to effectively serve the interests of the the oligarchs (or corporations). Racism, militarism, authoritarianism, leader cultism, heirarchalism, homogenism, nationalism, fundamentalism, homophobia, intolerance, hatespeech, scapegoating are all tools to this end. In fact all conservative politics could be described as wedge politics; and all democratic politics could be described as solidarity politics. Anarchists for example have long and correctly understood racism and nationalism as tools to divide the working class.

This is where social democrats and centre left parties have made an inevitable but fatal error. When faced with wedge politics, they have tended in the short term interest of winning power to decline to contest the issue. The effect is betrayal and abandonment and a relentless drift to the right of both major political groupings. Genuine progressive forces must make a committed effort to combat wedge politics and to build solidarity.

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