Today we will learn about what fascism really means. This article has been titled with a “classical” prefix because we will not assess any forms of modern fascism like neo-Nazism and any fragile form of ultranationalism that has no philosophy behind it. We will use the three main forms of fascism in Europe to describe fascism: Italian Fascism, British Fascism, and Romanian Fascism.
Firstly we shall take a look at what caused fascism to be developed. Fascism was developed by Benito Mussolini, through several transitions across the political spectrum. He was a soldier in the First World War. He was deeply angered by the British and French not giving Italy their promised territories even after losing so much in men and resources. Mussolini was Marxist socialist in the 1900s and 1910s, we will use some of his quotes to indicate this:
“Marx was the greatest of all theorists of socialism.”
[Mussolini: A Biography by Denis Mack Smith (1983) p. 7. Original source: Opera Omnia di Benito Mussolini (OO) 1/102-3 (14 Mar. 1908), 135, 142.]
“Militarism! Here is the monstrous leech that is incessantly sucking the blood of the people and its best energy! Here is the target for our attacks! We must put an end to barbarism, proclaim that the army is now a highly organized school of crime and that it exists solely to protect bourgeois capital and profits. We must not be deterred from proclaiming ourselves international socialists. We recognize no borders and no flags, we hate all steel, every institution that exist to kill men, waste energy, strangle the advance of the workers.”
[Mussolini’s article, (April 11, 1909), quoted in The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution, Jacob Talmon, University of California Press (1981) p. 487,]
“The root of our psychological weakness was this: We socialists have never examined the problems of nations. The International was never concerned with it. The International is dead, paralyzed by events. Ten million proletarians are today on the battlefield.”
[As quoted in The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution, J.L. Talmon, University of California Press (1981) p. 492. Original source: Mussolini, Opera Omnia VI, p. 427, 1914]
As the war came to an end, the Italian Socialist Party was facing a power struggle, as Marxist socialists had to win an upper hand over the newly emerging national syndicalist faction. Mussolini, naturally as a soldier who had developed love for his nation over the course of war, joined the national syndicalist faction. A summary of this dispute can also be displayed using some quotes:
“Do not believe, even for a moment, that by stripping me of my membership card you do the same to my Socialist beliefs, nor that you would restrain me of continuing to work in favor of Socialism and of the Revolution.”
[Speech at the Italian Socialist Party’s meeting in Milan at the People’s Theatre on Nov. 25, 1914. Quote in Revolutionary Fascism by Erik Norling, Lisbon, Finis Mundi Press (2011) p. 88.]
“We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism…. We intend to be an active minority, attract the proletariat away from the official Socialist party. But if the middle class thinks that we are going to be their lightning rods, they are mistaken.”
[Mussolini’s speech in Milan (March 23, 1919), quoted in Stanislao G. Pugliese, Fascism, Anti-fascism, and the Resistance in Italy: 1919 to the Present, Oxford, England, UK, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., (2004) p. 43]
Eventually, the national syndicalist faction split apart. And that was when he formulated his views by developing a more authentic ideology: fascism. This radically changed his view towards Marxist socialism and the developments made in the Soviet Union:
“Lenin is an artist who has worked men, as other artists have worked marble or metals. But men are harder than stone and less malleable than iron. There is no masterpiece. The artist has failed. The task was superior to his capacities.”
[Popolo d’Italia (14 July 1920) “The Artificer and the Material,” quoted in Mussolini in the Making (1938) by Gaudens Megaro, p. 326]
“We deny the existence of two classes, because there are many more than two classes. We deny that human history can be explained in terms of economics. We deny your internationalism. That is a luxury article which only the elevated can practise, because peoples are passionately bound to their native soil. We affirm that the true story of capitalism is now beginning, because capitalism is not a system of oppression only, but is also a selection of values, a coordination of hierarchies, a more amply developed sense of individual responsibility.”
[Speech (21 June 1921), “Through Fascism to World Power: A History of the Revolution in Italy”. Ion Smeaton Munro. 27 January 2008.]
Internationalism and Revolutionary Socialism became targeted by Mussolini. We may also see that to bring national unity, he cracked down on provincialism in his speeches as well. This also utilised totalitarianism to emphasise the superiority of the state over provincial nationalism and such ideologies:
[Provincial Fascism is] “no longer liberation, but tyranny; no longer protector of the nation, but defense of private interests and of the dullest, deafest, most miserable cast that exists in Italy.”
[Quoted in The Making of Fascism: Class, State, and Counter-Revolution, Italy 1919-1922, Dahlia S. Elazar, Westport, CT, Praeger, 2001, p. 141 and in Fascism in Ferrara, 1915-1925, Paul Corner, New York, NY, London: UK, Oxford Univ. Press, 1975, p. 193, n.5, Pact of Pacification, 1921]
“The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”
[My Autobiography by Mussolini, New York: NY, Charles Scribner’s Sons (1928) p. 280.]
“Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived in their relation to the State.”
[“The Doctrine of Fascism” (1932), quoted in The New York Times (11 January 1935)]
This is how fascism was developed. It was out of pure love for the nation and a disgust for the exploitative nature of right wing economics. Fascism was the beginning of the idea of third position, an escape from a mentality that people could only be either right wing, embracing nationalism and capitalism, or left wing, embracing internationalism and socialism.
Many people think that fascism has an uppercase F, meaning that fascism is a very specific ideology and that everything has to be what Mussolini did. That is not true. This is why we shall observe the Italian, British, and Romanian models, as they are the most authentic simulations of an authoritarian right wing nationalist cultural doctrine with centrist or moderately leftist economics.
Fascism is quite the distinction between a moderate populist and nationalist movement, and what Mussolini had emulated in Italy and what Oswald Mosley and Corneliu Codreanu had proposed to do in Britain and Romania respectively. Ultranationalism is the principle of putting the nation first, to a degree that nothing ever comes before the preservation of the nation’s past and securing the nation’s future, doing everything in the best interests of the nation.
For comparison, softer forms of nationalism would conceptually respect minorities by protection laws and reservation even if they threaten the nation, allow some exploitation for growth of businesses, allow provincialism to breed, indulge in moderate internationalism and globalism, et cetera. This cannot be the same under ultranationalism, the philosophy dictates that regardless of the situation, the nation can never be compromised. Ultranationalism recognises problems beyond an ordinary citizen; oppression of workers is seen as oppression of a nationals, oppression of consumers is seen as oppression of a nationals.
“For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; any renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But Empire demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice.” -Benito Mussolini
[“The Doctrine of Fascism”, June 1932. Quoted in Paul O’Brien, Mussolini in the First World War: The Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Also in Peter N. Stearns, World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader. NYU Press, 2008.]
“[Fascism] was an explosion against intolerable conditions, against remediable wrongs which the old world failed to remedy. It was a movement to secure national renaissance by people who felt themselves threatened with decline into decadence and death and were determined to live, and live greatly.” -Oswald Mosley
[Excerpt from My Life by Oswald Mosley (1968), Ch.16.]
“Therefore, in the last analysis, the problem facing the Romanian people today, on which all others depend, is the substitution of this fake elite with a real national one based on virtue, love and sacrifice for country, justice and love for the people, honesty, work, order, discipline, honest dealing, and honor.”
[For My Legionaries: The Iron Guard 1936]
The idea of third position cannot be practiced by libertarian elements; simply by embracing nationalism and socialism, one cannot achieve third positionism. It has to be authoritarian, and to ensure that the national goals of its greatest development and prosperity are achieved, resistance from opposition of any kind has to be prevented. This is why totalitarianism is a characteristic of most fascist models, which means the supremacy of a single party in the rule of a nation. This is also an anti-democracy stance as democracy allows too much liberty to parties who want to slow down the progress of the nation.
“Liberty is a duty, not a right.” -Benito Mussolini
[Speech on the 5th anniversary of the Combat Leagues (24 March 1924) quoted in Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism (1991) by Tim Redman, p. 114.]
“[…] Government by talk has to be replaced by government by action…” -Oswald Mosley
[Speech, undated year]
“Democracy prevents the politician’s fulfillment of his obligations to the nation. Even the most well-meaning politician becomes, in a democracy, the slave of his supporters, because either he satisfies their personal interests or they destroy his organization. The politician lives under the tyranny and permanent threat of the electoral bosses. He is placed in a position in which he must choose between the termination of his lifetime work and the satisfaction of the demands of party members. And the politician, given such a choice, opts for the latter. He does so not out of his own pocket, but out of that of the country. He creates jobs, sets up missions, commissions, sinecures–all rostered in the nation’s budget–which put increasingly heavy pressures on a tired people.” -Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
[Basket Three, Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Review of East European compliance with the Human Rights Provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, p. 49, point 4]
Fascism seeks to establish a movement called the reaction to destroy modernistic characteristics of liberalism and progressivism and rebuild a society based on older times when morals and discipline were more prevalent. Reactionary means extremely traditional philosophy or extreme traditionalism, where authority is used to force the cultural lifestyle on the society and not letting progressive characteristics like mass consumption of smoking products, dangerous alcohol consumption, drug normalisation, and non-hetero sexual orientation breed anywhere in the society. Culture and tradition is considered very important for the long life of the nation and this is also why Mussolini, Mosley and Codreanu left the left-wing as socialism was infected with Marxism.
“Here in Italy Socialism was a unifying factor. All Italian historians have recognized this. The Socialists of Italy were advocates of one idea and of one nation. From 1892, when they cut adrift from the anarchists at the Congress of Genoa, down till 1911, they battled for on behalf of a united Italy.” -Benito Mussolini
[Talks with Mussolini, interviewer Emil Ludwig, Boston: MA, Little, Brown, and Company, 1933, pp. 82-83 Interview took place between March 23 and April 4, 1932]
“We have lost the good old British spirit. Instead we have American journalism and black-shirted buffoons making a cheap imitation of ice-cream sellers.” -Oswald Mosley
[In 1927 after his Labour Party meeting in Cambridge was broken-up by pro-Fascist undergraduates. The mention of “ice-cream sellers” was a reference to Italian immigrants who had opened ice-cream parlours.]
“When we speak of the Rumanian nation, we refer not only to the Rumanians currently living on the same territory, with the same past and same future, the same habits, the same language, the same interests. When we speak of the Rumanian nation we refer to all Rumanians, dead or alive, who have lived on this land of ours from the beginnings of history and will live on it also in the future.” -Corneliu Codreanu
[For My Legionaries: The Iron Guard 1936]
Economics of Fascism: Corporatism
Main Article: Corporatism
Corporatism, as stated by Benito Mussolini is a merger of both state and corporate power. What this means is that the businesses of the nation are collaborating with the government in order to grow its economic and reputation of small businesses. The idea is that unlike capitalism, Corporatism favours the abolishing of monopolies where a nation is solely controlled by the works of money and greed. At the same time, it is unlike socialism where private property and liberty is infringed upon.
That is where a new system within Corporatism is introduced, and that is the idea of syndicates or corporations that control the activities of small businesses so that it can benefit the nation as a whole before the individual is rewarded. This was founded by Mussolini, developed further by Mosley, and wholly endorsed by Codreanu in official statements. Corporatism was followed by most other fascist nations as well, such as Salazar’s Portugal, Franco’s Spain, Dolfuss’ Austria, etc. Its function can be briefly explained as protection of both, worker rights as well as individual property.
“It means a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole.” -Oswald Mosley
[Robert Eccleshall, Vincent Geoghegan, Richard Jay, Michael Kenny, Iain Mackenzie, Rick Wilford. Political Ideologies: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Routledge, 1994. P. 208.]
Fascism is very concerned about environmental preservation. This is because animals, plants and geographic scenery is a part of national identity. The kangaroo is a part of Australian ecological identity, the royal Bengal tiger is a part of Indian ecological identity, the American cow hails from New Jersey, and the Vipera Berus or the European viper is native to Western Europe. The environment adds to the natural beauty of a country, from the dense forests to the mountain ranges, from the mules to the lions, every piece of specie native to the nation is as important as the race and culture native to the nation. This ecological renaissance, preservation and growth is called eco-fascism.
The necessity of being prepared for enduring and prevailing through economic depression and armed struggle was what fascism had always stressed about. The leaders felt that people had lost a sense of duty and were trapped in an illusion that struggle was over; that somehow all of their problems were coming to an end. The First World War was called the War to End All Wars. The capitalism of America had made people think that it was time for people to stop working because of economic boom which no one knew would soon collapse. The Weimar Republic was filled with degeneracy that degraded German culture and embraced liberal modernism by promoting modernist music, normalisation of homosexuality in entertainment, materialistic lifestyle and women wearing very little clothes in public display of posters and billboards.
And each and everyone of them were right about it. When the Great Depression hit America in 1929, Germany was cut off from the Dawes’ Plan. When the Second World War hit the United Kingdom and France, people were not ready to lose another half a dozen million men in war. When the Soviet Union demanded Bessarabia from Romania, they had little to defend with until the Axis alliance backed them. People were dependent upon the bourgeoisie capitalists sitting on the workers’ sack of money expecting them to humbly give them a portion of it; the people had forgotten that a larger manipulative force such as Trotskyite progressivism in the Soviet Union would try to undermine the smaller states until they had achieved their assets to feed the stomachs of the dictatorship of the proletariat — only the people themselves could take a stand and get themselves out of this mess. In the fascist doctrine and its philosophy, armed struggle is eternal.
“Above all, Fascism, in so far as it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put a man in front of himself in the alternative of life and death.” -Benito Mussolini
[“The Doctrine of Fascism” (1932), credited to Mussolini but ghostwritten by Giovanni Gentile; quoted in Fascism, Anti-Fascism, and the Resistance in Italy : 1919 to the Present (2004) by Stanislao G. Pugliese, p. 89]
“Together in Britain we have lit a flame that the ages shall not extinguish. Guard that sacred flame, my brother Blackshirts, until it illuminates Britain and lights again the paths of mankind.” -Oswald Mosley
[‘Comrades in Struggle’ (June 1938).]
“To you, who have been struck, maligned or martyred, I can bring the news, which I wish to carry more than the frail value of a casual rhetorical phrase: soon we shall win. Before your columns, all our oppressors will fall. Forgive those who struck you for personal reasons. Those who have tortured you for your faith in the Romanian people, you will not forgive. Do not confuse the Christian right and duty of forgiving those who wronged you, with the right and duty of our people to punish those who have betrayed it and assumed for themselves the responsibility to oppose its destiny. Do not forget that the swords you have put on belong to the nation. You carry them in her name, In her name you will use them for punishment-unforgiving and unmerciful. Thus and only thus, will you be preparing a healthy future for this nation.” -Corneliu Codreanu
[For My Legionaries: The Iron Guard 1936]
Classical Fascism versus Modern Fascism: A Comparison
Here, we will not refer to many forms of modern ultranationalism that has no philosophy behind it and is just plain neo-Nazism, where it’s only national socialism for the aesthetics and not the goal. Here we are referring to fascism as practiced in the modern times. Modern fascism is a combination of classical fascism with a few national socialist characteristics. This is because back then no one had thought that race-mixing would become so frequent and that interracial reproduction would become the tool of the globalists to destroy culture and nation.
Classical fascism in itself does not have any concept of racial purity, which can be indicated by this statement made by Mussolini:
“Race! It is a feeling, not a reality: ninety-five percent, at least, is a feeling. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today. Amusingly enough, not one of those who have proclaimed the “nobility” of the Teutonic race was himself a Teuton. Gobineau was a Frenchman, Chamberlain, an Englishman; Woltmann, a Jew; Lapouge, another Frenchman.”
Classical fascism was not built on the assumption that preserving the race would become such a serious criteria in the modern world. They had the concept of prosperity of nations because at that time, every race was in its place, and the only thing that could threaten the existence of a race was imperialism and war. This is why Mosley was a pacifist and his policy for the Empire was to remove cultural Marxism and crony capitalism from places like India, Africa, and the small presence of the British in Asia like Malaysia, Hong Kong, etc. This can be understood by this statement made by Mosley:
“Naturally we believe in our own race. Any man or woman worth anything believes in his own race as he believes in his own family. But because you believe in your own race or in your own family doesn’t mean you want to injure other races or other families.”
However, race realism has become a part of modern fascism. This is because scientific evidence is used as an answer to whose who say,”But there’s only one race, the human race.” which is not true. It is used as a tool to counter any pseudo-intellectual arguments about how the concept of race is somehow non-existent. So now not only is it important to rid one’s country from cultural Marxism and (now evolved) cultural capitalism, it is important to check fertility rates and reject race-mixing to ensure that the future generation has the same racial characteristics that their ancestors did in their own glorious times.
Italian Fascism vs Romanian Legionarism: Religion?
It is actually very confusing what fascism stands for when it comes to preservation of religion. This is because of Mussolini’s statements regarding religion:
“Religion is a species of mental disease. It has always had a pathological reaction on mankind.”
[As quoted by Mussolini in 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James A. Haught (1966) p. 256. From a speech he made in Lausanne, July 1904.]
However, this is cherry-picked; this was when he was a hardcore socialist, this is the same Mussolini who called Marx the greatest of philosophers. When fascism was developed, his views on religion drastically changed and were open with religion as a part of culture:
“The Fascist State has never tried to create its own God, as at one moment Robespierre and the wildest extremists of the Convention tried to do; nor does it vainly seek to obliterate religion from the hearts of men as does Bolshevism: Fascism respects the God of the ascetics, of the saints, of the heroes, and also God as seen and prayed to by the simple and primitive heart of the people.”
[The Doctrine of Fascism, June 1932. Quoted in Charles Floyd Delzell, Mediterranean Fascism, 1919-45 Springer, 1971]
The reason why Mussolini sought Marxism for this stance is because he was anti-clericalism. Clericalism is the involvement of the Church with the State. Mussolini was against the Church directing the State for their own self-interests by spreading said religion in other nations so they get more revenue through taxes.
Now this brings a confusion regarding whether religion should be an integral part of fascism with a lowercase F or not. This is because Romanian Legionarism, also called Clerical Fascism, was unique for not only connecting the Nation and Tradition, but also God.
“Fascism is preoccupied by the clothing (namely the forms of state organization), National-Socialism by the body (namely the racial eugenics), whereas Legionarism is preoccupied by something much deeper: by the soul (namely by its strengthening through the cultivation of Christian virtues and its preparation with final salvation in mind, salvation dealt with by the Christian Church in the most perfect fashion).”
[The Nest Leader’s Manual 1933]
The answer to this is ‘yes’. There is no way for an enlightened nation to reject God. Christian and Nordic religion had a huge role in the construction of the Western civilisation. Going to Church, rejecting materialism, a man taking care of his wife and the wife serving her husband is all part of the religion that built their traditions. It doesn’t matter if it is Italian Fascism, British Fascism, or Romanian Fascism. Religion has been an integral part and for the same reason, the forces of the modern world have banded together to destroy it.
In conclusion, fascism is a very good ideology that should be assessed without bias and with transparency. By acknowledging its positive features as well as criticisms, it can very well work in any country especially when things go downhill. It has a deep philosophy and a complex nature that can surge interest in many.
Fascism can be simply explained as: Ultranationalist authoritarianism with centrist economics and reactionary thought-process.