The Origins of Fascism
To be sure, the last time people worried about fascism was during the Second World War. We were said to be fighting this evil system abroad. The US
defeated fascist governments but the philosophy of governance that it represents was not defeated. Very quickly following that war, another one began.
This was the Cold War that pitted capitalism against communism. Socialism in this case was considered to be a soft form of communism, tolerable and
even praiseworthy insofar as it was linked with democracy, which is the system that legalizes and legitimizes an ongoing pillaging of the
In the meantime, almost everyone has forgotten that there are many other colors of socialism, not all of them obviously left wing. Fascism is one of
There can be no question of its origins. It is tied up with the history of post-World War I Italian politics. In 1922, Benito Mussolini won a
democratic election and established fascism as his philosophy. Mussolini had been a member of the socialist party.
All the biggest and most important players within the fascist movement came from the socialists. It was a threat to the socialists because it was the
most appealing political vehicle for the real-world application of the socialist impulse. Socialists crossed over to join the fascists en masse.
This is also why Mussolini himself enjoyed such good press for more than ten years after his rule began. He was celebrated by the New York Times in
article after article. He was heralded in scholarly collections as an exemplar of the type of leader we need in an age of the planned society. Puff
pieces on this blowhard were very common in US journalism all through the late 1920s and the mid-1930s.
Remember that in this same period, the American left went through a huge shift. In the teens and 1920s, the American left had a very praiseworthy
anti-corporatist impulse. The left generally opposed war, the state-run penal system, alcohol prohibition, and all violations of civil liberties. It
was no friend of capitalism but neither was it a friend of the corporate State of the sort that FDR forged during the New Deal.
In 1933 and 1934, the American left had to make a choice. Would they embrace the corporatism and regimentation of the New Deal or take a principled
stand on their old liberal values? In other words, would they accept fascism as a halfway house to their socialist utopia? A gigantic battle ensued in
this period, and there was a clear winner. The New Deal made an offer the left could not refuse. And it was a small step to go from the embrace of the
fascistic planned economy to the celebration of the warfare State that concluded the New Deal period.
This was merely a repeat of the same course of events in Italy a decade earlier. In Italy too, the left realized that their anti-capitalistic agenda
could best be achieved within the framework of the authoritarian, planning State. Of course our friend John Maynard Keynes played a critical role in
providing a pseudo-scientific rationale for joining opposition to old-world laissez faire to a new appreciation of the planned society. Recall that
Keynes was not a socialist of the old school. As he himself said in his introduction to the Nazi edition of his General Theory, national socialism was
far more hospitable to his ideas than a market economy.
See the 8 points of fascism at the link below.