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Thread: The leftist roots of WWII Fascism

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    Default The leftist roots of WWII Fascism


    Soon after he arrived in Switzerland in 1902, 18 years old and looking for work, Benito Mussolini was starving and penniless. All he had in his pockets was a cheap nickel medallion of Karl Marx.

    Following a spell of vagrancy, Mussolini found a job as a bricklayer and union organizer in the city of Lausanne.

    Quickly achieving fame as an agitator among the Italian migratory laborers, he was referred to by a local Italian-language newspaper as "the great duce [leader] of the Italian socialists." He read voraciously, learned several foreign languages, and sat in on Pareto's lectures at the university.

    The great duce's fame was so far purely parochial. Upon his return to Italy, young Benito was an undistinguished member of the Socialist Party.

    He began to edit his own little paper, La Lotta di Classe (The Class Struggle), ferociously anti-capitalist, anti-militarist, and anti-Catholic. He took seriously Marx's dictum that the working class has no country, and vigorously opposed the Italian military intervention in Libya. Jailed several times for involvement in strikes and anti-war protests, he became something of a leftist hero.

    Before turning 30, Mussolini was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party, and made editor of its daily paper, Avanti!. The paper's circulation and Mussolini's personal popularity grew by leaps and bounds.

    Mussolini's election to the Executive was part of the capture of control of the Socialist Party by the hard-line Marxist left, with the expulsion from the Party of those deputies (members of parliament) considered too conciliatory to the bourgeoisie.

    The shift in Socialist Party control was greeted with delight by Lenin and other revolutionaries throughout the world.

    From 1912 to 1914, Mussolini was the Che Guevara of his day, a living saint of leftism. Handsome, courageous, charismatic, an erudite Marxist, a riveting speaker and writer, a dedicated class warrior to the core, he was the peerless duce of the Italian Left. He looked like the head of any future Italian socialist government, elected or revolutionary.

    In 1913, while still editor of Avanti!, he began to publish and edit his own journal, Utopia, a forum for controversial discussion among leftwing socialists. Like many such socialist journals founded in hope, it aimed to create a highly-educated cadre of revolutionaries, purged of dogmatic illusions, ready to seize the moment.

    Two of those who collaborated with Mussolini on Utopia would go on to help found the Italian Communist Party and one to help found the German Communist Party. Others, with Mussolini, would found the Fascist movement.

    The First World War began in August 1914 without Italian involvement. Should Italy join Britain and France against Germany and Austria, or stay out of the war? All the top leaders and intellectuals of the Socialist Party, Mussolini among them, were opposed to Italian participation.

    In October and November 1914, Mussolini switched to a pro-war position. He resigned as editor of Avanti!, joined with pro-war leftists outside the Socialist Party, and launched a new pro-war socialist paper, Il Popolo d'Italia (People of Italy).

    To the Socialist Party leadership, this was a great betrayal, a sell-out to the whoremasters of the bourgeoisie, and Mussolini was expelled from the Party.

    Italy entered the war in May 1915, and Mussolini enlisted. In 1917 he was seriously wounded and hospitalized, emerging from the war the most popular of the pro-war socialists, a leader without a movement.

    Post-war Italy was riven by civil strife and political violence. Sensing a revolutionary situation in the wake of Russia's Bolshevik coup, the left organized strikes, factory occupations, riots, and political killings. Socialists often beat up and sometimes killed soldiers returning home, just because they had fought in the war. Assaulting political opponents and wrecking their property became an everyday occurrence.

    Mussolini and a group of adherents launched the Fascist movement in 1919. The initiators were mostly men of the left: revolutionary syndicalists and former Marxists. They took with them some non-socialist nationalists and futurists, and recruited heavily among soldiers returning from the war, so that the bulk of rank-and-file Fascists had no leftwing background. The Fascists adopted the black shirts of the anarchists and Giovinezza (Youth), the song of the front-line soldiers.

    Apart from its ardent nationalism and pro-war foreign policy, the Fascist program was a mixture of radical left, moderate left, democratic, and liberal measures, and for more than a year the new movement was not notably more violent than other socialist groupings.

    However, Fascists came into conflict with Socialist Party members and in 1920 formed a militia, the squadre (squads). Including many patriotic veterans, the squads were more efficient at arson and terror tactics than the violently disposed but bumbling Marxists, and often had the tacit support of the police and army. By 1921 Fascists had the upper hand in physical combat with their rivals of the left.

    The democratic and liberal elements in Fascist preaching rapidly diminished and in 1922 Mussolini declared that "The world is turning to the right."

    The Socialists, who controlled the unions, called a general strike. Marching into some of the major cities, blackshirt squads quickly and forcibly suppressed the strike, and most Italians heaved a sigh of relief. This gave the blackshirts the idea of marching on Rome to seize power.

    As they publicly gathered for the great march, the government decided to avert possible civil war by bringing Mussolini into office; the King "begged" Mussolini to become Prime Minister, with emergency powers. Instead of a desperate uprising, the March on Rome was the triumphant celebration of a legal transfer of authority.

    The youngest prime minister in Italian history, Mussolini was an adroit and indefatigable fixer, a formidable wheeler and dealer in a constitutional monarchy which did not become an outright and permanent dictatorship until December 1925, and even then retained elements of unstable pluralism requiring fancy footwork. He became world-renowned as a political miracle worker.

    Mussolini made the trains run on time, closed down the Mafia, drained the Pontine marshes, and solved the tricky Roman Question, finally settling the political status of the Pope.


    http://www.la-articles.org.uk/fascism.htm

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    Mussolini was showered with accolades from sundry quarters. Winston Churchill called him "the greatest living legislator."

    Cole Porter gave him a terrific plug in a hit song. Sigmund Freud sent him an autographed copy of one of his books, inscribed to "the Hero of Culture."

    The more taciturn Stalin supplied Mussolini with the plans of the May Day parades in Red Square, to help him polish up his Fascist pageants.

    The rest of il Duce's career is now more familiar.

    He conquered Ethiopia, made a Pact of Steel with Germany, introduced anti-Jewish measures in 1938, came into the war as Hitler's very junior partner, tried to strike out on his own by invading the Balkans, had to be bailed out by Hitler, was driven back by the Allies, and then deposed by the Fascist Great Council, rescued from imprisonment by SS troops in one of the most brilliant commando operations of the war, installed as head of a new "Italian Social Republic," and killed by Communist partisans in April 1945.

    Given what most people today think they know about Fascism, this bare recital of facts is a mystery story. How can a movement which epitomizes the extreme right be so strongly rooted in the extreme left? What was going on in the minds of dedicated socialist militants to turn them into equally dedicated Fascist militants?

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    In the 1930s, the perception of "fascism" n the English-speaking world morphed from an exotic, even chic, Italian novelty into an all-purpose symbol of evil. Under the influence of leftist writers, a view of fascism was disseminated which has remained dominant among intellectuals until today. It goes as follows:

    Fascism is capitalism with the mask off. It's a tool of Big Business, which rules through democracy until it feels mortally threatened, then unleashes fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were put into power by Big Business, because Big Business was challenged by the revolutionary working class.

    We naturally have to explain, then, how fascism can be a mass movement, and one that is neither led nor organized by Big Business. The explanation is that Fascism does it by fiendishly clever use of ritual and symbol.

    Fascism as an intellectual doctrine is empty of serious content, or alternatively, its content is an incoherent hodge-podge. Fascism's appeal is a matter of emotions rather than ideas. It relies on hymn-singing, flag-waving, and other mummery, which are nothing more than irrational devices employed by the Fascist leaders who have been paid by Big Business to manipulate the masses.

    As Marxists used to say, fascism "appeals to the basest instincts," implying that leftists were at a disadvantage because they could appeal only to noble instincts like envy of the rich. Since it is irrational, fascism is sadistic, nationalist, and racist by nature.

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    I have the OP on ignore, so am only responding to the thread title.

    It's not entirely wrong. But it's almost entirely wrong.

    Here's a brief summary of some of the history of the Nazi (National Socialist Workers) Party from the Holocaust Museum.

    https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article...uleId=10008206

    Note that it describes the party before the Great Depression as a small *right* party getting 2%-3% of the vote. Their main positions included *opposition to the communists* and opposition to parliamentary democracy (which the communists shared).

    The Great Depression led to the Nazis, who promised to make things better, getting over 30% of the vote, finally becoming the biggest party, with the communists in second place at around 15%.

    Hitler being appointed Chancellor was done by *conservative* politicians who thought they could use his popularity for their own benefit. Nothing 'left-wing' about it.

    The right has long promoted the name of the party to try to mislead people into not understanding it, because it had the words 'socialist' and 'workers' in it.

    But Germany had other parties that actually were left-wing - besides the communists, socialists and 'liberal' parties as well as conservative. To quote the article:

    "Hitler was not appointed chancellor as the result of an electoral victory with a popular mandate, but instead as the result of a constitutionally questionable deal among a small group of conservative German politicians who had given up on parliamentary rule. They hoped to use Hitler's popularity with the masses to buttress a return to conservative authoritarian rule, perhaps even a monarchy. Within two years, however, Hitler and the Nazis outmaneuvered Germany's conservative politicians to consolidate a radical Nazi dictatorship completely subordinate to Hitler's personal will."

    The nugget of truth is that the Nazis did try to appeal to workers to a point, promising to put the German people to work (again, in the Great Depression). The 'socialist' type labels were an attempt to appeal to workers for support; as the Encyclopedia Britannica says:

    "The party’s socialist orientation was basically a demagogic gambit designed to attract support from the working class."

    It also notes that the party's rise was supported by "big-business":

    "By then big-business circles had begun to finance the Nazi electoral campaigns, and swelling bands of SA toughs increasingly dominated the street fighting with the communists that accompanied such campaigns."

    When Hitler took power, the false appeals to be 'socialist' were no longer needed, and the Nazis purged the left, and its own 'left wing':

    "On July 14, 1933, his government declared the Nazi Party to be the only political party in Germany. On the death of Hindenburg in 1934 Hitler took the titles of Führer (“Leader”), chancellor, and commander in chief of the army, and he remained leader of the Nazi Party as well. Nazi Party membership became mandatory for all higher civil servants and bureaucrats, and the gauleiters became powerful figures in the state governments. Hitler crushed the Nazi Party’s left, or socialist-oriented, wing in 1934, executing Ernst Röhm and other rebellious SA leaders at this time. Thereafter, Hitler’s word was the supreme and undisputed command in the party."

    The first target of the Nazis were the communists and socialists.

    Today's right tries to mislead people into just looking at the word 'socialist' in the party's name, and claim it was really 'socialists'. Ironically, a 'big lie' - a tactic of the Nazis.

    To not learn the actual history, is to invite the same techniques of the Nazis - including false appeals to 'workers' - to be repeated as a means to gain power for another agenda.

    The opposition in Germany to the Nazis was the left, just as in Japan there was a strong opposition to the rise of the militarists by the left there, which was defeated.

    And there was a lot of support for these movements in the right-wing of the US, for fascism.

    Fascism is a right-wing political ideology, and they're simply lying to try to call it left-wing.

    That's not to say that there aren't elements that are not in any left-right spectrum - Hitler and Stalin became bitter enemies, but both were authoritarians. The 'far left' - so-called communists - can be capable of tyranny as well as the right-wing fascists.

    It is interesting to note the similarity of the appeals to the public between Hitler and trump, both appealing to nationalism and 'putting people back to work' and targeting minorities for hatred - one of the few things trump seems familiar with, having a book of Hitler's speeches as one of the few books he's known to use.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to Craig234 For This Post:

    ThatOwlWoman (01-11-2018)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig234 View Post
    I have the OP on ignore, so am only responding to the thread title.
    ...
    It is interesting to note the similarity of the appeals to the public between Hitler and trump, both appealing to nationalism and 'putting people back to work' and targeting minorities for hatred - one of the few things trump seems familiar with, having a book of Hitler's speeches as one of the few books he's known to use.
    Nice response, Craig, thanks. I too have the OP author on ignore.

    You are correct in saying that the word "socialist" in the full title of the Nazi party is being perverted by today's RW fascist Americans. I would direct anyone who mistakenly believes that Hitler had any socialist leanings whatsoever to read "Inside the Third Reich," by Albert Speer.

    Interesting quote from the book... sound like anyone we know?

    "Speer described Hitler as amateurish and self-taught, "Without any sense of the complexities of any great task, he boldly assumed one function after another." His "ignorance of the rules of the game and his layman's delight in decision making" brought his early military successes, but then his ignorance became an incompetence. "The tendency to wild decisions had long been his forte; now it speeded his downfall." "

    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_the_Third_Reich)

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    Thanks, OwlWoman. That is quite the interesting quote...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatOwlWoman View Post
    Nice response, Craig, thanks. I too have the OP author on ignore.

    You are correct in saying that the word "socialist" in the full title of the Nazi party is being perverted by today's RW fascist Americans. I would direct anyone who mistakenly believes that Hitler had any socialist leanings whatsoever to read "Inside the Third Reich," by Albert Speer.

    Interesting quote from the book... sound like anyone we know?

    "Speer described Hitler as amateurish and self-taught, "Without any sense of the complexities of any great task, he boldly assumed one function after another." His "ignorance of the rules of the game and his layman's delight in decision making" brought his early military successes, but then his ignorance became an incompetence. "The tendency to wild decisions had long been his forte; now it speeded his downfall." "

    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_the_Third_Reich)
    Sounds like Trump

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shallon Peterson View Post
    Sounds like Trump
    Absolutely.

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    You people are insane with hate. Hitler wanted to create the "master race," he killed millions of people and wanted to rule the world.
    If you think you can compare Trump to Hitler, you have severe mental complications. Seek help!
    Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it.

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