Seven Things You Do Not Know About Fascism

Fascism, for some very odd reasons, seems to be a major topic in the news, in academia, and in pop culture. Fascists are the prime boogeymen, the favorite bad guys in movies, literature and TV. Whenever a script writer needs a truly evil character, he will not choose a communist, whose ideology, numerically, slaughtered far more people than the fascists ever dreamed of doing. No. For whatever reason we can only speculate upon, he will choose a fascist. And now the major leftwing activist group has deemed themselves “antifascists”, or, Antifa, for short. But does the general population really understand what fascism is, beyond the comic book stick figures presented in the media and academia? Here are ten facts about fascism and fascists that you likely do not know:

1. FASCISM WAS A MODERNIST PHILOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT. The fascists saw themselves as a cutting-edge intellectual movement. Fascism was a development and hybrid of two schools of thinking- French syndicalism and German existentialism, both closely associated with early Marxism. Many intellectuals at the time were attracted to fascism- Yeats, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, among them. Mussolini defined fascism as being based upon the ideas of relativism-“If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and those who claim to be the bearers of objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than Fascist attitudes and activity. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, we Fascists conclude that we have the right to create our own ideology and to enforce it with all the energy of which we are capable.” (Mussolini, 1921). The prime historian of fascism, Ernst Nolte, accordingly, defined fascism as “the violent revolt against transcendence.” Thus, the fascists were aggressively opposed to western civilization with its roots in Judeo-Christianity.

1 Hitler with bust of Nietzsche, national philosopher of National Socialist Germany.

2. FASCISM WAS AN ECOLOGICAL AND SPIRITUAL MOVEMENT. “In its desire to reconcile man with nature,…fascism was possibly the first environmentalist ideology of this century, combining pursuit of technical progress and industrial growth, with the protection of nature as the environment in which a civilization of leisure and sport could flourish.” (“Fascism: The Nature of fascism, Griffin-Feldman, pp 107). Inspired by Darwinism and other modern theories, the intellectual movement of the time was towards romanticism, naturalism and Rousseauanorganicism. Fascism rejected both the Judeo-Christian worldview as well as the rationalistic enlightenment worldview, opting for a more visceral, natural, paganistic, mystical view of the world. They saw the idea of a transcendent God with moral demands as repressive, alienating and harmful to man. The idea of “corporatism” which Mussolini also identified as core to fascism, and often misinterpreted to mean corporations, meant the unity of the people into one organic existence through the power of the State. Fascism held a Spencerian concept of God, – one that is non-personal, immanent, earthy, and inseparable from the physical world, and sought to replace Judeo-Christianity with primitive, mythological, neo-pagan nature-worship.

3. FASCISM WAS AN AVANTE-GARDE ARTISTIC MOVEMENT.Where in Germany it was the modernist philosophers who were the seedbed of fascist ideas, in France and Italy it was the visual artists. Disillusionment and rebellion against the status quo- Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution- by the avant-garde, was expressed inthe glorification of primitiveness and violence. Italian fascism was heavily influenced and vice versa, by the Italian Futurists- a school of visual art that glorified youth and random violence. In Germany, even though they were repressed after the purging of radical elements from the Nazi Party in the “Night of the Long Knives” the expressionist artists held the same ideas and were attracted to fascism.

2 Italian Futurist painting depicting a workers revolt.

4. HITLER OPPOSED THE RADICAL WING OF THE FASCISTS. Fascists saw themselves as moderates or a “third way” that avoids capitalism on one extreme, and Marxism on the other. Nevertheless, there were extremist factions among the fascists themselves. The Strasserians wanted a complete violent overthrow of all the “bourgeoisie capitalism” with the abolishment of private property and religion. Hitler and his cadre of moderates were unwilling to take their beliefs that far. Rohm, the head of the 2 million man civilian army of street thugs, theSturmabteleing, or the S.A., was also a part of the radical wing of the National Socialist Party. Contrary to most assumptions, the “Night of the Long Knives” were not attacks against outside political opposition, rather it was Hitler brutally eliminating his own fascist opposition-Strasser and Rohm among many others– the radical wing of his Party.

5. FASCISM WAS VERY POPULAR ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES WITH BOTH STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS. Hitler himself said in 1930, “Nothing makes me more certain of the victory of our cause than our success in the universities.” Fascism was the “cool” ideology, the zeitgeist of the times, heavily influencing both students and professors. Elie Wiesel found that most death camp commanders were highly educated- some having doctorates in philosophy, history, and even theology. One study showed that 43.3 percent of a local National Socialist organization consisted of university students. This was very well-known at the time, so commonly understood that famous writer and Auschwitz survivor, Victor Frankl, stated, “I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”

(university of Berlin students burning books that do not line up with fascist ideology, 1933)

6. FASCIST PHILOSOPHERS AND IDEAS ARE VERY POPULAR ON MODERN COLLEGE CAMPUSES TODAY. Most people are unaware of this because most people do not understand what fascism is. They associate it only with a comic-book view- swastikas, death camps, marching armies and gas chambers, with no understanding whatsoever of the underlying ideas that created the monster. There seems to be a vast, maybe purposeful amnesia about fascism. Today, texts like George Sorel’s Reflections on Violence are frequently assigned to students and normalize the practice of political violence. Allan Bloom’s seminal expose on modern academia, “The Closing of the American Mind”, chronicles the “Nietzschefication of the Left.” Heidegger is most likely the most influential philosopher today in academia. Heidegger was a member of the Strasserian, ie., the radical socialist faction of the Nazi party. After WW2, he was invited to teach at Columbia University, spreading his ideas throughout the west- the very ideas that made up the essence of fascism. Another fascist philosopher, a card-carrying Nazi Party member also, was Paul De Man. Paul De Man was invited after the war to teach at Yale. He is widely recognized as the founder of postmodernism. Other ideas that are popular today on college campuses in the west, that descended from the ideas of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sorel, and de Man are deconstructionism, Critical Theory, and ethnic determinism.

7. FASCISM WAS VIRULENTLY ANTI-CHRISTIAN. The top philosopher for Nazi Germany, Nietzsche,claimed that “Christianity, sprung from Jewish roots and comprehensible only as a growth on this soil, represents the counter-movement to any morality of breeding, of race, privilege: it is the anti-Aryan religion par excellence.” Hitler, a great fan of Nietszche, while maintaining public appearance, echoed the same disdain for Christianity, calling it a plague on Germany. He once even stated that he would have much preferred that the Muslims had won the Battle of Vienna, so that Germany would have been Muslim. The fascists did not just hate Jews, they hated the Jewish way of thinking- their ideas.The American writer poet and unrepentant fascist, Ezra Pound, expressed the popular idea of intellectuals about Judeo-Christianity then, as today: “The greatest tyrannies have arisen from dogma that the theos is one, or that there is a unity above various srata of theos which imposes its will upon the substrata, and thence upon human individuals.” Christianity, the fascists thought, was oppressive. It repressed man’s natural healthy instincts, hence his humanity. It was anti-human. And the Jews, in their eyes, were to blame, especially Paul. One of the key founders of fascist ideology was Charles Maurras, who accused the Jews for promoting monotheism and hence, individual liberty, which, the fascists saw as destroying society’s oneness, and beauty. This is why Hitler had planned with his inner cadre that, having dealt with the “Jewish problem”, during the war, they would deal with the “Christian problem” after the war.

3POpular writer-poet Ezra Pound giving the fascist salute in the 1960s.

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