More on this subject that I have been exploring for a long time here.
Fields of study are funny things. When you only know a little bit about something, you think you’ve got all the answers, and you are very black and white about things. But my life has shown me that the longer you study any particular thing, the less well you understand it, and the more questions that don’t seem to have answers keep throwing themselves up in your face. You start to develop an “everything is a grey area” view.
Sure, you know a lot about the subject, but you are less black and white than before because so many things, even in fairly basic science, are riven with endless contradiction and confusion. So you do some studies. Then the studies start to contradict themselves. Then you have to figure out why they are doing that, and sometimes you can untangle it. After a while, you start to unwind the lawn of ivy and make sense of some things, but it’s a long, involved process often involving years of deep study.
So it is with fascism. Everyone who knows a bit about it thinks they know what it was but the ultimate experts on the subject in political science and still a bit baffled and keep trying to put the lego blocks together. I do recall my mother and I having a long, “What is fascism?” conversation. Eventually she threw up her hands and said,
It’s just nationalism!
That’s probably one of the best answers I’ve heard. Certainly without nationalism or ethnic nationalism, there can be no fascism. It’s an extreme form of nationalism or ultranationalism if you will. But that’s really just the soil from which the tree grows and gains its sustenance.
Now let us explore a bit:
Trotsky felt that fascism was “a last ditch effort to save capitalism when faced with a threat from the Left.” Trotsky’s work on the subject, now 90 years old, remains some of the finest yet. More recent analyses have described fascism as “a popular dictatorship against the Left.” It has a strong populist flavor to it, and is typically ultranationalist and even expansionist.
It often tries to reunite all of the favored ethnic group within the nation and to suck up those members in neighboring lands, hence the expansionism and the “Greater” this and that. Greater Germany, Greater Albania, Greater Albania, Greater Turkey, Greater Syria, Greater Israel, etc.
It despises democracy, which it equates with chaos, and it hates liberalism and the “degenerate” art and culture it is said to produce.
It is “palengetic” like the Phoenix that rises from the dead in flames. In this way it seeks to escape degenerate modernism and go back to an older order. There is a lot of talk about the history of the land and restoring a glorious state or empire of the past.
It has extreme hatred for communism, socialism, and organized labor, which it regards as the same thing.
Fascists are social conservatives. They are sexist and want women in traditional roles. They typically hate homosexuals. They despise all weakness and there are constant references to strength, honor, duty, etc., all of which the individual pledges to the state.
There is often a sanctification of violence and a belief in its cleansing power. It is often warlike and belligerent. It is always militarist.
It hates and scapegoats minorities but typically will accept them if they drop their culture, language, and ethnic identification and assimilate to those of the nation.
The nation consists of one language, culture, religion, and ethnicity. It is often but not always racist. Mussolini was not particularly racist, nor was Peron or Duvalier, Franco, Salazar, Mobutu, Trujillo, Pinochet, Somoza, Syngman Ryee, Chiang Kai Shek, the Greek colonels, or Bolsonaro. Nor is Orban or the present Polish state.
I would describe Nazism or National Socialism as racist fascism. There’s much more emphasis on the genetic and biological aspects of ethnicity and race. It engages in ethnic cleansing and is often remarkably violent, with the violence often having a gruesome, sadistic, gleeful, or terroristic character.
I believe National Socialism can unfold in any society. Conceivably there could be a Jewish National Socialism, hence National Socialism or “Nazism” need not be antisemitic.