In honor of the United Sates Presidential elections coming up next year, I feel like it is a good time to review a topic that continues to surface. Specifically, the accusation or presumption that Fascism is a far right-wing ideology. That what the US, or even Europe, might be suffering from is a heavy dose of evil right-wing-ism, Republicanism, or Fascism, and, of course, that Fascists are the worst of the bunch, and are racists to boot! As the meme goes, unlike Socialism, Communism and modern–day Liberalism, all movements trying to help “the people” (hmmm…), Fascists are profiteers only helping the rich. This is not an accident. The obvious, and much intended, conclusion, is that we all must move further left.
Do not misunderstand me. I am not defending Fascism. Whether it be in the form of an ideology, movement, political party or governing body, Fascism is, indeed, the embodiment of racism and intolerance. What I disagree with, is that it is a far right-wing concept. And, this completely inaccurate assertion of far right-wing extremism is nothing new. I attended college back in the mid-1980’s and a certain group of left-wing Marx supporters rallied against “far right-wing” Fascism back then as well. So, where does this come from and when did it start? I cannot say for sure, and I’m not sure it is even relevant or matters at this point, but It certainly has been around for some time.
To offer some historical context, and to help frame time between the birth of Fascism in 1919 (Mussolini and the Rise of Fascism) and today, a piece written by George Orwell, first published in 1944, is very helpful:
In 1944, Orwell studies the question from multiple angles; never associating Fascism with “far right-wing”. In fact, far from it. He draws many parallels between Fascism and far left-wing ideologies, governments and dictatorships which include both Conservative and Socialist minded leaders. In fact, he concludes that Fascism can take many forms and concludes: “…it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make.” In other words, both Conservatives and Socialists potentially have some degree of culpability and tendency towards Fascism. In fact, drawing from Orwell’s analysis then, and the startling conclusion today, is that the traditional left-right debate between Conservatives (Republicans) and Socialists (Democrats, Labor, Marxists, modern day Liberals) are actually a clash between two groups on the left. And, that Fascism, itself, is a far left-wing ideology.
So, within the context of ideology, politics and government, if Fascism is “far-left”, what is “far-right”?
the absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.
I am not here to say that a complete lack of government is an ideal that civilized society should strive for (I am very much for very limited government, not no government). But, if you are a career politician, or work in a large federal bureaucracy, wouldn’t it be tempting to associate “far right-wing”, which is the complete absence of government, with some of the worst human beings and murderers in the history of mankind? Yes, it would be. And, while you may not intentionally misinform others, many have no problem with it.
Through propaganda, government (collectively the right and left-wing of the political left spectrum) and sympathizers have forwarded and embedded into popular culture, the notion that Fascism is far-right. The truth is so inconvenient and so damaging to the “left-right” paradigm, it is NEVER uttered in the mainstream media and is one topic Republicans and Democrats can agree on. Directly or indirectly, both major political parties in the United States can label any outsider or any limited government proponent a Fascist, step back, and then let the media, special interest groups and intellectuals devour the “extremist”. In the process, protecting careers, special interests, power, and most importantly, access to your money.
I don’t think any other term has been subject to more revisionist history and re-defining than Fascism. The internet is a very powerful force and has provided a voice for those that would not otherwise be able to get their message out. Unfortunately, it has also provided another outlet to those that wish to be dishonest and to amplify the voices of the misinformed. Type in “what is fascism” in Google and this is what comes up:
an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.
From Political Research Associates (PRA)
“Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties.”
From Third World Traveler
The author claims, “Fascism and capitalism are inseparable.”
And, how about the reporting of a protest in Paris against National Front:
“Having painted a Hitler mustache on their face and on their bare breasts a European flag with its stars forming a swastika, the activists of the feminist organization Femen protested today in Paris against the French far-right party National Front (FN), at the official launch of the party’s campaign for the European elections.”
To what lengths will people go to fit a square peg in to a round hole? Study the following diagram (for lack of a better word) for a minute:
Something to think about: If I were to ask a five year old, unacquainted with the topic at hand, to draw a picture using the words “Left”, “Right”, and “Center”, do you think it would come out looking like little squares, within a big square, with diagonal lines, and a diamond in the middle? Or, would it look more like a straight line from left to right, with the middle of the line labeled, “center”. My guess, it would be the latter. Why? Because the child would not be conditioned to believe Fascism is supposed to be on the far right and, thus, would not have to go through the mental gyrations required to place the Libertarian philosophy, Classical Liberalism and Anarchy on the same side as Fascism. To set the record straight, all collectivist (Socialist, Communist, Fascist, etc.) dictatorships and democracies have in common a large central government influence and are on the left. Some leftist government and philosophies, of course, are more extreme than others. Anarchy, is on the far right. That leaves the limited government proponents, Classical Liberals and Libertarians, in the center (See The US Spectrum).
So, now, when someone tries to tell you that Fascists are far-right wing extremists, you can confidently claim; FASCISM is NOT Far Right!