by Keith Preston
March 14, 2005
It has become fashionable within the ranks of the modern Left to equate George W. Bush with Adolf Hitler. Leftist cartoons abound depicting Bush with a Hitler mustache and a Nazi armband. Such comparisons are dismissed by the Right as ridiculous and in some ways they are. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Republicans are more comparable to the Johnson-Humphrey-McNamara Democrats of the 1960s than to the Fuhrer. Indeed, it is indicative of how far to the Left the USA has moved in the last forty years that the liberal Democrats of yesteryear are now the conservative Republicans, with the radical Leftists of before now playing the role of the liberal Democrats. Some commentators have observed that the modern Left has more in common with classical Fascism than with Marxism. For example, Hillary Clinton has been, at times, likened to Eva Peron, in some ways an apt comparison. A conservative commentator, Edward Feser, notes the common ancestry of Fascism and modern Leftism:
“The tendency of Nation-magazine style Leftists reliably to lapse into the fascist/right-winger comparison is in part a holdover from this hoary Communist tactic, a nervous tic that an old fellow-traveler can find it hard to lose even fifteen years after the collapse of the Evil Empire. What the comparison conveniently forgets is the alliance that existed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union before Hitler decided to betray Stalin, the Leftist dictator whose example had taught him so much about concentration camps and secret police. It forgets too the actual history of the development of fascist and National Socialist ideology, which had everything to do with developments in the socialist tradition in political thought, and absolutely nothing to do with the intellectual currents that gave rise to contemporary conservatism. But then, from Lenin and Stalin onward, the Left has been very good at airbrushing over any evidence of its true history, intellectual and otherwise.
It is a scandal that one has constantly to remind people of a fact that should be common knowledge: that Mussolini was for years a prominent socialist intellectual and publicist, as much a man of the Left as Noam Chomsky. His conversion to fascism was not a renunciation of this legacy, but a modification of it: he came to see solidarity with one’s Nation rather than with one’s Class as the key to breaking the hold of “liberal capitalism” over the modern world. The story of the deep historical and conceptual links between communism and fascism was a theme of Hayek’s famous The Road to Serfdom and has been detailed by a number of scholars, most notably A. James Gregor in The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century. (A briefer study is to be found in David Ramsay Steele’s important article “The Mystery of Fascism”) It is thus baffling that so many left-wingers still see fit to equate fascism with capitalism, of all things — as brazen an example of the Big Lie as any other that Marxists have come up with. Hitler truly learned from these masters of the art.
The bafflement only grows when one considers that Hitler’s movement was not called “National Socialism” for nothing, much as lefties like to ignore the fact. It is true that Hitler was personally far more interested in exterminating the Jews than he was in implementing any economic program; but it is also true that he and the other Nazis regarded capitalism as no less odious a manifestation of the power of “world Jewry” than, in their view, communism was. They hated capitalism for the very same reason they hated communism: its internationalism, its tendency to dilute one’s allegiance to Nation and Race; Nazism was, one might say, the original anti-globalization movement. Hence the national in National Socialism: one’s comradeship ought, in its conception, to be primarily with fellow members of one’s Nation or Race, rather than with an international Class. But the socialism was no less important, and featured centrally in the minds of such prominent Nazis as Ernst Roehm, Gregor Strasser, and Joseph Goebbels. As Stanley G. Payne notes in his magisterial A History of Fascism 1914-1945: “Much was made by Marxist commentators, during the 1930’s and for nearly half a century afterward, about the alleged capitalist domination of the German economy under National Socialism, when the truth of the matter was more nearly the opposite.” The suggestion, sometimes heard from Leftists even today, that Nazism was an outgrowth of (or at least inherently sympathetic to) capitalism is thus a myth, another lie propagated from Moscow during the war years and faithfully parroted by Communists, their sympathizers, and their spiritual descendents. The truth is that Marxism on the one hand and fascism and National Socialism on the other are rival interpretations of the same basic socialist creed, their differences analogous to the differences between rival sects within the same religion. To the sectarian, such differences are all-important, and anyone who dissents from them is a heretic, worse even than a non-believer; to the outsider, they seem far less significant than what the various sects all have in common.”
While I largely agree with this interpretation of Fascism as having its ideological roots in Leftism and Socialism rather than capitalism, it is also important to remember, as Murray Rothbard pointed out, that the particular FORM of Fascism and National Socialism that actually achieved power and reigned politically had been severely coopted by the forces of state-capitalism, and that corporatist socialism of the type practiced by Fascism allowed the state-capitalists and mercantilists the absolute monopolistic privilege they had long been seeking. Hitler massacred the Socialist wing of his party upon his ascension to power. Likewise, Mussolini repressed labor uprisings during the course of the Fascist onslaught. The alliance between the state-capitalists and the Fascists was primarily rooted in both opportunism and the selling out of the radical socialist part of their ideology by the Fascists, and by the state-capitalists recognition that they were safer under a revolutionary nationalist regime of the type favored by Fascism, as opposed to a more class-war oriented Bolshevist regime, with the Fascists even being valuable allies in the repression of labor. Feser points out even more striking similarities between Fascism and modern Leftism:
“The supreme irony, however, is that the one great difference between National Socialism and Marxism — the obsession of the former with race — has in recent decades become, more even than hostility to capitalism, the hallmark of Leftist thinking. White Leftists, of course, are committed to almost the reverse of Nazi thinking about their own ethnicity: there is no crime any Caucasian has ever been accused of to which they are not eager to plead guilty. It is as if they take self-hatred to be the only way to prove their undying loyalty, in the face of the National Socialist heresy, to the pure and undefiled internationalist Marxian faith. By contrast, non-white Leftists have adopted, and have been encouraged by their white comrades to adopt, a hyper-solidarity with members of their own ethnic groups that would have disgusted Marx, but which Hitler would have understood completely. If National Socialism is the project of combining hostility to capitalism with a belligerent racial consciousness, then it is to be found today, not in the Republican Party, but in the Congressional Black Caucus and the faculty lounges of ethnic studies’ departments. If we add anti-Semitism to the mix, then its closest approximation within American political life is to be found in the career of Al Sharpton; and internationally, in the Baathist movement, a mÃ©lange of socialist economics and Arab nationalism of which Saddam Hussein was, until recently, the chief representative. Perhaps this explains the strange inability of Leftists to get as worked up over him as they do George Bush.”
It is certainly true that there is little real difference between the enthusiasm of today’s Leftoids for bashing “straight, white, Christian males” and the attacks of a 1950s Klansman on “niggers, Jews, commies and queers”. The Left has indeed become a type of Peronism, that is Fascism under a leftist, populist cover ideology, and in the process invented a new kind of racialism, with white males rather than “the Jews” being the objects of emnity, and “people of color” emerging as the new Aryans. For example, modern physics is sometimes denounced as “white male science” by lefto-racialists in the same way that the Nazis attacked “Jew science”. Whatever the excesses and absurdities of the Left, it is a grievous and deadly error to fail to recognize the authentically fascist tendencies to be found on the current Republican Right. Edward Feser dismisses such claims, saying:
“Contemporary Anglo-American conservatism, by contrast, has roots in three intellectual sources that have no connection to socialism, and indeed have always been hostile to it: the traditionalist “Throne and Altar” continental European conservatism of thinkers like Joseph de Maistre; the British classical liberalism or libertarianism of John Locke and Adam Smith; and the moderate British conservatism of Edmund Burke which represents something of a middle ground between the first two trends of thought. Hitler, Mussolini, and other fascists and Nazis had nothing but contempt for these intellectual traditions; and the difference between the characteristic themes of contemporary conservatism — the free market, limited government, traditional religious belief — are so obviously and radically different from, and opposed to, the tenets of fascism and National Socialism that it is difficult to understand how any intellectually honest person could see any similarity whatsoever.
The Leftist might, in desperation, point to the “family values” that Nazis and fascists claimed, like contemporary conservatives, to champion. But this demonstrates, not a link between fascism and conservatism, but only the extreme decadence into which Leftist thinking has sunk. For the reason Nazis and fascists claimed to champion these things was that everyone in public life in the thirties and forties championed them, whatever their position on the political spectrum; there was nothing terribly distinctive about it. It is only in an age in which the common moral sense of the West has reached the depths it has that a commitment to “family values” could be regarded as anything other than an (admittedly banal) expression of one’s grasp of the morally obvious. Presumably the Nazis also spoke up for good grooming and table manners; no doubt there is a Leftist somewhere who would see this too as a telltale sign of right-wingery.
The Nazis’ persecution of homosexuals does not undermine the point; for public disapproval of homosexuality was also universal at the time and not at all distinctive of Nazism per se. Moreover, in private many Nazis, including Hitler, had (as did so many other socialists of the day) a far more lenient attitude; and of course, the prevalence of homosexuals within Ernst Roehm’s SA is well-known. Roehm himself was a notorious sexual libertine, and his band of thugs, committed as they were to the cult of violence and the destruction of capitalist society, are reminiscent of nothing so much as the anarchist mobs of Seattle and Davos. The hormonally-driven Rage Against the Machine fan who’s seen Fight Club twenty times and sports a Che Guevara T-shirt is far closer to the spirit of the brown-shirts than is the polite and dorky teenage Bible-thumper.”
While Feser is correct that traditional American conservatism has intellectual roots that are far removed from 20th century European Fascism, it is of the utmost importance to recognize that the contemporary American Right is a repudiation of traditional American conservatism, as the paleoconservatives continue to point out with great exasperation. “Throne and Altar” conservatism of the type championed by Maistre never really took root in the US except in the imaginations of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Russell Kirk, a not surprising fact given America’s origins in anti-monarchical and anti-theocratic revolution. Edmund Burke, as I read him, was largely a conservative anarchist who championed prudence, caution and pragmatism against the nihlistic, authoritarian revolutionary totalism of the Jacobins. In other words, authentic Burkean “conservatism” is more a methodology than an ideology. America’s Lockean phase, peaking during the Revolutionary War era, had mostly evaporated by the time of the advent of Jacksonian democracy and the transplanting of French democratism to America, as the late, great Catholic monarchist Erik von Keuhnelt-Leddihn pointed out. The Lincoln Presidency represented the triumph of Jacobin nationalism in America and the abandonment of America’s traditional global neutrality during World War I marked the descent of America into Napoleanic statist-imperialist revolutionism on behalf of democratist ideology. The New Deal/World War II period brought the rise of an American proto-fascism suitably watered down from European Fascism to make it more compatible with Anglo-American political culture, as a good number of insighful commentators-Isabel Patterson, Charles Beard, John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Lawrence Dennis-noted at the time.
The Cold War period saw the establishment in America of a full-blown corporatist-militarist-imperialist “military-industrial complex”, as even Eisenhower recognized back in the days when American intellectual culture still maintained some minimal level of competence. Indeed, the Cold War era involved the adoption by the US regime of a wide variety of overtly fascistic vassalages and client states, including the genocidal Indonesian regime of Suharto, the death squad states of Central America, the military dictatorships of South America, the shah of Iran, Park Chung-hee, Chiang Kai-shek, Mobuto, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the fascist regime of South Africa, the Greek military dictatorship, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge movement in its latter years, and many others too numerous to mention. Independent studies of this relationship between America and Third World Fascism by former CIA operative John Stockwell, German peace activist Johann Galtung, Noam Chomsky, Peter Dale Scott and others indicates that nearly six million persons died during the Cold War era as a result of US counterinsurgency and destabilization campaigns in the Third World, as many as those who perished in the Holocaust.
The coming to power of the so-called “neoconservatives” with the presidency of George W. Bush marks a dramatic advance in the development of American fascism. While the neocons first got a whiff of state power during the Reagan era, the Reagan regime was largely dominated by traditional Cold War militarists. As the neocon ideologue David Horowitz, in a rare lucid moment, has pointed out, Reagan did not govern much further to the Right than John F. Kennedy. Both were staunch anti-communists, militarists and Cold War interventionists in foreign policy and Keynesians in economic policy. Again, that Reagan is considered a “conservative” while Kennedy is regarded as a “liberal” only indicates the dramatic move leftward of the USA in the last forty years. However, the administration of George W. Bush is indisputably under the direction of the neocons. Neoconservatism marks a dramatic departure from traditional American militarism of the Cold War variety towards an entirely new militarism that transcends prior nationalistic, mercantilistic or militaristic ambitions. While the neocons continue to advance themselves through their alliance with the conventional crony state-capitalists of the traditional American Right, the oil men, arms dealers and international bankers who comprise the Old Guard elements of the Republican Party are seen as only a means to other ends by the neocons.
Neoconservatives, like their counterparts among the ranks of the cultural Marxists of the academic Left, represent a new and “innovative” species of fascism. Just as the cultural Marxists have invented a new type of racialism through the scapegoating of Caucasians and elevating “people of color” to supreme status, so have the neocons done precisely the same through the scapegoating of Arabs, Muslims, Germans, Russians and others and elevating Jews and Anglo-Saxons to supreme status. The former we might refer to as a “Fanonized” variation of fascism with the latter being a “Judaized” or “Anglo-Zionized” version of the same. Indeed, many of the leading neocons have followed precisely the same career path as the likes of Mussolini. From revolutionary Marxism in their youths to the abandonment of Marxism for racial nationalism (i.e., Zionism), from anti-capitalism to corporatist socialism and state-capitalism, from radical leftism to Straussian fascism (mirroring Mussolini’s abandonment of Marx for proponents of the “Conservative Revolution”), to strategic alliances with the right-wing of the state-capitalist ruling class and the adoption of messianic militarism, the neoconservatives fit the classical Fascist and National Socialist pattern almost perfectly. There are, of course, some differences as well. Larry Gambone notes:
“In its eclectic nature, its authoritarianism, militarism, statism, hostility for real democracy, centralism, Jacobinism, mercantilism, corporatism and Big Lie propaganda, neoconservatism is very similar to fascism. But of course, it is not fascism in the true sense, with its ambiguity about nationalism, and the lack of the party-army, mass mobilization of the population, leader-concept and a popular corporatist ideology. It could be seen as a moderate substitute for fascism or a form of Bertrand Grosses “Friendly Fascism” , although the Iraqis might well question the “friendly” bit.”
As with the corporate socialism of the New Deal era, the neocons have watered down their own brand fascism in order to make it more compatible with Anglo-American political culture. The efforts of the Leftoids to portray the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as modern Hitlers is indeed quite inaccurate. Reagan was more comparable to Paul von Hindenberg than Der Fuhrer. And GWB has more in common with Prince Charles of England than a classic twentienth century dictator such as Hitler or Stalin. The accolades and deifications tossed his way by his more primitive followers not withstanding, Bush is just another mediocre, middle-of-the-road American politician, not the Maximum Leader. However, the unremarkable nature of the “chief executive” aside, the fascist threat in contemporary America is indeed real, and it comes from both the Right and the Left. Some observers, including this writer, have for sometime now advanced the opinion that the “master plan” of the neocons is an all-out “World War IV” between America and Israel and the Muslim nations, and perhaps other nations as well. More and more, current developments seem to be pointing in that direction, with present US sabre rattling with regards to Iran, Syria and Lebanon, by a regime that believes “we create our own reality”, being only the latest bad news.
Such a war would be the end of the US as a major world power. The US would eventually be defeated in a lengthy and costly guerrilla war waged by the Muslims against the invaders. The US economy is already severely strained, as are the US military services, and the US would emerge from such a campaign militarily and economically devastated. Meanwhile, the US would be completely isolated internationally, with there being a possibility that an anti-American alliance might form that included the nations of continental Europe, Russia, China, India, Iran, the Arab nations and North Korea, and possibly even some nations in the Western hemisphere. America would be totally ruined, totally humiliated and totally alone. And that would be a hell of a dangerous place for Americans to be in. It was precisely the position of the Germans of the Weimar period.
Germany had been a great nation, the most advanced in the world. Yet during the few short years of World War I, Germany went from being a leading world power to a nation utterly devastated by military defeat, economic ruin and vengeful international sanctions. The German people felt humiliated and oppressed and began looking for leaders to provide them with salvation. The German government was a weak and ineffective democracy, and totalitarian parties began to rise from the Left and Right. The later years of Weimar were plagued with violent street confrontations between the Nazi stormtroopers and their Communist rivals. One could easily envision such a scenario emerging in the US at some point in the future, following economic collapse or military disaster, not to mention the possibility of a terrorist attack more destructive than even that of 9-11. The divided and polarized state of the American public is clear enough in the well-publicized red-state/blue-state conflict. One can imagine blue-state leftoids and red-state dittoheads doing battle in the streets of American cities at some point. While such polarized factions are, and will likely continue to be, a distinctive minority of the American public, in the event of such a societal breakdown most other Americans would certainly desire for the government to step in to restore order, which would give whatever faction that was closest to power at the time the green-light for a full scale coup. For the past twenty years, the US regime has laid the foundation for a full-blown police state by means of the War on Drugs and the prison-industrial complex built up around it. The police state has been further strengthened by so-called “anti-terrorism” and “anti-crime” legislation passed during both the Clinton and Bush administrations.
Recently, a number of dissident writers, ranging from the left-environmentalist Kirkpatrick Sale to the paleoconservative Paul Craig Roberts, have been moving toward a consensus regarding the inevitable fall of the American nation. One notices from American history that major changes to American government typically occur about every seventy years, from the ratification of the Constitution in the 1790s to the Civil War of the 1860s to the New Deal of the 1930s. We’re just about due. The disintegration of the United States is likely to produce one of three outcomes: a bloody, fracticious civil war, the advent of full-blown fascism (and not just the watered down kind we have now) or, possibly, a revolution with an actual constructive outcome. The latter is, of course, the least likely outcome. Thus far, the most important resistance to the present regime has been the grassroots, local movements that have found their expression in resolutions issued by hundreds of states or localities opposing the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. If American political conditions continue to deteriorate, the most optimal path of resistance would likely be the creation of local and regional secessionist movements. Prototypes for such movements already exist and the emergence of a coalition of antiwar, civil liberties and neo-secessionist groups might serve as the foundation for genuinely revolutionary action. If the draft is reinstated, as it must be if US military aggression is to be extended much further, considerable dissent will be present within the ranks of the US armed forces and a conscription law will certainly fuel the antiwar movement and influence popular opinion against the war. A combination of massive public protests, declarations of independence issued by states and localities, and large scale desertion or refusal within the military itself could indeed bring the regime down.
When I was a Wobbly and a left-anarchist in the 1980s, we used to have a saying: “The nineties will make the sixties look like the fifties.” This turned out to be partially true and partially false. The 1990s did indeed see the largest uprising since the Civil War in the form of the Rodney King riots of 1992 (an action I supported with some qualifications). Also, the greatest act of terrorism on US soil in history (prior to September 11) took place in 1995 with the Oklahoma City bombing (an action I opposed). And the largest protest demonstrations since the 1960s occurred during the 1999 World Trade Organization conference in Seattle. However, such actions were intermittent and sporadic, not ongoing as they were in the sixties. The likely reason for this was the lack of any one national issue capable of generating sustained dissident activity. However, such an issue (imperialism) is now before us. A positive revolution is unlikely at this point, regardless of political conditions, as there does not exist a the present time the proper intellectual foundation and political leadership necessary for such a revolution. Most intellectuals, activists and politicians alike currently cling to outmoded and irrelevant ideas, such as those reflected in the “cultural divide” between “red states” and “blue states”. The emergence of political and intellectual leadership capable of moving across and beyond this divide is therefore the most important need within the dissident milieu at this time. The ideal political program of such leadership would likely be something close to the following:
1) Repudiation of the present regime and its policies and the declaration of sovereignty by the individual states or localities. Most likely, there would be both secessionist and non-secessionist localities within many states as was the case during the Civil War. Seceded communities should then confederate with other such communities in their own region.
2) Recognition of the sovereignty of distinct cultures and regions. What people in Texas do is none of the business of people in Massachusetts and vice versa.
3) Opening of the economy, including state property and the property of state-connected “private” bodies, to homesteading by the workers, consumers, squatters, etc.
4) Abolition of the state’s police, judicial and penal systems in favor of authentically private, community based systems of protection and “justice”.
5) Unconditional amnesty for all prisoners not convicted of a crime of violence or robbery. Conditional amnesty for other prisoners dependent upon either victim compensation or victim pardon.
6) Dissolution of the state’s armed forces and the re-incorporation of the defense services of the former regime with authentically civilian, volunteer, private community militias under civilian leadership.
The implementation of these objectives would be the partial realization of the “anarchist” revolution favored by so many from the Left and the “patriot” or “libertarian” revolution dreamed of by so many from the Right. Would such a revolution prove to be enduring over a period of time? We have no way of knowing. How would such a revolution impact the rest of the world? Again, we can only speculate. However, it is possible that such a revolution would mark the beginning of a new era in human political evolution, one that saw the beginning of the end of the liberal democratic paradigm that has existed for two centuries and the corporate-social democratic paradigm that has existed for the last century. Such a revolution might also mark the beginning of a new phase in cultural achievement such as that which occurred during the peak moments of the ancient Greek civilization and the renewal of this tradition during the Renaissance. Is such a revolution likely? No, because there exists at present no intellectual or cultural foundation for it. It is doubtful that there is still time to build one. More likely, the fall of Western civilization will usher in a new dark ages of the type experienced by Western Europe following the collapse of Rome. Yet seeds that a planted today might well be the great intellectual and cultural vineyards of the distant future. So let’s start planting!
Copyright 2005. American Revolutionary Vanguard. All rights reserved.