Red Shirts Or Brown Shirts?Have we been distracted by the threat of socialism as fascism has taken hold?
I was reviewing a video by Jeffrey Tucker last night, and I was fascinated by his analysis and his discussion of the history of fascism and socialism. He compares and contrasts the two ideologies, and how they have come to affect us and the world in different ways. At the center of the discussion is the book As We Go Marching written in 1944 by a journalist named John T. Flynn, a critic of President Roosevelt and one of the founders of the America First Committee that opposed entry into WWII. In the book, Flynn attempted to explain fascism using Mussolini’s Italy as an example and to draw parallels to FDR. I wanted to basically summarize what he said in the video and add my thoughts along the way.
Socialism as a radical ideology envisioned by Marx sought to abolish prominent social institutions. Notably private property (bourgeois), but religion (clerical class) and the family (gender inequality) as well. Everywhere it was implemented, it had disastrous effects. Shortages of essential goods, famine, and death.
Notably, socialism was only ever implemented in times of violent upheaval, in extreme situations where radical revolutionaries took advantage of the atmosphere. Socialism was never going to win an election. No one wanted to give up their property, their religion, or their families for a collective “good”.
Fascism was therefore seen as a more reasonable, achievable alternative to socialism. Whereas socialism actively sought to destroy private property, religion, and the family as oppressors in society; enemies to equality, fascism allowed people to keep all of these things, and instead of abolish them, sought to control and them. This allowed central planners and dictators to take control of the economy and the social order while not completely abolishing the things that people loved.
Instead of abolishing corporations, fascism placed heavy state controls and regulations on them. Instead of demonizing religion, it was used as a vehicle for state worship. The family was used as a place to teach absolute loyalty to the state and respect toward the fascist social order. Socialism was considered a radical, left-wing ideology. Fascism on the other hand was socialism with a right-wing, pro-status quo flavor. It was pro-business, pro-religion, and pro-family.
Many Fabian-influenced intellectuals in America spoke favorably of Italian fascism. When war broke out, fascism became the enemy in the form of the axis powers, even as America continued to adopt the very same policies. These policies were manifested most dramatically in the New Deal which established price controls and economic regulations. The administration of FDR also used essential elements of fascism such as the use of propaganda and censorship.
The Cold War gave birth to the largest red scare in American history. It was a time of political witch-hunts, blacklists and general paranoia about the communist menace. The USSR was the evil empire and the perpetual threat that challenged our liberties and even our very existence. The state exploited this post-war fear to create a new enemy by which they would justify the military-industrial complex and further encroachments on civil liberties, in other words, further down the road of fascism. In this we see the essential role that war plays in the growth and development of the state.
While socialism in practice was far scarier and disastrous than fascism, it was fascism that inevitably posed a greater threat. For reasons stated above, socialism was never going to take hold in America. It has always been a relatively stable country with a strong religious and individualistic culture. Socialism as Marx envisioned it was in direct contrast to American culture and society.
Thus the threat of socialism was the great distraction of the 20th century, as fascism took hold in its place.
This threat is a false flag that still persists today. Throughout his administration, President Obama has been accused of being a socialist by his opponents on the right and for pushing socialist policies. The Tea Party movement protested Obamacare as a socialist policy. The Republican Party won control of the House in 2010 in large part running on this opposition to socialism. But what Obamacare did not do was abolish private insurance, it simply established a heavy regulatory framework on the healthcare industry. In this way, Obamacare was not a socialist policy, but a fascist one. The bailout of GM also serves as an example of a fascist policy.
Today, the term fascist has lost its meaning. It is no longer a serious charge of an extremist ideology, but more of an epithet to be used against an authoritarian person or an enemy. To call Obama or Mitt Romney, or Jeb Bush a fascist wouldn’t be considered a serious charge. It would be quickly dismissed. But by the original definition of fascism, our current system and politicians are more fascist than they are socialist.
While socialism is worse that fascism in theory, it is fascism that poses the greater threat to a free society in practice. Not the abolition of private property, or religion, or the family. But the appropriation of it all by the state. Fascism will use all of these things to its own end. It will use the capitalist system to fuel and profit itself and the ruling elite. It will use religion to legislate morality and perpetuate an endless war on drugs. It will guard the family through similar legislation, all in the name of the greater good and protecting these essential institutions.
In order to restore a free society, the idea of central planning in general must be discredited and defeated. A way must be found to call out this fascist threat, even when the word itself has lost all meaning and credibility in public discourse.