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writing for godot

ARE FASCISM AND SOCIALISM THE SAME?

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Written by tom kando   
Thursday, 24 January 2013 12:24

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Other Ignoramuses Believe that Fascism and Socialism are the same thing, and that president Obama is both.

Ever since Obama became president, some on the Right have tried to paste the “fascist” label on him and on his policies, and they have used the terms “fascist” and “socialist” interchangeably.This calls for a brief lecture in political science and history.

Those who try to equate fascism and socialism, or speak of the two in one breath, show appalling ignorance of politics and history.

Many in the Tea Party have done this, as have people like Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other loons, and now John Mackey. I already wrote about this preposterous distortion of reality in my March 16, 2010 post titled "Is America Going Fascist and Gay?"

As I wrote nearly three years ago, these folks have things upside down. Anyone who knows anything about 20th century history knows that Fascism and Socialism have always been each other’s worst enemies, as in the Spanish Civil War, the war between Nazi Germany and Russia, and many other conflicts.

I know, I know, there was the Molotov-Ribbentrop “monster pact” of 1939, when the Nazis and the Soviets tried to collaborate. And yes, “Nazi” means “National Socialism.” But don’t be mistaken: Fascism/Nazism and Socialism are each other’s opposite: The former is on the Right, and latter on the Left. And the distinction between Right and Left remains very meaningful, today in America as much as it was in 20th century Europe.

If John Mackey took a course in Political Science 101 he would learn that:
1. Fascism is an expression of middle-class discontent.
2. Marxism and other forms of Socialism are expressions of lower-class and working-class discontent.
3. Hitler was brought to power by Fascism.
4. The Russian Revolution was Marxist.
5. Fascism is nationalist: The Nazis were vehemently opposed to internationalism. They quit the League of Nations.
6. Marxism and Socialism are internationalist.
7. Fascists believed that God was on their side.
8. Marxism is atheist.
9. Fascism is militaristic.
10. Fascism is racist.
11. Fascism is homophobic. Before his onslaught on Jews, Hitler exterminated the gays.
12. Fascism is for traditional family values (Only three roles for women: Kinder, Kuche und Kirche).
13. Fascism is cosy with the conglomerates. Remember Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben and all the other corporations that supported the Nazis.

Granted, some forms of Socialism such as Soviet Marxism have gone terribly astray, but to accuse Obama and his policies of being fascist is absurd. He is a centrist social democrat. The accusation reminds me of when Joe McCarthy called Eisenhower a communist. It is lunacy.

Also, it is the pot calling the kettle black. Obama’s Tea Party and Right-wing Republican detractors themselves have much more in common with classical European Fascism than anyone since father Coughlin in the 1930s and Joe McCarthy in the 1950s: If Fascism comes to America, it’ll be precisely these folks who bring it on: Look at the list above: They are on the right; they are overwhelmingly white middle-class; they are nationalists; they are deeply religious; they support military intervention; they hate the country’s first black President; they are anti-gay; they are pro-life and pro traditional family values; they support the corporations. The Tea Party and the “Take-America-Back” folks remind me of the angry white middle-class which brought Hitler to power in Austria and Germany.

 

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-5 # Citizen Mike 2013-01-25 09:27
You are correct, thank you for clarifying the issue and for explaining exactly what these two labels do in fact designate. All the people out there who lack any sense of history are very confused by the way these terms have been carelessly thrown around.

Korzybski warns us in his excellent General Semantics to beware of using the same name to describe different things. Our choice of words can determine how we think and can mislead us.
 
 
-3 # kandotom 2013-01-25 12:55
Thank you.
I just hope that I am not only preaching to the choir. It would be good if some people at Fox News read what you and I are saying.
 
 
-1 # RMDC 2013-01-27 07:25
Nice to see Korzybski cited here. We could use some of this sanity.

Fascists have tried to confuse their opposition by using the term socialism. Socialism was very popular in Germany in the 1920s so the Nazis adopted the term as part of their name. But the first thing the NAZIs did was to smash labor unions, kill socialists and communists, and impose a corporate driven government. The NAZI party was a creation of german, american, and British corporations who needed a political force to oppose the growing socialism around the world.

Fascism is the corporate control of the state.

Socialism is the worker control of the state.

Those are two opposite things. THere will never be a perfect fascism or perfect socialism. There will always be mixed political systems. Right now, we are way too far over on the side of fascism. The US and most of the world needs a lot more socialism.
 
 
0 # JohnTullock 2013-01-25 13:44
Why would people who deny climate change and evolution care about using the terms "fascism" or "socialism" correctly? As long as those terms have the desired emotional effect on the ignorant conservative base, the speaker has accomplished the goal of painting Obama as a sinister figure out to destroy the country.
 
 
-2 # kandotom 2013-01-25 18:39
I'm afraid you are right.
 
 
+9 # Martintfre 2013-01-26 08:15
Socialism and fascism are the same if you care about individual rights.

If you think that Big brother knows best and the individuals are worthless disposable scum then you will fight over trivial differences of if corporate - government cooperative of fascism is better then the government ruling it all of socialism
 
 
-4 # David Starr 2013-01-27 12:01
@Martintfre: Damn, you're ignorant.

There can exist "Big Brother," i.e., the federal, capitalist-domi nated U.S. government, and "Little Big Brothers", i.e., state governments with a tyranny of their own, be it capitalist-domi nated, or as it was in the early to mid-1800s in the U.S. south. I don't recall individual rights being respected then, that is if you weren't white, male, rich, and had a superiority complex. And that was true after Emancipation, but in a more discreet form sometimes, compared to previous rights abuses.
 
 
-2 # BruceMajors 2013-02-09 04:16
http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html
 
 
+9 # Martintfre 2013-01-26 08:30
"The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. "

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp

Definition of SOCIALISM
any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism

So Between Mussolini the Italian fascist Dictator and merriam Webster
It appears that Fascism and Socialism are essentially the same.

Both see wee the little people as disposable replaceable fluff --
 
 
-2 # David Starr 2013-01-27 12:18
@Martintfre: But you sure don't like a little person. It's a tragedy Stalinism existed, since that became a kind of decipherer for those ideas you're not keen on.

Both Nazism and facsism are the biggest enemies of those ideas you don't get. Reexamine what socialism means. Get rid of the Stalinism, and the Cult of Maoism as well, and there will be a more essential meaning.

Fordham and Merriam Webster's dictionary on the matter? Perhaps these sources are duped by the Stalinist interpretation, among other things? I believe that Mussolini did say that fascism involves a "corporatist state."

And disposibility has ocurred when everyone and everything are looked at as commomdities, where labor hired cheaply (really no choice for laborers being commodities), and disposed when no longer needed. What they produce (one reason labor is superior to capital) can be bought cheaply, but then disposed of when it's no longer in vogue (rather than reasonably gauging its practicality). Either way, both have woundup on the junkheap of capital.

Do you disagree?
 
 
+6 # kyzipster 2013-01-26 11:04
I don't see the value in defending the American left against charges of fascism by comparing the differences between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This has nothing at all to do with socialism in the US in 2013. Using this line of reasoning a person could suggest that socialism is more evil than fascism because Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Hitler.

A better argument could be made by pointing out how popular our socialist programs are. Bush tried to privatize Social Security at the height of his popularity and with a Republican Congress, he fell flat on his face. If Obama is a 'fascist', then so are the majority of voters, including the majority of Republicans who support SS & Medicare.

It's also valuable to point out that a country with one of the most libertarian economies in the world, Switzerland, provides universal health care through the private sector. The rules for coverage are far more socialist than Obamacare, these companies are not even allowed to make a profit on the minimal coverage dictated by the government.
 
 
-2 # kandotom 2013-01-26 17:36
Googling a Wikipedia or Webster definition is what’s passed off as scholarship these days. Martintfre does not understand that Socialism is a profoundly multifaceted topic. I’ll just mention Rousseau, Utopian socialists such as Saint Simon, anarchists like Bakunin, anarcho-syndica lists, Kropotkin’s “altruistic” socialism, Jean-Jaures, American socialists such as Henry George and Edward Bellamy, the contemporary British Labor Party...I could go on and include Plato and the Gracchi brothers in antiquity. It is preposterous to try to dispose of the issue with one Mussolini quote. Try reading Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, at least, or Socialist Thought, by Fried and Sanders, or any of thousands of other books written on the subject.
 
 
-5 # kandotom 2013-01-26 17:38
Kyzipster’s comment is less absurd, although he is also wrong: I do not compare the USSR and Nazi Germany. I merely remind readers of some historical facts. I mention that Soviet Marxism went terribly astray and that its pact with the Nazis was called the “monster” pact precisely because it was between two monsters.

But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? Capitalism has also made grievous errors, yet we have not discarded it. As I indicate in my reply to Martintfre, socialism is vast, complicated, and many of its strands are benign.

The bottom line is that no economic or political system should be permitted to err on the side of collectivism OR individualism. Conservative Americans are guilty of the latter.
 
 
+1 # RICHARDKANEpa 2013-01-27 02:36
Tom Kando I dont think you are 100% right in your definitions but you are 100% right-on in the need to have definitions rather then using words to paint evil on anyone one wants to argue with. Thanks for bringing thought back to the table.
 
 
-1 # David Starr 2013-01-27 12:21
Kondo gives an important clarification with two obviously different ideologies, that needs to be consistently put out there.

I would add that "Soviet-style Marxism" was actually a victim of Stalinist-style perversion.
 
 
-5 # kandotom 2013-02-02 12:22
I agree with Starr.

One thing we hardly do anymore, is to distinguish between Socialism (good) and Communism (bad). For much of the 20th century, that distinction was recognized as important. To this day, most European countries have socialist parties that are reasonable, democratic, and often in charge (France’s current ruling party, Britain’s Labour Party, Germany’s Social Democrats, etc.). And then there have always been the communist parties, in control of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe for decades, and with strong representation in Western Europe after World War Two. It was always clear that communism was a dictatorial extremism, a mirror image of fascism, whereas (Western European style) socialism was a progressive and democratic alternative to the political Right. Today, in American politics, this nuance is absent.
 
 
-2 # David Starr 2013-02-19 12:03
@kandotom: The word communism has been also used perversely, whether from Stalinism or U.S. propoganda.

Then you have Nazis and fascists who are perhaps the most fanatical of anti-communists . The former is a mortal enemy of the later.

Due to, e.g., Stalinist perversions, communism, like socialism, has been misinterpreted. Marx and Engels at times used the words interchangably i.e., both with similar objectives but socialism coming first due to particular conditions at a given time. Socialism becomes like a "mutation," being a transition from capitalism to communism. We are talking about epochs, which are not built in a day.

But regarding communism's meaning, no "blueprint" exists. Communism itself hasn't really existed. We've had varying degrees of socialism, e.g., your mention of Europe, but there's still a perpetual threat to its ideals.

We see today in Europe, harsh austerity measures being a continuous threat. This will go on under the current world economic system. That's its nature, i.e, greed is good, capital dominating labor, etc. And of course the effects are not discriminatory (except for the 1%, who have private monopolies to "buffer" themselves).

Social reforms have had positive benefits, but, again, the threat encompasses these benefits. More, it's a matter of changing, gradually and rapidly, depending on the circumstances,t he epoch itself.
 
 
+6 # BruceMajors 2013-02-09 04:08
It doesn't matter whether of kill the Jews or Asians etc because they are the wrong color, religion, race or because they are bourgeois.

When your central planning fails and causes poverty and unemployment and you begin to lash out and centralize power it doesn't matter why you build the camps.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Fascism.html
 
 
-2 # kandotom 2013-02-13 12:39
This comment is not very good. I would hate it to be the last one, as it would be one of the first things people notice when checking out this post...
 
 
-4 # kandotom 2013-02-13 21:04
..and one more thing:
My list of 13 items showing that socialism and fascism, far from being the same, are actually each other’s OPPOSITES, misses perhaps the most important contrast between the two. So I will now add a very important 14th item to my list:
Fascism wants to return to the past, which it glorifies, whereas Socialism is geared to the future, sometimes a utopian future. Mussolini wanted to build a second Roman Empire. Hitler glorified Teutonic mythology.

And again, the right-wingers who accuse their opponents most recklessly of “fascism” are THEMSELVES the ones who exhibit this fascistoid tendency the most:
For folks like the Tea Party and other right-wing, gun-toting flag wavers, it’s all about going BACK, “taking the country BACK,” remaking America the way it WAS. Good luck.
 
 
+3 # justmiming 2013-02-13 22:44
I would disagee with some of the established truths Tom Kando has listed. Tom is a bit too black and white. The Brown Shirts were created by Ernst Rohm, and they were very instrumental in bringing Hitler to power. The brown Shirts are discribed as a bunch of homosexual hoodlums. It is written that the Nazi Party began in a gay bar. True, Hitler stabbed them in the back when it suited his purposes. But Hitler was a modern man who seemed to get along just fine with gays until it was politically better to not. To say that fascism is by definition anti-gay is simplistic and wrong. Obama till recently was against gay marriage. One could just as easily say Americans are anti-gays.
The same criticism holds for Kando's claim about Nazi's being religious and Marxists being atheist. Some historians argue that Hitler was an atheist. Some historians claim Marx stopped being an atheist when he was 23. I do not not think Marxism necessarily excludes spirituality. I do not find Nazism to be inherently religious .
 
 
-1 # kandotom 2013-02-20 21:52
I welcome Justmiming's words.

I didn't know about the gay bar, but I do know about the prominence of homosexuality in that chapter of history.

With regard to socialism, fascism and religion: Of course, you are right that there are all sorts of overlaps and grey areas. For example, liberation theology is both radical-left AND catholic.” Major world religions - Christianity, Islam - have a venerable tradition of speaking out for economic justice, for the underdog, for the poor. Jesus himself is often said to have been a “socialist” avant la lettre. So to characterize socialism and religion as antithetical, and conversely, to associate fascism with religion does injustice to the complexities of history.

In my defense, a brief blog post doesn’t allow for deep scholarship. My format was basically schematic, and my broad strokes are to a large extent true (as many commentators, above, seem to agree). But I thank you for adding depth to my analysis.
 
 
+8 # Hustler 2013-03-07 19:08
"Fascism is an expression of middle-class discontent."
Correct, but it attempted to appeal to everyone of a particular race/nationalit y. This included many workers.

"Hitler was brought to power by Fascism."
That makes little sense. He was appointed chancellor and took power from there.


"Fascism is nationalist: The Nazis were vehemently opposed to internationalis m."
Exactly. A socialist who is also a nationalist can be called a "National Socialist".



"Fascists believed that God was on their side."
Except for Mussolini, who was an atheist. He made concessions to the Church to appease a 99% Catholic population. Hitler did the same, although Hitler also secularized education (Gleichschaltung).

"Fascism is militaristic."
As was the Soviet Union and Mao's China.

"Fascism is racist."
No, Nazism is racist. "Race! It is a feeling, not a reality: ninety-five percent, at least, is a feeling. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today. Amusingly enough, not one of those who have proclaimed the "nobility" of the Teutonic race was himself a Teuton. Gobineau was a Frenchman, Chamberlain, an Englishman; Woltmann, a Jew; Lapouge, another Frenchman." -- Benito Mussolini
 
 
+7 # Hustler 2013-03-07 19:09
"Fascism is homophobic. Before his onslaught on Jews, Hitler exterminated the gays."

Stalin declared Homosexuality to be a crime. Castro rounded up homosexuals and send them to concentration camps. Most authoritarian regimes are homophobic.

"Fascism is for traditional family values (Only three roles for women: Kinder, Kuche und Kirche)."

Stalin's social policy encouraged women to be mothers, outlawed abortion and encouraged the family unit. There's not a shred of evidence to show the Nazis ever said "Childre, Kitchen, Church" or whatever it's called. That was an old German slogan that predated the Nazi period and was never used by the Nazis.

"Fascism is cosy with the conglomerates. Remember Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben and all the other corporations that supported the Nazis."

Supported is too strong a word. "Preferred" would make more sense, seeing as how Fascism allows private business so long as it follows government direction in a planned economy (right wingers setting up a planned economy? Wow). Siemens' factories were set up and run by the SS, sometimes directly, and Thyssen fled Germany and had his assets nationalized when he was made to produce for and fund the war. Hardly capitalist!
 
 
+7 # Hustler 2013-03-07 19:33
They are on the right; they are overwhelmingly white middle-class;

There is still debate as to Fascism's place on the political spectrum, and not all of Fascism's support came from the white middle-class. The fascists made appeals to both the rich (protection from communism) and the poor (employment, benefits, etc).

they are nationalists;
Both sides claim to be nationalist. In fact it seems to be part of American culture.

they are deeply religious;
Unlike many of the Fascists and Communists, judging by their policies. The Tea Party would have hated Hitler removing Crosses and Bibles from schools.

they support military intervention;
Historically, a large number of leftists were far from pacifist.

they hate the country’s first black President;
How does that make them in any way fascist or racist?

they are anti-gay;
Like Stalin, Castro, and most other dictators.


they are pro-life and pro traditional family values;
Hitler legalized abortion for non-aryan women, while Stalin outlawed abortion all together.


they support the corporations.
That distances them from the Fascists even further: They "support" (don't want to intervene with) the corporations, whereas the Fascists sought to control them.
 
 
0 # Moscowman4157 2013-08-12 15:56
The original question about the differences should have been answered by you, not this moron.
 
 
+3 # suzhoupanther 2013-08-17 17:39
[quote name="Hustler"]
Absolutely fantastic stuff. I registered just so I could applaud you for pointing out the authors ignorance.

Some other info to support what you were saying:

Most of the Bolshevik leaders were middle class, not workers.

Stalin waged a war against the lower class, destroying millions of peasants. Interestingly enough, many of them were Ukrainian who didn't want to give up their culture. Not very tolerant of him is it.

Mussolini was a socialist before they kicked him out for being to nationalist.

The author misses why Mackey said Obama was fascist and then supports Mackey with point #13. Fascists allow private companies as long as the government can control them. What happened at GM is a perfect example of what fascist would support. He also ignores all of the CEO's who support Obama.
 
 
-2 # kandotom 2013-10-27 22:31
I haven't checked this post in a while, so I was not aware of the last idiotic comments.

Hustler and suzhoupanther are soiling what was, until their comments, an intelligent exchange.

And I assume that Moscowman uses the label "moron" to describe Hustler, not me...

Anyway, the reason I react, is that I don't want readers to judge the original post and the subsequent exchange by these last stupid comments, which may be the first ones they see if they scroll up.

So, please check out the many pretty good comments made by people earlier...
 

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