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Thursday, December 14, 2017
Is Fascism Right Or Left?
D’Souza for Prager University, Guest Columnist
decades, this has been a favorite smear of the left, aimed at those on the
right. Every Republican president—for that matter, virtually every
Republican—since the 1970’s has been called a fascist; now, more than ever.
is based on the idea that fascism is a phenomenon of the political right. The
left says it is, and some self-styled white supremacists and neo-Nazis embrace
this question, we have to ask what fascism really means: What is its underlying
ideology? Where does it even come from?
not easy questions to answer. We know the name of the philosopher of
capitalism: Adam Smith. We know the name of the philosopher of Marxism: Karl
Marx. But who’s the philosopher of fascism?
You don’t know. Don’t feel bad. Almost no one knows. This is not because he
doesn’t exist, but because historians, most of whom are on the political left,
had to erase him from history in order to avoid confronting fascism’s actual
beliefs. So, let me introduce him to you. His name is Giovanni Gentile.
1875, he was one of the world’s most influential philosophers in the first half
of the twentieth century. Gentile believed that there were two “diametrically
opposed” types of democracy. One is liberal democracy, such as that of the
United States, which Gentile dismisses as individualistic—too centered on
liberty and personal rights—and therefore selfish. The other, the one Gentile
recommends, is “true democracy,” in which individuals willingly subordinate
themselves to the state.
philosophical mentor, Karl Marx, Gentile wanted to create a community that
resembles the family, a community where we are “all in this together.” It’s
easy to see the attraction of this idea. Indeed, it remains a common rhetorical
theme of the left.
example, at the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New
York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family in which, through the
government, people all take care of each other.
changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention
was, “The government is the only thing we all belong to.” They might as well
have been quoting Gentile.
remember, Gentile was a man of the left. He was a committed socialist. For
Gentile, fascism is a form of socialism—indeed, its most workable form. While
the socialism of Marx mobilizes people on the basis of class, fascism mobilizes
people by appealing to their national identity as well as their class. Fascists
are socialists with a national identity. German Fascists in the 1930s were
called Nazis—basically a contraction of the term “national socialist.”
Gentile, all private action should be oriented to serve society; there is no
distinction between the private interest and the public interest. Correctly
understood, the two are identical. And who is the administrative arm of the
society? It’s none other than the state. Consequently, to submit to society is
to submit to the state—not just in economic matters, but in all matters. Since
everything is political, the state gets to tell everyone how to think and what
another Italian, Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to
1943, who turned Gentile’s words into action. In his ‘Dottrina del
Fascismo’, one of the doctrinal statements of early fascism, Mussolini wrote,
“All is in the state and nothing human exists or has value outside the state.”
He was merely paraphrasing Gentile.
philosopher is now lost in obscurity, but his philosophy could not be more
relevant because it closely parallels that of the modern left. Gentile’s work
speaks directly to progressives who champion the centralized state. Here in
America, the left has vastly expanded state control over the private sector,
from healthcare to banking; from education to energy. This state-directed
capitalism is precisely what German and Italian fascists implemented in the
can’t acknowledge their man, Gentile, because that would undermine their
attempt to bind conservatism to fascism. Conservatism
wants small government so that individual liberty can flourish. The
left, like Gentile, wants the opposite: to place the resources of the
individual and industry in the service of a centralized state. To acknowledge
Gentile is to acknowledge that fascism bears a deep kinship to the ideology of
today’s left. So, they will keep Gentile where they’ve got him: dead, buried,
should remember, or the ghost of fascism will continue to haunt us.
Prager University helps millions of
Americans understand the fundamental values that shaped America and provides
the resources to articulate them. See the video “Is Fascism Right Or Left?” at
PragerU.com.Published with permission.
Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self
Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan
educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in applied civics. The
authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists.
The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views
of CSG. Contact them at CenterForSelfGovernance.com