Monday, January 23, 2017

What is Fascism?





“... even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come. (G.O.)




TRIBUNE 1944


I have seen the words ‘Fascist in sympathy’, or ‘of Fascist tendency’, or just plain ‘Fascist’, applied in all seriousness to ...
Of all the unanswered questions of our time, perhaps the most important is: ‘What is Fascism?’
One of the social survey organizations in America recently asked this question of a hundred different people, and got answers ranging from ‘pure democracy’ to ‘pure diabolism’. In this country if you ask the average thinking person to define Fascism, he usually answers by pointing to the German and Italian régimes. But this is very unsatisfactory, because even the major Fascist states differ from one another a good deal in structure and ideology.

[...] Learned controversies, reverberating for years on end in American magazines, have not even been able to determine whether or not Fascism is a form of capitalism. But still, when we apply the term ‘Fascism’ to Germany or Japan or Mussolini's Italy, we know broadly what we mean. It is in internal politics that this word has lost the last vestige of meaning. For if you examine the press you will find that there is almost no set of people — certainly no political party or organized body of any kind — which has not been denounced as Fascist during the past ten years. Here I am not speaking of the verbal use of the term ‘Fascist’. I am speaking of what I have seen in print. I have seen the words ‘Fascist in sympathy’, or ‘of Fascist tendency’, or just plain ‘Fascist’, applied in all seriousness to the following bodies of people:

Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’.
Socialists: Defenders of old-style capitalism (example, Sir Ernest Benn) maintain that Socialism and Fascism are the same thing. Some Catholic journalists maintain that Socialists have been the principal collaborators in the Nazi-occupied countries. The same accusation is made from a different angle by the Communist party during its ultra-Left phases. In the period 1930-35 the Daily Worker habitually referred to the Labour Party as the Labour Fascists. This is echoed by other Left extremists such as Anarchists. Some Indian Nationalists consider the British trade unions to be Fascist organizations.

Communists: A considerable school of thought (examples, Rauschning, Peter Drucker, James Burnham, F. A. Voigt) refuses to recognize a difference between the Nazi and Soviet régimes, and holds that all Fascists and Communists are aiming at approximately the same thing and are even to some extent the same people. Leaders in The Times (pre-war) have referred to the U.S.S.R. as a ‘Fascist country’. Again from a different angle this is echoed by Anarchists and Trotskyists.

Trotskyists: Communists charge the Trotskyists proper, i.e. Trotsky's own organization, with being a crypto-Fascist organization in Nazi pay. This was widely believed on the Left during the Popular Front period. In their ultra-Right phases the Communists tend to apply the same accusation to all factions to the Left of themselves, e.g. Common Wealth or the I.L.P.

Catholics: Outside its own ranks, the Catholic Church is almost universally regarded as pro-Fascist, both objectively and subjectively;

War resisters: Pacifists and others who are anti-war are frequently accused not only of making things easier for the Axis, but of becoming tinged with pro-Fascist feeling.

Supporters of the war: War resisters usually base their case on the claim that British imperialism is worse than Nazism, and tend to apply the term ‘Fascist’ to anyone who wishes for a military victory. The supporters of the People's Convention came near to claiming that willingness to resist a Nazi invasion was a sign of Fascist sympathies. The Home Guard was denounced as a Fascist organization as soon as it appeared. In addition, the whole of the Left tends to equate militarism with Fascism. Politically conscious private soldiers nearly always refer to their officers as ‘Fascist-minded’ or ‘natural Fascists’. Battle-schools, spit and polish, saluting of officers are all considered conducive to Fascism. Before the war, joining the Territorials was regarded as a sign of Fascist tendencies. Conscription and a professional army are both denounced as Fascist phenomena.

Nationalists: Nationalism is universally regarded as inherently Fascist, but this is held only to apply to such national movements as the speaker happens to disapprove of. Arab nationalism, Polish nationalism, Finnish nationalism, the Indian Congress Party, the Muslim League, Zionism, and the I.R.A. are all described as Fascist but not by the same people.

1. Invoke a threat
2. Establish secret Homeland prisons
3. Develop a paramilitary force
4. Surveil ordinary citizens
5. Infiltrate citisens groups
6. Target key individuals
7. Restrict the Press
8. Cast dissent as treason
9. Subvert the rule of law
10. Disarm the citizens



It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning.
  • To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic.
  • Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others.
  • Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.
But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because 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. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.
1944

THE END
____BD____
George Orwell: ‘What is Fascism?’
First published: Tribune. — GB, London. — 1944.
Reprinted:
— ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968. [FULL]

Not to put too fine a point on it, but years ago I read a rather lengthy tome that attempted to differentiate Fascism from Communism.  Went through esoterica like trains running on schedule, and what not.  Boiled down to it's simplest form, however,  Fascism left ownership in private hands, but could dictate what was produced. Communism  seized ownership, and left it to party hacks to run the machinery.  As some wag put it; Communists always called Nazis “Fascists,” it was a way to avoid admitting that the Nazis were fellow  Socialists. Neither pass our constitutional muster.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...


Statist tyranny covers all three, Communism, Fascism, Socialism, which have an elite bureaucracy who call the shots and the rules do not apply to them, only to the proles, and the rules are changed by the elite to suit themselves.
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Anonymous said...

Ahh...yes...
...I've found it easy to make Leftist heads explode
merely by describing the "difference" as

* NATIONAL Socialism, otherwise know as Nazism or sometimes Fascism
as opposed to
* INTERNATIONAL Socialism, otherwise known as Communism
(or any of its other euphemisms to conceal its true roots).

Like I say, try it yourself, and enjoy the SPLODEY HEADS...

Helly yet deplorable said...

Come along, Rodger. Attaching meaning to words is sooo last century.

Anonymous said...

Fascism, like so many other terms, have devolved into mere pejoratives. A verbal brickbat if you will. Liberals dont know the meaning of the word 'fear'. And they dont know the meaning of a lot of other words either.
Tim

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"INTERNATIONAL Socialism, otherwise known as Communism
(or any of its other euphemisms to conceal its true roots)."

If only Rodge (and so many others) could understand (as this Anonymous does) that "its" is a possessive pronoun (like "his", "hers", "ours", "theirs" and "yours") and thus does not take an apostrophe, unlike "it's", which is a contraction of "it is".

P.S. Like "Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick" (and Mark Levin), we like "Statist Tyranny" (the term, not the system).

Ann Hedonia & Sam Paku

Anonymous said...

Ann Hedonia & Sam Paku - Levin, aka Denali, is my hero.
His occasional "Shut up - I'm educating you." or "Get off my phone, you moron!" makes my day.
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Stu Tarlowe said...

The original "Get off my phone!" guy was the late Bob Grant. I used to love to listen to him, and still do via YouTube. He'd introduce stories about Mario Cuomo with the theme from "The Godfather", and he'd call Cuomo "Il sfaccim". He'd sign off with either "Get Khaddaffi!" or "It's sick out there, and getting sicker!"

Anonymous said...

He'd introduce stories about Mario Cuomo ...he'd call Cuomo "Il sfaccim"
HFS - "il sfacim" is nasty Italian meaning ~ the jism or the cumstain.

I wonder if Cuomo ever got that?
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Stu, I used to listen to Grant when I traveled to NY (usually once a week), and that habit introduced me to a guy named Rush Limbaugh who came on just before him. On a good day I could listen to (WABC?) all the way to Delaware (or even to my office in Bel Air, MD) on the way home. Both were gateway shows that developed my conservative mindset. (By the bye- that first Limbaugh show was when he had just returned home after his father died.)

Anonymous said...

Tailgunner, it doesn't necessarily mean that literally. It's come to mean "a nobody", a worthless person.

Moo-lin-yan Nabo-li-don

Stu Tarlowe said...

I was listening the morning when Rush made his first appearance on WABC-NY (or was it WMCA?); he took Bob Grant's place. My folks were living in NJ and I was at their house and we were all getting ready for Bob Grant to come on -- we were all fans --Northern NJ was "Wall-to-Wall Bob Grant Country"! -- and here comes this guy with a weird name, and we all looked at one another, and we knew this guy was something very different and very special.

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