NOTE: Sources at the bottom.
Marxism and scientific socialism can be defined by its most vital cornerstone: History. All of history is class struggle, and to study Marx in the abstract without an informed understanding of history is to develop an inconclusive and idealistic understanding of the world and class struggle.
The liberal doctrine informs us that events happen in vacuums, and narratives are enclosed among millions of individuals acting independently, completely unaffected by their environment.
You have all probably seen Umberto Eco’s 14 points of fascism, what is called Ur-Fascism. This is often used by liberal apologists to paint working class people as the scapegoats of fascism.
I want to discuss this a little bit, and its many falsehoods. It offers simple answers to complex questions, and permits the upper classes, who were benefactors of both liberalism and fascism, to wash their hands clean of the affair.
The first point for instance was the cult of traditionalism. A paradoxical notion. If fascism is traditionalist, then why was is it analysed contemporarily?
The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
In fact, fascism frequently shuns even bourgeois tradition. It conflates nobility with aristocracy in spite of how these classes have had some of the most famous civil conflicts in history, including both the English civil war and the American revolutionary war. As well as likely a dozen wars of independence in the former colonies. For instance Brazil’s independence wasn’t exactly a tale of the indigenous underdogs taking on the business interests of Big Portugal™.
Religious tradition in Germany is defined by Lutheranism, the most rebellious and populist religious movement of the middle ages. Being a Lutheran during its hayday was akin to being a Bolshevik in the 1920s, it was hardly the stuff of fascism.
Lutheranism then in turn inspired abolitionism and republicanism, as more and more people were encouraged to develop literacy and question monarchist and Jesuit doctrines.
Germany brought us some of the most radical philosophers on every side of the spectrum, from Karl Marx and his communism, to Max Stirner, a noted liberal sociologist and disgraced milk merchant.
Similarly in Italy, the nation of invention, physiology, science, art and renaissance. Where scholars and intellectuals would publicly confront a theocratic government that sought to silence inquiry and science.
These places have traditions of peasant rebellions, martyred saints, reason, inquiry, science and culture, where precisely in this narrative are all the monocle wearing weirdoes in zeppelins?
I think you’ll find they exist in the fictions of liberals. Liberals aren’t very pleased about the idea that workers can define themselves in history, that history provides examples of who exactly are the good guys and who exactly are the bad guys. It’s kind of hard to suggest that rich people are a positive and necessary thing in society when we got entire libraries stocked with empirical evidence to the contrary.
(Also most of European tradition has been typified by lots and lots of people being very gay, just saying. In fact, one of our finest traditions is to have thriving gay culture especially in times of repressive homophobia. European tradition is, in many ways, marked by an age old struggle for our inaliable right to be gay.)
The monarchy, the militarism, the police and state violence, from inquisitions to holy wars, did not exist as tradition in Europe, it existed as reaction to tradition. When peasants celebrated women and matriarchs as equals, and put them into roles as medicine women and sages, this was tradition. The witch burnings and gender roles was the reaction to tradition.
What fascists do is take this reaction, and redefine it as tradition, and say this is innate to humanity.
And what do liberals do? They say “Yes, you’re right, fascism does indeed embody the cultural and anthropological intuition of hundreds of generations of humans, and there’s clearly no problem with giving them that particular high ground. Human nature is fascism, but also try to to like, uhm, not do it I guess?”
Well done, permit me to applaud there Umberto, good on you. Another notch on Umberto’s scoring board everyone, our boy’s done it again.
Second point is rejection of modernism. This one I actually agree with, almost. Umberto then goes on to say that as such, fascism becomes an inverse: Irrationalism.
The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
And that’s where it gets wrong. What is rational to the lion is ghastly to the gazelle, and what is rational to the landlord is tyranny for the tenant. A cobra is being perfectly rational when it bites you in the leg, but when your grandmother does it then maybe it’s time to put her on the pills.
However liberalism, and philosophical liberalism, gets a little bit squeamish around metaphysical morality, especially poststructuralists. They like to define human behaviour in a kind of sterile vacuum, void of any moral consideration. In which they employ the crutch of eugenics to explain away immoral behavior as mental illness or some sort of learning failure.
This kind of reactionary rationalism has especially been used during settler-colonialism, in which Indians (both kinds mind you) were dismissed as irrational because they weren’t huge fans of what the British presented to them as civilisation.
Or what us civilised people would call unpaid labour, but I’ve already written that article, so moving on.
Point is: Irrationalism was a good enough justification to kill the Indians (again, both kinds), so the liberals figure it’ll work for justifying taking on the fascists as well.
Problem is that this kind of rationalism, the John Stuart Mill bullshit rationalism, is based on the idea that anyone who doesn’t ascribe to your own cultural biases must be absolutely mental, so you can use it to kill basically anyone you don’t like. In fact, the fascists themselves relied on this reasoning too in their own take on “critical race theory.”
Now classical rationalism on the other hand is a bit more interesting. It uses often dialectical analysis and a sort of logical forensics to examine the world and the nature of things around it. Classical rationalism is far from a flawless mode of analysis, but it is at the very least not so blatantly self serving and patronising. A lot of those Greeks were genuinely interested in the nature of inquiry.
Nay, the tradition of inquiry. That they started.
Even the reactionary Greeks, like Plato or Aristotle, made some sort of effort to present an argument to its opponents beyond “We’re smart and they’re stupid.”
Seriously Umberto, get your shit together. I’ve written shopping lists with more content.
Fascism is rather the earliest roots of postmodernism. It is not the outright rejection of reason, so much as it is to embrace the relativism of reason. Hitler especially was known for this with his Lugenpresse rhetoric.
That the rabid muscovite Jews who snuck around in the shadows had their truth, and the good and civilised Aryan master race had their truth, and that in the end, since there’s no telling which is actually true, you may as well decide that might makes right and just kill your way to the truth.
I don’t want to nitpick at all 14 points so I won’t do them all since some are more annoying than others, and some are fair enough.
But number 10 gets me. Because that one has become a particular bludgeon against workers. Fascism is apparently obsessed with a contempt for the weak. Which totally explains why they all love monarchism so much, after all who can forget the athletic geniuses that typifies the royal families of Europe?
10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
Truth is that this point is always very annoying to me personally, for many decades I have struggled with multiple disabilities, and I have felt weak. You know who had a big contempt for the weak? I did. I had contempt for myself and also the woke sad cases who told me that all I had was self-acceptance.
(Turns out there was something beyond self acceptance and it was called self improvement. Thusly, in the present day, I kick all manner of ass in numerous conventions.)
I hated being powerless and helpless, childhood for me especially was a nightmare, I felt as if I didn’t understand anything because of my cognitive disorder, and everyone saw me as special needs so nobody bothered to challenge me.
It took me almost 3 decades to become functionally literate, and that’s not an uncommon story. Workers have to be strong in order to survive, and they can dismiss that as toxic masculinity or whatever, even if it’s twice as true for working class women, but truth of the matter is: We are strong, and to have liberals try to trick us into believing we are pathetic and helpless subjects is a plot against democracy.
Once again we see the liberals make concessions. Fascists say “Oh hey these people are subhuman scum.” and the liberals say “Yes, but what’s wrong with that?”
WE’RE NOT SUBHUMAN SCUM, QUIT ACCEPTING THE PREMISE!
This is just as false, I have no interest in being a pawn for some liberal feel good narrative about humble invalids and sanctimonious heroics. The truth is that the Red Army showed the world who was truly strong, and it was the workers. Liberals don’t like us knowing that.
The Soviet Union showed us that a republic founded by bank robbers, convicts, peasants and workers, was a far higher stage of civilisation than anything fantasised by a king or a parliamentarian.
Truth is, elitism is a protection of weakness. It permits a ruling class who is sheltered from many opportunities of growth through hard work and learning, to maintain their status as superiors. Elitism is a contempt for the strong, as per Hegel’s master-slave dialectic. The master is the weak one, not the slave.
Then you have stuff like point 12 which bothers me too, because it once again conflates class characteristics by these vague notions. It is typified by “Machismo and weaponry.”
12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
Yes, I concede that when some sheltered middle class brownshirt learns how to scrap in order to prove himself, that’s probably machismo. But when a working class person, such as myself for that matter does it, then maybe it’s because I work evenings and have to go through a part of town with a lot of bikers and football hooligans?
Admittedly fighting can be a lot of fun provided you know where the line is drawn and nobody gets properly hurt, but I know plenty of working class women who enjoy a good scrap as well. It gets the blood flowing and gives you some excitement, nothing wrong with that as long as you’re being sporting about it.
But in the ivory towers of liberal academia, all violence is apparently some giant misogynist conspiracy.
I however think the real reason they’re trying to stigmatise fighting is because nerds famously suck at it. Only reason they’re considered good intellectuals is because they segregate universities, once we take over their libraries they’ll stigmatise reading books as well.
And don’t get me wrong, misogyny is very real, and I have several women in my family who have suffered some unimaginable abuses and violence in this regard.
But you know what they all tend to do? Work out and practice martial arts. They learn how to fight. Being subjected to such horrible things kind of motivates that, and I doubt machismo is the reason for it.
I mean… I suppose it is the reason for it, but only as a catalyst. The direct reason would be anti-machismo I suppose, or physical safety if you live on planet Earth.
In fact, I was brought up with a lot of these liberal notions on violence from school especially. And it was women in my life who taught me to see things differently, which is very good because I would’ve likely died otherwise.
Also point 14, which is the funniest one to me, because it’s very revealing. It exponentiates that fascism is characterised by a hegemonic ideotextualism which will then exacerbate monopathic retention capabilities within its receptive mediators.
Or in plain English: That the language of fascism has an impoverished vocabulary. Apparently by writing out that bizarre sentence just now, I’m delivering a right hook straight at Hitler’s remaining bollock.
I would argue the opposite is true, because fascism generally uses obfuscating language. That ever since the dawn of time, the ruling classes try to develop two levels of literacy: Common and advanced. That academia is codified in language such as the aforementioned in an effort to keep the public from being able to learn things.
I know all about academic language, and I could easily write a whole article in it. Hell I could probably throw in a paragraph in Latin and get really old school with it. I could be all like de veritas de liberale universalism est, verum de gladio et imperium. Bellum cum veritas unum is, et libertas, et pax est falsum, status quo liberale prosperi.
Now I didn’t say it was good Latin, I pick things up from my prayers, I am what you call a credo in unum deum fan, but regardless I think I made my point. It’s not magic. Anyone can do it, provided you’re either a historical Roman or a little bit odd.
However I elect not to behave this way since it makes me sound like a wanker. Or, if I lived in Roman times, a recently arrived immigrant.
From the pope printing the bible in Latin, to the Roman emperor Constantine printing it in Greek, fascism, just like all bourgeois ideologies, is defined by its own scholarly language, intentionally clouding knowledge from the common classes.
They say it’s to be specific, but specific language and academic language are very different things. For instance, what is critical theory? Tell me how that phrase is specific, how that exists for accuracy’s sake. Because last I checked, it appears to be a six dimensional nebula crammed with the fevered self-reflections of a decaying empire.
And that’s because the answer is simple: It’s a school of thought intended to obfuscate social consciousness. To make it into something weird without any clear answers.
To avoid simple realities such as how, for instance, when the first French republic was founded, it was former slaves — working class people — who became the intellectual backbone of abolition, they didn’t need some fop in a powdered wig from the university of Lyon to explain that slavery was bad. It’s a way to set up a hierarchy in which a privileged intelligentsia can grift their way into workers’ movements and poison them from within.
Because, as I mentioned: Once we take over the libraries, they’ll start stigmatising reading books as well. Which is why they invented entire fields of study dedicated to the obfuscation and censorship of Marxist theory. Because Marxists, from Lenin to Castro, have a long tradition of helping workers become literate. So the synthetic left exists as to destroy this working class literacy.
They also employ psychological quackery to explain the contradictions of society. How, supposedly, fascism was not a political issue, nor an ideological one, it was not produced by the shared interests of a ruling class witnessing a collapsing market. It was not produced by a desire to safeguard power in the face of decline, rather, it was a medical issue, a pandemic.
Not a pandemic of biology, of viruses and vectors, of germs and cultivation, but one of psychopathy. Psychopathy was apparently spreading like the common flu, infecting everyone.
Supposedly symptoms included everything from imperial nostalgia, to toxic masculinity, to some sort of inherent vice buried within the human soul. Supposedly symptoms included populism, and demagoguery, and the dangers of letting common people assemble in public.
Apparently the bloody and paramilitary coup that brought fascism to power in Germany was the product of elections, and the dangers of letting working class people have a say.
A say from where I wonder? From the labour camps? From the boarded up trade unionist buildings? From the prisons and the ghettos?
It must be a strange kind of populism indeed, where this unfettered will of the people needed to be carefully controlled and spurned along with bayonets and barbed wire.
It must be a strange kind of populism that demanded censorship, mandatory propaganda viewings, school syllabuses and controlled newspapers.
A populism in which, by a mystery unbeknownst to the Marxist historian, the average citizen is a shareholder in the coal and steel industry. Where the average citizen can pledge millions of lire to Mussolini's march on Rome.
A populism that lowers wages, prolongs hours, and ups rent. A populism of the stripe suit everyman, who trades acres and assembles press conferences. A populism of the salt of the earth, who, at the height of the great depression, drove through the streets of Berlin in a personal automobile as a fascist party organiser.
An inscrutable populism in which Goebbels said unremarkable and pedestrian things that resonated with the everyman, about how Germany desires a thousand year war, how each soldier should be honoured to die cold and alone. The wistful dream of many young schoolboys assuredly.
This is the mythological populism of liberal history, a contradictory and bizarre tale in which the Nazis were celebrated reformers who promised everything to the feckless workers who, liked trained animals, followed them in lockstep.
A history without partisans, a history without mass desertions, a history without suicide epidemics, a history in which even within the bowels of the Gestapo police state, some 80,000 people died defying the fascists. A history without an overwhelmed citizenry coping with a situation that, at the time, was unprecedented.
Liberalism tries to sell people on the idea that life under fascism for its Aryan benefactors was an idyllic life of suburban dreams. Perhaps this is true for the military officers, but life for the average German was one of economic destitution, demanding labour, police surveillance, drug epidemics and an ever-growing military industrial complex that robbed every household of able bodied men, and eventually children as the Red Army came closer and closer to Berlin.
The fascists had a labour pool that was fueled by state issued amphetamines, they had a citizenry kept in check by police terror, they had to carry out every possible measure to maintain a volatile order, and the reason why was simple:
Oil and water don’t mix. A nation of workers will always contradict a government of fascists.
Following the war, the surviving veterans of the Wehrmacht were beset by rampant alcoholism and depression, faced with the contradictions of their existence. When a worker fights for the wealthy, it either ruins their body, or it ruins their soul.
In the East, these men sought redemption by participating in the reconstruction and reparations of their new republic. In the West, they fell into denial. Throwing every rationalisation they could at the public, from blaming other government departments, to saying they were just following orders.
When fascists say they were only following orders, I believe them. It’s a terrible defense, but I think it works as an explanation. It’s not a very satisfying explanation, some people in fact might find it a bit unsettling.
We often want some kind of purpose behind these things, whether it’s “God works in mysterious ways” to “The human psyche works in mysterious ways.” It comforts us to have that kind of distance, to imagine that the people from the dark chapters of history are different from us, that we are exempt from whatever forces that influenced their times and environment.
I hate to say it, but that is a very dangerous immodesty. We are only as exempt from these forces as we make ourselves to be.
Because truth is, the resistance against fascism often came from people who had made up their minds long before the jackboots marched in Rome. Who were radicalised, organised, and prepared to die for the common good. It wasn’t simply people who saw a holocaust documentary and belted out in some knee jerk reaction “How could they do that?”
If you don’t know, then you won’t be able to anticipate it.
I think “We were only following orders.” is a statement of resignation in this sense. People who let their options run out, until they only had two left: Orders, or firing squad.
I ponder about this, because I do not ever want to be at the same crossroads. I’d find it acutely embarrassing to get killed by a firing squad in such a manner. I’d rather face them after some kind of worthwhile achievement, like James Connolly.
But these are people who went along with things, who perhaps waited for someone else to resolve matters, who never saw it as their responsibility to step in and do something.
I do not believe in the psychopath epidemic, I do not believe in the ur-fascist mythology, that in every man rests a monster. But I do believe that we have many weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and that little by little, we can become something unsightly.
And this reality I believe puts the liberal academic into the shoes of the Wehrmacht veteran. It’s the goodie two shoes who become the most culpable. The people who listen to rules, who don’t want to make a fuss, who don’t ask too many questions. Who are afraid to risk themselves. Who find it comforting to imagine that there is this self-correcting system hovering over their heads, and that the big problems of the world is not their concern.
I think the danger of fascism is not that it preys upon people who are a bit too strange, but rather at its remarkable capacity to prey at people who are a bit too ordinary.
So that’s why men who were poking their MP40s at the backs of prisoners at the train stations in Holland can, in the 1990s on grainy interview footage say “Oh well we weren’t in charge of deportations, that was the department of labour.” And yet, the same interviews at Yad Vashem seems to pay more mind to the man jabbing at people with his gun, than that of some anonymous office clerk in Buchenwald.
The clerk can shrug and say “Oh well I wasn’t some military functionary.” and the soldier can shrug and say “Oh well I wasn’t some concentration camp clerk.”
And it is thanks to this deference of responsibility, this institutional reasoning in which one can cite some technicality of liability, that permits human beings their inhumanity. It’s not some convenient narrative of good and evil, it is rather the resignation at good and evil.
The Wehrmacht soldier in the end, is not fighting for his identity, but rather for the lack of his identity. As the uniform, the insignia, the gun and the orders, makes him completely anonymous to himself. He is the German state, he his his commanding officer, he his is uniform, he is anything except for himself.
I remember reading one account of a concentration camp executioner, who would shoot women and children, and they asked him how he could possibly do such a thing. His answer revealed this. He said that he knew he could not control the situation, that he understood he was part of something very cruel, and that his only say on the matter was to deliver a painless death. That when he shot the child, he spared this child the grief of how he shot the child’s mother.
Obviously it sounds like the ramblings of a madman, but it reveals this anonymity. How he had become so small in his uniform, that he had managed to convince himself of that his hands, his legs, his rifle, and his fingers, were no longer attached to him, but rather to the state.
That he could not ask “Why would I shoot these people?”, “Why not shoot my commander?”, “Why not try to rescue them?”, instead, in his mind, as a trained military combatant, on top of that in a situation in which his gunfire would’ve been dismissed as the sound of him doing his duty, in which his uniform could’ve afforded him quick passage with a bold lie, he believed his sole moral agency was to make sure he aimed as straight as possible.
But I find it interesting how even on this level, even among concentration camp executioners, this contradiction remains. How a worker can never truly be a fascist, at most they can resign themselves into being nothing. How a Wehrmacht soldier is not some aristocratically minded fanatic, but rather an empty vessel. How they are not full of fascist ideas, but rather void of proletarian resistance. This is very contrary to the answers liberal academia puts forward.
It was illegal for fascists to write frontline memoirs, you were not allowed to keep a diary. I am not sure if this was for security reasons, or if it was for propaganda reasons, in all likelihood it was both.
You wouldn’t want the Red Army finding frontline journals full of detailed descriptions of enemy formations and movements, and you wouldn’t want word getting around about the terrible atrocities and military defeats at the eastern front, and so on.
But I read a very interesting memoir called Blood Red Snow, which is a secret journal from a young recruit at Stalingrad, that is entirely contemporary.
Very little of the book is about the glories of the third Reich, or the Aryan master race. In fact, a lot of the time it is very formal, and very situational. It is an anonymous work. It speaks a little bit about the military traditions of the regiment, how they used to be a cavalry formation, and how they still used cavalry ranks rather than military ranks. But very little was about the red hordes or the international Jewish conspiracy.
I think this demonstrates something very interesting as a case study. There is of course a deep moral argument here. Can someone who fought for the fascists actually redeem themselves in a moral sense? This article will be long enough without going into a question that I doubt anyone can provide a satisfying answer to. Rather, what I find interesting is what happened in the East.
Because I think it raises another question, can these people change for the better? Even if something is unforgivable, can they exist in some sense to serve the people? To alter the course of their lives? This is a more practical question, and it turns out that many were eager to do just that. Communism in East Germany was welcomed, as the sun rising over the ruins.
People who were forced into fascism now volunteered for communism. While Hitler made them ruin cities at the point of a gun, Stalin asked them to build cities at the point of a finger. And the answer from the workers was a resounding “Yes!”
Immediately following the liberation efforts of Berlin, reparations and reconstruction bloomed throughout the young republic. The people assembled a vibrant multi-party political system, and were put to work with a newfound spirit. It turns out that that they weren’t ur-fascists, that they weren’t these civilised facades with the heart of monsters, rather the contrary, hidden within history’s monsters was the hearts of workers, eager to build and create things once again.
The moral debate about fascists is not whether or not these men wanted to redeem themselves, but rather about if they successfully did so. That’s for God to decide.
But the desire for East Germany’s working class to set things right is undebatable. All they needed was the opportunity, an opportunity given to them by their fellow workers in the Soviet Union, under the wise and tempered guidance of Josef Stalin. Who, just as his namesake, was the father of redemption. Who shone a light on a ruinous path, towards a new horizon.
A horizon of space travel, a horizon of hospitals and universities. A horizon of solidarity, pluralism, culture and art. A horizon of city builders.
Because fascism is not a thing of workers, of people who are defined by the world they create. Who walk in the footsteps of Christ in their proliferation of life, society and beauty, who trudge in the shadows of war, and who march in the sunlight of liberation. Rather, fascism is a thing of ruins, of decadence and exploitation, of laziness and greed, who would rather plunder than build, who would rather own than cultivate, who would rather profit than labour.
When a liberal calls you an ur-fascist, when they claim they are the mediator which separates you from your inner and true self, then remember Stalin, remember the Red Army, remember the Democratic Republic of Germany, and remember your historical legacy as a worker, and remember to tell them to stuff it.
Socialist Swann (On Youtube, teaches people about the history of East Germany) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCitdSK4Gta0tjqr0bSxaFlA
Parenti, Blackshirts and Reds
Finks: How the CIA tricked the world’s best writers
Ur-Fascism, Umberto Eco
Blitzed: Drugs in the third reich, Norman Ohler
Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front
(A few German accounts were from old interviews I can’t recall, but Blood Red Snow has similar accounts that verify the general points made.)