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The BBC helps us understand fascism

October 21st, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

While the Have Your Say section of the BBC website can be even more of a lightning rod for the foamy-mouthed opinions than most bulletin boards, today’s article on, and discussion of, the meaning of fascisbenito-mussolinim is an outstanding exception.

The article is fairly well informed and interesting, while the commentators (of which yours truly is currently no. 6 – “Tom, London”) have been particularly well informed, measured and interesting. The last time I checked, nobody was ranting about the BNP (topical but, in this context, only tangentially relevant) and nobody had started calling anybody else names. And, in a truly shocking turn of events, Godwin’s law has hardly applied at all!

Having had my say on the general meaning of “Fascism”, I thought I would let Ludwig von Mises deal with the specific meaning: the Italian context. In the 1947 Epilogue to his seminal 1922 work Socialism, he wrote:

The programme of the Fascists, as drafted in 1919, was vehemently anti-capitalistic… When the Fascists came to power, they had forgotten those points of their programme which referred to the liberty of thought and the press and the right of assembly. In this respect they were conscientious disciples of Bukharin and Lenin…

Fascist economic policy did not—at the beginning—essentially differ from those of all other Western nations. It was a policy of interventionism. As the years went on, it more and more approached the Nazi pattern of socialism. When Italy, after the defeat of France, entered the second World War, its economy was by and large already shaped according to the Nazi pattern. The main difference was that the Fascists were less efficient and even more corrupt than the Nazis….

Fascism was not, as its advocates boasted, an original product of the Italian mind. It began with a split in the ranks of Marxian socialism, which certainly was an imported doctrine. Its economic programme was borrowed from German non-Marxian socialism and its aggressiveness was likewise copied from Germans, the All-deutsche or Pan-German forerunners of the Nazis. Its conduct of government affairs was a replica of Lenin’s dictatorship. Corporativism, its much advertised ideological adornment, was of British origin. The only home-grown ingredient of Fascism was the theatrical style of its processions, shows and festivals…

It may happen that Fascism will be resurrected under a new label and with new slogans and symbols. But if this happens, the consequences will be detrimental. For Fascism is not as the Fascists trumpeted a “new way to life,” it is a rather old way towards destruction and death.

One Response to “The BBC helps us understand fascism”

  1. Nick Griffin’s verdict on Chris Huhne Says:

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