What is Fascism?

I’m so tired of defending my understanding of social democracy. The way many people tell it, all forms of socialism are bad, citing the U.S.S.R., China and Cuba as examples; they’re all somehow inherently totalitarian oligarchies.

However, if we follow this logic, how are we to view the United States? The U.S. is supposed to be a “representative democratic republic,” not a corporate oligarchy (fascist plutocracy). This is what it has become nevertheless, and it has become one of the biggest bullies in history. The U.S. is an imperialist corporate oligarchy, well on it’s way to becoming totalitarian in it’s own right. I understand it hasn’t reached that point yet; it hasn’t begun to wage war against its own citizens in earnest, although it has been very aggressive abroad–whether or not it was necessary for any reason other than profit.

It is also clear that the U.S. was never really democratic, at least not for everyone. It was always an imperialist bully.

Shall we conclude that all democratic republics are inherently imperialist corporate oligarchies just because the U.S. is? Keep in mind that the Soviet Union and China count as democratic republics, because socialism is a form of democracy. They are obviously not corporate oligarchies although they are totalitarian (or were, in the case of the U.S.S.R.). No form of democracy is inherently totalitarian. If anyone wants to contest that and say that fascism is democratic too, they should know that no form of government where only a few hundred people or so have most of the power is democratic–far from it.

It is absurd to say the Soviet Union was fascist because there was nothing at all “corporate” about their system. “Totalitarian” is the correct word. Those who wish to change the definition of fascism should say so before they declare that certain totalitarian regimes, ones founded on socialist principles, were fascist; otherwise a social democrat will ask them what the hell they are talking about.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Fascist Crony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. is showing signs of becoming totalitarian; Ronald Reagan opened the way for corporate fat cats to take over and they have done a fine job of it. It was quite easy to subvert the democratic process once those pesky regulations were lifted, too, because U.S. citizens had been primed for it early. Just ask all the people who were oppressed over here from the very beginning; as far as the United States government was (and many of its citizens were) concerned, some of those people were spoils of war; now just about everyone other than our true leaders can be called a “commodity.” Yet, this does not mean it is becoming socialist, any more than a socialist regime becomes capitalist when it moves into totalitarianism.

Most people who insist that socialism is synonymous with fascism will often be adamant that capitalism is synonymous with democracy, which simply isn’t true. Democracy doesn’t have to be capitalist, socialist, communist, direct, representative, corporatist, or totalitarian. It can be any of these except corporate or totalitarian.

This is a special case, now. Corporatism is not necessarily totalitarian, but it isn’t democratic either. Even if a corporate state does not reach the excesses of World War II Italy, it tends to make life difficult for hard-working people and people who want to work. And they thrive on turning those people against each other. This is close enough to totalitarianism to make it a threat to democracy.

Let’s examine the definition of fascism a little closer, just to be clear. Wikipedia has this to say:

Hostile to liberal democracy, socialism, and communism, fascist movements share certain common features, including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism and militarism.

Totalitarianism is an extreme form of nationalism (i.e., Nazi Germany), and fascism is a form of totalitarianism that caters to the will of large corporations (i.e., their allies in Italy). It is “hostile” to socialism and communism–hostile to working people. And it is hostile to democracy as a whole (although it isn’t the only system like this).

This is not the only source for the definition. Merriam-Webster’s does make it sound like nationalism in general, but I would still argue the point and say it is just one kind of nationalism. Of course, for one of the examples of fascism, it quotes Anne Applebaum from the New York Review of Books who says:

On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution (25 Oct. 2007). (Fascism, Merriam-Webster.com)

Clearly indicating how they were both totalitarian and yet completely different in almost every other way.

Another source is the leader of WWII Italy himself, Mussolini. [Edit] This quote of him saying that fascism is a melding of corporate interests with the state has been disputed. However, he has said:

The Socialists ask what is our program? Our program is to smash the heads of the Socialists. (Benito Mussolini, Wikiquotes)

Something that is hostile to socialism is obviously not socialism. And socialism is a long way from being “corporate.”

Socialism isn’t the enemy. It isn’t inherently totalitarian. A system founded on democratic principles only becomes totalitarian when the people in charge have too much power and will do anything to keep it.

The enemy of the people of the United States, and much of the world today, is corporate, obsessed with profit and ownership. That is fascism. It is unequal, unfair, and very, very undemocratic.

Saying “life isn’t fair” is also just an excuse to abdicate responsibility to the human family. Nature is indifferent, seemingly cruel, but humankind is capable of fairness, and this is all the more reason to be as fair as possible in all of our interactions.

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