Friday, September 02, 2011

Fascism, Communism and the TEA Party

I have written before about how Fascism as practiced in Germany, Spain and Italy, far more closely resembles left-wing political philosophies than it does the modern American conservatives. That StoneHeads post of mine back in 2010 was prompted by an interesting post from Professor Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy. Now Bill Flax, over at, has written a powerful article making the same argument.

Flax looks at the policies proposed and executed by both Communists and Fascists and observes,
In Argentina, everyone acknowledges that fascism, state capitalism, corporatism – whatever – reflects very leftwing ideology. Eva Peron remains a liberal icon. President Obama’s Fabian policies (Keynesian economics) promise similar ends. His proposed infrastructure bank is just the latest gyration of corporatism. Why then are fascists consistently portrayed as conservatives?

In the Thirties, intellectuals smitten by progressivism considered limited, constitutional governance anachronistic. The Great Depression had apparently proven capitalism defunct. The remaining choice had narrowed between communism and fascism. Hitler was about an inch to the right of Stalin. Western intellectuals infatuated with Marxism thus associated fascism with the Right.

This is very true. Fascism and Marxist Communism both feature very powerful national governments, a Leader class that lives quite differently from the masses, a State-run command economy and government-sponsored winners and losers. The differences were that while Communism focused more on class, the German Nazis focused more on race. However, the Fascist nations also were not friendly to the entrepreneurs and powerful industrialists, though not quite to the same degree as the Communists.

And the Communists and fascists, despite their enmity during the Spanish Civil War, were quite willing to work closely together. The USSR provided Nazi Germany much-needed training facilities during the 1930s for Hitler's slowly growing war machine and World War II could not have happened without the 1939 Non-Aggressions Pact between Hitler and Stalin. In addition, the many dupes and paid tools of the Communists in the United States and Western Europe created a large, vocal presence urging the West not to interfere in Hitler's military adventures and which, following the attack on Poland, was equally vigorous in urging the United States to allow Britain and France to fall. This movement utterly vanished on June 22, 1941, of course.

American conservatives, on the other hand, argue for a small government and accountability for the many government functionaries. They don't like heavy taxes, they don't like many government programs and they prefer to be left alone to do their own thing. This is the impulse that led to the TEA Party movement. American conservatives also are opposed to social engineering as a rule - something that both communists and Fascists truly love to engage in. And they like to own weapons o a hobby that both Communists and Fascists dislike since it makes totalitarian rule much more difficult. On a policy level, the TEA Party argues for a more decentralized form a of government where the majority of decision-making happens on a local level. This too is anathema to both the American Left and to the communists and fascists, who all prefer a much stronger central presence. Above all, TEA Party members argue for individuality and the freedom to make their own decisions, something that Marxists and Fascists alike despise.

Flax also points out that fascism, like communism and the modern American left, despises religion. The TEA Party on the other hand argues religion should have a central place in American life, although I have y7et to encounter a TEA Party member who thinks that government should dictate how and what people should worship. And like the modern American left, both communists and fascists hate private schooling. The indoctrination for both fascists and communists is based on having a school system that no one can escape. TEA Party members - like conservatives - argue that families ought to have choices.

Property rights are another area where TEA Partiers part company with the fascists. The Nazis and all other fascists were terrible on property rights, believing that the government should be the owner, not people. They ruthlessly appropriated property without compensating the owners. Peron in Argentina did as well. Communists too are in agreement with this theory. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is now taking private property, as Castro did before him in Cuba. And the American Left loves the Kelo decision that eviscerated property rights. TEA Partiers on the other hand, were outraged.

Keynsian economic theory, which has been eagerly adopted by every left-wing politician in America since Woodrow Wilson, also is more closely aligned with the fascist model than with anything suggested by the TEA Party. As Flax writes,
Mussolini recognized, “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics.” Keynes saw the similarities too, admitting his theories, “can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than . . . a large degree of laissez-faire.” Hitler built the autobahn, FDR the TVA. Propaganda notwithstanding, neither rejuvenated their economies.

It seems to me that Flax, Somin and others pretty much have it right. I don't see too many parallels between American conservatives and the Nazis or any other fascists. But I do see a lot of parallels between the communist ideas espoused by the modern American Left and the fascist ideology. As Flax sums up his article by writing,
Even using Republicans as proxies, there was little remotely conservative about fascism. Hitler and Mussolini were probably to the right of our left-leaning media and education establishments, but labeling Tea Partiers as fascists doesn’t indict the Right. It indicts those declaring so as radically Left.

If only our history books and our media were honest enough to admit it, maybe the tired and vile claims that conservatives are somehow equivalent to the German Nazis could finally be laid to rest. But of course, by admitting it, the Left would be admitting who are the real heirs of that horrific philosophy. And that, they can never do.

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