No other word causes so much misunderstanding, confusion, and heated debate in politics than fascism. The term has been applied to many individuals such as McCarthy, Hoover, and others. It is frequently used to describe government policies and government themselves, often incorrectly. What then is fascism exactly? Webster's Dictionary defines it as: "A government system marked by a centralized dictatorship, stringent socioeconomic controls and belligerent nationalism." But the author takes exception with that definition. At best, the definition is vague and abstract. Nor does the definition seem capable of taking into all forms of fascism.
There is a resurgent, widespread attempt by the far right to label fascism as a form of socialism. Fredrick von Hayek was the first to attempt labeling the Nazis as socialists in his book The Road to Serfdom published in 1944.70 The hard right quickly adopted it, as it allowed the hard right to escape the charges that they had much in common with the Nazis.2 Such endeavors are not only silly, but dishonest as well and represent an attempt by the far right to distance themselves for their earlier support of Hitler.
Hayek's book is based on two erroneous assumptions from the very beginning. He first assumes that fascism and communism are one and the same, as they are both totalitarian systems. This makes about as much sense as calling a maple tree a pine tree because both are trees. His second erroneous assumption lays in his belief that only socialism or liberalism leads to totalitarian systems. In fact, all political systems can lead to totalitarian systems and all political systems are inherently unstable, as is any system created by man.
From there, Hayek takes severe liberties with history. For instance, he goes on to claim that by deliberate policy the United States by allowed the growth of cartels and syndicates after 1878.71 Indeed this date and time period is significant, but not for a move towards socialism or liberalism. Rather, it's the opposite a move towards fascism and corporate rule. Even a reader with a rudimentary knowledge of American history would recognize this time frame as the beginning of the robber baron era and laissez faire economics, precisely the type of economic policy Hayek holds in utmost esteem.
Hayek offers little proof to support his conclusions; in fact the book is devoid of any proof or even examples to support his findings. The book degenerates into an argument based upon unsubstantiated assertion. He argues against the nation state and proposes a supernational authority or world federation made up of the financial elite. In essence, Hayek proposes a world made up of sovereign corporations accountable to no one. Not only did Hayek take severe liberties with American history, he ignored the very nature of fascism in Germany and Italy.
In various speeches made shortly after the March on Rome, Mussolini stated, "We must take from state authority those functions for which it is incompetent and which it performs badly... I believe the state should renounce its economic functions, especially those carried out through monopolies, because the state is incompetent in such matters... We must put an end to state railways, state postal service and state insurance." The state returned large monopolies to the private sector after returning them to profitability such as the Consortium of Match Manufactures, privatized the insurance system in 1923, the telephone system in 1925, and many of the public works.
In Germany the Nazis announced they would end nationalization of private industries when they seized power. In 1932, Hitler returned control of the Gelsenkirhen company to private hands and in 1936 returned the stock of "United Steel" to private hands. Throughout 1933-1936, the Nazi returned to private hands the control of several banks: Dresdner, Danat, Commerz and Privatbank, the Deutsche Bank, and several others. In 1936, the steamship company Deutcher Schiff and Maschinenbau was returned to the private sector. In 1934, Dr. Schacht, the Nazi Minister of Economy, gave instructions to hasten the privatization of municipal enterprises. These enterprises were especially coveted by the rich industrialists, as they had been prosperous even during the depression.
Both in fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the tax system was changed to one favoring business and the wealthy. The Nazis allowed industries to deduct from their taxable income all sums used to purchase new equipment. Rich families employing a maid were allowed to count the maid as a dependent child and reap the tax benefit. In Italy, the Minister of Finance stated: "We have broken with the practice of persecuting capital."73
Such programs, catering to big business and the rich elite, are more akin to the policies of the Reagan Administration than it is to any liberal administration including FDR's. Likewise, it was the rich industrialists that were behind the fascist movement in the United States during the 1930s. Thus it is no surprise that the right wing attempts to try and label fascism as socialism in trying to distance themselves from their previous support of fascism.
Perhaps the only redeeming feature in Hayek's book is his acknowledgement of environmental problems.72 Indeed this is significant, considering the book was first published in the 1940s, long before the birth of the environmental movement. Hayek readily acknowledges the problem of industrial pollution and the harmful effects of deforestation, yet he stops short of any meaningful solution. Instead of offering a viable solution Hayek condemns government regulation and would allow market forces to provide the solution. However, it was these same market forces that produced the problem. We have plenty of proof of such a fool hearty approach both here and globally. As late as the 1970s rivers caught fire in the United States, cities were smog stricken and harmful pollutants were damaging the environment world wide. Today we face the problems of global warming and ozone depletion, and the problem of environmental estrogens, which has the potential of being even more threatening than both global warming and ozone depletion.
But perhaps the most damning of all evidence that Hayek was dead wrong comes from the implementation of an economic system based on his beliefs. Hayek later taught at the University of Chicago, the same university that trained the "Boys from Chicago" who were the economic brains behind the fascist regime of Pinochet in Chile. There is no question in the matter that under Pinochet, Chile was indeed fascist. More alarming, Hayek is an idol to several top-level officials in the George W. Bush administration. They are dangerous close to imposing a fascist style economy on the United States.
In order to dispel the myth of the Nazis being socialists we need to first define socialism. Socialism is rigidly defined as an economic system in which the workers own the means of production and distribution of goods. A more relaxed definition would be simply that the workers maintain political control over the production and distribution of goods. Even using the more relaxed definition of socialism, the Nazis can not be labeled as socialists as there simply was no worker control over the production or distribution of goods in Nazi Germany. In fact, the Nazis outlawed legitimate labor unions. In place of the original unions, the Nazis implemented quasi-like unions that were controlled by the industrialists. In a déjà vu manner, the Republican Party has recently tried to enact a similar measure, conferring legal status on worker groups controlled by corporations. Some writers and historians have argued that you cannot have fascism without corporatism, as the corporate power structure has much in common with fascism. During the period preceding the outbreak of WWII it was common to refer to fascism as corporatism in polite English society.
More recently others have tried to define fascism as the "Third Way", in the sense that it borrowed ideas from both capitalism and socialism. The basic philosophy behind the "Third Way" incorrectly labels any regulations or government controls over businesses as socialism; essentially it's just a restatement of syndicalism. Such nonsense should be rejected whole heartily. It again represents an attempt to distance the right from their support of Hitler in the 1930s and ignores that the basis of the German economy under Hitler was a capitalist system where the means of production remained in private hands. Further, following the logic of the "Third Way," one would have to label all capitalistic systems as "Third Way," for throughout history there has never been a pure capitalistic system. A pure capitalist economy is so inherently and fatally flawed that it's never even been tried. But that is to be expected for any system that awards the winner with all the eggs. Nor has there been a pure socialistic system. Human greed simply prevents it.
The dangers of such nonsense can be illustrated with the following quote taken from a Baptists fundamentalist's web page in their labeling of the Japanese economy as fascist: However, Fascism is an economic term, denoting the type of economy where the Means of Production [factories, companies] and the ownership of raw materials [mines, oil wells] remains in the hands of private individuals, but where the government intervenes to determine how many competitors will be allowed to produce the same thing, how much is produced, and what prices may be charged.1
Here it can be seen that the term fascism has been clearly misapplied. This description could past for the economic theory of the fascist philosopher George Sorel. This is a description of syndicalism; it was the economic model of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to a large extent. Syndicalism does draw some aspects from socialism, but the system is still a capitalistic system as ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods remain in private hands. It is no more socialism than the conclusion of the Robber Barons and the corrupt politicians of Tammy Hall. The only difference between this example of syndicalism is that the government participation is open versus the backroom corruption of politicians in Tammy Hall.
Not only Japan invoke syndicalism, but almost all the Pacific Rim nations do, to some extent. These are the same nations that the hard right has held up in the past as darlings of capitalism and free enterprise. Yet these are precisely the same economic policies of the Nazis that they have tried to foist off as socialism. The key distinction here is the means of production still remains in private hands, just as it did in Nazi Germany. No capitalistic society has ever existed without some form of syndicalism or government control over the economy. The closest America came to an entirely capitalistic system was either the 1890s and the Robber Barons or the laissez faire policies of Herbert Hoover, and as we all know, that didn't end too well in the Great Depression of the 1930s.
No where does the quote above refer to totalitarian control or extreme nationalism. In fact, they have tried to define fascism in strictly economic terms for their own purposes. But it does serve to point out the dangers of inventing the "Third Way" or the use of syndicalism in an attempt to label the Nazis. The problem here is determining where syndicalism ends and capitalism begins. Is the trading of pollution credits a form of syndicalism or is it free enterprise? In America today, the hard right would attempt to label it as socialism, as they try to do with any laws or regulations of business. In fact, the past laws regulating corporations were much more severe and restrictive in the 1800s than today. One could argue that it was through syndicalism that the power elite and corporations gradually eroded those laws until corporations now enjoy more freedoms than what an individual enjoys. This is precisely what has happened in America.
But environmental and labor laws are not socialism. They are in fact nothing more than an attempt to bring an out of control system hell bent on exploitation of the environment and labor back to order. No labor law or environment law was ever passed in a vacuum. All of these laws were brought about by a need to correct an unhealthy or unsafe situation. While there are some corporations that strive to provide a clean and safe workplace, there are many whose only concern is the bottom line and they turn a blind eye towards safety and view their employees as expendable commodities.
Regulation of businesses or corporations by itself is not socialism. A business entity such as a corporation has no rights other than what privileges a society wishes to grant it. People have rights; a paper creation of a society such as a corporation has no inherent rights. Business entities such as corporations only have conditional privileges based upon providing for the common good of the society, which granted the charter. All such paper creations have an obligation to serve the society, which created it. Failing to perform that obligation, it loses any right for its continuing existence. It the obligation of that society to restrict the rights of such entities to promote equality for all and to prevent a ruling aristocracy from developing. This view is hardly socialism or even radical, unless one wishes to label Thomas Jefferson as a radical socialist as he more eloquently stated it:
"I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our Government to trial, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."3
Perhaps one of the better definitions of fascism comes from Heywood Broun, a noted American columnist in the 1930s:
"Fascism, is a dictatorship from the extreme right or to put it a little more closely into our local idiom, a government which is run by a small group of large industrialists and financial lords...I think it is not unfair to say that any businessman in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions is laying the foundations for fascism"75
A definitive definition of fascism is a totalitarian government with extreme nationalist tendencies in which the government is controlled and operated for the benefit of a few elite. However, it should be noted that an all-encompassing definition of a complex system can not be simply stated. Such simple definitions undoubtedly fail in time. A caveat to the above definition would be anytime the government places the rights of corporations or the elite above the rights of the citizens, it represents a step towards fascism. A better insight into what fascism is can be obtained by listing the traits that are common to the classical fascist states of Franco's Spain, Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. A list of traits of fascism is presented below. Note that the first two are the two most defining traits, obviously many of the others can be applied to many other social-political systems as one moves down the list.
2. Extreme nationalism
3. Top down revolution or movement
4. Destructive divisionism such as racism and class warfare
5. Extreme anti-communism, anti socialism, and anti-liberal views
6. Extreme exploitation
7. Opportunistic ideology lacking in consistency as a means to grab power
8. Unbridled Corporatism
10. The use of violence and terror to attain and maintain power
11. Cult-like figurehead
12. The expounding of mysticism or religious beliefs
Not all fascists need exhibit all of the traits once again it should be emphasized that all fascist states will exhibit a totalitarian view. Most fascist states will have an extreme nationalism policy. However, extreme nationalism is not mandatory. States such as Spain under Franco and Chile under Pinochet were indeed fascist states, but they could hardly be described as having a policy of extreme nationalism.
A brief look at the above traits and how they relate to fascism will convey a better understanding of what fascism really is, using Nazi Germany as an example. First, because it was undisputedly fascist and secondly because there is more literature available on the Nazis than on either fascist Italy or Franco's Spain. Moreover, the use of the Nazi's as an example is closer to the focus of this book, which is creeping fascism in America.
Creeping fascism is the gradual lost of freedoms of the masses to the power elite. Full-blown fascism has never appeared all at once. The Nazis took several years to reach the final state of full-blown fascism. It took the Nazis five years before Kristallnacht, which marks the beginning of the "Final Solution." The Nazis gradually took away the freedoms of the citizens of Germany until they were able to launch the Holocaust. This was the reason for including the caveat in the definition of fascism above, "Any action taken by the government that places the rights of the elites and corporations above the citizens is a step towards fascism."
Such actions will not look like fascism some may even appear to be reasonable. Its only when the summation of many such actions ends in a fascist state that such actions can be seen as a step towards fascism.
Make no mistake in understanding that the power elite, those that own and run America's corporations, are fascist. They have forced war on this country to protect their assets, they have over-exploited their employees, they have used violence to bust unions, and they rely on divisionist policies such as racism and class warfare to maintain their power.
The erosion of our freedoms in the United States was prolonged by our constitution. Nevertheless, over time the lost of freedoms has left America at the edge of a chasm. Any further loss of freedoms and America will begin an irreversible slide into the deep abyss of fascism.
Before looking at the traits of fascism a brief review of the history of fascism and its roots in modern philosophy is needed. By looking at the roots of fascism in philosophy, we can gain an understanding why fascism is often described as reactionary. By looking at the various philosophers that have come to be associated with fascism, we will be able to see that many of these traits come directly from fascism's roots in philosophy. In that way, we can then see how some of these traits that can be applied to other social-political system are central to fascism.
Many writers have assumed that fascism has no intellectual or philosophical roots due to its lack of a consistent ideology. But such views are incorrect; the roots of fascism extend back to the French Revolution. The French Revolution is one of those landmark events in the history of Europe marking the beginning of a major shift in European culture and governments. In essence, fascism was a reaction to the French revolution. It was a reaction particularly to the slogan of the revolution of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" that was hated the most.
The concept of liberty from oppressive regimes in the daily lives of the citizens, including forced religious values, and the concept of voting and majority rule where the minority still retained a set of inalienable rights, incensed the early philosophers of fascism. Such a concept was a direct threat to the kings and nobles of the time, as well as to the church. Remember this was a time for debtor's prisons, indentured servants, and vassal states.
Equality, in the eyes of the law, was unspeakable. How could a mere peasant have the same rights under the law as the kings, nobles, and merchants? This was the time when the king's word was the law. Rights were based on the social standing of one's birth. The only rights a person had at the time were the rights that the king was willing to extend, and they could be withdrawn at any moment.
Fraternity, in the sense that all men and women shared humanity was considered heresy. It was a time when slaves were still considered and treated as animals and women were considered property, and not part of a greater humanity that needed to be shared.
All three terms meant a loss in power and control by those in power. But, this is exactly what the philosophers that have come to be associated with fascism were reacting to and rejecting. The period following the French Revolution produced a virtual intellectual stew of various philosophies, including those of Marx and Engels. A brief look at some of the major philosophers of fascism will show how they relate to the traits listed early, and how they were a reaction to the French Revolution. This list of philosophers is by no means complete, but it will suffice to show that many of the traits attributed to fascism above have roots going back as far as the French Revolution.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher perhaps best known for his The World as Will and Representation.4 His beliefs held that the will is the underlying and ultimate reality. The whole phenomenal world was only the expression of will. Individuals have free will only in the sense that everyone is an expression of a will. Thus we are not authors of our own destiny, character, or behavior, according to Schopenhauer. His views parallel the development of relativistic physics that came a century later. His views were influential on Nietzche, among others.
Georg Hegel (1770-1831), a German philosopher held pantheism as the heart of his beliefs. The Phenomenology of Spirit and Science of Logic are two of his better-known works. He viewed that all existence and all history was divine and that nature was sacred. He viewed God as an absolute spirit that also manifested itself in material things and individuals. He believed God acted through humans and embodied himself first in nature, then in the rising stages of human consciousness and civilization. He also had an ethnocentric and egocentric view. He maintained that the German nation was the highest carrier of the wave of God's development. He believed that the bureaucratic monarchy of Prussia was the highest form of state. These later views were certainly manifested in the Nazi's view of the Aryan race, as shown in the following quote.
"Thus the highest purpose of the folkish state is concern for the preservation of those original racial elements which bestow culture and create the beauty and dignity of a higher mankind. We, as Aryans, can conceive of the state only as the living organism of a nationality which not only assures the preservation of this nationality, but by the development of its spiritual and ideal abilities leads it to the highest freedoms."8
Fredrich Nietzche (1844-1900), also a German philosopher was best known for his work Thus Spake Zarathustra.5 Hitler liked to be photographed staring at a bust of Nietzche. Nietzche theorized two sets of morals, one for the ruling class and another for the slave class. Nietzche viewed that ancient empires grew out of the ruling class and that religions arose out of the slave classes, (which denigrates the rich, the powerful, rationalism, and sexuality.) He developed a concept of an "overman," a superhuman, which symbolized man at his most creative and highest intellectual development. Obviously, the "overman" was manifested in the Nazi's view of the Aryan race. He suffered a mental break down, most likely from the advances of syphilis, and was cared for by his mother and later his sister, Elisabeth. His sister painstakingly gathered his notes to publish his latter works. However, she was active in the rising anti-Semitic movement at the time and may have tainted his later work with her views. From time to time, Nietzsche enjoys a rebirth of popularity. Today is one such rebirth, fitting in well with the unmitigated greed and corporatism of today's hard right. Nietzsche's connection to the Nazis is obvious, as shown by the following quotation.
"with satanic joy in his face, the black haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people. With every means he tries to destroy the racial foundations of the people he has set out to subjugate. Just as he himself systematically ruins women and girls, he does not shrink back from pulling down the blood barriers for others, even on a large scale. It was and it is Jews who bring Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its culture and political height, and himself rising to be master."9
Notice the similarity in this passage and the Council of Conservative Citizens that Senator Lott and representative Barr supported before becoming embroiled in the resulting scandal in late 1998.10 The web site for this white supremacist group described interracial marriage to the mixing of chocolate milk with plain milk, and labeled it as a path to racial extinction. They also described Lincoln as a communist.11
Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was a French philosopher with a Jewish father and an English mother. He was the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1927. He rejected the idea that scientific principles could explain all existence. He was a promoter of what has become known as Social Darwinism.6 Perhaps one of his better known works was Time and Free Will. He was also a believer in pantheism. Once again, we see the obvious connection with the Nazis of a master race in the following quote concerning the Nazi's euthanasia program:
"...a secret circular went out from the Reich interior Ministry which marked the beginning of a programme of euthanasia for mentally ill or deformed children up to three years old. Doctors would be required to report all such cases to the health authority on special forms; the forms would then be forwarded to a panel of three medical assessors who would adjucate over life or death by appending "-" or "+." Should all three place a "+", a euthanasia warrant would be issued, signed by the Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler of the Fuhrer's Chancellery or SS_Oberfuhrer Dr Viktor Brack, head of the Chancellery's Euthanasia Department II. And so it happened: infants marked for death were transferred to what were referred to as Children's Special Departments in political reliable clinics, there to be given a "mercy death" by injection or in one institution at Eglfing-Haar simply starved by a progressive reduction of diet."7
Geroge Sorel (1847-1922) was a French philosopher who had considerable influence on Mussolini. His writings promoted an economic model based on syndicalism. He also believed in the degeneration of societies and believed that social decay could only be delayed by idealists who were willing to use violence to obtain power. His views were extremely anti-democratic and anti-liberal.
With this very brief review of philosophy has shown that the fascist traits of nationalism, totalitarian, racist, violence, unbridled corporatism, reactionary, and the top down nature of fascism all are grounded in the works of past philosophers.
A totalitarian government is one that seeks to maintain control over all aspects of public and private life by using propaganda, terror, and technology. Totalitarian regimes seek control over political, social, and the culture. However, economic control is left in the hands of a few elites in the fascist state. While the means of economic control is left in the private hands of a few elites, this same group controls the government. In essence the government becomes the tool by which the rich and the corporations maintain control. The distinction is important to note as it separates communism from fascism. In a communist state the control over the economy moves to the inside of government, while in the fascist state it remains in private hands. Dictatorships differ in seeking only limited control over the political environment of a society.
There was only limited government ownership under the Nazis. Prior to the Nazi take over, the German governments took over failing businesses and continued to operate them. When the Nazis took over the government already owned a large number of enterprises. When the Nazis took over they began to privatize many of these businesses, especially the ones that had remained profitable during the depression like the electric utilities.
Once Hitler assured big business that they would be free to continue
to operate, they failed to raise any further objections to the Nazis.
The large German steel and coal industries especially welcomed the
Nazis. Hitler's plans for rearmament meant large contracts for new
ships, tanks, etc. Later during the war when a labor shortage appeared,
it was Krupp from the German steel industry that first raised the
question of using slave labor from the concentration camps. At first
the Nazis were reluctant to allow the inmates to be used as slaves as
it would slow the progress of the "final solution." However, once Krupp
offered to pay for the slaves the Nazis readily agreed and soon there
was no shortage of companies seeking slaves.
What is less understood about the totalitarian power Hitler achieved was the path he took to obtain that power. There never has been totalitarian regime that gained instant total control. Such a sudden change would spawn sudden revolutions. Mussolini took three years before consolidating his power in Italy. In case of the Nazis, it took even longer. Nor did the path to totalitarian Nazi state start with the elevation of Hitler to the position of chancellor. Some historians trace the roots of the path all the way back into the 1800s. A complete analysis of German history from the time of the monarchy to the seating of Hitler is beyond the scope of this book, if not beyond the scope of any single book, as volumes could be written. What follows is a very brief look at the slow erosion of freedom and the concentration of power as it relates to the final totalitarian state.
For the most part, the period following WWI was a period dominated by raucous politics and a series of crisis in Germany. The two periods in which the Nazis gained the most strength was the early 1920s, during the hyper inflationary period, culminating with the Beer Hall Putsch and the depression of 1929-1931. There is little need to examine the raucous politics of that period, everyone is well aware of Hitler's SA thugs breaking up political rallies of other parties which also resorted to the same tactics. It would not be untrue to describe many political rallies of the time as ending in brawls.
Hitler and the Nazis were extremists, and mostly rejected by the German voters during the good economic times of the 1920s. For example, in 1928 they only polled 2.6 percent of the vote, gaining just 14 seats out of the 491 seats in the Reichstag by virtue of the republic's proportional representation. By 1930 and the start of the depression, the Nazis had increased their seats to 107 out of 577 seats in the Reichstag. In the July 1932 election, at the height of the depression, the Nazis polled 37.4 percent of the vote winning 230 seats in the Reichstag, becoming Germany's largest party.13 In the Nov 1932 election, they only won 196 seats as an anemic economic recovery was already underway, the people began rejecting the Nazis and their radical views and actions.
Germany's plunge into a totalitarian state began before the Nazis took over. It was as much a result of a lack of a strong leadership as anything else. For the first eleven years of the German Republic there had been seventeen cabinets headed by nine different chancellors.12 Undoubtedly, the country faced grave crisis in this period such as hyperinflation, but the lack of strong leadership and an increased polarization was readily apparent. The Nazis were the most notorious radicals unwilling to compromise, but the other parties have to share some of the blame for this polarization as well. The blame can be extended beyond the parties to the vested interests behind each party, including that of big businesses. Fracturing the electorate by polarization was playing right into the divisionist character of the Nazis, whose radical program lacked a broad base of support as the election results from 1928 showed.
The policies of the German governments during the 1920s inadvertently aided the rise of the Nazis. Throughout the 1920s the government arrested many of the leaders from the left. It would not be unfair to term these arrests as purges. The arrest of any strong leaders emerging from the left only served to further polarize the country by creating a vacuum on the left that was only filled with the more radical communists. A similar situation is emerging in the United States, throughout this century the United States has conducted purges of the left: the Great Red Scare of 1919, McCartyism of the 1950s, and COINTELPRO operations during the sixties. Without the voices from the left to moderate policy, the political center in the United States has shifted to the hard right.
The immediate result in the lack of strong leadership is frequent chances in government, which only lead to more instability and chaos. An ideal parallel is the long string one term Presidents ending with Lincoln and the Civil War. The polarization of the Unite States gradually increased from about 1820 on resulting in one term presidents. Another string of one term Presidents ended with the election of Roosevelt in the middle of the Great Depression. In both U.S. case the ending result was not pleasant: a civil war and a depression.
Such frequent change in government does not allow businesses to make long range plans, nor does it allow for enough to time for programs enacted by a government to work. These effects then act as negative feedback, further increasing the polarization and the resulting chaos.
Additionally, the German constitution was flawed and did not account for a negative parliament. Power in Germany was concentrated in the office of the president, headed by Hindenburg, who initially had been elected by conservatives and reactionary rightists. He was a member of the aristocratics from the Junker class and had been a war hero; he likewise held sentiments for the monarchy. The president had the power to appoint cabinets and chancellors. Beginning in 1930, Hindenburg began the practice of appointing chancellors of his choice that were not beholding to the parliament. To allow the chancellors to circumvent parliament, he granted these chancellors emergency powers that had been given to the president by the constitution. Starting in 1930, almost all national laws, including the power to tax, were enacted by presidential decrees and not by the parliament. Such presidential decrees would be similar to the executive orders in the United States.
Hence, even before Hitler was appointed to the chancellor position, power was being concentrated into the two offices of the chancellor and the president. At least twice before appointing Hitler as chancellor, Hindenburg entertained ideas of violating the constitution by not holding elections within the sixty days as required by the constitution.
Hindenburg had also avoided appoint Hitler as chancellor twice before January 1933. Even with the support of big business Hindeburg failed to appoint Hitler when the Nazis held more seats in the Reichstag than any other party.
It wasn't until after Hitler met in secret with von Pappen at the Cologne home of Baron Kurt von Schroder that Hindenburg would relent and appoint Hitler chancellor. The baron was the head of the international Schroder banking empire and had previously raised funds to pay off the Nazi's debt.
The secret meeting on January 4, 1933 allowed Hitler and von Pappen to work out their differences and to agree to a new cabinet under the direction of both. This secret meeting was the birthplace of the Third Reich.
However, there were two Americans that also were in attendance: John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen. The Dulles brothers were there as legal representatives for Kuhn Loeb Company, which had extended large short term credits to Germany. Their presence was to secure a guarantee of repayment from Hitler.
Moreover, Kurt von Schroder had extensive financial contacts in New York and London. He was a co-director of Thyssen foundry along with Johann Groeninger, Prescott Bush's New York bank partner. Schroeder was also the vice president and director of the Hamburg-Amerika Line, the same shipping line seized from Prescott Bush for trading with the enemy.
Throughout 1932, actions taken by the Bush-Harriman shipping line were directly responsible for bringing Hitler to power. The constitutional government tried to disarm the Nazi Brown Shirts to stop the mad election melees and murders. The U.S. embassy in Berlin reported:
" Hamburg-Amerika Line was purchasing and distributing propaganda attacks against the German government, for attempting this last-minute crackdown on Hitler's forces."
During 1932, Hitler's thugs murdered thousands of Germans. Arms for Hitler were shipped to Germany aboard Hamburg-Amerika Line. They were transferred to river barges before reaching Antwerp and then transported across Holland freely. Samuel Pryor, founder of Union Bank and a partner in the Hamburg-America Line was also executive committee chairman of Remington Arms. Hitler's Brown Shirts were armed primarily with Remington arms and Thompson submachine guns. A Senate investigation of Remington concluded that all of the political factions in Germany were armed with mostly American made guns.
Once Hitler and von Pappen had reached an agreement on their future course of actions. Pappen pressured Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor. The success of the meeting was recorded in Goebbels. On January 5, 1933 Goebbels wrote in his diary "If this coup succeeds, we are not far from power. . . . Our finances have suddenly improved."
Hindenburg appointed Hitler, as chancellor with the understanding Hitler would be a parliamentary rather than a presidential chancellor. Hitler immediately set about sabotaging the efforts to from a parliamentary majority. Here is one of the first examples of fascism and divisionism.
On February 1, 1933 the German parliament was dissolved and new elections were scheduled for early March. Using his henchmen, Hilter had the Reichstag building burnt. The fire was blamed on the communist, his main revivals. Using the fire as an excuse, Hitler banned the communist from the upcoming election. Additionally, Goring deputized his storm troopers to harass any political opposition from his position in the cabinet; even then the Nazis could not achieve a majority in parliament as they polled only 43.9 votes.14 By summer, all political parties except the Nazis had been dissolved. On the death of Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler assumed the office of president and further consolidated his gripe on power, but it would take a couple of additional years before Hitler was a true totalitarian. He purged the justice system of judges with adverse views, appointing rabid Nazis in their place, and the storm troopers were given police powers. Justice was now the Nazi party line.
One does not need to expound upon the extreme nationalism of the fascist. The history of their invasion in a quest for world dominion is well known. Mussolini turned his attention to Ethiopia and North Africa; Hitler first to Austria, then Czechoslovakia, followed by Western Europe and later to Norway and the east.
Hilter had left a blueprint for his extreme nationalism and the quest for lebensraum in Mien Kampf as shown by the quote below.
"If the National Socialist movement really wants to be consecrated by history with a great mission for our nation, it must be permeated by knowledge and filled with pain at our true situation in this world; boldly and conscious of its goal, it must take up the struggle against the aimlessness and incompetence which have hitherto guided our German nation in the line of foreign affairs. Then without consideration of traditions and prejudices it must find the courage to gather our people and their strength for an advance along the road that will lead this people from its present restricted living space to new land and soil; and hence also free it from danger of vanishing from the earth or of serving others as a slave nation.
The Nationalist Socialist movement must strive to eliminate the disproportion between our population and our area-viewing this later as a source of food as well as a basis for power politics---between our historical past and the helplessness of our present impotence."15
The third trait of fascism is that it consists of a top down revolution or movement. It is becoming more accepted today that the Nazis drew support from all classes. Indeed, this seems a reasonable assumption when looking at all of the evidence. The storm troopers for the most part drew their numbers from the lower and middle classes. They were typically were unemployed laborers, inept middle management, or failed businessmen. Likewise, given the vote tally of over thirty percent in the 1932 elections, the Nazis had to have drawn votes from all social classes. But this has no bearing on who controlled the direction of the party. Control of the party rested solely with Hitler and whom he allied with. He chose to ally with the upper class and big business as borne out by his policies after gaining power. There is little controversy over the considerable support Hitler drew from the aristocrats, the military, or the Junkers.
Telltale signs forewarning of the elite control was evident from the very formation of the party until the final days before gaining power. A brief look at those that financed the Nazis rise to power will reveal the real support behind Hitler. This is becoming an increasing issue of contention as American hard right tries to distance themselves from the similarities of their policies with fascism.
Hitler himself did not form the Nazi party initially. He joined an existing party and then molded it according to his wishes. In fact, his company commander had ordered him to attend a meeting of what was the German Workers Party. Here was Hitler's initial reaction to the party.
>"My impression was neither good or bad; a new organization like so many others. This was the time in which anyone who was not satisfied with developments and no longer had confidence in the existing parties felt called upon to found a new party. Everywhere these organizations sprang from the ground, only to vanish silently after a time. The founders for the most part had no idea what it means to make a party---let alone a movement---out of a club. And so these organizations nearly always stifle automatically in their absurd phillistinism."16
The order from his company commander provides the first evidence that the elite backed Hitler from the very beginning. At any point from this date the German military could have withdrawn its support of Hitler and disbanded the Nazi party
Hitler was a good orator by all reports, as well as an astute political observer. He knew how to motivate the masses in his name and how to sustain a movement. Someone once remarked recently that you needed only gain control of the 3Ms to gain power. The three "Ms" are the military, media, and money. Hitler had all three behind him. As shown by the passage from Mein Kampf, Hitler started with the blessing of the military. The military, as well as big business, played a behind the scenes role in the appointment of Hitler as chancellor. It's the last of the 3Ms where much confusion and debate arise, Hitler's source of funds or money.
Big business likewise had a large hand in bringing down Bruning in 1930. In a large part, it was the constant bickering by special interest groups that led to the falling of Bruning's cabinet. Big business was urging the following demands on the Bruning government:
>1. The government must take steps to lower the cost of production and widen the profit margin.
2. Lower taxes
3. Reduce the size of government.
4. Lower unemployment insurance benefit
5. The government must allow wages to progress to lower levels, by voiding labor contracts and binding arbitration.26
If these demands from the business community seem familiar to the reader, it's because in a large part they are the same policies that the Republican Party has been advocating for the last twenty years.
Throughout the 1920s and up until Hitler was appointed chancellor the Nazi party was plagued with a shortage of money. After release for prison for the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler's only known source of income was from the sale of Mein Kampf and fees for newspaper articles he would write. The first edition of Mein Kampf was published July 18, 1925 in an edition of 10,000 copies selling for 12 marks. By the end of the year almost all copies had been sold. A new edition was printed but sales in the following year plummeted.
Nevertheless, almost immediately after being pardoned he bought a new super-charged Mercedes-Benz for 28,000 marks.17 Additionally, Hitler did not drive, so he had the additional expense of a chauffeur. Likewise, from 1925 until his appointment as chancellor in 1933, Hitler lived in increasing comforts, if not outright lavishness for the times. Certainly, the royalties from Mein Kampf and fees for his other writings were insufficient to cover even his living expenses, not to mention the party's expenses.
Also, the funding for an ever-increasing number of SA troopers (many of which were unemployed) had to be secured. Turner has suggested that the Nazis were self sufficient from dues, speaker's fees, and donations at rallies. However, this seems almost improbable looking at the numbers from 1930. In 1930 there were about 100,000 storm troopers that had to be fed, housed and otherwise supported. Additionally there were 15,000 in the SS. Nazi membership at the beginning of 1931 was only 389,000.18 Thus it seems very reasonable that outside sources of funding was needed to maintain the SA and SS, as well as the ever increasing lifestyle of Hitler. Membership fees in the Nazi party started at a mark per month, non-paying members were quickly dropped from the party.
From the very beginning of the Nazi party
Hitler showed a knack for
obtaining funding from the more privileged members of German society.
For instance, everyone is well aware of the trial following the Beer
Hall Putsch, but less well known was a secondary trial following the
putsch. In the secondary trial, several businessmen that had donated
money or other support for Hitler were put on trial. Some have
attributed much of this early funding of the Nazis to the secret Thule
Society.19 Another early source of funds in the early 20s
came from the efforts of Scheubner-Richter, who was adept at gaining
funds from Bavarian aristocrats, big businessmen, bankers, and leaders
of heavy industry.20 Another source of early funds came
indirectly from Fritz Thyssen. Henry Ford also exerted a considerable
influence over Hitler in the early 1920s, as well as money. Some
passages from Ford's International Jew are nearly identical to
passages in Mein Kampf. Ford's book is reported to have had a
large effect on many of the school children of the time that were
suffering through hyperinflation and economic hard times while reading
a book written by the world's foremost capitalist.
The extent of Ford's financial donations to Hitler still remains a mystery. The U. S. ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, was quoted saying "certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy."21 The extent of corporate America's collaboration with the Nazis before the war and even during the war, in some cases, is not fully known. However, as time goes by and more information becomes available, the collaboration begins to appear significant, as shown in the following article.
"Bernd Greiner said 26 of the top 100 US companies in the 1930s collaborated to some degree with the Nazis before, and in some cases after, Hitler declared war on the United States in December 1941. Company headquarters in the US have denied they knew what was going on in Germany, but there is evidence to suggest they knew their German subsidiaries used slave labor, tolerated it and in some cases were actively involved, Greiner said.
Greiner confirmed a report in the newspaper Die Zeit, based on his findings of US corporate involvement in Nazi Germany. The findings went beyond allegations of US lawyers and historians last year that automakers General Motors and Ford collaborated with the Nazi regime."22
One of the more historically accurate, but shamefully apologetic to big business sources is the book, German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler by Turner.23 Turner does a good job in detailing the extensive participation of the leaders of business with the Nazis. However, he reaches the conclusion that big business did not support Hitler with a rather contrived definition of what big business is. He based his definition on the value of the float of stock on the market. His definition limited the number of companies that he would classify as big business to only 14 companies in the Ruhr industrial area and a smattering of companies located elsewhere. Essentially, his definition would be the equivalent of saying that only the Dow 30 companies in the U. S. could truly be called big business. This of course is nonsense. The majority of people would certainly consider Chrysler, Texas Instruments, Hewitt Packard, John Deere and Chase Manhattan Bank to be big business, but according to Turner's book they are not. It is from this group of second and third tier businesses (in keeping with Turner's definition) that provided the most help and support for Hitler. Furthermore, Turner neglects the effect of cartel agreements as well as subsidiaries in his analysis. Many of these second and third tier corporations were owned and controlled by the 14 corporations, he considered to be big business.
Secondly, Turner focuses much of his attention on the period of 1920-1928, when the Nazis were at best a minor noisy party. During this time, the Nazis were lucky to poll more than three percent of the vote. Yet Turner tries to use this as proof that big business did not support Hitler's rise to power, although he does admit that Fritz Thyssen and Kirdolf were supporters of the Nazis during this time. An equivalent situation would be today's Libertarian Party, a party that draws support from Koch, head of Koch refinery (a second tier company by Turner's reasoning). But no one is rushing to fund the Libertarians today when they cannot even poll five percent of the vote.
Finally, when the source of funds were unquestionably from big business Turner attempts to discredit them by claiming the source of the funds was a junior level executive that couldn't be responsible for overall company policy. Or he attempts to say they were given to an individual Nazi. In one shameful passage Turner attempts to discredit the funds given to Nazi fund-raiser Walther Funk by claiming they were not a donation to the party as they may have been spent by Funk for entertainment. Turner describes a particular drunken binge across town by Funk in which he passed out some rather large tips and then draws the conclusion that perhaps none of the funds given Funk ever reached the Nazis.24 This is not the work of a historian, as Turner claims to be. This is nothing more than conjecture by a propagandist. There is also one other speculative conclusion one could draw from this passage, and that is that the amount of money Funk was receiving was so enormous that it permitted such behavior.
Turner does a good job in showing that it was those second and third tier businesses that supported the Nazis. In Duren, a Rhenish manufacturing town, the Nazis received considerable support from local industrialists such as the millionaire dynasties (a term in use from the 1820s in describing these two families) of the Schoellers and the Schulls. Another area in which the Nazis received broad support from businesses was Solingen, an industrial town.25 Overall, Turner documents the participation of business leaders and their support for the Nazis, leaving no question in the reader's mind that business leaders exerted a considerable influence on the Nazis. Unfortunately, he ends his study just as the Nazis seize power.
Many businesses chose to align with and support the Nazis after they gained power. Krupp and I.G. Faben were both executors' of Goring's Four-Year Plan to make Germany militarily self-sufficient by 1940. One can view the details of Krupp's involvement and support for the Nazis after March 1933 in the documents from the War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg.31 The full set of available documents from Nuremberg is also available on the Internet.32 By 1939, I.G. Faben provided the Nazis with 90 percent of their foreign exchange, 95 percent of imports, and 85 percent of all military and commercial goods. In 1932, Hermann Schmitz Faben's joint chairman joined forces with Kurt von Schroder, director of a wealthy private bank. Schroder was a fanatical Nazi, often times dressed in his black SS uniform. Schroder is the man that is closely linked with Chase Bank, Standard Oil and William Teagle, and ITT. In 1932, Schroder and Wilhelm Keppler formed the group known as "The Fraternity." This group guaranteed a source of money to the Gestapo. Members agreed to contribute an average of one million marks a year to Himmler's personally marked "S" account and the transferable secret "R" account of the Gestapo.27
In April of 1933, Gustav Krupp sought out a private meeting with Hitler. Krupp agreed to become Hitler's chief fundraiser and chairman of the Adolf Hitler Fund. In return Hitler promised to appoint Krupp as the fuehrer of Germany industry. Over the years, Krupp contributed over six million marks of his own money to the Nazis, and his correspondence shows that he truly enjoyed his job as chairman.28 Likewise, it is common knowledge that after Hitler was appointed chancellor Krupp greeted people cheerfully with the Heil Hitler salutation.
Schirer writes that in 1931, when Hitler decided to cultivate relationships between influential industrial leaders, he kept their identity a secret.
"The party still had to play both sides of the tracks. The party had to allow Strasser, Goebbels and Feder to beguile the masses with socialist talk and denigrating the industrial magnates."
Some of the meetings were so secretive that they were held in forest glades."29
Further proof of the industrialist involvement and support of the Nazis comes from the testimony of Funk at Nuremberg. The entire list implicated by Funk is far too long to reproduce here, but besides Thyssen and Krupp it included Georg von Schnitzler-I.G. Farben, August Rosterg and August Diehn of the potash industry, Cuno of the Hamburg Amerika Line, Otto Wolf, Kurt von Schroder, and many other wealthy industrialists30
On May 2, 1933, the Nazis raided and occupied all trade union headquarters. The leaders were beaten and arrested; some were placed in the concentration camps. Union funds were confiscated and the unions were dissolved. Members of the communist party and the social democrats had already been arrested. On June 20, 1934, in what has become known as the Night of Long Knifes, Hitler purged the socialists within the Nazi party, chief among them Roehm.
With the broad financial support from the leaders of the business community as well as from the military leaders and aristocrats, the Nazis were truly a top down organization, while the Nazis used the lower class as foot soldiers to gain power. They did so in a deceiving manner, and once in power, immediately set about betraying the lower classes
We have already shown one example of divisionism by the Nazis in their rise to power. But what sets fascist divisionism apart from the ordinary divisionism of any other political ideology? Certainly any politician in a democracy appeals to some sort of divisionism, as he is fully aware that he can not possibly appeal to the entire electorate. The difference lies in the fact that divisionism is always destructive in fascism and serves only as a means to gain and maintain power. Even after gaining power, Hitler went to great pains in dividing power, playing one follower against another, creating rivalries in the party in the process. In short, Hitler kept the Nazi party divided as if it was a set of small fiefdoms. One of the biggest myths about the Nazis is that they were a single unit, when in fact they were a conglomeration of various fractured parts. Eatwell states the paradox within Hitler's power structure as: "because the party was so divided that he had power and in turn the party was divided from other key centers of power such as the army." 47 In other ideologies, the divisionism is not inherently destructive. Rather, it's based on differing approaches coming together to reach an equable solution to a problem. In his rise to power, Hitler had no intention of compromising with the other parties to form a parliamentary president. His moves were calculated to destroy any chance of that.
A couple of examples from the present can further delineate the difference between the two. Certainly many of the tax proposals coming from the Republican party today could be classed as divisionism as they favor the upper income earners over the lower income groups. While the measures are divisive they can hardly be labeled as destructive divisionism. They are more a reflection of difference in opinion.
However, an example of an act that could be termed a fascist divisionism was the Republican caused shut down of the government in November 1995 after Clinton vetoed the budget bill. Clinton had previously warned Congress that unless changes were made in the budget he would veto the bill. Members of the hard right Council for National Policy and many of their Republican members openly had declared they would shut down the government. In essence, the Republicans adopted the same policy that Hitler had in his bid to dismiss parliament; they refused to negotiate honorably.
Just as Hitler had taken a position to subvert democracy, so had the Republicans, led by Gingrich. The constitution defines the passing of the budget in detail. The spending bills originate in the House after passage by both the House and the Senate. It is then sent to the President, who may either veto it or sign it. If the bill is vetoed, it is up to Congress and the President to reach a compromise bill. Otherwise, Congress must pass a bill with a two-thirds majority. The failure of Congress to pass a bill to advert a government shutdown was a dereliction of their constitutional duty. Fortunately, the outrage coming from the general public forced the Republicans back to the negotiation table. The point to be made is the only difference between the two events---the Republicans feared the wrath of the people and capitulated, Hitler had no such fear and parliament was dismissed.
The Republican shut down of the government also serves to point out a flaw in our constitution, just as there was a flaw in the German constitution. In the case of the U. S. constitution there is no other mechanism other than shutting down the government if Congress fails to pass a budget. If the fascists in America can be successful in polarizing American politics to such an extent that the public, or at least a considerable portion of it, tolerates a government shut down, then the entire budget process becomes a fracas. And after observing the behavior of the Republicans in their ill fated attempt to impeach Clinton such a possibility does not appear so remote.
Another example of divisionism that is solely destructive that is not based on racism or class warfare was the impeachment of Bill Clinton. It served no purpose other than to smear the president, the articles of impeachment fell far short of what the founding fathers had defined in the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors." That phrase refers back to the misuse of offices in England under the king. Additionally, the investigation of Ken Starr has been plagued by civil rights abuse and possible criminal action by Starr himself. It resembles a coup headed by the multi millionaire Scaife with the aid of the religious right, more than it resembled a justified impeachment.
But perhaps, the greatest illustration of the
divisionism was seeing
support for the impeachment evaporate like rain on hot pavement in the
Senate following the State of the Union address and a thorough defense
of the charges by Clinton's legal team. The House prosecutors with the
conclusion of Ken Starr questioned Monica Lewinsky further in secret.
This single action by the House Republicans invoked criticism from even
members of their own party in the Senate. It was conducted against the
agreed upon rules, and it was unconstitutional in that the power of
investigation is delegated to the Senate. Likewise, it is against the
statute of the Independent Council. It served no purpose other than to
further divide and disgust the country. In short, it is nothing but an
attempt at a power play.
Often times, this divisionism takes the form of racism or class warfare. It is often stated that Mussolini tried to eliminate class distinctions in fascist Italy. But the reality is that he only reinforced those distinctions. Certainly the Nazis practiced racism in an outrageous manner, ending in the Holocaust. On the other hand, fascist Italy was not racist in nature until after Mussolini adopted Hitler's Jewish solution. Fascism doesn't necessary have to be racist in nature, but racism is often used to divide the citizens, as their radical platform isn't appealing to the broad masses. In addition, racism is violent in nature and the resulting chaos from the violence serves to further divide the masses. Whether or not a fascist state is racist seems to depend more upon the culture of the society in which it arises. Before fascism, Italy had a long history of generally equable racial relationships, going all the way back to the old Roman Empire. For instance, even the slaves were eventually given full rights in Rome. However, the roots of anti-Semitism goes back much further in Germany as shown in the following quote.
"This is a good month to reflect on the toxicity of words meant to kill. Nov. 9 marks the 60th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 'Night of Shattered Glass' unleashed by the Nazis to terrorize Germany's Jews. The date was chosen specially by Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propagandist, to honor the birthday of Martin Luther, the 16th century monk who was a father of the protestant Reformation and the founder of what became the Lutheran church.
Hitler greatly admired Luther: "He saw the Jew as we are only beginning to see him today." Indeed. Luther saw the Jews as 'hopeless, wicked, venomous, and devilish... our pest, torment, and misfortune.'
Initially, certain that his version of Christianity would appeal to Jews, he expected large numbers of them to covert. When that failed to happen, he turned violently against them. In 1543, Luther Published "On the Jews and Their Lies," a work that would become known throughout Germany, perhaps the most widely disseminated work of anti-Semitism by a German until the rise of the Nazis 400, years later.
"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?" Luther asked.
"First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt, so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it...
Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed...
Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.
Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more...
Fifthly, passports and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews...
Sixthly, I advise that...all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them...
Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them... If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his."
This is hate speech.
< Sixty years ago next Monday on the night of Luther's birthday, Nazi gangs rampaged across Germany. In every Jewish neighborhood, windows were smashed and buildings were torched. All told, 101 synagogues were destroyed, and nearly 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were demolished. On that night, 91 Jews were murdered; 26,000 were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. It was the greatest pogrom in history. And it was nothing compared with what was to come."33
The question then remains whether the fascism in America can be considered racist or not. The past history of racism in the United States would tend to support such. As a nation, we was one of the last industrial nations to allow slavery, and it took the Civil War to end slavery. It has been less than fifty years since "separate but equal" was the rule of the land. It's only been sixty years since Japanese citizens and immigrants were interred in camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Rosewood incident happened less than a hundred years ago, and lynching of blacks was common well into the 20th century. This country has had a long, incredulous history of bigotry and even genocide. There is no question of the genocide of Native Americans in the efforts of the U. S. Army in passing out blankets infected with small pox, or the slaughter of the Plains Indian's primary source of food, the buffalo. Then there was the Trail of Tears, as well. The Irish immigrants, following the potato famine, were greeted by the Know Nothings, a party that based its support on the hate of Catholics.
All of the hard right groups are racist, although more than one tries to play their racism down or to hide it, such as the John Birch Society and some of the various militia groups. Others are openly racists, such as the Klan, the Nazis and the skinheads. The great unifier of the far right, the Identity religion, links many of the hard right groups. The Identity religion is based on anti-Semitic belief that the true followers of Jesus immigrated to Britain and northern Europe, that today's Jews are the descendents of Satan. It's the mainstay religion among the militias, the Posse Comitatus, and even among some of the Klan groups.
Besides the normal hate groups based on racism or anti-Semitism. the religious right has emerged in the 1990s as a venomous hate group basing their hate on gays and abortion. Abortion clinics increasingly are becoming targets of bombings, arson, and vandalism. Late in 1998, Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming after being tie to a fence and then pistol whipped, for being gay. Below are some quotes about gays from one of the leaders of the religious right, Pat Robertson.
"This conduct [homosexuality] is anti-social, and it is a pathology. It is a sickness, and it needs to be treated. It doesn't need to be taught in the classroom as a preferred way of life..." - 700 Club, 3-7-90
"...the acceptance of homosexuality is the last step in the decline of Gentile civilization." --Pat Robertson, of the Christian Broadcasting Network, warned that hurricanes could hit Orlando, Fla., because of gay events there. Time magazine, Oct 26, 1998
"If the world accepts homosexuality as its norm and if it moves the entire world in that regard, the whole world is then going to be sitting like Sodom and Gomorrah before a Holy God. And when the wrath of God comes on this earth, we will all be guilty and we will all suffer for it." - 700 Club, 9-6-9534
Compare that last quote of Robertson's to the following quote of Hitler on syphilis.
"...they speak of this whole field as if it were a great sin, and above all express their profound indignation against every sinner caught in the act, then close their eyes in pious horror to this godless plague and pray God to let sulfur and brimstone preferably after their own death rain down on this Sodom and Gomorrah, thus once making an instructive example of this shameless humanity."39
Such evidence, as Robertson's words, abounds that they would persecute gays, it abounds in the numerous ballot measures in various states that would deny gays their civil rights. Such a measure passed in Colorado, only to be overturned by the Supreme Court. Another measure, led by Lon Mabon in Oregon failed state wide, but was reintroduced on local ballots in the following election. Mabon has also led ballot measures to limit the concept of a family and limiting abortions to only the first trimester. The first was another attempt to limit the rights of gays.
In June 1998, near Jasper, Texas a black man
named James Byrd was
dragged behind a pickup. Body parts were found over a two mile length
of the roadway.35 It is too early for trends in hate crimes
to emerge, as the FBI only began tracking hate crimes in 1991. The one
trend that does seem to be emerging is the hate crimes are becoming
increasingly violent as evident from the murders of Shepard and Byrd.
The real danger of these two murders is they serve to desensitize us,
leading to more numerous and increasing levels of violence, just as the
Nazis used increasing levels of violence against the Jews.
Racism is reemerging in various forms in the 1990s in political issues and in the Republican Party. "English only" laws are being promoted with increasing frequency by various Republican candidates, including Robert Dole, and have even appeared on some ballot measures such as California Prop 187. The obvious targets are immigrants from Mexico. In effect, its nothing more than the reemergence of nativism. Other forms of nativism have appeared, such as denying immigrants access to welfare and the school system for children of immigrants. Nativism is also behind various immigration bills and the increasing efforts directed at illegals.
Perhaps the most dangerous form of racism to
emerge has been the
Republican efforts to 'monitor' the polls. And videotape those leaving.
Cases have arisen in the 1998 election in North Carolina, Georgia,
Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky, Texas and Maine. The efforts are directed
primarily at districts in which have a high percentage of minorities.
Such efforts serve no useful purpose and do constitute a violation of
the Voting Rights Act.36 More disturbing is the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, served as the director
of Republican 'ballot security' in the poor areas of Phoenix, Arizona
between 1958-1962.37 He likewise wrote a pro separate but
equal memo as a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson. All of which was
brought out in his confirmation hearings.
An even more subtle effort on the part of Republicans in denying votes to the minorities and the poor is centered on the debate to allow a statistical correction to the 2000 census. Such effort on the part of the Republicans goes far beyond the election of 2000. The census will be used to reapportionment of the congressional districts for the decade. Thus, by denying the correction, they in effect are perpetuating their power to 2010 by undercounting groups that historically vote for Democrats
n Dec 1998, Republican House member Bob Barr and Senator Trent Lott were exposed as keynote speakers before the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist organization. Lott was later determined to have been an honorary member and had written several articles for their paper dating back to the early 1990s. In January, Republican National Chairman, Jim Nicholson asked members to dissociate themselves from this group and directly appealed to national committee member Buddy Witherspoon from South Carolina to resign. The request was refused.38 Once before, the Republicans were asked to denounce the radical John Birch Society at their National Convention in the early 1960s. Moderate members such as the former President Jerry Ford, did so. However the measure failed.
>Another Republican that deserves mention here is Pat Buchanan and his anti-Semitic views. Buchanan has opposed virtually all civil rights bills and favorable court decisions; he has supported apartheid in South Africa; he has spewed forth views of Holocaust denial; he has called fascists such as Franco and Pinochet soldier-patriots. And Buchanan was a key figure in urging Reagan to visit the SS cemetery in Bitburg.40
Thus as we prepare to enter a new century, the Republican Party has adopted racism as a divisionist tool to divide the electorate in an attempt to maintain power and enact their extremist agenda. Not all members of the Republican Party are racist, but many of the members from the hard right that controls the party are racists. There are honorable members of the party, but they are being forced into lesser and lesser roles. The extremists have gained control. It is the burden of those honorable members to take back control of their party and denounce the extremist before it becomes too late.
Perhaps the best assessment of the use of destructive divisionism by fascist in the United States comes from a 1945 War department publication:
"Three Ways to Spot U.S. Fascists.
Fascists in America may differ slightly from fascists in other countries, but there are a number of attitudes and practices that they have in common. Following are three. Every person who has one of them is not necessarily a fascist. But he is in a mental state that lends itself to the acceptance of fascist aims.
1.Pitting religion, racial, and economic groups against one another in order to break down the national unity is a device of the divide and conquer technique used by Hitler to gain power in Germany and in other countries. With slight variations, to suit local conditions, fascists everywhere have used this Hitler method. In many countries, anti-Semitism is a dominant devise of fascism. In the United States native fascists have often been anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-Negro, anti-Labor and anti-foreign born. In South America native fascists use the same scapegoats except that they substitute anti-Protestantism for anti-Catholicism.
Interwoven with the master race theory of fascism is a well planned hate campaign against minority races, religions, and other groups. To suit their particular needs and aims, fascists will use any one or a combination of such groups as a convenient scapegoat.
2. Fascism cannot tolerate such religious and ethical concepts as the brotherhood of man. Fascists deny the need for international cooperation. These ideas contradict the fascist theory of the master race. The color, race, creed or nationality-have rights. International cooperation, as expressed in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, run counter to the fascist program of war and world domination. Right now our native fascists are spreading anti-British, anti-Soviet, anti-French and anti-United nations propaganda.
3. It is accurate to call a member of a communist party a communist. For short, he is often called a Red. Indiscriminate pinning of the label Red on people and proposals which one opposes is a common political device. It is a favorite trick of native as well as foreign fascists.
Many fascists make the spurious claim that the world has but two choices---either fascism or communism and they label as communist everyone who refuses to support them. By attacking our free enterprise, capitalist democracy and by deny the effectiveness of our way of life they hope to trap many people."74
The extreme anti-communism and anti-socialism stance of the fascist is beyond dispute among honest historians. Both communists and socialists were the first to enter the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Both Mussolini and Franco fought against communist influence. From the brief survey of the fascist philosophers and extreme anti-liberal stance has been a factor in fascism from the beginning. The Nazi used socialism as a ruse to gain power, but once in power they purged the socialists within their party. The following quotes taken from Mein Kampf will illuminate the anti-communism, anti-parliamentary democracy, and the social darwinism of Hitler.
"Just as in 1918 we paid with our blood for the fact that in 1914 and 1915 we did not proceed to trample the head of Marxist serpent once and for all, we would have to pay most catastrophically if in the spring of 1923 we did not avail ourselves of the opportunity to halt the activity of the Marist traitors and murders of the nation for good"41 >
"As regards the possibility of putting these ideas into practice, I beg you not to forget that the parliamentary principle of democratic majority rule has by no means always dominated mankind, but to the contrary is to be found only in brief periods of history, which are always epochs of decay of peoples and states."42
"The best state constitution and state form is that which, with the most unquestioned certainty, raises the best minds in the national community to leading position and leading influence.
But as in economic life, the able men cannot be appointed from above, but must struggle through for themselves,..."43
The second quote certainly is anti-liberal as it shows Hitler's contempt for the democratic process. The last quote reveals Hitler as a social Darwinist of which Turner makes the point in several places in his book.44 Social Darwinism runs counter to the aims of socialism. In fact it is the antithesis. It allows the elite to gain further power, it willingly discards the poor and the weak as expendables.
With the anti-communism stance and social Darwinism character of Hitler, it is not surprising that the fascist in America would come from the extreme right. The United States was right in opposing communism. But to what links? As with anything else moderation is an admirable quality, excesses of any nature are damaging. Truman or Eisenhower were not fascists for their anti-communism actions. However, Tail Gunner Joe was either a fascist or a willing dupe of fascists. The type of anti-communism of McCarthy served no other purpose than to further his political career. He openly violated the right to free speech and assembly of his victims. His aim was to destroy them with out any regard to the evidence.
The social Darwinism as initiated by Reagan and his attacks on the poor, and the dismantling of the welfare program led by Newt Gingrich will also be labeled as examples of creeping fascism. Throwing people into the streets arbitrarily to fend for themselves is destructive; it is social Darwinism at its worst. Forcing them to except wages below the minimum wage law is denying them their equal rights. But it was precisely the economic woes of Germany that allowed the Nazis to rise to power. Currently America is enjoying good economic times, but when the economy takes a turn to the south the full impact of the lack of a social safety net is going to be felt hard.
The next trait of fascism, extreme exploitation, is a direct result of one of the primary traits of fascism, extreme nationalism. The form of nationalism promoted by fascism not only concerns the standing in the world but also applies to the sacrifices that are expected of citizens. In short, the fascist state reigns supreme while the individuals are subordinate to the state. The subordination of individuals to the state is the antithesis of liberalism. Once again some quotes from Mein Kampf will suffice.
"Since for us the state as such is the only form, but the essential is its content, the nation, the people, it is clear that everything else must be subordinated to its sovereign interests."45
"a peace, supported not by the palm branches of tearful, pacifist female mourners, but based on the victorious sword of a master people, putting the world into the service of a higher culture."46
Certainly from those two quotes there can be no question of the subordination of individuals as practiced under the Nazis or to any limits short of world domination by the Nazis. It is often stated that Hitler left a road map to his future goals in Mein Kampf. There is no greater evidence of that than in the last quote. How then did he rise to power? The problem was nobody was listening. Nobody challenged his aggressive views toward war, or at best they believed that they could control or contain him. Only later did they find out the errors of that false assumption.
This writer can find only two instances of this extreme exploitation in America. Thanks to the efforts of CBS 60 Minutes and Evening News, the story broke about the Tomb of the Unknown and how the Reagan White House pressured the military to find an unknown to bury on Memorial Day 1984. Turns out that in their haste to respond to the pressure coming from the White House, they deliberately buried a fallen soldier that wasn't so unknown. The unknown was Michael Bassie. This man had given everything to his country except for his name. And the lowlife filth occupying the White House had that stripped from him so he could have a photo op on Memorial Day in an election year. This writer can think of no other action that is more despicable; it's unforgivable. Of course Reagan made sure he was the star of this photo op and used it to promote and build support for his extremist military agenda.
The second instance comes at the hands of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans of the 104th and 105th Congress. They have stripped the rights of welfare recipients and required that they participate in workfare. The problem comes in that these poor souls are not even entitled to be paid the minimum wage or the right to unionize in some cases. In other words, the Republican's answer to the poor is to force the to work in perpetual slavery with no chance of ever breaking out of poverty.
But this event is much more dangerous and goes much further than it appears. The danger here lies in the suspension of the constitutional equality under the eyes of the law. The Republicans have in effect created a sub-class in which one of the very fundamental tenets of our constitution, equality under the eyes of the law was ignored and thrown out the window. Nor is this the only example of unequal treatment of the poor at the hands of the Republicans. They also have advocated cut backs in the budget for the public defender's office. The Republicans have been very successful in their propaganda in demonizing the poor. There seems to be an almost gutter level hatred of the poor and any aid to assist them. Instead of reaching out a compassionate helping hand towards the poor, the Republicans have adopted a mean spirited social Darwinist view.
This brings us to the trait of opportunistic ideology of fascism. It is perhaps one of the more confusing aspects of fascism. Mussolini appears to have been indeed a socialist before founding the fascist party. Mussolini likewise went from a pacifist to a rabid warmonger. Clearly such dramatic changes in ideology could only be based in an opportunistic grab for power. Mussolini started supporting a syndicalism economy, but by 1923, with clear objections from business leaders, he concluded the Palazzo Chigi Pact. This pact's main intent was to simplify business relations by making the fascist the sole representative of labor. In 1925, the Plazzo Vidoni agreement was signed. This agreement made Rossoni's union the sole representative of labor. It likewise prohibited the challenging of factory management. By the close of the year, the grateful employer's federation publicly announced adherence to the fascist regime.48 Such transformations illistrate the opportunistic ideology present in fascism or is it a lack of ideology, as well as further dispeling the myth that fascism is another form of socialism.
Part of the problem with the ever-changing ideology of fascism arises from the divisionism. Strasser was a socialist and it seems that Goebbels was a Marxist. Both were allowed almost free reign in promoting their own economic views as long as it gathered more support of serve Hitler's purpose. But once their views failed to serve Hitler, they were then brow beaten severely. An example of such reversal in party ideology of the Nazis occurred on February 14,1926. Prior to this date, both Strasser and Goebbels had approved of a plebiscite campaign to deprive former royalty of their possessions, a measure, that was popular with the common citizens. On the given date, Hitler summoned both men to a meeting in Bamberg. Before those gathered, Hitler forced both to capitulate and abandon the program.49 Similar events have already been given, in which various Nazis were initially allowed to promote socialism in efforts to appease the lower classes in an effort to gain their support.
Examples abound throughout the history of the Nazis where they adopted their ideology to suit the audience. In October 1932, Strasser announced a new program that was a stark reversal of the program the Nazis had advocated in July. Higher taxes on the rich had been replaced with a general reduction of taxes, instead of price controls it centered on freeing prices. Instead of protectionism trade policy, export and global trade was now promoted. Likewise, much of the inflammatory rhetoric had been dropped.50
Hitler seems to have sensed the explosive nature of economics and tried to avoid the subject both publicly and within the party. From all indications, he was dissatisfied with the party planks on economic matters. The only official stance on economic matters was the 1920 twenty-five point program. However, he only referred to this policy document disparagingly in Mein Kampf and distanced himself from the document.51 Likewise Hitler would never take an aggressive stance on minor issues, he played to his audience to win their support.
Perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the opportunistic character of the Nazis is illustrated by the actions of thirty-nine businessmen in November 1932. The group contained such notables as Krupp, Thyssen, Bosch, Siemens, and others. In a signed letter to Hindenburg they urged him to appoint Hitler as chancellor. In essence they were placing a bet that the socialism ideology was a fraud and that once in power he would be a tool of capitalist.52
The only other reversal in policy that could rival the bet that the leaders of big business made was Hitler's writings. In the first part of Mein Kampf he argued that France was the sworn and greater enemy of Germany. However, the second part to Mein Kampf he reversed course and argued that Russia was the enemy as opposed to the first book in which he proposed an alliance with Russia.53 This was a complete change in his foreign policy. One can only speculate as to the reasons behind such a switch.
Many writers have tried to label the Nazis as
socialists in a folly
to distance themselves from fascist theory. They are quick to point to
the syndicalism policy as proof of socialist regulation of business.
They are in error, of course. Syndicalism is neither left nor right in
itself. It can be either, depending upon the political structure.
Syndicalism with labor groups or consumers dominating the issues would
indeed be socialistic in nature. On the other hand, syndicalism with
only industry or business groups dominating is certainly from the right
wing of the political spectrum. The issuing of controls or goals over
the production of war material by the government in a syndicalism
system is neither left nor right, it's simply self-preservation. The
goals and controls, including the 4-Year Plan issued by Goring, were
nothing more than gearing the economy up for war time production. In
essence, they were merely self-preservation measures.
Secondly, they will point toward many of the public works projects that were implemented under the Nazis as examples of socialism. An example of this is the construction of the autobahn, a project that had been planned by previous governments, as were many of the public work projects. They likewise forget that the Nazis took over at the bottom of an economic depression, public work projects were enacted not only in Germany, but in the U. S. as well as a means to end the depression. Many of those projects in the U. S. were the construction of useful infrastructure, such as the building of the high school in New Ulm, Minnesota. Others had a definite commercialism bent to them, such as the construction of Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. Labeling the construction of a facility for a commercial business as socialism is simply fools folly. The same applies to many of the public works projects that were implemented under the Nazis.
Labeling such programs as socialism would be the same as labeling the construction of the interstate highway system as socialism. If the Eisenhower administration had one shinning moment, it was his support for the construction of the freeway system. For those that are silly enough to label such work as socialism, let them be reminded that no other single event, other than the construction of the cross continental railroad aided the development of business. Besides the obvious advantage to shippers, the interstate highway system has spawned many new businesses. Think of the number of motels/hotels as well as the tourist traps, service stations, and others that have grown up along the freeway system. The same applies to Germany and the autobahn.
Finally, the same writers that label fascism as socialism would like their readers to believe that these government regulations and bureaucratic offices held ultimate power. Failure to comply would result in the owners being shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Nazis for a large part lived in fear of the leaders of big business. They were aware that they had no comprehensive economic plan and would defer to the judgement of the business leaders.
This point can be driven home with one simple example. Goering was one of the Nazis that had little economic knowledge, but harbored some of the more radical economic ideas and was fond of using regulatory offices. Goering tried first to persuade the steel industry, both the smelters and miners, to use low-grade German ore as opposed to the high-grade Swedish ore. Importation of ore from Sweden would use up precious foreign currency, as well as being a less reliable source in the event of war. The invasions of Denmark and Norway were conducted solely to protect the Nazis shipping routes for the Swedish ore. Most of the industrialists politely refused Goering's request; even under threats of arrest for sabotage, they still declined.54 None were arrested for refusal. Instead Goering formed the Herman Goering Works to take on the task. By the time of the outbreak of the war it had evolved to be one of the largest companies in Germany.
Farben is another example of the Nazis bowing to the expertise of leading corporations. With the advent of the first 4-Year Plan, they realized they needed the cooperation of business leadership in order to achieve self-sufficiency in a series of raw materials and finished products. Most of which were items would be crucial to wartime production. By the end of the war Farben, had a series of factories around concentration camps, were major users of slave labor, along with Krupp and many other corporations.
But the most damning evidence of the Nazi's unbridled corporatism was evident shortly after passage of the Enabling Act, when Hjalmar Schacht was appointed president of the Reichsbank. Schacht was a brilliant financier who helped negotiate the Dawes Plan and was largely responsible for stabilizing the currency in 1923; he also detested democracy and parliamentarianism. His first official act was the creation of Metall-Forschungsgesellschaft A.G. (Mefo), a dummy corporation of four armament firms. The state assumed the liability for their debts. The Mefo bills were not unlike promissory notes, they were issued to government contractors and could be extended to five years.55 Such favoritism of business is certainly not socialism. Today in America such corporate aid is labeled as corporate welfare. Note the similarity here not only to the present corporate welfare that's being doled out, but also to Eisenhower's warning of the military-industrial complex. The American military-industrial complex didn't need to invent a new plan, they were simply free to follow the example the Nazis used. In fact fascism is inseparatable from corporatism. You simply cannot have a fascist government without corporations and a capitalistic economy.
Schacht was later appointed to minister of economics in 1934, a post he retained until he resigned in 1937 over policy disputes. He was not an anti-Semitic and was conscious of the negative aspects of the takeover of Jewish business on both the economy and world opinion. By 1936, he was advocating slowing down the rearmament program, fearing the return of inflation.56 The return of inflation dispenses with the myths that the Nazis maintained strict control of corporations and the prices of goods in short order. In effect, such controls were non-existent. It should also be pointed out here that the economy at this time had taken on considerable shades of a consumer economy.
Italy used their form of syndicalism to eliminate labor unions; the Nazis followed a similar path. The workers benefited little from this unbridled corporatism. Unemployment went from an official figure of six million unemployed in 1933, to 2.7 million in 1937, and by the time of the outbreak of war there was a serious shortage of workers. But growth in wages was far less spectacular, real wages rose only sparingly. The index of wages rose from 92.5 in 1933 to 103 in 1937, an increase of a meager eleven-percent.57 Much of the increase in wages was achieved only from working longer hours. The only real increases in the plight of the workers came with more unpaid leave. Many of the other benefits produced no real benefits to the worker, such as the factory beautification program.
From looking at the philosophers of fascism, it was revealed that fascism was a reactionary movement. What then was the fascist reacting to that led to the rise of Mussolini and Hitler? Many people responding to the question would simply answer the Treaty of Versailles. But such an answer is only partially correct. It doesn't account for the widespread rise of fascism in many European countries following WWI. In fact, during the period between the two world wars, every government from the Rhine to the Pacific underwent drastic changes. In many of those fascism had ample support but in the end was rejected. Some of the problem can be laid to the beginning dissolution of the British Empire and the arbitrary way in which maps were redrawn following WWI without regard to ethnic or natural barriers. An example would be the cobbled mess of ethnic groups that formed the former republic of Yugoslavia, an area that remains a hot spot today.
Britain and the United States were about the only two governments that did not undergo a major change during the period between the wars. However, neither was immune to the rise of fascism. The U. S. saw a rise of a great many fascist groups and groups closely aligned with the fascist in the period between the wars. The German Bund, the Silver Shirts and the mother's movement were all aligned closely with fascism. It was also this period that seen the greatest membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
The United States avoided full-blown fascism by essentially adopting fascist methods on a milder scale. This was a shameful period in the history of America. The infamous Palmer raids rounded up those with communist connections. The I.W.W was harassed constantly by Hoover and the FBI. In short, only those with non-approved political beliefs would be prosecuted. This suppression of liberty had actually begun around 1900. At the turn of the century, both conservative and liberal elements combined to pass a blizzard of new laws. This effort aimed at curbing lawless quickly became dominated by conservative elements and evolved in a tool for the right wing for the remainder of the century. As head of the FBI, Hoover quickly targeted the leaders of the left for prosecution, ignoring the criminal actions of the hard right groups. This has left the United States without any noticeable left wing compared to the rest of the industrial world.
Perhaps one of the first and most notable events was the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, two immigrants charged with murder in Massachusetts. They were found guilty more on their political beliefs than on evidence. They were anarchists, atheists, and reportedly draft dodgers, beliefs that threatened the industrialists of the time.64 Both were executed after considerable protest. Their trial set a dangerous standard that people could be prosecuted for their political beliefs. The inclusion of this trial here is to serve as a reminder of a new problem that is emerging to confront the hard right, jury nullification. Today there is considerable debate from both sides of the political spectrum on jury nullification arising in death penalty and drug cases. It warrants close observation. If the public becomes too polarized, it could spell the end to the trial by jury system, which has served admirably for over 200 years.
Various members of the right wing are now using this as an issue in another attempt to polarize the electorate for their own selfish purposes. These members of the right wing are promoting a system of justice backed by mob or vigilante justice. Essentially, it's a system backed by violence that is not unlike the tactics used by the Posse Comitatus, the Freemen, or various militias to corrupt the justice system.
The first example of political repression came in Minnesota. The then Republican Governor Burnquist used the newly created Minnesota Commission of Public Safety to suspend New Ulm's Mayor Fritsche and City Attorney Pfaender for their pacifist views after war had been declared on Germany in 1917. The following quote details some of the shameful actions taken by the commission and its connection to the hard right.
In April 1917, soon after America declared war on Germany, the Minnesota Legislature, following ferocious debate, created the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety. This remarkable body, chaired and appointed by the governor, was given "all necessary power" to maintain order and enhance Minnesota's contribution to the war effort.
Technically limited by the state and federal constitutions, the commission essentially wielded all the authority of state government during the 18 months of its active existence. >
The commission came to be dominated by representatives of the Twin Cities business community. It used its sweeping authority with gusto, not only to root out ``disloyalty'' but to combat labor unionism and agrarian activism as well.
The commission dispatched detectives throughout Minnesota to investigate people and organizations suspected of disloyalty. It regulated food prices and the liquor trade, imposing prohibition in some parts of the state. It banned union organizing and intervened on the side of management in a bitter Twin Cities streetcar strike. It created a ``Home Guard'' of some 8,000 troops to back up its decrees.
The commission served as a virtual campaign committee for Republican Gov. Joseph Burnquist in his 1918 re-election bid. It turned a blind eye toward frequent mob harassment of his opponents. It interrogated and intimidated Minnesotans who declined to purchase Liberty Bonds to finance the war effort.63
Nor was such action confined to just Minnesota, many states set up similar commissions. State sponsored violence against leaders from the left was common place. One group that suffered immeasurably was the I.W.W, the Wobblies. On Nov 5, 1916, Washington State suffered its bloodiest labor battle of all time. The resulting carnage between a local sheriff and the Wobblies left seven dead and over fifty wounded in the city of Everett.65
All three of these events illustrate that the United States repressed those with radical ideas in the time period of WWI and immediately thereafter. Pacifist, labor leaders, and leftist political leaders were all prosecuted with equal zeal. Remember, this was the time period of the Rosewood incident and other atrocities. The prosecution was lead by the hard right and business leaders.
But the real answer to the question is that
fascism following WWI
was a reaction to the Bolshevik revolution and the rise of liberalism
ideals. Up until the Russian revolution, the only economic system was
capitalism. Communism was a new revolutionary system. It threatened the
power elite directly and gave way to a rise not only in communism but
socialism and liberalism as well. It was no accident that fascism arose
first in Italy, where in the period of 1919-1922, socialists ruled in
many localities. Here fascism arose in the countryside were old
practices such as sharecropping were giving way to new methods. In
1920, the largest strike in Italian agriculture ever was settled when
the landowners capitulated. Elsewhere, unions were wringing out
concessions from the owners through strikes and boycotts.58
The real appeal of European fascism was the protection it afforded against working class movements, socialism, and communism.59 Hobsbawm states it even more forcefully in claiming that without the October revolution and Leninism there would have been no need for fascism. For up until that time, the demagogic right, although politically active and noisy in many countries, had been kept in check.60 The entire Nazi movement was a reactionary movement. The reaction to the Treaty of Versailles is well known and needs no further comment, as is the opposition of fascism to liberalism, socialism and communism. Rather, the following quote will show how complete the reaction was to the events of the time.
"Today Christians... stand at the head of Germany... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity...We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press- in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past...few years."61 <
The quote above was taken from a speech delivered by Hitler. It provides the illustration that the Nazi movement was completely a reactionary movement, reacting not only to global power politics and the rise of the left, but also to the changes in arts and culture of the time. It also provides the link to demonstrate that today's hard right movement in the U. S. is equally reactionary, in particular, the element of the so-called religious right. Contrast it with the quote by Pat Robertson below.
"The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-governmentby Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society."-Pat Robertson (The 700 Club, Dec. 30, 1981)62
Apparently, Robertson is under the impression that the constitution applies to only those he chooses and is null and void for the rest of us. Hitler held a similar contempt for democracy. However, the point that the Nazis were reactionary has been established beyond any doubt. The reaction was not just confined to the global political scene or economic conditions, but extended into the very roots of the culture.
Starting around 1980, fascism reared its ugly head globally. Unlike the rise of fascism in the 1920s, this time the Reagan administration embraced it. The administration openly promoted class warfare, allowed the LaRocuhians access to security and intelligence agencies, filled the EPA with Coor's lackeys, and openly supported none but the elite. In essence, the Reagan administration was the American equivalent of the passage of the Enabling Act.
There is no need to expand on the violent behavior of the Nazis or fascists, as there is no dispute of their long history of violence. Instead, the violence of various groups in the United States will be explored. Many readers will immediately think of the violence that arose in the 60s during the war protests. In fact, that is the great illusion of the media. The truth is that little violence was directly attributed to war protestors. In fact much of the violence that did come out of the war protests was the work of the FBI.
The real story of violence in the 60s was the violence inflicted upon the civil rights workers by the Klan. The early part of the 60s was marred by violence, inspired by the Klan and racial hatred of right wing groups. Eisenhower had to use National Guards to integrate the Little Rock school system. Kennedy had to use federal marshals to integrate Old Miss. When the Supreme Court order that busing was to be used as a tool for integration, the violence spread nationally. The Klan burnt school busses in Michigan to prevent integration.
Since 1980, right wing groups such as the Order, which murdered the Denver talk show host, Berg, likewise have dominated the violence. The leader of the Order was killed in a shoot out with law enforcement. Another right wing group, the Posse Comitatus became a household word only after the Kahl shoot out with law enforcement in North Dakota. And of course there was the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building by the right winger McVeigh. Perhaps the greatest widespread use of violence since the Klan has been the bombing and violence directed against abortion clinics by members of the religious right.
Violence has been the hallmark of the hard right in America dating back at least as far as the Know Nothing Party in the 1800s and their hatred of Catholics. It was business leaders that hired Pinkertons to murder union organizers in earlier times. Yet there is relatively little in the way to support that left wing groups were equally violent. Groups like the Weathermen were violent, but the group was never more than a small fringe group. Its extremely small size limited the extent of its violence. One of the reasons for the lack of widespread violence from leftist groups has already been mentioned, the suppression of left wing groups by the FBI.
The last two traits of fascism will be explored together, as they are related by an underlying use of symbols and the inseparable nature of cults and religions. There is no doubt that both Hitler and Mussolini were in effect leaders of a cult. Their extremist views would rule out a major following otherwise. In fact, both promoted imagines consistent with cults. Both chose to use propaganda to promote larger than life imagines of themselves. Both Hitler and Mussolini were Catholics; neither appeared to be particularly active members of the church. Hitler referred to Christianity throughout Mein Kampf, as already shown by quotes of which a few more will be included here.
"The sword will become our plow, and from the tears of war the daily bread of future generations will grow."
"The more the linguistic Babel corroded and disorganized parliament, the closer drew the inevitable hour of the disintegration of this Babylonian Empire and with it the hour of freedom for my German-Austria people."
< " the Lord's grace smiled on his ungrateful children." >
Officially, the Nazis were a Christian group, if one can assign a religion to the group by the public policies they enacted. In this case, the assignment is based on the following prayer that the Nazis required to be recited in all public schools.
"Almighty God, dear heavenly Father. In Thy name let us now, in pious spirit, begin our instruction. Enlighten us, teach us all truth, strengthen us in all that is good, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from all evil in order that, as good human beings, we may faithfully perform our duties and thereby, in time and eternity, be made truly happy. Amen."67
It is also true that the Nazis dabbled in mysticism as well. Certainly some of the philosophers were pantheistic. But what really underlies both the religious and mysticism aspects of the Nazis is the symbolism buried underneath. In fact, one follower of fascism believed that the masses were unable to understand anything other than mere slogans. From Mein Kampf the following quote concerns the symbolism hidden behind the Nazi flag.
" Not only that the unique colors, which all of us so passionately love and which once won so much honor for the German people, attest our veneration for the past; they were also the best embodiment of the movement's will. As National Socialists, we see our program in our flag. In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for victory of the Aryan man, and by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic."66
At first in the quote above, Hitler is referring to the old flag of Germany. The choice of red was based on stealing from the communists and was chosen deliberately to enflame the Marxists. Throughout Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to the value of propaganda and made extensive use of symbols to convene a subtle message of hatred.
The similarities to the right wing in America is seen. The Republicans have introduced a flag desecration amendment to protect their symbolism. Even more revealing was the letter Newt Gingrich distributed to members of GOPAC. In this letter, members were to use the following words to impart a negative image: decay, failure, sick, liberal, unionized, welfare, corrupt, greed and intolerant. The following words were to impart a positive imagine: share, legacy, control, truth, and courage.68
Cults are inherently fascist in nature. The leader demands total submersion into the cult. America today has seen far too many examples of cults and cult behavior. A recent example, would be the Waco incident that ended badly. However, there are several right wing groups that do exhibit cult behavior besides the religious groups; the LaRouchians, many of the militias, and the Order would all qualify as cults. In addition, much of the hard right inside the Republican Party has taken on a cult like behavior in their idolizing Reagan. The 105th Congress renamed the Washington airport after him. In the present Congress Congressman Matt Salmmon of Arizona has introduced a bill to deface Mt Rushmore by adding Reagan's imagine to the monument.69
It has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt that Hitler and the Nazis were right wing extremists best described as social darwinists, the antithesis of socialism. It was showed that the Nazis were best described by syndicalism model and that syndicalism is neither socialistic nor capitalistic, inherently. Syndicalism can be either depending upon the makeup; the Nazis were definitely capitalists in that there was no input from labor. All input was reserved for the industrialist. Further, it was shown that the industrialists openly defied Nazi desires in the case of the use of low-grade ores. It was also shown that many of the businesses that was government owned were taken over by the government prior to the Nazis, some dating all the way from the monarchy. Likewise, it was shown that many of the Nazi programs would be classified as corporate welfare today. And it was shown that the real power behind the Nazi movement was the top elitist. This should be sufficient for anyone to dispel the myth that the Nazis were socialist, when in fact they were capitalistic extremists.
In defining fascism, three traits stand above all others, totalitarian, nationalism, and extreme corporatism. In fact, one can not have fascism without corporatism. Other traits of fascism, such as destructive divisionism and the use of violence are secondary. As fascist ideology evolved in the later half of the 20th Century, a happy face was put on fascism by its leaders as they down played the violence and racism. This can be seen best in the far right wing extremist groups currently active in the United States.
Additionally, there is one fact that absolutely places the Nazis and fascism in the extreme right wing portion of the political spectrum, and not the left. No one disputes that a communist revolution attacks the ruling elite of a country. Similarly, socialism and liberalism also attacks the same ruling elite, but the right wing extremists try to claim the opposite. In reality these systems merely seek methods to ease the burden and allow the lower classes to prosper rather than attacking the elite. The Nazis, on the other hand, did not attack the ruling elite of Germany. The rich industrialists were allowed to continue their ways, eased by laws that the Nazis enacted for their benefit. Likewise, the nobility of Germany was supported by the Nazis. In short, the Nazis adopted the ruling elite in Germany and supported them, the exact opposite of what a left leaning political ideology would support.
There is no better proof of the Nazi support for the ruling elite than looking at who supported Hitler in the 1930s in America. Granted, many lower class people were involved in the pro-Hitler movement just as in Germany. But like Germany, it was the rich industrialists that funded these groups. Hearst ordered his newspapers to print pro-Nazi articles. In fact, he had them print the Nazi propaganda directly from Gobbels. Irenee du Pont funded several pro-fascist groups. Henry Ford was well known for his praise of Hitler and funded many pro-Nazis in the 30s. Andrew Mellon and John D. Rockefeller were supporters of Hitler as well. No one is foolish enough to argue that these men were not part of the ruling elite or rich industrialists in America at the time. In fact, support for Hitler among the rich industrialists was rampant.
The continued propagation of such nonsense by the present right wing is nothing short of propaganda. It fits closely with the Nazis' use of propaganda and the symbolism proposed by Gingrich and his negative words. nor will it change the history of the right wing support of the Nazis.
2. Why Americans Hate Politics, E. J. Dionne, Touchstone, 1991, p152-154.
3. Thomas Jefferson: In his Own Words, Maureen Harrison & Steve Gilbert, Barnes & Noble, 1996, p369.
7. Himmler, Peter Padfield, MJF books,1990, p260.
8. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Houghton Mifflin, 1971, p 394.
9. Mein Kampf, p325.
< 10. Lott renounces White Racialist Group He praised in 1992, Thomas Edsell, Washington Post, Dec 16,1998.
12. Thirty Days, Henry Ashby Turner, Addison-Welsey, 1996, p5.
13. Thirty Days, p9-15.
14. Thirty Days, p164.
15. Mein Kampf, p645-646.<
16. Mein Kampf, p218.
17. Adolf Hitler, Robert Payne, Barnes & Noble,1995, p213.
18. Adolf Hitler, p237
19. Who Financed Hitler, James Pool, Pocket Books, 1997, p11.
< 20. Who Financed Hitler, p45
21. Who Financed Hitler, p83.<
22. U. S. Firms' Connections to Nazis Detailed, Reuters, 1/14/1999. Appeared in Boston Globe of same date
23. German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler, Henry Ashby Turner, Oxford University Press, 1985.
24. German Big Business, p151-152.
25. German Big Business, p198-200.
26. German Big Business, p159.
27. Trading with the Enemy, Charles Higham, Barnes & Noble, 1983,p131-132.
28. Hitler and His secret Partners, James Pool, Pocket Books,1997, p52-53
29. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Schirer, Fawcett, 1992, p202.
30.The Rise and Fall, p203.
33. What Real Hate Speech Sounds Like, Jeff Jacony, Boston Globe, 11, 2, 1998.
35. A Trial of Alleged hate to Begin in Texas, AP wire, Boston Globe, 1, 24, 1999 .
36. Minority Voter Intimidation Becomes election Eve Issue, AP wire, 11, 3, 1998.
37. Quite and Odd Couple to Sit in Judgement, Jim Dwyer, New York Daily news, 1, 7, 1999.
38. RNC Chiarman Urges Party Member to Leave Conservative Group, Glen Johnson, AP wire, Boston Globe, 1, 19, 1999.
39. Mein Kampf, p248.
41. Mein Kampf, p678.
42. Mein Kampf, p651.
43. Mein Kampf, p449.
44. Big Business &
45. Mein Kampf, p575.
46. Mein Kampf, p396.
47. Fascism, Roger Eatwell, Penguin, 1995, p149.
48. >Fascism, p77.
49. The Rise and Fall, p181. <
50. Big Business, p288.
51. Big Business, p 81
52. Hitler, John Toland, Doubleday, 1976, p276.<
53. Hitler, p221.
54. Fascism, p156.
56. Fascism, p155.
57. Fascism, p160.
58. Fascism, p53-54.
59. The Age of Extremes, Eric Hobsbawm, Vintage Books, 1996, p 175.
60. The Age of Extremes, p124.
66. Mein Kampf, p498-499.
69. Reagan Wanted on Mt Rushmore, Rueters wire appearing in the 2/2/99 Boston Globe
70. The Road To Serfdom, F..A. Hayek, University of Chicago Press, 1994, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition.
71. The Road to Serfdom, p52.
72. The Road to Serfdom, p44. <
73. Fascism and Big Business, Daniel Guerin, Pathfinder, 1973, p208-213
74. Time Bomb, E.A. Piller, Arco Publishing, 1945, p13-14.
75. Southern Exposure, Stetson
Kennedy, DoubleDay, 1946, p189