Force and Consent
From Making the Fascist State by Herbert Schneider, Copyright, 1928, by Oxford University Press, New York, Inc. p 341-342
A certain Italian liberalism that claims to be the only representative of the authoritative immortal principles, extraordinarily resembles socialism now half defunct, since it too like the latter, believes it possesses an indisputable scientific” truth, good for all times, places and situations. Here is the absurdity. Liberalism is not the ultimate word nor does it represent a final formula in the matter of the art of government. In this difficult and delicate art, which works on the most refractory of materials and in a constant state of movement, since it works with the living and not with the dead, in the political art there is no Aristotelian unity of time, place and action. Men have been fortunately governed in a thousand different ways. Liberalism is the contribution and the method of the nineteenth century and is not stupid as Daudet believes, for there are no stupid centuries and intelligent centuries, but intelligence and stupidity alternate in greater or less proportions in every century. It does not follow that liberalism, which was a good method of government for the nineteenth century, that is for a century dominated by two such essential phenomena as the development of capitalism and the rise of the sentiment of nationality, must necessarily be adapted to the twentieth century, which is already assuming characteristics very different from those which distinguished the preceding century. Facts are worth more than books and experience more than doctrine. Now the greatest experiences since the War, those which are in continual movement before our eyes, indicate liberalism’s defeat. In Russia and in Italy it has been demonstrated that it is possible to govern irrespective of and contrary to the whole liberal ideology. Communism and fascism are outside of liberalism.
But wherein does this liberalism essentially consist, with which all the enemies of fascism are today more or less directly inflamed? Does liberalism mean universal suffrage and related things? Does it mean keeping the Chamber of Deputies open permanently because it affords the indecent spectacle which had been generally nauseating? Does it mean to, allow to a few in the name of liberty the liberty of killing the liberty of all? Does it mean to open the door wide to those who declare their hostility to the state and who are actively working at its destruction? Is this liberalism? Very well, if this is liberalism; it is a theory and practice of abnegation and of ruin. Liberty is not an end but a means. As a means it must be controlled and dominated. And this raises the theme of “force.”
The honorable liberals are begged to tell me if there ever was a government in history that was based exclusively on the consent of the people and renounced any and every use of force. A government so constituted there never was and there never will be. Consent is as changeable as the formations in the sands of the seashore. We cannot have it always. Nor can it ever be total. No government has ever existed that made all its subjects happy. Whatever solution you happen to give to any problem whatsoever, even though you share the Divine wisdom, you would inevitably create a class of malcontents. If in geometry so far it has been impossible to square the circle, it has been even more so in politics. Given as axiomatic that any provision of the government whatsoever creates some malcontents, how are you going to avoid that this discontent spread and constitute a danger for the solidarity of the state? You avoid it with force; by bringing a maximum force to bear; by employing this force inexorably whenever it is rendered necessary. Rob any government of force and I mean physical, armed force and leave it with only its Immortal principles, and that government will be at the mercy of the first group that is organized and intent on overthrowing it. Now fascism throws these lifeless theories on the dump heap. When a group or a party is in power it has the obligation of fortifying itself and defending itself against all. The plain truth that must stare into the eyes of anyone not blinded by dogmatism, is that men are perhaps tired of liberty. They have had an orgy of it. Today liberty is no longer the chaste stern virgin for whom the generations of the first half of the last century fought and died. For the youth that is intrepid, restless and hard, that faces the dawn of the new history, there are other words of much greater power, and they are: order,, hierarchy, discipline. This poor Italian liberalism that is groaning and battling for a wider liberty is singularly behind the times. It is completely incomprehensible and impossible. They talk of the seeds that will bring back the spring. Jesting! Some seeds die under the shroud of winter. Fascism that was not afraid of being called reactionary while many of today’s liberals lay prone before the triumphant beast, has no hesitation today in calling itself illiberal and anti-liberal. Fascism will not fall victim to this kind of vulgar play.
Let it be known therefore once and for all that fascism knows no idols and worships no fetishes; it has already passed over and if necessary will turn once more and quietly pass over the decayed corpse of the Goddess Liberty.