Updated: May 3
The capitalization problem
Right out of the box, I am not Dr. Grammar police, as I surely do have my share of editorial faults. And, no I did not make a typographical error in this article's title. However, my eyes are deteriorating, and I am old enough to deserve calling out to the community of younger and more astute for help in locating any of them. I am going to let the proofreading police handle: spacing, typos, formatting, and other deviations. As the expression on the PBS comedy show, “Red- Green” would have it, “we are all in this together”, a distinctive ring of fascism, but more of this later. I am not immune to the errors written about here but am at least cognizant about why words are upper or lower case. Improper capitalization, among other editorial faults, can lead a reader seriously astray, but it is something that we should have learned in grammar school. Never mind that, though; writers have become so sloppy that sentences don't even make sense. Subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, and comma splices are ubiquitous, the authors not even knowing or caring. For example, AP news (often riddled with these types of errors), wrote “It was five days before ballots will be counted … .” The future tense was used, rather than the correct “would be”. Such is one result of the U.S. school system degenerating, with standards being progressively lowered since the narcissistic drug-permeated hippie period of the 1960s and 1970s.
Capitalization gives a noun a special status. That is, a proper noun is capitalized, meaning that it is a particular person, place, or thing. Let's take “White House” and “white house”, the former referring to a particular building in Washington, D.C. The second is merely a building colored white. How about other words, like “corporatism”, “liberty”, and “democracy”? These terms are descriptive of an idea, set of beliefs, or institutions, but not any single one having special status. Remember, the suffixes “ism” and “ist” are appended to a noun, the first meaning the “belief system or condition of”, the second, “an adherent to the set of ideas or concept”. In this section I will be paying attention just to the grammar issue. Later I will use some of these in explaining how philosophy shapes meaning.
Here are some examples. General terms like “democracy” are treated the same way. Political or social belief systems are the same, as in monarchism, authoritarianism, socialism, feudalism, communism, and even nationalism. As to the “ism” attributed to a person, it is obvious the word is capitalized. If we are referring to a special case, we modify the word, as in “Soviet communism” or “U.S. democracy”. Sometimes you will see the second word in upper case, as in “U.S. Democracy”, and I have objections to the usage, but at least there is an attempt to qualify the general term as being a special case. One reason for the objection is the normal confusion resulting in ambiguity. It is common to see capitalized words, even though no special meaning is attributed. In reading works originally in foreign languages but translated into English, there are problems, as well. One very curious example is “state."
Aristotle did not capitalize the word, according to Benjamin Jowett's translation of Politics. Hobbes (1651) in The Leviathan was somewhat inconsistent, as in “And those laws were the laws of nature, and the civil laws of the state, whereto every Christian man had by pact submitted himself” (Ibid., p. 327) and “... shall judge fittest, for the government of their own subjects, both as they are the Commonwealth and as they are the Church: for both State and Church are the same men” (Ibid., p. 342). Rousseau (1762/1923) capitalized “state” in Cole's translation of The Social Contract . When we read Hegel, some of his works, like the Philosophy of Right (Dowd, translator) (1833/1896/2001), the word takes a lower case, but in the Philosophy of History (Sibree, translator) (1899) it is capitalized.
Let's take “corporatism”. The reason we do not capitalize “corporatism” in its generic usage is the same we do not do for describing any general “ism”, a condition or state of being, as in pragmatism, fanaticism, hypothyroidism, and so forth. Context often will give the word its own meaning. Read carefully the lead-up to the word “Corporations” in the following passage, where Pitigliani (1933) attaches that meaning, i.e., “are the bodies which enable the State ...” i.e.
Hence, while the Confederations are associations of higher grade in which the various associations of the grade which comes immediately below are united, limited always to persons occupied in a certain specific branch, the Corporations are the bodies which enable the State to make use of the producing classes and categories for the purpose of bringing about the development of national production. (Ibid., p. 92)
Our lesson as fascists is to look at “corporation” in a writing to see how it is used. ITT, US Steel; Google, and so forth would not be what Pitigliani had in mind as “Corporations”. In other words, you have to read around the word, i.e., the context in which the upper case occurs. Here is another example:
The corporative organs referred to cause the factors in production to come together on a footing of equality. Thus there arises the question how do the purposes of the syndical associations differ from those of the Corporation. (Ibid., p.93)
The word “corporation” takes an upper case “c”, because it refers to a particular set of ideas distinguishing it from the corporation we see in liberal societies. In the first sentence “corporative” is a generalized term, as might be a body part (analogously, “body organs”), hence being lower case.
What about terms like “National Socialism” (as opposed to “national socialism”), “Marxism”, and so forth? Again, the same concept applies. With respect to “National Socialism”, this was a term coined specially by Hitler and others. It was not used prior to their time.
I think of “communist” and a particular one, Stalin. He called himself a “communist”, but given his nationalism and his ordering the assassination of Trotsky in 1940 makes one wonder. Do we define “communism” by what Stalin says, or do we look at other writers, such as Marx, himself, Trotsky, Lenin, and others, each of these calling themselves “communist”? “Communism”, or any other generic “ism” is not defined by the individual, although the individual may profess adherence to it. I will not define “communism” by reading just Stalin's works but as many works as possible by those calling themselves “communist”.
Such is a scientific and statistical method. Say that you wanted to know the overall topography of California. To find out, do I go to the highest two or three mountains and leave it at that? I also need to sample wide-open areas, like that between the eastern border and Los Angeles. In this way I am able to get a mean value, but it is more informative to know that the state has a large range of heights, from about sea level to thousands of feet above sea level. California is not just flat or mountainous, but varied in elevation; such characterizes the state properly. In the same way you read as many works as possible by “ists” about any “ism” and see what the common elements are. I will have a bit more to say on all these below when we discuss how to compare the “isms”. I return to an etymological analysis.
For “communism”, the word is derived from “communalism”, or things held in common, there being no central authority or person owning or controlling these things. That is:
1843, "social system based on collective ownership," from French communisme (c.1840), from commun (Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public;" see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). (Communism – etymology, 2018)
This is not that great an explanation, because I know that language did not start in the early-mid 19th century. We can go back to find some word that describes collective ownership or “free, open, public” and read “Latin bonum publicum 'the common weal.'.” (Common – etymology, 2018)
All in all then, there is the generic and special case of words, the former being lowercase, the latter upper case. What about “neo”, as in “neo-Fascist” or “neo-Nazi”? Here, the capitalization is correct, as we have an adherent to a past set of beliefs. So, person X would be a neo-Nazi if s/he believes as Hitler did. The word “neo” would not be accurate if the person was adhering to a philosophy described by a wide-range of contemporary thinkers. Thus, “neo-fascist” would be nonsensical, as “fascist” would be generic and current, again, described by a cross-current of philosophers, including the one being “neo”.
There is another facet of the upper and lower-case issue. As I say frequently in my writings, understanding a particular can happen only by dialectics, i.e., by what that particular is not – context, or background. In the case of “communism”, I find the following by Jean-Luc Nancy, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Chair and Professor of Philosophy at The European Graduate School/EGS very revealing and descriptive of our immediate topic, “fascism”. I will quote in entirety:
Even if history is not enough to explain what we could call the “destiny” of this word, something seems to be positive: community – koinonia, communitas – emerges at times of profound social transformations and/or trouble or even destructions of social order. This is the case at the time before the Christian era as well as at the final time of feudalism or later at the time of the first industrial revolution. The first time was that of the transformation of the whole social and cultural structure of the antique world – that is, the final achievement of what had opened this antique world itself: the deconstruction of agrarian culture and of theocracy. Such a deconstruction makes clear, or pushes to the foreground what was hidden under or inside the construction: that is, the togetherness of people (admittedly, even of people with every other being like animals, plants, even stars and stones…). Before and out of the Greek – occidental – moment, the togetherness is given first. We call that “holistic society”, supposing that such society understands itself as a holon, that is a whole. To the whole we oppose the parts – as parts taken out of their whole – or a togetherness of several wholes – that is, of individuals. In both representations the same question arises: what becomes of togetherness when a whole is not given, and perhaps even not to be given in any way?
Thus arises koinônia or I would say the drive to it, the drive to community. It comes or it emerges, perhaps it constitutes itself because what it calls, what it names or designates is not or is no longer given. (Nancy, 2018)
Searching for fascists and Fascists
By looking at why or why not “fascism” is capitalized we also can be thinking about the philosophy or reason why it is or is not. This will help answer the question about your being a Fascist or fascist. It has been stated very correctly in Fascist Struggle that members of the American Blackshirts Party normally are not Fascists, but fascists. What does this mean? You will see both ubiquitously. I will get to a consistent way of using these in a while.
My purpose here is not to expostulate extensively on the philosophy of fascism but to provide some approaches to identifying the philosophy and to distinguish it from others, such as those foundational and too often confused philosophies like National Socialism. We already have seen that “first alert” in how a word is rendered in upper and lower case. Here, I discuss some methods of identifying those foundations, the first being etymology, or word origins.
Let's take an excursion that reveals the serious conceptual problems people have with the word. A casual reader earnestly wanting to learn “fascism”'s meaning, as well as its origin may go to https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=fascism but finds:
Figure 1: Diatribe disguised as etymology
Rather than doing diligence in locating the origin of “fascism”, the author of this little rant laces it with propaganda and highly charged phrasing that inaccurately characterizes a word having ancient origins. Really, now, “barn-yard”? The passage is incoherent. Have you ever heard of anyone being called a “Fascist” if they “believe that any individual differences of real importance can exist?” Searching on my somewhat trusty Internet under “barn-yard” did not show that the expression refers to anything like that appearing above. Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries and Wikipedia are clueless, but do talk about animals walking around in a “barnyard”. The Urban Dictionary refers to “often a woman who takes part in a gangbang”. Well, so much for “barn-yard” and fascism.
In peeling back the ideological mask, I went further and found more accurately,
1590s, from Latin fasces "bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade projecting" (plural of fascis "bundle" of wood, etc.), from Proto-Italic *faski-"bundle," perhaps from PIE *bhasko- band, bundle" (source also of Middle Irish basc "neckband," Welsh baich "load, burden," perhaps also Old English bæst"inner bark of the linden tree"). Carried before a lictor, a superior Roman magistrate, as a symbol of power over life and limb: the sticks symbolized punishment by whipping, the axe-head execution by beheading. Hence in Latin it also meant, figuratively, "high office, supreme power. (Fasces – etymology,
It is always a good idea to get a second view, the following confirming the above paragraph:
The term fascism (or fascismo) derives from the word fascio, meaning bundle or league. In ancient Rome a bundle of rods, tied together, known in Latin as the fasces was a symbol of authority, representing strength through unity, the point being that whilst each independent rod was fragile, as a bundle they were strong. (Fascism, 2018)
To appreciate the total misunderstanding of the word “fascist” go to .... and you will see this utter nonsense:
On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution. — Anne Applebaum, New York Review of Books, 25 Oct. 2007
Consider what happened during the crisis of global fascism. At first, even the truth about Hitler was inconvenient. Many in the west hoped the danger would simply go away. —Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006 (Ibid.)
On top of this cake of confusion there is the icing: “fascist - \ˈfa-shist also -sist\ noun or adjective, often capitalized”. Such is the whole point of my article, to help clarify when to capitalize or not, based on simple English capitalization rules and correct understanding of philosophy
Who is what, where to find out, and what is it?
We now come to proponents of the social philosophy. There is the particular meaning, i.e., Italian fascism, that special case embraced by Mussolini and his contemporaries. Also, there is the general case incorporating antecedent and contemporary thinking outside the immediate domain of Italian thinkers.
Who coined the term? If it was Mussolini, it has the same status as “National Socialism” for the reasons I gave above. Be mindful, though, if you are calling yourself “fascist” but referring only to Mussolini and his rendition of the idea, then strictly speaking, you are a “Fascist”, more precisely, an “Italian fascist”. Remember this thought from above, that freely throwing around that you are a “Fascist” to those who are not familiar with what we are talking about invitees them to think of all fascists as “Fascists”. This is somewhat tricky, so let us give some examples, each one of them requiring a descriptive context.
The Fascists marched in the square.
The fascists marched in the square.
They would appear to be the same, but the first is a fascist of a specific type, i.e.;., an adherent of Italian fascism, so we'd expect all those marching in the first sentence to the Italian variety but may not include some broader ideas. The second are persons adhering to a broader set of ideas that are fascist with those broader ideas.
Be aware that in Italian fascist writings
I am going to leave it as an exercise to compare the CasaPound Platform (2018) with documents from Mussolini's Italy, locating what has been added since then, as well as what has been subtracted. I submit you would find something like this, as represented by the following Venn diagram:
Figure 2: Other ideas, fascism, and Italian fascism
Our diagram, shows Italian fascism as an intersection of fascism and other ideas. Let's take Oswald Mosely (2018) post-1938, when Italian fascism had to adopt National Socialist race laws. Moseley would be a fascist, apart from Italian fascism at this time, the Italian fascists taking antisemitism from National Socialism, which we have seen, is not fascism. As an extension, I could draw a three-circle diagram showing what Italian fascism and fascism share but not in common with National Socialism, but this is for another paper.
So, what is a “fascist”? Surely, we are not going to learn anything worthwhile by reading the average dictionary or reading a propagandist who calls Hitler one. Let me pull you aside again for a moment to remark about how critical it is to have a deep understanding of political philosophies and their origins, as these are the underpinnings of how we characterize societies.
Just like with communism or any of the other isms, we need to read … well, fascists. I am talking Mussolini, himself, of course, but Palmieri, Rocco, Por, Gentile, Pitigliani, and many others. It does not hurt to read Fascist Struggle, either, as it presents contemporary thought. Another excellent source for how fascism translates into social action is the CasaPound Italia Platform (CasaPound, 2018). Underpinning all of these are foundations that are best described by philosophical antecedents, like Hegel, more particularly, his Philosophy of Right, the subject of another article.
I am not a Fascist, but a fascist. I look at two essential sources: the meaning of the ax midst the bundle of rods signifying strength through unity and a number of philosophers regarding themselves as “fascist”. All of fascism rests on two pillars: social organicity and dialectics. The first refers to interdependence, integration, community, and cooperation. What does that “strength through unity” mean from a deeper philosophical perspective?
Axes cut, and this is what analysis does. Analysis is the source of knowledge, and knowledge is power. What emerges from this cutting of a whole are mere pieces, rods in our case of the fasces. These pieces have no meaning, except when regarded in that context of the whole. That ax has just cut up a log (the whole) into a number of rods, but notice these individual rods (metaphorically the results of the analysis done by the ax) surround that ax. Not only do they surround it but they are bound together by cords both at the bottom and the top. The whole comprises the State. It is the State that has knowledge, hence power.
The fasces tells us about the dialectic, something existing because of what it is not, otherwise called “unity of opposites” and searchable on the Internet. Those cords, incidentally represent the dialectic. I will look at some of the implications later on in this article.
Figure 3: Roman lictor (From 'Habiti Antichi e Moderni' by Cesare Vecellio)
Why cannot the other “isms” be capitalized? Here they are:
Added to this is “democracy”, archaically called “democratism”.
There was no single founder or movement that initiated any of these. They emerged or evolved from historical circumstances and much thinking about them. Each of these may be deemed either a structure or process, the user of the word often confabulating the two. The structure refers to forms of government, the propaganda - in the case of democracy, for example - alleging that each person has a vote.
With “democracy”, there often is another confusion about direct vote and a vote for a representative (direct democracy and representative democracy), usually deemed a “republic”. A republic has its philosophical roots in Plato's book The Republic describing our inability to know reality through our senses. This is a topic for another article, but it is worthwhile to read this philosopher. Allowing anyone to vote without being educated, having no ethics, or being so destitute they will vote for anyone to find relief usually has dire consequences, as Aristotle wrote 2500 years ago in his book Politics. … I just had to get this mini-critique in. ☺
As to democracy being a process, there are two basic circumstances: open and those with parameters. The open - every person one vote - is the “pure democracy” that existed in Athens in Aristotle's time. Back then, when educational institutions were not as formalized as they are today, when not much was known about human behavior, and the consequences of decisions were not as catastrophic as in modern times, that system was a welcomed advance from other oppressive systems. Compare the Peloponnesian War to modern wars in terms of technology and long-lasting environmental effects. It is one matter for a population to have greeted enthusiastically such a conflict then (431–404 BCE) but quite another for those to invite the likes of a World War I.
“Communism” is another “ism”, it referring to what people claimed in places like Eastern Europe, China, the former Soviet Union, and so forth. Proponents, as those for “democracy”, chatter on about how the wishes of the “people” are represented fairly. Then, there is “communism”, the presumably stateless society, where there is no private ownership, and everything is shared in common. Chatter abounds here, as well, but Orwell accurately described the usual pattern of events in his novelette Animal Farm. In this paragraph, I will add all the other “isms” attempting to appeal to “democracy”, citing for Orwellian application to “socialist” Venezuela and Nicaragua.
A last observation is how these “isms” are different from fascism. None of these and “democracy” are organic, as is fascism. I am not going to enter the extensive debate about the difference between life and not life, as such is a matter of extensive and serious debate even among the most able of biologists, but it all has to do with the idea of the State, again, described by Hegel. For our purposes the “components” all are integrated and interdependent. The whole exists because of these components, and the components exist because of the whole.
The “case study of Italian fascism and National Socialism
In this section, I am writing about one version of fascism, the Italian one. We may see word written “Fascism” (upper case), or “Italian fascism”, this latter expression giving one member of the set of fascisms a special status, i.e., being specifically Italian. In my writing I always keep the word lower case, again so not to encourage people to modify the word, as by a person or country. My section here is what health professionals refer to as a “case study” (pun on noun case somewhat intended) to illustrate a problem, its foundations, and ways to resolve it.
Why am I not allowing for “national socialism”? Aside from it being a system of ideas essentially Hitlerian (other like Rosenberg, Goebbels, and others merely parroting him), we find little variance in other countries, but moreover it is more rigid. Fascism is more pragmatic, although continuously sustained by the philosophy of the State. Here is a take-off point for further research.
One of the failings in equating National Socialism with fascism is that if we are going to broad- brush a number of systems with the same term, especially for convenience, then the important philosophical distinctions are blurred. Let's take this analogy. There is a major difference between a supercomputer and an ordinary 2.4 GHz desktop computer, but if we refer to both of them merely as a “computer”, we lose the idea that the former has enormously more utility and computing power than the latter. Here is another analogy. There is a hierarchy of detail, as in a biological taxonomy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Similarity is not defining what something is, although it may help. A muskrat is not an elephant, although both are similar in that they are mammals. In saying that National Socialism is fascism is like saying that communism is socialism is feudalism is … etc., all being social arrangements, thus eviscerating meaning from each of these, a form of Orwellian Newspeak, if you will. It may have propagandistic value and help in winning wars, but has no intellectual or scholarly integrity.
In identifying your own beliefs, precision is required, not only in being accurate for everyone else but yourself, as well. Hence, you need to fine-tune philosophical and analytic methods. Propaganda is not philosophy. Even the adherents to a sophisticated philosophical system can be propagandists, but you need to distinguish what is for public consumption and your own thinking, the latter having gone through refinement by philosophy, critical thinking, scientific methods, logic, and so forth. Let's see what this looks like, and here I pick on those who should know better: supposed scholars in political theory. The following is by historian Martin Kitchen, author of Fascism:
"'Fascist totalitarianism' incorporates six main features: an over-reaching ideology, a single political party, a state terror apparatus, a government-controlled media, a monopoly on arms, and a centrally-directed economy” (Kitchen, 1982, p. 27). How is this different from Stalinism, Maoism, or Baathism?
We have the very popular Robert Paxton (2017), whom Live Science (Szalay, J., 2017) deemed “a professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University in New York who is widely considered the father of fascism studies” (Szalay, 2017). I like these ASSertions (intentional, here):
...fascism does not rest of formal philosophical positions with claims to universal validity. (Page 4)
· There was no “Fascist Manifesto,” no founding fascist thinker. (Ibid.)
· They [fascisms] fit badly into any system of universal intellectual principles. (Paxton, p.5.)
· Further, the words of fascist intellectuals – even if we accept for the moment that they constitute fundamental philosophical texts – correspond only distantly with what fascist movements do after they have power. (Ibid.)
I wonder what Mussolini, Gentile, or Palmieri might say. Maybe I never did read The Doctrine of Fascism after all. I guess that Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Durkheim's Division of Labor, and all the writers about society being an organism and which fascist philosophers referenced have no bearing.
This last item about the practice not reflecting the theory is rather telling, and if we are to take it to heart, then the United States surely does not even resemble a representative democracy, save for structure. Theory and practice of that theory often vary, but such does not discard the value of the philosophy, any more than how Christians practice their religion sullies the words of Jesus.
Yes it is somewhat true what he says about the changing nature of systems, that we should study “fascism in motion, paying more attention to processes than essences” (Ibid., p. 10), but I ask “what is a pure process” and “how do you characterize it, except for identifying an essence?” For example, both growing from an embryo to a full adult and the development of a hurricane from a low pressure area are both processes, but the meaning of the abstract “process” is given content by the particular description, i.e., its essence. Remember the dumping all systems into one box and calling each with the label given that box? It is the same error.
On and on you can read this drivel, observing all the while Paxton's repeatedly equates National Socialism with fascism. I do not need to root about any further in this dumpster to know what it contains. There might be something valuable accidentally tossed in, as “dumpster divers” can report in their experiences, but we should move on.
Winnowing out one system from the rest can be difficult, as even scholars, like Kitchen and Paxton, along with many other like Nolte, Shirer, Lacquer, and others will confabulate fascism with National Socialism. Why has there been so much confusion between these two? What do we do with sloppy thinking, like “Nazism is a form of fascism ...” (Nazism, 2018)? Like everything else, there is a popular view and the more refined well researched one. The best popular version is purveyed by academics, a couple of samples of whom we just read. The refined view starts with looking at the proponents of the philosophy, in this case, fascists, some of whom I mentioned above. Here, I am going to apply that generic knowledge about fascism to focusing on Italian fascists.
Mussolini and others took very ancient ideas and parlayed them as the philosophy behind a particular government – the Italian one. By Mussolini's own account in his Autobiography it started with the formation of the Fascist Revolutionary Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario PFR) in Italy in 1915 and carried forth in the March on Rome 27-29 October 1922. “Fascism” is a word describing the ancient concept of the fasces and merged with the structural formality described by in the form of the Fascist State. I will pause here for a moment and call attention to Italian fascist philosophers using the upper case “u”, as fascism was unique at that time. There were no other varieties.
Note that there is a lot I am leaving out, such as the philosophical and historical roots of the fascism of Oswald Mosely and the French fascists. However, this omission does not change the argument about the generic name and adjectives to describe specific versions of fascism. It was not until after the Second World War that more attention was paid to the generic and amplified aspects of the word, thus allowing the use of “fascism”.
A major source of confusion was Hitler's looking to Mussolini for some of his essential ideas but tailoring or being them into the distinctively different special social arrangements of National Socialism. Did National Socialists call themselves “Fascists” or “fascists”? An exhaustive study should be done of the writings of National Socialists, accompanied by a description the instances and discussion of the context. For example, the writer may not have been a theoretician but merely slinging the term about carelessly, as in a National Socialist admiring Mussolini, presenting some ideas held by both Hitler and Mussolini, and calling this overlap “Fascism”. I
go to the founder as a prime source: Adolf Hitler.
I think it is worthy to note that in the metaphorical Bible of National Socialism, Mein Kampf, Hitler (1941) not once uses the word “Fascism” or “fascism” to describe his thinking. Then, there are many speeches, like his 13 September 1936 one to indicate how he separated the two thought systems:
Rallies are being held everywhere during these weeks and months. We read about how, in other countries, the stirred-up masses are called upon to attend protest rallies against Fascism, against National Socialism; (Domarus, M., 1990, p. 836)
... we will be hearing from the lips of one such world-wise person correspondingly that National Socialism, contrary to its program, does not intend to stand up for Germany, and neither does Fascism for Italy! (Ibid., p. 937)
and a 28 September 1937 reference to “... the compatibility—yes, indeed, the need—for National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy to stand together … Fascism has its own ethical principles to which it strives to remain true ...” (Ibid., p. 950). There is “The ideological kinship between Fascism and the National Socialist Movement” (Ibid., p. 1105). We have in a 28 April 1939 speech: “And the rest of the world can no more doubt, in the end, the civilizing works of Fascism than it can doubt those of National Socialism” [Ibid., p. 1582]. On 1 September 1939, Hitler referred to “the common cause of Fascism and National Socialism” (Ibid., p. 1748). Hitler 8 November 1940,
As far as Italy was concerned, this attempt succeeded thanks to the ingenious actions of the man who founded Fascism and who was victorious in the same struggle in his country which we National Socialists were confronted with in Germany. (Ibid., p. 2114)
And in the midst of this Volk, at its core, is the National Socialist movement, which started from this hall twenty-one years ago. This movement is by itself one of the best organizations, of a type the democratic states do not possess, and has its only counterpart in Fascism. (Ibid., p. 2374)
Towards the end, 23 May 1942, Hitler refers to “The unyielding will of our people to win, united by National Socialism and Fascism ...” (Ibid., p. 2637).
Nowhere in this over three thousand-page work do we find Hitler equating Fascism with National Socialism. Always one is juxtaposed to the other.
One source of erroneously equating fascism with National Socialism are the events from 1936- on, when Mussolini, rejected by Churchill in attempting even to form an alliance, was forced by
geopolitics to run for Hitler's protection. A principle doctrinal feature of National Socialism is racialism, but Mussolini initially was opposed to it. Yet, he caved into Hitler's pressure and perforce adopted thinking or policies that were National Socialist. Subsuming elements of thinking from a philosophy does not make you an adherent of that philosophy en toto. I'll take the example of the CasaPound (2018) Italia Platform that calls for “A state-owned and government-controlled Banca d’Italia” and “Nationalisation of energy, telecommunication and transport sectors. Nationalisation of all natural resources (water, gas, etc.) and their distribution” [Ibid.]. While there are elements of socialism (social ownership and control of the means of production and distribution), this does not make fascism socialism. One critical element that has not been brought into socialism include the organic character of society, i.e., the State, discussed earlier.
A bit of logic to help us out
How about some good old-fashioned logic to help us out in separating systems of thin king. The following diagram explains how systems have common features but are distinct.
Figure 4: Venn diagram of National Socialism, Italian fascism, and Stalinism
Let's call A National Socialism, B Italian fascism, and C Communism of the Stalinist variety. Say we encounter a definition of “fascism” as having the following characteristics:
· police state
· pragmatic ideology
· single state party
· personality cult of the leader
· suppression of trade unions
· intolerance of disagreement
· concentration camps.
A bit of research will confirm that both Hitler and Stalin qualify (although neither was a fascist), and this can be signified as number one in the above Venn diagram. However, we can continue the winnowing process to discern further difference so that National Socialism does become apart from Stalinism. We can list:
· tendency to agrarianism
· doctrinaire racialism
· private property
· idea of the Volk (as opposed to the State)
… and so forth, our common area in the Venn diagram being just the A. We can do the same for Stalinism and Italian fascism. There are some commonalities designated above as the intersection of areas A and B - National Socialism and Italian fascism, or number two, as in greater emphasis on the organic society, protection of private property, and religiosity. Ultimately, we find enough to see how different they are, and these are just the separate areas of A, B, and C with no numbers. For example National Socialism is all about “race”, the Volk, and authority emanating from one person (Hitler). Fascism, on the other hand championed the State, was anti-racist, and had in its structure distributed authority (as in the Grand Council of Fascism). A lesson to be learned is not to confuse the thinking or philosophy with the technique. Any “ism” can be imposed, and if you do not think so, look at the United States imposing “democracy” throughout the world, more recently in the Middle East.
Much more can be said about the differences, but for now I refer to Fabio Capano and John Lukacs (with some reservation) as good analysts. Admittedly it is a very confusing world out there, and simply going on the Internet will not guarantee correct answers. You have to have not only an excellent grounding in political philosophy and history but be well heeled in logic and critical thinking. In backing off from the particulars of political philosophy more important is introspection, and core values, all summed up as ethos. I now bring the theory, a discussion of which was initially prompted that little matter of upper and lower case, to bear on our current environment.
Applying the fascist philosophy
What the “isms” are and are not
I am finished nitpicking and want to turn your attention to how the differences between these political philosophies bear on our real world. Humanity is not facing a crisis but an emergency called “The Sixth Great Extinction”, and it is clear that prior thinking in terms of “isms” and “ocracies” has not been sufficient even to ameliorate the problems. Overpopulation, resource depletion, conflict intensification because of technology, and global warming are just some of the problems, any one of these being sufficient to initiate a global societal collapse. Every response to these has been piecemeal, disjointed, or anarchistic, even though this subspecies has become more interdependent than ever before.
To see why, we need to visit the ideas underpinning these “isms” listed above, including “democracy” as a structure. We can see how they do separate them from each other. The common denominator of those other than fascism is the primacy of the individual in terms of “rights” and material gain. Socialism in all of its forms seeks material betterment for each individual, albeit through the collective ownership and control of the means of production. Communism is a mere extension of that. Monarchism and its companion feudalism, one of the most socially primitive of “isms” is about a small elite of individuals literally lording over the others because of their birth, although the Magna Carta in 1215 started to change all that with more attention paid to individual “rights”. Capitalism, only a notch above monarchism in terms of social and civil integration, highlighted the focus on what can be called nothing short of narcissism, the obsession with the self at the expense of others. Capitalism is all about consumerism, greed, and material advantage. It is a welfare system, where each predator can get something for nothing, as in ideally paying nothing for the factors of production (land, labor and capital) and charging the highest price that the “market will bear” (including taking advantage of one's unfortunate circumstances). Notice I did not use words like “betterment”, because even though lifespans have been extended and the day-by-day drudgery of onerous work has been reduced, the price has been radical socioeconomic social stratification and environmental degradation, two of the many eyes of the Sixth Great Extinction monster facing us now. Everything, including social services, has been made a commodity. Think of the “health care industry”, “educational industry”, or “customers”. A student now is a customer in the educational industry. Think about that, people! Think of the implications. Capitalism is not a sustainable system, as the Great Crash of 1929 and the 2008 bankster collapse revealed. Forcing its way through this zoo of “isms” has been National Socialism's demagoguery about “race” (clue: this does not exist), “blood and soil”, and other primitive appeals to anything outside the scope of civility and logic.
What is missing?
Let's go back and take our identification of the individual as the focus of these “isms” and see what is missing. What is that special property that could be attached to current administrations, governments, countries, states, and other formally organized social units? It is a property that normal public political discourse has omitted. It is the raison d'tre of societies, the reason for their being. It is not just about survival or dominating others. All these “isms”, save for fascism, are ultimately predatory, even socialism and communism, as we saw above that these focus on what is good for the individual, albeit within larger social framework. Yet this framework is protective of material well-being. None of these account for the context of environment or process. No, the determinism of Marxism is not about process but stasis. If we had the predicative power claimed by dialectical materialists with their “class consciousness”, we would not be here on this planet attempting to divine the future by crude statistical tools.
Nothing exists in isolation; otherwise it would be all there is; everything would be uniform; there would be no difference. Difference is what makes things the way they are. The term for this is “dialectics”, something existing because of what it is not; that is “di” means “two”. It is the unity of opposites, a concept that can readily be found on the Internet and has been around for thousands of years, mainly in East Asia. In more modern times, G.W.F. Hegel wrote about it more abstractly in his Phenomenology of Mind (1807) and more immediately relevant to us in we already talked about above in his Philosophy of Right (1821), both works of which can be downloaded gratis from www.archive.org . The individual cannot be regarded logically or phenomenologically alone, the only thing there is, or else all there would be is a world of individuals. This goes for anything: trees, cats, tables, or even clouds. These things are known by what they are not.
Common sense tells us that there are groups of individuals called “organizations”, “societies”, and the like. The reasoning about it not being possible for individuals existing by themselves is the same as for societies. These too depend upon individuals for their existence. In other words, neither individuals nor societies can exist without the other. We can expand this reasoning to actions, as well, growing a plant, painting a house, writing a book, or governing a people being cases in point. Newton once said that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, a recognition of how important context is. If a government provides housing to the poor but not education, employment, health care, and so forth, you will find impoverished unschooled, and diseased people being transferred from hovels to decent homes, but almost guaranteed, not only will the health of the inhabitants remain the same and probably decline, but the house itself will soon deteriorate because of neglect, thus negating the original intent of providing of housing. In essence, there must be a solution that accounts for the context, one that is conscious of
integration and interdependence, i.e., total. Notice here that none of the other “isms” have this approach, save for National Socialism but in a very evil way. Too, I argue that the National Socialist regime was not a State, if you read Hegel correctly. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine why. Start with §240, come to
The state is real. Its reality consists in its realizing the interest of the whole in particular ends. Actuality is always the unity of universality and particularity. Universality exists piecemeal in particularity. Each side appears as if self-sufficient, although it is upheld and sustained only in the whole. (Hegel, (1833/1896/2001), p. 270)
to §279, “the state is individual and one”, and continue. Then, tell me why. For §279, remember that Hitler proclaimed himself as the State. Research the 24 August 1934 loyalty oath, "I swear: I shall be loyal and obedient to Adolf Hitler....” This was to Hitler, not to the State. Continue reading Hegel.
An example of context
We see problem solving in these systems and “isms” as on a separate item-by-item basis. There is no cohesion among problem solutions, and usually the attempts fail, because the reasons are not addressed. Look at the schools. In 1983 the Carnegie Commission issued it A Nation at Risk, outlining how the lowered standards and student outcomes have sunk so low as to be a National security issue. When you look at the Literacy Project Foundation (2018) and the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), you will learn that half the U.S. Adults cannot read past the eighth grade [NAAL, 2003, 2005] and that the average child seriously lags behind d in basic skills. Go to the National Science Foundation and learn that 25% of all U.S. Adults think the Sun orbits the Earth (National Science Foundation, 2014). How about poverty? The famous “War on Poverty” launched by President Lyndon Baines Johnson 8 January 1964 turned out like the U.S. Effort to “liberate” Afghanistan, the “graveyard of empires”. (There is the much-vaunted “freedom” of U.S. Propagandists there, alright, and Hobbes would have loved every second of it in writing about the state of nature. Then, 19% lived in poverty; in 2018 look at the following from the U.S. Census bureau and tell me if things have changed.)
Figure 5: Poverty rate - 1959-2016
Five and some percent change percent decrease – whoopee, for all the hoopla that has been made and billions spent. At best the anti-poverty effort has merely kept the lid on the pressure cooker, with income stratification worsening. If the U.S. Federal Reserve is to be taken seriously,
Total household debt rose to an all-time high of $13.15 trillion at year-end 2017, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconomic Data. The report said it was fifth consecutive year of annual household debt growth with increases in the mortgage, student, auto and credit card categories. (Kim, 2018)
So, don't worry, folks, poverty showtime is coming to a theater near you in the not too distant future. You'll get your turn in line.
I can go on and on with examples like these, but I'll give one more but super critical one – global warming. It is a great idea to have all these efforts to produce alternative energy, carbon sequestering, recycling, and good old all-around conservation, but this is like saying that an epileptic or a person afflicted with Turettes' syndrome is walking, chewing, or making other purposeful motion. Or, tell the alcoholic that he/she simply must stop the booze, or s/he will die. This is exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) was about in its 2015, allowing for voluntary abatement of carbon, rather than setting mandatory standards, which if not met would result in penalties. I recommend the You Tube channel “Climate State” as a starter in gaining some perspective on what is happening to us now climatically.
So, is that grammatical rule important?
It seems that we have strayed far afield from our initial concern about capitalizing “fascism”, but be reminded that we either are talking about proper nouns, that is, particular persons, places or things or a generalized idea. We are – or least should be – aware of stereotyping. Besides a good way to alienate people, it also is logically fallacious. Logicians call it “false generalization”.
Just because I see a couple of green cars passing down an otherwise empty street does not mean that the next cars I see will be green. Because a person calling her or himself “fascist” says “XYZ” does not mean that XYZ is the core of fascism. I have to hear or read many others. The way we identify a political philosophy and apply it to our world, as we have seen above, is critical.
Being “organic” is a particular quality of fascism, and if we willy nilly say that fascism is socialism and think the latter is adequate for addressing a social malaise, then we will have missed the essential element of organicity, organicity being essential to the solution. That is, fascism would be the correct philosophy, not socialism. The above discussion about context should have made clear the importance.
Otherwise stated, a word takes on a special significance by acquiring this property. A cat is a cat is a cat is just a feline, unless we attribute it with special qualities that turn it into a special cat, as in a Persian, Angora, Abyssinian American Bobtail American Curl American Ring-tail American … well, you get the idea.
Not only in discussing larger philosophies like fascism is proper identification and reference important but for other common words like “corporation” and its derivatives. Using it incorrectly can sully a whole argument. There is a vulgar “corporatism” referring to the domination of corporations, but these are not the same as those described by fascist philosophers, such as Pitigliani. I might go so far as capitalizing “corporatism”, as it is different than the vulgar one.
My rule about “fascism” is simple. Always use the lower case, and, as with any other noun, you can make it particular or special by modifying it. The proper noun aspect will take care of itself by the prefix of country or philosopher. If you do wind up using the upper case “Fascism” (and its derivatives) make absolutely sure in the text before that you are referring to a special case and state the conditions. If quoting the original author, I'd preserve the capitalization. However, if it is a problem of translation, as I found with Hegel, I make a note to the reader that the case- sensitive version is rendered by the author and make note that the concept has special meaning, thus requiring upper case.
This is an object lesson for all of us. Being more careful about the upper and lower case will make us more meticulous, observing and analyzing that about which we are writing. Am I describing a set of ideas specified by a person, or am I looking at a broader concept?
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