By Gary G. Kohls, MD
Sep 2, 2009, 00:24
Recent letters to the Duluth News-Tribune editor have accused earlier letter writers of not knowing their history. The letter writer of August 19 also alluded to a book entitled Liberal Fascism, which is one of the recent American right-wing Rovian/Limbaughesque efforts to distract attention from the legitimate, obvious and overwhelming similarities between the far right-wing politics of the current Republican Party and the far right-wing politics of World II-era Italy and Germany (and Japan, for that matter). That letter-writer needs to go back to the history books himself and learn about the history of European fascism -- which is very good advice for the rest of us as well.
Fascism, in the various definitions outlined in reputable textbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries is a right-wing (not left-wing!) ideology of negativism which attempts to destroy liberalism, socialism, communism, true democracy, egalitarianism and labor unionism. It also tends to be ultra-nationalist, racist, sexist, corporatist and militarist.
As a political and economic system in Mussolini’s Italy, fascism combined elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism and anti-communism.
In Hitler’s Germany, political and economic fascism was welcomed by the big money corporate interests that were afraid of the power of the trade union movement. German fascism (Nazism) spawned thuggery, street fighting (the infamous Brownshirts and SA) and routinely disrupted, by intimidating and shouting down their anti-fascist opponents, any attempt at open-minded public discourse. Election fraud was rampant and there was an obsession with national security issues.
Two good places to start learning the forgotten history of fascism are with Dr. Laurence Britt’s 14 points of fascism found at here and with more at Wikipedia.
German Nazis literally smashed leftist printing presses (and got away with it, with the right-wing Gestapo looking the other way) and had anti-fascist activists (such as poets, artists, authors, union activists and assorted nonviolent resisters -- many of whom were Jewish) arrested, imprisoned, tortured and often executed. The Nazi Brownshirts shouted down liberal legislators in the Reichstag (before beating them, imprisoning them and burning down the building).
They used total press censorship as part of a powerful and extensive network of right-wing propaganda machinery, with ultimately total control of Germany’s mainstream media and the outlawing of any alternative press.
Nazism was totalitarian, ultra-nationalistic, militaristic, anti-Semitic, racist and it unashamedly tortured members of its opposition. Alarmingly, it also co-opted German Christianity and turned it into a punitive, pro-violent, virulently anti-Semitic religion (with swastikas hanging from many pulpits) which then obediently went along with Hitler’s military recruitment efforts, concentration camps and the brutal invasion and occupation of sovereign nations.
Fascists like Hitler and his Big Business backers hated liberals, socialists and the left-wing workers’ rights movement, and they successfully broke the unions just in time for Hitler’s war industry boom that ultimately resulted in full (though not well-paid) employment and Germany’s overwhelmingly powerful military machine.
The use of the words “socialist” and “workers” in the name of Hitler’s political party (National Socialist German Worker’s Party [NSDAP] from which the term Nazi was derived) was a token concession to the leftist inclinations of voters such as poor farmers, the under-employed and poorly paid workers and the many impoverished people who had suffered so much under the hyperinflation, joblessness and hunger resulting from the German militarists’ gamble that started, and then lost, World War I. The use of those two words turned out to be a cruel joke that has confused many who haven’t taken the time to learn the sobering facts of world history, especially the history of European fascism.
Though Hitler is dead, his spirit seems to be alive and well. Fascism is, by definition, an extension of far right-wing politics and economics.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
Fascism is a right-wing, anti-liberal ideology and should be recognized as such.
There is no such thing as liberal fascism.
Dr. Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, a member of Veterans for Peace, a peace and justice activist, and opposes fascism in all its variations.