The Political “Left”‘s Antifascist Con, Among Others.
Posted by Ed Folsom
July 28, 2023
How have the politics of individualism come to be labeled “far-right” while the statist collectivism of the self-identified “left” is sold to us as “anti-fascist”? Does the left/right political binary in current usage have any real meaning, or is it just a tool to foster the categorical thinking of a right=fascist=evil / left=antifascist=good thought binary? It matters because this thought binary is in fact used to perpetrate a con. The con draws its audience into looking the other way while another very real threat approaches from behind. The roots of the con harken back to the World War II battle against Hitler and the Nazis, and it conflates Nazis and “fascists” — who were undoubtedly “white,” “nationalist,” and “white supremacist” — and identifies them as the political “right.” From there, the con throws everything not sufficiently “left” into the “right” category, conflating Nazis, fascists, whites, nationalism, “Ultra-MAGA,” “MAGA,” Republicans, etc.
We have already seen that the good/bad binary fosters categorical thought, exploiting what is a natural tendency. What is good is not bad and what is bad is not good. The same is true of the left/right binary. Left and right are opposites. Left cannot be right and right cannot be left. By applying the good/bad binary to an artificial political spectrum that places evil Nazis, “fascists,” “white nationalists” and “white supremacists” on the right, whoever opposes them is un-right, the antithesis of evil and therefore good. In this paradigm, anyone guarding against evil political tendencies has no reason to guard against them from the political left, because the left produces only anti-evil or good. The focus must instead be entirely on the political right, which constantly presents the danger of a reemerged Hitler/Nazi phenomenon. It’s a rhetorical trick that converts evil into good through a sort of mental alchemy.
But what are the essential differences between the Nazis and fascists on the right side of the binary and the socialists and communists on the left? Each political movement was/is both statist and collectivist. Each relies heavily on centralized economic planning. Each subordinates the individual to the collective and subordinates private property to the State’s interests. And each has been totalitarian: Germany under the Nazis, the Soviet Union and its satellites under Stalin, China under Mao, Cambodia under Pol Pot, etc. Each has a massive death count of civilians who were sacrificed to its ideology: Hitler is estimated to be responsible for 11-12 million civilian deaths, Stalin for 6-9 million, Mao for anywhere from 20-70 million, and Pol Pot 1.5-3 million.
Each political movement targeted out-groups for persecution. For Hitler, the outs were Jews, communists, democrats, gypsies, etc. For Stalin, it was Kulaks, certain ethnic minorities, members of the fifth column, saboteurs, and other enemies of people. For Mao, it was landlords, wealthy peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements, rightists, traitors, foreign agents, capitalist roaders, and the Stinking Ninth. And each political movement represents an attempt to radically remake society to reach an ideal. None was in any sense conservative. Each despised the existing order. Given all the similarities between Naziism/fascism and socialism/communism in practice, what are the salient differences that place “right” politics on the evil side of the left/right binary and “left” politics on the opposite, anti-evil, good side?
Socialism isn’t just everything good that you like.
Before delving into it, we should be clear about what socialism is. Socialism is a political order in which the public – the State — owns the means of production, distribution and exchange. In Marxist theory, it is a transitional stage between capitalism and communism. Marxism teaches that once the stage of communism is reached, at the end of history, human consciousness will be such that there will be no more private property and the State will wither away and die. Lenin, Stalin and Mao all agreed that the States that they and their Communist Parties commanded were socialist, on the road to communism, not communist. That is what socialism as practiced is. And it is underpinned by an ideology, just as Naziism was underpinned by an ideology – a broad, sweeping theory that explains everything by an internal logic, offering one true path to close the gap between existing social deficiencies and the ideological ideal.
For Marxists/socialists/communists, that ideal is the historically inevitable state of human equality and harmony in which everyone agrees upon the greater good and implements it, everything that everyone agrees on benefits everyone, and the State has withered away and died. For Hitler and the Nazis, the ideological ideal was a stage when a new German people would be forged, reaching their higher potential through the laws of nature and the application of science. In the ideology of each, history/nature moves inexorably toward an ideological ideal. For socialists/communists the movement’s direction is determined by a dialectal law of history that carries us to the inevitable. You are either on the right side of history or the wrong side, and given the certainty that comes from inevitability nobody is tolerated who impedes history’s progress. Similarly, Hitler and the Nazis, along with Italian fascists and American progressives of the same era, were heavily influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, with its inexorable, scientific, evolutionary march of the species to higher, more fit levels of development. Leaders of each of these movements were eager to apply their “scientific” insights to lend a hand to the march of history and nature, accelerating the pace onward and upward.
As Hanna Arendt noted, in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism:
“In the interpretation of totalitarianism, all laws have become laws of movement. When the Nazis talked about the law of nature or when the Bolsheviks talk about the law of history, neither nature nor history is any longer the stabilizing source of authority for the actions of mortal men; they are movements in themselves. Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human beings, just as under the Bolshevik’s belief in class-struggle as the expression of the law of history lies Marx’s notion of society as the product of a gigantic historical movement which races according to its own law of motion to the end of historical times when it will abolish itself.”
Do you actually think that Nazis and communists are the antithesis of each other, lying at two diametrically opposed ends of a bifurcated political spectrum? If you do, you have fallen for a clever trick. In what respect are these movements the antithesis of each other? Any differences between them are not the things that make Nazis dangerous. The danger is in the things that make them alike. And the fact that socialists and communists oppose Nazis and fascists does not make socialists and communists any less dangerous than Nazis. The main thing that makes each movement horribly dangerous is its ideology. Quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago: “Ideology – that is what gives evil doing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.”
Fascism isn’t just everything that’s bad that you don’t like. And, is it “right” or “left?”
As for fascism as distinct from Naziism, Benito Mussolini laid claim to devising it. Mussolini also claimed that fascism was a peculiarly Italian phenomenon. In fact, he would take serious issue with anyone who calls Naziism fascist. Mussolini was a socialist before he invented Italian fascism, but he abandoned socialism because he believed that its philosophy of social leveling and its disdain for private property took away the incentive for individuals to work. He believed in strong incentives for work, because he saw work as essential for individuals to collectively raise Italian society to its full potential. Mussolini described his Italian fascism as “totalitarian”: “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” While Hitler saw the role of the State as serving the people in a sort of collectivist symbiosis, Mussolini emphasized the duty of the people to serve the State in a sort of collectivist symbiosis – they had somewhat different emphases.
Why do I tell you about Mussolini? Because we should understand that “fascism ” does not simply mean “anything authoritarian that we don’t like,” and because here’s how Mussolini broke down the political “liberal” versus un-liberal thing in his essay, The Doctrine of Fascism:
“One may now think that this will be the century of authority, the century of the ‘right wing’ the century of Fascism. If the Nineteenth Century was the century of the individual (liberalism signifies individualism) one may think that this will be the century of ‘collectivism,’ the century of the State.”
So, there was Mussolini, the ex-socialist who claimed to have invented fascism, writing in a time when the statist, collectivist Bolsheviks were power in Russia, statist, collectivist Hitler was ascending in Germany, and statist, collectivist Mussolini was in power in Italy, declaring that the Twentieth Century was the century of “collectivism,” in contrast to the “liberal” 19th century of the individual.
Mussolini’s notion that “liberalism signifies individualism” was widely accepted at that time, which would in fact make collectivism, or at least statist collectivism – un-individualism – a phenomenon of the right, not the left. And what is socialism other than statist collectivism, whether you believe it moves inexorably toward a utopia in which the State will wither away and die, or not? How else but through a gigantic, intrusive state apparatus is anyone going to run the State-owned means of production, bring society to a state of woke consciousness, redistribute the wealth, and achieve equity through equality of outcome for all?
Watch out for those beguiling, ideological, statist collectivists who tell you they’re the anti-bad-stuff (They’ve been known to be fascist adjacent).
Because the danger of repeating totalitarianism lies in statist collectivism and its ideological underpinnings themselves, we should be every bit as vigilant against people engaged with political movements that style themselves as creatures of the political left or the anti-right as we are of those styled as the political right. Whenever you see anyone advocating statist, collectivist leveling, in line with an ideology that comprehensively explains the basis of current ills and promises the path to the ideal, beware. You might soon find yourself part of an out-group in the newest iteration of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, or Kampuchea.
Given socialism’s/communism’s adjacency to Naziism/fascism, we should ask ourselves: What is the actual antithesis of ideological statist collectivism? It would have to be anti-statist, anti-collectivism, wouldn’t it? If so, what form of government that has ever governed a nation has been more anti-statist and anti-collectivist than the constitutional republic of the United States of America as founded? With its constitutional independence and limitations on the functions of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, limitations on the federal government’s powers overall, and government’s relationship to the individual premised on inalienable natural rights of the individual, there is simply no way our republic could constitutionally give rise to the ideological, statist, collectivist horrors of Naziism or Italian Fascism, or of Soviet, Chinese, Cuban or Kampuchean socialism.
So why aren’t we told that our U.S. constitutional republic is the antithesis of these totalitarian movements; that it is un-Nazi, un-fascist? Because this would not work for those who benefit from indoctrinating us in a “right wing” versus “liberal/progressive,” evil versus anti-evil thought binary. And without that binary, everything that is now identified as politically anti-right would no longer categorically be the antithesis of evil and, therefore, good.
As matters stand, the ideologues who bring us the false binary use it to try to convince us that our constitutional republic is structured to serve white supremacy, that it is structurally racist, that it is fundamentally, structurally, evil. They – the self-styled, anti-white-supremacists, anti-fascists, etc. — tell us that the only way to achieve their ideological ideal is to dismantle our existing system. Only then can they lead us to the promised land in which their new statist system will ensure equality of outcome for all – Equity! And in that, you have all the elements of new ideological, statist collectivism; the seeds of the next totalitarian horror, this time here.
In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hanna Arendt points out the usefulness to totalitarian movements of their type of binary thinking:
“From the viewpoint of an organization which functions according to the principle that whoever is not included is excluded, whoever is not with me is against me, the world at large loses all the nuances, differentiations, and pluralistic aspects which had in any event become confusing and unbearable to the masses who had lost their place and their orientation in it.”
Are you with the evil or are you with us? Are you evil or anti-evil?
The use of the term “fascist” to smear everyone and everything not sufficiently socialist, and particularly anything associated with capitalism, was pioneered by Soviet and German communists who formed the first Antifa, Antifaschistische Aktion, in 1932 Weimar Germany. In other words, the technique is a product of Stalinist totalitarians. Another manifestation was the naming of the Berlin Wall, by the East Germans and Soviets, as the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, or antifascist protection dike, as if the wall prevented a tide of fascism from spilling into the German Democratic Republic and socialist Eastern Europe.
Contemporary American Antifa use the “fascist” smear liberally, as do other ideological, statist collectivists of their political stripe. In the BML/Antifa riots of 2020, Antifa marched under the English language version of the same banner designed by the original German Antifa, leading some to ask: What could be wrong with Antifa – every right-thinking person is antifascist, aren’t they? This is a wonderful example of the psychology behind smearing everyone as a “fascist,” “white supremacist,” “Nazi,” etc., who is not one of your own kind of ideological, statist totalitarian. Once the evil “others” are identified as evil, those who oppose them become anti-evil. And those who fail to sufficiently oppose the anti-evil are identified as evil too. “Silence is complicity,” “silence is violence.” Or as Robespierre put it, while he and his Jacobin Committee of Public Safety were issuing summary execution orders during The Terror, during the French Revolution:
“There are only two parties in France: the people and its enemies. We must exterminate those miserable villains who are eternally conspiring against the rights of man … [W]e must exterminate all our enemies.”
To those who pose as “anti-fascist,” all speech that opposes them is “fascist” speech, “hate” speech that must be eliminated. You talk of First Amendment rights? “No constitutional amendment is absolute.” “You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” we are told, and that’s what your speech amounts to — a clear and present danger. And besides, the constitution is an anachronism, a relic of our white supremacist founding. When you speak in ways that the censors deem “hate,” “misinformation,” “disinformation,” or “malinformation,” the first amendment offers you no license. You have no “natural rights.” “Natural rights” are just another concept constructed to perpetuate patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, etc. All rights come from the government. They are whatever those with the power to declare and undeclare them say they are.
As Robespierre’s right-hand man, Saint-Just put it, “The republic consists in the extermination of everything that opposes it.” Everything that opposes it. As Mussolini put it, “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” Nothing against us.
This is how evil masquerades as anti-evil, to this day, in the here and now. And the more splintered and disoriented its perpetrators can make us, the better for them. As Hanna Arendt tells us:
“The effectiveness of this kind of propaganda demonstrates one of the chief characteristics of modern masses. They do not believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal and consistent in itself. … What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality. They are predisposed to all ideologies because they explain facts as mere examples of laws and eliminate coincidences by inventing an all-embracing omnipotence which is supposed to be at the root of every accident. Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency. … [H]uman beings need the constant transformation of chaotic and accidental conditions into a man-made pattern of relative consistency.”
For totalitarians in waiting, the more they fracture us, the more they smash our institutions and traditions, the better. They have, at the ready, their all-encompassing, ordered ideology to explain the resulting disorder, offering the one true path to lead us from it to the ideological ideal. Would/will the masses lap it up again, just like they did in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and China? No doubt, the path that the would-be totalitarians will offer will be one of “science.” As Arendt points out:
“The strong emphasis of totalitarian propaganda on the ‘scientific’ nature of its assertions has been compared to certain advertising techniques which also address themselves to masses.” … ‘[T]otalitarianism appears to be only the last stage in a process during which ‘science’ [has become] an idol that will magically cure the evils of existence and transform the nature of man.’”
Have the authorities and the media convinced you that we face a great Nazi, fascist, white supremacist, white nationalist threat to Our Democracy™? While you’re busy exercising vigilance against those far-righters, don’t fail to keep a close eye on the ones who claim to be their antithesis, the anti-fascist good. That bunch are fantastically good beguilers, and over time they’ve had the greater totalitarian success.
As Arendt also tells us:
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”
Do you deny that there are pregnant men? Then you have failed to internalize the Wokeist ideology that explains all. You’d better fall in line and follow the science, lest you be deemed its enemy.