THE PERSONAL AND THE POLITICAL
Fascism has an enigmatic countenance because in it appears the most counterpoised contents. It asserts authoritarianism and organizes rebellion. It fights against contemporary democracy and, on the other hand, does not believe in the restoration of any past rule. It seems to pose itself as the forge of a strong State, and uses means most conducive to its dissolution, as if it were a destructive faction or a secret society. Whichever way we approach fascism we find that it is simultaneously one thing and the contrary, it is A and not A . . .
*José Ortega y Gasset, “Sobre el Fascismo” (1927)
A SHORT HISTORY OF FASCISM
“The term “fascist” was first applied to a political movement combining ultranationalism with hostility both to the left and to established conservatism by Mussolini in 1919. Three years later Mussolini came to power at the head of a coalition backed by conservatives, and in 1926 he began to establish a full-scale dictatorship. By this time Fascism was wisely admired by a plethora of distinguished political and literary figures outside Italy, not all of them on the right. During the economic, social, and political crisis beginning in 1929 Nazism made its breakthrough and came to power in January 1933. While Mussolini set out to create a “totalitarian” society, Hitler embarked on the creation of a racial Utopia, a dream that entailed the elimination of Jews from Germany and military conquest of Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, significant fascist movements emerged in many other European countries and in Brazil” (Passmore 11).
CARL J. FRIEDRICH’S TOTALITARIAN STATE
1. A single mass party, led by one man, which forms the hardcore of the regime and which is typically superior to or intertwined with the governmental bureaucracy.
2. A system of terror by the police and secret police which is directed against real and imagined enemies of the regime.
3. A monopolistic control of the mass media.
4. A near monopoly of weapons.
5. Central control of the economy.
6. An elaborate ideology which covers all aspects of man’s existence and which contains a powerful chiliastic [messianic or religious] moment.
THE MARXIST APPROACH TO FASCISM
o “Marxist approaches to fascism all emphasize its links with capitalism. The most influential early definition was that of the Communist International in 1935, which stated that ‘Fascism in power is the open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of finance capitalism’ ” (Passmore 14).
o “For Marxists socialism is the only genuine form of radicalism, so since fascists opposed socialism, they must have been reactionary.” (16)
o Fascism as an anti-modern (Weberian) movement, “resulting from the convergence of pre-industrial elite and the reactionary petty-bourgeoisie” (18).