What did you learn about Fascism in school? Of course you learned that it was BAD. But what did Fascists actually believe? What were their political and economic policies? Turns out they were socialists that realized you did not have to actually own the means of production to control the means of production. They were completely against liberty and capitalism as all socialists must be. They rejected the Internationale because it was dominated by the Bolsheviks and made their socialist ideal national rather than international. Some argue that their policies and approaches would change frequently. That is true. That stems partly from Fascism’s philosophical relationship to the American Pragmatist school of philosophy. Do what works to accomplish the goal. And the goal – one they share with socialists – is control. Control. Even when the means differ.
European fascists pushed for a militaristic mobilization of society. Early on, like the American progressives, they drew inspiration from Bismark’s Prussia. In America, the progressives followed the same inspiration but knew Americans would not go for the militarization of all society. They knew they needed major crises that would justify their statist approach so contrary to the historic American Constitutional Republic. William James coined the term “moral equivalent of war” to describe such crises. That is why we had a “war on poverty” (completely ineffective). And a war on drugs (also completely ineffective). And a “war on terror”. And this is why progressives love the climate change issue. Crises provide reasons for control and scare the population into trading liberty for security. And how could you come up with a slogan more perfect for enslaving humanity than saving the whole planet.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” — Rahm Emmanuel
The three approaches to progressivism/fascism heavily cross-pollinated each other. Mussolini modeled much of his early activity on Wilson’s regime in WW1 and FDR’s New Deal could have been right out of Mussolini’s play book. FDR and Mussolini had quite the mutual admiration society going on until Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1936. Hitler also referred to his platform as a New Deal and it included his anti-capitalist vision of state-driven economic mobilization and control.
German fascists (Nazis) added in racism and anti-semitism to a much greater extent than the Italian Fascists. There is nothing inherently racist about fascism. Racism is just an add-on that might or might not be there. In fact, many communist regimes have been racist. And many European nations have histories of anti-semitism apart from their changing political systems.
The fascists in America called themselves Progressives. Chronologically, it might be more correct to call the Italian Fascists progressive rather than calling the Progressives fascist as American Progressives adopted and tried to implement these views before Mussolini came on the scene. And while racism can be tied to any political approach, many of the Progressives were racist and more like the German fascists than the Italian ones in that regard. Some of the forced sterilization programs put in place by Progressives in the US were copied by the Germans in the early days of the Reich.
That said, the vision of “progress” this approach offers leads logically if not inevitably to ideas about how to “progress” humans – whether the human race in general or a specific nationality or ethnic group. This results in eugenics based policies and historically did so in both Germany with its obvious horrific results and the US with its more hidden history of eugenics in the first half of the 20th century.
But after a war with European fascists and after the horrors of the Holocaust became fully known, Progressives wanted to distance themselves from fascism and began to call themselves liberals. “Fascist” became a term of derision ultimately divorced from the actual philosophical, political, and economic ideas espoused by Fascism. The adoption (or theft) of the term “liberal” was a complete lie as liberals historically believed in liberty and free markets and progressives believe in expanding state control over every aspect of people’s lives “for the good of society.” This terminology theft was not difficult since Progressives control academia, public schools, and the media. They largely took over the Democratic Party during the 20th century but are also significant in the GOP.
Progressive political philosophy is collectivist and statist. It rejected the principles of natural rights that form the basis of the American Republic. Progressives view the Constitution as something to work around or ignore so they call it “living”. But the sense that they use the term “living” renders it actually dead. Progressives rely on fear and crises to get the people to give up their liberty to the state.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken
It may be too late although liberty-lovers should continue to fight. The progressives have made huge inroads in undermining the liberties guaranteed by the American republic and to replace it with a soft totalitarianism in which the appearance of democracy serves the same function as bread and circuses in Rome. Ultimately, all collectivist statist governments collapse under their own weight and contradictions. When that happens, those who love liberty must be ready to stand in the ashes and rebuild a free Republic.