Butch Mazzuca: What ‘fascist’ really means
The antics of the far-left usually speak for themselves. But an event that occurred in Berkeley, Calif. a few weeks ago deserves a few comments.
In their ongoing battle with the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Recruiting Station at Shattuck Square, Code Pink (an anti-war group), the Revolutionary Communist Party, assorted Sept. 11 truthers and other far-left activists again attempted to disrupt recruitment activities.
During the playing of our national anthem, the miscreants extended their arms in a mock Nazi salute toward the Marines and their supporters, leading one to assume that the agitators must have felt the core values of the Marine Corps ” duty, honor and commitment ” are to be equated with fascism or Nazism.
Webster’s defines fascism as: “A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” But as a practical matter, the definition of fascism isn’t quite that clear.
Historian R.A.H. Robinson wrote, “Although enormous amounts of research, time and mental energy have been put into the study of it … fascism remains the conundrum for students of the 20th century.” The authors of the French corpus, “Dictionare Historique des Fascisms et du Nazisme” concur, and maintain there is no universally accepted definition of the fascist phenomenon. Stanley Payne who is considered the world’s leading scholar on fascism wrote, “At the end of the 20th century, fascism remains the vaguest of the major political terms,” and Gilbert Allardyce writes in the American Historical Review, “We have agreed to use the word without agreeing on how to define it.”
Scholars on both sides of the Atlantic admit that the nature of fascism is vague, complicated and open to wildly divergent interpretation. Nevertheless, as Jonathan Goldberg writes in is book “Liberal Fascism” many on the far left act as if they know exactly what fascism is ” and they see it everywhere except when they look in the mirror. Goldberg writes that the far-left wields the term like cudgel to beat opponents from the public square.
Reverend Jesse Jackson ascribes opposition to his race-based agenda as fascist. Congressman Charlie Rangel said the GOP’s Contract with America was more extreme than Nazism. Bill Clinton called the Texas GOP platform a “fascist tract,” and now we have U.S Marine officers, whose duty it is to educate interested young people about the dedication and commitment it takes to become a Marine officer, referred to as “Nazis.”
But what would come as a surprise to those misguided souls is that from a historical perspective, fascism is not a phenomenon of the right. Fascism is actually a first cousin of communism and a historical competitor for the same constituencies. Both fascism and communism were, at one time, socialist utopian visions of the future. And prior to World War II, fascism was widely viewed as a “progressive” social movement. It was the horrors of the Holocaust that changed the world’s view of fascism so that today it’s equated with Nazism and viewed as something uniquely evil and bound up with extreme nationalism, paranoia and genocidal racism.
But those facts haven’t deterred Code Pink and other far-left organizations from attempting to portray members of the military as inheritors of Hitler’s jackboots and swastikas. However, if these purveyors of hateful misinformation actually took the time to examine the social tenets of Hitler’s National Socialist Party, they would see that their scurrilous attacks are actually reflections of their own ideologies.
Those inclined to take issue with that last statement should look at the social paradigms embraced by the Third Reich. The Nazis believed in free health-care, guaranteed jobs, euthanasia and gun control. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged religion from the public square, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. They detested the free market, provided generous pensions and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities; all while their “brown shirts” disrupted assemblies and tried to eliminate free speech.
Now, for just a moment, suspend any value judgment of Nazism’s social precepts and ask yourself if those precepts align more closely with the far left or the far right in modern-day America?
Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I am neither directly nor indirectly comparing any mainstream political organization or group in America to the Nazis. Nevertheless, I find it supremely ironic that the social underpinnings of Nazism are in fact infinitely closer to the belief systems of the people who use the term disparagingly than they are to the people they attempt to malign.
Quote of the day: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.””Vladimir Lenin
Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.