There are many logical incongruities that are maintained on a populist level, especially when it comes to politics. Not least of these is the composition of the political spectrum in identifying ideologies and systems of governance. The most common fallacy is identifying fascism as a right-wing ideology, even though its ideological roots originate in the left-wing extremist models of communism and socialism.
The most pervasive political spectrum is loosely based on a left/right orientation, and attempts to place political models somewhere along the continuum. But for a political spectrum to have any meaningful representation, it must be based on some set of absolute values. Since every system of governance has unique characteristics, those can hardly be used for the absolute reference points from which to measure.
Since a spectrum is in fact a continuum, the absolute extremes must be established, so that all variations and deviations from those extremes can be accurately charted. For example, light and dark, heat and cold, the band of waves of the electromagnetic spectrum, all measure from one extreme to the other. So it is with the political spectrum. Since governments establish order based on the regulation of the activities of the members of their respective societies, the correct extremes for the political spectrum delineate the degree of individual freedom allowed. And traditionally that has been demarcated as left to right; least freedom, to most freedom; totalitarianism to anarchy.
And because the spectrum is a continuum, from one extreme to the other, it is a straight line. It doesn’t curve around, or circumvent the scale at any point. It is a continuous, single-dimensional range from one extreme to the other. And with individual freedom, there are only two absolute points of reference: maximum freedom (anarchy), or no freedom (totalitarianism). With those absolutes established at the ends of the spectrum, all systems of governance can be effectively placed on the spectrum, and scaled based on the degree or level of individual freedom, or conversely, the degree of state control over the individual.
Some political scientists have maintained that a single left-right axis is inadequate, and have consequently often added biaxial spectra distinguishing between varying issues. This is unnecessary when broadly identifying systems of governance based on a continuum of individual freedom, for ancillary factors and characteristics inevitably integrate into the dominant ideological model.
On the political spectrum, the furthest to the left, the more totalitarian the government is. Centralized planning and governmental control over the lives of individuals is characteristic of all forms of socialism, whether Communist or the Nationalist variety, (fascism) and the state assumes preeminence over individual rights when taken to the extreme.
The furthest to the right on the political spectrum, the more individual liberty is advanced. Taken to its extreme is anarchy. When analyzed logically, then, National Socialism and fascism are wholly incongruent philosophically and practically to the right of the spectrum. Those who refer to Nazism as “right-wing” are politically ill-informed and have fallen for Stalin’s tactic of referring to them as such. One scholar makes the point that Nazism is to Communism what Pepsi is to Coke: basically the same but with a little different flavor.
Economically, fascism advocates control of business and labor, not ownership of it as communism advocates. In fact Mussolini called his system the “Corporate State.” Even the term “totalitarianism” derives from Mussolini’s concept of the preeminence of the “total state.”
Indeed, European fascism is an offshoot of Marxism, the theoretical framework for communism and socialism. The founding father to fascism, Benito Mussolini, in 1919 established the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, which by 1921, became the National Fascist Party. He was born and raised a socialist. His father was a member of the same internationale as Marx and Engels. His father read him Das Kapital as a bedtime story. He was kicked out of the Italian Socialist Party in 1914 for supporting World War I, which he believed would save socialism, and stubbornly declared that he’d die a socialist.
This all makes much more sense logically, when the destructive and pejorative elements to Nazism, which was fascistic, are considered. The Brown Shirts, SS (Schutzstaffel), Gestapo, pogroms, anti-Semitism, genocide, eugenics, etc. ad nauseam are all products of oppressive, totalitarian ideology, not one that believes in more freedom.
Disturbingly, there is an American statism based ideologically on similar principles to European fascism. Our statist movement has the same ideological connections with those in Europe, reliant on philosophical components of Hegel, Weber, Marx, Kung, and Sartre. It’s harmonious in principle to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, statement, “To be a socialist is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole.”
America’s version also seeks to concentrate power in the state at the expense of individual liberty. As philosopher Leonard Piekoff states, it “does not represent a new approach to government; but is a continuation of the political absolutism — the absolute monarchies, the oligarchies, the theocracies, the random tyrannies — which has characterized most of human history.” It seeks to suppress criticism and opposition to the government. It denounces and eschews individualism, capitalism and inequity in compensation. It seeks out and targets enemies of the people like corporations and those not supportive of their collectivist objectives. Clearly, even American statism is fascistic, and distinctly characteristic of the political left.
Historically, ideologically, and etymologically, fascism is a stepchild to Marxist theory. While differences exist between these isms, they are all oppressive, and are among the most totalitarian forms of government in the 20th century.
Any attempts to describe the political spectrum as “circular,” rather than “linear,” are logically untenable. Any attempt to conflate fascism with the American right on the spectrum, is historically revisionist and wholly illogical. It only fits with an inane, and politically motivated model for casting aspersions, for it has no basis in historical, logical, or ideological fact.
Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].