Posts Tagged ‘Salo’

Mussolini Vs. the Banksters

April 2, 2016

Mussolini was a thug and a mass murderer, who took a nation of poets, thinkers, writers, musicians, scientists and philosophers and tried to turn them into goose-stepping butchers like himself, and their country into a cross between a vast open-air prison and an army camp. Ultimately he failed, and the best thing that happened to his regime was that it more or less completely evaporated after he was overthrown by his own Fascist Grand Council.

But he knew how to handle the banks. After the Great Crash of 1929, he nationalised them. New Labour bailed them out, and then both New Labour and the Tories have allowed the bankers to go on as before, making the same kind of dodgy financial deals and awarding themselves massive pay rises and bonuses far beyond the percentages given to ordinary workers. When these workers are given pay rises at all, thanks to the government’s austerity programme and the repeated insistence on fiscal responsibility, combatting inflation and all the other rubbish.

This is a post that would shock American Republicans. Glen Beck, one of the loonier characters in right-wing broadcasting, cried on his show about Obama’s totalitarian Nazi oppression of the banksters. He really did carry on as if he believed that the heads of Lehmann Brothers, Goldman Sachs and the like had been carried off to some gulag in the wilds of Alaska or somewhere. He made a speech in which he paraphrased, yet again, the Martin Niemoller poem, ‘First they came for…’. He altered it to, ‘First the came for the bankers’. Tears and histrionics followed.

But Obama didn’t imprison or even punish the bankers. He bailed them out, and the world has effectively continued to bail them out, and has been subsidising their profligacy and lavish lifestyle ever since.

This attitude comes from the deliberate Republican and Conservative conflation of Fascism with Socialism, in which any criticisms of financial capitalism are automatically equated with Hitler’s attacks on Jewish bankers. Hitler did indeed make speeches attacking Jewish capitalists and bankers, including one in which he said that when he came to power, he would throw their coffers into the street. It’s vile stuff, and Hitler did carry out his threat. Jewish shops and businesses were smashed during Kristallnacht, and signs were put up ordering gentiles to boycott their businesses. They were watched, and any gentile going into one was photographed. And then during the Holocaust they seized the property of the people they murdered, though they continued to exploit skilled Jewish artisans to produce luxury items in a grotesque merchandising operation in the concentration camps. The SS even produced a catalogue of goods available from them, which were made by the Jewish artisans they had imprisoned and were working to death.

But Hitler wasn’t against capitalism or the banks per se. Indeed, in the next part of his speech he went on to declare how he would not treat good gentile German capitalists and employers the same way, as they treated their German employees well and worked for the good of Germany as true members of the Volksgemeinschaft – the racial community. The head of the Nazi big business organisation was the head of Allianz Insurance, and Hitler himself was very careful when on the verge of power to win over big business. And Hjalmar Schacht, a banker, who was at one time the Nazis’ economics minister, told Hitler to tone the rhetoric down about attacking big business and the capitalists.

Mussolini was also a vile anti-Semite. He wasn’t originally. When he started his career on the Right, he was merely ultra-nationalist. This was bad enough. It led the Italians to commit terrible atrocities in Africa, where they gassed and bombed civilians in Libya and Ethiopia. In Libya they also used massacres of the civilian population and mass rapes to terrorise the population. My guess is that memories of these war-time atrocities were responsible for Gaddafi’s expulsion of the Italian population after he seized power. I don’t know, but I strongly suspect that they’re still being used by the Islamists to whip up hatred against Europe. But it was only after the rise of Hitler that he became anti-Semitic. In 1937 he passed anti-Semitic legislation that was modelled on, but rather weaker, than those in Nazi Germany. At the end of his career, when he was ostensibly keep to introduce a quasi-Socialist regime in the Nazi puppet republic of Salo, he still insisted on keeping anti-Semitism as a key component of Fascist ideology. Because the Italian anti-Semitic legislation was weaker than that of Germany, however, 80 per cent of Italian Jews were able to survive, though this should not detract from the fact that 20 per cent were still murdered, along with all the other Italians the regime butchered.

Mussolini’s nationalisation of the Italian banks, however, wasn’t based on racial theory. It was based on the same entirely practically considerations that also led the Labour government to nationalise the Royal Bank of Scotland. This, however, has since been privatised in what I think was another deal that left the tax-payer out of pocket.

Musso was a tyrant and butcher, but in this instance, he was right. Unlike the New Labour and the Tories, who prefer to bail the banks out, let them continue as before, and then punish the country’s working people for their failings, under the guise of necessary financial restructuring, and the idiotic mantra ‘we’re all in this together’. They fact that the bankers and big businessmen are still giving themselves massive bonuses makes it very clear that we aren’t.

Tory MEP Hannan Describes French Front National as ‘Left-Wing’

March 31, 2014

Daniel Hannan

Tory MEP and supporter of NHS privatisation Daniel Hannan. In his view, the Front National are left-wing.

Following this morning’s post tracing the accusation that the National Front/ BNP are left-wing parties to the pamphlet by Stephen Ayres of the National Association For Freedom (NAFF), now the Freedom Association, The National Front are a Socialist Front, I received this comment from Buddyhell:

Hannan has today written a blog that describes le Front National as “far-left”. He will not be told. Even his stablemates attack him for the way he lazily draws lines between fascism and socialism. In essence, Hannan is smearing the Left with these assertions.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100265536/france-has-given-up-on-its-politicians-with-good-reason/
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I’ve blogged before about the way Fascism included left-wing elements amongst a number of competing and contradictory ideologies and groups. Mussolini had started off as a radical Socialist, but broke with the party over his support for Italy joining the First World War. Jess has also commented on this morning’s post about the nature of Fascism, pointing to a report in the Guardian for the 13th October 2009 that Mussolini was being paid £100 a week by MI5 in 1917 for his continued vocal support for the Italian war effort. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/13/benito-mussolini-recruited-mi5-italy. ‘The name’s Mussolini. Benito Mussolini’, she remarks drily. Unfortunately, Mussolini was never that suave. According to Denis Mack Smith’s biography, he got thrown out of at least one school for spending all his time in the local cemetery drinking, using foul language and seducing the local girls. He also raped one young woman, who had the misfortune to catch his eye. He did like sharp suits, however. After haranguing the crowd dressed in the rough clothes of a worker, he used to go home and put on a smart suit and patent leather shoes. So, with the promiscuity and the suits, a bit like Bond, but only a really nasty, thuggish one.

Mussolini and the Corporate State

Mussolini seized power by promising to defend the middle classes and private property from the threat of Socialism and organised labour. The Fascist squadristi pursued a campaign of violence and terror against the Socialist and Communist parties and their supporters. In power, Mussolini created the corporate state, which presented Fascism as a radical alternative to laissez-faire capitalism. The corporations were industrial bodies consisting of the trade union and employers’ organisation for a particular industry or sector of the economy. Parliament was replaced by a Council of Corporations. Each corporation sent three delegates – one from the union, one from the employer’s organisation and one from the Fascist party to represent ‘the people’. It was partly based on Syndicalism, a form of Anarchism that seeks to replace the capitalist state by a system in which industry is owned and managed by the workers themselves through their trade unions. Mussolini called his system, ‘National Syndicalism’. Several of the architects of the corporative state were former syndicalists, like Pannunzio and Michele Bianchi.

A similar system had also already been advocated by Alfredo Rocco and the Italian Nationalist Association, representing the interests of the extreme Right-wing industrialists. Their programme included state-organised cartels, and single, state-controlled union, and the destruction of the political role of Socialist party. Under the Fascist regime, strikes were forbidden and a special system of Labour Courts was set up to settle industrial disputes. Although the Fascists claimed to have solved the conflict between capital and labour, the reality was that the unions were under the strict control of the state, which favoured the industrialists and employers. Pannunzio did argue for a more radical corporate system, in which the corporations would take over the direct running of the economy, which would lead to the erosion of the differences between capital and labour and transcend private industry. His plan was, however, attacked by the industrialists and the Fascist party as ‘Bolshevism’. Noel O’Sullivan, in his book, Fascism, suggests that the corporate state was never more than half-hearted, and had been set up by Mussolini to suggest that his regime was based on more than brute force.

Radical Anti-Capitalism and the Salo Republic

After he was ousted from power, Mussolini established a Fascist rump state, the Italian Social Republic, under German control around Salo in the north of Italy. In his constitution for the new state, il Duce declared that he was going to smash capitalist plutocracy, and make labour the ‘indestructible basis’ of the state. There were to be workers’ councils, profit-sharing, social housing and land reform. He also nationalised some of the larger industries. It’s questionable how serious these anti-capitalist measures were, as the Salo republic and its leader were nothing more than German puppets.

Fascism and the Right to Private Property

After the War, the British Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, initially supported a pan-European corporate state. However, in his 1968 autobiography, My Life, he rejects the corporate state as too cumbersome. He advocated instead a form of the prices and incomes policy, while promising to protect and support private industry. Trade unions would still be permitted, but would be confined to managing the welfare system.

Despite advocating a strong and economically powerful state, Fascism has generally aimed to protect private industry and property, within certain limits. Article 8 of the Constitution of Fiume, the proto-Fascist state established by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, guaranteed ‘the enjoyment of property legitimately obtained’, as well as other features of liberal democracies, such as sickness and infirmity benefits, as well as assistance for the involuntarily unemployed. Mosley, in his answer to Question 42: Do you believe in Private Enterprise? in his book Mosley: Right or Wrong? (London: Lion Books 1961) made it very clearly that it had his full support:

Yes, certainly. Private enterprise must always be the main motive of the economy. Most men work for themselves and their families, and want to do so in freedom … All men and women should have freedom to live and work as they like, and to enjoy the fruits of their labour in freedom and peace without interference or robbery by the state or vested interest. We must reduce taxation in order to prevent the present interference and robbery by the state. But we must also have strong government to protect the individual against interference and robbery by vested interest, monopoly, etc. (pp. 58-9).

Fascism as Neither Socialism Nor Capitalism

Although they ally with the Right, Fascist regimes have also presented themselves as being a ‘Third World Alternative’ between Socialism and capitalism, in which private industry is retained but made to act socially in the interests of the state. One Fascist slogan was ‘neither left nor right, but forwards!’ In the 1980s there was a scandal in Germany when it was found that the German Liberal party, the Freie Demokraten, had been infiltrated by Neo-Nazis.

Origins of Fascism in Pre-WW I Conservative Elites

Despite this, historians such as Richard Thurlough in his Fascism in Britain, 1918-86, have seen the origin of Fascism in the radicalisation of agrarian elites against modernity and the threat of a radical working class. British Fascism had its roots in pre-First World War Die-Hard Conservatism, which wished to emulate some of the welfare successes of Bismarck’s Germany as part of an efficiency campaign to strengthen the British Empire, a policy which necessarily also included military expansion.

Thus, while Fascism does indeed contain genuinely revolutionary elements, it is not Socialist and in practice sides with the Right and traditional Conservatives against the Left.

Daniel Hannan and the ‘Left-Wing’ Front National

Daniel Hannan, however, sees the Fascism as a form of Socialism. In his column in today’s Telegraph covering the electoral gains made by Marine le Pen’s Front National, he describes the party as moving in a left-ward direction. He writes

It is important to understand that Marine Le Pen positioned herself to the Left of the UMP and, at least on economics, arguably to the Left of the Socialists. She railed against capitalism and globalisation, called for higher expenditure, and supported state-run energy, healthcare, education, transport and financial services. Where her father used to complain about welfare scroungers, she wants a more generous range of entitlements. Where he used to describe his party as being of the Right, she recently told Le Monde that it was “neither Right nor Left, but founded on the opposition of the current political class, on the defence of the nation, on the rejection of ultra-capitalism and of Europe”.

Front National Programme Fascist Anti-Capitalist, but not Left-Wing

While this approach certainly looks left-wing, and is almost certainly designed to win voters from the Socialists and the Left, it does not mean that the Front National are now a Left-wing party. Le Pen fille is merely stressing the anti-capitalist element of the Fascist tradition. In fact her statement that the Front is neither Right nor Left, but founded on the opposition of the current political class, on the defence of the nation, on the rejection of ultra-capitalism’ could be taken as a general statement of Fascist ideology, with the possible exception of opposition to Europe. And it’s important to note here that she rejects ‘ultra-capitalism’, not capitalism itself.

How serious the Front National actually is about this ostensibly left-wing programme is moot. Mussolini’s original Fascist programme was little different from that of the radical Socialists and Syndicalists, but he soon rejected it in order to gain Conservative support. Hitler also made little effort to implement the Socialist parts of the 1926 Fascist programme for the same tactical and ideological reasons. And the Tricolour Flame of Berlusconi’s former coalition, led by Gianfranco Fini, is a ‘post-Fascist’, centre Right party.

Front National Voters also Rejecting Neoliberalism, Not Just French Political Class

Apart from characterising the Front National as now rather left-wing, Hannan’s view of the victory is also flawed. He sees it as a rejection by the French people of the traditional political class due to the country’s economic problems – three million unemployed, high taxation and crippling strikes. But this doesn’t seem borne out by the Front’s tactics. If they were genuinely seeking to reject Socialism, rather than the Socialist party, then Le Pen would have no need to advance a Socialistic political programme. It instead looks like Le Pen is trying to win working class voters alienated by the political class’ support for the EU and its international, Neoliberal economic and social policies, as well as hostility to immigration. And if the French electorate were rejecting Socialism, then they could simply vote for the UMP, or simply give up voting and turn inwards into apathy and cynicism, as in Britain. The UMP have made some gains, but it looks like many of them are responding to Le Pen’s attack on the EU, its open borders and Neoliberalism.

Hannan is, however, a man of the Tory extreme Right. He’s also an opponent of the EU, but strongly supports Neoliberalism, including loudly calling for the privatisation of the NHS. He thus doesn’t want to admit that the Front’s gains may show a positive rejection of laissez-faire international capitalism, as well as the political class advocating it.