Posts Tagged ‘‘The Structure of German Fascism’’

The Anti-Socialist Accusation: ‘This Is the Politics of Envy’

February 23, 2015

Another argument that is frequently made by Conservatives against Socialism, or any form of state intervention to the reduce the power of the very rich, and transfer some of their material wealth to the poor, is the accusation that it ‘is the politics of envy’. The attitude here is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the system. Rather, the fault lies with its opponents, who are acting out of personal malice and discontent. It’s another argument that has been around for nearly eighty years in some or another.

Brady in his book The Structure of German Fascism, published in 1937, also cites similar forms of this argument in the section on the rise of Fascism and Fascist arguments around the world. These don’t attribute attacks on capitalism to envy. Instead they trace it to an inferiority complex and personal, psychological failings. The attitude is still the same, however.

The examples Brady cites of this line of argument are the following

“One of the most common symptoms of an inferiority complex or of personal failure is the desire to change the social order, usually in one’s immediate environment, often in the world at large. The youngsters, suffering from personal failure, often want to change their families, not themselves. The student who fails in his studies wants to change his teachers or the marking system, not himself. The employee who fails to get the desired salary wants to improve his employer, not himself. The worker, unable to get or hold a position, wants to change the system generally”.

Link, The Return of Religion, p. 130.

“It is known that an adult of insufficient social experience will not be merely socially maladjusted; he will also be found using inferior logical techniques.”

Mayo, The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilisation, p. 163.

These aren’t arguments so much as attempts to block further debate. The simple answer is that a resentment of the vast power of the extremely rich, and anger at their enjoyment of vast wealth and luxury while others suffer extreme poverty, comes from an entirely reasonable sense of outrage at a viciously unjust social and economic system. Despite the claims since the 19th century that capitalism gives people the opportunity to better themselves, it is still a system that condemns millions to horrific poverty through no fault of their own.

American Fascist Arguments: Capitalism Threatened by Socialism

February 22, 2015

The American Right attacks any kind of state intervention, however mild and beneficial, as ‘Socialism’, which is automatically conflated with Communism. You can see that very clearly in the way Obama has been attacked by Repugs, and especially the Tea Party, as a Communist, simply for supporting the extension of state medical aid. A number of bloggers and political commentators have pointed out that in many respects, Obama is a fairly standard type of American politico, with the usual connections to Wall Street.

When Libertarians are confronted with the fact that their small-state economics don’t actually the work, there’s a tendency for them to argue that this is because there is still some government intervention, which is Socialism. This line of argument goes all the way back to the 1930s. I found this piece of American Fascist argument attacking American industry for becoming ‘socialist’ in Robert Brady’s The Structure of German Fascism:

America, the world’s greatest industrial nation, industrialized itself under private capitalism for use and for profit. .. America’s suffering started only when capitalism took sick. Like a sick horse, the decrepit economic system on the back of which we are now crawling along is not Capitalism himself, but a Capitalism loaded down with Socialism … What have socialistic experiments ever achieved except deficits or failure? … If capitalists and capitalism are blight to humanity, then Egypt should be a happy spot. But the happiest event which has befallen Egypt in many centuries came with the British ‘imperialism’ and ‘capitalism’ which built the Assuan Dam… If capitalism is ‘greed’ and a blight to humanity, then why are the savage and miserable lands which have no capitalism not blessed? … Why is the standard of living of the whole people in any land raised in proportion to the success and development of its capitalistic enterprises? … As Bernard Shaw put it: ‘compulsory labour with death the final punishment, is the keystone of socialism.’… The National Republic, Dec. 1933, under the heading The Failure of Socialism states: ‘Persons socialistically inclined often point to the present world-wide depression as “a failure of the capitalist system” … but the present world-wide breakdown would more properly be charged to a collapse of the socialist system. Every important power in the western world to-day, except in the United States, is under either socialist parliamentary control, or that dictatorship to which socialism leads as in Italy, Poland, Germany and Russia.

Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network (Caspar co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1934, pp. 92-3).

George Bernard Shaw is a favourite source of quotations for the Right on the brutal nature of Socialism because Shaw had some disgusting, brutal ideas. He was like H.G. Wells and many other members of the chattering classes at the time an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics. There’s a quote by either him or Wells about sending those of unfit heredity to the extermination chamber. These horrific comments today are, it shouldn’t need to be said, as shocking to Socialist as they are to everyone else, and very, very few if any Socialists today share his views. In fact, the opposite is much more likely to be the case.

As for the introduction of capitalism into the Middle East ultimately benefiting the people there, this is highly debatable. Islamist movements like the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the FLM in Algeria, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are partly ultra-traditionalist protests against capitalism. Iran’s Islamic Revolution broke out due to the massive social and economic dislocation produced by the country’s industrialisation. Similarly the introduction of capitalism and modernisation in Egypt under Mehmet Ali had the effect not creating more freedom for the average Egyptian, but of decreasing it. It massively extended the pasha’s power, and led to a massive tax burden on the mass of the Egyptian peasantry to support Mehmet Ali’s reforms.

One of the contributing factors to the Islamic revolution and the outbreak of the civil war in Algeria was the failure of both socialism and capitalism. The Algerian Nationalists had been able to hold to power for decades, following the country’s liberation from France, by supplying economic growth and a rising standard of living. This failed in the 1980s, and the regime began selling off state industries and cutting back. The result was a decline still further in living standards. The FLM gained popular support by appearing to offer a programme that would restore prosperity through the implementation of Islamic law, which was held to be neither capitalist nor socialist. The Islamic regime in Iran is also very strongly anti-socialist, even if over half of the economy is owned by the state and much of the rest of by the bonyads, the Shi’ah charitable foundations.

In short, the above passage shows just how old and a false the arguments about modern capitalism being corrupted by Socialism are. This hasn’t stopped them being repeated ad nauseam despite the plentiful evidence to the contrary.

Aristotle on Using Paranoia and Conspiracy Theories To Counter Domestic Discontent

February 21, 2015

One of the other pertinent passages in Brady’s book The Structure of German Fascism is in the chapter on Nazi pseudo-scientific racism and anti-Semitism. Brady argued that Nazi anti-Semitism was an ‘invented terror’, deliberately created to make the Jews scapegoats for the general problems of German society. This view of the origins of the Nazi persecution of the Jews has also been rejected. Historians now point out that the Nazis were genuinely anti-Semitic, and did not simply persecute the Jews from simple political opportunism. They trace the origins of Nazi anti-Semitism to organizations such as the League of Anti-Semites in the late 19th century, and specifically to the emergence of the ‘Stab in the Back’ conspiracy theory. This blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in the First World War.

Brady cites Aristotle’s advice to rulers to use paranoid fears of conspiracies in order to distract citizens from domestic crises and unrest. Brady states

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, offers this advice to the sovereign who is faced with unrest and the threat of revolution from his subjects: if all other means have failed to settle the trouble, divert attention by “inventing terrors”. Find some insidious plot against the state; whisper that the wells are being poisoned, the food destroyed, the daughters secretly ravished, high official about to be assassinated, the banks subtly undermined, the farmers gouged, military secrets being given away. Find anything that will arouse the people to a pitch of excitement against some common malefactor; then invent a terror against this destroyer of the common weal.

This reminds me of some of the scare stories about immigrants from the right-wing press. I also wonder how far the current rhetoric and tension between NATO and Putin’s Russia has been ramped up on both sides to distract the citizens of both sides from the economic and political failures of their governments.

And it also raises the question of how far reasonable fears about the real dangers posed by Islamist terrorism are also being exaggerated and manipulated as a distraction from the domestic hardships inflicted by the Coalition.

Fascism and Contempt for the Poor, the Disabled and the Criminal

February 21, 2015

This is another revealing quote on Fascist attitudes from the Fascists themselves, in Brady’s book, ‘The Structure of German Fascism’. Nazism was based partly on the idea of the biological inferiority of certain groups, and the supposed need to eliminate them or prevent them from breeding. These included recidivist criminals, the physically or mentally handicapped, and the unemployed. The last were seen as biologically inferior simply through their inability to hold down a job and support themselves.

The Nazis boasted that their eugenics campaign was definitely not a novelty, and was based on arguments and programmes put into practice in other nations. Such as America, where 26 states passed legislation providing for the sterilisation of the mentally handicapped. Here’s a statement from one American Fascist demanding an end to liberal democracy, because of the support it gives the biologically inferior.

” … most well-mannered debaters carry on with the White Lie of Democracy; and thus they reach worthless conclusions. A land swarming with tens of millions of morons, perverts, culls, outcasts, criminals, and lesser breeds of low-grade humans cannot escape the evils all such cause. … So long as we have an underworld of 4,000,000 or more scoundrels willing to do anything for a price, and a twilight world of fully, 40,000,000 people of profound stupidity or ignorance or indifference, and a population of nearly 70,000,000 who cannot support themselves entirely and hence must think first of cost, whenever they buy things, we shall have a nasty mess on our hands … “

(Pitkin, Let’s Get What We Want, pp. 72, 283).

These sentiment aren’t that far from the Daily Mail. And as Mike has pointed out on Vox Political, and Johnny Void on his blog, the government is effectively criminalising the unemployed by forcing them to do unpaid community work.

And the Tories over here, and Republicans in America, are also passing laws designed to ensure they win the election by stripping the franchise from the poor, young and ethnic minorities. All in the name of reforming voter registration. In this country the Tories are debating stripping the right to vote from Irish people, and the citizens of Commonwealth countries resident here.

This is a government which has adopted policies that could rightly be called ‘Fascistic’. They just haven’t formally overthrown democracy yet and started wearing the black shirts and jackboots.

Fascism and Elitism

February 21, 2015

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Hitler and Cameron: Both promote the power of elites and the subordination of the masses.

This is another highly relevant quote showing the stark similarities to the current government and Fascism, cited in Robert Brady’s book The Structure of German Fascism (Gollancz 1937). At the heart of Fascism is the doctrine that only an elite should rule. For the Nazis, this was biologically superior German Aryans, comprising members of the Nazi party and German business. American Fascists in the ’30s also argued against democracy, and for the power to rule to be confined only to a small, elite section of the population, as this quote from Brady’s book also shows:

There is great social significance in the fact that the elite of exceptional natural endowment, who, as a matter of course, become the elite of power and influence, actual or potential, are a fairly constant percentage of the total population. From this fact it follows that no social system can long survive, once it tends strongly to declass more and more of the elite … The elite may be defined roughly and arbitrarily as including capitalists deriving most of their income from property, business enterprisers and farmers, the professional classes, and, generally, the employed, whose salaries are considerably above the average, or say, above $3,000 a year for the entire country…
A wise social philosophy, such as that of fascism, strives to make a place for all the members of the
elite

(Dennis, The Coming American Fascism, pp. 229, 231, 237).

This also exactly describes the attitude of the current Coalition, led by the aristocratic Cameron, Clegg and Osborne, which is doing everything it can to reduce everyone else to poverty and despair in the interests of big business.