Rhyd dropped the “fascism” part of his “Death of Liberal Democracies,” entitled: Liberal Democracy’s Fascist Shadow
And no doubt some people were wondering why it took me so long to respond to it. While I could easily argue that I actually do have a life outside of Rhyd and his Marxist buddies, and I do even if my blog doesn’t always show it, that’s not the reason I’ve taken so long to talk about this post.
The truth is…I can’t talk about this post. Not because Rhyd is philosophically, historically, and in so many other ways wrong (he is), but because he is wrong on so many levels that it is almost impossible to truly supply a correct counter argument.
Take for example this quote from the “A Crisis of Capital.” section:
The last time Liberal Democracies faced an existential crisis, there was a World War. Many theorists on both the left and the right resoundingly agree that the war of 1913-1919 was driven by the need of Capitalists to expand their markets. Each State involved faced crises of Capital that couldn’t be resolved through trade negotiations, and thus World War I became an imperialist trade dispute fought with chemical weapons and tanks.
In truth, WWI was driven by many, many things that had nothing to do with trade disputes.
In the decades leading up to the first world war, there were a lot of national tensions, and in the center of them was Germany. Literally. So one of Germany’s top men, a guy named Otto von Bismarck decided that something had to be done. So he made a bunch of alliances, mostly to counter the alliances made by nations who hated Germany, typically with nations who were neutral to Germany.
Now, of course there was trade, because economics is the life blood of every civilization (including Marxist ones). But the driving force behind the alliances wasn’t so much trade as it was not being an easy target for the insane levels of imperialism that were sweeping every nation in Europe at the time. Take out the guys in charge of say, France, and you literally got their entire empire with them.
More importantly, Rhyd ignores the spark that started WWI was not trade at all, but the assassination of the crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire. By a nationalist who wanted independence for his people. A people who had made an alliance with another nation, who in turn made an alliance with another nation, who in turn…well, you get the idea.
In trying to prevent war, the foundations were made for total war. And it wasn’t trade, economics, or capitalists who spark one of the most devastating wars of all time. It was people trying to live their own lives.
And that’s just one example of dozens and dozens where Rhyd fails to present any truth in his argument. It ends up reading like one long rant of “Fascism is evil” because…”right,” “state,” and “money.”
But really, through out the many months, almost a year, of this whole “Fascism in Paganism/World” thing that G&R kicked off…there’s never been a serious discussion of what Fascism is and why it’s bad. I mean, we all know it’s bad…because we were taught it was bad. But we’re not really taught what it is or why it might be attractive to some people, or why we should avoid it. Even Rhyd, for all his…intellectualism, doesn’t ever discuss what it is. He says it’s bad because of things like “state,” “money” and even “traditionalism” but really…we have to go beyond that.
I’m going to be drawing from Wikipedia for some of this, starting with the origin of the term Fascism:
The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning a bundle of rods, ultimately from the Latin word fasces.
The Fasces (bundle of Rods) was actually a sacred symbol in ancient Rome, generally consisting of a bundle of rods with an axe head attached to them. The concept being that where a single thin stick was easily broken, a bundle was almost indestructible. It displayed the very Roman attitude that where one might fall, through discipline and unity the whole could withstand anything that could destroy the individual.
Or as Scotty puts it in the new Star Trek Beyond: “Ye canna break a branch in a bundle.”*
To put it simply, Fascism is a Collectivist Ideology. It puts the needs of the group/society/nation above the needs of the individual. One thing that is important to remember about Fascism is that it came about after WWI and the massive destruction it caused. While most of the world was intent on trying to figure out “how do we stop this from happening ever again” in what could easily be considered a fit of horrified idealism, Fascists looked at the problem of mass warfare and the resulting mobilization of entire nations for the single goal of warfare and took the slightly more pragmatic approach of asking the question: How do we survive when it happens again.
Answer: You mobilize the entire nation into a single, unified machine capable of producing the absolute best fighting force you can that hopefully withstands any other force mobilized against it.
Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant. A “military citizenship” arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war. The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.
Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.
It is, really, a wonderfully simple idea that can lead to a great deal of national strength. One need only look at Ancient Sparta to see who a society organized around the singular goal of martial supremacy in order to defend itself can create some of the best and brightest warriors.
Nazi Germany, as well, is a good example. Indeed, many historians and fiction writers have speculated that had it not been for the illnesses that overtook Hitler and the poor judgments they caused, the Nazis probably would still control Europe, probably would have taken the UK, and held off the Soviets to be a major power in today’s world. Stalin’s own Five Year Plan had elements of this in it, and was a primary reason for why the USSR ended up becoming a Super Power post WWII, when just a few years before WWII started the USSR had the military and economic capacity of a wet sponge, but generally won by overwhelming their enemy with the number of sponges they could throw.
One of the major complains about Liberal Democracies is their constant infighting and the fact that there is less “unity” of purpose and more “freedom” of desire. This, ironically, is a complaint that Rhyd and others have made regarding liberal democracies, that we’re too free to pursue our own goals and exploit each other and the planet, rather than unifying to save the planet and stop exploitation. Fascism, like most authoritarian movements, answers this problem by gathering up the “reeds” and tying them together in a bundle. Less, if any, freedom for the populace, but a far more rapid and streamlined solution to the problem.
Why Fascism is Bad
There’s a few basic reasons why we’re generally told that Fascism is bad
- mass murder
We could even go so far as to add some criticisms from the Marxist camp about
I’m sure there’s others, but we’ll start with these.
Now, we raised in Liberal Democracies know why we consider those first five to be bad things. We believe in liberal democracies, where every person has the right to have their political say…unlike authoritarianism where in only those in positions of authority have any say. We believe in individual liberty, rather than collective rights (classism). We generally consider mass murder wrong because that violates the rights of individual people to live their lives. We’re against racism because to judge someone other than by the content of their character is to deny them their individuality.
And we’re more or less divided on the issue of nationalism, with some being for a nation seeking to protect its own and the rights of its citizens, and being against because it might violate the rights of other people who are not citizens or that nation. So we’ll set that aside for the moment.
Thing is…those things are not limited to Fascism.
According to a large number of people, Liberal democracies have all engaged in these practices. There’s a State that holds all the power, even if those with the power are democratically elected. As I said, there’s a fair bit of Nationalism in Liberal Democracies. Every nation’s got a history of racism, and to hear some talk the USA enacted a planned genocide of Native Americans.
And when it comes to Marxists, the examples hold even more true. Fascism is considered bad because it committed mass murder, but Marxist nations have enacted about ten times the amount of mass murder as the Fascist nations did. Marxist nations are also extremely nationalistic, authoritarian, collectives, and sometimes highly racist.
But that doesn’t stop anyone from believing in Marxism and insisting it should be practiced…
When it comes down to it, looking at the historic examples…Fascism and Marxism aren’t that different. The primary difference comes from the fact that Fascists put the “Nation State” first and anything that made the nation-state stronger was something that made the people stronger, because the people as a whole were what made the nation state exist. And it’s hard to argue against that, as under Fascism the quality of life for most citizens did radically improve (even if their liberties and rights dropped). And Marxism puts the “collective” first, anything that makes the people equal and prevents oppression by other “classes”…which it worked spectacularly at…by dropping quality of life to near zero and removing all rights and liberties.
On an objective level, removing the mass murder, the authoritarianism, the collectivism, etc…it is better to live in a Fascist nation than a Communist one. I reject both as bad because I am a classical liberal. Marxists reject Fascism because it allows people to live “unequal” lives…even if the quality of all those lives is superior to life’s quality under Marxism.
Is Fascism Truly Bad
Yes. Fascism is bad. As long as you believe that authoritarianism, collectivism, and the curtailing of individual liberties is bad.
The instant you start to believe those things are not bad, you really remove any inherent “badness” from Fascism. Every Marxist I see screaming about the evils of Fascism is arguing that everything that makes Fascism evil is in fact good when done by Marxism. They even tend to ignore the fact that Marxist governments tend to violate even more civil rights than Fascist governments.
The only thing Marxists have to insist that Fascism is bad is that it tends to practice a modified version of Capitalism. But, if one does not believe that capitalism (which is the liberty to spend, save, and work as one pleases with the ensuing results for those actions) is bad…then the entire argument of Marxism against Fascism falls apart.
Anarchist Marxists get around this by insisting the Authoritarian state is evil, but to me this often ends up being more of a dodge than an argument. Because no Marxist society can exist without an authoritarian power to enforce it. Under a true Anarchy, each individual person would be free to act without limits…and that includes gathering, creating, and hording whatever is most valuable in that society and becoming “wealthy.” And then using that wealth to get others to defend them against whatever groups would come to try and enforce the “collectivization” of that wealth back to the populace.*(2)
And then you’re right back where you started, with kings and queens and golden dreams.
Fascism is about one thing. Harnessing the “tribe” or “nation” as a single, unified force to withstand anything that comes against it. There’s a lot of reasons why we can consider this immoral, evil, bad, or what have you. That being said…it is very, very pragmatic. Especially in a world where it can seem, or actually be, that people are out to get you and your people to wipe them off the earth.*(3)
Is Fascism Rising
Many people, most of them Marxists and Progressives, chant and scream about the rise of fascism. Trump is a Fascist! Fascist Ideals are Infiltrating Paganism! Etc, etc, etc.
So, is Fascism rising?
Fascism is about a group coming together as a collective unit to empower themselves through singular, totalitarian, authority in order to resist and overcome that which might stand against them. A single people, whose entire existence is to empower themselves (militarily in one form or another), to resist and overcome until they stand supreme in their own territory against anything wanting them gone.
If it’s not already, it will be.
For a long time, the Marxists have held sway. They started by finding people who were disenfranchised, and enfranchised them in Marxist ideology. Then they empowered them further to go out and add more people to the collective. But the collective was defined by not just the in group…but the outgroup. The Capitalists, the Whites, the Men, the Heterosexual, the Cis-gendered. As the collective grew, it added more enemies to the list of “unpersons.” And in adding these people to the list of “unpersons” as Marxists and Progressives have gained more and more power, they have in turn disenfranchised the “unpersons” of what rights and privileges those people formerly had.*(4)
Let’s look at the Diancis and the Trans. A few years ago, the Transgender community in Paganism disenfranchised the Diancis having a “women only ritual.” Now, just this last few months, the TPC has all but completed the disenfranchisement of the Dianics and those like them from the Pagan community. Making them “unpersons” to use Orwell’s term, or even “outlaws” to use the more ancient phrase.
The Dianics are now a tribe apart, with the whole world apparently against them. They are not part of the “collective,” they are not welcomed and enfranchised in society. The only enfranchisement they have is within their own tribe. Their only society is their society. A society which now must become self sufficient in its isolation and which must now also find a way to “militarize” itself in some fashion in order to resist any last minute “Ethnic cleansing” headed their way by the victorious TPC and “allies.”
All it’s going to take is one well spoken priestess who presents pragmatic solutions for unification, survival, and perhaps even a way to thrive as a people and…”Fascism.”
That’s also why groups like the various Heathen faiths get labeled Fascists. Sure, there’s the easy comparison between “Germanic Faith” and “Germanic Fascism” which certainly has fueled a lot of it. But as the various Heathen faiths have been more and more ostracized they have also become more and more tribal and self sufficient. This is not fascism, however, as they are not authoritarian or militaristic in nature but tend to hold to the ancient rituals of heathen democracy to greater or lesser extents (or monarchy in a few years, which is also not fascism). But, as the present “Uberpagan” community of Marxism grows and continues to attack, it does push ever closer to a situation where strong, authoritarian leadership pushes a tribe to the singular purpose of their defense.
In a world where authoritarianism is acceptable, Fascism is generally only unacceptable because of its history of mass murder. In a world where mass murder is ignored or forgiven on the basis of ideology (like with Marxism), Fascism just turns into another authoritarian ideology based on the defense of the tribe against a destructive outside force.
I do not support Fascism. I am a classical liberal who believes that all people should be enfranchised in the society of the nation. But, when a group of people, or a nation, is disenfranchised and attacked, it is only natural for them to arise and collectivize for the defense of their people. You canna break a branch in a bundle, and even if a branch breaks…the bundle remains. A few sacrificed for the whole to remain is a far better option to most people than the whole being destroyed.
If Fascism is on the Rise in Paganism…it is only because like the larger world where the New/Alt-Right is on the rise…they are on the rise to defend themselves against an outside destructive force in the shape of Marxism/Progressivism. Which, in a state of complete un-irony…is exactly how Fascism got started in the first place…resisting Marxism.
*which raises some interesting questions about the new Star Trek universe and if it’s gone from Communist Utopia to Fascist Utopia. Which…actually wouldn’t look that different. I might have to write a post about that.
*(2)And don’t think it wouldn’t happen. All the wealthy guy would have to do is promise his defenders a fractional amount more than they’d get of the stuff with the seizure and they’d defend it. There’s a story from one of the Greek wars where a general went to the Persians for a loan so that he could offer to pay the mercinary navy of his foes about a dollar more a day than they were getting paid already. And for a dollar more a day…they switch sides.
*(3)A great example of this is the Empire of Man in Warhammer 40k, something which would be considered a Fascist Nightmare by most people…until you start looking at the rest of the WH40K universe and realize that the “fascist” government is the only thing that has allowed Humanity to survive a galaxy of omnisical Orks, Demons, Eldritch Abominations, Chaos Gods, and mechano-robitic death armies.
*(4) However “just” and “egalitarian” one considers this disenfranchisement, it is still a disenfranchisement. For example while we might consider it morally wrong for a Christian baker to refuse to make a wedding cake for gay people, it was still a right they had up until that right was legally removed and they were disenfranchised of their right to serve according to their will and morality. That in doing so we in essence made them a second class citizen, forced to produce goods against their will for what amounted to a new “over class” did not help matters.
He actually believes that it was economic issues that led to WWI…..seriously? You know, this is the second time this week i’ve been astounded at the gaps in our modern educational system but I do think that this is perhaps part of the problem within our communities. That it was the assassination of Franz F. by a Serbian “freedom fighter” that prompted WWI is basic, absolutely basic knowledge of the type gleaned in any standard high school education…at least I thought it was.
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Virginia Carper said:
Barbara Tuckman in her two books, “The Proud Tower” and “The Days of August” detailed the period before WWI and the beginning. As an historian, she always stressed that reading materials about the period before WWI written by people after WWI were always suspect consider how the war utterly changed everything. The period before WWI was rife with anarchists killing people, trade unions trying to take down governments, empires being established, and monarchies trying to hold on to power. Trade agreements had nothing to do with what was going on. The tension between Germany and the U.K. over armaments and other military might was a major concern for everyone.
When you adopt a Marxist lens, you look at everything through that lens. And if it doesn’t fit, then you make it fit.
As for Donald Trump, at his convention, he let people speak on whatever they wanted. He knew what Cruz was going to say, but let him go ahead. Meanwhile, at Hilary Clinton’s convention, everything was rehearsed, and everything was read, everything was on script. The contrast between the two makes me think that Trump=fascist, Clinton=liberalism is too simplistic.
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