Fascism as ideology

Most of us, sooner or later, want the chaos, suffering and euphoria of existence to have some meaning. Many find meaning in relationships, family and, if they are very lucky, in their work. Others look to political/religious ideologies for answers. There is no shortage of choice in the modern world. Unlike former generations we are not only conditioned by our local experiences but we can turn to a cornucopia of ideologies courtesy of the media and internet.

It would seem that we have an almost infinite variety to choose from but, as with all forms of consumerism, this can prove to be an illusion. With the decline of religious ideologies in the technologically advanced West we see the dominance of a single political perspective that places all ideologies within a spectrum of left and right forms of capitalism. Because of historical developments we see that bourgeois representative democracies place themselves in the ‘centre’ of this spectrum. They look out upon the spread from this ‘core’ as deviations and the further away from this imagined centre the more the convenient and, in this context, descriptive word of ‘extremist’ is used. Even the Greens and environmentalist groups, after some resistance, have been placed on the left of this spectrum since they have no answers other than the tired impotent call for the reform of capitalism. Only socialists stand outside of this rigid ideologically prescriptive domination and refuse to acknowledge its political relevance.

We won’t go into the historical reasons why this universal ideology of left and right evolved but its continued dominance is plainly due to those who own the means of production, in this context primarily the media, who cannot or will not conceive of an alternative to capitalism; as Marx has said the dominant ideology is always that of the dominant class.

In the last century two ideologies came to dominate the political landscape of Europe – ‘Fascism’ and Soviet-style ‘Communism’. They were both conceived of as alternatives to ‘normal’ or ‘bourgeois’ capitalism. Any meaningful analysis of either of these types of regime reveals that they had a lot more in common with each other and with the conventional capitalism within which they evolved than they would care to admit. Both were militaristic, authoritarian, xenophobic and, most importantly, both condemned the majority to the same meaningless wage slavery and the relentless creation of surplus value to finance the lifestyles of their elites. We have explained the reasons for the failed experiment by the Bolsheviks to turn Marxian analysis into an ideology on these pages many times and it may be appropriate to label their state capitalism, among many other criticisms, as anachronistic – especially in a European context. Can we say the same of fascism?

In some respects, ideologies are impervious to the accusation of being anachronistic; all religions tend to have their roots in the distant past but this does not affect their popularity and cultural durability. We might point optimistically to the demise of religion in the western cultures but millions across the globe still adhere to values and laws prescribed by imaginary deities and their priests. Given the undoubted crimes committed by those calling themselves fascist their ideology has been elevated to the highest ranks of historical infamy. That it is merely a form of capitalism that developed in a specific cultural context does not affect its continual attraction for the dispossessed, fearful, uneducated and those desperate to believe that they and their cultural identity are superior to that of all others. The weak are always tempted to identify with the strong so that their own frailty and fear is diluted.

Is it possible to conceive of the world without the use of an ideological lens? Socialists believe that we can at least negate some of the conditioning that we are all subjected to through a study of history. It would seem that all ideologies are generated by and serve certain groups (classes) and that the actual content of them is of little importance compared with the political control that they enable.

It would be impossible to seriously maintain that the conflicts in England during the revolution of the 1640s had anything remotely to do with the preachings of an obscure rabbi 1600 years earlier in Judea. What promoted Puritanism were the political needs of the rising class of capitalists. This historical ‘class struggle’, so socialists believe, underlies all ideological belief.

We embrace this struggle for what it is and have no interest in lecturing people about the moral strengths and weaknesses of comparing left and right or the possibility of repairing capitalism through the application of one ideology or another. The inhuman outrages committed in the name of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism are the results of ideological detritus used by the oligarchs of Israel and Palestine to justify their greed, fear and hatred. This visceral hatred of the working class for their counterparts in another culture is the lifeblood of ‘fascism’. One of the excuses used for the Russian oligarchs’ invasion of Ukraine was that it was a hotbed of Nazi fascists – forgetting the vicious brand of rabid nationalism in their own homeland.

Fascism and its left-wing counterpart will always find fertile ground to grow within the corrupt and rotting capitalist culture. No amount of wishful thinking that we have ‘moved on’ and that such ideologies are anachronistic will put these genies back in their respective bottles. They cannot be countered by mere moral or rational argument but only by class consciousness that understands their historical origins and the political elites that they served.

There are some who believe that this too constitutes just another ideological perspective but even if this were true then at least it serves the needs of a class composed of the vast majority of the human species. Socialism can never be imposed by any elite and so the resolution of the class struggle can only be achieved through the understanding by the majority of what they have to do to counter the need for ideologies and the political ignorance and historical anachronisms that they all represent.


Next article: What makes you happy? ⮞

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