At the turn of the 20th Century, a number of movements were stirring around the world. The 19th Century culminated with a wide range of thinkers who sought out alternative options to the status-quo bourgeois democracies, from the Mutualists (who believed in the cooperation of labour bodies outside of the state) to the Syndicalists (who believed in the revolution of labour bodies against the state), there were many different revolutionary ideologies that were coming to the forefront of society. The idea was that the Liberal-Bourgeois Revolutions of France and Italy did not go far enough or had not achieved their revolutionary potential. In many ways, this line of thinking set the stage for the Russian Revolution.
Many of these revolutionary ideologies were, by and large, anarchistic. They saw how the Bourgeoisie co-opted the Democratic state, but in many cases, they wrongly scapegoated the notion of state itself. One alternative to the pure anarchism of thinkers like Bakunin or Proudhon were thinkers like Marx and Engels, who brought together the idea of the market with the idea of the proletarian dictatorship and, ultimately, who brought together the idea of the proletarian dictatorship with the idea of the stateless and classless commune.
According to Marx and Engels, this synthesis, known as Dialectical Materialism, was to characterize the revolution of the Proletarian against the Bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, thinkers like Bakunin and Proudhon could be criticized for their inability to understand the need to consolidate power in favour of the proletarian class. More and more was it made clear that Mutualism and Syndicalism could not succeed against Bourgeois-Democracy without an Authoritarian State. In other words, Fascism was the newest and most-improved version of mutualist and syndicalist anarchism. As Mussolini said, “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
As if the need for Revolutionary Authoritarianism wasn’t made clear enough with Jacobinism, Bonepartism, or Boulangism of the 18th and 19th Centuries, France was beginning to come to this realization more and more. By the 20th Century, this problem was addressed by three major thinkers: Georges Sorel, Maurice Barres, and Charles Maurras.
It is from Sorel that we get the idea of Corporative Syndicalism, from Barres that we get National Socialism, and from Maurras that we get the lesser-known, Integral Nationalism. It was under Georges Valois that this line of thinking culminated in the Cercle Proudhon, but meanwhile, similar syntheses were being formed in Italy as well.
When the Free State of Fiume declared independence from the rest of Italy and established its own charter, Georges Sorel supported Benito Mussolini over Gabriele D’Annunzio claiming “Mussolini is a man no less extraordinary than Lenin. He, too, is a political genius, of a greater reach than all the statesmen of the day, with the only exception of Lenin…”.
After the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin made note of some of the stirrings that were taking place in Italy in particular, claiming that D’Annunzio was “the only revolutionary in Europe” where Mussolini “was a first rate man, who would have led our party to power in Italy“. Ironically enough (in light of Sorel’s remarks), Lenin himself was supportive of the revolutionary quality to both men. This was true to such an extent that, under Lenin, the USSR was the only country to recognize the Free State of Fiume as an independent state.
As if the aforementioned movements hadn’t cemented the rise of Fascism enough, after World War I, a number of armored corps and special forces units came together in the Freikorp in Germany and the Arditi in Italy. Combined with the rise of the German Konservative Revolution of Spengler, Schmitt, and Spann; and the Early Italian Modernism of Marinetti, D’annunzio, and Ezra Pound, we are left with a holistic movement that had support on the streets by veterans and workers and support in the schools by scholars and artist.
Although Fascist ideologies can have socially right-wing elements, the left-wing economic foundation cannot be undermined. This is why Fascism is best described as a Third Position insofar as it takes Socialism without Progressivism from the Left and Traditionalism without Capitalism from the Right.
While Fascism kept up with the Left-wing economics of its time, it also understood the history of the Right wing before it was infiltrated by Capitalism/back when it was more Authoritarian. It should be noted that although Fascism is opposed to Capitalism, it isn’t necessarily opposed to the Capitalists (when they are kept in line by the State). By virtue of being loyal to the state, the Capitalists will be forced to be loyal to the Proletariat.
Furthermore, Fascism embraces the capacity and ability of the State to nationalize and socialize the economy, which is where it shares a common goal with Socialism.
In the Origins and Doctrines of Fascism, Giovanni Gentile notes how Fascism comes out of Sorelian Syndicalism, which “conceived itself the genuine interpretation of Marxist Communism”. Similarly, Juan Peron noted how Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany represented “the true people’s democracy, the true social democracy”.
It could be said that, while Fascism is the best way to achieve State-Socialism, so too is Socialist-Populism one of the best ways to achieve Fascism. And in this respect, Capitalism has been a constant enemy of Fascism.
In the following articles, it will be illustrated how Capitalism has been the greatest enemy to Fascism, and how State-Socialism is a far better means to achieve a Fascist State than State Capitalism could ever be…