• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
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  • JOHANNES REUCHLIN
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  • W
  • INFLATION, REPARATIONS, AND
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  • CONSEQUENCES AND PROBLEMS OF
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  • DENUNCIATION AND RELUCTANT
  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • F

     

    fascism

    The term fascism was derived from the Latin

    fasces, which denoted a bundle of rods with a

    protruding ax head carried by the magistrates of

    ancient Rome. Though the original fasces symbolized

    justice, the alternative connotation of

    unity was more appropriate to the fascist movement

    intent on the reintegration of a society

    divided by social class and political strife. The

    term was used in Italy by both the left and the

    right. It had been used by a workers association

    in Sicily in 1915, by Benito Mussolinis group,

    which favored intervention in WORLD WAR I,

    and later it was applied to a parliamentary group

    for the prosecution of the war. Then it came to

    be applied to the fasci di Combattimento in

    1919. In Italy many early fascists were leftwingers,

    and the question that often is raised is

    whether fascism is reactionary or progressive.

    Fascists claimed to represent the general interest

    against a restricted franchise dominated by a liberal

    oligarchy. Fascism promised to transcend

    this corrupt system. As fascism progressed

    through its phases from a movement to a political

    party and then to a regime, it was not static.

    While in 1919 most Italians did not know what

    it was, by 1921 it had organized into a political

    party. Mussolini himself had a leftist origin and

    as a socialist was pacificistic. When he converted

    toward military intervention in the war, he felt

    that war would unite the nation and would be

    a means toward a revolutionary end.

    366

    Fascism was unique in its hostility to all the

    main established currents of the left, center, and

    the right. The Fascists actually cleared new ideological

    and political space in the political arena

    for themselves. Fascism was above all anti-Marxist,

    antiliberal, and anticonservative, but pro-collectivist.

    It emphasized the leadership principle

    (the Nazi Führerprinzip), used a party organized

    as an army, and pursued a totalitarian goal. Fascism

    sought to oppose international Marxism

    through fanatical nationalism, state centralism,

    and the elimination of the autonomy of individuals,

    groups, and institutions. In order to obtain

    power, fascist movements used legal and psuedodemocratic

    tactics. They possessed a similarity of

    style: elaborate liturgies in meetings, parades,

    decorations, and symbols; balcony speeches were

    common, wearing of colored shirts, shouts and

    salutes and large-scale party militias were used

    for political intimidation against parties and

    groups. The dictatorial party existed alongside

    the state and usurped many of its functions. The

    masses of the people were mobilized in order to

    demonstrate their apparent participation in the

    regime. It is clear that fascist state doctrine

    posited a new secular system, normally republican

    and authoritarian. The domination of the

    modern means of communications was also

    attempted. Fascists did have the common goal of

    a new economic structure and a functional relationship

    between social and economic systems.

    While Italian fascism emphasized corporatism,

    fascism 367

    A Nazi official is shown leading a group of Hitler Youth and Italian children in a fascist salute. (Library of Congress)

    Nazism explicitly rejected it because of its pluralism.

    Marxist writers have been wrong in their

    contention that the aim of fascist movements

    was to prevent economic changes in class relationships.

    Most fascist movements were imperialist,

    seeking a new order in foreign affairs

    through their alliances.

    Fascist ideologies and ideas are often interpreted

    as opposed to the rationalism of the

    ENLIGHTENMENT because they scorned philosophical

    concepts and exalted action over theory.

    Yet, fascist ideas and goals were derived

    from the Promethean secular concepts of the

    18th century. Fascism, however, diverged in its

    antimaterialism, its vitalism and idealism, and its

    metaphysics of the will. As a goal fascism, like

    communism, wanted to create a new man.

    They hoped to recover a sense of the natural and

    enable the man of will and determination to go

    beyond himself and sacrifice for his ideals. In

    contrast to the structured and systematic thinking

    of Marxist-Leninism, fascism expounded a

    vague world view (weltanschauung). But even

    Italian fascism gave more evidence of a residual

    faith in human reason and perfectability of man

    than did Nazism. Hitler more than any other fascist

    leader was scornful of the masses of people,

    derided mans intelligence, substituting the cult

    of primitive feeling, and made ANTI-SEMITISM

    into a fundamental doctrine.

    Hitlers ideology was founded on race, while

    Italian fascism was based on political and cultural

    nationalism. Other fascists balked at official

    Nazi racial ideas. The Belgian Rexists and the

    Dutch National Socialists and the Italians up to

    1937 did not mention the Jewish question in

    their manifestos. Both French and Italian fascism

    emphasized a joyous pragmatic activism,

    while Nazism believed in carrying out ideals

    programmatically with deeds. National Socialism

    tended toward revolutionary exclusivity, rejecting

    rival doctrines, while Italian fascism incorporated

    aspects of liberalism, conservatism, and

    socialism. As far as the goal of the development

    of a new man was concerned, Nazism formulated

    it in a new biological context, while the

    fascist man was to be developed through education.

    Finally, while the nationalism of the Italian

    fascism was based on Italian culture and

    national history, Nazi nationalism had a racialenvironmental

    basis.

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