By comrade gl0wstick
The general populace loves to throw around buzzwords where it suits their cause, and this is especially true for politicians and the media as well. Words like conservative and liberal are constantly being thrown around, but if asked to truly define their meanings, the ones pitching such fancy rhetoric will more than likely try and maneuver their way around the question because they cannot in actuality provide an adequate definition. This is made especially true for two of the most feared ideologies modern society faces: socialism and fascism. These two ideologies are, to some people, extremely far apart on the political spectrum, and to others, almost entirely one in the same. But all too often it is the latter of the two views that takes the majority, and the results are often devastating for the communist movement; what socialist wishes to be perceived as a fascist? In this article, the definitions of socialism and fascism will be covered, and therefore, why the two are not the same; socialism most certainly does not equate with fascism!
So first of all, what is fascism? Even fascist leaders themselves have to some degree acknowledged that the definition of fascism is hard to define in an entirely accurate manner, and likewise there have been differences in fascist states methods of leadership [eg Mussolini compared to Hitler]. Whatever the minor differences in fascist ideology are, the key elements are ultimately: Authoritarianism, nationalism, and statism. Contrary to this, the key elements of socialism are: Abolition of bourgeois private property, workers power, and unity [though others certainly exist in both]. Within communist society, abolition of the state and equality become the main elements as well.
Authoritarianism: Being one of the defining traits of fascism, some associate it with socialism as well, based out of ignorance. All socialists, whether those who lean toward the philosophy of Trotsky, or those who lean toward the theories of Stalin, will refute the claims that socialism is authoritarian [in the case of those who believe in Stalin’s teachings, it is a more complex refutation, based largely on the fact that the majority of ‘proof’ that Stalin was a ‘red fascist’ comes largely from fascists themselves]. The further left on the political spectrum the less ‘authoritarian,’ however, but that is an extremely generalized way of putting it, and does not necessarily equate to anything positive [ie anarchists label Marxists as too authoritarian in regards to dictatorship of the proletariat, but their understanding is confused and lacking accurate information. Marxists will then say that anarchists distrust necessary authority and are too eager to jump into an egalitarian society without proper discipline]. Speaking of the political spectrum, socialism is leftist, while fascism is generally considered hard-right [although some fascists claim to be a ‘third way’ of sorts], which is to say, it is ultimately more extremist and more militant than socialism, despite the raging, baseless criticisms from some people. Whatever seemingly ‘authoritarian’ traits of socialism there are, they are done in the interest of the working class, through working class power [hence, dictatorship of the proletariat]. The authoritarianism of fascism, however, is to ensure that an individual leader or small group of leaders remains in power. It is to ensure that the military remains the central force of control, and to make sure vigorous patriotism is exercised. The authoritarian actions of the fascist state are masqueraded so as to justify crimes against freedom.
Statism: Fascism asserts that the state is able to transcend social conflict, uniting social classes. However, this is perhaps the most obvious difference between fascism and socialism. Anybody who has genuinely studied socialism understands that to the socialist, the state is merely an instrument of oppression to serve for the minority. According to Tony Clark:
“When classes are formed, when exploiters and exploited become a feature of society, when one part of society lives by exploiting, robbing and cheating another part of society, they cannot do so without force, that is, a means of coercion.
In a society founded on exploitation and robbery, that is to say class society, the state emerges out of the contradiction between the robbers and the working people. Thus the exploiters use the state to keep themselves in power. The role of the state in this case is to suppress, curb the resistance of the working people to exploitation which they face daily. The state, therefore, is a machine for the domination of one class by another class.
In a society divided into exploiters and exploited, into robbers and their victims, i.e., the working people, the state serves the interests of those who live by exploiting the working people.
IN A SOCIETY BASED ON THE EXISTENCE OF CLASSES THE STATE IS A MEANS OF FORCING THE EXPLOITED CLASS TO SUBMIT TO EXPLOITATION. [Emphasis added]”
This is clearly against the ideology of fascism, which claims that the state can “transcend” social problems. It is true that the socialism does rely on it’s own state, but it is a workers state, and it is only temporary.
Nationalism: Socialism opposes nationalism as a means of justifying state violence and bourgeois crime, and as a means of dividing the working class people. The rabid patriotism that has been building up in America over the last few years for example accomplishes absolutely nothing beneficial, just stratification. Historically, America itself has suppressed criticism of the state as well [eg Sedition acts] much like fascist nations. Speaking out against one’s nation in a fascist state is considered treason. As a result, xenophobia is likely to develop, even if not specifically a trait of fascism’s ideology overall [not all fascists are necessarily racist].
This is an extremely brief, and general article. For more information, I encourage you to check out Marxists.org, and read works from Marxists on how to combat against fascism. There are indeed other elements in the fascist ideology such as hard-religious propaganda, and anti-modernism, but these three elements are agreeably the most present.