C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


Many of the unctuous half-wits on the right-side of the blogosphere appear to be concerned with pursuing a kind of cultural hegemony. You can see this in those few who, having well and truly lost the argument, continue to bleat about the beauty and goodness of US invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, for instance.

Another commonplace is the notion that fascism generally, and Hitler, specifically, are somehow 'socialist' or 'leftist'. Unsurprisingly, whenever this claim is made, little evidence is offered in its defence, other than some guilt-by-association remarks about former Democrats (who are neither leftist nor socialist in any case), and some vague statements that Hitler controlled the German economy in a 'socialist' fashion. A young, intellectually-challenged boy illustrated this with some recent comments on my blog:

Hitler was a Socialist at heart. The Nazis controlled the economy and told the companies what to produce, they just didn't sieze them. Hitler was NOT ALL Right-Wing.

It is curious that rightists attack the Nazis on economic grounds, given that this was the only area in which they were somewhat 'successful', and considering that it is for war and genocide, not economic tinkering, that we revile them today.
Furthermore, if economic intervention by governments is definitional of either fascism or socialism, then virtually every post-war Western government must fall into one of the latter categories. Free markets, after all, do not exist except in textbooks (and certain third-world dictatorships, such as Colombia, or Egypt). The Bush administration 'controlled' the economy by contracting the likes of Haliburton and Blackwell to perform various tasks that formerly would have been the domain of the state. In this, the Bush presidency meets the rightard criteria for Hitlerism/socialism on economic grounds, to say nothing of the curtailing of civil liberties, or histrionic 'patriotism'.

We should also remember that, at the time of Hitler, informed leftists were bitterly opposed to fascism, on economic and other grounds. This is clearly demonstrated on the anti-fascist writings of Trotsky, Benjamin, Adorno and others around the time of Hitler's ascendancy. In both Italy and Germany, fascists came to power by way of alliances with a conservative coalition, the aim of both groups being to keep out the socialist left.

Finally, let us look at what an actual historian (Robert Paxton), rather than partisan pundit, has to say about fascism and the economy:

Fascism was not the first choice of most businessmen, but most of them preferred it to the alternatives that seemed likely in the special conditions of 1922 and 1933-socialism or a dysfunctional market system. So they mostly acquiesced in the formation of a fascist regime and accommodated to its requirements of removing Jews from management and accepting onerous economic controls. In time, most German and Italian businessmen adapted well to working with fascist regimes, at least those gratified by the fruits of rearmament and labor discipline and the considerable role given to them in economic management. Mussolini's famous corporatist economic organization, in particular, was run in practice by leading businessmen.

Peter Hayes puts it succinctly: the Nazi regime and business had "converging but not identical interests." Areas of agreement included disciplining workers, lucrative armaments contracts, and job-creation stimuli.
(p. 145)

Fascist regimes functioned like an epoxy: an amalgam of two very different agents, fascist dynamism and conservative order, bonded by shared enmity toward liberalism and the Left, and a shared willingness to stop at nothing to destroy their common enemies. (p. 147) (source)

I'm sure that the shameless dissembling of the right will continue, on this topic as on others, but in keeping with the carnival spirit that inhabits this blog, I encourage everybody to continue playing whack-a-mole as often as is necessary.