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The purpose of this material is to show that Benito Mussolini and his political movement were elements of the left of the politico-economic spectrum.
Fascism is the name Benito Mussolini chose for his movement and later it was applied to similar movements elsewhere. Mussolini came from a socialist revolutionary family that named him after Benito Jaurez, the Mexican revolutionary. He grew up as a socialist and maintained his belief in the efficacy of socialism until the end of his life. He undoubtedly considered Fascism as just a variant, if not of socialism at least of collectivism, that was nationalistic. The internationalist socialists expelled him when he advocated for nationalistic reasons the entry of Italy into World War I.
Italy did enter WWI and on the side of the Allies (Britain, France and Russia). This was long before Mussolini came to power in Italy.
Here is the timeline of Benito Mussolini's career:
From this day onward we are all Italians and nothing but Italians. Now that steel has met steel, one single cry comes from our hearts--Long Live Italy.
To make his new position palatable to the general public and because of the organized socialists rejected him he had to give his new position a different political orientation. He chose Corporatism, a collectivist sociopolitical philosophy developed in the 19th century by Catholic intelllectuals as an alternative to Marxist socialism. The various economic interest groups were to be brought together in political organizations to settle their differences by negotiation.
Corporatism was collectivist but did not involve confiscation of all private property as did socialism. This was very astute. It was better to have industry run by people who had a talent for operating industry and had years of experience rather than politically appointed amateurs. This was a lesson the Bolshevik communists of the Soviet Union never learned. Soviet inefficiency was notorious.
Mussolini called his system National Corporatism. Other European leaders in the 1930's copied Mussolini in adopting a collectivist economic system and appended national to its title. In Franco Spain it was National Syndicalism. Syndicalists believe that labor unions should run the economy, In Germany Hitler changed the name of the German Workers' Party which he joined to the National Socialist German Workers' Party
The socialists called for a general strike. General strikes were well known preliminaries to revolutions. Mussolini called for the government to prevent the general strike and announed that if the government did not do so his Fasci di Combattimento would do so. He then further announced that in four days time four columns of Fascists would march on Rome from four different directions, Mussolini himself waited at a place where the King of Italy could contact him. As the Fasci di Combattimento converged on Rome, the King of Italy dismissed the current prime minister and sent Mussolini a telegram asking him form a new government in the legislature with himself as prime minister. Mussolini allayed fears of a facist dictatorship by requesting the appointment of ministers the majority of whom were not members of his party. Thus in the first few years of Mussolini's prime ministership not much was done that reflected his politico-economic philosophy.
The application of the term fascist to conservative and libertarian thinkers and thought is an example of the Big Lie; i.e., repeating a statement that has no basis in fact over and over until people think there must be some basis for it. Its use demonstrates that Leftists have no intellectual integrity.
To apply the label fascist to organizations which advocate an economic system based upon markets represents the most abysmal ignorance. Fascism was a collectivist political movement of the left. It is to the right of socialism but that does not make it to the right of the whole politico-economic spectrum.
Perhaps the systematic misapplication of the term fascist is to make it a meaningless term and thus disguise the fact that the one American political organization whose ideological roots trace back to Mussolini's Fascist Party through the Rooseveltian New Deal is the Democratic Party.
There is an effort to identify fascism and street thuggery. Street thuggery is just street thuggery. It is not identified with any particular part of the politico-economic spectrum. Communists engaged in it as did fascists. Labor unions engaged in it. Moslems engaged in it. Members of the Ku Klux Klan, who undoubedly were members of the Democratic Party, engaged in it. What street thuggery is associated with is organizations who believe they are absolutely right and any contrary opinions are heresy and should not be voiced.
The recent political organization that most thoroughly represents the street thuggery of the National Socialists of Germany is called Anti-fa, supposedly for anti-fascist. Its campaign of thuggery against free speech is thoroughly fascist in the loose sense of the term. Anti-fa is evidence that Progressive Liberalism is becoming an intolerant religion.
This opposition to free speech is unAmerican in its spirit and even has a foreign origin. Herbert Marcuse was a German intellectual who witnessed how effectively Hitler's National Socialists overwhelmed their opposition and created a near universal acceptance of their philosophy by the German people. He migrated to America and spent the rest of his life trying to create an intellectual justification for the use of repressive methods to destroy political opposition to the political Leftists. His results were just blather: "No freedom of speech for Fascists". But the Fascists he and his followers were referring to were not the followers of historical Fascism but just any opposition to the political Left even when they had absolutely no relationship with historical Fascism and were its political enemy. Also Anti-fa seems to ignore that the American Constitution guarantees freedom of speech even to bad guys with bad ideas. They have been denying freedom of speech to good guys like Charles Murray who are merely reporting the results of scientic studies.
Dinesh d'Souza has written the folowing succinct account of Mussolini:
Mussolini never had the heart to be a true totalitarian, in part, because he was, well, Italian. His totalitaranism was always Italian, which is to say, half-assed. He sort of had his opponents arrested and he sort of controlled the media and he sort of had the parliament under his thumb, but he lacked the punctiliousness that characterized his more grim totalitarian counterparts, Stalin and Hitler. Throughout his twenty year reign, Mussolini killed off very few of his own citizens and allowed people, including Jews, to leave Italy. Stalin and Hitler would never dream of allowing this.
What kind of totalitarian control can you have over people if they are free to pack up and say sayonara?
Dinesh d'Souza, The Big Lie, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2017, p. 58.
It is clear that the National Socialism in Germany and Marxist Communism in Russia were far, far more evil than Fascism in Italy.
The first such identification of color and politics was of communism and red. This occured because of the connotations of the word red in the Russian language. The Bolsheviks chose i t to associate their movement with the pleasant connotations of red.
Mussolini wanted his movement to look organized visually. His followers could not afford military style uniforms so he had them wear black shirts.
In Germany, in imitation of Mussolini, Hitler had his followers wear brown shirts. This established the colored shirt identifications. In Spain it was blue shirts. In Brazil and independently in Ireland it was green shirts, In China there was period in which the Nationalist Party wanted to imitate the Fascist parties of Europe and its supporters wore blue shirts. In Britain the small local fascist party was identified by black shirts. In America there was a very small fascist movement headquartered in North Carolina called the Silver Shirts.
All of his life Benito Mussolini was a collectivist. Until he was 31 years of age he was a Marxist revolutionary socialist. He then became a nationalist at the beginning of World War I. The socialists expelled him but there is no evidence that he ever gave up his adherence to socialism. He adopted the collectivist philosophy of corporatism to differentiate himself from his enemies, the international socialists, and called it Fascism. Fascism did not have to confiscate private industries as long as the owners followed the dictates of government. Near the end of his life Mussolini formulated the laws and policies of his notion of a perfect society as socialistic.
There is no specific relationship between ideological fascism and street thuggery. Street thuggery is engaged in by any political movement that believes that it is absolutely right and is allowed to get away with thuggery. Such political movemenrs can be Marxist socialist, national socialist, national corporatist, progressive liberal, fundamentalist Moslem or White suprematist.
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