Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Fascist Debate and Christianity

It has become painfully obvious to all by now that our political discourse in the United States has degenerated into an argument over who the “fascist” is. The Nazis have also recently replaced Russia as the looming bogey man of American political discourse with accusations and counter-accusations of the left and right being the “real” Nazis. The term “Nazi” is used by both sides interchangeably with the term “Fascist” as if these two things were one and the same. Rather than debate ideas or principles, we seem to spend our time arguing over who is or is not a “fascist”. The Democrats say that the Republicans are “fascists”, that President Trump is a “fascist” and the more extreme members of the progressive left have even formed a group called “Antifa”, which is short for “Anti-Fascist”, to combat any Republican, conservative, or whomever they consider at all ‘right-wing’ who are all, to their mind, “fascists”. Prior to World War II, there were many such groups, usually organized by the local Communists of a given country and the members of “Antifa” today are modeling themselves after those people.

At the same time, the Republicans have responded to this by arguing that they are not “fascists” but that, rather, it is the Democrats who are the “fascists”. They point to the behavior of “Antifa” and say that the “Anti-Fascists” are the *real* “fascists”, that they are the ones behaving like “fascists” and so on. There is a similar back and forth over who is most similar to the Nazis. Trump is called a Nazi or a Neo-Nazi or a Nazi sympathizer by the Democrats while the Republicans continue to argue that the Nazis were leftists and that no one on the right could possibly be a Nazi because of that. Rather, they implicitly argue, it is the left in this country which is most like the Nazis with each side refusing to even consider the possibility that the Nazis were a different sort of thing, taking ideas from both sides and thus neither entirely on the right or the left. It can, and has, become extremely tiresome as both sides accuse the other of being Fascists and both sides accuse the other of being most like the Nazis, the Nazis being the secular replacement for the Devil, who no one believes in anymore, as the representation of pure evil in the world.

Thus, our political debate has been reduced to shouting at each other, “you’re a fascist!” and, “no, you’re a fascist!” ad nauseam. The left will have an easier time of this since the right, by responding the way that they do, implicitly accept the leftist standard of judgment. They have, effectively, decided to play the left’s game according to the left’s own rules and it is hard to imagine how that could ever work out well for them. They could, and with more justification, accuse the left of being Communists and/or Stalinists but they do not because, again, they have accepted that the Nazis and/or Fascists were the worst people in the history of the world, the representation of absolute evil and thus calling them Communists would not pack the same punch. The difference is that the right recoils from the accusation of being Nazis or Fascists while the left does not recoil at being called Communists or Socialists. The Republicans spent eight years calling Obama a socialist and when his term ended the Democrats very nearly nominated an open and avowed socialist to replace him. The term obviously does not repel them in the least.

No, the mainstream right, and not just in America, has a problem because, according to their own ideals of classical liberalism, what the left wants does not seem that out of order. They have already conceded the ground on too many key points. If, after all, we are all “created equal”, then it does not make sense that some do better than others and seems perfectly reasonable for a powerful state to intervene in order to restore that mythical inherent equality. If America, or any other western state, is a “nation of immigrants” then it does seem rather arbitrary and capricious to say you are only arguing over matters of procedure and paperwork. If you concede complete freedom of religion, and equality and the “brotherhood of man”, anyone can become a citizen of any country so long as their paperwork is in order, it does seem like only blind bigotry which would motivate you to say the Muslims should be given a bit more scrutiny. No, do that, and you just might be called a Fascist and, apparently, the worst possible thing to be in our current liberal, democratic, republic is a “fascist” and we are locked in a cycle of accusing the other side of being that most terrible of things.

Now, for the left, the revolutionary, republican, secularist types, this makes sense. They have also long embraced “identity politics” and are very definite about whose side they are on. If your identity is that of a non-Caucasian race, a non-Christian religion or a non-traditional sexual orientation, they are for you but if you are any of those things, not so much. The right, on the other hand, tries to argue against all identity politics while at the same time inherently running into the problem of what it “means” to be an American. From what I have seen, the fall-back position seems to be Christianity or, as they often prefer, “Judeo-Christian values”. While still trying to argue that you can be any religion or of no religion at all, they say that these Christian values are the core of who we are and we must get back to them as the basis for the only proper sort of identity. Frankly, that sounds rather impossible to me and rather at odds with their agreement with the left that the manifestation of absolute evil in political terms can be lumped together under the label of “fascist”.

Remember, after all, that National Socialism and Fascism are actually not the same thing nor did they behave in exactly the same way nor were either of those identical to any of the other regimes currently given the blanket classification of “fascist”. They certainly did not have the same sort of attitude when it came to religion, the dominant religion in all such countries being Christianity. In “fascist” Spain, General Franco was the savior of Christianity, delivering it from the atrocities of the Second Republic which killed more people in a matter of months than the supposedly notorious Spanish Inquisition killed in as many centuries. The “fascist” Legion of the Archangel Michael in Romania had Orthodox Christianity as one of its foundations and required all members to be willing to die for Christ. The leaders of both of those movements were also monarchists. The very pro-Christian “Austrofascist” leader Kurt von Schuschnigg had agreed to a restoration of the monarchy, which we have discussed before, and the “fascist” regime of Salazar in Portugal was very pro-Christian and at least friendlier to the idea of monarchy than any government in the Republic of Portugal has been before or since. Given all of that, I can only believe that if anyone understood Fascism, I do not see how actual Christians could consider that the worst thing in the world to be, certainly worse than our own regime.

From a Christian point of view, one could go back to the Roman Empire which the faith was born in and converted for the image of an ideal state or the medieval specifically Christian monarchies which rose up after it but neither of those are on offer today and, indeed, are intentionally ignored. They are certainly not attacked the way that the Nazis or the Fascists are, though they have and would be, but more than that the ruling elite seems to not want them to even be considered. So, for a sincere Christian living in the modern, liberal, democratic west, it seems hard to understand how the term “Fascist” could be regarded as the ultimate evil. I say this because, in any way in which I would measure a society by the standards of traditional Christianity, the one actual, honest to goodness state which was truly Fascist, the state in which the dictator of the country was the man who actually invented Fascism, Benito Mussolini, seems inarguably more Christian than our own celebrated and beloved liberal, democratic, union of republican states. Fascist Italy was, of course, none of those things. It was certainly not liberal, Mussolini emphatically despised liberalism, nor was it democratic as several years into his tenure Mussolini banned all parties but the National Fascist Party and it was not a republic as Mussolini, though dictator, was only the head of government and not the head of state, which was the King of Italy.

That must sound shocking but, I can only ask you to consider a few facts about this terrible, nightmarish dictatorship known as Fascist Italy which was so bad that it has become our primary political epithet. Consider it, particularly, from a traditional Christian perspective. In Fascist Italy, divorce was illegal. Abortion was illegal, gay “marriage” was certainly illegal and homosexuals or trans-genders and everything of that sort was nowhere to be seen. Men were encouraged to be masculine, women were encouraged to be feminine and the tax code encouraged people to get married and have large families, to, ‘replenish the earth’ if you like. Christianity (specifically of the Roman Catholic variety) was the official and sole religion of the state, Christian religious classes were mandatory in all Italian schools, the local form of Christian worship (the mass) was even declared, “central” to national life in Fascist Italy. There were also, by the way, no mosques in Rome (though there were Christian churches going up in Libya, Eritrea and Somalia) just as there were no gay bars or trans-gender bathrooms. Oh, and there were no Satanists giving the opening prayer at city council meetings either.

All of that was in Fascist Italy under the dictator Mussolini and in every one of the examples cited above, the modern United States of America is exactly the opposite. We do have democracy and we also have “no fault” divorce, we have abortion and call it a fundamental right known as “women’s reproductive health”. We have gay “marriage”, homosexuals parading through the streets, in every walk of life and on practically every television show. We have trans-gendered people, gender-fluid people, men who want to be women and women who want to be men. We have a welfare system that discourages marriage and in which only the relatively wealthy can afford large families and these people are told not to bother anyway because large families are bad for the environment. We have a “wall of separation” between church and state, we have banned religion from the schools to an extent that the Bolsheviks would find quite familiar. Whereas in Fascist Italy a crucifix had to be displayed in every classroom, in modern America even a silent prayer is strictly forbidden. Far from being central to national life, Christian worship is discouraged and, indeed, fewer and fewer people bother doing it. Yes, there was also recently a city council meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado at which the opening prayer was given by a Satanist, praising reason and light and ending with a heartfelt, “Hail Satan!”

These are the facts of the matter and so, I would say again, to consider who had the more Christian society; Fascist Italy or the modern United States? Then, ask yourself, if you are a Christian certainly; why is it that we consider the Fascists to be the epitome of evil and ourselves as the “shining city on the hill”? It may not be pleasant to think about but I think it would be worth it. After all, notice that the Satanist in Colorado was able to say “Hail Satan” and not a single finger was laid on him by any Christian. Try addressing any city council in the western world and ending your remarks with “Hail Hitler” and see how far you get. To me, this reaffirms my theory that no one really believes in Satan anymore, even the so-called “Christians” of the Republican Party. Everyone, however, believes in Adolf Hitler, we take that guy very seriously indeed. Obviously, Christianity can be a powerful basis for a country, because it has been for centuries of western history. However, what these milquetoast conservatives are peddling is not Christianity. We know that because, if we judge our republic as we judge a tree by its fruits, we can see that it could not have been founded on Christianity in the first place. If it had been, well, it would not have been founded at all as the New England rabble rousers would simply have, ‘rendered unto King George the things that are King George’s and to God the things that are God’s’.

15 comments:

  1. While I am committed to opposing racism and white supremacism, I think you make an important point about the word 'Fascist' getting thrown around. As somebody with a slight soft spot for Mussolini, I don't like the term 'Fascist' getting applied to neo-nazis and other hate mongerers who have little in common with the original Fascist movement.

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    1. You better watch your step. If you are really opposed to racism, which is to say you think all races should be treated the same, you're probably still going to fit the definition of "Nazi" to the left. And it's true, Mussolini was not the same as Hitler, indeed, initially he didn't like the guy at all. They were rather forced together by the bizarre choices of Britain and France which at one point regarded Italy as the threat to the world order and Hitler as someone they could do business with.

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  2. Mainstream conservatives can hardly call themselves classical liberals nor does classical liberalism suggest equal outcomes. That is a leap too far for me. Individuals make choices, mistakes, and some work harder. Yes, culture and values can play a role here, but it is ultimately up to the individual.

    Classical liberalism is a term mostly used by libertarian academics.

    These verbal gymnastics become irrelevant when we are talking about a monarch who is the ultimate private property owner.

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    1. The part where they get 'hung up' is the "all men are created equal" line. Old fashioned liberalism, as far as I can tell, never proposed any such thing, only that equality before the law should allow every individual to rise or fall by their own merits. However, if we are all "created equal" then one has a problem explaining why some groups of people, on average, do so much better than others in various ways. It's quite different from saying no two people or groups of people are equal but all should be given a chance to make the most of themselves.

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    2. Today many blame the federalists. They are not innocent to be sure, but the ideals of classical liberalism are hardly compatible with the state in any form. If we take them to their logical conclusion we end up with (anarchy being another popularly misused term) anarcho-capitalism. It is hardly a practical proposition, but ideals and principles are important.

      The most telling part of this for me is that anarcho-capitalism would treat each individual as sovereign within his property. After all of the publishing and debating we end up where we started: with the traditional government of the absolute monarch. If he owns the entire country, there is nothing in the classical liberal canon or in modern libertarian thought which would contradict a king taxing as he wishes. It was his property in the first case!

      This is the appeal of monarchy for me. It can be entirely consistent without exception. Other systems require a patchwork of explanations and can never fully rationalize themselves. Mostly this revolves around the use of public property and institutions.

      The quest for liberty from tyranny has been a noble one, but fallible man can hardly design a durable system of laws (or any system for that matter) which can survive all possible outcomes. It is only fitting that we accept our humility and arrive back at where we started, with the ancient system of monarchy.

      Thanks again.

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    3. A good point, and one that reminds me of William F. Buckley debating Noam Chomsky when Buckley remarked that the problem with the Chomsky types was that they never know "where to neatly begin" in order for their argument to work. Similarly, many, more likely on Buckley's side, would not know where to neatly end before their argument stops making sense.

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    4. "It can be entirely consistent without exception. Other systems require a patchwork of explanations and can never fully rationalize themselves. Mostly this revolves around the use of public property and institutions." This for me is also a big appeal of monarchism. Democracies have to be undemocratic to survive. If it has a monarchist, communist, fascist party banned, etc. it is undemocratic and yet then the democracy survives. Same with free speech being restricted. Monarchy doesn't lie though. It never promises equality, right to free speech, right to hold assembly, right of all parties, democracy. So if it doesn't have these thing,s it's not hypocritical as it never promised them in the first place

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    5. If I were an Italian right before Mussolini's rise to power, I would have been suspicious of the Fascist Movement, and I still have reservations about the movement, but for Fascism to be less acceptable than Satan...

      It is a lie to call yourself the Mad Monarchist because you are clearly far more sane than whatever would allow that, as even those who are not religious should SURELY understand what Satan represents?

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  3. It's true that the USA isn't based on Christianity. It's also true that the grievances which the colonies had against Britain (mostly against Parliament) while real weren't enough to justify a revolutionary war.

    However, it was a serious breach of his duty for Victor Emmanuel III to appoint Mussolini as prime minister. He was rewarding a man who aspired to greatness by disturbing the peace of Italy and later that of other nations.

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    1. Your evidence of this? The King appointed Mussolini only after the mainstream parties refused to take responsibility for forming a government. When Mussolini was appointed, it was only as prime minister of a coalition government, the Fascists not even being a majority. After he won a clear majority, how can the King be blamed for confirming him?

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  4. As an American who's three quarters Italian with a quarter of English, I can't find much to disagree with in this article. The thing that has always drove me insane is that even far left, anti fascist sources claim that at the MAXIMUM 500,000 people died under the Mussolini regime, literally half a percent the amount killed by communism. Pol Pot killed over five times that in less than 4 years alone. Robespierre butchered 40,000 in a few months. The left have always been professional killers, and they even have some of the same tactics. The story being circulated that blonde people we're supposedly more likely to be right wing extremists, and the Jacobins killing blonde women because they associated them with the aristocracy. If I could recommend a book to you, it would be Mussolini's My Autobiography that was written in 1928. I think you'd like it because it was written five years before Hitler coming to power, contains no anti semitism or racism (although Mussolini does acknowledge that race exists, which the sjw left of today my still deem nazi like) and also has no republicanism, as Mussolini speaks highly of the King in it and there's even a picture of him with the king. I'm sure you could get a pdf of it online or find it for cheap on Amazon. It's definitely an interesting read.

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    1. I also recommend Mussolini's Autobiography. Here is a PDF: https://www.pdf-archive.com/2017/09/06/my-autobiography-1928-benito-mussolini/my-autobiography-1928-benito-mussolini.pdf

      And here is an interesting statistic, admitted by English books:

      "Restoring the death penalty [in Italy] was a dramatic gesture, although in fact only nine people were executed up to June 1940, including five Slav terrorists in north-east Italy. This was a striking contrast to the fate of dissidents elsewhere..."

      "He [Mussolini] was certainly an autocrat, but he imposed the death penalty only for attempts on his own life and executed only nine people for this crime."

      "It [the Fascist government] could, but rarely did, inflict the death penalty – there were twenty-six executions up to the fall of the Fascist regime in 1943, including nine in the fourteen peace-time years."

      1922-1940 (Peacetime): 9
      1940-1943 (Wartime): 17
      Grand total of executions in Fascist Italy: 26

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  5. “I declare immediately that I am not anti-clerical in principle. ... I wish to add, moreover, that we are not anti-Catholic. ... Rome, besides being the capital of Italy, must be regarded as the capital of an immense spiritual empire.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Fascism is not an anti-religious movement. It does not intend to "banish God from heaven, and religion from the earth", as certain materialists stupidly claim. Fascism does not consider religion to be an invention of priests or a trick of those who hold power to enable them to rule the poor. These idiotic explanations of religious phenomena belong to an era of the most degrading anti-clericalism. Fascism is not anti-religious in general, and is not anti-Christian or anti-Catholic in particular.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Fascism respects religion; it is not atheist, it is not anti-Christian, it is not anti-Catholic. It rarely happens that a Fascist funeral rite is secular.” - Benito Mussolini

    “All creations of the spirit — starting with religious ones — are coming to the fore, and nobody dare keep up the attitude of anti-clericalism which, for several decades, was a favourite of democracy in the Western world. By saying that God is returning, we mean that spiritual values are returning.” - Benito Mussolini

    “My spirit is deeply religious. Religion is a fundamental force which must be respected and defended. I am therefore opposed to anti-clerical and atheistic demagogy. I affirm that Catholicism is a great spiritual and moral power.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Our destiny cannot become universal unless it is transplanted into the soil of Rome. By means of Christianity Rome found her form and found the means of upholding herself in the world.” - Benito Mussolini

    “I maintain that the Imperial and Latin tradition of Rome is represented today by Catholicism.” - Benito Mussolini

    “There are laws of a moral nature that are truly immutable: I believe that the Ten Commandments of Moses, for example, are definitive in this regard.” - Benito Mussolini

    “When, in parliament, I delivered my first speech...I concluded by invoking the assistance of God in my difficult task. ... What is the truth? It is that a faith openly professed is a sign of strength. I have seen the religious spirit bloom again; churches once more are crowded, the ministers of God are themselves invested with new respect. Fascism has done and is doing its duty.” - Benito Mussolini

    “The Fascist state claims its ethical character: it is Catholic but above all it is Fascist... Catholicism completes Fascism, and this we openly declare.” - Benito Mussolini

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  6. “Just before I came out here I went into the church and knelt before the altar. That was not done to pay superficial homage to the religion of the State; it was the expression of an intimate conviction, for I believe that a people cannot become great and powerful, conscious of its destinies, without religion; unless it looks on religion and feels the need of it as an essential element of its public and private life.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Religion is indispensable, not only for the people but for the elite and for science, which it completes. There comes a point where science stops; regardless of its progress, it stops. It is like facing a wall. On this wall you must write the name: God. I wish that there be religion throughout the country, and that the children may be taught their catechism.” - Benito Mussolini

    “I made a provision favouring the clergy also... This would have been inconceivable in the days of Masonic demagogy and social democracy, which was dominated by a superficial and wrathful anti-clericalism. ... They accomplish a wise task and assist the Italian people in all their religious practices... The priest who accomplishes his task according to the wise rules of the Gospel and shows the people the great humane and divine truths, will be helped and assisted.” - Benito Mussolini

    “The Fascist State sees in religion one of the deepest of spiritual manifestations and for this reason it not only respects religion but defends and protects it. ... Fascism respects the God of ascetics, saints, and heroes, and it also respects God as conceived by the innocent heart of the simple people, the God to whom their prayers are raised.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Those of you who have care over souls, you can help people to better understand that the ideals of religion and the Fatherland are not irreconcilable, but are perfectly joined together.” - Benito Mussolini

    “Some claim that we Fascists only pretend to be Catholics for political expediency... But this is not true. We are Catholics by conviction. I am Catholic by conviction, because I believe that Catholicism has adequate and sufficient doctrine to solve all the problems of individual, social, national and international life, and because, in the contrast between spirit and matter, Catholicism supports and desires the superiority and victory of the spirit.” - Benito Mussolini

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