Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

June 25, 2014

'Is fascism always antisemitic? No, it is not.' by Andrew Taylor, 25 06 14



Before addressing the core of the Fascist credo I want to lay to rest the unhistorical myth that antisemitism is an invariable element of Fascist power.   My idea for writing on this subject arose from conversations with liberal friends who backed away from the idea of a surge of fascism in Ukraine, saying that since Ukrainian Jews are not being especially persecuted under the Kiev regime its doubtful they have powerful fascist elements operating there.

The Mainstream press has been calling Right Sector and Svoboda "imaginary Nazis" on the basis of the Israeli and Zionist deal struck with The Right Sector: (See: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/putins-imaginary-nazis-105217.html#.U6ti2UBVWEk)

Early in March of this year right after the Maidan coup d' etat, the Israeli ambassador in Kiev, Reuven Din El, met with Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh 'opening a hotline' with the fascist movement to “prevent provocations"...Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League wrote the following in the Huffington Post:

"Dmitro Yarosh, leader of Right Sector, met with Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Reuven Din El, and told him that their movement rejects anti-Semitism and xenophobia and will not tolerate it. He said their goals were a democratic Ukraine, transparent government, ending corruption, and equal opportunity for all ethnic groups".
...
"Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, together with UDAR leader Vitaliy Klichko, brought Svoboda into the opposition coalition in 2012. Now, having brought Svoboda into the government, it is up to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to ensure that anti-Semitism is not tolerated and that democratic norms are adhered to. By sending that message to the people of Ukraine now, the prime minister will reassure the Jewish community and set an admirable example.

"Guiding Ukraine’s nationalists to adopt the path of Metropolitan Sheptytsky will be a major test of Ukraine’s democratic development and an important step forward for the country. If achieved, the future of Ukraine’s Jewish community may be bright, not bleak."
(See:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abraham-h-foxman/in-ukraine-new-government_b_4875833.html)

This has been deeply disturbing to me. Is the message that Israel and diaspora Zionist leadership abroad will tolerate the glorification of Stephan Bandera, the persecution and murder of anti-Maidan activists, tolerate White power and neo-nazi flags and banners, the publication and distribution of National-Socialist literature...as long as the Jews of Ukraine are not molested? Despicable rhetoric from top Ukrainian politicians calling Russian-identity people of The Donbass and Odessa and the people of Russia "subhuman" is ok so long as 'our people' are not targeted? (See a critique of  Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk's message which he inscribed in the official book of the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA: "We will commemorate the heroes by cleaning our land from the evil"...

“They lost their lives because they defended men and women, children and the elderly who found themselves in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders and sponsored by them subhumans. First, we will commemorate the heroes by wiping out those who killed them and then by cleaning our land from the evil”, - he said.
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/06/ukraine-echoes-of-the-third-reich-yatsenyuks-subhumans-.html
Since than the Kiev authorities have continued in the rhetoric and promises of the Third Reich.
The Ukrainian govt has decreed Hitler's Land im Osten (land in the east) as a promise to volunteer soldiers willing to fight the people of the Donbass: The Kyiv Post news story on this development was entitled: "Ukraine's Land Agency give land to soldiers in the east for free"
...
"Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine." http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/ukraines-land-agency-give-land-to-soldiers-in-the-east-for-free-352100.html
Fascism is not inherently antisemitic. It is inherently anti-individualistic, that is ~ inherently antagonistic to the dignity and destiny of the human subject. Fascism castigates the 'moral decay' in Liberalism, 'the impotence of Democracy' and the 'abomination' of Socialism because liberalism, democracy and socialism are all manifestations/phases of individualism that affirm to different degrees the emancipation of the human person.

Contrary to popular commonplace notions, above all things, it is fascism not socialism which is the bitter enemy of Individualism (1). Fascism is intrinsically anti-socialist and in fact grabs power in history in response to the gains of the people, the gains of the Left. Hegel's influence notwithstanding, Marx's fundamental option was for the emancipation of the person and the Class from domination/exploitation by others. His theory of 'The State' after all, posits that the state with its coercive powers will at last wither away, and its dying off will destroy all the tentacles which have marked the un-freedom of humankind. Socialism is the expansion  of "des droits de l'homme" from the realms of morality and politics to the economic social realm. It is the fulfillment of the individual in a free association of individuals, the harmonisation of the one and the many. True, for Marx, the working-class passes by revolution from the coercive capitalist state where the few control the many  by means of the coercive socialist state (where the many control the few), but this is a  transition, a temporary period of working-class power that is succeeded by a stateless communist world.

How does antisemitism fit into the Fascist worldview? The case of German Nazism has become the rule in determining this question, rather than merely one historical incidence of a certain genre of Fascism. In point of fact German antisemitic Fascism was rather different from that of Italy or Spain in this regard, and was in many ways sui generis in its antisemitic racialism. In 1920's and early 30's Italy, the fascists were quite friendly with the Jewish component of the capitalist establishment and of the 117 original members of the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, founded on 23 March 1919, five were Jewish cadre. Antisemitism was most decidedly not the policy or belief of mainstream Italian Fascism. Whether due to direct German Nazi pressure or Mussolini's frustration that Italian Zionists rejected his mid 30s proposal that Ethiopia would make an ideal Holy Zion given that Falashas were already resident there (2), it can not be claimed that before the late 1930's Italian Fascism was intrinsically or even typically antisemitic.

As viciously single-minded and obdurate as was the antisemitism of German Fascism, in fact the historical record of The Third Reich indicates that Zionism's relationship with Nazism was to say the least ambiguous, with some Zionists collaborating with the Nazis (3)(a) and with Zionist leaders opposing the early 1930's worldwide Boycott of the Hitler Regime (3)(b).

If Fascism is not intrinsically antisemitic, but anti-individualist, anti-liberal and anti-socialist, what are some of its other distinguishing hallmarks? Political Scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt  wrote an article a decade ago about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20) Analyzing the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Pinochet (Chile), and Suharto (Indonesia)  Britt claims that all had 14 elements in common.  I will conclude by including an excerpt listing his 14 characteristics which he terms the "identifying characteristics of fascism":

"1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

"2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

"3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

"4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

"5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

"6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

"7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

"8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

"9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

"10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

"11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

"12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

"13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

"14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Source for Lawrence Britt article excerpt: http://www.deliberation.info/the-14-characteristics-fascism/


Notes
(1.) The 'individualism' often alleged to be manifested by both libertarianism and consumer-capitalism are perverse misnomers. Marx's idea of the individual and freedom is 'freedom for' not 'freedom from' society.
(Cf. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts)

(2) Ray Moseley. Mussolini: The Last 600 Days of Il Duce. First Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004. pp115-116.

(3)(a) an example is depicted in In Ben Hecht's book "Perfidy"(1961) describing the events surrounding the 1954–1955 Kastner trial in Jerusalem when a leading member of David Ben Gurion's Mapai party was accused of collaborating with the Nazis during the genocide of Hungarian Jewry. "Perfidy” relates this history of a Hungarian Zionist leader who arranged for his family and several hundred socially prominent Jews to escape while facilitating the removal of the rest of Hungarian Jews to Nazi concentration camps;  Hannah Arendt, in her 1960 book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report in the Banality of Evil,” writes: “To a Jew this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story.”

(3)(b) In “The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine” (which has as an afterword remarks by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League), the pro-Israel writer Edwin Black reports that Zionist leaders in 1933 concluded a secret pact with the Third Reich that transferred 60,000 Jews and $100,000 to Palestine, the Zionists promising in return that they would halt the worldwide boycott “that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year”; also see the documentation of certain Zionist leaders with Nazism in Lenni Brenner's 2 books: “Zionism in the Age of Dictators,” Lawrence Hill and Co (March 1983), and “51 Documents, Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis” , Croom Helm Ltd. (1983)

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