On both sides of the political spectrum the words “Nazi” and “Fascist” have come in common use. I have bad news for both the nuts carrying swastika flags and the thugs known as the “Antifa” (for the “Anti-fascists”): Nazism and Fascism are dead.
Fascism and its younger, illegitimate brother Nazism were products of specific historical circumstances that bear no resemblance to today’s America. Both sprang from tremendous anger at the outcome of World War I in two countries that suffered heavily in that conflict, Germany and Italy. Having agreed to an armistice it thought would lead to a peace based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points, Germany was instead handed the Diktat of Versailles, which both humiliated and impoverished the country. Thanks to her usual treachery, Italy was on the winning side (she was allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914), but the other Allied Powers treated her with contempt and she gained little at the Versailles Conference, after suffering a million casualties. Italy had the outlook of a defeated country.
Fascism and Nazism were responses to defeat. They worshipped strength, despised weakness, and sought to leave behind the whole Christian component of Western culture and return to the value system of the ancient world where power was the highest good. Fatally, both turned an instrumental virtue, will, into a substantive virtue; the act of will was good in itself regardless of what was willed. This led to such disasters as Mussolini’s entry into World War II, Hitler’s offhand declaration of war on the United States, and the Holocaust. Italian Fascism was not race-based, but Nazism offered an ideology’s usual single-factor explanation of history in the form of Aryan supremacy. As the joke ran in Germany, the ideal Aryan was blond like Hitler and slim like Goering.
There is nothing visible on the American political landscape that is likely to re-create either Fascism or Nazism. More, each depend on one man, and both Mussolini and Hitler have been dead for more than 70 years. Mussolini had one potential successor who could have kept the Fascism movement going, Marshal Italo Balbo, but he was killed at the beginning of the war, perhaps not accidentally (he opposed Italy’s entry and asked if Mussolini had gone mad). Below Hitler, there was no one in the Nazi hierarchy who could have taken over. The political emptiness of Nazism without Hitler was illustrated by the choice to succeed him as Fuhrer after his death: Admiral Doenitz.
So why do we now have a violent “Antifa” that pretends to be fighting Fascism while themselves behaving like Brownshirts? The answer is another of cultural Marxism’s words that lie. The cultural Marxists have given Fascism a new, code-word definition that is contradictory to its actual meaning. In their vocabulary, “Fascism” is any defense of traditional society and cultural.
Where does this come from? Actual Fascism was strongly modernist and future-focused, as opposed to “reactionaries” as the Reds. As is so often the case, it comes from the Frankfurt School and its most creative mind, Theodor Adorno. In a series of “Studies in Prejudice” that culminated with his immensely influential book The Authoritarian Personality, Adorno argued that all of society’s traditional institutions, starting with the family, produced “prejudice” that became “Fascism.” His book, which pretended to be a work of sociology (now completely debunked as such), offered an “F-scale” to measure how “Fascist” a person was by determining their attitudes toward every aspect of normal life. The more normal the person skewed, the higher was his potential to be a “Fascist.”
When the left now uses the term “Fascist” or, less frequently, “Nazi”, it is Adorno’s definition they are using. Anyone who lives a normal life, with a married mother and father, children, the father as the breadwinner and the mother as the homemaker, going to church, not caring much about politics, is a “Fascist”. As such, they are all under threat of physical assault by the “Antifa”.
While Fascism and Nazism are dead ideologies, cultural Marxism is an ideology that is alive, dangerous, and increasingly totalitarian. As we see on too many university campuses, it does its best to prevent freedom of thought or expression. Any dissent from it makes you “another Hitler”. Ironically, the neo-Nazis cannot create another Hitler. But the cultural Marxists might just pull it off.