zaterdag 21 april 2012

Anarchism and Fascism: Antagonists?

The term Fascism is often incorrectly used in Anarchist circles to denote reactionary conservatism. It has become a cuss word for everything that is ugly and it has become a synonymous for racism, sexism, nazism and anti-Semitism. But in fact Anarchism and Fascism have a shared origin and some essential comparisons.

Let us look at Fascism in a neutral manner as an indication for a certain conception of society, as stated in the works of Gentile. Essential for Fascism is the harmony model for society. Possible conflicts between groups and classes are integrated into a form of society, in which every individual has its own (natural) position and associated control. Its concrete structure is the corporate state. Mussolini wanted to organize this in the following manner: the whole society is divided in five corporations, namely those of agriculture, industry plus transport, trade, finance and free people. Each corporation includes employees and employers; together a representative body is elected for decision-making. Overarching is the "first chamber" next to the "second chamber", the traditional people representation. This structure shows the importance of syndicates and also the anti-parliamentary and anti-democratic bias.

Fascism, however, also appeals to a number of emotional motives in man that reach far beyond an acceptance of such a model of society. There is an appeal done on natural, vital, irrational forces, the mythical awareness is fostered, national feeling is stimulated, the past is romanticized, the use of violence is legitimized, if not glorified.

These aspects could be reconciled with corporatism, if not also a glorification and worship of the charismatic leader occurred. A dictator as the embodiment and personification of the state can't be seen apart from historical Fascism. In this way the Fascist practice of corporatism leads to oppression from above, although Gentile’s theory is different. Characteristic for his Fascism is the total identification of the individual and the whole within the state, so the contradictions which exist in other forms of state would disappear and thus no suppression would occur. "The state is the will of the individual itself in its universal and absolute aspect and so the individual becomes the state, ... absolute democracy is not the search for a limited state, but omitting the restrictions on the state. "(E struttura Genesi della societa, 1946)

When we compare this image of Fascism with the Anarchism of today and the past, there appears to be fundamentally and historically all kinds of linkages and overlaps between the two. Apart from the indiscriminate use of the word "Fascism" one could find most of the earlier mentioned characteristics in Anarchist circles. I only need to point out the irrational tendencies (a rejection of the omnipotence of reason and a focus on the person as a whole), the national feelings in all forms of liberation struggle, the accepted use of violence, the romantic traits in utopian society-ideals, the rejection of existing democratic forms of government. Action and movement are everything, the dynamics, vitality of the deed - direct action. There are indeed similarities with Fascism, but the greatest comparison can be found in the emphasis on Syndicalism, trade unions, coupled with another non-parliamentary democratic polity. Historically, there are several examples of theorists that turned from Syndicalist or Anarchist thought to the Fascist side.

Mazzini (1850-1872) thought that he could establish a free Italian state by organizing the workers; his interests went increasingly to that state which was surrounded by a religious areola and less to the workers organization. Bakunin had sharply attacked him over this. Mazzini's Syndicalism was sacrificed to the mythical and nationalist sense. An even clearer example can be found in Sorel (1847-1922). Was Sorel a Fascist, Anarchist or Communist? It's known that at Sorel’s funeral two funeral wreaths were given; one from Mussolini and one from Lenin. This admiration was mutual, Sorel also appreciated them: Lenin for his overthrow of the bourgeois state and Mussolini for his Syndicalist ideas. Sorel’s biggest concern was the seizure of the masses, which in his opinion could only happen by violence, which needed a stimulating myth. Reasonable arguments don't count for much; the drives have to be set in motion - the masses must believe in the new society and must believe that the general strike will cause this. Against the oppressive violence of the state which only serves one class (force), the liberating counter violence has to be used. By joint efforts misery and oppression can be expelled, the state can be abolished. Sorel’s Syndicalism represents a battle weapon, not a future perfect. For Sorel just like Mussolini only (direct) action counts, the revolutionary deed, , the struggle on itself, averse to any future ideal.  

Despite these essential similarities, there are also substantial differences between the historical Fascism and Anarchism. In the past the ideals of national-syndicalism too often saw its ideals betrayed and saw them lead to a dictatorial state. Fascism was hijacked by the forces of reactionary-conservatism and became a means to conserve the capitalist system. Therefore it’s important to learn from these lessons, so we don't make the same mistakes as made in the past. We seek a society in which each of our proletarian countrymen is a representative of the people. We wish the total destruction of the reactionary-conservative forces and the creation of a  free nation without classes which represents the people it consists of. We stand for a decentralized form of society that strives for the maximum participation of the individual and in which everyone is basically free. In which the means of production are collective property at the disposal of free producers.

Vrije Nationalisten Noord-Brabant / Netwerk Nationale Socialisten

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