Debunking the 14 Points of Fascism

7:29 PM Justin Bread 1 Comments

The Fourteen Points of Fascism has in recent years become a primary source for those wishing for an easy-to-digest definition of Fascism. Unfortunately, the 14 Points does little to accurately depict Fascist policy and philosophy. Rather than informing, it misinforms and creates a checklist of meaningless characteristics that are very common in any despotic regime (notably the anti-Fascist Soviet Union). I will point out why some of these points are either half-true or just outright false.

False Points

Only a few of these points are outright inaccurate. Point 8: Religion and ruling elite tied together, Point 10: Power of labor suppressed or eliminated, and Point 13: Rampant cronyism and corruption, have absolutely nothing to do with Fascism. However, these points are common misconceptions.

It would surprise anyone to learn that Mussolini was a militant atheist, or that his Fascists assaulted and killed priests during, and well after, the 1924 elections. The street battles became so bad that elements of the Church bitterly denounced Fascism, with Cardinal Maffi referring to them as the “Race of Cain.” The Fascist State also banned various Catholic youth leagues, such as the Catholic Boy Scouts, largely because these leagues taught morals that contradicted Fascist doctrine. The Fascist government replaced Catholic youth leagues with Fascist ones, notably the Opera Nationale Balilla which began the military and political indoctrination of Italy’s youth. The credo of the Balilla was deemed sacrilegious by the Church. Meanwhile, the Pope’s denunciations and criticisms of Fascism and it’s Corporate State were widely suppressed in the Italian press by the Fascist government.

Secondly, the Fascists did not suppress Labor power. If anything they promoted it with their new Corporate State that Hitler and Roosevelt tried to emulate.

Cronyism is true with every government. Fascism was no different. The cronyism Britt’s article is probably referring to are the loans the Morgan Bank gave to Italy. A lesser known fact is the monopoly the Sinclair Oil Company tried to establish in Italy. Both of these deals were done legally but elements of Mussolini’s staff were found to be dealing in graft. When Matteotti exposed the deal, he was killed. Despite the corruption, these deals actually benefitted Italy by funding its public programs (i.e the Corporate State). Much of Italy’s economic problems (until the Depression) were caused by incompetent monetary/economic policy.

Although Britt’s depiction of Fascist cronyism does not accurately describe Italy, it is almost entirely true with Nazi Germany. In short, Corporatism in Germany was exploited by the non-Jewish Industrialists/Bankers. The power to nationalize businesses was exploited. Banks owned by Jews were seized and turned over to Nazi bankers. The Nazi system was incredibly profitable, even prominent Nazi leaders, like Goering and Hitler, profited immensely.

Fascist/Bolshevik Points

With these three points debunked, another six points are also found to be prevalent in the Soviet Union. Some of these points are justifiable, seeing that Lenin’s regime directly inspired the Fascist police state in Italy. These include:

Point 2: Disdain for the importance of human rights, Point 3: Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause, Point 6: A controlled mass media, Point 7: Obsession with national security, Point 11: Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts, and Point 12: Obsession with crime and punishment.

The early years of the Bolshevik Revolution were marked by rampant anti-intellectualism, mass arrests, and the creation of the Cheka (secret police). The Gulag system would come much later under Stalin’s regime. Lenin later regretfully admitted the mass arrests of poets and artists, whom he previously deemed to be bourgeois intelligentsia. The rise of the White Russians and later the revolt by the Kronstadt sailors were used by Lenin to scapegoat political dissidents and justify the dictatorship. All of these methods directly inspired Mussolini’s Black Shirts, so much so that they intentionally referred to themselves as the Cheka, after Lenin’s secret police.

Fascist Points

Point 1: Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, is accurate obviously.

Point 4: The supremacy of the military/avid militarism, is somewhat accurate except for this statement:

A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute.

This seems to be an attempt to establish a link between Fascism and the United States. However, this is not entirely true. The Fascists established a series of public works projects and began the creation of Italy’s Corporate State, much of it financed by foreign banks. Mussolini’s first military campaigns didn’t begin until 1935, twelve years after he took power. Even then, they were disasters. Although militarism was prominent, the military was not supreme.

Point 5: Rampant sexism, is true but not for the reasons outlined in the article. The Fascists in Italy heavily penalized abortions and outlawed the distribution of related literature. However, this was not done to reduce women to second-class citizens. Children were seen as the future of Italy and the Fascists implemented countless laws and taxes to force men and women into establishing families. The State also created a series of involuntary public schools that indoctrinated Italy’s youth as young as eight years old. Meanwhile, the Fascists strengthened labor laws to provide assistance to expectant mothers.

Point 9: Power of corporations protected. A common misconception of Fascism is the idea that incorporated businesses control the State. The Labor Charter defined the “corporation” as simply a field of production. The corporation was a syndicalist entity, but included employers along with the workers. Mussolini’s mentor, d’Annunzio, wrote the Charter of Fiume, and actually banned incorporated businesses from gaining influence in the State. Incorporated workers (unions) and incorporated employers were protected by the Fascist State, but incorporated businesses were banned.

Point 14: Fraudulent elections. This is technically true but not a defining characteristic of Fascism. The Fascists participated in several elections prior to the March on Rome, but democracy was not abolished until after Matteotti was murdered. The Fascists had never won any election, except for the 1924 elections. Matteotti would later reveal that the Fascists had essentially stolen this election. So despite the fact that the Fascists participated in several elections, yet stole only one, the author claims this is a definite characteristic of all Fascist regimes.

However, the truth is that the Fascists abhorred liberal Democracy while having great faith in the (democratic) Corporate State. They viewed liberal Democracy as a corrupt system in which special interest groups could manipulate the State. The Corporate State was semi-Democratic but essentially had supreme power over the worker’s corporations and industries. By dividing sectors of industry into syndicates, then incorporating these syndicates into the State, the Fascists created the Organic State in which the will of the people was embodied in the State, but the State had the power to re-direct that will if it was destructive.

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1 comment:

  1. there are few universal features of fascism, as there are few agreements as to what fascism is. I would argue that the presence of fascist features in the Soviet Union does mean these features are not fascist, it means that the Soviet Union was itself a fascist state- a nearly perfect example of fascism by every definition except the integration of religion, which I would argue is NOT a feature of fascism. Fascism seeks to replace or co-opt existing religious energy into new, more virulent political religions.