Fascism and Bolshevism: different sides, same coin?
Anti-fascism evolved from an academic fetish among Frankfurt School members into a cult of sorts in the 60’s and 70’s. The Antifa loons of today are well within the tradition of prior anti-fascist loons. The puzzle is why no similar movement ever started in response to the Soviet atrocities. Even if you think the Nazis were worse than the commies, in terms of intensity, the Bolsheviks were around a lot longer. They also managed to kill, or cause to be killed, millions around the world. The commies were a global killing machine.
Why is the former the symbol of evil, while the latter is still popular?
Paleocons, like Paul Gottfried, have suggested that communism may have an appeal to Christians that fascism lacks. That is, communism in the abstract is inclusive, universal and egalitarian. These are concepts that you find in Christianity, at least in the general sense. Anyone can become a Christian and everyone is equal before God. The Social Gospel sounds a lot like neo-Marxism and post-colonial socialism. Liberation Theology in South America is explicitly Marxist. The current Pope is out of this movement.
The problem here, of course, is that, in Europe, the Latin countries were explicitly Catholic and fascist. In fact, some scholars argue that fascism is an outgrowth of Catholic ideas like corporatism and localism. Spain under Franco was both Catholic and fascist. Portugal under Salazar was also Catholic and fascist. Of course, Mussolini’s Italy was very popular with American Progressives until the outbreak of the war. The best you can argue is that fascism seems to have had less appeal to Protestant academics that Bolshevism.
he fact is, the anti-Semitic and philo-Semitic arguments explaining the popularity of Bolshevism versus the demonization of fascism, don’t hold up under scrutiny. Both answers have some truth to them, but they don’t provide a complete answer. A big reason is that no one, especially anti-fascists, can provide a workable definition of fascism. In the book Fascism: The Career of a Concept, the aforementioned Paul Gottfried does an excellent job explaining the various and contradictory definitions of historical fascism.
This is why conservatives fall for the “liberals are the real Nazis” stuff peddled by grifters like Dinesh D’Souza and Jonah Goldberg. Fascism is a poorly defined political movement that can mean just about anything at this point. Even in the interwar period, the various fascist movements had some things in common, but they also had things in common with the Bolsheviks. After decades of anti-fascist proselytizing, fascism is simply a catch-all term for that which the Left currently finds upsetting or threatening.
As Z says, the Left liked Mussolini before the war; Hitler was also quite popular with the original Progressives…right up until he betrayed Stalin and invaded Poland, to general Leftist amazement and dismay. They and their descendants have never forgiven fascism for that. Z maintains that there’s a meaningful distinction to be made between fascism and Bolshevism, and maybe he’s right about that per se. But I think flatly declaring that no common ground exists between fascism and modern Leftist “thought” just might be a bridge too far:
Editor’s note: For the past year scholars James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian have sent fake papers to various academic journals which they describe as specialising in activism or “grievance studies.” Their stated mission has been to expose how easy it is to get “absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research.”
To date, their project has been successful: seven papers have passed through peer review and have been published, including a 3000 word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten in the language of Intersectionality theory and published in the Gender Studies journal Affilia.
Another, entitled “Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism” reworked, and substantially altered, part of Mein Kampf. The most shocking, (not published, its status is “revise and resubmit”) is a “Feminist Approach to Pedagogy.” It proposes “experiential reparations” as a corrective for privileged students. These include sitting on the floor, wearing chains, or being purposely spoken over. Reviewers have commented that the authors risk exploiting underprivileged students by burdening them with an expectation to teach about privilege.
From “My Struggle” to “Our Struggle” ain’t exactly what you’d call a giant leap. But in the end, nobody needs to spend a great deal of time splitting these ideological hairs. What we’re really talking about, then and now, is tyranny versus liberty. Hang whatever name on it you like, that eternal struggle remains the basic distinction, and the bottom line.