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The Lockean Project

Left-wing fascism Wikipedia

Left-wing fascism Wikipedia

Posted on April 13, 2023, but later taken down

NOTE: The editors of Wikipedia who manage the “Fascism” pages are still under the impression that Fascism and Communism are unrelated, a narrative that Joseph Stalin famously initiated after the 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact disintegrated. Both of these authoritarian socialist political movements sit together on one side of the political spectrum! They are not polar opposites, as pointed out by England’s former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who in the 1940s emphatically declared to his son, “Fascism and Communism… Polar opposites—no, polar the same!”[1]

The term “Left-wing fascism” began to appear in the general public after the publication of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg in 2008. The title of Goldberg’s book originated from a 1932 speech at the University of Oxford by science fiction author H. G. Wells. A member of the British Fabian Society, Wells encouraged the students of the Young Liberals Club to transform themselves into “Liberal Fascisti” and gain the “foresight for enlightened Nazis.”[2] In that speech, Wells encouraged his audience to “consider the formation of a greater Communist Party as a western response to Russia.”[3]

After the revelation of H. G. Wells’ “Liberal Fascism” speech, researchers found more evidence that bolsters the Left-wing fascism narrative, mainly in newly found statements by German National Socialist and Italian Fascist leaders and in earlier material by well-known past historians.

Left-wing German National Socialism

One of the first high-ranking officials from the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP/Nazi Party) to argue that Nazism belonged on the “left” side of the political spectrum was Joseph Goebbels, the German Nazi politician who was the Gauleiter of Berlin. He was also the only Third Reich official to become the Chancellor of Nazi Germany, besides Adolf Hitler. Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945, Goebbels declared in his Dec. 6, 1931, The Attack journal, “According to the idea of the NSDAP (Nazi party), we are the German left. Nothing is more hateful to us than the right-wing national ownership block.”[4]

Goebbels expressed other left-wing politics, including his support for “strict social justice”,[5] “party trade unions”,[6] and a “revolutionary socialist outlook.”[7] Goebbels also held a favorable position toward Vladimir Lenin. In 1925, at a Nazi Party rally in Chemnitz, Germany, Goebbels praised both Lenin and Hitler, declaring in front of a large crowd, “Lenin was the greatest man, second only to Hitler, and that the difference between communism and the Hitler faith was very slight.”[8]

The German historian and journalist Konrad Heiden was one of the first to describe National Socialism as a “Party of the Left.” Born in Munich, Bavaria, Heiden lived in the birthplace of Nazism, attending an early Nazi Party meeting in Munich in 1921. In his 1932 A History of National Socialism book, Heiden maintained that as the German Worker’s Party coalesced into the Nazi Party, most party members felt themselves to be part of the Left, writing that the “youthful Party still felt itself to be a Party of the Left.”[9]

Heiden became one of the first journalists to document the “Beefsteak Nazi” phenomenon in Germany, a political trend where communists, socialists, and Social Democrats were increasingly joining the Sturmabteilung (Brownshirts, SA), writing, “many of the storm troops were called ‘beefsteaks’ – brown outside and red within.”[10] Heiden was referring to a common practice of National Socialists, Communists, and socialists to switch parties back and forth, as their popularity strengthened or waned.

Many of the other political parties in pre-Nazi Germany worried that the German National Socialists exhibited an aura of left-wing radicalism. The two main Liberal Parties in Germany condemned the leftist nature of the Nazis. During the early 1930s, the German People’s Party (DVP) and the German State Party (DSP)—warned the populace that the National Socialists represented “a party of the radical left.”[11] Both of the Liberal parties argued that the Nazis “would make a more compatible ally of Communism,” rather than liberal or conservative-based parties.[12]

Despite the short-lived Harzburg Front, a coalition of various political groups, including the Nazi Party and the German National People’s Party (DNVP), political animosity continued to escalate. The DNVP, the largest conservative party in Germany, routinely castigated the Nazis because they “appeared leftist,” denouncing Hitler’s ideology as “bolshevism in nationalist wrapping.”[13]

In recent times, a number of German historians have made a case for the Left-wing fascist argument. Arnulf Baring, a journalist and contemporary historian, explained in a 2011 TV broadcast that the “Nazis were not right-wing; the Nazis were a left-wing party! National Socialist!”[14]

The award-winning German historian and author Götz Aly, argued similarly, “Another source of the Nazi Party’s popularity was its liberal borrowing from the intellectual tradition of the socialist left. Many of the men who would become the movement’s leaders had been involved in communist and socialist circles.”[15]

Left-wing Italian Fascism

Many political scientists and historians have noted that Italian Fascist leaders and ideologues were involved in left-wing Marxism and socialistic activities. According to A. James Gregor, a political scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, “The first Fascists were almost all Marxists—serious theorists who had long been identified with Italy’s intelligentsia of the Left.”[16]

During his early years, Benito Mussolini considered himself an “authoritarian communist,”[17] and a Marxist. He described Karl Marx as “the greatest of all theorists of socialism.”[18] The founding leader of the Fascist Revolutionary Party,[19] Mussolini referred to himself and his Italian Fascist movement as belonging to the left. In a 1919 speech in Milan, Mussolini referred to his movement within a coalition of other groups “‘interveners’ of the Left.”[20] The Jewish, Polish-born American historian Richard Pipes asserted, “Genetically, Fascism issued from the ‘Bolshevik’ wing of Italian socialism, not from any conservative ideology or moment.”[21] Mussolini, who by 1919 often referred to himself as the “Lenin of Italy”,[22] wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.” In the 1933 English translation, Mussolini stated, “It may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism.”[23]

Comments by the media and authors

A number of well-known journals and authors echoed a similar theme that Nazism was analogous to Communism and Stalinism. The New York Times editorialized on Sept.18, 1939, that “Hitlerism is brown communism, Stalinism is red fascism.”[24] Winston Churchill made similar statements, writing, “Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism.”[25] The American historian Charles F. Delzell appeared prophetic in assessing future left-wing fascism, writing, “A good many Fascists… came from the ranks of left-wing Marxism and syndicalism, and when the Fascist regime was overthrown in 1943-45, it was not hard for a certain number of ex-Blackshirts to swing to left-wing political extremism.”[26]

[1] Churchill’s remark to his son, Randolph Churchill. Quoted in Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman, James C. Humes, Washington D.C., Regnery Publishing (2012), p. 137.

[2] Philip Coupland, “H.G. Wells’s ‘Liberal Fascism,’” Journal of Contemporary History 35, No. 4, Oct. 2000, p. 549.

[3] Fred Siegel, “The Godfather of American Liberalism,” City Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2, (Spring 2009).

[4] Der Angriff, (6 December 1931), quoted in Wolfgang Venohr’s book: Documents of German existence: 500 years of German national history 1445-1945, Athenäum Verlag, 1980, p. 291, In German: „Der Idee der NSDAP entsprechend sind wir die deutsche Linke. Nichts ist uns verhaßter als der rechtsstehende  nationale Besitzbürgerblock.

[5] “The German Worker,” Der Angriff’ (24 August 1930), as quoted in English translation Attack: Essays from the Time of Struggle, RJG Enterprises (2010) p. 292

[6] Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, (1999) p. 272.

[7] Goebbels, “The Winter Crisis is Over” speech on June 4, 1943 at the Berlin Sport Palace, “Überwundene Winterkrise, Rede im Berliner Sportpalast,” Der steile Aufstieg (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1944), pp. 287-306.

[8] The New York Times, “HITLERITE RIOT IN BERLIN: Beer Glasses Fly When Speaker Compares Hitler and Lenin,” (Nov. 28, 1925) p. 4.

[9] Konrad Heiden, A History of National Socialism, London, UK: Methuen & Company, LTD, (1934) p. 10.

[10] Hitler: A Biography, London, UK: onstable & Co. LTD, 1938, p. 390. Originally published in 1936.

[11] Thomas Childers, The Nazi Voter: The Social Foundations of Fascism in Germany, 1919–1933, Chapel Hill, NC and London, UK: University of North Carolina Press (1983) p. 153.

[12] Thomas Childers, The Nazi Voter: The Social Foundations of Fascism in Germany, 1919–1933, Chapel Hill, NC and London, UK: University of North Carolina Press (1983) p. 154; Hitler Kern: Sowjetstern, DDP leaflet, 1930, BA ZSg.I, 27/20 (2).

[13] Thomas Childers, ibid., p. 111

[14] Interview of Arnulf Baring, “Right-wing Terror: How defensible is our democracy? “Münchner Runde,” ARD broadcaster (November 22, 2011)

[15] Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, New York: NY, Metropolitan Books (2007) p. 16.

[16] A. James Gregor, The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (2000), p. 20.

[17] Gaudens Megaro, Mussolini in the Making, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, p. 102.

[18] Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A Biography (1983), p. 7.

[19] “Mussolini, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”, 1933, p. 7

[20] “Outline of the Aims and Programme of Fascismo” speech by Mussolini delivered in Milan at the Liceo Beccaria (22 July 1919), published in Mussolini as Revealed in his Political Speeches (November 1914—August 1923,  selected, translated and edited by Barone Bernardo Quaranta di San Severino, London & Toronto, J.M. Dent & Sons, LTD., New York, E.P. Dutton & Co., (1923) p. 101.

[21] Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, (1993) p. 252.

[22] Denis Mack Smith, Modern Italy: A Political History, University of Michigan Press (1997) p. 284.

[23] Jane Soames’s authorized translation of Mussolini’s “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” Hogarth Press, London, (1933), p. 20.

[24] “Editorial: The Russian Betrayal”, The New York Times, September 18, 1939.

[25] Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm, Mariner Books (1985), pp. 13-14. First published in 1948.

[26] Charles F. Delzell, ed., Mediterranean Fascism 1919-1945, (1971) p. xiii.