Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

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Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront

As the streets of American cities are terrorized by black clad, masked thugs, wielding steel pipes and wooden cudgels, and flying communist flags, the main stream media tries to tell us that these people are reasonable activists protesting against the racism and fascism that is rooted in the fabric of American society. Are we to believe that a violent and radical leftist movement labeling anyone that disagrees with them and their views as Nazis and physically attacking them at every opportunity are a legitimate force for positive change in the American social and political systems? The western mainstream media has sought to legitimize the crimes of Antifa, because they share the same radical left agenda, the same agenda that is sought by the establishment that owns that media.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

Antifa “protesters” burn an American flag. Antifa is largely comprised of Communists and Anarchists who desire the overthrow of the social and economic systems that are the foundation of the United States.

In order to understand the current Antifa phenomenon in the U.S., it is important to investigate the political philosophy of the groups that comprise this movement, and their relation to their espoused enemies; fascism and Nazism. What is fascism, how does it relate to Nazism, and how do both relate to socialism and communism? A brief look at the history of the development of the various forms of fascism, Nazism and communism, reveals that all of these political philosophies found their genesis in the socialist left. These political movements were revolutionary and not reactionary, as they all aimed to overthrow and not conserve the status quo. They railed against the evils of capitalism, the need for social welfare, and the destruction of the social classes. All used identity politics to identify and vilify their political rivals and all motivated and manipulated the masses to overthrow established society to gain power.

The Birth of Fascism

Fascism was not born in Germany, nor by the Nazis. It is arguable whether Nazism was a fascist movement at all. Fascism was firstly an Italian political development, with its greatest political philosopher being Giovanni Gentile and its greatest practitioner was Benito Mussolini.

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was named after a number of revolutionary and socialist-anarchist heroes; the Mexican president Benito Juarez, Amilcare Cipiriani and Andrea Costa. This is understandable, as his father was an ardent socialist, and a member of the First International (just as Marx and Engels) and even served on his town’s socialist council. Benito inherited many of his father’s political beliefs. Upon graduating from high school, he became a substitute teacher and a leading member of a socialist organization. Soon after, he began a career as a leftist journalist.  He was particularly opposed to the Catholic Church. As a leader within the Italian Socialist Party he even introduced a resolution (at the Italian Socialist congress in Forli in 1919) stating that religion was incompatible with socialism and any members of the party that tolerated religion, especially Catholicism, should be expelled from the party. [Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, New York, 2009, pg. 31-32.]

By 1902, Benito Mussolini moved to Switzerland, and engaged in political meetings with a number of socialist, anarchist and even Bolshevik exiles. He produced a number of socialist writings over the next two years, before being deported by the Swiss government as an “enemy of society”. After returning to Italy and the Italian Socialist Party, he continued to write and agitate the poor working class in his home country. His eloquent support of socialism and defamation of the Italian state earned him arrest and trial for sedition. Upon his release after a year in prison, he first gained the moniker “Il Duce” (the leader) by Italian socialists. He was “The Leader” of Italian Socialism, before he was the leader of Italian Fascism. When compared to the conceptualized Right-wing conservative (one who desires to conserve the traditional status quo), it is easy to see that the father of Fascism was anything but. He was a leftist, a socialist, a radical and a revolutionary, not a conservative that desired the conservation of the traditional pillars of society; the monarchy and the church.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

Benito Mussolini addressing supporters. His socialist political philosophy was widely popular, as the size of the crowd in this photo exhibits.

The great political philosopher of Fascism was unarguably Giovanni Gentile, who is acknowledged as the author of Mussolini’s La Dottrina del Fascismo (The Doctrine of Fascism). He served as a member of the Fascist Grand Council, the Minister of Education, and as a senator in the Italian Parliament. Gentile’s political philosophy in many ways mirrors that of the modern neo-progressives in America.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

Giovani Gentile was the main political philosopher of the Italian Fascist movement.

He believed that human beings were first and foremost, social animals, and that their existence only gained meaning when they were engaged in achieving the greater social desires and aims of the community or the state. Gentile believed that fascism was in fact a true democracy, where the people subordinated themselves to the great social order of the state, and that such a system was diametrically opposed to a liberal democracy. Liberal democracy stresses the importance and sanctity of the individual, while providing political mechanisms by which individuals can work together toward consensus to create a unified community or society that protects the interests of all individuals in the group.

Gentile agreed with Marx that there was a revolutionary socialist struggle, but not between economic classes. For Gentile, the struggle was not between the bourgeoisie and the workers, but between the individualist and the socialist. He saw the State as the will of the people personified and put into action.

“The authority of the State is not subject to negotiation. It is entirely unconditioned. It could not depend on the people, in fact, the people depend on the State. Morality and religion… must be subordinated to the laws of the State.” [Dinesh D’Souza, The Big Lie, Washington D.C., 2017, pg.53.]

As Minister of Education, he did everything in his power to indoctrinate the children of fascist Italy in the political philosophy of the dictatorial state. He stated, “Our work as teachers is considered to be at an end when our students speak our language.”[Ibid. pg. 54.] He did not mean the Italian language, but the political language of the fascist dictatorship. Gentile’s belief in this respect has been widely accepted by the academia in America today, which is dominated by the neo-progressive left.

It is obvious from this brief look at the political beliefs of the originators of fascism, that fascism found its genesis in left wing political philosophy. Fascism is diametrically opposed to the classical liberal ideas of the right, the desire to conserve the traditional stabilizing roles of the established governmental order, a capitalist economy and Christian morality. Quite simply put, fascism is a nationalistic brand of socialism.

Nazism and Fascism

It has always amazed me that the left has been able to get away with the myth that fascism was a right wing political movement. Even more amazing, is the myth that the German National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP), abbreviated NAZI Party, was a right wing movement. It was clearly a nationalistic socialist movement. Like the communists, Nazis desired a radical, socialist revolution that would overturn the long established pillars of social order: the monarchy, capitalism and the church. Adolf Hitler and his contemporaries were all socialists.

It is important to point out that Italian fascism and German Nazism were very different movements, and diverged in many respects in their political philosophy and their practical application. The Spanish fascism (in actuality a Nationalist Dictatorship) of Francisco Franco, was unlike that of Mussolini, and even more unlike the Nazism of Hitler; however, the modern left has been able to successfully lump them all together as the same manifestation of radical right wing politics. This is a total fallacy.

Franco’s dictatorship was a reactionary rebellion to an increasingly radical socialist movement in Spain. It strove to conserve the importance of the church and the established social classes, it was not racist (Franco’s Foreign Legion was made up of majority non-Caucasian troops) and was not rabidly anti-Semitic. Franco needed the military assistance of Italy and Germany to successfully fight the Spanish Civil War; however, his movement to reconquer Spain and return it to it traditional system of society had very little to do at all with either Mussolini or Hitler’s political philosophies.

The Spanish Civil war was an extremely brutal conflict, claiming the lives of over 500,000 people. Upon cementing his dictatorial hold on Spain, Franco largely turned his back on his necessary allies of the civil war days, and did little to help them during the Second World War. If Spain had joined the Axis at the outset of the war, Great Britain would have both been shut out of the Mediterranean all together, spelling a major strategic advantage for the Axis powers. Franco decided to remain neutral.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

General Francisco Franco commanded the Spanish Foreign Legion’s Army of Africa. Without the participation of his North African soldiers, many of Moroccan nationality, the Spanish Nationalist forces could never have won the war.

Mussolini and Hitler, although modern myth shows them as the best of friends, had little pleasant to say about one another before Hitler solidified his power in Germany. Italian fascists attempted to distance themselves from the racism and anti-Semitism of the Nazis, and this only really changed after Italy was occupied by the Germans in 1943. In fact, Hitler voiced more respect and admiration for Joseph Stalin than he did for Il Duce early on. Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi propagandist stated in his diaries that,

“Il Duce is not a revolutionary like the Fuhrer or Stalin. He is bound so to his own Italian people, that he lacks the broad qualities of a worldwide revolutionary and insurrectionist.” [Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York, 1966, pg. 309.]

Perhaps the most powerful man in the Third Reich after Adolf Hitler himself, Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, stated in a speech in 1943 that,

“Fascism and National Socialism are two fundamentally different things,… there is absolutely no comparison between Fascism and National Socialism as spiritual, ideological movements.”[Ibid. pg. 309.]

What exactly are the origins of the National Socialist Workers Party that came to dominate German politics, which eventually turned the nation into a totalitarian nightmare?  As their name implies, the Nazis genesis lies in the political philosophy of socialism. The man who will forever personify Nazism, Adolf Hitler was anything but a conservative or a political supporter of the status quo. Hitler, like Lenin, despised the bourgeoisie and the capitalists. He saw both as part of a Jewish conspiracy that hindered the German people from achieving their true potential. Hitler even declared, when speaking about the Nazi struggle against communists for the political dominance of Germany:

“We did not defend Germany against Bolshevism back then because we were not intending to do anything like conserve a bourgeois world or go so far as freshen it up. Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for a while.”[Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, New York, 2009, pg. 60.]

Hitler did not fundamentally disagree with most communist philosophy, in fact he shared many of the same views. He believed in the elimination of social and economic class, the elimination of capitalism, state guaranteed welfare for the worker, the nationalization of key industries, land reform, and even national health care for all citizens. Hitler’s political beliefs were undoubtedly influenced by his experience as a soldier in the First World War, and his existence as a social outcast during much of his early adult life. Established society had largely rejected him. This would all change in 1919, when while working undercover for the Weimar government in Munich, he attended a meeting of the German Workers’ Party. Hitler would soon rise to leadership in the party, and transform it into the Nazi Party.

Hitler was, like so many Germans at the time, a devout anti-Semite, and he worked tirelessly to make the socialist philosophy of the Nazi Party mirror his own views on the Jews and his racist views in general. The National Socialists’ anti-Semitic views had broad appeal in the Germany of the 1920s and 1930s; however, it was their socialist platform that most attracted support among voters. Jonah Goldberg very succinctly explains this fact in his book Liberal Fascism:

“This is the monumental fact that of the Nazi rise to power that has been slowly airbrushed from our collective memories; the Nazis campaigned as socialists. Yes, they were also nationalists, which in the context of the 1930s was considered a rightist position, but this was a time when the “internationalism” of the Soviet Union defined all nationalisms as right-wing.” [Ibid. pg. 70.]

The famous Nazi political ideologue, Gregor Strasser also made it very clear where the Party stood on its socialist beliefs:

“We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!” [Ibid. pg. 71.]

Since the end of the Second World War, the political left in the United States has been largely successful in disassociating itself with the socialist origins of both Nazism and Fascism, in a similar fashion that the U.S. Democratic Party has been able to market itself as the party of inclusion and tolerance despite its long history of supporting slavery and segregation in America. Yes, as the Italian Fascists used the Black Shirts and the Nazis used the Brown Shirts to terrorize their opposition in the streets and at the voting booth, the Democratic Party used the Ku Klux Klan as a force of domestic terrorism in the United States. While the SA was burning down Jewish businesses in German cities, the KKK were lynching blacks in America.

Antifa’s Origins in the Street Battles of the Weimar Republic.

Both Italian Fascism and National Socialism (NAZI) are based on socialist political philosophy. So, why does the Communist Antifa movement (if it is really a political movement at all) desire the destruction of other socialist movements? Firstly, Antifa is only anti-fascist in that it has arbitrarily identified all enemies of the neo-progressive left as fascists. If you do not support the political philosophy of the American radical left, you are labeled a Nazi or a fascist regardless of facts or a logical explanation for such a label. To understand this phenomenon, a brief explanation of the origins of Antifa are required.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

The Antifa flag as originally on display during a German Communist Party (KPD) Rally.

Antifa can trace its origins to the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) or German Communist Party. The Antifa flag was created by the KPD in the 1920s.The KPD represented the largest political competition that the Nazis faced in winning power over the German state in the years of economic and social upheaval of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Both parties were vying for the same constituency, the poor workers or proletariat that were apt to embrace socialist political promises. The more centrist or right wing political parties of the time, including the Democratic Party (DDP), Catholic Center Party (Zentrum) and Peoples Party (DVP), could not hope to oppose the socialists.

Both the Nazis and the KPD perfected identity politics, demonizing their real and perceived political rivals, and neither party was averse to using violence to intimidate rival parties and German voters in general. The Nazis took identity politics one step farther by identifying all Jews as enemies of the German state, and the designers of a worldwide conspiracy that was responsible for enslaving the superior Aryan race and keeping them from inheriting their true birthright. This reprehensible anti-Semitism was widely embraced, not only in Germany, but in most of Western and Eastern Europe. Many citizens in the United States were openly anti-Semitic at the time, and even famous personalities and people in circles of power praised the good work of the Nazis and Hitler himself in rooting out this evil.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

No, these are not Nazi Party members or SA Brown Shirts, but KPD street thugs marching through a German city during the turbulent upheaval of the Weimar Republic.

Although the usual straw man of the communists was the bourgeois elites,  realizing the influence that the Nazis wielded by identifying a widely despised segment of German society and using it to galvanize the masses, even the communists resorted to anti-Semitic rhetoric to try and syphon off some of the political energy of this widely held hatred. Both socialist movements were very adept at using scapegoats to focus the energies of the masses. Although scapegoats could change at any time, a scapegoat of some form was always required.

We can see the use of identity politics in play by the left in the United States quite successfully, not only during the era of reconstruction and segregation, when blacks were routinely terrorized and their rights denied them by the Democratic Party and the Klan, but even more widely today. Anyone that disagrees with the neo-progressives and radical left are labeled as white supremacists, racists, homophobes, misogynists, and yes, even Nazis. The neo-progressives, who for all intents and purposes, represent the establishment in U.S. politics, have enlisted Antifa and their affiliated allies to take this new form of identity politics out onto the street. They have been given the green light to make the streets run red with blood. Why are so many young men and women of leftist political beliefs, regardless of ethnicity and of varying economic means drawn to such a violent, morally and politically bankrupt group? A study of the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin offer some important insight.

Antifa. Prelude to totalitarianism in America?

Although Antifa’s violent service to the American left on the streets of Berkeley, Charlottesville, Seattle and Austin is not a sign that America is walking along the precipice of totalitarianism; it does send up a red flag (no pun intended) denoting that something has gone horribly wrong with the normal political discourse of American society. While the neo-progressive and radical left, which largely control the mechanisms of government, academia and the media at present, lose patience with the identity politics of race, and the wide support for the current president by a very large segment of the country, it has decided to actively motivate the masses to acts of violence. Any constructive, non-violent form of political discourse with the enemies of the left have been halted. There is nothing to be gained by talking to Nazis and racists right? All they understand is a fist to the face and a boot in the stomach. Like the Negro, the Jew, the gypsy, or the mentally deficient, they have been labeled less than human. The left have shown the first small success at motivating the masses needed to fuel a totalitarian state.

So what distinguishes the masses from the mob? The seminal work on the subject, The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt, gives an accurate and insightful definition of the masses.

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest… Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up on as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originated in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.” [Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York, 1966, pg. 311-312.]

It is readily apparent that the ranks of Antifa are largely composed of disaffected youth who feel no loyalty to a sense of the United States on a nationalistic level, nor a sense of belonging to an overarching American culture. They are largely students indoctrinated in leftist dominated universities and colleges, or who have graduated from these same institutions over the past decade with a worthless degree, massive student loan debt, and little hope of earning a job that allows them to pay off this debt in their lifetime, let alone prosper. They have been taught that the classical liberal ideas of individual liberty, natural or God given universal rights, and the importance of a society based on adherence to laws based on Judeo Christian morals and ethics are somehow an archaic holdover from the past. The left professes that we have to progress beyond these foundational principles that have somehow run their course.

But what does the American left offer these masses? Someone to blame. Even though the neo-progressive of neo-liberals of the American left have controlled much of the establishment over the past thirty years, they have labeled anyone but them as the cause of all of the ills of these disaffected masses. They have not shied away from rewriting the past, whitewashing their own guilt as the party of slavery, and segregation, while at the same time labeling Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals all as racists. They have projected their own responsibility for the political origins of fascism and Nazism, and the perpetuation of slavery and segregation in America, on their political opponents. The main stream media has been all too happy to parrot this obviously false narrative in the propaganda effort to turn logic on its head.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

Does the modern Antifa movement in the United States have any real political goals beyond the desire to burn the nation to the ground?

Only because social media and smart phones (equipping everyone with a video camera that fits in their pocket) have rendered the main stream media unable to control the narrative as they could in the past, has the truth so quickly been provided to counter main stream media propaganda. Antifa are not dedicated and righteous opponents of fascism. They have been revealed to be either communist or anarchist-leaning thugs, or disaffected youth with little prospects of a better future who are taking out their frustrations on an artificially created and vilified enemy. They should never be, as the media first insisted, equated to the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Their political philosophy is simple; provide them with a villain to hate and allow them to commit acts of vandalism and violence. That’s as deep as it goes.

A Return to Political Discourse

The United States must return to being a nation of laws. Laws that apply equally to all citizens, not one set of laws for the government, the wealthy and well connected, and a different set of laws for the rest of us. We must continue to embrace our nation’s past, both the good and the evil, as good and evil lies in all of us, regardless of our origins, race, sexuality or political beliefs. Only by recognizing the faults and the evils, can we truly find the direction in which to strive for the better. We must also realize that human beings are flawed, especially those that have done much to shape history. All great men and women in history have a side that we would like to forget, but we must not. The history of nations, on the most base level, is the history of millions and millions of flawed human beings.

Americans must deny this demand of the neo-progressives to re-write history, to tear down and remove monuments, and to view history through a 21st century looking glass. This is illogical folly. Our collective human experience is not black and white. If the neo-progressives and the establishment media want us to label things in such an absolutist fashion, why are they so ready to label Antifa heroes, American Nazis as deplorable, and yet the Nazis of the Ukraine are freedom fighters? Seriously? The illogical arguments and short memory of the western main stream media is astounding.

Antifa and Fascism: Their Shared Origins

The left dominated main stream media labels American Nazis (Left) as despicable white-supremacists. At the same time, they label Ukrainian Nazis (Right) usurping the political process through violence as nationalist freedom fighters, forging a new era of democracy and tolerance. Hypocrisy anyone?

I greatly hope that the overwhelming majority of rational and reasonable citizens of the United States decide that enough is enough, and will categorically reject the false propaganda narrative being peddled to them. If the silent majority decides to remain silent and irrelevant, we are doomed. I happen to believe that the silent majority is slowly finding their voice, and that the media praise of Antifa has touched a nerve. I also believe that the current political establishment is totally corrupt, and incapable of governing. The resultant social and political vacuum created must be filled, and it may be filled by increasingly polarized and radical forces. Is totalitarianism or civil strife coming to America? History teaches us that the odds are quite high.

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