There are two prevailing schools of thought in analyzing history. The first is the ‘great man’ theory, in which great men such as Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte drive history. The second school of thought is that history is inspired by societal trends and circumstances, not merely the actions of one man. This essay seeks to examine Benito Mussolini and try to understand if his rise to power was a product of circumstance or made possible by his efforts.
Ivan Misiura | United States
What is fascism and what does it stand for? In our political landscape, people throw the word around a lot, but they often have misconceptions about its true meaning. What, then, do acclaimed fascist leaders themselves have to say about it? Fascism is a tremendously complex ideology with books upon books explaining it, but a number of key principles are clear and simple.
By Daniel Szewc | Poland
One cannot defeat a problem without knowing its origins. We cannot stop the disease of the European Union symptomatically. Instead, we must find where the problem came from. The answer to this dilemma may surprise many with just how devastating it is.
Many people will falsely claim that European political elites desired a common free market. Thus, they may say, the elites formed the European Union to accomplish this. However, this could not be further from the truth.
To first see the true initiative that shaped the idea of a United Europe, we have to look at the portfolio of the man behind it all, Altiero Spinelli.
Spinelli, a communist even during Mussolini’s government, was one of the most influential people who formed the EU. He was a member of the European Commission for 6 years, from 1970-1976 (he left voluntarily), as well as a member of the European Parliament for seven years after. A staunch supporter of Trotsky, his views were so radical that the Italian Communist Party threw him out.
Trotskyism is a subset-ideology of Marxism-Leninism that proposes a permanent communist revolution in all countries, not only ones that the Trotskyists take control of. This shows how dangerous Spinelli’s ideas were, even towards non-Europeans.
The Duce’s government imprisoned Spinelli, and then interrogated him during WWII. During his interrogation, he wrote the Ventotene Manifesto, named after the island on which he was held hostage. Here’s a quote from the document: “In order to respond to our needs, the European revolution must be socialist, that is, it must have as its goal the emancipation of the working classes and the realization for them of more humane living conditions.”
As you can see, Spinelli was in every way a communist. One may ask about his views for European unity, but he simply goes much too far with it. Spinelli called for European federalism, which would make all European countries into one and diminish the importance of nationhood.
Though the man himself is long dead, the Spinelli group, created by Guy Verhofstadt (a former Belgian Prime Minister), Daniel Cohn-Bendit (former co-chair of the Greens/EFA group) French MEP Sylvie Goulard and former EP Vice President Isabelle Durant (Greens/EFA) is anything but. I’s main policy is to return the European Union onto the path of federalism.
What happens when you mix Machiavellian tactics, Marxism, cultural hegemony and globalism? You get Antonio Gramsci. Another Italian, this theorist of communism proposed the most significant ideology to Eurocrats: Gramscianism. More appropriately, he is the father of Eurocommunism. Mussolini also imprisoned Gramsci, but he started theorizing the use of European unification as a tool to achieve Marxism before even Spinelli. Here are a few of his major ideas:
1) Embracing new social movements, especially trying to form a minority based majority group of support (supporting women’s rights and gay rights only to gain their support, for example).
2) Achieving cultural hegemony- causing the minds of people in Europe to accept a Homo Sovieticus (the Soviet man- a human unable to live without the state’s societal and economic help, with no motivation to stop the state from exploiting them through taxation) standpoint, and make it the “logical” norm.
3) Achieving socialism through a “third” democratic “way”- as Marx said, “Democracy is the road to Socialism”, and socialism is a milestone on the path to communism.
4) Temporarily reconciling with the power hierarchy to achieve all of the above.
As you probably know, these tactics are exactly what the European Union leadership is using nowadays. As for another great influence on Europe’s non Soviet left, lastly comes Rudi Dutschke.
A West German socialist student activist, Dutschke was an influential figure for many. At one point, his influence caused a lone wolf to try to shoot him. While the plan failed, it sparked a wave of violence from Dutschke’s ideological apprentices. At that point, he told them to stop the nonsense, and proposed a “Long March through the institutions of power”, based on the Chinese communist army’s long march through China.
His idea was to subvert the governments of Europe, and to install communism from inside. This is the most popular interpretation of his words. However, in recent years, it makes more sense that he wanted to create alternative European governing bodies. The European Union is such an alternative.
A good example of such a march through the institutions can be (for example) Donald Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland, and current President of the European Council. In his 2007 election campaign, he promised to cut taxes and bureaucracy, reduce the number of speed limits, and liberalize the law in general. Soon enough, he raised taxes and inflicted more regulations.
Starting off as a classical liberal, he now happily takes part in the most bureaucratic organisation since the Soviet Union, the European Union. Tusk makes no attempt to reform it in any way.
The aforementioned Guy Verhofstadt is another excellent example. Many, before his election, called him “Young Thatcher” for his support of privatization and generally right-wing views. Now, he is the leader of Spinelli’s EU fan club.
What does the future hold for Europe? All we can do is pray that the hippy-esque generation of politicians who are now in power will soon loose their grip on it. The liberty of Europe is at stake.
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By Jack Parkos | United States
In 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, breaking away from tyrannical British rule. Thirteen years later, they ratified the Constitution after years of fighting and many deaths. The Founders differed on many issues, but agreed on the ideas of self governance and limited government. They also believed in the idea of inalienable rights that government could not take. They were heavily influenced by “The Wealth Of Nations” by Adam Smith, which was published in the same year America declared independence. This book created the idea of Laissez-Faire Economics. The Founding Fathers wanted a capitalist nation with a limited government. This government system, of course, would be a Constitutional Republic.
The Rise of Mussolini
However, the 19th and 20th Centuries saw the rise of extreme ideologies, most notably Marxism and reactionary movements. One such movement was fascism. Nowadays, fascism gets thrown around commonly as a buzzword without a full understanding of its meaning. Fascism is a highly nationalist ideology, consisting of a mixed economy, militarism, and an authoritarian government. Fascism rose in between the world wars. One of the most famous fascists was Benito Mussolini.
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because its the merger of state and corporate power.
Mussolini’s quote explains a lot about fascism, which partners the state and corporations over the people. Mussolini promoted heavy elitism and bureaucracy, which resulted in his totalitarian state.
Economically, corporatism supports private ownership of the means of production. The state very tightly controls production of goods. But once produced, distribution is generally controlled less.
Now we look at modern America: where are we on this spectrum? Are we the limited government the Founders wanted, or are we under a totalitarian state? Of course, we are not one hundred percent either. But we are now closer to Mussolini’s ideology than the Founders’. We do differ from Mussolini in ways, yes. We still have elections, political freedom, and some civil liberties. But our socio-economic system is a near replica of Mussolini. This is not an attack on one party or one politician. Both parties are guilty of corruption. Let us first examine the economics.
American Corporatist Economics
What economic system is America? Most people think we are capitalist. However, we are only capitalist in name. Modern American economics is closer to cronyism and corporatism (though it often may be called “mixed economics”) than capitalism. We truly haven’t had true capitalism in long time. People associate capitalism with corporate rule and bailouts for the rich as this is what our government does. But this isn’t capitalism at all!
Capitalism promotes a free market with voluntary transactions. Members of Bernie Sanders’ movement often call out the merger of big corporation and our government. And they are right, this is a problem! But they are wrong in calling it capitalism. Mussolini called for state and corporate merging. Mussolini was not a capitalist. Capitalist philosophers like Adam Smith (who influenced the Founders), Ayn Rand, or Milton Friedman would simply never promote cooperate and state merger.
America’s history of corporatism and cronyism really starts with the New Deal, when President FDR started getting the government involved in the affairs of businesses. People who support this say that government and business merging would help untie the classes of the people. That has not worked out. It is true that the rich are getting richer. However, this isn’t the result of capitalism. This is the result of the government imposing heavy taxes on the people, but then allowing corporations to be exempt with loopholes. Your average big corporation can buy a politician in congress and manipulate the economy. The state and business can do whatever they please to “benefit society”. A small business owner or middle class family does not have this power.
This Isn’t What the Founders Wanted
Does this sound like what the Founders wanted? The men influenced by Adam Smith, the men who fought for freedom? Of corse not. There are examples of them speaking against this. One example of this is Thomas Jefferson. He actually stated:
The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed corporations.
But Mussolini would have liked this. Through the way the corporations and state may have differed, Mussolini would have loved the result. Having the power to control the economy. Remember him saying his ideology (fascism) is the merger of corporation and state? Is that not modern America? America may not have an autocratic leader, but do we truly have the republic our Founders gave to us? Perhaps not.
Mussolini, of course, wanted a strong, authoritarian, and imperialist government. This is not at all what the Founders wanted. Now the elephant in the room, the federalists. They wanted a “strong” government yes, but not even close in comparison to Mussolini’s government or even modern America’s government.
Just How Far Down the Road are We?
Is America the complete totalitarian state Mussolini dreamed up? No. But we are closer to that than we are the Founders. The Supreme Court, the branch that was supposed to block the government from growing and taking away liberties, allowed it. The Founders believed in God giving unalienable rights and that the sole purpose of the government as to protect those rights. Now, the view has shifted to “Government given rights”. Such a belief entails the notion that the government decides what rights we do and don’t have.
There are also similarities in foreign policy. The Founders wanted peaceful relations for nations. Mussolini, on the other hand, was very aggressive on foreign policy. Fascist Italy was very militaristic. Mussolini wanted to “recreate” the Roman Empire. What about modern America? We are essentially the world police, which The Founders never wanted. Of course, no fascist ever reached this status. But becoming the world police is closer to creating another Roman Empire than it is to peaceful relations.
Thus, the early and modern American governments are not remotely similar. It is truly sad that we have drifted closer to fascism, rather than maintaining the beautiful country so many fought and died for. Today, the patriots need to take a stand and work to go back to those days when freedom rang.
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