A friend of mine, on facebook, was posting the vexed question of why communists think nazis are right wing, and therefore accuse anyone to the right of Lenin of being fascist.
The discussion — as far as I could see of it — went all over the map, as it always does, but the question should still be fascinating: both of these are totalitarian regimes, both claiming to be in the name of the people (one, people singular, the other “workers of the world”) and both really favoring the well connected and/or powerful of one form or another (but neither of them much favoring the aristocracy, if one is in place when the regime emerges.)
So why call one “right wing” and one “left wing?” Both are for central control. Yeah, sure, communism theoretically expropriates the factories and gives “ownership” to the people, while fascism allows the owners to keep the property (or gives the factories to the well connected in their party.) But we all know — we know. There’s almost 100 years of practice to look on — in reality communism too “gives’ the factories, or the profit of them to a handful of well connected. The workers might theoretically own all of the factory, but they certainly aren’t taking weekends on their Dacha in the volga river, or shopping in the capitalist capitals of the world. No, those are for a few of the apparatchiks who are supposedly working tirelessly for the people, day and night.
They are two regimes more alike than not. And when you say that, people say “politics is a mobius strip. The opposites touch.”
Yeah, no. That is one of those things that was all over Europe in the seventies, pushing people towards the “sensible” mixed economy, which btw means private business retains theoretical ownership but is either commanded or hemmed in by the government. Aka socialism, various forms of crony capitalism, or even soft fascism.
So, why the left/right dichotomy?
My normal answer is that people who say fascism is right are relying on the European spectrum. You see, in Europe the right is nationalist and blood and soil. They can be (and at least in Portugal’s case, and probably in France’s ARE) as socialist as the left. But by gum, they make sure the fruits of the redistribution are given to people of the right genetic heritage, or at least people who can fake it. They are also likely to extol the homeland, and intend to defend it.
The left, OTOH is internationalist. It turns out in its final phase this devolves to suicide through open borders and a pathological hatred of your own country (because that’s the only way to get people to agree to commit suicide.) but Marx, the father of most (even he couldn’t manage all) bad ideas thought workers of different lands had more in common with each other than with the “capitalists” of their own land, and therefore would unite across all borders and study war no more.
And if you believe any of that crap, I have a dacha on the Volga, free of ice two months a year, and you can have it for only a million dollars plus slave labor.
His successors, who figured out the workers weren’t going to revolt, at least not spontaneously, overlaid a patch of “ethnic justice” under which anyone from a shithole country is automatically exploited, and the revolution will come from them. (It’s Magic Tan Human. Just add bigotry.)
In one respect, this theory fails. See, the right in Europe is blood, soil and G-d. And the G-d in question is the G-d of the country. Okay, yeah, they’re Christian, but still, the right wing in say Germany should be Lutheran. In Southern Europe they should be Catholic. Etc. Does this hold for fascists? Oh, hell no. Hitler invented a whole new paganism. Mussolini was pretty hard on priests, (at least those who wanted to follow their religion), etc. Not very different than your average commie, in fact.
So, again, what is with the certainty they are so different?
To understand that, you need to go back to the beginning and how each theory sold itself.
You see: Marx thought he was creating a theory of scientific governance. The fact he couldn’t understand science if it bit him in the fleshy part of the butt is beside the point. THAT’s what he thought he was doing.
His system has all sorts of just-so stories — a friend told me Victorians liked making up these stories about everything, which is correct, but Marx still takes the cake — which sound logical and all encompassing… if you don’t pay attention to the fact that they don’t touch reality, ignore human behavior, and kick history around like an empty can.
But he thought he had science, and that scientifically we would end up in an earthly paradise brought about by the withering of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
And that’s how it was sold. It’s early adherents and the “culture” of the belief was that they were all scientific and full of reason; that communism was the outgrowth of the enlightenment. I believe this is part of the reason, still, that leftists consider themselves “smart” and that they say things like “We believe in science” (while in point of fact treating scientific hypothesis or theories as revealed religion, but never mind.)
It’s because their system was supposed to take them to “reason.”
This is also part of the motive for a system that can’t survive without continuous war, both to subdue internal issues and to pillage and rob what they can’t produce thinks of itself as “peaceful” and as having war forced on them by those dastardly capitalists.
It’s certainly why our left feels a continuous need to denigrate the military and claim that war is “right wing.” (I honestly don’t think that our left knows the reason for this. They’re just acting on passed-down culture and indulging their parrot instincts. And the idea they should attribute everything good to their side and everything bad to the right.)
The fascists and Nazis, on the other hand, sold themselves not as scientific, but as a rebellion against all that. Not as the heirs of the enlightenment but the heirs of the romantic movement. They were going back to das Volk and the Volk traditions. Their very unreason made them pure. They would each become the noble savage, and live according to the dictates of that noble savage, each man in nature.
So, you see, the left thinks that this means the fascists are right wing. They’re not scientific and they don’t use reason. So they can’t be on the left which is all about reason.
Except of course, the left isn’t all about reason. There’s nothing sane or scientific about the hells communism creates on the Earth. It’s just as animalistic and base as fascism. It relies on malice and hatred and will to power just as much. It’s just that the communist sanctifies envy, and the fascist sanctifies pride.
They’re still both totalitarian and they are still both horrors. A hammer and sickle should be no more acceptable than a swastika.
And that’s without considering the evolution of the communists (We’d consider the evolution of the fascists, but thank heavens, as a system they died seventy plus years ago.) since the fascists stopped being a competing system. Since then the left has brought in:
A belief that culture is innate.
An encouragement to give in to your feelings over your thoughts.
Ridiculous, touchy-feely stuff like veganism and other fads that fly in the face of scientific fact.
In other words, since fascists vanished, the left has slowly converged with them in theory as well as in practice. I mean, if you think the crony capitalism of China isn’t, in everything but name, the most successful fascist regime on Earth (And it’s not that successful. As Dave Freer told me more than a decade ago, it’s a beautiful lacquered vase. The lacquer hides the cracks.)
Why would this happen?
Well, because the campaign used to sell each regime was never the truth. The truth is that they’re both reactions of shocked cultures to the dual stress of a generational war and rapid change in means of production/ways of life.
They’re the result of the hysterical reaction of normal people to look for the man on the white horse, and of the powerful or power hungry to gather more power.
There is no functional difference between them. Neither was ever “Scientific”. They are and always were screams of panic of entire cultures, and lashing out of those who felt helpless in the maw of history.
As such they each aggregate the various appendages of unreason, including bits of folk religion, which is why a vegan who uses crystals to decide the color of socks to wear is likely to think him or herself “communist.”
Heinlein called them “Red or black fascism.” You can also call them “Red or black totalitarianism.”
I’m not that enamored of color. And the red turns black as the blood dries.
If we must use “left and right” and we’re stuck with it, since the left is so gosh darn proud of calling itself left, which it equates to everything good, let’s use it in the American sense. Left is collectivist. Right is individualist.
In which case, the fascists are, logically, all theirs (and they’re welcome to their kissing cousins. Maybe they’ll both lose.) while you and me and ours have a future to build.
Let’s leave behind the blood soaked insanity of the 20th century. It has filled enough graves.
Make the 21st the century of liberty. May it become our ruling principle.
Because it is the only antidote to totalitarianism. And it works.