Fascism and communism are two ideologies that presented the idea of reaching utopia. While fascism is on the extreme left and communism is on the extreme right, both ideologies believe that it is through the destruction of the world that a new order will be born from. Both ideologies do not see the good in the existence of the bourgeoisie and have endeavored to extinguish it. Lastly, communism and fascism are one in their goal of recruiting members that will compose and work with them in achieving their vision of the new utopia.
Fascism had its seed firmly planted in Italy. Benito Mussolini, considered the Che Guevarra of his day, described fascism as “a reaction” (Berlet). After getting wounded and hospitalized from his participation in the war, Mussolini was recognized as the most popular member of the pro-war socialist. However, he did not have a movement to lead and in the aftermath of World War I, he and a group of adherents worked on launching the Fascist movement. The said movement, true to his definition of it being a reaction, was “a reactionary movement following World War I” that was “based on a rejection of the social theories that formed the basis of the 1789 French Revolution” (Berlet). The first Fascist movement was initiated by revolutionary syndicalists and former Marxists, but their new recruits came heavily from soldiers who returned from the war. Despite having a number of members from the military, the movement remained less violent compared to other socialist groups. However, when a conflict between the movement and the Socialist Party mambers took place in 1920, the movement formed a militia which they called the squads (Steele). Along with the soldiers, the movement was also joined by patriotic veterans, Mussolini’s movement became more aggressive compared to the Marxist. Gaining support from the police and the military, the movement later on became the strongest force in physical combat over their leftist rivals.
With its foundation a takeoff from Marxism, it left no mystery why Fascism evolved into what people consider a symbol of evil. As Tismaneanu wrote on his book The Devil in History, Marxism as a political idea was a failure from the beginning as “it lacks of sensitivity to the psychological makeup of mankind” and that it underestimated “the needs of many for deep spiritual or cultural sources of meaning, and thus the profound importance of the human right to privacy” (145). This explains how Vladimir Lenin, with his dogmatic vision, was able to implement Marx’s idea with totalitarianism and paved the way for the Russian Revolution in 1917. It is also this characteristic of Marx’s ideology, its being open to more interpretation that can go way beyond fascism, that lead Mussolini and Hitler into committing one of the most atrocious act of violence against humanity in Auschwitz.
With many elements contributed by various ideological groups, Fascism became a product of synthesis. Perhaps the most common trait contributed to Fascism was its obsession with race and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, the hallmarks of Hitler’s NAZI movement. This is also similar with other fascist movements in Europe, giving birth to slogans such as “Nation is Race” and “Communism is Jewish” of the Anti-communist Confederation of Polish Freedom Fighters in the U.S.A. today (Berlet). However, there were also other movements that did not subscribe to the racialist fascism, such as that of Franco’s in Spain.
With the various interpretations adopted by the fascist movements, “the apparent lack of consistent political principle behind this ideology” lead to what is termed as “political opportunism” (Berlet). This propelled the movements to desire and hold on to state power at all costs, even if it entailed abandoning principle over an issue that is more in vogue in the name of gaining more converts.
Communism, on the other hand, is the political and economic goal of Marxism, that is the idea that everyone shares everything in common, takes only what they need to survive, and looks out for one another. Socialism and communism were once synonymous before the Russian Revolution in 1917, both referring to Marx’s goal wherein the government owns the means of productions. However, with Vladimir Lenin’s political theory and practice, the idea changed, and like what happened in fascism which also came from Marx’s ideology, this could be attributed to its being open to different interpretations.
Inherent of contemporary socialists, Lenin believed to the power of violent revolution in attaining socialism. Failure to gather support to initiate a violent revolution, Lenin went on to engineer it through a quasi-military party of professional revolutionaries that he started and led. When confronted with oppositions, Lenin resorted to terror such as mass executions, slave labor and starvation in order to quell resistance. However, people were still unconvinced of the effectivity of communism despite its military triumph. Lenin then took measures by continuing the one-party dictatorship until it achieves immense power and support. As World War I comes to its end, Lenin succeeded in implementing his tactic, giving him the opportunity to seize and hold power in the former Russian Empire. With Lenin’s success, socialists started embracing his methods and later on spread in China, Eastern Europe, North Korea, Indo-China, and other places. Its supporters and practitioners were then called “communists.”
Communist revolutions’ triumph were limited in heavily agricultural societies as it is only in such places that government ownership of the means of production could be possible. Lenin first attempted to seize the lands of the peasants in the middle of the Russian Civil War, but failed due to the chaos and five million famine deaths that prevailed. Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor succeeded in this endeavor by sending the wealthier peasants to Siberian slave labor camps in order to prevent organized resistance. Those who showed resistance were starved to death until they gave in.
Industrialization under communism translated to falling agricultural production, with few manufactured products reaching the consumers. Under the guise of “industrialization,” the Soviet Union built an immense militarization that could not compare to other nations, even that of the Nazi German. Stalin pointed at Germany as his influence who forced him to militarization. In reality, however, it was Stalin and his helping Hitler in his attack against Poland that ignited the World War II. It was Stalin’s goal to expand communism, and despite Hitler double-crossing him in 1941, he was able to install communist regimes in Eastern Europe, and later on in China after the defeat of Japan.
Tismaneanu points out to the similarities that both ideologies share, despite coming from opposite ends of political spectrum. Uppermost in their likeness is “the orgy of violence” that “killed millions, and led humanity to its darkest hour, where the final destination was the deplorable Gulags and the gas chamber of Auschwitz” (O’Malley). Tismaneanu further states what the underlying problem with both movements, explaining it through the late Czech president and Vaclav Havel’s words: “both ideologies offer human beings the illusion of identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them” (Tismaneanu 182).
O’Malley, J.P. “Communism and Fascism: The Reason They Are So Similar.” The Daily Beast.
28 Sept. 2012. Thedailybeast.com. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
The article talks about the similarities that fascism and communism share by using Vladimir Tismaneanu’s book The Devil in History as its main reference. Important events in history that led to the formation and the fall of the political ideologies were discussed, along with the prominent people in the said movements which included Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler.
Steele, David Ramsay. “The Mystery of Fascism.” Liberty Magazine. Libertarian Alliance.
Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
The article presented the life of Benito Mussolini, the man behind the foundation of Fascism in Italy. His life and rise to power was discussed, including how he was motivated to form the movement and his collaboration with Hitler in their shared desire to eliminate the Jews.
Berlet, Chip. “Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.” Political Research
Associates. Sept. 1992. Political Research Associates. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
The article discussed in detail how fascism started and how it became intertwined with the NAZI of Germany. It highlighted how the founders of fascism, communism and socialism were able to develop the ideologies and gave them their own ideas that eventually led to their downfall.
Tismaneanu, Vladimir. ”Understanding Radical Evil: Communism, Fascism and the Lessons of
the 20th Century.” Global Europe Program. 2014. Wilson Center. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
The article delved into the social problems brought about by communism and fascism, as well as their influences to the present time. In the discussion, Tismaneanu used The Black Book of Communism as his reference in presenting the historical events that occured following the formation and the death of the said politial ideologies.
Tismaneanu, Vladimir. The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the
Twentieth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. Googlebooks.com.
Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
The book provided specific details supporting the discussion presented in the article written by O’Malley. Further discussion that provided more information about the relationship that existed between Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and the NAZI of Germany was also presented in the book.