Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Correcting Michael Coburn: Fascism and Marxian Socialism are Not, Fundamentally, Opposites

In response to my answer to QUORA *: ‘What will it mean for policy making in the US now the
Democrats have taken control of the House and the Republicans have extended their lead in the Senate?’, a correspondent picked up on the philosophical relevance of a statement I made.

Regarding political philosophy, Michael Coburn commented:

This is hilarious “Trump would never go along with any of the more radical fascist-like proposals of the socialist wing of the Democratic Party”

..Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

What a hoot!

But the last "hoot" is on Coburn.

I posted this reply:

The basic premise of socialism is the subordination of the individual to the state, which rules based on whatever it deems to be the collective interests. That fits both Marxian socialism (communism) and Mussolini fascism. Differing theoretical manifestations notwithstanding, both forcibly seek “the transformation of society” under an omnipotent, top-down state. Both suppress individual freedom for some greater collective “good.” Both are centrally planned totalitarian states under which men are puppets of a ruling elite.

Look at reality. Western socialists long ago realized that they can sneak in socialism through government control of nominally private business rather than resort to outright abolition of private ownership. That is precisely what we see from the so-called “new socialists” of the American Left--Italian-style state, or fascist, corporatism. Just look at the examples I highlighted. None entail “ownership of the means of production.” All entail top-down government control for some socialist goal. Consider Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act. Warren, like Mussolini, claims to have the “antidote” to socialism. Explains Warren:

Company directors would be explicitly instructed [legally mandated by the state] to consider the interests of all relevant stakeholders — shareholders, but also customers, employees, and the communities in which the company operates — when making decisions.

Explains Mussolini:

When brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State. [my emphasis]

Like Mussolini, Warren means to put successful businesses under the control and permission of the state. Both are concerned with the interests of groups, not the individuals who comprise the group. Any way you cut it, both fascism and Marxism, while differing in some respects, are top-down impositions of socialist goals.

Mussolini's disingenuousness notwithstanding, to say that “Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism” is like saying white racism is the complete opposite of black racism. They are not. Both are different forms of racism. But both are manifestations of the same concept, racism.

Marxian socialism is but one incarnation of socialism. Fascism is another. There is also national socialism* and democratic socialism. The collective goals vary. The implementations vary. But the essential, fundamental nature of all these rival totalitarian systems remains the same. All forms of socialism spring from the same basic premises. They are all collectivist, statist, and anti-individualist.

RELATED Reading:

The Climate of Collectivism: From Hegel to the Twentieth Century--Stephen Hicks
“Liberalism,” wrote Moeller, “ is the Death of Nations.” So socialism had to be able to prevail against it. Yet it had to be the correct kind of socialism—and the correct kind of socialism was not Marxist. Marxist internationalism, the Right thinkers from Spengler to Sombart to Moeller argued, ended up being a false or illusory version of socialism. There is no universal culture, so there is no universal set of interests and no universal form that socialism can take. Socialism must be national—it must be rooted in each culture’s distinctive historical context. “Every people has its own socialism,” wrote Moeller, and so “international socialism does not exist.” 
And in a remark that was prescient of the coming decade, Moeller wrote: 
"Socialism begins where Marxism ends. German socialism is called to play a part in the spiritual and intellectual history of mankind by purging itself of every trace of liberalism. … This New Socialism must be the foundation of Germany’s Third Empire."

Liberal Fascism--Jonah Goldberg

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