"Controversies over Italian Fascism’s political placement"
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Since the end of World War II, the conventional view held by most historians concerning Mussolini’s political and social creed was that he exhibited features that would place him on the right side of the political spectrum. But this view has come under closer scrutiny in recent years. A number of historians and political scientist argue that fascism is a doctrine which mixes the philosophies of the Left and Right into a confusing maze.
Some political sociologists, like Seymour Martin Lipset, argued that fascism is actually "extremism of the center". Lipset contended that fascism was not on the Right because Mussolini did not plan to restore monarchical or aristocratic privilege.
Others like Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell regarded fascism as an anti-Marxist form of
socialism.” In Fascism: Theory and Practice, author Dave Renton agrees with Sternhell’s assertions, writing that “One of Sternhell’s consistent themes is the meaninglessness of left-right distinctions. Fascism, he says, emerged on the left while claiming to be anti-left.”
What makes this subject even more controversial is Jane Soames’ English translation of Mussolini’s “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.” In her 1933 translation (authorized by Italy’s fascist government), she has Mussolini writing: “…it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism,” which would indicate that Mussolini thought of himself and his movement as belonging on the left side of the political spectrum. Compounding this controversy, Mussolini wrote in “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” in Jane Soames’s 1933 authorized translation, “For if the 19th century was the century of individualism (Liberalism always signifying individualism) it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State.”
Most scholars have identified collectivism as synonymous with the idea that the group’s goal should be superior to the individual’s so as to advance the “greater good.” The German economist Herbert Giersch contends that, “collectivism is on the left, individualism is on the right.”
* 1 The Doctrine of Fascism
* 2 The Controversy
* 3 Right-Wing Socialism and Petty-Bourgeoisie Socialism
* 4 Pejoratives and Marxist Terminology
* 5 The Politics of Mussolini
* 6 What Contemporaries Thought of Mussolini
* 7 The Church and the Monarchy
* 8 Left and Right Criticism
* 9 References
The Doctrine of Fascism -
Although written in 1927 by Mussolini with the help of Giovanni Gentile, “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” was first published in 1932 in the fourteenth volume of the Enciclopedia Italiana, of which supposedly all copies were destroyed before the end of World War II. Jane Soames’ 1933 translation was published as a 26-page booklet by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, London. The booklet was one in a series of booklets printed by Hogarth Press, labeled “Day to Day Pamphlet No. 18”. It is the first authorized English translation of Benito Mussolini’s “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.” A number of other books and publications of the era also used parts of Jane Soames’ translation, including President Herbert Hoover in his 1934 book Challenge to Liberty. Hoover went on to describe Mussolini’s Fascism as having features in common with Socialism, Communism and Nazism.
The Controversy -
Most historians agree that historical Italian Fascism was a mixed bag of right-wing and left-wing socio-economic policies. But recent evidence has shed new light on the underpinnings of Italian Fascism, discovering that this totalitarian state had embodied a far more collectivistic, socialist and progressive ideology.
In “The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle” (June 1919) of the Revolutionary Fascist Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario, PFR), Mussolini’s party called for radical policies including a strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth; the seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics; the nationalization of all the arms and explosives factories; reduction of retirement age from 65 to 55; women suffrage; a minimum wage; eight-hour workday; participation of workers’ representation in the functions of industry commissions; and pro-labor policies. In addition, the manifesto advocated “forcing landowners to cultivate their land or have them expropriated and given to veterans and farmers cooperatives.” The Manifesto was written by national syndicalist Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement founder Filippo Tommaso.
A former member of Socialist Party of Great Britain, David Ramsey Steele described Mussolini in his early years as “the Che Guevara of his day, a living saint of leftism. Handsome, courageous, charismatic, an erudite Marxist, a riveting speaker and writer, a dedicated class warrior to the core, he was the peerless duce of the Italian Left. He looked like the head of any future Italian socialist government, elected or revolutionary.” According to Steele, “Fascism began as a revision of Marxism by Marxists…”
Political scientist James Gregor, known for his research on fascism and Marxism, asserted that Fascism is a Marxist heresy, that “Mussolini was a Marxist ‘heretic’”. In Young Mussolini, Gregor attempts “to establish that Fascism was a variant of classical Marxism, a believe system that pressed some themes argued by both Marx and Engels until they found expression in the form of ‘national syndicalism’ that was to animate the first Fascism.” 
One of the world's leading experts on Fascism, Israeli historian, Zeev Sternhell came to the conclusion that “Fascist ideology represented a synthesis of organic nationalism with the antimaterialist revision of Marxism.” Historian Richard Pipes succinctly summed up fascism’s affinity to socialism by arguing that both "Bolshevism and Fascism were heresies of socialism."
In Gregors’ discussion of the origins of Fascism, he wrote: “Fascism's most direct ideological inspiration came from the collateral influence of Italy's most radical 'subversives' -- the Marxists of revolutionary syndicalism.” And that “by the early 1930s, the 'convergence' of fascism and Stalinism struck Marxists and non-Marxists alike.... By the mid-1930s, even Trotsky could insist that 'Stalinism and fascism, in spite of deep difference in social foundations, are symmetrical phenomena'....”
Other writers have come to the same conclusion, including Italian historian, Renzo De Felice, who is best known for his 6,000 page, seven volume biography of Benito Mussolini. He contended that Mussolini was a revolutionary modernizer in domestic issues, writing that “Mussolini’s fascism shared considerable affinity with the traditional and revolutionary left.” Discussing the work of M. Agurksy, Stanley G. Payne, one of the most famous modern theorists of fascism, commented that “Fascism was sometime perceived not inaccurately as more of a heresy from, rather than a mortal challenge, to revolutionary Marxism.” Other scholars have referred to both National Socialism and Fascism as “right-wing socialism”, or “petty-bourgeoisie socialism.”
Right-Wing Socialism and Petty-Bourgeoisie Socialism -
Murray Rothbard considered Bismarckism and later Fascism and National Socialism as examples of "right-wing socialism." Rothbard further wrote: “there were from the beginning two different strands within Socialism: one was the Right-wing, authoritarian strand, from Saint-Simon down, which glorified statism, hierarchy, and collectivism…” Karl Radek, a Marxist theoretician and international Communist leader, also described fascism as the “socialism of the petty bourgeoisie.”
Economist Friedrich van Hayek conjectured that within the socialist movement there were rivaling right-wing and left-wing factions. In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek wrote: “There are bound to arise rival socialist movements that appeal to the support of those whose relative position is worsened. There is a great deal of truth in the often heard statement that Fascism and National Socialism are a sort of middle-class socialism – only that in Italy and Germany the supporters of these new movements were economically hardly a middle class any longer.”
In his essay “Spilling the Spanish Beans,” George Orwell may have been the first to coin the term “right-wing Socialism”, in his story about his days fighting General Franco’s forces in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, Orwell had found himself caught in the middle of street-fighting waged between left-wing Communists and right-wing Communists. In his book Home to Catalonia, Orwell documented how “The Communists had gained power and a vast increase of membership partly by appealing to the middle classes against the revolutionaries…” He also noted that the “Communist viewpoint and the Right-wing Socialist viewpoint could everywhere be regarded as identical.” Orwell’s fighting unit, the POUM (Workers' Party of Marxist Unification), was accused by the Communist press the world over of both being fascist and collaborating with the fascist.
According to Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, “From the moment Mussolini declared himself in favor of the war, Italian Socialists smeared him for his heresy. ... From the beginning, fascism was dubbed as right-wing not because it necessarily was right-wing but because the communist left thought this was the best way to punish apostasy (and, even if it was right-wing in some long forgotten doctrinal sense, fascism was still right-wing socialism).”
Another description of right-wing socialism has come from economist Jesús Huerta de Soto, who referred to this anti-market, paternalistic ideology as a type of socialism “in which institutional aggression is employed to maintain the social status quo and the privileges certain people or groups enjoy.” Soto continues, “In this sense, conservative socialism and democratic socialism differ only in the motivations behind them and in the social group each aims to favor.”
Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were highly critical of those who would ignore orthodox Marxism and embrace a form of “petty-bourgeois socialism.” In Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels attempted to distinguish their version of socialism and communism from other versions of socialism, including “petty-bourgeois socialism” and “conservative or bourgeois socialism.”
Engels was particular concerned with avowed socialists who deviated from Marxist theory, writing in 1877: “Even in the Social-Democratic Party, petty bourgeois Socialism has its defenders.”
Pejoratives and Marxist Terminology -
The word fascist or right-wing fascist is sometimes used to denigrate people, institutions, or groups that have no connection with historical or ideologically Fascism. Many of these claims are historically meaningless. Near the end of World War II, George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, attempted to define Fascism. He found it difficult. He wrote that the word “fascism” is almost entirely meaningless, arguing that it is recklessly flung around in every direction. Historian Richard Griffiths has argued that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times."
Marxists have employed the terms reactionary, counter-revolutionary, bourgeoisie, fascist, or right-wing to clarify ideological differences and identify common denominators. In other cases, right-wing designations and other pejoratives have been used to disparage both non-Marxist opponents and pro-Marxist heretics. Historically, Marxists who stray from classical Marxism or have been caught up in a political power struggle or ideological disputes have resorted to using pejorative terms less for clarification and more for defaming.
Such pejorative adjectives were bantered about during the 1920s when a power struggle erupted between Trotsky and Stalin after the death of Vladimir Lenin. In 1924, the ruling communist triumvirate denounced “Trotksyism” as “petty bourgeois deviation.” Soon after Trotsky was stripped of his authority, a wider schism developed between the left-wing Bolsheviks and right-wing Bolsheviks—referred to as the Left Opposition and the Right Opposition. In those years both Stalin and Trotsky hurtled charges of fascism or “Bonapartism” at each other.
In response to Stalin’s power plays, the Left Opposition within the Bolshevik Party fought back from 1923 to 1927, headed de facto by Leon Trotsky. It was destroyed by Stalin when he aligned himself with right-wing Bolsheviks who wanted to continue Lenin’s New Economic Polices (NEP) and restore “concessions to the capitalist system favored by the party’s right wing,” which included opening up the Russian economy to private capital and foreign investment. In short order, Stalin then “demolished” the right-wing communists.
The pejorative war escalated during the 1937 Moscow show trial. Trotsky responded sarcastically to charges of collaboration with fascism, espionage and capitalism. Trotsky wrote: “How could these Old Bolsheviks, who went through the jails and exiles of Tsarism, who were the heroes of the civil war, the leaders of industry, the builders of the party, diplomats, turn out at the moment of the ‘the complete victory of socialism’ to be saboteurs, allies of fascism, organisers of espionage, agents of capitalist restoration.” Stalin and other Marxist leaders habitually used pejoratives to slanderously attack opponents. “Charges of rightism, fascism and Nazism were leveled at countless victims of Stalin’s purges.” Other accusations leveled against supporters of Trotsky and Stalin centered on the pejorative “Red fascism.” But even some non-Marxists found the term appropriate to describe Stalin’s regime. The New York Times dubbed Stalinism "red fascism”.
The Politics of Mussolini -
As a union organizer and agitator, Mussolini organized strikes and riots when the Italian government invaded Ottoman Libya in 1911–1912, which got the attention of various Marxist, syndicalist and socialist leaders. A self-avowed Marxist in his early years, Mussolini prestige grew as an influential leader in the Italian Socialist Party. In 1912 he was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Italian Socialist Party and appointed editor of their party newspaper, Avanti! (Forward). Mussolini’s election and appointment was considered a victory by the hard-line Marxist left. When he took an interventionist stand for Italy’s involvement in the First World War, he was expelled from the Italian Socialist Party at a 1914 meeting in Milan, shouting, "You cannot get rid of me because I am and always will be a socialist. You hate me because you still love me." “Mussolini joined with pro-war leftists outside the Socialist party and launched a new socialist newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia (People of Italy),” which became the official newspaper of the fascist movement. (David Ramsey Steele, “The Mystery of Fascism,” Liberty, Vol. 15, no. 11, Nov. 2001.)
Mussolini got the nickname “Il Duce” after he was released from jail for organizing violent workers’ revolts during protests over Italy’s “imperialistic” invasion of Ottoman Libya. To celebrate Mussolini’s release, a Marxist comrade proclaimed: “From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of Romagna Socialists, but Il Duce of all revolutionary Socialists in Italy.
After his decision to begin supporting his nation’s involvement in World War I, “Mussolini joined with pro-war leftists outside the Socialist party and launched a new socialist newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia (People of Italy),” which was to become the official journal of the fascist movement.
After Mussolini’s expulsion from the Italian Socialist Party, he joined a splinter group of revolutionary syndicalists who spoke in favor of having Italy join the war on the side of the Allies. This labor-union movement soon became the backbone of the Marxist–inspired Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria Internazionalista—known as the Fascists. Mussolini’s switch to a pro-war position which resulted in a hostile split among pro-war socialists and anti-war socialists. All across Europe, communist and socialist organization were breaking with Marx’s Proletarian internationalism and supporting the war.
Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov in their book, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War, maintained that “The Socialists of France and Germany and even of Russia supported World War I as a war between nation-states.” “Four days after Germany declared war on France, Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO) which eventually morphed into the French Communist Party, ceased its antimilitary, internationalist stand and decided to support French patriotism and the war against the Central Powers. Established as a Marxist party in 1875, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) also came out in support of World War I.” 
The Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History maintain that, “Once the war began, Austrian, British, French, German, and Russian socialists followed the rising nationalist current by supporting their country's intervention in the war.” In their first election, Italian fascists boasted to voters that they were a political party squarely on the Left. “In the 1919 parliamentary elections, fascist candidates presented themselves as part of the Left not only in their beliefs, but also in their willingness to ally with other leftist parties.” Musolini’s party fared poorly in the elections, due to a confusing mess of left-wing ideology and nationalism that the voters found unacceptable.
Later in 1919, Mussolini had adopted the black shirts of the anarchist to create paramilitary armed squads. With his blackshirts in tow, Mussolini seized control of the 1919 factory in a “creative strike.” Mussolini proposed getting the factory workers to rise up and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. He advocated a proposal to march on Rome and violently overthrow the central government as had the Bolsheviks in Russia. But conservative and non-violent labor leaders balked at his idea, which forced Mussolini to cooperate with industrialists. Such pragmatism was the hallmark of Mussolini's thinking when opportunities arose to gain political power. As Peter Neville wrote: “Mussolini [was] always the pragmatic, when it suited him, …” Calling himself the “Lenin of Italy,” Mussolini started up a theoretical Marxist journal, Utopia. Three of his collaborators on Utopia went on to found the Italian Communist Party and the German Communist Party.
Mussolini’s relationship with the Soviet Union was considerable. In spite of the worldwide outrage over the Red Army’s invasion of Poland after World War I (the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1921), Mussolini’s National Fascist Party welcomed the Bolsheviks with open arms, making Italy the first western nation to recognize the Soviet Union in 1924. To further cement relationships with the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy in 1933 signed the “Treaty of Friendship, Nonaggression, and Neutrality” which helped to provide technical assistance and supplies to Moscow from a number of industries, including aviation, automobile and naval industries. Italy received oil in exchange. A number of authors have contended that this treaty with Italy was essential to Russia’s ability to develop it oil resources, and later to its industrialization and armament capabilities.
Mussolini was deeply impressed by the avowed Marxist and revolutionary syndicalist, Georges Sorel, who helped him formulate the core principles of Italian fascism. To most revolutionary socialists, syndicalism represented a form of collective economic corporatism that would replace capitalism with socialism through trade-union organizations.
In front of big crowds, “Mussolini frequently claimed to advocate a kind of “socialism of the trenches,” in which the final victors would be workers, peasants, or veterans (depending on his audience).”
Fascist Italy’s official recognition of the Soviet Union opened the flood gates to tremendous trade, making Italy a major supplier of arms to the Soviet Union, especially after the signing of the 1933 Russo-Italian “Treaty of Friendship, Nonaggression, and Neutrality.” A number of scholars contend that Italy’s industry and banks were responsible for the military industrialization of the Soviet Union, greatly contributing to Russia’s development of its oil and armament industries. The bustling trade between Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia lasted until 1941.
As Mussolini’s administration continued to centralize the economy into twenty-two state-operated corporations, Mussolini proclaimed in 1935 that he had nationalized three-fourths of Italian companies. According to Patricia Knight in Mussolini and Fascism, a few years later in 1939, Italy saw the highest rate of state–owned enterprises in the entire world, outside of the Soviet Union.
Mussolini attempted to create a totalitarians state which are considered extreme version of authoritarian rule. Under totalitarianism, the state apparatus relies on centrally-planned strategies to control almost every facet of human existence, including the economy. Mussolini’s totalitarian corporate state lent itself to the wholesale nationalization of Italian industry in an effort to
politicize everything spiritual and human under his creed: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
Just before the end of World War II, Mussolini spoke to a socialist journalist and complained bitterly about the bourgeoisie, declaring in the interview: “I bequeath the republic to the republicans and not to the monarchists, and the work of social reform to the socialist and not to the middle class.”
When Mussolini was shot by partisans in 1945, one of his long-term aides, Nicola Bombacci, a long-time friend of Lenin, shouted out “Long live Mussolini! Long live socialism!”
What Contemporaries Thought of Mussolini -
After Mussolini’s purge from the Italian Socialist Party, Vladimir Lenin sent his heart-felt regrets. He said “that Mussolini was the only true revolutionary in Italy.” According to Margherita Sarfatti, a well-known Jewish socialist, journalist and feminist, who became Mussolini’s mistress, Lenin had also remarked, "Mussolini? A great pity he is lost to us! He is a strong man, who would have led our party to victory." Upon learning of Mussolini’s ascent to Prime Minister of Italy, “Stalin supplied Mussolini with the plans of the May Day parades in Red Square, to help him polish up his Fascist pageants.”
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, a leading member of the socialist Fabian Society, heaped praise on Mussolini in 1927. He said that fellow “socialists should be delighted to find at last a socialist who speaks and thinks as responsible rulers do.” Shaw further noted that he found Mussolini appealing because he was “farther to the Left in his political opinions than any of his socialist rivals.”
The founder of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), Sir Oswald Mosley, had been the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the left-wing Labor Government of 1929–1931. A committed member of the socialist Fabian Society during the 1920s and 1930s, Mosley called for state nationalization of the larger industries, and a public works program to solve unemployment during his Labor Party days.
When the labor party ignored Mosley’s recommendations, he resigned and found the New Party. After traveling to Italy at the behest of Mussolini during a study tour of “new movements,” Mosley returned to England and launched the BUF in 1932. Opposed to the impacts of free-trade, Mosley favored the protectionism of high tariffs in order to prevent "cheap slave competition from abroad.” (Oswald Mosley, Tomorrow We Live – British Union Policy 3d , 1938. ) As for his economic policies, Mosley was enamored with economist John Maynard Keynes. “Mosley created the British Union of Fascists as a vehicle for his economic vision of Britain as a Keynesian economic state, with an emphasis on deficit spending.” According to Bret Rubin, in, “The Rise and Fall of British Fascism: Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.”
Other Fabian Society members embraced not only Mussolini’s fascism, but Hitler’s National Socialism and communism, including socialist and science fiction writer H.G. Wells. In a speech before the Young Liberals at Oxford in July 1932, Wells told the audience that young people should have the “foresight for enlightened Nazis.” He continued with a proposal that they “consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.”
Although Mussolini criticized other socialists and Marxists, he regularly told friends and foreign visitors that Fascism and Bolshevism were dear brethren. Many books of the era provided evidence for Mussolini’s devotion to both socialism and bolshevism.
The former Prime Minister of Italy, Francesco Saverio Nitti (1919-1920), who considered himself as a prominent leftist, but an opponent of fascism, authored a book in 1927 entitled Bolshevism, Fascism and Democracy. Inside, he stated that, “There is little difference between the two, and in certain respects, Fascism and Bolshevism are the same.” Nitti continued this theme with his chapter "Bolshevism and Fascism are Identical.” In that chapter Nitti penned: “In Italy today one finds that greater tolerance is shown toward Communists affiliated with Moscow than to Liberals, democrats, and Socialists.”
When the son of a U.S. Republican Senator, Alfred Bingham, arranged an audience with Mussolini, he recounted that Mussolini had attempted to make the point that “Fascism is the same thing as Communism.”
Edmondo Rossoni, the first leader of the Italian Fascist labor confederation and professor at the University of Florence, described Benito Mussolini as a “revolutionary Socialist of the extreme left.” 
In another book published in 1930, Il Duce: The Life and Work of Benito Mussolini, by pro-fascist L. Kemechey, the author fervently argued that Mussolini was a Socialist and a Leninist and a revolutionary. 
Besides being an admirer of Lenin, Mussolini looked kindly towards Stalin as a “fellow Fascist.” Many Italian fascist leaders believed that Stalin’s bolshevism was evolving into fascism. Poet and journalist Gabriele D’Annunzio, considered a folk hero to fascists, characterized fascism as a Latinized form of National Bolshevism.  In 1939 Benito Mussolini highly praised Stalin for transforming Soviet Bolshevism into “a sort of Slavic Fascism.” 
The Church and the Monarchy -
Originally, the left-right political spectrum referred to seating arrangements in the French parliament after the French Revolution (1789–1799). At the time, those on the left of the aisle represented John Lockean classical liberals, artisans, merchants, capitalists and bourgeois middle class. The right side was occupied by the autocratic elites of the Monarchy and the hierarchical authority of the Church.
During his years as a young man, Mussolini was an avowed anti-cleric who "proclaimed himself to be an atheist and several times tried to shock an audience by calling on God to strike him dead.” According to English historian Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini believed that any socialist who was Christian or who accepted religious marriage should be expelled from the party, condemning the Catholic Church for "its authoritarianism and refusal to allow freedom of thought ..."
Referring to himself as an “outright disbeliever” Mussolini once “told a startled cabinet that Islam was perhaps a more effective religion than Christianity.” Mussolini attempted to substitute the state for a spiritual god, considering “the state as the creator of the nation, the Italian Fascist discourse aimed at the construction of a new man, a man of the future: 'the Homo fascistus'.”
Mussolini displayed his irreligious nature in his “Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” writing, “The fascist concept of the state…is all embracing, and outside of the state no human or spiritual values can exist, let alone be desired.”
Embracing a form of secular religion, Mussolini sought his people to make self-sacrifices to an omnipotent State. Sociologist George Ritzer noticed this behavior in Mussolini, contending that the Italian dictator viewed the “state as an institution on whose behalf its people should sacrifice themselves.” Not long after his truce with the Vatican, Mussolini relationship with the Church turned turbulent, especially after he instituted his new anti-Semitic policy in 1938. Pope Pius XI condemned both Mussolini and Hitler as adherents of “stupid
racialism” and “barbaric Hitlerism.” The Church was also “wary of the claims by some Fascists to be creating a new religion and morality, …”
During the mid to late 1930s, Mussolini repeatedly chided the Catholic Church, declaring that the “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all,’ because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself.” Historian Denis Mack Smith in Mussolini revealed that during one round of anticlerical rants against the papacy, Mussolini announced that he hoped that the death would soon overtake the Pope.
Mussolini had similar disrespect for the weak Italian monarchy and the more powerful Hapsburgs. In order to win Caesarian glory, Mussolini thought he “would gain him the prestige necessary to abolish the monarchy and create a truly totalitarian state.” On July 24, 1943, not long after Allies launched an attack on the Italian mainland, Mussolini was arrested by the King. Soon Italy announced an armistice and declared war on Germany.
Mussolini was so enamored with the greatest of the Roman Empire that he considered reintroducing ancient Roman paganism. In Roads and Ruins, Paul Baxa revealed “Mussolini's 'pagan' view of history” led him to “retrieve what had been lost in the intervening centuries.” Baxa contended that Mussolini’s fascination with uncovering pagan Roman temples “was an attack on the Christian heritage of the city.”
Left and Right Criticism -
Many political commentators view the conventional left–right spectrum problematic. Contending that the “Right-Left spectrum is increasingly useless as a way of talking about many issues,” Professor David McKnight writes that it is also confusing and “inadequate” and “has changed dramatically.”
They point to the Communist hereditary monarchy in North Korea where authority has been passed down through three generations of the same family line, starting with Kim ll-sung in 1948. Many consider Mussolini’s nationalistic overtones as evidence of right-wing extremism, even though Stalin had no qualms about utilizing Russian nationalism during the Great Patriot War of WWII. “Political reality motivated Stalin to exploit Russian Nationalism”. Political Scientist Cheng Chen argues that “Slavic solidarity, instead of proletarian internationalism, was invoked to fight against the Germans.” He continues, “During the 1920s, a series of episodes heralded the forthcoming marriage of nationalism and Marxism.”
Some have claimed that the works of Karl Marx tacitly supported proletarian nationalism or “left-wing nationalism” as a means to develop a proletarian rule over a nation, which would evolve in stages towards a true revolutionary communist society. This was often expressed by Stalin’s famous dictum –“Nationalist in form; socialist in context.” Historically, Marxist leaders have supported nationalist movements if they adhere to socialism and class struggle. Joseph Stalin, who promoted a civic patriotic concept called "revolutionary patriotism", supported the use of proletarian nationalism when nationalistic movements fought for class struggle within an internationalist framework.
Left-wing nationalism has been described as a form of nationalism centered upon equality, popular sovereignty, and national self-determination with origins dating back to Jacobinism of the French Revolution. Another form of left-wing nationalism is known as “National Bolshevism”, which incorporates elements of extreme nationalism (especially Russian nationalism) and Bolshevism. As for Mussolini’s militaristic and authoritarian behavior, there seems to be little distinction between left-wing and right-wing regimes. As Stanley Milgram’s experiment contended concerning obedience to authority figures, people simply doing their jobs, without any particular hostility, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.
Some psychologists have argued that most authoritarians have similar attributes despite varying ideological differences. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, a British psychologist, found little differences between authoritarians on different places on the political spectrum. He studied the political opinions associated with Communists and National Socialists (Nazis). This study was important because the political left-right axis after World War II had parked Communists and National Socialists at polar opposites. But this notion was problematic according to Eysenck’s research findings. He found that these two ideologies have distinctive links; both have a tough-minded aggressive behavior based on an authoritarian framework. Eysenck suggested that Communists and National Socialists, like most collectivist-leaning groups, are analogous to ruffians in the streets competing for exclusive rights to territory and power.
The Nolan Chart, a political view assessment diagram, shows a left-right convergence at the bottom of their diamond-shaped chart with those who oversee authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Under this interpretation of the political spectrum, those who advocate almost total government control over the economy and over personal lifestyles generally display similar practices, goals and ideologies, causing the left and right to melt into one another.
Many contend that corporatism has a traditional right-wing component. In the case of Italy’s corporatist political system, the economy at the national level was collectively managed from the top down. According to the fascists, the economy was centralized to bring harmony among social classes. Mussolini wrote in “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” that “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.”
Generally, fascist corporatism was dissimilar to America’s independently-operated, shareholder-driven corporations. In 1932 Mussolini fashioned twenty-two state-run holding corporations headed by a top official of the government or by members of the National Fascist Party. They were completely controlled and operated by the Italian state in Mussolini’s effort to move beyond capitalism and socialism. Mussolini’s “corporatism borrowed heavily from Georges Sorel's theories of revolutionary syndicalism”, an ideology that promoted the virtues of trade unionism and socialism.
The Italian government had developed a strict worker-state corporate structure where trade unions and employer associations were subordinate to the state. In doing so, Mussolini’s administration also made strikes illegal as had Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union. Both the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy had similar policies to prevent independent labor unions while making membership in state-run unions mandatory. “Unlike labor unions in the West, Soviet trade unions were, in fact, actually governmental organizations whose chief aim was not to represent workers but to further the goals of management, government, and the CPSU.” Leon Trotsky was particularity adamant that the State should fully control the unions and when the Bolsheviks broke up factory worker
strikes in Petrograd, the conflict lead to the Kronstadt rebellion of 1921. The Kronstadt insurrectionists, called for, among other things, “the right of assembly, and freedom for trade union and peasant associations.” Russian Bolsheviks, German National Socialists and Italian Fascists took the position that the workers were now in charge of the government, making strikes and independent labor unions unnecessary.
1. Roger Griffin: "The Palingenetic Core of Fascism", Che cos'è il fascismo? Interpretazioni e prospettive di ricerche, Ideazione editrice, Rome, 2003 AH.Brookes.ac.uk) (Aristotle A. Kallis, editor, The Fascism Reader, Roger Eatwell, Chapter 4, "A Spectral-Syncretic Approach to Fascism,” London; New York: Routledge, 2003, pp. 71–80 Books.google.com.
2. Seymour Martin Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics, Chapter 5, “Fascism: Left, Right, and Center," Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City: New York, 1960. This award-winning book was highly influential.
3. Stephen D. Shenfield, Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., Armonk: New York, 2001, p.14.
4. Dave Renton, Fascism: Theory and Practice, London: Pluto Press, 1999, p. 20.
5. Benito Mussolini, “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” first authorized translation into English by Jane Soames, published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, London W.C. in 1933, 26 page booklet, quote on p. 20 (Day to Day Pamphlets No. 18).
Other sources include: Fascism: An Anthology, Nathanael Greene, ed., N. York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968, pp. 41, 43–44, and Benito Mussolini, My Autobiography with “The Political and Social Doctrines of Fascism,” published by Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, p. 236, 2006. Although written in 1927 by Mussolini, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, it was first published in 1932 in Italian. Jane Soames’ translation was also published in The Living Age, November, 1933, New York City, entitled “The Doctrine of Fascism.”
6. Benito Mussolini, “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” first authorized translation
into English by Jane Soames, published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, London W.C. in 1933, 26 page booklet, quote on p. 20 (Day to Day Pamphlets No. 18).
Other sources include: Fascism: An Anthology, Nathanael Greene, ed., N. York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968, pp. 41, 43–44, and Benito Mussolini, My Autobiography with “The Political and Social Doctrines of Fascism,” published by Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, p. 236, 2006. Although written in 1927 by Mussolini, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, it was first published in 1932 in Italian. Jane Soames’ translation was also published in The Living Age, November, 1933, quote on page 241, New York City, entitled “The Doctrine of Fascism.” http://www.pauladaunt.com/books/Banned%20books%20and%20conspiracy%20theories/The%20Doctrine%20of%20Fascism%20-%20by%20Benito%20Mussolini%20%28Printed%201933%29.pdf
7. Robert Backhouse and Roger Middleton, Exemplary Economists: Europe, Asia and Australasia, Volume II, Edward Elgar Publishing, Limited, UK, 2000, Herbert Giersch, chapter 3, “Preliminary Reflections on Economics as a Public Good,” p. 80.
8. Herbert Hoover, The Challenge to Liberty, New York/London, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, p. 66. Source cited in book is from The Political Quarterly, London, volume 4, issue 3, pages 341–356, July 1933.
9. Ibid., Herbert Hoover, page 74.
10. Vox Day, "Flunking Fascism 101". WND.com. 8 January 2008, http://www.wnd.com/2004/06/25291/#AuwLAbW5twBvO0cz.99
11. Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, Three Rivers Press, 2009, p. 46.
12. Dahlia S. Elazar, The Making of Fascism: Class, State, and Counter-Revolution, Italy 1919–1928, first pub. ed., 2001), Westport, Conn (u.a.): Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 73.
13. David Ramsey Steele, “The Mystery of Fascism,” Liberty, Vol. 15, no. 11, Nov. 2001.
14. Ibid., David Ramsey Steele.
15. James Gregor, Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979, p. xi.
16. Ibid., James Gregor, p. xi.
17. Roger Griffin and Matthew Feldman, editors, Fascism: Critical Concepts in Political Science, London: Routledge, 2004, p. 334.
18. Richard Pipes, Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime, New York: Vintage Books/Random House 1985, p. 253.
19. James Gregor, The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century, Chelsea, Michigan: Sheridan Books, 2000, p. 130.
20. Arnold Beichman, “The Surprising Roots of Fascism,” Policy Review #102, Hoover Institution, Aug. 1, 2000.
21. Renzo De Felice, Fascism: An Informal Introduction to its Theory and Practice, New Brunswick, N.J. Transactions, 1976, pp67ff.
22. Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism 1914–1945, University of Wisconsin Press, 1996, p.126.
23. Murray Rothbard, “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,” Left and Right, Spring, 1965, pp. 4-22.
24. Ibid., Murray Rothbard.
25. Cyprian P. Blamires, editor, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006, p. 136.
26. Friedrich van Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1944, p. 120.
27. George Orwell, “Spilling the Spanish Beans,” New English Weekly, 29 July and 2 September 1937.)
28. George Orwell, Home to Catalonia, first published in 1938, p. 57.
29. Ibid., George Orwell, Home to Catalonia, p. 38.
30. John Newsinger "Orwell and the Spanish Revolution" International Socialism Journal, Issue 62, Spring 1994. Pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
31. Jeffrey Meyers, edit., George Orwell, Routledge, New Ed edition, 1997, chapter 36, Geoffrey Gorer, Time and Tide, April 30, 1938, pp. 599-600.
32. Ibid., Jonah Goldberg, p. 44.
33. Jesús Huerta de Soto. Socialism, Economic Calculation and Entrepreneurship, Glos, England, UK; Northampton, Massachusetts, US: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited 2010, pp. 79-80.
34. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto, ed. D. Ryazanoff, New York: Russell and Russell, Inc., 1963, Part III, pp. 54–68.
35. Friedrich Engels, “Preface to The Housing Question,” Selected Works, Moscow Edn., Vol. I. p.498.
36. George Orwell, “What is Fascism,” first published: Tribune — GB, London, 1944.
37. Griffiths, Richard. An Intelligent Person's Guide to Fascism, Duckworth, 2001, p. 1.
38. Ibid., Richard Pipes, p. 486, occurred in May of 1924 at the Thirteenth Party Conference.
39. Leon Trotsky, “The Workers’ State, Thermidor and Bonapartism,” February 1935.
40. Donald C. Hodges, The Bureaucratization of Socialism, University of Massachusetts Press, 1981, p. 131.
41. Ibid., Donald C. Hodges.
42. David Evans, Understand Stalin’s Russia, McGraw-Hill; 1 edition, Teach Yourself series, 2012, p. 89.
43. Ibid. Jonah Goldberg, p. 77.
44. Richard M. Fried, Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective, Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 50.
45. A. James Gregor, Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979, p.53.
46. Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini, Vintage Books, 1983, p. 8.
47. Ibid, David Ramsay Steele.
48. Ibid., Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini, p. 8.
49. Ibid., James Gregor, 1979, p. xi.
50. Patrizia Acobas, “Margherita Sarfatti 1880–1961 Bibliography,” Jewish Women’s Archive, posted at http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/sarfatti-margherita.
51. Zeev Sternhell with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri, trans. by David Maisel, The Birth of Fascist Ideology, From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 1994, pp. 140, 214.
52. Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War From Stalin to Khrushchev, Harvard University Press, Chapter One: Erich Fromm, 1997.
53. Lawrence Sondhaus, World War I: The Global Revolution, Cambridge University, 2011, p.177.
54. Spencer Tucker and Priscilla Roberts, editors, Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History, 5 vol. set, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. Tucker 2005, p. 884.
55. Pamela D. Toler, Phd., The Everything Guide to Understanding Socialism: The political, social, and economic concepts behind this complex theory, section: “Mussolini: Socialist ‘Heretic,’” Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2011.
56. Ibid., David Ramsey Steele.
57. Bruce Walker, “Fascists and Bolsheviks as friends,” Canada Free Press, posted, Jan. 31, 2008.)
58. Peter Neville, Mussolini, London: Routledge, 2001, p. 47.
59. Ibid., David Ramsey Steele. The future Communist leaders were Amadeo Bordiga, Angelo Tasca, and Karl Liebknecht.
60. Donald J. Stoker Jr. and Jonathan A. Grant, editors, Girding for Battle: The Arms Trade in a Global Perspective 1815–1940, Westport CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003, page 180.
61. Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945, edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, page 3.
62. Cyprian P. Blamires, editor, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006, p. 136.
63. Ibid., Donald J. Stoker Jr. and Jonathan A. Grant.
64. Carl Schmidt, The Corporate State in Action, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1939, pp. 153–76.
65. Patricia Knight, Mussolini and Fascism (Questions and Analysis in History), New York: Routledge, 2003.
66. Ibid., Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, pp. 240–281.
67. Joshua Muravchik, Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, New York: Encounter Books, 2002, p. 170.
68. Ibid., Joshua Muravchik, p. 171.
69. Ibid., Jonah Goldberg p. 34.
70. Margherita Sarfatti, The Life of Benito Mussolini, England, 1925.
71. Ibid., David Ramsey Steele.
72. Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany, 1933-39. London: Trinity Press, 1980, p. 259.
73. Gareth Griffith, Socialism and Superior Brains, Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2003, p. 253. Shaw made this statement in the Manchester Guardian in 1927.
74. John S. Partington, “H. G. Wells: A Political Life", Journal article in Utopian Studies, Vol. 19,
75. Francesco Saverio Nitti; Bolshevism, Fascism and Democracy, translated by Margaret M. Green, New York, Macmillan Co., 1927.
76. Bruce Walker, “Fascists and Bolsheviks as friends,” Canada Free Press, posted, Jan. 31, 2008.
77. Ibid., Bruce Walker.
78. Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, New York: Viking Press, 1936.
79. L. Kemechey, author, Magda Vamos, translator, Il Duce: The Life and Work of Benito Mussolini, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2008, first published in London: Williams & Norgate, 1930.
80. Bruce Walker, “Fascists and Bolsheviks as friends,” Canada Free Press, posted, Jan. 31, 2008.
81. MacGregor Knox. Mussolini Unleashed, 1939–1941: Politics and Strategy in Italy's Last War, Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 63-64. Also, noted in MacGregor Knox book To The Threshold of Power 1922/33, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, 2007 page 11. Knox original source cited is Galeazzo Ciano Diario, 1937–1943 (Milan, 1980), entry for Oct. 16, 1939.
82. Dennis Mack Smith, Modern Italy: A Political History, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, p. 8.
83. Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A biography, Borzoi Book published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1982, p. 15.
84. Ibid., Denis Mack Smith, pp. 222–223.
85. Montserrat Guidbernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, Chapter 4 “Nationalism, Racism and Fascism,” Polity; 1 edition, 1996.
86. Montserrat Guidbernau, Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, Chapter 4 “Nationalism, Racism and Fascism,” Polity; 1 edition, 1996.
87. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: Pius XI; web Apr. 2013.
88. The Pius War: The Response to the Critics of Pius XII, editors, Joseph Bottum and David G. Dalin, Lexington Books, 204, p. 118, in chapter of “An Annotated Bibliography of Works on Pius XII, the Second World War and the Holocaust” by William Doino Jr., original source: Tablet, February 18, 1939, p. 205, a catholic weekly published in Great Briton.
89. Patricia Knight, Mussolini And The Fascist State, New York: Routledge, 2003, p. 49.
90. Denis Mack Smith, pp. 222–223.
91. Ibid., Denis Mack Smith, pp. 222-223.
92. Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker, editors, The Reader's Companion to Military History, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 1996, p. 316.
93. Paul Baxa, Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Inc., 2010, p. 130.
94. Cheng Chen, The Prospects for Liberal Nationalism in a Post-Leninist States, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007, p. 61.
95. Ibid., Cheng Chen, p 63.
96. Ibid., Cheng Chen, p. 18.
97. Erik van Ree, The political thought of Joseph Stalin: a study in twentieth-century revolutionary patriotism, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, p. 49.
98. Lenore A. Grenoble, Language Policy in the Soviet Union, New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003, p. 41.
99. Ephraim Nimin, Marxism and nationalism: theoretical origins of a political crisis. London: Pluto Press, 1991, p. 4.
100. Ibid., Erik van Ree, p. 49.
101. Ibid., Ephraim Nimin, p. 14, p. 16.
102. Anne Sa'adah, Contemporary France: a democratic education, Lanham: Rowman Littlefield & Publishers, 2003, pp. 17-2.
103. Angel Smith; Stefan Berger, Nationalism, labour and ethnicity 1870–1939, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1999, p. 30.
104. Klemens Von Klemperer, "Towards a Fourth Reich? The History of National Bolshevism in Germany". Review of Politics 13 (2): 1951, pp. 191–210.
105. Eva Fogelman, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, New York: Anchor, 1995.
106. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, Sense and Nonsense in Psychology, Baltimore: Penguin Books, London, 1957.
107. The Advocates for Self-Government version of the Nolan Chart.
108. Peter Jonathan Davies and Derek Lynch, The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right, UK: Routledge, 202, p. 143.
109. Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's 20th Century, Penguin; New Ed edition, 1999, p. 29.
110. Ibid., “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.”
111. L.K. Samuels, “Hitler and Mussolini: History’s Dirty Little Secret,” L.K. Samuels Bibliography, 2013, p. 8, posted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.K._Samuels
112. Pamela D. Toler, Phd., The Everything Guide to Understanding Socialism: The political, social, and economic concepts behind this complex theory, section: “Mussolini Rises to Power,” Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2011.
113. Soviet Union (former) Trade Unions, The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook. http://www.photius.com/countries/soviet_union_former/society/soviet_union_former_society_trade_unions.html
114. Ida Mett, The Kronstadt Commune, Chapter 2, “Petrograd on the Eve of Kronstadt,” written in 1938, published in Solidarity Pamphlet 27, November 1967, posted: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/russia/mett/petro_eve.html.
Below is a letter-to-the-editor on Donald Trump and Mussolini, by Lawrence Samuels
Published in the Monterey Herald, Dec. 12, 2015
Trump’s fascist overtones not level with Mussolini -
Concerning Dana Milbank’s “Donald Trump becoming America’s modern Mussolini” [archive.is/IiXc0], he is partially correct that Trump epitomizes certain aspects of Italian fascism.
Yes, Trump mimics Mussolini with his boisterous, cocky and self-assured demeanor, along with a heavy dose of demagoguery, fear-mongering and violent imagery.
But historically, Mussolini had far more disturbing baggage. In his early years he was an avowed Marxist with ties to Lenin and Trotsky. He led the Italian Socialist Party where he purged moderate socialists.
When he switched to a pro-war stand in 1914, the Italian Socialist Party purged him. And yet, when Mussolini ran under his new Fascist Revolutionary Party, he referred to himself as the “Lenin of Italy.”
As for racial issues, a high proportion of the Jewish population joined his fascist party, which included several Jewish ministers. His mistress, Margherita Sarfatti, was not only Jewish, but a feminist. Only after allying with the Nazis in 1938 did Mussolini reluctantly support Hitler’s National Socialist policies of racial purity.
As for the Muslim faith, Mussolini once stated to his cabinet that Islam was perhaps a more effective religion than Christianity.
Nonetheless, Trump indeed has fascist overtones and everyone should be aware of exactly what that means.
[signed] Lawrence Samuels, Carmel