The 18th Brumaire: a modest and belated contribution to the fascism seminar

g.maclennan at g.maclennan at
Sun Nov 26 00:43:43 MST 1995

I am hopelessly behind with my work and this seminar too, but I have 
wanted to post something thanking Louis for getting me to read the 18th.
Now I have been thinking over an earlier post from comrade Proyect when 
he compared the bourgeoisie with the working class in terms of 
leadership.  From memory I think he said that the bourgeoisie had 
hundreds of years to become a ruling class and that this option was not 
open to the working class.  That is of course basically correct, but I 
think there is a sense in which the bourgeoisie is not a "natural" ruling 
class either. 

I believe Adam Smith thought that they would not make good disinterested 
rulers and recommended that the aristocracy continue to run the country 
as indeed the did in England for a very long time (still?)  All this cna 
be linked to the fascism seminar if we think of fascism as a crisis for 
the bourgeoisie when they fail to achieve hegemony as a ruling class and 
have to share power  with another class.

To begin with it is surely questionable whether the normal working of the 
market, with its twin imperatives of greed and fear, is such that it 
provides a springboard for the capitalists to come forward as the 
"natural" ruling class.  Moreover economic crises, which as Louis reminds 
us are part of the normalcy of cpaitalism, also serve to undermine 
further the hegemony of the capitalists and if the crisis is great enough 
they seek alternatives to hide behind.

The nature of these alternatives in the case of fascism do deserve some 
comment.  The enormity of the crime of giving state power to the gang 
around Adolf hitler has never really been brought out.  Everything that 
Marx has to say about Bonaparte's supporters in the Society of December 
10 applies withequal force to the Nazis.

What of the comparisons between Bonaparte and Hitler?  Marx's book harps 
wonderfully on the motif of history being repeated as farce, and this has 
uncanny echoes inthe Nazi literature.  Compare

Only when...he himself takes his imperial role seriously and under the 
Napoleonic mask imagines he is the real Napoleon, does he become the 
victim of his own conception of the world, the serious buffoon who no 
longer takes world history for a comedy but his comedy for world history. 


We must be as Frederick the Great was and act as he did.  The Fuhrer 
agrees with me entirely when I say to him that it should be our ambition 
to ensure that, should a similar great crisis arise in Germany, say 150 
years' time, our grandchildren may look back on us a heroic example of 
steadfastness...In these matters the Fuhrer too is a stoic and a complete 
disciple of Frederick the Great, whom  consciously and unconsciously, he 
emulates. (Goebbels, 27.2.45)



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