[Marxism] Marxism as Fascism

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Oct 17 05:36:25 MDT 2005

On Mon, 17 Oct 2005 06:31:58 -0400 "Louis R Godena" <louisgodena at ids.net>
> I'm a bit surprised no one here has mentioned Zeev Sternhell's The 
> Birth of Fascist Ideology (Princeton, 1994).  Subtitled from 
> cultural rebellion to political revolution, it is perhaps the most 
> important work on the relationship between Marxism and fascism 
> published in the West during the last half-century.  It is not light 
> reading.  The controversies precipitated by the book's original 
> publication in 1989 are legendary among European political 
> scientists.  I bought the book during a discussion on fascism 
> between Louis Proyect and, I think, Adolfo Olaechea which took place 
> on the old Marxism list over at Spoons.

I don't believe that I have read that book.  Certainly, in terms
of the genesis of fascist ideology, the Sorelians played
a role with their Nietzschean/Bergsonian emphasis on
the importance of myth and of will in promoting social
change and in their rejection of classical historical
materialism.  There was by the early 1900s considerable
disillusionment with the kind of historical determinism
that was prevalent within the Second International.
Sorellianism was one manifestation of this.  Sorel's
own political flip-flops between the extreme left and
the extreme right are well known.  I don't think that
it has ever been much of a secret concerning
Mussolini's intellectual debt to Sorel.  In fact I think
he acknowledged his indebtedness to Sorel any
number of times. On the other hand it should be
noted that not everyone who was influenced by
this current ended up as a fascist. Antonio Gramsci
swam in this current too but he ended up as a
founder and leading savant of the PCI.

There were also new outbreaks of antimaterialist revisionism 
after WW I.  One of the leading revisionists after WW I
was the Belgian socialist, Henri De Man (the uncle
of literary theorist Paul De Man).  His revisionism of
Marxism was rather similar to Sorel's in a number
of respects with its critique of classical Marxism
on the grounds that it ignored "spiritual" factors.
De Man later ended up as prominent collaborator
when Belgium was occupied by the Germans during
WW II.  So while not everyone who swam in the
current of revisionism ended up as a fascist,
a fair number of the leading lights did.

> Louis Godena

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