[Marxism] Fascist intellectuals?

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Sat Aug 26 09:33:31 MDT 2006

From: "Louis R Godena" <louisgodena at ids.net>

> From: "Ian Pace" <ian at ianpace.com>
>> The analysis of fascist ideology and politics puts strains on the 
>> categories of classical Marxism (as opposed to 20th century varieties of 
>> Western Marxism that have married it with other paradigms (for better or 
>> worse) from psychoanalysis and so on). To analyse fascism in such terms 
>> requires primary attention paid to its class character, relationship to 
>> private property and big business, etc. Now, these things are certainly 
>> vital to an understanding of how fascism was able to flourish (for 
>> example with respect to the role of big business in petitioning 
>> Hindenburg to make Hitler Chancellor - that said, I still believe that 
>> some Marxist analyses of the Nazis assign events such as this too primary 
>> a role) and survive, but do not necessarily tell that much about the very 
>> ideology of fascism itself.
> But, Sternhell, in *The Birth of Fascist Ideology* and elsewhere, 
> specifically denies a fascist pedigree to the Nazis ("Fascism can in no 
> way be identified with Nazism") because of the latter's racial component 
> (i.e., biological determinism).   This, according to Sternhell, played the 
> preponderent role in shaping its ideology, not anti-bourgeois nationalism 
> or the struggle against Communism.   And he (and I) would ask: what 
> ideologies are not "specifically shaped by economics"?
I do not really see how your above statements are mutually compatible. No 
ideology is wholly free from economic concerns, of course, but when I say 
something is 'specifically shaped by economics', I imply the primary nature 
of economic concerns. Racial ideologies do have their roots in imperialism, 
as concoctions to justify imperial economic exploitation, but come to assume 
an autonomous ideological role of their own. I'm trying to say, I suppose, 
that ideologies such as fascism cannot be explained in base-superstructural 
reductionist terms (I do not believe crude reductionism in this respect is 
often of much value, but especially not in the case of fascism).

But assigning a primary ontological determinant to fascism, whether racial 
ideologies, anti-bourgeois nationalism, anti-communism or whatever, does not 
seem particularly appropriate. For what its worth, all that I've read about 
the history of fascism leads me to believe that it was developed from 
multiple simultaneous determinants, no one of which comprehensively 
overrides the others. And it has to be seen in its particular historical 
context as well. The resulting ideology may have been internally 
self-contradictory and not always coherent, but it was certainly developed 
so as to assume a quasi-autonomous status of its own.


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