Is Progressivism nothing more than closet Fascism
Conventionally, progressivism is thought of as a left-wing ideology, and fascism a right-wing ideology. But this is more a problem of the simplistic left-right political model than a valid insight. When we look at actual policies or ideology, progressivism and fascism start looking like kissing cousins, if not identical.
What is progressivism? It is an ideology that favors the use of government action - the police power of the State - to promote social values. What these values are have varied with time. In the mid-1800s the thrust was primarily the abolition of slavery and alcohol prohibition. After the emancipation of slaves, temperance was still a major progressive goal, but also ending prostitution, assimilating "papists," passing blue laws, and elite control of education became the major moral concerns that (allegedly) had to be cured through government force.
There were also economic issues relating to industrialization and mass immigration, and the problems resulting from government subsidization of railroads, i.e. the lack of competition out west. Progressives of this era sought to regulate what immigrant children had to learn (good old pietist Protestantism) and how railroads (and later other industries) were permitted to operate.
Progressives were duped into thinking that "trust-busting" regulations were enacted to benefit the workers and the poor. As leftist historian Gabriel Kolko showed in "Railroads and Regulation: 1877-1916," this was not the case at all.
Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism
For years historians have tried to portray Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism. The role of industrialists has been exaggerated while the clear and substantial socialist aspects of Nazism have been ignored or downplayed. Nazism did not destroy the communist Left in Germany; it merely replaced the communists on the Left side of the spectrum in Germany. The fact of the matter is that the working classes (the bloc that typically supported the communists) comprised a substantial part of the Nazis electoral base. German Nazism and Italian Fascism were both populist movements that attracted support from all levels of society. Moreover, the industrial sector came to support Hitler much later than the working masses. Businesses hopped on the band wagon when they saw it was in their best interests.
Like any good leftist, Hitler was a revolutionary and exploited anti-capitalist rhetoric in his rise to power. He despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order. Because he wished to remake German society entirely, he was no conservative! He wrote in Mein Kampf, “Either the German youth will one day create a new State founded on the racial idea or they will be the last witnesses of the complete breakdown and death of the bourgeoisie world.” He rejected traditional Christianity; he wanted to revive Germany’s so-called pre-Christian authenticity, or in other words, to create a modern paganism. He was well read in German mythology and pseudo-history. His idols were Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.
He rhetoric mirrored Lenin’s: “Our bourgeoisie is already worthless for any noble human endeavor.” Once he was entrenched in power he clarified his opposition to communism thus: “Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for awhile.” Hitler didn’t disagree with the German communists in principle or policy, especially with regard to economics; he was enraged at their undermining of Germany with strikes during WW I and antiwar mobilization. He thought they were part of a coalition that had stabbed Germany in the back. Indeed, Hitler often spoke with grudging admiration of Stalin and the communists. Hitler studied Marxism, which both fascinated and repulsed him, appreciating its ideas but becoming utterly convinced that Marx was the architect of some Jewish plot.
Hitler entered the Nazi Party because of a talk given by Gottfried Feder entitled “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?” The party stood for everything he believed in, and thus started his career as the party’s best salesman. The Nazis campaigned as socialists.
What exactly did the party stand for? Its platform included:
“We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.” Sounds like nanny state liberalism.
“Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.” Can you say death tax and rent control?
“We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).” That doesn’t sound free market.
“We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries” Hmmm, a “windfall” profits tax?
“We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.” Sounds like FDR’s Social Security, no?
“The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program…. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State….” Sounds like a government monopoly on the schools. Isn’t that what Democrats are for?
“The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.” Hmmm, you think Hitler would have banned trans fats?
“…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.” This is what liberals mean when they say “the common good.”
“For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich.” Centralization of power in the national government? Does that sound right-wing to you?
Read the platform for yourself. There is nothing conservative about it.
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