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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian02 Jul 2018 11:19 p.m. PST

"Communism and fascism are two sides of the same coin."

True or false?

jdginaz02 Jul 2018 11:48 p.m. PST

True as practiced, different rhetoric same results.

jdginaz02 Jul 2018 11:50 p.m. PST

True, different rhetoric same results.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:17 a.m. PST

Depends on whether you study what people who call themselves fascists actually do or go for a textbook definition of what they should do? The same is true of most religious groups too? Meaning , does definition follow practise or the other way around?
The number of African countries that have "Republic/Democratic" in their title is also quite misleading.

Frontovik03 Jul 2018 2:52 a.m. PST

They're just labels for Oligarchy.

Come to think of it most political systems tend towards oligarchy. ;o)

Personal logo mrwigglesworth Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 2:54 a.m. PST

True

Garth in the Park03 Jul 2018 3:09 a.m. PST

It's only true if by "the coin" you mean: dictatorship and oppression. They shared certain practices of dicatorship, like mandatory youth groups, control of media, and tightly-closed borders.

But in all important ideological matters, they were utterly different:

* Fascism was fundamentally nationalist and patriotic. Communism was internationalist and wanted to get rid of nationality, which they believed was artificial, a tool of the ruling classes to keep the workers loyal.

* Fascism was generally pro-religion and in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, and Romania it was linked closely to the Church (they shared the goal of wanting to get rid of Leftists). Germany was different because there was no one national church, but the Nazis still got the cooperation they needed from the churches. Communism was Atheist and sought to eliminate religion.

* Fascism was OK with capitalism and actively allied with Big Business leaders. WIthout Krupp, Daimler, Thyssen, Büssing, and other big capitalists supporting him, Hitler could never have afforded his national campaigns and come to power. Mussolini was at the mercy of Fiat. Once in power, Fascists allowed private property and business to continue unmolested, as long as the businesses were politically loyal. Communism, obviously, did the opposite, nationalizing all enterprises.

* Fascism was fundamentally racist and sought to eliminate unwanted minorities (Jews, Basques, Gypsies, etc.) Communism was indifferent to race, believing it to be another artificial concept. The Communists were equal-opportunity oppressors.

* Fascism sought imperial expansion either abroad (in Italy's case) or nearby (in the case of Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Croatia), for the purpose of colonization and "living space" for their nationality. Communism sought to expand politically, to bring more lands under Communist rule, in order to get rid of nationality.

* Fascism never had a coherent written ideology. It differed profoundly from place to place and was at the whim of its leaders. There was never a Nazi constitution, for example, and I doubt that anybody who made it through all 700 pages of Mein Kampf could sum it up concisely, as it's a disorganized, semi-literate rant. Communism had a set of founding principles and documents that eventually took on almost religious significance.

* Fascists occasionally tried to plan their economy, but had no means for doing so. (For example, nobody gave a damn about the "Five Year Plan" that came out of Goering's office. Mussolini had no real means to implement his "War for Grain," and so on.) It was mostly for show, and mostly improvised. Communism, by contrast, was a true centrally-planned economy.

* Fascism sought to draw from their nation's mythologies and history, presenting reasons why their people were special. They believed in a bygone "good old days" that their people had lost through corruption and needed to return to. Communists believed they were writing an entirely new chapter in history and were destroying the past.

The most obvious point is that wherever the two co-existed, they fought each other ruthlessly and in almost every case the Fascists eventually defeated the Communists and killed or expelled them. They obviously recognized a difference at the time.

Legion 403 Jul 2018 5:33 a.m. PST

They certainly have some similarities. Regardless … they are not "desirable" in the short or long run.

mad monkey 103 Jul 2018 6:03 a.m. PST

Garth in the Park +1.

4th Cuirassier03 Jul 2018 6:14 a.m. PST

@ Garth

A good summary except this

* Fascism was fundamentally racist and sought to eliminate unwanted minorities (Jews, Basques, Gypsies, etc.) Communism was indifferent to race, believing it to be another artificial concept. The Communists were equal-opportunity oppressors.

There have been three European fascist governments – Spain, Italy, and Germany (I'm ignoring puppet states in central Europe) and only one of those carried out systematic massacres of groups it regarded as its ideological enemies. In contrast, every Communist government has carried out such massacres, sometimes on class grounds but also against minorities on grounds of race:
link

Garth in the Park03 Jul 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

@4th cuirassier:

If we ignore the Croatians, Hungarians, Romanians, and Spanish Fascists, then we're ignoring four significant genocides or attempted genocides. The Italians had tons of blood on their hands in Ethiopia, although we can call that "imperialism" instead, I suppose. Franco combined his killing of Basques with a killing of Leftists in general, so it goes under the more general title of "White Terror," but still: it was state-directed murder against a minority group. The Croatian, Hungarian, and Romanian cases were notorious and claimed hundreds of thousands of victims: Slavs, Jews, and Gypsies.

To my knowledge the only Fascist or quasi-Fascist regime that didn't commit some sort of genocide was Portugal. They killed left-wing intellectuals and politically-active people, but didn't target whole ethnic groups.

- -

I understand your point about Stalinist or Maoist massacres of specific groups. But
when I think about Stalin's various massacres, by contrast, in every case he was doing something against a group he perceived to be politically disloyal or potentially so. Their ethnicity was secondary. For example, the Turkmen Basmachi resisted Soviet control and were slaughtered, but the Kazakhs stayed loyal. Both were Muslim, Turkic peoples. One was loyal, the other wasn't, and paid accordingly. (I don't know much about Mao's regime, but I get the impression that the same rules applied: whole ethnic groups were targeted if they failed in political loyalty, but not if they were loyal.)

Same with the so-called "Doctors Plot." Why did Stalin kill Jewish doctors? Because he thought they were plotting against him. By contrast, why did Hitler kill Jewish doctors? Because they were Jewish.

One killed because of poltiical paranoia; the other killed because of a racist obsession with national purity, blood, infections of the Volk, etc. I'm sure it didn't matter to the victims, but there was a difference in rationale, at least officially.

Fred Cartwright03 Jul 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

I don't think there has ever been a true communist government that adhered to the communist ideology as set out by Marx. The Bolsheviks differed from Marxist theory on a number of things, but perhaps most importantly on the classless society. Lenin always believed that the political class would be superior to the rest of the workers. The party apparatchiks were the true benefactors of the Russian revolution.
By the way neither Hungary or Romania had fascist governments. The Germans even assisted Antonescu in suppressing the Romanian fascist Iron Guard. The Hungarian Arrow Cross only got power after Admiral Horthy was deposed in late '44 and so were only in charge, nominally, as puppets of the Germans during the final Gotterdammerung.

Garth in the Park03 Jul 2018 6:40 a.m. PST

neither Hungary or Romania had fascist governments.

If we want to define it narrowly, then only Italy had a Fascist government. No other state used the term. The Nazis, for example, never called themselves "fascists."

But to my knowledge, many (most?) historians define Hungary and Romania that way. Michael Mann's Fascists, for example, devotes a chapter, each, to Hungarian and Romanian fascism.

For what it's worth, Wiki calls them both Fascist:

link

link

CSherrange Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

False.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 6:49 a.m. PST

Yes on the coin issue.

As far as true communist government never been put into practice, it's kind of like saying no one has ever taken flight by just flapping their arms.

Communism always requires government control of the market(means of production) making its leaders corporate officers with no government oversight and no stockholders who can vote them out. All you end up with is masters and slaves.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 7:24 a.m. PST

"Fascism" has always been a (conveniently) fluid definition, especially in recent decades, but then it was never a precise term to begin with. It's now so convoluted as being applicable to both socialist groups and capitalist groups, depending on what one is pointing at. What it really amounts to is "we get to tell you what you can and can't do, say, or think, and if you disagree, we'll hurt you." Which is pretty much communism in a nutshell, too. So, yep, flip side, same bad penny.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

I don't think there is much difference between a gulag or a slave labor concentration camp.
That's all that really matters.
It's not a linear scale. It's a circle where both ideologies meet.

ScottS03 Jul 2018 7:54 a.m. PST

The most obvious point is that wherever the two co-existed, they fought each other ruthlessly and in almost every case the Fascists eventually defeated the Communists and killed or expelled them.

Right:

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 7:56 a.m. PST

They are exact opposites. That is what made Germany and the Soviet Union mortal enemies. It is also why the Russo-German agreement so shocking. They are natural enemies. The far right versus the far left. Like anti-matter and matter. Why is this even a discussion?

28mm Fanatik03 Jul 2018 8:09 a.m. PST

True. Don't want to oversimplify it, but Communism and Fascism are essentially similar in the sense that both sought complete control and submission (if not loyalty) from the populace, either by cajolery or coercion, even if their purported Utopian ends are different.

GreenLeader03 Jul 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

Both were 'socialist' but the difference was one of whether this socialism was 'national' or 'international'. I think it would have been pretty ghastly to live under either regime.

The notion that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were in some way 'opposites' is simply untrue – they had far more in common with each other than, for example, either of them had with a liberal, multi-party democracy like Great Britain.

goragrad03 Jul 2018 8:23 a.m. PST

Both are inherently Statist.

So flip sides of the same coin.

Mark Plant03 Jul 2018 8:23 a.m. PST

Rallynow: this is a discussion because a lot of people on the right want to disown Hitler in particular as a "socialist". That way all their enemies are on the Left, and there are no right wing murderous dictatorships.

Never mind that common ownership of the means of production is a requirement for socialism, Hitler once dabbled with the Left and so much be hard out Socialist. Oh and his party had "workers" in it, so that's proof right there!

I agree with what Garth said, but there is autistics underlying difference.

In principle the Left believes people are good, but institutions and social systems make them bad. Systems are stressed.

The Right believe that many people are intrinsically bad, and the body politic must be cleansed of them. Control is stressed.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 8:49 a.m. PST

"The Right believe that many people are intrinsically bad, and the body politic must be cleansed of them. Control is stressed."

Are you referring to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and all of those other "Right-wingers"?

As to the question concerning whether the two ideologies are different sides of the same coin, I'm fairly confident that that question could be debated by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Lenin themselves, given that they are all going to spend eternity together.


By the way, this post demonstrates why it would be a good idea to get the Blue Fez up again. While it can be a little rambunctious at times, it is a better forum for discussing matters relating to politics.

donlowry03 Jul 2018 9:10 a.m. PST

The political spectrum is a circle, and if you follow the left and right far enough, they eventually converge.

Fred Cartwright03 Jul 2018 9:26 a.m. PST

The Nazis, for example, never called themselves "fascists."

They didn't call themselves Nazis either.

For what it's worth, Wiki calls them both Fascist:

So worth very little then! :-) Both those links are to members of fascist parties in Romania and Hungary. Lots of countries had fascist parties. Britain had Moseley's Blackshits.
The Romanian fascist party never gained power. They were briefly in an alliance with Antonescu, but were eliminated in 1941 by Antonescu with German help. Antonescu while antisemetic and perpetrating pogroms and massacres against the Jews was not deviating from the norm in Eastern Europe. Similar antisemetism existed in many countries and pogroms were the norm under Tsarist Russia. Antonescu refused to take part in the final solution and the persecution of the Jews was never as ruthless as the Germans. Antisemetism isn't a defining feature of fascism. As for territorial ambitions it was nothing more than a desire to get back territory taken from Romania by the Russians and Hungarians.
As for Hungary, Horthy was never a fascist and refused to take part in persecution of the Jews and in the interwar period banned both the Communist and Arrow Cross parties in Hungary. He lead a Nationalist Conservative administration. The alliance with Hitler was a political expediency enabling Hungary to regain lost territories. Again there were no grand plans to extend lebensraum. Hungary never participated fully in the war on the Eastern front. The only time the Hungarian fascists got power was after Horthy was deposed by the Germans, for the final 6 months of the war. They were largely a puppet administaration of the Germans. Arrow Cross bully boys did persecute Jews during the siege of Budapest, and anyone else they didn't like the look of, but they were never a major force.

28mm Fanatik03 Jul 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

Most "Fascists" and "Communists" don't refer to themselves as such due to the negative connotations associated with those labels. They prefer positive descriptives like "Nationalists" and "Socialists."

You say potayto they say potahto.

mkenny03 Jul 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

'Left' and 'Right' mean different things depending on your current political views. For example a US News Network constantly paints Europe as a Socialist Communist Caliphate. If you are conditioned by this thinking then what hope is there for rational discourse?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 11:27 a.m. PST

28mmFanatik: "They prefer positive descriptives like ‘Nationalists' and ‘Socialists'"

After many decades of anti-war conditioning and media activism in the West, is is now typically the Marxists (or those who think they would favor a Marxist system) who refer to themselves as "socialists" and then refer to all their opponents as "nationalists" these days. As a result, in the West no patriots in the center or right calls themselves a nationalist any longer, except some in the extreme fringe groups.

The truth is that "nationalism" is not even a "right or left" issue at all:

link

Some today dare to call Communist China a leftist nationalist state, and they might not be completely wrong. Just ask any refugee who isn't a Han.

Dan

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 11:52 a.m. PST

Garth +3

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 11:59 a.m. PST

MKenny- You mean the EU is not a "socialist, communist caliphate"? How can that be? Is that Network lying to me?

Fred Cartwright03 Jul 2018 12:44 p.m. PST

Some today dare to call Communist China a leftist nationalist state, and they might not be completely wrong. Just ask any refugee who isn't a Han.

Does China even qualify as leftist? They seemed to have turned themselves into a capitalist oligarchy.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:10 p.m. PST

Nope, China is under one man rule now, Xi Jinping is president for life. It is still a communist state which is on the extreme left of the political spectrum. Far left and far right uses force to maintain control.

link

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:19 p.m. PST

Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities and in the 1930s the party's focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.

Don't let the word socialism in National Socialism fool you. Nazism are an extreme version of Fascism which is itself on the extreme right on the political spectrum. Nazism added racial purity to the Fascist equation.

Pseudo-scientific racism theories were central to Nazism. The Nazis propagated the idea of a "people's community" (Volksgemeinschaft). Their aim was to unite "racially desirable" Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race (Fremdvölkische). This is what made Nazism different. The will of the state rather than will of the people.

Personal logo SBminisguy Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:24 p.m. PST

@garth, I disagree with your definition of Fascism. It's too simplistic -- and based on an incorrect premise. You said:

* Fascism was fundamentally nationalist and patriotic. Communism was internationalist and wanted to get rid of nationality, which they believed was artificial, a tool of the ruling classes to keep the workers loyal.

Fascism is fundamentally a totalitarian Socialist system, that uses nationalism no differently than do Communist regimes.

I thought the way you do until college when I was taking a course on 20th century western history. We were studying the rise of the great dictators -- Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. The professor led us through an examination of Mussolini's rise to power.

Mussolini, as it turns out, was a hardcore Socialist. Mussolini, the founder of Fascism, was born and raised into a family of committed Socialists and was very active as a Marxist in his youth.

He was a committed Socialist and a leader of the International in Italy. He was the editor of "Avanti!," Italy's leading Socialist/Progressive newspaper. He hated Capitalism and Liberal Democracy as obstacles to The Revolution. However, he was discouraged at the progress of Socialism in Italy and became disillusioned with the International (Socialist movement), since if it were true, then the workers of the world would have been united by class and not fought WW1. Instead, German socialists fought for Germany, and British socialists for Britain, etc.

He also saw during WW1 that in the trenches there was no class distinction. Rich, poor, educated and ignorant were all equal in the mud -- they were reduced to being Italians serving the State, first and foremost. That's the vision he had for Socialism in Italy, all Italians serving the State.

He felt there needed to be an *Italian* Socialism for Italians, the International movement would not work in Italy, and indeed had already failed as proven by WW1.

So he created a *national* Socialist movement he called "Fascism" -- named after the baton of power wielded by an ancient Roman field general or consul, the Fasces. This was a rod fashioned of small sticks, bound together to be strong -- representing the different interests of Rome working as one.

Fascism's "sticks" were comprised of Socialist groups and Labor Unions. The controlling core economic principle was Corporatism -- the control of the economy and thus the nation via control over industrial leaders and the Unions. Rather than sieze corporations and run them from the State, as in Communism, Fascism controlled industry by co-opting and forcing industrial leaders to bend to the will of the Socialist State and become part of the ruling party structure. The working class was led and controlled by the State through the Unions. So under Corporatism, companies and labor Unions become part of the State's power apparatus -- those Unions and companies that did not bend to the will of the State were crushed.

Property was also allowed so long as it didn't conflict with the needs of the State, and the Individual was subordinate to the needs of the State -- true freedom, according to Mussolini, came from surrender of the Individual to the State. So, I asked my professor --Mussolini was a Socialist, embraced Socialism, saw Capitalism as the Enemy and created a State controlled society with the Individual subordinate to the needs of the State. How does that make him "Right Wing?"

Why, Nationalism, of course, he said.

However, I said, we'd just studied Stalin and the rise of the Communists to power, and they resorted to heavy ethnic and nationalist appeals in their propaganda wars. So why is it different in Italy?

Why, because it's Fascism! He had a closed loop argument, he got very angry that he couldn't explain why Italian Nationalism in the service of a Socialist movement was different from Russian Nationalism in the service of a Socialist movement -- it just was, so stop being stupid, he told me! After that my professor would take opportunities in class to harangue me, slight me and tried to embarrass me in front of my peers to silence me. Wow. That was an eye opener.

Red Pill, anyone?

Fascism and Communism are two sides of the same coin, they are both Statist, Socialist systems. That Fascists and Communists fought is little different from how Stalinists and Trotskyites fought for control of their movement.

mkenny03 Jul 2018 2:01 p.m. PST

Fascism and Communism are two sides of the same coin, they are both Statist, Socialist systems.

In a sentence this is the No 1 objective of all current far-right Movements. To paint Hitler as a 'Communist' and thus rid themselves of the baggage of Nazism.
Its an outright lie but then in today's world of 'Alternative Facts' it might be worth a try.
It even sounds like something Sarah could have said…………

Lion in the Stars03 Jul 2018 2:34 p.m. PST

In Fascism, the Government uses Corporations to control the People.
In Communism, the Government destroys Corporations and controls the People directly.
In Corporatism, Corporations use the Government to control the People.

In all three cases, what matters is that the People are controlled.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 2:40 p.m. PST

Nice theoretical discussions going on here. The Communists were much better at discussing theory, ad nauseum.
But what practical difference did it make for The People?
Not much. Would you rather be in a gulag, or a concentration camp?

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 3:10 p.m. PST

Lion in the Stars nailed it for me. Generally it's a bad time for the citizenry of a country who adopts extremist government of any ilk because too many people will find themselves foul of the new dictate.

Democracies tend to perpetrate their evils on outsiders (foreigners) with depressing consistency but they don't tend to want to absorb other peoples into their nation – they want 'them' to remain 'them'.

Wargamers of the future will never lack for new genes.

uglyfatbloke03 Jul 2018 3:26 p.m. PST

The purpose of ideology is to allow the few to dictate to the many. In practical terms there is no difference between the far left and the far right. Both are happy to use racism as a weapon.

Fred Cartwright03 Jul 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

Nope, China is under one man rule now, Xi Jinping is president for life. It is still a communist state which is on the extreme left of the political spectrum. Far left and far right uses force to maintain control.

You can't call a country communist that has abandoned the central principle of communism, namely collectivism. Individual ownership rules and the corporations and businesses control the workers, the workers certainly don't own and have very little influence over the means of production. I am not sure it is even very left wing. Things like social welfare and medical care are rapidly being privatised. The Chinese are very entrepreneurial and business is flourishing. You need money in China to get the best care now. Sure they persecute dissenters, but that is neither a right or left wing tactic.

28mm Fanatik03 Jul 2018 5:47 p.m. PST

Like Russia, China is currently described in Comparative Politics as an Autocracy or Meritocracy with democratic characteristics, the latter due to the institutionalization of elections as a mechanism in political life.

They obviously are not western liberal democracies, but they also certainly are not "communist," since by definition that would preclude capitalism as the driving economic models in those states.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Jul 2018 7:17 p.m. PST

While the Chinese Communist Party has adopted some aspects of capitalism, China remains a textbook communist country: The Party controls all land and the "Commanding Heights of the Economy"; it maintains strict controls on speech, assembly, and belief; and the Chinese regime's political structure is that of a classic Leninist dictatorship.

link

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 7:37 p.m. PST

Ebay is full of those Chinese "entrepreneurs" and "capitalists". It's all a facade.

Dan
PS. Sadly, much of what they produce and sell to us decadent Westerners is illegal or closely monitored among their own population.

goragrad03 Jul 2018 8:06 p.m. PST

Excellent piece SB – had a Communist that I worked with tell me the Soviets weren't really Communists, just a Right Wing Dictatorship. Didn't want Stalin in his camp…

And as far as the churches in Germany working with the Nazis, once again, when the primary enemy was supposed to be Communism with its atheistic suppression of religion, it was a case of choosing the lesser of two evils in the minds of many.

Personal logo SBminisguy Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 8:57 p.m. PST

And as far as the churches in Germany working with the Nazis, once again, when the primary enemy was supposed to be Communism with its atheistic suppression of religion, it was a case of choosing the lesser of two evils in the minds of many.

Not to mention that 'ol, "Nice church ya got here, meine
Priester -- be a shame if it burned down with you inside, eh?" factor. The Nazis killed tens of thousands of Christian priests and nuns who objected to their brutality.

GreenLeader03 Jul 2018 9:59 p.m. PST

SBminisguy

Brilliant post @ 1.24PM

mkenny03 Jul 2018 10:49 p.m. PST

And as far as the churches in Germany working with the Nazis, once again, when the primary enemy was supposed to be Communism with its atheistic suppression of religion, it was a case of choosing the lesser of two evils in the minds of many.

The Catholic Church in Croatia embraced The Nazi aims (including Genocide) with some enthusiasm.

Fred Cartwright04 Jul 2018 1:35 a.m. PST

Not sure what you were trying to prove with that post Bill, but much of what they quote as "proof" of communism aren't defining characteristics. Persecution of political dissidents is not a solely a communist or even left wing trait. Inaccurate or false government statistics – I'm sure that never happens in western countries! :-) Control of 25% of the countries economic output? Pathetic, your average king of a medieval state managed better than that! Communism demands nothing less than 100%. Mark and Lenin would be spinning in their graves if they knew what "communist" China was doing now.

TacticalPainter0104 Jul 2018 2:27 a.m. PST

While the focus here has been on the oppressive nature of both systems, it's easy to forget that what often sustained them was their ability to deliver a better quality of life for many people, often in real terms, not just promises. Given a choice between going hungry or political freedom will drive different imperatives. Both system emerged to address what was perceived as gross injustice and inequality.

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