Was Hitler a Red-Armband-Wearing Communist?

 

Posted first at lewrockwell.com – 9-6-2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/?post_type=pending-article&p=723356&preview=true

By L.K. Samuels

Almost every day some pundit or commentator paints conservatives and even libertarians with the toxic brush of Hitlerism. These uninformed critics repeatedly accuse the Fuhrer of right-wing extremism. But according to many scholars, that narrative has been found to be completely false. A number of historians, including the German Thomas Weber, are now declaring that Hitler was personally involved with a whole different crowd who opposed anything remotely conservative or classical liberal.

In truth, Hitler was involved in an extreme left-wing political movement and revolution, sporting a red armband while working on behalf of the Communist Party of Germany in Munich. In fact, on the second day after the Communists declared the Bavarian Soviet Republic on April 6, 1919, Hitler sought and won an elected position in the Communist government. Bluntly, Hitler participated in a Communist regime even during a period that resembled a Lenin-like reign of terror.

Where is the historical proof? It comes from military archives from Hitler’s barracks, which Thomas Weber discovered in Munich during research for his 2011 book Hitler’s First War. Thought to be lost during WWII Allied bombing campaign of Munich, these archives provide clear evidence that Hitler threw his hat into the ring within two days of the communist seizure of the Bavarian government. Elected “Deputy Battalion Representative,” Hitler appeared determined to support the revolutionary socialist Räterepublik, which was  lead by the Jewish, Russian-born Communist revolutionary leader Eugen Leviné. And in doing so, Hitler was pledging his allegiance to Lenin’s Soviet Russia. In fact, Weber revealed that Hitler earned the second-highest number of votes in his unit, resulting in his victory for the Ersatz-Bataillons-Rat position. According to Weber, Hitler’s actions made him a “more significant cog in the machine of Socialism,” helping to “sustain the Soviet Republic.”

Hitler’s duties included liaisoning with the new soviet republic leaders and their Department of Propaganda. In other words, Hitler joined the Marxist insurgents, took to the streets and assisted in promoting the policies of the Communist Party of Germany. The Communists quickly seized homes, cash, and food supplies. When food shortages became critical, especially milk, the Communist response was: “What does it matter? . . . Most of it goes to the children of the bourgeoisie anyway. We are not interested in keeping them alive. No harm if they die—they’d only grow into enemies of the proletariat.” As the situation worsened, the Communists raised a Red Army, estimated to be 20,000 soldiers, shot hostages, and planned to abolish money, following in lockstep with the repressive measures of the Russian Bolsheviks.

Other evidence of Hitler’s involvement includes a still photograph of a red-armband-wearing Hitler taken by Heinrich Hoffmann, who eventually became Hitler’s court photographer. In later years both Hoffmann and his son confirmed that Hitler was indeed in the photo. Of course, as Weber wrote, “all Munich-based military units and thus Hitler’s regiment, too, were part of the Red Army,” and had to wear red armbands. In that sense, “Hitler served in the Red Army,” although most Munich regiments did not actively support the communist regime.

Despite his subsequent reputation for anti-Marxist tirades, Hitler did not fight or oppose the Communists. He was serving them, although he expressed few details about this horrific episode in his life. One thing seemed certain; he did not try to escape from the Lenin-backed political thicket in Munich, nor did he join the anti-Bolshevik armed forces of General Franz Ritter von Epp. Thomas Weber makes it clear in his 2017 book Becoming Hitler that the future leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) “remained in his post for the entire lifespan of the Soviet Republic,” and “did not join a Freikorps with his comrades prior to the defeat of the Soviet Republic.” Because he had failed to join the anti-communist forces to overthrow the Räterepublik red government, Hitler later suffered “scornful reproaches from Ernst Röhm,” co-founder of the Nazi’s Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers). Otto Strasser, an early member of the Nazi Party, also criticized Hitler for failing to join the armed forces of General von Epp to “fight the Bolsheviks in Bavaria”, asking: “Where was Hitler that day?”

In the end, the Communist republic was quickly overthrown in fierce street battles with over 600 casualties. But there is more to this story. During the street battles, Hitler was arrested and interned with other captured communist adherents of the Bavarian Soviet Republic. In his 1936 book Hitler: A Biography, Konrad Heiden, a Munich-born journalist and a Social Democrat himself, remarked that during this period Hitler engaged in heated discussions where he “espoused the cause of Social Democracy against that of the Communists.” That seemed reasonable, since Hitler and everyone in his barracks were in serious trouble. They were all interrogated over whether they were a Communist or a Communist sympathizer. The punishment for being a Communist was execution, imprisonment or exile. So, was Hitler protecting himself, and hiding his true loyalty to Communism, or did he in fact pledge his loyalty to the Social Democrats, a more moderate movement that had its original roots in orthodox Marxism?

We may never know the true extent of Hitler’s intentions or state of mind during this period. It does appear he was briefly a Communist sympathizer until it became too dangerous, and then decided to supported what he later called “national Social Democracy.” Nonetheless, Hitler did tell one of his confidants in later years that “In my youth, and even in the first years of my Munich period after the war, I never shunned the company of Marxists of any shade.” 

Much of the material is excerpted from L.K. Samuels’ new book, Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum. See his author’s webpage at http://www.lksamuels.com/

The Democratic Party’s Legacy of Slavery, Racism, and White Supremacy

Posted first at Committee Against Fascist Economics (CAFÉ) Aug. 14, 2019

http://www.committeeagainstfascism.org/

By L.K. Samuels

The Democratic Party has of late been spewing out a narrative that everybody except themselves are infected with racism and white supremacy. These holier-than-thou provocateurs should be careful not to throw stones at the windows of their political opponents. Why? Because the leadership of Democratic Party still live in flimsy glass houses with closets full of white-hooded skeletons that symbolize a racist past.

Of course, today’s modern statist Left and the Democratic Party has been diligent to hide their ancestors’ advocacy of slavery and its sidekick, coercive socialism. Only recently has it been established that the forefathers of collectivism had merged the system of chattel slavery with hard-core socialist principles. Moreover, not only did they espouse socioeconomic and institutionalized slavery, but they opposed the type of free capitalistic society that would usher in the age of Enlightenment and later, the American Revolution.

Obviously, this background of authoritarian socialism and slavocratic plantation life had to be concealed for self-surviving reasons. If the ugly institution of slavery were ever to be publicly associated with socialism and communism, the modern Left’s house of cards would tumble into the garbage pail of history. The public would quickly realize that Progressive political leaders are determine to employ legislation and bureaucratic excesses to compel people to strictly obey the government, and in doing so, become dependent upon the largesse of these powerful slave masters. In the statist Left’s reactionary crusade against liberal polity, the peddlers of involuntary servitude have promoted agendas where they seek power over people, not power from people.

This kinship to socialism and slavery dates back to the era of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both of whom regularly twisted the meaning of liberty, democracy, and equality to amplify their authoritarian socioeconomic agenda. For instance, Marx supported black slavery in America, writing in 1846 that: “Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies,… Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance.”

Under Fascist-Marxist socialism, the state apparatus has the authority to control, and coerce the populace, because individual rights to property, life, and self-ownership need to be abrogated. These socialist intellectuals revered dictatorship of the group (groupthink) and expected the socialist overseers to usher in classless equality and a bounty of free welfare benefits: shelter, food, clothes, and medical care. And yet, this socioeconomic structure matches the horrors of slavery that were instituted in the antebellum Old South, where the slaves were equally poor, subservient and dependent. They were free of material want but incapable of moving around without permission from a master.

One of the most astute articles to reveal the collectivistic ancestry of slavery, socialism, racism, and other detestation is Jarrett Stepman’s essay, “‘The Very Best Form of Socialism’: The Pro-Slavery Roots of the Modern Left.” Stepman introduces three major contentions that provide evidence to expose this long-standing political shell game.

First, the antebellum proslavery school attempted to quash the individual-liberty premises of the Founders and the free-Left roots of classical liberalism. They dismissed the Founders’ embracement of John Locke’s social contract and natural rights where governing entities “grow organically out of community.” These slavery apologists claimed that the state, not the untrustworthy “people”, should be the holder and grantor of all rights.

Second, the American revolutionaries in both in the North and the South viewed slavery as a wrong, a fading wickedness, perhaps necessary in the short term, but a moral and political evil to eventually abolish. But latter-day slavers of the 1830s and beyond considered this antislavery attitude outdated. They contended that chattel slavery was a positive good, under the theory that superior people should rule (supremacism), and that it was the duty of the state to care and manage the lives of the unfit and inferior (paternalism). So, to make their case and protect the institution, the pro-slavers defended the ideological integrity of institutionalized thralldom. They defended bondage as a panacea, wherein not only would society altruistically provide for the welfare of its less fortunate and unfit members, but would place them into protective custody. The proponents of the South’s slavocracy rationalized such treatment as humane—righteously taking a stand to faithfully fulfill society’s obligation to protect and aid those unable to provide for themselves.

This theory allowed early Democrats and mostly southern plantation owners to forge a distinct division between the privileged superior and the less-privileged inferior, between the indolent and the industrious. They saw this division as a recipe for a great civilization. One man who popularized the righteousness of slavery was U.S. Senator John C. Calhoun. He believed that the superior man brought order; the inferior man instigated chaos. In fact, the proslavery doctrinaires emphasized order as being far more important than freedom, and that individual rights were not something bestowed by God or nature.

Last and most important, the guardians of slavery and early proto-socialism opposed the concept of equality framed in the Declaration of Independence. Instead of equality of opportunity or equality under the law, proslavery apostles argued that society was based on the principle of human inequality in accordance to the “new scientific” knowledge about human nature and the organization of government. In other words, political officials in government should assume the role of arbitrators in determining who or what would be free and equal. The ideals of free choice and self-ownership did not fit well with those who wanted to micromanage the personal and economic behavior of society. They viewed rights as something granted by a wise and benevolent government, who had the omniscience to care for the public good. For instance, Calhoun did not consider humans as autonomous individuals, but that “instead of being born free and equal, [people] are born subject, not only to parental authority, but to the laws and institutions of the country…” As for “political rights,” Calhoun took the position that they “derive from the collective will of the people and are not natural.”

Once this proslavery linkage to socialism had been detected, scholars could now piece together the modern Left’s nefarious past. As it turns out, historically, the roots of the slavocratic-based statist Left are traceable to the forbears of the Democratic Party, whose proponents actively supported enslavement, lynching, segregation, racism, welfarism, proto-socialism, and white supremacy before and after the American Civil War.

In fact, some refer to the Democratic Party’s long-time support of slavery and supremacy as the epitome of a “thievery society,” where the societal collectives own and control everything, even people. Such a thievery polity would bestow on governing bodies the authority to steal anything with immunity, for whatever noble or ignoble purpose. Perhaps this is why William Lloyd Garrison, the most prominent abolitionist in the United States, denounced slavery as an institution of “man-stealing,” writing: “Every slave is a stolen man; every slaveholder is a man stealer.” The concept of self-ownership, which dates from John Locke, opposes slavery, socialism, and authoritarianism, because they would inhibit or prohibit individuals from pursuing ownership of property. In this way, any Borg-like collective would have the authority, often over the wishes of individual citizens, to bar people from running their own lives as they see fit—literally making slaves of the populace.

Furthermore, it was these early Democrats who set in motion a movement to discredit the classical liberalism of the founders, abolitionists and those engaged in commercial trade. Lo and behold, the first notable public figure discovered to have heavily influenced the dissemination of proslavery ideology was John C. Calhoun, who, as a political theorist and Southern protagonist, tried to redefine “republicanism” as a species favorable to a positive view of slavery. A war hawk who agitated in Congress to declare war on Great Britain (War of 1812), Calhoun and his disciples rejected the Lockean view of the natural rights of all men, a free and open press, and free-market capitalism.

Such muddled thinking should not be surprising. Calhoun was one of the earliest Democrats, and he served under the first Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, who owned as many as 300 slaves during his lifetime. Not only did Jackson instruct the U.S. Postmaster General to obstruct antislavery literature from being delivered, but he introduced the corruptive “spoils system” to American politics. Jackson also spearheaded the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forcibly relocated many tribes to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), which resulted in more than 10,000 deaths. In What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe wrote: “The Jacksonian movement in politics, although it took the name of the Democratic Party, fought so hard in favor of slavery and white supremacy, and opposed the inclusion of non-whites and women within the American civil polity so resolutely, that it makes the term ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ all the more inappropriate as a characterization of the years between 1815 and 1848.”

President Jackson’s influence upon the modern, statist Left is now recognized as substantial. According to Andrew Jackson’s biographer Robert V. Remini, “Jacksonian Democracy…inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society.” This is what historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., discovered in research for his 1945 classic, The Age of Jackson: modern liberalism’s pedigree dates back to Jackson, a main branch in the family tree of FDR’s New Deal.

But it was Calhoun who was the leading protagonist for the institution of slavery. Growing up in a household of slaves in South Carolina, Calhoun believed that slavery improved society by diminishing the potential for private gain and by nurturing civic-mindedness. In other words, Calhoun proposed that government should be the mediator in decisions over who gets rights and privileges, and who gets to wear leg irons. Under Calhoun’s political theories, the Lockean principle of the “consent of the governed” was readily dismissed, as only certain people were deemed worthy of representative self-governance. Equality could exist and be exercised, but only for those deemed worthy of being equal. It was as though inequality was the new equality, mirroring George Orwell’s allegory in Animal Farm, which, in sharp criticism of communism’s distorted claims of equality, highlights a small, elite drove of pigs who proclaim: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This perspective illustrates the hypocrisy of governmentalists who juxtapose the inequality of the lesser citizens with the equality of the more privileged.

To the dominant slaveholders, liberty was seen as a “reward of the races or individuals properly qualified for its possession.” Under this slavery–socialism axis, individual rights did not reside within every individual. Instead, rights were reserved only for those who were regarded as “intelligent, the patriotic, the virtuous and deserving,” as claimed by Calhoun. This interpretation voided the essence of the Declaration of Independence, where the Founders affirmed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….”

Because Calhoun treated the conferring of individual rights as a power reserved for officials of the state, anybody could be legally downgraded to unworthiness and be subjected to governmental or private bondage and dependency. Like most proslavery adherents, Calhoun’s two main pillars with which to promote slavery were white supremacy and paternalism.

In fact, under Calhoun’s vision of governance, an individual of any race or group could be designated a slave—even unfit whites. Again, this argument was alien to the Founders, who saw slavery as a short-term necessary evil that was destined to be extinguished. Calhoun regarded the institution of slavery as not only good for the slave owner, but also for the slave. In his famous “Slavery a Positive Good” speech of 1837, Calhoun declared that slavery is “instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.” Calhoun envisioned slavery as a time-honored tradition that made society prosper and civilizations progress. In essence, if it was good enough for the Greek and Roman civilizations, it had to be a worthy institution for America.

After the Confederate States of America lost the Civil War in 1865, it was the Democratic Party who became center stage in opposing any civil rights protections for blacks. They opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which the Republican congress passed, over President Andrew Johnson’s veto. The law was simple and pertinent; it was “designed to provide blacks with the right to own private property, sign contracts, sue and serve as witnesses in a legal proceeding.”

Worse still, it was the Democratic Party which founded the Ku Klux Klan in order to keep blacks suppressed and to keep them from owning guns. According to Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia University: “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy. It aimed to destroy the Republican Party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”

Likewise, Allen W. Trelease, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina, documented the same offensive history, writing that during this period, “the Klan became in effect a terrorist arm of the Democratic party.”

But it was the influential George Fitzhugh who crafted the most infamous arguments to bolster slavery—proclaiming in 1854 that “Slavery is a form, and the very best form, of socialism,” and that “socialism is the new fashionable name of slavery.” Fitzhugh attempted to recast plantation life into an “agricultural collective and slavery into a benign condition” of government dependence, which prompted many Southern whites to support him.

Some of Fitzhugh’s harshest criticism was reserved for the evils of a free society. He considered free societies of open capitalism and economic mobility recipes for failure. To Fitzhugh, the capitalist, free-labor society was “diseased” in that it exploited workers.

He argued in his books and pamphlets that society required socialism and slavery so that man’s greedy human nature would be destroyed. In justifying slavery, Fitzhugh wrote: “free society is a failure. We slaveholders say you must recur to domestic slavery, the best and most common form of Socialism. The new schools of Socialism promise something better, but admit, to obtain that something, they must first destroy and eradicate man’s human nature.” In an era devoid of political correctness, Fitzhugh felt perfectly justified in affirming that slaves were better off than the free laborers in the North. He wrote: “The slaves are all well fed, well clad, have plenty of fuel, and are happy. They have no dread of the future—no fear of want.” This proud Democrat even referred to his slavery-socialist movement as communistic—writing in his second book that “Slavery is a form of communism.” Fitzhugh was also noted for fervently opposing private property.

Not only did Fitzhugh dub free society “a monstrous abortion,” but he criticized the Declaration of Independence as “exuberantly false and arborescently fallacious.” He opposed letting people handle their own affairs, and believed that people should be unequal before the law. He asserted that “the bestowing upon men equality of rights, is but giving license to the strong to oppress the weak.” Alongside his socialistic and “communist” disposition, Fitzhugh took the position that liberty and free competition encourage the “strong to master the weak” and therefore secure their success.

Not surprisingly, Abraham Lincoln abhorred Fitzhugh’s proslavery stance. And yet Fitzhugh’s first book greatly influenced Lincoln’s commitment against the institution of slavery. He found Fitzhugh’s slavery-based sociological theories horrifying in that they seemed to justify slavery in every possible way. According to Lincoln’s law partner, William Henry Herndon, Fitzhugh’s writings “aroused the ire of Lincoln more than most pro-slavery books.”

Southerners like Fitzhugh pushed the Democratic Party towards a socialist-slavery plantation society that would impose a dependency on government largesse under the shadow of paternalistic racism. His was a popular voice in justifying slavery, finding support among many politicians, slaveholders and newspapers, including the influential Richmond Enquirer.

The intellectual attack upon liberty, free-markets, and equality by Fitzhugh and the slavery proponents signaled the beginning of the Democratic Party’s anti-Founders movement to invalidate the original intent of the creators of liberalism.

In 2017 a movement emerged to demand the removal of all Confederate statues and monuments across the South, which many contend symbolize the evils of slavery, racism, and white supremacy. Good enough, but something was forgotten. Ironically, where was the outcry to sweep away the Confederate perpetrators who established, financed and fought to preserve those iron shackles of slavery? Where was the demand to depose the political party that has been synonymous with such racist, antiquated views for so long—the Democratic Party? Why aren’t the Democrats included in this noble campaign to consign race-based subjugation to the dustbin of history? This is the real atrocity: toppling the statues of racists, but not those who built them.

Historically, the Democratic Party was culpable in institutionalizing slavery, racism, white supremacy, Ku Klux Klan, segregation and Jim Crow laws. But this is not ancient history. In 2010, Hillary Clinton lavished praise on her old comrade Senator Robert C. Byrd, a recruiter for the KKK who led a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She referred to Byrd as “my friend and mentor.”

And then there is the anti-Semite and racist bigot Louis Farrakhan, who threw his support behind the political campaigns of Barack Obama. Recently, Louis Farrakhan revealed that he and his Nation of Islam funded Barack Obama’s rise to political power. As a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobia, who once praised Adolf Hitler as a “very great man”, Farrakhan disclosed in 2016 that he supported Obama “when he was a community organizer… We backed him with money and with the help of the [Fruit of Islam] to get him elected.” Repeatedly, Democrat politicians, tainted by the legacy of slavery, racial supremacy, segregation, Jim Crow laws and involvement with the KKK, have been financed by campaign surrogates who harkened back to the old Dixie Democrat party. Imagine what would happen to any politician who took campaign money from the white supremacist, Holocaust denier and anti-Semite David Duke? Many Democrats, Progressives and Women’s March leaders in 2018 have refused or hesitated to rebuke Farrakhan’s reactionary views. The hypocrisy of Democrats who allegedly promote a no-tolerance view of bigotry is deafening. Apparently, the democrat apple does not fall far from the racial-prejudice tree.

But there is more to Farrakhan. He does not reserve his wrath only for Jews, but also takes potshots at other races. In a Reuters Television interview on October 4, 1994, Farrakhan stated: “Many of the Jews who owned the homes, the apartments in the black community, we considered them bloodsuckers… And when the Jews left, the Palestinian Arabs came, Koreans came, Vietnamese and other ethnic and racial groups came. And so this is a type, and we call them bloodsuckers.”

What all of this historical evidence confirms is that the Democratic Party has the ugliest history of any American political party. Isn’t it time to expose and take down the political party responsible for establishing the Confederacy, slavocracy, dependence, and a racist legacy, instead of just removing a few bronze statues?

Much of the material is excerpted from L.K. Samuels’ new book, Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum, which has over 1,500 footnotes. https://www.amazon.com/Killing-History-Left-Right-Political-Spectrum-ebook/dp/B07T3G3X25

The ‘Free Left’ Rises to Challenge the ‘Statist Left’

Posted first at Strike-The-Root (STR) – August 25, 2019

http://www.strike-the-root.com/free-left-rises-to-challenge-statist-left

by L.K. Samuels.

In 2015, libertarian author and broadcaster Jeff Riggenbach threw down the gauntlet and urged libertarians to retake their historical position as members of the “Left.” He argued that no longer should classical liberals hide in the shadows of a broken-down political spectrum that has been rigged. After all, it was the classical liberals and the bourgeoisie who instigated the French Revolution in 1789 and sat on the left side of the aisle in opposition to the authoritarian right. Libertarians are the rightful heirs of what I call “free Left,” and many are now demanding it back from the collectivist usurpers—the “statist Left.”

According to anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin in a 1979 interview, “The American left today . . . is going towards authoritarianism, toward totalitarianism. It’s becoming the real right in the United States. We don’t have an appreciable American left any more in the United States.” Backtracking a little, Bookchin conceded that the scattering remnants of leftists were “people who resist authority . . . who defend the rights of the individual,” which also included “libertarians who believe in free enterprise.” Bookchin revealed that he felt closer ideologically to these freethinkers than to “totalitarian liberals and Marxist-Leninists of today.”

Calling socialism the “authoritarian version of collectivism,” Bookchin readily admitted that self-identifying leftists who fraternize with authoritarian diehards are actually right-wing extremists only masquerading as leftists. To him, the real legacy of the left belongs to anti-authority dissenters who uphold the virtues of individual liberty, mutual cooperation and voluntary association.

The best way to differentiate between the two left-wing antagonists is to designate the volitional contingent the “free Left,” while referring to the authoritarian horde as the statist or Fascist Left. The free Left, like the Free French during World War II, comprises anti-authoritarians who felt that their long-established realm has been occupied by foreign invaders. A logical progression would be to simply remain faithful to the original left-right classification and lump the entire menagerie of authoritarians (Nazis, Fascists and Communists) into the reactionary ranks of the statist Right.

Since the left-wing classification came from the liberty-minded classical liberals in 1789, it is only fitting to transfer this label back to the Lockean and Jeffersonian liberals who stormed the Bastille. But it is difficult to reclaim the left-wing designation from authoritarians, socialists and Marxists, who, like greedy charlatans, refuse to give up their stolen political designation.

But why did the left-wing moniker fail to stick to the proponents of individual liberty in the first place? This is the divergent point where distortion and omission of accurate history comes into play. The fact that the bourgeoisie Left and middle class free-marketeers instigated the French Revolution is not widely known. Part of the reason is that socialists and Marxists schemed to alter and conceal history, and cut out the left-wing middle class narrative. When collectivists and Marxists finally leaped onto the political stage long after the French Revolution, they co-opted the Left label from the bourgeoisie Left and condemned anyone who opposed them as reactionary or right-wing. But more astonishingly, the statist Left not only stole the left-wing designation from the bourgeoisie Left, but also absconded with their revolutionary ancestry. English historian William Doyle acknowledged this historical theft, writing that after the French Revolution, the socialists “appropriate the left-wing label and . . . lay exclusive claim to the revolutionary heritage.” The collectivists were also successful in eventually expropriating the term “liberalism” while completely changing its original liberty-based context.

To bring more clarity to these political distinctions, the authoritarian and paternalistic elements of the statist Left are almost indistinguishable from the current day “statist Right.” The statist Right carries the same authoritarian baggage, but with a religious emphasis, curtailing personal liberties in the name of god. The statist Left takes a Machiavellian approach to government, ruthless, unprincipled and eager to empower government to coerce the public. They have become the new monarchists. One blaring example is the communist, hereditary, racist, and fascist monarchy of North Korea, a nation which is still considered a Stalinist stronghold.

Historically, the free-market Left of the large Girondins faction of the Jacobin Club instigated the French Revolution. But within a few years the reactionary, violent, proto-socialist Montagnards faction took command. Although they sat on the left, they should be regarded as the authoritarian right. The Montagnards not only undermined the revolution with monarchy-like supremacy, but they guillotined 22 classical liberals from the French National Convention on October 31, 1793. Thomas Paine, an elected representative to the French National Convention, was seated on the left side of the aisle with the other liberals within the Girondins faction. He was denounced as a counter-revolutionary, arrested, jailed and scheduled to be guillotined, but escaped. One of his crimes was that he did not believe in revenge killings, opposing the beheading of the king. This attitude irked the bloodthirsty statists.

The Montagnards attempted to establish a populist egalitarian government with a ruthless hierarchy to require citizens to obey the state. Very little change occurred except that authoritarian power was vested in citizens who could now administer a reign of government-sponsored terror. According to French historian François Furet, as the Reign of Terror tore society apart and executed opponents, the revolution rushed towards a “democratic ideology to rule in a despotic manner,” without regard to individual rights.

The French Revolution was more than a clash across ideological battle lines; it was personal. The rising merchant class and peasants detested the privileges granted to the noble class, and their dominance in public life. Many commoners regarded the Catholic Church as an accessory to the state’s oppressive practices. The largest landowner in France, the Church and its hierarchy were seen as strangling commoners and the business community with increased controls and obligatory tithes. Theocratic authority became one of the main obstacles to freethought, transparency, capital finance and open marketplaces that would eventually come to uplift the poor.

But there was more to the struggle. French commoners took up arms not only about being disempowered and dehumanized by the French political elite, but also over high and regressive taxation, which rose 50 percent between 1705 and 1781. The farming peasants and merchant class mainly bore the brunt of the unfairly-collected taxes where the “top decile of the population were taxed about 60 to 65 percent to all assessments.” As for the nobility and the clergy, they were mostly exempt from taxation.

Not surprisingly, the French Revolution also encompassed an anti-tax component that mirrored the American Revolution. This anti-tax fever was on full display just before the Bastille was attacked. Before the angry French mob and the Bourgeois Militia of Paris stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the free-market revolutionaries first launched an assault against the hated Paris “tollgates,” where excise taxes were collected by the state. Later, in a number of areas in France, the people displayed a general animosity towards imposed levies and “denounced all taxes.”

So who were the free Left and bourgeoisie Left during the early stages of the French Revolution? The left-wing designation was in accordance with the early seating arrangements in the French legislative chamber, composed mostly of the rising laissez-fairecapitalists, master artisans, shopkeepers, land-owning farmers, financiers, Jewish tradesmen,doctors, merchants, professionals—generally the classical liberal “bourgeoisie”, which literally means “town dweller” in old French. And obviously, the other side, the right side, was populated by authoritarians, the aristocratic elite, monarchists, and Church officials.

Originally, the Girondins had the largest faction within the Jacobin Club, spearheading the French Revolution under the banner of freed markets, individualism and smaller, limited government in an effort to downsize the Monarchy’s authority. After toppling much of the King’s authority, the Girondins rushed into a liberty-fueled abolitionist spree, dissolving the last vestiges of aristocratic privilege, the system of church tithes, feudal dues owed to local landlords, and personal servitude. The radical liberals also released the peasants from the seigneurial(lord) dues, which helped tenant farmers buy their own private farmland. Next, they turned their abolitionist gunsights on the feudal-based guild system that blocked entry to markets, as well as “tax farming,” where private individuals were licensed to collect taxes for the state while taking a large share for themselves. 

The Girondins’ most lasting legacy was the ratification of “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (August 1789), which was directly influenced by Thomas Jefferson. As a U.S. diplomat at the time, Jefferson had worked with General Lafayette to write a French bill of rights, which Lafayette introduced to the National Constituent Assembly. Referring to this declaration, François Furet wrote: “For this structure they substituted the modern, autonomous individual, free to do whatever was not prohibited by law . . . The Revolution thus distinguished itself quite early by its radical individualism.”

Moreover, the Girondin bloc also ratified laws supporting equality of taxation, the freedom of worship, equality of legal punishment, and abolishing serfdom outright, including a 1791 law to emancipate Jews from their unequal treatment. The Girondin-led assembly also granted free people of color full French citizenship and enacted universal voting rights for all adult males, regardless of race, religion, income, property or any other qualification. They even included a pro-gun rights provision in the French Declaration of Rights, which declared that “every citizen has the right to keep arms at home and to use them, either for the common defense or for his own defense, against any unlawful attack which may endanger the life, limb, or freedom of one or more citizens.” Despite the effort, this draft did not make it into the final document.

After the classical liberals had ousted state monopolies, high unequal taxes, specially-endowed privileges, entrance barriers and stifling regulations, the economy flourished. However, with the establishment of British blockages of French harbors, runaway inflation, and invasions by foreign armies, the economy soon soured, sputtering into recession.

Unfortunately, the Montagnards maneuvered to overthrow the Girondins, took to the streets, alongside sans-culottes elements, and acted like mindless thugs pushing for more political power. Like Lenin’s Red Terror and Stalin’s purges of the old Bolshevik revolutionaries, the Montagnards orchestrated mobs who assailed anyone considered a counter-revolutionary, even their own brothers in arms, upholding the adage: “Revolutions eat their own children.” It took just 36 minutes to chop off 22 Girondins legislator’s heads in 1793. This was the flashpoint where the statist Left rose up and sought to destroy the original bourgeois free Left. At this juncture, freedom-of-the-individual liberalism was assaulted by Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, which later influenced both Communism and National Socialism.

This second revolution within the French Revolution devolved into a bloody-terror dictatorship, an all-powerful state amidst a cult of personality, such as the so-called “Incorruptible” Maximilien Robespierre, in a counter-revolution that was illiberal and antithetical to the Lumièresof the Enlightenment. 

The Montagnards wanted more than just liberty; they wanted a revolution that would correct social and economic wrongs. They sought immediate change, and demanded that every citizen had a right to “public relief,” and that the state now had to guarantee social and economic rights including free education to all. For these social revolutionaries, limiting government to the protection of individual rights would hamper the state’s ability to solve social and economic inequalities. Although the abstract concept of equality was bourgeois in nature, the Montagnards began to view government as the equalizing force to implement political policies that could assist the unfortunate, even if state intervention infringed on the equal rights of others. They began to see government as an enforcer of their version of justice and equality, reassuming the paternalistic role of an autocratic overseer with a democratic veneer. They were engaging in the welfare and social engineering policies that later became so appealing to the German National Socialists and the Soviet Russians. 

The French Revolution started off in 1789 as a bourgeois-led movement to advance political, legal and opportunity equality for all commoners. Along with emphasizing reason as the main source of authority and legitimacy, the early libertarian free Left rebels championed liberal capitalism, civil liberties and secularism. Laissez-faire capitalists and the merchant class were indeed the original left-wing revolutionaries. Emulating the rebellious Americans across the pond, they held liberal values that demanded a republic with Lockean consent of the governed. 

But more importantly, not only were the leaders of the free Left guillotined, but ever since, the statist Left has distorted history in an effort to control the future by altering the past. It is time to right the wrongs and bestow upon the modern-day classical liberals their legitimate claim, to restore their political-genealogical history.

Much of the material is excerpted from L.K. Samuels’ new book, Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and the ‘Statist Left,’ which has over 1,500 footnotes.

The Fascist History of Antifa

Posted first at Lewrockwell.com — 8-25-2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/?post_type=pending-article&p=722554&preview=true

By: L.K. Samuels

Recently in Portland, Oregon, Antifa again went on the warpath against common civility. In a string of violent political attacks, these extremists have become the flashpoint in an effort to divide the nation. Worse, supporters of Antifa continue to play the anti-fascist card, painting opponents as fascists and racists. Such deceptive language simply hides the true history of Antifa and the role it played in World War II Italy.

The various Italian so-called anti-fascist groups that organized to fight Mussolini from 1943 to 1945 found themselves joining forces with many of Mussolini’s Blackshirt units. Historian Charles F. Delzell, one of the leading experts on modern Italian political history, explained this historical fact in his books. He wrote that since “a good many Fascists (beginning with Mussolini himself) came from the ranks of left-wing Marxism and syndicalism,”… it was easy for a “certain number of ex-Blackshirts to swing to left-wing political extremism.” Delzell and other historians clearly make the case that Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Antifa factions in Italy forged an alliance because their ideologies were so similar. After all, Mussolini had been diehard Marxist for decades, even when he was the avowed leader of the Fascist Revolutionary Party.

In discussing why militant socialists would flock together, Delzell offered this explanation: “Fascists and Communists often found themselves appealing to the same kinds of alienated people.” Other historians, like Zeev Sternhell, agreed: explaining that fascism was a “direct result of very specific revision of Marxism.” UC Berkeley political scientist A. James Gregor regards “Fascism as a variant of Marxism.”

As can be plainly seen, Antifa is not anti-fascist; they are the true successors of fascism, considering their propensity for mob violence and the “fanatical socialism” that Hitler proclaimed in 1941. Moreover, the comrades of Antifa could be described “anarcho-statist militants,” who bully, terrorize, and attack anyone who will not join their crusade. That is because Mussolini was not only an “authoritarian communist’ who believed in a big state, but advocated street violence as an “anarcho-syndicalist.” Modern-day Antifa echo similar demagogic and contrived sentiments. They repeatedly engage in the sort of militarized street theatrics that were fashionable among Fascist and Communist mobs prior to World War II. In fact, Hitler’s Brownshirts emulated the Italian Blackshirts, attacking and violently disrupting other political groups, such as conservative German National People’s Party (DNVP) in the early 1930s, knocking down, kicking down and throwing “stink bombs and tear gas” during violent scuffles. Astonishingly, the Antifa shock-troop rioters continue to behave like Fascists in order to oppose fascism, which illustrates their complete ignorance of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism.

Moreover, these modern-day Antifa stormtroopers have even abused minorities to obtain power and control. In June of this year, a mostly white army of so-called “anti-racist” Antifa militants attacked Andy Ngo, a gay Asian-American journalist from Portland, sending him to the hospital for cuts and possible brain damage. Amazingly, the mainstream media took little notice of this attack on the free press and on a gay man, who was completely marginalized by people who dismiss civil society and individual rights.

In another alarming case, at U.C. Berkley in 2017, jackbooted black-clad Antifa goons beat up and kicked peaceful protesters, wielding clubs and pepper spray as they carried homemade shields that read “No Hate.” Incredibly, these neo-Fascists are unaware of the irony of their message and of who they are actually imitating. They are also oblivious to the fact that the original fascists had blind faith in a totalitarian worldview that sanctifies physical violence as ethically justifiable.

It was H.L. Menken who predicted in 1938 that “Fascism… is very apt to come in under the name of anti-Fascism.” Antifa needs to be identified as what it really represents: a movement that America fought and defeated in World War II, but which seems to be gaining ground again.

Much of the material is excerpted from L.K. Samuels’ new book, Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum. See his author’s webpage at http://www.lksamuels.com/

Fascist-Marxist Healthcare for All

Posted first at Lewrockwell.com — July 15, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/lk-samuels/fascist-marxist-healthcare-for-all/

L.K. Samuels

Single-payer healthcare programs for all operated by government is nothing new, even by Bernie Sanders’ standards. The National Socialists of Germany inherited a socialized medicine and welfare society in 1933, and made it stronger. Hitler quickly ordered the National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) organization to “see to the disbanding of all private welfare institutions,” which began the Nazis’ effort to completely nationalize charity and healthcare in Germany.

And yet, the banning of privately-operated welfare and medical organizations implied far more. By banning private healthcare and welfare in Germany, the Nazis exhibited their true red-revolutionary colors, following in the socialist footsteps of the Soviet Union. Even today, most American left-wing progressives would be hard pressed to deny Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) the opportunity to do social work. So, does this place American progressives on the far right because the Nazis’ social welfare programs were so extremely left-wing?

One of the biggest cheerleaders of mandatory socialism was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and briefly the Chancellor of Nazi Germany. Considering himself a communist in his college years, Goebbels, continuously applauded the generosity of Hitler’s welfare state, boasting in a 1944 editorial, “Our Socialism,” that “We and we alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures.” He did not stop there. He proclaimed that “English capitalists want to destroy Hitlerism” because of the Nazis “generous social reforms.”

But did everyone receive socialized healthcare and welfare? What about the Jews in Germany? Well, at first the Jews and minorities were able to participate in the Nazi social safety net, until 1938. By this time the Nazis’ Völkisch equality policies no longer applied to unpure races and capitalistic classes. Instead, they correlated more to George Orwell’s Animal Farm allegory about the hypocrisy of governments who seek control by promising complete equality, but instead bestow power and privileges upon a small political elite—immortalizing Orwell’s phrase: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Of course, this same hypocrisy has occurred in every Fascist-Marxist and “social justice” nation, especially the Soviet Union. Here, equality became another word for inequality. The bourgeoisie in communist Russia suffered the same fate as the Jews; some 7-10 million Ukrainian Kulaks were denied food and perished. In late 1929, it was Stalin who demanded the liquidation of the Kulaks as a “class enemy.” He defined wealthy Kulaks as “peasants with a couple of cows or five or six acres more than their neighbors.”

For socialists, equality is an empty phrase. Today, it is recognized that Nazism included many of the same tenets as Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism. Hitler even admitted several times that he was a “Social Democrat” who favored a “national Social Democracy” movement.

The real motive behind Bernie Sanders’ call for “Medicare for all” is to confiscate wealth, redistribute it and turn America into another impoverished Venezuela, where despite their policy of a guaranteed social safety net, there is no food, water, medicine or freedom, except for government apparatchiks. It appears that under fascist socialism, some are indeed more equal than others.

Much of the material is excerpted from L.K. Samuels’ new book, Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle Between the ‘Free Left’ and the ‘Statist Left,’ which has over 1,500 footnotes. https://www.amazon.com/Killing-History-Left-Right-Political-Spectrum-ebook/dp/B07T3G3X25

Unions in Italy and Germany during the Age of Fascism

Posted first at California Policy Center – April 12, 2017

http://californiapolicycenter.org/unions-italy-germany-age-fascism/

by L.K. Samuels

It might be surprising to some, but both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were closely related to and supportive of trade unionism. Historically, both French and Italian fascism emerged out of a major trade union movement known as “revolutionary syndicalism” (syndicat means trade union in French), which first came into prominence in France in the early 20th century. It was spearheaded by Georges Sorel, a French Marxist, who advocated street violence and thuggery during general strikes to overthrow capitalism. In his own words, Sorel wrote that violence is acceptable if “enlightened by the idea of the general strike.”

But Sorel was no ordinary Marxist. As one of the intellectual heavyweights behind revolutionary syndicalism, Sorel was an inspiration to both Marxists and Fascist alike, including Benito Mussolini, who referred to him as his mentor. Mussolini idolized Sorel, claiming: “What I am, I owe to Sorel.” And Sorel returned the favor, calling Mussolini “a man no less extraordinary than Lenin.”

Mussolini’s affinity with trade unionism is obvious; he was not only a leader of the Italian Socialist Party, but according to historian Denis Mack Smith, a hard-core Marxist, who “once belonged to the Bolshevik wing of the Italian Socialist party.” Interestingly, Mussolini was for about six years both a Marxist and a Fascist leader. He founded the Fascist Revolutionary Party in 1915, supported Lenin’s October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and called himself the “Lenin of Italy” in the 1919 election. In other words, Mussolini was what I call a “Fascist-Marxist.” Not until around 1921 did he begin to pull away from Marxism, mostly due to Lenin’s unpopularity over the economic collapse of Soviet Russia’s economy that had caused massive unemployment. 

The revolutionary syndicalist movement was well steeped in the ideology of Italian fascism. According to Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, a leading authority on Fascism, “most syndicalist leaders were among the founders of the Fascist movement,” where “many even held key posts” in Mussolini’s regime. In fact, Marxist-inspired “Italian revolutionary syndicalism became the backbone of fascist ideology,” which means that a large sector of the trade unionism birthed fascism—to be later known as Fascist Syndicalism.

As a union organizer and agitator who instigated strikes and violent riots against Italy’s invasion of Ottoman Libya in 1911–1912, Mussolini sought an economic policy that was “productivist” instead of “distributionist” to fulfill Karl Marx’s prophecy that a nation needed “full maturation of capitalism as the precondition for socialist realization.” Marx argued that only an advanced industrial system could provide the productive capacity for the proletariat to bring about their historical worker-state destiny. In other words, to progress to a fully socialized worker state, Italy required a high level of industrialization, which, during Mussolini’s time, was stuck in a mostly rural, poor and underdeveloped condition. To increase industrial capacity, Mussolini permitted Edmondo Rossoni, a well-known revolutionary syndicalist leader, to head Italy’s General Confederation of Fascist Syndical Corporations in an effort to equalize worker and employer power under a corporate syndicate structure. Rossoni and his Fascist syndicalists believe in “fusing Nationalism with class struggle” and that workers should eventually take control of all industrial factories, once they had “mastered the requisite competence to take command.” Mussolini’s opinions towards fascist unionism had a similar ring, saying: “I declare that henceforth capital and labor shall have equal rights and duties as brothers in the fascist family.”

National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis)

What about the National Socialist movement in Germany? The Nazis not only courted workers and unionism, but they even put “Workers” into their official party name—National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They appeared so pro-worker that the foreign press during the 1920s simply referred to Hitler and his socialist party as the “National Socialist Labor Party.” The National Socialists went out of their way to get workers support. In some cases, the Nazis even allied with the Communist Party of Germany, demanding better wages for workers. Hitler’s “brownshirts” and red-flagged Communists marched side by side through the streets of Berlin in 1932, and violently destroyed any busses whose drivers had failed in participate in the worker’s strike. In fact, the biggest voter contingency for National Socialist candidates came from German factory workers.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor he declared May Day of 1933 a paid national holiday and threw elaborate celebrations with songs, speeches, marches and fireworks. The Nazi’s slogan for this people’s community celebration was “Germany honors labor.” The prospect of national unity with the Nationalism socialist seemed so high that even the German Free Trade Unions encouraged their members to participate in the activities.

After Hitler rose to power, the National Socialists became the quintessential worker state, eager to identify Germany as a “proletarian nation” that would struggle against “plutocratic nations.” After all, Hitler repeatedly lauded the virtues of labor, pronouncing in the Völkischer Beobachter that “I only acknowledge one nobility—that of labour.”

Despite slews of pro-worker platitudes by the socialist dictatorship, the reality was that the state was now calling all the shots. In the case of trade unions, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini did not just outlaw labor unions under their regime; they nationalized them as would any good socialist.  Of course, such nationalization would be in accordance with orthodox Marxist doctrine which demanded state ownership and control over all independent organizations. But they were even more draconian. They made membership in the union mandatory. As noted by Italian historian Gaetano Salvemini “In [Fascist] Italy and [Nazi] Germany the official unions have been made compulsory by law, while in the United States, the workers are not legally obligated to join the company unions but may even, if they so wish, oppose them.”

Hitler and Mussolini were simply imitating Lenin, who had earlier closed down all independent labor associations, factory committees and worker cooperatives, banned strikes, walkouts, and lockouts. Lenin even forced workers to work a slavish 80-hour week.  After the Bolsheviks banned all labor unions, one unionist “described the unions as ‘living corpses.’” Any Russian worker who participated in general strikes was arrested, imprisoned or shot. Under Lenin’s regime, workers had no real representation or bargaining rights and were treated like industrial serfs who were chained to their factories. Although Hitler and Mussolini followed Lenin’s nationalizing craze, their treatment of workers did not mimic their Russian counterparts.

Of all the fascists, Hitler was vigilant in keeping many of his promises to labor.  Under the newly created German Labor Front (DAF), the Nazis set high wages, overtime pay was generous, and dismissal of workers by employers was difficult to execute, but inflation and stricter labor laws eroded much of that advantage. Headed by Robert Ley, the German Labor Front preferred nationalized enterprises over privately owned companies since it held a bias against liberal capitalism. But its main mission was also to satisfy workers enough to prevent rebellion against both industrialists and the national socialist state.

In any event, following the Nazis’ “Socialism of Deed” ideology, all sorts of revolutionary new social and entertainment programs were provided to German workers via the “Strength through Joy” (Kraft durch Freude, or KdF), considered the world’s biggest tour operators. The KdF program, which was designed to provide affordable leisure activities, included such amenities as subsidized domestic or foreign vacations, parks, ocean cruises, construction of worker canteens that provided subsidized hot meals, factory libraries and gardens, sport facilities and swimming pools, adult education courses, periodic breaks, orchestras during lunch break, tickets to concerts and operas, no-cost physical education, gymnastic and sports training. The DAF-subsidized holiday vacations were so popular that by 1938 over 10.3 million Germans signed up.

But the debt was piling up. After years of Keynesian-style deficit spending for expensive labor and welfare perks, along with military spending, National Socialist Germany was at the brink of bankruptcy. Many historians, such as Götz Aly, argue that as Germany’s economy faltered, Hitler was forced to resort to military adventuring just to prop up his dying, bankrupt economy. The failing economics of socialism and coercion resulted in a horrific war that compelled the Nazis not only to plunder conquered nations, but to rob and liquidate minorities in order to pay for Nazi Germany’s exploding deficits.

Despite all of the special programs lavished on German employees and citizens, the DAF was still considered the most corrupt of all institutions under Hitler’s administration. Obviously, to mandate union membership and compel workers to pay union dues without recourse is a recipe for abuse and corruption. This is exactly what happened to the Nazis. Soon after Robert Ley took command of the German Labor Front in 1933, he freely embezzled union funds for personal use, despite an exorbitant salary. He lived high on the hog with a luxurious estate, a handful of villas and a fleet of cars. Ley was arrogant, often drunk, and prone to womanizing. He ran his department like a personal fiefdom, ordering around his subordinates and workers. He even secured bribes from party officials, politicians and industrialists to meet his high standard of living. Sounds familiar?

Conclusion

Many American unions, especially those of government employees, mirror the exact policies and tactics of Fascist syndicalism, giving employees little representation, especially as to where and how their dues are spent. Whether in Nazi Germany or America, when the state forces workers to pay a union bribe just to work in an industry, tremendous power has been transferred from the individual employee to a coercive collectivity—nothing short of how the fascist-socialists emasculated their workers. And this is where the distinctly American idea of freedom of choice has been abandoned to the violent thuggery and corruption that has shadowed many labor movements.

Sadly, today’s unionism is actually no different from yesterday’s Fascist syndicalism, where union bosses were officially granted a monopoly of power sanctioned and backed by governmental laws. Someday the American public will wake up and recognize these dreadful similarities, but will it be too late?

L.K. Samuels is author of In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, and a forthcoming book on the political spectrum. Much of this matter comes from his new book, which has over 1,500 footnotes by many of the leading experts on fascism. Website: www.lksamuels.com

Source: http://californiapolicycenter.org/unions-italy-germany-age-fascism/

Lawrence Samuels: Sailing into uncharted fascist waters?

Printed first at The Monterey Herald – April 28, 2017

By Lawrence Samuels, Guest commentary Monterey Herald

In response to the Herald’s reflections on the denial of free speech at UC Berkeley (“The battle over free speech on campus”), the question that begs to be asked is whether the political left has sailed into uncharted “fascist” waters. Are they intolerant, closed minded and violent? After all, the use of violence to silence opposition was a trait of the squadristi thugs in fascist Italy and the brownshirts in National Socialist Germany. But many prominent historians would take a different opinion, arguing that the extreme, modern left has always exhibited these reprehensible traits, essentially since they were the ardent midwife at fascism’s birth.

Historically, the “ideology of fascism,” which first surfaced in France, was according to one of the world’s leading experts on fascism, Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, “a revision of Marxism” that was assisted by the pro-violence teachings of Georges Sorels’ “revolutionary syndicalism.” A. James Gregor from UC Berkeley concurs, professing that “Fascism’s most direct ideological inspiration came from”… “Italy’s most radical ‘subversives’ — the Marxists of revolutionary syndicalism.”

Even Hitler was heavily influenced by such collective ideology, who was elected Deputy Battalion Representative of the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1918. Here, he followed the Jewish Marxist reformer Kurt Eisner, who was eventually assassinated. In solidarity, Hitler attended Eisner’s funeral, where photographs showed him wearing a black armband on one arm and the red communist brassard on the other.

So, what is the actual meaning behind the left and right? Historically, the political spectrum first appeared during the French Revolution. The original leaders of the French Revolution were the bourgeoisie, capitalists, merchants and artisans who first attacked tax collectors before assailing the Bastille in 1789. According to their seating arrangement, the left wing was the classical liberals, which included Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson under the “Girondins” faction of the Jacobin Club. They lowered taxes, limited government, supported private property rights and emancipated the Jews. The right side represented the authoritarians and monarchy.

But by 1793, the revolution was hijacked by Robespierre’s social revolutionaries (Montagnards faction) who sought greater power for government to impose social changes. On Oct. 31, 1793, 22 free-market French Deputies were charged with treason and guillotined, ushering in the Reign of Terror, where even Thomas Paine was arrested, jailed and almost guillotined.

So, what to make of all of this? It appears that the left is sometimes the right and the right is sometimes the left. It behooves political writers to first define ideologies before quickly slapping them with inaccurate left or right labels. Maybe this is why American is so divided today. Maybe nobody understands the nuances of the political spectrum and the ideologies that inhabit them.

Lawrence Samuels is a local author with a forthcoming book on the political spectrum.