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In the minds of the masses the concepts of Fascism and Patriotism are dichotomized, even polarized, but without an understanding of the meaning of such strong emotional response. Many of those now living have very little personal memory, if any, of the period preceding World War II. What is known, what is felt, concerning that time is somehow connected to an overpowering sense of wrong. The term ‘Holocaust’ had it’s beginning in the development of Nazism, Fascism and the ultimate racism that has come to define to the world the European experience from the end of World War I and World War II.
“Patriotism means love of country and implies a readiness to sacrifice for it, to fight for it, perhaps even to give one’s life for it. In the traditional or Spartan sense, patriots are those who love their country simply because it is their countrybecause it is “their birthplace and the mansion of their fathers,” as Alexis de Tocqueville put it in his Democracy in America. It is a kind of filial piety. But no one, not even a Spartan, is born loving his country; such love is not natural, but has to be taught, or inculcated, or somehow acquired” (Berns, 1997, pp. PG). Though the definition of patriotism has an expectation that it must be learned, the connotation, the shared meaning within the current cultural setting, demands that there be an element of free agency to patriotism that is not part of the shared definition of the totalitarian policies of either Fascism or Nazism.
This element of choice is the difference between pledging one’s life to fight for the love of their country and being coerced and intimidated into obedience. There is also an element of equality associated with patriotism, as opposed to submission and sycophancy that is inherent to social systems that build on intolerance towards one’s peers, such as Nazism, and Fascism to a certain degree. “Nazism and Fascism emerged out of the moral, social and intellectual crisis of Europe in the aftermath of the 1914-18 War. They were a set of responses not to the crisis in general but to what were identified as its key features. The ancient regime that still persisted in 1914 had been moving towards granting the vote to all adult males, irrespective of property or employment status: the war, in which entire adult male populations had been called upon to serve their country, accelerated this process. At the same time the revolution in Russia, and its echoes in Munich and Budapest, showed what could happen if the majority with little or no property decided to assert its strength against the property-owning minority. The Marxist analysis of society, which argued that the ownership of the means of production by the idle few necessarily involved the expropriation of the laboring many, had already been around for seventy years but now took on a new immediacy with the overthrow of half the monarchies of Europe, the creation of new states, and the seizure of political power by parties claiming to represent the working classes” (Harvey, 1999, pp. 77).
Fascism was a response to the political emancipation of the masses. “Fascism is reaction,” said Mussolini. In a world where inequality of property had become far less significant than equality of citizenship, equality of duty such as the equality of sacrifice and obligation experienced in the trenches during the First World War, and equality of rights. Fascism developed this equality within the framework of the state, social equality was embedded in the rhetoric of the emerging powers, however, the concrete evidence was the economic gain made by those ‘loyal’ to the regime. Membership in the lower classes was given social meaning engendered by a new sense of communal purpose and a new sense of hope (Harvey, 1999). The Fascist political regime was firmly in power as the depression hit – and quickly took control of all economic policy, including the means and rights to work. “The March 1928 decree on `the national regulation of the supply and demand of labor’ had been signaled nearly a year before in the Labour Charter, the regime’s statement of general principles on labor organization, and it followed logically from the 1926 syndical law, which required the officially recognized and monopolistic economic organizations to negotiate binding collective labor contracts. The decree envisaged the establishment of employment offices for industry, agriculture and trade. Unemployed workers had to register at the offices for work, and employers in turn were obliged to employ only registered workers, and expected to show a preference for workers who were PNF or syndicate members. Like other measures which laid the bases of the Fascist state in the late 1920s, this was something of a halfway house, and represented a characteristically uneasy compromise of the various interests in play. Employers wanted the setting up of a voluntary rather than a compulsory employment scheme, and expected the employment offices to be responsible to the appropriate state organs, the Ministry of Corporations centrally and the prefects locally. Their intention was to keep political criteria out of recruitment for employment and to preserve the complete freedom to hire and fire as they chose. The PNF and the workers’ syndicates confederation demanded Party-controlled offices to select workers for employers” (Morgan, 1999, pp. 91). The fascist Party, based on totalitarian principles and advocating the equality of the classes, used as it’s primary mode of developing cohesion control of resources and coercion tactics. This is an example of the distinction between developing patriotism and enforced loyalty.
Fascism is “more notable as a political phenomenon on which diverse intellectual influences converge than as a distinct idea; as political phenomenon, one of its most remarkable features has been the ability to win massive popular support for ideas that are expressly anti-egalitarian … “Fascism is characterized by the following features (not all of which need be present in any of its recognized instances): nationalism; hostility to democracy, to egalitarianism, and to the values of the enlightenment; the cult of the leader, and admiration for his special qualities; a respect for collective organization, and a love of the symbols associated with it, such as uniforms, parades and army discipline. … The ultimate doctrine contains little that is specific, beyond an appeal to energy, and action” (Scruton, Roger, 1982, pp. 169).
Fascism can be seen as “a movement of extreme racial or cultural nationalism, combined with economic corporatism and authoritarian autocracy; masked during its rise to state power by pseudo-radical populist appeals to overthrow a conspiratorial elitist regime; spurred by a strong charismatic leader whose reactionary ideas are said to organically express the will of the masses who are urged to engage in a heroic collective effort to attain a metaphysical goal against the machinations of a scapegoated demonized adversary. In any case, in most definitions of fascism the themes of conspiracism and a needed scapegoat emerge” (Berlet, 1992, what.html). The concept of coerced loyalty and focused nationalism that was an integral component of the Fascist Regime is what sets it apart from and disallows the inclusion of patriotism as a factor. There was no sense of individuals joining for the altruistic reasoning that is central to patriotism.
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