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Fascism Has Always Been An Enemy of Private Property | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 3, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/fascism-has-always-been-enemy-private-property

The Left and mainstream political science identify Italian fascism and German national socialism as a right-wing ideology. Their motivation is clear — they do not want to be associated with regimes that brought civilization the horror and suffering of an unprecedented scale. The Left traditionally substantiates their point of view with two theoretical propositions. First of all, fascism and Nazism do not belong to the Left because those regimes did not institute total collective ownership on means of production as Marx prescribed. Secondly, nationalism and racism have traditionally been features of the Right, whereas the Left is perceived to be internationalist in nature.

Private Ownership in Name Only

Let us consider the first postulate about the failure of these regimes to carry out total socialization of private property. Thus, Stalin pointed out in his interview to American journalist Roy Howard, “The foundation of the [socialism] society is public property: state, i.e., national, and co-operative, collective farm property. Neither Italian fascism nor German National-‘socialism’ has anything in common with such a society. Primarily, this is because the private ownership of the factories and works, of the land, the banks, transport, etc. has remained intact, and, therefore, capitalism remains in full force in Germany and Italy.” That has been the notorious argument of Marxian socialists.

The great Ludwig von Mises attacked logical inferences of the Left by pointing out that in non-Marxian socialist regimes the private property was de jure allowed, but de facto the state was the principal owner of the means of production. “If the State takes the power of disposal from the owner piecemeal, by extending its influence over production; if its power to determine what direction production shall be, is increased, then the owner is left at last with nothing except the empty name of ownership, and property has passed into the hands of the State”, wrote Mises in Socialism.

Indisputably, his arguments authentically describe real economic affairs under these regimes. Indeed, entrepreneurs were deprived of the free commodity market, labor market, and international money market; the state established wage and price controls, and overall influenced all stages of production, distribution, and consumption. However, it should be recognized that Mises’s arguments do not find the proper understanding and effect in modern realities.

[RELATED: “How the Nazis Converted German Agriculture to Socialism” by Chris Calton]

The thing is, the twentieth century was cracked by two bloody World Wars and the prolonged Cold War. Only a state can wage World Wars as it can gather and manage the necessary financial, economic, and people resources. Thus, for the last century, the state had been very firmly fixed in the economic sphere of society, and it reluctantly gave up its position. After all, many generations of people live in conditions where the state dictates the conditions of the economy. They do not even suspect that the state and the economy may have different relations. Contemporary industrial countries are guilty of conducting policies that resemble ones from the cookbooks of Italian and German governments. Indeed, the state has put in place various regulations that adversely affect the business and economy as a whole, including, among other things, control over the minimum wage, the establishment of social programs that are fueled by the substantial redistribution of wealth, and many other measures.

Mises pointed out that the state controlled the economic life, conducting various measures of coercion. He is undoubtedly right; however, the socialist regimes have utilized both methods: coercion and persuasion, and the latter occupied even more prominent importance. In contemporary settings, the outright collectivist indoctrinations in educational institutions became a primary form of persuasion…

Nationalism Is Not Unique to the Right

The supposed exclusive nationalism and racism of the Right is a political myth propelled by the vicious leftist propaganda. It is known that the founders of Marxism were xenophobes that adhered to the Hegelian division of nations to historical and non-historical. The founder of revolutionary syndicalism Sorel was an ardent anti-Semite. Some currents of socialism preached outright chauvinism; others used internationalist rhetoric in order to gain political benefits. Moreover, nationalism was not a factor that divided the political spectrum into the Left-Right wings at the beginning of the 20th century. Instead, it was the attitude to property rights (or antagonism between capital and labor, in Marxian terms) that divided the political spectrum. Therefore, nationalism might be inherent in various political philosophies, in both the defenders of capital and the proponents of labor…

Italian Fascism and German Nazism constitute anti-materialist, anti-positivist current of the socialist movement, which was extremely hostile toward ideas of Marxism and democratic socialism. Nevertheless, they shared a continuum bench of the socialist team. Communists occupy the extreme left, followed by the Social Democrats; the right flank belongs to fascists and Nazis — they are the right wing of the Left.

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