Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fascism and Il Duce

In the interests of assuaging (or perhaps confirming) the fears I have no doubt raised in a number of my friends (you know who you are), I have decided to set out clearly my views on Benito Mussolini and on fascism in general.
So, first of all, my interest in Benito Mussolini, or the "happy dictator", as I like to call him. This label, of course, is deserved only relative to the other dictators with whom Mussolini was a contemporary (or actually, relative to many noncontemporary dictators as well). Certainly, for a dissenting person in Italy life under Mussolini was far from fun. Nevertheless, the fact remains that under Mussolini, oppression was far less pervasive than it was under the likes of a Stalin or a Hitler, and Mussolini committed no large scale massacres as Hitler and Stalin did, though admittedly Italian policy in Italian East Africa was quite brutal and horrific. The Italian Jews, for example, were subject to very moderate persecution up until Mussolini’s deposition and the German takeover of Italy in 1943, and even such measures as were taken against Italian Jews were put in place largely because of Hitler’s insistence and not on Mussolini’s initiative.

So, you reply, you have shown that Mussolini was only a bad person rather than a horrific one; is this your defence of him? Basically, yes. The fact that Mussolini may have been responsible for fewer innocent deaths than many U.S. presidents is, to my mind, sufficient to show that he was not as uncommonly evil as is often assumed. At the very least, should we impeach Mussolini we must also impeach countless other historical figures for their comparable crimes.
I do not laud the virtues of Mussolini, nor do I intend to obscure his brutality, but I do think that he gets unfairly condemned, and I cannot abide unfairness.
There, in a nutshell, is my (admittedly limited) understanding of Mussolini, as well as my reasons for rather enthusiastically defending him. Besides, being able to say something offensive and have reasons for it is rather fun, even if perhaps not entirely accurate!

Ok, so now my views on fascism, the political system effectively pioneered by Mussolini.
Fascism, to my mind, is an interesting system, and if benevolent would offer great possibilities for societies to develop, since the needs of individuals are subordinated to the greater good of the state. Unfortunately, Fascist Italy may be the closest to a benevolent fascism which has ever existed; which is to say that nothing even approaching a benevolent fascism has ever existed. Certainly, fascism governed by anyone who does not truly have the best interests of the whole of society at heart is a terrible system to live under, and so I condemn it wholeheartedly. Excepting one instance. I am completely and totally pro-fascism so long as I am the person in charge!
Because after all, wouldn’t everyone agree that my rule would be benevolent?
Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I would be in charge, so from my point of view it would be fine.
Furthermore, I can’t help feeling that anyone who supports fascism while not actually having power is somewhat deluded. Fascism has, every time it has come into being, offered very little to those without power.
So that’s my view of fascism. The best political system, as long as I am at the head of it.

Thought for the Day:

"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power." –Benito Mussolini

“Without hope, you face the future blind”
-The Doom of Fools