Fascism Links to Roman Fasces
For Legitimacy and Authority
Fascism! Fascist! Racist! These pejoratives are screamed out as proof of the illegitimacy of those in power by those who are currently not in power. Yet, no one seems to have any understanding of what fascism actually was, and is, and why did fascism become such an epithet for hatred.
Why should this matter to Christians? We are to discern the forces in the world to understand the powers and principalities at work and warn those who would become captive to their siren’s song of destruction (2Ti 2:15).
The reason most people do not understand fascism stems from post World War II (WWII) view of promulgated by the “winning” governments to justify to their populations why they had just fought such a long expensive war arriving at different goals than stated at the beginning. England and France declared war on Germany to “save” Poland, whom they gave to the USSR for fighting on their side in the war. The U.S. entered the war in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, but gave priority to the fighting in Europe over its declared war with Japan. But, fascism is not defined by postwar propaganda but by its prewar origins and for those we must begin before World War I (WWI).
Nineteenth century Europe was a hotbed of political change and conflict. It inherited the fruits of the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, growth of Bolshevism, rise of industrialism and the ongoing change of cultures from medievalism to nation-state amidst the ever going power of the lower classes against the upper classes with nearly everyone hating the burgeoning new middle class of capitalism. These discussion did not end in the 19th century but were carried over to the 20th and into the 21st centuries. Bolshevism made great gains in popularity in many countries and especially in those territories that had gained nation-state status in the mid to late 19th century such as Germany and Italy. America was virtually immune from the affairs of Europe because of geography, poor communications and dealing with its own internal 19th century growth issues including its own Civil War which was resolved on one level but has continued into today on other levels.
As simply as possible, fascism was a reaction against communism in the very new nation-states of Europe. It did not spontaneously spring up among different groups simultaneously but was the brain child of Mussolini who was an Italian war hero and socialist. Succinctly, communism seeks to globally unite all peoples under its banner erasing nationalistic boundaries and divisions; hence, its appeal to those who see nationalism as the major source of war and problems of man. Fascism rejected this globalistic approach in favor of nationalism. Mussolini coined the term fascism from the Latin term fasces which was a bundle of rods tied about an axe depicting Roman authority to punish or execute those deemed as threats to the state. It was no unusual for the new nation-states to emulate symbols and images from Greco-Roman culture to legitimize their existence over older forms of government such as monarchies.
American Uses of Fasces Similar to
Italian and German Uses – Fascism
This is why fascism quickly gained large followings in these two newly formed nations which were succumbing to communion or socialism. We forget what a tremendous social upheaval the industrial revolution caused in Western societies because we have a different worldview (post-industrial) and we ignore this influence in modern nations who are currently undergoing industrialization. Rather than assisting based on learned experience Western nations tend to “take sides” escalating the conflicts in terms of their own agendas at the expense of the indigenous populations (Malay, Vietnam, Central and South Americas). These nations are struggling with the very forces Europe struggled against that brought about a century of terrible international conflict.
Since communism was seen as the greatest enemy of the new nation-states it is not surprising that fascism developed. The fact it grew out of socialism/communism is evident in some of its inherent tenets. Nothing is more important than nationalism; i.e., the state. The people are nurtured and protected by the state. They in turn must live and work to grow and defend the state against all enemies, internal and foreign who would harm the state. Herein becomes the problem for nationalism, who are the core people who qualify as the nationalists against those who cannot or are not nationalists? Ergo, who are the true citizens of a state? It is on these grounds that fascism became discredited, especially in the eyes of those promoting a globalization agenda in which all nationalities are merged into a bland homogenous group of non-entities forced into a rigid equalization based on whatever criteria the over arching authority imposes.
This approach was an attractive alternative to all nations of the day which were struggling with socialistic and communistic elements in their midst that sought to promote anarchy to topple free market economies. Today we would use the term terrorists but in those days they were called anarchists. Nearly all nations had the same opinion and the same problem as the fascist countries, how to define the national population. There was no indigenous population in man’s history. That ended at Babel!
Man’s history is replete with mass migrations and changes in indigenous populations in every area of the globe. What one would call imperialism in post medieval times was simply called a migration of raiders such as the Vikings and Mongols of old. This is the history of man. There is no set people who lived in a certain area since the beginning and therefore have a “right” to that area. Every area of the globe has been settled by those who came from other areas and if those new areas were populated then conflicts developed to determine who would rule the area. Thus, there are no set indigenous people one could call German or Italian or American or Chinese or anything else. Therefore, artificial definitions were set in place to determine true ethnic heritage.
Though Popular This Diatribe is False
As It Applies to Every Government
Italy defined its heritage in relation to the Roman Empire though those people came to power defeating the Eustrucans and were in turn defeated by others who came to settle. Mussolini wooed the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) for support who needed the legitimacy it had lost in its defeat with the new national Italian government. This quest to “prove” greatness cause Mussolini to engage in foreign wars that eventually disenfranchised the Italian people resulting in his execution.
Germany defined its heritage from the Teutonic Knights and its eastern mystic roots that traced back to the Aryan race and became known as Aryanism. This combined with current modern philosophies such as Nietzsche and evolution created a mix unlike that which formed in Italy. The defeat of Germany in WWI, the effects of the worldwide economic depression in which capitalism appeared to have failed and the rise of neo-orthodoxy and atheism created a flavor of fascism not found in Italy.
Fascism is a false, mythic, nationalism requiring all support flow to the state which gives its people a common identity different from all other people. There is an inherent discrimination against those who are not of the “nation” and a disconnect with capitalism since the state must benefit from all transactions; thus, it must have control of all transactions to prevent unfavorable ones, and to collect its share of the profits.
Next week we will discuss further issues with fascism both during and after WWII that has contributed to its misunderstanding today.