In part one of ‘Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism?’ the general case was made that Fascism was a political means of merging capitalism’s intrinsic economic authoritarianism, with its social/public level of authoritarianism and by recruiting sufficient numbers of citizens was able to enforce this three-fold merger on the whole of society. The cases of Fascism in Italy, Germany and Spain differed somewhat but their extreme authoritarian essence was essentially the same. However, to demonstrate the connection in more detail, I have chosen case of German Fascism (Nazism) as illuminated by its founding Program, (in Italics) followed by comments. It begins;
“1. The Program of the German Workers’ Party is a program of the age. Once the aims postulated in the Program have been achieved, the leaders do not intend to set new ones merely in order to render possible the Party’’s continuance through the artificial intensification of the discontent of the masses.”
“We demand on the basis of the right of self-determination of all people’s, the union of all Germans into a Greater Germany.“
“2. We demand equal rights for the German people with other nations and the abolition of the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St German.”
“3. We demand land (colonies) to nourish our people and to settle our surplus population.”
“4. None but members of the nation may be citizens of the State. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation.”
“5. Those who are not citizens of the State may live in Germany only as guests and must be subject to the Alien laws.”
“6. None but citizens of the State shall be entitled to decide as to the leadership and laws of the State. We therefore demand that all public appointments of whatever kind, whether in the Reich, the States, or the municipalities, shall be held by none but citizens of the state. We oppose the corrupt parliamentary method of filling posts solely according to considerations of party, and regardless of character and ability.”
The first paragraph, hints at the underlying economic problems by mentioning “the discontent of the masses”. But the combined six points establish the basic authoritarian requirement of capitalism. In this case, the German nation-state will be the main unit of establishing territory and citizenship and (by using fabricated concepts of blood and race) points 4 – 6 define who will be first class human beings and who will not. It also clearly states in point 3 that expanding its authority beyond its current borders (exploitation of foreign peoples) is intended.
“7. We demand that the State shall make its first duty to ensure employment and a livelihood for citizens of the State. If it is not possible to support the entire population of the State, then foreign nationals (non-citizens of the State) shall be expelled from the Reich.”
“8. All further immigration of non-Germans who immigrated into Germany after August 2nd, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich.“
“9. All citizens of the Reich shall possess equal rights and duties.“
“10. It must be the first duty of every citizen of the State to perform either intellectual or physical work. The activities of the individual must not conflict with the interests of the community, but must be carried on within the general framework and for the benefit of all.”
Bearing in mind the period of massively high unemployment in Germany at the time, points 7 to 10, are clearly aimed at appealing to the German born blue-collar and white-collar working classes. This was a clear strategy for ideologically attracting a broad working and lower middle – class membership. Next;
“11. Abolition of unearned incomes.”
“12. In view of the enormous sacrifices of blood and treasure that every war demands of the nation, personal enrichment through war must be regarded as a crime against the nation. We therefore demand complete confiscation of all war profits.”
“13. We demand nationalisation of all businesses already amalgamated (trusts).”
“14. We demand profit-sharing in big concerns.“
Points 11 to 14, demonstrate a need/desire, in a time of capitalist crisis, to include an element of anti – capitalist rhetoric such as confiscation of war profits, nationalisation and profit sharing. These points would also have been attractive to many among the German working class at the time. Then comes;
“15. We demand a large-scale development of provision for old age.“
“16. We demand the creation and maintainable of a healthy middle-class, immediate communalisation of the large department stores, and their lease at low rates to small traders. Most careful consideration for all small traders as regards deliveries to the State, the Provincial Governments or the municipalities.“
“17. We demand land reform adapted to our national requirements, the passing of a law for the confiscation of land for communal purposes without compensation. Abolition of mortgage interest and prevention of all speculation in land.”
The Nazi leadership in points 15 to 17 are still appealing to working people by promising old age pensions, support for the local mom and pop shops and businesses. In a move to entrap the lower middle-class, the program also intends to abolish mortgage interest payments. Confiscation and ending land speculation had the same target audience. Furthermore;
“18. We demand ruthless war upon those whose activities injure the common interest. Base criminals against the nation, ursurers, profiteers, etc., shall be punished with death, whatever their creed or race.“
“19. We demand that Romania Law, which serves the materialistic world order, shall be replaced by a German Common Law.”
Here we have another inclusion which seeks to shield workers and lower middle – class individuals from profiteers rip-off traders and petty criminals who often plagued their lives and others who “injured the common interest.” Then;
“20. In order to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain a higher education and occupy a leading position, the State must provide for a thorough development of the national education system. The syllabuses of all educational institutions shall be adapted to the requirements of practical life. The school must inculcate the idea of the State (science and citizenship) with the dawning of intelligence. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents shall be educated at the expense of the State, regardless of class or occupation.”
“21. The State shall raise the standard of national health by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting juvenile labour, by promoting physical efficiency through compulsory physical training and sports, and by the most far-reaching support of clubs engaged in the physical training of the young.“
Free higher education for bright kids would definitely appeal to upwardly motivated working class and lower middle – class parents. State provision of maternity care would certainly have sounded as attractive in 1920 as it did in the UK and Europe after 1945.
“22. We demand the abolition of the mercenary army and the formation of a National Army.”
“23. We demand that the law should combat the deliberate political lie and it’s dissemination in the press”. (Only German financed, owned, edited and non-offensive newspapers to be allowed RR)
Authoritarians prefer a national army (point 22) rather than a citizens army or a mercenary one, because the latter two are unreliable. Mercenaries, can do their own thing; citizen armies can turn against authority. Authoritarians seek security.
Nowadays, ‘political spin’ and mis-leading propaganda is to be expected daily. So point 23 outlaws ‘fake news’. Next:
“24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations in the State, unless they endanger the existence thereof or offend against the morality and moral sense of the Tectonic race. The Party stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself to any particular denomination. It combats the Jewish materialistic spirit in us, as well as outside, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent recovery only on the principle of: COMMON INTEREST BEFORE SELF-INTEREST.“
With organised religion having a considerable hold over people, attracting neutrality or support from religious elites would count as a ‘blessing’. Finally:
“25. For the realisation of all this, we demand: the creation of a strong central Reich Government. Absolute authority of political central Parliament over the entire Reich and it’s organisations in general.” e formation of Diets and vocational Chambers to implement in the individual Federal States the general laws promulgated by the Reich. The leaders of the Party promise to fight ruthlessly for the realisation of the above Points, if necessary staking their own lives.” “Munich, February 24 1920.”
The words ‘absolute authority‘ indicate the essential element of extreme forms of authoritarian capitalism. It matters little to the analysis offered here (and in part 1) that like all other promises made by politicians, those made by the National Socialists of Germany (Nazis), we’re never meant to be fully kept. Even if they were no more than ‘baited hooks’ to catch members and press them into service of the authoritarian elite, they, (and the actual promises delivered) worked sufficiently for the Nazis. It only remained for the non-Nazi millions to be sufficiently divided among themselves to be ineffective in changing the mode of production and therefore stopping the authoritarian mutation from a capitalist democratic form to a Fascist form.
Roy Ratcliffe (January 2021)
In ‘Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism? – 3’ (to follow), I will consider two questions. 1) Were the vast majority of German workers and citizens who joined the ranks of Fascism, blood-thirsty, sub-human demons, just waiting to steal, torture and kill? or; 2) Were they average, naive human beings who had been economically and culturally conditioned to obey authority, repeatedly misled and eventually terrorised into conforming?