Antifascism: The Course of a Crusade

Here are some excerpts from this 2021 book by Paul Gottfried:

* Unlike generic fascism, Antifa is not patriotic: it seeks to destroy, not reinforce historic Western notions. It is also by far too irrational and nihilistic to be Marxist. The last part of a cry chanted by activists at a mass protest in Berkeley, California, on August!27, 2017, underscores the true nature of Antifa’s politics: “No Trump, No Wall, No USA at All.”24 Attempts by Republican politicians and PR staff to treat Antifa as the latest distillation of Marxist socialism reect partisan opportunism, historical ignorance, or possibly both. Except for its efforts to identify itself with other forms of the Left that operated at other times, Antifa through violence and its ability to create extensive support systems looks very much like early National Socialism.

* Republican talk show host Dennis Prager has produced commentaries on the fascist peril for his Prager University, which his website describes as “the world’s leading conservative nonprofit that is focused on changing minds through the creative use of digital media.” Based on his sketch of the thinking of the neo-Hegelian Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile (1875–1944), Prager’s frequent guest Dinesh D’Souza opines that “fascists are socialists with a national identity.” He notes, “The Left has vastly expanded state control over the private sector,” and concludes that “fascism bears a deep kinship to the ideology of today’s Left.”4 The logic is that any thinker, regime, or movement that has advocated an expansion of the state exemplifies both fascism and “today’s Left.”

* Welfare state or social democratic governments have developed around the world in response to a variety of factors. These include the growth of modern administrative states, the universal franchise, popular demand for
social programs, and the simultaneous breakdown of older communal and familial arrangements, a trend that has been accelerated by the reach and socializing functions of modern welfare states. But there is nothing peculiarly
fascistic about these developments, even if fascists, like other governing elites, tried to provide for social needs within a centralized administrative state. Because interwar Italy, England, the United States, and the Soviets all practiced some form of economic collectivism does not prove they were all politically the same or, even less plausibly, “fascist.” An equally questionable attribution of fascism to one’s enemies on the Left can be found in Dennis Prager’s blanket statement: “if there is a real fascist threat to America, it comes from the left whose appetite for state power is essentially unlimited.”10 Were fascists the only past political actors who craved “state power”? If this were the case, all political leaders who displayed an appetite for unlimited power
throughout history would have to be classified as fascists.

Equally questionable is the notion that governments become fascist when they reach a certain tipping point in their acquisition of power or in their appropriation of GNP from the private sector. Although we may agree that giving the state unlimited power is detrimental to freedom, this is not the same as saying that to do so is to become fascist.

* “The idea of the sovereignty of the state is the very kernel of Fascist political and social theory. The contrast with the French Revolution as well as with the pluralistic conception of the state is apparent here… Although group associations between the state and the individual are recognized in the order created by the fascist national revolution, they are to be strictly subordinated to the interests of the state. This conception leaves no room for the notion or practice of class struggle, even if fascism was less emphatic in its insistence on the solidarity of capital and labor in the production process over and above their antagonism in the division of the social product…

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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