Capitalist support for fascism....

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sat Feb 13 11:11:02 PST 1999

Alex LoCascio wrote:
> I I don't know how many times I've heard cretinous
> history teachers say "Remember, Hitler was a member of the National
> *Socialist* party..." I'm looking for something to refute the lazy,
> facile claim that Hitler was a socialist, once and for all.

Check out a neat anthology titled _The Weimar Republic Sourcebook_ (Eds. Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. LA & Berkeley: U of California P, 1995). Not only does it give you high-ranking Nazis' own words differentiating themselves from marxists, but it also gives you a good overview of fascist, liberal, & marxist activities during Weimar (in politics and culture).

Also, read Upton Sinclair's _Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America_.

And how about Chomsky? From _Deterring Democracy_:

"With rising labor militancy, Italy posed "the obvious danger of social revolution and disorganization," a high-level inquiry of the Wilson administration determined in December 1917. "If we are not careful we will have a second Russia on our hands," a State Department official noted privately, adding that "The Italians are like children" and "must be [led] and assisted more than almost any other nation." Mussolini's Blackshirts solved the problem by violence. They carried out "a fine young revolution," the American ambassador observed approvingly, referring to Mussolini's March on Rome of October 1922, which brought Italian democracy to an end. Fascist goons effectively ended labor agitation with government help, and the democratic deviation was brought to an end. The United States watched with approval. The Fascists are "perhaps the most potent factor in the suppression of Bolshevism in Italy" and have much improved the situation generally, the Embassy reported to Washington, while voicing some residual anxiety about the "enthusiastic and violent young men" who have brought about these salutary developments. The Embassy continued to report the appeal of Fascism to "all patriotic Italians," simple-minded folk who "hunger for strong leadership and enjoy...being dramatically governed."49

As Fascist darkness settled over Italy, financial support from the U.S. government and business climbed rapidly. Italy was offered by far the best postwar debt settlement of any country, and U.S. investment there grew far faster than in any other country as the Fascist regime established itself, eliminating labor unrest and other democratic disorders.50

U.S. labor leaders viewed the developments with a generally favorable eye. The American Federationist, edited by AFL president Samuel Gompers, welcomed Fascism as a bulwark against Communism and a movement "capable of decisive action on a national scale," which was "rapidly reconstructing a nation of collaborating units of usefulness," Mussolini's Fascist corporations, which subordinated labor to capital and the state. The AFL journal found these corporations "a welcome replacement for the old, Bolshevik-infected industrial unions," Ronald Filippelli comments. Mussolini's activism was also attractive. "However repugnant...the idea of dictatorship and the man on horseback," the journal continued, "American trade unionists will at least find it possible to have some sympathy with the policies of a man whose dominating purpose is to get something done; to do rather than theorize; to build a working, producing civilization instead of a disorganized, theorizing aggregation of conflicting groups" in a society riven by class conflict.51 Mussolini got the trains to run on time, as the standard clich* had it. The suppression of labor and democratic institutions was not too great a price to pay for this achievement, from the AFL perspective.

Mussolini was portrayed as a "moderate" with enormous popular appeal who had brought efficient administration and prosperity, slaying the beast and opening the doors to profitable investment and trade. Reflecting common attitudes in the business community, J.P. Morgan partner Thomas Lamont described himself as "something like a missionary" for Italian Fascism, expressing his admiration for Il Duce, "a very upstanding chap" who had "done a great job in Italy," and for the "sound ideas" that guide him in governing the country. Otto Kahn of Kuhn, Loeb, and Co. praised the Fascists further for ending "parliamentary wrangling and wasteful impotent bureaucracy" and bringing "a spirit of order, discipline, hard work, patriotic devotion and faith" under "the clear sighted and masterful guidance of that remarkable man, Benito Mussolini." Judge Elbert Gary of United Steel asked whether "we, too, need a man like Mussolini." The U.S. Embassy was particularly impressed that "there has not been a single strike in the whole of Italy" since the Fascist takeover.52"


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