Fascism. Italian political movement created by Benito
Like every substantive political view, fascism is
action and thought: action in which theory is immanent; theory which arises
from a given system of historical forces, and exists and operates within
them. Hence, it has a form related to spatial and temporal contingencies,
and at the same time an ideal content which elevates it to the level of
truth in the higher history of thought. It is not possible to act
spiritually in the world as human will dominating will without a concept
of the transitory and particular reality on which one must act and of the
permanent and universal reality in which this particular reality has life
and being. In order to know men, one must know man, and in order
to know man, one must know reality and its laws. There is no concept
of the state which is not fundamentally a concept of life: such concept,
be it philosophy or intuition, system of ideas developed in a logical construction
or enclosed in a vision or faith, is always, at least virtually, an organic
conception of the world.
So, fascism cannot be understood in many of its practical manifestations (as party organization, as a system of education, as discipline), unless it is considered in the light of its general approach to understanding life. Such approach is spiritual. The world, for fascism, is not this material world which superficially appears and in which man is an individual separated from all the others and standing on his own, governed by a natural law which leads him instinctively to live a life of egotistical and momentary pleasure. The man of fascism is an individual which is nation and country, moral law that binds together individuals and generations in a tradition and a mission, that suppresses the instinct of a life enclosed in the short circle of pleasure in order to create, within duty, a superior life that is free of spatial and temporal limitations: a life in which the individual, through self-abnegation, the sacrifice of particular interests, death itself, actualizes that fully spiritual existence in which his value as a man resides.
Hence, the fascist theory is spiritual, itself born from last century's general reaction against the weak and materialist positivism of the eighteen hundreds. The fascist conception is anti positivist, but positive: neither skeptical, nor agnostic, nor pessimistic, nor passively optimistic, like the theories (all negative) that pose the center of life outside man, who with his free will can and must create his world. Fascism wants man to be active and bent on action with all his forces: it wants him to be manly aware of the difficulties which exist and ready to face them. Fascism conceives of life as struggle, believing that it pertains to man to conquer that life which is really worthy of him, creating, first of all, within himself the tools (physical, moral, and intellectual) to build it. As it is for the individual, so it is for a nation, so it is for humanity. Hence, the high value of culture in all its forms (art, religion, science), and the very great importance of education. Hence, the essential value of work, with which man wins nature and creates the human world (economical, political, intellectual).
This positive conception of life is evidently an ethical conception of life which addresses the whole of reality and the human activity that dominates it. No action is outside the purview of moral judgment; nothing in the world can be divested of the value to which all moral ends must be related. Hence, life, as conceived by the fascist, is serious, austere, religious: fully aloft in a world supported by the moral and responsible forces of the spirit. The fascist despises the “easy” life.
Fascism is a religious conception, in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a superior law, to an objective Will that transcends the particular individual and elevates him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Those who stopped at considerations of mere opportunism in evaluating the religious policy of the fascist regime, have not understood that fascism, in addition to being a system of government, is also, first of all, a system of thought.
Fascism is a historical conception in which man is what he is only in relation to the spiritual process to which he contributes in the family and in society, in the nation and in history, to which all nations contribute. Hence, the great value of tradition in the memories, the language, the mores, and the ways of social living. Outside of history man is nothing. Hence, fascism is against all the individualist abstractions, based on materialism, exemplified in the XVIII century; it is against jacobin innovations and utopias. In contrast with the economic literature of the 1700's, fascism does not believe that “happiness” is possible on earth; consequently, it rejects all teleological theories according to which in a certain historical period there will be a definitive settling of the human species. Believing this amounts to placing oneself outside history and outside life, which is continuous becoming. Politically, fascism wants to be a realistic doctrine; practically, it aspires to solve only those problems that pose themselves and by themselves find, or suggest, their own solution. In order to act among men, as within nature, it is necessary to enter the process of reality and take possession of the forces actually operating in it.
Fascism is against individualism and for the state; it is for the individual insofar as it coincides with the state, which is the conscience and the universal will of man in his historical existence. Fascism is against classical liberalism, which arose from the need to oppose absolutism and has exhausted its historical function once the state has become the very conscience and will of the people. Fascism reaffirms the state as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty must be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet of which individualist liberalism thought, then fascism is for freedom. It is for the only freedom which can be a serious thing, the freedom of the state and of the individual in the state. For, for the fascist, all is in the state, and nothing human or spiritual exists, and even less can have value, outside the state. In this sense, fascism is totalitarian, and the fascist state, synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops, and strengthens the whole life of the people.
There are neither individuals nor groups (political parties, associations, trade unions, classes) outside the state. Therefore, fascism is against socialism, which compresses the flow of history within class struggle and ignores the unity of the state that fuses classes into one economic and moral entity; similarly, it is against class-based trade unionism. However, within the sphere of the state which orders human affairs, fascism recognizes the real needs from which the socialist and trade unionist movements originated, and upholds them within the corporative system in which interests are reconciled within the unity of the state.
Individuals are classes according to their interests, and trade unions according to their interrelated economic activities; however, first and foremost they are the state. The state, however, is not a number, the sum of individuals forming the majority of the people. Hence, fascism is against that democracy that equates the people with the greater number, lowering the people to the level of the majority. However, fascism is the truest form of democracy if the people are conceived, as they should be, qualitatively and not quantitatively, as the idea which is most powerful, because most moral, most coherent, most true, which is actualized in the people as conscience and will of a few, actually of One, and which, as an ideal, tends to become actual in the conscience and will of all who ethnically, from nature and history, moving along the same path of spiritual development and culture, as a single conscience and will, derive reasons to form a nation. They are not a race, nor are they individuated by geography; rather, they are a group historically self-perpetuating, a multitude unified by an idea that is a will to exist and be strong: self-conscience, personality.
This superior personality is nation insofar as it is state. The nation does not generate the state, as the old and trite naturalistic concept that was the ground for the writings of the national states of the XIX century teaches. Rather, the nation is created by the state, which gives to the people, conscious of its moral unity, a will, and consequently a true existence. The right of a nation to independence derives not from a literary and ideal conscience of its own being, and even less from inert and unconscious actual existence, but from an active conscience, from a political will in action and ready to demonstrate its own right: that is, from a sort of state already in fieri. For the state, as universal ethical will, is the creator of right.
The nation as state is an ethical being which exists and lives as long as it develops; staying still is its death. Hence, the state is not only authority that rules and gives form of law and value of spiritual life to the wills of individuals, but it is also power which puts forth its will abroad, making its will acknowledged and respected, that is showing, by acting, the universality of its will in all its necessary determinations of its development. Hence, the state is organization and expansion, at least virtually. Thus, it can fit the nature of human will, which does not know obstacles in its development and which actualizes itself by proving its infinity.
The fascist state, the highest and most powerful form of personality, is strength, but spiritual strength which encompasses all human forms of moral and intellectual life. Hence, it cannot restrict itself to the simple goal of order and security, as liberalism wanted. It is not a simple mechanism limiting the sphere of alleged individual liberties. It is interior form, norm, and discipline of the whole person; it penetrates both the will and the understanding. Its principle, fundamental inspiration of human personality living within civil community, descends into the depth of the spirit and nests in the hearts both of the man of action and of the thinker, of the artist and of the scientist: it is the soul of the soul.
In sum, fascism is not only giver of laws and founder of institutions, but also educator and promoter of spiritual life. It wants to remake not the forms of human life, but their contents, man, character, faith. To this ends, it requires discipline and authority which penetrates into the spirit and rules unchallenged therein. Hence, its insignia are the lictor’s fasces, symbol of unity, strength and justice.