It seems that very often people on "the Left" like to brand things of which they disapprove as being in some way "Fascist". They are using the word, or the stronger "nazi" label, as nothing more than a snarl word, devoid of content beyond meaning 'I think this is bad nasty stuff'.

It is as well to remember something about history and what fascism and national socialism actually were and why they were so popular.


The clue is in the name, both the Italian Fascisti, and the German National Socialists were a combination of 'left' socialist ideas with simple nationalism.

Now in some ways nationalism, by which I mean the definition of a collective common interest group in terms of either territorial or racial characteristics, is in conflict with some derived principles of socialism to do with equality between all people.

But by simply defining 'all people' to be only the people inside the national group it is perfectly possible to combine socialist principles with rampant nationalism and build a very compelling position to attract broad support.

Part of the power of nationalism comes from its identification of the inside group as being opposed by, or in conflict with, outside forces who wish to steal their life. Any outside group can be defined as the threat, and the enemy can be changed at will to ensure that the inside group remain tightly wedded to their perceived common interest.

Many of the ideas which today's left unthinkingly brand as being "fascist' are no such thing. Typically they will be different combinations of ideas which gain some traction and present a threat to socialist principles.

Thus Neo-Liberalism has combined the liberal tradition of individual rights and freedoms (which are a part of socialist thinking, although socialism adds the notion of responsibilities and respect for others irrespective of relative power as a balance to the liberal side of liberalism) with the capitalist notion that the company or corporation has the same status as an individual person.

This leads, in economics, to a worship of the supposed freedom of the pure market. From a socialist perspective of course the flaw is that if you are going to treat commercial organisations on the same basis as individuals then they must have the same responsibilities and respect for others imposed as would apply to an individual (but not a pure liberal individual who is without responsibilities).

Whatever else you may call it - Neo-Liberal, Free-marketism, vampire capitalism - it is neither national socialism nor fascism. There is no nationalism in the Neo-Liberal agenda - imperialism certainly as power flows to the powerful, wealth is pumped to the elite and the individuals who are crushed in the wheels of the imperious machine are guilty of their own failure. "Libimpism" perhaps.

Neo-Conservatism seems to add to the mix a focus on conservative values trumping the liberal individualism with a deep respect for the existing hegemony as being the best of all possible worlds and to be preserved at all costs.

Neo-cons, unlike Neo-libs, will often tend to be more nationalistic in outlook, seeing their role as protecting the inside group from the forces of darkness beyond the Pale. "Natconism".