Comparison of Communism and Fascism in Europe
Europe was restless in the 19th and 20th centuries. During these turbulent centuries, Europeans fiddled with many ideologies to make the best state. Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Mikhail Bakunin, Benito Mussolini and many others experimented with various ideologies to make a state perfectly capable to solve all domestic and foreign problems. Stemming from unique backgrounds, these men differed greatly about state structures and obligations to the citizens. In this essay, I will compare The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, and The Doctrine of Fascism by Mussolini. The authors preach their doctrines as the best ideology for the perfect state: Marx espouses a state where workers and their economic perspectives form the state; Mussolini champions an authoritarian state where the people are mere extensions for state dominion.
Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto when they observed the evils of the capitalist economy sponsored by new manufacturing class. They saw an immense disparity between the manufacturers who were wealthy by owning factories and capital, and the workers who were poverty-stricken and owned nothing despite much toil. Therefore, the Manifesto’s first maxim describes the economic disparity between the bourgeoisie and proletariat as a gigantic class struggle. Karl Marx notes that class struggle has been prevalent for millenniums. The industrial revolution furthered the struggle, but two new classes sprung up overthrowing the old landed elites and serfs; the bourgeoisie who owned the means of production and the working class who were the masses employed by the bourgeoisie. Marx correctly concluded a tug of war between the new classes would ensue just as in the past. The second maxim states the bourgeoisie brought a complex manufacturing economy encompassing the whole world based on capital and cheap labor. As new markets expanded because of colonization, commerce, navigation, abolition of guilds, invention of steam, machinery and railroads, so did the wealth of bourgeoisie. Hence, the third maxim recognizes the bourgeoisie capitalists as the new ruling class. The ruling bourgeoisie exploited the workers for profits just as the feudal lords did to the serfs. The fourth maxim accuses the bourgeoisie of developing a culture of freedom and law to be extensions of the capitalism. The fifth maxim identifies the family and especially women ready for exploitation as laborers. The sixth maxim says the bourgeoisie constantly revamp the means of production to exert influence over the society.
According to Marx, the Bourgeoisie needed the world markets to spread their consumer goods. Worldwide production and supply instead of local production and markets, and destruction of nationalized industries led to whole societies discarding traditional ways to buy consumer goods. An example is clothes were not hand woven but mechanically woven in Manchester’s cotton mills. The result is entire societies were dependent on manufacturing elites, who got richer and powerful. As a result, the Manifesto’s seventh maxim states the bourgeoisie have concentrated the means of production, property and political power into the hands of a few capitalists. Consequently, the Manifesto’s pivotal eighth maxim recognizes that the state is a tool of the bourgeoisie because they possess capital, cheap labor, the ability to revolutionize social traditions and culture. Thus, it was evident to Marx that the current ideology and form of government was inadequate to recognize the demands of the working majority. Thus, Marx’s ninth maxim states that for the proletarian masses to be recognized, a state has to be created exclusively for recognizing proletarian interests. The tenth maxim is the proletariat came into existence because the manufacturers needed labor to run their factories.
The eleventh maxim is the proletariat’s most valuable asset is labor. Marx observed labor as the second vital component modern industrial economy. He wanted a state where the proletariat would be in power, and the state would posses the capital instead of the bourgeoisie. The twelfth maxim states proletarians consist of people from the whole world. The Manifesto advocates internationalism, where workers don’t have national interests but only class interests. The thirteenth maxim concludes that class struggle has reached its end and the proletarians will emerge as victors because all other classes are vanishing while they are getting stronger in size. The fourteenth maxim states the proletariat will be responsible for the downfall of the bourgeoisie. He believes the first step of a proletarian revolution is making the proletariat the ruling class, which can only be done by a violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie and their existing society by revolutionary upheaval. The fifteenth maxim states once the proletariat wields political power, it will give all the means of production and property to the state. The sixteenth and final maxim states the adoption of the means of production by the state will make society classless and prosperous.
World War I tested the feasibility of many ideologies. Benito Mussolini, a former socialist, discarded socialism because many socialists supported World War I instead of the Manifesto’s dictum of internationalism. He developed the Fascist Doctrine during the interwar period condemning liberalism and democracy as outdated ideologies for a state. According to Mussolini, Fascism’s first and central maxim is the state’s absolute superiority. In fascist states, the people are dispensable creatures used for the state’s existence unlike parliamentary democracies, where the state serves the people at their behest. In fascism, only state interests are legitimate while political parties, movements, clubs, labor unions outside the state endorsed ones are forbidden. Fascism’s second maxim states it is a moral philosophy and religion. The fascist ideology is meant to evaluate human value and actions as right or wrong with regard to state’s interest. A fascist state has a will of its own and is not forced to respect its constituents’ choices. Fascism believes the state is the only legitimate force that can dictate man’s actions and even his thoughts.
The cult of the state is rigorous in fascism because it espouses a religious conscience that makes man aware of society. Individuals who make up that nation should be ready to sacrifice for their country without any self-interest. Fascism’s third maxim looks favorably on systematic religion such as Italian Catholicism as long as it does not interfere with the state. Fascism’s fourth maxim condemns classical liberalism and individualist tendencies, stating instead that the state is the true expression of man. Fascism’s fifth maxim dictates socialism to be a failure. The Fascist Doctrine repudiates the Manifesto’s dictum that the sole purpose of the state is to bring economic prosperity for the masses. Fascists believe the state is the common denominator, which blends the political, social and economic to mold society. Whether worker or manufacturer, the state would dominate them both. Fascists accepted class struggle, but were concerned about transcending it rather than fixing it. But Fascism is fully willing to enact practical socialist goals such as less working hours, wage stability etc.
Fascism’s sixth maxim condemns democracy and majority rule. Fascism is against democratic ideologies of universal suffrage and popular government. It equates majority rule to mob rule. Fascism values quality from the people who service the state. Fascism’s seventh maxim vehemently opposes pacifism. Fascists clearly want people to posses a warlike nature. This is expected of the citizenry and leaders because they view neighboring states suspiciously. Fascism’s eighth maxim opposes absolutism. Fascism’s ninth and final maxim condemns the idea of a nation state. The doctrine states the nation does not make up the state, but the state determines the nation. Disregarding nationality and historic land claims is a license for fascists to build empires. Mussolini’s view of a state was an authoritarian regime with unquestionable authority and no accountability.
Communism and Fascism are on the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. The first difference is fascism espouses a moral philosophy of self sacrifice for the state. Meanwhile communism advocates a materialist perspective only concerned with economic equality and prosperity. The second difference is fascism opposes popular government altogether, while communism advocates a government that represents the working people. Communism has a narrow element of democracy, which Fascism disdains because it favors an authoritarian dictatorship. The third difference is fascism propagates the cult of the state, where everything and everyone has to be aligned with state interests and initiatives.
Meanwhile, communism demands a strong loyalty to working class and condemnation of bourgeoisie ideologies. Fascists want the government to dominate the daily lives of people while communists want people to be extremely class oriented. The fourth variation is fascists out rightly condemn liberal ideologies because they favor individual autonomy over state authority. Communists condemn liberal ideologies because they view them as a license for people to practice capitalism and exploit the laborers. The fifth divergence is fascists revile pacifism because of a desire to expand and build empires, while communists want a global proletarian revolution to establish a haven for workers across the world to prevent capitalist and imperialist aggression. Many intellectuals as well as commoners differed along these dissimilarities. The aggressive pursuit of these ideologies by Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin resulted in much bloodshed in Europe and many parts of the world. Only time will tell which ideology will ultimately triumph for man to govern himself.
Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. “The Communist Manifesto” 25 November 2008. http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/classics/manifesto.html.
Mussolini, Benito. The Doctrine of Fascism. Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1952.