Skip to comments.BIG LIAR: How Theodor Adorno redefined Fascism.
Posted on 09/02/2017 5:31:01 PM PDT by walford
Fascism and Nazism are both phenomena of the left. This makes ideological sense, because at their core they represent ideologies of the centralized, all-powerful state. Moreover, fascism grew out of Marxism, and fascisms founder Benito Mussolini, was a Marxist and lifelong socialist. Hitler, too, was a socialist who headed the National Socialist Party and in fact changed the name of the German Workers Party to make it the National Socialist German Workers Party.
How, then, did progressives in America re-define fascism and Nazism as phenomena of the right? This sleight-of-hand occurred after World War II, once fascism and Nazism were discredited with the reputation of Holocaust. Then progressives recognized it was important to cover up the leftist roots of fascism and Nazism and to move them from the left-wing column into the right-wing column.
The man most responsible for the progressive redefinition of fascism is Theodor Adorno, a German Marxist intellectual and a member of the influential Institute for Social Research, otherwise known as the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School scholars were leftists and most of them were refugees from Nazi Germany. Some settled in Europe; others like Adorno and Herbert Marcuse came to the United States.
Adornos influence in defining how fascism came to be understood in America cannot be underestimated. When he and Marcuse arrived, America had just waged war against the Nazis, and after the war Nazism became the very measure of political horror and evil. Not much was known about fascism and Nazism, outside of superficial newspaper and radio coverage. In academia and the media, there was an acknowledged curiosity about what had attracted so many people to fascism and Nazism, with its attendant anti-Semitism.
Marcuse and Adorno were Jewish, and so could be expected to know about anti-Semitism and the fate of the Jews. And they were refugees from the Nazis, so they could claim to be speaking about Nazism, as it were, from the inside. Their work was embraced by the American Jewish Committee, which naturally felt that these two German exiles would know precisely the nature of Nazism, fascism and anti-Semitism and how to overcome them. The two Frankfurt School scholars basically shaped what was considered anti-fascist education in the United States.
In reality, the American Jewish Committee had no idea that Adorno and Marcuse had their own agenda: not to fight fascism per se, but to promote Marxism and a leftist political agenda. Marxism and fascism are quite close; they are kindred collectivist ideologies of socialism. Their common enemy is, of course, free markets and the various institutions of the private sector, including the church and the traditional family. Marxism and fascism both sought to get rid of capitalism and remake the social order. So did Marcuse, Adorno and the Frankfurt School.
Adorno decided to repackage fascism as a form of capitalism and moral traditionalism. In effect, they reinvented fascism as a phenomenon of the political right. In this preposterous interpretation, fascism was remade into two things that real fascists despised: free markets and support for a traditional moral order. With a vengeance that appears only comic in retrospect, the Frankfurt School launched a massive program to uproot nascent fascism in the United States by making people less attached to the core economic and social institutions of American society.
The classic document in this regard is Adornos famous F-Scale. The F stands for fascism. Adorno outlined the scale in his 1950 book The Authoritarian Personality. The basic argument of the book was that fascism is a form of authoritarianism and that the worst manifestation of authoritarianism is self-imposed repression. Fascism develops early, Adorno argued, and we can locate it in young peoples attachments to religious superstition and conventional middle-class values about family, sex and society.
With a straight face, Adorno produced a list of questions aimed at detecting fascist affinities. Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn. Homosexuality is a particularly rotten form of delinquency. No insult to our honor should ever go unpunished. No matter how they act on the surface, men are interested in women for only one reason. Basically, a yes answer to these questions showed that you were a budding fascist.
The underlying logic of Adornos position was that German and Italian fascism were, at their core, characterized by internal psychological and sexual repression. A moments reflection, however, shows why this position is nonsense. By and large, the social attitudes toward religion, the family and sexuality were actually quite similar across these countries, allowing for some modest variation. One might speculatively argue that the Germans of the time were more uptight than, say, the French, but who would argue that the Italians were more repressed than, say, the English?
So Adornos F-scale had no power to explain why fascism established itself so powerfully and destructively in Germany and Italy but not elsewhere. Most real fascists, historian A. James Gregor dryly observes in The Ideology of Fascism, would not have made notably high scores. Now there is one question that would in fact have uncovered fascist affinities: Do you support increasing the power of the centralized state over individuals, families, churches and the private sector? Significantly, Adorno did not include this question on the F-scale, presumably because it would have brought enthusiastic yes responses from progressives and Democrats.
Given the patent absurdity of Adornos antifascism, with its obviously fraudulent and pseudo-scientific F-scale, why did the mainstream of American academia fall for it? Why did they go along with Adorno and proclaim his work the definitive basis for antifascist education? The short answer is that even then academia had a strong progressive tilt, and the progressives discovered the benefits of embracing Adornos thesis.
Here, after all, was a German Jewish scholar declaring fascism a phenomenon of the right. Clearly he was sticking fascism on conservatives who supported capitalism and affirmed religion and traditional families. This was a liereal fascists detest those institutions and want to destroy thembut it was a politically convenient lie.
So the progressives delightedly climbed aboard the bandwagon and cheered him on, and the cheering continues. In 2005, for example, the progressive sociologist Alan Wolfe admitted flaws in Adornos work but praised The Authoritarian Personality as more relevant now because it seems to capture the way many Christian-right politicians view the world.
Adornos value to such people is that he empowers them to say, Down with fascism! Now lets get rid of conservatism and expose those evil people on the right. And today Adornos deception enables the left to call Trump a fascist and Republicans the modern incarnation of the Nazi Party. Only by understanding this big lie can we inoculate ourselves against it and correctly locate fascism and Nazism where they have always belongedon the political left.
To elaborate in detail - Guild Socialism involves the government protecting established companies, putting them in charge of deciding which competitors can join them, dividing up sectors. Ostensibly this is to prevent wasteful redundancy, but in practice, it results in cronyism, high consumer prices and monopoly.
Trade Union Syndicalism involves government forcing the labor force to join unions that have financial and political ties to certain government officials. The given reason is to protect workers, but in practice, it makes it so the ability to join the workforce depends upon connections. Employers have no choice but to hire politically connected union labor. Wages are set by syndicates rather than supply-and-demand. Labor surpluses -- viz, high unemployment -- are inevitable. This in turn, erodes self-sufficiency, swells the numbers of those dependent upon taxpayer-funded benes, which increases the power of apparatchiks who thus control a larger percentage of the general population's most basic and vital needs. Hence more are invested in increased taxes and larger government.
Futurism is a form of Utopianism in which those who are Gifted [by political connection] design an ideal society and enforce it with the coercive power of government. Social engineering is a key aspect, with politicians and bureaucrats using the carrot and stick to modify the general population to either fit into the Grand Design or be eliminated.
Does this sound conservative to anyone? Or does it more resemble the New Deal, Great Society, Obamanation, etc.?
Article and post BUMP! Thanks, walford.
Did you write that comment, or is it a continuation of Dinesh’s article?
Very informative. Thank you.
I think your explanation is exceptionally well done.
“Fascist” seems to be key word for Marxists.
My Father’s battalion was sent into Berlin after the Russians captured it. They were among the first.
Daddy mentioned to me that for the first couple of weeks, every time they would meet a Russian soldier, he would shout out, “Death To Fascists”.
The American soldiers for the most part had no idea what they were talking about.
I have admired Dinesh D’Souza’s work, and this analysis is spot on.
“How, then, did progressives in America re-define fascism and Nazism as phenomena of the right?”
Doesn’t matter. When I get into a discussion with a leftist, I always, sooner or later, call him a Nazi. I wait for his head to spin around 360 degrees and spit out green pea soup, like in the “Exorcist” movie, and challenge him to step out in the parking lot for a further discussion.
He never does.
As a practical matter, fascism and socialism go hand in hand. A Marxist or socialist dictator inevitably employs fascist elements in his governance.
Similarly, it should be pointed out that socialism and fascism do not free you of an oligarchy, they in fact create an oligarchy. In some cases replacing the old one, in some cases its the old one in new guise. But in any dictatorship and in any socialist country, dictatorship or not, you will have a circle of powerful figures and families that profit from the regime and hold the whole thing together.
Thank you. My uneducated self has never been able to grasp how they completely overlook the socialist aspect of the National Socialists. Still don’t understand why so many believe it.
In 2016 the anticipated candidates of both American "parties", Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton were both running on the same corrupt, fascist agenda of regulated competition in business, massive preferences to a shrinking number of dominant corporations, suppression of religious belief, complete state control of education and the eradication of national sovereignty and the nation state. Then Trump happened and set their agenda back at least four years. It's a start.
Don’t look at me. No relation whatsoever.
Thank you. Yes, the comment was all me.
I would only add to elaborate that the reason the Left wants to conflate conservatism with fascism is to make it so those who advocate for freedom, individual empowerment, equality under the law, lower taxes, smaller government, etc. to be closet NAZIs.
Hence, to stop the evils of fascism, one must quash the aforementioned principles upon which the Party of Abraham Lincoln was founded before they metastasize into Nazism.
“...it should be pointed out that socialism and fascism do not free you of an oligarchy, they in fact create an oligarchy. In some cases replacing the old one, in some cases its the old one in new guise.”
It is obvious what the fraudulent issue of fascism versus communism accomplishes: it sets up, as opposites, two variants of the same political system; it eliminates the possibility of considering capitalism; it switches the choice of Freedom or dictatorship? into Which kind of dictatorship?thus establishing dictatorship as an inevitable fact and offering only a choice of rulers. The choiceaccording to the proponents of that fraudis: a dictatorship of the rich (fascism) or a dictatorship of the poor (communism). - Ayn Rand
"It's a choice between A and B -- and I get to decide what A and B are."
Some say that FDR was a socialist, but he tolerated private property so long as it served the public interest as deemed by the State. Fascists, being Leftists, think that true freedom and justice can only issue from the State. They believe that the State is the people and the people are the State [”we are the government”], so the more power the government has, the more empowered are the people.
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