Another look at fascist ideology.
Previously, I objected to Quigley’s description of fascism as “irrational" -
[Side note – I do not like Quigley’s correlating fascist states and movements to irrationality in the sense he does – while such movements were opposed to hyper-rationalism of modernity, they were not irrational in the sense of what was best for the nation and ethny and the organization of society had many positive rational aspects. I would argue that modern liberal democracy is truly irrational].
There are two basic issues here. First, the definition of irrational. Second, what do we mean by fascism?
Let’s consider this definition of irrationality:
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency. The term is used, usually pejoratively, to describe thinking and actions that are, or appear to be, less useful, or more illogical than other more rational alternatives.
Irrational behaviors of individuals include taking offense or becoming angry about a situation that has not yet occurred, expressing emotions exaggeratedly (such as crying hysterically), maintaining unrealistic expectations, engaging in irresponsible conduct such as problem intoxication, disorganization, and falling victim to confidence tricks. People with a mental illness like schizophrenia may exhibit irrational paranoia.
These more contemporary normative conceptions of what constitutes a manifestation of irrationality are difficult to demonstrate empirically because it is not clear by whose standards we are to judge the behavior rational or irrational.
The last part is in my opinion crucial to this discussion – it is difficult to definitively define political behavior as irrational given the problem of “whose standards” and the intense nature of political identification. Hence, it is just very easy to simply label your opposition as “irrational” as contrasted to your own “rationality.”
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality.
What’s “rationality?” Thus, we see controversy and subjectivity there as well, so defining “irrationality” as the absence of “rationality” is not helpful if we are unable to clearly define “rationality.”
One (somewhat vague) definition of “rationality” that conforms to the manner most people use the term is beliefs and/or behavior (e.g., a decision-making process) based (predominantly or completely) on the use of (verifiable) facts, logic, and consideration of consequences in pursuit of some objective(s) that is (theoretically) achievable and that would enhance the status and/or well-being of some (verifiably) real entity or entities (or useful mental constructs of such). “Irrationality” would therefore be beliefs and/or behavior that does not conform to that described above.
This then comes back to the issue of subjective standards, since I am sure most fascists would consider their beliefs and behavior as conforming to ethnic, racial, social, political, and historical realities and that the objectives pursued would enhance the status and well-being of the group or groups involved. Anti-fascists would disagree, and then one would have to do a “deep dive” into fascist ideology and its consequences, and each step of that analysis would, no doubt, be steeped in controversy. I suppose that the “irrationality” of fascism would be ascribed to, e.g., the emotionality inherent in many of its manifestations, including a “mystical” (sic) tie to blood and soil, as well as the alleged “irrationality” of certain palingenetic objectives, which would not always correlate to the types of issues (e.g., economic growth, peace, human rights) of interest to classical liberalism. One could also ascribe “irrationality” to certain fascist critiques of modernism, materialism, and, not surprisingly, to a purely rational approach to life, even though there may well be – from the fascist perspective – rational reasons for such beliefs.
From a pro-fascist standpoint, given ethnic genetic interests, one could aver that fascism is more adaptive than are Universalist ideologies, although Salter did criticize fascism for an ultimately self-defeating over-investment in ethny (perhaps an example of “irrational” behavior). Thus, the hyper-nationalism of fascism led to expansionist militarism, destructive warfare, and the mobilization of other states to crush fascism, leaving the fascist states arguably worse off than before. But does the fact that this over-investment took place stand as evidence of fascist irrationality? Note that it is unlikely that Mussolini would have conducted aggression within Europe in the absence of Hitler’s influence; further, the other fascist movements in Europe did not have expansionist militarism has part of their ideology. Indeed, “fascist militarism” essentially was a Nazi legacy, and had as much, or more, to do with Hitler’s fixations, and to historical German militarism, than to any inherent characteristic (“irrational” or otherwise) of fundamental fascism.
Perhaps it would help to look at definitions of fascism itself. Griffin’s description of fascism as palingenetic ultra-nationalism is a good starting point. We can then tackle some of the ideas of Maurice Bardeche on this topic.
The characteristics of fascism, we have seen, are disputable, and only a small number of those we have examined have been retained in a logical definition of fascism. The single party, police methods, propaganda, Caesarism, the very presence of a Führer are not necessarily attributes of fascism; still less an alliance with reactionary politics, the refusal of control and open membership to the masses, the inevitability of prestige operations and military raids.
A firm and stable direction of the nation, the primacy of the national interest over private interests, the necessity of a discipline loyally accepted by the country, are the true political foundations of fascism, those that emerge from its very definition.
That seems reasonably rational to me, from the standpoint of the well-being of nation-state and ethny.
Power may be exercised in a fascist state by a central committee, a council, or a junta as well as by a designated leader; such rule need not be brutal and abusive. It can also be tolerant and supple. The essential political instrument of fascism is the role that it grants to a minority of disinterested and committed militants capable of leading by the example of their own lives and to bear the message of a just, loyal, and honesty polity. The famous fascist methods are thus constantly and ceaselessly reevaluated. What is more important than mechanisms is the idea that fascism has of man and freedom.
So far, that all can be consistent with rationality.
Democracy puts no limits on freedom beyond prohibiting harm to others. Democrats are quick to discover that one might harm the government without harming others, and their codes are filled with political offenses. But they have never admitted that without harming others individually, one can still harm the nation as a whole through the abuse of freedom.
Such harm from democracy would be irrational, no?
Fascism opposes this anarchic concept of freedom with a social conception of freedom. It does not permit that which harms the nation. It permits everything else. It is wrong to believe that it is in the spirit of fascism to limit individual freedom or freedom of thought. Nothing has changes in the everyday life of a country when it becomes fascist: contrary to the famous saying, when someone rings the doorbell at seven o’clock, it must be the milkman…
…Fascism recognizes this irreplaceable mystique of achievement. It is a sign of degeneration when the worship of a man is substituted for the task to be accomplished and when the nation nourished with nothing more than words, authority without a program, portraits disguised as principles: it is nothing more than a donkey with a policeman trailing behind him.
Thus, fascism leads to a different social morality than democracy, and it seeks to develop a human type that the democracies ignore or combat. Just because fascism nurtures different values than does liberal democracy does not mean that the former is “irrational” (an idea that assumes liberal democracy is “rational”).
The democrats believe in the natural goodness of man, in progress as the course of history. They think that all parts of the personality merit equal development. For them, the state does not make men moral, it merely teaches them to read; education is a panacea that can work miracles. Democracy does not intervene to establish its own image of man. Its fine ideal exists nowhere. One cannot even say that the men in charge choose subjects to suit their agenda, like leaders of seminars. Democracy is only concerned with diplomas. Democracy distributes awards for excellence. She places her best pupils in the Pantheon. But in 100 years, she has not produced a single hero.
Fascists do not believe in the natural goodness of man; they do not believe that progress is the irreversible direction of history. They have this ambitious idea that man has the power to create, at least in part, his own destiny.
I suppose that the strict materialists and liberal democrats believe that talk of “destiny” is “irrational” – but it seems to me that creating destiny through an act of will is more rational than a fatalistic attitude of passively accepting whatever comes and/or merely pursuing short-term hedonistic materialism or trusting in “Fate” or “God."
The purpose of the fascist state is to shape men according to a particular model. Unlike democratic states, fascist states do not hesitate to teach morals. Fascists think that the will and energy available to the nation are its most precious capital. They make it their highest priority to encourage the collective qualities that shape and preserve the national energy. They seek to develop such national qualities as discipline, a taste for order, love of work, the sense of duty and honor. In the practice of everyday tasks, these national moral principles are expressed in a sense of responsibility, a sense of solidarity, awareness of duties of command, the feeling of being at home in an accepted order and in an important task.
That also sounds quite rational.
Is developing The New Man to build The Moral State rational or irrational? I would say that regardless of your subjective opinion on that, The New Man and The Moral State can be harnessed to achieve rational objectives; hence, they are ultimately rational with respect to ends (even if not always with respect to means).
It would seem therefore that fascism, in its essence, and apart from the particular manifestation of Nazism, was not especially irrational. Indeed, how is fascism any more irrational than its main competitors? Liberal democracy disguises the power of an oligarchic plutocracy behind the veneer of popular sovereignty, and is currently undergoing self-immolation due to a tidal wave of demographic and cultural destruction. Communism resulted in millions of dead, gulag states, economic depression, and pseudoscientific ideas like Lysenkoism.
One wonders if the particular focus on fascism being “irrational” has more to do with its underlying mythos than with its actual real-world manifestation. In contrast, both liberal democracy and communism are perceived as being (ostensibly) based on “rational” materialistic considerations, such as economics, happiness for the greatest numbers, etc. derived from “Enlightenment values,” while fascism with its focus on primal values of “caveman nationalism" (blood and soil) and with non-quantifiable, non-materialistic considerations of palingenesis, national glory, and The New Man, sounds ever-so-irrational After all, one can have a quantifiable “rational” Five Year Plan for socialist production but not a similarly materialistic Five Year Plan for palingenetic overcoming and national glory. Unlike liberal democracy and communism, fascism is not an ideology for the bean-counters of a managerial elite, hence it is seemingly based upon non-quantifiable “irrational” urges.
But some in the mainstream have defended the irrational as part of existentialist authenticity, a concept that can be extended to the race question. And can’t irrational urges be harnessed to achieve rational objectives?
…a call to “preserve our distinctive genetic information” is unlikely to motivate most Western individuals to defend their genetic interests against the titanic forces arrayed against them. It almost certainly will not motivate the masses, who, as Michael O’Meara rightfully points out, are always induced to act by “myths” that encompass a cohesive worldview. Even rational activists can often become more motivated by these “myths” (which may of course constitute objective facts to a considerable degree) than to a pure empiricism. Thus, the “myth” of Yockeyan “High Culture” may be needed to motivate the defense of rational Salterian EGI.
In summary, whether or not a political ideology is rational or irrational is to a large part subjective, and in a day and age in which the word “fascist” is used a pejorative, stripped of most of its informational value, it is difficult to arrive at an objective reckoning of fascist rationality vs. irrationality.
Given the definitions given by me here, fascism is not particularly irrational, and to the extent that is does have irrational aspects, those are not necessarily bad, and, further, can be leveraged in the service of rational goals.
The main threat is if the irrational aspects of fascism inflate to a level akin to Salter’s criticism; thus, controlling fascism’s primal urges and keeping those urges within reasonable limits would be key in avoiding irrationality overload.