April 19, 2006

Rare Clarity

Following a link in a Samizdata thread on the latest UK 'BNP threat' (which I'm far too distant from to denounce as 'hysterical') took me to an article by Sean Gabb which contains the most clear-sighted definition of fascism I have yet encountered:

A fascist, so far as I can tell, is someone who believes than an unregulated free market leads to unacceptable economic instability and unfair distributions of wealth, but who also believes that socialism is variously unworkable and immoral. He therefore believes that the state should take a more active role in national life than is allowed by the liberal philosophers: it should ensure that businesses are allowed to operate without disruption, but that the fruits are more equally shared. Of course, libertarians can reject fascism on this definition, as can radical socialists. But I fail to see how anyone else can. This has been the position of just about every mainstream political party in the civilised world during the past hundred years.

Exactly so.

It might be worth adding immediately that the more relevant accusatory label viz the BNP would be 'national soci*list' which Gabb also defines insightfully:

"A national soci*list believes that the main agents in the world are not individuals but nations, and that these are defined genetically, and that each nation has its own characteristics and interests that may place it in conflict with others. Individuals are but parts of the greater nation, and stand to it as do the teeth to a comb. Since national soci*lism has Hegelian roots, it shares with some of the Marxists a view of knowledge according to which propositions are true or false according to who is advancing them and when: therefore the often casual dismissal of 'Jewish Physics' and 'Jewish Political Economy'. Associated with national soci*lism is a soci*listic, protectionist approach to economic management, and some strange and intellectually indefensible theories of money and credit. And central to the ideology is the belief that a government that represents the general will of the nation should not be restrained by any legal norms or moral considerations."

Whether today's BNP subscribes to this doctrine or not escapes my competence - perhaps others here have been following the situation closely enough to respond more insightfully (if the matter is judged worthy of discussion). The general issue of political taxonomy strikes me as more interesting, but then the UK-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket saga is one I can afford to contemplate with vague bemusement.

Posted by Old Nick at April 19, 2006 10:35 AM | TrackBack




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