the lesser evil (as if that were possible), while at the same timernthey were lumping together French reactionaries, SpanishrnFalangistas, Italian fascists, German nationalists, and Nazirnbutchers into one sum: 666, the mark of the beast known asrnfascism.rnHistorians and political theorists have published hundredsrnof volumes on fascism in a vain attempt to find coherencernin all the nationalist and reactionary movements thatrncame to prominence in the 1920’s and 30’s. Leftists insist thatrnfascism is a movement of the right, while conservatives are fondrnof pointing out that both Hitler and Mussolini were socialists.rnThere is some truth in both assertions, of course. On the onernhand, both Mussolini and Hitler instituted economic controlsrnof the t’pe that are generally associated with socialism; on thernother, most fascists and Nazis regarded communists and theirrnsocialist-liberal allies as the enemy. If there is any real connectionrnamong the different fascisms and nationalisms of the period,rnit may lie in their rejection of the bourgeois democratic orderrnestablished after World War I, and while the Nazis, singingrn”Die Fahne hoch,” condemned the forces of “reaktion” theirrnappeal to German national traditions was nothing if not reactionar’.rnThe Great War marked the end not just of an era but of a civilization.rnForms and institutions seemed to crumble overnight,rnand the old aristocracies disappeared to be replaced, as models,rnby the flapper and the speculator. It was the Jazz Age chronicledrnin New York by Scott Fitzgerald and by Sinclair Lewis inrnthe Heartland. Whatever else “fascists” may have believed,rnthe- knev- what they were against, and it was the Hobbesianrnreign of cheapness and vulgarity, the social fragmentation thatrnFliot described in The Wasteland and that drove his friendrnPound into the adoration of Mussolini.rnThe nearest thing to a philosopher produced by fascism wasrnGiovanni Gentile, who became Mussolini’s minister of publicrninstruction. According to Gentile, fascism meant a reassertionrnof the nation and a reconciliation of the individual with thernlarger community in which he would be fulfilled. UnlikernMarxism, a disgusting superstition that aims at the annihilationrnof the human person. Gentile’s fascism aimed at the higher expressionrnof the person within the nation. However tenuous orrnincoherent Gentile’s ideas were (I find him unreadable in anyrnlanguage), he is clearly a reactionary and a throw-back to anrnAristotelian and Thomistic (by way of Hegel) conception of thernindividual as an incomplete being that can only be fulfilled inrnmarriage, family, and the ultimate community of the nation.rnThe two major obstacles to achieving the mystical union desiredrnby nationalists were regional and local loyalties and politicalrnpartisanship. Hitier brooded over the fact that North andrnSouth Germans are obviously different peoples—physically,rnculturally, and religiously—and concluded that race and nationrnv’ere two separate things (an insight that American racialrnnationalists are still unable to grasp). Mussolini, in order to unifyrna divided Italy, eliminated the Sicilian language and used thernarmy and bureaucracy as a means of uprooting Italians fromrntheir regions—a practice carried on by successor governmentsrnafter the war.rnIn Spain, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the most attractivernof the fascist leaders, regarded his country as a “universal destiny,”rnand while (unlike Mussolini) he appreciated regional differences,rnhe opposed political regionalism as atavistic and destructive.rnJose Antonio deplored the clumsy patriots who madernfun of the Catalan dialect or tried to pit unitarian patriotismrnagainst the local: local attachments always win out because theyrnare more basic. Spanish nationalism, he insisted, had to bernrooted in Spain’s destiny, not in a set of racial or ethnic characteristicsrnthat were not shared by all Spaniards.rnIf Jose Antonio was ambiguous on the regional question, hernwas adamant in opposing political parties as an even more seriousrnsign of decay than local separatism:rnPolitical parties are born the day men lose the sense ofrnthere being over them a truth in whose sign peoples andrnindividuals fulfill their missions in life. Prior to the birthrnof political parties, peoples and individuals knew thatrnabove their own reason stood the eternal truth, and, asrnthe antithesis to eternal truth, the absolute lie. But thererncame a time when men were told that neither truth norrnlies are absolute categories, that everything is debatable,rnthat everything can be resolved by the vote, and that votesrncan decide whether the fatherland should continue unitedrnor should commit suicide, and even whether Godrndoes or does not exist. Men split up into groups, makernpropaganda, insult each other, until finally one Sundayrnthey place a glass box on a table and start filling it up withrnlittle bits of paper on which it says whether God exists orrndoes not exist and whether the fatherland should orrnshould not commit suicide.rnIn realit)’, of course, fascist leaders did very little to eliminaternpartisan politics (except in the sense of establishing their ownrnmonopoly) or to restore genuine communify; they indoctrinatedrntheir subjects with nationalist propaganda designed to inspirernloyalty to the regime—a technique also employed by nationalrnsocialists in Germany, the U.S.S.R., and the U.S.A.,rnwhere Franklin Roosevelt instituted schemes of corporatistrnplanning far beyond an)’thing the Duce actually implemented.rnBut anti-fascists have made few sincere objections to thernvices of fascism. How could they, seeing that most of themrnhave been adopted by so-called democratic states that have embracedrnall the paraphernalia of ultra-nationalism: pledges of allegiancernand loyalty oaths, reverence for the national flag, systemsrnof public instruction that politicize every subjectrnincluding mathematics and drivers’ ed, and tightly controlledrnnational media (ABG-NBG-CBS-PBS-GNN) that script thernpolitical shadow-boxing of “free elections” at the same timernthey are filtering out nearly every trace of opposition to thernregime.rnAmerica’s own national socialists of the left have accomplishedrntheir coup d’etat by eliminating competing ideologiesrnof the left and right. On the left, they succeeded in demonizingrntheir Stalinist rivals (not enemies) as traitors, andrnmuch of the hysteria over communism was orchestrated by excommunistsrnwho had made a tactical change of ground. WTienrnmy late friend Russell Kirk used to say that certain ex-Marxistsrnwere genuinely consen-ative, I suppose he meant only that theyrnopposed Stalin and believed in public order. But all good communistsrnbelieve in establishing and maintaining a moral andrnpolitical order that is tightly controlled by themselves. WhenrnEugene Genovese was still a Stalinist, he vigorously defendedrnpublic morality’, pointing out the no-nonsense approach the Sovietsrnused against perverts and pornographers.rnGommunists and leftists are serious men, unlike liberals, andrnMARCH 1998/11rnrnrn