Randy Barnett over at the Volokh Conspiracy posts a short excerpt from a Libertarian Alliance article about "The Mystery of Fascism" that illustrates how the familiar left-right political spectrum is pretty nonsensical when applied to reality.
From 1912 to 1914, Mussolini was the Che Guevara of his day, a living saint of leftism. Handsome, courageous, charismatic, an erudite Marxist, a riveting speaker and writer, a dedicated class warrior to the core, he was the peerless duce of the Italian Left. He looked like the head of any future Italian socialist government, elected or revolutionary. ...Mean Mr. Mustard wrote an an excellent article on fascist China six months ago (before he quit blogging) that explains it all pretty clearly. He discusses how no nation has ever really been "Marxist", and that all communist states quickly morph into de facto fascism. To quote at length:
Given what most people today think they know about Fascism, this bare recital of facts is a mystery story. How can a movement which epitomizes the extreme right be so strongly rooted in the extreme left? What was going on in the minds of dedicated socialist militants to turn them into equally dedicated Fascist militants?
Marx's glorious proletarian revolution was supposed to take place in advanced industrial countries. That's why it was called a proletarian revolution, because the revolution itself was to be the result of the vast majority of the population becoming urban wage laborers, who would systematically exploited for profit at the hands of the capitalist class. For Marx, the idea that a communist revolution could take place in an undeveloped country was madness. Marx and Engels both wrote exhaustively about the need for societies to undergo the developmental phase of bourgeois capitalism, because it was those processes that would create an advanced industrialized system, which only then could be transferred into the hands of the proletariat, which by that time would constitute nearly the entire population.Go read the whole thing, and you'll have some good insight into why the hard left and the hard right in America look so similar. They're after different things (sorta), but they both want to control you and tell you how to live. There's not much functional ideological difference between Castro, Kim Jong Il, and Saddam Hussein.
For all that's wrong with that theory (and any discussion as to just how wrong it is would take up much more space and time than I intend to use right now), it's undeniable that Marx was indeed right about at least one thing: any communist revolution undertaken in a country that had not reached a certain level of technological and industrial advancement was doomed to failure, and to be marred by the worst kinds of violence and oppression that would make the evil capitalist oppressors look like pikers. Marx was perfectly right about communism not working in underdeveloped countries (he just happened to be ass-backwards wrong about why it would work in developed countries).
He and Engels stated many times in plain, unambiguous language: any revolution undertaken in pre-industrial countries would fall back upon the same system of a small elite controlling development and oppressing the vast majority for their own gain. Furthermore, the only way the revolutionary system would be able to be maintained was through large amounts of violence.
Sound like any countries you know of? ...
Gregor has said that if you go to China today and try to talk about "Marxism," the people will look at you like a child molester.
What features characterize Chinese government today?
- Single party, undemocratic rule with a single charismatic leader, meaning a figure who is held to be essentially infallible.
- A corporative system of representation, in which people are assigned representatives according to their special interest associations, such as soldiers, teachers, students, business people, etc.
- An organizing principle of nationalism as the rationale for the government's legitimacy.
- A strong emphasis on industrial development.
- Sweeping reforms of the military and educational systems to make them more effective in the ultimate goal of China reasserting its international prominence.
What kind of program is this? It's one that correllates remarkably close to the fascist program for development begun by Mussolini in the 30's. For all intents and purposes, China today is a fascist nation.