Non-violent Fascism?

It’s often argued that socialism is non-violent communism. But I wonder if there’s an equivalent analogy to fascism.

I’d say your definition is wrong. Socialism is less extreme communism. not just less violent (you can be a non-violent communist).

I would say that socialism is to communism, as conservatism is to fascism.

And I’d say that your definition could also be wrong, griffin1977. Socialism and communism are synonyms, at least as Marx and Engels used the terms. Lenin later introduced a novel distinction between the two, but to say that he defined socialism as a less extreme form of communism is hardly correct even on the most superficial level.

Socialism pre-dates communism (and Marx and Engles) by a long time.

This statement is meaningless unless you define the terms. If one takes the view, as Marx did, that the terms are synonymous, then it’s nonsense to say that one predates the other, since they are the same thing. If you use some other definitions, then maybe you’re correct.

All this just proves my point that the terms mean different things to different people and in different contexts. Because of the quite significant differences in meaning it’s not usually helpful to use them without further qualification. “Conservatism”, which you also used in this thread, has the same problem.

Since the advent of the Soviet Union Communism as a term has mostly been applied to systems similar to the Soviet one, or with allegiance to the Soviet Union. Socialist tends to have been used by those in Western Europe, for example, who abhor some defining principle of those communist systems, such as the lack of democracy, hence the constitution of the Labour party in England defining the party as “a democratic socialist party”.

Well strictly chronologically one term predates the other. So its not meaningless.

There is no universally agree definition of any of the four terms (communism, socialism, fascism, or conservatism*). But as its they are generally understood in modern political life, socialism and conservatism are both democratic forms government that adopt opposing economic views but do not generally advocate wholesale revolutionary social change. Whereas communism and fascism are revolutionary movements that advocate replacement of the entire political, social, and economic status quo with new system.

    • I’d say there is one strict, agreed upon, definition of conservatism that goes back to ancient times that simply implies support of the status quo. Regardless of what that status quo may be (hence the description of the communist “old guard” in the USSR as “conservative” is correct).

Now you’re conflating etymology with semantics. In a discussion of, say, whether analogue clocks predate digital clocks, the fact that the term “analogue clock” was coined more recently is irrelevant.

Your use of the term “conservative” here is at odds with your own definition, since the status quo is “socialist” in many areas.

There is a strict, unambiguous, definition term of “conservative” meaning in favour of the status quo. This does not always coincide with the term as its commonly used in modern politics. No one would claim that any of the communist old guard in the soviet politburo, would have voted for Margeret Thatcher. But to describe them as conservative is techincally correct as they support the status quo against reformers.

That said, those terms do have a generally understood meaning in modern politics. And the main difference between communism and socialism, and between fascism and conservatism, is that the latter is a mainstream democratic political ideology, whereas the former is an extremist revolutionary belief.

There are other differences between the two in both cases, but if you are going to boil it down to a simple “X vs Y” comparison, I’d say that is as good as you are going to get.

I’ve never heard that argument, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. First you need to define socialism, which has lots of different definitions in different countries and among different political groupings; then ditto for communism (is communism only state-system like USSR or ideology like Christianity?); and lastly, “violence/ non-violent”: is violence only state-done violence like secret police and labour camps, or also the consequences of an ideology?

Depends on how you define “non-violent”. I would say that every form of fascism is violent towards certain segments of population, because that’s how it defines itself: life is a battle, the strong survive, the weak should not be helped.

That can translate into a broad spectrum in real life: are the weak and other undesirables actively rounded up and gotten rid of; or is there simply no public welfare, so the weak can die in the streets?

One of the most important elements of Fascism is an extraordinarily intense nationalism. The other tenets of Fascism are negotiable, but Fascism just isn’t Fascism without a tribalist bent that marginalizes minorities, immigrants, and people who aren’t easily recognized as “one of us.” If socialists are less-intense communists, then nationalists are less intense fascists.


From my blog, where I discuss it.

The initial distinction made between socialism and communism is bullshit (and I doubt that it is “often argued” - I have certainly never heard it before). The precise difference between socialism and communism is a complex issue, and will vary by context. Neither word has a very fixed, definite definition.

Violence, so far as I can see, has no direct connection with any of these concepts. Certainly there are both self-described socialists and communists who are in favor of violent revolution, and ones who are strict pacifists (and points in between). I can’t say I have ever heard of an anti-violence, pacifist fascist, but I do not see any direct contradiction in the notion. In practice, non-violent fascism is unlikely, however, as many of the attitudes that are inherent to fascism (such as intensely felt nationalistic pride, and admiration of military-style “discipline”) are strongly associated with admiration of the use of force whenever expedient (and providing it is done by your own people, of course).

The same is not at all true of either socialism or communism. Even those communists who advocate violent communist revolution generally regard it as a regrettable necessity that, once accomplished, will end the need for any future political use of violence. This was true even in the Stalinist Soviet Union, where the Gulags, purges etc. were rationalized as temporary but regrettable necessities on the way to building a peaceful, free and non-violent communist utopia. Even the Khmer Rouge killing fields were a temporary expedient in this sense, designed to wipe clean the slate of history to make way for a peaceful, prelapsarian paradise.

In this country we would call non-violent fascism, progressivism. They both have at their core the notion of a country as a kind of team and the state as the coach of the team. They both have their inspiration in the mobilization of society in support of WW1. The coordination and unity expressed during that war caused alot of people to think, What if we applied the same urgency and organization to tackle societal problems instead of killing foreigners?.

Ah, the ol’ (or, rather,new) liberals are fascists meme! :rolleyes: Next up, libertarians are communists, or would you care to try anarchists are totalitarians?

There is nothing specifically fascist about the idea of people working together to tackle society’s problems. It only becomes fascism when coupled with the notion that some people are inherently better, more valuable, than others, whether it be individuals (“natural leaders”) or classes of human being, such as races or nationalities.

So far as I am aware, this sort of attitude was not characteristic of mid-twentieth century American progressives. I am quite certain that it is not characteristic of those who call themselves progressives now.

Liberalism (in both its traditional sense and its modern American one, wherein it is confounded with progressivism), socialism and communism are all fundamentally egalitarian political philosophies; fascism (like conservatism) is fundamentally anti-egalitarian. That is the crucial left-right divide.

An authoritarian system that demands increasing sacrifices from the individual, citing (often fictional) threats from without and treachery from within; but, being non-violent they dont kill you, just fire you?

Sure, I can think of some examples.