Arguing that the Socio-Economic aspects of the ideologies of Italian Fascism and the NSDAP legitimately qualify as types of Socialism is usually done for the purpose of condemning Socialism, (or more rarely to defend Fascism). I however am a Socialist who is still willing to say not all Socialisms are good.
In my Fascism is Heroarchy
post on my main blog I was talking about the core Psychology of Fascism in a way that mostly transcends any actual policies. That definition of Fascism can apply to more than just the kinds of Socialism I shall define as Third Positions here but can also manifest as Capitalist like in the fiction of Ayn Rand or among Marxists like what Stalinism eventually became.
People arguing against the equation of Fascism with Socialism can’t agree on how. To Progressive Liberals it’s more about proving Progressive Liberalism isn’t Fascist since Conservatives think Progressive Liberalism is Socialism. And then Breadtubers don’t just want to distinguish their Socialism from Fascism but want to make Fascism somehow a type of Capitalism.
And then of course Conservatives and Libertarians and whatever TIK is don’t actually understand what is and isn’t Socialist about any kind of Socialism because they just think it's anytime the Government does anything.
At its core Socialism originally just meant Collectivism with the goal of making Society more Equitable, and generally involved critiquing Capitalism with a forward rather than backward looking perspective. It was always a much broader concept than Communism. Marx himself wrote about how he prefers to use the term Communism because "respectable "Socialism had become associated with "Middle Class" tendencies he didn't like. I'm going to argue that those Middle Class Socialisms of the 19th Century are the Grandparents of National Socialism and Fascism.
Today self described Socialists with a notable platform are mostly people identifying as either Marxist or Anarchist. The thing is as much as Marxism and Anarchism seem like such diametrically different kinds of Socialism in that context, they actually have two maybe three things in common that were not Universal among those called Socialists in the 19th Century, or even all that common in the first half of that century.
First is that even Anarchists are Marxists in the sense that a “Marxist Reading” of a fictional story is about how much it can be interpreted as calling for Class Warfare. Anarchists also believe the goal of Communism is a Classless Society, since Class is also an unjust hierarchy. So Marxists and Anarchists are both supposed to oppose Class Collaboration. Class based rhetoric is often associated with Marxism first because Marxism is strictly speaking not a political ideology at all but an analysis of History as being driven by Class Struggle, Anarchist philosophers mostly agree with the Marxist analysis of history even if they sometimes try to be less strictly economically determinist about it.
Now Class Collaboration is not about denying the lower classes have it bad and need to be treated better. But they see the answer to Class Conflict as reconciliation rather than abolition. Class Collaboration is often associated with Nationalist rather than Internationalist forms of Socialism, but H.G. Wells' political ideology was absolutely a Globalist Class Collaborationist Socialism.
The classic silent film Metropolis is one people love to give their Marxist readings of, but the ending of the film is in fact Class Collaboration with the protagonist becoming the mediator between the owners and the workers. Most forms of Class Collaboration intend the mediator to be The State, but Fascist Class Collaboration sees the State as principally embodied in a Strongman Leader. That’s the real reason Metropolis is part of the Caligari to Hitler thesis.
It’s possible to see a mild Statist Class Collaborationism is Keynesian Liberalism and Social Democracy. But to me a true Class Collaborationist Socialism has to go further than that, it still sees society as in need of massive restructuring, not merely tweaked by Social Safety Nets and allowing Unions to exist.
However I also feel an Anarchist Class Collaborationism existed in the Anarcho-Mutualism of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Today Proudhon’s legacy is fought over between Anarcho-Capitalists
and Anarcho-Communists but in my view both should disown him for his Misogyny and Anti-Semitism (the contemporary Frenchman who Libertarian-Communists should claim descent from is Joseph Dejacque). He was also a direct influence on French Proto-Fascism via both Georges Sorel and Charles Maurass’s Integral Nationalism (Georges Valois then synthesized those two ideologies while still citing Proudhon himself), and on Nazism via Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Proudhonian Anarchism is also probably what Tolkien meant when he described himself as an Anarchist but I’m not sure he knew that.
Sadly many of the people called Christian Socialists in the 19th Century were a type of Class Collaborationist. The Denominationally more High Church Types wanted the Institutional Church of wherever they were to be the mediator. But others took a more Christianized form of Proudhonian Mutualism sometimes called the "Community of Love". Thing is Jesus was clear The Rich can't enter His Community till they are no longer Rich.
The second is that ultimately Marxists are also Anarchists, they also see the long term goal of Communism as a Stateless Society. Communists who are considered Anarchists in contrast to Marxists simply have no Faith in the Marxist belief that the State will wither away on its own, and also tend to have a very “Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely” attitude towards the very concept of trying to use the State to achieve Socialist aims.
This is often the core of arguing Fascism can’t be a kind of Socialism. Anarchists and Marxists are so used to arguing with each other about when the State should be abolished that they have lost the ability to imagine a Socialism that says it shouldn’t be at all.
However almost all Pre-Marx Secular Socialists saw the State as necessary, as well as Louis Blanc in France who was the first person to criticize Capitalism by that name and was an apologist for the Jacobin dictatorship (his ideas also already contain the gist of Corporatism). And then contemporary with Marx in his own country there was Ferdinand Lassalle who was a very vocal Statist, but I won’t accuse Lassalle of Class Collaborationism. In England Henry Hyndman and the Fabian Socialists including H.G. Wells were also Statist Socialists.
The third is that Marxists and Anarchists are also generally Internationalist rather than Nationalist. But there is some nuance here as there is a type of Nationalism that is ultimately compatible with Internationalism, Nationalist Resistance/Liberation movements for Colonized and Marginalized peoples. And then there’s National Bolshevism which originally referred to Nationalists who saw themselves as still qualifying as Marxist-Lenninists before it became a generic insult for any Communist who seems Socially Conservative on some issues.
There are a lot of different kinds of Nationalism just based on how you define what makes a Nation. The Volkish Nationalism of the NSDAP as well as the Christian Identity Anglo-Israelism of certain American White Nationalists are both Nationalisms where Citizenship is determined by Biological Race, but there are others that define it by more abstract cultural factors. The more exclusivist the Nationalism is the more inherently Reactionary it will be. But there’s also the matter of scale, people assume all Nationalists oppose the European Union because of its conflict with the Nationalism of more specific European countries, but there is also a Paneuropean Nationalism that supports the E.U. or at least forming something like it, Fascists and Nazis were considering Paneurpeanism already even before WW2 and today the E.U. is supported by Richard Spencer.
During the 19th Century Nationalism was considered an inherently Left Wing ideology even though tensions between Nationalists like Mazzini and Marxists were always there, and yes even Mazzini was sometimes considered a Socialist. The formation of the Second International in 1889 was when mainstream Marxism said Nationalism shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.
On all three of these I agree with Marxists and Anarchists which is why I feel I qualify as a Communist, yet on where Marxists and Anarchists disagree with each other I'm still a bit torn between them.
The first two of the three things I just talked about are the core of what a Third Positionist Socio-Economic ideology breaks with Marxism and Anarchism on, and even then needs to be combined with the Heroarchy to fully qualify as either Nazi or Fascist. The third is the one that’s optional.
But most Breadtubers feel the opposite, because they’re obsessed with the flimsy Palingenetic Ultranationalism thesis and really want to insist that Fascists are just taking a modified Capitalist position on Economics, while also accusing Anti-Government Conservatives and Libertarians of being Fascist. The same Breadtubers will often base much of their criticism of Capitalism on saying it’s a relatively new development in Human history so can’t actually be Human nature. If Capitalism is indeed New in the grand scheme of things then it is absolutely possible to be Anti-Capitalist in a Reactionary way. But not even all Fascists see themselves as Reactionary, Nazism often does, but proper Mussolini and Mosley style Fascists did not.
My problem with treating Nationalism (or some other Exclusivist Identitarianism) as the most nonnegotiable characteristic of Fascism is that it precludes the possibility of a Globalist Fascism. Now I don’t think a truly Globalist Nazism is possible (unless Extraterrestrials actually started migrating to Earth, then you could have an NSTAP), but again H.G. Wells' ideology had both my requirements to be an Economic Third Position, it just lacks the Heroarchy. In Modern Hero Myth making Heroes who save and/or unite the entire World not just one tribe are increasingly becoming the standard. So the pieces are already in place for a Globalist Fascism. A government doesn’t need to be based on any specific bigotry to be authoritarian and oppressive.
Mussolini’s Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought by A. James Gregor is a very interesting and well researched book. It's early chapters document how the Italian Fascist ideology of Mussolini and Giovani Gentile organically evolved organically out of developments happening in Italy in the late 19th Century, where Mazzini style Nationalism and Syndicalism (which in Italy was already using the language and imagery of the Roman Fascio) were influencing each other in an increasingly fully symbiotic relationship while also taking influence from Sorel.
I’m someone who is interested in the differences between Fascism in the sense Mussolini intended and Nazism. It has been common, (including by me earlier in this post and other recent ones I’ve made) to use Fascism as the umbrella term and National Socialism (what Nazi is short for) as the more specific subtype. But this book has made me consider that maybe they should be switched, because it has quotes where the term “National Socialism” is used by Italian Proto-Fascists before it ever was in Germany in 1918, including by Mussolini himself.
Indeed there were a lot of groups popping up calling themselves National Socialist during this era, not all of them even fit the definition I’ve given for Third Positionist at all. But another one that could be considered a Third Position was the National Socialist Party founded in Britain in 1916 by Henry Hyndman. Hyndman was like Mussolini in how he left the Socialist Party he was previously in because he supported WW1. But he was also a promoter of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories related to the Second Boer War, and after the Russian Revolution he became very Anti-Bolshevik.
The first use of National Socialism in Germany predates the founding of the party Hitler would later take over and rename adding that term to it. It was in late 1918 associated with the Anti-Bolshevik league. So in Germany National Socialism was always somewhat fundamentally reactionary, a reaction to the Russian Revolution. But again the core original definition of Socialism can still apply to a reactionary viewpoint, because reactionaries are not actually backward looking but doing in someway the opposite of the progressives they're reacting to.
Within the NSDAP there was always a tension between those who took the Socialism part seriously like Feder and the Strassers, and the growing influence of German Industrialists who were financing the Party. Hitler himself was actually more of a follower than a leader as far as this tension went, all he really cared about was Hating the Jews and restoring Germany’s “Heroic” Pride.
The Prussian Socialism of Oswald Spengler was another German Third Position.
France had Fascist movements emerge organically and independently of simply being influenced by Germany and Italy. In addition to Valois there was the Neosocialism movement, and in Belgium Henry De Man came from the same Belgian Socialist Party that produced key leaders of the Second International.
After the War new Third Positions continued to emerge. Juan Peron in Argentina was perhaps the most successful implementation of Mussolini style Fascism. In The Middle East we had Nasser in Egypt, Baathism in Syria and Iraq and then the Fatah Party in Palestine. Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese Nationalism was originally a Third Positionist ideology but like the NSDAP gave way to Capitalist influence in Taiwan over time. Then Juche and Dengism are both functionally Third Positionist even though they nominally still claim to be Communists.
Saying there is no true Socialism in National Socialism because they disagree with us on Class and The State and Nationalism is a blatant No True Scotsman Argument that a certain type of the Internet Reactionaries we’re arguing with have a long history of not tolerating from Christian Apologists in which context Secular Leftists agree. So doing the same thing when it comes to Socialism isn’t a good look.
Communism/Communist is the term that applies to Marxists and Kopropkin style Anarchists and other Socialists who take the correct position on Class Warfare rather then any Third Position. But even Communism can be corrupted by Bad Actors. We need to stop concerning ourselves with whether any given Dictator was a true Socialist or Communist and instead argue their moral, ethical and practical failings don’t mean Socialism and Communism can’t work at all.
Likewise a lot of Internet Leftists base their responses to calling Mussolini or Hitler Socialist on defining them based on what they did rather then anything said in their ideological Manifestos, and the problem is that's not how defining ideologies work. Anarchists, non Leninist Marxists and Trotskyists feel the USSR also failed to actually be Socialist practice, but few would deny that Leninism is a Socialist, Communist and Marxist ideology. The USSR also wound up crushing Unions when Unions become inconvenient for them.
A given regime's failure to do what it was supposed to may or may not be a valid argument against an Ideology being correct, but it isn't an excuse to redefine one.
Saying "the term Privatization was coined to describe what the Nazis did" doesn't change the fact that the Privatizations the Nazis did were fake because of all the strings attached. The people who support Privatization for Liberal/Capitalist reasons would look at that as functionally indistinguishable from Nationalization even if it wasn't done by the one government absolutely no one wants to be compared to.