Fascism, Nazidom, and its
intractable foe, Winston Churchill
• Fascism: Fascere - ―To bind together‖
– Benito Mussolini, Italy
– Seizes power in Italy 1922—assassinated in
– Mussolini—a socialist until 1915
– Fascism—a paradoxical but potent mixture of
extreme socialism…notions with a Hegelian
or idealist theory of the state.
• Gentile: Italian neo-Hegelian,
tried to give intellectual
consistency to Fascism.
– Opposed within Fascism by the anti-
• Whereas liberalism promoted
man as a selfish individualist,
Fascism upheld the higher moral
purpose of the collective.
– One may, oddly, see antecedents of
this in Rousseau‘s Social Contract.
– As opposed to the individual wills
who have contracted to form the
state so as to protect private
• ―Fascism is a religious conception in which
man is seen in his immanent relationship
with a superior law and with an objective
Will that transcends the particular
individual and raises him to conscious
membership of a spiritual society‖
– Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism
• ―Fascism is hostile to all Utopian systems which
are destined never to face the test of reality‖
– Gentile, 107
• Gone, finally, is the time when it was possible to
illuminate the reasoning powers of his mind with
the light of ideals whose existence and whose
reason of being cannot be proved through the
powers of reason.
• All that remains is an appeal to force, to
compulsion, intellectual as well as physical
• Socialism had to be opposed too: it artificially
divided the state into classes
• Fascism: proud of its totalitarian aims
– Nothing could stand outside of the state, as a
reference point for value
– Trade unions, religions, human nature (as an
essence, separable from its realization in the state)—
all these were artificial constructs used in the past to
divide a state into factions
– Fascism would harmonize society by dispensing with
• ―the first point to grasp is the
comprehensive, or as the Fascists say, the
‗totalitarian‘ scope of its doctrine, which
concerns itself not only with political
organization and political tendency, but
with the whole will and thought and feeling
of the nation‖
• Gentile, 107
• Individual and state
• ―Both Fascism and nationalism regard the State
as the foundation of all rights and the source of
all values in the individuals composing it‖
• Gentile, 108
• The state has an ―organic life of its own, which
far transcends in meaning the life of the
individual….It is a living entity, it is the highest
spiritual entity of the political world….‖
• Palmieri, 111
• Contrast this with US Declaration of Independence
– We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the
Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
• The people are the source of sovereign
authority, and the state is their creation, made to
serve and protect their rights
• Preamble to the US Constitution
– We the people of the United States, in order to form a
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote
the general welfare, and secure the blessings of
liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of
• Consider Federalist 84
– It has been several times truly remarked that
bills of rights are, in their origin, stipulations
between kings and their subjects,
abridgements of prerogative in favor of
privilege, reservations of rights not
surrendered to the prince. Such was MAGNA
CHARTA, obtained by the barons, sword in
hand, from King John.
• Federalist 84 continued
– It is evident, therefore, that, according to their primitive
signification, they have no application to constitutions
professedly founded upon the power of the people, and
executed by their immediate representatives and servants. Here,
in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain
every thing they have no need of particular reservations. "WE,
THE PEOPLE of the United States, to secure the blessings of
liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ORDAIN and
ESTABLISH this Constitution for the United States of America."
Here is a better recognition of popular rights, than volumes of
those aphorisms which make the principal figure in several of our
State bills of rights, and which would sound much better in a
treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government.
– The relationship between State and citizen [all
citizens] is accordingly so intimate that the
State exists only as, and in so far a, the
citizen causes it to exist. Its formation
therefore is the formation of a consciousness
of it in individuals, in the masses. Hence the
need for propaganda and education which
Fascism uses to make the thought and will of
the Duce the thought and will of the masses.
• Mussolini: takes from Gentile, but adds
another twist: that action is more important
than thought. Praxis over intellect.
• And by ―action‖ he meant violence.
• ―war alone keys up all human energies to
their maximum tension, and sets a seal of
nobility on those persons who have the
courage to fight and die‖
• The nature of Nazidom
– How it differs from Fascism
• The Nation (volk/folk) precedes the State
• The real ―organic‖ growth is the nation…a racial
• All natural life is characterized by struggle
– Social Darwinism
• ―All struggle for existence inevitably follows from
the high rate at which all organic beings tend to
increase….Hence, as more individuals are
produced that can possibly survive, there must
in every case be a struggle for existence, either
one individual with another of the same species,
or with the individuals of distinct species, or with
the physical conditions of life.
• Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, Part III
• ―The whole of nature is a continuous
struggle between strength and weakness,
an eternal victory of the strong over the
weak. All nature would be full of decay if it
• Hitler, 116.
• Democracy promotes peace and
weakness, hence decay. It is unnatural.
– Unfortunately, the contemporary world
stresses internationalism instead of the innate
values of race, democracy and the majority
instead of the worth of the great leader.
– Hitler, 116
• A species arises, a type becomes established
and strong, under the long struggle with
essentially unchanging, unfavourable conditions.
• [Now o]nly the mediocre have the prospect of
succeeding, of reproducing themselves—they
are the people of the future, the only survivors,
―Be like them! Become mediocre!‖—from now on
that‘s the only morality which still makes sense,
which people still hear
• Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 262
• ―A new faith is arising today: the myth of
the blood, the faith, to defend with the
blood the divine essence of man. The
faith, embodied in the clearest knowledge,
that the Nordic blood represents that
mysterium which has replaced and
overcome all sacraments‖
• Alfred Rosenberg, 121
• Also, language is unique to a peoples, it helps
characterize them. Language shapes
consciousness, and provides the unique
―grammar‖ of their intellect (see Johann Herder)
• For lower peoples, their language poses an
insuperable obstacle to their development
– ―A people is determined by a number of different
factors: by racial derivation and by the character of its
land, by language and other forms of life‖
– Eernst Huber, 123.
– Power of language and symbol
– Used speech and ―political theatre‖ to persuade
people to adore and follow him.
– formed a party apparatus, with storm troopers and
―brown shirts‖, thugs, who could intimidate opposition.
– taps into the resentment of the Germans suffering
under the imposed settlement of World War I, the
– identifies the Jews as conspirators responsible for
German misery. A visible target for German
– Hitler‘s speaking style
Also known for his oratory
Justin Lyons, ―Winston
Churchill and the Rhetorical
Challenges of Democratic
• What did Churchill believe he was
• England (his nation-state)
• What England stood for
– Gentile, Palmieri claim there is no standard of
right outside the State.
– Churchill: the State has no value if it is not in
accord with a higher standard
• Churchill: much more Aristotelian
– Part I
Every state is a community of some kind, and every
community is established with a view to some good;
for mankind always act in order to obtain that which
they think good. But, if all communities aim at some
good, the state or political community, which is the
highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims
at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the
• What is that good?
• -not war. War is not the end or goal of the
– the better or superior is that which has a
– Now the soul of man is divided into two parts,
one of which has a rational principle in itself,
and the other, not having a rational principle
• And there must be a corresponding
division of actions; the actions of the
naturally better part are to be preferred by
those who have it in their power to attain
• The whole of life is further divided into two parts,
business and leisure, war and peace, and of actions
some aim at what is necessary and useful, and some at
what is honorable. And the preference given to one or
the other class of actions must necessarily be like the
preference given to one or other part of the soul and its
actions over the other; there must be war for the sake of
peace, business for the sake of leisure, things useful and
necessary for the sake of things honorable. All these
points the statesman should keep in view when he
frames his laws;
• Aristotle, Politics, VII (chp xiv).
• Neither should men study war with a view
to the enslavement of those who do not
deserve to be enslaved; but first of all they
should provide against their own
• Aristotle, Politics, VII (chp xiv).
• Thus, believing peace to be the proper
end does not lead Aristotle to assert that
one should make no provision for defence.
• Why? Because ―most men desire empire
in the hope of accumulating the goods of
– Politics, VII (chp. xiv).
• One is foolish to trust that others will
always maintain peace.
• ―Prepare yourselves, then, my friends and
comrades in the Battle of London, for this
renewal of your exertions. We shall never
turn from our purpose, however sombre
the road, however grievous the cost,
because we know that out of this time of
trial and tribulation will be born a new
freedom and glory for mankind.‖
• Churchill, July 1941
• Yet, Nietzsche‘s criticisms of democracy
are valid: it inclines toward softness
• He‘s not the first to level this criticism
• When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cupbearers presiding over the feast, and
has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and
give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are
Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.
Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hug their chains and men
of naught; she would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are
men after her own heart, whom she praises and honours both in private and public. Now, in such
a State, can liberty have any limit?
By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals
and infecting them.
• How do you mean?
I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a
level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and metic
is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.
Yes, he said, that is the way.
And these are not the only evils, I said --there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears
and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the
young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend
to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and
therefore they adopt the manners of the young.
Quite true, he said.
The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as
his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.
Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?
That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater
is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State:
for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a
way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody who comes in their
way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.
Plato, Republic, Book 8
• Or even Friends of democracy
– From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure
democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of
citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can
admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or
interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a
communication and concert result from the form of government itself;
and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker
party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies
have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever
been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property;
and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been
violent in their deaths.
– Publius, Federalist 10.
• De Tocqueville: the love of public peace is
often the only political passion that
democracy can sustain.
• Does a democracy have the discipline, the
courage, the fortitude, to say ―no‖?
• ―It is not as if the existence of our country
alone were at stake, because the cause of
freedom, the resistance to tyranny in all its
forms. . .is a world cause, and a duty
which every man and woman owes to the
human race in all its circumstances‖
– Churchill, Oct 5, 1948
• Dunkirk – Battle of Britain
• Churchill‘s Task
1. Not a reflection of pre-
existing world, but critique
of world, or creation of a
2. Uses simultaneity,
Multiple points of view all
at once: T.S. Eliot,
In art emphasis on flatness,
Boccioni, Untitled (Horse
and Rider) c 1915
We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of
energy and fearlessness.
Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential
elements of our poetry.
Up to now literature has exalted a pensive
immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt
aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s
stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
Boccioni, States of Mind I 1915
We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—
militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of
freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and
scorn for woman. (FT Marinetti)
Boccioni, States of Mind II 1915
Boccioni, Charge of the Lancers 1915
Carra, Funeral 1914
Form of Continuity
in Space 1913
del Debbio, Stadium of the Statues