Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fascist? Left? Right? What?

So meine Damen und Herren, do you see the symbol on the wall up and to the right of President Kennedy?

Yes Sarge, we see it.

Now I'm sure some of you know what that is and some of you don't. So let me enlighten those who don't, after I give you a little historical background. Of course. 'Tis my nature. Shaun gives you flowers and grass, I give you boring history lessons.

The fasces is an ancient Etruscan* symbol, usually composed of a bundle of wooden rods, bound together with an axe head protruding from the bundle. In ancient Rome, the fasces symbolized the power and authority of a Roman magistrate. When a magistrate was proceeding about the city of Rome upon his duties, he would be accompanied by his lictors, in essence his bodyguards. Provided of course that said magistrate held imperium, the power to command. (No, I'm not going to attempt to explain ancient Rome here. As fun as that might be...)
The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity (see Unity makes strength); a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is very difficult to break. This symbolism occurs in Aesop's fable "The Old Man and his Sons". A similar story is told about the Bulgar Khan Kubrat, giving rise to the Bulgarian national motto "Union gives strength" (Съединението прави силата). The axe represented the power over life and death through the death penalty, although no Roman magistrate could summarily execute a Roman citizen after passage of the laws of the twelve tables. Bundled birch twigs symbolise corporal punishment (see birching). (Source)
Oh yeah, a lictor carried a fasces. So the symbol is very Italian and very Roman (don't you mean Etruscan? Silence!) which is probably why Mussolini chose it as the symbol for his political party.
Italian Fascism is based upon Italian nationalism, and in particular seeks to complete what it considers as the incomplete project of Risorgimento by incorporating Italia Irredenta ("unredeemed Italy") into the state of Italy. The National Fascist Party (PNF) founded in 1921, declared that the party was to serve as "a revolutionary militia placed at the service of the nation. It follows a policy based on three principles: order, discipline, hierarchy". (Source)
So that's where the term "fascist" came from, though they were buddy-buddy with Hitler's Nazis, they weren't the same. Though the Nazis were very much into the whole "order, discipline, hierarchy" thing. Both were all about nationalism, the Nation, embodied by the State, was far more important than the individual. You play by the rules. Or else.

Both the Fascists and the Nazis were also big into having a dictator, the Führerprinzip as the Germans called it, a hierarchy of organizations, each with a leader, which answers to the next leader above them in the chain. All answering to the HMFIC, Hitler or Mussolini.

Worthy of note, Hitler's title, der Führer, and Mussolini's title Il Duce, both translate to "The Leader." There are many bosses but only one capo di tutti capi, boss of all the bosses.

Under both Fascism and Nazism the individual is meaningless outside of what he/she can do for the State (and that is always capitalized). Unless you're the Leader, then you can truthfully state l'état, c'est moi! (I am the State! - Louis XIV)

In reality, Fascism is a very post-Depression Italian thing. In Mussolini's mind it was the return to the glories of the ancient Roman Empire. If someone claims to be a "fascist" and they're not living in the Italy of the '20s, '30s, and '40s, odds are, they don't have a clue about Fascism. (Same goes for someone calling someone else a fascist. It's name-calling without any historical veracity, at least in my book.)

As to being a Nazi? Okay, if you're all for making Germany great again (not America) and you feel screwed by the Versailles Treaty, and you seek Lebensraum to the east (think Russia), then you might be a Nazi. Oh yeah, it's all the fault of the Jews, at least according to Schicklgruber, only one in a long line of anti-Semites. He was also (most probably) clinically insane.

So you're not an Italian in the early part of the mid-20th Century? You're not German and don't even know what the Versailles Treaty is and you have no desire to be a gentleman farmer on the Russian steppes? Then perhaps you're a Communist...
In political and social sciences, communism (from Latin communis, "common, universal") is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state. (Source)
This, along with the metric system, was something conjured up by the French during their first revolution back in 1789. (They had two, some say three, more later. In 1830, 1848, and 1968. Some scholars don't count the last as a "true" revolution. Mais je divague.)

Okay Communism is one of those ideologies which could work "if only the right people were in charge." Nope, it has to start as a dictatorship. Those who've studied the thing have to monitor and instruct and...

Hey, this being in charge stuff is pretty great. Hey, I think the proles aren't ready yet, I need to stay in charge until things "settle down." Even the eventual goal is a sort of dictatorship of the proletariat. Not exactly "everybody gets a trophy" but all the right sort will.

All those "isms" are an affront to human dignity and nearly always result in the deaths of millions. So yeah, let's try it again. And again. And again.

Oh, yeah. That whole left versus right thing as it pertains to politics? Another invention of those French dudes back in 1789.
The terms "left" and "right" appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president's right and supporters of the revolution to his left. One deputy, the Baron de Gauville, explained, "We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp." However, the Right opposed the seating arrangement because they believed that deputies should support private or general interests but should not form factions or political parties. The contemporary press occasionally used the terms "left" and "right" to refer to the opposing sides.

When the National Assembly was replaced in 1791 by a Legislative Assembly comprising entirely new members, the divisions continued. "Innovators" sat on the left, "moderates" gathered in the centre, while the "conscientious defenders of the constitution" found themselves sitting on the right, where the defenders of the Ancien Régime had previously gathered. When the succeeding National Convention met in 1792, the seating arrangement continued, but following the coup d'état of 2 June 1793, and the arrest of the Girondins, the right side of the assembly was deserted, and any remaining members who had sat there moved to the centre. However, following the Thermidorian Reaction of 1794, the members of the far left were excluded, and the method of seating was abolished. The new constitution included rules for the assembly that would "break up the party groups." (Source)
Note that, surprise, surprise, the press was involved in popularizing and screwing up those terms. Also note that the conservatives ("hey, let's not be too hasty in getting rid of the king" crowd which became, over time, the "hey, that constitution is pretty awesome isn't it?" crowd) were also hesitant to divide up into factions, parties, and political groups. Felt it would hurt more than help.

Man, they got that part right.

Le Serment du Jeu de paume - Jacques-Louis David
(The Tennis Court Oath, as envisioned by moi)
History, lots of moving parts, easy to get it wrong.

No problem. I got this.

Oops, almost forgot, why is that fasces in the House of Representatives? (Actually there are two, there's one on the other side as well.) Here's the gouge on that -
The wall behind the rostrum still includes decorative Roman fasces—a classical symbol of civic authority and unity—but stylized and in bronze rather than gilded iron. The Founding Fathers consciously cultivated an association with Republican Rome during the early years of the United States, and fasces used in the Chamber are an enduring symbol of that association. Fasces also reference the new philosophy of democracy that they envisioned for America. Like the thin rods bound together in fasces, the individual states achieve their strength and stability through their union under the federal government. (Source)
Like I intimated, history is hard.

* Uh, what's an Etruscan? Why I'm glad you asked, they were an ancient group of people whose civilization predated Rome on the Italian peninsula. Yes, Rome basically wiped their civilization off the map. They owned Tuscany and other places. Man, I would love to own Tuscany. See, now you've got me digressing in the footnotes!


  1. I believe that the term " communist" was more in the line of, the training of Paul, the Greek. All equal in the eyes of God? If they confess. And partake of the bread and wine. But that's a very tennious, I like your take better.

    1. Hhmm, now that requires a bit of thought.

      I like it when the readers make me think.

      (Same Latin root for both, I had to double check but yeah, communion is from the Latin communis.)

    2. In a rational world, what you've said would make sense, be realistic, understandable, and applicable. Aptly describing various contingents. However....
      ""When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty (ed. Known Progressive Spokesman) said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."

    3. Yes, indeed and truly. The national stage seems rather dominated by Mr. Dumpty and his ilk these days.

  2. I hope there is not a pop quiz, I have to re-read this several times.

    Good stuff, but my head hurts a bit.

    1. No pop quiz.

      But this material is on the final.


    2. You're a veritable cornucopia of information, Sarge.
      I need to keep this around to read into more.
      I tweeted it...

  3. Question: Have the US entered stealthily the Principate with rise of the Imperial Presidency, professional military and decline of legilsative branch authority? Or are they only closing into it but not entered that state yet?

    1. And that remains to be seen. The professional military has been around for over thirty years, Congress consistently abrogates their responsibilities (then complains about it), and Presidents do whatever Congress lets them get away with. (See previous remark.)

      Not sure what the European media is feeding you guys but if they're taking their cue from the American media, best take that with a quarter-ton of salt.

  4. The present are hard, too.

    There are a number of positive signs out there, chief among them a growing wave of skepticism and the beginnings of a solid, thoughtful backlash against postmodernism (the damme french again) and neomarxism.

    1. Insanity can only last as long as the grown-ups allow it.

      There are positive things happening in the world, someone should alert the media.

      Of course, the media would have to deep-six their agenda first.

    2. Are there enough grown-ups left? I'm not actually sure of that.

    3. I think there are, but they're still in the backyard, finishing their beers before they come out, spank the brats, pile them in the car and take them home. For further disciplinary action.

      A lot of good folks haven't quite been pushed to the edge yet. But it's coming, soon I think. (I hope.)

  5. Reading your history lessons is a lot more fun than writing blog posts about a month-old vacation trip.

    1. Hhmm, should I feel guilty about taking you away from entertaining us with tales of Chicago?

      I do so love your photos.

    2. Thanks, actually I can follow other blogs on the fly.
      I have to actually sit down and concentrate to post.
      Sit down time is divided between serious reading or blogging.
      You may guess where that leads.

    3. Yes, concentrate, I have to do that as well. No music, no external distractions, then I can post.

      When sit down time is divided between serious reading or blogging, well, let's just say that on weekends I'm starting to rely more on reruns as blogging does cut into one's serious reading!

  6. Boy howdy, now you've gone and reset the standard a whole heck of a lot higher. Thanks for the history lesson; I knew some of that, but not all.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks Paul. I even learned a few things while researching that post myself. (I really had no idea of the popularity of the fasces in early America.)

    2. The United States was (or should it be were, never sure. Is USA singular or plural, oh well...) The United States was founded by people who were born during a renaissance formed around the ideas and ideals of the Greco-Roman era. Men were supposed to be well-rounded and willing to carry out a learned debate about the most important and least important things and issues. Thus, the prevalence of said Greco-Roman architecture amongst the estates of our great leaders. Those great leaders recognized the importance of the Greek democratic system, but also understood and tried to implement the much better Roman republicanism as a form of government in which to base the new nation of states upon. Many symbols of Roman republicanism were brought into our new world, including the fasces, the scales of justice, Justice being an armed figure, the eagle (sorry, Mr. Franklin) and many more.

      For having so much less access to information back then, it seems people sure were educated better.

    3. How true.

      Prior to the unpleasantness of 1861-1865, "United States" was usually used in its plural sense, afterwards, it tended to be considered a singular entity. My sources say either usage is correct, it depends on what you're trying to say, I guess. Hhmm, might make an interesting post...

      As to education then and now, another great idea for a post.

    4. "Unpleasantness." Heh.

      Talk about New Englander understatement.


    5. "The Late Unpleasantness" = The War of Northern Aggression = The Civil War (always wondered what was civil about it) = The War Between the States = et al.

      The former was heard many years ago from a tour guide on the Battery at Charleston Harbor when describing the conflict ignited by the shelling of the rock pile visible in the distance. So much more a Southern term, I believe ... but I could be wrong.

      see this for more: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-different-names-for-the-civil-war.76252/

    6. Ah, well, sometimes the Yankee shortwordedness could sometimes even be more verbose than the true Southern Lady.

      A, well, very mature lady dropping an "Oh. Well." or "That's nice." could destroy potential marriages, start family feuds, ruin businesses, end careers. Those who have seen the devastation an Officer's Wives' Club can cause would understand this.

      As a Jewish carpenter turned teacher would have said, "Oy Vey!!" (I know, it's Yiddish, but, still, somewhat funny..)

    7. Tom - Yup, a very Southern term. To we Yankees it's the Civil War. The other terms are all Southern, nice link, thanks!

    8. Andrew - Heh. Don't get me started on the Officers Wives Clubs.

    9. I dunno, sounds like an interesting topic, one that all four of you could have fun with.

      And isn't there a senior NCO wives' club, too?

    10. As to the Senior NCO Wives Club, I wouldn't know. The Missus Herself chose (and still chooses) her own friends and acquaintances and as for myself, I was resigned to the fact that I would never rise above Master Sergeant, I just couldn't (and still can't) stomach the politics.

  7. Wow, you managed to state in one blog post what none of my socialistic/communistic leaning public education teachers (and college 'perfessors') ever managed to say.

    And I say this being a proud descendant of America's first and original Communist Party (before they almost died and said, "Screw this, let's become money grubbing Yankees!!!"

    I had one (good) history professor who hypothesized that the fasces were also used so that when the lictors beat the carp out of some malcontent, the axe head wouldn't bite in too deep. His hypotheses about a lot of things were, um, interesting. (Like how the Greeks won at Marathon. Start by wearing 60+lbs of armor and gear, start running down a 30degree sloped beach composed of round rocks, stop when you're covered in water or dead Persians stop you.)(Like I said, interesting...)

    I read somewhere, recently, on a blog (so trust it for what that's worth) that Italian Fascism was an attempt to sell socialism to the Italian people. Which, come to think of it, sounds somewhat correct. Government control of all aspects of society, including family, the schools, businesses.

    And nothing ever changes..

    On a more jolly note, I managed to talk to a bunch of anti-fascists a couple months ago. I got them to agree that the motto "Work will make you Free!" was a good slogan. And then I said it sounded even better in the original German. I then left, leaving some very puzzled useless idiots behind.

    There may be something wrong with me...

    1. I do like the way you think.

      Arbeit macht frei indeed, I'm sure the useless ee-jits thought nothing of your parting shot (or should I say Parthian shot, just to be historically pedantic). I'd be stunned if they did the translation then made the connection to the camps.

      History can be a cruel mistress.

    2. The problem with those antifa people is that they will have no problem in the future putting a whole bunch of people into the camps. Gun owners, property owners, supporters of Israel, supporters of the South/Civil War, people who drive big cars, people who work in the coal/petrochemical industry.

      Their camps will most likely not resemble the Nazi camps, more along the lines of Pol Pot's Killing Fields (hey, more socialism/pseudo communism run by a dictator there. Seems to be quite a theme throughout history.

      I do my best to puncture people's inflated egos and ideals.

      But it is hard. They took down the Gainesville Confederate Soldier memorial on Monday. It wasn't pulled down like in Durham, but still, the same thing caused it to happen. Small minds, small people, trying to make the world a smaller and sadder place. At least the local Daughters of the Confederacy (who originally put it up in 1904, got it back.

      Some days I hate the world.

  8. So, you're leaving Socialism (another problematic French invention, it appears), for later? ;)


    1. Yes indeed. I think today's lesson provided enough food for thought for a bit.

      But you have given me an idea.


  9. Do you follow Daniel Greenfield at all? He has some interesting posts.


    1. YES! I do. Also here at Front Page Mag https://www.frontpagemag.com/author/daniel-greenfield
      I love this man!

    2. CC - Sultan Knish is a favorite, though I often need to take my BP meds a little early after reading his stuff!

    3. BC - Yup, I read him there too!

  10. What's an Etruscan? I had one earlier this year. Turns out my etru is just fine! (But that dye they make you drink is horrible!)

  11. Thank you for the history lesson. I have heard some of that before, but not put together so nicely in a cogent summary. And never about the decorations in the House Chamber. That is pretty cool.
    Any time you wish to continue the history lessons, please feel free!!

  12. History is always interesting, and you can spend HOURS chasing various facts through a multitude of links and get completely opposite meanings depending on where you find your sources. Thanks for the history lesson!

    1. Ah, I'm guessing you do that too.

      Thanks Cajun!

  13. As to the issues of today, our President, Donald Trump (I haven't gotten tired of saying that) had a press conference today, where he came down hard on a lot of stuff that has been happening lately.


    I know, an NBC site, but it's the best I can do.

    And he really rattles the monkey cage with the question and answer portion.

  14. No matter the name, when you get to the fringes, the results are pretty much the same - an all-powerful totalitarian State using the power of the gun to force compliance to the wishes of the ruling elite. Compare Nazi Germany to Stalinist Russia, and it's subject states, and you see pretty much the same methods used to the same ends. Hitler had Jews and Holocaust, Stalin had kulaks and Holodomor (danged spellcheck doesn't like either of those words....hmmmm....I'm not fond of them either).

    VERY good and thought provoking piece, by the way. Well done, sir.

  15. Relegation, welcome to it.

    I'm, if anything, a centrist. I believe very much in our Constitution. I swore an oath to uphold and defend it. It is an austere document. I support it. How does that make me either right wing or conservative? All I want is what our founders wanted. Surely that makes me a revolutionary!

    1. I'm with you Cap'n.

      It ain't broke, they should quit trying to "fix" it.


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