- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2000

James Gregor, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, has given us a splendid work of scholarship that is much needed if we are ever to understand the revolutionary movements of the past 100 years."The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century" is based on extensive research and primary sources in Italian, German, English, Russian, and Chinese. Mr. Gregor's thesis is that communism and fascism are not polar opposites but closely related doctrines with a common origin. His theme is cleverly captured by the two faces of Janus Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin on the book's cover. Readers may find this work to be startling, because our understanding of fascism is primarily a product of Soviet propaganda.
When the Bolsheviks, a splinter group of Marxists, found themselves in power in Russia, they were soon beset by doctrinal and practical difficulties that they could not resolve. With their Marxist legitimacy threatened by the substantive criticisms of Italian Marxists and their revolutionary leadership rivaled by a nationalistic mass movement on the Italian peninsula, Bolshevik theoreticians declared all revolutionary movements that did not follow the Soviet "internationalist" line to be "tools of capitalist reaction."
Because Bolsheviks had power over a large country, they were able to speak for Marxism and to lay down the progressive line followed by so many intellectuals. As Mr. Gregor puts it, "many Western scholars were not concerned with empirical truth or falsity. They wanted affirmation of their visions of the future." Every Marxist who was not a Leninist became by definition a fascist. In our time "fascist" has become an epithet associated with the genocidal policies of the German National Socialists.
Mr. Gregor is concerned that our limited comprehension of fascism deprives us of insights that we will need if we find ourselves confronting a Russian and/or Chinese fascism in the 21st century a likelihood that the author does not dismiss.
In the years before World War I, Mussolini was a notable Marxist intellectual and leader of Italy's Socialist Party. Fascism grew out of theories espoused by radical Marxists who became nationalistic in their outlook. V.I. Lenin's seizure of power made no sense to Marxists. Karl Marx had made it clear that socialist liberation required the material abundance made possible by an advanced industrial system and a politically mature workforce to overthrow the old order. Nothing of the sort existed in Russia. Lenin's internationalism was dismissed as a fiction.
World War I turned many Italian Marxists into fascists. Fascism was a response to Italy's feeling of domination by more advanced industrial nations. Italians experienced fascism as a regenerative response of a proud people who felt humiliated. Class outrage faded as the sense of national outrage grew.
Mr. Gregor shows that fascism was a major intellectual movement of reactive developmental nationalism. Fascist theoreticians, of whom many were Marxists, believed that the revolutions of the 20th century would be those of poor, less-developed nations mobilizing their populations against the "demoplutocracies."
Mr. Gregor traces the changes in the Marxist theory of fascism and in the raison d'etre of the Marxist systems. He provides an interesting account of Soviet and Chinese theoreticians analyzing one another's system as fascist, and he takes the reader step by step through the devolution of Soviet and Maoist Marxism into fascism. He shows that "the Soviet Union of Josef Stalin, like the Italy of Mussolini's fascism, had assumed the major features of a reactive developmental nationalism." His chapter, "Fascism and Post-Soviet Russia," is riveting reading. No Western policy-maker should be without the knowledge in these 20 pages.
Mr. Gregor has performed a signal service. He demolishes the partisan, propagandistic "left/right" dichotomy that has prevented any understanding of the insurrectionary violence of our time. He concludes that the contest of the 20th century has continued into the 21st. It is not between the right and the left, but between representative democracies and their anti-democratic opponents.
One wonders what future democracy has in the United States when a large and growing racial minority is systematically taught to feel oppressed and humiliated by a hegemonic "white culture." In structure, the propaganda against "white culture" is no different from the fascist propaganda against the "demoplutocracies," and it could produce an equally fascistic response. A population riven by internal resentments is unlikely to succeed when confronted by external mobilized resentment. The United States faces unrecognized dangers and had best sit up and take notice.

Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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