Birth of the National Fascist Party

The official program of the National Fascist Party, adopted November 7-10, 1921, at the Fasci di Combattimento’s Third Congress in Rome

Two years after the Fasci di Combattimento’s publication of the official manifesto of the fascist movement, in Milan’s Via Paolo da Cannobbio in 1919, the organization met again in Rome to adopt a new, revised program. What precipitated this change of course was a serious factional rift within the fascist movement, with Mussolini and the labor-oriented syndicalist wing on the one side, and the more conservative, integral-nationalist squadristi of Italo Balbo and Dino Grandi locking horns with them on the other. While not anti-syndicalist themselves, Balbo and Grandi were resolutely anti-socialist, rejecting Mussolini’s attempts to offer an olive branch to the Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labor. Instead Balbo and Grandi directed their syndicalist labor organization (and the violent raids of their Blackshirt squadrons) towards advancing the interests of agrarian land-owners, a tactical choice that, while it may have distressed those fascists with national-syndicalist roots, nonetheless precipitated a dramatic nation-wide expansion in growth and support for the movement. To resolve these tensions, and to give the growing movement a more sound organizational footing, the fascists convened their third congress in early November 1921, drafting the following political program and officially founding the National Fascist Party as the new political replacement for the Fasci di Combattimento.

BASES

Fascism has now become a political party in order to tighten its discipline and clarify its “creed.”

The Nation is not simply a sum of individual beings, nor is it an instrumentality of parties for attaining their own goals. It is rather an organism made up of an endless series of generations whose individual members are but transient elements. It is the supreme synthesis of the material and immaterial values of the race. 

The State is the juridical incarnation of the Nation. Political institutions are effective instrumentalities to the extent that national values find expression and security therein. 

The autonomous values of the individual and those that are common to most individuals – expressed through such organized collective personalities as families, towns, corporations, etc. – are to be promoted, developed, and defended, but always within the context of the Nation, to which they occupy a subordinate place. 

The National Fascist Party declares that at this moment in history the dominant form of social organization in the world is national society; and the essential law of life in the world is not the consolidation of different societies into one single, immense society called “Humanity,” as internationalist-minded theoreticians believe, but is rather a fruitful and, let us hope, peaceful competition among different national societies. 

THE STATE

The State should be reduced to its essential function of preserving the political and juridical order. 

The State must grant legal powers and responsibility to a variety of Associations, and must also confer upon such professional and economic corporations the right to elect representatives to the National Technical Councils. 

Consequently, the powers and functions that now appertain to Parliament must be restricted. Problems that concern the individual as a citizen of the State, and concern the State as the organism for achieving and defending the supreme national interests, fall within the competence of Parliament; but problems that affect various kinds of activity by individuals in their role as producers lie within the competence of the National Technical Councils. 

The State is sovereign. Such sovereignty cannot and must not be infringed or diminished by the Church, and the latter, for its part, must be guaranteed the broadest freedom in the exercise of its spiritual mission. 

With respect to the specific form of political institutions, the National Fascist Party subordinates its own attitude to the moral and material interests of the Nation as understood in all aspects of its historic destiny.  Continue reading

The ‘Strasser Program’

Too moderate, too democratic, too Marxist? The 1926 NSDAP draft program proposed (and rejected) as a replacement to the ’25 Points’

On January 5th, 1926, a meeting was convened in Hanover between members of the ‘National Socialist Working Group’, an association of prominent National Socialists from the north and west of Germany, including such figures as Goebbels, Ley, Pfeffer von Salomon, and Gregor & Otto Strasser. What united these National Socialists was their belief in National Socialism as an anticapitalist force, and their concern that the NSDAP was drifting in the wrong direction. At Hanover the group circulated a document which it was hoped would help address these issues: a new draft for a Party program that would replace the ‘outdated’ 25 Points of 1920, would more explicitly spell out the Party’s anticapitalist principles, and would more clearly describe the structure of the future NS-state. It was also felt that binding Hitler to a more concrete program would set stricter boundaries on his role as Führer. The draft program was primarily written by Gregor Strasser, based on the ideas of the Working Group, with some revisions to the text by Otto and Goebbels. It was contentious even within the Working Group, where it was criticized for being too ‘mild’ and lacking völkisch spirit, and its existence created some small turmoil within the Party. Hitler, seeing a threat to his authority, called a meeting at Bamberg on February 14th, 1926, where the draft program was soundly rejected; the 25 Points declared ‘inviolable’; and the foundations of Führerprinzip more firmly entrenched. The full text of the draft ‘Strasser program’ is reproduced below, translated by myself from the German ‘Quarterly Journal for Contemporary History’. 

National Socialism

Draft design of a comprehensive program of National Socialism

I. Introduction

(A nation is a community of fate, need, and bread!)

a.)  In brief the disorder of conditions:

  • in foreign policy
  • in domestic policy
  • in economic policy

b.)  Characterization of National Socialism as a wholly new, comprehensive view of political economy (synthesis of a politically creative nationalism and of a socialism which guarantees the support and development of the individual).  

c.)  Prerequisite for carrying out this mighty project is the national dictatorship. Fateful and causal connection between the economic emancipation of German employees and the political emancipation of the German people.

II. Foreign Policy

a.)  Borders of 1914, including colonies, and the unification of all German Central Europe in a Greater Germanic Reich (including Austria, the Sudetenland, and South Tyrol).

b.)  Tariff union with Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, Holland, and Luxembourg.

c.)  Colonial empire in central Africa (former German colonies, the Congo, Portuguese colonies, portions of French colonies).

d.)  United States of Europe as a European league of nations with a uniform system of measurement and currency. Preparation for a tariff union with France and the other European states; otherwise, reciprocal most favored nation status.

III. Domestic Policy

A. Reich

1. Levels of office:

a.)  Reichspresident with a seven-year term (first Reichspresident the dictator), with    broad powers, comparable to the American President. His specific functions:

    • designation of the presidents of the individual regions,
    • appointment of ministers,
    • contracting of treaties, declaring of war and peace in cooperation with the ministry.

b.)  Reichsministry: led by the Reichschancellor, who heads the individual ministries and is responsible to the Reichspresident and, to a certain extent, to the Reich Chamber of Corporations.  (In the case of a two votes of no confidence, which must be a period of at least one year apart, the Cabinet must resign; likewise individual Ministers).   Continue reading

Corporate Economics

BUF theoretician Alexander Raven Thomson’s 1935 essay on fascist economic theory

The following essay, ‘Corporate Economics’ by Alexander Raven Thomson, was first published in Fascist Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1935. The Fascist Quarterly (renamed British Union Quarterly in 1936) was the theoretical journal of the British Union of Fascists, intended to act as a kind of counterbalance to the Left Book Club by providing a platform in Britain for the dissemination of the intellectual voices of European fascism. Raven Thomson was one of these voices – a former member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, he had joined the BUF in April 1933 and swiftly became the movement’s primary ideologist. A captivating speaker, an engaging writer, and deeply influenced by Spenglerian philosophy and political syndicalism, Thomson was a revolutionary, a radical opponent of laissez-faire capitalism who saw in the corporate state the key to social justice and the salvation of Western civilization. His writings, such as the essay excerpted below, provided the BUF with much of its theoretical foundations. 

A great problem has been created for the modern world by the collapse of the present economic system. We can no longer tolerate a system which condemns most of us to poverty in the midst of the greatest plenty mankind has ever known, which deprives millions of people of the right to earn their own living, and brings ever nearer the danger of war in the international struggle for contracting world markets. What is the cause of this universal breakdown. Where have we gone wrong?

Before we can fully appreciate the cause of the trouble, we must consider the threefold nature of organized society as follows:

  • A Central Government vested with authority to plan and direct the national life.
  • A Number of Social Groups with various purposes and interests.
  • A Mass of Individuals endowed with powers of initiative and enterprise.

The classical economic theory of the nineteenth century concerned itself almost entirely with the third and least organized aspect of society, resenting either state or group interference with economic affairs. In earlier times of comparative scarcity there may have been some justification for this view, as the initiative and enterprise of the individual was then of vital importance in developing latent powers of production and advancing technical invention. Obviously the individual would develop his powers of initiative and enterprise to the best effect, if granted the largest possible measure of economic liberty, and this is precisely what the economists of the Manchester School demanded, when they advocated “laissez faire” and free trade.

Whatever the advantages of economic liberty in solving the problem of scarcity, however, it has become a positive menace to social welfare in a dawning age of plenty. There is no need to condemn classical economic theory as such, but we must realize that there can be no absolute “laws” of economics independent of social organization. No doubt the individualist system was very necessary in an age of scarcity, and we have to thank the Manchester School for solving the problem of production, but the time has now come for a new economic system in keeping with the needs of a new age. Individual enterprise encouraged by complete liberty of exploitation has put an end to scarcity, but is completely incapable of distributing the plenty it has created to the people as a whole. Production is in its very nature an individual or at most a group process; distribution, on the other hand, is based upon the needs of the whole community, and obviously cannot succeed without a large measure of conscious social planning.

Socialism and the Class War

As individualism has now passed its period of usefulness and has become an actual danger to economic progress, the time has come to turn the focus of economic interest to the social group, if not to the nation as a whole. Hitherto those who have most vigorously attacked the present system, and have adopted such collective terms as “Socialist” or “Communist,” have never really risen above group considerations. Despite their grandiloquent claim to “nationalize” the means of production, the very basis of Socialist and Communist appeal lies in the exaggeration of class differentiation and insistence upon the “class war.” Clearly such a class-conscious doctrine belongs to the realm of the social group, and fails to rise to any appreciation of the whole community as a living organic entity. Indeed the stress laid by the Socialist upon internationalism, and his denial of patriotism, confirm his inability to grasp the full implications of social organization, which should rise far above class considerations to a realization of national purpose. The ultimate “reductio ad absurdum” is reached, when the Soviet regime in Russia claims that it is the “dictatorship of the proletariat” for this would imply the permanent and conscious ascendancy of a group over the national life. Continue reading

Monthly Fragebogen: ‘A bashing! A proper bashing!’

Jailed by American occupying forces, nationalist writer Ernst von Salomon encounters some “old Nazis”

Last month I started a new ARPLAN series, The Monthly Fragebogen, in which I post extracts from nationalist writer Ernst von Salomon’s post-War autobiographical best-seller Der Fragebogen. In this month’s excerpt from the novel we encounter von Salomon in prison, shortly after being arrested by US military forces in June 1945 for the crime of being a “security threat” and a “militarist.” von Salomon had never joined the NSDAP and had associated with members of the Resistance, like Hartmut Plaas and Harro Schulze-Boysen, yet this was not enough to avoid his arrest and placement first in the Kitzbühel prison, then in a series of concentration camps. This excerpt is the beginning of the long ending section of von Salomon’s memoir which describes his experiences of internment in these American-run prison camps, where he and hundreds of other German officials, soldiers, and National Socialists lived in abominable conditions. von Salomon’s description of the treatment he and others were meted out (which grows considerably worse following on from the section below) was intended to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the forces of Democracy and Liberalism, that they were neither against brutal interrogation techniques, nor against using internment to help locals settle personal scores. 

The cell was quite large for one person and quite small for two. On either side stood wire beds on which were laid very repulsive, lumpy and incredibly filthy sacks of straw. But at least there was no latrine-bucket. My cellmate was a native of Kitzbühel, a tailor by trade, and he immediately offered to turn the worn collar of my summer coat when I was ‘outside.’ He had to serve a ten days’ stretch for having broken the curfew. He had been drunk at the time. Herr Bacherl [the prison warder] was a friend of his. Herr Bacherl had been a prison official even before the First World War. On the door hung a notice so faded as to be almost illegible, but the Imperial and Royal seal was still visible. Herr Bacherl seemed to be a persevering and at the same time adaptable character.

From downstairs horrible noises were again audible, coming from the interrogation room. My tailor knew all about it.

“It’s the other fellow now,” he said.

Apparently it was two parachute soldiers who were being ‘interrogated’ by the Polish-American officer. They had been arrested on a charge of using the syringes with which SS men could remove the ‘blood group’ tattoo-mark. It was the first time I heard about such things. The two parachute soldiers, who had been left here in Kitzbühel,  were sent for alternately and beaten to a jelly.

Midday dinner was excellently cooked but there was very little of it. I requested Herr Bacherl that he convey my congratulations to his wife and my thanks for her excellent cooking. Should she need anyone to help her peel the potatoes, the young lady who had arrived with me had considerable experience of such work. Herr Bacherl seemed impressed and thoughtful.

I was very worried about Ille. I was shocked at how wrong her reactions had been. The first night in the Kitzbühel lock-up I slept extremely badly, and solely on account of Ille. The whole afternoon I had spent walking anxiously up and down, waiting to be interrogated, though I kept telling myself that this was most unlikely. The gentlemen were certainly in no hurry: such gentlemen never are.

My tailor was not particularly communicative. He had already been inside for a couple of days and hoped to be ‘remitted’ after five more. He said, secretively:

“Here in Austria you can fix anything.”

Herr Bacherl had an assistant, Walter by name, and he was an honest-to-God ‘resistance fighter.’ At first I imagined that he had been given his present job in order that he might keep an eye on that ‘forced Nazi’ Bacherl – but it later transpired that Bacherl was his father-in-law. I had frequently attempted to explain to Ille that most trouble inside prisons resulted from the way unaccustomed prisoners allowed the warders to treat them. This was the reason why criminals were usually quite happy in gaol, while intellectuals later wrote books about how they had been insulted. It was a great relief to me to find that Ille, after recovering from her initial shock, had regained her self-control. Even on the second day she had reached such a point with little Walter that she persuaded him to fetch me to her door. Through the old-fashioned key-hole I could see her seated on her bed, her arms clutched about her knees. She came to the door as soon as she heard my voice. Herr Bacherl had already proposed to her that she help his wife with the potatoes, and Ille had immediately agreed. Now, however, she was already angling for another job, one that would give her an opportunity of coming in contact with the Americans. She whispered that I need not be anxious on her account. Apart from this, Walter would serve as a link between us. Ille was all right. Continue reading