FASCISM AND NEO-CONSERVATISM: IS THERE A DIFFERENCE? | Prof John McMurtry (1984)

Fascism,” the West European movement that achieved its greatest strength in Germany and Italy between 1922 and 1944 under the leadership of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and “neo-conservatism,” the dominantly American movement that has achieved its greatest strength in the United States and Britain in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, arise out of historical circumstances that are strikingly similar in nature. In each case, political power is won by a relatively sudden rightward swing of a minority of the eligible electorate towards a war-like leader, backed by a media-lavished bloc of fiercely ideological partisans of old-line values and national military glory. In both cases, the social context of this unusual and dramatic turn towards the political right is one of perceived and objective cultural crisis. Economically, the shape of this crisis in 1930’s Germany and 1980’s America is eerily similar. There is a precipitous decline in effective demand for industrial commodities; great and growing unemployment; a steep rise in family-farm indebtedness; an unprecedentedly large and increasing public debt; a long-term, “runaway,” postwar inflation; a series of severe balance of trade deficits; historic stock market plunges; and a jolting succession of nonproductive mergers of large corporations and failures of small businesses.

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