Everyone reading this has been indoctrinated in the cult of anti-fascism, where Hitler is a mysterious super-villain, with magical powers. The Nazis are a hyper-efficient military machine designed to kill all that is good in the world. It borders on the ridiculous, but it has been effective in establishing fascism as the worst evil imaginable. There’s not much worse than being called a Nazi, other than having been an actual Nazi. Outside of prison, Nazis are considered the worst thing possible, even worse than child molesters.
On the other hand, Bolshevism has never been given the same treatment, despite the body count. The Nazis killed a lot of people, but the Bolsheviks were every bit as murderous. In fact, Stalin was vastly more efficient at killing the inconvenient. His policy of starving the Ukrainians killed more people than Hitler’s death camps and it did so much more efficiently. Not only that, the Bolsheviks exported their murderous ideology all over the world, causing tens of millions of deaths. Maybe more than 100 million.
Yet, you can be an open Bolshevik and there is no punishment for it. On every college campus in the 1980’s, for example, you could find clubs for Marxism, various forms of third world communism and even pro-Soviet organizations. Of course, hipsters have been sporting Che Guevara gear for decades. Guevara was not just a murderer and a communist, he was an over the top racist. He really hated blacks. Read his diary and even David Duke would squirm over some of the things Guevara said about blacks.
Anti-fascism evolved from an academic fetish among Frankfurt School members into a cult of sorts in the 60’s and 70’s. The Antifa loons of today are well within the tradition of prior anti-fascist loons. The puzzle is why no similar movement ever started in response to the Soviet atrocities. Even if you think the Nazis were worse than the commies, in terms of intensity, the Bolsheviks were around a lot longer. They also managed to kill, or cause to be killed, millions around the world. The commies were a global killing machine.
Why is the former the symbol of evil, while the latter is still popular?
The anti-Semites argue that the reason the Bolsheviks get a pass is that Jews invented communism and Jews now run the world. It is certainly true that Jews are, as a group, politically radical and opposed to Western traditions. It’s also true that Jews were wildly over represented in Marxist movements, including Bolshevism. Having won the ideological war with fascism, it made a lot of sense for Jews in America to use the Nazis as a lever to pry open the doors of the ruling class. Self-interest made fascism the great villain.
The fatal flaw in this theory though is that while it explains why anti-fascism remains a powerful force in the West, it does not explain why Bolshevism gets a pass. Stalin turned on the Jews in 1948, when he saw how his Jewish subjects responded to Golda Meir and the establishment of Israel. When 50,000 Jews showed up in Moscow to cheer their new ambassador Stalin decided he had a Jewish problem. From that point until the end of the Cold War, Jews in the communist bloc were subjects of official repression.
There’s another problem and that is the assertion Jews have the power to bewitch and beguile the masses. Even accounting for their exceptionalism, Jews are still 2% of the American population. Unless they are a race of super smart aliens with the ability to control minds, like the John Carpenter film The Live, it’s unlikely that they have controlled the debate for 60 years. If they are a race of super intelligent aliens from beyond the stars, we will never know it, so there is no point in contemplating that option.
Paleocons, like Paul Gottfried, have suggested that communism may have an appeal to Christians that fascism lacks. That is, communism in the abstract is inclusive, universal and egalitarian. These are concepts that you find in Christianity, at least in the general sense. Anyone can become a Christian and everyone is equal before God. The Social Gospel sounds a lot like neo-Marxism and post-colonial socialism. Liberation Theology in South America is explicitly Marxist. The current Pope is out of this movement.
The problem here, of course, is that, in Europe, the Latin countries were explicitly Catholic and fascist. In fact, some scholars argue that fascism is an outgrowth of Catholic ideas like corporatism and localism. Spain under Franco was both Catholic and fascist. Portugal under Salazar was also Catholic and fascist. Of course, Mussolini’s Italy was very popular with American Progressives until the outbreak of the war. The best you can argue is that fascism seems to have had less appeal to Protestant academics that Bolshevism.
The elephant in the room is that this argument connecting communism with Christianity is made almost exclusively by Jewish anti-communists. This could simply be an example of the strange lack of self-awareness among Jews. That is, they are instinctively trying to shift the focus from their coreligionists, who are wildly over represented in Bolshevism, by laying the blame on Christians. All the best Christmas songs are written by Jews, so maybe they know something about how to sell this to Christians. Who knows.
The fact is, the anti-Semitic and philo-Semitic arguments explaining the popularity of Bolshevism versus the demonization of fascism, don’t hold up under scrutiny. Both answers have some truth to them, but they don’t provide a complete answer. A big reason is that no one, especially anti-fascists, can provide a workable definition of fascism. In the book Fascism: The Career of a Concept, the aforementioned Paul Gottfried does an excellent job explaining the various and contradictory definitions of historical fascism.
This is why conservatives fall for the “liberals are the real Nazis” stuff peddled by grifters like Dinesh D’Souza and Jonah Goldberg. Fascism is a poorly defined political movement that can mean just about anything at this point. Even in the interwar period, the various fascist movements had some things in common, but they also had things in common with the Bolsheviks. After decades of anti-fascist proselytizing, fascism is simply a catch-all term for that which the Left currently finds upsetting or threatening.
As is often the case, the reason for the relative cultural positions of Bolshevism and fascism is due as much to serendipity as anything else. For example, Frankfurt School anti-fascism came packaged with the claim that America was a proto-fascist state, which made it attractive to European academics looking for a reason to oppose their new conquerors. Before long, the provincial clod-hoppers from the American academy were getting in on the trend. Anti-fascism became a fashionable pose for the bourgeois radicals.
It was also a useful dodge for leftists who could shift the focus from their own unreliability in the Cold War onto their critics, by calling them fascists. It’s a good example of how immediacy can have a far greater impact on societal evolution that design. The Frankfurt School types never seemed to contemplate the role of the pseudo-intellectual poser, but their critiques set off a chain of events leading to anti-fascism becoming a handy weapon for feckless airheads and preening popinjays to gainsay their opponents.
Another interesting twist is that the current fad of anti-fascism is probably the primary driver of the new anti-Semitism. Younger people have no emotional attachment to the events in Europe a century ago. The leftist street bullies and campus enforcers have managed to make anti-anti-fascism attractive. This has opened the door to old fascist writers and thinker that have been memory-holed for generations. Julius Evola has probably sold more books in the last ten years than in the previous fifty.
Even more critically, modern anti-fascism has made the corresponding generation of Jews reckless and stupid. The social media meme “fellow white people” is the sort of thing that never would have been noticed without the anti-fascist hysteria. Previous generations of Jews were more circumspect, careful to avoid publicly living the stereotype. Younger Jews, caught up in anti-fascism as hipster cause, have managed to define themselves as an absimiliated alien tribe, with a chip on their shoulder about white people.
Given that the West is well into a post-industrial age where intellectual capital is the means of production, it is long past time for these industrial age ideologies to disappear, but we are also in the post-Christian age. People have to believe in something, even if it is opposition to something that has not existed for three generations. Similarly, opposition to the hauntology of anti-fascism, is providing a breeding ground for a new politics and a new metaphysics that exists outside the strictures of prevailing orthodoxy.