Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism: Chapters in the Intellectual History of Radicalism

Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism: Chapters in the Intellectual History of Radicalism

A. James Gregor

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0804760349

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This work traces the changes in classical Marxism (the Marxism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) that took place after the death of its founders. It outlines the variants that appeared around the turn of the twentieth century—one of which was to be of influence among the followers of Adolf Hitler, another of which was to shape the ideology of Benito Mussolini, and still another of which provided the doctrinal rationale for V. I. Lenin's Bolshevism and Joseph Stalin's communism. This account differs from many others by rejecting a traditional left/right distinction—a distinction that makes it difficult to understand how totalitarian political institutions could arise out of presumably diametrically opposed political ideologies. Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism thus helps to explain the common features of "left-wing" and "right-wing" regimes in the twentieth century.

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intercourse”77—which all together produce the “phantoms in the brain”: religion, philosophy, collective sentiment, morality, and law. Given that collection of convictions, the “superstructural” ideas of any particular historic period are understood to be the determinate by-products of that period’s economic base, with the prevailing ideas being those of the dominant possessors of the means of material production. Controlling the means of survival, they impose on the dispossessed their will as

Woltmann conceived Marxism as essentially scientific in essence—and Darwinism was the major scientific achievement of the last half of the nineteenth century. Woltmann sought to reaffirm Marxism’s scientific properties by showing that it was not only compatible with Darwinism but that Darwinism and Marxism were mutually reinforcing.38 Woltmann proceeded to provide evidence that Marx had early signaled his interest in Darwinism. In Capital, for example, Marx argued that just as Darwin had shown

present social system [is] unavoidable, because we know that . . . economic evolution inevitably brings on conditions that will compel the exploited classes to rise against this system of private ownership.” 16 The system, he went on, necessarily multiplies the number 183 and strength of the exploited, and diminishes the number of the exploiters, particularly those of the middle classes, so that ultimately only two classes, the grand bourgeoisie and the proletariat, face each other with

individual and group behavior at specific intersections in time and development. Such changes would be the result of deliberation involving economic imperatives—the satisfaction of substance, protection, and welfare needs. As the economic system evolved, human beings acted “freely,” as conscience dictated—with those dictates emanating from determinate realities. Kautsky fully accepted the general Marxist understanding of the nature and causes of revolution. According to Marxist theory, revolution

was the result of changes in the economic base of society. As the forces of production evolved, the relations of production were compelled to adapt. That adaptation became manifest in the voluntary behavior of humans—with conscience as its lever. Conscience was one of those “phantoms in the mind” through which economic needs found idiom. 186 All of that having been said, there clearly was something more to conscience and will than had been suggested by their depiction, in the foundational

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