Individualism And Fascicm Essay, Research Paper
Modern political thought has given a considerable amount of attention to the conception of the individual’s function in modern society. In this paper, I will discuss the fascist philosophy on individualism. Using the Italian philosopher Alfredo Rocco’s arguments on this topic, I will consider how Liberalism, Democracy and Socialism are closely related, while Fascism can be seen as the true antithesis to Liberalism. In this process I will review Fascism and its principles. I will also elaborate upon the similarity of Ernst Huber’s personal liberty and Karl Marx’s ideas of personal property and the need to eliminate these freedoms for the benefit of the State.
Alfredo Rocco, in his Political Doctrine of Fascism, discusses the common basis of all political doctrines of his time in Europe. He illustrates the similarities of individual’s roles in Liberalism, Democracy and Socialism by stating that Liberalism, Democracy and Socialism “consider the welfare and happiness of individuals to be the goal of society” (280).
In Rocco’s opinion, these political theories use the society as a means to protect the individual’s liberties. He declares that these social theories hold this end, but differ only in their methods for attaining this end (i.e. individual liberty).
In Rocco’s explanation of the Liberal theory, he explains that Liberal societies contend that the manner to secure the welfare of its citizens is to interfere as little as possible in the affairs of its citizens. He further defines this theory by stating that Liberalism sets up boundaries for its government in order that it does not sacrifice the freedom of its individuals. By a system of limitations, Liberalism disallows the State from becoming too powerful and capable of overstepping its role of ensuring personal liberty for its citizens.
Rocco then shows how these Liberal ideals are “illogical and in contradiction with the very principles from which it proceeded” (281). He affirms that the State cannot limit itself for the defense of liberty, but it must become active in support of its citizens for their welfare. He believed that the State must intervene to improve the conditions of its masses. He holds that it is a contradiction to have a State governed by a small minority, that a true State is governed by all.
Rocco goes on to elucidate the relationship between Liberalism, Democracy and Socialism. He states that “Logically developed Liberalism leads to Democracy; the logical development of Democracy issues into Socialism” (282). He ties the three theories together by their common purpose, “the welfare of the individual members of society” (282). He further supports this by asserting that there is no antithesis between either of the three, or even an alteration as to the nature of the State and the connection of the individuals to society, only in their methods.
The “true antithesis” Rocco believes is to be found in the doctrine of Fascism. He explains that the disagreements between Liberalism and Democracy, and Liberalism and Socialism lie in the disagreement in method (as has been stated), but these theories all differ from Fascism not only by method, but also by concept.
Rocco develops the fundamental concepts of Fascism. First, he upholds Aristotle’s belief that man is a political animal. He states that a human being that is outside of a society is a non-man. Adding to this thought, he notes that humans have formed many distinct and different societies. Therefore he believes that humanity is a biological concept, and that society is the unity of both its biological and social contents (283). Socially considered, Rocco believes that these fractions of the human species are united for the purpose of achieving a particular end (culture, religion, tradition, customs, economic interests, living conditions, territory, etc. p.284).
He believes to be true that these fractions of the human species possess distinct characterizations that in short, can be considered a life of its very own. He further supports this idea with the notion that these fractions of the human species must retain the same fundamental traits of the species, which means to Rocco that they must be seen as “a succession of generations and not as a collection of individuals” (284). So therefore, it can be inferred that these fractions (or societies) are not composed of the individuals living in it at the present moment, but rather the generations that compromise the past, present and future. This exemplifies his Fascist belief that the conception of the State gives the society a ceaseless life beyond the mortality of the individuals.
Rocco supposes that the Fascist relationship between state and individual is at opposition to the other political doctrines. He declares that rather than the liberal-democratic formula being one of “society for the individual”; Fascism promotes “individuals for society”.
Rocco then goes on to show how Fascism is the true antithesis of Liberalism. He asserts that Fascism is not concerned with the insignificant individual, but with the significant State. The Fascist society has “historical and immanent ends of preservation, expansion, improvement, quite distinct from those of the individuals which at a given moment compose it” (285). Then, he states that in opposition to Liberal values, Fascism holds society to be the end, and individuals are the means, “the instruments for its social ends”. Rocco holds that in contrast to Liberalism, Democracy and Socialism, Fascism holds that the highest ethical value is the individual’s duty to the State. He quotes the words of Aristotle, that political virtue is social devotion (287), and not individual liberty.
Rocco argues that here too lies a contrast between “Liberal theory” and “Fascist concept” in the opinion of liberty. He finds the root of disagreement to be in the acceptance of a bill of rights, or inert human rights. He sees this as a manner that “tends to make the individual superior to the state and to empower him to act in opposition to society” (286). He believes that freedom is due only to the citizen who exercises his liberties in the interest of the society as a whole.
With this notion of human liberty in mind, further examples of contrast between Fascism and other political doctrines arise. One is that of economic liberty. In this too, Fascism opposes its rival doctrines in that it uses the economic liberty of its individuals to benefit the State by adding power to the State, while Liberal economic liberty connotes its freedom as a principle for the individual.
Rocco shows through examples and arguments, that Fascism is a political doctrine deeply embedded in the concept of unity. In clear opposition to a Liberal concept of individualism, the Fascist denounces any intrinsic human rights that are not instrumental in the benefit of the State.
It suggests an unclouded contradiction to accept that this conclusion is morally sound. To root a philosophy so deeply in the concept of unity while at the same time use that unity to seclude other peoples seems to be in extreme disparity with itself.
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Ernst Huber, a German philosopher, held a fascist notion that personal liberty must be eliminated in recognition of the benefit of the State. This notion is notably similar to Karl Marx’s belief in the need to eliminate bourgeois freedom.
Huber believes that the concept of personal liberty of the individual that falls outside of the benefit of the state must be vanquished. He stated that the constitution of the nationalistic Reich would not be based upon a system of inalienable and intrinsic rights of individuals. He holds that in the organic state, where people are connected with the whole community, there is no concept of the isolated individual. Thus, he states, “there can no longer be any question of a private sphere” (326).
Much to the similarity of Huber, Karl Marx believes that in the Socialist society compliance by all is necessary for the advancement of Socialist movement. Marx believes that in Socialism, the concept of a classless state is the goal. To achieve this Marx believed that it is necessary to place all of its citizens on a par of economic equality by eliminating free selling and buying. He held that if selling and buying were vanquished, free selling and buying would vanquish also. Thus its citizens would share equal economic rights.
Both philosophers could be distinguished as using a Machiavellian approach to their political theories. This concept of the ends justifying the means is clearly demonstrated by the stripping of individual liberties for the benefit of the masses.