Monday 25 February 2008

The Rise of the INGSOC Systems

This post continues the series on human history seen in systematic terms.

It looked like a new world. Kings and Princes gone from much of Europe, small nations of the world basking in their freedom, an international organisation, the League of Nations, to ensure that powers talked round tables BEFORE going to war.
It wasn’t. The causes of the First World War had not been solved.

The world was still a world of spheres, a world of power zones, and keeping the people of the homeland happy, meant needing people to sell to.
The League of Nations was essentially there to protect the interests of the powers. The idea was certainly a sensible one, but it depended on good will alone, and wars tend to happen when good will has been lost.

It was a strange time, our age, yet not. In some ways, we can see our modern era. They dressed much more like us than they did the Victorians. It was an age of cars, of Aeroplanes, of telephones, of cinemas. It was the age of the semi-detached suburban home, but also the council estate. The First World War had removed anachronism from Europe.

Or had it? Half of Europe nurtured a secret suspicion that the Jews had engineered the war to destroy western society- and had succeeded in Germany and Russia. Many accepted as scientifically correct ideas that seem archaic today- such as the idea that black people were closer in evolutionary terms to apes than white people. Responsible parliamentary government, in much of Europe was a modern novelty, untried, untested, whereas monarchy and autocracy were at least known to be viable ways to run a country.

It was very easy to suggest that autocratic systems work best, it was just the hereditary principle that was flawed.
This is hard to understand now, but the fact was that for a long time, a state existed in Europe which seemed to prove that.

There are two schools of thought about the word Fascism. There was a time when I was loathe to use the word (even though it almost constantly escapes my lips), simply because it is often misapplied to Hitler’s system. The two ideologies don’t have quite as much in common as often alleged. Hitler and Mussolini had a alliance of circumstance, and during the war when Mussolini was under Hitler’s thumb, he had to sing Hitler’s tunes, but had he been sensible and stayed out of the war (as Franco did), it seems to now be agreed, he’d probably have died in power, as Franco, likewise a genuine Fascist dictator did.

Of course, the truth is, it is possible to describe Nazism loosely as a Fascist system. But by the same logic, Stalin’s rule was likewise a Fascist system- indeed the history of the USSR, of Communist Eastern Europe, of Communist China, even, to a degree Thatcherism AND Blairism, are Fascist creeds, if we adopt that loose a definition.

The whole point of Fascism, is that it is pragmatic dictatorship. It is the unashamed belief in power for power’s sake. Fascism believes that the state is the true entity, and that individuals serve it, not the other way round. There are in fact, no other distinguishing beliefs. To try find any other principles at all in Fascism, is ultimately self-defeating.

The thing that needs to be remembered is, for a long time Mussolini made this concept look pretty appealing.
It worked especially well in Italy, where the golden age most recently treasured, was the golden age of the Rennaisance, where the great men of power and social advancement were autocratic princes; The Medici, the Della Scalla, the Sforzas, the Farnese. And Italy accorded him with the title it believed such men should have; Il Duce.

Mussolini didn’t particularly much dislike anyone except Communists, so most Italians found him quite easy to work with, especially, oddly enough, liberals. Liberals, confusingly, formed the backbone of the consenting majority, because they believed Mussolini had saved them from Communism.

He made things work in a country where for so long, they hadn’t. He raised an aspiring power to the status of a true power. And, he didn’t have any labour camps.
It is hard for us today to understand that at the time, Fascist Italy provided a genuine alternative model of how to run a country, and one that to many eyes, showed it worked; the old monarchical autocracies had failed, because they were based on anachronistic principles, this was a technocratic autocracy, the way of the future.
In fact, Mussolini called it ‘A Third Way’, a way between Democracy and Communism. Anyone heard anyone else talk about ‘Third ways?’

And then, in 1929, it happened.
Capitalism hit its limits. It was a knock on effect. What happened, in a nutshell, was America, an isolationist economy, had reached its limits of internal growth. It couldn’t sell to itself any more. Banks went bust. Since so much of the European economy had been rebuilt with US Dollars during the twenties, Europe too fell into depression. Capitalism had reached crisis point. Materially, the world had reached its limits. The only way to keep the system going, to keep an economy based on more money existing year in, year out, was to abandon completely any link between money and precious metals.
The economy could only exist now on fiat money.

Wealth stopped being real. All that actually happens now, is that when banks lend ‘money’ (tokens to exchange for real materials), they expect to be in control of a greater share of the world’s resources as a result.

It can only end with the usurers owning everything, and the rest of society essentially renting our lives.

But back in 1929, the ways forward seemed stark.
Democracy, it seemed had failed. Essentially, everybody gave up on it. Too many people now, it was simply a question of which sort of autocracy, was the way forward.
The position of Communism was a difficult one. Lenin had been clear; Communism could not work whilst Capitalism remained. It had to be a global revolution, or no revolution. Until the revolution had taken place globally, a dictatorship of the proletariat would be needed to safeguard the revolution where it had happened. For Lenin, soviet autocracy was an unpleasant necessity.

This also, was Trotsky’s position. Stalin, however, had other ideas. Stalin didn’t want a global revolution, because that meant that the dictatorship had a good excuse for continuing indefinitely.
Many European Communists had no illusions about Stalin, but believed that once the global revolution had occurred, then true democratic communism would triumph.
Were they thinking on the right lines? Yes, but with a certain degree of error. The system wasn’t anywhere near as close to collapse as they thought and their efforts caused more harm than good to the societies they aimed to save.

As many as turned to Communism, turned to Fascism. 1929 had been the year Fascism shone, the year Democracy failed. Mussolini had made peace with the Pope, Italy forgiven for stealing the Papal States. In most Catholic countries, Fascism was seen as the only real alternative to the Left. It’s quite hard to face this, sometimes, it casts a slight shadow on Irish history to realise that most Irish Volunteers went to Spain to fight for Franco. 1930’s Ireland was a polarised place. Fine Gael, now a respectable liberal party, had a uniformed wing, the Blueshirts who were organised to oppose the left-oriented IRA and Fianna Fail, and was openly Fascist in tendency.
The Austria and Poland that Hitler invaded, were not free countries- they were run by dictators espousing, essentially, the Fascism of Mussolini.

Hitler’s Germany is a curious phenomenon. It is a unique phenomenon, whose roots lie deep in German history. It was a creed that could only have born in the times it was. There is something so completely bizarre about it, it almost defies explanation. It has the curious power to fascinate, because of what it represents. If ever there was an Anti-Christ, surely Hitler fits the bill?

Because that’s what he was. A spellbounding, charismatic figure, whose very words seem so full of truth, if we do not intersperse clips of his rallies, with clips of the dead of Belsen. He came in a time needing Messiahs, and not too fussy if they were false. Germany didn’t care if their last hope came from God or Satan, as long as he gave them back their pride, gave them jobs and gave them the share of world power they believed was their right.

And in Britain and in France, the governments felt the anger of the people at the depression, at the failure of those with whom they had entrusted their lives.
The showdown between the Totalitarian systems must surely come one day.
Were the Capitalist Democracies going to be dragged down within it, part of the battleground, doomed to fall under one or other of the systems?
Or could the powers that be save their country homes and their Gentleman’s clubs by playing them off against eachother?

Could war be peace?
Now that, was the question.


Anonymous said...

Interesting but no comment.

Anonymous said...

"Or had it? Half of Europe nurtured a secret suspicion that the Jews had engineered the war to destroy western society"

wrong weren't they!

Anonymous said...

I meant the topic of the post, of course not you.

Anonymous said...

Shock, horror - a post I largely agree with, not that that is relevant. the rise of Ingsoc is a very real worry in this timespace now.

Anonymous said...

Great post Crushed, though like JMB, I have no comment :)

Except to say it was good.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading "Sacred Causes" by Michael Burleigh - it has some really interesting detailed stuff on the occultic and quasi-religious nature of Nazism and the background it came to power in.

Anonymous said...

jmb- :) I did warn that as we approached present times, the posts would get slightly more contentious- I suspect the succeeding posts in the series, not to mention the series that will follow, will be more contentious yet.

But we are heading somewhere with this.

Jeremy- I would say that goes without saying, but the same lie seems to have been reinvented, with different actors today.

National Socialism wasn't as aberrant a movement as people think- a lot of it's ideas and practices survive today. In fact I often say- and I'm actually not joking- Blair studied Hitler, I'm sure.

James- I've often said that I don't think our analysis of the situation as quite as far apart as you sometimes think, though we obviously draw different conclusions.

But a species that becomes what we have become cannot be enslaved for long- even by it's own.

Oestrebunny- Which is a lovely comment to make.
And means a lot to me.

Mutley- Germany really was a curious place to live then. To understand the Third Reich, one needs to understand the Second Reich.
The way Germans felt in the Second Reich, was that centuries of History had been fulfilled, that it was just their history of disunity that had held them back (which of course, is true). They really believed that, having overcome that, the role of leader belonged to them.
Because there was one thing that had to be agreed. Love them or loathe them, the great philosophers are almost all German. Coupled with the myth that the Aryans were German, came these delusion that the rest of the world survived on German thought.
Now the Germans were strong, they'd take their rightful place.
So having lost the war, they really scratched around for scape goats, even to the point of questioning whether or not Science had lied.

Look up World Ice Theory. Crazy stuff.