Archive for July 12th, 2011

Mao and Mussolini

In the 1920s one main line magazine pointed out, “But Mussolini is not perfect…”

Today the idea that someone would have the impression that Mussolini was perfect is astonishing.

In the 1920s main line magazines were organs of the capitalist establishment, in line with Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding. If this line is quoted at all, it is not put into that context.

Only in context do historical incidents make sense.

Today one can easily find some equivalent in main line magazines to “Mao was not perfect…”

Mao’s slaughters and starvation make Hitler or even Stain look like a piker. The Cultural Revolution made Lenin’s Terrors look placid. But The Sayings of Chairman Mao is not criticized, the way any copy of Mein Kampf would be.

You can use an incident to shock and awe or you can use it to demonstrate the real-world context.

In the 1920s Mussolini was very much like Mao today. He did what America’s ruling group desperately wanted done, and the only criticism was that he was a bit too far in his methods, he was, as the media like to see it, a bit too idealistic.

Mussolini came along right after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia at the end of World War I when Europe was in shambles and Communist revolutions were breaking out all over Europe. It is easy for us to put it into context today, but at that time no one knew how far it would go.

In the United States and Britain, the stability of society stopped Communism, but even in these countries the Red Scare was extreme.

In Europe only the fascists put the Red threat down firmly. Elsewhere on the Continent, the Communist Party was firmly established and places like Hungary and Bavaria were actually temporarily ruled by Communist governments.

In our historical context, Communism has always been there but contained. No one had such a context in the 1920s.

Once again, we cannot get the lesson out of “Mussolini is not perfect” because of temporal provincialism.

You can tell the nature of the group that is in power by how it treats extremists. Today, Maoists are discussed as a reasonable if extreme point of view whereas Hitler, and to far lesser extent Mussolini, are pure Satanism.


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