Skip to main content

Western Values vs Asian Values: Benito Mussolini and Western Collectivism

In two of my earlier posts I talked about the myth of Asian collectivism and Western individualism. In future articles I will examine several aspects of this myth. Here I would like to show an example of Western collectivism, in order to demonstrate that individualism is by no means a 'Western' concept, but simply one of the many values developed in the West over the course of its long history. In fact, a civilisation is never a homogeneous and coherent whole, but a combination of different cultural phenomena.

The idea that East Asia is more collectivist than the West is based on the wrong assumption that family ideology, epitomized in the principle of filial piety, is the only true form of collectivism. While it is true that a Confucian-style family ideology never existed in the West, it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that the West developed its own collectivist worldviews and systems of thought. The four most important ones are: Christianity, nationalism, Communism, Fascism.

In this post I will focus on Fascism and its own collectivist ideology. In the following excerpt, Benito Mussolini, the founder and leader of Italy's National Fascist Party, explains his vitalist vision of life, society and history.

We should bear in mind that the notions of 'West' and 'Western democracy' have always been fluid. In the 1920s and 1930s, many right-wing and left-wing movements rejected democracy. Especially, the Fascists and, later, the Nazis considered Italy and Germany as not being part of the Western world, and denounced democracy as a decadent, chaotic form of government.

You will also probably notice some similarities and parallels between Mussolini's ideology and the ideology of other political parties that exist nowadays (I won't name them, but you might probably understand which ones I'm referring to).

Moreover, it should be remarked that many authoritarian parties of the 20th century shared a similar political vocabulary. Mussolini had been a socialist and Marxist before he became a staunch nationalist. His Fascist Party tried to synthesize leftist ideology and nationalist doctrines.

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology; and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage. 
The democratic regime may be defined as from time to time giving the people the illusion of sovereignty, while the real effective sovereignty lies in the hands of other concealed and irresponsible forces. Democracy is a regime nominally without a king, but it is ruled by many kings - more absolute, tyrannical, and ruinous than one sole king, even though a tyrant ...
A party which entirely governs a nation is a fact entirely new to history, there are no possible references or parallels. Fascism uses in its construction whatever elements in the Liberal, Social, or Democratic doctrines still have a living value; it maintains what may be called the certainties which we owe to history, but it rejects all the rest, that is to say, the conception that there can be any doctrine of unquestionable efficacy for all times and peoples. Political doctrines pass, but humanity remains; and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was the century of Individualism (Liberalism always signifying individualism) it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State ...
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative ... The Fascist State has drawn into itself even the economic activities of the nation, and through the corporative social and educational institutions created by it, its influence reaches every aspect of the national life and includes ... all the political, economic and spiritual forces of the nation ...
Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire demands discipline, the co-ordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice; this fact explains any aspects of the practical working of the regime, the character of many forces in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be taken against those who would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the nineteenth century ... for never before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction, and of order.
Benito Mussolini

(quoted in: Overbeek 1999, pp. 406-409)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Will The Huawei Case Finally Awaken Democrats To The China Threat And The Danger Of Faux Free Trade Rhetoric?

Huawei Shenzhen office building (by Raysonho  via Wikimedia Commons) On January 28 the Department of Justice of the United States unsealed two cases against Huawei , China's largest telecommunications company, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.  Huawei has been accused of trying to steal trade secrets, committing bank fraud, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran. One indictment claims that Huawei attempted to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile by promising bonuses to employees who collected confidential information. Huawei is not a company like any other. Over the years it has benefited enormously from the support of the Chinese Communist regime. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, joined China's army during the Cultural Revolution . In 1978 he also joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  In the early years Huawei's sources of capital were high-interest loans (20%-30%) from Chinese state-owned enterp

How the Chinese Communist Party uses "Chinese culture" as an excuse to justify its crimes

Shanghai, Nanjing Road (photo by Agnieszka Bojczuk via Wikimedia Commons ) Since its founding in 1921 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has mastered the art of propaganda and recruitment of individuals both inside and outside the country who are willing to cooperate with it and further its interests - a practice known as "united front work". "United front work" refers to the CCP's strategy of cooptation of groups or individuals that are not members of the CCP but are willing to cooperate with it. Cooptation describes the process of bringing outsiders (usually the resource-poorer) inside (usually the resource-richer) ( Saward , 1992). An example of this strategy is the case of former Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. Prior to the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to the People's Republic of China (PRC), Tung Chee-hwa had close ties with the government of Taiwan. However, after his shipping company ran into financial trouble and

Washington Post correspondent in China Gerry Shih assaulted for walking with Caucasian European

Gerry Shih, a China-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was assaulted on a Beijing street for "walking with a Caucasian European," according to a Tweet he posted on November 29. The assailants allegedly shouted at them: "F*** your American embassy!" Sign of the times: roughed up in Beijing street tonight for walking with Caucasian European. Neither of us said we were American but their parting shot was “操你美国使馆” pic.twitter.com/ekPLNsLBnj — Gerry Shih (@gerryshih) November 29, 2019 In recent years the Chinese Communist regime has intensified its anti-foreign rhetoric as Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate the power of the Party and rid China of perceived "foreign influence". Foreigners in China have been targeted by the government and anti-foreign sentiment has been enouraged. This year arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have increased amid a government campaign to promote "patriotic education." An inc