One of the more interesting, and uniquely American features of political discourse is the emphasis on Nazism as the predominant form of fascism. It’s so well recognized that even Republicans claim, without any evidence, that their leftist counterparts are “Nazis”. They often claim that because the translation of Nazism as “national socialism” that the Nazi were socialists, without considering, of course, that the name of Hitler’s party was propagandistic in nature, and Hitler’s violence against leftists. Just to make clear, socialism, especially democratic socialism, opposes the division of humanity into castes or other groups.
What effect does this have on Americans? It makes for very entertaining internet videos, such as the many spoofs of the bunker scene in the film Downfall. It also creates a perception that fascism is only related to the issue of marginalization of minorities. That is problematic, given the essential economic nature of fascism. In fact, one should look no further than Vilfredo Pareto, Mussolini’s economics professor. In fact, it was well acknowledged by none other than George Orwell, a contemporary of Mussolini and Hitler and whose Animal Farm is often used to fear-monger about the dangers of socialism, that Hitler had worked with support from the financial elites to destroy leftist political organizations. While one may feel good about the revisionist image of America saving the world from fascism, the US has had its own share of fascists, including the Silver Legion of America, whose silver shirts imitated Hitler’s brownshirts. The support for fascist leaders was not limited to the fringe, however, as even the great leftist president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was “impressed” by Mussolini’s politics. This extended to the business community, especially the major business press of the day. In fact, Hitler drew inspiration from President Andrew Jackson’s genocidal campaign against indigenous peoples in the US (See America and Exclusion).
To quote Sinclair Lewis, author of It Can’t Happen Here:
“Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”