Fascism. It’s worth a brief visit this election year. Many writers have conducted social autopsies on the Third Reich and Mussolini’s dictatorship. Germans were seen as extremely orderly and rational before WWI.
How much has the modernist disease of Fascism sunk into our manners and habits as a nation, and can it be washed away?
War and Fascism
Fascism requires a militarized country. They needs a strong example by which to control people. How did these roots start in America?
Certainly not from the “Germans” of the time. There was no coherent “Germany” of the time, such as there is now. Germans did not have all that much of a military reputation, except for the Prussians. It might sound amazing, but at the turn of the century, Germans were seen as head-in-the-clouds bumblers and professor-Egghead types. To talk military, one needed to speak French, Napoleonic French, to read Jomini.
Much of the terrifying skill of the armies of the Third Reich came from Prussianizing the military. In the balance of military theory, the French Jomini was considered the expert, the modern rationalist in military doctrine. That’s why Jomini was extensively read in the US Military Academy (West Point).
One cannot speak of Jomini without reference to Clausewitz. He was also a realist and technicalist in approaching warfare, but he lacked Jomini’s firmness of faith in the ultimately analytical nature of war. Clausewitz’s practicalist approaches to war ring a lot closer to reality than do Jomini’s war-as-ideal.
In the course and end of the Civil War (US), one regrettable development after the Northern victory was the sprouting of the weed of Prussianism in American soil. There had been plenty of “Germans” in America; there was not even really a country to be called Germany until 1850 or so, and certainly no “German culture.”
In came Prussia
The North fought along military principles of Prussia. Confusingly, Jomini the Frenchman was a better inspiration to Prussian-style, highly organized warfare than Clausewicz.
The South, vastly undercapitalized and lacking in population and manufacturing skills, used traditional American-based military techniques, and nearly fought to a draw, nearly became independent. The war of attrition waged by the North came close to failure, even though the North had vast resources to draw on.
Why? Southern generalship was incomparably better. Lee himself was on the great end of good, but not a great general. Longstreet was an excellent subordinate general, carrying the heavy anvil about the fields like Aulë or Vulcan.
TJ Jackson was a great general. AS Johnson was a great general. NB Forrest was a great general. Mosby and Quantrell were brilliant generals in a style of warfare that would not be understood until Mao repeated it a century later, and was called a brilliant general.
People race in to denounce the Southern cause, or the teleology of the Civil War, and bring up issues of personal character. For example, NB Forrest was probably not the man to follow as one’s guru. Neither, incidentally, was Phil Sheridan of the North.
American Fascism took root with its admiration of the civil and military administration of war. We have inexorably grown the military forces of the US during peacetime. After WWII we have remained on a permanent war footing. We have abandoned American concepts for European concepts, especially Prussia. And we are declining as a result.
Militias and Such.
Bill of Rights, 2nd Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The Second Amendment has become obsolete – that fact is inarguable. It is welcomed in Angloamerican-style governance, and feared in a Prussian-style governance. Whether it SHOULD be strengthened or wiped away is a political argument. But its necessity has been wiped away in the construction of standing armies, as well as the advances in military technology.
The South fought an Anglo-American, “guerrilla” style warfare, as was innate to the population. The North fought a highly organized and refined war. Even the Northern military order of battle and doctrine would seem uncomfortably lax and Anglo-American to the modern generals.
Little needs to be said beyond this warlord’s name. He never left Washington, but led the entire Army in the field like a ghost. He was the General Manager of the American bureaucracy. He turned American warmaking into what it is today.
I expect to stop there, but the point of the demonstration is that Fascism is a cultural response to people’s expectations from governance. Both Hitler and Arendt agreed that when people are alienated from their perception of direct control of government, Fascism arises. Whether Fascism is good or bad is a topic which these two did not agree on.
Hitler saw great potential in America; he considered emigrating. That is chilling, perhaps.
Over 150 years, the roots of Prussianism and Europeanism have been laid down, and we have gone with them; to find Max Weber’s Bureaucracy and Taylor’s Factory as the eternal anchors of American governance. That is why it is failing.