THERE is an increasing use in papers and periodicals of the phrase: " War against Fascism."
Recently the New Staiesman used the phrase once again, adding to it an unconsciously Jingoist tag, unless, indeed, it was speaking solely for itself. It wrote: " This is a war against Fascism. We in England settled it that way."
But is it a war against Fascism? If so, some of our South American allies, notably Brazil, must be wondering what they are doing on our side, for they are not likely to misunderstand the meaning of the word " Fascist " as used in British party-polities. Under the term are embraced all who do not swear by some form or other of Left Socialism. If so, Greece must indeed be wondering why her sons and daughters have been killed or starved and in the name of what she has revived the heroic glories of ancient Hellas? If so, Poland made a tragic mistake on behalf of a cause which few Poles indeed would have understood—or appreciated if they had understood it.
And in this " war against Fascism—we in England settled it that way"—every effort was made to maintain the neutrality—even the non-belligerency — of the original Fascist country, Italy. Andithough to-day there are some who would like to get to grips with Franco—and what about Salazar?—the painful efforts of responsible Governments have been to maintain the best possible relations with these countries and to guarantee their integrity, ideological and territorial.
Right and Left
That is the picture, and it makes a very poor show indeed as a line-up " against Fascism," whatever " we in England " may have settled. And we can clarify the picture still more by studying the meanings of this blessed word " Fascism."
If the Left papers had their way, they would, no doubt, align against the rest of the world the Soviet Union, the workers and Left intellectuals in Britain and the United States and the underground revolutionary movements on the Continent, together with their re'presentatives in London.
What sort of world would these shape, had they the power? Were they to achieve supreme power in Britain, it is probable that they would take advantage of the constitutional sovereignty of Parliament to pass laws enabling them to rule by Orders-in-Council and they would gather into the hands of the Executive the whole financial, industrial and commercial forces of the
country. On the Continent the same elements would establish
their power by some form of dictatorship, and indeed they have already either proclaimed their faith in a Left dictatorship or adhered with enthusiasm to Right dictatorships. Note the ease with which extreme Left becomes extreme Right: Mosley, Beckett, Deat, Doriot, the Falange, Com
munist masses in Germany. About Russia we need hardly speak, for
the model is there for all to study.
It may well be that such dictatorial powers would be used for enlightened and progressive pur poses—what dictator has failed to make such claims?—but the fact remains that it would be dictator
ship or dictatorship's first cousin. So that this strange war— already so compromised all along the line from the point of view of the Left—would resolve itself, if the dream came true, into a
struggle between Left Fascism!
The " New Order
It is high time this kind of nonsense were exploded. The war can be interpreted in many ways, and there is some truth in most, but the one way which makes very little sense indeed is that of dividing the belligerents into Fascists and itnti-Fascists.
Of the different issues, two, we may say, are fundamental. The first is the issue between the possessing and therefore non-aggressive Powers and the non-possessing and therefore aggressive Powers. Germany, Italy, Japan, and, if we like to add that country, Spain, all share pretensions to wider Empire in defiance of the settlement after the last war. The second is a deep suspicion and fear of that particular brand of dictatorship which has been established in a naturally militant Germany, as well as a genuine horror at the immoral behaviour of that regime. Opposed to this is a somewhat similar feeling in many countries in regard to Bolshevik Russia.
Underlying these issues, but by no means running parallel to them, is the fairly universal sense that a " new order " must be hammered out if man is to be able to cope with the technique of contemporary life.
The shape which that " new order " is to take depends very much on the conditions, traditions and present political regime of each country concerned, but all are affected and all are striving to carry through a revolution. Though very different ideas and very different tempos are discernible, nothing could be more out of date than the notion, so cherished by our intellectual Socialists, that it is merely a question of " reaction " versus " progress." Thus, even though one may legitimately hold that the Bolshevik revolution is more enlightened than the Nazi, it is meaningless to talk of the one as " progressive " or " clemocratic " or " popular " and the other as " reactionary." The planning of the two is very much the same, as are the methods of enforcing the plans, and both stand in glaring contrast to liberalism or democracy or parliamentarianism or the Christian tradition.
War Against Aggression
In a typical sentence the Tribune has stated that it is " impossible to prepare Beveridge Reports ,at home " while " foisting upon the backs of the people of Europe the Darlans, Hodzas, Habsburgs and whatever the names of the stooges of a dead and bygone past."
We are not prepared to stand sponsor for every European personality, nor to deny that real reactionaries.exist both at home and abroad, but if that newspaper means that the Beveridge Report is inconsistent with the ideas of Hitler, Mussolini or Franco it is talking arrant nonsense. And it is no less nonsensical to suggest that it is inconsistent to support the Beveridge Plan and yet maintain that countries like Italy, France and Spain and indeed many others require a strong authoritarian rule which can achieve an orderly and sensible revolution towards the " new order " and one that can satisfy popular aspirations.
This newspaper, for example, has consistently supported every progressive economic or industrial reform at home, including the Beveridge Report, while pointing out the absurdity of foisting on the people of Europe ideas and actions and policies that are perfectly natural and satisfactory in our totally different conditions of established and honoured free institutions. We are as keen as our critics in desiring security and freedom from want for all Frenchmen and Spaniards, but we know that the way to obtain these blessings in France and Spain is not the same way as in Britain or America.
This war, then, we say, is not a war to foist Marxism on the world, but a war to enable each country to shape its own pattern of revolution towards a better order without the fear of physical or ideological aggression from any foreign quarter, however powerful or persistent.