Fascism in North America

Fascism in North America is composed of a set of related political movements in Canada, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere that were variants of fascism. Fascist movements in North America never realized power, unlike their counterparts in Europe. Although the geopolitical definition of North America varies, for the sake of convenience it can be assumed to include Central America and the Caribbean, where fascist variants also flourished.

German American Bund NYWTS
German American Bund parade on East 86th St., New York City, October 1939
National Socialist League 1975
An example of Fascism in America

Canada

In Canada, fascism was divided between two main political parties. The Winnipeg-based Canadian Union of Fascists was modelled on the British Union of Fascists and led by Chuck Crate. The Parti national social chrétien, later renamed the Canadian National Socialist Unity Party, was founded by Adrien Arcand and inspired by Nazism. The Canadian Union of Fascists in English Canada never reached the level of popularity that the Parti national social chrétien enjoyed in Quebec. The Canadian Union of Fascists focused on economic issues while the Parti national social chrétien concentrated on racist themes. The influence of the Canadian fascist movement reached its height during the Great Depression and declined from then on.[1]

United States

Elmer Thomas and Charles Coughlin on Time magazine 1934
Charles Coughlin (left) on Time magazine 1934

In the so-called Business Plot in 1933 Major General Smedley Butler claimed that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans' organization and use it in a coup d'état to overthrow President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1934, Butler testified to the Special Committee on Un-American Activities (the "McCormack-Dickstein Committee") on these claims. In the opinion of the committee, these allegations were credible.

During the 1930s Virgil Effinger led the paramilitary Black Legion, a violent offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan that sought a revolution to establish fascism in the USA.[2] Although responsible for a number of attacks, the Black Legion was very much a peripheral band of militants. More important were the Silver Legion of America, founded in 1933 by William Dudley Pelley, and the German American Bund, which emerged the same year from a number of older groups, including the Friends of New Germany and the Free Society of Teutonia. Both of these groups looked to Nazism for their inspiration.

While these groups enjoyed some support, they were largely peripheral. Two more prominent leaders, Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin, sparked concern among some on the left at the time. Coughlin, who publicly endorsed fascism to an extent that Long never did, was unable to become involved in active politics because of his status as a priest.[3] Other fascists active in the US included the publisher Seward Collins, the broadcaster Robert Henry Best, the inventor Joe McWilliams and the writer Ezra Pound.

In 1966, Republican Senator Thomas Kuchel said of the Conservative movement, "A fanatical neo-fascist political cult in the GOP, driven by a strange mixture of corrosive hatred and sickening fear, who are recklessly determined to either control our party, or destroy it."[4]

In the view of philosopher Jason Stanley, white supremacy in the United States is an example of the fascist politics of hierarchy, in that it "demands and implies a perpetual hierarchy" in which whites dominate and control non-whites.[5]

Mexico

The National Synarchist Union was founded in 1937 by José Antonio Urquiza. The group demonstrated some of the palingenetic ultranationalism at the core of fascism because it sought a rebirth of society away from the anarchism, communism, socialism, liberalism, Freemasonry, secularism and Americanism which it saw as dominating Mexico. It differed from European fascism however by being very Roman Catholic in nature.[6] Although supportive of corporatism the National Synarchist Union was arguably too counterrevolutionary to be considered truly fascist.[7]

A similar group, the Gold Shirts, founded in 1933 by Nicolás Rodríguez Carrasco, also bore some of the hallmarks of fascism.

A Falange Española Tradicionalista was also formed in Mexico by Spanish merchants based there who opposed the consistent support given to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War by Lázaro Cárdenas. The group neither sought nor had influence outside this immigrant population, however.[8] A Partido Nacional Socialista Mexicano was also active, with most of its 15,000 members being of German background.[9]

Central America

The dominance of right-wing politics in Central America by populism and the military has meant that there has been little space for the development of proper fascist movements. The Central American leader who came closest to being an important domestic fascist was Arnulfo Arias of Panama who, during the 1940s, became a strong admirer of Italian fascism and advocated it following his ascension to the presidency in 1940.[10]

As a minor movement, the Nazi Party was active among German immigrants in Costa Rica (where a liberal government largely tolerated their activities in the name of free speech),[11] El Salvador (where the government cracked down on activity)[12] and Guatemala (which outlawed the Nazi Party and the Hitler Youth in May 1939),[13] among others. They also organised in Nicaragua although Falangism was more important, especially in the Colegio Centro América in Managua where this brand of fascism flourished in the 1930s.[14]

Caribbean

Marcus-garvey---mini-biography
Marcus Garvey

Fascism has also been a rare feature of politics in this region, not only for the same reasons as those in Central America but also due to the continuation of colonialism well after the main era of fascism in much of the area. However Falangist movements have been active in Cuba, notably under Antonio Avendaño and Alfonso Serrano Vilariño from 1936 to 1940.[15] A Cuban Nazi party was also active but this group, which attempted to change its name to the 'Fifth Column Party' was banned in 1941.[16] As in Cuba, Falangist groups have been active in Puerto Rico, especially during World War II, when an 8000 strong branch came under FBI scrutiny.[17]

Support, of sorts, for fascism was also briefly logged in British Jamaica during the 1930s. Although based in London for much of that decade, Marcus Garvey remained an important political figure on the island which had often been his home base. In the early 1930s Garvey expressed a strong admiration for Benito Mussolini and argued that "we were the first fascists", comparing the mass membership and discipline of Mussolini's followers to that of his own.[18] Garvey changed his opinion following the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 and soon denounced Mussolini as "a tyrant, a bully, [and] an irresponsible upstart".[19]

World War II

During World War II, first Canada and then the United States came into conflict with the Axis powers, and as part of the war effort they suppressed the fascist movements within their borders, which were already weakened by the widespread public perception that they were fifth columns. This suppression consisted of the internment of fascist leaders, the disbandment of fascist organizations, the censorship of fascist propaganda, and pervasive government propaganda against fascism. In the US this culminated in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944 in which George Sylvester Viereck, Lawrence Dennis, Elizabeth Dilling, William Dudley Pelley, Joe McWilliams, Robert Edward Edmondson, Gerald Winrod, William Griffin, and, in absentia, Ulrich Fleischhauer were all put on trial for aiding the Nazi cause

Notable neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups

United States

Canada

See also

References

  1. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia article on fascism
  2. ^ Michael E. Birdwell (2001). Celluloid Soldiers. p. 45.
  3. ^ Stanley G. Payne (2001). A History of Fascism 1914-45. pp. 350–1.
  4. ^ G. Kabaservice (2012). Rule & Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to The Tea Party - Studies in Post War US Political Development. Oxford Press. p. 169.
  5. ^ Stanley, Jason (2018) How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. New York: Random House. p.13. ISBN 978-0-52551183-0
  6. ^ Roger Griffin (1993). The Nature of Fascism. p. 149.
  7. ^ Payne. A History of Fascism 1914-45. pp. 342–3.
  8. ^ A. Hennessy, "Fascism and Populism in Latin America", W. Laqueur, Fascism: A Reader's Guide, Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1979, p. 283
  9. ^ John Gunther, Inside Latin America, 1941, p. 113
  10. ^ "Arnulfo Arias, 87, Panamanian Who Was President 3 Times". The New York Times. August 11, 1988.
  11. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, pp. 136-7
  12. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, p. 129
  13. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, p. 125
  14. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, pp. 141-2
  15. ^ Le Falange en Cuba
  16. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, p. 467
  17. ^ Gunther, Inside Latin America, pp. 434-5
  18. ^ Colin Grant (2008). Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa. p. 440.
  19. ^ Grant, Negro with a Hat, p. 441
Fascism in Africa

Fascism in Africa refers to the phenomenon of fascist parties and movements that were active in Africa.

Fascism in Asia

Fascism in Asia refers to political ideologies in Asia that adhered to fascist policies, which gained popularity in many countries in Asia during the 1930s.

Fascism in Canada

Fascism in Canada (French: Fascisme au Canada) consisted of a variety of movements and political parties in Canada during the 20th century. Largely a fringe ideology, fascism has never commanded a large following amongst the Canadian people, and was most popular during the Great Depression. Most Canadian fascist leaders were interned at the outbreak of World War II under the Defence of Canada Regulations and in the post-war period, fascism never recovered its former small influence.

The Canadian Union of Fascists, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was modeled on Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. Its leader was Chuck Crate.

Parti National Social Chrétien was founded in Quebec in February 1934 by Adrien Arcand. In October 1934, the party merged with the Canadian Nationalist Party, which was based in the prairie provinces. In June 1938, it merged with Nazi groups from Ontario and Quebec (many of which were known as Swastika clubs), to form the National Unity Party.Fascist concepts and policies, such as eugenics, formulated in the US, found a friendly reception in Canada in some provinces, such as Alberta, where, under a Social Credit government, alleged mental defectives and other 'non-producers' were involuntarily sterilized to prevent the birth of more similar people. Social democrat Tommy Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan, wrote his 1933 master thesis paper endorsing some of the ideas of eugenics, but later abandoned and rejected such notions.

Fascism in Europe

Fascism in Europe was composed of numerous ideologies that were present during the 20th century and they all developed their own differences with each other. Fascism was born in Italy, but subsequently several fascist movements emerged across Europe and they borrowed influences from the Italian Fascism. The origins of fascism in Europe began outside of Italy and can be observed in the combining of a traditional national unity and revolutionary anti-democratic rhetoric espoused by integral nationalist Charles Maurras and revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel in France. The first foundations of fascism can be seen in the Italian Regency of Carnaro, many of its politics and aesthetics were taken from Gabriele D'Annunzio's rule and they were subsequently used by Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fasci of Combat which he had founded as the Fasci of Revolutionary Action in 1914. Despite the fact that its members referred to themselves as "fascists", the ideology was based around national syndicalism. The ideology of fascism would not fully develop until 1921 when Mussolini transformed his movement into the National Fascist Party which then in 1923 incorporated the Italian Nationalist Association. The INA was a nationalist movement that established fascist tropes, colored shirt uniforms for example, and also received the support of important proto-fascists like D'Annunzio and nationalist intellectual Enrico Corradini.

The first declaration of the political stance of fascism was the Fascist Manifesto written by national syndicalist Alceste De Ambris and futurist poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published in 1919. Many of the contents of the manifesto such as centralization, the abolition of the senate, formation of national councils loyal to the state, expanded military and support for militias (Blackshirts for example) were adopted by Mussolini's regime whilst other calls such as universal suffrage and a peaceful foreign policy were abandoned. De Ambris would later become a prominent anti-fascist. In 1932 The Doctrine of Fascism was published written by Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile providing an outline of fascism that better represented Mussolini's regime.

Fascism in South America

Fascism in South America is an assortment of political parties and movements modelled on fascism. Although originating and primarily associated with Europe, the ideology crossed the Atlantic Ocean between the world wars and had an influence on South American politics. Although the ideas of Falangism probably had the deepest impact in South America, largely due to Hispanidad, more generic fascism was also an important factor in regional politics.

List of fascist movements

This article discusses regimes and movements that have described themselves as fascist, or are alleged to have been fascist or sympathetic to fascism.

It is often a matter of dispute whether a certain government is to be characterized as fascist (radical authoritarian nationalism), authoritarian, totalitarian, or a police state. The term "fascism" itself is controversial, and has been defined in various ways by different authors. Many of the regimes and movements discussed in this article can be considered fascist according to some definitions but not according to others. See definitions of fascism for more information on that subject.

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