The Church and fascism
#1
Before I go on, let me clarify what I mean to say by comparing the Church and fascism... As a student of the discipline of political science, I must look at fascism objectively. That means before going on, remove any negative connotations that have been ascribed to the word. Also, differentiate between fascism (small-"f") and Fascism (capital-"f"), the latter being Mussolini's movement in Italy.

Here are some defining characteristics of the fascist State:

- Authoritarian
- Sacrifice individual interests for the collective
- All-encompassing State
- Removal of "degenerate" influence from society

The Church:

- Authoritarian
- Sacrifice individual interests for God's collective
- All-encompassing lifestyle
- Removal of "degenerate" heretics and wicked influences

Fascism stands directly opposed to liberalism (individualism, liberty as highest political value, democracy, republicanism).

Removing all negative connotations and preconceived notions regarding fascism, what are your thoughts on this comparison? Can the Church properly be called "fascist"?

Please no "earthly terms do not apply to the Church" because we know that the Church is supposed to be both temporal, in this world, and spiritual. Therefore, the temporal realities of the world also apply to the Church.

Thoughts on what this means regarding traditional Catholics, the Magisterium, the Church's involvement in temporal affairs, etc.? Thoughts on modern society (being a generally liberal [of liberty] society) and social critiques of it?

I thought this would be an interesting way to muse on various forms of society in comparing the Church's government and that of the liberal, secularized world.

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#2
It seems to me that the Church must respect the God given free will of the individual, whereas the fascist state does not.  Also, removal of "degenerate" elements in the Church today means excommunication and/or suspension for clerics.  In the fascist state, it would mean something far more sinister.
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#3
Seeing that both Fascism and the RCC resided within Rome at one time I don't believe they would have as been as contradictory say as Soviet communism or even National Socialism.
 
What did the Pope have to say during Mussolini and the Fascists rise to power in Italy before WW2?
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#4
DrBombay, I understand what you're saying, but the Church's only concern with regard to "free will of the individual" is whether a person chooses to be with God (heaven) or separate from God (hell) within themselves. Take pornography, for instance. Would that be permissible in a Catholic country? Or would that be considered degenerative? Do individuals have a "right" to view pornographic content created by other individuals under free will? Or does the degenerative influence of the content legitimize the Church's banning of it for the collective? Also, disobedience with regards to the Church seems to me to carry far more troublesome consequences than torture, or imprisonment, or execution under a fascist state... I'm sure many martyrs would agree with me that torture and execution seem far better prospects than perpetual torment and agony.

Alaric, I'm trying to find what the Pope said but I can't seem to... Yikes... I know that Mussolini and the Church cooperated during the era of Fascism in Italy (particularly because Mussolini knew the influence of the Church there was too much for him), signing the Lateran Treaties, and the Concordat (essentially establishing a confessional state... correct me if I'm wrong).
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#5
JonathanCid,

The Church does not forbid things like pornography "for the collective."  The "collective" does not go to Heaven or Hell, only individuals do.  The Church forbids pornography because it sends *individuals persons* to Hell.  The dichotomoy individual/collective doesn't really work well in the Church.  What is good for the individual is to exercise charity for and be in communion with everyone else.  What is good for the Mystical Body as a whole is precisely that which favors the salvation of individual souls.  There is no conflict between the two.  It is in the secular world that an individual's good (property, status, etc.) may stand in conflict with the collective good.

Incidentally, yes, despite your protest, the use of the word "fascist" to describe the Church is in fact a confusion of supernatural and natural terms.  *In theory,* the Fascist state is authoritarian, sacrifices the individual good, gets rid of degenerates, etc.  *In theory,* the Communist state also has the four traits you listed.  Would you say that the Church is Communist?  I have seen many people say that the Vatican is just the Kremlin of our particular international organization.  Insofar as both the Church and world Communism were worldwide international organizations with a centralized, bureaucratic government, the comparison is apt.  But that doesn't mean that the Church is Communist; rather, Communism was an anti-Church. 

Additionally, you leave out one of the facets of fascism that usually is treated as a fundamental aspect:  militant and militaristic nationalism and chauvinism.  Mussolini wanted to reconquer the Mediterranean and make it an Italian lake.  The Church does not approve of the worship of wars of aggression, and the Church favors no nation over another. 

Plus, fascism often leads to an all-encompassing totalitarian state.  The Church has condemned totalitarianism.  Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned various facets of Italian Fascism in an encyclical entitled "Non abbiamo bisogno." 

"Removing all negative connotations and preconceived notions regarding fascism, what are your thoughts on this comparison? Can the Church properly be called "fascist"?"

You seem to be begging the question.  In order to determine if the Church properly can be called "fascist," we *must* address the negative connotations and *denotations* of fascism.  For instance, the "all-encompassing state" of Fascism is *not,* properly speaking, like the all-encompassing lifestyle of the Church.  Fascism imposes a secularistic totalitarianism -- even the Church would be subject to national interests.  *Now,* in actual practice Mussolini and the Italian Fascists could not submit the Church to the state.  But that is because they were often pragmatists first and ideologues second; they never imposed fascist ideology all the way -- never came close, indeed may never have tried.  If they did, the Church would have to be submitted to the totalitarian nation-state.  The pragmatic compromises between fascism and Catholicism may ultimately have led, in the short term, to better conditions than did the pragmatic compromises between liberalism and Catholicism, but it was still a matter of compromise.  Ideologically, fascism is incompatible with Catholicism.

So, yes, the Church is authoritarian in structure.  Yes, it exercises control over degenerate elements -- but every social model except anarchy does.  Why do you think we have so many prisons in this country?  Obviously, even our liberal democracy claims to suppress crime and what it deems to be degeneracy.  The media and education system also tries to stigmatize "degenerate" elements that the law does not prosecute.  So the removal of "degenerate elements" is not peculiar to fascism, though the fascists had their own definition of degeneracy, their own rhetoric regarding it, and their own techniques of addressing it.  The Church *does not* sacrifice the particular good for the collective.  The Church does have an all-encompassing lifestyle, but not in a way analogous to the Fascist totalitarian state and ethos.  The Church is international and opposed to the worship of naked power, whereas fascism is usually nationalistic and often tends to worship naked power and condone aggression as a positive good. 

When liberals call the Church fascist because it is authoritarian, they are identifying a common trait of both the Church and fascist governments.  But beyond that, there is not much reason to compare the two.  On the other hand, in particular situations Catholics have often supported some policies that are shared with fascism -- the corporatist state (where the individual good of different economic sectors is submitted to the common good), political authoritarianism, rhetoric of "degeneracy" used in the suppression of vice and political factions, curtailment of individual civil liberties, etc.  Such policies are often called fascist, even when unaccompanied by national chauvinism, militarism, and state totalitarianism.  But Catholic support for such policies in particular instances does not mean that the Church itself is "fascist" as an organization.  In other circumstances, Catholics have supported feudalism, mercantile republics (like the Italian seafaring republics), monarchies, mixed constitutions, etc.
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#6
Plus, there is at least one way in which fascism is not diametrically opposed to liberalism but actually shares common features with it.  Both propose a secularization of man's orientation -- man is to be fixated on this earth and its affairs.  For the liberal, we basically know what that means.  For the fascist, it means focusing one's tiem and energy on the expansion and development of the nation-state and its particular values.  Mussolini said, "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."  Many liberals would agree with this in practice, provided that "state" is defined as a liberal democracy.  The Church does not want anything against the state (i.e. civil government) properly defined and properly behaving, but it certainly says that there are spheres of life that fall outside of the state's authority. 

"Fascism stands directly opposed to liberalism (individualism, liberty as highest political value, democracy, republicanism)."

There are several problems here.  First, liberalism does not necessarily imply republicanism.  Secondly, Fascism seems to me to be compatible with republicanism *in theory* -- Mussolini's last regime was the Salo *Republic.*  Maybe he was being ironic when he named it that, I don't know.  Lastly, the Church is okay with republicanism; there have been a number of Catholic republics.  That last one isn't an error in your post, I just thought I'd add it.
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#7
Quote:- Authoritarian
Yes, God is the authority. Is that so strange? 

Quote:- Sacrifice individual interests for God's collective
That doesn't make any sense. 
Quote:- All-encompassing lifestyle

That doesn't make sense. A person follows their beliefs in all aspects of their life if they are truly held.
Quote:- Removal of "degenerate" heretics and wicked influences

Don't all societies do this?
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#8
Bonifacius -

Quote:The Church does not forbid things like pornography "for the collective." The "collective" does not go to Heaven or Hell, only individuals do. The Church forbids pornography because it sends *individuals persons* to Hell. The dichotomoy individual/collective doesn't really work well in the Church. What is good for the individual is to exercise charity for and be in communion with everyone else. What is good for the Mystical Body as a whole is precisely that which favors the salvation of individual souls. There is no conflict between the two. It is in the secular world that an individual's good (property, status, etc.) may stand in conflict with the collective good.

As for the Church not forbidding those things for the collective, I truly asked a question... would the Church recommend it be outlawed in a confessional society, for instance? I'm not sure what position would be taken there. Thus, I asked questions, and offered a hypothetical for consideration. With regards to an individual's good standing in conflict with the collective good in the secular world, it may be more apt to say that this may happen in the temporal world. The Church may not be part of the secular world, but is very much a part of the temporal.

Quote:Incidentally, yes, despite your protest, the use of the word "fascist" to describe the Church is in fact a confusion of supernatural and natural terms. *In theory,* the Fascist state is authoritarian, sacrifices the individual good, gets rid of degenerates, etc. *In theory,* the Communist state also has the four traits you listed. Would you say that the Church is Communist? I have seen many people say that the Vatican is just the Kremlin of our particular international organization. Insofar as both the Church and world Communism were worldwide international organizations with a centralized, bureaucratic government, the comparison is apt. But that doesn't mean that the Church is Communist; rather, Communism was an anti-Church.

I would say that the Communist ideology, not philosophy, is fascist. And the Church cannot be Communist, because does not demonstrate the traits of Communist philosophy, and holds different values.

Quote:Additionally, you leave out one of the facets of fascism that usually is treated as a fundamental aspect: militant and militaristic nationalism and chauvinism. Mussolini wanted to reconquer the Mediterranean and make it an Italian lake. The Church does not approve of the worship of wars of aggression, and the Church favors no nation over another.

Since when did the Church quit being the Church Militant? After Vatican II... oh yes, that's right... You are correct that in terms of morality, the Church does not approve of the "worship of wars of aggression" and favors no nation over another. In practice, however, that is arguable... but not a discussion that I feel is appropriate for this forum. What is certain is that the Church most certainly wants to conquer the entire earth for Christ! Spiritually, at least. The Church is very much militant and promotes a spiritual warfare.

Quote:Plus, fascism often leads to an all-encompassing totalitarian state. The Church has condemned totalitarianism. Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned various facets of Italian Fascism in an encyclical entitled "Non abbiamo bisogno."

Where the Church is involved with the state, there is nothing left untouched by the Church's morality. The law must submit to the Church. Whether you like that or not, the Church becomes all-encompassing. Pope Pius XI did indeed condemn Italian Fascism.

Quote:You seem to be begging the question. In order to determine if the Church properly can be called "fascist," we *must* address the negative connotations and *denotations* of fascism. For instance, the "all-encompassing state" of Fascism is *not,* properly speaking, like the all-encompassing lifestyle of the Church. Fascism imposes a secularistic totalitarianism -- even the Church would be subject to national interests. *Now,* in actual practice Mussolini and the Italian Fascists could not submit the Church to the state. But that is because they were often pragmatists first and ideologues second; they never imposed fascist ideology all the way -- never came close, indeed may never have tried. If they did, the Church would have to be submitted to the totalitarian nation-state. The pragmatic compromises between fascism and Catholicism may ultimately have led, in the short term, to better conditions than did the pragmatic compromises between liberalism and Catholicism, but it was still a matter of compromise. Ideologically, fascism is incompatible with Catholicism.

The negative connotations of fascism are a matter of interpretation of the data regarding fascism. The reason I warned against subjective reactions to the word is precisely to focus on the objective date, the definitions, and the comparisons. Subjective interpretations and feelings about fascism are irrelevant. Also, where the Church has power, the Church law encompasses the entirety of the state. Every institution bleeds Catholicism. Furthermore, talk of the Church being encompassed by a secular totalitarian fascist-state is irrelevant, at least as far as that particular point goes. I simply state facts regarding what happened during that period, and made no implication the nation was under the rule of the Church. I pointed out, in fact, the very reasons why Mussolini was involved with the Church. It had nothing to do with Mussolini's approval of the Church. It had nothing to do with whether the Church demonstrated the defining characteristics of fascism. Ideologically, yes, ideologically, Fascism is incompatible with Catholicism. But that does not mean the Church does not meet the defining characteristics of fascism.

Quote:So, yes, the Church is authoritarian in structure. Yes, it exercises control over degenerate elements -- but every social model except anarchy does. Why do you think we have so many prisons in this country? Obviously, even our liberal democracy claims to suppress crime and what it deems to be degeneracy. The media and education system also tries to stigmatize "degenerate" elements that the law does not prosecute. So the removal of "degenerate elements" is not peculiar to fascism, though the fascists had their own definition of degeneracy, their own rhetoric regarding it, and their own techniques of addressing it. The Church *does not* sacrifice the particular good for the collective. The Church does have an all-encompassing lifestyle, but not in a way analogous to the Fascist totalitarian state and ethos. The Church is international and opposed to the worship of naked power, whereas fascism is usually nationalistic and often tends to worship naked power and condone aggression as a positive good.

The degeneracy fascism concerns itself with is collective socio-cultural degeneration. That is the degeneration the Church concerns itself with... loss of traditional values, if you will. In liberal philosophy, the basis for punishment is purely based on force and coercion. The Church's all-encompassing lifestyle is demanded, and obedience is demanded. The Church claims She is owed obedience due to the authority given by Almighty, Omnipotent God. Has the Church ever claimed "here's what we say, but you don't really have to obey any of it"? You are comparing the subjective analysis of whether the Church's fascist nature is a good thing, or better than the Fascism of Mussolini or the vicious fascism of others. Again, I did not post this to have a subjective argument. I wouldn't be so despicable as to compare Catholics to Nazis or Fascists. It wouldn't be honest. It wouldn't be fair. And it would be subjective. The Church is also the new Israel. And obedience is due because it is due to God, and the fear and worship of God are virtuous.

Quote:When liberals call the Church fascist because it is authoritarian, they are identifying a common trait of both the Church and fascist governments. But beyond that, there is not much reason to compare the two. On the other hand, in particular situations Catholics have often supported some policies that are shared with fascism -- the corporatist state (where the individual good of different economic sectors is submitted to the common good), political authoritarianism, rhetoric of "degeneracy" used in the suppression of vice and political factions, curtailment of individual civil liberties, etc. Such policies are often called fascist, even when unaccompanied by national chauvinism, militarism, and state totalitarianism. But Catholic support for such policies in particular instances does not mean that the Church itself is "fascist" as an organization. In other circumstances, Catholics have supported feudalism, mercantile republics (like the Italian seafaring republics), monarchies, mixed constitutions, etc.

You are referring to the word fascist as an epithet now. A subjective epithet. The use of the word as an epithet is irrelevant as to whether or not the Church objectively demonstrates the identifying factors of political fascism.

Quote:Plus, there is at least one way in which fascism is not diametrically opposed to liberalism but actually shares common features with it. Both propose a secularization of man's orientation -- man is to be fixated on this earth and its affairs. For the liberal, we basically know what that means. For the fascist, it means focusing one's tiem and energy on the expansion and development of the nation-state and its particular values. Mussolini said, "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." Many liberals would agree with this in practice, provided that "state" is defined as a liberal democracy. The Church does not want anything against the state (i.e. civil government) properly defined and properly behaving, but it certainly says that there are spheres of life that fall outside of the state's authority.

When you are speaking of "secularization", you are speaking of naturalism versus supernaturalism. This has nothing to do with the political scale. There are spheres of life that fall outside of the state's authority, yes, but nothing that falls out of God's, and by extension, the Church's.

Rosarium -

Quote:Yes, God is the authority. Is that so strange?

I passed no judgement on this. Throughout the thread I have warned against subjective interpretation of what "fascism" means. Because of this, your question is irrelevant.

Quote:That doesn't make any sense.

Certainly it does. What the Church considers sin dangerous to the whole of a Catholic nation must be suppressed.

Quote:That doesn't make sense. A person follows their beliefs in all aspects of their life if they are truly held.

That's the very definition of all-encompassing.

Quote:Don't all societies do this?

All societies remove those who do harm, but not all societies do it on the basis of socio-cultural moral degeneracy.
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#9
Bonifacius Wrote:Additionally, you leave out one of the facets of fascism that usually is treated as a fundamental aspect: militant and militaristic nationalism and chauvinism. Mussolini wanted to reconquer the Mediterranean and make it an Italian lake. The Church does not approve of the worship of wars of aggression

On the other hand, the Church is the Church Militant and on occasion has sanctioned wars of expansion & conquest - eg the Baltic Crusades.


Quote: and the Church favors no nation over another.


But she does favour one religion over another.



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#10
The objective vs. subjective here should be clarified... they are two separate questions...

1. Is the Church fascist? (On the basis of objective definition)

2. Is that a good/bad thing? (Subjective interpretation, and a debate I won't have here.)
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