Contra Mundum Essay Collection: Thomas Schirrmacher

Is Fascism Back?

by Thomas Schirrmacher

(c) 1994 Thomas Schirrmacher

Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview , Gene Edward Veith, Jr.

Concordia Scholarship Today. (St,. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1993) 187 pages.

Veith wants to prove that "Fascism is back" (p. 11). I also believe that fascism - whatever it is - is alive and never has been dead, but I do not think that Veith really proves that fascism is back. But before criticizing his research let us state the good side of his work.

1. It is good that Veith shows that it is wrong to speak about right and left wing parties (especially pages 26-27), as National Socialism was a real socialism aimed only at one nation.

2. It is good that Veith shows that Hitler, Mussolini and their allies and followers wanted to liquidate the Judeo-Christian worldview and that they really founded rival religions to Christianity and not only political parties.

3. It is good that Veith shows how many philosophers and liberal theologians were in favor of Hitler and Mussolini.

Now the books has two sides. One is the discussion of Germany and Italy 1930-1945 which comprises most of the text. Veith does not use any German or Italian research which is a must if you write about German and Italian fascism and about German philosophers and theologians. He even is not really acquainted with English literature on National Socialism. So the examples he uses come out of the literature he happened to read, but in most cases he overlooks much better and more important examples.

The other side of the book is the present comeback of fascism. Here Veith does not spend much time but seems to follow the press. Do the so-called Neo-nazis on German streets (at the moment about 3000 young people and not the majority of the Germans) really have the worldview of National Socialism? Is any extreme right wing party fascistic? This has to be proved first.

The problem is that 'fascism' always has been a socialist term for fighting conservative groups and is aimed to be as vague as possible. Veith nowhere really defines 'fascism'. So most of his statements about fascism are true for any other anti-Christian and socialistic movement.

Veith also does not really prove that fascism is well and alive today. If fascism is socialism it is still alive. If fascism is to liquidate the Judeo-Christian worldview it is still among us (Veith mentions Heidegger, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, page 127!). If fascism is the will to power (Nietzsche) it will be there till the end of history. But if fascism is the special worldview of Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany, Veith did not really prove his case.

He proves e. g. that many modern thinkers like Martin Heidegger have been in favor of National Socialism. But he also shows that their pupils and followers are shocked when they hear this. Does this prove that all followers of Heidegger and others are fascists?

Incidentally, what does Veith mean when he writes "The American still intact" (page 156). Does he really believe this?

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5-24-95 tew