The Fascist Mimicry of Anti-Imperialism

A little more than a century ago the world’s superpower was the British Empire. Despite being a constitutional monarchy where the aristocracy and monarchy still retained significant power, the British Empire was arguably the birthplace of the industrial revolution and it played a significant role in spreading capitalism around the world through colonialism. From around the 19th century until the early 20th century, many saw the British Empire as quite possibly the most affluent and powerful capitalist-colonial empire in the world. The British Empire as the capitalist-colonial hegemon extracts resources from its colonies, transforms them into commodities, and sells them for a profit that would go into the pockets of capitalists and royal colonizers alike. There were other competing colonizers such as France, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Japan, and the U.S., but none of them (except the U.S. in the late 20th century) could quite surpass the British Empire. The British Empire was the largest epicenter of world capitalist imperialism and being an anti-imperialist was almost (though not quite) synonymous with being against the British Empire. The geopolitical status of the British Empire is roughly or loosely analogous to the geopolitical status that the U.S. enjoyed since the late 20th century. Both the British Empire and the U.S. enjoy the status of being a hegemonic empire due to their overwhelmingly powerful military (especially their navy) and almost unparalleled economic power.

Given what I’ve said so far, consider the following statements, all of which are from the same speech:

The British World Empire has left behind an icy stream of blood and tears in the path of its creation. It rules today, undoubtedly, a tremendous section of the globe. But this world government is affected not by the power of an idea, but essentially by force, and where force does not suffice, by the power of capitalist or economic interests.1

They can wage wars for their capitalist interests, but in the end these wars will open the way for social risings within the nations; for in the long run it is impossible that hundreds of millions of human beings should be aligned according to the interests of a few individuals. In the long run the greater interest of mankind is bound to prevail over the interests of these little plutocratic profiteers.2

To an untrained eye, these statements read like they’re made by a staunch anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist who makes a biting criticism of the British Empire. But the aforementioned statements I quoted are actually from Adolph Hitler himself. The context was that Hitler was giving a speech at Berlin Sports Palace during World War II when Nazi Germany was at war with the British Empire. Obviously, needless to say, Hitler himself was not a staunch anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. Under Hitler’s regime, many state-owned enterprises were privatized and Hitler himself received support from big industrialists and financiers.34 Nazi Germany’s Lebensraum is a far cry from what anyone, especially Marxists, would call anti-imperialism. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that out of context Hitler sounds like an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist.

Hitler, like his Nazi and Italian Fascist contemporaries, shared the syncretic geopolitical worldview that the world is divided between plutocratic nations and proletarian nations. Hitler, following Mussolini, replaced the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie with the national struggle between “plutocratic nations” and “proletarian nations.”5 The concepts “proletarian nation” and “plutocratic nation” originate from an italian fascist and nationalist Enrico Corradini who wrote:

“We must start by recognizing the fact that there are proletarian nations as well as proletarian classes; that is to say, there are nations whose living conditions are subject… to the way of life of other nations, just as classes are. Once this is realized, nationalism must insist firmly on this truth: Italy is, materially and morally, a proletarian nation.”6

Inspired by Corradini’s concept of proletarian nation, which identifies a nation as “proletarian” based on its relative undevelopment, immiseration, subjugation to other nations, and “moral qualities” associated with being proletarian, Hitler, Mussolini, and other fascists borrowed it to articulate and convey their geopolitics in a way that sounds radical and ostensibly anti-imperialist. Because Germany lost World War I to the British Empire, French Empire, United States, and so on, it occupied a relatively subordinate geopolitical and economic position. Specifically, Germany owed these imperialist countries debt and it had to substantially (if not completely) demilitarize its army and navy. In this respect, someone like Hitler could (though wrongly) conceptualize Germany as a “proletarian nation” suffering from its own form of economic subordination and immiseration. Mussolini, following Corradini, identifies Italy as a “proletarian nation” because of its relative undevelopment as a semi-capitalist country where the feudal social relation between peasants and landlords remains relatively dominant, holding Italy’s economic development back.

Both Italy and Germany are, to use Corodini’s language, “proletarian nations” that are subordinate to the “plutocratic nations.” There is an obvious sense in which Italy and Germany are not “proletarian nations.” Both Italy and Germany have a history of colonizing and genociding the oppressed nations prior to World War II. Both countries are exploiters who exploit labor and resources of their colonies. Nonetheless, it is also true that in a broader geopolitical context, the number of colonies Germany and Italy own pales in comparison to that of the British Empire and the French Empire.

Given this background knowledge, it is not shocking that Nazis and Italian fascists saw their own countries as “proletarian nations” whose interests are antagonistic with those of plutocratic nations. This pseudo-Marxist framework, which foregoes any materialist dialectical analysis of imperialism, especially one based on Lenin’s theory of imperialism, appears anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist enough to attract self-identified “socialists” such as the notorious Strasser brothers, Joseph Goebbels (who was acquainted with some Marxist literature before he joined the Nazi Party), Ernst Röhm and his Brown Shirts (who called for a “second revolution,” involving a radical redistribution of wealth), and so on. Many of the fascists were influenced by the national syndicalists who argued that it is not the proletariat that is the revolutionary subject but rather a “proletarian nation.”7 Following George Sorel, national syndicalists argue that what would inspire a proletarian nation into a revolution against plutocratic nations is not revolutionary theory as a science, but myths and messianic heroes.8 The proletarian nations need to mythologize its history as well as “discover” a messianic hero, both of which would draw from an untapped and infinite well of courage and vitality. However, the proletarian nations are not only up against the British Empire and other plutocratic nations, but also against a liberal bourgeois world order (think of the world “Globalism”) that upholds liberalism, democracy, and the Enlightenment, all of which Sorel and other national syndicalists take to be bourgeois values that contribute to “cultural and spiritual degeneration” of nations.9 In essence, the fascists saw that the proletarian nations were to carry out a nationalist revolution against a bourgeois liberal world order propped up by the plutocratic nations.

To be clear, these fascists are by no means socialists. Historically, fascists are syncretic nationalists who draw ideas from both the Left and the Right to create a “third position,” but they end up being the far right. Italian Fascists and National Socialists (Nazis) embrace a loose “anti-capitalist” critique, but they resist the Marxist view of class struggle that the proletariat will not only overthrow the bourgeois ruling class, but they will establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. Fascists, following Mussolini, want to replace class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie with not only the national struggle between “proletariat nations” and “plutocratic nations,” but also producers and non-producers. Fascists articulate an ideology of producerism to sound just anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist enough to attract the petite-bourgeoisie, small entrepreneurs, industrial capitalists, skilled workers, and other plebeian strata of the working class as their mass base. Fascists use the ideology of producerism to attract the petite-bourgeoisie, industrial entrepreneurs, skilled workers, small farmers, and others under the banner of being the real “producers” of society. The fascists pit the “producers” of society against the “parasitic non-producers” such as the plutocratic nations, usurious bankers (which they anti-semitically associate with the Jewish people), people with disabilities, ethnic minorities (e.g. Romanis, Jews, and so on), communists, and others whom Nazis call “degenerates.” Producerism uses concepts like “producers” and “non-producers” to obfuscate real class antagonisms by artificially grouping people according to classifications that don’t correspond to how our class society is organized.10

How is producerism relevant to the framework that centers on the national struggle “proletarian nation” and “plutocratic nation”? The fascists saw proletarian nations as “producers” while the plutocratic nations were “parasitic non-producers.” This view is based on an antisemitic trope that the British Empire, along other plutocratic nations, are under the control of an international finance capital that is owned by Jewish families such as The Rothschilds. According to this deeply anti-semitic worldview, the British Empire along with other plutocratic nations are finance capitalist nations that primarily extract value from the world through debt and usury as opposed to producing value. This outlook of producerism, embedded in this dichotomous geopolitical framework between proletarian nation and plutocratic nation, gave Nazis and Italian fascists an ideological justification to start a war with the British Empire and its allies. If we keep in mind that the British Empire was still the hegemonic capitalist-colonial empire during the early to mid 20th century, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy could present themselves as anti-imperialist forces standing up against the big bad Empire. This explains the strange pseudo-anti-imperialist rhetoric of fascists that presents the world as being divided between “proletarian nations” and “plutocratic nations.” Furthermore, what both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy have in common is they present themselves as forces against liberalism upheld by the British Empire and its allies.

We must remember that many people who embrace fascism as an ideology see themselves as diametrically opposed to liberalism because they see it as the source of cultural, moral, and spiritual degeneracy. Fascists see liberalism as a rationalistic, individualistic, and hedonistic bourgeois paradigm, a product of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, that has deprived the ancient world of mythologies, spirituality, community, and heroes. Fascism opposes liberalism as bourgeois degeneracy, but they never quite went as far as to advocate the abolition of private property and capital. With this in mind, it should not be surprising to see contemporary neo-fascists who claim to be pro-multipolarists who oppose the U.S empire’s interest in maintaining a unipolar world.

To be clear, there is nothing inherently fascistic about advocating for the multipolar world. Samir Amin, a respected and renowned Marxist theoretician whom any Marxist should take seriously, argued for a conception of multipolarity that is grounded on his Marxist analysis.11 However, I won’t be discussing Amin’s conception of multipolarity, but rather the fascistic conception of multipolarity. There are three kinds of fascists I have in mind who are very pertinent: Alexander Dugin, Lyndon LaRouche, and neo-Nazis who are attempting to hijack the pro-Palestine movement.

What all of these fascists have in common is that their geopolitical outlook is structurally analogous with the classical fascist geopolitical outlook that divides the world between “proletarian nations” and “plutocratic nations.” Dugin, inspired by his predecessors Francis Yockey, Oswald Spenger, and Martin Heidegger, divides the social world into civilizational “ethnos” as its fundamental units. Both Spengler and Yockey (the latter heavily borrowing from the former) see civilizations as spiritual and cultural organisms existing over and above individuals.1213 These organisms undergo stages of development analogous to that of individual humans. While Dugin accepts that the social world is divided into civilizations, he borrows from Heidegger’s philosophy the concept of Dasein to conceptualize civilizations as Dasein or the way of being-in-the-world.14 In particular, each civilizational state is an “Ethnos,” or cultural, historical, and civilizational daseins.

For Dugin, the natural state of equilibrium for the world is that each civilizational state or ethnos maintain their own cultural, national, and civilizational integrity while at the same to co-exist with one another in harmony. Dugin is heavily influenced by the idea of ethnopluralism whereby each civilizational ethnos or dasein co-exists with each other in order to preserve their purity and integrity.15 Many critics of ethnopluralism argue that it is nothing more than thinly-veiled ethnonationalism that advocates for xenophobia and isolationism in order to maintain cultural purity of each “ethnos.” Heidegger, a fascist philosopher who joined the Nazi Party, argued for ethnopluralism:

It is not ambition, not desire for glory, not blind obstinacy, and not hunger for power that demands from the Führer that Germany withdraw from the League of Nations. It is only the clear will to unconditional self-responsibility in enduring and mastering the fate of our people. That is not a turning away from the community of nations. On the contrary, with this step, our people is submitting to that essential law of human existence [menschlichen Daseins] to which every people must first give allegiance if it is still to be a people. It is only out of the parallel observance by all peoples of this unconditional demand of self-responsibility that there emerges the possibility of taking one another seriously so that a community [of nations] can be affirmed. The will to a true community of nations [Völkergemeinschaft] is equally far removed both from an unrestrained, vague desire for world brotherhood and from blind tyranny. Existing beyond this opposition, this will allow peoples and states to stand by one another in an open and manly fashion as self-reliant entities [das offene und mannhafte Aufsich- und Zueinanderstehen der Volker und Staaten]. The choice that the German people will now make is — simply as an event [Geschehnis: happening] in itself, and independent of the outcome — the strongest evidence of the new German reality embodied in the National Socialist state. Our will to national [völkisch] self-responsibility desires that each people find and preserve the greatness and truth of its destiny [Bestimmung: particular determination]. This will is the highest guarantee of security among peoples; for it binds itself to the basic law of manly respect and unconditional honor.”16 (My emphasis).

Heidegger argues for Germany withdrawing from the League of Nations on the grounds that Germany, like all other nation-states, should act from its own “self-responsibility” to maintain its integrity to exist as a distinct people. Heidegger frames this as conforming to the “eternal law of human existence” in which every people (nation) must prioritize itself in order to maintain its distinct cultural, historical, and religious identity. In a similar vein, Dugin believes what he takes to be the natural world order in which each civilization ethnos follows the “eternal law of human existence” in order to maintain their distinctive ethnos-identity.17

What is contrary to what Dugin sees as the natural equilibrium of the world is liberalism, championed by the U.S. empire, the “anglo-atlanticist” civilization. For Dugin, the unipolar world is liberalism in its global hegemonic form maintained and enforced by the U.S empire similarly to how the British Empire is seen by fascists as upholding liberalism. Dugin supports countries such as Russia, China, India, and others because he sees them as opposing liberal hegemony maintained by the U.S. empire and its Atlanticist siblings in NATO. In other words, Dugin sees liberalism as an Anglo-Atlanticist civilizational project that is used by the U.S. Empire and NATO to spread its cultural values of secularism, Enlightenment rationalism, individualism, hedonism, social liberalism, and so on.

According to people like Dugin, a prime example of an Anglo-Atlantcist civilization imposing its liberalism on non-Atlanticist civilizations, such as the Eurasian civilization (Russia), is the LGBTQ+ movement. Neo-fascists like Dugin, or “Eurasianists,” see the LGBTQ+ movement as a symptom of “degenerate” bourgeois liberalism that ultimately originates from the Anglo-Atlanticist civilization, but is being spread like a foreign pathogen to other civilizational ethnos like Eurasia. Fascists like Dugin think that the Anglo-Atlanticist civilization is using the LGBTQ+ movement to culturally assimilate non-Atlanticist civilizational ethnos into its liberalism. In this way, Dugin and others see homophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, and so on as resisting the Anglo-Atlanticist project of culturally assimilating the world into Atlanticist liberalism.

Anti-LGBTQ+ is just an example of Dugin’s pseudo-anti-imperialism. It is nothing more than vulgar anti-liberalism that opposes bourgeois liberalism, especially its more progressive elements, without necessarily calling for the abolition of private property, and by extension, capital accumulation as the organizing principle of our political economy. Dugin’s multipolarity is nothing more than “restoring” the natural state of the world in which each ethnos or civilizational “dasein” is preserved in their purity. But the fatal flaw of Dugin is that he reifies “civilizational dasein” as a person apart from real, concrete, individuals. In much the same way we reify capital, including abstract value itself, as an autonomous force that dominates and governs our activities ranging from the sale of labor, division of labor, labor process, working hours, and so on, Dugin reifies “civilizational dasein” as an autonomous reality that embodies the principle for our way of being.

Because Dugin is under the spell of reifying civilizational daseins, much in the same way the proletariat is under the spell of reified abstract and dead labor in the form of capital, he is convinced that it is essential to support Russia, China, India, and other countries in the Global South to oppose the hegemonic Atlanticist bourgeois project, liberalism, that seeks to destroy their way of being. Dugin’s so-called “anti-imperialism” is thinly veiled vulgar anti-liberalism. Just as Mussolini and Hitler saw “proletarian nations” as progressive forces opposing bourgeois liberalism upheld by the British Empire, Dugin sees BRICS countries as opposing Atlanticist liberalism upheld by the U.S. Empire.

Lyndon LaRouche, who doesn’t openly call for the Multipolar World, nonetheless has followers who call for the Multipolar World, whereby industrial-capitalist countries such as India, Russia, and China oppose finance-capitalist countries such as the United States, U.K., and other NATO members. Lyndon LaRouche, following the producerist tradition that favors “productive capitalism” (industrial capitalism) over “parasitic finance capitalism,” believes that the fundamental problem is global finance capital. The U.S. empire, seen as an extension of the British Empire, upholds the global finance capital order in which wealth is extracted through usurious debt and other forms of rent-seeking instruments, as opposed to being created by productive and industrial capital investment. LaRouchites support countries such as Russia, China, India, Brazil, and other BRICS countries, because these countries are seen as “industrial capitalist” countries that will end the global dominance of finance capital order imposed by the U.S. and the non-existent British Empire. The ultimate aim for LaRouche is to promote global industrial capitalism that facilitates “infinite” growth, but he sees this goal being obstructed by the finance capitalist countries. One could already see the structural isomorphism between LaRouche’s geopolitics and that of the aforementioned fascists: industrial capitalist countries are the “proletarian nations” whereas the finance capitalist countries are “plutocratic nations.”

Last, but not least, there are neo-Nazis and other right-wing populists who attempt to hijack the pro-Palestine movement. Many in the pro-palestine movement, such as the Jewish Voice for Peace, have unequivocally argued for a hardline distinction between Zionism and Judaism in order to argue that being anti-Zionist is not anti-semitism. However, neo-Nazis who present themselves as pro-Palestine have slipped off their mask by making anti-semitic remarks. What many of these neo-Nazis have in common is that they see the U.S. empire as another “Zionist-Occupied Government” (ZOG) that serves the “International Jewry,” including Jewish-controlled banks, which compel the U.S. government through a network of lobbyists, to protect Israel at all cost. While many pro-Israeli lobbyists do wield some influence in our government, this sort of reductionist analysis is not only deeply anti-semitic, but it overlooks the fact that the U.S. and Israel are both subordinate to transnational capital (not “Jewish-controlled”) which has a vested interest in Israel for their burgeoning tech industry, military industrial complex, and cybersecurity and surveillance industries developing technologies used for social control developed from illegal settlements and the apartheid.18 These neo-Nazis see the U.S. as the dominant ZOG used by the “International Jewry” to promote multiculturalism, LGBTQ+, interracial marriage, and so on. If one reads about The Turner’s Diaries, it is apparent that neo-Nazism sees the U.S. as already compromised by “International Jewry.” These neo-Nazis are not anti-imperialists by any stretch, but their opposition to the U.S. Empire, based on erroneous and racist analysis, can potentially mislead some self-identified anti-imperialists into thinking that they are potential allies.

These fascists who appear “anti-imperialist” on the surface level to naive and untrained eyes are for the most part vulgar anti-liberals who oppose liberalism without offering a radical social critique that analyzes capitalism as the root of a wide range of problems we face. These vulgar anti-liberals conflate the neoliberal unipolar world and liberal hegemony with imperialism. Thus, their opposition to liberalism on the level of geopolitics can appear as anti-imperialist to those who are untrained, inexperienced, and new to genuine anti-imperialist politics. It is important that we ostracize fascists who mimic anti-imperialist politics in the name of internationalism.

  1. Adolph Hitler, “Speech at the Berlin Sports Palace,” (January, 1943) ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. Gema Bel, “Against the mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930s Germany,” in Economic History Review (2009). ↩︎
  4. David de Jont, “In the Room Where German Tycoons Agreed to Fund Hitler’s Rise to Power,” in Literary Hub (2022). ↩︎
  5. David Nicholls, Adolph Hitler: A Biographical Companion (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2000): 245. ↩︎
  6. Enrico Corradini, “Report to the First Nationalist Congress,” (Florence, 1919) ↩︎
  7. Zeev Sternhell, The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion To Political Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 27. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., 23-25. ↩︎
  9. Ibid., 25-27. ↩︎
  10. A. Praxi, “Producerism: Socialism and Anti-Imperialism for Fools,” in The Socialist (2024). ↩︎
  11. Amin, Samir, “Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World,” (London: Zed Books, 2006). ↩︎
  12. Spengler, Oswald, The Decline of the West: Form and Actuality (Budapest: Aktos Media, 2021). ↩︎
  13. Yockey, Francis, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics (Invictus books, 2011). ↩︎
  14. Shamir, Israel, “The Fourth Political Theory,” World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues 18 (2014): 160-164. ↩︎
  15. Dugin, Aleksander, The Theory of Multipolarity (London: Aktos, 2021). ↩︎
  16. Gregory Fried, “‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’: Heidegger, from the Alt-Right,” Heidegger Circle Proceeding 55 (2021), 67-68. ↩︎
  17. Dugin, Aleksander, The Theory of Multipolarity (London: Aktos, 2021). ↩︎
  18. William Robinson, “The Political Economy of Israeli Apartheid and the Specter of Genocide,” Truthout (September, 2014). ↩︎



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