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Fascism agreed with Communism that the tendency of capitalism left to its own devices was to impoverish the working class, inevitable consequence of the need imposed by competition to reduce production costs. It also agreed with Communism that the solution to the problem (at least for the Communists the immediate solution, the first stage of a solution) was a strong state. The state had to be above the society, able to impose its will on the society. Mosley compared it to a very idealised view of the Tudor monarchy, able (he said) to impose the interest of the nation as a whole, including the powerless people, on the powerful barons who had precipitated the country into the Wars of the Roses.

Whether that makes good history or not, it is quite a good image for how he envisaged the state. It could not be democratic, as that term was understood in Britain in the 1920s. A democratic state, subject to the vagaries of party propaganda, the influence of money, the 'people' as an amorphous mass, a jumble of conflicting social interests, could only be a weak state. Mosley, scion of the old British landed aristocracy, probably understood better than many that the real strength of the British state lay in the coherence of the ruling class. Nor was he embarrassed by this - he maintained so far as possible his contacts within the class throughout his life. But he felt them to be at a loss what to do in the crisis of the 1920s. His argument was that the social problem - in the first place unemployment - had to be addressed in the same state of mind and using the same means as the state of war. The mobilisation of the economy to address the problem did not require as the Communists would have argued the destruction of the aristocracy, of the bourgeoisie, of the spirit of the entrepreneur (far from it) but it did require those elements to be bent to the needs of a national plan, an economy organised not to secure the highest return on money invested but the needs of the society as a whole, working class included.

Although the state was placed above the society the idea of democracy wasn't entirely excluded. The 'corporate state' recognised that the society was made up of distinct interests. Instead of a democracy consisting of parties covering all areas of government competing for the affections of the people as an amorphous mass, it was proposed that the different interests could be given each their own means of organisation, with a large autonomy in organising their own affairs and making representations to the state. I don't know how this idea - in principle very attractive - worked out in the practice of the actually existing Fascist states. After the war Mosley dismissed it - or at least the scheme worked out by his colleague Alexander Raven Thomson - as overly bureaucratic.

Within the Fascist mindset it was perfectly possible to admire Bolshevik Russia. A slogan of the Spanish Phalange was 'Long live the society of the future. Long live Fascist Italy. Long live National Socialist Germany. Long live Bolshevik Russia.' Willie Maddison as it happens in The Pathway expresses enthusiastic admiration for Lenin. Phillip Maddison in The Phoenix Generation informs his German minder in 1935 that Willie also (perhaps rather in advance of his time) admired Hitler. My copy of the writings of the Futurist theorist Filippo Marinetti has gone missing just when it's needed but I remember he had a political manifesto in which he argued (or it might be better to say pointed out) that to plan an economy you need to have a clear idea of the limits of the area to be covered by the economy. A national plan requires a nation living in a clearly defined territory. Marinetti argued (or it might be better to say pointed out) that Lenin understood this. He (and Stalin after him) had concentrated on building 'Socialism in one country'. The objection to European Communism was that they did not understand this. They were 'internationalists', which meant in practice that they subordinated the national (French, Italian, German) interest to the Soviet, or Russian interest. It was quite understandable that the Russians should manipulate these foolish 'internationalists' in their own interest; it was equally understandable that the Fascists should resist that manipulation with everything in them. In France, Jacques Doriot's passage from Communism to Fascism was based on the feeling that the French Communists were simply the stooges of a Russian interest.

Unfortunately, however, the national economy did not necessarily provide everything that was needed for the fulfilment of a national plan. The basic problem of capitalism, or rather industrialisation - the need to find markets to dispose of production beyond the needs of the nation; the need for a secure access to raw materials - hadn't gone away, hence the resurgence, or maintenance, of imperial ambitions, the need for action beyond the borders of the nation state. The ideal proclaimed at Versailles through the League of Nations was a system of nation states trading with each other on an equal basis in an international market. This of course was a fiction. The Fascist idea admitted the existence of leader nations and subordinate nations. Fascists such as Quisling in Norway, Degrelle in Belgium, Doriot and Déát in France had to accept a subordinate status and press for the best deal possible for their country in a system dominated by Germany. For Mosley, however, Britain already had a more than adequate market and source of raw materials in the form of the Empire (7) and should concentrate on cultivating that without trying to obstruct the efforts of Mussolini or Hitler to build Empires of their own. And, leaving aside the possible demands of his own psychological makeup, Hitler would not have needed to expand Eastwards if Versailles hadn't destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire (but in that case, of course, Hitler would never have been in power).

(7) Williamson's fictional name for the British Union of Fascists is the 'Imperial Socialist Party.'