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fascism is socialism:
Franco was not a Fascist

a briefing document
supplement to socialist religions

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Fascism is socialism: Franco was not a Fascist, a supplement to socialist religions, is one of a series of documents analysing dysfunctional social, or group, behaviour in modern society.
on sociology on socialism 'social' economics supporting resources
and background documents
sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems
Labour Party pamphlets:
For more on sociology and socialism:

Introdution - socialism & sociology

socialism and the Catholic Church 1
socialism and statism
Hitler Mussolini Franco
Hitler Franco
the Catholic Church and socialism 2
factors encouraging dictatorship
geography, history and dictatorship
justifications of dictators, and of their followers
some consequences of the socialist dream
end notes

also see:

Introduction - socialism & sociology

site map


socialism and the catholic church 1

Socialism and the Church of Rome have been major power sources and rivals during the 20th century.

Socialism is ‘soul-less’ – the worship of the group/state/Mammon. The socialist religion espouses pie tomorrow, in place of pie in the sky. It is godless, anti-individualist.

Rome is about individualism – individual responsibility and the vast value of the individual.

But both have been the intractable enemies of liberalism, and so have often found themselves as political bed partners.

A great deal of modern ‘history’ has been written by socialist-leaning ‘academics’, and a great deal of it is whitewash, rhetoric etc. There is other material which also has the taint of Rome. It is necessary always to examine the background of the sources; this matters. What is presented as ‘history’ is nowhere near to being the innocent, supposedly ‘academic’ activity that the authors and their promoters would have you believe.

socialism and statism

Fascism is essentially socialist, and there is a graduated scale from, say, statism to anarchism.

Statist: rhetoric of 'nation' and ethnicity rather than class-based struggle
Socialist: An atheist form of statism - believes government/state should directly control industry. Rhetoric is of ‘the common man’ or ‘working classes’.

All socialism leads ‘inevitably’ to statism in my view; and in that of Hayek.You start with the premises, and you are pretty well driven automatically towards dictatorship and megadeaths. It is perhaps a slippery slope; but more than that; the dictatorial nature is built in. The only way out is to give up the socialist religion, or perhaps parts of it (if the religion ever evolves). After all, socialism has all the religious trimmings: holy books, endless angels on a pin theological disputes, high priests and would-be high priests, etc.

However, all statism is not socialist by any means.

Franco was, of course, a statist. Any dictator or arbitrary power must be, but it is then a matter of degree. Franco recognised a higher power (sort of)—‘god’. The difference may be a bit arbitrary from a pragmatic point of view. Franco recognised, as a subscribing member of the Church, individual sacredness. The socialist dream is inchoate and recognises no afterworld, other than the wonderful socialist state that will exist in some notional future.

Hitler was a socialist to the core....Mussolini was also a socialist, with a party machine called fascist. But Mussolini was generally incompetent, often referring to himself, with some justification, as “the most disobeyed man in Italy”. Thus fascism, as it played out, was rather incoherent despite regular claims that it was a strong, systematic philosophy. This makes fascism useful as a vague boo word among socialists, without any inconvenient requirement to provide a clear definition.

Both statism and socialism lead to foolishness and various forms of chaos. The combination is deadly.

Hitler Mussolini Franco

Mussolini was on the edge of being excommunicated, but made concessions in order to receive corrupt papal support. Remember that the Pope was (trapped) on Italian soil!

Franco was Catholic. Adolf and Mussolini, of course, were nurtured in the womb of Rome, but were apostates. They were socialists, marxists, but Franco – never! Neither was Salazar, then ruler of Portugal, for that matter. These last two were serving, committed Papists.

The socialists lost out in Spain and today, still, they are smarting badly. Even now, the feuds go on: family against family, faction against faction. In Spain during the 1930s, it was bloody and nasty on both sides (recall also the period during Allende’s ‘reign’ in Chile). Moscow poured in weapons to one side, Adolf and, more so, Mussolini to the other side. Mussolini got suckered and sucked in, Adolf was much more careful.

One of the most famous volunteers to fight for the Communists was George Orwell. He eventually published a useful account of his experiences in Homage to Catalonia. His experiences turned Orwell into a dangerous opponent of socialism (see Animal Farm and 1984).

In an essay on Charles Dickens (?1946) Orwell writes of Dickens:

“[...] given the existing form of society, certain evils cannot be remedied.”

This is a view that I suspect is correct.

Encyclopedia Brit. comments:
“[Orwell's work] combined patriotic sentiment with the advocacy of a libertarian, decentralist socialism very much unlike that practised by the British Labour Party.”
However, the notion that state socialism can be decentralist is quite contradictory.

Mussolini was a frivolous clown, and a very great trouble-maker. He finished shot, then strung up by the feet; while National Socialist Adolf also went down in flames. In contrast, that nasty Mister Franco, after flattening the socialists/commies, went on to the end.

Socialist romantics came to Spain from all over Europe to ensure the triumph of socialism. Socialists do not forgive lightly. In Spain, the socialists worked to flatten the anarchists, directed by instructions and advice from Red Square. Many idealists with different notions also came to fight for Franco. One must not let the propaganda from the various players distract from the real acts.

There was only ever one fascist state – Italy. Mussolini tried to fund anyone in Europe who would cause trouble/revolution/statism (he was the first socialist to capture a state outside Russia). He helped fund Adolf, and he is strongly believed to have helped fund Mosley in Britain.

A fair, if simple, summary is that Franco was essentially a reactionary traditionalist, whereas both Mussolini and Hitler (in different ways) wanted to overthrow the old order and build something new. The fact that Franco and the socialists chose somewhat similar methods is secondary.

So in terms of the language above, Franco was a statist traditionalist, and Mussolini was a statist revolutionary, as were Stalin and Hitler. All these people were from a Roman Catholic tradition, a tradition that is both authoritarian and ‘idealistic’. Apparently, Stalin spent time in an Orthodox seminary.

Franco was an autocrat and reactionary.

It is more complicated than the synopsis above, most socialists appear wholly ignorant of these roots and conflicts, socialism remains a religion of the shallow and ignorant. It is even designed to confuse and ‘incite to revolt’ (revolutionise) the untutored masses.

Religion has its own work, which is to educate people who are too dull to understand philosophy, or too untutored to be amenable to its teaching. This is why religion is necessary, for what it preaches is fundamentally the same as what philosophy teaches, and, unless common men believed what it preaches, they would behave like beasts. But theologians should preach, not teach, just as philosophers should teach, not preach. Theologians should not attempt to demonstrate, because they cannot do it, and philosophers must be careful not to get belief mixed up with what they prove, because then they can no longer prove anything. Now, to preach creation is just a handy way to make people feel that God is their Master, which is true even though, as is well known by those who truly philosophize, nothing of the sort ever happened. [Etienne Gilson, Being and Some Philosophers, p. 52]

Hitler Franco

Franco faces down Hitler for three years

The great prize that Hitler wanted was to capture the fortress stronghold of Gibraltar. From there, Hitler could cut off the Mediterranean. Franco had other ideas.

“It is fashionable at the present time to dwell on the vices of General Franco, and I am therefore glad to place on record this testimony to the duplicity and ingratitude of his dealings with Hitler and Mussolini. I shall presently record even greater services which these evil qualities in General Franco rendered to the Allied cause.”
[Abstracts of the war memoirs of Winston Churchill, Their Finest Hour, part 4; in Life, 14 March 1949, p. 87]

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“General Vigón reported to Franco that Germany had suddenly begun reinforcing its Third Air Force around Bayonne right at Spain’s doorstep. And in addition to the twenty divisions still at Irún-Hendaye, more Wehrmacht divisions were arriving in an area south of Bordeaux.”
[Hitler stopped by Franco, p. 223. This refers to mid-July, 1941.]

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“In the north, on the only two roads over which it was possible to pass into Spain there suddenly appeared massive concrete fortifications and roadblocks. Spain did not lack sand and cement, and hundreds of tons of concrete were poured as if overnight. To the sides of the roads the engineers used dynamite to create vast craters as tank traps. Everywhere that vehicles and men on foot might pass, obstacles were placed to make passage impossible. Franco and his Ministers had mobilized the Army Engineers in an operation without name but in direct reply to Ilona.

“They divided the Pyrenean area into five defensive regions. The key frontier bridge that spans the Bidesoa River that links Spanish Irún to French Hendaye, in bad condition, was weakened still further and mined with enough explosives to blow it out of existence in sixty seconds. Teams of men rotated duty twenty-four hours a day to protect the mines from being defused, or to detonate the charges when ordered.

“Five dams were prepared to be opened wide enough so that within hours their waters could flood the region, making it as marshy and boggy as later in the year the winter weather would do naturally. Farmhouses became arsenals for the implements of guerrilla warfare: knives, guns, hatchets, gasoline, dynamite? Anything that could kill a soldier and destroy his vehicles.

“Finally, the Army's rosters were studied for men who came from the north and then one hundred and twenty thousand of them were transferred and stationed as close to their homes as possible: a fundamental of guerrilla warfare being the intimate knowledge of one's terrain.” [Hitler stopped by Franco, p. 222]

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“The two guardias civiles at the customs barrier at Irun stood at their posts, looking into France at the German tanks and trucks and half-tracks, at the field artillery and the thousands of tents that housed the hundreds of thousands of men of the Wehrmacht. They stared at them as they had stared at them in never-lessening terror for one week short of three years.

“ Then they heard the sound of engines starting up, in a low and distant roar. They saw a heavy cloud of dust rising and heard the roar deepening as more and more engines awakened. Then, through binoculars they could see the vehicles moving, turning ... away from Spain.”
[Hitler stopped by Franco, p. 271. This applies to 20 June, 1943.]



Of course in the nineteen thirties, everyone knew that National Socialism was just one variety of socialism. After the war, socialists worked overtime attempting to distance themselves from fascism/national-socialism by propaganda and mis-information.

“We are, in this respect only, in precisely the same position of the Labour Party. They are called the Labour Party with the International Socialist creed; we are called the British Union with the National Socialist, or Fascist creed. Our Movement and our name are purely British. Our creed, on the other hand, is universal but, being a national creed, in every country has a character, policy, form, and method, suited to that country alone.”
[Written answer from Mosley’s British Union, July 1939]

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“The National Socialist creed of British Union says to our countrymen, ‘If you love our country you are national, and if you love our people you are socialist’.”
[Quoted from Tomorrow we live - British Union Policy, 1938, the manifesto of the British Union Party]

related material
British establishment interference with civil liberties during the 20th century: Rule 18B and 18B(1a), the example of Diana and Oswald Mosley
Oswald Mosley, Britain’s very own national socialist

return to the Index on Extracts from papal encyclicals and Marxism

the catholic church and socialism 2

Socialism abhors the individual, and “Socialism is godless!”, so it is a red rag to the papal bull. Socialism is a competing religion.

Various Papal encyclicals from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries pace the growth of Marxist and socialist writings and doctrine. You may find précis and extracts in the background documents indexed in papal encyclicals and marxism – extracts:

(Encyclicals, including two of the above, are intemperate tirades against liberalism.)

Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum – On Capital and Labour (1891) :

  • “The family has at least equal rights to the state.”
  • “The family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community”
  • “Private societies [...] cannot be absolutely, and as such, prohibited by the state.” [For societies, read, for instance, trade unions.]
  • “Every precaution should be taken not to violate the rights of individuals and not to impose unreasonable regulations under the pretence of public benefit.”

and Quadragesimo Anno (1931) were responses and criticisms of the socialist credo. A citizen’s wage is also a response to socialism.

From Thomas Aquinas:
“....and insofar as it [human law] deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such cases it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.”

Catholic theologians reasonably refer to socialism with terms like ‘soul-less’ or ‘materialist’.

It is quite wrong to suggest Italian Fascism was Catholic, or that Mussolini was religious. He was obviously, in my view, a Marxist. He was an enemy of the Church, who could never gain enough power to ignore or to flatten the Church, although he often returned to such themes.

“The Mussolini of 1944 reasserted the socialist beliefs of his youth because he now felt he had been cheated by the world of finance and industry: after having gained immensely from fascism, the capitalists had secretly sabotaged his movement. To maintain some intellectual coherence he tried to pretend [that is the socialist writer getting in his excuses of course] that, notwithstanding appearances [what ‘appearances’?], he had never deserted the socialist programme he had put forward for fascism in 1919; he had allowed certain tactical deviations in the interim but for the most part , his basic views had never changed. In anonymous articles he now confirmed that he had been right in when, in 1919, he called on the proletariat to capture power from the capitalists by a bloody revolution. It was claimed [the author intrudes again] that he had been intending in 1939-40 to carry out a wide ranging nationalisation of private property and only war had led to its postponement. he now decreed that all industrial firms employing more than 100 workers would be nationalised. The reassertion of socialism explains why the person closest to him in 1944-5 to the point of being called the eminence grise of Salo - was Nicola Bombacci, one of the leaders of the Italian communist party when it was founded in 1921. Bombacci had once been a friend and disciple of Lenin and revived the story that, according to Lenin, Mussolini had been the one serious socialist in Italy [A claim oft repeated by Mussolini]. No doubt the Duce was influenced by Bombacci [again the author's spin] when he called the fascism of Salo the only truly socialist government in existence - with the possible exception of Soviet Russia. [Mussolini, pp.311-312]

You will find this form of misrepresentation in very many sources written by dedicated socialists. It is quite instructive for those wishing to analyse the difference between history and propaganda.

Hitler was, in my view, essentially ‘religious’; Mussolini was never. Hitler was much more complex (and effective) than Mussolini. Hitler was a ‘mystic’: a dreamer, and had a complex personality. By comparison, Mussolini was, in general, a swaggering oaf and gangster with little sensitivity.

Note on defining ‘religious’:
This term has more than one answer. A person who attended services regularly could be called religious, and then Franco would come under that heading. On the other hand, neither Hitler nor Mussolini would. Mussolini’s dreams of ‘glory’ (or even blood) could be regarded as sort of religious. See the way people go to emotionally bathe in rhubarb like the recent Mel Gibson film; Mussolini might be labelled religious in some shallow sense as that. However, Hitler was more of a visionary (even though the vision was primitive and marginally deranged) and had a ‘mystical’ approach to life. Had he achieved his mad dreams, it would then be more difficult to call his dreams deranged! As with the socialists’ creed every where it gains purchase, it does not tend to meet the objectives of, “greatest good for the greatest number” [2]return to the Index on Extracts from papal encyclicals and Marxism


Someone rising from the lower orders is unlikely to look to blood, in the manner of the aristocracy, to justify their claim to power. Mussolini referred to his own children as “princes of the blood” p. 310. It is interesting that such tendency to try to set up dynasties is common, even in socialists: look to Saddam, Kim Il Sung. This process, by which leaders from low beginnings attempt to set up a nepotistic aristocracy can be seen in just about any polity. The Shah of Iran was also no aristocrat but the son of his upstart father, who captured Persia; the USA is generating families of politicians, and the families of Soviet Russia incline to perpetuate their class. Even in the supposedly idealistic kibbutz, leading roles tend to be monopolised by founder families.

factors encouraging dictatorship

My focus is the madness of societies running as herds, which includes what was going through the minds of the rather shallow people who sat at the front waving the flags.

Mussolini, Franco and Hitler were all, of course, dictators. As such, eventually they surrounded themselves with sycophants. This is an endemic problem for ‘leaders’ and, with any but the most firmly anchored, this tends to lead them away from contact with reality. (I propose Gandhi or Mandela or Churchill as ones who stayed anchored). This detachment leads to effective hallucination. In my opinion, there is little doubt the dullard, Mussolini, lost all grip of reality—some seem even to call being in that state, ‘religious’!

One general guide is that someone has to be reasonably intelligent to become seriously mad; I do not think that Mussolini comes close. Mussolini never generated the power for real revolution.

geography, history and dictatorship

Geography has defined attitudes of rulers in various countries.

Italy was locked into the Mediterranean.
People like Hitler and Mussolini felt their countries were not “getting their ‘fair share’”, for instance of ‘glory’, or empire to ‘exploit’. They were jealous, or perhaps even fearful, of Britain, as many now react to the USA.

Hitler was caught up in this hubris. Mussolini wanted empire and glory, and ‘revolution’. Franco wanted stability and the old order. Franco did not involve himself in overseas adventures; as far as I can see, all the socialist fiefs tried to build empires. However, modern advanced states have come to the conclusion that trade is more profitable than empire, and that empire mainly drains wealth.

During the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, society was under great change. Marx suggested revolution in order to sort social inequalities. The roots go back far. Poor people were driven into the towns in search of a better life (remember the story of Dick Whittington and “streets paved with gold”. In this context, Keynes is very important. He pointed out there is no natural level of unemployment—there is no clear reason why unemployment should not stick at 20, or 30, or 50%. You will be able to see the more humane response of Rome to the socialist appetite for ‘smash the place up’ revolution in Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo. It was these two documents that, quintessentially, defined the ‘reactionary’ justification, or ‘philosophy’, of dictators like Franco and Salazar, and many in South America. I will be providing précis of these documents in the supporting resource focusing on Papal encyclicals. If you are up for the hard work, go read Quadragesimo.return to the Index on Extracts from papal encyclicals and Marxism

justifications of dictators, and of their followers

“'Liberal democracy does not work, anyway it is untidy.”
“We need a strong leader”. “The people want someone to follow.”
“They don’t want freedom.”
“Let’s take the land off the plutocrats and divide it among the people'”

some consequences of the socialist dream

Killing off millions has a different meaning for the socialist. The millions are “in the way”— this is a psychopath’s response. But Franco, in some sense, was “doing god’s work”, he was sending the hundreds of thousands on, specifically the ones who oppose god. However, Hitler also convinced himself that murdering Jews was “god’s work”, just as Islamists now convince themselves that blowing themselves with as many infidels as they can find is “god’s work”, while the mass-murderer Sutcliffe convinced himself that in killing prostitutes, he was an instrument of god.

march to glory - cowards
the beauty of a killing gun
kill for freedom kill for good
kill the lark and kill the rabbit
kill the wog and kill the jew
kill for freedom kill for now

if it moves kill it kill the whale
kill it quick before it moves
fire power wins   kill some more
safety lies in killing every thing
don’t take risks kill some more

death to traitors death to spies
kill the foe   die for peace
march on you bastards shine your shoes

stamp on life then you may live
nature’s red in tooth and claw
kill some more god goes on before
glory shines i want that hill
quickly now more more kill

these are men and men are proud
god is jealous kill this crowd
death to traitors death to cowards
kill for peace kill for lies
kill for life kill for truth
please please please kill for life

kill for love and kill for pence
kill for any bloody thing
                 but kill [3]

In socialism, the ‘leader’ or the dogma replaces ‘god’.

Socialism is godless. In my view, this matters to the real world actions and outcomes. I am looking at different sorts of human confusion. My central thesis is that socialism is much more dangerous to life and limb on the grand scale. It is also much more ‘dull’, but then pagan/christianism has thousands of years to develop. Socialism attempts to be ‘new’, which also makes it empty of experience. You will see Pius XI, by 1931, already claiming that socialism was learning from the Church and, thus, becoming less evil. However, Hayek would take the view that the slippery slope to hell remains, and my view is not much different. It is interesting to note that Pius XI does not comment on how much the Church position, by this time, is being modified by socialism.


Our current governments are statist, but they are not very far down the statist slope yet. In northern Europe, governments also tend to be ‘godless’, but the christianist tradition remains. Tony Bliar [former UK Prime minister] is contaminated with both socialism and christianism. He is a good boy, a boy scout; maybe (former US President) George Bush has more of the christianism.

Christianism could be regarded as a moderator of the empty beastliness of socialism. Man without religion, and without a great deal of sophisticated ‘philosophy’ as in the case of socialism, is an animal adrift in a mindless herd. More individualist views on the world can find roots in zen and stoicism, but most societies still tend to inculcate a herd mentality for country, for family, for dogma, according to taste and circumstance.

To stop the worst excesses, man must understand his animal drives and control them, that is what much of religion does. For sanity, I think man must also discover himself (his REALITY); for instance, be psychologically more removed or intellectually independent from the herd, to be more of an island. Gain a better idea of what is meant here by reading laying the foundations for sound education.

return to the Index on Extracts from papal encyclicals and Marxism


Related further reading
marker at abelard.org authoritarianism and liberty marker at abelard.org citizen's wage
marker at abelard.org socialist religions power, ownership and freedom
marker at abelard.org papal encyclicals and marx - extracts marker at abelard.org corporate corruption, politics and the law
islamic authoritarianism British establishment interference with civil liberties during the 20th century—the example of Diana and Oswald Mosley

End notes

  1. Mussolini by D. Mack-Smith is widely regarded as the best biography of Mussolini.
    I see the author as at least left leaning, but by 1982 he writes well. The facts are there, and he does not indulge in the “tell you what to think” method as intrusively as many.

    Examples of his lefty bias are rife. For example, in the quotation above, “he tried to pretend” and “it was claimed that”. There was no need for the ‘influence’ of Bombacci; attentive reading of Mack Smith will show Mussolini’s attachment to revolutionary socialism running, as a leitmotif, throughout his rule, despite the tendency of the author to skate over this irritating fact. (Mussolini was also jealous of, and over-awed by Hitler.)

    Also by D. Mack-Smith, Mussolini’s Roman Empire

    Salo was a town in Northern Italy where Mussolini had been re-established by the Nazis after being arrested.

  2. Jeremy Bentham 1748–1832
    English philosopher

    “The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.”

    In The Commonplace Book [in J. Bowring (ed.) Works vol. 10 (1843) p. 142], Bentham claims to have acquired the ‘sacred truth’ either from Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) or Cesare Beccaria (1738–94).

  3.    march to glory © abelard 2004, all rights reserved return to the Index on Extracts from papal encyclicals and Marxism


Denis Mack-Smith, Mussolini Denis Mack-Smith Mussolini

1982, Random House Inc, 0394505944, out of print
1981, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 0297780050, out of print
1983, Vintage Books, 0394716582, $12.60 [amazon.com] {advert}
2001, Weidenfeld & Nicholson history,1842126067, £10.49 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}

Mussolini’s Roman Empire 1976, Longman, 0582502667, out of print
1979, Penguin Books, 0140038493, out of print
'Franco' by Paul Preston. Image credit: amazon.co.uk Franco Paul Preston Details of this book, together a review and commentary by abelard.
  Hugh Kay Salazar and modern Portugal 1970, Hawthorn Books Inc
1970, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 0413267008, out of print

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