10 August, 2019

Peron: The Argentinian Fascist

John Ray

Argentine dictator Juan Peron, is now long dead but the party he founded is still highly influential in Argentina and to a degree still clings to his ideas. So what he was is of continuing relevance.

Most people would not be aware that historians and political commentators often describe Peron as what Latin Americans sometimes call a "Fenomeno" (paradox). The paradox or puzzle is that he first came to power in Argentina as part of a military coup, so should have been "Right-wing" -- yet he became the champion and hero of working class Argentines, and to this day the major Leftist political grouping in Argentina (the "Peronistas") is named after him. How come?

Anybody who has read what I have written about the strongly Leftist nature of both German Nazism and Italian Fascism will not have far to seek for the answer. Both Nazism and Fascism won power largely through claiming to be the champions and glorifiers of the ordinary worker and both Nazism and Fascism are routinely described as "Right-wing" too. Peron was just another one of that fraternity. Peron in fact soon got kicked out by his fellow participants in the military coup and finally gained power -- as did Hitler and Mussolini -- through primarily political means.

And that is only the beginning of the resemblance: The doctrines Peron preached (e.g. giving the workers and managers equal say in running industry) were almost exactly what Peron had learned from Mussolini when he lived in Italy for some years in the 1930s. Peronism is Fascism. Also like Hitler and Mussolini, Peron was a great patriot and nationalist who got the foreign business interests out of Argentina and tried to make Argentina independent of foreigners generally. With the able help of his wife Evita, Peron made the Argentine people feel special and persuaded them that he was on their side and would lead them to greatness. And they loved him for it!

The only major difference is that Peron was clever enough to stay neutral instead of joining Hitler's war. As already mentioned, Mussolini stayed neutral for a couple of years too but finally made the fatal mistake of joining in.

So what Hitler, Mussolini and Peron all show is what most modern-day Leftist intellectuals passionately deny: That you can be an extreme Leftist and an extreme nationalist too. And it shows something very troubling too: That the combination of Leftism and nationalism is POPULAR! The popularity of that combination is also shown in the way Germans fought to the end for Hitler. Perhaps we should be thankful that modern-day Leftists (who are often anything but patriotic) have not learned all that their Fascist brethren might have taught them.

So the only puzzle or paradox of Peronism is one that modern-day Leftist intellectuals have artificially created for themselves. They refuse to accept that you can be BOTH a Leftist and a nationalist so are basically just lost for words (or sensible words anyway) when confronted with great historical figures such as Peron who prove by their living example that you CAN be both.

And Peron was of course almost as bad for Argentina as Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini were for the countries that they led down the extreme Leftist path. Before Peron came to power, Argentina was one of the world's richest countries but Peron sent it broke and it has never recovered -- largely because, although Peron is dead, Peronism (Fascism) is still the strongest single force in Argentine politics.

Like other Leftists, Fascists may or may not be antisemitic. Hitler's Fascist regime was of course enormously antisemitic but one swallow does not make a summer. And one of the other swallows was Peron. As I have already mentioned, Mussolini was not initially antisemitic until he was virtually forced into adopting some antisemitic measures by his alliance with Hitler -- and Italy was even then one of the safer places for Jews to be in World War II Europe.

And Peron followed Mussolini. Although Jews were subjected to some attacks under his rule Peron was only marginally interested in them. He certainly had no interest in a "final solution".

That this made him a typical Fascist rather than an atypical one can be seen if we add in the British example. Most people have probably forgotten that prewar Britain had a large Fascist movement too -- under Sir Oswald Mosley. And Sir Oswald initially used to EXPEL from the British Union of Fascists anybody who made antisemitic utterances! When his meetings came under constant attack from Jewish Leftists, however, he had something of a rethink.

And Peron's Fascism does of course explain why so many former German Nazis found a safe haven in Argentina after World War II. Peron was simply helping out his old friends.

The ideas of Pope Francis trace back to Peron. In his recent encyclical, Pope Francis has made it clear that he idealizes a simple and definitely non-capitalist rural past. Hitler did the same and the modern-day Green/Left do the same. So exactly from where did Frank get those ideas? As well as from Catholic economic thinking, he got them from liberation theology. Liberation theology is a very Leftist doctrine that is widespread among South American priests and Frank is a South American priest. So where did South American priests get their ideas? From the prevailing South American culture. And South American thinking is typically Fascist. Latin America has had heaps of Fascist-type dictatorships in the recent history of its governance so that is hardly controversial. Fascism explains Latin-American poverty. Fascism is a form of Leftism and Leftism is always economically destructive.

So where did South American Fascism come from? Initially from Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America. Bolivar wanted to replace the king of Spain by a South American elite, not by mass democracy. And to this day the Venezuelan regime describes itself as Bolivarian. Bolivar and his ideas are far from forgotten. Bolivar emphasized the importance of a strong ruler and the constitution he wrote aimed to establish a lifelong presidency and an hereditary senate. He explicitly rejected the liberal ideas of the U.S. founders. Fascist enough? Memories of a certain "Tausend Jahr Reich" come to mind. So the Latin American dictators have simply been good Bolivarians.

So that is the mental world that formed Pope Frank as he was growing up in Argentina. And who is to this day the most influential political figure in Argentina? Juan Peron, another Fascist and a friend of Mussolini in his day. And what was Peron's appeal? He claimed to be standing up for the descamisados", the "shirtless ones". In typical Leftist style he claimed to be an advocate for the poor.

Is Frank's thinking coming into focus yet? He is actually a pretty good Peronist. He has brought Argentinian Fascism to the Holy See. He is certainly no original thinker.

Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of recent writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs (Backup here)
Go to Another picture page