Was Pol Pot a fascist? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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By Agent Steel
#15248609
So, recently I've been getting into some discussions with a gentleman on a different forum about the meaning of fascism. He is a marxist who describes fascism as a uniquely "right-wing phenomenon". I'm not sure if I agree. I could be mistaken, but I think that left wingers can be fascists too. And when it comes to a marxist like Pol Pot, he tried to create a mythological idea that agrarian societies from the past were superior to intellectual societies of today, and his goal was to take his country back to the way things used to be. When you combine his philosophy with his role as a totalitarian dictator, doesn't that make him a fascist?
#15248633

Background

Khmer Rouge in power

Main article: Democratic Kampuchea

The Khmer Rouge, the communist party led by Pol Pot, came to power in 1975 during the Cambodian Civil War, which was linked to the Vietnam War. They defeated the Khmer Republic, who were heavily supported by the U.S., including a massive bombing campaign against the Khmer Rouge until 1973. North Vietnam, who had many soldiers in Cambodia, and China were the primary backers of the Khmer Rouge during the civil war. Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge perpetrated the Cambodian genocide, which killed between 1.5 and 2 million people, nearly 25% of Cambodia's population.[7] During the genocide, China was the main international patron of the Khmer Rouge, supplying "more than 15,000 military advisers" and most of its external aid.[8]



"ASEAN wanted elections but the U.S. supported the return of a genocidal regime. Did any of you imagine that the U.S. once had in effect supported genocide?" Kausikan described the disagreement between the U.S. and ASEAN over the Khmer Rouge as reaching the threshold that the U.S. threatened Singapore with "blood on the floor".[30]



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegatio ... hmer_Rouge
#15248636
Traits of fascism Khmer Rogue shared:

Mythological narrative of palingenetic nationalism

Revanchism

Reactionary view of historical period as a "golden age"

The concept that "human willpower" can overcome historical or material shortcomings

Ethnic Chauvinist (Khmer vs Viet or Thai or Lao)

Traits of Khmer Rouge that aren't fascist:

Egalitarian, especially with regard to gender roles, communal living, and anti-materialism

Monarchist

Primitivist, focused on peasant class as supreme

Atheist
By Rich
#15248665
Fasces wrote:Traits of Khmer Rouge that aren't fascist:

Egalitarian, especially with regard to gender roles, communal living, and anti-materialism

Votes for women was part of the fascist party's programme.

Monarchist

The Kings were necessary in bringing both Mussolini and Pol Pot to power. Monarchism was a dead issue in Weimar Germany, so it doesn't really say much that Hitler didn't attempt to restore the Prussian, Bavarian or Austrian monarchies.

Primitivist, focused on peasant class as supreme

Himmler considered that farmers made far superior soldiers to urban people.

Atheist

Mussolini was an atheist, so probably was Hitler. just to note Churchill was also an atheist and FDR, although more religious than Hitler or Mussolini was probably an atheist as well and showed little signs of actually believing in Episcopalian theology.
#15248667
I think the framing of the OP is off. Sure, you could define the Khmer Rouge as fascist, but you'd still have to explain what makes it 'left-wing'. Even if, as Pol Pot did, we define it as a communist organisation, historical communist movements didn't necessarily identify themselves as leftist. By the 1970s, of course, it was commonplace to associate communism with leftist politics, but with an organisation as strange as the Khmer Rouge, I don't think anything like that can be taken for granted.
#15248687

China has used Cambodia as a counterweight to the dominating influence of Vietnam. In the mid-20th century, Communist China supported the Maoist Khmer Rouge against Lon Nol's regime, who Nationalist China had ties with, during the Cambodian Civil War and then its takeover of Cambodia in 1975. Also, Mao Zedong had fostered good relations with Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who also fought against Lon Nol and backed the Khmer Rouge. When Vietnamese military invaded Cambodia in 1978, China provided extensive political and military support for the Khmer Rouge.[1][1] In 1979, the Chinese People's Liberation Army waged a brief border war against Vietnam, partly to threaten it into pulling out of Cambodia.[5]



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodia% ... ns#History



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Much of the left around the world had enthused at the Cultural Revolution. In many countries opponents of the US war in Vietnam carried portraits of Mao Zedong as well as the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh. The trite sayings in the Little Red Book of ‘Mao’s thoughts’ were presented as a guide to socialist activity. Yet in 1972, as more US bombers hit targets in Vietnam than ever before, Mao greeted US president Nixon in Beijing, and by 1977, under Deng, China was beginning to embrace the market more furiously than Russia under Stalin’s successors.

The Western media saw such twists and turns as a result of wild irrationality. By the late 1970s many of those on the left who had identified with Maoism in the 1960s agreed, and turned their backs on socialism. A whole school of ex-Maoist ‘New Philosophers’ emerged in France, who taught that revolution automatically leads to tyranny and that the revolutionary left are as bad as the fascist right. Yet there is a simple, rational explanation for the apparently irrational course of Chinese history over a quarter of a century. China simply did not have the internal resources to pursue the Stalinist path of forced industrialisation successfully, however much its rulers starved the peasants and squeezed the workers. But there were no other easy options after a century of imperialist plundering. Unable to find rational solutions, the country’s rulers were tempted by irrational ones.



Harman, _People's History of the World_, p. 576
By late
#15248690
Agent Steel wrote:
So, recently I've been getting into some discussions with a gentleman on a different forum about the meaning of fascism. He is a marxist who describes fascism as a uniquely "right-wing phenomenon". I'm not sure if I agree. I could be mistaken, but I think that left wingers can be fascists too. And when it comes to a marxist like Pol Pot, he tried to create a mythological idea that agrarian societies from the past were superior to intellectual societies of today, and his goal was to take his country back to the way things used to be. When you combine his philosophy with his role as a totalitarian dictator, doesn't that make him a fascist?



Fascist is prob the wrong word, but overall I agree.

The dynamic is the concentration of power into few hands. The more that power is concentrated, the worse off it is for everyone else.
#15248694
Remember that the famines of the 20th century happened in Russia, and China -- they were both woefully *underdeveloped*.



The genocide in Cambodia was the outcome of a complex historical development in which the pernicious ideological influence of Stalinism came together with the military bloodbath carried out by American imperialism against the people of Indochina. Little of this history can be gleaned from the commentaries in the corporate-controlled media, which used the occasion to rehash old anticommunist myths and whitewash the US role in the Cambodian tragedy.



https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1998/04/plpt-a18.html
#15248696

Classical Marxism envisioned a new society, democratically controlled by the working class, which would take as its point of departure the highest level of the productive forces developed under capitalism. This presupposed the widest possible scope for the development of industry, science and technique, all of them bound up with the growth of cities, the urban proletariat and the cultural life of the population as a whole.

No more grotesque distortion can be imagined than to categorize as 'Marxist' the ideas of Pol Pot and his cohorts. As early as the 1950s Khieu Samphan, Pol Pot's closest aide, had outlined a perspective of creating a primitive peasant-based society in which money, culture and all other facets of urban life would be abolished.

Like the Maoists, the Khmer Rouge appealed not to the working class but to the peasantry, and especially to the most backward and impoverished layers of the peasantry, who became the backbone of its guerrilla army units. In its parochialism and nationalism, its anti-intellectualism, and its hostility to urban life, the Khmer Rouge reflected the outlook of this social stratum.



https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1998/04/plpt-a18.html
#15248700
Agent Steel wrote:So, recently I've been getting into some discussions with a gentleman on a different forum about the meaning of fascism. He is a marxist who describes fascism as a uniquely "right-wing phenomenon". I'm not sure if I agree. I could be mistaken, but I think that left wingers can be fascists too. And when it comes to a marxist like Pol Pot, he tried to create a mythological idea that agrarian societies from the past were superior to intellectual societies of today, and his goal was to take his country back to the way things used to be. When you combine his philosophy with his role as a totalitarian dictator, doesn't that make him a fascist?


I am pretty sure they were the more eviler communists that ever existed.
#15248701
JohnRawls wrote:
I am pretty sure they were the more eviler communists that ever existed.



It was *this* part -- turning to the peasantry only *exacerbated* the backwardness of whichever undeveloped economy.



Like the Maoists, the Khmer Rouge appealed not to the working class but to the peasantry,
#15248704
ckaihatsu wrote:It was *this* part -- turning to the peasantry only *exacerbated* the backwardness of whichever undeveloped economy.


Vast majority of communists are evil, just Khmer rogue appear to have been on the really eviler side of already evil.
#15248705
JohnRawls wrote:
Vast majority of communists are evil, just Khmer rogue appear to have been on the really eviler side of already evil.



It's worth looking at what political parties *profess*, and also what the *material conditions* were -- that such a massive genocide *could* happen as it did.


Social Production Worldview

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By Rich
#15248707
Local Localist wrote:you could define the Khmer Rouge as fascist, but you'd still have to explain what makes it 'left-wing'. Even if, as Pol Pot did, we define it as a communist organisation, historical communist movements didn't necessarily identify themselves as leftist. By the 1970s, of course, it was commonplace to associate communism with leftist politics, but with an organisation as strange as the Khmer Rouge, I don't think anything like that can be taken for granted.

No explanation is needed. Being left wing or right wing is not about some unchanging set of policies, its just where you are on the left right polarity spectrum. This spectrum constantly reproduces itself in different times and countries, but it is clearly recognisable. We get the same whining from both the left and the right. Rightwingers say, oh the I don't like the Nazis, they have a bad reputation, therefore they can have nothing to do with us. Look the Nazis were socialist. No sorry you get to discover the Nazis were left wing socialist after the fact. The Nazis were accepted as part of the right both within Germany and internationally. In the nineteen thirties it was the left wing British Labour party that demanded increases in military expenditure. It was the left that wanted to intervene in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and his fascist and Nazi backers. It was the right that found pacifistic excuses for non intervention.

The Khmer Rouge the nick name given to the Communist Party of Kampuchea were part of the international Communist movement and were supported by the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communist Party and the Vietnamese Communist Party prior to them all falling out. The Communist Party of Kampuchea, prior to the civil war operated amongst the wider left and workers movement, the same as any Communist Party.

To understand why Fascism is not a proper narrowly defined social phenomena, we first need to understand Marxism. And what you need to understand about Marxism is that its all about dictatorship. All the endless theory, all the endless fantasising about workers control, workers power and a future stateless society is all directed towards one end and one end only, the creation of a totalitarian dictatorship.

And once you board the dictatorship train you have no idea where its going to end up, particularly a totalitarian dictatorship where huge power is concentrated in one man. So the Russian Communist Dictatorship led to the gray colourless bureaucracy of the late Soviet Union, but a dictatorship whose doctrinal ideals were not that far from the original Bolsheviks. China's led to National Socialism with freer markets than under Hitler. North Korea led to a sort of modern priest-king Pharaoh state and the Khmer Rouge led to an Agrarian slave state and the path of total national destruction.

When you board the dictatorship train, the colour of the flag they're flying, red, black, green, whatever is no guarantee of your destination. Right can become left and left can become right. Because in the ideal absolute dictatorship, which can never be completely actualised, there would no longer be any internal left and right, and left and right could only be measured in relation to external societies.
#15248710
Rich wrote:
When you board the dictatorship train, the colour of the flag they're flying, red, black, green, whatever is no guarantee of your destination. Right can become left and left can become right. Because in the ideal absolute dictatorship, which can never be completely actualised, there would no longer be any internal left and right, and left and right could only be measured in relation to external societies.



Boarding-the-train-to-*Crazy-Town*, right, Rich -- ?


= D


Is *that* the point you and JR are trying to get across -- that it's all too 'crazy' and 'evil' to even *comprehend*.

Let's not forget that we're talking about at least *three* major components here -- [1] ideology, [2] material conditions, and [3] larger geopolitics.

So far you and JR are ignoring *all three* major components in your particular approach to history.


History, Macro-Micro -- Political (Cognitive) Dissonance

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I'm starting to think that this is *you*:



rehash old anticommunist myths



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Also:


Consciousness, A Material Definition

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#15248722
ckaihatsu wrote:Boarding-the-train-to-*Crazy-Town*, right, Rich -- ?

When you have a revolution, @ckaihatsu, you are always and necessarily boarding the train to Crazy Town. After all, a revolution is an attempt to overturn the long-held and hallowed traditional values and virtues of one’s society, values and virtues such as hereditary monarchy, slavery, class inequality, exploitation, religion, politeness, decency and the like. It all gets “thrown overboard from the ship of Modernity”, as the Russian poet Mayakovsky put it. Yet most people have no moral values except the traditional ones society tells them to believe in. Take away those traditional values, and all limits on their personal behaviour will vanish…. So where does all this lead? Nobody knows. That’s the whole point. We don’t like the course we’re on, yet we have no charts to guide us onto a better one. So let’s spin the ship of Modernity’s wheel and hope for the best….
#15248727
Potemkin wrote:
When you have a revolution, @ckaihatsu, you are always and necessarily boarding the train to Crazy Town. After all, a revolution is an attempt to overturn the long-held and hallowed traditional values and virtues of one’s society, values and virtues such as hereditary monarchy, slavery, class inequality, exploitation, religion, politeness, decency and the like. It all gets “thrown overboard from the ship of Modernity”, as the Russian poet Mayakovsky put it. Yet most people have no moral values except the traditional ones society tells them to believe in. Take away those traditional values, and all limits on their personal behaviour will vanish…. So where does all this lead? Nobody knows. That’s the whole point. We don’t like the course we’re on, yet we have no charts to guide us onto a better one. So let’s spin the ship of Modernity’s wheel and hope for the best….



BS -- you're getting drawn into the pre-modernity *romantic* / cultural depiction, when in fact proletarian revolution is simply a long-overdue 'upgrade' wherein the world's working class controls social production.

In fewer words, the shit's *there*, it's *been* there, and the workers should be the ones to decide on how it's used since they're *there*, in the workplace.

You're acting like everyone's been ethically / morally *adrift* and confused since the advent of urbanization.



Axial Age (also Axis Age,[1] from German: Achsenzeit) is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers. It refers to broad changes in religious and philosophical thought that occurred in a variety of locations from about the 8th to the 3rd century BC.

According to Jaspers, during this period, universalizing modes of thought appeared in Persia, India, China, the Levant, and the Greco-Roman world, in a striking parallel development, without any obvious admixture between these disparate cultures. Jaspers identified key thinkers from this age who had a profound influence on future philosophies and religions, and identified characteristics common to each area from which those thinkers emerged.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_Age



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Have you forgotten, Potemkin, the distinction between personal property and *social* implements -- ?
#15248749
"Fascist" is an ideology, with a set of principles and ideas. To be "fascist" a state must be ideologically committed to these principles. Highways and dictators and fancy shirts are not fascism, unless they are used by a state that is ideologically fascist.

I disagree entirely with Rich on that matter. Even if the structures of totalitarian states resemble each other,
structures are not, in of themselves, ideological. Ideology is the realm of principles and motives. A communist or fascist party that practices and participates in electoral democracy does not cease to be communist or fascist on that basis, for example.

Rich wrote:Votes for women was part of the fascist party's programme.


1) No, it wasn't. Women did not receive full suffrage in Italy until 1945.

2) Fascism is explicitly hierarchical, and rejects equality and communal living. The Khmer Rouge even abolished the family unit, preferring to raise children communally. This is a significant departure from fascist ideology.

2a) For much of the Khmer Rouge's existence, even after coming to power, its leadership refused to reveal their name or identities, being referred to as "Angkor". This is a rejection of the hierarchical "great man" personality cults that characterize fascist movements. Eventually, Pol Pot did take a central role.

Rich wrote:The Kings were necessary in bringing both Mussolini and Pol Pot to power. Monarchism was a dead issue in Weimar Germany, so it doesn't really say much that Hitler didn't attempt to restore the Prussian, Bavarian or Austrian monarchies.


The fascist programme in Italy explicitly called for the abolition of the monarchy. Fascist movements in Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Romania were against the monarchy. Fascist movements in Spain and Britain were for the monarchy.

Mussolini's practical compromises are irrelevant to ideological character of fascism.

The Cambodian monarchy was abolished in 1970 and reinstated by the Khmer Rouge as part of their palingenetic reactionary programme.

Rich wrote:Himmler considered that farmers made far superior soldiers to urban people.


Agrarianism =/= Primitivism

And no fascist state was ideologically agrarian. They were full industrialists, modernists, and futurists.

Rich wrote:Mussolini was an atheist, so probably was Hitler. just to note Churchill was also an atheist and FDR, although more religious than Hitler or Mussolini was probably an atheist as well and showed little signs of actually believing in Episcopalian theology.


Fascist movements in Italy began anti-clerical, but softened. Fascist movements in Poland, Austria, France and Spain aligned with Catholicism explicitly, and were not anti-clerical. The fascist movement in Germany did not have an anti-clerical character despite the personal distaste for Christianity of some of NSDAP's higher-ups.

The Khmer Rouge was explicitly atheist, though it tolerated Buddhism.
By Rich
#15248761
Rich wrote:Votes for women was part of the fascist party's programme.

Fasces wrote:1) No, it wasn't. Women did not receive full suffrage in Italy until 1945.

Oh for God's sake!
Manifesto dei Fasci italiani di combattimento, pubblicato su "Il Popolo d'Italia" del 6 giugno 1919 wrote:Per il problema politico

a) — Suffragio universale a scrutinio di Lista regionale, con rappresentanza proporzionale, voto ed eleggibilità per le donne.
User avatar
By Fasces
#15248768
Rich wrote:a) — Suffragio universale a scrutinio di Lista regionale, con rappresentanza proporzionale, voto ed eleggibilità per le donne.


Sure - female suffrage for regional and local elections but not national elections.

Women did not receive full equal suffrage to men until 1945 in Italy. In any case, it doesn't make fascism egalitarian.

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