Adolf Hitler: Fascism is Closer to Christianity than Liberalism or Marxism

Democracy is not More Christian than Fascism or Totalitarianism

Are fascism and Christianity ideologies which are necessarily opposed to one another, or can they in fact work closely together for common goals? Christians in America today would be horrified at the idea of Christian working with fascism. In fact, conservative Christians frequently claim that their own Christian scriptures are the philosophical and historical basis for America's political liberties.

The problem is, democracy in America is more a part of popular culture than traditional religion and American Christians don't do a very good job at separating the two.

Christians, Christian churches, and Christian institutions have had little trouble working with fascist governments, organizations, and political parties. Just as some Christians find inspiration in their traditions and scriptures for promoting individual liberty, others can find equally strong and valid inspiration in the same traditions and scriptures for the need for common action, attacking modernism, and a strong social hierarchy. As a religion, Christianity is compatible with a wide variety of political, social, and economic ideologies, parties, and institutions.

In the February 29, 1929 edition of the Völkischer Beobachter (official newspaper of the Nazi Party), Adolf Hitler published an article on the new Lateran Treaty between Mussolini's fascist government and the Vatican.

According to Hitler, this treaty should demonstrate to the world that not only are fascism and Christianity not polar opposites, but that they are in fact close kin which should be working together:

The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms.

...The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy ...proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism, to which the so-called Catholic Center Party sees itself so closely bound, to the detriment of Christianity today and our German people.

Note Hitler's use of the phrase "Jewish liberalism." An important aspect of modern political anti-Semitism was the ability to associate Jews with everything conservative Christians disliked about modernity: emancipation (of women, Jews, gays, and other minorities), the loss of Christian privileges, legalized contraception and abortion, easier divorces, sexual liberty, socialist economic policies, expanding capitalism, etc. Conservative Christianity has never come entirely to terms with the Enlightenment and modern political liberalism.

Jewish thinkers were responsible for some of the aspects of modernity which conservative Christians complain about, and Jews benefited from much of it, but that was ultimately irrelevant. What was truly important was being able to create a scapegoat for large scale, relatively impersonal social changes which were perceived as undermining traditional morality, Christianity, and social relationships. Jews were already targets of bigotry and discrimination among conservative Christians, so this move could be fairly easy to make.

Conservative Christians who today continue to hate most of the same developments of modernity are no longer able to blame the Jews as Hitler could, so they identify other targets: gays, pagans, secular humanists, and atheists.

A close look reveals that modern attacks on these groups are often phrased and constructed in ways remarkably similar to traditional attacks on Jews. None of these groups arouse quite the levels of passionate hatred and anger that Jews could, but they still manage to fill much the same ideological role as Jews once did.

Note also Hitler's use of the phrase "atheistic Marxism." The Nazis were passionately opposed to Marxism, not only because they were anti-communists (anti-communism was an important feature of conservative politics in Germany of this era) but also because they were anti-atheists. The Nazis also opposed the large socialist parties in Germany, but largely because of their association with Jews and atheism. In contrast, the Nazis sought to offer a more "Christian" and "German" form of "national socialism."

During the same speech, Hitler further criticizes Germany's Catholic Center Party for maintaining its support for democracy:

By trying to preach that democracy is still in the best interests of German Catholics, the Center Party ...is placing itself in stark contradiction to the spirit of the treaty signed today by the Holy See.

To be fair, the Lateran treaty didn't mean that the Vatican thoroughly approved of Mussolini's fascist government, but at the same time the Vatican was no great fan of liberal democracy either. A basic principle of fascist government was that the people should not be allowed to vote for or do things which would undermine social unity and culture; the Catholic Church for a long time endorsed much the same idea and even today would agree with it to at least some extent.

Modern, liberal democracy sounded the death knell for traditional power structures, traditional moral assumptions, and traditional privileges for Christian churches. The Catholic Church lost on all these points so it's only to be expected that they had a lot of objections when it came to liberalism, modernity, and democracy. Many within the Catholic Church saw fascism as a means for restoring tradition and the status of Catholicism. After all, it's not as though the Catholic Church itself is run as a democracy, so why would anyone assume that it would necessarily favor political democracy?