The Economic crisis and the fascist ideology from the perspective of consciousness

Giannis Ninos

(Technical University of Crete, Greece)


Dimitris Koulos

(Technical University of Crete, Greece)



This presentation is an attempt to describe the fundamental process of the emergence of the fascist ideology in the era of economic crisis. Fascist ideology is a political ideology and, as every political ideology, it is a product of the ethic form of consciousness. In our approach we will investigate the specific connection of the forms of social consciousness (Ethic, Aesthetic, Philosophy) within the fascist ideology and the way this connection reveals itself when specific social circumstances exist. In this context, we will also exam fascism as a form of national consciousness. We will support that one of the fundamental ideas of fascism is the concept of nation. The concept of nation is understood as an imaginary hyper-class community of private owners. The fact that people, especially in the era of the economic crisis when their social and economic status is in danger and their future is uncertain, are turning to the nation, as the only possible and authentic collectivity, is something that stems mainly through the everyday empirical character, consciousness of certain section of petty bourgeois strata and by certain section of workers that lack class consciousness. From the perspective of this type of consciousness, the nation is considered as an entity which lies outside the history process, and based on this, in the context of fascism, this anti-historicism manifests itself as naturalization of the nation. This is the groundwork of the foundation of concepts such as genetic unity, common blood, race, and generally the reduction of social relationships to physical relationships. Exactly in this context, the content of fascist communalism, appears as solidarity between different classes under the fictitious identity of race. This means that the class hierarchy and inequality is something physical and something that we must maintain. Our approach is based on the heritage of Soviet Psychology and specifically: on L. Vygotsky’s cultural-historical approach of the subject, on A.N. Leontiev’s theory of activity and on V.A. Vazulin’s study on consciousness in his book “Logic of History”, where he creatively used all the scientific results of  the Soviet Psychology.

Key words: activity, class, fascism, ideology, nation, race, social forms of consciousness        


During an economic and -more generally speaking- social crisis, where the current ideological and political stereotypes as well as their organizational forms fail to handle the social reality, a great part of social power rush to get together ready to fight for nationalism and embrace its various political representatives, including neo-fascists-neonazi variations. But, what is fascism and how does it result in the context of an economic crisis? Which are the basic characteristics of fascism?

In the context of capitalism, politics seems to be a mass of contradicting points of view, contradicting interests and believes, while the single person-carrier of his own interests seems to be the basic form of politics. Humans, since they are social beings - not just biological creatures - have personalities. As V.A.Vazulin points out, “what determines a personality (the personal aspect) is the particularly human aspect in humans (Vazulin 2004, 229), i.e. the conscious and on-purpose transformation of nature by humans. In other words, the effect of human’s work and productivity on nature aiming to produce specific consumable products.

Consciousness is a natural-historical process. It results in the framework of the working effort and production process.  Here we need to point out that by the term “production process” we mean the unity of all production forces (the subject, the object, the means and the outcomes of labour) with the relations of production (relations that are generated in the framework of the production process).   Consciousness, which, as already mentioned, results in the framework of the working effort and the production process, and exists exactly due to the production process, is actually a single whole made of two distinctive parts:

The first part of consciousness is actually the “outrunning conception resembling a show, i.e. ideally the outcome of the transformation of the object of labour, using the means and tools of labour. Here, we refer to scientia  (Vazulin 2004, 233).

The second part of consciousness is actually the “show-like ideal outrunning conception of its relationship with the humans and the relationship of humans with their inner self, as well as the relationships of humans with one another co-scientia»  (Vazulin 2004,233).

The first part, scientia ,results from the mutual relationship of humans with nature and the interaction between humans and nature.

The second part results from the mutual relations of humans during production, i.e. it results from the human interaction. 

Social consciousness is the reflection of objects and processes that result from human activity, mainly the one of production, aiming to the potentials of transforming them. The transformation potentials are always determined by the specific connection of production forces and production relations. We believe that, as we examine consciousness considering it as a natural-historical process, the essence that results is the following: the production process is the main part of the process.

The production process, within the whole set of activities, is inevitable but not unique. In human history, production process dominates the day, while time for leisure is very limited. Human activity, seen as the interaction of man - nature and man – society, is actually the unity of the two. Therefore, social consciousness is the reflection of objects and processes that result from human interaction with society and nature. This very reflection is actualized through the following three basic forms: The ethical, the aesthetic and the philosophical form of social consciousness.

            The ethical form of consciousness is formed by the refraction of the social Being, mainly through the prism of the actions of the conscious individuals.  Categories that play a key role in this specific form of social consciousness are those that represent the essence of the actions. For example: Good, Evil, Beneficial, Harmful content etc. The ethical form of social consciousness has got two more, historically temporary, manifestations: Politics and Right. Politics, seen in the light of  Logic of History, “constitutes mainly of actions directed by the consciousness of the substantial difference, antithesis and antiphasis between the acting person and the receiver. These actions aim to satisfy material benefits. (It is based on the substantial  difference, antithesis and contradiction of material interests)(Vazulin 2004,261).

Politics means fight, politics means a confrontational battle field in the framework of which the fight happens for some material interest against another substantially different and confronting interest.

In the context of this very fight, a never ending struggle as long as the contradictions and antithesis are not resolved, the winners impose their own specific interests claiming that they are for the benefit of the society and hence of the losers too.

This is exactly where Right appears as a form of social consciousness. Therefore, “the consciousness of Right and Wrong is the consciousness of the interests of the dominant part; it is imposed on the losers, whose interests are opposite.” (Vazulin 2004, 263).

The second form of social consciousness is the aesthetic one. It is the reflection of the essence of humans and the inevitabilities that govern the social Being in the midst of aesthetic equivalents. The categories that play a leading role in this specific form of social consciousness are the following: beauty, harmony, asymmetry etc

Two more manifestations arise in this second form of social consciousness: Religion and Art. 

Regarding the present presentation, what interests us, and is worth noting, is Vazulin’s reference to religious conscience.

“The religious conscience typically consists of those natural and social powers that have not given in to humans, are not dominated by humans, are destructive and harmful. Therefore these powers are unknown to a certain extent, since diagnosis is sufficient only when the perceived object can be transformed to the desired direction that satisfies the needs of the perceiver” (Vazulin 2004, 266).

Finally, we have the third form of social consciousness, the philosophical one.  It is mainly formed by the refraction of the social Being through the prism of  thoughts of the individuals in the process of becoming conscious and self-conscious.

Philosophy is the deepest and most intermediated by social Being form of social consciousness. This form of social consciousness, in contrast to the two fore mentioned ones, possesses one additional particularity: The examination of the relation, (of the mutual relation, of the interaction), between conscience and material world, resulting to the realization of nature, society, conscience and scientia.” (Vazulin 2004, 271-272).

Within the framework of capitalism, the division of labour is growing fast and is acquiring the essence of antithesis between executive-mental and task-manual labour.   A common characteristic of the developed division of labour is the specialization. The working subjects in the production process are specialized on specific, small monotonous and repeating tasks, aiming to achieve the best productivity and efficiency that serve the extended capital reproduction. 

Specialization, being a specific historical form of labour that happens wherever production forces are developed to a certain extent, is mainly an interaction.  The main content of specialization is the interaction of man and nature, namely the  scientia. As a result, co-scientia, which can be described as the essential reflection of mutual interrelations between people, is gradually reduced both quantitatively and qualitatively.  This situation combined to the capitalistic discount of man to an object to be exploited as well as to a use value that will be consumed in the production process, leads to a certain conscience. A conscience, considered as a reflection of the social Being through the activity of the subject-person, is nothing else but an alienated conscience. It is an alienated conscience, where the human relations are replaced by the objects relations, as Marx has typically shown in “THE CAPITAL”, analyzing the phenomenon of fetishism of merchandise. (Marx 2006, 84-97).

Therefore in a framework of such a conscience that has been established on the basis of a manual, monotonous and repeated character of labour, the state and the authorities express the means to implement the specific demands of the specific political representative.

At this point, where the dominant role belongs to the ethical conscience, politics is considered a matter that refers to will and just to will. The ethical form of consciousness obtains a static nature where good and evil appear once and for all, as given.  Therefore, “the personalities in question are influenced in their judgment of reality.  They judge on the basis of the symbolic impact of the actions, i.e. on the basis of what others do, what others think and feel”. In the light of the aesthetic form of such a conscience, a basic characteristic is the idealization of certain people as special creatures, while a philosophical consciousness is in fact the voluntarism which always ends up   to conspiracy talk and metaphysics.

On the basis of the fore mentioned argumentation, let us now consider fascism as a political ideology, examining it in a more analytical way. Every ideology is a phenomenon of the conscience, and is derived from the interaction of the forms of the social consciousness within the division of labour. The ethics of fascism is a sort of ethics, with a totally static and metaphysic character, where the good is identical with the good of the nation and of the clan, while the evil is anything foreign to the nation. The notion of the nation is crucial for fascism. From the point of view of fascism, the notion of nation can be understood as an “imaginary classless community of individuals-landlords, within which they can expect the protection of their interests and the solidarity against internal and external enemies, while the centralized state is in charge  (Pavlidis 2013). For fascism nation is a history-less and time-less notion. Our understanding is that this characteristic proves the fact that bourgeois consciousness has an inner trend to perceive its own world as forever given and unchangeable. The anti-historism of fascism is manifested by the naturalization of the nation. In other words, the social relations that develop in the context of the nation-state are apprehended as natural, biological relations, a fact that leads to the legalization of the exploitation, of the class hierarchy and of the inequality, by reducing these relations to natural relations.

The aesthetic consciousness of fascism, has mainly a religious form as it idealizes persons (e.g. the leader, the father, the ancestors etc.), persons that must be obeyed as they represent the common benefit.


Finally, the philosophical consciousness of fascism is the conspiracy talk. A typical characteristic of fascism is the credit given to the conspiracy of some powers which a priori are hostile to the nation and the clan. Based on this very consciousness all mass executions are legalized, as well as violence of any sort applied for the extermination of those considered “anti-nation” persons. 

To conclude, we would only like to note that today, the era of techno-sciences, the era of bio-sciences, the era of gradual automation of production forces, today, the potential of revolutionary emancipation of labour is more mature than ever. After all, throughout history, the efforts for improvement – development of social relations and production means (that arose by human work in order to satisfy to the best possible level the material, mental, social and individual needs), played a key role to the social evolution, as opposed to the nationalistic and fascist deliria regarding the existence of some hyper nature.

Thereafter, today, in the context of an unprecedented immense crisis of capitalism and in the context of an uncertain transition era, social progress and social evolution will be evaluated based on the procession of the class struggle and the level of success in extorting the means of production from the power of capitalists and in building a society where freedom reigns not the need.    



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