SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1934. Volume 5. Number 3.
Dictatorship Debunked — Democracy Dished
Nothing was more evident at the debate than the belief in the Great Man theory. Speaker after speaker, whether casting brickbats or salvoes at dictatorship, tried to sell a credulous audience the idea that modern dictatorships are One Man Shows, that Il Duce, the Thunderer, the Best-Beloved of Allah (Mussolini, A. Hitler and Kemal Pasha to you and me) are the big noises, the whole works in fact, what they say goes, and as for the State, it's them. Despite Carlyle, this is the naivest of delusions. Christopher Robin was righter than he knew when he lamented, "There aren't any heroes nowadays." In fact, not since chivalrous days—when the notion sprang up that the feudal robber-barons were knights in shining armour—has the will of a single individual, superman or subhuman, been of such stuff as to make history by controlling social forces. Society moulds men, not men society. And this is most easily seen in modern dictatorships.
The man on horseback, the "hero," the romantic Dictator in Germany, in Italy, in Poland as in Japan, .is a figurehead and no more. So long as he remains wooden and dense and merely orna-mental. as any good figurehead must be, so long he can play at being God. Capital pipes the tune to which the Fascist rats of Hamelin dance. This is easy enough to see in Germany. Hitler financed and placed in power by the coal and steel interests of the Ruhr, went in on a catch-cry promise of socialising the German banks. But that, of course, would have meant the horse double-crossing its backers—breaking with the power behind the throne. So Hitler socialised no German banks—because Hitler, like every puppet, had to dance the way the strings were pulled. And we know that in this case the strings indicated the crushing of the splendid German trade-union movement to prepare the way for further exploitation. And likewise Mussolini. Dare he try to dictate to Italian capitalists for one moment, he'd be seeking a new job. The true rulers, then in modern dictatorships accompanied by so called Fascist "national revolutions" are simply the same old capitalist dictators putting on a new, and particularly brutal show. When under the democratic forms of parliamentary government there seems a possibility that an elected government actually might legislate for the real interests of the exploited as against those of the exploiters, when working class agitation from all sides grows so strong as to threaten the maintenance of the profit system, democratic forms are swept away, and a figurehead installed—the dictatorship of capital becomes more open, more terrorist, more reactionary than through a "democratic" state. The democratic republic in which ultimate power rests not in the political rights of the great mass of the people but in the organised economic strength of capital, passes in times of social unrest into the Fascist dictatorship proclaiming the hollow bluff of a "Corporate State" in the basis of mythical national unty.
Hitler got in constitutionally according to the provisions of Weimar—the most "democratic" constitution in the world. The window-dressing of political forms varies, the fact of a dictatorship remains. So the old contrast between democracy and dictatorship that broken-down parsons, professors and labour leaders make so much of, is false. Each expresses the interests of the minority capitalist, class; choice Ives not that way.—Pilate.