Hammurabi of the Amorite Kingdom (r. 1792-1750 BCE) was an expansionist dictator whose military conquests subjugated large portions of Mesopotamia. But that’s not what makes him a fascist.
Goldberg: "I think you can tell when a program or initiative is fascist by the motivating spirit behind it. If there’s a utopian impulse, if a ‘new age’ or ‘new politics’ are being promised, if the government is promising to create a kingdom of heaven on earth or ‘end’ some basic feature of the human condition, then that policy is leaping out of the realm of problem-solving and into the realm of religion."
Luckily, Hammurabi—or more likely, some hapless stonecarver*--put his thoughts down in stone, so we can see just how fascist he was. This monument was placed in public in Babylon to reveal his “friendly” fascist impulses to the people, at least those who could read.
Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind. … they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth.
Look, just like Goldberg said, promising an everlasting kingdom on earth! Ham, if I may call him that, also promised to end a “basic feature of the human condition” in his policy statement, wickedness. Not to mention that he promises to eradicate the “wicked” and the “evil,” to exterminate them. Fascist.
When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to the land, I did right and righteousness in . . . , and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.
Here is where Ham sets up his liberal fascist bona fides, promising the “oppressed” well-being. Well we all know how that turns out.
Goldberg: Fascism is "an instinctual religious impulse that seeks to impose uniformity in thought and action throughout the entire society. All oars in a fascistic society must pull together."
I present to you a number of exhibits:
If the robber is not caught, then shall he who was robbed claim under oath the amount of his loss; then shall the community, and . . . on whose ground and territory and in whose domain it was compensate him for the goods stolen.
If he be not able to replace the corn, then he and his possessions shall be divided among the farmers whose corn he has flooded.
Collective compensation for individual victimization! Hello serfdom, here you come!
If any one be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded, then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the money shall replace the corn which he has caused to be ruined.
And here, Ham is imposing uniformity of action. Every man has to keep his dam in proper condition, or else it will ruin the society! And isn’t this just like when Hitler enslaved the lazy Jews to pay for their “crimes” against the German society?
Finally, and I’m sure Goldberg has a quote about this, but I don’t really feel like hunting it right now, the other most salient aspect of (liberal) fascism was its propensity to love governmental interference in the economy. (Megan McCardle, another noted scholar—or maybe it was some dude in her comments section—notes that fascism is the EXACT OPPOSITE of libertarianism, with libertarianism’s insistence that the government do nothing at all. This is how you know the libertarians are the good guys.) Ham had his government’s hands all in the economy, setting prices for services and distorting the market by bailing out bad investments:
If a physician make a large incision with an operating knife and cure it, or if he open a tumor (over the eye) with an operating knife, and saves the eye, he shall receive ten shekels in money.
If a physician heal the broken bone or diseased soft part of a man, the patient shall pay the physician five shekels in money.
If a merchant entrust money to an agent (broker) for some investment, and the broker suffer a loss in the place to which he goes, he shall make good the capital to the merchant.
Of course, Jews weren’t invented yet, so it was kind of hard for Ham to be that sort of anti-Semite.** But, as Goldberg shows***, anti-Semitism was not a necessary component of Italian Fascism. (Anti-Semitism is only a definitive component of fascism when it applies to contemporary liberal fascism, with their irrational hatred for Israel.)
*Certainly that stele wasn’t baked from clay. If I had the time, I’d look into it.
**Could someone tell me if the black-headed people of Shamash (certainly sounds like some kind of ethnically-charged designation) were Semitic?
***When I get around to it, I’ll post something on this.