A friend of mine posted a quotation from Leon Trotsky, and I'd like to share some comments that it raises.
"Capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the physiology of National Socialism."
Leon Trotsky, What is National Socialism?
by Mike Ely
I don't think 1930s fascism was a recycling or resurrection or manifestation of past "barbarism." And, looking at this more generally, the historic approach to fascism and politics embedded in the famous phrase "socialism or barbarism" is wrong. It is a misunderstanding of fascism, and is rooted in a wing of socialism that saw itself as the inheritor of the "civilizing" project (with all the pro-colonial blindness that such socialists often shared).
Barbarism, for those new to this as a political-historic term, was a term used to describe clan-based societies before feudalism -- like the Germanic tribal societies fighting the Roman empire, or the African societies confronting European colonialism. Earlier societies (what we generally call "hunter-gatherer societies," were once called "savagery.") In other words, in popular speech, "barbaric" is generally descriptive term (something brutal, amoral, unrestrained) -- but for both Marxists and those embedded in European culture, barbarism has been a much more specific term, referring to a threatening, nihilistic world of barbarians threatening "Western civilization."
There was, in human society eight or ten thousand years ago, a moment when class societies first started developing out of earlier tribal/clan societies. And that process was accompanied with important developments of civilization (literacy, laws, infrastructure, medicine, intensified commerce, urban life, replacement of barter with money, the diminishing of constant violence through the development of distinct official bodies of armed men, etc.)
We should not be cultural relativistis who mistakenly see all societies as equal, and who don't see any overall progress in human social development. But, regarding the term "barbarism" itself: We should find a way of discussing pre-class societies that doesn't act as an extension of reactionary European narratives.