The Guardian • Issue #1950

On the rise of fascism

Although the new problems of the pandemic have distracted from it, the dangerous worldwide upsurge in fascism has continued apace.

The US fascists emboldened by Trump have not disappeared with his exit from office. The Indian fascists emboldened by Modi are stronger than ever. In Japan, PM Suga continues Abe’s mission of upholding the legacy of the Japanese fascist regime and pushing Japan towards remilitarisation. Fascist movements around Europe grow, and the US-chosen opposition figure of Navalny in Russia and various US-sponsored figures around Latin America have open fascist connections.

A strong understanding of fascism is vital to workers’ and progressive movements. There are many contradictions between its external appearance and its true nature that can confound analysis undertaken without a solid consciousness of its class nature.

The reasons why individuals are drawn to fascism in its embryonic stage, and the causes of fascism as a mass movement and state system, are connected but not identical. Both must be understood and opposed.

Fascism as a state system is the open dictatorship of a particular section of the bourgeoisie – the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital. It is a form of capitalism, the other form being the disguised form of bourgeois dictatorship, bourgeois “democracy.” Under “normal” conditions, the bourgeois democracy, with certain rights extended to the people and a more or less well functioning democratic system for the capitalist class and its internal contradictions, is more effective as a form of rule by the bourgeoisie. The open dictatorship by a particular section of the bourgeoisie only becomes necessary for them under the conditions of the utter decrepitude of capitalism in its parasitic, imperialist stage.

When fascist ideas take root in fringe groups, it is already creating a reserve for this section of the bourgeoisie should exercising open dictatorship become more convenient for them. The bourgeoisie’s control of public discourse and opinion through media and politics means that it is no great difficulty for them to turn fringe into mainstream, if it should suit their interests. We have seen development in this direction around the world.

So long as there is bourgeois democracy, there are certain disagreements among the bourgeoisie as to how to rule most effectively. The death cult of fascism is the ultimate endpoint of bourgeois ideology, although some sections of the bourgeoisie are capable of perceiving its self-destructive nature and holding back from it, which is coincident with their false but necessary conviction that capitalism is indefinitely sustainable.

While fascism is chauvinistic and nationalist, it is an extension of the international nature of imperialism. There is no contradiction between these things, as it is the logical endpoint of the imperialist system and ideology, where a few countries are the dominant powers in the world, through their financial system and military, and all other countries are either auxiliaries, subjects, or opponents of this power. Fascism aspires to either continue or achieve this position for a country, in the face of the ever-nearer collapse of global capitalism. It is an expression of the violent desperation of the most single-minded capitalist oppressors.

While we must understand that fascism is a form of capitalism and non-fascist capitalism is also a form of dictatorship, this does not mean we should not care about which arises. As Dimitrov said in 1935:

“We are not Anarchists, and it is not at all a matter of indifference to us what kind of political regime exists in any given country: whether a bourgeois dictatorship in the form of bourgeois democracy, even with democratic rights and liberties greatly curtailed, or a bourgeois dictatorship in its open, fascist form. While being upholders of Soviet democracy, we shall defend every inch of the democratic gains which the working class has wrested in the course of years of stubborn struggle, and shall resolutely fight to extend these gains.”

Building a united front of the people against fascism is a necessary struggle and component of the movement towards socialism in the conditions of a minor imperialist power like Australia.

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