The Spectre Of Global Fascism
by David Lethbridge* The year 1999 was one of struggle in the anti-fascist movement. The Bethune Institute (Canada), carrying out a consistently militant approach, was able to achieve a number of successes. The new Aryan Nations leader in Canada — Marty Olsen, of Prince George — was forced to resign his position and remove the organisation's website from the Internet. The Canadian British-Israel Association's annual convention was denied a venue in London, Ontario, on the basis of the racist propaganda they were selling and the anti-Semitic speakers they were intending to host. The Preferred Network, a British Columbia (BC) organisation, was forced to remove hate literature from their website. Material was provided to Acadia University, in Nova Scotia, to combat advertising by Holocaust-deniers. The neo-Nazi American Front was forced to remove their Internet and e-mail listservice. With varying degrees of success, we worked closely with other organisations, in attempts to shut down meetings by Paul Fromm, Doug Christie, and David Icke, to expose the existence of the New Order Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the mountains of central BC, and to expose and shut down Winston's Journal, a white supremacist newsletter from Alberta. But as we enter the new millennium, the main threat will not come primarily from the hundreds of fascist groups established throughout the capitalist world. Of course, that does not mean that they are no threat at all. These fascist groups will continue to produce and distribute hate propaganda, hold public meetings, recruit new members, harass, assault, and murder. They will keep trying to shift the anger of workers away from the capitalist economic agenda, the true source of their suffering, towards minorities and immigrants. And such groups will remain potentially useful to the capitalist state as a force to divide and terrorise the working class and their mass organisations. But the main threat facing the working class of every nation is the growing possibility of global state fascism. We must examine this possibility seriously, neither giving way to hysterical exaggeration, nor refusing to draw the necessary conclusions from objective political, economic, and historical analysis. The driving force toward global fascism is US imperialism. Like an ever- expanding bloodstain, it is spreading and deepening its influence into every corner of the world. Intent on global economic domination, it is backed up by a ruthless and sophisticated military machine. If we examine only the most recent period, some disturbing trends become clear. The US has an open record of manipulating international bodies such as the United Nations, NATO, and the Organisation of American States. Increasingly, it engages in illegal acts of war, such as the invasions of Panama or Yugoslavia, the mining of Managua harbour, or the blockade of Cuba. Washington ignores both world opinion and the decisions of international courts. It supports fascist and quasi-fascist client states, training their police and military in advanced methods of torture and interrogation. It engages in attempts to assassinate world leaders of whom it disapproves. At the level of economics, US imperialism increasingly dominates foreign states through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Nations are forced to choke off funds to education, social programs and economic development, in order to pay back exorbitant interest on debts. The majority of the world's working class, and — increasingly — elements of the middle class, are being forced into grinding poverty. US-based transnational corporations (TNCs) are buying up important industries, mines, and fuel resources in the very countries they have bankrupted through IMF manipulation. TNCs are demanding increased powers through international investment treaties, whose primary function is to allow imperialist capital to flow to wherever labour is cheapest, with the predictable effects of reducing wages everywhere, and eroding the power of labour unions and the sovereignty of nations. US imperialism has moved to a strategy of "lightning wars": low-intensity warfare carried out with such speed that effective popular resistance becomes difficult or impossible to build. This strategy includes the twin tactic of controlling media access to warfare zones, while spreading disinformation and outright lies. The monopolisation of mass media in fewer and fewer hands accelerates the process of state information control. Domestically, the US state engages in extensive counter-intelligence and electronic spying on its citizens. The percentage of its population currently in prison is the highest in the world. The privatisation of prisons means worsening conditions for inmates and an industrial process of prison slave labour. The inherently racist US judicial system is executing prisoners at record rates. When Nazi Germany engaged in a similar pattern of global domination, accompanied by viciously racist and anti-working class policies, the world recognised it for what it was: fascism. But to many workers today, the idea of global US fascism is literally unthinkable. Imperialist control of ideology means that the very mode in which people think is manipulated. The ideological attack against socialism, Communism, and working-class power continues unabated. Further, since elections continue to be held, and the state continues to operate through a multi-party system, the spectre of global fascism remains largely invisible at very centre of its production. In this context, it is worth quoting what Lenin wrote in 1919, as fascism first began to take hold: "The forms of domination may vary: capital manifests its power in one way where one form exists, and in another way where another form exists — but essentially the power is in the hands of capital, whether there are voting qualifications or some other rights or not — in fact, the more democratic it is the cruder and more cynical is the rule of capitalism. "One of the most democratic republics in the world is the United States of America, yet nowhere is the power of capital, the power of a handful of multimillionaires over the whole of society, so crude and so openly corrupt as in America" (The State, Collected Works, v 29). Yet global US fascism is more an undeniable possibility than an accomplished reality. Counter-trends are developing. Mass movements opposing corporate globalisation are maturing. The working class and the peasantry, especially in South America, are rising and showing signs of strength. Organised labour in North America is reaching toward left positions. Socialist and Communist parties around the world are holding their own and building their base. Global fascism is not inevitable. But the vulture's egg has already hatched. We must be vigilant in analysing its every step. And we must work hard to bring together the various mass movements, with their fragile and partial political consciousness, into a mass force capable of transforming the future. Never more than now, we have a world to win.
* * **David Lethbridge is Director of the Bethune Institute for Anti-Fascist Studies, Canada. From People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper