The "F" Word and the 2012 U.S. Elections

fascism


Before anyone jumps to conclusions, let me say that the "F" word I am writing about is fascism-which we might call the generic term used for the last ninety years for terroristic dictatorships of the right--- national chauvinist, militarist, racist, imperialist dictatorships serving and protecting the class interests (wealth and power) of existing ruling classes by suppressing trade unions, democratic organizations and movements of the people.    

Fascist movements often engage in pseudo populist rhetoric, call themselves "revolutionary" as they shift positions opportunistically on specific issues, even employ different economic policies at different times and places in history, e.g., the state directed monopoly capitalist policies of Mussolini and Hitler before WWII compared to the "free market" and privatization economic policies of   General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s and of many  contemporary military junta states.

 

But open terroristic dictatorships of the right defending the interests of existing ruling classes remains the same.  To paraphrase a famous comment by a U.S. judge concerning pornography, fascism, because of the opportunism and adventurism of fascist movements and states, may be hard to define "but you know it when you see it."

 

Fascism also doesn't appear out of nowhere and its dangers take many forms.  It can advance through mass political movements and parties funded by powerful capitalist interests or through military coups. In most cases, fascism can be seen as a political backlash to either a major economic crisis that the existing political system cannot contain and/ or against movements and parties of the socialist/communist  left,  or amorphous mass movements of the poor who constitute a direct threat to capitalist rule.


Some Examples from History


After World War I, Benito Mussolini, an ex-socialist expelled from the Italian Socialist party for his support of WWI, emerged as the most successful organizer of nationalist   paramilitary groups made up of WWI veterans, those who had learned to fight and kill, to fear and hate.    Although Italy was on the winning side in the war, its rulers felt that they had not gotten their share of the victor's spoils and there was great social instability in the country.   Mussolini's party, calling itself fascist after the symbol of authority in the Roman Empire promised to "save Italy" from socialists, communists, and liberals and establish a new Italian Empire, as great as Rome.

 

 Mussolini's movement/party soon gained financial support from landlords and industrialists threatened by socialist workers occupying factories and peasants refusing to pay taxes and in some cases seizing land.  It was then was handed state power by a conservative government in 1922 after its black shirts gangs threatened a March on Rome.

At the time, the Fascist Party did not have great mass support and the regular army could have easily dispersed the march (which Mussolini himself feared).  After governing "constitutionally" for nearly three years with the support of Italian capital(softening the people up) , the fascist regime, following the murder of a prominent socialist legislator, Giacomo Matteottti, abolished all non fascist political parties, trade unions, and mass democratic organizations.  

It did so with either the indifference or approval of the major capitalist "democracies," including the U.S, where Mussolini was hailed as a "strong man" who put down the socialist and communists and made Italy more "efficient" (the best remembered phrase was that Mussolini "had made the trains run on time").1

Adolf Hitler, an obscure  pre-WWI Austrian immigrant to Germany and wartime  German army  corporal,(a messenger or runner) led a similar movement/party  in postwar Germany, a far more important  and powerful nation  which had lost the war.

 

Germany had had the largest and most influential Marxist socialist party in the world before WWI and revolutionary socialists had tried and failed to make a socialist revolution in the aftermath of the war.  Hitler called his party "national socialist" (the term had resonance in Germany like the Boston Tea Party has in the U.S). but like Mussolini's fascist party, Hitler's used terroristic violence against Socialists and Communists and called for a third "super" empire (Reich) that would regain everything that the German empire had lost in WWI and create a German dominated Europe organized on the pseudo scientific "Nordic Aryan race theory" (already in use  by some as a rationale for imperialism) and   the oppression of   Jewish and other minorities ("racially" inferior peoples) throughout a German empire dominated Europe.

Although a liberal Republic had been established in Germany after WWI and  the German left had substantial mass support in  large  but rival Socialist and Communist parties,  the conservative dominated state government of Bavaria and  conservative elements of the civil service and the judiciary  through Germany provided  various forms of protection for the Nazis  before they became a mass force,  since  many  on the respectable right saw them as an "insurance policy" against socialist and Communist parties," just as "conservative " segregationist Southern  governments in the South  at the same time often provided various forms of protection for  the Klu Klux Klan which  they  saw as an enforcer of white supremacy and a variety of policies to prevent unionization and keep all  of Southern labor very cheap.


When Hitler for example sought to copy Mussolini's success with an uprising in Munich  in 1923 (which ended in a fiasco in a beer hall) the Bavarian  government and judiciary gave him what was in effect a slap on the wrist in the form of a very light prison sentence served under fairly luxurious conditions-a similar, albeit much more bloody uprising in Berlin three years earlier had resulted in the Prussian   state Social Democratic government's execution of the ring leader, a  officer named Kapp.


With the coming of the great depression, the Nazi party was able to greatly expand its base, win over millions of voters who had previously voted for conservative anti-socialist parties, and become the largest single party in Germany. Even more so than in Italy it had the support of leading industrialists and  former high military officers and other sections of the German ruling class.

As in Italy a decade before but in the midst of a far greater economic crisis, a constitutional but  much more rightwing Weimar  government,  then in power, was "reorganized "in early 1933 with Hitler, the "strong man" of the German right, as Chancellor.

However, the deepening depression and the increasing lawlessness of the Nazis led to the calling of new   elections which most observers at the time believed would result in a further decline of the Nazi party's share of the vote and an increase in votes for the left, particularly the Communist party, leading to the collapse of the Hitler led "constitutional "government (what would then follow no one knew, although many expected either civil war or some kind of military coup).

What did happen of course before the elections  was the Reichstag fire conspiracy, the Hitler government's use of the fire to "legally" gain the two thirds vote  in the Reichstag necessary to suspend the constitution and establish martial law-the abolition of all non Nazi parties, trade unions, peoples organizations, the establishment of concentration camps initially for socialists, communists, and trade unionist opponents of the Nazis, and the savage state directed persecution of the Jewish German minority, both the religious minority and those who were declared "Jews" according  to Nazi "race theory", which soon became German law.

The socialist American novelist Upton Sinclair wrote at the time that "Fascism= Capitalism + Murder."  The American journalist Leland Stowe said simply that "Nazi means war."  Both were to be proven very right as the Hitler regime engaged in a massive re-armament program, forged an alliance with both the Mussolini regime and the Japanese empire, supported various fascist movements in central and Eastern Europe and provided along with Mussolini  massive military aid to the Spanish fascists after the initial failure of their attempt to overthrow the democratically elected Spanish Popular Front government,
Leading to a civil war.  

 

Then, following its rearmament and a new international economic downturn in 1937, it launched a campaign of territorial annexations which finally resulted in a new World War

The "F" Word becomes Invisible after WWII


The defeat of the fascist Axis alliance in World War II also brought with it major advances and victories for socialist, communist and national liberation forces through the world.

But fascism hardly ceased to exist, although the political forms associated with the European Axis states were no longer a force.

First, the "cold war" brought about a new world situation, one in which the centrist forces who to save themselves had allied with the left (the Soviet Union and Communist led partisans and armies through Europe and Asia) to fight an anti-fascist world war now to save the capitalist world system  allied themselves with the right(including the former Axis powers and both their  former  collaborators and active supporters) to  fight an anti-Communist "cold war.

Liberal ,socialist, and communist analysis of fascism, as either irrational mass rightwing politics feeding on long established prejudices(liberal) a movement of the most reactionary  provincial sectors of capitalist class against modern urban industrial society(socialist) and an open terroristic dictatorship of these  same reactionary sectors in the service of finance capitalism/imperialism(Communist) were supplanted by the "totalitarian" theory, which focused largely on an all powerful state disconnected from class forces or even specific ideologies.

The totalitarian theory was then used to contend that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were similar states and that fascism and communism were similar movements, regardless of the huge differences in both their ideologies and their policies in regard to militarization, relationship to religious, ethnic, and national minorities, support for existing ruling classes, support for colonial empires etc.

By 1950, the U.S., which had been the middleman  between the USSR and the UK in the Center-Left alliance that defeated the fascist axis in WWII, was the dominant power in the Center -Right alliance against Communism  and the Soviet Union, establishing the NATO alliance and  intervening indirectly  in the Chinese Civil War and directly in the Korean Civil War-allying itself openly with those who had in many cases supported the appeasement policy toward fascism symbolized by the Hitler-Chamberlain Munich agreement .

 At the same time, in an act of hypocrisy worthy of the British empire  at its  19th century best, U.S. cold war governments  invoked  over and over again  both the   Munich  agreement and the appeasement  policy in order to use military force  and all other means to fight "communism"  national liberation movements,  and neutralist governments.  In such a way was history with a decade stood on its head.

In Latin America, military junta regimes, some welcoming Nazi and other fascist  war criminals with open arms, brutally oppressed their own people with the direct support of U.S. cold war administrations.  Although Franco's "officially"  fascist   regime remained a pariah in Europe after the war, it began to receive substantial aid from the Eisenhower administration in return for military bases.

When the Central Intelligence Agency acted to overthrow a democratically elected pro worker peasant government in Guatemala (1954) which had nationalized some land owned by the U.S. United Fruit Company, it unleashed a military regime that carried out large scale terror and murder against peoples organizations while it cancelled all taxes on foreign capital and disenfranchised three quarters of the population.  

In Iran, the Central Intelligence Agency (1953) had overthrown a democratically elected government which nationalized what had been a British oil monopoly, ending a constitutional monarchy led by a progressive Prime Minister and replacing it with a monarchy similar to the German fascist allied monarchies in pre WWII Rumania and Bulgaria.

In South Africa, the "Afrikaner"(Dutch and German ethnic colonial settlers) Nationalist party, led by men who had been imprisoned by the British in WWII because of their  Nazi connections, established In the post British coloinlal "Republic of South Africa" a racist state which overtly copied Nazi race laws and policies as it denied all civil and human rights to the African majority and launched as its long range goal, a genocidal policy of forced resettlement of Africans into tribal "homelands" whose food production could only sustain a small fraction of those to be resettled. #

While no one used the now tabooed "F" word to describe these states,(the word was even used rather sparingly for Franco)  they were all open terroristic dictatorships seeking to serve and protect the power of existing ruling classes and, in terms of the old Comintern definition, "in the service of finance capital" (now represented globally the IMF-World Bank system advanced by the U.S. and its NAT0 allies) which kept them from launching aggressive wars against each other, but supported their permanent war against their own people.

And these regimes  along with various "contra"  movements, death squads, paramilitary militias connected to fascist organizations and movements saw their crimes  against their own people treated with "benign neglect" as long as they acted as either official or unofficial allies of the U.S, NAT0 bloc.

 

 

Contemporary Fascism and the "New World Order"

 

Following early Axis victories, Hitler in 1940 proclaimed a "New Order" in Europe.  Although this term was closely identified with the Nazis and used widely in U.S. literature and films as a synonym for Nazi occupied Europe and what the Nazis sought to inflict on the world, George H W Bush revived the phrase to proclaim a "New World Order" at the time of the collapse of the Gorbachev led Soviet Union and the first Gulf War.

In the U.S. and other NAT0 bloc countries, there already was evidence of the resurgence of forces that arguably  fitted the older definitions of fascism.  

In the U.S. the rise of rightwing Christian churches and coalitions and their influence in the Republican Party saw violent fascist groups   seek to use this development  to form   "churches" which preached Hitlerite  fascism connected to a very twisted coating of Christian theology.  

Feeding also  on historic "anti-government" rhetoric  used traditionally in the U.S. to defend the property of the upper classes and  the popularization of the  cowboy movie -gunslinger  political imagery used  as a rationale for foreign policy in  the Reagan years,( and of course  the most lax firearms laws in the developed world),  fascist groups  piggybacked on this "conservative revolution" to  form  both anti  government gangs like the Posse Comitatas and "militias"(paramilitary groups nowhere near as  large or organized  or directly connected to powerful sections of the existing ruling class  as the storm troopers ,  black shirts, iron guardists, and others who were a significant part of the European political landscape before WWII, but still greater  in terms of paramilitary groups than anything that existed in any other developed country).

 These   U.S.  groups   were protected   primarily by policies rooted in the distorted interpretation of the right to bear arms advanced by the National Rifle Association(NRA), whose power as a lobby was greater than any progressive group,  and less directly   by various conservative politicians associated with the Republican party in Western and Southern states.  Also, these groups were given some  given access to mass media, and even referred to as a "militia movement."

By far the best and ongoing analysis of these groups has been done by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which,  along with its other substantial accomplishments, deserves to be seen as a leading clearing house for anti-fascist data, analysis, and action.

Mass media's treatment of these groups was generally negative on a descriptive level  and individuals members and factions  were prosecuted when they committed robberies and murder. 

Also,  one must re-iterate that these groups, which feed on both mass fears of  their scapegoats and themselves, still are in  their numbers and  level of organization a small fraction of  mass fascist movements/parities of the past or  the violent fascist gangs that roam freely through many of the world's poor countries today  with the tacit approval of the ruling groups in those countries. 

But it is important to recognize that the extent to which they  have been allowed to disseminate racist propaganda, form gun  clubs, establish paramilitary training camps, is both unique when compared to all other developed countries and  represents a potential  longterm danger.

In military junta states in the past and today "third world "countries with defacto repressive oligarchies, just as in the "old South" of disenfranchisement, segregation and "white primary democracy,"  the "militias" and the somewhat more respectable "tea partiers"  serve both as watch dogs and potential political masters  for those with wealth and power. 

Also,  in the U.S.  recent acts of a reactionary judiciary packed  with more and overtime more extreme reactionaries for the greater part of the last four decades by Republican administrations from Nixon to G W Bush; the assaults  of the police intelligence apparatus on peace activists, anti- monopoly protesters, and citizens of the Muslim religion without  probable cause for their actions; the encouragement that rightwing media, especially "talk radio,"  gives to vigilantism; and the glaring lack of real anti-fascist,anti-racist education in the society  all act to sustain this danger.

"Conservative" politicians have for many years permitted these groups,  still small and divided largely among themselves, to operate through large areas of the U.S. with general impunity in ways similar to the initially small Nazi party's ability to operate with impunity in conservative Bavaria in the pre depression Weimar Republic.  Not to note address this danger today is to risk its growth  into something far greater in the future.

The Obama Presidency and the Fascist Danger


Fascist forces have been growing in U.S. NAT0 bloc countries, exploiting both  the immediate global capitalist crisis  along with a new international labor 'market',  unemployment and the corresponding erosion workers social wage---health, pension, childcare, housing and education benefits---which in the U.S. have been called "entitlements" since the Reagan era.

In France for example, the "traditional" fascist National Front, has garnered votes on anti-immigrant anti-Muslim policies while holding on to its  "traditional "anti-Communist and anti-Semitic tenets.  Similar ultra rightist parties have won votes on anti-non European immigrant and especially anti-Muslim immigrant campaigns, portraying Muslims as enemies within.

While the respectable parties of the center right  (German Christian Democrats,  French Gaullists, British Tories etc.) have so far  kept these parties at arm's length, (outside of Italy, where neo-fascists were part of the Berlusconi led coalition government for years, they have   served as a distraction at best from the mass campaigns against European "austerity" governments, garnering votes by  blaming immigrants, poorer countries within the European Union, and the European Union itself for the crisis.

Even in "new Russia," a  "respectable" fascist oriented party, calling itself the "Liberal Democratic  Party"  and led by a national chauvinist and anti-Semitic politician, Vladimir  Zhirinovsky, with the style of an American burlesque comic, was  been used by the  "new Kremlin" leadership to suffuse opposition to the system of state crony capitalism that it has fashioned.

In the U.S.  though the situation is different.  Whether it is better or worse is a matter of debate.

In the U.S. there is no mass fascist party gaining anywhere from  five to ten percent of the vote in national elections , "hanging around" as the Nazis  did in 1920s Weimar Germany,  and  functioning  as some European parties do today  mostly as a chauvinist "protest" vote among  traditionally middle and working class voters  hostile to the influx of non European immigrants into their declining communities. 

But in  the U.S. those who represent what these parties represent in Europe  have become a powerful force in the Republican party, turning what was a center-right party in the pre Reagan era and right-center party  in the early Reagan era into a party of the right and the ultra-right, identifying itself with a variety of policies that voters in the rest of the developed world, whether they identified with such policies or  not, would see as fascist policies. The GW Bush administration provided a significant cover for de facto "F" word politics in the U.S.  Using the September 11 attacks(blowback from the Reagan and Bush I funded  "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan  aka  the Al Qaida-Taliban "terrorists" after they  turned their  anti-Soviet, anti-Zionist and anti-Communist "holy war" against the U.S. following  the fall of the Soviet Union) as a pretext   the administration proclaimed  an open ended "war against terrorism."

The  administration then  under a variety of guises advanced the following "F" word policies First, it  established at Guantanamo on Cuban soil the most notorious prison camp in the world.  Then it used methods there and at other camps regarded as torture under international law.   Also, it outsourced torture to allied repressive regimes.

In what still constitutes a great potential threat to American freedom in future Republican administrations, it  sought to defend these actions with legal theory which not only  sought to enhance the power of the presidency but  also to defend the prerogative of the president to act above the criminal and civil law-something reminiscent of the Fuhrer Prinzep(or leader principal) used by Nazi juridical scholars to justify the Hitler regime, that is, a one way responsibility of the people and the state to the leader.

One could go on at great length to catalogue the ways in which the Bush administration went beyond the Reagan administration in its pursuit of ultra -right  policies that veered in the direction of fascism---the rationale for and the policies used in the Iraq war and occupation, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the police powers given it, the assault upon established definitions of probable cause and due process for searches, seizures, and arrests, the use of preventive detention.   What is important though is the dangers that stem from their cumulative effects and,  even with the Iraq withdrawal and the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, their continuation under the Obama administration.

The election of Barack Obama , the first African American to reach the presidency in 2008 to the presidency (something that virtually all Americans would have considered impossible a few years earlier),  established a new situation in the country-one that offered hope to both huge numbers of Americans and people throughout  world. But Obama faced both the cumulative effects  of six decades of post WWII reaction and denial concerning the existence of and danger of fascism and nearly four centuries of North American institutional racism(246 years of de jure slavery followed by a century of de jure segregation and nearly a half century of de jure integration and uneven de facto integration).

Obama's very nomination and his victory (the first  Democratic presidential candidate to receive a majority of the vote since Lyndon Johnson in 1964) can and should be seen as a major political victory over both this sordid history of racism and the more contemporary  use of racism in the  Reagan and post Reagan domestic reaction. But, as the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights leader and key associate of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said "baseball teams don't strike themselves out.  Rattlesnakes don't commit suicide."

The reactionaries and racists whose personal attacks on President Obama have been unprecedented for attacks on a major party candidate and sitting president-denunciations of Obama as  a Muslim, Communist, Socialist, or some combination of all three,  the attempts to "prove" that he was not born in the United States and thus cannot legally be President; the attempt, aided and abetted by both  mainstream media and the respectable right, to turn his very name  into  a pejorative term ("Obama care" for example)  and of course the  incitement and open threats of violence against him.

These are  propaganda techniques more extreme than those used by Joe McCarthy in 1950s  and only slightly less extreme than those used by Adolf Hitler in Weimar Germany. And these attacks have not abated, but have continued  and intensified through both mainstream electronic media and the Internet.  And they have become more sinister. To the most reactionary sectors  and  racist "fan base" of the capitalist class,(to combine part of the Communist and Socialist definition of fascism with U.S sports entertainment analysis) the very existence of an Obama administration is a threat to the hatred and prejudice that has fed and sustained their  existence.

 For decades now, these reactionaries  have crafted a network of commercial  "talk" radio demagogues(Limbaugh, Savage, Newton, et al) using the putdowns and insults and distortions, the  "traditional" propaganda techniques associated with "traditional " European fascist  movements and regimes day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. 

The elimination of "equal time" provisions in FCC regulated U.S. media   in 1988 has enabled  the capitalist backers of "fascist talk radio"  to do that.   And the Right has its own powerful commercial news and entertainment television  network.

The Fox news television  network serves today  as the leading outlet for the ultra- right, routinely crossing an unguarded border between "respectable conservatism" and what in much of Western Europe is still considered neo fascism-advancing the interests of these forces both inside and outside of the Republican party.

In a classic  1940s sociological study of American fascist  rhetoric and appeal, Prophets of Deceit  A Study in the Techniques of the American Agitator(1948)  Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman saw  fascist demagogues like Hitler imitator Gerald .L. K. Smith as engaged in a racket to  sell memberships, tickets to speeches,  books  pamphlets, etc, to audiences  susceptible to their   fascist message.  In a sense they were borrowing from general advertising and show business, although this did not mean that they were not dangerous.

Ultra-right commercial "talk" radio plays that role today, but it also functions  along with Fox News and  "televangelism "as a propaganda arm for a  far right dominated Republican party.

 Since rightwing fundamentalist   radio-television "evangelist" Jerry Falwell formed the "moral majority"(1979) to be  followed and supplanted by  rightwing  'televangelist"  media mogul and Republican party power broker, Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network, clerically led well funded "new right" forces have become  a major force inside the Republican party over the last two decades.

They have used their media  and their churches to distort U.S. history in regard to the separation of Church and state, and to try to  mobilize voters in a rightwing religious "united front" with conservative Roman Catholics . 

Rightwing foundations, the best known of which are  the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, have and continue to fund  a wide variety of rightist campaigns and "educational" activities in the tradition pioneered by the 1930s Liberty League, which funded both "respectable" and overtly fascist campaigns against the New Deal, labor and the left and primarily defensive battles against the New Deal and which the Comintern in 1935 saw as an important example of the fascist danger in the U.S.

Early in the Obama administration, from the foot soldiers of these established rightwing networks, secular and religious, came "demonstrators" vilifying "big government" and all proposed  Obama administration legislation, continuing with greater fury the hysterical personal and political attacks on  Obama that had filled the internet during the 2008 campaign. 

These groups also began to disrupt town meetings of Democratic Congressmen, Senators, and  other elected federal and state and local officials, making wild charges of government conspiracies and acting in a menacing manner.  Suddenly they were a self-proclaimed  "tea party"  funded by the Koch brothers, minor league equivalents of German Steel baron Fritz Thyssen, a major funder of the Nazis and other reactionary capitalists , embraced by right and center right mass media, and used as a "watchdog" and weapon against the  Obama administration. 

And their message and demonstrations, even when they were small, received widespread media coverage at a time when establishment pundits were proclaiming that the U.S. was a "center-right" country opposed to the programs on which Obama had run and been elected. Even though sections of the press reported all sorts of ugly incidents connected to "tea party" demonstrations in Washington(including racist abuse of Congressman John Lewis and harassment and threats against  then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  and other progressive Democratic legislators,) all of this went unpunished.

The Obama administration's own failings in regard to its anti-crisis stimulus program-the lack of an effective jobs and  infrastructure/public sector revitalization program as the center of the stimulus, as against massive "bailout" loans to finance capital, cost  the administration the active support of many young people and others who had played a leading role in Obama's election(not necessarily their votes but their community grassroots activism).  

The administration also can be faulted for its attempt to use this important and largely independent progressive constituency only around election time-not as a force to  sustain progressive legislative initiatives against the lobbyists and backroom party power  brokers of both parties. The 2010 elections were a significant defeat for the administration and its  progressive supporters.  Ultra right "tea party" supported Republicans took advantage of the administration's failure to advance an effective jobs and income stimulus  program to win what were essentially protest vote victories through large areas of the Industrial Middle West, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and other states(earlier, an ultra right candidate, Christopher Christie, had won a narrow victory in the 2009 New Jersey governor's   election)

These right Republican  state administrations  have launched a full scale war against public sector unions, attempting to enact anti-collective bargaining legislation that would in effect extend the "right to work" principle which anti-trade union forces enacted in Southern and Western  states to public sector employees through the country. 

While in states with strong progressive traditions(Wisconsin, for example, the state of both La Follette and McCarthy, of Governor  Scott Walker and the advancing movement to  recall him from the governorship) there has been large and growing resistance to these policies and politicians at the state level, the major battles in the elections of 2012 are yet to be fought.

 Anti-Fascist Strategies for 2012

 
President Obama will face Mitt Romney in the Presidential election.  During the Republican nomination race, the overt fascist danger was most directly represented by former Pennsylvania Senator Rich Santorum, who with  some success built a clerical "united front" of rightwing Protestants and Catholics by both taking ultra right stands on  reproductive rights and other "social issues" and making the most open and direct attacks on and distortions of the Constitutional  meaning of the separation of church and state in modern U.S. history.

Santorum also both frightened and appalled many by  his  support of far- reaching repression against undocumented workers and use ofe   the demagogic style associated with  European and American fascists in the past, if not their specific  all of their specific policies.  He has withdrawn and thrown his support to Romney. 

Texas  Representative Ron Paul, whose style is very different from Santorum and who is seen as a "Libertarian" has been supported by a wide variety h rabidly racist and anti-Semitic  neo Nazi groups through the internet (in a few cases these neo Nazis have sought Republican nominations for political offices}. 

While Paul has in no way engaged in this racist and anti-Semitic  rhetoric, this support may be because Paul, in his attacks on U.S. foreign policy and his call for the elimination of the Federal Reserve Board, really echoes the old pre WWII "isolationists"  who blamed "Jewish Wall Street" and "Jewish bankers" and the "Jew Deal" for  both the depression and  an anti-fascist international foreign policy.

Newt Gingrich, perhaps the most effective  destructive right Republican politician after Reagan  and GW Bush over the last generation(leader of the Republican right's "contract with America" multi-faceted assault on federal public assistance, rights of undocumented workers,  and further deregulation of the banking system(eliminating major New Deal legislation which survived the Reagan onslaught) after failing to defeat the younger Santorum in the battle for the "F" word constituencies inside the Republican party, will soon withdraw and support Romney.

If Romney wins, all of  the "F word" forces will be greatly strengthened.  First, Romney will almost inevitably pursue the kind of austerity policies which have prevailed in the "Euro" zone in the U.S.,  a nation without a real welfare state.  Sharp reductions in social security benefits, and in federal aid to everything  except perhaps the military very probably  would ensue.

If the crisis produced simply deeper stagnation, these groups, like their counterparts in the American  South until the end of segregation, would "hang around" to blame all of the economic and social problems of the country on "tax and spend liberals", "big government,"   minority "enemies within" and foreign powers(China  would be the most likely suspect) abroad.

If  these policies  led to a general depression, politicians like Santorum  and propagandists like Savage and Newton, along with  clerical right leaders might in effect be invited into and/or become the government- a government most likely suspending basic civil rights and liberties with the support of the corporations and the military industrial complex.

An Obama administration that failed to carry forward stimulus policies that directly advanced the interests of the  working class would face greater threats from the far right inside and outside the Congress and the Republican party  .And, if  it pursued the only rational "fiscal conservative" policy available, that is substantial cuts in the military budget, the danger of some military supported coup against it.

But an Obama administration that campaigned on a peoples program to tax capital, regulate finance capital to compel it to invest in small and medium sized business for job creation, reregulate Wall Street and both outlaw many of its predatory policies and heavily tax others, would have a significant chance to establish the sort of electoral majority that the New Deal and the Great Society in its domestic policies used.

 Such policies, along with a serious debt reduction policy for the people, would put the most reactionary sectors of capital very much on the defensive and encourage the main groupings of industrial and finance capital to do  what capitalists here and abroad have done in similar situations-pull the plug on the "tea partiers" and the Walkers, Kasischs, and Christies of the new "respectable" right, not to mention the Republican education officials in Arizona and various anti-immigration  politicians who seem to be auditioning for roles as  Nazi Gauleiters,  because the dangers to them of continuing such support would be too great.

This informal people's front behind and in the ideas it advances in front of the Obama national campaign, in support of progressive candidates through the country is the only serious lesson we can draw from the history of the struggles against fascism today.

Leftist refusals to confront the Republican right danger, like the misdirected Comintern inspired policies in Germany in the early 1930s, the MIR  ultra left  attacks  on the Allende regime in Chile  in the early 1970s, and the unconstructive criticisms launched today  by sections of the left against the Obama administration the trade union movement and all progressive organizations that understand the necessity of supporting the administration to keep the right Republicans from seizing the presidency  offer nothing that is new to the struggle against fascism.

They   increase the danger that George Santayana, a reactionary political philosopher but a smart one, understood when he said what has become a cliché mentioned endlessly but rarely applied:  those who learn nothing from history are condemned to repeat it.

We can and must stop them from doing that  and direct all of our energies  to  a counterattack that will  not only defeat the Republican right and the fascist danger which emanates today largely from their ranks but to prepare for peoples offensive that will fundamentally change the balance of political forces in the U.S. in the interests of labor and the people.  

 

 

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  • Greg Rose's comments are useful. Our peoples front strategy is aimed at defeating fascist forces before they can gain state power. But the U.S. situation, because of the role of these forces inside the Republican party, and the state federal system that we have, makes this question more complicated. The attempts by state governors like Walker to destroy collective bargaining, the attempts at all levels to restrict civil liberties, and of course the existence of armed paramilitary groups are all very much the policies of fascist organizations and fascists in power. Also, in the U.S. I would not necessarily see the corporate state model of Mussolini and Hitler, the "old" fascist model, as somehow the only one. Pinochet's "free market" fascism, privatizing everything, eliminating minimum wages, social security, and all restrictions on monopoly, is what fascist forces are advocating here and what they would try to implement if they gained control of the state apparatus
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by , 06/07/2012 11:48am (5 years ago)

  • I think that there may be some unintentional confusion brought on by not clearly differentiating between fascist and proto-fascist forces (which may be an inevitable result of the "F-word" trope). Fascism per se organises capital corporatively in response to the demands of economic crisis and imposes a level of violence in support of capitalism which is qualitatively different from that of other regimes. Certainly, there are proto-fascist forces in the U.S. who long to impose such a system as the capitalist crisis deepens and they must be opposed. However, as Sam Webb very usefully pointed out at the national conference in April, the tactics required for confronting a fascist state are striking different from those required for confronting proto-fascist formations (clandestine organisation and military force have been commonly necesssary to defeat a fascist state) and the left has historically been rather quicker to shout "fascism" than the historical evidence has sustained. Our Popular Front strategy in the U.S. is specifically aimed at defeating the proto-fascist ultra-right, which is the principal threat of the current era.

    Posted by Greg Rose, 05/31/2012 2:16pm (5 years ago)

  • Let me thank e. e. clay for his fine and insightful comments.
    "golden boy," whoever he or she may be, might look at clay to understand what a working class and communist consciousness is--not name calling and abuse, sectarian assertions with nothing to back them up, but a keeping of one's eyes on the larger prize of working class liberation
    I trust most of our readers know that fascism did not end in 1945, that it was an expression of capitalist weakness in the face of the Soviet revolution, the growing strength of the working class and the coming of the great depression; that it takes many forms, including the military junta regimes that still plagued the peoples of the world; that we are talking about the struggles today against the militias, the klan groups, the "tea party" Republicans, and their big money backers. In practice, his/her comments not only copy the methods of the right, but, without any concrete policy to advance working class struggle except to pooh pooh any analysis of fascism and to seemingly deny any significance ot the coming elections in the U.S., he/she ojectively strengthens reaction.
    "Golden Boy" might read "Left-Wing Commumism: An Infantile Disorder." It might help him/her develop a more mature political understanding
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by norman markowitz, 05/18/2012 2:52pm (6 years ago)

  • The attempt to fit the US political system into a fascist/anti-fascist framework and to identify the Republican and Democratic parties as the main protagonists of this confrontation is unconvincing to say the least. 'Ron Paul and his supporters are fascists, because they oppose US militarism and interventionism' is just one example of the mess into which Markowitz gets himself entangled with his superficial analysis.

    Fascism was the ideology and practice of rising capitalist forces excluded from the fruits of colonial plunder. The Soviet-led victory in World War II foreclosed the option of fascist capitalism on a global scale, and developments in the following decades have also put paid to the populist capitalism of the New Deal. Today the main destroyer of world peace and human civilization is US capital. US capitalism is at a dead end. It cannot extricate itself from its economic and social crisis and its destructive and repressive capacity in unmatched in human history. In truth, Markowitz's fascist specter trivializes the suffering being imposed on humanity, including the American people, by US capitalism, as it already exists today in all its liberal, democratic glory, not some speculative future incarnation.

    Posted by goldenboy, 05/16/2012 8:44pm (6 years ago)

  • The struggle to put fascism, with its many forms and upstarts, in history's dust bin is inseparable from the fight for quality jobs, human, racial and sexual equality, health care, environmental protections, and an end to religious dogmatism.
    That our Richard Keefe would divert attention from the meat of this survey and excellent analysis of fascism and racism with picky shots at SPLC, is like picking at the NAACP because it couldn't identify racist murderers(with their complicity with the state of IL) in the Springfield or East St. Louis race riots in thefirst part of the 20th century.
    All workers and communists must know as professor Markowitz's article makes clear, and the great Lenin taught, that fascism is capitalism gone insane- with its racism, murder and war, all synonyms for capitalism, all marks it has shown since its birth.
    Labor, anti-racist organizations like La Raza, NAAACP, SPLC, CBTU, CPUSA, ect., progressive religious, social, seniors', and civic organizations, and others, must coalesce to form a more just economic and social order, which the working people and their allies own and control.
    This social order in which working people and allies own and control production, is one of socialism.
    But before this can happen, we must, "..prepare for [a]-(eewc) peoples offensive that will fundamentally change the balance of forces in the U. S. in the interests of labor and the people."

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 05/11/2012 12:21pm (6 years ago)

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