The Anti-Immigration Movement and Fascism
Fascism today is a political response to globalization – capitalism in the age of electronics – and the U.S. battle to dominate the global economy. It is the political expression of the objective concentration of wealth and the spread of poverty. Fascism is not about reaction, that is, returning to some past period. It is a revolutionary political movement that arises in response to a threat to private property relations. It seeks not to adjust this or that policy, that is, to “reform” the system. It seeks to release the capitalists from the restrictions of bourgeois democracy and all that entails. It seeks the replacement of one state form with another – the unrestrained rule of capitalist interest and the consolidation and legalization of their openly terrorist dictatorship.
The anti-immigration movement is at the center stage of a political environment shaped by the impact of qualitatively new means of production; the transformation of the state; the militarization of the economy and society; the rapid and accelerating implementation of the legal means to suppress individual dissent and seize control of the government; and the changing character of the social struggle. Where the religious right sought to organize and propagandize in a period when globalization had still not widely affected American society, the anti-immigration movement propagandizes an American people devastated by the effects of advanced globalization, increasingly marginalized economically and politically, and bewildered by the world in which they now live. The medium of anti-immigration has become the means by which a section of the American people is being organized and mobilized as a social base to support the further transformation of the government and society necessary to facilitate the penetration of global capital in the world’s societies, and to prepare for and contain its inevitable effects.
Globalization is a new stage of capitalism characterized by electronics-based production, the desperate attempt to maintain value and surplus value production, the transnationalization of capital, and the tendency to replace productive capital with speculative capital as the dominant form of capital. Breaking down all barriers to global capital and investment either by economics, politics, or by the military, is a necessary aspect of the process of globalization. Because of the character of the qualitatively new technology that defines globalization, it is creating the polarization of wealth, social destruction, and the rise of new classes. Given the dangerous contradictions, and the social struggle they engender, globalization in the age of electronics is setting the stage for world revolution.
The U.S. strategy is to gain control of the global economy by blunting the development of its various competitors (European Union, China, Russia). It is doing this by trying to strangle the development of their economies through the control of access to oil. This requires more than economic power. The U.S. must position itself geopolitically throughout the world to accomplish these goals. The establishment of U.S. controlled regimes in the Middle East and Central Asia, the encirclement of China, the undermining of Russia in its historical spheres of influence, and now the attempts to isolate and crush Iran are all part of this.
The U.S. is beset with numerous obstacles to the implementation of its goals. As the U.S. finds it cannot impose its will on the world stage as it once did, it turns to war and violence to accomplish these goals. As Americans recoil from the carnage of these policies and resist the sacrifices they must make – the growing deficit, more cuts to social infrastructure, and growing unemployment – the U.S. state is being transformed to guarantee that the American people do not interfere with the capitalists’ plans.
Stages of Development
Fascism is not simply imposed, however. It is the result of the interplay of the underlying qualitatively new economic conditions, the efforts to protect capital’s interests under these new conditions, and the developing social response arising as a result. That is, fascism is not pre-ordained. Its success, failure, or restriction depends upon the consciousness and organization, and relation of the forces that move to promote it, to compromise with it, or to oppose it – in particular, the proletarian opposition.
The ruling class uses various forces to create broad support for the interests and demands of global capital. At every stage of development, these forces have been consciously and deliberately maneuvered, organized and built, drawing hundreds of thousands to their banner. These forces have expressed and given voice to the steady deterioration of society. In the Clinton years, the focus was on destroying the notion of government’s responsibility for its people, and establishing the first round of repressive state measures to control the first round of devastation, mainly the unskilled and semi-skilled worker. Propagandists for the global economy – the social democratic forces, as well as the ideological right – propped up these measures, if from different approaches. As political alignments began to shift to the right, these forces, all fighting one another, were yet oscillating toward a similar vision of society. None of these forces advocated an openly fascist solution per se, but their propaganda contributed to an environment in which the American people were prepared to accept almost everything the ruling class demanded.
As qualitative changes in the economy have steadily destroyed the fabric of society, the connections to society of broader sections of the American people are becoming increasingly tenuous. This is no longer simply about the job, but involves the historical threads that have kept the workers tied to the capitalists. The merger of the government with the corporations, and the reconstruction of the U.S. state as a weapon of war and repression have served to further the U.S. claim to its role in the consolidation of the power of global capital. Yet, at the same time, it is increasingly severing the American people from their economic well-being, their faith in the political system and, as the global economy advances, undermining national sovereignty and threatening their sense of national identity. The effect of all of this is the beginnings of a social struggle that is not simply the outcry of an isolated and historically despised section of society, but is rooted in the destruction of world society in which the practical demands, no longer resolvable within the capitalist system, have taken one step further in their revolutionary potential.
Immigration question transformed
There has always been an immigrant question in U.S. history. Its treatment of immigrants, whether they be Chinese, Irish, German or Italians, has always taken into account the objective conditions and, consequently, the political and economic goals of the ruling class. The same goes for the Latino immigrants. It has nothing to do with ethnicity (though of course the capitalists use racial ideology to their advantage). It has everything to do with capital’s economic and political goals.
These goals could be political, such as, to promote anti-communism; Cuban immigrants were allowed to enter the U.S. with full citizenship rights. In this way, the ruling class could use these Cuban immigrants to fight Castro and promote an anti-communist ideology in the U.S. Or they could be economic goals such as with the Bracero Program, which brought more than five million Mexican immigrants into the U.S. as cheap labor to meet WWII labor shortages.
The process to achieve these goals has always been the same. The new wave of immigrants is blamed for all that is wrong in society. Fear is instilled in the general population of this “invasion.” Those most prone to the anti-immigrant propaganda are those workers who are seeing their standard of living under attack. This fear is used to gather support for however the ruling class believes its interests will be best served at that time. Once the capitalist class achieves its economic and political goals, the attacks subside, and some kind of truce is negotiated. These immigrant groups for the most part become integrated and assimilated into the American mainstream.
That was before, however, not today. While the attack on the new immigrants of today may seem like a page ripped out of history, such as, the repatriation of Mexican nationals in the 1950s, it is in reality something qualitatively different. The anti-immigration movement of today transcends a particular party or class. The ranks of the Minutemen-type of groups are made up of whites, blacks and, even, legal residents. The anti-immigration movement is made up of sections of society that are being propelled by this social destruction and the ideology of Nativism. It is arising out the of turmoil generated by the advance of the global economy driven by qualitative new means of production, given form by the destruction of nations and the dissolution of national sovereignty, and is given shape by the objective necessity to reconstruct world society on the new foundation.
The motion of the immigration struggle
Historically, fascism is a political response to a threat to private property relations. The capitalists think first of maximizing profit, and take steps to guarantee those profits. In the course of this, millions suffer and respond. Private property has to be protected against these millions, and fascism develops and is strengthened in the effort to crush the proletarian side of the social revolution. The outlines of this back and forth interconnected motion can be discerned in the immigration struggle today. It is impossible to talk about the growing movement of the immigrant workers without tying it to the rise of the anti-immigration movement that arises in relation to it.
In 2006, the immigrant movement exploded as a response to HR 4437. The immigrant movement took steps to protect civil rights and working conditions, and to fight repression against undocumented workers and any institution or individual that aided them. The anti-immigrant groups, such as, the Minutemen and We are America, emerged from their shadows where they had been organizing for years, and grew in strength and might. They were promoted by the media, and their positions were represented in Congress.
At the same time, the immigrant rights movement grew not only in numbers but, as the battles continued, in consciousness. At first, many trusted the Democratic Party. They believed that it was going to deliver immigration reform that would benefit many. So those that could, voted for the Democrats in the 2006 mid-term elections. But the Democratic Party betrayed and turned its back on them. This is a lesson that the most revolutionary sector of the immigrant rights movement is learning and expressing.
In return, the ruling class has used the social motion and the debate to transform its attacks on the immigrant workers into strengthening the hand of the state against all workers. Raids are now a daily occurrence in every state, the border is becoming more and more militarized, and the undocumented are being chased throughout the nation, in their communities, in the work place and their places of worship. The latest blow to the undocumented is the announcement of employer sanctions in mid September, affecting about 1.4 million workers. Immigrant rights leaders who have dared to stand up, like Elvira Arellano and the Smithfield workers, are being detained and deported.
Anti-immigration movement builds fascist base
Social revolution sets all forces into motion. They battle over direction, purpose, and outcome. Many wills go into this struggle, and as such, none can ultimately be assured that it is their will that has been imposed. This process is given shape and parameter by the realities of the epochal change underway – irreversible destruction grinding inexorably toward the same outcome – unraveling, splitting, and polarization. Within this motion, all forces find themselves up against the existing political system and the state that underwrites it. All become disaffected, disillusioned, and critical, and look for other options, despite their disagreement on or ignorance of what that might be. Those who are conscious and organized to exert their understanding, win.
Speaking to the very real problems of the American people, the propagandists of the anti-immigration movement put forth a carefully crafted populist appeal that is contrary to the real interests of the American people. These propagandists connect lost jobs, crowded schools, and crumbling infrastructure to illegal immigration. This propaganda is led by conscious elements who seek to influence the anti-immigration movement to support, without realizing it, the goals of the ruling class, and not the workers, whether they are American or otherwise, citizen or not.
The significance of the anti-immigration movement lies in, not what the movement is now, but the role it plays in shaping the social motion as it develops, giving voice to the objective realities all around us, and using that influence to create the conditions that make fascism appear to be the most obvious, the best, what common sense demands.
The real target of the conscious fascist core is the political system – the substitution of one state form for another that will allow the full scope of capitalist interests without restriction. Their attack on the bourgeois parties and their leadership make it appear as if they are the only forces that stand for the true values and interests of the people. Their appeal to legality and to national sovereignty and identity assist them in crossing the divisions of “race” to tie all together under the banner of national identity as Americans.
This should all be seen within the context of fissures that are deepening in the two major parties, as they find it increasingly difficult to hold themselves together in the cross-currents of the changing political situation. The anti-immigration forces are serving to bring together the various fascist threads, while at the same time these elements have grown increasingly discontented with the Republican Party and the Bush administration, and are pursuing their attempts – along with other conservative and reactionary elements – to find alternative vehicles to achieve their political goals. As such, the different threads – conservative, reactionary, fascist – are beginning to disentangle, emerge and seek a means of achieving their vision of society.
Today, everything is in place for a fascist seizure of power. Based on the work of the Clinton years, the Bush administration has been steadily battling to accumulate the legal power to take over the government, and to declare unitary rule by the executive. We just see the tip of the iceberg – the U.S. Attorney firings, the various “signing statements,” Bush thumbing his nose at the Congress by pushing the limits of executive privilege, the stacking of the Supreme Court with those who support the “unitary executive,” and the most recent statement that allows martial law to be declared and the government to be taken over in case of a some sort of crisis. The only question is which of the bourgeois forces will wield this weapon, and when, and the character, extent and strength of their support and, on the other hand, the organization and consciousness of the resistance to their actions.
Tasks of the League
In general, the American workers have been almost entirely disarmed politically and ideologically by the past period, and in this sense, show almost daily that they are unprepared for the rising battle with fascism. The world communist movement that sustained the communists in their fight against the fascists in the 1930s is dead, replaced by the ideological and organizational mix of the world social forums. Years of bribery and anti-communism have served to obliterate any conception of class. Instead identity politics has been promoted as the conceptual foundation for left politics, and “separate agendas” and “the politics of begging” as its primary strategy.
In the face of this profound subjective weakness, the League relies on the historic and objective strength of our class. The worsening conditions for millions of people, and the social response arising on that basis, are of a qualitatively different character than in the past. The class faces not the hope of reform, but the destruction of all it has known. Revolutionaries arising from these qualitatively new conditions are increasingly anti-capitalist in outlook, and are searching for a serious organization that has a strategy to win.
The times we have been organizing for are upon us. Fascism is not a category. It is not now “drop everything and go fight fascism” or “fight the right.” Fighting for the basic demands of the class, fighting for the program of the class, is the fight against fascism. In the process of this, it will become clear that a party to represent their class interests must be formed. A communist party – a party of the class – must ultimately be formed to take the process the next step to resolution.
The mission of the League is specific. The organization has to focus on where we can build right now, and to use that success to consolidate and move outward. We must work in such a way that we are not simply socially active, but that we are socially active with the intention of developing and disseminating the steps that will advance the interests, program and consciousness of the workers. Such tactics need to speak to the specific and immediate problems people face. These tactics need to be guided by the cause – a cooperative society that does away with the domination of private property. To become more specific, more political, will require a greater concentration around matters of strategy, direction, and line of march.
The fascists are moving into place. The polarization in society is proceeding, the social response is arising and pulling various elements into its wake. We are seeing the beginnings of political polarization. With its Convention decisions, the League is poised to build on the hard work of the past decades. The urgency of the situation is clear. Let us rise to the demands of history. Let us not be found wanting.
Political report of the Standing Committee League of Revolutionaries for a New America
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011