The Rise of Fascism and Social Revolution in America
Most Americans think fascism is something foreign, occurring in Europe decades ago, and that it “can’t happen here.” In fact, the opposite is true. Today, epochal changes in the way things are produced are opening the door to the rise of fascism worldwide. One of the gravest dangers the working-class movement in America faces is the ruling class’ effort to mask what fascism is, how it arises, and, most importantly, the ominous danger it represents for humanity. As a result of bourgeois propaganda, a section of America is welcoming fascism.
What is Fascism?
The fundamental characteristic of fascism is corporate economic power merged with the political power of the State. Politically, fascism is the substitution of one form of class domination – bourgeois democracy – by another. Fascism is State intervention in every aspect of the economy and society to protect private property.
In an earlier era, fascism arose during periods of great instability in the State and society. In Germany, for example, a political transition was taking place from a feudal State form to bourgeois democracy. The country was in enormous turmoil as a result of the Versailles Treaty signed in 1919, which forced Germany to pay billions in World War I reparations. To pay it off, they had to inflate their currency. The inflation was so great people couldn’t buy food. People were starving. Communist uprisings spread. At that historic moment, Germany had a choice: fascism or communism. The German capitalists won out. They instituted fascism to guarantee their imperial expansion and to crush the rising communist movement.
Although there are basic similarities, fascism is arising objectively today, not as a choice, as in Germany. Today as a result of qualitatively new conditions, no further stages of growth in capitalism are possible. New labor-replacing tools – computers and robots – are destroying the foundation of capitalism, which is the buying and selling of labor power. One result is the amassing of an unprecedented amount of wealth into a few hands. Given this new reality, there is no way for the giant corporations to manage and secure their property except through the constant merging of the corporations and the State. This process was witnessed in 2008 when the U.S. government came to the rescue of the banks deemed “too big to fail.” Without State intervention, the banking system could have collapsed. Within this progression, fascism seeks to guarantee the transition to a whole new world while preserving private property.
On the other hand, for the first time, an objective communist movement is arising. It is communist because those displaced by electronics can no longer exist within a system of private ownership of socially necessary means of production. Communism seeks to facilitate a whole new world based on the public ownership of the socially necessary means of production and the distribution of the new world of plenty according to need. Yet these new relations will not develop spontaneously. They must be consciously fought for.
Forms of Fascism
With limited room for expansion, corporate power in the U.S. is forced to turn inward. Fascism is taking the form of the interpenetration of private interests and the State on every level, with the government directly assuming responsibility for the profitability of the corporations. An extraordinary transfer of public property into corporate hands is accelerating. Schools, toll roads, police forces, water, possibly even the Tennessee Valley Authority – and much more – are being transferred into private hands while the government and the taxpayer foot the bill.
The ideology to back up this thievery is expressed by corporate executives. Though he denies having said it, it was widely reported that the former CEO of Nestlés said that water is not a right and should be privatized. An executive for the (South) Korea division of the healthcare giant, Roche, said, “We are not in the business to save lives, but to make money.” The notion of the public good or government responsibility for the people is not in the corporate vocabulary.
This is why the battle over whose interests nationalization serves is so important. In this struggle, the workers begin to recognize the partisan role of the State. They begin to recognize themselves as a class and that the struggle to build a communal economy is the ultimate solution to war and fascism.
Stages of Fascism
Like all processes, fascism develops in stages. No longer only a “partnership” between the corporations and government, there is now absolute unity between the giant corporations and the State. This is the essence of fascism. The political feature of fascism – open state terror – is spreading. When you have a government that declares it can kill anybody it wants, setting aside constitutional guarantees, you have fascism. Fascism is also seen in the militarization of the economy and the police, and in the partial martial law that has been imposed on sections of our cities. The social expression of fascism is seen in the growth of the rising fascist movement that has its roots in the most racist, brutal exploitative elements of American history. Fascist violence and ruling class agitation, that calls for blaming the most vulnerable groups of workers in order to divide and conquer, supplements the process.
What remains is for some kind of crisis to erupt that will allow for a full-blown fascist offensive. The legal power to take over the government, and to declare unitary rule by the executive already exists. It should be remembered that fascism in Germany and Italy came about legally – Hitler and Mussolini came to power legally. Ominous polls following the Boston bombings indicate that many Americans are willing to restrict civil liberties in the hope of protecting their wellbeing. It will require a massive visionary propaganda war for people to realize the dangers and opportunities of this moment, and what they must do.
An old, commonly known adage says, “Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.” Less acknowledged, however, is the enormous power of the human mind to break the cycle of the old. Under certain conditions, human beings – armed with an understanding of the past and a vision of a new future – can create an entirely new history. Out of today’s struggle for the new will arise a cooperative world made possible by the new electronic means of production. It will be a society where humanity’s needs are finally met.
July/August 2013. Vol23.Ed4
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