The Culture of Fascism and the Role of History
Fascism was imposed in Italy and Germany, but it is arising objectively, and stage by stage, in America. First comes the qualitative or objective side. By objective, we mean that which arises independent of our will or consciousness. Driven by new objective conditions of electronic production and labor-less production, the State and corporations in America have consolidated, which is fascism.
On the subjective side the political features of fascism are seen in numerous ways. Examples are the reordering of the State to facilitate the profits and goals of the capitalists in this new era; the increased Supreme Court rulings that safeguard corporate profits and shield corporate corruption; the stepped up wave of police killings; the arsenal of fascist legislation such as “Stand Your Ground” laws, along with the National Defense Authorization Act provision that allows the government to arrest and detain a person without charge.
Now the rulers must guarantee a broad acceptance of fascism among the American people – which can only be accomplished by the cultivation of a fascist culture. This is not hard to do given the history of America: slavery and fascism in the South, genocide of the Native Americans, racism, male supremacy, police killings, lynchings and other forms of inhuman brutality.
The Rise of a Fascist Culture
Culture is a way of life of a group of people – the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept and that are passed along from one generation to the next. Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior. It is the totality of a peoples’ learned, accumulated experience that is socially transmitted. Culture progresses largely without people thinking about it. This is the danger today.
To develop a fascist culture, the ruling classes must reach into history and dig out their country’s most violent, horrific aspects. The German fascists, for example, created their fascist culture from Germany’s most violent, chauvinistic, mystical aspects of history. The fascist culture the rulers are cultivating today in America has roots going back – not only to the genocide against the Native Americans and chattel slavery – but to European history. The Anglo Saxon master race theories and the German white race or master race theories are integrally connected to the ideas that arose to justify racial slavery in the Americas.
Prior to the mid-15th century the word “race” wasn’t even in the English language. It arose around the time that the profitable undertaking of African slavery and the slave trade to the Americas began in earnest. It was then that Europeans increasingly saw “white” as a race. White supremacy in the U.S. colonies – based mainly on color discrimination – developed step by step along with American expansionism. It sought to justify and legalize the horrible brutality and compulsory working to death of human beings in the capitalists’ pursuit of maximum profits.
The culture of fascism being cultivated in America today aims to support the economic and political aspects of fascism that already exist. It is accomplished in a myriad of ways, on a daily basis. One unconscionable expression was seen when the House of Representatives stood up and unanimously applauded the U.S. Capitol Police for gunning down an unarmed woman. This murder was widely accepted as necessary to protect the “American way of life.” It is part of a fascist culture that aims fire at anyone deemed a threat.
These ideas reflect today’s economy, which is marked by the end of value and that places the value of human life at zero. It is worth noting, too, that although the slave created value and thus had a price tag, today’s conditions are creating a far worse situation. The new class is of absolutely no value to the capitalist system. The forcing of perhaps millions of people into greater hunger and even starvation through food stamp cuts is one example.
Fascist Ideas the Rulers are Using to Promote a Fascist Culture
No fascist culture has arisen without using the concept of “exceptional people.” American Exceptionalism is the historically evolved belief that America is unique when compared with the historical development of other countries. American Exceptionalism is often expressed as the “land of the free and home of the brave.” The people have been taught by the rulers that to deny American Exceptionalism is to deny the heart and soul of America.
The rulers have promoted these ideas over and over, and they are deeply embedded in the American psyche. As a result, Americans see their country as the world’s greatest model for democracy, and responsible to establish freedom and democracy globally. These ideas are rooted in the belief that America is a country of peace and prosperity (despite that it has been at war since its origin.) Madeline Albright summed up these views after the first Iraqi war by saying, “If we have to use force it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”
As the motion toward world war intensifies, we are seeing the revival of these ideas by President Obama and others. In a speech on the Syrian crisis this year Obama said, “When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act . . . that’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.”
Given this history, it is not surprising that a poll done in November 2011 by the Pew Research Center found that a large percentage of Americans – 49% of those polled – believe that American culture is superior to others. However, as testament to changing times, the poll also found that these ideas are being shaken up. The percentage of Americans touting America’s “cultural superiority” was down 11 points from 2002.
The second idea that that the rulers are using to cultivate a fascist culture involves the changing form of racism. With all of our historical roots, it isn’t difficult in America to make a transformation from racism based on color to racism based on poverty and the new class. While there is plenty of the old racism to go around the new form of racism is directed against an emerging new class that includes the “ghetto blacks,” the “illegal immigrant” and the white, so-called “trailer trash.”
The class and cultural differences with the ruling class – not color – are emerging as the ideological basis for the savage economic assault against the poor of all colors. As during slavery, the rulers put forth a position that blames the victim and in this way the poverty, brutality and murder of defenseless people is made acceptable.
Out of this progression will develop not only a fascist culture, but a full-fledged fascist movement. The fascist culture will feed the fascist movement and the fascist movement will feed the fascist culture.
The ruler’s goal is to stop the revolution from proceeding on a class basis. Their aim is to guarantee that the new class, particularly the dispossessed, does not unite. This is happening at a moment in history when it is finally objectively possible for the class to unite.
This is not to say that the deeply embedded ideas based on America’s history of slavery and color racism are not still flourishing. The rulers insured that as many whites as possible believed that they benefitted from segregation and discrimination against the blacks. As Lyndon Johnson said in 1960 to the journalist Bill Moyers, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” The reality is that, through the decades, the majority of whites have lost more than they gained from color racism. They have lost healthcare, education, social welfare, etc. The point is that now is the time when a qualitative change in thinking is possible. This depends on the conscious intervention of the revolutionaries.
The only alternative to a fascist culture is a communist society where a communist, cooperative culture can flourish. Culture is therefore a key battlefield in which the ideas of class interests are fought out. No revolution has developed without a culture that not only illuminates the social scene, but that heroically points the way out. Revolutionaries must take the weapon of culture away from the rulers by cultivating a culture that embraces the vision of a communal society organized around distribution by need where everyone has a chance to contribute. Such a society will insure that the practical and cultural needs of all will forever be met.
Political Report of the LRNA Resident Standing Committee November 2013
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