The Rising Fascist Movement in the U.S. Makes Unity of the Class More Urgent
Today, our starting point has to be the qualitatively new conditions — a leap in the economy and the consequent dissolution of the economic system and its relations. The battle emerging today is who will control the State. The ruling class has to control the State if they are going to protect private property. The workers have to control the State if they are going to gain control of their lives. That struggle is not “fight the right.” That implies supporting one section of the capitalist class against another. We are dealing with the beginning stages of revolution.
The modern fascist movement is arising on the foundation of the antagonism between the qualitatively new means of production and the productive relations of capitalism. In the past, the political right and left expressed definite sections of the capitalist class. Today, there is no objective foundation for a split in the ruling class, as there was in past periods. Under the conditions of today, the struggle is between two hostile classes, rather than between two groups within the ruling class. The State cannot disengage from the corporations, and no one in the ruling class is advocating that. Objectively, both the “left” and the “right” of the ruling class are fascist.
Of course, there is an ideological right and people drift in and out as they choose. There are all kinds of ideas being put forward, and they are beginning to get into dangerous and sometimes violent motion. They are dangerous and must be fought. Be we do not confuse the “right wing” ideological groupings, with the stable fascist political groups that are based in the economy — Wall Street, the international banking and financial system, the transnational corporations, the military-industrial complex, the rising power of the technology corporations. As serious revolutionaries we must concentrate our fire at the fascist center of gravity, while participating in the “battle for the streets.”
The key thing is revolutionaries must develop different tactics to fight a fascism that is based in the economy than a fascism that is based on abstract ideology.
Fascism today seeks to facilitate a whole new world based on private property without capitalism. 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 private property interests to operate without restriction.
Fascist Political Revolution
The merger of the State and the corporations is the economic foundation for fascism as a political movement and for a fascist political revolution. As the economic base is transformed, the social and political superstructure that rests on and reflects that base must also be transformed. The growing economic crisis is bound to bring on a political crisis. The developing crisis is distinguished by the impossibility of maintaining the existing democratic structure, with the qualitatively new foundation that is being created. It will be in their fight to make the leap from a capitalist system that is dissolving to a new order still based in private property that the ruling class will fight for new political forms.
The process of revolution is a leap from one quality to another. It goes through stages of development and proceeds dialectically. First, there is an economic revolution based in qualitatively new means of production. The stages of the economic revolution are the basis and context for the development of the social revolution that is the polarization and destruction of the existing society. As it goes through its stages of development, the social revolution gives rise to a struggle to reorganize society around the new means of production. The struggle is finally settled through political revolution — the overthrow of the existing order and the victors achieving the political power to reorganize society around the new means of production in their class interests.
These stages and the motion within them develop dialectically — introduction of the new quality, polarization, the separation and untangling of the tendencies that held the process together and the struggle to form new polarities.
History teaches us that a ruling class is capable of conforming to changing economic foundations to remain a ruling class. The feudal class in Europe transformed itself into the land-owning section of the ruling class. In Japan, they transformed themselves from feudal lords to become the industrial section of the ruling class. Their content was to remain a ruling class. We do not know what today’s ruling class will become, but they have to endorse change — and unite around that change — in order to remain a ruling class.
The ruling class is undergoing precisely this kind of transformation today, just as the U.S. and the entire world economy is undergoing transformation. The ruling class is transitioning from a ruling class that depends on the buying and selling of labor power to secure its surplus value, to a ruling class based in a system of private property without capitalism.
For example, during the Nazi era, the form of fascism was the total domination of the State by monopoly corporations, operating through the Hitler dictatorship. All bourgeois democratic legalities and formalities were abolished. The State power guaranteed markets for private corporations and generally stabilized the economy temporarily through conquest and war, during the extreme cyclical crisis of the 1930s.
What is different today is the content of fascism. In the 1930s the capitalist system remained untouched and even strengthened. Today the capitalist system is at its end. Automation is ending the buying and selling of labor power and making capitalist commodity circulation impossible. The economy cannot continue to function without widespread government intervention. This means ensuring fascist political control of the State and fascist repression of the working class movement.
Throughout the twentieth century we saw numerous fascist countries transition back to bourgeois democracy and vice versa. That is not possible today. The only way to stop fascism and achieve real democracy is to overthrow private property altogether and build a cooperative society.
The fascist political revolution today will mark the final transition from the capitalist system to a post-capitalist private property economy. But the very conditions that make this transition possible also create its opposition: a new class of workers dispossessed of all property and lacking even the most basic necessities required for survival.
Clearing Away the Obstacles
A fascist political revolution will not take place automatically, or because some group wants it to. New ideas have to be introduced — and be broadly accepted — to facilitate the objective changes taking place. The ruling class needs a political motion to clear away the obstacles to moving the new economy forward. They are laying the foundation for a new political movement that is based on the interests of corporate power that is completely merged with the State.
America has a long history with fascism and fascist ideas. This history is rooted in genocide of indigenous peoples, slavery, the concept of a “white man’s country” and the conquest and exploitation of other peoples. Today, a “culture of fascism” is being disseminated through society. These ideas reflect today’s economy, which is marked by the end of value and that places the value of human life at zero. A whole culture of fascist violence, hatred and disregard for human life has taken hold. It is the ideological foundation for the outlook that the individual has no rights and the government and society has no economic or moral responsibility for the well-being of its people.
These ideas are providing the intellectual justification for fascism. But the ruling class must take another step and it must bring a section of the working class with it. In order to do this, the ruling class itself has to unite around fascism as a political solution — the need to overturn the system of democracy altogether and complete the erection of a fascist State. The ruling class has to develop some kind of “general line” that binds it together through a united recognition of the need for such changes. The elections revealed the beginnings of the subjective struggle for that kind of unity.
Many quantitative changes have taken place in the realm of the economy and society. The expansion of the powers of the State apparatus has laid the foundation for the leap to a fascist political revolution. It will take the introduction of something new to make this leap. The importance of the bitter battles taking place among the ruling class over how they will carry out their program is part of the struggle to coalesce a fascist movement that reflects these new conditions.
Crisis in Party System
The Republican Party is not able to contain the ongoing polarization taking place within its ranks. The emergence of Trump left a section of Republican “conservatives,” including influential foreign policy neoconservatives, supporting Clinton. Some forces within the Tea Party backed Trump, others did not. The religious right is divided on whether to support Trump.
Trump’s chauvinistic, race-baiting and anti-globalization agitation assisted the ruling class in the short term to divide the workers and divert them from their real interests. However, in the long term the ruling class will not allow policies to continue that contradict their general class interests. The program of the ruling class is unrestricted access to markets around the world, not protectionism. This includes the inevitability of war as the means to enforce those interests and the complete control over the movement, and access to labor (not walls, or blanket policies based on color, religion or nationality). It has to deal with a multi-national and multi-colored global ruling class. The U.S. ruling class operates in a world economy and cannot be seen as the leaders of a “white man’s America.” It has to give credence to U.S claims that it is country the rest of the world can trust, and more importantly, with whom they can conduct trade relations.
Clinton attracted some of the break-away forces in the Republican Party because she represented what they already agree with, or what they were already coming to agree with. She represented what is necessary for furthering the program of the ruling class — advancing the process of globalization; the dominance of speculative capital; the aggressive assertion of U.S. geopolitical interests in the struggle for economic and geopolitical dominance; and the use of armed intervention and war, all in the effort to protect the system of private property.
Time will tell whether these shifts in party affiliation will remain intact, or what form further changes might take, including the emergence of third parties. Regardless, the direction is clear. Polarization is eliminating the center. The ruling class has no choice but to continue to align itself to this process of polarization, and to change the political system, in order to protect private property and its position as a ruling class.
The foundation of democracy in America has been the relatively wide scale ownership of property. This foundation is being destroyed, as polarization has created a mass of impoverished workers and concentrated most wealth and property in the hands of a few ultra-wealthy billionaires. Restrictions on democracy for this growing new class of workers, regardless of color ,continue to seep throughout the political system.
Restrictions on and barriers to exercising the right to vote, the unrestricted influx of money to buy political positions, denying the right of communities to pass laws to protect themselves against corporations (emergency managers, minimum wage protections, fracking, TPP) are widespread. These can be added to the broader gutting of constitutional protections, the escalating violence and the expanded legal powers of the police, and their fusion with the State police forces and the military.
Throughout the capitalist world, democracy extended to one section of the world’s working class always rested on the imposition of fascism on the other. In its fascist rule in the Black Belt South (the first US colony) and in the colonies and the neo-colonies, the ruling class gained extensive experience with how to rule through a fascist State. The intellectual foundation for this rule has been the use of genocide, racial violence, class exploitation and oppression. The ruling class is adjusting its ideology to the new conditions, feeling its way towards a more fully formed fascist political ideology, with new fascist forms of government and State power.
Stymied by a gridlocked Congress and an increasingly resistant American people, individual billionaires, such as Gates, Soros, Rockefeller, and the Koch Brothers and their like, work nationally and internationally to directly implement social, economic, and political policies. Numerous think tanks, foundations and NGOs have intervened openly or covertly to influence and subvert the economic and political life of other nations.
In the U.S., the example of Michigan is a harbinger of what we are describing. The Emergency Manager system established in Michigan provided a test case for the possibilities and consequences for the elimination of democracy. This included private meetings among big capitalists to determine how to grab the assets of Michigan cities, by overturning the constitutional principle of elected government. This was the step necessary to clear the way to privatize the public assets of the communities affected. This ruling class rejection of democracy also included ignoring the political will of Michigan residents, who voted down the Emergency Manager Law using a statewide ballot referendum. Then the Michigan legislature simply passed a similar Emergency Manager Law by tweaking the original law and also making the new law repeal proof. The ruling class also went to great lengths to silence local leaders, such as Rev. Edward Pinkney, who remains incarcerated for voter fraud, despite the fact that no evidence of wrong-doing was ever presented.
Deepening distrust of the two political parties and of the government itself also helps to fuel the trend toward fascism. A Pew Survey Center survey conducted in 2015 found that only 19% of Americans trust the federal government most of the time, 74% think elected officials put their own interests first, and 55% believe that ordinary people could do the job better. The political rise of Donald Trump and the victory of Brexit were all warning signs for the ruling class. These movements assisted the ruling class in some of their goals by spreading disunity among the workers, creating a certain oscillation toward national unity, etc., but, if carried too far, they can damage ruling class interests overall. The ruling class cannot allow a growing class of propertyless workers to make decisions that affect either national or global interests of the ruling class.
A Mass Base for Fascism
Trump’s candidacy provided the ruling class with an opening to present fascism as a political solution to the American people. It also offered an opportunity to obscure the realities of fascism and disorient those who oppose fascism. The discussion divorced fascism from its economic foundations and its class nature. The solutions presented were to reform the capitalist system and strengthen bourgeois democracy. By presenting Trump as the “fascist” and Clinton as upholding bourgeois democracy, the ruling class was able to further mask the realities of the modern fascist movement.
The ruling class faces many contradictions in achieving its goals. It must achieve national unity among a section of the working class to carry out its program, while at the same time its program requires imposing greater austerity and suffering on the working class as a whole. It must maintain, in the minds of the workers, the idea of “individual responsibility” for their plight, while at the same time it is apparent that millions are in the same situation. It has to sustain the all-class unity of “racial groups,” while the integration of these groups into their respective classes is now almost complete. It has to continually agitate along racial lines, while the inevitable “white backlash” hurts its standing in the world. It has to uphold the elite of the various identity groups, while these elites have separated themselves from the masses. It has to guarantee the capitalists’ continued access to immigrant labor, while it continues its attacks against immigrants, particularly the undocumented. It promotes all-class white unity to separate the white worker from the rest of the new class of workers, while the destruction of the bribery and social privileges once extended to white workers is showing the common equality of poverty shared by the entire class. It has to build a mass base for fascism out of these contradictions.
The ruling class understands — even if the workers do not — that the growing breadth of the equality of poverty is the objective basis for a previously divided class, to reach political unity now. It has to adjust to protect its class interests under the new conditions. The ruling class continues to use “color racism” to escalate its attacks on the Black masses, to isolate them and by so doing, divide and weaken the entire class. At the same time, it is developing a new form of racism, rooted in the worst of American history, but adapted to new conditions.
Race is a political not a scientific concept. It is used for identification and can be used in any manner that suits the political needs of the ruling class. Irreversible changes in the world economy, expressed as globalization, are incompatible with race as color. Color as racial identification still exists, but is being replaced by identification based on culture and class differences. This new form of racism is the ideological justification for the attack by the ruling class on the new class of workers — not as specific historical identity groups — but as a class, regardless of color, sex and other historical divisions.
The ruling class makes use of every opportunity to guarantee this polarization takes place in its interests and in defense of its program. It strikes “where the iron is hot.” It takes advantage of every upsurge and every battle, to turn the thinking of the people in their direction. The ruling class is using the elections to agitate the working class along the lines of its program. It is propagandizing millions of people to accept its basic fascist tenets. It is using the elections to shore up belief in the capitalist system even beyond party lines and to garner support for the future society it envisions.
The Republican Party played an instrumental role in ideologically agitating the working class toward fascistic solutions and further dividing the class through attacks on workers of all colors. Donald Trump’s openly racist, nativist, chauvinist and anti-democratic views incited violence and hatred among white workers against workers of color and against workers of other countries. At the same time, his message crossed class, as well as color and national lines.
The Democratic Party also furthered a mass base for fascism, although in different ways. The Democratic Party pledged to protect the interests of Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and global capital. They stand on the notion of American Exceptionalism, an imperialist, chauvinist ideology. They have been able to get people to accept the unspeakable treatment of the undocumented, the expansion of the powers of the national political police, targeted assassinations, drone warfare and black sites, to name a few. The policy of uninterrupted war throughout the world has been created and supported by the Democrats and in many cases carried through by Clinton herself. These building blocks of a fascist State and society cannot be obscured by the continuing claims to “liberal” politics of toleration, American values and so forth.
While the ruling class is crafting all of this — a vast apparatus of control, disorientation and repression — it cannot stop the objective process that the qualitatively new means of production has set in motion, the process of polarization within society, and the objective striving of the class to overturn their conditions and set the world right.
Seeds of Class Awareness
More importantly for the future, we can see that a class-based position is emerging among the ranks of the new class, as the workers struggle for the basic necessities of life and on myriad fronts against the destruction of their lives. Revolutionaries must grab hold of and develop these arising seeds of class awareness, no matter how contradictory and embryonic they are.
The resistance is spreading. It is increasingly a resistance directed against the State’s interference with the circulation of the necessities of life. The publicity around Flint Michigan has exposed the class to the realities of the political system and those who rule it. Deliberate decisions were made to advance the merger of the corporations and the government, despite the knowledge that these decisions would permanently disable and possibly kill the residents of Flint regardless of color. It has exposed the realities of the pilot project of the ruling class to eliminate democracy and the consequences of fascism.
The same process is taking place throughout America. The scattered struggles of the new class of workers for clean and affordable water, food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education all have a common cause. Combined, they are politically summed up as a program for nationalization in the interests of the people. Public access to clean and safe water means the nationalization of the nation’s water supply, just as public control of quality healthcare and housing and free, quality public education require nationalization in the interests of society and not the private interests of the corporate few. While these struggles still need to coalesce, they are not as scattered anymore. Broader swathes of American people are being affected and they are beginning to demand the government solve their problems. This is the fight taking place against fascism today. It needs a vision and a strategy. Revolutionaries can and must provide this.
Such common cause allows our class to develop an identity as a class. In the fight for its most basic needs, our class can begin to see its self-interests as a class. These struggles allow for the breaking of the historical ties to the ruling class, freeing our class to put forward its independent political program that represents its class interests.
Political Report of the Central Body of the LRNA, August 2016. Edited for publication November, 2016.
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