Class Unity – Indispensable to Defeating Fascism Today
Americans of all colors were stunned to see the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis marching in their cities, but shock turned into outrage, when racists brutally assaulted hundreds of people across the country and murdered Heather Heyer at their “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. But it is a dangerous mistake to confuse the fascism that is crawling out of the devastation of today’s hi-tech global capitalism with the fascism that crawled out of the rubble of World War I and the Great Depression.
It may seem like today’s fascism only aims at using old forms of oppression for people of color. After all, the most violent “alt-right” activists declare that’s their goal. But the ruling class has a very different plan — a political offensive to transform the State into a direct, brutal dictatorship they can unleash against the growing struggle of workers of all colors for basic necessities like housing, food and education.
The electronic revolution is creating a new class of workers, whose labor is being made obsolete by labor replacing technology. They are demanding that the government take action to resolve the problems they face, such as unemployment, lack of health care, homelessness and other social ills, but the ruling class is not about to give up the robots that enrich them, or take care of those they no longer exploit. Instead, the ruling class is developing a new political superstructure to oversee the production relations of the computer age and an ideology that facilitates the merger of the State and corporations that fascism today represents.
The ruling class is adjusting its ideology to the new conditions, feeling its way towards a more fully formed fascist political ideology that will facilitate the new fascist forms of government and State power. Views that support and justify the path of this transition are emerging in every intellectual sphere. 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 the new conditions.
This kind of transition is nothing new. If we look at the history of the world for the last thousands of years, we can see that the letting go of one system, and fighting to rebuild another, has happened over and over. Slavery, feudalism, and capitalism are stages in the development of private property. But they themselves were not the goal. The strategic goal was private property. If the capitalists have to change the form in order to maintain that content, they have proven they will do that. They are doing that now. While they attack the rights and standard of living of the masses, they are evolving, step by step, this new system based on private property.
Fascism today is not an attempt by the ruling class to return to the past, but is rather is a means to facilitate this revolutionary transition in their interests.
Fascism — Attack on the New Class
As brutal as old industrial-era ideological fascism like the Klan’s is, the main danger the working class now faces is different. Today’s fascism aims to keep the ruling class in control of the electronic economic revolution and to guarantee the system of private property under these new conditions.
The ruling class knows it can’t completely prevent the growing struggle for the necessities of life. They rely on their operatives in the government, media, and academia to turn sections of the working class against each other, especially through divisive ethnic and identity politics. The top leaders of the Democratic Party are crucial to the success of this ruling class strategy, though most workers and activists don’t understand that these liberal leaders are part of the new fascist offensive. Democratic presidents promote militarization, war and the national security State. Bill Clinton led the gutting of welfare for the poor, and Barack Obama caused the illegal detention of hundreds of U.S. citizens, when he launched the deportation of more undocumented immigrants than any president. Democratic mayors have presided over the growing epidemic of homelessness in New York, Los Angeles, and other cities.
Another example of the fascist ideology that is emerging is seen through Steve Bannon, who calls the KKK and Nazis an “ethno-nationalist fringe element,” because they focus on racial ideas instead of on the actual economic problems of American workers. After the Charlottesville murder in August, he told USA Today that he hoped the Left would try to fight about racial ideas without dealing with the suffering of workers, “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Bannon’s ideas represents a current of thought that includes, but is not limited to, racism based on color. The ruling class is faced with a growing new class of all colors whose struggle for the necessities of life brings them in conflict with the productive relations of capitalism. They are embracing a new form of racism which is based on economic status not only color. This provides them with an additional weapon to attack the new class and prevent it from seeing itself as a class.
What confuses some people is that there is often the often open disagreement on tactics, and the frequent use of populist rhetoric seeming to attack the capitalist class. In October, The Christian Post reported how “Bannon slammed decades worth of globalist decisions made by ‘political elites’ that have pushed American manufacturing jobs out of the country.” Bannon said the elites, “took those jobs to Asia and those factories to Asia and left us with gutted communities and opioid addicts.” He insisted that “economic nationalism is understanding that we are going to bring those jobs back.”
However, when Bannon was Chief Strategist for Donald Trump, they only “brought back” new attacks on immigrants and tax breaks for global companies, which opened up a few jobs (far less than the millions of jobs being eliminated by new technologies). Clearly, the ruling class and its spokespersons in both major parties are united on the fascist strategy of transforming the government to openly serve the corporations and repress the growing struggles for basic needs. Their disagreements are only over the tactics, the specific quantitative steps to take toward that qualitative change at a particular time.
Though leaders like the Clintons and Bannon may rise and fall, spokespersons shaping these ideas are all influenced by their years spent studying how the electronic revolution has been undermining industrial capitalism. For example, over 20 years ago conservative Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich linked up with internationally prominent futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, even though they worked closely with Democrats like Clinton’s vice-president Al Gore.
The Toffler’s taught that electronic technology was destroying the industrial jobs economy, writing that ”it is no longer possible to reduce joblessness simply by increasing the number of jobs, because the problem is no longer merely numbers. Unemployment has gone from quantitative to qualitative.” In 1994 Gingrich wrote in his Foreword to the Toffler’s book Creating a New Civilization, “They placed the information revolution in historical perspective, comparing it with two other great transformations, the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution.”
Gingrich also wrote ”The gap between objective changes in the world at large and the stagnation of politics and government is undermining the very fabric of our political system.” To deal with that threat, while increasing the political power of global capitalists, he and others of his ilk stirred up conflict between one section of newly destabilized workers against another, by manipulating differences of color and national origin. This was effective then, and today everyone sees that the anti-immigrant politics promoted 25 years ago by the “new conservatives” now play a central role in American politics.
Attack on Immigrants Undermines Rights of All
In October 2017, Steve Bannon told The Christian Post, “It doesn’t matter what your race is or ethnicity, your gender, your religion, your sexual preference…as long as you are a citizen of this republic, that’s what matters.” Such statements have opened the way for the fascist cultivation of all-class national unity across color lines by blaming immigrant workers for the growing poverty in the U.S. The withdrawal of protections for those fleeing some Central American countries, the threatened end of DACA, and other attacks are now focus points in elections, political mobilizations, and legislative debates.
Less obvious is how the bipartisan steps to increase deportations and reduce the rights of immigrants have actually begun to weaken the rights of citizens, too. Last August, Northwestern University researchers announced that between 2011 and 2017 the Obama Administration had unjustly detained over 650 citizens for weeks and even years, mostly in privately run prisons. Their average time of detention was 6 months. Jacqueline Stevens, director of the Deportation Research Clinic, told the press, “The new data show that the detention of U.S. citizens is not just a possibility, but a persistent fact.”
Arrested citizens have fought back with lawsuits. Last year, the U.S. government agreed to pay Sergio Carrillo $20,000 for detaining him for 3 days and almost deporting him in 2016, despite him being a U.S. citizen for 20 years. This 39-year old owner of a landscaping business was in a Home Depot parking lot in Rialto, California, when INS agents arrested him and sent him to a private detention center in the Mojave Desert. But don’t assume this settlement proves that the legal system will defend a citizen’s rights if INS arrests them.
Just four months earlier, an appeals court in New York overturned a judge’s decision to pay Davino Wilson $82,500 after immigration officers unjustly held this U.S. citizen for three years. The court said the deadline for his lawsuit had expired while he was in custody, so he couldn’t be paid for being held unjustly so long. The district judge who had awarded him the money had pointed out that Wilson didn’t know about the deadline because people in immigration detention don’t have a right to an attorney. Despite that, the appeals court ruled that this injustice toward a U.S. citizen didn’t matter, because the laws for immigrant detention also apply to them.
The Way Forward
Anti-immigrant politics and attacks against other groups of workers in our society are designed to pit the workers against one another in the jobs, housing, and healthcare we are all fighting for. But it will prevent the new class of workers from building a united struggle – and we can’t win without that. As the number of citizens caught in the net of raids and arrests of the undocumented climbs toward one thousand, it can be shown that fascism today threatens the rights of the entire American working class. We must work to unite its various sectors on the basis of our common class interests, not just defend each sector separately.
As the workers regardless of color, sex or nationality face the destruction of the world around them, it is up to revolutionaries to teach that the fascist offensive is rooted in the weakness of the ruling class, not its strength. It is the means by which the ruling class, despite its populist rhetoric, is fighting to preserve the system of private property and ensure their survival as a ruling class.
Workers being expelled from capitalist production by the millions need to hear that they belong to a new class, one that’s in a life or death struggle with the ruling class over which of them the new technology will serve. The electronic revolution is putting an end to the capitalist system and offering the possibility of a world where all can be provided for.
Political unity of our class is the next essential step in our quest for this new world. Revolutionaries teach the true nature of fascism today, and in doing, move our class from the defensive – defending the capitalist system and what they once had – to the offensive – fight for the cooperative society that is now possible.
March/April 2018 Vol28.Ed2
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