Some of us who started this blog have drawn some conclusions in relation to fascism of the past decades and the comments we publish below make them worth discussing again, looking at them to see if they were or are still correct. We drew the conclusions that given the catastrophe that fascist organizations like the Nazi's were for the capitalist class----- the nuts who led these movements nearly lost all of Europe to Stalinism-----that in the future, the capitalist class would use fascism more as an auxiliary force and instead use the state apparatus as the main force to crush the workers' movement. Having more direct control and strong links through the state the capitalist class would be able to avoid the dangers that came with the fascist regimes of the past.
Those of us that held this view are inclined to think this is still correct. This does not mean that the fascist forces do not have to be physically confronted. Hitler said he could have been defeated but only if he had been directly and physically confronted on the streets. This in our opinion is still correct. In Greece for example the task is to build working class fighting units in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and colleges to physically drive the fascists off the streets.
Another issue that some of us discussed in the past was the difference between a racist and a fascist party. This is important as some of us have the position that fascist parties have no right to speak out, that they should be physically silenced by force. But does this apply to racist parties also? But there is a difference between racist parties and fascist parties. Fascist parties have military wings. This means that these parties should be physically confronted and denied the right to organize and speak out. For example the Republican Party in the US is racist but not fascist. It would not help the revolutionary socialist movement to build a mass base if we were to try and physically prevent the Republican Party form organizing and speaking out.
We hope readers find these comments interesting and thank the author for sharing them with us.
They are from a socialist discussion list some of us are part of.
From Dan Armstrong
There have been a number of references here to the threat from neonazi and right-populist groups in Europe While we have witnessed the growth of the Right mainly over the past 10 years or so, and while we have taken note that they have had some success across the continent, we have not had a serious analytical discussion of how real the threat from the Right is in terms a future seizure of power and establishment of totalitarian regimes in the style of the 1930s, when they were used to smash the workers' movement which had failed again and again to take power.
Obviously there are - mostly smaller - fascist groups waiting for their time to come, recruiting, organising and sometimes arming themselves. As with the Left, the Right is not homogenous; they have their parliamentarians, their street fighters, their wealthy backers, their splits and fusions. There are dumb groups with swastikas and 1930s haircuts and also clever presenters such as Marine Le Pen.
The nearest we have to an authoritarian state is in Hungary; the nearest we have to a Nazi SA is in Greece. But taking a snapshot does not give us a perspective. In Hungary, the regime is hopelessly indebted and could well be swept away in the near future. In Greece, according to the IMT, the Golden Dawn people only have a few dozen or a few hundred members concentrated in a couple of cities. Their greatest advantage is being tolerated by the police force; if the New Democracy decides to counter them, they could be suppressed without too much trouble. At the moment the ND is stoking the flames by making anti-immigrant speeches. In Belgium the Vlams Belang, which is right populist not fascist, has just lost much of its support, being supplanted by a non-racist flemish separatist party which has ballooned and taken over the city of Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Wilders has also lost much of his support. In France, the Front National rejected an alliance with Sarkozy's conservatives and this let the Socialist Party win the recent election. The FN presumably was counting on the SP sparking a flight of capital; Le Pen calculated that her FN would become the largest political party at the next election. And she may be right.
We know what factors make the Right thrive: they are more or less the same things which should make the Left thrive - crisis, poverty, uncertainty, austerity. The current failure of the left - traditional or neo such as Syriza - makes the future of the Right look rosy. Yes, we have constantly said that the chances will lie first with the Left movement. We have been passing through precisely that period of mass demos, general strikes etc for a couple of years now. The exhaustion of the Greek working class and its failure to act mirrors Spain in 1936. There the army got involved and physically slaughtered the organisations of the class after it had become clear that they could not or would not take real power.
Greece is in some respects a repetition of that Spain. The fascists and the police and the acquiescence of the state may take us into the next phase of revolution and counter revolution - the assassination of workers' leaders and burning of trade union offices. Emergency decrees could give the Athens government the power of arrest and detention as with the colonels' junta. It has been said that such a move would provoke a general strike. The government may well shrug its shoulders and say, "Another one?"
The picture is very mixed across the continent. Clearly the workers still have much energy to organise protests in Spain and Portugal. There have been great demonstrations and strikes there in the past month. Northern European workers' parties show no sign of moving to the left as was predicted. And new Syriza-type parties have either not flourished nor even been founded. Workers in France and Italy haven't even really begin to fight yet but with the austerity plans announced for both countries, we won't have to wait long to see a repetition of the Greek workers' monthly General Strikes. And we can hope that they won't end the same way, in exhaustion, leaderlessness and a burgeoning threat from the counter revolution.
How do others see the future?
- AFSCME Local 444 negotiations assesment 1997
- Preparing for Revolution: A discussion document
- The Internal lives of Revolutionary Organizations
- Socialist Alternative members: Questions and Answers
- Sanders: Our Alternative
- The Nature of the New European Left
- University of California workers and Unions
- An Invitation to Our Readers
- Facts For Working People Weekly Phone Conferences and Discussions
- Help open The AFL-CIO AIFLD Archives