Some thoughts on the Oklahoma bombing

Howie Chodos howie at
Thu Apr 27 10:50:44 MDT 1995

Not having posted anything to the list for the past two weeks makes me feel
like I've missed a lot, especially with the increase in volume (and the
large number of unread posts in my mailbox). I just wanted to reflect a bit
on the use of the term "fascist" in the current context in reaction to
Scott's comments. While he pointed to the importance of thinking back to the
way communists analysed fascism in the thirties, I guess I want to highlight
the differences between then and now. In pointing to these differences I do
not want to suggest that there are no disturbing similarities or that the
extreme right danger should be downplayed. My point is that we need to think
through the implications carefully since we are likely to base political
strategies on the analysis that we develop.

The differences between the 30s and now is long and I am probably stating
the obvious in listing some of them:
        > The scope of inter-imperialist rivalry between leading capitalist
        > The depth of the crisis: the worst this century
        > The legacy of WWI, especially in Germany (nationalist resentment;
        > The existence of the USSR as an alternative (however flawed) to
        > The presence of mass communist parties in many countries, some
waging armed           struggle (eg. China)

All this produced a situation of tremendous instability and struggle. Though
both these factors are surely present in the contemporary mix, we also need
to recognize that we are in a non-revolutionary situation, to borrow
Justin's phrase. The scope of the spontaneous resistance to the corporate
agenda is small and there is no credible left alternative to capitalism
available for people to look to for inspiration. Furthermore, the
relationship between the leading capitalist countries, though occasionally
fraught with tension, is in no way comparable to that which prevailed in the
thirties, at least for the time being.

In this context I wonder whether there are grounds to think that the
corporate elite has a strong interest in seriously promoting the "fascist"
right. The right in general is in the ascendancy across the industrialized
world and is able to achieve many of its objectives by "democratic" means.
All of this suggests to me that our analysis of the ultra right needs to
take into account both the similarities and the differences with previous
fascist incarnations.

Finally, just a couple of reactions to the following from Scott's post:

>6) The class struggle is intensifing in the US and there will be a new kind
>of polarization in politics here that will be different than what the US is
>used to. It will confuse and throw much of the liberal and social democratic
>left into even greater disarray. Being firmly anchored in the working class
>will be the critical question for the left.

First, forgive my ignorance (I don't live in the US), but what are the signs
of the intensification of the class struggle, and what is the new kind of
polarization of politics that we can anticipate? Second, if there is one
"critical" question for the left, it seems to me that it is defining the
nature of our alternative, socialism, so that we have something to offer to
the working class and to other folks as well.

Howie Chodos

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