Fascism

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Sat Jun 10 20:49:00 MDT 1995


It has been suggested that since I came up with the idea, I should be the
first to take the initiative in beginning an exposition of this topic.
What follows is, admittedly, a "simple" explanation as it is only intended
as a basis for further discussion.

Fascism is a political movement particular to late capitalism and is
unique to the 20th century.  Some elements of fascism as a particular
historical movement in Germany, Italy and Spain include:

1) fascist movements arise in periods of economic and political crisis.
During economic crises, very frequently one can observe not only the
growth of working class radicalism but right-wing radical alternatives as
well.

2) fascism, while frequently supported by significant elements of the
ruling class and big business, is a mass movement which has relied for
support from large elements of the petty-bourgeoisie, peasantry,
lumpenproletariat -- and the working class.

3) Fascism has been:
      * nationalistic (and frequently racist);
      * reactionary and explicitly anti-communist;
      * authoritarian and totalitarian
      * pro-capitalist
      * militaristic

4) In terms of economic policy, fascist movements have favored a
state-directed, interventionist economy which has been explicitly
anti-trade unionist and imperialistic;

5) In terms of political structure, fascism has viewed bourgeois democracy
as bankrupt and has substituted radical authoritarian decision-making.
Communists, trade unions, Jews, "foreigners", and gays have -- depending
upon the specific country that one is studying -- been singled out for
persecution and have been blamed for the economic crisis.

The above is only a sketchy outline of some ideas concerning the meaning
of fascism.  It should be stressed that the development of fascism
depends, additionally, on specific national conditions and historical
traditions and circumstances.

Hitlerism was a kind of fascism but only one such experience.  Jews and
others were persecuted in Germany and Hungary.  In other countries, the
"target groups" may be different.  In many of these countries, fascism
started as a militia movement.  Fascism has its own ideology and many
authors have referred to the social psychology of fascism.

The growth of fascism in periods of economic crisis is tied to the
inability of both traditional bourgeois democratic institutions and
working class organizations and the Left to offer solutions and
alternatives that are accepted by the masses.

The relevance of the above should be obvious to all list members.  Some
argue that fascism or incipient fascist organizations are on the rise in
the US and elsewhere (for instance, Germany and Russia).  Given the
economic crisis that many capitalist nations are experiencing and the
lack of a left alternative and the perceived failure of democratic
institutions, the threat of fascism (at least in some countries) is very
real.

Some possible sources to look at include:
Trotsky, THE STRUGGLE AGAINST FASCISM IN GERMANY
Gurien, FASCISM AND BIG BUSINESS
Poulantzas, FASCISM AND DICTATORSHIP
Reich, THE MASS PSYCHOLOGY OF FASCISM

Other sources are, of course, available and should be suggested in responses.

Jerry


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