fascism

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Mon Nov 6 15:40:21 MST 1995


In Tom Bottomore's article on "Fascism" in _A Dictionary of
Marxist Thought_ (Harvard University Press, Basil Blackwell,
1983), he summarizes the Austrian marxist Otto Bauer on the rise
of European fascism:

'... "the product of three closely interconnected processes."
First, the first world war expelled large numbers of people from
bourgeois life, turning them into de'classe's, who after the war
formed the fascist "militias" and "defence leagues" with their
militaristic, anti-democratic and nationalist ideologies. Second,
the postwar economic crisis impoverished a large part of the
lower middle class and peasantry, who then forsook the bourgeois-
democratic parties and rallied to the militias.  Third, the
economic crises reduced the profits of the capitalist class, and
in order to restore them by raising the level of exploitation it
needed to break the resistance of the working class, and this
seemed difficult or impossible to achieve under a democratic
regime.'

This is from Bauer's essay "Der Faschismus," in _Zwischen zwei
Weltkriegen? Die Krise der Weltwirtschaft, der Demokratie und des
Sozialismus_, Bratislava, 1936.  A partial translation of the
essay appears in Bottomore and Goodes, eds., _Austro-Marxism_
(Oxford University Press, 1978).


Bottomore, in his summary, doesn't elaborate on this "expulsion
from bourgeois life."

I personally think the importance of the defeat of the
revolutionary wave of 1918-1923 can't be overstressed.  The new
bourgeois "democratic" regimes in Germany, Italy, Austria,
Hungary, etc., were fatally weakened by mass opposition from
below and never able to consolidate their political or
ideological authority, but the working class movement was also so
weakened by the counter-revolutionary repression that it was
unable to solve this crisis by building a new social order.  In
this context, movements based on nostalgia for some real or
imagined "orderly" past found a ready ground--not merely fascism,
but monarchism, etc., etc.

In analyzing fascist movements outside the framework of Europe in
the 1920s and 1930s, I think it's necessary to be very careful of
drawing false parallels.  I don't have any trouble, for instance,
calling the Shiv Sena "fascist", but from what I remember of the
Indian National Army the term would be totally inappropriate as
applied to them.

Tom Condit



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