class & fascism

Zodiac zodiac at
Tue Sep 5 21:52:41 MDT 1995

Doug writes, about an article on the social roots of fascism, in
the_New Left Review_ (#212):

> * The base of fascism was *not* the petit bourgeoisie; it was much broader
> than that, and included lower-status workers who resented socialism's more
> elite base. As Mann says, this misunderstanding led to serious errors in
> fighting the far right.

In the 1920 and early 1930s, the Nazis had a "left wing" -- which would
probably be described as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roem's SA
(brownshirts, the stormtroopers). It was aimed at penetrating the
working class. For instance, Strasser wrote:

     "German industry and economy in the hands of international
     finance capital means the end of all possibility of social
     liberation; it means the end of all dreams of a socialist
     Germany... We National Socialist revolutionaries, we ardent
     socialists, are waging the fight against capitalism and
     imperialism... German socialism will be possible and lasting only
     when Germany is freed!"

How about that?

It's revolutionary and it rejects the ruling social democrats (who
dominated the Weimar Republic before Hitler).  Of course, once Hitler
had power, this "left wing" was eliminated along with the rest of
Germany's left.

It's that left wing fascist tradition that holds the most seductive
side of the Nazi ideology for the proles -- discounting the psychopaths
who just adore Dolf. It's the _SA_ Nazis, not the _SS_ Nazis, that have
ideological appeal to disaffected (urban) working class youth.

I've worked the Toronto club scene (security) at a few points in my
life. The goal in security is to maintain order so you don't get killed
(don't believe anything else security ever tells you). This
necessitated me being on easy terms with a wide range of people in a
variety of states of substance entrancement. They'd be less inhibited
than normal. So I'd hear about all kinds of radical shit on their
minds. And I'd listen and try to talk about their theories.

I could separate the real dangerous racist motherfuckers from the
vandal SA-types. The latter were seeking some form of comradery they
don't find in mainstream society.  These people were radical,
revolutionary, hated the system... and for some reason ended up
flirting with national socialist ideas. (Not just the Jew-hating and
paramilitarism, mostly the paganism, Celtic heritage, street-fighting,
anti-bosses part...) Once upon a time, Red organizations filled that
need. They do not do so any longer.

These were working people -- albeit at shit downtown jobs.  They were
NEVER GM workers, we are talking non-union jobs. But jobs. Guys who
were dependable. Who could down a gallon of booze and still stagger in
on time next morning -- or, even more impressive, who could control
their substance use to fit their work schedule. They could be trusted
with keys to buildings. To deliver stage acts on time, without making
an asshole of themselves enroute.

Quite some time later, I recall talking about the make-up of this
section of Toronto's would-be fascist working class to someone from the
International Socialists. The ISO fellow gave me the standard dogma:

     "They aren't working class, they are the petit-bourgeois, or
     the lumpenproles, blah blah."

Bullshit. I do agree with Trotsky's analsis that the petty-bourgeois
applaud fascist law-and-order and defense of property and nation, etc.
But for fascists to succeed they have to penetrate the working classes.

With some of these guys, I didn't even know their political leanings
until much later. Holy shit, I'd think. But we got along so well. What
let us get along? What did we have in common?

 1) Music -- raw, alternative, alienated.

 2) Humor -- gallows humor, anti-government humor. Satire.

 3) Common enemy: The well-fed suit, male or female. The business
    district gang. And the politician, "left" or "right".

But I usually had to explain to them that one COULD be a
radical/revolutionary/shit-disturber AND be on the left at the very
same time. (I found the old IWW often goes over big.) They assume "left
wing" means I give to lesbian charities, drive a station wagon, work in
management or a profession, or am an academic, and have a mortgage.

They thought left means social democrat.


It's an accepted wisdom that fascism arose out of fear of the Russian
Revolution. But I think it's also a "reaction" to the rise of social
democracy -- that is, state-regulated capitalism. Government. A public
sector that supposedly is open to all. (And the US govt is social

Before the rise of the social democratic state, the government was
quite distinctly a tool of the ruling class. The working class hated
the capitalists with a sharp focus.

With the advent of the social democratic state, and the presence of
pinks advocating reformist policy... the lines became blurred. Economic
declines were now easier to blame on the social democrats.

It was so in Weimar Germany, as the economy collapsed with social
democrats at the helm.  I think it remains true today, where "lefty
pinkos" are seen as defending the "rights" of all sorts of "left
bourgeois" causes while never dealing with the fundamental issue of the
working class versus capitalist property relations.

(Ontario just went through this; five years of NDP "pinko" government during
a recession led to some WORKERS voting for extreme neo-capitalist Mike Harris
last May -- Harris, who is now going to cut the only real piece of pro-worker
legislation the NDP delivered, an anti-scab bill; and whose Education
Minister calls school children "customers" and teachers "front line service

Trotsky used the symbol of a ball bearing perched atop a triangle point
-- it's perfectly balanced and momentarily at rest. But somethng is
eventually going to shake the foundation of the triangle and the ball
bearing will have to come down on one side or the other.

That is the difference fascism makes: when the base of the whole
structure is shaken, now the working class can come down for the
revolutionary right or the revolutionary left in its opposition to the
capitalist class.

Personally, I don't see any choice for anyone who has to sell their
labor power to live. The key is how to communicate that same logic to

Piping Marx into Cyberspace...

ObMarx: On Sept 1 1868, Marx wrote of the First International:

        "It's not the hothouse plant of a sect or a theory. It is a
        naturally grown product of the proletarian movement which in
        turn springs from the normal and irresistible tendencies of
        modern society."

     --- from list marxism at ---


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