class & fascism

jones/bhandari djones at
Wed Sep 6 00:32:59 MDT 1995

Thanks to Doug for his  summary of Michael Mann's recent NLR article.  I
will juxtapose to some of Mann's principal findings those of Serge Bologna
in his Nazism and the Working Class, 1933-1945, Common Sense, no 16 (PO Box
311, Edinburgh, EH9, 1SF) as summarized by Dave Black in News and Letters,
June 1995, p. 5

>* Socialism's political base was primarily skilled male workers.

Whether this was true of the SPD, it does not seem to be true of the KPD:
in the Weimar period, "the socialist unions collobroated with employers in
the 'systematic and selective expulsion' from the factories of militant
workers--especially (but not exclusively))those of Communist Party (KPD),
whose membership as a result was 80% unemployed in 1931. With very little
base in industry, the KPD turned to 'mass propaganda.'  The Social
Democrats (SPD), on the other hand, focused on local government, public
administration and social security, that is, the state bureaucracy.  As a
result, the SPD found itself in hostile confrontation with the unemployed
and the KPD.'"

>* Sector counted for more than class, with industrial workers supporting
>socialism and workers in other sectors (construction, agriculture,
>services) supporting fascism or anarcho-syndicalism.

Again what was the base of the KPD or such organizations as the anarchist
Free Workers Union which had at one time 400,000 members?  Who composed the
base of KPD's paramilitiary anti-fascist organization of 100,000 with more
than 7,000 militants in Berlin? In order to determine their base, is this
distinction between sector and class helpful?  It may be true instead the
split was not among sectors but within the proletariat itself: "Contrary to
what Trotsky thought the problem wasn't Communist-Socialist division within
ONE labor movment. 'It was a question of two cultures': one which saw the
Weimar Republic as a gain for the workers and one which saw it threatening
their means of existence.'"

>* The feminist critique of socialism as primarily masculine is confirmed in
>Mann's analysis,

Bologna also argues this to be true: "In 1929 Erich Fromm began a Workers'
Enquiry 'so as to identify any eventual inclination towards
authoritarianism," in which his colloborator Hilde Weiss, questioned
Socialist and Communist militants on issues such as women's liberation. The
study showed alarming authoritarian attidutes in the male orespondents of
the SPD.  Weiss' findings scared Max Horkheimer... into suppressing the
findings for ten years.  Horkheimer, it seems, didn't want 'to undermine
the socialists' at a time when special police squads answererable to the
SPD interior minister were firing on demonstrations of the unemployed."

>* 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.

Well, this seems to imply the revisionist claim that the working class
component was then decisive within fascism.  In order to assess this claim,
it seems that it will be necessary to grapple with the work of Tim Mason,
whose work I have not yet read.


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