ERRATA: Re: Fascism, McCarthyism and Buchanan

Jørn Andersen ccc6639 at
Mon Feb 26 06:24:43 MST 1996

Sorry for re-posting, but the copy of my mail, that I received back was =
shorted by one third. The part that is lost is in the middle of the mail =
- and is very much distorting what I wanted to say.
So please delete the first mail.


Response to Louis Proyect on "Fascism, McCarthyism and Buchanan".

First: Thank you for your long, interesting and very informative =
contribution. Contributions of this quality raises the general level of =
debate on the list.

Second: I agree with the point that I think triggered your mail: That =
shouting "fascist" at Buchanan (or his type elsewhere) solves nothing =
and that it is based on wrong analysis.

But though I agree with a lot of what you say, when you present your =
"general framework of understanding" I think there are a number =
weaknesses - that lead to wrong conclusions.

For clarification I will ask them as questions:

1. Is it your general view that there is not room for nazsm (or for nazi =
organization) in the period (5-15 years) that we're living in?

If so, I disagree. I agree with your point that parts of the left is =
often so obsessed with looking for nazis, that they tend to let the =
state or the reformists off the hook.
But not with your view of the general depth of the crisis. So:

2. Is it your general view that capitalism is in a period of (positive) =
restructuring, that will likely/possibly continue in new, longer revival =
for capitalist economy?

If so, I disagree. As well as capitalism has had it's longest and most =
sustained boom ever in the 25-30 years after WWII, just as well is it =
now in its longest and deepest crisis ever. I don't advocate =
"Catastrophism", but we are certainly in a period of class =
confrontation, not quiescense.

3. Do you think that the problem of "presenting an alternative to =
Buchanan" is basically a problem of a) "a class-based, miltant program" =
and b) having people that can "speak effectively to working people" ?
If so, I disagree. While you are right, that none of the organizations =
on the left are able to present "an alternative to Buchanan", I think =
there's no other way round that problem than to *build* such =
organizations in whichever country we live. Appeals that there should be =
such organizations is a common, but unhelpful activity. They don't drop =
down from heaven - they have to be *built*.

Consequences for *action*:
1. As nazism is a real threat, nazis have to be countered, where they =
raise their ugly heads. We'll have to learn how to fight these nazis, =
while at the same time fighting for socialism. This struggle against =
nazism is essentially a defensive struggle - we shall not focus on it, =
when it's not there. But I think Louis tends to write it out of this =

2. As we can't rely on capitalism entering a new long boom, it is urgent =
that we build bolshevik-type, socialist organizations. We all want the =
working class spontaneously rise against bosses, the state, militarism, =
imperialism etc. - and this happens from time to time. And we all want a =
mass socialist party - but this doesn't just "happen".

Appeals to a non-existing mass-based socialist party doesn't help us =
against the nazis. It doesn't help us against Buchanan. It doesn't help =
us getting this rotten system finished off with.

While you point at some valuable experiences from the struggle against =
the nazis in the 30s, you seem to forget that these were exceptions from =
the general picture. The general picture was that the left was *not* =
able to present an alternative to the majority of workers and thus =
influence events.

The stalinists were not - because of stalinst politics (from =
ultra-leftism to popular-frontism). But while the trotskyists made lots =
of mistakes, the main problem was that they were just too damned small. =
Some of this was no doubt because of their own errors - but not even =
Trotsky's "Transitional Programme" of 1938, a lot of good language and a =
strong will was not able to change this.

Wishful thinking hand in hand with a "romantic" view of the past (and =
present) is a safe road to passivity and electoralism: "The left needs a =
candidate, who is as effective as Buchanan ..."
I agree when you say:
>3) The way to fight Buchanan is by developing a class alternative.=20

- but developing a class alternative is essentially a question of =
bulding a socialist party of the bolshevik type and not a question of =
standing candidates for presidential elections.

One last comment:

On the crisis
I am not an expert of economics, but I don't think stock market points =
is enough to show the depth of the crisis. I think you focus on cyclical =
ups and downs and ignore the underlying tendencies. Nor does it help to =
point to high growth rates in (parts of!) China and a few other places, =
when the general picture over the last 20 years has been *falling* =
growth rates and *rising* unemployment.

I think what we see is a much more "slow", "drawn out" crisis compared =
to the 30's, but it is just as deep, if not deeper. Also: It is harder =
to see a capitalist solution to it. Basically for two reasons: That no =
single entity (states, banks, the multinationals) of capitalist economy =
is able to control events (not even in "their own area"). Secondly, =
capitalist restructuring has to deal with a system that is economically =
international in a much wider sense than in the 30's.

But the econony is only one side of the crisis.

When it comes to the arena of social struggles, I simply can't follow =
your "period of quiescence, not class confrontation". In all major - and =
most minor - european states there have been mass mobilizations of =
workers *for class issues* during the last few years: Italy, France, =
Britain, Germany, Greece, Belgium .... In Russia and most of Eastern =
Europe there is a social crisis and social confrontations which are very =

It is true that not all these confrontations carry working class banners =
(though *very* many of them do). Some of them are carrying nationalist =
banners - but sure it is class confrontations.

And it is true that the US has not seen these mass mobilizations - but =
still I think class confrontation is the main caracteristic of this =
period. Question is only: When will workers go to the offensive? The US =
isn't that different after all, I think, than the rest of the world.

Both of the last two points indicate that building a socialist =
alternative is an urgent task - so that the coming battles could be =
fought under socialist banners and not nationalist ones - or worse.


Jorn Andersen
ccc6639 at


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