McCarthyism, Fascism, Buchanan

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Feb 20 06:53:32 MST 1996


I'm not sure that this got through yesterday, if it did, my apologies.

Louis

On Sun, 18 Feb 1996, Bradley Mayer wrote:
> 
> The problems with the "right wing populist" position are 1) It regards 
> Buchanan in abstraction from the historical and material context within 
> which this phenomenon appears. Seen in this way, of course Buchanan 
> appears as identical to Wallace, Long, etc. Buchanan, in his own mind, 
> may even think he's just another rightwing populist. But that is not what 
> should matter to us. What matters is the role Buchanan plays in the 
> present conjuncture, and I say that he acts as a transit point for the 
> crystalization of a mass fascist movement in the electoral arena in the 
> US, on a national scale.  His campaign is creating a very broad 

Louis: I have made some headway in my research into fascist movements of 
the 1930s and 1940s and hope to submit a longish piece on McCarthyism, 
Fascism and Buchanan in a couple of days or so. Now that I have dislodged 
myself from that PCP insanity, I should be able to focus more on the 
business at hand: fascism.

I want to tentatively suggest 3 important factors in understanding the 
fascist "prolematic":

1) Fascism, above all, is about action. It is the equivalent of civil 
war. When class tensions rise to a fever pitch, the police are stretched 
thin and the army, with its working-class composition, becomes 
unreliable. The fascist gangs are used to violently suppress 
working-class political and trade-union activity.

Is anything like this indicated in the militia movement? What instances 
can we point to of militia attacks on the worker's movement? What is the 
"worker's movement" today in a place like Michigan? Are the militias 
being prepared in advance as a weapon against proletarian militancy? What 
percentage of workers in Michigan vote socialist? How many members of 
left groups are auto-workers?

2) What explains the emergence of militias, with their working-class 
composition? What explains the popularity of the retrograde nationalism 
of the Nation of Islam?

This, comrades, is reflective of the left's inability to reach the 
American people when the last opportunity was offered to us in the 1960s. 
One sector of the left remained mired in electoral, piece-meal reform. The 
other sector went off into cloud-cuckoo land dreaming of Soviets or 
"people's war". Reformism and sectarianism derailed us, just the way it 
did to the left in Germany in the 1920s.

The militias and the NOI represent deep grievances held by working-class 
and middle layers in economically ravaged areas of the nation. 
Instead of being able to join a militant, class-struggle oriented 
socialist movement, the white militia members and the NOI gravitate to 
the most militant sounding thing around. This tendency does not reflect 
fascism, but the confused, tentative efforts of the politically 
unsophisticated to connect with a movement that might remedy their suffering.

3) There will always be incipient fascism. George Lincoln Rockwell was 
incipient fascism. The militias and Pat Buchanan can evolve in a fascist 
direction. This is not excluded. What we should be paying attention to 
however is not the status of a particular right-wing movement or 
politician at a moment in time.

The important thing that is needed is an accurate reading of the 
objective conditions of the class-struggle in the United States today. If 
we get that straight, then it will be much easier to understand the 
proximity of fascism. Nobody on the left has even come close to doing 
this. Such an analysis would have to take into account:

1) Is capital in crisis?

2) What is the status of the working-class? In the Nation magazine last 
week, Jeremy Rifkin made a convincing case that within a decade 
"blue-collar" jobs will have dwindled to a tiny percentage of the 
economy. What impact does that have on the traditional 
capital-proletariat struggle over the disposition of surplus value? Daniel 
Guerin's analysis was based on the significance of heavy industry in the 
German economy. The Krupps, etc. needed a docile work-force to compete in 
the global economy. The fascists were used to tame the proletariat. Does 
the American proletariat need "taming" today?

Furthermore, what is the significance of the growing "third world" and 
female composition of the work force, especially the white-collar sector? 
This sector supported fascism in the 1930s, while seems prepared to fight it 
today? 

And what about the emergence of trans-border solidarity? A "fault-line" can 
be traced from the maquiladora zone into Los Angeles that consists of 
Latino workers with growing political consciousness. What are the 
consequences of that for the left.

3) What strategy is needed to combat ultra-rightism. Fascism is simply 
one variety of ultra-rightism. We are confronted by ultra-rightism today. 
What can we appropriate from past history to help us in our fight today? 
If anybody thinks that fascism is on the agenda, should we be discussing 
"workers defense guards" as Trotsky proposed in France in the mid 1930s? 

At any rate, these are the issues I am exploring now and should be 
reporting on in a few days.


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