[PEN-L:9914] Re: Re: Re: Re: TINAF Special on Washington NaziDemo--
CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Wed Aug 11 16:12:16 MDT 1999
>>> Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at jhu.edu> 08/11/99 01:09PM >>>
At 05:54 PM 8/10/99 -0400, Charles Brown wrote:
>Charles: When would have been the time to effectively stop the Nazis in
Germany ? Before they became a serious threat to the political system or
after ? After they became a serious threat, IT WAS TOO LATE. There is no
premature anti-fascism. Fascism is one ideology that we can justify nipping
in the bud.
>Charles: The fascists are kept in a proto-state by the U.S. ruling class ,
so that they can be brought to full form if there is a crisis. The FBI et
al. will not necessarily be against them in a time of economic crisis in
the future. The democratic-republican form is the best shell for capitalism
( See _State and Revolution_) , but the finance capitalists developed
fascism to put down working class revolution in times of extreme crisis for
the capitalist system. Hitler and his group were a crackpot, fringe sect
too, at one point. He got financing from the bourgeoisie when the communist
and workers' movement was getting strong enough to threaten for power.
Charles, I do not think I can agree with your concept of fascism. IMHO,
fascism was a very time- and place- specific form capitalism, pretty much a
product of the peculiar situation of Italy and germany in the aftermath of
1st world war. Th ekey element of that situation was a unique cohesion of
agrarian and industrial elites (the so-called rye-iron alliance) whose
interests were threatened by strong labor movement. The economic crisis
and cultural mythology provided additional flavour.
Charles: Yes, we must be concrete and take account of differences in time and place,
but that does not mean there are no generalizations to be made or commonalities
between today's groups and the original fascists. Afterall, capitalism has changed too
but it is still capitalism. Similarly, it is still state-monopoly capitalism, the
phase of capitalism which gave rise to fascism. The Dimitrov definition of fascism
still has a lot of utility. The South African Apartheid regime was not created by
circumstances identical to those in Germany and Italy in the 20's , but it was
accurately described as fascist.
There may be other elements to open terrorist rule in the future, and we must always
keep our eyes open ( be empirical) and take note of how things really are, but we also
use history as a guide.
In addition to that in Germany - the nazis grabbed power thanks to legal
maneouvers. They were a minority party under the Weimer pr system,
something about 10% of the popular vote; and Hitler was appointed
chancellor by Hindenburg in 1933 to end parliamentray crisis created
largely by the sectarian left. teh nazis seized that opportunity to grab
power - but it is clear that such an outcome was not intended by german
bourgeoisie and their allies (esp. religious groups), who saw the nazis as
a mere instrument whom they thought they could control - and they were
quite surprised with the development that followed - as reflected, among
other, in the famous Niemoller's dictum 'first they came for the
Charles: This seems to support my argument. We don't want to get surprised again. You
seem to say the original Nazis were not thought capable of taking power or total
power, which is similar to the way you describe the fascists in the U.S. today.
I do not think anyone can seriously maintain that any of these conditions
exist in the US today.
Charles: No, but what we learn from your history lesson is DON'T WAIT TO THE SAME
CONDITIONS THAT OBTAINED IN GERMANY 1930 TO OCCUR BEFORE STOPPING THE FASCISTS.
Elites are far from being unified, but even farther
from being seriously thereatned by a labor movement or left in general
(which is a bad joke in this country). Moreover, the fedearl system in the
(with all checks and balances built in) is much more resistant to power
seizures nazi-style than the weimar system. In short, the possibility of a
fascist takeover in the US is close to nil.
On it not being ripe for Nazis takeover in the US , see above on that's the time to
stop them. Don't wait until it is ripe.
And you just said above that the Nazis came to power legally, "by legal maneuvers".
That's not seizing power.
By the way, I would say that the U.S. had fascism or proto-fascism before Italy and
Germany in the form of Jim Crow for Black people and Reservations/Genocide for
Indigenous Peoples. So, there is U.S. cultural precedent for fascism.
This is not say that US capitalism does not have totalitarian tendencies
and features - but the US business totalitarianism is simply NOT fascism
(just as Soviet totalitarianism is not fascism).
Charles: My position is that there is not fascism in the U.S. today
IMHO, right wing movements in the US adopt nazi imagery mainly for their
shock value, cultural identity etc. but their rabid individualism and
nihilistic attitude toward authority of the state are anti-thetical to a
genuine fascist movement. I have little doubt that if by some accident US
came under a fascist rule, these groups would be "switched off" just as the
german "militia" (sturmabteling or sa) were by the nazis in the 'night of
the long knives' in 1934.
Charles: Yes, I agree that the U.S. form of rightwing ideology has an anti-statist
(libertarian) tradition. The Confederates were states righters, anti-central
government and "rebels" against the central authority, for example. I don't think this
means they can't derive an American form of fascism. It would have the demogogic
"anarchism/rebellion" character of the Confederacy.
>Charles: No, I think it is to continue polluting the thinking of
vulnerable working class people who are angry about their situation. The
KKK claims and emphasizes that Black people and other "mud people" have a
privileged life as compared with whites, and this "affirmative action" is
the reason for the sad plight of down and out white people. The ruling
class keeps these fascists afloat and legal as a way of keeping racist
ideology alive. The bourgeois wants both extreme and mild forms of racism
seeping into the mass consciousness. The bourgeois need racism to persist
as a ruling class.
These are several different points you seem to conflate.
Charles: I'd term it synthesize.
First, I do not
think that the American workers are in such a state that only massive
propaganda effort is keeping them from revolting.
Charles: Have you watched television, gone to the movies , church, school ,listened to
the radio or read a newspaper or magazine lately ? Believe me. The biggest propaganda
and brainwashing campaign in the history of humanity is being perpetrated on the
American workers today. It is analogous to the ecomomic production as compared to the
past. With more technology, the propaganda is greater than ever. It is Big Brother to
the fifth power.
Au contraire, I do not
think this country will experience anything that even remotely resembles a
proletarian revolution in our lifetime. The reasons are quite simple -
American working class is relatively well off in terms of the basic needs
(esp. comparing to the rest of the world), and its grievances pertain
mainly to a lifestyle rather than life necessities - a bigger share of the
pie if you will. People usually do not put their lives at risk for a
lifestyle. Moreover, to have a revolution you need some form of social
solidarity that unifies people and makes collective action possible. There
is no such a thing as solidarity among American workers.
Charles: I have to agree that I am pessimistic about U.S.revolution in our lifetime
these days. But then I think that things can turn into their opposite. The bourgeois
position is so dominant that there could be , well, a dialectic of the extreme , such
that things turn to their opposite. Not to predict a crash or a depression, but the
biggest boom is sort of dialectically associated with the biggest bust. The biggest
stock market has the potential for the biggest crash. The bigger they are . The harder
they fall. So, I don't entirely count out tremendous reversal for capitalism more
rapidly than ever in history. Things are changing faster today than ever. They can
change in a different way.
I don't think the U.S. working class is quite as satisfied permanently as you say.
Sometimes revolution is said to occur in times of rising expectations that are
In short, the fragmentation of the working class in the US is a result of
larger structural forces, level of economic dedvelopment, organization of
production, residence patterns, disappearance of traditional forms of
solidarity etc. - rather than mere manipulation by propaganda. Of course,
propaganda is there, but it is not as important as some believe.
Charles: And all of those objective conditions have a precariousness to them and a
down side, that is a bigger fall than ever before.
Second - I sincerely do not think that most American people are racists or
bigots, a few crackpots notwithstanding. I would go as far as saying that
most American people - if given free choice and unbiased thorough
explanation of options - would opt for a quasi socialist system - personal
freedom, job security, social safety net, tolerance of other social groups,
nonviolence, peaxceful foreign policy etc. The fact of the matter is that
they do not have that choice, and their opinion on subject that does not
directly affect them (such as foreign policy or social groups with which
they have little or no contacts) is heavily influenced by biased
information and further distorted by opinion polls.
I think you are conflating racism with negative attitudes toward ghetto
lifestyles. The fact that people oppose welfare or public housing has
nothing to do with skin color - where I live the most vocal opposition to
public housing comes from black community being sick and tired of 'crime
and grime' - but with undesirable features of underclass behavior. The
very same people who complain about public housing, however, disapprove of
the racist groups and their ideology. So clearly, there are several things
going on that should be separated.
Charles: Well in analysis they should be separated, but in synthesis they should be
I don't quite agree with your analysis of racism.
Third, I think you also conflate the ruling class - which in fact is
composed of different interests groups. I do not think that most of those
groups are racist in any meaningflus way, or more importantly, thatthey
have anything to gain from espousing racist ideology, a few crackpots
Charles: As always there are differences within the ruling class, but by and large the
ruling class manages to unite on the main class issues. A main point of unity in the
ruling class is that capitalism will fall without racist division of the working
class. It is as important as the institution of wage-labor.
Again, we have to distinguish between neoliberal
policies which have many problmes but are color-blind - they are anti-labor
of any race or ethnicity, and policies intended to keep certain ethnic
groups under control - e.g. military style policing, or ethnic profiling.
While I have little doubt that racism is alive and well in many police
departments or law-and-order circles, I do not think that corporate or
politcal elites are racist (depsite the fact thattheir policies screw up
Charles; The main reason that racism persists is that it is the main bulwark of the
bourgeoisie. The police , Nazis/KKK and other forms of racism in the petit bourgeosie
and working class are reflectiions of racism that is rooted in the ruling class. You
have it backwards. Racism is not separate from capitalism. It is part of its
definition. A main fight in ending capitalism is the fight to end racism.
So from that point of view, I canbnot agree with your conclusion
>I even say racism/colonialism is as much definitional of the capitalist
mode of production as wage labor. This is a modification of Marx (!). See .
Quite frankly, I think that racism is aginst the interest of modern
capitalism, inasmmuch as it keeps a sizeable segment of the population
outside the cycle of production and consumption. I do not see the rule of
capital seriously threatened - to the point that they need to rely on
racism to keep the working class under control. They have much more
effcient ways of doing so - and I am pretty sure the corporate elites would
rather see the black underclass as paying consumers.
Charles: Disagree. Historically, there is no capitalism without racism/colonialism.
Your position is speculative.
So to summarize, I do not think that neo-nazi, hate or militia groups enjoy
any considerable elite support in this country. Some politicians or
interest groups may use them for their own political advantage - but I
think it would not be too farfetched to say that most elites would want to
be associated with them, let alone lend them any support.
Charles: The most sophisticated sections and politcal leadership of the ruling class
knows: No racism . No capitalism. Racism is not all fascistic racism. The "elite's"
leaders know that they must keep the fascists in a proto-state at this time, in case
they need them for desparate times , as in Germany and Italy in the '20s and '30's.
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