Is there a danger of fascism today?

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jk1921
Is there a danger of fascism today?
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Is there a danger of fascism today?. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
There are a number of

There are a number of problems with this article:

1.) First, what does it mean to say there is (or isn't) a fascist danger? If all factions of the bourgeoisie are equally reactionary; if the real danger for the proletariat in developing its consciousness is the extreme left of captial, then why would there be (or not be) a specific "fascist danger"? There is a bit of incoherence here.

2.) The essential features of "democratic" state capitalism are far from obvious and its even further from obvious that it is more efficient at derailing working class consciousness than Fascist/Stalinist state capitalism. The article assumes what it needs to explain. Is democratic state captialism "real" or is it pure mystification. Are there real democratic structures that have a life of their own to some extent or are they pure superstructure designed to mystify the working class and thus can be abandoned when the historical conditions for fascism arise?

3.) The article seems stuck in this vision of the life of the bourgeoisie in which it is characterized by a kind of hyper-rationalism, all-knowing conspiratorialism. It won't install fascism untill the objective conditions for it are right. I don't think history works that way. This assumes that the bourgeoisie always acts rationally, which it doesn't. Democracy may be an essential ideologial tool for mystifying the working-class, but don't count on the bourgeoisie to always know that. The unions are important in mystifying the working class too, but there is an insurgent faction of the bourgeoisie that is intent on destroying them. The bourgeoisie doesn't always act in its own best interest all the time. It may be possible for a fascist movement to sniff power as a result of political decomposition--even though the working class remains undefeated in the sense of not having suffered a physical and ideological crushing. We need to acknowledge a little more historical contingency and avoid the overly forumalic schemas.

4.) I think fascism is more than just a form of state capitalism. Wilhelm Reich identified a "mass psychology" of fasicsm that has as it base a kind of authoritarian personality structure (which is itself a social phenomenon). That personality type is alive and well today as witnessed in parts of the Republican Party/Tea Party of the U.S. As such, there is always a fascist danger. Even if the democratic features of state captialism won't be abanonded anytime soon in the central countries, this doesn't mean there isn't a part of society, or even part of the working class,  marked by an attitude towards "authority" that is highly destructive to class consciousness. Part of developing class consciousness is overcoming these emotional attachments to authority. This pscyhology can exist in nominally democratic states.

5.) There are some countries today that one could plausibly describe as "fascist," but i'll concede that the article was probably talking about the central countries.

6.) What bothers me the most about this article is the sense I get in reading it that the ICC thinks there is "nothing new under the sun." Something to the effect of, "Yes, there may be a profliferation of right-wing parties right now, spewing some pretty nasty stuff, but it doesn't really fit the story we want to tell, so it must not be particularly important." Or, in Lukacs words, "So much the worse for the facts."

7.) The example of the Tea Party wanting creationism taught in schools as evidence of their nasty right-wing credentials strikes me as odd. If that were the worst thing the Tea Party wanted, then they would hardly warrant a distinct political movement and would feel quite at home within the old Republican Party. How about property requirements for the franchise, direct election of Senators and voter literacy tests? Not quite fascism, but certainly not "democratic" either. Or how about "othering" the current President, questioning his very legitmacy to hold office, implanting the most vile and insipid racialized discourse into the Presidential race, suggesting Mexicans crossing the border should be electrocuted or shot or just belief in the most crass conspiracy theories--some of which are straight out of 1930s Europe?

 

Demogorgon
Very briefly, my thoughts for

Very briefly, my thoughts for what they're worth.

1) I think the term "fascist danger" is a rhetorical term drawn from how the Left generally present it.

2) I can only presume it means the formal democratic mechanisms, like voting in governments. As for why they're more effective, they are the main form of government employed by the central capitalist powers today. China is an exception but we can see there are real problems in containing a fractious proletariat in an industrialised economy in the absence of democratic mechanisms. From my cursory reading, the Chinese bourgeoisie seem to be permanently worried about social stability.

Certainly, both the fascist and Stalinist regimes were effective during war-time with an already-defeated working-class. Are they as effective outside of that environment? Stalinism collapsed dramatically in Russia. On the other hand, Putin's revival of Russian fortunes is orientated around authoritarianism.

3) This needs a more developed response than I can offer here.

4) I thought the "authoritarian personality" was from Adorno. Furthermore, while Adorno concentrated on its role in fascism, I'm sure other commentators identified elements of the type in pretty much all political spectrums. I'm also a bit confused - on the one hand you suggest this personality and the "mass psychology" is specific to fascism, but then go on to demonstrate quite effectively its role in the democratic state capitalisms.

5) Not much specific to say here

6) I'm not sure this question can be resolved outside of a general debate on the questions raised. On the other hand, it suggests that we do need to find new ways to present old arguments. Not sure where I stand on this.

7) While certainly not doubting the TPs reactionary bigotry, there is a strong libertarian wing in the American right which I'm not sure was present within fascism. Whatever the realism of the project, many of them seriously seem to want to unravel the state and there's also a hostility to big capital. Contrast this to Nazi rhetoric from the 25-Point Programme about nationalisation and that the "the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens". In practice, while not nationalising many industries (at least not formally) the Nazi state certainly mounted an enormous project of disbanding small capitals and implementing a forced centralisation of capital.

This last point alone is what prevents any rational bourgeoisie from seriously engaging in such a political project - of course, that leaves open the question about just how "rational" the decomposing bourgeoisie of today actually is which needs further discussion and development.

jk1921
Yes, it was Adorno who

Yes, it was Adorno who authored the Authoritarian Personality, but the idea is there in Reich also and on the left more broadly. I didn't mean to suggest this personality type was specific to fascist states. I don't think I said that anywhere. In fact, that's my point. It undergirds a certain "fascist mentality" that is present in society and as such it seems to be a huge mistake to conceptualize fascism as only a form of state capitalism.

Its true that there is a major libertarian wing in the American right, but it is a confused, mixed-up bunch and whatever their libertarian verbiage (primarily on economic themes) there is a profound authoritarianism there as well. Christopher Hedges identified "American Fascism" with the the religious right--which is in the Tea Party mix as well. Whatever, I think it is a major "stick your head in the sand" moment to underestimate all this and continue to argue that there is no prospect of fasicsm because the "objective" conditions haven't ripened. It seems there is some tension in the ICC between many of its old schemas and the possible implications of decomposition, which it seems that it has perhaps not come to terms with fully.

On the issue of the "undefeated" working-class on which this presumption hinges: I have enough difficutly getting people I talk to to accept the working class still exists; when they admit it exists they often can't see it as anything other than a mass of hopeless souls who have become completely unmoored from their own class interests--hardly a bulwark against fascism. Regardless, one of the features of decomposition, I have heard it said, is that it is now possible for the communist alternative to become impossble without a direct defeat of the working-class.

Demogorgon
I don't think anyone would

I don't think anyone would dispute that capitalism in both its economic and political expressions has a deeply authoritarian nature, especially in the epoch of state capitalism. But I don't think "authoritarian" automatically equals "fascism". I think it's more a question of whether permanent authoritarianism takes democratic or fascist forms.

I appreciate what you say about the TP movement; I totally agree that it's a classical expression of decomposition. The interesting thing about the TP movement though in comparison with the fascist movements of the 30s is the general cohesion of the ruling class. The TP strikes me as being in danger of getting out-of-control of the dominant factions of the bourgeoisie. The tendency towards irrational and "hard-to-control" reactionary factions first being manipulated in order to push forward certain electoral results but then taking on a life of their own can be traced back easily as far as Reagan and the development of groups like Moral Majority (and I've no doubt there were earlier pre-cursors).

The fascism of the 30s on the other hands largely came to power with the consent of the ruling class. Italian fascism was decapitated by its ruling class when the war went badly. German fascism proved more resilient although this was probably due to the knowledge that the Stalinists would over-run and exterminate the entire German bourgeoisie if they lost - a wonderful motivator to maintain a united front.

I don't have time to do justice to the debate about the undefeated working class and decomposition, save to say that I think we're at a dangerous juncture. If the working class is unable to develop its struggle (regardless of a frontal crushing defeat) we're screwed anyway. Whether we call it fascism or not, an unrestrained capitalism is bound to generate all sorts of revolting movements and regimes that will make life extremely unpleasant for us all.

Alf
dangers...

jk raises some important points about the implications of decomposition. There is certainly the danger of a slow, agonising defeat of the working class rather than major confrontations as in the post 1917 period. This could certainly - at a given point in the future -  give rise to monstrous forms of capitalist rule. It's also true that decomposition increases the irrationality and fragmentation of the ruling class (although it can also make it more corrupt, secretive and conspiratorial).

In retrospect I had a problem with the title of the article because it doesn't define what is meant by 'danger'. I think the basic thrust of the article is correct in arguing that fascism is not on the agenda as a governing force in the central countries and that democracy remains by far the more effective means for containing the working class. But if you're an immigrant or asylum seeker or gypsy living in Greece, for example, groups like the Golden Dawn are certainly a danger - not because they are likely to take over the country but because they are quite likely to beat you up or murder you in the street. Similar stories for Russia and elsewhere. These are clearly the advanced expressions of capitalist decomposition, which is not sufficiently integrated into the article.

A further qualification however: in Britain, the English Defence League is a recent counterpart to some of these fascist street movements. But they do have real problems in mobilising on a massive scale. The recent fiasco in Walthamstow (see the website annex to the fascism article) is a significant sign of their weaknesses.   

 

jk1921
Ok, I agree to some extent

Ok, I agree to some extent with Demo that "fascism" (as a form of government of states) was really an historical phenomenon of the period corresponding to the crushing of the revolutionary wave and that historical moment probably will never be repeated. But, I think decomposition needs to be taken seriously and if we follow through the logic some form of nasty authoritarian rule dispensing with the formalities of democracy is possible without a direct defeat of the working class. I agree with Alf that it is not likely anytime soom, but I do think phenomena like the Tea Party in the United States are ominous. Demo's analysis of the Tea Party is correct, but the levels of confusion, misplaced anger and ideological hardening it emobdies seems like fertile ground for a kind of demagogic saviour to emerge and rally these forces. It has not gotten near this point yet, but I think it could in the future. Its funny though, many TPs think Obama is the fascist saviour for the other side!

I do think Reich, et al.'s ideas on the psychology of fasicsm need to be taken seriously. Its true that it would be wrong to equate an authoritatian mindset with a facist state, but it is upon this base that obedience to the state and the system is in part built whether it is fascist, democratic or whatever. Its a serious problem for the development of class consciousness. There are of course other means of legitimating the system, but this would seem to be a particularly tough nut to crack.

Still, the thing that gets me the most about this article is the idea that fascism is a kind of technique that the bourgeoisie decides at some point to implement. I think this idea reflects a flawed view of what the bourgeoisie is, how it operates, etc. The image is one of an almost ominipotent foe that is in complete control of itself and complete control of the social situation. This view may have been appropriate during the "high period" of state captialism--the 60s, 70s, 80s, etc., but today it just seems really outdated. Decomposition has really rendered this view obsolete. There is too much contigency, too much chaos even in the life of the bourgeoisie for this view to be convincing. I think it is appropriate to talk today about a crisis of state capitalism--even if its still state capitalism.

Demogorgon
"Its a serious problem for

"Its a serious problem for the development of class consciousness."

On this point, I think there can be no disagreement.

As for the point about the ruling class becoming more openly despotic, I think this is will become a growing tendency regardless of whether the class develops its struggle or not (except, of course, in a revolutionary situation).

We've already seen the iron fist of the democratic state wielded in Britain against the student movement two years ago and more recently against the Occupy movement in the US. The current confrontations between miners and the police in South Africa, not to mention the "authoritarian democracy" of the Putin regime already mentioned.

On the other hand, it's precisely the democratic mechanism that helps legimitate this despotism. Those regimes where democracy is more noticeably hollow (again Putin springs to mind) seem to have problems with containing dissent (even if this dissent is not yet "proletarian"). The Arab Spring also waved the flag of democracy for the masses who labour under the yoke of "official" dictatorship, showing that the ideology still has great power. It also shows that even those regimes forced to adopt democracy are unable to dispense (at least not easily) with the application of state brutality.

Part of the nature of decomposition, which springs fundamentally from the impasse between bourgeoisie and proletariat, is this general fragmentation of the ICC calls the "historic course". Like a blocked river, it no longer flows in a clear direction but instead floods the banks, making it much more difficult to perceive its currents.

jk1921
Agreed

Demogorgon wrote:

"Its a serious problem for the development of class consciousness."

On this point, I think there can be no disagreement.

As for the point about the ruling class becoming more openly despotic, I think this is will become a growing tendency regardless of whether the class develops its struggle or not (except, of course, in a revolutionary situation).

We've already seen the iron fist of the democratic state wielded in Britain against the student movement two years ago and more recently against the Occupy movement in the US. The current confrontations between miners and the police in South Africa, not to mention the "authoritarian democracy" of the Putin regime already mentioned.

On the other hand, it's precisely the democratic mechanism that helps legimitate this despotism. Those regimes where democracy is more noticeably hollow (again Putin springs to mind) seem to have problems with containing dissent (even if this dissent is not yet "proletarian"). The Arab Spring also waved the flag of democracy for the masses who labour under the yoke of "official" dictatorship, showing that the ideology still has great power. It also shows that even those regimes forced to adopt democracy are unable to dispense (at least not easily) with the application of state brutality.

Part of the nature of decomposition, which springs fundamentally from the impasse between bourgeoisie and proletariat, is this general fragmentation of the ICC calls the "historic course". Like a blocked river, it no longer flows in a clear direction but instead floods the banks, making it much more difficult to perceive its currents.

 

Agreed, but once again; l don't think we should assume the bourgeoisie always knows what is in its best interests all the time.

Demogorgon
I'm not sure we do. After

I'm not sure we do. After all, in the 80s we said the dominance of the left in France was a mistake and in the 00s that the Bush Jnr government represented the difficulties of the US bourgeoisie to get its house in order and form a government best able to defend its interests.

jk1921
True Enough

Demogorgon wrote:

I'm not sure we do. After all, in the 80s we said the dominance of the left in France was a mistake and in the 00s that the Bush Jnr government represented the difficulties of the US bourgeoisie to get its house in order and form a government best able to defend its interests.

 

Yes, that is true. But I fear old habits die hard as witnessed in the article under discussion here. It never countenances the possiblilty that perhaps the social and political situation might get out of control enough that the bourgeoisie (or the main factions thereof) might simply be unable to prevent the rise of a fascist/authoritarian state. The tone of the article is that fascism (or whatever might be a modern expression of such a form of the state) cannot happen until the bourgeoisie sits down and decides to implement it and not until the working-class is beaten. If the bourgeoisie is this omnipotent--we have no chance.

Although perhaps that is what the article is saying? "If we get to a point where fascism is possible, we are beaten anyway, so don't worry about it"?

Hawkeye
Is there a danger of fascism today?

Having noted the main article and all subsequent comments so far, here are some points which seem relevant to the main subject.  On the differences between the thirties and 2012, surely an important and key difference is that vast amounts of goods used in Europe and elsewhere are manufactured in various countries of Asia, notably in China (both mainland and Taiwan).  It seems likely that this will steadlily increase, with results which can foreseen upon the situations of manufacturing workers in Europe so far as jobs are concerned, no matter what might be the present and future views of all concerned.  For instance, I recently bought quite a warm smart coat from Primark for thirteen pounds!  Whilst jobs are lost in Europe, workers here on low income can to some extent get by in that there is access to such cheap goods produced by intensively exploited  labour abroad.

As to what might be described as a 'fascist movement' in Europe, whereas supporters of Mosley were openly fascist circa WWII, nowadays a prominent supporter of his now runs a website  europeanaction.com  in which he claims that 'fascism is dead, lets bury it'  and campaigns for 'Britain First in Europe a Nation'.  That website should not be confused with another of similar wording,  european-action.org, which is based in Switzerland and is openly opposed to 'democracy' and so on.

Within the subject on the ICC website concerning Gypsies, mention in comment has been made of the website  Roma-Daily-News'  which reports on numerous attacks organised by right-wing organisations, notably in eastern Europe. The fact that they seem to have gained support by numbers of non-Gypsies living in the vicinity of often materially substandard homes in which Gypsies find it hard to survive remains dangerous and disturbing.

It seems to me that an ideological problem is that whereas Marxists seem to regard the international proletariat as more or less homogenious, it does not all live on a sort of trans-proletariat thin air. Locality is essential, feet on the ground somewhere or other, whether or not workers have 'a country'.  Thus when numbers of workers feel forced to seek better situations by moving into other localities, many of which are already quite densely populated, it cannot automatically be assumed that they will be made welcome.  Before someone leaps into charges of racism, the situations would apply even if the entire population of the world only had green skin.  A maoist website has shown a poster calling for the victory of the people of 'the third world', which raises questions as to the interrelations between workers of the world.  In the sixties there was a great emphasis on empathy with workers in less developed lands, which has been described as 'xenophilia', as distinct from the 'xenophobia'  of fascist organisations. The material facts of trans-world improved communications, news, and gradually advancing international understanding, 'globalisation' and education all bear on the ideological states of workers worldwide, as, of course, do workers' struggles in various forms.

 

Fred
Something from left

Something from left com.

Military Coup in Greece?

Letter from a Greek Comrade

To Vima is one of the most ‘serious’ papers in Greece and it has played a key role in the politics of the country for about a century. So, the article cited below is not an accident. Apart from an attempt to terrorize people (‘be good, because the army is coming’), it reflects the plans of some top circles of the bourgeoisie and the state.

See: keeptalkinggreece.com

keeptalkinggreece.com
Under the current serious situation in Greece the ruling circles are planning to declare a state of emergency in view of a danger of an uncontrolled social explosion and a disorderly state bankruptcy.

The fascists of the ‘Golden Dawn’ will play a key role in the near future. The traditional centre-right party, which is called New Democracy, is disintegrating under the weight of the harsh economic policy that has to be implemented. Under this situation in the rightist camp, it is possible for the ‘Golden Dawn’ to be the dominant power of the right. Their influence is growing rapidly and for the time being they don’t show any signs that they respect parliamentary legality. Quite the contrary. They act outside the official structures of the system, as assault groups (squadras) against immigrants with open police collusion. (half of the police are already fascists). And their next target will be the leftists of all shades.

At the same time they organize mechanisms of mutual help for the poorest strata of society (popular canteens, markets with cheap goods and blood donations “for Greeks only”). They show the dynamics that a communist group would have in a revolutionary situation. In the national elections of 2009 they took 0,29% (19.636). In the national elections of 2012 they took 6,97% (441.018). Now their percentage is at least 10%. The deep economic and political crisis is leading a majority of the population into poverty. Massive and violent social explosions are surely on the agenda. The state is preparing for massive repression by all means possible, acting in the name of democracy and order. The situation is heading towards a political polarisation between the powers of ‘Golden Dawn’ and Syriza. It is a situation of a potential civil war.

Andreas

Sunday, October 7, 2012

d-man
Apropos the 2022 French

Apropos the 2022 French presidential election, the French ICC frontpage redirected readers to what seems like an older version of this 2012 article, namely an article from 2005 (Montée de l'extrême-droite en Europe : Existe-t-il un danger fasciste aujourd'hui?). I say that, because their main point seems similar. Anyway Joan, when we came to discuss the issue of fascism on the thread on Ukraine, linked us to this thread (about the 2012 article), so maybe this is a place to continue. As Russia's military operation has as one of its official goals the denazification of Ukraine, some answer to the question whether Ukraine is fascist, seems unavoidable.

Just the other day, Zelensky's government released a video, where they try counter Russia's claim, by making the argument that fascism was defeated in 1945 (and so no longer exists). The video had a picture of the Japanese emperor as one of the defeated fascists (alongside Hitler and Mussolini), which prompted Japan to protest. By coincidence on the Ukraine thread, I had raised the historical question, whether Japan in fact had been an example of a fascist country. I made the assertion, that the presence of a practical single-person dictator, isn't a necessary criteria of fascism. I listed also Pilsudski's Poland, as a country that has been designated as fascist (eg by Trotsky), that had no official/practical dictator (and eg elections were still held).

I don't see, in the ICC articles, a theoretical definition of fascism that helps us clarify the issue whether present-day Ukraine is fascist or not. They deal just with the issue of the "danger" of fascism, assuming that we know what it is. The ICC operates with a distinction between a defeat (as in 1917-23) and a setback (as in the outcome of the 1968 wave) of the proletariat. It says fascism could arise only the basis of an already defeated proletariat (at the hands of the left of capital). I think one could argue that the proletariat, around eg 1932, in Germany had suffered a great setback (in 1919-23, or 1914), but not yet a definitive defeat, – it seems a bit like an arbitrary distinction is what I'm saying (or take the case of the outcome of the 1905 Russian revolution: setback or defeat? – was Kornilov a would-be fascist?). The ICC argues that fascism doesn't crush, but maintains the defeat of an already crushed proletariat. If so, then fascism's resort to open terror seems a bit like an optional luxury (after all, the proletariat has already been crushed, so an extra-crushing of it seems politically unnecessary, over-kill, a purposeless cruelty, or simple waste of energy). The claim is that terror is not a unique feature of fascism (as it already is practiced under bourgeois leftist governments), but I ask, why is terror (against the working class) a necessary criteria/feature at all of fascism?

In Ukraine, there had been a military conflict for several years since 2014, – apparently the proletariat wasn't strong enough, or cared enough, to prevent or halt it. Furthermore, I have heard the point made by Russian pundits, that Hitler (who btw until 1934 nominally still wasn't the head of state, Hindenburg was) and his Nazi-regime required only 6 years of preparation of the public mind to start war, whereas the present Ukrainian regime is in power 7 years. This point is about the influence and power of propaganda seems like a reasonable reminder. I further recall, that the issue of war was used in the run up to elections by President Poroshenko, to declare martial law in 2018.

I don't like to go into a great effort to disprove those who argue that Ukraine can't be fascist because it has a President of Jewish origin, as probably we agree that its not the key criteria of fascism, but anyway; many Jews themselves collaborated in practice with antisemitism (as Kapos); even helped its rise politically (eg Reinhold Quaatz). The main criteria for me is anti-socialism, and of course Jews, like any other people, can be extremely anti-socialist (eg the libertarian Mises); or like Otto Landsberg play a great role in crushing the proletariat (he was the most rightwing in the Council of the People's Deputies). The reason Ukraine is called fascist, is because it has a government policy of "de-communization", and this would be central to it.

 

joan
Well done, d-man !

Well done, d-man !

Instead of starting a new thread, you can also revive an older thread.

As for the content of your latest rather long (but I certainly shouldn't "complain" about that) contribution :
I have yet to read them through.
More later, probably.
But for now, rest for me.

joan
Remarks on # 14

I think I have already "come across" this thread (started in 2012).
And as far as I can tell from a fairly cursory reading
and as others also say, jk 21 asks very pertinent questions.
Jk 21 warns against overly formalist, overly entrenched positions that may have been correct before (period up to about 1989), but which in the phase of decomposition of world capitalism can still be questioned.
E.g. that a very heavy defeat of the working class (politically as well as physically) on a world scale (as after the international rev. wave of the working class 1917-1923) is a condition for the setting aside of the "democratic" shell.I am not saying that this position should be completely abandoned, certainly not.
He also quite rightly asks the question to what extent the bourgeoisie acts class-consciously.
Maybe later I will come back to this discussion, which seems to me very interesting and important, even though it is almost 10 years old.

For now, besides the war in Ukraine, I want to concentrate on d-man's views and the many questions he raises (#14), some of which go at least in the same direction as those in the discussion of 2012.

 

Some remarks on # 14 of d-man

 

------Quote :

Anyway Joan, when we came to discuss the issue of fascism on the thread on Ukraine, linked us to this thread (about the 2012 article), so maybe this is a place to continue.

I said it before. “Well done, d-man !” (# 15)

------Quote :

As Russia's military operation has as one of its official goals the denazification of Ukraine, some answer to the question whether Ukraine is fascist, seems unavoidable.”

I agree.
I and others are not (yet) convinced that Ukraine is a fascist state (despite the arguments, with much difficulty extracted from Mizar (See # 54 ,62 in the thread "Russia-Ukrain crisis...").
I rather agree with Baboon "Ukraine is not a fascist state but an expression of imperialism in decomposition that also involves some extreme, active and organised right-wing elements" (#95 thread "Russia-Ukraine...").
------Quote :

Just the other day, Zelensky's government released a video, where they try counter Russia's claim, by making the argument that fascism was defeated in 1945 (and so no longer exists).”

I spoke earlier ( in the thread "Russia-Ukraine...")of "historical fascism" (1919-1945) (1919 = beginning of both fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany) and suggested that in the case of similar currents thereafter we speak of neo-fascism (neo-Nazism). I can't immediately find the right post in which I did that).

------Quote :

The video had a picture of the Japanese emperor as one of the defeated fascists (alongside Hitler and Mussolini), which prompted Japan to protest.”

The defeated fascists Hitler and Mussolini ended their lives in April 1945, the former by suicide, the latter shot dead by partisans.

Hirohito, on the contrast, remained Emperor of Japan until his death in 1989.

Strange as it may seem, Japan is actually right in its protest.

Bcause one of the conditions for the surrender in 1945 was the untouchability of the Japanese emperor, Hirohito and the USA agreed to this (he had to let go of his divine status.) This impunity of Hirohito was also very bad for many Dutch people, given the treatment of Dutch Dutch men, women and children in Japanese concentration camps ("Jappenkampen") in Indonesia in WW 2. At the Japanese counterpart of the Nürnberg trials, the Tokyo trial, several Japanese generals and a politician were sentenced to death and executed.

The graves of some of them are still quite busy places of pilgrimage.(Note 1)

------Quote :

"I don't see in the ICC articles a theoretical definition of fascism that helps us clarify whether the current Ukraine is fascist or not. They only address the issue of the "danger" of fascism, assuming we know what it is."

I think and fear, regrettably, that you are right both regarding current Ukraine and the "danger" of fascism.

------Quote :

"The ICC works with a distinction between a defeat (as in 1917-23) and a setback (as in the outcome of the 1968 wave) of the proletariat."

It is not clear to me whether the ICC or d-man is unclear.

"defeat (as in 1917-23)" ?

But surely 1917-23 is precisely the period of the international revolutionary wave of the working’class and not of the defeat that followed ?

setback after the 1968-wave” ?

The ICC spoke (and speaks today?) of several waves of workers’struggle ,1968-1973,1978-1980 and 1983-1989 .(Note 2).

And after the wave of struggle of 1968-1973 there was already 5 years later a new wave of struggle, 1978-80.And the wave of struggle 1978-80 was closed, crowned by the mass strike in Poland.

------Quote :

It [the ICC] says fascism could arise only the basis of an already defeated proletariat (at the hands of the left of capital).

This seems very clear to me in the case of Germany.For Italy (where the name fascism was first used) I think it is less clear.

------Quote :

I think one could argue that the proletariat, around eg 1932, in Germany had suffered a great setback (in 1919-23, or 1914), but not yet a definitive defeat.”

Of course, one can argue all sorts of things, but to say that the proletariat in Germany in 1932 had not yet suffered a definitive defeat reminds me of what the KPD claimed on the eve of Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, namely that this would only be a very temporary situation and that the proletariat (of course, under the skilful leadership of the KPD) would soon wipe out that regime.

 "a definitive defeat"

Is such a defeat ever definitive, in the sense of forever, never changing?

Isn't it true that, as long as capitalism stands, there will always be workers' struggles that promise to be revolutionary and to put a definitive end to capitalism, with its crisis, its wars, its environmental degradation, etc.?

Of course it is also true that :

" Time is running out because we risk an irreversible descent into barbarism, which will render obsolete any possibility of bringing human society to a higher level." (Internationalisme 364,2016 (Belgium) Dutch /French (translated from French)

Of course, in the phase of decomposition (in which events develop rapidly and often unpredictably) there is a danger that capitalism will ruin humanity and the planet so much before the working class has time to implement its revolutionary project.

A better description than "definitive" seems to me to be very heavy defeat, a defeat that lasts for decades (as there was after the internat.rev. wave of 1917-23 and lasted until the revival of the workers' struggle in France in May 1968).

All these years are, of course, in a sense, arbitrary.

Because, did "1917-1923" end on the precise first of January 1924? Of course not.There is e.g. the late offshoot of the Shanghai workers revolt in 1927.

------Quote :

...the outcome of the 1905 Russian revolution: setback or defeat? - was Kornilov a would-be fascist ?

The outcome 1905 is according to me only a setback.

Because in fact 1905 lasted until 1907 and it was from 1905 onwards that only 7 years (1912) passed before there was a revival of the workers' struggle, a revival that was probably only stopped by the outbreak of WW 1 and in a way continued in 1917 with first the February revolution (in March) and then the October revolution (in November).

What Kornilov is doing there I do not understand.

Did he already play an important role in 1905 or before 1917 ?

 

This is the first part of my remarks. I want to continue them as soon as possible.

 

Note 1

Compare the original indictment as responsible for WW 1 or even as war criminal of Kaiser Wilhelm II. In the end that charge was dropped (Have any other (generals, ministers, etc.)convicted as responsible ? I don't think so. It is not that I would approve of such a one-sided condemnation of only Germans (Austrians, Turks,etc).

Note 2

When did the 3rd wave of struggle end ? I remember that there is a lot of discussion about this, including the statement that from about 1984-85 there was a conscious effort to defeat the working class and that the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the whole ideological campaign around it by the world bourgeoisie only made this worse.

d-man
Probably what can help us

Probably what can help us understand what for the ICC defines a historical episode as marking a defeat vs. a mere setback (for the proletariat), is the question of the (prospect or occurrence) of world war, more than the question of the empirical casualty numbers in repression or strength/combativeness of the proletariat. As the outcome of the "1968- wave" (whatever you like to date its end) didn't see another world war, therefore it isn't called a defeat (but just a setback). It's not because the 1968-generation of militants thinks of themselves as subjectively stronger/smarter/better, than the workers living in the previous era (after 1923). Such is the schematic argument. The argument also goes in the other direction: The prospect of a world war (in our era, after the 1968 wave) isn't considered to be likely, because the proletariat suffered a mere setback, but not yet a defeat. If it had been a defeat, than the prospect of world war would be real.

Fascism for the ICC does have some determination, but these are more sort of "conditions", than strict criteria: 1) its economic program is state capitalist, and 2) it mobilizes for war.

Eg in the article from 2005, the ICC doesn't see the rightwing populists as fascist, because their economic program, even if it had as its demand the introduction of state capitalism, lacks serious support from the bourgeoisie, and so in reality the extreme-right parties adopt the same neoliberal program.

To bring this back to Ukraine, it follows from the ICC's standpoint, that Ukraine couldn't be considered to be a fascist state, because the Ukrainian state conducts a neoliberal policy.

Btw, on the Ukraine thread joan also asked:

joan wrote:
were they also fascist states ? ... the neutral, but sympathetic to the Axis powers, states Spain, Iran and Monaco.

Following the ICC's "conditions" one would have to say, that given the fact that Spain didn't mobilize its workers as soldiers for entry into the official (1939-1945) world war (although the Spanish civil war served as a kind of preparation), therefore Franco's Spain can't be considered to be an example of a fascist state.

In general, I would repeat my observation on the Ukraine-thread, that there is a kind of agnostic theoretical attitude about the definition of fascism. But then one should openly defend this attitude up front, which could be done for example by claiming that "fascism" is just an empty word, without definition, and we shouldn't even use it. But then, also it follows, it makes no sense for the ICC to even enter into discussions about the "danger"/prospects of "it" (this undefined phenomenon) arising.

 

KT
No analysis except 'no danger'? Really?

d-man wrote :"

"I don't see in the ICC articles a theoretical definition of fascism that helps us clarify whether the current Ukraine is fascist or not. They only address the issue of the "danger" of fascism, assuming we know what it is."

Joan agreed: "I think and fear, regrettably, that you are right both regarding current Ukraine and the "danger" of fascism."

It's often instructive to look at what those who actually faced, fought and analysed fascism at the time - our 'ancestors' as it were - coupled with the ICC commentary which most certainly exists on this site if you look for it. ie

Bilan No 16, 1935, The Crushing defeat of the German Proletariat and the rise of fascism from International Review 71, 1992 
or
The economic, political and social origins of fascism from IR No3, 1975.

For what it's worth, I don't think Ukraine is a 'fascist state' and this is just one of Moscow's ideological covers for its role in the bloody defense of its imperialist interests. 

Edited to provide links

 

 

d-man
KT wrote: It's often

KT wrote:
It's often instructive to look at what those who actually faced, fought and analysed fascism at the time

Bordiga's analysis of "it", prior to 1922, was that it had no ideology, doctrine, or program:

Bordiga wrote:
Nous constatons simplement que le mouvement fasciste dispose d’une organisation bien réelle et solide qui peut être aussi bien politique et électorale que militaire, mais qu’il manque d’une idéologie et d’un programme propres. ... Le fascisme n’a donc pas su se définir lui-même au congrès de Rome et jamais il n’apprendra à le faire (sans pour cela renoncer à vivre et à exercer sa fonction) puisque le secret de sa constitution se résume dans la formule : l’organisation est tout, l’idéologie n’est rien
(I haven't checked whether this text was translated in The Science and Passion of Communism. Selected Writings of Amadeo Bordiga volume).

I acknowledged that the ICC had a determination of fascism, in the sense of its "conditions" (such as its rise or origins, like the old texts KT linked), but not of its strict criteria. And that difficulty in defining, of having criteria, may be due to the nature of the phenomenon itself, as something without its own ideology, as Bordiga thought at least in 1921.

By the way, in his last interview, Bordiga (titled "Against anti-fascism",  I don't know if that title was Bordiga's choice):

Bordiga wrote:
The Sixth Worldwide Communist Congress was held in Moscow in 1928, and I didn’t take part in it. I later learned that, at the behest of Stalin, a new political tactic was adopted, concerning what came to be known as ‘social-fascism’. It was decided that all Fascist and social-democratic parties should be considered enemies of Moscow and of Communism. This was an abandonment of the tactic of the united socialist front. Later, in the official communist press (and after the well-known expulsion of the three Italian dissenters Leonetti, Tresso and Ravazzoli), came the admission that the tactic had been advocated ahead of time by left Italian communists. I wrote it in an article as early as 1921: ‘Fascists and social-democrats are but two aspects of tomorrow’s single enemy.’

As to the difficulty in defining some country as fascist, in the absence of an "ideal" definition of fascism, I again quote Trotsky:

--

The question “fascism or Bonapartism?” has engendered certain differences on the subject of the Pilsudski regime among our Polish comrades. The very possibility of such differences testifies best to the fact that we are dealing not with inflexible logical categories but with living social formations which represent extremely pronounced peculiarities in different countries and at different stages. ...

It is methodologically false to form an image of some “ideal” fascism and to oppose it to this real fascist regime which has grown up, with all its peculiarities and contradictions, upon the terrain of the relationship of classes and nationalities in the Polish state. Will Pilsudski be able to lead the action of destruction of the proletarian organizations to the very end? – and the logic of the situation drives him inevitably on this path – that does not depend upon the formal definition of “fascism as such,” but upon the true relationship of forces, the dynamics of the political processes taking place in the masses, the strategy of the proletarian vanguard, finally, the course of events in Western Europe and above all in France. History may successfully inscribe the fact that Polish fascism was overthrown and reduced to dust before it succeeded in finding for itself a “totalitarian” form of expression.

--

I even put forth, against the common belief, that the presence of a single practical dictator isn't the prime, or even at all necessary, criteria to speak of fascism.

So, if according to us fascism has no defined program, doctrine or ideology, if we should not look for an "ideal" fascism, like an inflexible logical category, and if it even can exist without a dictator, then arguments about its danger today, or in some country like Ukraine, can very easily be made, because the phenomenon itself is so undefined. I proposed anti-socialism, or more precisely anti-Marxism, as the prime criteria of fascism.

KT wrote:
I don't think Ukraine is a 'fascist state' and this is just one of Moscow's ideological covers

But what made Italy a "fascist" state, except the name? Why weren't Japan and Spain fascist? What about Poland (Trotsky said yes, Deutscher said no)? In case the question itself (whether x is fascist) is foolish, then don't answer it. Yet the ICC does address the question (and answers in the negative). However, its answer is probably not a serious theoretical determination, but given for a political reason (to oppose the politics of the popular front). In the case of Ukraine, you immediately seek to oppose any political support for the Russian state. I just say, that if you think it's worth the time, outside of immediate stakes, to provide a theoretical question whether Ukraine is fascist, than you haven't done so (Bordiga didn't deny that Germany was fascist, despite the fact that this was also said by Allied propaganda). Or, I repeat, if you don't think the question (whether x is fascist) is even sensible, (because fascism is just an undefined empty word), then don't pretend to answer it.

joan
Some remarks on # 17

Some remarks on # 17

1) Thanks for the clarification on the difference between defeat and setback of the working class.
Was the term "setback" used in an ICC text ?
If so, can you tell me which one ?

2) In relation to Spain

Quote :
"Following the ICC's "conditions" one would have to say, that given the fact that Spain didn't mobilize its workers as soldiers for entry into the official (1939-1945) world war (although the Spanish civil war served as a kind of preparation), therefore Franco's Spain can't be considered to be an example of a fascist state."
The Spanish civil war was indeed a (kind of) preparation for the official world war (1939-1945).
Due to the slaughter and destruction in 1936-39 Spain was simply unable (even if it had "wanted" to) to participate fully in WW2 and remained "neutral" in WW 2.(Note 1)
To return to the question of the defeat of the working class.
I see it like this :
(schematically and as already said all years are somewhat arbitrary)
There was the international revolutionary wave 1917-1923.
This was followed by a period of counter-revolution with WW 2 and it lasted until May 1968.
If we assume that a defeated working class is a precondition for the outbreak of a world war, then in the mid-1930s this was certainly already " arranged " in Germany, in the so-called " Soviet Union ", i.e. in the two regions in Europe and in the world where during 1917-23 the struggle of the working class had posed the greatest threat to the bourgeoisie) (and probably in a number of other countries as well).
But there was another important country in Europe that had remained neutral in WW 1, where there was no devastation and no casualties directly caused by the world war, so no struggle directly against it, but where there was a very militant working class.
(1891: General strike in Catalonia and many other important centres;
1892 and 1894 : miners' strikes;
1909 :general strike provoked by the war in Morocco;
during WW1 : growth of industry and the working class;
1916 :massive workers' struggle ;
And also in the international revolutionary wave of 1917-23 the working class in Spain certainly made its contribution.
1920 : formation of the PCE, 1921 : formation of the Workers' Party of Spain (PCOE), November 1921 : merger of the PCE and PCOE;
1930s : massive struggles, including in 1934 the "Spanish October" miners' revolt in Asturias against the republic (1931 proclaimed).
And also in the beginning of Franco's rebellion (July 1936 in Barcelona and Madrid) and also in May 1937 in Barcelona large parts of the working class showed themselves very militant.
The Spanish civil war not only crushed the "native" Spanish working class, but also dragged many workers and militants from all over the world ("International Brigades") directly into a bloody and long-lasting “anti-fascist”(Note1) deception.
It was a "bonus" that also France and Belgium (countries that had participated in WW 1, had suffered heavily from it in terms of dead, wounded and devastation, but where there had been relatively little workers' struggle in the period 1917-23 and there was also a relatively weak communist movement) were caught up in this deception (also practically:"transit" of cannon fodder for the "anti-fascist struggle" in Spain).
Very importantly, this bloody "anti-fascist" deception also hit the proletarian political milieu hard. Besides the already very opportunist Trotskyists, (who had already taken sides in the Italo-Ethiopian war in 1935) who fully opted for "anti-fascism" and therefore for the Spanish republic) there were also the Italian Fraction (a minority who went to fight in Spain seceded), the LCI-BIK around Hennaut in Belgium,(Note 3) the Union Communiste in France, several council communist or councilist groups in the Netherlands and others.They all took an "anti-fascist" position.
.
And so Spain made its important contribution to creating the climate for WW2 to erupt.
There were only a few months between the end of the civil war in Spain
civil war in Spain ( April 1939 )(Note 4) and the beginning of WW 2 (September 1939 (invasion of Poland by nazi-Germany)).

Of course, the working class in Spain alone could not have turned the course towards world war.

(This was the illusion also proclaimed during the Spanish civil war. "Through our struggle here, in Spain, we are holding back fascism/nazism and world war. This is our last chance, now we have to put everything into it.” This was also reflected in the slogan" No Paseran!"("They will not get through!")

But given its traumatic experience of being forced to stop an imperialist war (WW 1) at the hands of the "plebs", the bourgeoisie thought it best not to take any risks.

The preparation, the course and the termination of WW 2 clearly show that the ruling class had learned its lessons to avoid a repetition of WW 1, of an end of the war at the hands of the working class and a new 1917-23.

Note 1

On the side of the Axis-powers (Germany, etc.) there was the so-called "Blue Division" (Division Azul) (after the blue shirt as part of their exit uniform), which fought on the German side in 1941-43 mainly on the Eastern Front, but these were (at least officially) volunteers.
On the other hand, many ex-combatants of the Spanish Republic found their place on the Allied "anti-fascist" side in more or less official combat groups (e.g. in the "résistance" in France or in the French Foreign Legion).

Note 2

I put anti-fascist in inverted commas because in fact the only real anti-fascist struggle can be waged if one opposes all forms of capitalist rule and not just one form.

Note 3

A minority was excluded and formed the "Belgian Fraction" with Jehan or Mitchell, whose organ was "Communism" and with similar views as the Italian Fraction.
Note 4
No end yet to the repression by the Franco-regime (including many executions of "communists" (supporters of the republic) and also years of guerrilla warfare by ex-republican fighters, probably many in the hope that they would be supported in their “anti-fascist” struggle, as in other countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, etc.) by the Allies.

 

 

d-man
joan wrote: Was the term

joan wrote:
Was the term "setback" used in an ICC text ?
If so, can you tell me which one ?

The French one (2005) speaks of the proletariat's mere "reculs" in the post-1968 era.

Quote:
If we assume that a defeated working class is a precondition for the outbreak of a world war, then in the mid-1930s this was certainly already " arranged " in Germany, in the so-called " Soviet Union ",

That is another assumption whose generalization is open to doubt, particularly given the case of WWI, when as you mentioned eg in Russia there were barricades in the streets on its eve.

I mentioned the outcome of the 1905 revolution, which in your view was only a "setback" (though it was a very strong setback, I'd say, if you consider eg the sentiments that appeared in the RSDLP). In one of the arguments on fighting fascism, Trotsky compared the situation of the danger of Kornilov (in 1917) to the situation in 1932 with Hitler. For the purpose of his argument, he didn't have to call Kornilov a fascist (in Trotsky's view, Kornilov wasn't a fascist, since the Russian petty-bourgeois didn't support Kornilov). But for Trotsky it was a possibility, that Kornilov could have won in 1917. And so in that hypothetical situation, I ask if Kornilov's regime (and its repression against the proletariat) would have been fascist (in the ICC's schema, the "condition" for fascism is a defeat of the proletariat, so then it depends on how you view the outcome of the 1905 revolution - setback or defeat). But please ignore this rather long excursion.

joan wrote:
Of course, the working class in Spain alone could not have turned the course towards world war.

(This was the illusion also proclaimed during the Spanish civil war. "Through our struggle here, in Spain, we are holding back fascism/nazism and world war. This is our last chance, now we have to put everything into it.” This was also reflected in the slogan" No Paseran!"("They will not get through!"

By the way, if we define that era as an era of defeat, of counter-revolution, with a course towards war, then even if we're willing to call the danger of fascism real in Spain, and warn about fascism, precisely at that point such a warning doesn't seem to matter, for the prospect of a politics of revolution is not in the cards. Now, it's unclear to me whether Franco's side was in fact regarded as fascist by the ICC's predecessors. If in their view there was not a fascist danger (or fascist reality in 1939) in Spain, then the argument against the proponents of "anti-fascism" would seem to have needed to define fascism, in order to refute the claim that it existed (as this was the belief of the anti-fascists, - I think). I think it is more probable that the ICC's predecessors shared the belief of the anti-fascists about the danger/reality of fascism in Spain.

 

joan
 

 

In reply to # 21.

 

Quote :

Was the term "setback" used in an ICC text ?
If so, can you tell me which one ?

The French one (2005) speaks of the proletariat's mere "reculs" in the post-1968 era.”

 

Thanks d-man.

I have checked it out.

Below is a quote from the article in question.

But it is not an article from 2005, it is an article from 2002, which was brought to the attention on the ICC website again in 2005.

Revue Internationale no 110 - 3e trimestre 2002

​“Montée de l'extrême-droite en Europe : Existe-t-il un danger fasciste aujourd'hui ?”

Soumis par Revue Internationale le 2 novembre, 2005 - 13:38

"This is not the case today. The working class remains in a dynamic of open class confrontation since the late 1960s. Despite its setbacks and difficulties in asserting itself on a class terrain, it is not defeated and has not suffered a decisive defeat since then. It is not on a counter-revolutionary course. Apart from an objective condition which prevents the bourgeoisie from going to a new world war : the inability within the bourgeoisie, since the implosion of the USSR, to reconstitute two rival imperialist blocs, there is another decisive factor for affirming that the bourgeoisie does not have a free hand, and that is that it has not succeeded in massively embracing the proletariat of the central countries of capitalism behind the defence of national capital towards war, nor in dragging it into blind support for the incessant imperialist crusades. "

(Translated from French with Deeple translate and set in bold by me)

In parallel to this article, there is the article in English, which was also the starting point of this thread in 2012.

 World Revolution no.356, September/October 2012

​“Is there a danger of fascism today ?”

Submitted by World Revolution on 11 September, 2012 - 21:06

"This article is based on the presentation to our public meeting in Paris on 30 June, written to introduce and stimulate discussion.”

The ICC also published two brochures (pamphlets) about fascism :

-in French "Fascisme & démocratie deux expressions de la dictature du capital" ("Fascism and democracy, two expressions of the dictatorship of capital")

- in Spanish “España 1936, Franco y la República masacran al proletariado” (“Spain 1936, Franco and the Republic massacres the proletariat").

 

I want to respond to the various posts as quickly as possible.

 

But now I especially want to read and re-read more about Ukraine.

joan
Addition

Addition
Also in German, the ICC has a collection of articles (pamphlet) on paper  entitled "Faschismus/Anti-Faschismus". 
On the website there is nothing more to be found about it, not even a table of contents.