On Fascism–Things Are Different Now

In the late 60s and early 70s there was an epidemic of “everything I hate is fascism.”  We seem to be back to that again.  But there are differences, and they are important.

We warned then, and it is worth repeating now, that we use a narrow and precise definition of fascism because it is a particular danger that must be recognized when it rears its head.  To the patient suffering from MS, the fact that the actual disease might be Lupus does not change how it feels; to the treating physician it matters a very great deal.

Well, one difference is that now fascism is rearing its head.

Another difference is that there are those cynically exploiting the term to point to certain States in order to further the propaganda (and, hence, war) efforts of imperialism.  Saying that Putin, for example, is a fascist, is nonsense; he’s a right-wing oligarch.

Trump is a fascist, and the Republican Party is rapidly turning into a mass fascist party; Biden is a right-wing servant of Wall Street who is (consciously or not) paving the way for the victory of fascism, but calling him or the Democratic Party fascist is nonsense.

But yet another difference, and one that has been striking me lately, is that, contradictory as it sounds, there is something healthy about this confusion among many layers of the population.  What is healthy is the growing fury at, well, everything capitalism is doing.

Thinking back on my early years on Twitter, I remember being politically isolated; It was almost impossible to find another person who identified as socialist.  Now capitalism, as it writhes and twists and bites itself like a sea-snake pulled from the ocean, is calling forth immense amounts of outrage from broader and broader layers.   My twitter feed is now full of those identifying as socialist, or communist, or anti-imperialist, and the numbers are growing exponentially.  I can’t take credit for any of that—the death agony of capitalism is having its effect on the thinking of growing masses of people.

When these people point to genocide, or the headlong rush toward WW III, or the attacks on democratic rights, and label them fascist, what they are saying is, “I hate this, this is evil and must be destroyed.”  And they’re right.  It is inevitable that there will be confusion among those newly radicalized; but no decent person can criticize their outrage; the task is to explain, and to show a way forward.

For those who are interested in what I mean by fascism, as opposed to a military dictatorship, or a junta, or a police state, permit me to point to this and this.

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I play the drum.

7 thoughts on “On Fascism–Things Are Different Now”

  1. So many people don’t look past the labels. But if people have power without adequate limits, bad things happen, no matter what labels we give them.

  2. As Steve says, the correct identification of the political enemies we face is of great importance as the methods of combatting them effectively differs.

  3. Having read both of Trotzky’s definition I must admit I don’t really understand why Trump is a fascist as opposed to a right wing oligarch or a right wing autocrat. Is there something I am missing?

  4. The Trotsky essay certainly contains a huge number of uncannily accurate predictions regarding the future of National Socialism. He understood the nature of the beast.

    Is Fascism necessarily racist? Or could a movement be described that way as long as it is invoking the traitorous disloyalty of disfavored domestic populations as the cause of all economic sorrows, the solution to which is the marginalization or elimination of said groups, while concentrating all wealth and power into private hands for the purpose of imperialistic conquests?

  5. sirana: Because he is “leading” a mass movement based above all on the desperate and ruined petit bourgeoisie. He incites violence, and even attempted a coup.

  6. I think racism is a convenient lever in the fascist toolbox. They really enjoy pulling that lever. Any scapegoat will do in a pinch, however. Liberal Elites and other assorted “godless” hedonists are certainly invoked by the Maga crowd.

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