I have been wanting to write this piece for a while, but wanted to wait to see what more could be dug up, what more could happen in the days or weeks since I originally thought about it. After the events that took place in Chicago last night, I figured the time had come.
In my previous post, I briefly mentioned how “fascism” or “fascist” is one of the most over-used terms people use in political discussions and debates. It has gotten to the point that the word is used almost always outside of its historically recognized context. I mentioned how anything from classical conservatism to Marxism-Leninism has been labeled as “fascism” without any explanation of how those things are connected to the very real fascist movements and regimes of history, and the ones that exist today. This has to stop because fascism is not something to be taken lightly. It is a real issue and a real threat, and it should not be confused with things that it is not, so we don’t lose sight of this threat and what it could entail.
But there are movements and people who could be called fascist, without us needing to part from historical reality. And we are watching one such movement gain strength here in the US.
I’m sure you know what I am talking about, and who is at the forefront of this ultra-reactionary movement. No, I am not being hyperbolic, and no, this isn’t a case of me and other Leftists simply not liking Trump and his supporters. There are very legitimate reasons for the Trumpites to be labeled as such. Let’s get into those reasons.
FASCISM IN THE USA
First of all, I would like to direct you to this piece from the Red Phoenix which goes into a good bit of detail regarding the history of fascism and its ideological staples. I am not going to talk much history here. I am focused on the characteristics of fascism and how they match up to the current Trumpite movement.
Though, as I have said above, fascism has a historically recognized meaning, it never comes to power in the same way twice, and there were quite a lot of differences between the various fascist regimes. This is due to fascism’s ultra-nationalist character–the method used in one nation won’t necessarily work in another, as it is bound up in the most reactionary elements of each nation it takes a hold of. However, there are enough similarities between each of these movements that we can say that fascism is an ideology in and of itself, and not just pure, mob-like populism.
These similarities include:
-A strong emphasis on nationhood and unquestioning patriotism.
-Violent and repressive anti-Communism and anti-liberalism.
-A hatred of immigrants, including calls for mass deportation.
-A romanticized idea of the “Great Nation”, often exaggerated to mythical proportions.
-Highly institutionalized misogyny and repression of women.
-Unquestioning loyalty to the nation’s charismatic leader, who is seen as the personification of the “Great Nation”.
-Using religious and/or racial minorities as scapegoats.
-The rejection of class struggle, replacing it with a veil of collaborationism in the form of nationalism.
-Romanticization of conflict, imperialist and expansionist adventures, militarism, and “direct action” through the use of violence.
-An emphasis on vitalism, national energy, youth, and nationalist heroism.
-A rejection of rationalism in favor of irrationalism and romanticism.
-The promotion of a “Third Way” that is supposed to be above both capitalism and communism.
Now, one might say that the US already has many, if not all, of these characteristics, but that is false. While these characteristics are present, they are on a relatively small scale compared to the fascist regimes of history. I am allowed to run this blog, criticism of the nation’s leader is still held as a protected right, etc. etc.
However, since fascism is the most reactionary and violent form of bourgeois rule, it is possible for it to rise up from within the bourgeois state (which is exactly how Hitler came to power). And I believe that is what we are witnessing right now.
Trump’s supporters might point out that he isn’t calling for mass genocide and he doesn’t label himself as a fascist, so there’s no way he is anything like Hitler. What they fail to realize is, Hitler didn’t talk about murdering millions of people during his rise. What he did call for was a cleansing that involved the deportation of the “undesirable” people living in Germany(see: the Madagascar Plan). Secondly, of course Trump isn’t going to call himself a fascist–like I said, fascism takes a different form depending on the nation the fascists are trying to control, and it would only hinder Trump’s nationalist goals if he labeled himself after the regimes the US fought in World War II. Whatever he calls himself does not matter–his actions and promises do.
I don’t think I need to say much about Trump’s obvious romantic nationalism–his campaign slogan already says everything that needs to be said on that subject. “Make America Great Again”. Again, as in, “let’s go back to the days of segregation, traditional values, when the patriarchy was at its strongest.” He, like every fascist leader of the past, plays off of a romantic view of national history. He stands firmly on the foundation of a mythical idea of Americanism.
Then there are the other characteristics of fascism that he holds to. Scapegoating religious minorities? Check. Hatred of immigrants? Check. Demanding unquestioning loyalty to him? Check. Romanticization of violence? Check. Calling for imperialist war? Double check. A misogynistic view of women? Check. Anti-Communism coupled with anti-liberalism? Check. I would go on, but I really don’t think I need to.
And then there is apparent fondness for openly self-proclaimed fascists, like when he retweeted a post from a white-supremacist neo-Nazi twitter account, or when he tweeted a quote attributed to Mussolini, or when he refused to condemn the fucking KKK, claiming that he “doesn’t know enough about them”(I think it’s safe to say that if he doesn’t know enough about the Klan, he doesn’t know enough about US history to be allowed into the Oval Office).
Then there is his terrifying charisma and rhetoric, which has lead to his followers committing acts of violence, both during his rallies and outside of them. It doesn’t matter if the anti-Trump protesters are loud and harsh or quiet and peaceful–if you have any objection to the potential rule of Il Duce 2.0, you are a target. Mussolini had his blackshirts, Hitler had his brownshirts. Trump’s supporters might not have an official uniform, but their actions are the same–mobs of reactionary thugs terrorizing anyone who dares to question their leader.
And he doesn’t just get support from fascists and neo-Nazis here in the US. Far-right reactionaries around the world are applauding his campaign, including both Vladimir Putin and the creator of the fascist “Fourth Way” ideology, Alexander Dugin.
Many still consider Trump’s campaign to be a joke, sometimes attending his rallies expecting to get a few laughs in, only to come to the realization that this is no joke after they witness the chaos firsthand. The man rarely says anything of substance–he, much like the fascist dictators of history, relies on repetition, fiery rhetoric, and irrationality coated with romanticism–but that doesn’t stop his followers from sticking to his words to the point of assaulting people, screaming for him to “get rid of” those who disagree with him once he becomes president, or basically worshipping him.
I used to think that he didn’t have a chance in hell of winning the election, but I am beginning to think otherwise. There is a very real possibility that we could see a Trump victory this November. There are several reasons why I think this, which I am about to get to. But we Leftists should be preparing for such an event. Not only because of the terror he will likely try to inflict against us as a movement, but also because of the danger he poses to so many people who are already oppressed and beaten down.
WHAT CAN THE LEFT DO?
First and foremost, it should be clear that this rise of the reactionaries is just that–a reaction. It is the bourgeois far-right’s reaction to escalating unrest among the oppressed masses. It is a reaction against the various people’s movements that have been sparked over the past few years(Black Lives Matter, the fight for a higher minimum wage, the fight for the rights of immigrants and refugees, the struggle to defend unions and the rights of the working class). The people are rising up and they are speaking out, taking to the streets, demanding justice.
Last night in Chicago, the comrades there forced Trump to cancel his rally. They stood up against the reaction and shut him down. The hammer and sickle was even flashed on live television, right behind a CNN reporter. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and I want to, again, congratulate those fighters in Chicago for their victory. That is something that needs to be emulated at every Trump event. Fascism deserves no platform, and it is up to us to make sure they don’t get one.
But then there are the golden-heart liberals who, any time a window is broken, cry for the people to “be peaceful”. Yes, be peaceful in the face of violent fascists. Be peaceful in the face of murderous police. Be peaceful towards a system that wants to oppress, exploit, and kill you if you disobey. Those who hold power can swing and take shots all they wish, but we are the ones who need to learn some respect. Sure.
The reasons given for this condemnation of the people is Trump’s “right” to free speech. If you weren’t paying attention before, it is obvious that Trump is parroting the fascist dictators of the past. What does this mean when it comes to free speech? It means they don’t have it. Let me explain.
Following WWII, at the Nuremberg Trials, it was decided that fascism, since it always went hand-in-hand with mass genocide and illegal wars, is not a legitimate political ideology, but, rather, a criminal movement. This means that it is the political equivalent to the mafia. Most of the sane world recognizes this–it is why Nazi symbolism is not allowed to be spread or shown in Germany, for instance. The proposals and rhetoric of fascism are just as protected under the banner of “free speech” as the mafia’s illegal business deals are protected by “free enterprise”. That is, it’s not.
To paraphrase something a comrade of mine heard from a lawyer and passed on: Freedom of speech is like the freedom to swing your arm–you can swing it all you like, but your freedom to do so ends at the tip of my nose.
The liberals and ultra-leftists who are whining about the freedom of fascists to have a platform so as to gain traction are spitting on the graves of the countless victims of fascism all around the world. They have apparently learned nothing from history, and seem to have no problem with risking the same thing all over again. Freedom of speech protected the Nazi Party, allowed it to gain a following, then to gain political power, because how dare we prevent genocidal war-mongers from spreading their hate far and wide? How dare we think about the very possible consequences of their actions? Luckily, Germany has at least some laws to prevent another fall back into that sort of state. Too bad some “Leftists” here in the States think such a movement should be protected from the people it wishes to fucking kill.
Hell, the man even brags about wanting to commit war-crimes. If someone makes a legitimate physical threat against another person, they are arrested, but you want to tell us that a politician doing the same thing–except he wants to kill thousands, including whole families–is protected because of “free speech”? No, he is not. Threatening to break international law and to commit atrocities does not fall under the umbrella of “free speech”.
Lenin said it best, in regards to “freedom of speech”:
“Down with the liars who are talking of freedom and equality for all, while there is an oppressed sex, while there are oppressor classes, while there is private ownership of capital, of shares, while there are the well-fed with their surplus of bread who keep the hungry in bondage. Not freedom for all, but a fight against the oppressors and exploiters, the abolition of every possibility of oppression and exploitation–that is our slogan!”
In other words, this is a fight against the most reactionary, violent, and oppressive aspects of the bourgeois dictatorship, and if you choose to protect them, we will not let you ever forget your decision. When you protect the freedom of would-be mass murderers, of enemies of the people, during a time of intensifying class struggle, then you have picked your side, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. This is going to sound harsh, but to paraphrase yet another comrade (his name is Marx), when we get the upper hand over the bourgeoisie and its supporters, we will not apologize for the terror. Pick whose actions you choose to defend wisely.
Now, with that out of the way, I would like to discuss other issues facing the Left that are immediate threats to our strength. Obviously, I both acknowledge and commend the mass action that has been taking place all across the country. I have been talking about this for a while now, and yet I am still at the same conclusion: While these uprisings are necessary in shedding light on oppression and rising up against it, and the spontaneous rebellions of the people should never be underestimated, the Left is still lacking the organization, discipline, and principles required to go through with a real, socialist revolution.
The ultra-leftists spewing all of this talk of “free speech for fascists” don’t seem to realize that, as Engels said, a revolution is the most authoritarian act there is. It is one group forcing its interests onto another. In the case of a socialist revolution, it is the working class forcing the capitalists out of power–it is forcing the capitalists into giving up their own class interests, forcing them to end their ruthless exploitation.
But the idealistic view of “freedom” is not the only issue with the ultra-left. We will find that, while these self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” are Leftists in words, they are Rightists in deeds.
Though the Left is growing, the revolutionary movement specifically is faultering, and has been for a while. This is due to the utter inability–or, really, refusal–of much of the Left to engage with the working class, the only class or group that can lead a socialist revolution. A desire for complete ideological purity has become so strong that many no longer strive to educate the masses, but, instead, give up on them, preferring online echo chambers to actually dealing with the masses.
Are there reactionary ideas within the working class? Yes, absolutely. Marx said that the big ideas of every society are always the ideas of the class which rules that society. Therefore, it is easy for racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and any other reactionary idea of the bourgeois dictatorship, to sink into the ranks of the working class. I think it should be crystal fucking clear that the best and only way to fight these reactionary ideas is to meet them head on, to engage with the working class about how all forms of oppression are linked to the rule of the bourgeoisie. Isn’t that what “intersectionality” is supposed to be about? Bringing the people together with the knowledge of oppression and exploitation of all kinds? Why the fuck are we, instead, not engaging with the oppressed workers at all? Sure, we’ll debate with them on the internet, but these “debates” are too often filled with personal attacks, sarcasm, and “Google it!”.
“It isn’t my job to educate you,” goes that tired old ultra-left saying, when speaking to working class people who hold ideas contrary to their class interest. Actually, yes, it definitely is your responsibility to educate the masses, if you want to call yourself a Leftists, and especially if you claim to be a revolutionary. If you don’t want to do the work, then you need to stop calling yourself those things and just stick to your forums where you can make up some new vocabulary and talk about the “United $tates uv Amerikkka” with people who already agree with you.
This has gotten to the point where satirical articles like this one can so easily be mistaken for truth (and it often was when I saw it being shared around). So many socialists have actively and openly given up on the working class, forgetting that every struggle for emancipation is intrinsically tied to the class struggle. All of the horrors that come from bourgeois ideology, such as racism, sexism, transphobia, etc. will not just go away if we ignore them, which is essentially what these ultras are doing when they refuse to engage with the toiling masses on these issues. They are refusing to fight the things they claim to hate. They will insult those who hold such ideas, but that does nothing in regards to actually dispelling these reactionary tendencies.
On the contrary, insulting and then running away will only make the masses more weary of the Left. Whereas the fascists will open their arms to anyone who is driven towards them by the snobbish elitism of so many so-called “socialists”.
Many on the Left need to take a lesson from the organization that struck the most fear in the hearts of the bourgeoisie of the United States, the Black Panther Party. So, take a moment and watch this. Notice that at least one of the white people there is wearing the Confederate flag? Notice how the extraordinary organizer, Bobby Lee, didn’t bother to “call out” that guy? Instead, he talked about what they all had in common as working class and oppressed people.
I would love to hear some white ultra whine about how Lee was “wrong” to even speak to or show solidarity with such “backwards” workers, just so I can use their own logic and ask why they feel they have the right to tell an African-American what to do. I might even tell them to Google white-supremacism.
Anyway, it is clear that we have a fight ahead of us–even if Trump doesn’t get elected, the movement he created won’t just disappear. Instead of crying about “cultural appropriation” to the point of making it a call for national-cultural purity and segregation (y’know, what fascists like to support), or being unable to even deal with “micro-aggressions”(don’t know how you plan on dealing with the bigger aggressions, so I’m not sure if you really should be calling yourself a revolutionary), or talking about how voting “doesn’t matter” when there is a literal fascist trying to get into office(it’s easy to say such things when you personally are not liable to be put on a national registry or lose your right to bodily autonomy), we should probably stop speaking solely to each other and start reaching out to the working class. If there are reactionary ideas among them, we can only fight it by facing it, by educating the masses.
The class struggle is intensifying. The most reactionary section of the bourgeoisie is gaining support while we toy with our unscientific theories like it’s a game. I am not trying to sound paranoid, but a fascist regime taking power in this country is quite possible in the near future. And if/when that happens, there will be no “safe spaces” to run to.
In my last post, I mentioned the growing number of people who have accepted the word “socialism” as something positive–a massive step forward from where we were not too long ago. But we have to harness that while we can, not run from it or pretend to be better than it. This is not the time to play holier-than-thou with the masses. This is the time to gather ourselves, face what is ahead of us, educate, and organize, so that one day we can take that well-calculated and much-needed revolutionary leap.