FASCISM – WHAT IS IT?
Extracts from a letter to an English comrade, November 15 1931;
printed in The Militant, January 16, 1932
What is fascism? The name originated in Italy. Were all the forms of counter-revolutionary dictatorship fascist or not (That is to say, prior to the advent of fascism in Italy)?
The former dictatorship in Spain of Primo de Rivera, 1923-30, is called a fascist dictatorship by the Comintern. Is this correct or not? We believe that it is incorrect.
The fascist movement in Italy was a spontaneous movement of large masses, with new leaders from the rank and file. It is a plebian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers. It issued forth from the petty bourgeoisie, the slum proletariat, and even to a certain extent from the proletarian masses; Mussolini, a former socialist, is a “self-made” man arising from this movement.
Primo de Rivera was an aristocrat. He occupied a high military and bureaucratic post and was chief governor of Catalonia. he accomplished his overthrow with the aid of state and military forces. The dictatorships of Spain and Italy are two totally different forms of dictatorship. It is necessary to distinguish between them. Mussolini had difficulty in reconciling many old military institutions with the fascist militia. This problem did not exist for Primo de Rivera.
The movement in Germany is analogous mostly to the Italian. It is a mass movement, with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. This is necessary for the creation of the mass movement.
The genuine basis (for fascism) is the petty bourgeoisie. In italy, it has a very large base – the petty bourgeoisie of the towns and cities, and the peasantry. In Germany, likewise, there is a large base for fascism…
It may be said, and this is true to a certain extent, that the new middle class, the functionaries of the state, the private administrators, etc., can constitute such a base. But this is a new question that must be analyzed…
In order to be capable of foreseeing anything with regard to fascism, it is necessary to have a definition of that idea. What is fascism? What are its base, its form, and its characteristics? How will its development take place? It is necessary to proceed in a scientific and Marxian manner.
HOW MUSSOLINI TRIUMPHED
From What Next? Vital Question for the German Proletariat, 1932
At the moment that the “normal” police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium – the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat – all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy.
From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini – the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role – but it means first of all for the most part that the workers’ organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism…
It always seems to me these histories constantly deal with what’s up front and who’s standing on the balcony - but never to the real players in the back rooms calling the shots. Back then we had the oligarchs are royalty today with have the left overs of the masters of oil and tech, and public mega phones and brain washing and mind control like those silly old guys could only have dreamed.
We do live in a way different world that what was around a century ago. So it’s the same, sure, only different. (name have been changed to protect the guilty) Yet you can be sure consequences will be the same, massive wreckage.
Only this time we’re taking Earth’s biosphere with us, so it’ll be left to Earth and the Universe to clean up the mess we’re going to be leaving behind.