We in the modern world like to believe that fascism was defeated through the combined efforts of millions of men with loaded guns and airplanes full of bombs. We are mistaken in this assumption.
Fascism is alive and well, and I’m not talking about the efforts of those dregs of society called Neo-Nazis or any of their utterly horrific way of thinking.
I’m speaking of capitalism and how capitalists and their servants are still and always attempting to recreate fascism at every turn. Leon Trotsky explains: “The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle its politic liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery” (Trotsky 28). Trotsky believes, correctly, that fascism is merely the next step for capitalism. As his quote says, once the usefulness of bourgeois democracy has run its course the elements of capitalism will turn to the barbarous tools of fascism to achieve its aims; chiefly that of continually oppressing the working class so the bourgeois can exploit them continually and until the end of time.
The sad part of the whole matter is that the proletariat and the petty-bourgeois will advocate and endorse fascists: “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 whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy” (Trotsky 5). The end result of fascism is a complete centralization of the entire nation’s wealth and production being put into the few hands that run the government all in some grandiose lie about providing for the nation’s future. The appeal of fascism stems from the disenfranchisement of the populace with bourgeois democracy and the anger of the petty-bourgeois at having so little power.
Americans should take special note of that last line. Many people in this country would gladly choose a third party candidate instead of the other two bourgeois candidates. (Source: http://reason.com/poll/2011/05/10/80-of-americans-voting) As this sense of disillusionment with democracy grows so to does the threat of fascism. With the recent comments from the GOP candidates, however, it seems they plan on turning their party into the fascist ticket with their insistence on removing rights from ever minority out there.
This disillusionment can also aid communists in their quest for more support as we can offer a viable alternative to a militaristic, jingoistic hate-state. Direct action and clear leadership from the proletariat and communists can pull these petty-bourgeois and misguided proletariat into the communist camp, “…the petty bourgeoisie must acquire faith in the ability of the proletariat to lead society onto a new road. The proletariat can only inspire this faith by its strength, by the firmness of its actions, by a skillful offensive against the enemy, by the success of its revolutionary policy” (Trotsky 25). Communists must make full advantage of every misstep of capitalists and make the advantage theirs. This knowledge had to come at cost however.
Trotsky goes on at length about the failures of the Italian communists and social-democrats in their attempt at halting fascism from taking root in their country strictly because they did not take advantage of the situation or plant their feet in the fight for control: “…social democracy was concerned with only one thing: to withdraw the workers from combat at the cost of one concession after another…To the last hour, they restrained the workers with might and main from giving battle to Mussolini’s bands. It availed them nothing” (Trotsky 6-7). Communists must not be afraid at standing our ground even if that means a fight is to be had, we must not give concessions unless absolutely necessary and we must surely fight fascism whatever the cost.
Important text to take away: “Ahead lies a favorable perspective, providing all the justification for revolutionary activism” (Trotsky 47).
Editorial Note: The text I used for this article comes from the pamphlet Fascism: what it is and how to fight it by Leon Trotsky as edited by Pathfinder Press. It includes a number of his essays on the topic of fascism and I will attempt to provide a link to many of them.