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Random thoughts re Fascism.
Problems with its history and origins:
The Nazis, the Italian Fascists,Franco's Spain, a limited number of
other European countries,Chile's Pinochet, possibly Argentina under
Uruburu or the lieutenant //colonels//and the//desaparecidos, Brazil
under Vargas facing depression conditions and capital flight, all those
countries where there's some consensus as to the presence of this
disease, every one had as common elements confronting working class
militancy and gathering economic chaos.
In Nazi Germany, Hitler's regime was able to turn a failed Weimar
social-democratic economy, with unprecedented inflation and double digit
unemployment, around in one year. He did that by imposing Keynesian-type
government spending, particularly on heavy industry and military
hardware,while preventing spiraling inflation and wage rates by holding
prices and wages down, by smashing dissidence, by imposing draconian
discipline on the working class, by promising German recrudescence and
lebensraum and the repudiation of Versailles, by inculcating
antisemitism and the gypsy Roms as the despised other uniting jingoism,
by moving through Europe and North Africa seizing needed resources and
cheap labor. Mussolini, to an extent Franco, did likewise for the most part.
That's quite plainly not the case with Trump.
For the time being only, on the GDP front the ‘annualized’ rate of
growth has been revised upward to 4.2%, the strongest rate on that
measure since the middle of 2014*******, *******and the official rate of
employment is benign, all of which Trump can claim without any reason or
connection as his doing.
But how is all this to be viewed as nascent fascism, when right wing
policies, including authoritarian and neoliberal strategies, have less
and less viability? None of the above has Trump got any purchase on. His
right wing jingoist, racist, xenophobic policies will fail in the face
of declining US competitiveness, transnational corporations exporting
jobs (which will not return), capital and industrial production and many
services to regions with cheaper labor, facing burgeoning
automation/robotization/alternative intelligence and further loss of
employment, and growing assertive independence elsewhere on the globe
and alliances of convenience to alter the balance of power. In fact as,
if I recall correctly Marx predicted, the historic trend is for
equalization of wage rates globally, as the US productive sector
atrophies, automation/artificial intelligence increases, and enterprise
that is not locally based, including many services, moves offshore to
take advantage of cheap labor, land, infrastructure and disciplinary
factors, resource and production-factor advantages, as border
restriction measures gradually are dispersed, and the US working class
is left increasingly stranded and without organized resistance in a
country with more workers than jobs.And most importantly,
capital-induced/enhanced environmental chaos. The only recourse will
have to be recognized as global organization and a changed system of
production/survival. No "vicar's tea party," but as Engels said, when
its time comes what revolution is?
As to the use of the term fascism to describe collaboration or close
coordination between the corporation and the state, of what combination
of corporation and state under capitalism anywhere can this not be said?
It does describe forms of populist ultra-nationalism, racism and
nationalism, racial superiority, inequality and xenophobia, all common
to populist, authoritarian regimes, but in how many ways is it really
consistent with historical fascism?
Moreover, the term "fascism" is inexact and has over time been used in
ways that drain it of meaning. We remember that FDR and other populist
US politicians advocating saving capitalism by government measures were
widely and in facile fashion called fascist and authoritarian, serving
the purposes of a significant, reactionary segment of capital. This has
occurred in other contexts as well - even really-existing communist
regimes, for example, pseudo-populists in South America, Peron in
Argentina, many subordinate client states, or anything with a whiff of
authoritarian rule or command economy. Huey Long, Father Coughlin,
Senators Bilbo and McCarthy were called fascists.
However, the term neofascism might be more applicable elsewhere, in
Europe especially and what is seen there as rising neofascism, but I
wonder if that is so on close analysis, how their conditions differ or
are similar to the 30s, and whether they arise today concomitantly with
any immanent threat to the economy or from the working class.
How does fascism differ from authoritarianism? Well, it's easier to say,
and you can add if questioned, "You know." So also a term of
convenience. Convenient for whom, for what?
It may best work simply as a pejorative, ascare word, bogeyman, for
whomever it might serve.
The term is also being used, however, as has been true in other times,
in ways not appropriate as a tool of contemporary class analysis. There
is presently no organized working class resistance to threaten power, it
seems to have little value as a tool of analysis with a history. How
does it serve class analysis, in a historically altered, shifting
relationship between capital and labor?
What does it clarify? What does it obscure?
What is "fascism's" relationship to the law of value? To class and
transnational capital? Maybe as a particular, localized form of
authoritarian rule under conditions where it is necessary to restore the
viability of capitalism by draconian measures. But that's militarism,
caudillism, strongman government, authoritarianism in the usual
circumstances, isn't it?
Shifting gears a little, a Marxian definition of class is those who own
and control the “means of production” opposed to those who do not. (In
the US today, the working class constitutes 63% of the employed
population. If you add all the millions who are currently “out” of the
workforce due to disability, unemployment, and care responsibilities, it
is closer to 75%). Is the US working class in imminent danger? Maybe.
But Trump's electoral support was not from the working class so much as
from the middle class or lower middle class educated component
Does that occur in the context of historically recognized conditions
conducive to fascism?
But then a new term, Trumpism. Better term than fascism? Connect dots here.
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