May 17, 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil visited Dallas. Activists here were able to mobilize a hundred or so protesters and get major statements from political and labor leaders against the visit.
What Is Fascism? What Do We Do About it?
Afterward, the conversations are turning toward really important topics such as “What Is Fascism?,” “How Does It Take Hold?,” and “What Do We Do About it?”
“What is fascism but capitalism in its death agony?” —The Journal of Albion Moonlight
To begin with, fascism is not an economic system nor a stage of economic development. It’s not a religion nor an anti-religion. It isn’t cultural tastes or outlook. It is a form of rule.
Do We Have Fascism in America?
The form of rule that we have in America is limited democracy. It is not as limited as it was before, say, the Civil War, nor even as limited as it was before Roe V Wade or Brown V Board of Education. One might notice that it’s more limited now than it was before the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United. But democracy in America is limited and always has been. We may have fascists in America, but we don’t have fascism. They haven’t taken over. At least not yet.
Democracy Opposes Fascism
When limited democracy just isn’t working well for the people in charge, they are left with fascism as their next option. The only other option would be to stop being the people in charge. In other words, fascism is a choice that desperate rulers make.
From their point of view, fascism is not as efficient as limited democracy because their workers in general willingly support them, but, from the the rulers’ point of view, it’s a lot better than giving up power.
If the corporate rulers of America decide that limited democracy isn’t working well for them any more, they will try to institute fascist rule.
Hitler Made a Deal
In Germany after World War I, the limited democracy imposed by the victors was called the Weimar Republic. It had so much debt and so many problems that it was weak. The communists and socialists, on the other hand, were on a roll. Hitler and his Nazis offered the German ruling class a way to maintain power by killing off the activists and destroying the democratic forces. In desperation, the rulers bought it.
The great powers of the day — United States, England, and France — liked the idea well enough because they had their own problems with socialists and communists. They allowed Hitler to take power, re-arm, and, just for practice, destroy the Spanish Republic.
Bolsonaro Made a Deal
Recently in Brazil, forces based on the trade union movement brought a flourishing democracy to replace the military dictatorship. It was working out great for the working people, but not so well for the capitalists. Using their control over the judiciary, they were able to jail the leaders of the democratic movement and put Jair Bolsonaro into power. Like fascists before him, he spews a lot of very divisive hatred.
They call him the Tropical Trump, and he’s a special friend of the White House here.
What’s All the Confusion?
The confusion about fascism is deliberate.
Ronald Reagan said that liberals were fascists. In one of the greatest examples of doublespeak of all time, Winston Churchill said that anti-fascists are fascists!
The Underlying Reason for Fascism
Capitalists do not prefer fascism. They prefer the efficiency of limited democracy for their rule. But they are doing something that they cannot help doing — piling up wealth for themselves at the expense of working people. Since the end of the Vietnam War, rich capitalists have taken an astonishing percentage of the world’s wealth. This year, 24 capitalists own more wealth than half the people on the planet!
It should be obvious that they can’t count on the cooperation of the people on the losing end. If we aren’t cooperating with them, then limited democracy isn’t working. The capitalists see that even better than we do.
Incipient Fascism At Home
A lot of really nasty people with billions of dark dollars are already working to establish fascism in the United States. Like their co-thinkers in Europe, they have seized on immigrants as their “threat from the other,” just the same way that Hitler and Mussolini used Jews.
In order to keep the democratic forces divided, they also throw in a lot of homophobia, religious intolerance, nationalism, and racism. The institutions of democracy such as freedom of information and the right to organize are their special targets. It worked for Hitler and it works for them. Since 1980, when the capitalists recognized that their hold was slipping, they have made a lot of progress. Mr. Trump makes a fairly good figurehead for them.
How Close Are We to Facism?
As this is written, the fascist forces have already provoked a phony constitutional crisis by refusing to recognize American law and democracy. In our ignorance, a lot of Americans support them. What they need now is the same thing that Hitler and Mussolini needed to smash democracy and establish fascist rule — a war.
Iranians are being demonized. There is an aircraft carrier task force in the Persian Gulf….
I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program 89.3 FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site.