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Posts Tagged ‘fascism’

“The interpretation of fascism as an instrument of big business has been classic since Daniel Guerin. But the seriousness of his analysis conceals a central error. Most of the “marxist” studies maintain the idea that, in spite of everything, fascism was avoidable in 1922 or 1933. Fascism is reduced to a weapon used by capitalism at a certain moment. According to these studies capitalism would not have turned to fascism if the workers’ movement had exercised sufficient pressure rather than displaying its sectarianism. Of course we wouldn’t have had a “revolution”, but at least Europe would have been spared Nazism, the camps, etc. Despite some very accurate observations on social classes, the State, and the connection between fascism and big business, this perspective succeeds in missing the point that fascism was the product of a double failure; the defeat of the revolutionaries who were crushed by the social democrats and their liberal allies; followed by the failure of the liberals and social democrats to manage Capital effectively. The nature of fascism and its rise to power remain incomprehensible without studying the class struggles of the preceding period and their limitations.”

– Gilles Dauve, Fascism/Antifascism. Translation of 

« Bilan » Contre-Révolution en Espagne. Edmonton, Black Cat Press: 1982. 

(via forestrebel)

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“The rise of Fascism around the world has been happening quickly and it’s a lot to take in. So we wanted to take a minute to review the electoral gains made by anti-immigrant & far-right movements here in Québec and Ontario over the past few months.

It’s only been a month since François Legault’s CAQ won a majority government in Québec and they’ve already made it clear that they intend to decrease the amount of immigrants arriving in the province, make new immigrants take language and ‘values’ tests, ban non-Christian religious symbols in the civil service, and further privatize the health care system.

In Ontario, it’s been over four months since Doug Ford’s PC party won a majority and they’ve already rolled back minimum wage & basic workplace protections, privatized prescription drug insurance, returned elementary & high schools to a 1998 sex-ed curriculum, and threatened to withhold funding from universities that won’t host Fascist speakers.While both these right-wing parties were influenced & supported by far-right movements, neither are themselves Fascist.

 But in the short time since their victories, we’ve started to see more explicitly white nationalist candidates become electorally viable.

In Toronto’s mayoral election this past week, white nationalist Faith Goldy came in 3rd place. She beat the only leftist candidate in the race and received over 25,000 votes.In Mississauga’s recent mayoral election, far-right anti-Muslim candidate Kevin Johnston came in 2nd place, receiving over 16,000 votes. He accomplished this while also defending himself in court over hate crime charges.

Elections aren’t accurate measures of popular opinion. And as Anarchists, we don’t put stock in them as vehicles for the kind of political change we need. In fact, we strongly believe that attempts to achieve state power are not the answer. The reason we’re focusing on elections is because they’re becoming an increasingly possible bridge between far-right movements and the state power they desire.

Now, the Canadian government certainly doesn’t need Fascists at its helm to continue the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples, to promote imperialism around the world, repress labour in the name of capital, or to continue to impose systems of structural white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and cis-heteronormativity onto the territories it stole through colonization. But today’s growing Fascist & other far-right movements are beginning to view the prospect of state power as a realistic horizon. And this prospect represents a mode of state repression that we’re largely unequipped to resist.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t coming out of nowhere. The rapid growth of the far-right has been made possible by decades of centre-right political gains.

While a lot of attention has been paid to the way far-right groups have influenced and supported certain parties and candidates, the lines of support and influence are in fact cyclical, flowing in both directions.

On a national level, you can draw a straight line between the Liberals’ post-911 fear mongering (the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ and ‘Public Safety’ acts, the use of Security Certificates against Muslim men, Project Thread & other baseless cases brought against Muslims), the Conservatives’ mid-2000s anti-Muslim attacks (the ‘Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices’ act, attempts to ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab, the proposed hotline for people to make accusations against Muslim neighbours), and the growth of anti-Muslim groups like PEGIDA Canada or the WCAI. 

 A similar line can be drawn between the anti-immigrant discourse of the Liberals’ border policy reforms (shifting from immigrants to ‘temporary foreign workers’ in the 1990s, the creation of the CBSA), the Conservatives’ expansion of those policies in the mid-2000s (referring to refugees as criminals, vastly reducing new immigrants, increasing ‘temporary foreign workers’, detentions, and deportations), and the recent growth of anti-immigrant groups like the Soldiers of Odin, Storm Alliance, or the Northern Guard.

In Ontario, 8 years of PC attacks on poor and working people, massive transfers of wealth and reductions of social services, followed by 15 years of Liberal Party ‘austerity,’ created public messaging (and a dire economic context) that now undergirds most far-right organizing in the province. 

Over the past 25 years, both parties consistently attacked organized labour, built public support against them, and normalized back to work legislation as a means to end strikes for good. It’s not surprising that workers experience attacks and death threats at picket lines today.

On a more local level, a quick survey of the wards where Faith Goldy drew the most support closely resembles the map of Rob Ford’s support base, built back in 2010 & since expanded by his brother. Again, the far-right’s growth isn’t coming out of nowhere.People have been well primed for Fascism by exposure to decades of racist, nationalist, and capitalist propaganda from the Canadian political mainstream. 

As far-right media outlets like The Rebel have begun to eclipse more mainstream publications, it’s easy to forget how much groundwork was laid before their arrival.In Québec, over a decade of multi-party anti-Muslim rhetoric laid the groundwork for the growth of far-right anti-Muslim groups like La Meute, Atalante, and last year’s mass murder at the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Between the Liberals’ ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ debate & Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the PQ’s ‘Charter of Quebec Values’, the Liberals’ Bill 62, and the CAQ’s upcoming ban on non-Christian religious symbols, there’s been an anti-Muslim consensus within Québec’s political mainstream.

Politicians in Québec have spent years stoking xenophobia to harness fading nationalist sentiment, now successfully mobilized against Muslims and immigrants on a mass level. This has translated into mass support for far-right groups in Québec, who have been growing rapidly and increasing their influence on (and proximity to) state power.In Ontario, support for the far-right hasn’t reached the same level but it’s growing. And these movements are beginning to use elections to normalize their ideas and expand their base. 

With media outlets like The Rebel and Ontario Proud now reaching wider audiences than most mainstream publications, this growth seems set to continue.

In this context, we need to take the far-right’s aspirations for state power more seriously and understand how elections increasingly fit into their strategy. But responding with leftist electoral campaigns is a strategy doomed to cooptation and failure. 

Only by building popular resistance to the ideas of both the far-right and the political mainstream that paved their way (including false electoral solutions) can we win. Because if the Fascists achieve state power, it won’t matter how good we are at fighting them in the streets.”

– Treyf, “The Far-Right and Recent Elections in Ontario & Québec.” October 26, 2018.

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“We crave hearing that we’re alright, we’re not alone, we’re accepted in spite of our flaws. Belonging is an essential human need. (Fascists understand this basic fact; neoliberals don’t.) Loneliness, it turns out, negatively affects not only our psychological well-being, but also our physical health. And yet we have apparently chosen, via liberal democracy, to live according to a system of social organization that requires us to be jumpy paranoids, suspicious of everyone and terrified of our own potential mistakes. Believers in capitalist liberal democracies may cluck at the over-the-top Maoist inquisitions devoted to revolutionary self-criticism, but our society encourages us to practice the same extravagant self-loathing, only privately. That’s why America’s vast therapeutic brain trust has steadily eradicated the language of solidarity and class consciousness, honed through collective struggle, and replaced it with exhortations to “do what you love” and “live your best life.” Both aphorisms imply that what we’re currently doing is not enough.

…But here’s the truly wonderful thing about neoliberalism—as it turns us all into paranoid, jealous schemers, it offers to sell us bromides to ameliorate the very bad feelings of self-doubt and alienation it conjures in our dark nights of the soul. Neoliberalism has not only given us crippling anxiety, but also its apparent remedy. It is no coincidence that as we become more nervous, “wellness” and “self-care” have become mainstream industries. Over the last few decades, workplaces have become ever more oppressive, intensely tracking workers’ bodies, demanding longer hours, and weakening workers’ bargaining rights while also instituting wellness and mentoring programs on an ever greater scale.

Occasionally, the contradiction of punitive, intrusive “wellness” becomes too ridiculous to bear and cracks under its own weight. One oft-mentioned catalyst for the recent teacher strike in West Virginia was a proposal to mandate the monitoring of teachers’ bodily movement via Fitbit just as the state government moved to limit pay raises and school funding. Capitalism will deplete you, while letting you think you have the means to improve your lot. Indeed, it will attempt to force its therapy on you. In the case of West Virginia’s top-down Taylorist wellness crusade, the state authorities clearly overplayed their hand; far more common are employer-sponsored initiatives, whether packaged as mindfulness training or meditation classes, that have been inserted into our working lives to help us talk ourselves down. Mindfulness—a state of hyper-awareness tempered with disciplined calm—has become the corporate mantra du jour. By encouraging increasingly put-upon employees to assume tree poses or retreat into an om in the face of frustration, corporate overlords mean to head off any mutinous stirrings before they have a chance to gain momentum. Even if CEOs themselves occasionally adopt these regimes with apparent sincerity, mindfulness serves the companies’ bottom lines first and foremost because it is fundamentally anti-revolutionary. “It’s hard not to notice how often corporate mindfulness aligns seamlessly with layoffs,” Laura Marsh writes. “Employees need a sense of calm too when their employer is flailing. Those productivity gains—an extra sixty-nine minutes of focus per employee per month—count for more when the ranks are thinning.”

…It’s also no coincidence that the politician who presided over the final triumph of neoliberalism as American social and economic common sense was Bill “I Feel Your Pain” Clinton. Clinton threw poor single mothers off of public assistance, but any cost-cutting pol can do that. Clinton’s gift was that he could make even self-identified left-liberals feel good about such punitive policy shifts, by making it appear that they were in fact helping these women help themselves. In many ways, Clinton’s sleight of hand encapsulates neatly the narcissistic feedback loop of neoliberal positivity, which focuses on what feels good, rather than what is gracious and just.”

– Miya Tokumitsu, “Tell Me It’s Going to be OK.” The Baffler, Issue 41. 

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“It is at the same time that the State apparatus appropriates
the war machine, subordinates it to its “political” aims, and gives it
war as its direct object.  And  it is one and  the same historical
tendency
that causes State to evolve from a triple point of view: going from
figures of encastment to forms of appropriation proper, going from
limited war to so-called total war, and transforming the relation
between aim and object. The factors that make State war total war are
closely connected to capitalism: it has to do with the investment of
constant capital in equipment, industry, and the war economy, and the
investment of variable capital in the population in its physical and
mental aspects (both as warmaker and as victim of war). Total war is
not only a war of annihilation but arises when annihilation takes as its
“center” not only the enemy army, or the enemy State, but the entire
population and its economy. The fact  that this double investment can be
made only under prior conditions of limited war  illustrates the
irresistible  character of the capitalist tendency to develop total
war.

We could say that the appropriation has changed
direction, or rather that States tend to unleash, reconstitute, an
immense war machine of which they are no longer anything more than the
opposable or apposed parts. This worldwide war machine, which in away
“reissues” from the States, displays two successive figures: first, that
of fascism, which makes war an unlimited movement with no other aim
than itself; but fascism is only a rough sketch, and the second,
post-fascist, figure is that of a war machine that takes peace as its
object directly, as the peace of Terror or Survival. The war machine
reforms a smooth space that now claims to control, to surround the
entire earth. Total war itself is surpassed, toward a form of peace
more terrifying still. The war machine has taken charge of the aim,
worldwide order, and the States are now no more than objects or means
adapted to that  machine. This is the point at which Clausewitz’s
formula is effectively reversed; to be entitled to say that politics is
the continuation of war by other means, it is not enough to invert the
order of the words as if they could be spoken in either direction; it is
necessary to follow the real movement at the conclusion of which the
States, having appropriated a war machine, and having adapted it to
their aims, reimpart a war machine that  takes charge  of the aim,
appropriates the States, and assumes increasingly wider political
functions.

Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. We have
watched the war machine grow stronger and stronger, as in a science
fiction story; we have seen it assign as its objective a peace still
more terrifying than fascist death; we have seen it maintain or
instigate the most terrible of local wars as parts of itself; we have
seen it set its  sights on a new type of enemy, no longer another State,
or even another regime, but the  "unspecified enemy"; we have seen it
put its counterguerrilla elements into place, so that it can be caught
by surprise once, but not twice. Yet the very conditions that make the
State or World war machine possible,  in other words, constant capital
(resources and equipment) and human variable capital, continually
recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforeseen
initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority, mutant
machines. The definition of the Unspecified Enemy testifies to this:
“multiform, maneuvering and omnipresent… of the moral, political,
subversive or economic  order, etc.,” the unassignable material Saboteur
or human Deserter assuming the most diverse forms.”

– Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, “1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY—THE WAR MACHINE” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. pp. 420-422

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“Fascists, But Race Apart From Italians,” Ottawa Citizen. August 3, 1938. Page 01.

These dark-hued, new little recruits to Fascism may wave Italian flags to their hearts’ content in the streets of Addis Abada – but they never may grow to call themselves Italians. The Italian government is seeing to it that they are kept a race apart from the white colonizers of Ethiopia.

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“In every democratic nation there are fascist political parties. Sometimes, they don’t have a lot of impact for a long time, but they do exist nevertheless. Fascists are people who are politically organised on the common ground that they see their own nation sold out by their own government. Sold out, because that very government allegedly governed their people in a wrong way, meaning they would admit “the wrong” people and would govern “our own” too laxly, which would undermine motivation and decency. Wherever governments strengthen the dependency on other countries by making trade agreements or forming political alliances because they count on a positive outcome for their nation, it’s the fascists who smell a sellout of the homeland.

This standpoint of fascists is kept alive and even strengthened by democratic parties. Every democratic party finds it reasonable to be sceptical about „foreigners“. Even where some might aim for a liberalisation of immigration law or for making naturalisation easier, it would still be stressed that this process should definitely depend on successful “integration” of these foreigners. It is taken for granted that foreigners always lack real patriotism – the one natives know before they are out of diapers. Every democratic party finds a lack of morale in the people, no matter if the occasion is a debate over fiscal evasion or on benefit scroungers. Every democratic party stresses that it only acts for the national common good when it, for example, signs an international treaty. Stressing that also means to hint at the other side of the medal: in any international business one’s own national interests are at risk of being undermined by other nation-states. This is a prime subject of debate in parliamentary democracy: each party blames the others to have failed with regard to furthering the national interest or to even have thrown back the whole country by misgovernment. All those standpoints exist in every democracy. Fascists seize and radicalise them.

The EU and the Eurozone are associations of states each of which wants to advance its own power by joining together. Germany, for example, wanted to expand its already strong power in the world. Other nations, especially those in the south of Europe, wanted to get away from their agrarian economies and turn them into real capitalist ones. Both calculations seemed to have worked – until 2007.

The financial and sovereign debt crisis thwarted all of their plans. The countries in the European South had to subject themselves to a national scrappage programme simply for continued access to credit in Euro and without any perspective for further development. Germany does not want to pay a lot for those nation-states struck hardest by the crisis as they do not contribute to the German project of becoming a world power within and through a successful Europe.

In the public sphere it is the democratic parties which, at first, cast doubt whether everything worked according to plan in the past – in particular when they say: “carry on” regardless of the crisis. In contrast, fascist parties radicalised this doubt to the certainty that the whole EU and the Eurozone are one big sellout of the national interest.

The political elites have arrived at the conclusion that central political strategies have failed so far. This is one foundation of fascist success.

Secondly, for fascists parties to be successful it needs the people. Most people have no idea what the point of the Euro and its financial markets has been and continues to be. For the population it is patriotically obvious that painful cuts are required in the interest of the success of the nation when they think it is plausible that their own restrictions help the nation to achieve the greatness promised by politicians. For the same reason some countries saw mass protests because people do not accept that structural adjustment programmes lead the nation to greatness – as in their view those are merely imposed on them from abroad.

When large parts of the population now find it plausible to vote for fascist parties then this is not because they realised that nationally organised capitalism only means trouble for the satisfaction of needs and desires. But what they consider an inalienable right is the success of the nation itself. If that is threatened then they – as loyal subjects – become demanding and put their trust in parties which promise to stand for ruthless moralistic terror and systematic tightening of the figurative belt – without any concessions to foreign powers.

Antifascist activists remain helpless if they attempt to work with bourgeois parties and if they ignore their “arguments” (e.g. “foreigners and the EU are useful for the nation”) in coalitions – or even support these arguments. This bourgeois “invitation” not to follow the fascists contains the whole breeding ground for exactly these fascists. Instead what is needed is critique of those who judge the world around them – in good and bad times – as to how successful the nation is, instead of asking: what is my place, if others rule over me.”

– “Thesis on the swing to the right in Europe,” Gruppen Gegen Kapital und Nation.

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“The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war:

“For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic … Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others … Poets and artists of Futurism! … remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them!”

This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.”

– Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,“ 1936

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