21st century fascism is more dangerous than its predecessor, because it has the tools to inflict unprecedented harm

With the advent of colonialism, the state’s capacity for control was made far more wide-reaching, and far more intensive. This was by necessity, because the level of repression that had been normal under feudalism wasn’t adequate for the task which Europe’s bourgeois new ruling class had taken on. That task was to assimilate as much of the globe as possible into their extractive arrangement, which with the development of capitalism would require unprecedented proportions of exploitation in order to survive. Relative to the nature of the state in this new era, the medieval state had been extremely limited in its capacity to exercise sovereignty. 

The rulers of the ancient slave empires shared the absolutist impulses of modern dictatorships, but they lacked the technical means—mass record keeping, propaganda that could reach all of society with speed, law enforcement that could easily reach across entire regions—to be able to apply these impulses into practice. With the coming of new technologies like the printing press, and the unparalleled capacity for uprooting society that capital represented, states established new control systems that got more effective as innovations advanced. While the colonial powers expanded their reach, these systems became the dominant paradigm for global civilization.

This ubiquity of severe repression under capitalism and colonialism is why in a settler-colonial outgrowth like the United States, the essential policies of the capitalist repressive tool now known as fascism have always been in effect. All of the most necro-political policies that fascist states carry out—the deportation of entire populations, the enslavement and forced sterilization of targeted groups, the enforcement of racial hierarchies—have always defined the colonial powers. In the places where colonialism took on a localized form, in which settlers and their descendants were benefiting from the imperial extraction that took place on the same lands they lived on, these practices were taking place in the same vicinity as the ruling state. Therefore the state functioned virtually the same way a fascist state would. When the theories of fascism were written in the early 20th century, they naturally came to be incorporated into the U.S. political culture and governance. The only difference these theories made was that they provided ideological guidance for many of the state’s assistants, like the Nazis who were recruited to work for the military and the white supremacists who served as the state’s paramilitary fighters.

The more severe capital’s crises become, and the more U.S. imperialism declines, the more the ruling class makes alliances with fascism’s modern adherents. Washington has normalized a partnership with Ukrainian National Socialists, spreading Nazism across the U.S. and elsewhere. Reactionary politics is embracing an aggressive agenda targeting LGBTQ rights, women’s reproductive rights, and contraception, advancing a long-standing theocratic campaign to enforce puritanical values. Ethnic and religious nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, antisemitism, and other fascist ideas are proliferating as the ruling class comes to see them as useful weapons against the class struggle. Yet these developments being recent doesn’t mean that fascism is a new force in the imperial center. The basis for fascism has been here since before the USA’s founding, so its upsurge represents only an increase in the fascistic violence that our social system was founded upon.

This is a violence that’s developed accordingly with the rise of settler-colonialism. After the original imperial powers ceded most of their original colonies, four new benefactors of imperialist extraction were created, those being Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Because these places were founded on the dispossession of the indigenous peoples whose land they exist on, they’ve built upon the innovations in repression made by the European powers that produced them. It was the U.S. that perpetrated potentially history’s biggest genocide in the process of its colonization of Native lands, and that’s perpetuated a genocide against the descendants of its African slaves. In a more recent development for how settler-colonialism creates innovations in necro-politics, Australia has built some of the world’s most inhumane migrant camps, rivaled in their abusive caliber by the ones of the U.S.

These practices set an example for the first of the fascist dictators. The principal crimes of the Nazis, such as the Third Reich’s concentration camps, wars of aggression with the aim of seizing territory, eugenics sterilization campaigns, and creation of an apartheid system, were directly modeled off of what the U.S. did to indigenous and black people. Zionism, the newest facet of European settler-colonialism, has since provided the same type of guidance for today’s fascist and proto-fascist regimes. More than that, it’s directly provided the military and surveillance equipment that these regimes use to keep their people subdued. Israel’s project to annex and occupy Palestinian land has prompted it to create a new system for social control, one that’s placed the Palestinians in the most thoroughly constrained lifestyle that an open-air population has ever been subjected to. This system’s police training models, mass monitoring technology, and equipment for inflicting state violence have been exported to numerous governments, including that of the imperial center.

Zionism’s social control model is structured the way that a molecule is structured: an immensely complex array of particles, even the most minute among them playing a vital role in letting the wider body exist. Every detail in the routine of a Palestinian under occupation is carefully controlled and recorded. They need to pass through ubiquitous checkpoints in order to get to each end of the space they inhabit, which is severely limited. Everything they write and engage with on social media is watched by Israel, which prosecutes political offenders more severely the more clicks their posts get. The amount of food and water they can access is entirely up to the mercy of the Israelis, who use resource cutoffs as an unrelenting collective punishment. Their children are imprisoned by the occupier, and are even more often extrajudicially executed by the occupier’s military. In both the occupied Palestinian communities, and independent Palestinian states like Gaza, Israel is capable of watching very square foot. And freedom of movement doesn’t exist for the Gazans either, who are confined to their blockaded and routinely bombed city by surrounding militarized barriers.

The Israeli occupation is the model that’s incrementally being replicated by all of the imperialist states, and by all of the states that act in subservience to imperialism. Ukraine is advancing a plan to directly re-create Israel’s police state, allowing Kiev to maintain social control after Ukraine’s military exhaustion, economic shrinkage, and loss of its eastern territories. Repression intensifies in the places where the state has a war mentality towards the people under its jurisdiction, which grow more widespread as capitalism’s crises escalate.


This repression is not applied equally, nor to the same consequence, among the different sections of a population. This disparity is most obvious upon looking at a colonial country. The Israeli settlers also live under a police and surveillance state, but unlike the Arabs, they aren’t prejudicially treated like a dangerous element. They’re instead protected by the legal system, among the numerous other benefits of being settlers. 

They broadly embrace the mentality that someone has nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide, and that a strong police presence is necessary for keeping society safe, because of these advantages. They have their homes because the houses of the Palestinians whose land they live on have been demolished, and those original residents have been ethnically cleansed. They receive medicine and treatment in vastly greater amounts than Arabs do. They enjoy abundant access to the agricultural and irrigation systems that those under the occupation are barred from. A section of Israeli settlers are negatively impacted by neoliberal austerity, but they still don’t live on the side of the border that’s dominated by destitution and irreparable rubble. And poverty within Israel is overwhelmingly concentrated within the Palestinian communities.

Because this divide is so great, the Israelis as a whole lack revolutionary potential. Israel is not only a settler state, but a Nazi state, a state whose citizens have their economic interests built upon the forcible seizure of the colonized group’s land. A social base for overthrowing this state can only exist within the colonized population, and its tools for liberation can only be effective if the state becomes militarily overwhelmed and economically exhausted. In isolation, Zionism is a perfect social control system, because its basis in a proportionally large group that materially benefits from the subjugation of the colonized group provides it with insurance against the popular outrage of the subjugated group. As well as against any contradictions within the internal capitalist system of the occupier state. Zionism’s strength comes not from the sophistication of its policing and surveillance methods, but from how it cultivates a demographic that, by its nature as a social class, will never act in solidarity with the underclass who these repressive tools were created to contain.

The equivalent dynamic is present in all the other places where there’s an element which benefits from imperial or colonial extraction. The ruling class has prevented revolutions from happening in the imperialist countries, even after many generations of capitalist crises, by displacing the bulk of the poverty capitalism creates onto the peripheries. And in the settler states that benefit from imperialism, this displacement of capitalism’s costs is also applied to the indigenous first nations whose resources they exploit. In Canada, this combination of external and internal imperialism is the most effective at ensuring against the destabilizing impacts of capitalism’s contradictions. These contradictions are concentrated among the indigenous people, who are targeted by white supremacist police, disproportionately poor, and see their lands extracted from by corporations. Because these Natives were virtually exterminated, they make up a small minority, and lack the numerical advantage that would make them an immediate threat to the state. Inequality has been decreasing in Canada, even as it’s been going up at an accelerating pace virtually everywhere else, because the dominant white demographic has been provided with increasing extractive benefits from internal imperialism.

What threatens the imperial power structure, and compelled the countries throughout it to adopt Zionism’s coercive tools to a rising degree, is that Israel and Canada don’t exist in a vacuum. Neither do the United States, Canada, Britain, or the other places where the bourgeoisie have been able to cultivate a labor aristocracy. They’re all surrounded by an exploited global majority, which constantly threatens to throw off imperial control and make the existence of the oppressor countries untenable. 

This danger posed by the anti-imperialist struggle applies to Israel, which isn’t an imperial power but still depends on the prevention of global workers revolution to keep its capital strong. The more U.S. hegemony declines, and the less effective Washington becomes at carrying out counterrevolutions across the peripheries, the less the core countries can manage their internal contradictions. The more they become subject to capital’s crises, and can no longer act like they’re immune to the laws of history. Unemployment, inflation, worker discontent, and other potential revolutionary catalysts keep becoming more prevalent. Including within Canada, whose stability is dependent on the effectiveness of the United States as an imperial partner. Canada is only an appendage of the United States, which unlike Israel is too geographically and numerically large to maintain a vast proportion of people who benefit from the system. Whenever an economic shock happens in the center, it’s also felt to the north. The fragility of imperialism and colonialism has tangible material consequences, which magnify with each decade.

These contractions of capitalism, and the popular dissatisfaction that comes about from the resulting austerity policies, can be prevented from bringing an end to capital. By employing repressive means that are either intentionally modeled after those of Zionism, or reached simply through innovating in the ways of state violence, even states that govern overwhelmingly impoverished populations can maintain their rule. The essential goal of these tools is to break the wills of those who’ve set themselves up against the system, or who are part of the groups that have a material interest in joining the resistance effort. 

With the last generation’s introduction of unprecedented technologies for war and repression, such as military drones and border surveillance blimps, the state has gained the best tools for counterrevolution it’s ever had. The biggest among these tools is a digital surveillance apparatus that’s capable of monitoring anyone at any time, allowing for them to be targeted with ease and for their past mistakes to be readily weaponized against them. These mistakes can also be fabricated into existence by the intelligence centers, which are partnering with Ukraine’s terrorists to list U.S. anti-war figures as targets for assassination.

The essential goal of every aspect of counterrevolutionary warfare is to keep the people demobilized. Or in instances where liberation struggles are strong, to make the people newly demobilized, after which the focus shifts to perpetuating this situation of popular inaction. The most bloody examples of this destruction of revolutionary politics are found in the history of global imperialist interference. In Indonesia during the Cold War’s geopolitical turning point, a CIA military coup happened in response to the influence that the country’s communist party had gained. The party’s members, and everyone else who was identified as potentially having socialist leanings, were then exterminated, bringing about the deaths of at least one million. 

This model of installing juntas that terrorized the populations into submission was then applied within many of the other peripheral countries, letting capitalism win the Cold War. After Ukraine’s own coup at the start of the new cold war, U.S. imperialism facilitated a parallel terror campaign, backing the new fascist regime in burning protesters alive and unleashing Nazi militias against the communists. Shortly after, the communist party itself was banned, before eventually every other one of the country’s opposition parties became illegalized. The imperialists seek to prove Ukraine’s fascist takeover as the moment in history that lets them win the 21st century’s geopolitical competition as well.

Even though communist parties still operate underground in Indonesia and Ukraine, they have marginal hope for victory unless the imperial center undergoes revolution, and there’s no longer a hegemon to defend these regimes from revolutionary efforts. Until then, the workers of these and most other peripheral or semi-peripheral countries will continue to live under deteriorating conditions. As Ukrainian repression gets more thorough, the imperialists exploit its conflict to impose further neoliberal shock policies. As inequality in Indonesia keeps rising, and the climate crisis grows so severe that the country is relocating its capital due to rising sea levels, the government has again formalized the criminalization of pro-communist sentiments. 

Parallel examples of these combining factors—intensification of necro-politics and policies that make revolution even further from reach—can be found everywhere from Ecuador, to India, to the imperialist countries themselves. In Peru, where a counterrevolutionary coup has prevailed as it presently stands, the country’s Israeli-trained military officials are advancing a terror campaign. Protesters are being massacred, and anyone who speaks out against the coup is being targeted with cyberattacks and death threats.

In Colombia, where the repressive state has been strengthened by both Nazi ideology and Israeli military technology, the fascists who’ve guided the war against the people have come to a theory on how a population can be suppressed. This theory is that whenever resistance to capital appears in any form, no matter how peaceful, those participating in it should be placed in the same category as military combatants. The ultra-nationalist security strategists behind this idea support their argument through a broader narrative, which is that the culture is fundamentally under attack from the LGBT community. “Gender ideology” is the label they use for this alleged social threat. All of these measures—the construction of a maximally thorough repressive system, the weaponization of paramilitaries, the manufacturing of crises blamed on targeted groups—make up the process unfolding within the imperial center.


Imperialism’s ideal outcome is that the seven Latin American governments which have decried the Peru coup will also be replaced with ones that are loyal to the U.S. But this isn’t any more realistic than a victory for Washington in the Ukraine proxy war, or a reversal of the BRI’s progress in undoing neo-colonial inequities. A fascist coup may still succeed in Colombia due to its new leftist government’s deals for disarmament with the revolutionary militias, but even that isn’t guaranteed, and the other disobedient countries pose too much of a challenge. Despite imperialism’s momentary triumph in Peru, which may be reversed should the coup government be pressured into holding new elections, the empire’s decline can’t be stopped. It still won’t be able to expand into new markets, forcing a contraction that’s accelerating as the economy unravels. This is why the U.S. ruling class is orchestrating a campaign to instigate reactionary paranoia in the same vein as that of Colombia’s, which entails a fortification of the repressive state.

In the United States, fascism doesn’t need a coup in order to activate its designs. A successful fascist coup may or may not happen in the U.S. during its imperial decline, but fascism will successfully come to dominate its bourgeois political system in any case. Unlike in pre-coup Indonesia, the presence of a brutally reactionary state structure is already normal for the USA. The country in itself has always been an occupation of forcibly annexed land, and it’s always enforced a paradigm of violence against the descendants of the African slaves. This paradigm has evolved from chattel slavery, to apartheid laws, to a modified version of apartheid in the form of mass incarceration. During the War on Terror, with the transferring of military equipment to police departments and the Israeli training of U.S. law enforcement, the existing routine of racial police brutality has been made more frequent. As the flow of arms to police accelerates, so does the thickening of this occupation of nonwhite neighborhoods.

These steps to strengthen the racial repressive apparatus extend to the criminal justice system. The War on Drugs continues to expand, the government regularly making it easier to target the social class that the war was intended to contain. Which makes it even easier for the state to employ its regular practice of framing those in the black and indigenous resistance movements, and incarcerating them for life. The war against whistleblowers, and the use of torture techniques like solitary confinement against these political prisoners, has involved methods that have been directed towards black and indigenous people for generations. With the newer suppressions of journalism, free expression, and reproductive liberties, the vastly excessive imprisonment standards that were already there are becoming more wide-ranging. Like how the construction of the Guantanamo torture facility after 9/11, and the indefinite detentions of spurious “terrorism” suspects it involved, took place after mass incarceration had normalized these kinds of practices.

The narrative and cultural basis for these civil and social freedoms crackdowns mirror the ones within Indonesia’s recent repressive tightening. To set a precedent for further human rights abuses, the Indonesian state has instituted an operating procedure of denial when responding to the bulk of accusations about past rights violations. It’s worked to minimize the true scope of the military dictatorship’s actions, allowing for lack of democratic accountability as the country again shifts away from open society. In another step towards a fully “closed” societal paradigm, Indonesia has also criminalized sex outside of marriage, a policy that targets the LGBT community since gay marriage is illegal.

These developments parallel how the U.S. fascist movement is working to suppress material documenting the history of systemic racism, and to suppress contraceptives, abortion, and gay or transgender freedoms. Fascism seeks to fully enforce sexual control over society because sexual control is a mechanism for making its policies of class warfare practicable. With the destruction of social freedoms comes the destruction of civil freedoms, allowing for socialist and anti-imperialist thoughts to be criminalized. Attacks against the decolonial liberation effort are enabled by this as well, shown by how the Supreme Court’s recent repeal of nationwide abortion protection has gone along with a ruling diminishing tribal jurisdiction.

With the expansion of Washington’s wars to the European front, the criminalization of dissent against imperialism has been allowed to grow more pronounced. This doesn’t look like the old practices of jailing anti-war speakers for interfering with military recruitment propaganda, because conscription was abandoned after Vietnam and the military now relies on the neoliberal era’s “poverty draft.” Instead, it looks like raids against black communist organizations in retaliation for their taking substantial steps towards countering the Ukraine psyop. This repression applies whether or not the FBI is using its “black identity extremist” label, which is more associated with Republican administrations. Because the Democratic Party uses the FBI to target black liberation movements for being anti-imperialist, both parties in effect enforce the same racially focused political repression policy. Just like how they both advance austerity, the suppression of unions, Zionism, and the war against immigrants.

The way the U.S. ruling class is making neoconservatism fully bipartisan is by cultivating a synthesis between the Democratic neocon militarist mentality, and the Republican “gender ideology” paranoia. The electoral psyop machine is doing this by campaigning to elevate Ron DeSantis, the anti-LGBT governor whose history as a War on Terror torturer by default gives him militaristic credentials. Whatever happens in the next election cycle, the outcome of these trends will be a solidification of fascism within the American political system, and within the states that act according to imperialism’s interests. Eastern Europe, the Latin American countries that can be maintained or regained as neo-colonies, eastern hemisphere neo-colonies like Indonesia, new cold war proxies like India, and all of the imperialist countries can only continue to grow more fascistic. Their states view the mobilization of the bourgeoisie’s fighting wing as the only defense against growing crises, and against a rising potential for global class conflict.

These measures don’t make the ruling class invincible. The clandestine revolutionary forces will continue to operate, and will have potential to gain leverage over their bourgeois dictatorships as global warming weakens states worldwide. Until such a switch in the power balance comes, the capitalist state will be able to use the climate crisis to fortify its control. The influxes of refugees are becoming perpetually larger not only because of the global destabilization from Washington’s recent wars, sanctions, and coups. It’s also because the climate is all the time having a more destructive impact on the livelihoods of those within the places where this chaos has appeared. Imperialism has produced a feedback loop of necro-politics, where more and more inhabitants of the peripheries are forced to seek asylum in the imperial center. Because the center is itself becoming ever poorer and less stable, it keeps getting easier to instill anti-immigrant resentment in the social elements that are most susceptible to fascism. The xenophobic argument in the age of climate crisis and neoliberal decay is that resources are becoming ever scarcer, mandating that the people of the peripheries aren’t allowed to partake in the core’s wealth.

Like the War on Drugs, the border enforcement effort is presented as an operation by professionals to ensure safety. In practice, it’s an engineered humanitarian crisis, where adults and children alike are detained in facilities that lack proper sanitation, food supplies, or systems for stopping abuse by the guards. The network of camps is always growing, and is used to hold not just undocumented immigrants but many U.S. citizens. Activists and journalists are among the detainees, making for an expansion of the secret prison system established during the first years of the War on Terror. The war against immigrants has placed many others under severe state control by proxy, particularly when Gaza border technologies have been incorporated into the process. Israeli surveillance towers, capable of detecting any outdoor movement within a radius of several miles, have been placed along the border. This has altered the daily lives of the local communities, including the indigenous ones. Ultimately the chain of towers will be expanded to the northern border, and to the ports.

The purpose of these and the other aspects of the surveillance state is to allow for the detention of any person who’s been judged as a threat to the social order. The aim is to systematically break the capacity of these targets to mobilize against the system. Whether or not they’ve committed a political offense, they’re treated like a political offender, because breaking the state’s conduct codes is enough to reveal oneself as part of a social element that poses risk to the state. Abortion, gender nonconformity, sexual practices that go against religious orthodoxy, and the other acts that illicit anger in the reactionary mind are to be suppressed with increasing severity. As are the acts that directly challenge the social order, whether exposing governmental abuses or teaching school material that reveals systemic injustice. In American fascism’s propaganda campaign, these types of offenses—cultural and political—are portrayed as among the same category, the category of crimes against the very basis of civilization.

The purpose of the prison, when it applies to political prisoners, is to set an example of the persecution victims. The same is to an extent true for the moral offenders, who are political prisoners in a broader sense. But for those who’ve directly set themselves up against the ruling class, when the state incarcerates them, tortures them, and subjects them to slow executions by prolonged bodily mistreatment, the aim is entirely to make it apparent that this can be done to anyone who challenges the social order. And for both the political and cultural criminals, the nature of the persecution is that of maintaining power for those now in power. The ruling class, and the relatively comfortable wider minority that makes up fascism’s social base, hold the power in society because they believe they’re deserving of it. Those they believe aren’t deserving of it need to be shown where their place is.

Reversing the decline of the U.S. empire is no longer a practical goal for the ruling class. Its fate is to diminish in its reach, mandating that the conditions of the core become more like those of the neo-colonies. This is true in both an economic sense, where the exploitation of the core’s proletariat is intensified, and in a political sense, where the repression of the peripheral dictatorships is directed towards the core’s people. Though the militaristic projects will continue to the greatest extent possible, the rational maneuver for the elites is to solidify their social control in the empire’s interior. Militarized local law enforcement, the secret police of the intelligence centers, mass surveillance, paramilitarism, the carceral state, private military companies, and the immigrant detention network are the mechanisms that will be used to wage war against a society whose living standards continue falling. 

One of the major social elements with potential for revolutionary mobilization is the felons, who live surveilled and disenfranchised lifestyles in the millions. They have the least to lose from waging a revolt, and they’re the hardest to assimilate into the Democratic Party due to their detachment from bourgeois interests. Which is why domestic counterinsurgency is to increasingly rely on COINTELPRO organizational disruption tactics, mercenary policing, and militarized police. Ultimately, military interventions within U.S. borders are what the effort to prevent revolution will look like. Should this counterinsurgency succeed, like how the bourgeoisie won Peru’s civil war, what follows will be more thoroughly repressive than ever. As the critical theorist Walter Benjamin said, behind every fascism is a failed revolution.


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