Gramsci wrote that the period between the existing order’s stablity and the existing order’s downfall is the time of monsters. Fascism, which Gramsci had personal experience with from being imprisoned under Mussolini’s Italy, is a symptom of capitalism’s decline. Therefore it can be seen as the bid for survival by a doomed old system, full of bluster but ultimately impotent. This is the only encouraging thing I can take away from the frightening state that the capitalist world has entered into.
There have been deportrations, racist terror, national oppression, and other current horrors for as long as the capitalist state has existed, and all the way back to when its correlating factor of colonialism began. But fascism, especially in the second great wave it’s now undergoing, represents an especially extreme kind of threat within capitalism’s history. It represents the danger that the ruling class, in an attempt to stop humanity from breaking free of capitalism, will end up destroying a large portion of humanity. Of course, capitalism and colonialism already have killed hundreds of millions. But hundreds of millions more will die, if not billions, should fascism fulfill its goal of building upon these genocides.
In the context of climate catastrophe and the nuclear age, the potential for tragedy is unprecedented. Estimates show that tens of millions of lives could be lost due to the impacts of global warming throughout this century. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has concluded that humanity is closer than ever to nuclear war. With the degradation of the global ecology, and the warming of the planet, there’s a likelihood that worse pandemics than Covid-19 will arise during our generation. All of these factors are warning signs for genocide. With reactionary regimes like Hindutva fascist India and Bolsonaro’s Brazil overwhelmingly leading the world’s major powers, the way governments respond to this century’s crises will be centered around the scapegoating of vulnerable groups, the militarization of society, and the erosion of freedoms.
It will be a repeat of the way the capitalist states acted when faced with the Great Depression nearly a century ago, except now there’s not just a new depression, but a climate crisis. As well as new technologies for governments to use to enact violence. Mass digital surveillance, online censorship, border walls with intensive monitoring systems, and the use of modern military weapons in policing are all repressive tools employed by Israel against the Palestinians, for instance. And these tools are getting exported to numerous other countries in the imperialist sphere. This is the making of a dystopia, where the evils within places like Gaza get expanded to poor communities across the globe.
But we don’t have to wait to see these kinds of nightmare scenarios. The collapse risk factors that capitalism has created, largely by the deliberate designs of U.S. imperialism, have already had grievous human costs during recent years. The U.S. empire has taken advantage of global warming to set off the war in Syria, and is driving forward its cold war against China by manufacturing humanitarian crises across Africa. Global inequality and neoliberal exploitation have caused six million to die from Covid so far. Washington’s fascist coup in Ukraine has brought war back to Europe, which arms contractors seek to perpetuate for profit.
Beyond Ukraine, with its six million conflict refugees and its Third Reich-esque atrocities by the Kiev regime, imperialism’s fomenting of war and instability throughout the Global South has produced history’s biggest refugee crisis. Which has fueled a rising fascist movement across the core imperialist countries, whose people are reeling from an ever-worsening depression and looking for something to blame. With class consciousness expanding among the global proletariat and the lumpen, the bourgeoisie are determined to stoke hatred among the frustrated middle class, which is fascism’s social base. The goal is to weaponize this class against the majority of the masses who may support a revolution. Which will entail the counterrevolutionary tactics from Nazi Germany, military regime-era Indonesia, Pinochet’s Chile, and history’s other examples of regimes which have carried out anti-communist extermination campaigns.
The goal of these campaigns is to terrorize the masses into submission. Ukraine under the post-coup regime provides a current example; Kiev has used the National Guard to commit atrocities against civilians, aided neo-Nazi militias that have beaten communists, enabled pogroms, banned books, tortured political dissidents, and detained or killed its opponents using slogans like “one less traitor.” The fact that all of this has been assisted by the United States government is an ominous sign for the American people, and for those throughout the rest of the U.S. bloc. Our government is waging war against abortion access and LGBT people, with reactionary lawmakers rapidly assaulting civil and human rights. Where is this leading? We can get a clue from the full-on Nazism that our governmental officials, including its liberals, are supporting. The ruling class will ally with fascists in order to preserve its own power, and imperialism is aiding fascism’s takeover.
The racial mass shootings we keep seeing are part of this process. Random violence is good for the fascist movement, because fascism’s entire objective is to wage war against those it deems inferior. The more fear these attacks instill, the more the movement succeeds. This is why the ruling class, through its reactionary media demagogues, has nurtured a pipeline of hate. A pipeline that runs through Ukraine, where many U.S. white supremacists go to get combat experience for the violence they plan to commit at home.
Fear is the most important tool that the fascists and their ruling class backers have. And in this moment of unraveling for our institutions, economy, environment, and safety, fear’s potency is multiplied. One gets the sense that something inconceivably bad is coming, perhaps sooner than we think. The fascists seek to weaponize this dread. But this means that if we master fear, we can resist them.
The demobilization of the masses comes from keeping us atomized, from making us feel like we have no one to turn to as our conditions worsen. Building communities is how to overcome this aloneness. But it has to go along with a correct theoretical understanding of what our conditions are, and of how we must respond to those conditions. If we merely react to our circumstances, engaging in undisciplined violence and setting up insular political cults, we’ll only harm the interests of the masses. It’s through a dedication to learning theory, to criticism and self-criticism, to building ties with the masses, that we can win. These aspects of revolutionary intelligence are just as important as building one’s body, and training with weapons, and studying martial arts.
This is because whereas the fascists thrive off of unpredictable spatterings of bloodshed, as their strategy is to incite fear wherever possible, communists have the opposite strategy. We seek to make the masses as safe and secure as possible, which requires earning their trust as the protectors of communities, the providers of essential resources, and the sources of hope for a future free from today’s miseries. The fascists are at war with the masses, while we fight on the side of the masses. But we need to act like we do, which requires putting the interests of the collective before the interests of the individual. Our dire conditions can make us feel like retreating into individualism, like lashing out at the world. But that’s what the enemy wants us to do.—————————————————————————
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