On fascism
Source Carrol Cox
Date 02/10/01/22:45

Lisa Stolarski wrote:
> I don't think your rant is mindless, Michael.  I really do believe we are
> watching the rise of a "kinder, sneakier fascism."  It is just as racist and
> as violent as the old fascism, but more totalitarian and therefore more
> sublimated, couched in euphemisms about ending world hunger and such.

Let's leave aside what was an aberration even for "fascism," the
Holocaust. Let's also get rid of that word "totalitarianism," the
primary reason for its use being to equate Stalin with Hitler. (I'm
neither defending nor attacking Stalin, I'm just assuming that the
equation is useless for purposes of understanding either regime.)

So Fascism was just one of the many forms that capitalist repression of
the working class has taken, and it was a form which, I think, was
specific to the inter-war period. This tendency to simply call any
repressive regime we don't like "fascist" is, substantively, a naive
underestimation of the repressive powers of _all_ capitalist regimes,
including good old parliamentary democracy. It was democracy (capitalist
democracy but democracy nevertheless) that presided over the destruction
of how many million lives of African slaves in the u.s. It was democracy
which presided over the genocide of the Indians in the U.S. It was a
democracy that conducted the brutal war to suppress the Philippine
independence movement in the first decade of the 20th century. It was
democracy that led France & England and the U.S. into the mass slaughter
of World War I. It was democracy which not only allowed the atrocities
of Jim Crow. (I read _Black Boy_ when it came out during WW 2, and what
struck me was the parallel between Wright's "escape" from the south and
the movies and popular fiction of the time which centered on escapes
from Germany or from occupied Europe.)

And a "kinder, sneakier fascism" is, precisely, not fascism, for fascism
was above all a mass movement which exulted in its lack of kindness, in
its quite unsneaky brutality. The phrase blurs understanding of _both_
fascism and (for example) the police terror which has ruled over u.s.
blacks for a century and a half or the atrocities committed by England
in India, Sudan, Ireland, etc etc etc. So while I agree with the
remainder of your post, I do not think that building a movement against
u.s. imperialist aggression is aided by the endemic tendency of leftists
over the last 50 years to throw the word "fascism" about.

A minor but still worthwhile reason for a less incontinent use of
"fascism": While nothing can really be done to stop the ravings of such
finks as Cooper, we needn't give them added ammunition -- and even among
those who are ready now to respond positively to anti-war agitation, the
reaction of many to the word "fascism" will be to contrast their
dramatic image of fascism with their own personal experience in the U.S.
and say, "nonsense." This list, after all, could not have existed in
Italy or Germany in 1938.

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