New Nazi-fascisms: imperialist decay and ultraliberalism

  • The case of Israeli Nazi-Zionism
  • A fascist government is not yet a fascist state
  • What about Russia, China and Belarus?
  • Statist fascism, ultraliberal neo-fascism
  • Opportunism frustrates and sectarianism divides the working class, favouring the path of reaction

By Humberto Rodrigues

Milei (Argentina), Wilders (Netherlands), Abascal (Spain), Zelensky (Ukraine), Meloni (Italy), Bolsonaro and Trump and the brutality of the Nazi-Zionist genocide are complementary manifestations of the same trend that has been infecting the bloc of nations that make up the imperialist system in the West. To a lesser or greater degree, everyone defends a policy of radicalization of neoliberalism, or ultraliberalism, a policy of complete work at the service of finance capital and imperialism.

Despite the differences between Nazism and fascism, such as the fact that Nazism involves the racist component in a more blatant way, for example, now we will not deal with the disputes between these two phenomena, but rather the similarities and differences between Nazi-fascism of the first generation, manifested between the years 1920 and 1945, and of the current one, relating to movements and governments identified with Nazi-fascist traits in the 21st century.

Deindustrialization and imperialist decay

Despite the various local particularities and differences between them, common aspects, all these contemporary phenomena are associated with the deindustrialization of the West, with the migration of industries to the East, observed in the last 50 years and, therefore, with the disarticulation of the industrial proletariat in the western countries. It should be noted that the phenomenon occurs with much less intensity in Asia, which is going through an uneven process of industrialization, and where the extreme right is only growing marginally.

The exception would be in India. Modi, leader of the most populous country in the world, is far right and India is one of the most industrializing countries. But Modi does not have enough strength to make the Indian state more fascist than it already is. Fascists aspire to stifle unions and the right to strike. The largest general strikes in history were carried out against the Modi government in 2016 (180 million workers stopped) and 2020 (250 million).

So far, fascist governments have failed to transform states into fascist states. Most of them do not last more than one term nor do they elect a successor, a phenomenon that could gain greater solidity in the coming generations if the trend is not contained and defeated.

It is quite true that for the most exploited and oppressed fractions of the proletariat, especially for blacks and Latinos in the USA, for blacks in Brazil and immigrants in almost all countries, notably in Europe, the terror of the capitalist State imposes itself in a brutal, fascist-like and independent of governments, as it has become a permanent state policy of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat in the 21st century.

The case of Israeli Nazi-Zionism

Israel did not become a Nazi State with the coming to power of an extreme right-wing government, it was already created as a Nazi State against the Palestinian population. Regardless of whether Tel Aviv is governed by Labor or Likud, Nazi-Zionist brutality has been the same for 76 years. The State of Israel was born as an artificial creature of imperialism, deforming the Jewish question in favour of big capital, representing an enclave of this system in Western Asia.

40 years ago, US Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, appointed by then President Ronald Reagan, coined the following definition about the Middle Eastern ally: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier, it is unsinkable, it carries no soldiers American and is located in a region critical to US national security.” (BBC: Why does the US support Israel?).

The function of the Zionist entity created in 1948 is to be an extension of Anglo-Saxon imperialist policy in the region that concentrates most of the planet’s oil. So, Israel did not become fascist with the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, it was born as a Nazi state, given its racist component, segregation, apartheid and maintenance of refugee concentration camps for many decades longer than the experiences of Hitler (12 years old) and Mussolini (21 years old).

The Zionist entity is the longest-lasting expression of imperialist Nazism. Israel became what it is, under the same magic that made Nazism rise imposingly in Germany, after the humiliating German defeat in the first war and the even more humiliating Treaty of Versailles, thanks to the heavy investments of Western imperialism as a whole. At that time, to suffocate the Russian revolution and the European revolutionary processes, today, it stops to expel the Palestinians and steal their lands, rich in gas, oil and geopolitically strategic.

A fascist government is not yet a fascist state

In 1932, when theorizing about the elements indicative of the fascistisation of a State, the Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote:

” From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vice of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini – the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role – but it means first of all for the most part that the workers’ organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism …”

How Mussolini Triumphed. From What Next? Vital Question for the German Proletariat, 1932

This formulation by Trotsky referred to the reality of Mussolini’s Italy, in a process of recent and late unification and industrialization, when the imperialist bourgeoisie needed to contain the powerful force of the proletariat and its organizations through annihilation, in order to reduce it to a state amorphous in order to then create a system of administration and social control that would curtail all proletarian opposition to the fascist regime.

The governments of the political leaders mentioned in the opening paragraph of this text have clear fascist aspirations, but the conversion of their states into complete fascist states, along the lines of Mussolini, is something that we have not seen even in the mercenary and fascist Ukraine of Poroshenko and Zelensky, where unions were physically crushed and political opposition and communism were banned. However, it may be that in the future, a new generation of rulers representing an even more decayed and desperate imperialist system will convert the States into fascist States. The most grotesque manifestations of imperialism are not things of the distant past. In the last 20 years, imperialism has gathered dozens of old, rehashed and new atrocities in its toolbox, just to list the most popular: torture in Iraq and the concentration camp in Guantánamo; armed and sponsored DAESH terrorism against Syria; bloodthirsty military occupations such as in Libya and Afghanistan; murder of hundreds of civilians with drones in various parts of the world; dozens of bacteriological weapons laboratories, explosions of gas pipelines, bridges and Nazi mercenaries in Ukraine; kidnapping, torture and murder of women and children, bombing with white phosphorus, ethnic cleansing and hospital explosions in the Gaza Strip and many coups d’état against the governments of oppressed countries. As the great geopolitical scientist Moniz Bandeira warned us: ” Empires are more dangerous when they decline “.

What about Russia, China and Belarus?

Wouldn’t the governments of China, Russia and Belarus, which also curb internal opposition and where there are almost no independent unions, also be fascist? We believe that the rise of these governments is also part of the phenomenon of the decline of the imperialist system, but as its contradiction, its antagonistic complement within the capitalist world market, expressing the resistance of oppressed and oppressing national bourgeoisies, as seen in the new cold war. Identifying the phenomenon merely by its form, divorcing it from its structural content, artificially separating it from the fact that they are instruments of imperialism is the liberal method, of capital theorists like Hannah Arendt, the theory of the two demons, etc.

Fascism is a form of government by finance capital and the imperialist system against oppressed countries and workers. Currently, the hegemonic policy of all countries subordinate to the imperialist world system is neoliberal or ultraliberal policy. These economic policies predominate in Ukraine, Italy, the USA and during Bolsonaro’s Brazil, but not in Russia, China and Belarus.

We must update concepts and enrich them with the new determinations of reality in motion. An equal sign should not be placed between the phenomena that are instruments of imperialism and those that oppose imperialism. Workers’ organizations and the political opposition also suffered persecution under Stalinism and no one thought of calling the USSR a fascist state. Russia, China and Belarus are not capitalist countries like the others, they have the historical intersection of having gone through proletarian dictatorships, they do not have anti-communist regimes nor have they deindustrialized like the West, where Nazi tendencies have grown again. We characterize that the contradictions of capitalist restoration in countries that had expropriated the bourgeoisie as a class, combined with the decline of imperialism, promoted the rise in Russia and China of a non-imperialist capitalism, deformed by decades of non-capitalist development. (Communist Party – LCFI: Marxism and the Post-Counterrevolution Cold War).

Statist fascism, ultraliberal neo-fascism

Another difference between current Nazi-fascists and those of the first generation is the relationship between nationalization and privatization of the national economy. Although Mussolini’s “corporate state” was nothing more than a thuggish agent of big capital and did not own companies, in the spirit of that time, the USSR and Keynesianism, Mussolini took advantage of the fact that “three quarters of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, are in the hands of the State” (Popollo d’Italia, May 26, 1934).

In a phase of deindustrialization also called post-Fordist, the factory proletariat, strictly speaking, and the unions, in general, weakened, the bourgeoisie does not see it necessary to pay the political cost of crushing them in order to contain the organized resistance of the proletariat.

Therefore, the new Nazi fascisms are incomplete movements, but relatively effective in terrorizing and removing historical rights from the proletariat, thus allowing the advancement of so-called ultraliberalism. And this advance on the rights of the proletariat, the expansion of exploitation, the over-spoliation, are what interests big capital most, hence the usefulness of neo-fascists.

But this new wave is also an expression of the decay of the imperialist world system, which increasingly needs to replace soft-power with far-right governments in order to maintain social control with repressive policies and co-opt a discontented fraction of the population into a kind of reactionary rebellion against traditional politicians.

Opportunism frustrates and sectarianism divides the working class, favouring the path of reaction

This political form is not only a product of imperialist decay, but also of the decay of opportunist reformism, incapable of meeting the minimum demands for survival of the working population in the midst of imperialist decay, favouring the creation of resentment within the proletariat, feeding counter-revolutionary prejudices and anti-communism. Social democracy paves the way for Nazism.

Also dogmatism, sectarianism of Trotskyist or Stalinist origin, failed to present alternatives in the face of imperialist decay. Both fractions of the communist movement that did not derail towards opportunism, fell into the opposite vice, sectarianism, the belief that capitalism is going through its terminal crisis, that we live in a pre-revolutionary situation, that it is not necessary to build united fronts against imperialism and against fascism, that the dispute between NATO and BRICS, being capitalist blocs, is a matter of indifferent to the working class. Sectarianism fragments and weakens the fight against reaction.

Add to this deindustrialization, the lack of life prospects for young people and the political apathy of new generations of the working class (which means that activists over 50 years old predominate in left-wing meetings) after almost half a century of the last proletarian revolutionary victory (Vietnam, 1975), and three decades of historic defeats such as the end of the USSR (1991), and we are faced with a situation that is conjuncturally unfavourable to the left and favourable to the political organization of the right.

All these movements are temporary and even the current revolutionary ebb that favours the rise of new Nazi-fascisms is momentary. Our time, the time of this revolutionary reflux, is also the time of the greatest social mobilizations in history, the biggest general strike in the history of Brazil (2017), the biggest general strike of the working class (India, 2020); the largest wave of anti-racist protests in the USA (2020); the largest global mobilization for the Palestinian cause in Israel’s 76 years of existence (2023).

All these great movements achieve important partial achievements, they are colossal and unprecedented demonstrations of the history of the class struggle, but they do not solve the problem that generated them because, to achieve this, it is necessary, in addition to these struggles, the conquest of power by the working class, organized into communist parties.

The demand for the Nazi way of doing politics in favour of the accumulation of capital also generates, contradictorily, for the sake of survival, the need to overcome class collaboration, quietism, anti-communism within the left, sectarianism against front-line tactics only. All this must be combined with the fight against neoliberal deindustrialization, against imperialism and for the construction of new communist and revolutionary parties that unify and organize resistance to the rise of the right, but also that penetrate the mass movement with a program to mobilize the working class against immediate barbarism and also for its strategic interests.

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