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What is Fascism?

August 11, 2006

BY KEVIN “RASHID” JOHNSON

Excerpted from Right On! #2, Winter ’05-’06

“Fascism is capitalism in decline.”
-V.I, Lenin

In the late 19th Century, banking and industrial capital merged to form finance capital and ushered in the Age of Proletarian Revolution. V.I. Lenin pointed this out in Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. However, Lenin by no means meant that Imperialism (monopoly capitalism) would not itself continue to evolve until it was overthrown. In fact, he emphasized that we must define imperialism “as capitalism in transition, or, more precisely as moribund capitalism,” or capitalism in decay, capitalism rotten ripe for revolution.

He emphasized that this decay was by no means negated by the rapidity of its growth, that the accelerated growth rate was symptomatic of its rottenness and parasitism. And that this decay manifested itself most profoundly in the countries richest in capital. Since Lenin’s time, we have seen the evolution of Fascism as an even more virulent form of imperialism.

Lenin also recognized that in whatever stage of its evolution, capitalism balances two approaches to maintaining its power and control over the working masses 1.) The Carrot — bribery and liberal concessions, and 2.) The Stick — violence and repression. In Lenin’s words:

“The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others. The intensification of antagonisms between imperialist nations for the division of the world increases this striving. And so there is created that bond between imperialism and opportunism, which revealed itself first and most clearly in England, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist development were observable there much earlier than in other countries.”

Fascism emerged in Italy and spread to Germany and other countries which did not have the colonial base to extract super-profits from to compete with the Western Democracies in the employment of bribery for the workers. Thus they employed “the stick.” Ironically, Fascism, founded in 1919 by Benito Mussolini, should come from the name of a bundle of sticks. The Italian name of the movement, fascismo, is derived from fascio, “bundle, (political) group,” but also refers to the movement’s emblem, the fasces, a bundle of rods (sticks) bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power…

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy, Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2.. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic, or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists; terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. _Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions am either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote -and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often wiling to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations am a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

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