Karl Korsch 1932

Theses toward a Critique of the Fascist Conception of the State

First Published: in Gegner #6, 1932
Translated by Karl-Heinz Otto and Andrew Giles-Peters
Source: Class Against Class;
Transcribed: by Zdravko Saveski, for marxists.org 2009;

1. Exposition

"The modern state, whatever its form may be, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal aggregate capitalist" (Engels, Socialism: Scientific and Utopian)

1. The fascist state is a modern state. It does not signify a return to pre-bourgeois state structures. The corporative state has nothing to do with the "state of estates"-fascism as "counter-reform."

2. The fascist conception of state is grounded in the negation of the early bourgeois ideal of the state. It signifies disillusionment vis-à-vis the political ideals of liberalism and socialism of all directions. It takes over the criticism by the restoration, Marxism, and syndicalism (Proudhon/ Sorel) of the political institutions and ideals of the early bourgeois epoch.

3. This does not contradict but rather corresponds to the conscious statement of a new state-mythos. Fascism unites in Pareto's sense a sober illusion-free, rational goal-directed state practice (carried out by the "elite") with a completely irrational state mythology (represented by the state's people, the race, and the mass).

2. Immanent Critique

"Monopoly begets competition, competition begets monopoly .... the synthesis is of such nature that monopoly can only maintain itself by constantly entering into the competitive struggle" (Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy)

1. As the stabilization of inter-capitalist contradictions by the state shipwrecked the previous period on the basis of competition in the form of parliamentary and democracy, so now it shipwrecks upon the inevitable breaking through of capitalist group and individual interests and falls into the form of dictatorship and corporative constitution on the basis of monopoly: the monopolization of state power by the monopolistic grand bourgeoisie takes the place of the "ideal aggregate capitalist."

2. The production of the "ideal aggregate capitalist" on a national basis is at the present phase already being thwarted by the direct international tendency of capitalism. Thus one has to understand the present reformation of fascism as an "export commodity," the expansion of the opposition Italy-France to the opposition Europe-America.

3. The monopolistic claim of the fascist state authority enters into competition with the old authoritarian forces, particularly with the claim to authority by Catholicism which is independent of that state authority.

3. Transcendental Critique

"But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle" (Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy)

1. The fascist remodelling does not mean an economic revolution or radical dissolution of the old relations of production or the freeing of new productive forces. This is the main difference between fascism and Bolshevism- apart from given distinctions of material possibilities and order of magnitude.

2. The fascist state signifies the union of the economic and political power of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat; thus not the overcoming of the class-state, but the restoration of the class-state in the form of the class-state.

3. The new form of union of the economic and political class power of the bourgeoisie in the fascist "total state" demands new forms of combining the economic and political action of the proletariat.