From The Militant, Vol. V No. 32 (Whole No. 128), 6 August 1932, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
It is not correct to assume that the petty bourgeoisie, which formed the bulk of the troops of Fascism in Italy and Germany at its inception, are automatically guaranteed to support such a movement elsewhere, always and from the very outset. Fascism, attaining power in Italy, very swiftly demonstrated that the desperate hopes placed in it by the petty bourgeoisie as a defense against the big bourgeoisie were grounded in nothing substantial. Mussolini very soon revealed the elementary political truth of the present epoch in particular: the petty bourgeoisie can play no independent role: it follows either the big bourgeoisie or the proletariat. In Italy, Fascism is the instrument of naked rule by the sword of the industrialists and the large landowners. Nor could it be otherwise. This disappointment of the illusions of the petty bourgeoisie causes many of them, particularly in other countries, to develop a certain hostility towards Fascism, which they envisage, and with a certain justification as the betrayer of their hopes for relief from the upper and nether millstones of the class struggle.
This hostility we see manifested in a small measure by the cries of fear uttered in this country by typical spokesmen for the petty bourgeoisie. In the United States, so thoroughly dominated by monopolist capitalism, the crisis has been extremely severe for the middle class citizen. The goliath of bureaucratic government, arch-representative of big capital, looms before him like some monstrous nightmare. At every repressive measure taken by the executive committee of the sovereign class, our petty bourgeois burgher utters a shriek of terror : “Fascism is growing in the United States! The government is turning Fascist! There is a Mussolini in the White House!”
The extent to which this “mistake in identity” has unfolded is surprising. John Dewey, the pathetic figure who is seeking to organize a third party of liberalism, rarely misses an opportunity to give vent to his theory about the growing movement of American Fascism. The Nation and the New Republic echo him, along the whole scale of their feeble tones. The plagiarist par-excellence from the ideas of liberalism, social democracy and Stalinism, A.J. Muste, sings the same song of dread. Norman Thomas and the other member of the American socialist priesthood are of course also found in this motley chorus.
But this inability to make a distinction between the growth of repressive measures against the working class, violence and brutality used against it, on the one hand, and on the other hand Fascism, that is, the naked rule of the bourgeois dictatorship in which every fragment of the democratic raiment of capitalism has been ripped off completely, including the most elementary rights of the working class movement – does not originate with Dewey, Muste and Thomas. In this country, it is the contribution to political science made by the Daily Worker and its party directors.
The announcement that there is not merely a powerful Fascist movement already in existence in this country, but that it has virtually taken over the government, is an extravaganza originally displayed for the instruction of the American workers by Stalinism. In the light of the uninterrupted series of blunders made by the German party leaders in relation to Hitlerism in Germany, the theory of the American party leaders stands out in all the bolder stupidity – a striking revelation of the studied incompetency of the present-day leadership (save the mark) of the International.
Almost three years ago, with the outbreak of the crisis which was immediately followed by the futile conferences held by Hoover, the big industrialists and labor leaders, the Daily Worker suddenly announced that “the Communist Party and the most conscious sections of the working class – which more and more recognize the Communist party as their leader in all present-day struggles – accept the challenge of Hoover’s National Fascist Council” (November 28, 1929). This in the leading editorial. And to make clear the extent to which the Stalinists considered that Fascism had already established its sway in this country, it was announced four days later, under the headline Big Fascist Body Aimed at Workers – Act as Government, that
“Out of the White House crisis conferences has grown a powerful Fascist organization ... Hoover and his cohorts find the usual ‘democratic’ machinery of the capitalist state inadequate to meet the onrush of the growing crisis and have created this new, more facile machine to take over the most important functions of the capitalist government at the present time ... The Fascist nature of the agrarian-imperialist-’labor’ body makes it more useful to the capitalists than their existing state machinery.” (November 30, 1929)
If the English language has any meaning at all, the Daily Worker was seeking to convey to its readers the idea that the “ordinary democratic” state machinery of the bourgeoisie was no longer serviceable to it and that a Fascist council was now acting as the government.
Another few days later, a headline announced that “Congress Takes Back Seat For Fascist Council”, and the article read: “Congress, which meets next week, will be merely an appendage to the new Fascist, capitalist grouping. Hoover will act as the executive of the Fascist economic council, and attempt very little through Congress in the present crisis.” (December 2, 1929) “Organization is rapidly growing,” boasted the Worker on December 5, “to meet the threatened drives of Hoover’s Fascist state apparatus.”
Plainer speech could not be asked for. A Fascist council had been organized in America. It was already the state apparatus. The “usual democratic” Congress was “merely an appendage to the new Fascist, capitalist grouping”. Triumphant Italian Fascism has not achieved very much more than this in order to establish the dictatorship of the Black Shirts.
But not merely in the United States. With the boldness of conception and sweep that characterizes genius and insanity alike, the Daily Worker proceeded to overrun Great Britain as well with its brand of Fascism-turned-out-on-the-editorial-typewriter-while-you-wait. On December 5, 1929, a news story announced “the swift transformation of MacDonald’s government into Fascism thinly disguised as a ‘Council of State’ to meet the economic emergency’. The editorial writer on the first page of the same issue (about three years ago, remember ! What foresight! What prophetic gifts!):
“Following the example of its world-rival, the United-States, the British capitalist class has begun organizing for an open fascist dictatorship to replace the famous British ‘democracy’ ... Ramsay MacDonald’s and the ‘Labor’ Party’s function is precisely to prepare the way for the open Fascist dictatorship in England.”
But enough is enough. Even an ordinary doctor, not to speak of an intelligent Communist, knows that the stomach can stand just so much and no more. In November-December 1929, the American Stalinist crystal-gazers had hoisted Fascism into power in the United States and were swinging it into the same seat in England. Outstripping the wildest phantasmagorias of fear which possess the frightened soul of John Dewey, they saw the monster of Fascism (to say nothing of “social Fascism”) in the United States, in England, in Abyssinia, in Iceland, everywhere, in short, except where it really was: Germany!
In Germany, where Fascism was on the march, where it was growing stronger by leaps and bounds, where it was unfolding into a hideous menace to the working class – the Stalinists at first denied it altogether, then they ignored it with a wave of the hand, then they proclaimed that it had reached the heights of its strength, then they entered into a vulgar competition-in-nationalism with it – to the present day, when they are still ignorant about how to crush it, after having allowed it to assume the proportions it has. Fascism was not a danger in Germany; no, only in the United States and England. Fascism was not the danger in Germany; no, only “social Fascism”, the “specific form”, according to the gifted Bela Kun at the 10th Plenum, which Fascism assumes in the highly developed industrial countries.
Isn’t this little contrast a dazzling tribute to the wisdom, the foresight, the perspicacity, the discrimination, the in fallibility of the present Stalinist leadership, nationally and internationally? A meteorologist who persistently predicted snowstorms in the Sahara Desert and hot spells at the North Pole, who announced squalls for a sunny Tuesday and sunshine for a rain-drenched Friday – has a place set aside for him as a member of the Political Bureau of the party. He will fit it like a glove.
Last updated on 31.12.2013