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American Fascism

Reva Craine

First of a Series on American Fascism

How Fascism Comes About

(May 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 19, 8 May 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There are many workers in the United States who erroneously believe that fascism is a foreign “ism” and that its danger comes from foreign shores. While they justly are horrified at and condemn the barbarism and brutality of Nazi despotism, they are often prone to dismiss lightly any talk of the American variety of fascism with “It can’t happen here.”

It Can Happen Here

This false conception is often fostered by the native brand of fascists themselves, who even repudiate the name fascist in order the more effectively to beguile and befuddle their followers. They are unwittingly assisted by those people who constantly emphasize the connection between the American fascists and the spies and agents of the German Nazi government while neglecting to tell what is more important, namely: that the growth and development of the American fascist movement takes place on American soil upon the basis of American conditions and that this movement is and will be the servant of the American bankers, big businessmen and profiteers – in short, of the American capitalist class.

While some of the would-be American fuehrers, the small-fry of the fascist movement in this country, have worked with the Nazi agents here (as the current sedition trials are revealing), .the greatest danger does not come from them. American fascism will develop because the capitalist system in this country will create the same or similar conditions which German capitalism developed. If such a movement becomes a real threat to the American working people, it will be because it is supported, financed and directed by the big capitalists in this country, just as happened in Germany.

The native fascist movement has not yet achieved the strength and size where it is actually on the verge of seizing the government and establishing a dictatorship on the German style. As yet, there is no unified fascist party in this country, nor do the many fascist leaders see eye to eye on a number of problems. Some of the smaller and less influential ones have been linked to the Axis agents in this country and have been arrested. Some have already been sentenced; others are still being tried.

Yet it would be the greatest folly if the American workers were to shut their eyes to the existing fascist organizations, in the belief that we in this country are safe from their poisonous propaganda and deadly activity. In the last half year, many of the pro-fascist organizations, which have been keeping quiet since Pearl Harbor, have come into the open again. They have begun holding rallies and meetings, preparing for the days to come.

If the working class can learn to recognize the fascists, no matter under what name they disguise themselves, if we can prepare now to beat them down, then they will never grow strong enough to be a real danger to the American labor movement. But to be able to do this it is necessary to understand what fascism is, how its operates, whom it benefits and whom it seeks to destroy. In addition, the labor movement must have a program and organizations of its own with which to combat the incipient fascist movements.

Capitalism Breeds Fascism

Even now, men and women working hard and long hours in the great war production plants, are wondering how long the current “prosperity” is going to last. When the war is over, what is going to happen to these vast plants which are now turning out the instruments of death and destruction? Will they be put to use, producing the things needed to sustain life and raise the standard, of living of all the people? Will they continue to operate so that every man and woman who lives by his or her toil will have a job? Will the returning soldiers find decent jobs at decent wages?

Government experts have predicted that even under the best of all possible circumstances the post-war period will witness ten millions of unemployed in the United- States. That is, they consider ten million unemployed as “normal” in this country. And if the circumstances are not the” best, as is most likely, there will be between twenty and thirty millions out of work.

What do these cold-blooded statistics signify? They mean working class families starving, or near-starving on home relief handouts. They mean ruination for the storekeepers, the professionals, the small businessmen. They mean that the owners of the idle plants will have to take a vacation from profit-making and live off their fat wartime profits.

Now, such a situation cannot continue for a long period of time without the workers and middle class becoming restless and looking for a way out. Even the big capitalists will be itching to get back to business, because while they will not starve or suffer, they know that they make money only if the wheels of industry are turning and that their profits are created by the work of others.

The workers want jobs in order to live and in order to produce the things they need to live. The capitalists want industry going in order to make profits. In this lies the insoluble conflict between the two classes, the workers and the capitalists.

Assault upon Labor

To get industry going again and to guarantee the highest profits, the capitalists will try especially hard to cut the wages of the employed workers and to use the unemployed against them. This means an assault upon the workers’ organizations, the unions, in the first instance.

Fascism will be consciously and deliberately financed, directed and used by big business to smash the resistance of the workers and poor people against the unbearable conditions imposed upon them. It is not the fascists who will hoodwink the capitalists in order to get the money from them, as Vice-President Wallace seems to believe. On the contrary, big business will use fascism for its ends. The only ones to be hoodwinked will be the people who will not understand what fascism is.

Race-hatred, regional hatred, anti-Semitism – these are the weapons of division, disunity and distrust aimed at destruction of the labor movement. Outright hoodlumism and terror are the weapons used. The fascist movements are perfectly cut out for these practices.

Fascist Camouflage

It would be foolish to think that the fascists will declare that they are working for the preservation of the rule of big business. They would hardly be able to attract any followers in that way. Instead, they offer a program of “social reforms” which on the surface appears to be directed against the capitalist system. They make all sorts of promises – which they never intend to keep – to those who have lost hope in their own resources.

In this way they hope to gather to themselves the disillusioned youth, the veterans without jobs, the unemployed and the ruined middle classes. They will blame labor for the evils of which it is the chief victim and which stem directly from the capitalist system. Their real aim is the establishment of a bloody dictatorship which will suppress the labor movement, its organizations, and all those who in any way want to fight for a decent way of life.

Already these forces are at work. The seeds of fascism are planted in the American soil. They are waiting merely for the right weather in which to sprout. Some of them are even now creeping up above the surface, fostered by interested individuals in business, in industry and in government. Tomorrow they may well become the unified fascist party.

The American labor movement can smash these incipient fascist movements by: (1) recognizing them for what; they are, and (2) evolving and presenting labor’s program for the solution of the post-war social problems.

To throw the spotlight on today’s . native American fascists is the purpose of this series. Forewarned is forearmed.

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