That capitalism is in bad shape is not news. What is news is the sharpened polarisation of class forces, which has the decaying system as its source.
Attacks by fascist groupings are on the rise. Anti-Semitic slogans, such as ones recently daubed on a synagogue in Brisbane and another in Perth, follow a global trend.
Dozens of Jewish-owned shops in Italy were subjected to racist graffiti the day after a mass fascist mobilisation, which attempted to recreate Mussolini’s 1922 March in Rome. In Germany, Jewish monuments at the former Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck concentration camps have been targets of resurgent neo-Nazi assault.
People with disabilities have also been under attack. A residential institution in east Germany was firebombed, and four deaf boys were mugged by fascist activists in Halle.
The British National Party has escalated its hate campaigns and physical attacks on Black working class communities.
The fascist movement of Jean Marie Le Pen in France increased its vote at the last election. This new boldness by open fascists helps create the climate in which several racist killings of North African teenagers could occur.
In South Africa, the rightwing AWB fire bombed a gay restaurant in Johannesburg after running a vicious campaign against the venue for months.
Romani (Gypsies) are the community under attack by fascists in Hungary.
Since German reunification, 34 people have been killed in fascist attacks. The victims include immigrants, refugees, the homeless and prominent anti-fascist campaigners. Kerstin Winter, a 24-year-old lesbian rights activist and anti-Nazi organiser, was tragically murdered by fascists who sent her a splinter bomb in a parcel.
But the news isn’t all bad. This resurgence of fascist attacks is being met by an increasingly combative and well-organised anti-fascist movement. In the United States and Canada, successful united front mobilisations have got the Nazis on the run. (see Linda Averill, “Winning West Coast Strategy: Knock out the Nazis with a United Front,” Freedom Socialist, Volume 14 #2, April – June 1993).
Mass anti-fascist mobilisations occurred in France and in Italy, where 30,000 took to the streets in protest. Over 2 million participated in anti-fascists actions in Germany, which are increasingly mobilising and uniting trade unionists, immigrants and refugees.
And on the home front. The proposed visit to Australia by Nazi agitator David Irving provoked a storm of media controversy. Irving was invited to tour Australia by the League of Rights, whose founder Eric Butler, like Irving, claims the Holocaust never happened. The ultra-right League of Rights claims that its mission is to capture the minds of middle Australia.
The government took the step of denying Irving a visa. However the real target of this ban was revealed by Senator Gareth Evans, who explained that this step was necessary to prevent mass public protest, which such a visit would provoke. Evans considered this as undesirable “in the leadup to the federal election.”
Top-down attempts to ban fascist organising are totally ineffectual and will not stop the spread of fascist ideas. Such bans also set precedents, which governments will not hesitate to use against the Left when it suits them.
The government banned Irving’s visit to Australia, but now the League of Rights is promoting the sale and screening of an Irving video in an attempt to popularise his Nazi propaganda, which not very convincingly masquerades as history. Successful demonstrations against the video, called at very short notice, managed to prevent screening in most capital cities. This is an example of how we can start to build a mass movement to stop fascism.
Anti-fascist organisers in Melbourne built on the success of the anti-Irving protest, leading to larger demonstrations against a conference organised by the Citizens Electoral Council, Australian followers of U.S. fascist Lyndon LaRouche.
LaRouche, who began his political life as a member of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party in the 1940s, lost his political bearings and jumped the fence from Trotskyism to fascism because of his terminal sexism and inability to cope with the exploding second wave feminism in the ‘60s (for full analysis of this phenomenon, see Clara Fraser, “LaRouche: Sex Maniac and Demagogue” in Freedom Socialist, Volume 9 #3, 1986).
The leader of the Australian LaRouchites, who follows his ideological guru faithfully, distinguished himself when he recently condemned feminism as a psychosis!
Several hundred turned out to protest the LaRoucheite gathering after a week-and-a-half of organising. The lesbian and gay press ran articles exposing the politics of LaRouche, the Victorian Trades Hall Council passed a resolution condemning the conference, ACT-UP held a public meeting. Radical Women’s meeting included an educational on LaRouche and his origins, and anti-LaRouche organisers gave dozens of radio interviews. Posters were pasted up, leaflets distributed and meetings held on campuses.
Predictably liberals, including Adam Carr, news editor of Melbourne Star Observer, bleat about the “necessity” of free speech for fascists.
Those who raise this familiar refrain as an excuse to do nothing about the growth of fascism have totally missed the plot by letting fascists organise openly and without protest.
When anti-fascists mobilise, we are simply exercising our free speech rights to demonstrate. Our aim is to build a movement powerful enough to stop fascism before it grows.
Competing ideology. The potential is present to build a mass fascist movement when the economy starts to crumble. The petty bourgeoisie, or middle class — small business owners, farmers, self-employed professionals and so on — provide the mass base for fascism as it is squeezed by big capital. Big capital uses the desperation this generates to turn the anger of the middle class away from the real culprit, capitalism. Instead, the petty bourgeoisie blames the working class for the desperate circumstances it experiences.
As the big bourgeoisie runs out of options to inject new life into its decrepit economic system, fascism will start to look increasingly appealing to the middle class.
Fascism is capitalism’s final solution to the problems of the 1990s. Socialism is our solution, and we must convince the petty bourgeoisie of its correctness.
It is a competition between ideas, a fight for the future. If the vision and leadership provided by socialists is not sufficiently bold, some working people will be attracted to fascism as they search for answers to their misery and despair.
We cannot be derailed from the struggle against fascism by the liberals who preach “free speech” in a vacuum.
Nor can we rely on forces of the State — like the police and immigration authorities — to stop the right wing.
The working class — women and men, queer and straight, people of all ethnic backgrounds — has the clout to stop fascism in its tracks.
We’ll do this by fighting to implement our vision — a socialist solution to the economic ruin, which feeds fascism.