In Australia and around the world, we face a fascist threat. Nazis are returning to the streets of towns and cities, winning seats in parliaments across Europe and — closer to home — marching openly under police protection through the streets of Melbourne. Wherever they appear, fascists spell danger, with local groups such as Blair Cottrell’s Lads Society training for combat and Neil Erickson’s Cooks Convicts raiding local councils and intimidating immigrants and refugees.
While these developments do not mean we are in a fascist state, they are warnings. Fascists rely on enablers and collaborators in the political mainstream to give them a platform. The current wave of fascism is no different. From Israel’s Netanyahu and the Philippines’ Duterte to the USA’s Trump, far right governments light the way for these emerging fascists. So do fear-mongering mainstream “democrats,” from Malcolm Turnbull and Matthew Guy to Daniel Andrews.
Racism lays the foundation for fascism
Australia is a state founded on the theft of Aboriginal land, the denial of the sovereignty of the people who have been living here for tens of thousands of years, and genocide to wipe out their communal culture. The capitalists need to propagate racism and reactionary nationalism to validate their position and pit workers against each other. Official state racism provides the environment where fascists are encouraged to organise.
Through rallies, elections, social media and think-tanks, fascists seek platforms to recruit from and normalise their world view, more broadly co-opting conservative or moderate forces toward their agenda. Following the examples of Hitler and Mussolini, they aim to build a movement capable of lifting them, and their ideological program, into state power. This is fascism — a mass movement, whose social base is mainly small business operators and entrepreneurs (the middle class) but also workers devoid of class solidarity, desperately looking for a solution to their impoverishment and uncertain futures.
Without capitalism, there would be no fascism.
Fascist ideologues feed on their fears and prejudices, harkening to a mythical bygone era of greatness steeped in reactionary nationalism, white pride and patriarchal family values. Exploiting deep-seated and systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, they offer up scapegoats to blame — Muslims and Jews, immigrants and refugees, people of colour, First Nations, women, disabled people and the LGBTIQ community. However their prime marks are trade unions and the Left, because these are the movements capable of uniting and mobilising their targets against them.
Scapegoating deflects attention from the source of ever-widening desperation: the profit system. When economic crisis becomes so critical that workers and the oppressed resist and parliamentary democracy can no longer keep the class “peace,” the billionaire class will turn to the fascists. This happened 80 years ago. This economic élite will resort to fascism again to stave off revolt and save itself. The aim is to crush the working class so that capitalism can survive.
We can stop this
Hitler himself said that organised resistance could have eliminated the Nazis when they were still small and weak. But the fragmented labour and Left movements failed to coalesce into a united front. Fascism beat the working class into submission — assassinating its leaders, sending millions into concentration camps and forced labour, enforcing “kinder, küche, kirsche” (children, kitchen, church) on women of the “master race,” and smashing trade unions.
Unity in action is our collective, mutual defence. All of fascists’ targets coming together as organisations and individuals is our weapon against aspiring führers while they’re still small, split and weak. And while we still have rights to organise.
The united front is our collective defence
Our vision is of a united front in which politically divergent groups and individuals cohere around points of agreement and work together respectfully, collaboratively and uncompromisingly in the interest of workers and all the oppressed. A united front is about marching with our own banners and slogans, and striking together.
Democracy and accountability are key to this united strength. Without them, a united front can’t build or last.
Crucial to the united front is the involvement of the union movement, because this is where workers organise and build collective self-discipline to act in defence of our class. Union officials are belatedly beginning to recognise the threat. But it is the members and delegates — the ones facing fascist targeting in their everyday lives — who are most compelled to push our unions to join.
PUSH! Organising and Educating to Build an Anti-Fascist United Front
PUSH! is a newly formed group committed to working with all other anti-fascists fighting to defeat this threat. Our member organisations — Freedom Socialist Party, Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne, Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group and Radical Women — have long histories of anti-fascist organising, from running National Action out of Brunswick and later Fawkner and ridding Victoria of the misogynist, homophobic Blackshirts, to fighting off the current fascist scourge as founding members of Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.
This is a callout to all organisations and individuals who want to join in democratically shaping the agreed principles of unity and direction for a collective, united push to remove the fascist threat and make our communities and movements truly safe.