Fascism

In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it"Marxists are scientific socialists who understand that any successful cure of a disease depends upon a precise diagnosis. We do not bandy about words like 'fascist' as mere terms of abuse. In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it." — From What is Fascism? And is it an imminent threat today?Fascism is really the death agony of capitalism and the “distilled essence of imperialism”. The fascists in Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries were only able to come to power on the back of defeats of the working class. Ultimately, the madness of fascism expresses the historic crisis and dead-end of capitalism that had arrived by the early 20th Century, alongside the inability of the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a workers’ state, due to the corruption of their leadership, in the form of both reformism and Stalinism. Fascism could and should have easily been avoided had the working class possessed a militant and united leadership prepared to take power.

In this video from the 2017 October Revolution festival, Marie Frederiksen discusses the rise of reactionary figures like Trump and Le Pen, and explains how these racist right-wing politicians differ from genuinely fascist leaders and movement. Providing a detailed example in the form of Mussolini's Italy, Marie describes how fascism came to power historically, and also the lessons to be learnt in terms of fighting the far right today.

The election of Donald Trump in the US and the rise of Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections has naturally been received with alarm by millions of people around the world. Some have even warned of a new rise of fascism. As Marxists, we feel it is important not to replace serious analysis with scaremongering and exaggeration. In this article, Rob Sewell - editor of Socialist Appeal - asks: what is fascism? And does it pose an imminent threat today?

This in depth article deals with the horrors that capitalism has inflicted on humanity. In the first part of this article we see the real face of the capitalist class, both its predatory nature on a global scale and its capacity for violent suppression of any mass popular revolt that challenges its right to rule. Some will say, yes but this was in the past; now the system has become more civilised and humane. Recent history shows that this is utterly false.

In this talk from the Revolution 2016 Marxist festival, Hans-Gerd Öfinger discusses the rise of the Nazis in Germany, discussing how Hitler was able to come to power - in his own words - "without so much as breaking a pane of glass".

In this talk from a 2016 Socialist Appeal day school, Adam Booth - editor of www.socialist.net - provides a Marxist analysis of fascism, analysing its historical rise and role, and discussing the nature of the far-right parties and leaders that are gaining support today.

In the aftermath of Donald trump's selection as President of the United States of America, cries of “fascism!” again fill the air. However, as we shall see, although Donald Trump is a crass, bigoted, billionaire businessman, he is not a fascist. The secret to his win is not that he rode a mass fascist movement to power, but that the lesser-evil policy of the labor leaders and the “left” ran out of steam. With no class-independent alternative provided by the unions or Bernie Sanders, uninspired Americans stayed home in droves and the balance of victory was handed to Trump by rust-belt workers sick and tired of the decades of betrayals by the Democrats.

Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, with the surrender of German troops, a key turning point in the Second World War, where about 800,000 German and Axis troops were either killed or captured, including the entire German Sixth Army and its commander-in-chief – a shattering blow to Hitler.

The year 2001 marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Spanish Republic in 1931, an event which was the opening shot in the Spanish Revolution. Also 65 years ago, on July 18th 1936, we saw the uprising of Franco, once the Spanish ruling class understood that they could no longer rule through 'democratic' means. We are publishing here an article by Alan Woods which deals with the last period of the spanish Revolution. This article was first published in 1986 as a concluding part of a series of articles on the Spanish Revolution 1931-37.

The 4th October marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, a momentous event in which the working people of London united to deliver a decisive blow against the menace British fascism. In this article we commemorate the brave stand of those workers who fought the fascists while seeking to expose the real nature of fascism and drawing lessons for today's struggles against the English Defence League (EDL) and the British National Party (BNP).

In Italy under Mussolini, formally speaking, there were “trade unions”. However, they were state-run unions, i.e. instruments of the state. One therefore should not confuse these “unions” with genuine trade unions. Yet, in spite of this, Communists worked successfully inside them.

The recent brutal and outrageous attack in Norway on the Scandinavian and international workers' movement was a huge shock, not only for those members of the Norwegian Labour Party Youth (AUF) who were at the summer cap at the island of Utøya, but also for the whole population of Scandinavia.

This article was written as an introduction to a Spanish language edition of Trotsky’s writings on the Spanish Revolution. This English translation was published in 1967. Broué outlines the main lessons that Trotsky drew from the experience of the Spanish revolution, lessons that need to be taken on board today.

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a "non-aggression pact", which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet "spheres of influence", effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

The part played by the Bolsheviks in the history of the Russian revolution of 1917 proves the importance of the role of leadership. The history of the Spanish revolution proves the same thing, but in a negative sense. In September Alan Woods spoke to the Socialist Appeal Northern Weekend School in Britain, which had as its general theme 'The Class, the Party and the Leadership', on those events which took place in Spain 70 years ago.

John Peterson, National Secretary of the Workers International League in the U.S., presenting at a forum on the Spanish Revolution at May Day Books in Minneapolis, MN on November 13th, 2008.

Winston Churchill is one of the most famous figures in British history and the official approach is that it would be unpatriotic not to admire him. The purpose of this article is to draw aside the veils of myth and legend which establishment historians and fawning admirers have spun around him and look at the real Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. The facts reveal a different man altogether.

The coming to power of the Nazi party in Germany 75 years ago marks the begining of one of the darkest periods of human history. What is Fascism and how did it emerge in a country with the strongest labour movement in the world? Mick Brooks of Socialist Appeal talks on the story of the rise of the Nazis.

In 1918-33 revolution and counter-revolution followed hot on each others' heels. The barbarity of the Nazis is well documented. Less well known are the events that preceeded Hitler's rise to power. Rob Sewell gives a picture of the tumultous events - the 1918 revolution, the collapse of the Kaiser's regime, the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, the Kapp putsch in 1920, the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 and the ensuing revolutionary upheavals culminating in the abortive Hamburg uprising, finally Hitler's rise to power in 1929-33.

Fundación Federico Engels is publishing a new edition of Trotsky's book on Germany. Alan Woods runs through the events that finally led to the defeat of the German working class. The leaders of the German Communist Party - advised by Zinoviev, Stalin and co. - had a big responsibility in that historic defeat. It also deals with the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s and early 1930s. This tragic event could have been avoided had the leaders of the German labour movement had a clear understanding of genuine Marxism.

The connection between Italian Futurism and fascism is well known. Alan Woods looks at the psychology of the Italian bourgeois and petit bourgeois intellectuals in the period before and during the First World War that gave rise to this singular phenomenon. It is an object lesson on how art and politics can become inextricably linked, and how this mixture arises from a definite social and class basis.

Marxists study history not for the smugness of 20/20 hindsight, but in order to learn its lessons. Trotsky's insistent call for a united front of workers' organisations to defeat fascism in Germany went tragically unheeded.

After the elections last week in the Netherlands, the attention of the world's media concentrated on the spectacular advance of the so-called Fortuyn's List - the ad hoc right-wing, anti-immigrant formation formed around the recently assassinated Pim Fortuyn. Coming hard on the heels of the electoral advance of Le Pen in France, many people are asking whether politics in Europe is headed for the right, and whether there is the threat of fascism once again in Europe.

Today the word "fascist" has become a general term of abuse hurled at every reactionary bigot. The papers are full of stories about the "rise of fascism" thanks largely to the electoral support of Le Pen in France. Not every reactionary nor every dictatorship is fascist, however. It is necessary to understand the nature of a regime or a movement otherwise the tasks of the workers in relation to it can be confused.

The national question was of primary importance in the process of revolution and counter-revolution in the 1930s, from which important lessons can be learned. Today, the national question of the Spanish state continues without resolution. The bourgeoisie have been historically incapable of successfully completing the task of a bourgeois-democratic revolution of national unification. On the contrary, 40 years of horrible centralism, exercised by the Francoist dictatorship, exacerbated the centralist tendencies. Upon the fall of Francoism, these tendencies became even more defined.

This introduction originally written in 1995 points out that the new generation of young workers and youth should learn the lessons of history. The tragedy of the Spanish revolution is a painful lesson of cynical betrayal. We must learn from the defeats as well as the victories of working people to prepare ourselves for the future.

In 1973, as the situation in Spain moved towards revolution and final overthrow of the hated Franco regime, Ted Grant wrote this document drawing all the lessons from those tumultuous events.

Class polarisation and radicalisation of the Spanish workers, youth and middle class showed at the end of 1972 that the days of the Franco regime were numbered. Ted Grant examined the paramount importance of the coming revolution in Spain for the international working class and criticised the Spanish CP leaders who appeared to have learnt nothing from the defeat in the Civil War.

At the end of 1959 there were Fascist and Nazi provocations in Germany and internationally, raising concerns within the labour movement. Ted Grant answered the anti-German racist poison that the Stalinist leaders were spreading and provided a class analysis of the forces behind Fascism and how to fight it. "From a capitalist class point of view this is perfectly logical," Ted pointed out, "The capitalists used the Nazis in the interests of their profits. If they do not support the Nazis now it is because these criminal maniacs are not necessary, at the present time, to hold down the working class in subjection, and destroy their organisations."

In this pamphlet, written by Ted Grant, the RCP explained the social basis of fascism, as a mass movement based on the middle-class and set in motion by the capitalist class to smash the labour movement. Faced with the danger of social revolution and the loss of power, the British capitalists, no less than their European counterparts, would be prepared to mobilise and finance fascist gangs to atomise the workers organisations. The pamphlet describes how the British capitalists were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini before the war, and how they supported the nascent fascist movement in Britain around Oswald Mosley.

The first democratic elections in Germany after the war, in 1946, saw the workers' parties triumph, especially the Social Democrats, a swing of the petty bourgeoisie toward the Christian Democrats, the collapse of the openly right-wing parties and a total rejection of the Nazis. Ted Grant pointed out that this was the answer to those, including the Stalinists and Labour leaders, who blamed the German workers for Hitler's crimes. The relative setback of the Stalinists and protest vote in the Soviet Zone also indicated that German workers were in favour of Socialism, but were repelled by the Stalinist caricature of it.

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies announced a savage and vengeful programme of enslavement of Germany and the German people. Of course, the responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis was not to be laid on their real backers, the German capitalists and bankers and the British and French capitalists. The burdens of dismemberment and defeat were to be thrown onto the backs of the thrice oppressed and enslaved German workers and peasants, the first victims of Hitlerism.

Ted Grant in 1944 defends an internationalist approach towards the German workers as opposed to the utter nationalist degeneration of the Trade Union, Labour and C.P. leaders who enthusiastically joined the bandwagon of those blaming the German workers for the crimes of the Nazi regime, when in fact they were its first victims.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.

At the end of the war, the tremendous psychological shock occasioned by the events of the war, the collaboration of the bourgeoisie of the defeated countries with the Nazi invaders, had undermined the former habitual acceptance of bourgeois domination over the nation. As Ted Grant wrote in 1944, "The problem of the German revolution cannot be separated from the problem of the revolution in all Europe. The war has tied the fate of all the European countries together. Events in one will have immediate repercussions in all the others."

In July 1944 the Allies had their forces in France ready to march eastwards towards Germany. In the British media there were calls for punishment of all Germans, conveniently ignoring the fact that the German workers had always been opposed to Hitler, whereas the British bourgeois had welcomed his crushing of the German labour movement in 1933.

Contrary to the official mythology about Churchill, by 1944 he was already losing support among the people of Britain. This article by Ted Grant, written at the time and based on local election results, shows that the workers were becoming radicalised. This was to be confirmed in a dramatic way just after the war when Labour won a landslide victory.

When Mussolini was removed by a palace coup in July 1943 the masses came out onto the streets, rejoicing at the fall of the hated dictator. Ted Grant wrote an article shortly after those events stressing that this was the beginning of the revolution in Italy and beyond.

The summer of 1943 marked a dramatic turn in the Second World War. In this article Ted Grant analysed the implications of the Allied invasion of Sicily and the opening of the Second Front, the attempts by Churchill to reach a deal with the Italian monarchy and prop up a regime of the accomplices of fascism which would preserve the interests of Anglo-US imperialism against the rising revolutionary tide. As in the case of North Africa with Giraud, Allied imperialism was dropping the "democratic" mask showing their real aims and interests in the war.

In 1942 the British Stalinists launched a vicious campaign of slander and lies against Trotskyism. Ted Grant, in the best traditions of Marxism, used the weapon of truth to reply to the Stalinists, whose methods were without honour, truth and conscience.

In 1942 a slanderous campaign against the Socialist Appeal waged by the Communist Party leaders was backed up by the Sunday Dispatch, infamous for its early enthusiastic support of Hitler, Mosley and the Blackshirts. They shamelessly joined forces to accuse the Trotskyists of being Hitler's agents! Here is Ted Grant's reply to these slanders.

Stalin’s attitude towards the German people zig-zagged as his relations with his imperialist allies changed. At one point he distinguished between the Nazis and the German workers at other times he blamed the German people as a whole for Nazism. Throughout, however, he never raised a genuine internationalist position. His perspective was not the struggle for world socialism, but merely defence of Russia’s borders.

As Hitler's armies advanced into the Soviet Union, Ted Grant explained that it was the abandonment of genuine workers' democracy and internationalism and its replacement by a dictatorial national bureaucratic regime that weakened the ability of the country to stop the Nazis. In spite of this the duty of British workers was to defend the land of October with all means possible.

In June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. The treacherous policies of Stalin enforced in the non-aggression pact with Hitler of August 1939 were wiped away and the Soviet bureaucracy was thrown into panic. Overnight the Communist International changed its policy from one of opposition to imperialist war to one of collaboration with the democratic nations in the war against fascism. Ted Grant explains the Marxist position back in July 1941.