Lenin called Imperialism the highest stage of Capitalism, and we view Fascism as its necessary extension, its naked face. In contrast to our socialist belief that power should rest in working class hands, Fascism demands total ruling class control over the nation. It is class collaboration over class struggle, the dictatorship of capital, a form of extreme nationalism, acting as the last ditch defence of capital against the rising power of the working class. Its features are a militaristic regime based upon terror, where civil liberties are repressed, and where profit is the root and fruit of racism.
When Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists tried to march through Jewish areas of East London, the Communist Party along with grassroots labour forces organised working class defence of these areas, issuing the call – No Pasaran! – They Shall Not Pass! We won. The fascists were prevented from marching, resulting in a significant boost to British anti-Fascism. The battle itself was the culmination of Communist agitation on Housing and Tenants rights issues, where communists stood shoulder to shoulder with workers fighting squalor and high rent. In practice, the tenant’s struggle and fight against evictions showed workers that Fascists would always side with the Landlord over the worker.
Fascist victories and Capitalist appeasement set the course for WWII, but importantly, it was the efforts of the heroic Soviet people and her Red Army, not to mention the sacrifices of anti-fascist partisans and working class peoples across Europe against terrible destruction and monstrous genocide that finally overthrew Fascist tyranny.
But Fascism is resurgent, its violence progressively widens, epitomised by the Holocaust. From small beginnings, the same can still occur today, simply look at the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, or the murder of Jo Cox closer to home. These acts, while revolting, are small in comparison to the industrial murder carried out in the Holocaust; but importantly, what must be kept in mind is that the same hatred fuels the modern Fascist, who given the chance would not hesitate to escalate the violence we’ve experienced to even more hideous heights.
We might be tempted to take comfort that the so called fascist movements of today’s Britain, whilst dangerous, have yet to reach the stage of being seriously capable of coming to power. That said, just as in the Thatcher period, we are still plagued by unemployment, growth of precarious work, deindustrialisation, cuts to social services and to real term wages. These are material conditions which fascists can and will opportunistically exploit. It is a fact that when one looks at the history of the National Front, BNP, and consistent Tory electoral success, the working class can be swayed into believing the false narrative of the right. They can be tricked into believing that their problems are because of foreigners and treasonous elements that need to be confronted to restore greatness.
We counter this by patiently explaining the inevitability of crises under the capitalist system, of overproduction, of deteriorating living and working conditions with masses of people purposely kept either unemployed or in precarious low paid work with little union activity. Fascists use mass rallies, tapping into peoples fears, creating national crises with which they can create panic and build support. Even though the fascist movement in Britain is laughably weak, there is an ever present danger of fascism becoming a mass movement precisely because of its ability to motivate people to act based upon their fears and divisions. This is what we need to be vigilant for, whilst also appreciating that having the strength to counter such a development relies on being utterly rooted in the working class, working with them to build worker power.
The EU is a fundamental contributor to the emboldenment of the far right across Europe. We need only look at its explicit support of Fascist Ukraine as a buffer state in its imperialist intrigues against Russia; its Fortress Europe approach to humanitarian crises consigning thousands of innocents to drown escaping the damage imperialism has done to their nations, such as in Libya; or the simple fact that the EU as an organisation is at its core an anti-socialist weapon, aimed squarely at destroying any attempts to advance the condition of the working class across Europe.
As social democratic parties collapse across the continent, precisely because of their continued misguided support of the EU, a vacuum will appear that one of two forces will step into, that of the left, or that of the right.
Liberal responses are far too often responsible for allowing fascists a platform, but equally, the growth of fascist ideas and organisations, and their penetration into the working class is our collective responsibility. It is a failure of left organisations to offer the leadership the working class so desperately needs. Quite simply, as in the past, if we are not seen to be leading on the demands of the people, then we risk losing them to those who will lie through their teeth with cosy promises of taking back control only to sell out to big business interests, and who will threaten minority groups, women and socialists.
State power is the pressing point. The objectives of anti-fascism are too limited. Just as trade unionism can only take us so far on the economic front, anti-fascism only takes us so far on the political front; which explains the importance of the Communist Party as a party by workers for workers with a lived tradition of living breathing and applying Marxism-Leninism to navigate the best course of action to push towards building genuine worker power.