The roots of fascism lie in monopoly capitalism
68 years ago, on May 9, German Hitlerite fascism was defeated by the combined forces of the world’s peoples, in which the Soviet Union of Stalin played a leading role. This is celebrated all over as the day of the victory over fascism. The surrender of the Japanese imperialists a few months later in August 1945 marked the formal end of World War II. On this day, the world’s peoples remember and honour the millions of people all over the world who lost their lives in the titanic struggle against fascism. The Soviet Union alone lost 28 million people.
In the years since then, the working class and democratic forces in all countries have sought to draw the lessons from the rise of fascism and the struggle against it, while the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries and their spokespersons have sought to mystify and distort it. The governments of the US, UK, France and other countries regularly celebrate “VE Day”, as they call it, but they present it primarily as a victory of the Western “democracies” and deny the leading role of the socialist Soviet Union and Stalin. They go so far as to equate fascism with communism. Above all, they hide the truth that the roots of fascism lie in the system of monopoly capitalism, and that as long as this system continues to exist, the danger of fascism is always there.
What was fascism, and how did it become such a powerful force? The great anti-fascist fighter and communist, Georgi Dimitrov, characterised fascism as “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Fascism was born at a time when, following the successful establishment of the world’s first socialist state in the Soviet Union, the communist, working class and anti-imperialist movement all over the globe was in the ascendant. This pushed the world system of capitalism into deeper crisis. Dimitrov pointed out that fascism was “the spearhead of the international counterrevolution”, given birth to by finance capital itself. While being the weapon of finance capital against the working class and people, fascism in different countries sought to present itself as the champion of the people and articulated some of their grievances in order to deceive them. Where the fascist movement was able to do this successfully, and where the communist and socialist forces did not expose and combat them adequately, the fascists were able to come to power, as in Germany and Italy, and become a danger of monstrous proportions. At the same time, even at the height of their power, the communists all over the world understood that fascism was not invincible, and that it could be defeated through the creation of a united front of all forces opposed to fascism. In each country, it was the communists who formed the nucleus and leading core of the anti-fascist united front. These are some of the important lessons and conclusions that the international communist and workers movement have drawn from the experience of the struggle against fascism.
Since the roots of fascism lie in the crisis-ridden system of monopoly capitalism, it follows that the victory over Hitler’s fascist hordes and their allies 68 years ago did not eliminate the threat of fascism to the world’s peoples. What we are seeing today, in conditions of deepening crisis of the world capitalist-imperialist system, is the systematic escalation of attacks on the rights of the working class and people combined with the sophisticated use of terror as a weapon of the state in countries that preserve the outward form of democracy. Com. Dimitrov had pointed out that it is possible for fascism to try to “combine open terrorist dictatorship with a crude sham of parliamentarism.” He explained:
“The development of fascism, and the fascist dictatorship itself, assume different forms in different countries, according to historical, social and economic conditions and to the national peculiarities, and the international position of the given country. In certain countries, principally those in which fascism has no broad mass basis and in which the struggle of the various groups within the camp of the fascist bourgeoisie itself is rather acute, fascism does not immediately venture to abolish parliament, but allows the other bourgeois parties, as well as the Social-Democratic Parties, to retain a modicum of legality.”
In the United States today, using the excuse of a so-called “war against terror”, the hard-won democratic rights of the people are under attack. Abroad, this means complete disregard for the sovereignty of other countries and the lives and liberties of other peoples by the US imperialist state, its armed forces and various agencies. Within the US, it means that all rights of the people are subject to the “security of the Homeland”. Under this banner, people can be detained indefinitely, kidnapped, gunned down in the streets and so on. Following the typical method adopted by the Hitlerite fascists, certain communities and certain sections of people are targeted as “extremists”, “fundamentalists”, etc. It is made out that these people are the source of the problems facing the nation, and that repressive laws and measures apply only to them. This is only to get masses of people used to the denial of rights so that when their turn comes, they are already disarmed.
In the countries of Europe hard hit by the capitalist economic crisis, a wholesale attack on the economic and political rights of working people is being orchestrated by the monopoly bourgeoisie and the states under their control. This is being done in the name of “austerity” and “fiscal responsibility”, meaning that the working people have to sacrifice their incomes and hard-earned savings without question, and accept increasing levels of exploitation without question, in order to bail out the bankrupt capitalist monopolies. At the same time, in each of these countries, neo-fascist terrorist groups are encouraged to attack immigrants, people of the Muslim faith and so on, in order to make out that it is these people who are the source of the acute discontent of the masses of people. In many of these countries, it is common now to see tens of thousands of people come out on the streets again and again in defence of their rights.
In India, the ruling bourgeoisie has mastered the art of hitting out at the rights of the people and unleashing brutal attacks, all under the signboard of parliamentary democracy. The Indian bourgeoisie wants to take advantage of the ongoing capitalist globalisation to step up the exploitation of our people in league with the monopoly capitalists in other countries and to emerge stronger. All the main parliamentary parties which are patronised by the big bourgeoisie are colluding in this. The working class in the most technologically advanced sectors and services are facing the brunt of the attack, as can be seen in the extremely harsh repression unleashed on the workers in the Gurgaon area, the pressure put on the pilots of Air India, and so on. Efforts are made to isolate these fighting sections from other workers in various ways, by calling them “high wage islands”, etc. The point is that the bourgeoisie knows that it has to cow these sections into submission in order to escalate their onslaught on the working class and people. At the same time, a huge diversion is created about the threat from “Islamic terrorism” to justify the most rabid and reactionary laws and judgements against the democratic rights of the people. The point is that the most blatant attacks against the working class and people are being organised on a daily basis by the monopoly capitalists and the state as a whole. However, there are some political forces in our country, including in the communist movement, who persist in arguing that the threat of fascism does not lie here, but only in certain parties following the ideology of Hindutva or in certain individuals like Narendra Modi. This is to try and pull wool over the eyes of the people and disarm them.
The main message on this anniversary of the victory over fascism at the end of World War II, is that the communists, the working class and people cannot relax their vigilance against the monopoly bourgeoisie and their state power, which is the source of fascism. We must learn to recognise its manifestations in today’s conditions, in the policies of the imperialists and the monopoly bourgeoisie, and to unite in defence of our rights.