Jewish and Palestinian workers unity in Israel today bodes well for future struggles

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reading notes - Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Conclusion: Some illusions that must be dispelled


....perspective of "popular fronts." Their hucksters cling to the rotten plank of bourgeois "democracy" and turn their infantile smiles towards the "less reactionary" capitalist groups, to save themselves from the "more reactionary." They await salvation from a Giolitti or a Bruening, who will deliver them in the end, bound hand and foot, to a Hitler or a Mussolini. If they have a weakness for suicide, it's their business. But others, who wish to live, have already chosen between fascism and socialism.

....The socialist movement could have, and should have, exorcized it if it could have torn itself out of its paralysis and impotence; if it had outstripped its adversary; if it had beaten fascism out in winning, or at least neutralizing, the impoverished middle classes; and if it had seized power before fascismnot in order to prolong the capitalist system for better or worse (as too many governments brought to power by the working class have done), but to put the financial backers of fascism (the heavy industrialists and the big landowners) out of action: in a word, if they proceeded to the socialization of the key industries and the confiscation of big land-holdings. In conclusion, any antifascism is a frail illusion if it confines itself to defensive measures and does not aim at smashing capitalism itself.

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....In spite of its verbose demagogy, it has no great designs; it lives from week to week; it aspires to nothing more than to keep a handful of monopolists and big landowners alive through wage cuts, state orders and subsidies, seizure of small savings, and autarky. And in order to prolong the reign of this oligarchy, at the price of a restriction of free enterprise, it hastens the ruin of all other layers of the population-wage earners, consumers, savers, working farmers, artisans, and even industrialists manufacturing consumer goods.

....Rash prophets have announced ten times, a hundred times, the imminent and inevitable crumbling of the fascist dictatorship in Italy or Germany under the blows of the victorious revolution.

....it has not succeeded in suppressing the class struggle, a sociological phenomenon which it is granted to no regime, however perfected, to stamp out.

....It is manifested, for instance, through the demagogy of the plebeians in the "fascisized" or ''gleichgeschaltet" unions, etc., etc.

....In Germany the elections to the factory "confidential councils" have twice (April 1934 and April 1935) constituted a stinging defeat for the regime

....with consummate skill fascism in power follows a policy which, for lack of a better term, I will call "dust in the eyes." This consists of disguising or blurring its real countenance, to some degree, in the eyes of a quite large section of the popular masses.

....massive reabsorption of the unemployed by big and indisputably useful public works....

....the men of wealth who financed fascism and brought it to power were not satisfied with their creation.

....economic policy of fascism, however favorable it may be, is not entirely satisfactory to its former underwriters. Although they eagerly pocket the fabulous profits from armaments orders, they are terrified at the possible consequences of this policy. They are haunted by the thought of a financial catastrophe that would spark a middle-class uprising against them. They also reproach the fascist government for increasing its expenses at an "imprudent" pace. They also fearfully note that the "war economy" regime is constantly imposing more burdensome state regulations on them, that it is forever eating away at sacrosanct "private initiative."

They dare not deprive themselves entirely of the incomparable and irreplaceable means of penetrating into all the cells of society which they have in the fascist mass organizations. Above all, they hesitate to deprive themselves of the services of the "Man of Destiny," for the mystic faith in the Duce or the Fuehrer, though declining, is not yet extinct.


....industrialists are apprehensive lest a radical change in the regime, such as they desire, should cost much bloodshed. They dread a civil war, even a short one, in which "national" forces would oppose one another: they fear nothing so much as what in Germany was called in anticipation, a "new June 30." Therefore the bourgeoisie hesitates.

Stripped of all appearances, all the contradictions which dim its real face, all the secondary aspects which hide its essential character from so many, and all the circumstances peculiar to any one country, fascism is reduced to this: a strong state intended to artificially prolong an economic system based on profit and the private ownership of the means of production. To use Radek's picturesque figure of speech, fascist dictatorship is the iron hoop with which the bourgeoisie tries to patch up the broken barrel of capitalism.


....It merely tries to check, through artificial means, the fall in the profits of a private capitalism which has become parasitic. In spite of its verbose demagogy, it has no great designs; it lives from week to week; it aspires to nothing more than to keep a handful of monopolists and big landowners alive through wage cuts, state orders and subsidies, seizure of small savings, and autarky. And in order to prolong the reign of this oligarchy, at the price of a restriction of free enterprise, it hastens the ruin of all other layers of the population-wage earners, consumers, savers, working farmers, artisans, and even industrialists manufacturing consumer goods.

....It intensifies to the utmost the conflict between the social character of production and the private ownership of the means of production. While it could socialize, without striking a blow, whole sectors of the economy, it respects and shores up private capitalism as far as it can. It does not lead to socialism even by a roundabout road; it is the supreme obstacle to socialism.

....By detaching the economy from the international division of labor, by adapting the "productive forces to the Procrustean bed of the national state," fascism brings, "chaos into world relations."

....At the same time fascism aggravates and brings to their highest degree of tension the contradictions resulting from the uneven development of the capitalist system, and thus hastens the hour of a new division of the world by force of arms-the hour of that "relapse into barbarism" which Rosa Luxemburg foresaw in case the proletariat should be slow to fulfill its class duty and achieve socialism.

....Tomorrow's war will find the satisfied nations, who long ago got their "places in the sun" and divided the planet among themselves through blood and iron, opposing the hungry nations-the late-comers who also demand their share in the feast, if need be through blood and iron. One group is ready to make war to force a new division of the world; the other is ready to make war to prevent this division....

....fascism was rather the specific product of the most advanced form of capitalism, monopolistic heavy industry. However, in these two countries certain special causes accelerated its development; in particular, the fact that after the First World War, these two countries found themselves in the position of "proletarian" nations, vis-a-vis the wealthy countries....

....As for an open fascist dictatorship, however, the bourgeoisie, wiser by the precedents of Italy and Germany, is hesitant to take such a step.






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From: Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin http://www.pathfinderpress.com/s.nl/it.A/id.702/.f?sc=8&category=110

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