The evil of fascism
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Whether it is a white supremacist or a religious extremist, the use of terrorist violence against randomly selected innocent targets is a crime.
We apply the word “fascist” to such terrorist activity whether it comes from ISIS or from racists.
At our 15th Congress in 2015, we offered an analysis of terror that attributed the most widespread use of terror to US imperialism. (We append this section of that report to this article.)
There are two types of fascism that we must oppose. The first is the legal fascism of the state in the form of draconian anti-union legislation and attacks on civil liberties.
When fascism first emerged in Italy and Germany, Communist leaders identified its class basis. As early as 1923, German Communist Clara Zetkin wrote: "Fascism is the concentrated expression of the general offensive undertaken by the world bourgeoisie against the proletariat.... fascism an expression of the decay and disintegration of the capitalist economy and as a symptom of the bourgeois state’s dissolution. We can combat fascism only if we grasp that it rouses and sweeps along broad social masses who have lost the earlier security of their existence and with it, often, their belief in social order....”
Perhaps the most influential definition of fascism was provided by the Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935. Dimitrov began with an analysis of fascism, which he characterized as "the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital," intent upon wreaking organized "terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia." With respect to its foreign policy, Dimitrov condemned fascism as "jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations."
Both definitions point to the adoption of fascism by the most reactionary sections of the bourgeoisie in its class war against the workers.
Both offer explanations of how people, including sections of the working class, those who “have lost the earlier security of their existence” and those who are encouraged to have a “bestial hatred of other nations”, can be swept up in support of fascist ideas.
Hence, we have the second type of fascism: street thugs and lone wolves of the Brenton Tarrant type who, on the one hand, are used by the bourgeoisie to try and intimidate, harass and threaten socially progressive peoples and who, on the other hand, develop personal agendas for eliminating by violence those they identify as racial or religious enemies.
Historian Peter Cochrane’s study of Australian motivations for involvement in the First World War reveals how “Among the paramount concerns…was the sanctity of Australia’s race purity” (1).
It is a concern that continues to motivate people like Brenton Tarrant. In the course of a century it has diminished but never disappeared.
On one right-wing Facebook page a person complained that Tarrant’s massacre of Muslims at prayer will “give all white patriots a bad name”, to which one woman replied “Good on him!” Another wrote, “Best video I seen all week!” referring to the live streaming of his murders by Tarrant.
At the time of writing this article (afternoon of Saturday March 16), Peter Dutton had had a photo of the Australian flag flying at half-mast outside his electorate office “out of respect and in condolence for those killed in the terrorist attack in New Zealand” posted on his own Facebook page. In the space of 5 hours it had attracted 117 comments. Some thanked him for showing respect, some reminded him of his own responsibility for Tarrant’ actions: “Maybe if you toned down your anti Muslim vitriol these ultra right activists will not feel so empowered.” Both sentiments were outnumbered by expressions of outrage from right-wing anti-Muslims who accused him of not flying the flag for “40 Christians killed by Muslims in Nigeria”, for 20 Christians killed in an ISIS church bombing in the Philippines last week, and similar outrages. This was his own right-wing constituency turning on him in droves.
Nazi-sympathiser Fraser Anning MP appealed to that same constituency when he wrote that “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
Petitions demanding his removal from parliamentary office quickly appeared, one garnering 235,000 signatures in just 17 hours.
While there has been an overwhelming repudiation of Tarrant’s actions by all except a small hard-core of racists, the question must also be asked as to how he was able to plan and undertake such an action without being discovered by intelligence operatives.
New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes intelligence network (with the US, Britain, Australia and Canada). It is not an isolated backwater as some have made out.
The network’s shared capacity for surveillance and data gathering is formidable. US author Alfred W, McCoy speaks of the US National Security Agency (NSA) “sweeping the skies and penetrating the World Wide Web’s undersea cables”, making it “capable of capturing the confidential communications of any leader on the planet while monitoring countless millions of their citizens.” (2)
He refers to the agency’s X-Keyscore program that “had collected 850 billion ‘call events’ in 2007 and forty-one billion records for a single month in 2012.” All of this continually accumulating data is sifted through by algorithms searching for key words and phrases linked to terrorism and to anti-US sentiment. Perhaps Tarrant’s boasts on social media prior to his murders that he “will carry out an attack against the invaders, and will even live-stream the attack via facebook” was simply lost in the mind-numbing mass of data scooped up by the US and its Five Eyes partners.
Perhaps the pictures he tweeted two days before the attack of the weapons and gear he would use in killing Muslims was similarly lost. Or perhaps US, Australian and NZ agencies simply weren’t looking in the right place: they have traditionally taken little interest in right-wing extremists, concentrating in an earlier era on Communists and anti-imperialists, and since 9/11 on Islamic religio-fascists.
“We must be a blade at the throat of fascists,” wrote imprisoned US black revolutionary George Jackson.
We must take seriously the tasks of combatting fascists in the streets and in the corridors of political power.
Down with the ISIS-style religious fascists!
Down with the fascism of white supremacists!
Oppose all attacks on democratic rights and liberties!
(1), Cochrane, Peter Best We Forget: The War for White Australia 1914-18, Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 2018
(2) McCoy, Alfred W. In the Shadow of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, OneWorld Publications, 2017
Appendix: from the Political Report to the CPA (M-L)’s 15th Congress
The war of terror
In the final analysis, the war of terror is the means by which imperialist finance capital maintains its domination over the people and nations of the world. The reactionary classes deploy terror to maintain their rule. The standing armed forces of the imperialists routinely adopt tactics which lead to overwhelming “collateral damage” amongst innocent civilians. They also have a long history of deploying death squads and other irregular and mercenary forces to take out what a new Pentagon manual identifies as “unprivileged belligerents”. In relation to peace activists and progressive forces in their own imperialist and developed capitalist heartlands, they use fear of terror by real or imaginary opponents to control the people with draconian “anti-terror” legislation.
For more than a decade, the imperialists have inverted logic and tried to claim leadership of the “war on terror”. The whole history of colonial expansion and imperialist division of the world has been one of the employment of terror against people fighting for freedom from enslavement, for national liberation and for independence and socialism. Whether it is the plunder and pillage of standing armies or the disappearances and assassinations of clandestine death squads, terror has been the way countless people throughout the world have experienced capitalism and imperialism.
The terror imperialism now claims to be fighting had its origins in the Soviet social-imperialist invasion of Afghanistan. British and US training of religious zealots to fight the Soviets quickly extended to training and equipping similar groups for the purpose of achieving regime change in targeted countries including Iraq, Libya and Syria. That zealotry has seen the trainees outgrow the role assigned to them by imperialism; it has seen them with their own religio-fascist agenda turn around to bite the hand that fed them.
Groups like ISIS have emerged as a type of international lumpen-proletariat. In advanced capitalist countries the lumpen-proletariat consists of people who cannot or will not live as members of the working class, people broken in spirit by poverty, lack of education and opportunity, health failure, and drugs. Their escape route from all of this is criminal activity and criminal violence through which they seek to empower and enrich themselves. They aspire to live like the idle rich they see at the top of society.
ISIS recruits come from all strata of society and include educated and articulate youths. They hate imperialism for its wanton random violence against the communities from which they come and for its failure to embrace the Prophet, but they are not conscious anti-imperialists. They aspire to have an empire of their own, the Caliphate and murder and terrorise any who stand in their way. Their open fighting is directed at armed opponents, including genuine anti-imperialists, but their terrorism is directed at non-combatants, at innocent civilians, including in the imperialist and developed capitalist countries. Ultimately terrorism is a political response to injustice that fails to understand that only the masses create positive change. ISIS terrorism is the personally brutal mirror image of the impersonal brutality of imperialist drone attacks and the rain of Zionist phosphorous bombs over Gaza. Whether you behead the person next to you or simply feed coordinates to a drone from the safe distance of Pine Gap, you are equally a terrorist as far as your victims are concerned.
ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in Australia, France, Britain and elsewhere give the ruling classes of those countries the excuse to intensify surveillance of all progressive politically active people. We have already seen a vast expansion of police and security powers in this regard. We are also seeing the roll-out of a campaign encouraging teachers to identify potentially “radicalised” youths. A number of case studies are presented including a young girl who leaves her supportive family to become an environmental activist. Of course, there is the obligatory case study of a Muslim youth, but the lumping together of people exercising legitimate democratic rights with those coming under the influence of ISIS shows how terrorism enables the ruling class to spread its repressive net ever more widely. The goal of “deradicalising” ISIS followers can never succeed so long as it denies the existence of imperialist violence and terror.
Marxists eschew terrorism. The terrorism of imperialism is the much greater and the more dangerous and perfidious of the two terrorisms we have discussed. It will be directed at the revolutionary anti-imperialist movement when it develops to a particular level of influence in Australia. It will come from the authorised state agencies of violence and it will come from fascist thugs to whom the state will turn a blind eye and encourage. We will only be able to defend the advances we make in the development of the movement for independence from imperialism by countering the violence of the state with the organised resistance of the revolutionary movement. Our activity will arise as a defensive measure and gradually assume an offensive capacity, but it will always be organised against identified agencies of the capitalist state and will never take the form of indiscriminate and random violence in which members of our own class become victims.
We will never practice terrorism or endorse terrorist activity.
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