Recent comments on the Intsdiscnet-list on “Fascists March on Berkeley” (4/27/17) raise that issue with which those committed to the struggle against capitalism have grappled since the 1930’s: anti-fascism.
Historically Antifa or anti-fascism within the worker’s movement became the clarion call of Stalinism, and then the veritable basis of the Grand Alliance between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill to, yes, crush the Axis powers, and – yes – to divide the world between American imperialism, American capitalism and its British partner, and the no less imperialist ambitions of Stalinist Russia. The logic of Anti-fascism was played out on the streets of Barcelona and Madrid in 1936-37, even before the outbreak of World War Two as the Stalinists crushed the working class of Spain even before Franco and the fascists could then finish the job. Anti-Fascism then became the ideological basis for the mobilization of the working class for the second inter-imperialist war, first for its no-strike pledges in Britain and the U.S., and then for sending the sons of the working class in Britain and the U.S. to die for their national capital, for the demands of Anglo-American imperialism and its alliance with Stalin. Anti-fascism, then, was historically the ideological basis of capitalism’s response to the great depression and its accompanying sharpening of inter-imperialist antagonisms. Its success could be seen in the triumph of Anglo-Saxon and Russian imperialism, displayed for all to see in the wanton destruction of defenseless cities like Dresden, Leipzig, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the war had already been militarily won, and in the subjection of half of Europe to Stalin.
And now? And today? Once again anti-fascism emerges as the clarion call of the “resistance” (sic.), of that faction of American capital represented by the Democratic party: the call of Sanders and Warren as they prepare for the next election; the call of Hillary Clinton, the war hawk and Senator from Wall Street, who successfully argued as Secretary of State for American military intervention in Libya, who argued – this time unsuccessfully — for the U.S. to back up its “red line” in Syria against Assad, and to once again wage imperialist war in the Middle-East. There is where the actual logic of anti-fascism today is being played out, that is what the ideology of Antifa serves. And like its Stalinist progenitors in the 1930’s, anti-fascism today has nothing to do with anti-capitalism. Indeed, Antifa today, as it was yesterday, is an ideological trap, a basis for one more mobilization of the working class behind the interests of capitalism. At a time when the historical logic and trajectory of capitalism needs to be grasped and theoretically and politically exposed, anti-fascism once again holds out its promise that it can still serve to mobilize the working class in the interests of the very system that exploits it, and to ideologically bind it to that system.
Is fascism really what Trump, Le Pen and others of their ilk represent? There’s nothing that indicates that their aim is to do away with the basic rules of the democratic game. That doesn’t mean that they are not dangerous. But democracy can accommodate repression, war crimes and attacks on the working class just as well, if not better, than fascism. The common denominator is increased nationalism and militarism. Most of the ruling class may have preferred Clinton but they are more than willing to see if Trump can use these tools to protect and increase their profits. The health care bill, recently approved in the House of Representatives, amongst other measures, shows clearly that the new administration is launching a ferocious attack on the proletariat. No wonder it evokes disgust and anger, which we share. We express our solidarity with the protests and struggles against the attacks of the state, while at the same time pointing out that this is capital attacking the working class, not fascism attacking democracy. In fighting back, the choice comes up: do we ally ourselves with factions of the ruling class in opposition in order to defeat the faction in power, or do we fight them both? By framing the conflict as one between fascism and democracy, the partisans of antifa are making the first choice seem logical and necessary, and are thereby, despite their combativity, acting as water carriers for capitalism.