Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 16, 2015

A New Chapter in the Fascist Internationale

Filed under: Counterpunch,mechanical anti-imperialism,Russia — louisproyect @ 1:15 pm

A New Chapter in the Fascist Internationale

An Ominous Prospect

With an insignia of a shield crossed by broadswords on a granite background, the World National-Conservative Movement announced its birth with the declaration, “The time has arrived to take responsibility for our peoples and nations of the world!” The confluence of some 58 parties, organizations, and groups, the World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM) developed out of the efforts of the Russian radical-right party, Rodina.

While its public document declares that “Communism, Nazism, and Islamism” comprise a “false alternative to totalitarian ideologies,” the WNCM’s ideology reads like a run-of-the-mill document of the radical right, which remains inextricably linked to fascism. Lamenting the sexual perversity of the super-national organizations like the EU and NATO, and calling for the return to the traditional “family and healthy moral values,” the WNCM attacks “the erosion of nations, massive migration,” which it blames on “liberalism, multiculturalism, and tolerance.” Instead, WNCM advocates “healthy nationalism and religious beliefs, patriotism, respect of one’s own and foreign traditional moral and ethical values, in other words, national conservatism.” Subverting the “global cabal” (read: Jews) requires a chain of “conservative revolutions” that will restore nations to themselves; “Victory of the conservative revolution even in one country without fail will provide an example for other countries.”

With participants including Golden Dawn, Jobbik, the Finns Party, and the British National Party, the WNCM hosts some of the most powerful radical right populist names in Europe. However, the umbrella group also includes some overtly-fascist groups and groupuscles like Poland’s Falanga, Italy’s Millennium and Forza Nuova, and the US’s American Freedom Party. Visiting senior fellow at Norway’s Legatum Institute, Anton Shekhovtsov, who broke this story on Thursday, characterizes the group as “clearly on the extreme right, verging on neo-Nazism.” That is putting it lightly. In spite of its formal denial, the WNCM seems more like a continuation of a potentially-disastrous formula combining fascist vanguards and populist radical right parties that continues to build steam around the world.

The Origins of the Fascist Internationale

In broad terms, it a “Fascist Internationale” that seems to be in the offing in the World National-Conservative Movement. The notion of a “left-wing” fascism, or a fascist system that would respect the autonomy of different nations while working co-operatively, developed out of the original “National Bolshevik” group, Association for the Study of Russian Planned Economy (ARPLAN), which featured Ernst Jünger and Georgi Lukacs, among others. These thinkers ideated, against the Hitlerite faction of National Socialism, that a bond between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany could work, because, in the words of völkisch thinker Artur Dinter, Bolshevik Russia would become “a ‘Russian National Socialism.’”

While ARPLAN found significant traction in the early Nazi Party, with Gregor Strasser featuring prominently as Hitler’s number two, their hopes would be dashed in the Night of the Long Knives. Gregor was murdered, and his brother Otto fled the country. After the war, Otto Strasser rose to prominence on the neo-fascist circuit along with French intellectual, Maurice Bardèche, Italian occultist Julius Evola, US agent Francis Parker Yockey, and Belgian odd-ball Jean-François Thiriart. These thinkers helped model a European Social Movement (known today as the “second position”) that looked to a European Nation highly influenced by British fascist Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement. The European Social Movement effectively passed out of existence by 1957, due to a split over the difference between racist politics and cultural hegemony. Although the idea of a European Nation continued, a “Third Position” would develop to carry on the banner of “neither left nor right, neither communist nor capitalist.”

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  1. Leave it to somebody from Earth First! to fail to mention that historically Fascism can only gain real political traction amidst the threat of the organized working class taking state power.

    With class consciousness at an all time low, never mind the retreat of trade unionism, the ruling class has no use for fascism.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 16, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

  2. The recent bankruptcy of the A&P supermarket chain, together with the other chains owned by the same outfit, points out an alarming new development in advanced capitalism in the United States and elsewhere that seems to have escaped the attention of the mainstream organized left or is being applauded as progress (good riddance to bad and immoral supermarket food. Long live the artisanal!)

    I refer to the related series of financial shocks and supply-chain shocks that bit by bit are dismantling the last vestiges of Fordist pseudo-prosperity–the wide-scale availabiity of (relatively) cheap, safe, and nourishing food. This is important because it indicates the extent to which advanced capitalism in the advanced countries is willing to roll back the magic carpet of capitalism’s greatest historical advances in order to advance the interests of the financialized ruling class.

    I think the historicity and relevance of the word “fascism” may be inextricably tied up with the larger historical problem of financialization in the newer concrete form it has assumed since 2008, and its terrifying potential consequences for ordinary working people. I want to suggest that even the overt fascism now reaching for solidarity across the globe is in fact something very different from fascism (or Nazism) at its origins.

    I have not had time to do proper research on sources since the A&P announcement, but as an indicator of the problem, in a paper called “Financialization and the Transformation of Agro-food Supply Chains:A Political Economy” delivered at a Yale symposium in 2013, (https://www.tni.org/files/download/9_isakson_2013.pdf) Ryan Isakson states the following premises before going on to discuss the problem in detail (and outline a solution which, at this point, is irrelevant to the point I am trying to make

    (1) [T]he financialization of food and agriculture has blurred the line between finance and food provisioning; (2) financialization has reinforced the position of food retailers as the dominant actors within the agro-food system, though they are largely subject to the dictates of finance capital; (3) financialization has intensified the exploitation of food workers, increasing their workload while pushing down their real wages and heightening the precarity of their positions; and (4) small-scale farmers have been especially hard hit by financialization, as their livelihoods have become even more uncertain due to increasing volatility in agricultural markets, they have
    become weaker vis-à-vis other actors in the agro-food supply chain, and they face growing competition for their farmland. Given the regressive impacts of contemporary financialization, readers are asked to envision an alternative approach to finance food provisioning …

    In the words of Bloomsberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-20/grocer-a-p-files-for-bankruptcy-for-second-time-in-five-years):

    As the grocer bled cash in recent months, some vendors demanded faster payments and threatened to cut off supplies, A&P’s financial advisory firm said in a court filing. The company’s top goal in bankruptcy is to maintain daily deliveries of perishable inventory, such as eggs, butter and milk, FTI Consulting Inc. said.

    It’s “absolutely essential” that the grocer’s inventory supply chain remains uninterrupted, FTI said.

    Translated from Bloomsbergese, what this means is that the entire superstructure of food production and distribution in the United States is crumbling under the assault of finance capital.

    Bloomberg’s bland answer? (Ibid.)

    The company has struggled to compete with newcomers including Whole Foods Market Inc. and Trader Joe’s Co. Its stores came to seem dated, and the company’s bottom line sagged under labor expenses including high pension costs.

    The food supply problem, in short, will be solved by rendering food unavailable to those awful workers, whose greed (who needs pensions?) has been tolerated long enough. Let them eat emu eggs! We’re happy to pay five dollars a head for artisanal cabbage at Whole Foods or Trader Joes’ or some alleged “farmers’ market” in a gentrified “community” of the rich and the deluded. The near-miraculous food supply and distribution system that was once the (legitimate) boast of Richard Nixon in Nikita Khrushchev’s kitchen may be in the process of being permanently dismantled.

    What does the food supply problem have to do with fascism?

    Simple–the mavens of financialized capitalism are no longer much interested in any form of production for use. They are hearing the call of the new, the Creative, the avant-garde–and so require and eventually may have a system of social control that simply seeks to maintain higher and deeper fences and ditches between the haves and the have-nots, as opposed to historic fascism,which sought to recruit and organize the working classes for slaughter in the wars of conquest of mid-twentieth century imperialism. The new fascism does not seek to mobilize the masses, as original fascism did, but rather to immobilize them. The external enemy is being invoked to induce paralysis while the mythical one percent turn their backs on society with a thoroughgoing depraved indifference that would have shocked even Maggie Thatcher (who once made an impassioned plea for concerted world action against global warming).

    Fascism once meant a degree of prosperity for the favored majority in those countries–at least while a new generation of youth were being fattened for sacrifice in world war. It now means the illusion of defense against immigration and “terrorism” (whatever that means) while walls are being built to keep the misguided workers busy at the throats of their potential comrades at home and abroad. In the meantime, the capitalism of productive forces attempts to leap beyond itself into a world of pure money, where production itself is a quaint archaism. Everything is now “customized”–the external foci of mass culture are disappearing, and a world of surly cell-phone tappers and solitary obsessives is being created in its place. Public spaces and public resources are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate to accommodate this new form of total control.

    While the fascist internationale to which Ross’s article points so eloquently (and disturbingly) certainly exists, this is not your great-grandfather’s fascism. It betokens something that in the long run may be even more dangerous to the future of humanity, and which is not waiting patiently to arise but is already far advanced throughout what once was known as the “developed” world.

    Please forgive the emotionalism of this, which is more or less in the nature of an outburst born of a (possibly irrational) sense of extreme urgency. But what will working people do when there are no more supermarkets? The new fascism is being forged to deal with them under that circumstance.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 16, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

  3. Dear Comrade Pete. I happen to be a former employee of the “Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company”, otherwise known as A&P. Back in 1978 when I was 17 I was a grocery bagger in Chicago who just passed his 90 day orientation in the AFL’s Retail Clerks Union, which I recall was like $90 to join and then a couple hours a month pay in dues thereafter.

    Shortly thereafter one weekend when I was off some dufus was teaching his girlfriend how to drive and she made a left turn in front of me on my 1974 RD350 motorcycle and while flying over the roof of their car I smacked my unprotected forehead on the car’s roof leaving me with fortunately only a minor 12 stitches abrasion.

    A Chicago cop came to the scene fairly quick. They had no insurance and I had no help so the cops said he’d take me to the hospital but warned “you’d better not bleed all over my seats.”

    At Weiss Memorial Hospital an astute radiologist took x-rays of my head which were OK but noticed something amiss at the base of my skull. There was a fracture in my neck 3 verts down but it was old as evidenced by the calcium deposits around it, meaning I was walking around with a broken neck but it wasn’t a result of the accident. Turns out it was fairly common and young people could easily endure it because their bones and ligaments were softer & more supple but as one got older it could lead to disaster from a simple sneeze, cutting off motor functions like breathing.

    They were right. I remember in retrospect when I broke it at 12 but never told anybody I was so scared. There was an Uncle’s pool in Jackson, Michigan that I visited on holidays. None of the cousins were around so I begged a swim without supervision and they said OK so long as I didn’t go break my neck. I dove in what I remembered was the 12 foot deep end that turned out to be the shallow end and smacked my forehead immediately on the bottom so hard it rendered me semi unconscious. I floated in a daze at the bottom of the pool, aware that I was not breathing and that I should breath to live. I recall rolling onto my back, still not breathing but in no pain, at the bottom of the shallow pool, staring up at the sun which I could look at with no anguish as it was filtered by the water.

    After what seemed like 20 minutes but was likely less than 20 seconds I did see my brief life flash before me (very briefly since I hadn’t had much life at 12) and even had a quick sense of that white light sucking me into that vortex of death that Christians talk about — but since I’d heard about that Christian nonsense already at 12 and didn’t believe a word of it I suddenly had this panic attack and shot up to the surface like a cork with a great gasp of fresh air.

    I moped back to the house alone wrapped in a towel and when the adults who were bullshitting politics saw me they were shocked as they claimed I was white as a ghost but I never admitted what happened.

    What happened was I broke my young neck unbeknownst to anybody. I later found out the #1 statistical cause of paralysis is diving/swimming pool accidents. All the experts claimed that young people bones are soft enough that they heal and conceal these fractures.

    Long story short I had an 8 hour spinal fusion surgery operation by 2 acclaimed surgeons at Weiss Memorial. Back then there was a stenographer taking notes. I read them. 1st they “gouged curly cue strips of bone from my right hip” and then packed them into my neck and then wrapped it all up with essentially bailing wire.

    17 days later, after circle beds and Frankenstein traction with bolts in my head, It all healed fine, an amazing recovery, the wonders of a 17 year old body & modern medicine.

    Here’s the moral of this story. My parents had no health insurance covering me but I was covered by the union’s plan. I was 6 months on the job at most. 17 years old. The total bill was $52,500 for everything. Yet the union covered everything. My one and only bill was from the hospital for $19.78. It was the electrical bill for my 17 days at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

    Now those were the days when workers had power — when unions held sway.

    Now Pete, let me get to the moral of this story. That moral is that I rode as a youth on the last wave the world historic defeat of fascism. the apex of what the bourgeoisie would concede to the proletariat, and granted those days are long gone, so naturally the forces of Fascism per se have a leg up right now.

    The problem is today the bourgeoisie are still pinching themselves from the greatest plunder, the legally unopposed transfer of wealth in human history, that is, the 2008 bank bailout.

    7 years later they’re aware they’ve got off “Scot-free” (which is actually an insult to the Scottish people as equally insulting to the Welsh as if they’ve defaulted on some debt?)

    The point is the ruling class historically needed Fascism precisely when the working class was strong, to break their organizations and jail or murder their leaders.

    Granted if OWS gained enough traction that it was still a factor today then the threat of fascist retaliation would be a threat but we’re not there yet. The world proletariat is not there yet. Fascism is therefore not there yet but agreed it will surely rise it’s ugly head again so being en gaard is certainly no fault as our aim is to unify rather than divide.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 17, 2015 @ 4:40 am

  4. Karl–

    Regarding fascism, my point in my too-long comment was basically that, IMHO, what we are actually in is something enough different from fascism and far enough advanced that some of us (present company excepted) may be deriving a false sense of temporary security by waiting for the “real thing.”

    Hence my perhaps too Alex Jones reaction to the A&P bankruptcy: if the food distribution network that–for all its contradictions–was one of the glories of capitalist America is collapsing under the impact of financialization, what need will there ever be of actual fascism? “Food endangerment” and/or extreme poverty combined with militarized force for the masses (already in place, at least as potential) will render that unnecessary if social control on behalf of the imperial ruling class is all that is sought. Couldn’t this constitute a kind of terminal decadence, but not necessarily a crisis of capitalism allowing the workers at some point to surge forward and make revolution? And how will the colonized peoples of the various empires surge forward to accomplish this without revolution in the “advanced” countries?

    Indeed, is it possible, crudely stated, that there could be a “window of revolution” in the “advanced” countries that, once closed, will prevent or greatly hamper revolution anywhere?

    I find it very worrying that capitalism in the “advanced” countries might substantially destroy the productive infrastructure that would otherwise be its legacy to socialism. Naive, yes, stupid, perhaps; and I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I can’t shake that thought–even though I hope and trust that much of the drama will leave the situation under the cold light of analysis.

    I am very glad that you survived your terrible accident.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 17, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  5. Pete: “[W]orrying that capitalism in the ‘advanced’ countries might substantially destroy the productive infrastructure that would otherwise be its legacy to socialism” keeps many revolutionaries, young and old, awake at night so it’s far from a “naive” or “stupid” thought. Indeed that’s a thought worth dwelling on far more than immanent fascism in my view.

    As far as the accident it wasn’t at all terrible. It was very minor actually as I walked away with a few stitches. In fact had I been wearing a helmet I wouldn’t have cut my head and so nobody would have found the previously broken neck bone. It could have held together indefinitely by muscle and ligaments but it could also, as I got older & stiffer, resulted in disaster.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 17, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

  6. “With class consciousness at an all time low, never mind the retreat of trade unionism, the ruling class has no use for fascism.”

    But the ruling class always has a use for an empowered, racist group of people to carry out its dirty work, no matter the economic conditions.

    US history is full of examples.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 19, 2015 @ 3:26 am

  7. […] to get jobs, nobody protested. Now they’re coming for your food supply. “Pete Glosser,” in an excellent comment at the Unrepentant Marxist blog lays it out […]

    Pingback by A Brief History of my Addiction to Food | Writers Without Money — September 20, 2015 @ 8:21 am

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