Saturday, May 14, 2011

Anti-fascists vs fascism vs the state: a three way fight, not democracy in crisis

The State: The compulsory political institution of a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the use of force within a certain territory. It applies to the courts, the cops, the laws, the politicians etc… 

Fascism: A form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. Fascism has a complex relationship with established elites and the non-fascist right. It is never a mere puppet of the ruling class, but an autonomous movement with its own social base. In practice, fascism defends capitalism against instability and the left, but also pursues an agenda that sometimes clashes with capitalist interests in significant ways. There has been much cooperation, competition, and interaction between fascism and other sections of the right, producing various hybrid movements and regimes. (Matthew N Lyons)

Capitalism: An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.


The way we describe things and how we define them is important. Misunderstood and misused terminology, and definitions that are not appropriate to their origins and genealogy are dangerous. In this case, the term at hand is 'fascism'. You can attempt to describe fascism in a static image, as we have before, for reasons of simplicity, but it is best understood by examining how it has existed and how it has functioned.

Often, to understand what something is you must understand what it is not. Many leftists and even anarchists fail to understand, that fascism and the State are two very different things. There are two reasons why it is necessary to recognize these as completely separate ideas.

First, to equate fascism with the State (or even worse, bureaucracy, is to misunderstand fascism and to obfuscate what it really is. This minimizes its opposition by maximizing its abilities to go unnoticed. Second, to recognize the state as fascist fuels an attempt to attack its “fascist” leadership. This strengthens the state by taking away from the idea that it is oppressive in its very nature; that the system itself, its entire framework, must be destroyed, not just its leadership.

Liberal antifascists may recognize the difference in definitions, yet do not oppose the state or capitalism. They attempt to stage the discourse and struggle of anti fascism as a battle between democracy vs fascism.  They see fascism as, most importantly, a threat to the established order. This once again strengthens the state, by urging the necessity for a more democratic society and a purer form of capitalism.

We recognize that fascism is something different, yet we also want nothing to do with capitalism and the state. So which is worse? There is no simple answer. Fascism in power (which some purists would argue is not fascism at all, given it had to sacrifice its own ethics to gain that power) may be far more brutal; however, if every stage of fascism is a fascist movement in itself, then one that never got past its own self-realization could certainly not be worse than U.S democracy. Further, how do we measure strength? Is it how easy something is to destroy? Obviously fascism is far easier to defeat than Capitalism. Maybe it is a question of which produces the other. Some Marxists say that fascism is capitalism in crisis, and that democracy is the mode of operation from which fascism is born. But the question of which produces the other becomes irrelevant when we realize that both fascism and the state must be destroyed.

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