The question of antifascism is very important and controversial. People like me, with a strong critique of antifascist ideology and reality, are often confronted with reproaches like: we would sabotage the antifascist work, we would make Nazi horrors relative because we denounce and fight democratic horrors and the whole of the capitalist mode of production (from primitive accumulation and colonisation to today’s wars, destruction of nature, and plastic daily life), and so on.
For the bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie, fascism was an abnormal phenomenon, a degradation of democratic values explicable only by recourse to psychological explanations. Liberal anti-fascism treated fascism as a perversion of Western civilization, thereby generating an obverse effect: the sado-masochistic fascination with fascism as manifested by the collection of Nazi bric-a-brac. Western humanism never understood that the swastikas worn by the Hell’s Angels reflected the inverted image of its own vision of fascism. The logic of this attitude can be summed up: if fascism is the ultimate Evil, then let’s choose evil, let’s invert all the values. This phenomenon is typical of a disoriented age.
Fascism was a solution to a crisis of the State during the transition to the total domination of Capital over society. Workers’ organisations of a certain type were necessary in order to subdue the revolution; next fascism was required in order to put an end to the subsequent disorder. The crisis was never really overcome by fascism: the fascist State was effective only in a superficial way, because it rested on the systematic exclusion of the working class from social life. This crisis has been more successfully overcome by the State in our own times. The democratic State uses all the tools of fascism, in fact, more, because it integrates the workers’ organisations without annihilating them. Social unification goes beyond that brought about by fascism, but fascism as a specific movement has disappeared. It corresponded to the forced discipline of the bourgeoisie under the pressure of the State in a truly unique situation.
In a time of verbal inflation, “fascism” is just a buzz word used by leftists to demonstrate their radicalism. But its use indicates both confusion and a theoretical concession to the State and to Capital. The essence of antifascism consists of struggling against fascism while supporting democracy; in other words, of struggling not for the destruction of capitalism, but to force capitalism to renounce its totalitarian form. Socialism being identified with total democracy, and capitalism with the growth of fascism, the opposition proletariat/Capital, communism/wage labour, proletariat/State, is shunted aside in favour of the opposition “Democracy”/ “Fascism”, presented as the quintessence of the revolutionary perspective. Antifascism succeeds only in mixing two phenomena: “Fascism” properly so-called, and the evolution of Capital and the State towards totalitarianism. In confusing these two phenomena, in substituting the part for the whole, the cause of Fascism and totalitarianism is mystified and one ends up reinforcing what one seeks to combat.
We cannot come to grips with the evolution of capital and its totalitarian forms by denouncing “latent Fascism”. Fascism was a particular episode in the evolution of Capital towards totalitarianism, an evolution in which democracy has played and still plays a role as counter-revolutionary as that of fascism, It is a misuse of language to speak today of a non-violent, “friendly” fascism which would leave intact the traditional organs of the workers’ movement. Fascism was a movement limited in time and space. The situation in Europe after 1918 gave it its original characteristics which will never recur.
Paradoxically, the essence of antifascist mystification is that the democrats conceal the nature of fascism as much as possible while they display an apparent radicalism in denouncing it here, there, and everywhere. This has been going on for fifty years now.
Boris Souvarine wrote in 1925(3): “Fascism here, fascism there. Action Francaise – that’s fascism. The National Bloc – that’s fascism…. Every day for the last six months, Humanite serves up a new fascist surprise. One day an enormous headline six columns wide trumpets: SENATE FASCIST TO THE CORE. Another time, a publisher refusing to print a communist newspaper is denounced: FASCIST BLOW…. There exists today in France neither Bolshevism nor fascism, any more than Kerenskyism. Liberte and Humanite are blowing hot air: the Fascism they conjure up for us is not viable, the objective conditions for its existence are not yet realized. One cannot leave the field free to reaction. But it is unnecessary to baptise this reaction as fascism in order to fight it.
“Fascism steals from the proletariat its secret: organisation. … Liberalism is all ideology with no organisation; fascism is all organisations with no ideology.” (Bordiga)