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Dave Silver
February 2005

While there may be other valid descriptions of the concept of fascism, I like the one that Georgi Dimitrov used at the 13 th Plenum of the Communist International in 1935; “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” He also emphasizes that fascism can assume “different forms” in different countries depending upon historical, social, and economic conditions as well as national and cultural characteristics. Dimitrov notes that where there is no broad base, and where there may be an acute struggle within the fascistic bourgeoisie itself Parliaments and other bourgeois Parties may continue to exist with a modicum of legality.

Political scientist Lawrence Britt identified several common features of all fascist regimes in an article titled “Fascism Anyone.” Among them are extreme nationalism, identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause, supremacy of the military, controlled mass media, obsession with national security, protection of corporate power, suppression of labor, obsession with crime and punishment, disdain for intellectual and the arts and fraudulent elections.

And as Matthew Lyons states in a Public Research Associates article What is fascism “it is hostile to Marxism, liberalism and conservatism, yet it borrows concepts from all three.” Fascism rejects class struggle and workers internationalism yet we see the Nazis calling their Party the “National Socialist Workers Party.” Use is made of the liberal doctrine of individual autonomy and rights while its vision of a “new order” clashes with the conservative attachment to traditional institutions. The fascist approach to politics is both populist and elitist. The former seeks to activate “the people” as a whole against perceived enemies while the treatment of the will of the people is embodied in a select group.

In an October 2004 article by David Oakes he calls attention to a kind of “psychiatric fascism” by Bush appointee Dr. Sally Satee, who urges the Center for Mental Health Services to encourage states to use more “coercive, intrusive and involuntary care.” Oaks points out the fact that 42 states have passed outpatient commitment laws allowing citizens to be court ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will while living peacefully at home. Which brings us to the imperial USA and its genocide and torture abroad and Patriot Acts and oppression at home.

Can we speak of a fascist USA today? Not yet. We now can see elements of many common characteristics of fascist states such as protection of corporate power, extreme nationalism and a dominant role for the military. However finance capital (primarily transnationals and banks) have concluded that the traditional right wing, assisted by the neo-cons can rule with the semblance of bourgeois democracy without resorting to the “terrorist dictatorship” that fascism represents. This is what Dimitrov called the “preparatory stages.” He also warns us that without an effective and united struggle against the reactionary measures in place at this stage, we will not be in a position to “prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitate that victory.”

Immediately after the defeat of Naziism, the C.I.A protected and brought to the U.S. General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War2. Others included the SS Major Werner Von Braun the rocket scientist and the butcher of Lyon Klaus Barbie. We perhaps might call the appointment of Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney-General as a step to move forward the “preparatory stage.” American fascism will be portrayed as the custodian of the Constitution and “American democracy” wrapped in the flag.

Dimitrov urged that all forces “dissociate themselves from the capitalist Parties without delay.” It is as true in 2005 as it was in 1935. What is needed urgently here is a mass Party of working people and particularly those most oppressed, a People’s Front as it were, “to be put in opposition to the trusts (now transnationals) and the banks.” With a final caveat; such a Party will be neither Socialist nor Communist. But it must be an anti-fascist party and must not be an anti-Communist Party.

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