A Reactionary Vice-Grip Tightens
A Modern Fascist Two-Front Attack
By Ragnar V. Røed
What do we understand by fascist and corporativist? For us fascism is the negation of liberal-democratic principles, the negation of the bourgeois-democratic principles which were born and developed in the eighteenth century in France. These principles are being abandoned by reactionaries, by the bourgeoisie world-wide. So it was that the First World War that made us see the crisis of the bourgeois democratic order, that’s why later fascism emerged.Chairman Gonzalo, in an interview with El Diario from 1988.
Hence, imperialism and all reactionaries, looked at in essence, from a long-term point of view, from a strategic point of view, must be seen for what they are – paper tigers. On this, we should build our strategic thinking. On the other hand, they are also living tigers, iron tigers, real tigers that can devour people. On this, we should build our tactical thinking.Mao Zedong
Chairman Gonzalo is the greatest Maoist of our time. His analysis is that bourgeois liberal democracy and parliamentarism are undermined in our epoch. Bourgeois parliamentarism and liberal rights like freedom of expression, assembly and organization were in their time closely linked to the bourgeois revolutions and the ideals of the age of enlightenment. As such they marched together with the bourgeois in the first phase of capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In our epoch, we are no longer in the first free competition capitalistic phase of this system’s development. Around the 1900s we entered the system’s second, highest, and last stage, the monopoly-capitalist phase: imperialism. Imperialism is, as Lenin describes it in his classical work, a rotting and dying capitalism. In this epoch, the bourgeoisie has long since stopped being a bearer of progress and revolution. In imperialism the rule of the bourgeoisie has on the contrary become tied to world wars, colonial wars, militarization – and fascist reaction.
Here and now, in line with the reactionary tendency, a political offensive is underway on two fronts against the liberal parliamentary government form. We see the tendency all over the Western imperialist world. Firstly, it is being attacked by technocrats who spearhead the corporativist development. Secondly, it is being attacked by what seemingly is the foremost critics of the technocrats: those we call right-wing populists. The technocrats attack through their desperate struggle to persist. And the populists persist through their continued attacks. Both tendencies today put the fundamental liberal legal principles and parliamentary government forms under attack, seemingly from both sides, but in essence from the same basis. They place liberal democracy in vice-grips that slowly tighten and lead in the direction of modern fascism.
When the term ‘technocrats’ is used here, it is in the sense of “apolitical” functionaries. Technocracy is a rule of bureaucrats and so-called experts, where parties and parliaments come in the second row. In other words, a corporatisation of the political system. Right-wing populism is used in the same way as media and everyday speech uses it: modern reactionary parties that market themselves as being against the elite and for “the common man”, and who in particular unite around stricter immigration policies. In Europe, they also unite especially in their harassment of and angry attacks on Muslims and the bogeyman of “islamisation”.
The last EU parliamentary elections showed a strengthening of both these tendencies. Even though the old traditional parties of power, the conservatives and social democrats, continue to be the largest groups in the EU parliament, even though they still make up a majority, two other directions were strengthened in the election. On one side the liberals and greens, who worship specialist rule and EU institutions, and on the other side right-wing populists like French Le Pen and Italian Salvini. Yet most of all, the EU elections showed how the rulers desperately want to make the election relevant and important, by creating a circus and portraying it like a choice of fate. Knowing well that the masses hate racism and reaction, they portray it as if the right-wing populists are at the doorstep of “winning” the election. A story the right-wing populists have gleefully adopted and used in their own propaganda. This might be the reason election turnouts barely crawled past 50% this year, for the first time in 20 years.
Maoists see the long term tendency of this development as clear-cut: the general crisis in imperialism sharpens the contradictions and pushes the political institutions towards a corporative and fascist direction. It does not mainly happen as a result of conscious and voluntary choices, but follows deep tendencies and historical laws of development. And therefore the struggle cannot be led in terms of “return” or “defence”, but can only be victorious through revolutionary struggle – today the people’s war – under the leadership of militarised Maoist communist parties.
The Crisis in Capitalism and Fascist Corporativism
The Communist Party of Peru has determined that corporativism is the opposite of parliamentarism. Instead of the principle of “one man, one vote” and government from parliament, society is organized in collaboration between different sectors and institutions, for example in the unification of state, the “worker’s movement” and “private enterprise”. In principle, the same as Mussolini’s ideal state, where parliament yields to a congress of representatives from different sectors of society. A cooperative, a corporation of corporations, instead of a parliament.
The leader of the PCP, Gonzalo, has on many occations elaborated on this, and in particular in the great interview with the newspaper El Diario in 1988. Chairman Gonzalo reminded the communists that we must not confuse the form of the state with the form of government. The divide between bourgeois “democracy” and bourgeois “fascism” is a question of the form of government, not of the class character of the state. The class character is solid, the form of government is more liquid. The form of state, on the other hand, can only be changed by crushing the old state. All states are class dictatorships. The bourgeois state is the dictatorship of the bourgeois, whatever the form of its political institutions.
The general crisis in capitalism today undermines the legitimacy of the political system. The economic crisis in capitalist production also manifests itself as a social, cultural and political crisis. This is a challenge for the form of government, and creates problems that are hard to solve under the current form. Expressions of this are, for instance, seen in the Brexit-circus. Not only do we see that Brexit in itself is an expression of the contradiction between British capital and the problem of riding three horses – namely being the closest ally of the US in Europe, caring for relations with German imperialism, and, primarily, serving the particular interests of British capital. We see the crisis of the government form and the crisis of parliamentarism in the United Kingdom through the whole farcical process before and during the Brexit-process.
Both Thinkers to the Left and Right see the Vice-Grips
The problems in Europe are similar to those in the US. Under Bush and Obama, intelligence services and police have gotten freer and freer reign. Alleged terrorists have been imprisoned in Guantanamo without being sentenced in court. Under Bush, the Patriot Act was passed, clearing the ground for anti-liberal measures to surveil and persecute people. The law became extensive, with 158 paragraphs and 15 law changes to criminal process, digital crime, intelligence, eavesdropping and immigration, among others, and the police authorities were given greater possibilities for surveilling and detaining terror suspects without charges or trials. Since its very foundation, the US has been a despotism for native people and slaves, and for the oppressed peoples and nations in this prison of nations it still is. Revolutionary movements and black nationalists are no strangers to fascist oppression. The Trump movement is proto-fascist and is identified as anti-democratic by liberal forces.
Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have published the book How Democracies Die, that has gotten a lot of attention in the US. The two political scientists look at how despots have risen to power throughout history and warn against this development in the US. They maintain that it is about breaking down norms, the political use of courts, and pressure against free media and reforms that weakens institutions.
The leader of the social democrat think tank Agenda sees the same development. In an opinion article in VG, he writes about the Harvard lecturer Yascha Mounk and his description that the liberal democracy is under pressure from two sides. In the article he writes: “Mounk especially emphasizes two strong negative forces that have been able to develop at the same time. The first is falling respect for the views and rights of minorities. ‘Dictatorship of the majority’ in ‘good Norwegian’. The other is an ever more technocratic and anti-democratic liberalism that disappoints, alienates and creates contempt for the system and politicians.” He writes that economic inequality in Western countries has grown tremendously in the last 40 years, and forms the basis of this development. Further, he writes that “Hungary’s populism and Greek technocracy are outer points, but point to problems most countries have to some degree: illiberal democracy and undemocratic liberalism. More and more, liberalism and democracy come in conflict with each other. Complex political decisions are often run by bureaucrats and other non-elected actors. At the same time, the will of the people becomes more illiberal.”
In other words, the Agenda-leader and the Harvard-intellectuals see the same tendency, the main issue of this text – of a reactionary and essentially fascist vice-grip being tightened around today’s society. But these commentators’ problem is that they see the development from a liberal viewpoint: an obsolete perspective. Their ideas correspond with a forgone stage of the development of capitalism. They see the connection between polarization and inequality, but they do not see how fascist developments are a response to the deeper needs of system. They see how neoliberalism undermines the liberal parliamentary system, but they do not see how neoliberalism in turn demands this undermining in order to operate. Neoliberalism means cuts in the welfare of the masses, cuts that can only be carried through if they go hand in hand with the police state.
But it is not only the leftist think tank Agenda that sees the crisis of liberal democracy. Their colleagues at the rightist conservative think tank Civita share their description of reality. The notorious anti-communist Bård Larsen at Civita writes that “liberal democracy is under serious pressure from multiple sides. The west is in a crisis (some would say civilizational crisis)” and he says that the pressure comes from two sides: the populists who attack that crisis and institutions, and those who defend institutions and deny the crisis. Larsen opts for the typical coward’s escape and says that “there is some truth to both of these description”. Like most liberals, he locates the source of the attacks in not primarily the economy and the foundation of society, but rather in the abstract realm of ideas. He starts with “two histories”, but gives little attention to the fact that history is always written by somebody for a specific reason.
Larsen writes that “in the end, stability is the keyword. People must feel safe to be mindful liberals. It might be as easy (and as difficult) as the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama has expressed it: If Europe can deliver economic growth and operate in a reliable way, one can win back trust. The alternative is not so nice.” Larsen’s and Fukuyama’s major problem is that capitalism in our time can not deliver stability. The years ahead will not be characterised by economic growth and work for all, or increased welfare goods and the six hour work day. The development that has characterized the West for the last 40 years, with its dismantling of welfare and worsening labour rights, will continue. Therefore, the struggle and resistance will continue, and it will grow in waves and new crescendos – like the yellow vests in France – and the rulers will see themselves forced to rely on new fascist measures to secure so-called stability. If Larsen’s understanding of Marxism and socialism expressed in his articles are any indication, he is more inclined to prefer illiberal capitalism over socialism.
A Modern Fascism Undermines Liberal Democracy
The analysts describe this development as democracies moving in reverse, and the parliamentary crisis that is described can be seen all over the West. For instance in France, where technocrats and the social democrats’ former minister, Macron, gained government power with a whole new party, but today must crush the yellow vests’ uprising with brutal police violence. It can be seen in Sweden, where for months it was not possible to form a government, despite hundreds of relatively stable years for the Swedish parliament. It can be seen in Italy, where the parliamentary system has hardly been stable since WWII, where large parties are torn apart by corruption scandals, and where two populist parties from the right (Lega) and the left (Five star movement) formed a government in 2018 with independent jurist Giuseppe Conte as prime minister. Italy’s government today is as such a trinity of right populism, left populism and technocracy, and is therefore the perfect government of our time. It also serves as concrete evidence that populism from the left and right are neither real alternatives to each other nor are they real alternatives to technocracy.
In Greece, the country was almost put under administration during the last cyclical crisis. Despite the election victory of left-populist Syriza in the last parliamentary election, the country’s government must dance to EU’s tune, and especially German imperialist demands. A party that calls itself socialist and was subject to much hype and hope among Europe’s parliamentary far left, has predictably enough ended up just like other bourgeois governments that have had to give in to the capitalist laws of development. They follow mandatory rules from the EU and sic the police on popular protests, just like the governments before them have.
The principles of liberal parliamentary are being questioned not only through disguised practices, but also openly and ideologically. In regards to the climate crisis, law professor Hans Petter Graver has for example said: “We must dare to reconsider national and international democracy.” The newspaper asks: “Has our political decision-making system failed at the task of slowing down human made climate change?” to which Graver responds: “So far, my opinion is that it has.” This accurately expresses the thinking among several bureaucrats today, and is in harmony with the tendencies we see in Europe, where bureaucrats tear their hair out over sluggish government negotiations and problematic election results and referendums.
On the other side, we see right-wing populists advancing in many countries. In Italy, the right-wing populist Salvine, from the notorious and racist Lega (formerly Lega Nord), is one of two vice prime ministers. In Norway, the Progress Party controls the government. In Hungary, the initially more classically conservative Fidesz-party and their prime minister Orban have put in place severe restrictions on freedom of the press and the independence of the courts, all while portraying themselves as being hard on refugees and as the defenders of Christian Europe. Turkey under Erdogan and Poland under the Law and Order party (PIS) are also often used as examples of a similar authoritarian development. The newspaper Vårt Land in 2016 reported that EU leaders say that developments in Poland “resembles a coup” and that the Polish government is tightening its grip on the constitutional court, positions of power and the press.
A report from Morgenbladet in March 2019 entitled “Law changes in Europe that weaken democracy” examines the European countries that journalists claim are in the process of undermining liberal democracy. They write that “governments are taking control over the legal apparatus, interning asylum seekers and making insults against the president a crime.” The last time this happened, it was known as fascism. But what should one call these changes affecting Europe?”
According to the article, this tightening is strongest in the east and south, but they also describe changes in places like Denmark, where “specific laws and rules for ‘ghettos’, i.e. areas with many immigrant and jobless” were implemented. “[This includes] twice as harsh sentencing for criminality, obligatory daycare, a maximum cap of 30 percent ‘ghetto children’ per daycare center and so on, among other laws”. They write about limitations on the right to assembly in France, attacks on immigrant rights in Italy, expanded surveillance in the Netherlands, a weakening of the right to assembly in Spain, and so on. The authors have asked what such developments should be called when the “last time” it was called fascism. Could we be so bold as to suggest that it ought to be called fascism this time too?
Fascism in the Third World
In the third world, we see the same political tendency in Modi in India and Bolsonaro in Brazil, who have both won elections this year and have therefore many years in front of them as heads of state in two of the largest countries in the third world. Modi leads the Hindu-nationalist party BJP and has a background in the militant fascist organisation RSS. Bolonaro is a former military officer, a defender of the old military junta (1964-1985) and its brutal terror, an admirer of Donald Trump, and has belonged to no less than nine different parties in his political career. Both politicians stand for a neoliberal economic line and for fascist terror against the masses, and especially against revolutionaries.
In both India and Brazil, there is a well developed revolutionary struggle under Maoist leadership, in addition to frequent popular protests and struggles that threaten the ongoing rule. For more than 50 years, both countries have seen a myriad of leftist and national democratic parties, organisations and guerrilla organisations. The authoritarian leaders’ first and foremost task is to try to strangle new democratic and socialist revolution, something that fascism has always had as its main task.
Nonetheless, one must not for a second see their apparent leftist bourgeois competitors as a real democratic alternative. Neither the Indian Congress Party nor the Brazilian Labour Party have hesitated to use police and military force against the struggles and resistance of the masses, against native people that stand in the way of multinational corporations or against slums that ruin the glossy image before any World Championships or Olympics. The war against the people of the Indian state, under military name Operation Green Hunt, was sanctioned by the centre-left government of the Congress Party. The violent attacks by the police on Rio’s favelas happened under a government consisting of the Labour Party (PT), a Centre Party Rio-mayor, and coalition party of PT, MDB.
As Chairman Gonzalo asserts, the white terror – the bourgeois terror against the rebellious masses – is a part of the bourgeois state. It has always been this way, all the way from the French bourgeois republic’s first and stormful years and struggles in the 1800s. And it has particularly been this way in the epoch of imperialism. The bureaucrat capitalist state apparatuses in the third world have no reason to use liberal parliamentarism at all. They are dependent not only on violence, but refined violence, to keep the masses down in deep suffering and poverty. They are not only dependent on this violence, but also on the most reactionary ideology and culture, in the same way that they are also dependent on the economic, military and political support of imperialists. And in turn, the imperialists are dependent on these regimes to secure their dominance over countries and peoples in the third world.
Norwegian Right-Wing Populism is not Better than in Other Countries
In Norway, people are so used to the Progress Party (Frp) that they are hardly ever seen as a right-wing populist party. Social democrats like to brag that Norwegian right-wing populists are not like those of Sweden, Danmark or those of any other countries. But in the Norwegian government sit people who want a full asylum stop. There are politicians that want stricter punishments for inhabitants of certain parts of the city, carving away the fundamental legal principle of equality before the law. And of course, this is directed towards suburbs with many “non-Westerners” and poor people. The inspiration comes from Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party has been a support party for the conservative government now on its downfall. The view on artistic freedom held by Frp we saw clearly during the media drive against Block-Box theater, where the police launched a raid (!) at the homes and workplaces of several people who were involved in the theater act (!).
In an interview with Aftenposten, Sylvi Listhaug from Frp puts forth her thoughts on stricter sentences: “Frp wants to double the length of sentences for criminality done in certain areas. If the criminal is also part of a gang, Frp would like for the person to get four times the sentence.
“We are inspired by Denmark introducing this. This has contributed to better conditions in affected areas. We mean we should do the same here.” When so-called ghettos are created, it is mainly because these areas offer the cheapest residences. Immigrants and people with immigrant-backgrounds are overrepresented among the poorest parts of the proletariat. They must seek the cheapest residences. As such, the quadrupled sentences do not only hit immigrants disproportionately, but are also a direct attack on poor people.
The same politicians’ attack on the media is also antiliberal. In bourgeois society, the media is bourgeois. They reflect bourgeois tendencies and factions in their world view. They work as propaganda channels for these. No Marxist accepts the portrayal of an impartial and neutral media. But the formal independence of the media and right to criticize powerful people are basic liberal-democratic principles. This was fought for and won by the struggles against the censorship of monarchies and churches. When right-wing populists and technocrats attack “fake news”, it is an echo of Hitler’s “lügenpresse” (“Lying press”). They turn the principle of the right to criticize upside down. This is a right that takes the idea of criticizing people in power as its starting point, yet today it has become the right for racists to punch down on religious minorities and refugees. The very same people who defend the right to racist hate speech are those who cry ‘libel’ and ‘slander’ whenever they meet criticism from journalists and theater performers.
Frp is in reality no less “extreme” than the Sweden Democrats or the Danish People’s Party. Their policies on immigration are confusingly similar. The rhetoric, at least from some of their politicians, is identical. But Frp has a longer tradition as a part of Norwegian politics, and has shown that right populism in government represents a continuation of the status quo more than it represents change. When comparing the conservative Frp-led government with the government that the Labour Party (AP) formed with the Socialist Left Party (SV), the real difference in politicy is ultimately marginal. They mostly concern nuances and percentages, but never any qualitative differences. The hard line against refugees and Muslims are also held up by some social democrats. Those who remember the 1990’s can recall how AP-minister Faremo was marketed as being ultra-tough on church asylants and other refugees.
The Right-Wing Populists are Being Integrated into the Rotting System
Frp nonetheless remains the vehicle of the right-wing populist tendency that is popularizing reaction. They spearhead the political attack on liberal principles, even if other parties and independent bureaucrats also undermine them in practice.
In Austria, the right-wing populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) has been in government for two years. It ended not long after a corruption scandal. The scandal is interesting because it says a lot about how bourgeois politics can go here in Europe. An actor claiming to represent a Russian oligarch expressed his interest in selling political support in exchange for contracts, and the Austrian politician was more than happy to oblige.
In the political circus, the right-wing populists are portrayed as standing up to the “elite”. And the right-wing populists are not alone in cultivating this apparent contradiction. The so-called liberal side will often portray themselves as reasonable, polite and educated– as the very prototype of the elite against the brutish, bullyish and “simple” types. This was how Hillary Clinton portrayed herself in the presidential campaign against Trump. The right-wing populist side will often portray themselves as the “defenders of the little guy”, as the supporters of “common people” against idealist elites removed from reality. But in practice, there is no hostile contradiction between the two camps. Trump has filled his cabinet with elite bureaucrats that socialize with lobbyists like never before. And he is himself obviously a part of the elite, the son of a rich man that went to a private school and belongs to the top layer of world commerce.
In Norway, there is a revolving door between the right-wing populist Frp and the lobbyist organization First House. But this is not unique to Frp. Politicians are headhunted from other parties as well. The parties, already exchanging its crew with that of the boards of large corporations, are in good corporativist spirit, intertwined with lobby organizations. This is “Norwegian” corruption, a corruption that according to the elite is just “how things are done”.
The Iron Heel of the Police and Defence of Democracy
The undermining of parliamentary and liberal democracy directs itself against parliamentary processes, against accountability for politicians, against the freedom of the press, against artistic freedom and freedom of expression. But we must not by any means idealize bourgeois parliamentary and liberal democracy. That the bourgeoisie rules with silk gloves is only an indication that they have been able to maintain relative order and stability in the imperialist countries without an iron fist.
Revolutionaries have no interest in “defending democracy” or “defending the fatherland”. The bourgeois state is the ruling class’s apparatus for oppressing the masses, no matter what mask it puts on. Some communists make a grave mistake when they are fooled into defending liberal democracy. It is with this rhetoric that revisionism was able to take over the community parties in Europe before, during, and after WWII. The struggle against fascism became a struggle for the bourgeois-democratic government form. It became an alliance with imperialism, a surrender to capitalism, and a betrayal of colonial subjects, the international proletariat and the popular masses of the world. Communists fight against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, regardless of what form of government it may take. But corporatism and fascism is a tendency that shows the rotting character of imperialism.
The “War on Terror” against different jihadists, along with competition with China and Russia, is used to legitimize more and more surveillance. The state and intelligence services are using more and more sophisticated ways of surveilling the masses. The police in Oslo demonstrated this when they put up fake base stations that tapped into the phones of everyone in the area, just as “practice”. Protests and demonstrations have experienced extrajudicial intervention measures carried out by the police. The police can make arbitrary arrests simply because they “fear disturbance”. This is also an indication that fundamental liberal freedoms are not a high priority today. Few take notice, until they themselves are hit when they rise in protest. Encounters with the police state have, for instance, been sobering for the local population of Frøya in Trøndelag, where many have protested the development of wind turbines.
NRK wrote in 2018 that the military intelligence service (“E-tjenesten”) have been gathering huge amounts of personal data from telephone calls and social media – even from Norwegian citizens. From a listening station in Hønefoss, built with the support of the NSA, the U.S. intelligence service, Norwegian military intelligence is undertaking large-scale military intelligence surveillance effort, which according to NRK may be in violation Norwegian law. On police surveillance, NRK has in other instances written that “the government has given the police greater opportunities to ‘use undisclosed coercive measures in investigating, averting and preventing serious crime’. According to Aftenposten, the Norwegian government used fake base stations in 107 instances in 2017.” It is not mainly new technology that promotes this surveillance, but rather political developments.
Nor should anybody turn a blind eye to the manner in which all of these restrictions are routinely legitimized by politicians as a defence of democracy or as a defence of the fatherland. All terror attacks are classified as attacks on the political system. In the US, politicians routinely preach that jihadists become jihadists because they hate “the American way of life” and above all “American freedom”. In Norway the fascist Islamophobic terrorist attack in 2011 became an attack on “us all”, and in particular on Norwegian democracy. The undermining of liberal democracy goes hand in hand with the defence of it. And thereby it underscores how poor, insufficient and in the worst case, counterproductive it is when some anti-fascists try to employ the justice system and legal principles as a weapon against fascism. To think that bourgeois politicians, police or intelligence services are good allies against reaction is at best a display of historical ignorance.
Furthermore, we must point out in this regard the bourgeois state’s defence of openly terroristic fascism. For decades, the mainly Swedish Nazi organisation, The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), have been building up their strength with the help of the police. Their demonstrations are routinely defended by vast police forces. They march militaristically on Swedish streets, with riot police on all sides. Members and groups from the organization have carried out bombings, stabbings, murders in the middle of the streets, paramilitary training and so on. A purely Nazi terror organization enjoying the defence of the bourgeois state, while other groups are losing their basic right to assembly. In Denmark, the state has used millions to defend the fascist provocateur Rasmus Paludan, who is running for election with his own party. The promotion of fascism by the bourgeois state is neither hypothetical nor abstract, through highly concrete measures and with enthusiasm and deep pockets it embraces the most overt and vulgar fascism.
Defending the Status Quo Serves Fascism
The political struggle in the interwar period showed that “defending democracy” is not enough to stop the growth of fascism. The old bourgeois parties fell apart completely. The bourgeoisie stood before the question of stepping in line with fascism, or being swept away in a socialist revolution. This was an easy choice for the capitalists of Italy and Germany. The old government form was no longer a possibility in a number of countries. In this situation, a number of communist parties decayed into legalism and national chauvinism. Their attempts at uniting with the “democratic wing” of the bourgeoisie only made them defenceless against the fascist war machine. The Communist Party of Germany had its entire leadership thrown into concentration camps. Instead of going underground and developing the war against Hitler, they remained in place in the Reichstag until they were banned and until almost the entire organization could be rolled up by the fascists and police. The Communist Party of the USA started waving American flags and became the toothless social patriot party that today supports the Democrats in elections.
Within the police and military – the violent bourgeois apparatus – the fascists marched ahead. Not unlike the Greek fascist party Golden Dawn, which is today strong within the Greek police. It is in the nature of these institutions that large parts of them, especially middle-level leaders and the officer corps, will go in an openly reactionary direction. They are especially receptive to demands of law, order and enforcing power, against chaos and rebellion, and against all types of liberal complications and restrictions in their right to exert violence. It is especially when society is in crisis and the class struggle is intensified that they will feel this pressure and displeasure with the old liberal politicians and the hate against revolution. In such a situation, it is particularly dangerous for revolutionaries to place their trust in these institutions alone for protection from reaction! It is these very institutions alone that hold up the bourgeois political state apparatus!
When Germany and Quisling took to power in Norway, Norwegian police mainly choose to become collaborators under Nazi leadership. Norwegian police ran errands for the Nazis and interned Jews and communists before they were sent to concentration camps in Germany and Poland.
If one can agree with this assessment, then it must have direct and concrete consequences for antifascist struggle. Cheering for “democracy” and “fatherland”, begging the police to intervene against the fascists, and praising the politicians that speak out against racism from time to time are all awful tactics that do not serve strategy, but on the contrary works against its purpose by serving the very same institutions that serve as bulwarks for fascism, and certainly not against it.
The Reactionary Demand for Law and Order Comes from Both Sides
Both right-wing populists and technocrats worship the rhetoric of “law and order”. Macron sends masked police against rebels in Paris. Frp can never have enough funds and resources allocated to the police, and wish to use the police against beggars. These forces push social problems to the fore in order to justify stricter punishments, arbitrary persecution, and harsher measures. The rhetoric is identical to Trump propaganda and is completely parallel to fascism’s classical demand to crush civil unrest, crush all who are at odds with the “body politic”, to strike down rebellions and riots, and to force their will through discipline and conformity.
Both technocrats and right-wing populists are political expressions of the same tendency. It is a tendency in the direction of corporativism, in the direction of fascism, in the direction of a government form that corresponds to the desperate needs of a rotting imperialism. It is an expression of the sharpening of the class struggle and crisis that starts in production and manifests itself in all spheres of society.
Furthermore, the appearance of fascist reaction from two sides is nothing new. Both Mussolini and Hitler rose to power through a reactionary mass mobilization on one side, and an alliance with elites on the other. Hitler was appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg, Germany’s most established politician, officer and noble, per the recommendation by other officials in the system. Bourgeois historians distinguish between authoritarian regimes and military juntas of the kind employed by Franco in Spain and the colonels in Greece, and fascist mass movements of the Mussolini- and Hitler-variety. Bernt Hagtvedt, a Norwegian bourgeois professor with a specialization in fascism (and anti-communism!), makes another distinction between religious authoritarian regimes and irreligious fascism.
Fascism Exists Because it has a Function in the Class Struggle
Within the communist movement, there is another analysis of fascism. Fascism is not understood based primarily on how it appears outwardly, but based rather on its inner nature and function in the class struggle. Chairman Gonzalo emphasizes that fascism does not have an ideological core, but is instead eclectic. In an opportunistic manner, fascism can use any kind of disguise, with a rhetoric chosen accordingly. It will even draw from Marxism, the left, and communism to craft its disguise. Fascism’s function is not to give a correct analysis or to provide a good model of explanation. It has a political function as a particular form of government that serve capitalism in a particular point in this development or a particular situation. Chairman Gonzalo says in an interview with El Diario in 1988:
We see fascism also on the ideological plane as an eclectic system without a defined philosophy. It is a philosophical position made up of fragments chosen from here and there according to what’s most useful. This is clearly expressed in García Pérez. When he goes to Harare in Africa he’s an African and he salutes the Africans, salutes Kenneth Kaunda. When he goes to India he salutes Gandhi, he’s a Gandhian. When he goes to Mexico he hails Zapata, he’s a Zapatista. When he goes to the Soviet Union, if he ever does, he’ll be the champion of Perestroika. He’s like that because this is the ideological and philosophical training of fascism, it does not have a defined stand, it is eclectic and it takes what is at hand
Furthermore Gonzalo says:
With regard to identifying fascism with terror, with repression, we think that this is a mistake. What’s involved is the following: if one remembers Marxism, the State is organized violence, that is the classic definition. All states use violence because they are dictatorships. How else would they assert themselves to oppress and exploit? They couldn’t do it. Consequently what happens is that fascism develops a broader, more refined, more sinister violence. But to identify fascism as being the same as violence is a crass error. (..) Identifying fascism with terror means not understanding Mariátegui, who in “Figuras y aspectos de la vida mundial” [“Figures and Aspects of World Life” –Trans.], when talking of H.G. Wells, tells us that the bourgeois State goes through a process of development and that it is this process that leads to a fascist and corporative system. (…) In this country, we have to look at fascism in its different aspects beginning with its ideology, its politics, and its organizational form, how it uses violence, its terror. Today we see how it practices a skillful violence, more developed, broader, more brutal and vicious. This is what is called terror. But apart from this, white terror has always been practiced, has it not? The reactionaries, when they have encountered difficulties, have always applied white terror. So we should never identify and reduce all fascism simply to terror.
In the same interview, Chairman Gonzalo explains that fascism also entails corporativism, and that corporativism is the negation of parliamentarianism. Norwegian dictionaries define corporativism as a system where the political organs are consolidated by delegates from organizations, guilds, professions, and industries instead of through elections with universal voting rights. The Store norske leksikon’s entry on corporativism makes a distinction between democratic and authoritarian corporativism, where they define fascism as an authoritarian corporativism, while they write that Western society is characterized by a “democratic corporativism”.
Chairman Gonzalo cites the great Peruvian revolutionary leader Mariátegui, who says that the crisis of bourgeois democracy is most clearly expressed in the crisis of parliamentarism. Instead of seeing corporativism as a neutral expression of class cooperation, as it is portrayed by both fascists and social democrats, he sees it as an undermining of bourgeois liberal democracy, and therefore in its nature anti-democratic and fascist. In the contradiction between bourgeois democracy and despotism, two opposites in the contradiction of government form, corporativism advances the despotic aspects of the bourgeois government form. The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie can take a democratic or despotic form, wherein corporativism is an expression of the despotic form and points in its direction.
Social Democracy and Corporativism Prepare the Ground for Fascism
In Norway, social democracy worships the so-called three-party cooperation between unions, businesses and the state. When strikes threaten important “institutions of society”, the state steps in and negotiates and can force the parts to end the labour conflict through forced wage tribunal. This is a direct intervention in the right of the proletariat to strike, a right that is an expression of the freedom of organizations and the bourgeois democratic principle. Furthermore, the three-party cooperation is a cooperation where the bourgeoisie sits on both sides of the negotiating table, as well as within the neutral part (the government) when it is called in to mediate. That businesses are bourgeois is clear for everyone. That the state is bourgeois should be clear for all Marxists, and large parts of the masses understand that the state is dominated by the ruling class. But even the leadership of the union movement is bourgeois.
The leadership level of LO are mainly members and politicians in the bourgeois Labour Party, and its top leaders serve as “employee representatives” in the boards of large corporations. It is a long-standing tradition for LO leaders to have many board positions and sizable paychecks. First and foremost, they are bourgeois through their association and loyalty to the capitalist system and bourgeois society, with its state and other institutions. This is “Norwegian” corporativism, and it is clear how it advances a system of horse-trading and backroom deals over elections and referendums and the liberal bourgeois principle of “one person, one vote”.
The “socialistic” and social democratic left within bourgeois parliamentarism are supporters of corporativism and state capitalism. They seek the nationalisation of key industries and communications. Whenever this is already established, they will defend it and serve as ideological adherents of a “strong state”. They worship the unions and seek strong ties between parties, unions and the government. Under the Labour government, Norway would almost be said to have been a one-party state for several decades after WWII. Gerhardsen’s Norway is today the ideal for the party Rødt, and is cited as an example of socialism. Rødt recognizes today’s political system as democracy (“people’s rule”), they swear by today’s institutions and laws, and they understand socialism to be a mere extension of these institutions. In other words, they equate state capitalism with socialism, as they do with an expanded public sector and a socialist people’s rule.
Rødt’s view of socialism is classical reformism. It is not any different from the tendency of turning Marx into any other “common liberal”, as described by Lenin. Yet it is potentially much more dangerous than just this. In the current epoch, such a political movement means the same as corporativism and state capitalism. It is not a break with capitalism, but instead an undermining of bourgeois parliamentarism; a corporatization of the institutions of the bourgeois state. As the saying goes: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Swearing by liberal principles does not help when one is busies oneself with preparing the ground for stamping them down into the mud. In this epoch, there is no room for large scale economic reforms serving the working class, not even in the imperialist countries. No six hour workday or free health service lie before us in the foreseeable future: not in this capitalism, not without a civilization-killing crisis or war. In our time, the next fundamental tremor in the system will occur, along with a revolutionary wave.
Against the revolutionary wave stands the counter-revolutionary reaction. Corporativism is a part of this, and social democracy does by any means stand in its way. Neither Clinton nor Sanders really stood in the way for Trump; instead, they prepared the ground for him. Just as technocrats and right-wing populism work on two fronts today. The elections in the European parliament not only strengthened the right-wing populists, but also the strongest advocates of the EU in the green and liberal parties. And as described by Morgenladet and other political commentators, liberal principles are not only being undermined by right-wing populist governments. Social democrats in Spain and liberal technocrats in France are walking the exact same road.
From Social Patriotism to Social Fascism
During WWI, Lenin talked about the social patriotism of social democratic leaders. They supported their own bourgeoisie in the war. Today, we see that left chauvinism stands “to the left of” social democracy. The Swedish Kommunistiska Partiet has made long strides in a chauvinist direction. They now loudly talk about protecting Swedish borders, about “uncontrolled immigration” and more resources for the police. In Norway, Pål Steigan’s blog, steigan.no, is a gathering place of such views, and those that go even further. Steigan attacks “the left” for having a blind spot for reactionary Islamists. A local department of Kommunistiska Partiet has spread propaganda against letting Muslims build a new mosque. Left chauvinists buy into right-wing populist propaganda about a left-liberal conspiracy against white men, and they buy into right-wing populist dog-whistles, and they speak of “globalism” and “mass immigration”.
In England, the unofficial sister party of Kommunistiska Partiet, CPGB(m-l) endorsed the Brexit Party, the party of anti-immigrant and right-wing Nigel Farage, in the EU-elections. In Norway, Pål Steigan claims that the election in France is “between Macron and Le Pen”; between, as Le Pen themself has said, between “globalists and nationalists”. In these circles, there was even sympathy and support for Trump. Hilary Clinton was rightfully harassed as the warhawk she is – but Trump was let off much easier. The more extreme (or honest?) in this company – like Hans Olav Brendberg and Trond Andersen – have on several occasions described right-wing populists as tactical allies against “globalism”. Steigan does not say it, but implies as much in the manner in which he discusses French politics.
In short, there is a clear left chauvinist or social patriotic tendency today, not just within the established social democracy, but also among people that on a good (?) day calls themselves revolutionaries and communists. The Norwegian revisionist party “NKP” does not reject this and have themselves made statements against mass immigration that allegedly threatens European welfare. And within Rødt, the Steigan-tendency is clear, as many representatives and elected representatives of the party advance Steigan’s blog and line on many questions. The party leadership itself presents itself in opposition to today’s labour immigration in such a way that it has lead to strong contradictions and heated discussion in the party’s national board on at least one occasion.
Left chauvinism is not only an ideological or philosophical capitulation. We know that politics are the concretization of class interests and ideology. When “leftists” ally themselves with social conservatives and right-wing populists, it is an expression of this ideological capitulation. And it can and will have concrete political and organisational consequences, by way of tactical support and tactical cooperation, or a full transition to open reaction.
The Political Reaction Comes from the Basis of Society
The problem that liberals of all kinds face is that they don’t see political movements as expressions of class struggle or material conditions. They don’t see how today’s crisis begins in the base of society, in its economical foundation, in production, and then manifests itself in politics, culture and ideology. The political parties and tendencies appear as representatives for classes, mainly for the bourgeoisie and its warring factions. The fascist vice-grip is being tightened, perhaps even with two hands, and from two sides. Yet, we know that both the right and left hands are attached to the same torso. The ever tightening grip is an expression of a single shared need. It is an expression of the slowly growing desperation of a doomed system. When the great liberal ideologue Francis Fukuyama calls for stability, it is as if the two forces originating from same epicentre have heard his prayer. But of course, the way that Fukuyama identifies the problem is turned on its head: capitalism is not stable. The development of capitalism is inherently uneven and by necessity creates cyclic crises, while the imperialist system is always in a general crisis.
Capitalist politicians strive for stability, but the harder they try to keep the lid on the boiling pot, the more pressure it also creates, threatening to blow it all apart. Where there is oppression, there is resistance. People want freedom and the proletariat wants revolution. Instead, technocrats and right-wing populists offer less freedom and more reaction. And the liberal and “socialistic” bourgeois politicians who speak out against the developments have no real recipe for resistance. On the contrary, all of their tactics will serve only to exclusively strengthen reaction, or at the very least prepare the ground for it. Just as interwar democrats, they choose either to unite with fascism, to allow it in and make compromises with it, or they disarm the masses, sabotaging the only thing that can stop fascism. Instead of calling out for the liberal institutions as they claim, they will erode them, disarm them, and instead strengthen anti-democratic forces. They disarm the masses, increase funding for the police and military, all while promoting corporativist development. The result is known, but this system’s days are numbered either way.
When commentators and researchers say that liberal democracy in the West is in danger, they are ringing capitalism’s death knell. The crises in political institutions are a warning of what is to come. It is an expression of desperation where reaction stands with its back against the wall. And however it ends, the reaction has enemies that cannot lose, for we have history on our side. Capitalism will not last forever. It is connected to a certain stage in the development of humanity and human society. The fragile bourgeois democracy is not fragile because it is a weak idea, but rather because capitalism has outlived itself. Imperialism is rotting and dying capitalism.
Revolution will sweep away reaction
Everything reactionary is the same – if you do not hit it, it won’t fall.Mao Zedong
It is out of this system that the new and shining communist society will push its way forward. Just as it already has when it took its first great strides in the Soviet Union and China, communism will again surge ahead. The dams that reaction tries to construct will crumble against the coming wave. All the weapons forged in reaction’s smithies can be turned towards reaction itself by the fighting masses. Fascism has previously shown that despite the fact that it is violent and brutal, it is in its very nature far from stable.
On the other hand, the proletariat is the class that is condemned to win today. Marx showed that the class struggle is what drives the development of society forward. New societal systems are never immortal and are always connected to specific stages of history. New societal systems improve and are made necessary on the basis of the revolutionization of productive forces and their demand for revolutionizing productive relations. They are forced through by the classes, who are the carriers of the new relations. Just as the bourgeoisie was once in its prime was the carrier of capitalism, it is the proletariat today that carries communism. Today, there are billions of proletarians in the world. Several tenfold more than there were at the time when Marx and Engels wrote the everlasting words proletarians of all countries, unite.
Capitalism is decadent and rotten. The proletariat is young and vital, and the biggest and strongest class in world history. They are the carriers of the modern productive forces and the societal productive relation that will liberate these from the rotting grip of imperialism. Marx said that in capitalism, the mighty productive forces become forces of destruction. All too well we see this today, where the anarchy of capitalist production is at the brink of making vast parts of the earth desolate in its destructive pursuit for profit. Marx showed that it was the class struggle that was the primary driving factor, that this was the law of development in history, and that all history is the history of class struggle, and he showed, on a scientific basis, that it is the proletariat’s historical task to sweep away capitalism in socialist revolutions.
This is the reason that Maoists say that we are condemned to win. Fascism is, like all reaction, a paper tiger. In the short term, it is dangerous, and has real claws and real victims. But in the long term, it will be scorched from the earth by the peoples’ war’s flames. It will shrivel up and turn to ash, just as Hitler’s swastika banners were set aflame by the Red Army in the streets of Berlin during the victorious Spring days of 1945. Reaction will not fall by itself, but capitalism has already created its vanquishers in the proletariat. Through 150 years of revolutionary struggle, the proletariat has created its communist party and its ideology: Maoism, which has given the proletariat all the weapons they need to win.
It is on this basis that the great communist leaders have said that we fear neither war nor fascism, but that communists instead stand by their revolutionary optimism.
The ideology of capitalism and societal order har in a part of the world (the Soviet Union) the same way ended in the museum, while it in other countries looks like ‘someone dying that soon will be gone, like the sun falling behind the hills in the west’, and soon also will be in the museum. It is only the communist ideology and societal order that is full of youthful vitality, and that with the force of an earthquake and with the strength of thunder will spread all over the earth.Mao Zedong
The socialist system will once again take the place of the capitalist system. This is an objective law, independent of human will. However strongly the reaction tries to stop the wheel of history, revolution will sooner or later come and inevitably win.Mao Zedong
We are absolutely convinced, unaffected by any doubt, even less paralyzed. We – the communists, the class, the revolutionaries – are optimists, and nothing can stop us.Chairman Gonzalo