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Sam Adams

20 Years of European Fascism

An Analysis of the Fascist System

(May 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 20, 14 May 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The propagandists of the present war are responsible for a great deal of misunderstanding about the things for which this war was fought in Europe. They wrote and spoke of it as a war for democracy against fascism. Many people did not see that this was and is pure propaganda. But time will prove it to them, just as time proved this to many people all over the world who believed that the first world slaughter was fought in the interests of peace, freedom and security against Prussian militarism.

The people will come to learn that this war, just as the first world war, was a conflict between rival capitalist powers for economic and political domination of the earth.

Some Dangerous Theories

In the course of this war a great deal of misleading propaganda has been produced specifically on the subject of fascism. Let us examine some of the common theories on this phenomenon

These theories are false and dangerous. They disarm the people of other countries, especially the workng classes in their struggle against reactionary fascism. They do not explain, for example, why in almost every important country of the world fascist movements were and are in existence. As a matter of fact, if the war had not come, one or more of the Allied countries might have succumbed to fascist rule.

Fascism, Form of Capitalist Rule

Fascism is not a new social system, but a form of political rule under capitalism. As such it is capable of coming to power in any country. This is clearly established by the experiences of Germany and Italy, one, a highly advanced capitalist nation, the other, a second-rate power. The significant fact about the victory of fascism in these two countries is that the fascist movements came into existence and were successful during periods of deep economic crisis. They arose at times when the masses of people were engaged in a struggle against the economic ruling classes, threatening to end their reign.

The aim of fascism is to retain the economic rule of the capitalist class, capitalist property relations and the profit system. Fascism defends the rule of the monopoly capitalists.

Thus in Germany and Italy, fascism came into existence and rose to power through the direct assistance of the monopoly capitalists. Hitler was supported by the Ruhr industrialists, the Krupps munition magnates, I. G. Farben, and a host of other big business firms. Mussolini came into power as a result of a conspiracy between the Italian industrialists and the monarchy who were desperately trying to defeat the revolutionary workers stretching out their hands for power.

The most important aim of fascism is to destroy the labor movement and all forms of independent organization by labor, whether it be economic, political or fraternal.

Trotsky on Fascism

Leon Trotsky, the great socialist leader who was assassinated by an agent of Stalin’s GPU, once wrote:

“Fascism has for its basic and only task, the razing to their foundation all institutions of proletarian democracy.”

What happens after fascism comes to power? Here again, Trotsky’s penetrating analysis is instructive. He wrote:

“After Fascism is victorious, finance capital gathers, into its hands, as in a vise of steel, directly and immediately, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive, administrative and educational powers of the state; the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the cooperatives. When a state turns Fascist, it doesn’t only mean that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance with the patterns set by Mussolini – the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role – but means first of all and for the most part, that the workers organizations are annihilated ...”

Why is all this so? Because, by destroying the labor movement, by controlling all life, i.e., thinking, writing, speaking, and organization, the capitalist classes can guarantee their own existence as economic rulers. By regimenting the workers through a police regime, and a huge spy system, buttressed by a government organized “labor front,” the industrialists and financiers prevent the workers and all other sections of the population from fighting for higher wages, shorter hours and improvement in their working and living conditions.

Fascism Upholds Profit System

While the laboring populations of Germany and Italy were thus enslaved by brutal fascist regimes, the property and profit rights of the financiers and industrialists were never interfered with! On the contrary, their property rights and profits were guaranteed by the new fascist states.

It is easy to understand then why the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini were admired by the capitalists of all countries, especially those of Great Britain and the United States. If you examine the fascist movements of the latter countries, you will find that the support to them always comes from men of means, from the capitalist class.

Labor never supports fascism. It did not do so in Germany, Italy, Spain, or any other country. On the contrary, it fought desperately against fascism in all these countries.

What other sources of support does fascism have? Misguided middle class people who think that fascism will improve their economic position, and who believe it is labor rather than the big business monopolies which is responsible for their economic plight.

Declassed elements from the ranks of the workers, people who have been broken in spirit by years of unemployment, people without hope and no future, who believe that fascism will bring them wealth property or jobs.

Unemployed professional militarists who live in the hopes that nationalistic, reactionary fascism will revive the military fortunes of a nation and give them important jobs, position in society and money.

Profit System Must Go

The experiences of the past twenty years show that fascism brings nothing but enslavement for the overwhelming majority of the people. It brings wealth and power only to the big capitalists, not to the middle classes and certainly not to the enslaved workers.

Why then did the imperialists of the Allied countries go to war against the fascist imperialists of Germany and Italy? Only because the latter banded together to threaten their empires and their wealth. Up until the war broke out, the big Allied powers had many points of common interests with Germany and Italy and did profitable business with the Nazis and fascists.

The defeat of Germany and Italy, and the certainty of defeat for Japan, however, does not mean the defeat of fascism. Hardly. Because the conditions that bring fascism into existence remain. Fascism feeds on economic chaos, and since capitalism cannot guarantee economic security, peace and freedom the danger of fascism is constant. Since capitalism guarantees only economic crisis, war and totalitarian rule of one kind or another, it forces the peoples of the world into rebellion in order to achieve a better life. Fascism, as a system of political rule, as a brutal hated dictatorship, is employed by the capitalist rulers against these rebellious peoples.

The fight against fascism is primarily a fight of the labor movement, of the working peoples of all countries. The fight against fascism is the fight of the common people against the exploiting capitalist classes. This requires the building of a movement of all the working people to fight for a new and better life against reactionary capitalism which guarantees only new wars, extreme world poverty, mass unemployment and intense misery to hundreds of millions of people.

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