Fascism

In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it"Marxists are scientific socialists who understand that any successful cure of a disease depends upon a precise diagnosis. We do not bandy about words like 'fascist' as mere terms of abuse. In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it." — From What is Fascism? And is it an imminent threat today?Fascism is really the death agony of capitalism and the “distilled essence of imperialism”. The fascists in Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries were only able to come to power on the back of defeats of the working class. Ultimately, the madness of fascism expresses the historic crisis and dead-end of capitalism that had arrived by the early 20th Century, alongside the inability of the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a workers’ state, due to the corruption of their leadership, in the form of both reformism and Stalinism. Fascism could and should have easily been avoided had the working class possessed a militant and united leadership prepared to take power.

In 1918-33 revolution and counter-revolution followed hot on each others' heels. The barbarity of the Nazis is well documented. Less well known are the events that preceeded Hitler's rise to power. Rob Sewell gives a picture of the tumultous events - the 1918 revolution, the collapse of the Kaiser's regime, the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, the Kapp putsch in 1920, the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 and the ensuing revolutionary upheavals culminating in the abortive Hamburg uprising, finally Hitler's rise to power in 1929-33.

Fundación Federico Engels is publishing a new edition of Trotsky's book on Germany. Alan Woods runs through the events that finally led to the defeat of the German working class. The leaders of the German Communist Party - advised by Zinoviev, Stalin and co. - had a big responsibility in that historic defeat. It also deals with the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s and early 1930s. This tragic event could have been avoided had the leaders of the German labour movement had a clear understanding of genuine Marxism.

The connection between Italian Futurism and fascism is well known. Alan Woods looks at the psychology of the Italian bourgeois and petit bourgeois intellectuals in the period before and during the First World War that gave rise to this singular phenomenon. It is an object lesson on how art and politics can become inextricably linked, and how this mixture arises from a definite social and class basis.

Marxists study history not for the smugness of 20/20 hindsight, but in order to learn its lessons. Trotsky's insistent call for a united front of workers' organisations to defeat fascism in Germany went tragically unheeded.

After the elections last week in the Netherlands, the attention of the world's media concentrated on the spectacular advance of the so-called Fortuyn's List - the ad hoc right-wing, anti-immigrant formation formed around the recently assassinated Pim Fortuyn. Coming hard on the heels of the electoral advance of Le Pen in France, many people are asking whether politics in Europe is headed for the right, and whether there is the threat of fascism once again in Europe.

Today the word "fascist" has become a general term of abuse hurled at every reactionary bigot. The papers are full of stories about the "rise of fascism" thanks largely to the electoral support of Le Pen in France. Not every reactionary nor every dictatorship is fascist, however. It is necessary to understand the nature of a regime or a movement otherwise the tasks of the workers in relation to it can be confused.

The national question was of primary importance in the process of revolution and counter-revolution in the 1930s, from which important lessons can be learned. Today, the national question of the Spanish state continues without resolution. The bourgeoisie have been historically incapable of successfully completing the task of a bourgeois-democratic revolution of national unification. On the contrary, 40 years of horrible centralism, exercised by the Francoist dictatorship, exacerbated the centralist tendencies. Upon the fall of Francoism, these tendencies became even more defined.

This introduction originally written in 1995 points out that the new generation of young workers and youth should learn the lessons of history. The tragedy of the Spanish revolution is a painful lesson of cynical betrayal. We must learn from the defeats as well as the victories of working people to prepare ourselves for the future.

In 1973, as the situation in Spain moved towards revolution and final overthrow of the hated Franco regime, Ted Grant wrote this document drawing all the lessons from those tumultuous events.

Class polarisation and radicalisation of the Spanish workers, youth and middle class showed at the end of 1972 that the days of the Franco regime were numbered. Ted Grant examined the paramount importance of the coming revolution in Spain for the international working class and criticised the Spanish CP leaders who appeared to have learnt nothing from the defeat in the Civil War.

This article was written as an introduction to a Spanish language edition of Trotsky’s writings on the Spanish Revolution. This English translation was published in 1967. Broué outlines the main lessons that Trotsky drew from the experience of the Spanish revolution, lessons that need to be taken on board today.

At the end of 1959 there were Fascist and Nazi provocations in Germany and internationally, raising concerns within the labour movement. Ted Grant answered the anti-German racist poison that the Stalinist leaders were spreading and provided a class analysis of the forces behind Fascism and how to fight it. "From a capitalist class point of view this is perfectly logical," Ted pointed out, "The capitalists used the Nazis in the interests of their profits. If they do not support the Nazis now it is because these criminal maniacs are not necessary, at the present time, to hold down the working class in subjection, and destroy their organisations."

In this pamphlet, written by Ted Grant, the RCP explained the social basis of fascism, as a mass movement based on the middle-class and set in motion by the capitalist class to smash the labour movement. Faced with the danger of social revolution and the loss of power, the British capitalists, no less than their European counterparts, would be prepared to mobilise and finance fascist gangs to atomise the workers organisations. The pamphlet describes how the British capitalists were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini before the war, and how they supported the nascent fascist movement in Britain around Oswald Mosley.

The first democratic elections in Germany after the war, in 1946, saw the workers' parties triumph, especially the Social Democrats, a swing of the petty bourgeoisie toward the Christian Democrats, the collapse of the openly right-wing parties and a total rejection of the Nazis. Ted Grant pointed out that this was the answer to those, including the Stalinists and Labour leaders, who blamed the German workers for Hitler's crimes. The relative setback of the Stalinists and protest vote in the Soviet Zone also indicated that German workers were in favour of Socialism, but were repelled by the Stalinist caricature of it.

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies announced a savage and vengeful programme of enslavement of Germany and the German people. Of course, the responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis was not to be laid on their real backers, the German capitalists and bankers and the British and French capitalists. The burdens of dismemberment and defeat were to be thrown onto the backs of the thrice oppressed and enslaved German workers and peasants, the first victims of Hitlerism.

Ted Grant in 1944 defends an internationalist approach towards the German workers as opposed to the utter nationalist degeneration of the Trade Union, Labour and C.P. leaders who enthusiastically joined the bandwagon of those blaming the German workers for the crimes of the Nazi regime, when in fact they were its first victims.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.