Fascism Is Capitalism in Decay
Ekaterina Cabylis, Orinoco Tribune, Sep 18, 2023 —
The Relationship Between Economic Decline and Authoritarianism
“Fascism is capitalism in decay,” we have all heard this referenced to Lenin. While it’s important to note that this specific quote may not be verbatim from his writings or speeches, it does capture the essence of Lenin’s views on capitalism and its potential consequences. Lenin believed that as capitalism reached a certain stage of development, it would exhibit characteristics that resembled fascism. This idea suggests that fascism emerges due to the inherent contradictions and crises within capitalism as it reaches an advanced stage.
Fascism arises as a desperate attempt by the ruling capitalist class to maintain its power. It is a form of authoritarianism that emerges when capitalism is in a state of decay, During periods of economic crisis or decline, the ruling capitalist class may face challenges to maintain their dominance. In response, they might turn to authoritarian and nationalist movements as a means to protect their interests and maintain control. Fascism is the extreme manifestation of these efforts. Economic collapse can generate fear and insecurity in society. Fascist leaders often thrive on this fear, offering a sense of order and protection in exchange for loyalty and obedience.
Fascist regimes promote corporatism (a close collaboration between the state and big business) to maintain social order and protect the interests of the capitalist elite. In desperate times, people may be willing to sacrifice democratic principles for perceived stability. This erosion of democratic norms can pave the way for authoritarian rule.
Lenin’s statement suggests that fascism is not a separate or unrelated phenomenon but a product of the contradictions and crises within the capitalist system. Fascist movements often scapegoat minority groups, blaming them for the economic problems. This can lead to the persecution of marginalized communities, further consolidating power for the authoritarian regime. Fascist regimes tend to suppress dissent and opposition forcefully. This can involve censorship, repression of civil liberties, and the use of state power to maintain control over the population.
In history, when the Nazis aimed to establish legal measures to marginalize and discriminate against Jewish citizens, these concepts were not created in a vacuum. They meticulously examined the legal framework of another nation. According to James Q. Whitman, the author of “Hitler’s American Model,” that nation happened to be the United States. Specifically, the Nazis admired the Jim Crow laws for segregating Black Americans from white Americans and debated whether to introduce similar segregation in Germany. However, they concluded that such measures wouldn’t be sufficient in their case.
They were particularly interested in how the United States had designated groups like Native Americans and Filipinos as non-citizens, even if they lived in U.S. territories. This influenced the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.” In essence, the Nazis found inspiration in the American system of racial segregation.
• Suppressing Dissent: Fascist regimes tend to suppress dissent and opposition forcefully. This can involve censorship, repression of civil liberties, and the use of state power to maintain control over the population.
• Propaganda: The use of propaganda is a common feature of fascist regimes. Propaganda can be used to manipulate public opinion, justify authoritarian measures, and create a sense of unity and purpose.
• Erosion of Democracy: As fascism takes hold, democratic institutions and norms may gradually erode. This can include limiting the power of elected representatives, controlling the media, and undermining the rule of law.
Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany (1933-1945): Nazi Germany provides a stark historical example of fascism emerging during an economic crisis.
• Economic Collapse: The aftermath of World War I and the economic turmoil of the Great Depression created widespread unemployment and suffering in Germany. This economic collapse contributed to the appeal of Hitler’s promise to restore economic stability and greatness.
• Authoritarianism: Hitler’s regime was characterized by extreme authoritarianism, where dissent was ruthlessly suppressed. This consolidation of power allowed for radical policies and ideologies, including the anti-Semitic and racist beliefs that led to the Holocaust.
• State Control of the Economy: The Nazi government exerted significant control over the economy, implementing public works programs and militarization. This interventionist approach was seen as a solution to economic woes.
• Abortion Laws (Social Control and Ideological Suppression):
Nazi Germany had restrictive policies on abortion as part of its racial purity ideology.
• State Repression: Gestapo and SS Powers The Gestapo (Secret State Police) and the SS (Schutzstaffel) had sweeping powers to investigate and arrest individuals considered threats to the Nazi regime. They operated outside the conventional legal system and often engaged in extrajudicial actions.
• Book Banning (Censorship and Control of Information): Authoritarian regimes have often engaged in censorship to control information and shape public opinion. This includes banning books and materials deemed subversive or contrary to the ruling ideology. Nazi Germany, for instance, burned books by authors considered undesirable.
• Criminalization of Homosexuality: Under the Nazi regime, homosexuality was criminalized through the notorious Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code. This law made any form of same-sex sexual activity illegal and punishable by imprisonment.
• Economic Uncertainty: In modern times, economic uncertainties persist, with events like the 2008 financial crisis and the 2020 pandemic causing economic hardships for many. Economic instability creates fertile ground for extremist ideologies.
• The resurgence of Authoritarianism: Authoritarian tendencies, with leaders curtailing civil liberties and suppressing dissent. While not all are fascist, these actions reflect a troubling trend.
• Economic Populism: Economic grievances and job insecurity have fueled the rise of far-right populism in some regions. Leaders often promise to protect jobs and the interests of the majority, echoing historical appeals to nationalism and economic stability.
• Xenophobia and Racism: Like in the past, economic difficulties can exacerbate xenophobia and racism. Some individuals and groups use economic frustrations as a platform to promote discriminatory ideologies. Capitalism is inherently linked to colonialism when fascism rises as does racism.
• Abortion Laws (Social Control and Ideological Suppression): Some governments have passed highly restrictive abortion laws, limiting women’s autonomy over their bodies. This can be seen as an attempt to impose ideological control and restrict individual freedoms, echoing historical authoritarian tendencies.
• RICO Statutes Against Activists (State Repression): There have been instances where RICO statutes have been used against activists and protest movements, alleging that they are engaged in illegal conspiracies. This use of legal tools to target political dissent raises concerns about state repression and parallels historical tactics employed against activists.
• Book Banning (Censorship and Control of Information): Governments or interest groups may seek to remove books from curricula or libraries, aiming to control the narrative and limit access to diverse perspectives. This echoes historical tactics of information control seen in authoritarian
• Erosion of Civil Liberties: Fascist regimes suppress civil liberties and individual freedoms in the name of “maintaining order.” Anti-LGBTQ laws, by limiting the rights of LGBTQ individuals, directly undermine civil liberties, including freedom of expression, association, and equal protection under the law.
There are two main paths society can take: one is the downward capitalist path with fascism, and the other is the upward socialist path.
Howard Adams, a Métis revolutionary who studied Frantz Fanon, makes a distinction between two types of nationalism within the context of the national liberation movement. These two types of nationalism depend on the level of mobilization and the goals of the movement.
Cultural autonomy primarily emphasizes cultural preservation and self-governance within a broader political framework, while nationalism is inherently political, aiming for statehood and political control.
Cultural Autonomy vs Nationalism
• Pan-Africanism: Pan-Africanism is an ideology that advocates for unity, solidarity, and self-determination under the umbrella of socialism of people of African descent worldwide. It is rooted in the shared history and experiences of African and African diaspora communities, emphasizing the fight against racism, colonialism, and imperialism. Pan-Africanism is not about promoting racial superiority but rather racial equality and justice.
• Pan-Indigeneity: Pan-indigeneity is a term that refers to the idea of solidarity, cooperation, and shared identity among indigenous peoples from various regions and cultures around the world. It recognizes the common experiences of colonization, marginalization, and oppression that Indigenous communities have faced historically and, in many cases, continue to face today. Pan-Indigeneity seeks to foster connections and support among indigenous groups, often with the aim of advocating for indigenous rights, land sovereignty, cultural preservation, and social justice.
• White Nationalism: White nationalism, on the other hand, is an ideology that promotes the interests and supremacy of white people, often at the expense of other racial or ethnic groups. It seeks to create or maintain predominantly white nations and can be associated with beliefs in racial hierarchy and discrimination against non-white groups.
Lenin’s solution to the perceived decay of capitalism was the establishment of a socialist state through a proletarian (working-class) revolution.