Fascism could have been stopped in the 1920s and 1930s, and it could be stopped today. It all depends on what we do.
A number of leading thinkers were asked to respond to the single question: Is Fascism making a comeback? All the contributions are availabe on State of Nature. The response by Neil Faulkner, author of Creeping Fascism: Brexit, Trump, and the Rise of the Far Right, is reprinted below.Is fascism making a comeback? Perhaps. But history is not predetermined. It presents us with a succession of choices.
What does seem true is that the film of the 1930s is re-running in slow motion. We face a world capitalist crisis that is probably more intractable than that of the 1930s, with economic stagnation, growing social decay, a breakdown of the international order, increasing arms expenditure and war, and imminent climate catastrophe.
The political and business elite has no solutions to any of the major problems confronting humanity and the planet. Parliamentary democracies have been hollowed out by corporate power. Authoritarian nationalist regimes are in control elsewhere. Fascist organisations are gaining in electoral support.
Labour movements – the unions and the mass socialist parties – have been weakened by 35 years of neoliberalism. Most working people, battered by the crisis, lack effective mechanisms for fighting back collectively. Social life is characterised by atomisation, alienation, and anomie. This is the seedbed for nationalism, racism, fascism, and war.
The Right has no solutions and nothing to offer. The essence of its politics, therefore, is to turn working people against each other, making scapegoats of women, the poor, the disabled, ethnic-minority people, Muslims, LGBT people, migrants, refugees, and so on. It takes different forms in different places. Trump in the US. Brexit in Britain. Le Pen in France. The AfD in Germany. But the essential message is the same. And this has the potential to harden into all-out fascism – the violence and repression of armed thugs out to smash the unions, the Left, and the minorities.
But fascism could have been stopped in the 1920s and 1930s, and it could be stopped today. It all depends on what we do. The challenge is extreme: we need nothing less than a radical programme of economic and social change to reverse a generation of financialisation, privatisation, austerity, and the grinding down of working people.
To stop the fascists, we have to show the great mass of ordinary working people that an alternative is possible: that if we unite and organise and fight back, we can challenge the grotesque greed of the super-rich rentier class that is currently leaching the wealth of society to the top, and remodel society on the basis of equality, democracy, peace, and sustainability.
This book is an urgent call to arms. It argues that the film of the 1930s is running in slow motion, and that we face the clear and present danger of ‘creeping fascism’.