“Behind every fascism there is a failed revolution.” – Walter Benjamin.
This rings true nowadays, and especially more-so as deaths perpetrated by the far-right begins to increase with each passing day. I write this in the background of the two deaths by fascist Jeremy Christian, killing two Americans and injuring a third who confronted him due to harassing two Muslim women.
Mainstream far-right supporters are deflecting, saying that Christian’s support of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, “leftist” candidates in the otherwise nauseating climate of center-right politics, show that Christian is actually a loose canon. He’s one motivated by nothing – his racist outburst was just that. The liberal camp is quick to condone his white nationalist tendencies, but pose the right-wing as the problem; there’s no self-examination. It’s they the racists, they the misogynists, yet do not look inwards to confront the level of economic destruction that the Democratic Party has been responsible for.
The rise of Adolf Hitler was adept in co-opting what used to be a vibrant, anti-capitalist movement. The usage of calling themselves the National Socialists meant, that despite his hatred of actual socialists, appearing to be a socialist would be important, especially to gain power. Inciting hatred of immigrants, Jews, and other marginalized people, Hitler used the democratic process and get in power. Afterwards, he would kill socialists of all tendencies (communists, anarchists), as they were in his way.
What’s important here is that socialism is not the problem (I’m talking about socialism as anarchism here). Fascism appears when it becomes apparent that capitalism as usual only worsens the mess that capitalists leaves behind. Capitalism in the 1930s-1940s had left Germany destitute – just like it has in Latin America, parts of the U.S., and Greece today.
Neoliberalism is entering a global consensus in its rejection. Capitalist globalization has done nothing but leave impoverished neighborhoods in its wake, proxy wars in the Middle East, displacement of millions, and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. As the poor grow wary of the same economic results, and with a stagnant Democratic Party that is still playing by the neoliberal perspective, the Democrats have dug their graves for political irrelevancy. They supported NAFTA and the TPP. When Hillary Clinton flip-flopped on free trade, there was no one on the planet that half-agreed with her position. Cheating the primaries out of Bernie Sanders was the last straw for the white working class, a population that did not desire yet another neoliberal in office. They turned to the lesser evil, to the “anti-globalist”: Donald Trump.
If there is a lesson hidden in WWII, it’s that capitalist economics and its staunch supporters are responsible for the rise of fascism. Organizing around the economic conditions caused by capitalism will depend on the level of coordination that opposing ideologies can muster. Either we will fall into the trap of hate-filled authoritarian fascism like Germany did in WWII, or enter a new terrain of participatory economics and democratic confederalism. Otherwise, there will be more Jeremy Christians, and more violence against different communities that do not fit the white nationalist mold, victims of an idea caused by neoliberalism.