“After The Fall.”
As the froth and bubbling of the American election begins to cool, it is important to give some thought to what has happened here, and what it means both here and abroad as an advanced capitalist state flirts with neo-fascism and is rejected by a plurality of the electorate.
We are guided in our thinking here by the recent article by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, who in June 2017, published This is Not Popular which provides a historical, ideological, and economic perspective to the reemergence in the west of neo-fascist movements and political tendencies. And why we see this emergence now.
Foster notes the elements of fascism are relatively simple: heightened xenophobia, ultranationalism, roots in the lower-middle class and privileged sectors of the working class, and an alliance with monopolistic capital (Foster 1).
Despite its earliness a year and through the Trump administration, Foster offers important insights into the nature of fascism and its intellectual wellsprings from which it spawned, and how it permeated Trumpism. He cites the two major sources, battalion philosopher, Julius Evola, 1898-1974, who wrote several influential texts—and French writer, John Raspail who wrote the seminal novel The Camp of the Saints, which threatened of the great unwashed masses of the former Third World invading Europe by the horde.
Foster writes that central figures from the alt-right, the most prominent of which, is known as Steve Bannon, as an example, found a receptive ear in Trump who consumed conspiracy theories like most people ate lunch. Evola theorized that fascism could only be built utilizing what he called impassioned and sub-intellectual forces to propel influence over the masses (Foster 10). Those sub-intellectual forces, Evola thought, could fuel fascist revolts against democracy, modern notions of progress, and science itself.
Indeed Foster, quoting Evola’s post-war treatise, Revolt Against the Modern World, 1934, finds the following insight and he quotes: “None of modern science has the slightest value as knowledge.” Evola wasn’t just an idle philosopher writing into the ether. He knew and he worked with Italy’s el duche, Mussolini, Germany’s de fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, and their respective political parties.
In fact, he regarded Mussolini, the fascist prime minister of Italy, as insufficiently fascist in ideology. His ideas have been reborn in neo-fascist movements in today’s Europe and the United States. They also seem to have found considerable purchase in right-wing audiences, many who have flocked to Trump and who have ingested his anti-science ideas like believing the Coronavirus was a hoax which would simply dissipate with a warming weather of summer.
Sub-intellectual forces, remember? And sub-intellectual forces being present among Trumpites notwithstanding, there is also present awareness that the neoliberals ascendant in the Democratic Party betrayed the white working class when they signed NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement, a gift to the financier’s on Wall Street and a dagger in the bowels of American workers.
When Trump railed against NAFTA and through it, the Democratic Party, he endeared himself to American neo-fascists like Bannon who used that betrayal to buttress alt-right support, arguing that, his words now, Bannon’s words, “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle-class in Asia.” (Foster 14)
The real target was the neoliberal agreement that gutted the American working class, which really meant the departure of capital from the west to [inaudible] Asia, a huge source of cheap labor. As economic crises, made plain by the Coronavirus, attack cities in the west, making economic life virtually unsustainable, we see the emergence of neo-fascist movements among populations, which is essentially a cry for relief to corporate power allied with repressive governments. Foster reminds us that Nazi Germany, circa 1938, had achieved full employment, albeit with a system of mass repression that came to be seen as monstrous in its scale and scope (Foster 8).
Further, he reminds us that fascism, by its very nature, exists and conformity with capitalism. What we learn from examining the emergence of neoliberalism in the U.S. is that its hunger to serve capital could only be met by its concomitant betrayal of labor. This is particularly clear in its adherence to NAFTA, for example, which leads inexorably to the reactive emergence and formation of neo-fascism.
This means that neoliberalism, because of its fealty to capital, is inherently conservative in its political orientation, but failing to serve working class interests lends luster to neo-fascist alternatives with it’s heightened xenophobia, ultranationalism, lower-middle class rank, and as Evola has noted, its appeal to what he called impassioned and sub-intellectual forces.
This describes the crowds of millions of voters who lifted Trump’s electoral hopes in 2016 and almost secured his reelection. They attended rallies often without masks in the midst of a viral pandemic giving rise to superspreader events because their leader pronounced the Coronavirus a hoax, Ultimately, then neoliberalism and neo-fascism, while seeming to represent polar political opposites, are in fact close relatives who wear different clothes—for when we think of neoliberalism, we see the betrayals of NAFTA and the erection of brutal systems of mass incarceration. While one system shrieks racist outbursts and carries torches, the other one whispers sweet nothings, abolishes jobs, and carries a big repressive stick, for both serve one master: monopoly capital.
Thank you for listening. From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.