“Cracks In The Walls of Empire.”
Legates: as we gather today, we do so amid the fire and smoke of chaos both figuratively and literally.
In France, the city of light, Paris, is surrounded by the flames of discontent. The rural communities are up in arms about lowering wages and the hiking of taxes. These people, clad in their yellow vests, feel that they are forgotten by the central government and often ignored by them and the urban elites.
In Britain, the nation is trying to come to terms with a serious self-imposed wound: Brexit. Brexit, or a British exit from the European Union, is a British attempt to go it alone, but to do so means that the country will lose billions of pounds as international companies flee from London and as jobs also leave the country. London, called “the city” for its impressive economic strength, is frittering away that strength because of Brexit.
The U.S. economy, roaring like a lion as it breaks all records of the Dow stock exchange, is now falling like stone as stocks reflect losses that bring to mind the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Why should we worry about such things? Because when the economy falls, when economic insecurity enters a nation, it opens the door to fear. And history has shown us that it opens the door into fascism. Europe is already home to formidable rightist forces. The events of a year ago in Charlottesville, VA showed the sinister flash of fascism in a major American city.
These fears, once unleashed, cannot be easily brought back under control. These furies of the mind light fires in consciousness, and fires in the mind can only too soon become fires in fact which consumes and destroy societies. Fascism, or the collusion of corporate power with state governmental power, can result when traditional governments have failed to resolve economic problems in states awash in economic insecurity.
John Bellamy Foster, editor of the American socialist magazine Monthly Review, defines fascism as characterized by its virulently xenophobic ultranationalist tendencies, which is rooted primarily in the lower middle class and relatively privileged sections of the working class in alliance with monopoly capital.
History has shown that the deification of leaders and the exhultation of the military is also a feature of fascist states. As capitalism reaches its market limits, it seeks other forms through which it can extract profits. Fascist.
The late German dramatist Bertolt Brecht asks in 1935, “How can anyone tell the truth about fascism unless he is willing to speak out against capitalism which brings it forth?” Thus, we can glimpse a key relationship between fascism and capitalism. One is but a tool of an economic system which utilizes the other for power and profit.
One would think that the heinous and horrors of massacres of World War Two would awaken us to the fascism and the neofascism that we see emerging in Europe and the U.S. One would think, yes.
But neoliberalism itself, a political system designed to serve corporate interests by betraying the public sphere for private capitalist accumulation, has prepared the ground for this neofascist and cryptofascist ascendancy. Neoliberalists like the Clintons built the machine we now name mass incarceration. How could this not strengthen and deepen a system built on repression of workers, racism, and corporate control and domination?
In Britain, Brexit spells economic disaster and the devolution of Britain as one of the centers of Europower. In France, attempts to operate the nation as if it were a simple business run by a banker has run into a wall, one richly emblazoned with mottos comparing the president with kings who faced the guillotine. In America, the notion of president who was a businessman has lost much of its luster as the state appears like a site of chaos and sheer incompetence.
And beneath it all lurks the threat of fascism: ugly, racist, profoundly undemocratic, and beholden only to corporate capitalist power. It is a time for all of us of awakening.
Thank you for your time.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.