On democracy and fascism
By David Lethbridge
In “Fascism and Social Revolution,” R. Palme
Dutt’s classic 1934 text on the development of fascism in Europe,
the interconnections between imperialism, fascism and social
democracy are clearly delineated. Dutt’s analysis has long been
neglected, primarily because it was overshadowed by the necessity
of building a popular front with social democrats and others
to combat fascism during the second World War.
But what Dutt demonstrated, through one concrete
example after another, was that social democracy could co-exist
with the earlier phases of fascism, and that social democracy
could pave the way for the development of fascist trends within
the imperialist state.
In short, Dutt exposed, in terms of Leninist dialectics,
the heart of the principal contradiction of contemporary bourgeois
society: the unity and interpenetration of the apparent opposites
of fascism and social democracy. Within this uneasy contradiction,
the primary aspect of the contradiction was the rise of fascism
over social democracy.
At a different and more complex level, the same
contradictions are evident within the ruling circles of the
USA, particularly in their manifestation in the Gore-Lieberman
forces of the Democratic Party.
In Gore’s recent nomination speech to the Democratic
National Convention, social democratic rhetoric and policy proposals
were given a high priority. Gore spoke of ending racial profiling
and of supporting affirmative action. He proposed measures to
bring about universal child care, to advance health reform,
to revitalize and rebuild education, to protect social security
and pensions, to increase funding for mental health and for
scientific research into improved vaccines. He spoke of increased
environmental protection, and “free but fair” trade.
What Gore did not speak about, however, was the
increased US militarism abroad - the fascistic policy of deliberately
starving Iraqi civilians, the preparations for war against the
Colombian people, the continuing blockade against Cuba. Nor
did he speak of the increasing repression within the US itself
-- the privatization of prisons, the supermax prison system,
the criminalization of millions of American minorities, and
the racist and class-oppressive death penalty. Only once did
Gore deviate from the litany of social democratic promises,
and that was to announce his intention of adding 50,000 more
police on top of Clinton’s previous mobilization of 100,000.
In all of this, social democracy was playing its
classic role of preventing revolution at home by allowing the
working class to benefit from imperialism and militarism abroad.
But perhaps the most demagogic and cynical act
of the Democratic Party was its elevation of Connecticut senator
Joe Lieberman to the position of Democratic nominee for Vice-President.
Lieberman’s nomination was presented as a historic event, as
a victory over racism, and as an embodiment of the civil rights
struggle. The announcement was made as an example of heroism
and courage on the part of Gore and Lieberman. Would there be
an antisemitic backlash? Was America ready for a Jewish Vice-President?
There were even subtle indicators that to oppose the Lieberman
nomination was to give evidence of a covert or even unconscious
In presenting the nomination through the distorting
lens of religion and civil rights, Lieberman’s policy record
was effectively eclipsed. Lieberman’s religion is an entirely
personal matter and of no essential interest. What needs to
be examined, and then combated, is the deeply reactionary nature
of his politics.
Since Lieberman’s election to the Senate in 1988,
he has been a close ally of anti-revolutionary Cuban exiles
in Florida. He has repeatedly voted to toughen the embargo against
Cuba, voting for the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton
Act. In the growing debate on whether to relax the embargo to
permit at least the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, Lieberman
voted in June against a proposal to create a national commission
to review US policy.
Disgustingly, and in opposition to the majority
of the American people, Lieberman joined with Republicans in
demanding that US Attorney General Janet Reno delay the return
to Cuba, and to his father, of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez,
the shipwrecked boy kidnapped by distant Miami relatives. Not
coincidentally, Lieberman was the top recipient of campaign
contributions from the Cuban American National Foundation this
year. CANF spokesperson Ninoska Perez brags that Lieberman is
a friend of Jorge Mas Canosa, the organization’s founder. According
to Cuban authorities, Canosa masterminded a 1966 mission, using
ex-Cuban CIA agents, to assassinate Castro, and was involved
in the 1980s and 1990s in a number of covert actions.
Lieberman is not only a virulent anti-Communist,
he is an advocate of the most vicious militarism. As the ranking
Democrat on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Acquisitions
and Technology, he gave a speech on 27 February 1998 in which
he said, “There is simply, sadly, not a large enough defense
support group in Congress for substantial increases in the defense
budget. Nor is there a strong enough public constituency.” In
that same speech, he called for a bigger military budget, in
part for “space weaponization.”
Not only was Lieberman one of the few Democrats
to initially support the Gulf War in 1991, he also was the co-sponsor
on 25 March 1999 for legislation to fund the arming of the “Kosovo
military forces” --the terrorist heroin-traffickers known as
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Lieberman has been a leading
advocate of US intervention in the Balkans and has claimed,
quite falsely as the facts demonstrate, that Yugoslav president
Milosevic was engaged in “genocide.”
Even more alarmingly, on a FOX News Sunday report
of May 1999, Lieberman went on record as saying that the purpose
of the US bombing of Yugoslavia was to “bring the war in Kosovo
home to the people, the citizens of Belgrade, so that they pressure
Milosevic to break.” Military attacks against civilians are
expressly prohibited by the Geneva Convention, and constitute
a war crime, a fact which Lieberman certainly knew but which
deterred him not at all.
Lieberman also has extensive ties to the religious
right and their reactionary social policies. He has supported
school voucher systems which would use public tax dollars to
fund parental choice for religious schools. He has voted for
a bill which denies federal recognition of gay marriages. He
is a co-founder of “Empower America,” a group which includes
religious right crusader William Bennett, and other religious
conservatives who campaign for “morality” in Hollywood and in
the music industry.
Lieberman is a strong proponent for what has been
called “faith-based partnership,” or “charitable choice,” and
which is essentially a network of programs combining tax credits
and government grants to promote the entry of organized religion
into the field of social services. He has voted for legislation
which overhauls the welfare system to give state governments
the power to farm out social welfare administration contracts
to religious groups. Civil libertarians, socialists, and others
concerned that the separation between church and state is being
seriously eroded have been effectively ignored by Lieberman
and his friends in the religious right. Directly influenced
by the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition movements, Lieberman’s
vision involves a dangerous reassertion of religious institutions
into social and political life.
Gore and Lieberman are fond of posturing their
religiosity. Their speeches at the Democratic National Convention
were repeatedly peppered with the now overfamiliar phrase “family
values.” But these “family values,” so dear to their hearts,
apparently do not extend to the hundreds of thousands of dead
or maimed Iraqi children and Yugoslav citizens, nor to Cubans
suffering under the US embargo, nor to those rotting on death
rows across the US.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Lenin
made the point that monopoly capitalism in the period of imperialism
would always lead to reactionary tendencies at the level of
politics and ideology. That truth has certainly come home to
roost in the US elections 100 years later.
What the Gore-Lieberman ticket offers to its traditional
constituencies of trade unionists, African-Americans, and left-liberals,
is the explosive contradiction of social democratic policy indissolubly
linked to such fascist state tendencies as militarism, anti-communism,
police repression, and religious social conservatism.
Democratic voters have been forced into the position
where if they want even the ghost of social democracy they must
simultaneously embrace the beast of social fascism. Republican
voters, on the other hand, just get the beast.
Source: The Bethune Institute for Anti-Fascist