We have heard a lot about fascism recently. There is the racist rhetoric from government about refugees. Gary Lineker was right to compare it to the language of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Authoritarian laws to limit our right to strike or to protest suggest that we are slowly becoming a fascist state; and to cap it all, last month’s National Conservatism conference was endorsed by government ministers who were happy to share a platform with far right conspiracy theorists. Well done whoever tweeted that National Conservatism was for fascists who thought National Socialism was too left wing.

First things first. We are not yet living in a fascist state. I am free to write this, and you are free to read it without the Thought Police knocking at our doors — but freedom requires vigilance and, if we are to defend ourselves against fascism, it is as well to know what we are talking about.

Fascism emerged as a political movement after the First World War with the National Fascist Party of Mussolini in Italy (1919), Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (1920), and the Spanish Falange, founded by Rivera in 1933, that triumphed under Franco in 1939. This was a period of social upheaval. Capitalism was in crisis. The Russian Revolution had enthused workers around the world and terrified the capitalist class. Mass strikes and revolutionary uprisings were the order of the day.

Stuck in the middle were lower middle class people: minor civil servants, self-employed shopkeepers and artisans, farmers, small businessmen and the like. They did not identify with the working class and aspired to rise in the world — but the crisis of capitalism threatened them with ruin, and they blamed capitalists and workers equally for their plight. This social class was the recruiting ground for fascism.

Fascist ideology essentially blamed foreign ideology (Marxism) for stirring up the workers, and interference by foreign bankers for ruining the economy. As some of the leading Bolsheviks were Jewish, and so were some of the richest bankers in the world, it was a short step to the bizarre conspiracy theory that the Jews were secretly pulling all the strings to bring down race and nation and take over the world.

The answer was a strong nation state that would defeat both capitalism and communism, hunt out the enemy within and take the country on to greater glory. Such a movement had no chance of success unless it was able to attract serious support from powerful allies. Its nationalism and anti-communism did attract support from ruling class elements who wanted a once-and-for-all victory over the working class, and believed that the greed and ambition of the fascist leaders would outweigh their ideological aversion to capitalism in order to take power. And they were right.

Fascism is born of fear, and that fear is exploited by unscrupulous leaders who are happy to stir up racial hatred, be it towards Jews, Blacks, or any convenient and identifiable minority; and they will sell out their mass base in order to win power. Once in power, their first move is to outlaw or neutralise working class resistance in our unions and our political organisations. The Nazis rose to power on the back of antisemitism, but they destroyed the unions and the Communist Party before systematically turning on the Jews. The concentration camps were established as labour camps for political dissidents before they were transformed into death camps for Jews and other demonised groups like gays, the Roma, and the disabled.

Today’s fascists mostly do not march around in brown shirts waving swastikas. Instead, they are using the Conservative Party to suit their purpose, just as they did with Trump and the Republican Party in America. They are the men in suits, the WhatsApp warriors, and the briefcase brigade who rage against the system in public while secretly taking its money to fund their campaign against us. Once it was gas chambers — now it is gaslighting — but, given the chance, they will once more embrace mass murder to achieve their aims.

Fascism is capitalism red in tooth and claw. Never Forget, Never Forgive, and Never Again. Let that be our watchword.

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