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Read the oth­er arti­cles in the series The Vile Beast

Fas­cism is not only a nation­al­ist vio­lence and the polit­i­cal sys­tem orches­trat­ing it, but a full-blown ide­ol­o­gy that always the­o­rizes itself some­where as a response to crises, when social ten­sions due to class antag­o­nisms per­sist­ing in a sys­tem based on inequal­i­ties and dis­crim­i­na­tions can no longer be con­trolled by oth­er than solu­tions often akin to iden­ti­tar­i­an pop­ulisms. Thus do they find them­selves raised in sta­tus to take on posi­tions of pow­er in the full light of day, includ­ing through deviant insti­tu­tions with­in “democ­ra­cy”.

These ide­o­log­i­cal the­o­riza­tions share a com­mon matrix, pow­er sys­tems in abeyance that have always delved with­in the cap­i­tal­ist envi­ron­ment. Fas­cism and cap­i­tal­ism have thus trav­elled togeth­er in human history.

Cap­i­tal­ism, the appro­pri­a­tion of wealth, the high­jack­ing of the labor pro­duc­ing it, the finan­cia­riza­tion of the plan­et and its pre­da­tion for prof­it, dom­i­nate and reg­u­late glob­al econ­o­my, sub­ject­ing to it human activ­i­ties, social orga­ni­za­tions, life envi­ron­ments. Pow­er sys­tems orga­nize it and reg­u­late it, along with sys­tems devot­ed to the means of pro­duc­tion and to cap­i­tal. No need for fur­ther devel­op­ments of what even econ­o­mists defend­ing cap­i­tal­ism do not ques­tion as an ana­lyt­i­cal sys­tem. What they are less anx­ious to devel­op are the dif­fi­cul­ties gen­er­at­ed by the inner con­tra­dic­tions of this eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal sys­tem,  of which the very prac­ti­cioners have nev­er denied the obvi­ous existence.

The cap­i­tal­ist orga­ni­za­tion of the human world rests both on accu­mu­la­tion and com­pe­ti­tion, prof­its drawn from labor and prop­er­ty, along with the com­pet­i­tive monop­o­liz­ing of liv­ing mat­ter and ter­res­tri­al resources required for pro­duc­tion. Cap­i­tal­ists pre­fer to call this the “com­pet­i­tive mar­ket”, “the labor mar­ket” and “the econ­o­my” with no qual­i­fi­er. If we look back again, we see that this eco­nom­ic mod­el has always been a fac­tor, both of eco­nom­ic and finan­cial crises of its own doing, and of social crises flow­ing from the first, or again flow­ing from the obvi­ous inequal­i­ties in the shar­ing of wealth and resources. Added to these now: an eco­log­i­cal cri­sis, fruit of the sys­tem’s greed­i­ness and preda­to­ry practices.

And this is where comes into play the need for com­plex orga­ni­za­tions of pow­er venues with­in human soci­eties. Their range has been exten­sive – from feu­dal­ism to States sub­ject­ed to imposed mar­ket rules, from Empires to neo-lib­er­al­ism in the guise of glob­al cap­i­tal­ism.  And (this Marx had only bare­ly evoked) an out-of-con­trol sys­tem that insists on the notion of end­less growth for its ben­e­fit, as if the plan­et itself could end­less­ly grow, and thus head­ed for destruc­tion. One sus­pects that ancient, pre-cap­i­tal­ist “civ­i­liza­tions” col­lapsed for the same rea­sons of over-reach.

In brief, soci­eties based on accu­mu­la­tion, non-col­lec­tive prop­er­ty and prof­it have known count­less changes in order to self-per­pet­u­ate, be it through slav­ery or salaried labor, from exploit­ed man­pow­er to machines, from indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion to glob­al finan­cia­riza­tion, all on a con­stant basis of hier­ar­chi­cal patri­archy. Each and every time humans have imag­ined they could con­trol it through social and polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion. The intel­lec­tu­al sphere, as we call it, con­tributed to the col­lec­tive search for solu­tions in order to ren­der this sys­tem viable and unavoid­able in the long term, or in order to rev­o­lu­tion­ize it.

In this case, com­mu­nism is one of those alter­na­tive pat­terns, lib­er­tar­i­an com­mu­nism anoth­er, Nation-States pro­vide one form, col­o­niza­tions pro­vide means, with the armed branch­es pro­vid­ed by mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic impe­ri­al­ism, neolib­er­al­ism as a lead­ed safe­ty belt for the weak and a means of accu­mu­la­tion for the rich… And, recent­ly, “there is no alter­na­tive” was imposed for a good while by prof­i­teers using var­i­ous modes of governance.

And fas­cism in all that?

I think you already have the answer con­cern­ing the nature of this vari­ant linked to the sys­tem, and the way in which, once the ide­o­log­i­cal matrix and mode of dom­i­na­tion adapt to it, it can become a dead­ly escape route to exac­er­bat­ed  contradictions.

And to avoid find­ing myself accused of dog­mat­ic schema­tism, I will add that all this does not occur as in a con­spir­a­cy, as a ruse of nasty cap­i­tal­ists assem­bled in broth­er­hoods or con­fer­ences think­ing this out each in their own cor­ner; instead it set­tles in the void of thought when faced with crises, and when that same thought has failed to respond to them or has betrayed itself in the eyes of human societies.

Fas­cism first takes hold in the voids, then it lev­els out and fills all avail­able spaces. We then find our­selves faced with Albert Camus’ words: “One tires of see­ing the beast tri­umph with­out com­bat”.  Or when stu­pid­i­ty encoun­ters “the beast”. Fas­cism is not the rever­sal of “democ­ra­cy” but rather  its fail­ure stim­u­lat­ing rejec­tion, and often find­ing its back­ing in a class or social lay­er whose imme­di­ate inter­ests are most severe­ly affect­ed. When the bour­geois own­ers or the oli­garchies no longer show con­sid­er­a­tion for their under­lings, it hap­pens that the lat­ter think of grab­bing the house keys. And as with any pop­ulism, even if it appears to have rev­o­lu­tion­ary ambi­tions, since it is not anti-cap­i­tal­ist, the worst of “the beast” can then pros­per — the “beast­li­ness” Camus spoke about, the very one pro­duced by human intelligence.

The beast” Gram­sci also described thus: “The old world is dying, the new world is late in appear­ing and in this murky half-light, the mon­sters appear”. Mon­sters that soon edict the need for order, a  firm hold on pow­er,  safe­ty for busi­ness­es, along with defend­ing an iden­ti­ty, ances­tral val­ues, nation­al sov­er­eign­ty, all mat­ters that reas­sure when faced by the void or by chaos, or on the after­maths of  trea­sons and the defeat of thought systems.

The anti-sys­tem ones then put on the brown shirt, or oth­ers in more exot­ic hues, leagues and par­ties appear with ban­ners espous­ing ultra-nation­al­ism and threat­en­ing dif­fer­ences in a vir­ile way, prefer­ably as an expres­sion of faith­ful­ness to old, well-estab­lished patri­archy. And let’s not for­get for good good mea­sure sup­port from big­ots, be they big­ots in the ser­vice of a god, or for the denial or reli­gious thought.

Prévert’s bish­op vom­it­ing on Rome street in his poem “Crosse en l’air1, as he watched all kinds of garbage flow by in the gut­ter of those days (1937) already reeked of the fas­cism to come, along with the bad hootch he had ingurgitated.

Sis­ter Anne, Sis­ter Anne, what is that we hear rustling in Poland, in Hun­gary, already set­tled in Turkey and else­where ? Do you see noth­ing com­ing down the road?

To be continued…

Read the oth­er arti­cles in the series The Vile Beast


Image : CC Lila Mon­tana sol­idary photographer-journalist

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…