Origins of fascism and the new right

Over the last few years mainstream opinion in Europe has been shocked and dismayed by the electoral success of the far right. The Freedom Party of Susanne Riess-Passer and Jörg Haider sits in the Austrian cabinet, as does the Alleanza Nazionale of Gianfranco Fini in Italy. Denmark's conservative government relies for its continued survival on the MPs of Pia Kjaersgaard's Danske Folkeparti. Jean-Marie Le Pen caused a storm when he reached the second round in the May 2002 French presidential elections. While in the Netherlands the Ljist Pim Fortuyn came from virtually nowhere to push a humiliated Labour Party into third place, gaining 23 MPs in the process. Other European countries have seen similar gains by the far right. In Belgium the Vlaams Blok is a palpable force in Flanders and has 20 out of 50 seats in the Antwerp council. In Germany there is the Party of the Rule of Law and Order led by Ronald Schill. Norway's Progress Party under Carl Ivar Hagen won over 15% of the vote in 1997. Christoph Blocher's Centre Democratic Union performed even better in Switzerland in 1999. His party secured 22.6%. How should this political phenomenon - and it is a phenomenon, albeit a complex one, fragmented, coloured and shaped as it is by uneven national conditions - be assessed? According to many on the economistic left - most notably the Socialist Workers Party and its International Socialist Tendency - this is the 1930s in "slow motion". Europe is witnessing the renewed forward march of fascism. Indeed in the hands of the SWP's Anti-Nazi League - a narrow front of the typical kind - all far right parties should be branded with the loathsome stigma of Nazism and treated as such. The ANL is far from alone. Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin, Wim Koch, Jack Straw and their court media enthusiastically took up the Nazi cry. In the US isolationists warn that Europe is reverting to the madness that produced two world wars. A new holocaust is on the agenda, maintain these friends of George W Bush. The dead Pim Fortuyn certainly makes an odd Nazi. Fortuyn claimed to defend Dutch liberalism, liberties and tolerance. Openly homosexual, he dressed the dandy. Chauffeured around in a Bentley, Fortuyn reportedly began political life on the left. His LPF movement attacks official corruption, highlights crime and tilts at consensus politics. Ideological shibboleths such as the pending ecological collapse and multiculturalism are mockingly derided. Accept that Holland is essentially a single urban landscape. Forget agriculture, promote industrial and commercial growth, build more motorways and turn what remains of the countryside into parks. Worries about global warming and rising sea levels were answered by Fortuyn with the promise that he would increase the height of dykes. Fortuyn wanted the assimilation of all recent migrants into his imagined Dutch commonality. He singled out Koranic hostility to gays. Islam, he insisted, is a backward religion that had never undergone its reformation. A halt should be put on further mass migration. Holland is full. Yet neo-Nazis such as the Nederlande Volksunie were shunned. Fortuyn denied any affinity between Le Pen and himself. He also indignantly rejected charges of racism. Appearing on TV, Fortuyn famously slapped down one critic by saying that he had nothing against Moroccans - "After all, I've been to bed with so many of them". The fact that Fortuyn's deputy in Habitable Holland was born in the Cape Verdi Islands and is black is therefore not insignificant. So is Pim Fortuyn a fascist? And what of Susanne Riess-Passer's and Jörg Haider's Freedom Party, the Alleanza Nazionale, the Danske Folkeparti, Le Pen's Front National, the Vlaams Blok, the Party of the Rule of Law and Order and other such similar political formations? Our intention in this article is to provide an answer first by showing why a sloppy, catch-all use of the term is so dangerous. Next, what might be called the 19th century precursors of fascism will be briefly discussed. Thus fascism can be put in its proper historical and socio-economic content. We shall then examine fascism through the prism of how it was theoretically assessed and explained away by the bourgeois establishment. On that basis the contemporary situation can be grappled with. Fascism as insult The term 'fascism' has been subject to all manner of different definitions since it was first coined (Benito Mussolini adopted the fasces, a bundle of sticks with an axe at their centre, the symbol of state power in ancient Rome, as the emblem of his movement). Mussolini's 'Italian Fascisti of Combat' was formed in March 1919 when 54 people - mostly demobilised soldiers, pro-war former syndicalists and extreme social chauvinists - signed up to his programme. Fascism, in the words of Il Duce, stood against liberalism, the "exhausted democracies" and the "violently utopian spirit of Bolshevism" (B Mussolini My autobiography London nd, p65). Nowadays on the left, however, the word has degenerated into little more than a throwaway insult. Members of the Genoese paramilitary police force are dubbed fascists by black bloc anarchists; the guerrillaist left in Turkey describe all the country's governments as fascist since the foundation of the modern state by Kemal Atatürk in 1923; fascism is frequently equated with any manifestation of racism or anti-semitism; restrictions of civil liberties imposed by David Blunkett are denounced as creeping fascism, etc. Such abusive labelling rallies support, fills those who use it with righteous moral indignation and often provokes a pleasingly spluttering response from the target. Yet it does nothing to reveal the true nature of fascism as it emerged historically and functions as a social force in capitalist society. This is no matter of pedantry or semantics. If you shear fascism of history, if fascism is reduced to little more than something unpleasant and threatening, an object of opprobrium, then one cannot methodologically distinguish between the role played by fascism in mercilessly destroying the organised working class in Europe during the 1920s, 30s and 40s on the one hand and the Peterloo massacre of 1819 or the anti-trade union legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s on the other. Giving back fascism a clear, definite, meaning by rooting it in history has nothing to do with any softness towards carabinieri violence in Genoa, fondness for the Turkish state, toleration of racism and anti-semitism, or endorsement of Blunkett's draconian terrorism act. On the contrary, by labelling fascist what is not fascist, terrible mistakes in political practice are inevitable and building an effective movement against the real fascist menace is severely impaired. For example, in the late 1920s and early 30s 'official communism' dogmatically classified everything and everyone from the Labour left to Ramsay MacDonald's national government, and from German social democracy to Franklin D Roosevelt, under the rubric of fascism or tendencies towards fascism. Roosevelt's New Deal administration was written about by Britain's foremost communist political thinker as a "transition to fascist forms, especially in the economic and industrial field" (R Palme Dutt Fascism and the social revolution London 1934, p251). Fascism was said to grow organically out of bourgeois democracy. According to Manuilsky, in his report to the executive committee of the Communist International, only a liberal "can accept that there is a contradiction between bourgeois democracy and fascism" (quoted in M Kitchen Fascism London 1983, p5). Stalin summed this approach up by coupling together social democracy and fascism as "twin brothers". This 'third period' theory led the Communist Party of Germany to shun any united front with the "social fascist" Social Democracy. Meanwhile Adolf Hitler - supposedly not especially dangerous - swept to power. After 1933 the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party were both banned, trade unionism abolished and parliamentary democracy ended. Concentration camps awaited communists and social democrats alike. Over 1934-35 Stalin's Communist International 'corrected' its analysis of fascism. First at the 13th plenum, and then at the 7th congress, Georgi Dimitrov delivered a new formulation which was duly adopted by all 'official communist' parties. Dimitrov redefined fascism as the "open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital" (G Dimitrov The working class against fascism London 1935, p10). His cure was, though, not much better than the original disease. Fascism was still viewed as a stage of capitalism. But overcoming fascism was completely divorced from the revolutionary class struggle against capital. Besides blessing cooperation with social democrats, the door was held ajar for the forthcoming drive for popular fronts in every country - Britain, India, US, France, Spain, etc. They would countenance communist support for the less terroristic, less chauvinistic and less imperialistic representatives of finance capital. Eg, Churchill, Roosevelt, de Gaulle. From afar Trotsky damned the 'fourth period' as a headlong dive into naked class collaboration. He ranked Comintern's new line on a par with social democracy's collapse before inter-imperialist war in August 1914 - the Marseillaise had drowned out the Internationale. The Communist International had entered the "social patriotic camp", he concluded (L Trotsky Writings 1935-36 New York 1977, p129). We can safely say, then, that putting the term 'fascism' on a firm scientific basis hardly blunts, but greatly sharpens serious, meaningful political practice. Certainly without a correct theory the fascist germ that lies festering in the belly of present-day socio-economic conditions can neither be successfully fought nor killed. Precursors Doubtless fascism's intellectual origins lie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Social Darwinism, the pseudo-science of race, state worship, romantic national history, abhorrence of internationalism and working class socialism were the dominant ideas of the European ruling classes prior to the outbreak of World War I. Colonial empires found justification in racial theory. Romantic national history and social Darwinism bound masses of people at home to the imagined community of the state and reconciled them to the existing hierarchical social order. Nevertheless, though fascist leaders and their shrill publicists freely deployed such ruling class notions, they did so in an entirely demagogic fashion. There is with fascism no body of logically sustainable reasoning of the kind found in the catholic church or Marxism. Read Mein Kampf or Mussolini's My autobiography. Hence frantic leftist attempts to locate Le Pen's 'fascism' in some subtle anti-semitic code word or pouncing upon Jörg Haider's 'fascist' admiration for the Third Reich's autobahns and public works programme is entirely misplaced. There is no fascist theory systematically linking proposition to practice. Organisationally fascism has precursors in the anti-liberal and anti-socialist counterrevolutionary movements of the same late 19th to early 20th century period. A loose analogy can be drawn between Louis Napoleon Bonaparte's movement and fascism. While not pushing his case too far, August Thalheimer - a former top leader of the Communist Party of Germany - did just that and with rewarding results (see M Kitchen Fascism London 1983, pp71-75). Thalheimer took as his starting point the profound insights he found in Marx's The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon and The civil war in France. Leon Trotsky too argued that there is "an element of Bonapartism in fascism" (L Trotsky The struggle against fascism in Germany New York 1971, p444). In 1848 the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe was overthrown. A popular, working class-led revolution restored the republic. However, neither the workers nor the bourgeoisie proved strong enough to impose their rule upon society. The Cavaignac dictatorship could arrest Auguste Blanqui and suppress the workers, but could not score a decisive victory. There ensued an inherently unstable revolutionary-counterrevolutionary stand-off between the two classes. Under these circumstances Louis Bonaparte - nephew of emperor Napoleon I - met his destiny. Bonaparte gathered together a wide layer of decayed social elements - swindlers, thieves, pimps, discharged prisoners, beggars, former soldiers, gamblers, ruined adventurers - those whom the French call la bohème. Backed by this volatile but easily manipulable social base, Bonaparte skilfully constructed a broad, cross-class coalition. Before workers and the lumpen-proletariat he spoke with flamboyant revolutionary phrases; the peasants were fobbed off with traditional family values and the promise of national glory. At the same time Bonaparte quietly aligned himself to high finance. In December 1851 he seized power with the help of the French army. The Bonapartist state raised itself above society. Bourgeois political power lay broken, but bourgeois social power had been rescued from the working class threat. The Boulangist movement and Paul Déroulède's League of Patriots was also something of a prefiguration. It shot to brief prominence during the late 1880s. Mixing strident nationalism with mass agitation against parliamentary corruption, influential members of the French Workers' Party, including Marx's son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, entertained the illusion that the Boulangist third way represented a "genuine mass movement" which could, if encouraged, develop a socialistic character. Like so many impatient leftists today, Lafargue tried to swim with a popular tide. Political islam comes to mind. Fredrick Engels for his part would have none of it. He urged the French comrades to "fight under their own flag" - against both the bourgeois political establishment and the Boulangists (Letter to Laura Lafargue, July 15 1888). Action Franà§aise, established in 1899, bears an even closer approximate resemblance to fascism. Action Franà§aise combined anti-semitism with nationalism and dynastic royalism. Of key importance, though - here we have the first 'shirt movement': ie, rightwing fighting squads. The 'Camelots du Roi' began as Action Franà§aise's street gangs and in 1917 became a full blown mass counterrevolutionary militia. In February 1934 they were part of a royalist-fascist bloc - armed with revolvers, clubs and razors - which invaded the parliament building in Paris and put the reactionary government of Gaston Doumergue into power. The Union of Russian People, formed in 1905, likewise mobilised declassed elements into fighting squads. With the cry of Nicholas II on their lips and Holy Russia beating in their hearts, the Black Hundreds conducted vicious pogroms against countless striking workers, revolutionaries and jews. Turning point World War I marked an epochal turning point. Capitalism metamorphosed into monopoly capitalism and entered its decadent phase. The law of value, competition and other essential laws decline and can only be sustained through organisational measures such as state intervention and the arms economy. Market forces are partially demystified. They are exposed as political. Socialism is immanent. Where it can, collective capital puts off the transition by elevating state power above the immediate interests of profit. Wide-ranging concessions are granted to the assertive working class. However, official Europe, especially in the defeated countries, emerged from the mayhem of World War I thoroughly discredited, weakened and riven with internal divisions. Our class was presented with an unprecedented historic opportunity. Bolshevism brilliantly trailed the path. Tragically, elsewhere, the organisations of the working class either proved inadequate or wretchedly backed away from the task and sought to reconcile themselves with capitalism. Bourgeois society was exhausted and chronically split. But the working class lacked the necessary leadership with which to deliver the final revolutionary blow. Fascism erupts as a counterrevolutionary social movement under these conditions. Following World War I virtually every country in Europe spawned its clutch of fascist groups and grouplets. At first they were entirely marginal. Mussolini secured not a single MP in the 1919 elections. Polite society looked down at them with barely concealed contempt. Hitler was dismissed as a crank. However, the unresolved class struggle and the inability of the bourgeoisie to rule in the old way produced one spasm of economic and political dislocation after another. The malign aura of fascism vanished. Mussolini's blackshirts and Hitler's brownshirts appeared before the ruling class as saviours. The communist vermin must be exterminated. Mussolini took power in 1922 at the invitation of king Victor Emanuel III - with the active encouragement of big capital and the benign neutrality of the army assured. The famed march on Rome was pure theatre. Mussolini knew beforehand that the establishment would give him a hero's welcome. A decade later, in the aftermath of the 1929 crash, Hitler formed a government with the willing support of president Hindenburg and the parties of the far right. He proceeded to impose fascism in its most brutal, most terroristic form. The fascist revolution was counterrevolution. Not surprisingly the initial response from Marxists was somewhat confused. At the 4th congress of the Communist International in 1922 - the last attended by Lenin - the victory of fascism in Italy was blamed in part on the inability of the communists to resolve the revolutionary situation positively - which had in 1919 seen the seizure of the factories by the workers. "Primarily" fascism served "as a weapon" in the "hands of the big landowners", it was said. Italy presumably was going backwards down a fixed evolutionary ladder from capitalism to feudalism. The bourgeoisie were said to be perturbed by this "black Bolshevism". Crucially though, Comintern failed to come to terms with the fact that with fascism the working class had suffered a strategic defeat. The fascist counterrevolution tended therefore to be played down. Fascism could not hold for long. A renewed rising by the working class must occur - and very soon. Actually fascist success in Italy plus the continued grip of a deep socio-economic global crisis stimulated the growth of other fascist movements. There were inevitably some mere imitations - eg, the Romanian Fascist Party, founded in 1923, and George Valois's Fasisceau of 1924. However, fascism is fundamentally a national chauvinist movement. That is how it gains a mass base - as stressed by Clara Zetkin and Karl Radek. Hence the general tendency was to aggressively take on the trappings, prejudices and antagonisms of extreme nationalism. Fascism was undoubtedly an international phenomenon. But it was not an international movement. Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party was no clone of Mussolini's fascisti. The same goes for the Austrian Heimwehren, Hungary's Arrow Cross, Spain's Falangists, the ABC and Falanga in Poland, and the Croix de Feu and Solidarité Franà§aise. Naturally the German military conquest of much of continental Europe after 1939 created not only a batch of Quisling collaborators, but an allure for Nazification amongst the fascist groups. Only in Poland did the native fascists resist this for any time. In general, however, the Germans did not elevate their fascist co-thinkers into governing satraps. They preferred to deracinate them. Many went on to serve on the eastern front with units such as the Waffen SS. Characteristically the fascist movements of pre-World War II Europe were fanatically attached to a bloodthirsty nationalist outlook. War and violence are the ultimate manly virtues. The fittest countries alone survive. Others deserve to perish. Liberalism was rejected as an effete trap. Parliament dismissed as a den of corruption. Democracy is unnatural. Embrace the eternal spirit of the nation and submit to the will of the great leader. A formless anti-capitalism was often rhetorically advocated. George Strasser's wing of the Nazi Party dreamt of a return to pre-monopolistic conditions and a kind of feudal national socialism. Suffice to say, the organised working class - trade unions and leftwing political parties - along with the ideas of Marxism and international socialism - were the real enemy, not capital. Big business generously financed Mussolini and Hitler. In power the upper echelons of fascism and capital merge. Besides garbled propaganda denigrating Marxism, fascism launches itself against the working class using physical force. Mussolini recalled how in March 1921 squads of his blackshirts "assaulted" and "burned" the offices of Avanti. He brags that from that day onwards "Italian subversive elements", the communists and socialists, were "driven like rats to the holes" and had to barricade themselves in workers' chambers and district clubs (B Mussolini My autobiography London nd, p114). Put another way, fascism is a terroristic variant of Bonapartism, but under conditions of monopoly capitalism and capitalist decline. Fascism organises counterrevolutionary fighting squads separate from the state - though at critical junctures often in close cooperation with established forces of law and order. Fascism is therefore frequently structured internally according to command-and-obey military principles. Mussolini ha sempre ragione! chanted the blackshirts. Discipline and obedience were the watchwords. Fascism beats down the working class with fighting squads and clears its own path to state power by rallying a wide, though disorientated, mass behind its crude concoction of slogans, half-truths, hatreds and promises of national and personal redemption. Where exactly fascism gets its social base can obviously vary - but it tends to be desperate, ill-educated, insecure and in need of a sense of inclusion. Obtaining power, fascism is obliged to restrain or even silence its mass base. Capital has no fondness for freelance mobs. The blackshirts were therefore incorporated into the state by Mussolini. Hitler massacred his brownshirts. Fascism is thereby bureaucratised and becomes what Trotsky calls "Bonapartism of fascist origins". From this bureaucratised position fascism brings to bear the whole unmediated weight of the state machine against any manifestation of working class independence. Simultaneously fascism acts to temporarily suppress contradictions within the ruling class - if need be by recourse to state force. Property is usually left untouched, but traditional political parties are turned into mere husks, dissolved or absorbed into the body of the bureaucratised fascist movement. Hence, while fascism strikes in two directions - against the working class and against divisions in the ruling class - it objectively acts to preserve the capitalist system of exploitation. Fascism is, then, a particular form of anti-socialism and counterrevolution under conditions of monopoly capitalism. Explaining fascism Unsurprisingly, once fascism moved from the obscure fringes to become a social force, it had to be explained. A wide range of theories have been produced by semi-Marxists, non-Marxists and anti-Marxists - most of which are deeply flawed and deserve to be dismissed out of hand. Christian apologists see fascism as the direct result of the secularisation of society. By rejecting god the world is visited by evil. The antidote is obvious - take up the cross and restore religion. Conservative aristocrats paint fascism as a revolt of immature masses, the common herd, who have been freed from the constraints and responsibilities of a properly ordered agrarian society. Forlornly they yearn for the days when they formed the natural class of governance. Equally hopeless is the offering coming from evolutionary biology. It puts fascism down to aggression and pack instincts genetically hard-wired into the male brain by the supposed conditions in Palaeolithic Africa some 1.5 million years ago - a viewpoint shared by some radical feminists and in no small measure by the self-loathing Kevin Williamson, a regular columnist in the Scottish Socialist Voice (see Weekly Worker February 28). Since the 1930s psychologists and psychoanalysts have sought to locate the rise of fascism either at the level of some mass psychosis or in the warped personalities of its leaders. Wilhelm Reich argued that humanity is "biologically sick" and should free itself by discarding sexual repression (W Reich The mass psychology of fascism New York 1946, p273). Most Freudian psychologists disagreed. They insisted on entirely speculative clinical examinations of fascism's leaders - Mussolini, but most of all Hitler. Raymond de Saussure believed Hitler exhibited a strong Oedipus complex and needed to channel his sexual energies in order to conceal his impotence from the public. The German Reich was a penis substitute. An altogether more insightful, quasi-Marxist psychological approach is to be found in Eric Fromm's Escape from freedom (first published in 1941). Fromm sought to understand how millions of Germans were captivated by Hitler. Capitalist alienation and the reduction of the human subject to a mere cog in the production process is blamed. Fascism answers the need in the human soul for a sense of belonging. Nevertheless, Fromm can offer no effective solution, no escape from the dilemma. He merely posits a democratic socialist society. Theodore Adorno, amongst others in the so-called Frankfurt school, claimed to have discovered the 'authoritarian personality' which was apparently rife amongst all classes in Germany. This was an integral part of a general theory of the period. Liberalism was in decay. Capitalism and mass culture were producing an overarching totalitarian society. The Soviet Union was essentially no different. Herbert Marcuse believed that fascism was the almost inevitable result of monopoly capitalism - a view he subsequently modified by claiming that, though post-World War II western capitalism still maintained a democratic outer shell, the tendency was towards a grey conformity and complete subordination of the personality to the needs of capital: ie, a totalitarian society. New Left radicals in the 1960s USA gleefully denounced fascist Amerikka! Establishment figures such as Hannah Arendt and Zbigniew Brzezinski readily adopted totalitarian theory. Its great virtue lay in the fact that it directly linked Nazism and Stalinism. However, they gave the theory a none too subtle twist by disaggregating capitalism from totalitarianism. Capitalism in this rightwing version of the totalitarian theory is equated definitionally with freedom, democracy, choice and personal liberty. That capitalism flourished under Mussolini and Hitler is completely ignored. As the reader will know, mainstream bourgeois society now propagates this intellectually barren explanation for fascism over the airwaves, in the press and in schools and colleges. What was a leftist critique of existing conditions has been thoroughly colonised by the right and turned into its opposite. Joining fascism and bureaucratic socialism together into a single phenomenon admirably suited the needs of the cold war. Capitalism is excused of all blame and the Soviet Union is made into a culprit. In the hands of Karl Popper totalitarianism became truly suprahistorical. Sparta, Ch'in China, the empire of Diocletian and Clavin's Geneva are all classified under that heading - along with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, of course. Plato, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche form a totalitarian human chain that joins the suppression of the helots to the gas chambers. Such a philosophy is vital for the capitalist system, above all in Europe. Fascism was beaten not only by the armies of the Soviet Union, the USA and Britain. There were radical partisan movements and popular risings throughout Germany's empire. Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, etc. Equally to the point, the capitalist class was deeply compromised. Almost without exception the bourgeoisie collaborated with fascism, often with great enthusiasm. For example, in France the bourgeoisie welcomed the German invasion. Since 1936 the working class had made huge gains at the expense of capital. The forces of the left were feared and hated by respectable France, but could not be crushed by respectable France. The German Nazis would do the butcher's job. The situation in other counties was substantially the same. Hence after 1945 bourgeois Europe was forced to reinvent itself. The fascist past had to be denied and turned into other. World War II became our finest hour. A crusade for freedom. The motive was to save the jews, not the British empire. Hence totalitarian theory, the holocaust industry, Popper and Unesco's anti-racist, anti-fascist statements - such as the July 1950 declaration, which 'scientifically' supported the "ethic of universal brotherhood" and carried the warning that "men and nations alike" can "fall ill" (Unesco, Paris 1950). Jörg Haider, Pia Kjaersgaard, Jean-Marie Le Pen and Pim Fortuyn are rebels against the comfortable post-World War II social democratic consensus. The bourgeois establishment reacts with such hostility because these men with their crude chauvinism, campaigns against immigrants, occasional anti-semitic outbursts and far-right nationalism remind official Europe of its shameful pre-1939 past. Few establishment historians or other paid persuaders care to dwell on how official Europe promoted social Darwinism, race theory, anti-semitism and a brutal arrogance towards colonised peoples. And how these ideas were blessed by the clergy and enforced with police batons and army bayonets. Nevertheless, official Europe is striving to meet the 'legitimate concerns' of its far-right doppelganger. Illegal migrants are to be confined, sent back and kept out. They are to blame for crime, drugs and overcrowded schools. The message is the same. Le Pen is a man who stands in the shadow of the Camelots du Roi and catholic anti-communism. His loyalties lie with Vichy, white Algeria and the OAS. In their own different ways the other leaders of the far right in Europe are essentially the same. They are reactionaries who reject the post-World War II ideological consensus. They rail against the self-satisfied political elite with their bribery and lust for money. Turn back globalisation, neo liberalism, free trade and migrants. The future for them is national, decentralised and somewhere in the past. Shouting 'fascist' sounds very militant. But 2002 is not 1922. The extreme right is not organised along fascist lines. There are no fighting squads worth the name or military lines of command. We are neither in a revolutionary nor counterrevolutionary situation. Yes, Le Pen, Haider and Fini have definite sympathies for fascism. Many of their founding cadre come from post-World War II fascist sects. But skinheads are unwelcome, stiff-arm salutes banned and street clashes avoided. Tomorrow all that might change. However, the 1920s and 30s show that fascism does not come from the far right alone. Mussolini began on the far left. Oswald Moseley served as a Labour minister, one of the first recruits to his New Party being AJ Cook, the miners' leader. Joseph Pilsudski, the Polish nationalist socialist, made a similar journey. Second-guessing the future is futile. Saying who will and who will not be a fascist is a nonsense. Our task is to organise against capitalism and its defenders as they presently exist, not as they might appear if we fail. Jack Conrad