Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From the AntiFa Trenches, c. 1938 (contd)

More and more, it's becoming clear that the program in operation by Our Government and its Owners and Sponsors is quite simply that of a Fascist amalgam of the State and Corporate interest against the People and the Public Interest. By exploring what was going on during the Great Depression, and the forces at work at that time to assert the dominance of Corporate interest over that of the People -- ie: fascism -- in our country then, we can better understand and ultimately fight what is going on now.

Of course, Government was much smaller the, and one of the ways Corporate interest coped with the inability of smaller government (which they claim to want once again) is by establishing private armies and private espionage activities used against workers and worker-led organizations.

The La Follette Civil Liberties Committee  held hearings in the US Senate from 1936 to 1940 and documented employer violations of the rights of workers to organize and to bargain collectively.

Of course nowadays, unions seem rather quaint, anachronisms from another era. In the 1930's they were the mainstays against the total victory of corporatist-fascist rule in the United States. Given the low estate that worker unions have fallen to, and the rampant resurgence of fascism as a consequence, it might be wise to explore the benefits of some kind of worker/citizen organization.

From "The Peril of Fascism," by A. B. Magil and Henry Stevens, published by International Publishers, 1938:

"Big Business: Fountainhead of Fascism"

The LaFollette Committee uncovered many othere instances of close co-operation beterrn public authorities and labor espionage agencies and munitions companies. These activities bear an ominous resemblance to the assistance which the Italian police and carabineers rendered to the blackshirts on the eve of Mussolini's assumption of power.

The extent of big business armament, like the size of the corporation armies, is not exactly known; but the clue to its enormous proportions is contained in the revelation that three companies -- the Lake
Erie Chemical Company, Federal Laboratories, and the Manville Manufacturing Company -- sold $606,572 of tear and nauseating gas from 1933 to 1937.* (*Among the largest purchasers were Firestone Rubber Company, Bethelhem Steel, Carnegie Steel, Jones and Laughlin Steel, Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber. In addition to enormous quantities of gas, the large corporations laid in supplies of machine guns, sub-machine guns, rifles, revolvers, and other instruments of "collective bargaining.")

The munitions companies, besides arming corporations, engage, like the private detective agencies, in extensive provocation in order to drum up business. The LaFollette Committee revealed that Federal Laboratories sent out hair-raising descriptions of wholly fictitious Communist "activities" in an effort to frighten their clients into increasing their armament orders.**(**One committee witness, a motion picture cameraman, testified that during the San Francisco marine strike, an agent for Federal Laboratories, J. M. Roush, had fired a gas projectile at James Engle, a striking longshoreman, "for the benefit of the motion picture cameramen." Engle was severely wounded. In his report to B. H. Barker, vice-president of Federal Laboratories, Roush laconically reported the incident: "I might mention that during one of the riots, I shot a long range projectile into a group, a shell hitting one man and causing a fracture of the skull from which he has since died. [Roush's report was somewhat too sanguine. Actually, Engle recovered from his injuries.][Ché's note: cf. Scott Olsen and others injured in Oakland during police violence against Occupy.] As he was a Communist, I have had no feeling in the matter and I am sorry that I did not get more." Vice-President Barker, in his reply, commended Roush for his "spendid report." (From Associated Press, March 5, 1937.)

"Demagogues of Fascism"

"The German has not the slightest notion of how a people must be misled if the adherence of the masses is to be sought," wrote Hitler in Mein Kampf. (this statement has been deleted since the 12th edition published in 1932.)

The misleading of the people is part of the normal practice of capitalism. The whole bourgeois political edifice, with its formal and legal democracy concealing the economic and political domination of a small number of wealthy men, is based on a fundamental class deception. The existence of certain civil and labor rights -- most of which have been wrested from the ruling class only after determined struggle -- modifies but does not basically alter the class character of the political superstructure. So long as it rests on the economic foundation of the private ownership of the means of production by a small wealthy class, democracy, even in the freest of capitalist republics is necessarily maimed and limited, and in the present period is under constant threat of extinction. under such conditions complete democracy is never more than a promissory note which cannot be redeemed under the profit system.

With the development of monopoly capitalism the area of social deception may be said to have expanded as the area of democracy contracted. Deception and demagogy tended to function more and more as an arm of the capitalist state itself. And some of the greatest cultural contributions of capitalism -- the press, universal education, and later the cinema and radio [television was barely available, the internet not even on the horizon at the time this was written] -- have been used as vehicles of this deception.

In the United States, with the rise of the modern political parties and political bosses in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, a particularly venal type of demagogy made its appearance. With the campaign of the Whigs to unseat Jackson in 1832 -- a campaign which was financed largely by the Bank of the United States against which Jackson had declared war -- the familiar chicanery and corruption of modern elections emerged for the first time. This took on a more organized form with the march of monopoly after the Civil War, when corrupt political machines in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities  made it a practice to trade on the discontent of the masses, wormed their way into labor unions, themselves took up the banner of "reform," of attack on big business, and by combining systematic deception with bribery and gangsterism, were able to win what appeared to be popular support.

Yet even this type of social demagogy was to a large extent crude and improvised. It is only in the period of extreme decay and degeneration of capitalism, when its very existence is threatened, that there emerges a more "scientific" system of mass deception -- the demagogy of fascism.

It might be said -- writes Palme Dutt -- that if Marxism represented the development of Socialism from Utopia to science, fascism represents the development of capitalist demagogy from amateurism to science. (cf: Bernays and Adam Curtis's "The Century of Self.")

The highly specialized character of fascist demagogy derives not only from the gravity and complexity of the problems facing capitalism in crisis, but also from the fact that in most countries fascism, in its effort to achieve power, is compelled to appear in the guise of opposition to the bourgeois democratic government and times even to the capitalist system itself. The necessity of creating a mass movement that seems to express the deepest needs of the people, but in reality aims to suppress those needs with inexorable brutality, requires an elaborate technique of deception which makes all past capitalist efforts in this respect seem like gospel truth by comparison.

It is important to be clear as to the meaning of the term demagogy. The reactionaries call every revolutionist, every labor leader, every progressive a demagogue. But the essence of demagogy is the deception of the masses. Those who genuinely carry on the struggle to improve the lot of the people play a diametrically opposite role. Demagogy "is the art of playing on the hopes and the fears, the emotions and the ignorance of the poor and suffering for the benefit of the rich and powerful. It is the meanest of the arts. This is the art of fascism."

Fascist demagogy requires its own specialists and virtuosi. The Hitlers, the Mussolinis, the Goebbels -- these are the masters of this "meanest of the arts." They had their precursors and teachers; but when these new suns shine, the early stars grow dim. In the United States fascism is still in its swaddling clothes, but has already produced two virtuosi of demagogy: the late Huey P. Long, and Reverent Charles E. Coughlin. Both have played with considerable success on the sufferings, the needs and the prejudices of the poor in the interest of big business reaction. And both have cast their demagogy in the mold of native American traditions. They have exploited not merely the democratic traditions of 1776 and 1861, but those of agrarian radicalism associated with Jefferson and Jackson, and with the Greenback, Farmers Alliance, Populist, and Bryan movements of the seventies, eighties, and nineties (of the 19th Century.)

Though Populism died, its traditions have proved among the most persistent and fertile in American history. They have brought forth varying fruit in the trust-busting and muckraking under Theodore Roosevelt, in the Non-Partisan League during and immediately after the war, in the LaFollette campaign in 1924, in the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in the Farmer-Labor Party movement today. Essentially these are the deep-seated traditions of farmer-labor democracy, whose first great representative was Thomas Jefferson and whose roots go back to the origins of our republic. And it is these traditions which have fertilized practically every progressive movement in our history (and) that have been exploited by the two foremost demagogues of incipient American fascism, Huey Long and Father Coughlin. For them, the ideas of farmer-labor democracuy have served the same purpose as have Socialist and labor traditions for Hitler and Mussolini.

The chapter goes on to explain how these two men used their access to the public to promote fascism in America. We can easily make the comparison between them and Rush Limbaugh and the entire stable of Fox "news" personalities today. The dangers are the same; the difference is that the modern media demagogues have had many years to promote their versions of neo-fascism over the radio and television, whereas Long and Coughlin only had a relatively few years on the air. Times are different, the dangers are the same.


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