Fascism, Trumpism and the Future

German American Bund parade on East 86th St., New York City, October 1939 – Public Domain

Fascism is both a symptom and the essence of capitalism in decay. Its development into a movement tends to begin when small-time capitalists (the petit bourgeoisie, if you will) see their wealth, political power and survival as a stratum of society disappearing in the maws of the giant monopolies and financial houses. Not having the patience or in many cases the desire to join the working classes in creating socialism, these shopkeepers, tradespeople, gig economy workers, et al. find themselves drawn to a social movement which promises them their old lives back while providing easy scapegoats to blame for their financial pain. If the fascist party is able to take power, it becomes capitalism’s essence—bleeding the petit bourgeoisie even more, enlarging the monopolies of capital and industry, brutalizing select minorities, exploiting the laboring classes even more, and mobilizing society against enemies new and old. Its primary purpose in this exercise is the enhanced enrichment of the wealthiest and most powerful among us.

Fascism is a politics of contradictions that cannot be resolved. This is a fundamental argument author David Renton makes in his recently updated text Fascism: History and Theory. It is because of these contradictions that it usually falters and fails. Equally important to fascism’s occasional (if fleeting) success is its dependence on a genuine social movement to grow and take power. Unlike most other political parties of the capitalist class, fascist leaders are dependent on the popular movement supporting them. This movement, which crosses classes but has its origins in a disgruntled petit bourgeoisie fearful of having to become part of the working class to survive, believes it is acting in its own interests. As history proves, however, when fascism takes complete power, it only truly serves what is currently known as the one percent. In other words, fascism is not interested in the advancement of the laboring classes, but rather its total acquiescence to capitalism. While this is arguably the goal of most right wing (and even liberal) capitalist parties, fascism is not even interested in any pretense of equality or democracy. Instead, it seeks uniformity under the banner of nation and leader; indeed, the party leader becomes the nation.

To read this article, log in here or subscribe here.
If you are logged in but can't read CP+ articles, check the status of your access here
In order to read CP+ articles, your web browser must be set to accept cookies.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine Archive

Read over 400 magazine and newsletter back issues here

Support CounterPunch

Make a tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation and enjoy access to CP+.  Donate Now

Support our evolving Subscribe Area and enjoy access to all Subscribers content.  Subscribe