When Does a Formal Democracy Degenerate into Fascism?

Poster saying Smash Fascism.

Image by Jon Tyson.

It can happen here. “Here” being any country in which capitalism rules. When does a bourgeois formal democracy tip over into fascism? That is a question that needs an answer in many places, certainly not excepting the United States, which has already experienced a self-coup attempt with unmistakable fascist overtones.

We’re referencing Donald Trump’s attempt at a self-coup, to use the Latin American phrase, in January 2021. Many people, even on the Left, laugh at that day’s events, pointing out that the would-be putsch had no chance of success. It did have no chance of success. That does not mean it should be cavalierly dismissed; on the contrary, it should be taken with utmost seriousness. Hitler’s beer hall putsch of 1923 had no chance of success, either, and his violent movement remained on the lunatic fringe for several more years. But we know how German history would turn out.

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Pete Dolack writes the Systemic Disorder blog and has been an activist with several groups. His first book, It’s Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment, is available from Zero Books and his second book, What Do We Need Bosses For?, is forthcoming from Autonomedia.

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