Thursday, May 17, 2018

Deepening Contradictions In The White World


CounterPunch |  Without an understanding of the particularity of American fascism, we will, following Trotsky, be compelled to flippantly answer “yes” to both of these questions. But now that it is clear that Trump is not the apocalypse as we were told by so many liberals and leftists leading up to and following his election, such an answer would leave us politically incapacitated. If we want to begin to understand fascism in America, we must turn to Black Panther Party Field Marshal George Jackson’s analysis of fascism in his 1971 bookBlood in My Eye. 

As opposed to Trotsky’s one-dimensional “butcher” view of fascism, Jackson proposes that fascism has three faces: “out of power,” “in power but not secure,” and “in power and securely so.” The fascism that Trotsky describes is a depiction of the second face, which is “the sensational aspect of fascism we see on screen and in pulp novels.” However, in America, fascism shows its third face, during which “some dissent may even be allowed.” Jackson explains American fascism in this way:
Fascism has established itself in a most disguised and efficient manner in this country. It feels so secure that the leaders allow us the luxury of faint protest. Take protest too far, however, and they will show their other face. Doors will be kicked down in the night and machine-gun fire and buckshot will become the medium of exchange.
Never has a better diagnosis of the conditions which allow antifa and the anti-Trump movement to have “the luxury of faint protest” been given. To draw a parallel with Jackson’s own European example, just as Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce was permitted to publish an anti-fascist manifesto in 1925, three years after the fascist march on Rome, American antifa intellectuals with groups like the Campus Anti-Fascist Networkare free to remain aboveground in the nation’s most elite colleges and universities and condemn fascism openly without fear of repression from the state. 

What’s more, they are even allowed to openly express hatred for other white people with little more than an eyebrow raised from conservatives and intermittent pats on the back from liberals.

In direct contrast to the line of Refuse Fascism and other anti-fascist organizations active in the United States, Jackson’s analysis shows that fascism hardly started with the Trump administration. Many have failed to notice this reality since fascism has most frequently deployed its third, not second, face against the left in recent decades. However, while fascism is in power and securely so for the time being, Trump has produced contradictions in its efficiency and disguise by challenging the liberal ruling class with appeals to industrial capitalists and workers, tariffs that drove his own economic adviser to quit, and challenges to the Pentagon’s increasingly hawkish attitude toward Russia.

The left’s failure to understand fascism in general and the multiplying and intensifying contradictions of the Trump era in particular is largely traceable to its underdeveloped understanding of whiteness. While black America has been subjected to mass incarceration, police terror, relentless gentrification, and disproportionate deaths on the front lines of America’s imperialist wars for decades, many white leftists have determined that it is not these historical experiences of fascism in America, but the recent rise of Trump, that is most deserving of outrage and resistance.

This failure to understand fascism in relation to the color line takes its most egregious form in organizations like the Campus Antifascist Network, who attack right-wing “fascism,” yet say nothing of the liberal university’s mass participation in research for war-making, policing of poor and working class black neighborhoods, and central role in the viscous gentrification of America’s blackest cities. This analysis has the effect of obscuring rather than clarifying the contradictions we face today. The contradiction between Trump and large segments of the ruling class illustrates a political climate that C.L.R. James described in The Black Jacobins in reference to the Haitian Revolution:
The first sign of a thoroughly ill-adjusted or bankrupt form of society is that the ruling classes cannot agree how to save the situation. It is this division which opens the breach, and the ruling classes will continue to fight with each other, just so long as they do not fear the mass seizure of power.
The question is, then, how can we understand and use the mushrooming and intensifying social contradictions of the Trump era not to side with the liberal wing of the ruling class against the conservative one, but to seize power from the ruling class as a whole?  Fist tap Brother Makheru