ON THE 75th ANNIVERSARY OF VICTORY OVER FASCISM : LESSONS FROM THE PAST AND THE WAY AHEAD

A Priya //

Someone has rightly said, “If we observed one minute of silence for every USSR martyr of the 2nd World War, the world would remain silent for decades.” 75 years ago, the invasion of Hitler Berlin by the Red Army and taking over of the Reichstag marks the defeat of fascist forces in the 2nd World War. Under the leadership of comrade Stalin, working class men and women fought the most atrocious and treacherous war in human history; a war against the kinds of Mussolini and Hitler; a war against oppression and slavery; a war against fascism. 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians from the USSR alone gave up their lives for the victory of mankind. Georgi Dimitrov said at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935 that, “Comrades, fascism in power was correctly described by the Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International as the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital. … It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia.” And rightly so, with the penetration of finance capital in every last nook and cranny, we can witness a rise of fascism or fascistic tendencies in the political and social structure of almost the entire world.

World capitalism is facing an acute and permanent crisis. This crisis, resulting from the problem of overproduction coupled with the inflow of speculative capital in almost all the sectors, is around since 2008 and is deepening with every passing day. The wheel of profit is stuck and a desperate bourgeoisie, which up until now acted from behind the curtains of bourgeois democracy, is being forced to come out of the veil in order to continue the loot and plunder to ensure profit. This shedding of facade can be seen in the dismantling or hollowing of the democratic institutions and the complete and utter disregard for human rights and values. Though it is true that a bourgeois democracy in itself does not actually deliver the rights promised to its downtrodden and needy and the democratic institutions always stick up for the bourgeoisie as opposed to siding justly with the workers and toilers, still whatever fragments remained are also being progressively crushed.       

A Shift In The Global Political Spectrum

Over the last few years there has been a gradual shift from a kind of conservative liberal government to a more autocratic and authoritative form of government. From Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Donald Trump in the USA, there has been a sharp increase in xenophobia, islamophobia and racism. These world leaders, the faithful servants of finance capital, have adopted the policy of jingoism or extreme nationalism and used it blatantly to distract from the real issues of the masses and curb any rising voice of dissent. The impending and deepening global economic crisis has led to an increase in an overall shift towards the far-right ideology in the political spectrum, especially across Europe. Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right party which pushes for anti-immigration and Islamophobic policies became the leader of opposition in Germany in 2017 and is gaining popularity among the masses. In Spain, the far-right Vox Party which advocates deportation of illegal immigrants and repealing the laws against gender violence is also gaining ground. The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD), a party with its roots in neo-Nazism, won 18% votes in 2018 Sweden general elections. Other countries like Hungary, Finland, etc. are also seeing the same pattern of a far-right swing. 

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, countries like USA and Brazil, experienced absolute apathy and negligence on the part of these leaders towards the containment of disease and safeguarding their people, which resulted in an exponential increase in the number of overall cases and deaths. Currently, they are leading the charts with the highest number of cases and death toll. A huge population of downtrodden and homeless people are finding themselves orphaned by the State with little to no affordable healthcare or even basic amenities for its poor and needy masses. And to add to that the rising voices of people against the ignorant and careless government and its insensitive neoliberal policies are being met with state repression and violence. For instance, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests against police brutality and racism have led to the arrest of more than 10,000 protesters (data published on 8th June 2020) all across America.   

India’s Current Scenario

In India, fascism and fascist ideology rose to power in 2014 through parliamentary means. Since then, the sudden spread of its roots and branches as well as increase in length, breadth and depth of its reactionary movement, though in low intensity as compared to its 20thcentury counterpart in Germany and Italy, is quite appalling. It has led to an all-round regression in every field. Their iron grip on society as well as on state can be palpably felt everywhere and at every step. Communalism and jingoism have been used as and when required through their complete control on mass media. Even the judiciary has become vulnerable. A sharp decline in democratic as well as moral and humanitarian values can be easily witnessed everywhere.

The attack, which started at first against Muslims the mostly, is now bringing the working class and the toiling masses along with poor Dalits, poor Adivasis, women, progressive intellectuals, human right activists and communists at its focal point. The Constitution is being brazenly invaded from within as well as from outside, covertly as well as overtly. Bourgeois democratic institutions have been sabotaged and crippled. Democratic rights are being badly undermined. Bourgeois democracy as a whole is in peril. Though actual democracy for the downtrodden never existed on the ground in India, as is the case with any bourgeois democracy in the world for it is always tilted towards the propertied classes, yet now-a-days even its veneer is also disappearing quickly. Democracy, even according to the standpoint of bourgeoisie, stands badly threatened. It has been taken over from within. What remains is an external facade soiled and torn beyond recognition. 

The basis of democracy lies in the dissenting voices and their right to criticize and question the government and its policies. This basis is being battered and bruised continuously. There is no place left for dissenting voices, at least for those that really matter. They are either stifled under threats of administration or shut forever by the Hindutva/fascist goons. The new phenomenon of incarcerating these voices under fabricated charges and sentencing them to the hellish realm of excruciatingly slow Indian judicial process under the draconian anti-terror laws is becoming the new favorite tool for “managing” dissenters. The diligently planned Delhi pogrom at the end of February, leading to hundreds of FIRs which became a blank cheque for the State to lodge false charges against the anti-CAA protesters and leave them to rot behind bars as a “punishment” for going against the government, is the best example of this phenomenon. Hundreds have been arrested and yet other hundreds have been named in the charge sheets; political & social activists, Muslim youths, progressive intellectuals, communists, basically anyone who dared to stand against the oppressors. 

With its second time ascent to power, the BJP government has pushed even with greater force its agenda of islamophobia and jingoism among the masses. As the years went by, the narrative being created with the help of RSS’s broad mass base along with its heavily funded IT cells and media channels, has gained ground. Now, the government is using the same narrative to distract the people from the real issues of the masses, consisting of unemployment, hunger, homelessness, pauperism, malnutrition, etc., which multiplied exponentially during the three-month long lockdown.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has enabled and also forced, given the deepening of economic crisis amidst the lockdown and resultant unemployment, layoffs, etc., the fascist government to implement extremely anti-worker labour reforms in the guise of “reviving the economy” and “turning this crisis into opportunity”. Abolition of labour laws, increasing the daily working hours limit from 8 to 12 hours, curbing the right to strike and the right to form unions, etc. are few of the many impending attacks on the working class. Also, sectors untouched up until now like coal, space, etc. have been faced with rampant privatisation. The auction of 41 coal blocks with no restrictions on end-use for commercial mining to private players shows that the government is ready to go to any length in order to please its masters i.e., the big bourgeoisie and bring them out of this crisis.

The judiciary, as mentioned above, has been taken over from within and turned into moot spectator who use their powers to justify and reiterate the anti-people policies of the government. For instance, on 23rdJune 2020 Punjab-Haryana High Court banned the workers and union leaders of PGIMER to go on a strike and has also ordered the striking workers, if any, to be put behind bars. A few days ago, on 12thJune, the Supreme Court, saying that “Lockdown had an equally adverse effect on the employers as well as on employees” asked the factory owners and other private industrial establishments to negotiate terms and enter into settlements with their workers over non-payment of wages during the lockdown period. Not only that, the SC questioned the government’s authority to compel private employers to pay full wages to their workers. The nefarious role of Delhi Police and the interference of Home Ministry itself with the directive saying that, “the arrests should not stop at any cost” regarding the Delhi pogrom also paints an extremely gruesome and chilling picture of what’s left, if at all, of the Indian democracy.

Lessons From The Past

Our experience and lesson of fighting against the tyrannical rule of fascism up to now are very important but general in nature, particularly when we wish to apply and utilize them now. The defeat of German and Italian fascism in the 2nd World War doesn’t give us any precise lesson or doesn’t furnish us with any formidable tactics and way out for today’s anti-fascist revolutionary program. For example, today we don’t find any concrete answer as to what would take its place if fascism is defeated today or what exactly should be the proletarian strategy and tactics of today’s anti-fascist fight so that it is defeated once and for ever. The defeat of German and Italian fascism in the 2nd World War doesn’t give us enough light on this when bourgeois democracy has been historically decayed under the regressive impact of permanent economic crisis and therefore reversal from fascist dictatorship to bourgeois democratic dictatorship won’t bring much relief. Similarly, unlike then, there is no world war today and there is no Soviet Union either. We don’t know exactly how German fascists could have been defeated by German people if the 2nd World War hadn’t brought their annihilation at the hands of the Soviet Army. It is understood even now, more often than not, that victory over fascism necessarily presupposes restoration of bourgeois democracy. Such an idea no longer holds true now, nor does the fact that defeat of German fascism teaches us precisely this.

The above general notion holds sway even now that, while fighting against fascism, we are, as a rule, obliged to ally with a section of bourgeoisie, liberal or otherwise. We are thus forced at every stage of its ascendance to come in defense of bourgeois democracy which, as mentioned above, provides today no democracy whatsoever for the labouring masses even when no fascist organization is in power.

So, to think that today’s fight against fascism takes for granted postponement of proletarian struggle for replacement of bourgeois democracy with proletarian democracy, as a result of defeat of fascism, is untenable. In new circumstances of a very progressively stunted and restricted democracy plagued by a persistent economic slowdown and badly curbed as well as muzzled by the rise of strong fascist tendencies, fascism can be and must be defeated uninterruptedly i.e. without postponing the onward march aimed beyond the horizon of bourgeois democracy, by formulating correct strategy and tactics.

World capitalism has sunk very deep in the mud of economic crisis and recession. Neo-liberalism has not only failed to turn away or stymie the tide of economic recession, but, to the contrary, it has accelerated the crisis to a point of no return. This brings in its course untold miseries and destruction for common masses as loot and plunder of big capitalists will intensify more than hundred times and unemployment, hunger, loss of livelihood, loss of education and health services for the poor will further intensify thousand times. This unsettles the rule of bourgeoisie to a great extent and may revolutionize the masses, bringing them on the verge of a spontaneous revolt. Bourgeoisie foresaw this possibility decades ago and since then were trying to tactically shed off the facade of political democracy step by step and turn to fascism from within. Today, even though it looks as if political democracy as a superstructure of bourgeois rule exists, in essence it doesn’t. Learning from the past, the big capitalist class has taken up this new strategy and are implementing it as far as possible and wherever possible. Such a tactic allows fascists to grow behind the curtain of democracy for quite some time.

Rise To Power Of The Proletariat And Toilers Is The Only Answer

Conclusively, it can be said that India as well as in the whole world, democracy is being progressively eroded, restricted and contracted from within as a result of ever growing length, breadth and depth of economic crisis leading to decay of the capitalist world, due to which bourgeois democratic states in all countries have been assuming, since last few decades, those functions that are facilitating the rise of fascism and paving the path of their own annexation by the fascists. At such a juncture of regression of history, bourgeoisie can’t keep wearing the facade at the cost of their life blood, the profit. For profit, if naked and unpretentious loot and plunder is necessary, they will go forward with this unswerving step, even if it means their own regression, complete removal of the political shell of their rule and establishment of a purely dictatorial regime. 

Hence, to ride over the shoulder of fascist forces to continue with atrocious, scandalous and heinous loot and plunder even while tactically maintaining, as a showcase, the external facade for as long as possible, has become the foremost need of the crisis-ridden world capitalism today. As the crisis is irreversible, hence erosion being affected in bourgeois democracy is also irreversible even though externally it may continue to be pompously celebrated even by the fascists themselves. This is a historical stage arrived by a decaying and degenerating capitalism in the absence of revolutionary forces leading the masses towards overthrowing it. This is a stage of capitalism where there is only a small thin wall that separates bourgeois democratic rule from a naked bourgeois dictatorship. It means that revolutionary overthrow of fascism in the present circumstances is akin to the revolutionary overthrow of the present regime altogether.

Thus, rise to power of the proletariat and toilers is the only answer and the concept of restoration of bourgeois democracy as a result of the victory over fascism is superfluous in the light of concrete analysis of concrete situations of the present-day world. The fight for democratic rights and utilization of cracks in the bourgeois camp needs to be properly linked with the proletarian strategy and tactics i.e. without giving up proletarian ideological supremacy and hegemony in the favor of bourgeois ideals. A true fight to defeat fascism i.e. a revolutionary overthrow of fascists will not and must not bring us back to bourgeois democracy. However, it doesn’t mean that the defeat of fascists doesn’t pose a special task independent from the task of revolutionary overthrow of the present regime. Its explanation needs a separate discussion and we can take it up in the next issue. Just now, this much can be safely said that without establishing complete hegemony of proletarian leadership and its revolutionary politics in the fight against fascism that guarantees rise to power of all the toilers along with certain other allies, there can be no real victory over fascism worth the name. However, temporary respite with change of parties in power and a subsequent temporary change in tactics may not be completely ruled out.

Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 3/ July ’20)

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