[News] On the New Face of 21st Century Neo-Fascism
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 2 12:33:27 EDT 2014
April 02, 2014
*On the New Face of 21st Century Neo-Fascism*
by AJAMU BARAKA
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana
Some years ago Italian anarchist Camillo Berneri
suggested that while not always visible in the social practices of
everyday European life, the racist foundation for European fascism was
still present, safely confined to a space in the European psyche but
always ready to explode in what he called a racist delirium.
Today, white workers and the middle classes in Europe and the U.S.,
traumatized by the new realities imposed on them by the decline of the
Western imperialist project and the turn to neoliberalism, are
increasingly embracing a retrograde form of white supremacist politics.
This dangerous political phenomenon is developing in countries
throughout the European Union and in the U.S. Just recently, the
National Front, a racist, authoritarian party that labored on the
fringes of French politics for years, has emerged as one of the dominant
forces in French politics. The Tea Party in the U.S., Golden Dawn in
Greece, the People's Party in Spain, the Partij Voor de Vrijheid in the
Netherlands -- in these and other countries, a transatlantic radical
racist movement is emerging and gaining respectability.
The hard turn to the right is not a surprise for those of us who have a
clear-eyed view of Euro-American history and politics. In all the 20th
Century fascist movements in Europe, two elements combined to express
the fascist project: 1) the rise of far-right parties and movements as
the political expression of an alliance of authoritarian, pro-capitalist
class forces bankrolled by sections of the capitalist class and
constructed in the midst of capitalist crisis; and 2) racism grounded in
white supremacist ideology.
The neo-fascism that is now emerging within the context of the current
capitalist crisis on both sides of the Atlantic has similar
characteristics to the movements of the 1930s but with one
distinguishing feature. The targets for racist scapegoating are
different. The targets today are immigrants: Arab, Muslim and African in
Europe; Latinos and the never-ending target of poor and working class
African Americans in the U.S.
What makes the rise of the racist radical right even more dangerous
today is that it is taking place in a political environment in which
traditional anti-racist oppositional forces have not recognized the
danger of this phenomenon or for strategic reasons have decided to
downplay the issue. That strategy has been tragically played out in the
movement in the U.S.
The brutal repression and dehumanization witnessed across Europe in the
1930s has not found generalized expression in the U.S. and Europe, at
least not yet. Nevertheless, large sectors of the U.S. and European left
appear to be unable to recognize that the U.S./NATO/EU axis that is
committed to maintaining the hegemony of Western capital is resulting in
dangerous collaborations with rightist forces both inside and outside of
The manufactured crisis with Russia over the issue of Ukraine is a case
in point. The incredible recklessness and outrageous opportunism of the
U.S./NATO/EU axis in destabilizing Ukraine -- knowing that the driving
forces on the ground were racist, neo-Nazi elements from the Right
Sector and the Svoboda party -- demonstrated once again the lengths that
this axis is prepare to go to achieve its geo-strategic objective of
full-spectrum economic and political global domination.
Yet strangely, not only did many radicals in the U.S. and Europe not see
the potential threat that this situation represented but they seemed
unable to penetrate the simplistic cold-war propaganda that suddenly
reemerged to frame events in Ukraine.
Instead of being concerned that as a direct consequence of U.S. actions
a government came to power in Europe that for the first time since the
1930s included ultra-nationalist, racist neo-Nazis in key positions, the
left along with the general population allowed the corporate media and
U.S. propagandists to turn the narrative away from U.S./EU
destabilization of Ukraine to Putin's supposed expansionist aspirations.
The ease in which the corporate media was able to flip that script and
to make Putin the new face of evil has been truly astonishing. And the
fact that that narrative was embraced by most liberals and large sectors
of the white left in the U.S. only affirmed that having abandoned class
analysis, anti-imperialism and never really understanding the insidious
nature of white supremacist ideology, the U.S. left has no theoretical
framework for apprehending the complexities of the current period.
The inability to extricate itself from the influences of white
supremacist ideology has to be considered as one explanation for the
strange positions taken by large sectors of the white liberal/left over
the last few years. How else can one explain the bizarre incorporation
of the discourse of humanitarian intervention
and the obscenely obvious racism of the "responsibility to protect?
Could it be that many white radicals have fallen prey to the subtle and
not-so-subtle racial appeal to a form of cross-class white solidarity in
defense of "Western values," civilization and the prerogative to
determine who has the right to national sovereignty that is at the base
of the rationalization of the "responsibility to protect" asserted by
the white West?
The apparent incapacity of white leftists to penetrate and understand
the cultural and ideological impact of white supremacy and its powerful
effect on their own consciousness has weakened and deformed left
analysis of U.S. and European foreign policy initiatives. It has also
resulted in the U.S. and European left taking political positions that
either objectively championed U.S./NATO imperialist aggression or
provided tacit support for that aggression though silence.
As a consequence of the abandonment of anti-imperialism and an active
class/racial collaboration with the Western bourgeoisie, an almost
insurmountable chasm has been created separating the Western left from
its counterparts in much of the global South.
Instead of more resolute anti-imperialist solidarity, broad elements of
the white left in the U.S. and Europe have consistently aligned
themselves with the policies of the U.S/NATO/EU axis that are giving
support to right-wing forces from Ukraine to Venezuela.
Exaggeration, racial paranoia, an overly simplistic and a divisive, even
"racist" assessment of the liberal/left will be the charge. We accept
those charges. We accept them because we know they will come. For those
of us living outside the walls of privilege who must nevertheless accept
the realities of the colonialist/imperialist-created global South, we
don't have the luxury of comforting illusions. Our lived experiences
negate the false history of Europe's benevolent civilization. We see
developing in Europe and the U.S. and very real possibility of a
left-right racial convergence fueled by crisis, leftist ideological
confusion and what appears to be a mutual commitment to maintaining the
global structures of white supremacy.
Understanding the violent history of the Western project and the
pathological nature of white supremacy, we are forced to see with
crystal clarity that within the context of the volatile economic and
social conditions in Europe, giving legitimacy to neo-fascist forces
like the ones in Ukraine might just be the fuel needed to ignite that
racist, fascist delirium Berneri referred to.
/*Ajamu Baraka* is a geo-political analyst, activist and organizer.
Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)
in Washington. His latest publications include contributions to two
recently published books "Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA" and "Claim
No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral." He can be reached at
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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