This article was originally written in Turkish on Monday morning, immediately after the elections to the European Parliament, and published on the web site www.gercekgazetesi.net. Its translation and publication here have been delayed due to other urgent tasks. It has been translated and adapted for the international audience by its author.
One last grace period. The elections to the European Parliament have provided one last chance to the organised working class movement of Europe and the left before the storm. The proto-fascist movement, which the whole world persistently and blindly names “populist”, attained great success in these elections, but nonetheless this was not the kind of victory that will create havoc immediately tomorrow. Moreover, the movement ran on two different slates for the European Parliament. It is, in other words, divided. Hence, in the short term, in the aftermath of the election, it would be incorrect to say that proto-fascism will create an immediate danger for the people on the scale of Europe as a whole. In certain countries taken singly the question may arise. Striking develoments may unfold in some of the bigger countries (starting with Italy, France, and Britain, in each of which the proto-fascist parties came first), with the proto-fascist movement becoming an important element in the day to day life of the country (in Italy this had already commenced since the Lega of Salvini joined a power-sharing scheme and became a ruling party). So in the short term the danger is distant for Europe as a whole, but in the medium term this movement is a real danger. This delay in the emergence of the immediate threat is what has given the working class movement and the left a very precious reprieve for preparation before the impending showdown. Should the left once again fall into the kind of complacency that was observed after the relative setbacks suffered by the proto-fascist movement in France and the Netherlands in 2017, for instance, woe to the working class and the poor of Europe and beyond!
These elections have been an important milestone, at the parliamentary level, in the rise of fascism, a phenomenon to which we have been drawing attention to as DIP (the Revolutionary Workers Party) for decades and regarding which we have not tired of warning urgently the entire working class movement since the onset of the Third Great Depression after 2008. The European (and world) mainstream media is now mesmerised by the victory of this movement, which all bourgeois, as well as petty-bourgeois left, commentators take up in “civilised” terms such as “populist”, “nationalist”, “far right” etc., as if not pronouncing its real name will somehow conjure it out of sight. The entire reformist, left liberal, postmodern and post-Leninist left that regarded the European Union as the solution to the ills of the world, drumming about the impossible dream of a “social and democratic” Europe even as Brussels was acting over the decades as the IMF of Europe should, at long last, come to their senses!
The search for a new shelter
Those who consider themselves on the left preferred to disregard the earlier signals of the rise of fascism in Europe and, more and more, on other continents and refrained from acting to form a powerful proletarian anti-fascist barrier. They always looked for and found excuses and presumed shelters. The name of the shelter this time around is the “Green wave”. The fact that in Germany the Greens came in second, for the first time ever, with a share of the popular vote over 20 per cent and the perceptible advance of the movement in other countries of the EU will now result in fingers pointing to this movement as the panacea to rising fascism (“populism” in their parlance of course). We come from a party that predicted immediately after the onset of the Third Great Depression that a polarisation would emerge around the two camps of fascism and political reaction, on the one hand, and the rise of mass movements of the labouring classes, bordering on revolts and revolutions, albeit under different forms depending on the circumstances and traditions of each region and country. So we are not surprised in the least when the bourgeois media summarises the result of the Euro elections by the propositon that forces of the centre of the political spectrum have suffered a defeat while the far right and the left have displayed a clear advance.
But the real question is how to assess the overall situation once one has made these twin observations. As we have persistently pointed out in the past, these two phenomena are not independent of each other but are the two poles of a dialectical contradiction. It is, in fact, the dominance of those wings of the left that are symbolised by the present surge of the Greens that has facilitated the ever-growing build-up of proto-fascism within the ranks of workers and the poor. We therefore warn agains those who would find the antidote to the fascist poison within the Green movement: any recourse to the watchword of a “united front against fascism” in calling the enitre left under the hegemony of this political current that is dominated by the well-off modern wing of the petty-bourgeoisie (and we can already hear the clamour in this direction) will lead the fight against proto-fascism off track.
And this for three fundamental reasons. First, as we have already pointed out above without explaining why, the Greens (and the currents on the left that are under their ideological hegemony) have unwittingly contributed to the meteoric rise of proto-fascism over the recent decade. By limiting the horizon of the left to questions of ecology and identity, these currents have thereby caused a break of the majority of the movement from the working class. During the 30-year neoliberal and globalist assault of the bourgeoisie, of which the EU was and is a leading practitioner, workers and poor peasants who lost their jobs, saw their standard of living decline, benefited less and less and under worsening conditions from healthcare and educational services, and tried to survive in neighbourhoods that became increasingly poor and insecure did not see any other hands stretched out to them (with certain exceptions of smaller Marxist parties on the left) but the demagogic calls of the proto-fascist movements. Proto-fascism owes the strength of its mass base and its electorate to the left movements that are obsessed with identity, that have been captive to the liberal mindset and the discourse of “civil society” and that have made a fetish of the environment. Now those who consider themselves socialists (we are not using the term in the French or Spanish sense of social democrat) will either be attracted to the Green movement itself or will start to ape them more and more. The end result will be a further slide of the workers and the poor to proto-fascism. The key task for the socialist left is to wrest the working class and the poor from the proto-fascists and win them over to its side.
Secondly, the Greens are a party inseparably bound to the capitalist order. To those who dare say that proletarian socialists whould work hand in hand with them, we point out the French case as one among many: in that country, a sizeable element from inside the Green movement, support Macron. And what shining stars, from Daniel Cohn-Bendit to the previous minister of the environment Nicolas Hulot to the cinéaste Romain Goupil! In effect, the Greens are dreaming of becoming the “new majority” of Europe hand in hand with Macron. Need we remind the reader who Macron is? This is a bourgeois politician who has been waging war against the Yellow Vests movement for the last six months, organising street battles against them by sending not only the police but troops of the army in a country that famously considers itself the “pays de la liberté”, someone who is widely dubbed the “president of the rich” not only by the poor but the mainstream bourgeois media as well. Beware those who dare ask us to chant “No pasarán!” together with the Greens who line up behind Macron!
Third, the Greens are a kind of political opiate in the hands of the well-off modern wing of the petty-bourgeoisie. The layers of the labour aristocracy that work in industry and other sectors that employ manual labour still adopt social democracy as their channel of intervention in politics, albeit on an ever-decreasing scale. On the other hand, other privileged layers of the proletariat, from the employees of the culture industries to white collar office workers and the relatively protected of public service employees (teachers are a case in point) look to the future through the lens of the Green movement. University professors exercising their profession under relatively comfortable circumstances and students, who are not yet part of the work force, also subscribe easily to the Greens. In the long run, theirs is a deceptive solution to their problems.
On the other hand, workers who are employed in declining industries, in the retail business under so-called “flexible” conditions who end up surviving only to work, in the delivery warehouses of those much-vaunted “technology companies” (such as Amazon) or those of cargo companies, who work under only slightly better conditions than traditional “porters” or those who constantly risk their lives riding motorbikes to hell will not turn to the Greens, that movement with well-off leaders in the latest chic outfits. The Greens do organise mass action, but only those that are festivities rather than acts of militant struggle. Festivities to which even infants may be taken, where everyone has been numbed under a false sense of pacifism in a world ridden with explosive contradictions. And as soon as the first bat descends, let alone the firing of a gun shot, they will run to the safety of their suburban homes. The Greens are no more than a gigantic bale of cotton.
The proto-fascists, on the other hand, are iron. Disciplined, fed with the lowliest ideological garbage, entranced by the feeling of superiority that derives from the erstwhile colonial feats of European civilisation and of their own country, full of rage against the immigrant and the refugee, who, they believe, has robbed them of their job, housing, educational and healthcare services, a crowd full of missionary zeal. The only missing thing is their militia, their paramilitary forces, their bands of thugs. But this is precisely why we do not label them as fascists, but proto-fascists. That they can overcome this lacuna in the wink of an eye has been demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia in the events of summer 2017 or in the German cities of Chemnitz and Köthen last autumn or in the chain of events in which black immigrant farm workers were attacked (and occasionally killed) in Italy after Salvini came to power in a coalition government last year.
Iron versus cotton. This is the prime result of the European elections. Those who abandon the core strata of the proletariat and start tail-ending the movement of the well-off modern wing of the petty-bourgeoisie, those who dabble in identity politics, those who keep on condoning the neoliberal and globalist political assault of the international bourgeoisie, as well as that of the EU, as an antidote to the nationalism of the proto-fascists will be held responsible by future generations for the successful rise of fascism in the early 21st century.
As for us revolutionary Marxists, we will untiringly, persistently and in disciplined manner fight to build a revolutionary proletarian party in each country and a workers’ revolutioanry International that marches in the footsteps of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky in order to be able to fight fascism not only in elections and the world of ideas, but also in factories and workplaces, in schools and streets, wherever that fight has to be waged. For we know that the force that defeated Hitler and hanged Mussolini was the combined power of the struggle of partisans of the working classes and the Red Army established by the October revolution. For we also know that today, outside of the Greens and identity politics, there is a mighty wave of popular rebellion and revolution roaming the world from France to Algeria and from Sudan to Haiti.