Friday, September 1, 2017

Fascism: A Cancer That Can Metastasize

The far right wing, emboldened by our incompetent, narcissistic, morally impaired president, is now crawling out of the cyber-shadows and appearing on our streets. It’s an appalling, but not totally unexpected sight. Their handiwork of hate crimes has been increasingly visible everywhere for some time now. And yes, like a cancer, they have always been among us, in remission, so to speak. 

On the radio today, Marxist economist Richard Wolff explained how after every economic downturn, fascism with its bigotry, scapegoating and authoritarianism rears its ugly head. The examples he cited were after the stock market crash and depression Spain fell to Franco, Italy to Mussolini and Germany to Hitler. The United States was in peril as well. Ku Klux Klan activity, race riots and lynchings proliferated in the late 1920s when Klan membership exceeded four million. American Neo-nazi groups extolled by prominent people such as Norman Rockwell, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh openly marched in the streets.

In 1933 when Roosevelt was elected, poverty was rampant and the rich were making money hand over fist. But in the thirties labor unions and communist and socialist organizations were a force to be reckoned with. His three terms, 1933-1945 encompassed the turbulent war years. He instituted a plethora of anti-poverty programs such as the New Deal, Social Security and Unemployment Insurance. He did this not because of altruism and concern, but under intense pressure from labor unions and leftist parties who were not only threatening revolution, but had the numbers, motivation and organizational capabilities to lead one. He taxed the rich to pay for his programs and, in the United States, the working and middle classes prospered in spite of the lingering effects of economic collapse.

Sound familiar? Except that now, no-one in the administration is looking out for the 99 percent. So as housing prices skyrocket and the stock market rises astronomically, the American worker’s salary flat lines. Everyone goes looking for someone to blame. Identity politics run wild without a class analysis in sight. And, the cancer of fascism embodied in the Neo-Nazis the Ku Klux Klan and other “Traditional Family” groups is unchecked and growing exponentially. Can it metastasize here? If we don’t excise it immediately, it can. That why when folks say we should ignore the combative right wing, they are mistaken. Ignoring cancer doesn’t make it go away. I was glad that so many people in Berkeley agreed with me on this and showed up to protest. Don’t let fear immobilize you. This is not Germany in 1933. We can win this fight. We have to.