(en) Fascism Watch -- fwd with Comments

Aaron (aaron@burn.ucsd.edu)
Fri, 24 Oct 1997 02:31:32 -0700

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Friends, What follows is the text of the first issue of something called 'FASCISM WATCH', with my critical comments interspersed. I've probably devoted more time than it deserves to refuting major points in it, but -- since I've done the work already -- I might as well make it available to more than just the subscribers to <antiracism-eur-l>. - In solidarity against capitalism, - Aaron

>To: antiracism-eur-l@mail.comlink.apc.org
>From: DEBRA@OLN.comlink.apc.org (Debra Guzman)
>Organization: HURINet/Human Rights Info Network
>Subject: Fascism Watch
>Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 16:48:00 +0100
>Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
>## author : vfilipov@haverford.edu
>## date : 09.10.97
>Thursday, October 9, 1997
>A Bi-weekly Review
>A Review of Contemporary Ultranationalist Movements, Ideas, and Their
>Volume 1.1
>WEEKS IN REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 9 - October 9, 1997
>Why Fascism Watch? By James R. Hooper
>The surprising level of support for Radical Party leader
>Vojislav Seselj in the recent Serbian elections demonstrates
>the continuing appeal of ultranationalism in the Balkans.
>This is symptomatic of a growing tolerance for nationalist
>politics even among mainstream western European political
>parties, which draws the political consensus closer to their
>more extremist cousins.

Anti-immigrant riots by a few thousand neo-Nazis were used by the German ruling class to push through anti-immigrant amenements to the German constitution. Does anybody think that, say, anti-capitalist riots by even a million leftists would have led to the passage of anti-capitalist amendments to the same constitution? It is not 'extremism' that's the question, but right-wing politics.

> Beyond Europe, extreme nationalism
>is changing the political discourse.
>For the Balkan Institute, fascism's trail began in Belgrade,
>where Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic established
>himself as the archetypal post-Cold War fascist.

MIlosevic did indeed fan the flames of Serbian nationalism, thus contributing to the Balkan horrors. But by far the most archetypal fascists in Yugoslavia are the Croation descendants of the WWII Ustacha. And the largest ethnic cleansing of the Balkan wars has been the expulsion of most of the Serb minority in Croatia by the U.S.-equipped Croatian army. Milosevic' capitulation to U.S./NATO imperialism has been a greater crime than his encouragement of nationalism, and has actually encouraged the growth of real Serbian fascism, which is seen by many Serbs as their only defense against NATO-imposed oppression.

> His wars of national expansion showcase a contemporary version
>of mid-century fascist behavior: dictatorship, aggression, seizure of
>territory by force, concentration camps, genocide, and reliance on
>diplomacy as institutionalized duplicity. By modeling a violent and
>intolerant style of politics for a new generation of European
>political activists, he successfully projected the power that the
>fascist myth can evoke and expanded tolerance for extreme nationalist
>The lack of resolve in the West to confront the true nature
>of ultranationalism in the Balkans is encouraging and
>emboldening those who would mimic the policies and tactics
>used so effectively by indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal
>Radovan Karadzic, Seselj, and Milosevic.

The 'lack of resolve' in the west was a result of conflicts among the imperialist powers, each of which had its own group of nationalist thugs to protect. The Serbs mainly had Russia, which -- unfortunately for them -- is already a client of the U.S. and Germany, and thus won't do much to interfere with the machinations of the latter.

>The most pressing need at the moment is to acknowledge the
>global nature of the problem and ensure that policy-makers
>are properly informed about it. This will stimulate debate
>that takes account of the regional diversity and differing
>implications of the challenges fascism poses. >From this
>will come a better perspective for framing practical public
>policy decisions that reflect America's strategic interests,
>democratic values, humanitarian concerns, and commercial

The U.S.' 'democratic values' and 'humanitarian concerns' didn't stop it from carrying on a war aginst the people of Iraq that has led to the deaths of at least 1 million Iraqis since 1991. Nor have they stopped it from using its military and economic power to impose starvation on tens of millions of people throughout the world each year. And this isn't new. Far more people have been killed in the twentieth century by 'democratic' governments than by Fascists and 'Communists' put together!

>With the defeat of Soviet communism, fascism has become the
>principal threat to liberal democracy. Whether experienced
>in its local setting as ultranationalism, neo-fascism,
>post-fascism, democratic fascism, clerical fascism, or other
>variants, the reinvention and political application of an
>ideology thought defeated and discredited in 1945 imperil
>democracy. Neither the United States nor other democracies
>yet perceive the pattern of its reemergence, understand the
>implications of its growth, or are prepared to resist its
>consequences. Unless understood and checked in time, it will
>undermine hopes for democratic expansion and improved
>security in the post-Cold War international order.

Fascism and, more generally, right-wing terror have been encouraged and even organized and financed by the United States throughout the world for the last half century. For example, the U.S. played a major role in the fascist military coup in Indonesia in 1965 which involved the murder of around a million leftists and militant workers and peasants.

With the temporary weakening of proletarian and resistance since the start of the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. has been able to more easily manipulate the electoral form to give its repressive clients the cover of 'democracy' while they massacre those who still resist. That is the content of the 'democratic expansion', which certainly hasn't 'improved security' for the poor majority of the world's population. (Peru, Colombia, Turkey ...)

>Fascism is an evolved form of the political organization of
>group fear, hatred, violence, and criminality-the politics
>of the dark side of the human psyche. Its strength lies in
>the unhindered ability of its proponents to tap the power of
>the irrational and reshape it politically. Zhirinovsky in
>Russia, Seselj, and others derive tools from the irrational
>to employ against democracy, which as a rational political
>theory imposes heavy burdens of responsibility upon its
>adherents. The reinvigoration of racialist and
>ultranationalist ideas sustained by postwar political fringe
>groups reflects the assumption that, with Soviet communism
>defeated, established and emerging democracies are most
>vulnerable to challenges from the right.

I don't think I need to say any more here about 'democracies', 'emerging' or otherwise. The information about particular fascist movements in what follows may be accurate and, if accurate, useful.

>Muscular nationalists throughout the world are rediscovering
>the keys that unlock fascism's dark powers, learning how to
>expand its appeal to new constituencies by updating old
>ideas, and invoking the power of its myths to address modern
>concerns. This process of experimentation and testing helps
>explain the confusing dissimilarities between these
>movements and the difficulties in categorizing them. There
>is no academic consensus on the definition of fascism, the
>content of fascist economics, a distinctly fascist approach
>to agricultural issues, and numerous related matters
>because fascism itself reflects the flexibility of the
>irrational in all its manifestations. As an expression of
>the irrational, moreover, fascist precepts can be applied
>elastically beyond politics, economics, and social
>engineering to art, literature, music, science, and most
>other areas of human endeavor.
>Whatever their entry point into the political arena, the
>fascists' core attraction is their ability to harness the
>myth of rebirth to the community, tribe, and nation. The
>belief in spiritual rebirth is one of the strongest
>motivating factors in individual life, and fascism provides
>a means for those who accept its assumptions and discipline
>to integrate their values, grievances, prejudices, and
>hostilities into the group struggle for assertion and power.
>Liberal democracy, by linking the myth of rebirth and change
>to a rational political ideology, provides a constructive
>nationalist outlet for democratic and pluralist achievement.
>That is why fascists are almost invariably hostile to
>democratic values even as they accommodate democracy's
>Even in the United States, fascist-like attitudes can be
>seen in the rhetoric and agendas of racist movements and
>militias. Overt or coded anti-Semitism can often signal the
>presence of fascist convictions.
>Extreme nationalist parties have achieved unprecedented
>postwar success in Western Europe. Some have attracted broad
>constituencies through sophisticated appeals that downplay
>their extreme nationalist roots and exploit mainstream
>concerns about immigration and corruption: Jean-Marie Le
>Pen's French National Front, Joerg Haider's Austrian Freedom
>Party, and Gianfranco Fini's Italian National Alliance. In
>Russia, while extreme nationalist groups have not taken hold
>of executive power in Moscow, they have seized and distorted
>the democratic political agenda. If fascism there moves from
>agenda setting to office holding, the U.S. and Europe will
>be faced with a threat as dangerous as Soviet communism.
>By drawing too many conclusions from any one country or
>region, however, we risk losing perspective on the overall
>vigor and diversity of political, economic, and social
>experimentation undertaken by extreme nationalist and
>racialist movements globally. Fascism's application is not
>limited to the United States, Europe, or cultures that share
>Western political traditions or specific Western-style
>political institutions. Its innate hostility to
>multiculturalism endows it with a broad cross-cultural
>appeal, hence its global attraction. Fascism is equally
>accessible to Chinese leaders seeking an integrative
>nationalist ideology in the waning days of communism; Hutu
>leaders pursuing tribal dominance; Hindu ultranationalists;
>Iraqi Baathists; as well as Russian fascists, Austrian
>neo-fascists, and American militiamen, skinheads, and
>Fascism Watch intends to raise awareness and stimulate a
>debate by monitoring contemporary extreme nationalist and
>racialist groups. Its purpose is to educate the public about
>the threat to democracy from their political aims and
>methods, publications, ideas, and interconnections. Its
>coverage will be inclusive-from the skinheads and neo-Nazis
>to the parties seeking their place in the mainstream-and
>global, with an emphasis on Europe; coverage of other
>regions will expand gradually. Published bi-weekly, each
>issue will contain a news summary, frequently accompanied by
>focused analysis. The news summary will review developments
>of the previous month, sometimes longer when hard-to-obtain
>or translated material becomes available. To convey a broad
>perspective of fascism's global rebirth, the first few
>issues will include some information from the previous year.
>Fascist ideas are back and experiencing a global revival.
>Its omnipresence masks its visibility because those who
>embrace fascism's power do not always wear its label.
>Speeches from balconies may have given way to messages on
>the Internet, but the killing fields of genocide-whether in
>Bosnia or Rwanda-remain the same.
>WEEKS IN REVIEW September 9 - October 9, 1997
>SERBIA-Ultranationalism emerged the undisputed victor in
>Serbia's September 21 presidential and parliamentary
>elections. The strong showing by Serb Radical Party leader
>Vojislav Seselj, an unrepentant exponent of cleansing ethnic
>minorities in Serbia and non-Serbs in lands contiguous to
>Serbia, confirmed that ultranationalist fires have yet to be
>banked in Serbia. Seselj's party will form the largest
>single bloc of deputies in parliament and Seselj himself
>emerged on top of the October 5 presidential runoff
>invalidated by insufficient voter turnout. Robert Gelbard,
>U.S. special envoy to Bosnia, declared that Seselj "is
>anti-democratic, I think he is a fascist. He represents
>worsening polarization, backwardness, darkness." Seselj has
>declared that "Order and discipline are the basis of every
>normal system." As a paramilitary leader, he asserted that
>his men had "take(n) out the eyes of Croatians with rusty
>spoons." Seselj's doctoral dissertation, "the political
>foundations of militarism and fascism," foreshadowed themes
>he would exploit in his political career.
>RUSSIA-Radical nationalist groups are strengthening in
>Russia with support from Russian law enforcement and
>government agencies and private businessmen. Russian
>National Unity (RNU), the largest of 85 known groups is
>active in 250 cities, according to Time. In several cities,
>local police have contracted with RNU units to provide
>auxiliary patrols. The organization's leader, Alexander
>Barkashov noted that the group is financed primarily by
>charging fees for helping businessmen collect debts, "within
>the framework of the law." In addition to distributing their
>newspaper, "Russian Order," the RNU runs a training camp for
>teenage boys in Southern Russia where, equipped in
>camouflage and swastikas, participants learn techniques such
>as hand to hand combat and dodging imitation grenades.
>Instructors include former and current members of the
>Interior Ministry, KGB, and military. Although the group
>denies its fascist characteristics, Barkashov has defined
>its goal as establishing "the rule of national
>power...built...on blood ties and spiritual unity rather
>than political, social or religious foundations." Referring
>to his political tactics, Barkashov cites Mein Kampf: "He
>who controls the streets controls politics." Among its
>enemies, the RNU lists the United States and Jews.
>GERMANY-The extreme nationalist German People's Union (DVU),
>which advocates expelling all foreigners, dramatically
>increased its strength in the September 21 Hamburg municipal
>elections. The party, which fell only 238 votes short of
>meeting the five percent cutoff, is contesting the results.
>The rise of the DVU was apparently at the expense of the
>Free Democrats, who failed to make the cutoff, and Social
>Democrats, whose declining support caused the Social
>Democratic mayor of Hamburg to resign. Some analysts view
>the rise of the DVU as a warning to the mainstream parties
>to take action to reduce Germany's high unemployment rate.
>Chancellor Helmut Kohl noted that, though the DVU made gains
>in Hamburg, the overall right-wing vote was lower than in
>the past.
>GERMANY-A July report by the German Office for the
>Protection of the Constitution found that the potential for
>violence-prone right-wing extremism is still sizable in
>Germany. In 1996, the number of right-wing offenses rose to
>8,730 from 7,896 in 1995. Two-thirds of these crimes were
>so-called propaganda offenses. In fact, the number of acts
>of violence dropped from 837 in 1995 to 781 last year. The
>membership in extremist organizations also dropped slightly.
>The report found that new tactics and means of dissemination
>are being adopted by the extremists. An "intellectualization
>offensive" is underway to blur the frontiers between
>conservative ideas and extremist ideology. There is a
>renewed pushing of revisionist history, in an attempt to
>"relieve the National Socialist system of its guilt". The
>report predicts the Internet will come to have "considerable
>significance" in the future dissemination of right-wing
>extremist propaganda.
>JAPAN-Japan's estimated 100,000 ultranationalists are
>raising increased political concern. According to the
>Washington Post, "they are fiercely conservative, organized
>in a loose military structure, well-armed and committed to
>violence and terrorism to press an agenda they equate with
>patriotism. In recent years they have fired shots near a
>prime minister, shot and wounded two leading politicians,
>firebombed the parliament building and a political party
>headquarters, taken journalists hostage and shot at members
>of religious, political and media organizations they
>consider enemies." The chairman of the Great Japan Sincerity
>Association noted that violence and terrorism were the most
>effective ways to get their message out. The motto of
>another prominent group, Japan Alliance is "One
>assassination saves millions of lives." The group's first
>two presidents were involved in pre-World War II political
>assassinations. Chinese, Taiwanese, Koreans, and others
>worry that the ultranationalists say publicly what many
>Japanese believe privately. The Japanese government has been
>reluctant to crack down on ultranationalist activity. Three
>members of the ultranationalist Japan Youth Association, a
>group that seeks to revive support for Japan's former
>militarist glory, landed on a disputed East China Sea island
>near Taiwan in April to repair a lighthouse they had
>constructed last year. Construction of the lighthouse had
>exacerbated tensions with China. The Japanese coast guard
>did not interfere despite appeals to stop the trespassers.
>CONGO-The genocide perpetrated by Rwandan ultratribalist
>Hutus against the Tutsi minority continues to cast a shadow
>over developments in the region. The Congolese government of
>Laurent Kabila prevented U.N. investigators from leaving
>Kinshasa to begin their probe into reported human rights
>abuses which occurred during the insurrection that brought
>Kabila to power. The insurgents, led by the Tutsi-dominated
>Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), are accused of killing
>thousands of ethnic Hutus in the search for those
>responsible for the Rwandan genocide. The RPA continues to
>operate in the Congo, hunting down their Hutu adversaries
>and civilians who cross into the line of fire. The U.N.
>estimates that nearly 200,000 Rwandan Hutus remain
>unaccounted for. According to a member of the recently
>withdrawn U.N. team, "The government has raised up obstacle
>after obstacle." After a series of denials, the U.S.
>Government has admitted providing military assistance to the
>Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). The Pentagon has acknowledged
>that the U.S. provided combat training to RPA soldiers
>before the invasion of Zaire.
>ITALY-Gianfranco Fini, leader of Italy's post-fascist
>National Alliance (AN) has indefinitely postponed plans to
>convene a special party conference to revise AN's program.
>Fini maintains that rewriting the party program along
>classically conservative, "Thatcherite" lines is a necessary
>step for the Alliance to reach beyond its historic,
>right-wing supporters, appeal to voters from the electoral
>center, and consolidate its hard-won acceptance as a
>participant in mainstream politics. He is opposed by
>traditionalists of AN's "social right" and its tiny but
>vocal labor affiliate, CISNAL, who remain attached to the
>Alliance's corporatist roots, which reach back to Mussolini,
>and who oppose further privatization of the state's
>extensive holdings in key industries, utilities, and the
>transportation sector. Although Fini would win a showdown
>with traditionalists, he has no desire to risk splitting the
>party or become embroiled in a debate that would remind
>voters how close some sectors of the party remain to its
>fascist past.
>AUSTRIA-The far right Freedom Party emerged considerably
>strengthened from the October 5 local parliamentary
>elections in Upper Austria province. The party polled 20.6
>percent, three percent above its 1991 showing. Its gains
>were at the expense of the mainstream Social Democrats and
>Austrian People's Party. The Freedom Party's leader, Joerg
>Haider, runs on an anti-immigration platform and has praised
>the policies of Adolf Hitler and addressed veterans of
>Hitler's Waffen SS. Haider is seeking to become Austria's
>next chancellor.
>FRANCE-On September 8, Catherine Megret, the National Front
>mayor of Vitrolles, was convicted of "racial injury" and
>given a three-month suspended sentence and an $8,000 fine.
>In a February interview with a German newspaper, Megret had
>been quoted as saying "there are differences between the
>races in the genes." She has also said that she hoped to
>scare all immigrants away from Vitrolles. Megret is one of
>four National Front mayors in France. National Front leader
>Jean-Marie Le Pen has made similar racist and anti-Semitic
>DENMARK-A Danish court indicted a German- born neo-Nazi
>September 4 on charges of distributing racist music and
>videos to other European countries. Marcel Schilf, who is
>allegedly connected to the British neo-Nazi group, Combat
>18, runs the NS88 publishing house, one of the world's
>largest distributors of extreme rightist material. Denmark
>has been criticized for tolerating indigenous neo-Nazi
>groups. Other neo-Nazis, such as American Gary Lauck, have
>sought refuge there. Recent convictions of three neo-Nazis
>for mailing explosive devices to neo-Nazi monitoring groups
>in Britain indicate that Danish officials have begun
>cracking down on the extremists.
>UNITED STATES-According to Klanwatch, Michigan has become a
>hotbed for "patriot" and "hate" organizations. Klanwatch
>identified 56 such groups in Michigan, tying California for
>the lead in the number of extremist organizations. The
>report attributes the surprising number of extreme groups to
>the bad economy and farm bankruptcies in rural Michigan
>during the 1970s and 1980s.

It's wrong to lump together all the different "patriot" and populist organizations. It does serve the interests of the liberal establishment to tar them all with the brush of racism, since most of these groups are opposed to the program of big capital. It is the job of the left to win as many as possible to anti-racist and anti-fascist positions -- without trying to weaken their opposition to the capitalist state, as the liberals would!

>Prepared by: Eric Kite and Marianne Rude
>Contributor: Joseph McGhee
>"People fear change when they feel its burdens but not its
>benefits. They are susceptible to misguided protectionism,
>to the poisoned appeals of extreme nationalism and ethnic,
>racial and religious hatred."-President Clinton's address to
>the U.N. General Assembly (9/22/97).

Most people can only expect burdens, not benefits, from any changes that Clinton and his capitalist backers are planning.

>"This country is now contaminated with chauvinism and
>nationalism. Children are growing up to this national or
>'patriotic' model."-Sonya Biserko, Helsinki Committee for
>Human Rights in Serbia, on the success of Vojislav Seselj in
>recent Serbian elections (Washington Times 9/28/97).

Sounds just like the U.S.A. to me!

>"Our job is to help free Russia from democrats, communists,
>Jews, pacifists, ecumenical Christians and
>humanists."-Alexander Barkashov, founder of Russian National
>Unity, on the movement's aims (Time 6/9/97).
>Fascism Watch is a publication of the Balkan Institute.

Who is the 'Balkan Institute', anyway? Is it financed by Western governments? Is it connected with the ADL or other such dubious 'anti-fascist' organizations?

---------- mailto:aaron@burn.ucsd.edu http://burn.ucsd.edu/~aaron

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