top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrandon Walley

Fascism, Europe & US, then and now


Online Event

The Party for Socialism and Liberation is linking up with Detroit Will Breath for an online forum to discuss the efforts made by federal, state, and local governments to suppress the mass movement to demand justice for victims of police terror, defund the police, end mass incarceration and enact far-reaching change in society. Organizers all over the country are facing outrageous charges that are meant to stop or slow the movement as part of nationwide crackdown. We will not be intimidated or silenced by these tactics, and will continue to struggle for justice and create a network of national solidarity in order to fight back against the coordinated effort to demoralize and even imprison organizers.

On September 17, PSL organizers Lillian, and Joel, along with fellow organizer Eliza Lucero, were arrested and imprisoned in retaliation for their leadership in the mass protest movement demanding Justice for Elijah McClain. They were illegally detained for eight days, under 23-hour lockdown in COVID-exposed jail units. They now face multiple extreme false felony charges with potential sentences of decades in prison.

Since its formation earlier this summer, Detroit Will Breath has been the target of harassment and violence by police. Hundreds of arrests were made, with multiple protesters sustaining serious injuries inflicted by law enforcement. On October 24th at a demonstration in Shelby Township, and after being detained for several days, five protesters are now facing felony charges.

Join us to hear firsthand accounts from Tristan Taylor of Detroit Will Breathe, along with Denver PSL members Lillian House and Joel Northam, about what this repression looks like, what it means for the movement, and how we can organize and fight back.


Join us TOMORROW, December 6 at 2pm EST when we will discuss the characteristics of fascism, historically and as it relates to the present day struggle for the emancipation of the working class.. Join the Zoom meeting by clicking HERE on Sunday, December 6 by 2pm EST. The room will be open to log in ten minutes before.

Meeting ID: 921 1471 2235

Password: 2XiFuW

Fascism (historical, Europe):

During the 1930s, revolutionaries opposing and fighting German and Italian fascism, defined European fascism as:

“the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.

(G. Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism, 1935; bold added.)

This definition expressed the essence of 1930s European fascism. At that time fascism was a political form of state power that corresponds to a definite stage of industrialism. European fascism expressed the political agenda of a sector of finance capital -- the industrial sector. It was the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist sector and sought colonies and new markets for its industrial production. Although accurate at the time, this older definition is no longer adequate to express the reality of a globalized world.

European fascism was a form of state power that originated in bourgeois private property at a certain stage of industrial development. It sought to stabilize and expand capitalist production relations through unrelenting war and conquest. Its goal was to recreate an empire with colonies and prevent the collapse and overthrow of Europe’s direct colonial system. This took place in an environment where the masses were in a state of unrest and sought revolution as the solution to their problems.

Fascism in power was destruction of a country’s bourgeois democratic norms and their replacement with the open terroristic dictatorship by openly placed financial-industrial-corporate interests. In Europe, fascism’s ascendancy to power occurred in combat with a section of the working class that was in a state of unrest and open to revolutionary ideas. Fascism is all the horrors of colonial-imperial rule turned inwards against the formerly privileged peoples.

In the past century Europe was completing the final stage of transition from agrarian to industrial society, in an environment where the Soviet Revolution of 1917 had brought the proletariat and poorest peasants to power and pulled the Soviet Union outside the capitalist system. Beginning in Italy, fascism arose as bourgeois Europe’s response to the Russian 1917 October socialist revolution, whose proclaimed goal was the overthrow of bourgeois property relations.

Fascism (historical, US):

As a criminal political regime of colonial oppression, fascism was birthed in the former Slave-Holding-South, after the Civil War and defeat of Reconstruction. Southern plantation fascism was extra-legal violence and colonial rule unleashed within the borders of the US multinational-imperial state.

The Civil War was won by the North, chattel slavery was abolished and $4 billion in private property in slaves evaporated. A period of Reconstruction was established. Reconstruction was the political phase of defeating the old Slave Power. “Forty acres and a mule” was placed on the political agenda as the means to democratize the South by creating a land of small independent farmers. This program -- forty acres and a mule -- would have democratized the South and eliminated the Slave oligarchy from history. That did not happen.

Emerging on the basis of the Civil War, Wall Street financial imperialism set in motion plans to reabsorb the South stripped of the Slave Power, but with slavery in a new form. The deal was struck. The historical formula for political control of the US emerged on the basis of the defeat of the Reconstruction governments. The political South controlled the country, and Wall Street controlled the South. The South was to be directly ruled through open terror and government on horseback with noose in hand. Or as it was called in Europe a decade or two later, fascism.

Some of the fascist characteristics of the counter-revolution corresponded to “fascism” as defined by the Third Communist International 40 years later:

1) It conformed to the description of being the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialistic elements of finance capital.

2) The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie – bourgeois democracy, for another form – open terrorist dictatorship.

3) Fascism comes to power as a party of attack on the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, on the masses of the people who are in a state of unrest; yet it stages its accession to power as a revolutionary movement against the bourgeoisie on behalf of the whole nation.

The fascist character of the post-Civil War counter-revolution was marked not simply by its brutality and violence, but by the fact that the “revolt of the poor whites” cloaked itself in the mantel of saving the “South.” Redemption! Today President Trump leads a new redemption movement, with the same ideology of, “Make America Great, Again!”

The fascist led “revolt of the poor whites” functioned as the absolute agent of Wall Street. The counterrevolution attacked and overthrew the Reconstruction bourgeois democratic governments. Then, the fascists substituted a reign of terror as the new state form of domination over the emerging Southern-black-belt Nation. In the Northern states the capitalists relied on deception, bribery and fraud -- in short, on bourgeois democracy and selective police terror. This was not the case in the Black Belt! Here, the rule of finance capital was combined with an unheard of reign of terror, legal and extralegal, by police, the KKK, a regional fascist ideological and political superstructure and the might of the US state. This reign of terror was justified by white supremacy.

A political force constructed and funded by finance capital, which overthrows a legal bourgeois democratic government and substitutes as a state form the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic elements of finance capital is called fascism. Such a political state we call fascist.

Fascism (present, US):

Twenty-first century US fascism is being unleashed on portions of the population as the open terroristic dictatorship of the mega-corporate state, and the systematic overthrow of the democratic republic and the Bill of Rights. US fascism is militarization of society, the surveillance state, police violence, private prisons, secret concentration camps for migrants and, eventually US citizens. It is the overthrow of anything resembling democracy.

The mega-corporate state is the merger of the social, economic and political power of the mega-corporations with the state. Fascism is state power, hence political, and can be defeated based on political will and by organizing the people to overthrow its power. Fascism is militarization of the police and state intervention in every aspect of the economy and society to protect the rule of bourgeois private property and promote oligarchy rather than constitutional authority.

The purpose of fascism in power, in the past as well as in the new robotic economy, is domination and perpetuation of three interrelated aspects of productive relations: private property, private wealth and privilege.

“. . . . the accession to power of fascism must not be conceived of in so simplified and smooth a form, as though some committee or other of finance capital decided on a certain date to set up a fascist dictatorship. In reality, fascism usually comes to power in the course of a mutual, and at times severe, struggle against the old bourgeois parties, or a definite section of these parties, in the course of a struggle even within the fascist camp itself -- a struggle which at times leads to armed clashes, as we have witnessed in the case of Germany, Austria and other countries. All this, however, does not make less important the fact that, before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”

(Georgi Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism, 1935; bold added.)

Today fascism attempts to consolidate its power as society is undergoing social and political revolution while social groups and classes begin the struggle for political power and the right to shape society in their own interests. Fascism is an unstable power due to its extremely narrow class base in the one-percent of the one-percent. While feeding the masses a diet of hate, white and national chauvinism, fascism promises everything to the masses, and delivers economic insecurity and broken promises.

Twenty-first century fascism consolidates and evolves as society is undergoing social revolution.

(See, State.)


If you didn't catch it in the last Weekly DISPATCH, check out the new podcast, What's Been Done and What's Been Won, with Detroit's own lifelong soldier for the poor, Maureen Taylor, and Bob Ostertag, lifelong musician, writer and filmmaker.

Read about it and an interview between Bob and Maureen in the inaugural publication of three fold,a new quarterly arts publication from Detroit.

67 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page