- Dedicated to my red-fascist friend, Gary Fieness Hastings, who, apparently, “kicked my butt”.
… Left-wing macho street-fighters ready to kick arse.
They said because of racism they'd come out on the street.
It was just a form of fascism for the socialist elite.
Bigotry and blindness, a Marxist con…
Pogo on a Nazi, spit upon a Jew,
Vicious mindless violence that offers nothing new.
Left wing violence, right wing violence, all seems much the same,
Bully boys out fighting, it's just the same old game…
- - Extracts from "White Punks on Hope", by Crass
It’s interesting to note that it was anarchists (long before Crass’s words above), not the Right, who coined the term “red fascism”. They did so when they realised that not only did the Far Left and the Nazis/fascists often behave in the same ways; but that they believed many of the same things too. This is not a surprise if you bear in mind the fact that Lenin and the Bolsheviks , followed by Trotsky and other Communists/Trotskyists the world over, often fought and killed anarchists (e.g., at Petrograd/the Kronstadt rebellion/massacre, which Trotsky was largely responsible for). This particularly occurred during and after the Bolshevik Revolution and even during the Spanish Civil War. It was during that war - despite the Leftist hype about his activity in it - that George Orwell realised that the Left often behaved worse than the fascists they were fighting against and that they believed similar things too. Despite that, many Trotskyists have attempted to claim Orwell for themselves. Nonetheless, Orwell was never a Trotskyist and he soon realised that Trotskyists could be as violent and unscrupulous as the pro-Soviet Communists. Consequently, there is as little to connect Orwell’s socialism, or even his anarchism, with Trotskyism as there is to connect it with Stalinism. (See note*)
The anarchist Emma Goldman summed up this often bogus distinction between Trotskyism and Stalinism (or between Trotsky and Stalin) as follows:
“In point of truth I see no marked difference between the two protagonists [Stalin and Trotsky] of the benevolent system of the dictatorship except that Leon Trotsky is no longer in power to enforce its blessings, and Josef Stalin is… I must, however, point out that Stalin did not come down as a gift from heaven to the hapless Russian people. He is merely continuing the Bolshevik traditions, even if in a more relentless manner.”
Perhaps Jurgen Habermas, the German sociologist and philosopher, belongs to this tradition of the anarchist critique of the Left.
Plainly, Habermas reacted against the frequent use of violence on the Left and instead emphasised “rational discourse”, democratic institutions and the reliance on “conflict theory” to end political violence. Of course allied with that Leftist use of violence is its hatred of democracy and free speech; things which Habermas also noted. In fact, Habermas was an early user of the term “left-fascism”.
The term ‘left-fascism ‘also refers to a Leftism that often contradicts or goes against the allegedly “progressive ideals” which are supposed to motivate the Left generally. This can be shown by alliances with Islamists, misogynist and homophobic Muslims, support of terrorism and “street violence”, Jew-hatred and so on.
Critics of the phrase “left-wing fascism” dispute its appropriateness because it’s often taken as a given that Leftism is commonly, and traditionally, seen as being literally the exact opposite of fascism/Nazism. Thus there is sometimes talk of “red fascism” being a “syntagm” – a term which lacks any “scientific precision”. That may be true. However, most political terms lack scientific precision. Perhaps no political term is completely scientific precisely because ideological/political positions themselves intrude onto whether such definitions are precise or even scientific. (In other words, a red fascist will dispute the term “red fascist” because of what he takes to be the very impossibility of Leftism and fascism fusing – something only Leftists and fascists, of course, believe.)
The most dangerous mistake, as well as falsity, which has occurred has been to associate red fascism exclusively with Stalinism. Leftists themselves have often accused Stalinism of being “red fascist” in nature. (He, too, often accused his many Leftist enemies of being “fascists”.) However, it is clear that most - or even all - of the things which characterise red fascism can also characterise Trotskyism, Maoism, and other Leftist movements. In certain respects; even more so. For example, Stalin believed in state violence but not “street violence”. And he was very unhappy with leftist terrorist groups. (It’s no doubt partly - or mainly - the case that all this was because they were a threat to his power.)
So many writers, for example Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (2009), as well as Alan Bullock in his Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, have noted the close similarities between Stalinism and Nazism. Nevertheless, many of these similarities were the result of totalitarian state power; not ideology and practice. The very fact that the Hitler and Stalin had total political/state power meant that they couldn’t help but share much. However, in the case of Trotskyists or other Leftists, it’s what they do and believe out of power which makes them red fascists. Indeed, because the Trotskyists have never had the total power which Stalin had, it was always going to be the case that they would be “anti-Stalinist”.
Despite all that, there is no problem with endorsing the Stalinism-is-fascism idea. For example, it was indeed the case that Benito Mussolini confidently reviewed Stalinism as having transformed Soviet Bolshevism into a Russian fascism. Similarly, despite ideological differences, Adolf Hitler admired Stalin and his politics and believed that Stalin was in effect transforming Soviet Bolshevism into a form of National Socialism. We must also remember here that the Nazis themselves were National Socialists and even today many Nazis and Leftists hate exactly the same things: Zionists, capitalism, Jews, Das System, parliamentary democracy, democracy, tradition, Israel, “the New World Order”, the bankers, America, the multinationals, the platonic Media and so on. Both Leftist and Nazis also promise full employment, selfless and incorruptible leaders as well as, yes, a New World Order (or, alternatively, Utopia-by-other-names).
The Fusing/Meeting of Extremes
One theory or observation about Leftism and Nazism/fascism is the “extremes meet theory”. (In the French: Les extrêmes se touchent.) More accurately put this is the idea that Left and the Right meet on their extremes.
Think of Antifa – a supposedly anti-fascist group that glorifies and even eroticises violence against “Nazis” and “fascists”. Such violence, in the tradition of George Sorel and the Nazis/fascists as well as of the “New Left”, seems to be almost at the very heart of Antifa. Not only that. The behaviour and publications of Antifa seem to replicate the behaviour and publications of the Nazis: from the street violence to the hip and often violent imagery. (E.g., such as Antifa members in balaclavas - always popular with “hard men” - and even their using weaponry). Thus, as has been often noted with Nazi propaganda, you can find a kind of Antifa pornography of violence. Similarly, just as many football hooligans are attracted to Nazi groups, so they are also attracted to groups like Antifa which fight those very same Nazi groups. Some Nazis or red fascists have even been known to swap sides because that change-over amounts to so little. (This infatuation with violence reached obscene levels with the juvenile, hilarious and often middle class anarchist group Class War in the 1980s.)
Not only do the Left and Right meet on their extremes, they also fuse and actually cooperate, politically, there too. Take the “Red-Green-Brown alliance” which originated in France. This is a reference to the fusion of Leftists (red), Islamists (green) and Nazis/fascists (brown). Clearly, one thing all these groups share is a commitment to totalitarianism. And if they share that, it follows that it will be highly likely that much else will be shared too – as it is. In this particular French example, the Leftist, Nazi and Islamist totalitarians particularly share Jew-hatred and anti-Americanism.
Irrationalism, Violence and Leftist Parasitism
The Nazis emphasised and glorified irrationalism and violence. Those two positions began to be replicated in the Left from the 1960s onwards. From that embracing of irrationalism and violence, various things followed. For example, the Left became more “cult-like” (the vast majority of Leftist groups, as still today, only had a very small amount of members) and stronger haters of democracy and free speech. (These anti-democratic positions, however, are always dressed up with the argument that all actually-existing democracies and democratic institutions are “not really democratic at all”.)
The popular French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy has also noted the irrationalism and violent tendencies of the new Left. In fact he calls this “neo-progressivism” both “barbaric” and “red fascist”. (All this is very ironic since “progressives” are often painted as being the exact antithesis of all these things.) Levy particularly points out the common and fundamental aspects of the new red fascism as being anti-liberal, anti-American, anti-Jew and pro-“Islamofascism”. In fact other commentators have gone further than this and noted that much of the Left today is anti-everything - not actually for anything. Such Leftists define themselves exclusively by what they are against (“Islamophobia”, parliamentary democracy, capitalism, the Media, “Zionists”, “racists”, “the bankers”, “the new world order”, etc.) and not what they are for. Similarly, ideology and politics themselves are often jettisoned and violence and endless “street activism”, as well as the embracing of endless minority groups and minority causes, have taken their place. It is no surprise, then, that such a “political” negativism will also embrace violence, irrationalisms and a hatred of both democracy and free speech.
In terms of the parasitic nature of this Leftist support and advancement of various racist and fascist groups and individuals in the US in particular: such groups included the Jew-hating Liberty Lobby and Black Muslim movements. COUNTERFIRE, here in the UK, is almost completely devoted to “supporting” numerous minority movements and causes; specifically Muslim and Islamic ones. This is so much the case that other Leftist groups, such as Workers’ Liberty, have criticised Counterfire for its “unscrupulous opportunism” and its lack of any “substantial ideology” or “alternatives”.
One point also worth making is that both Leftists and Nazis/fascists have believed in - and used -terrorism to advance their various political ends. It may be no surprise, then, that many, or even most, radical Leftist groups, from SWP-UAF to Respect, support terrorism; mainly in the form of Islamic terrorism but also, in the past, in the form of the IRA, various Leftist terrorist groups (though often not the - white - Europeans ones) and the PLO. The Nazis have also supported various terrorist groups.
On the theme of Leftist and Nazi terrorism and violence, it was also the case that during the European ‘Years of Lead’ (from the 1960s to the 1980s), when Nazi and Leftist terrorist groups were in their heyday (such as the German Red Army Faction and the Italian Red Brigade), these groups often fused various Leftist and Nazi themes and behaviours. Both the Nazis and Leftists, for example, used Jew-hatred as a means to garner support.
*) Generally speaking there are two groups/types of anarchist. The first group is that which basically sees itself as belonging to a “broad church” which includes the entire Left. The other group has as much a problem with Leftism as it does with Nazism/fascism. Indeed that problem with Leftism, or specifically with Marxism, was the precise reason why anarchism, at least in its 19th century form, came to be. The whole point of anarchism, to that latter group, is that it is neither Left nor Right. In fact, they would see it as being a semantic or political contradiction for anarchists to belong to a general Leftist “broad church”.