Tuesday, March 30, 2010

33. The Crisis of the U.S. Empire: Fascist Groups Find a Foothold

Obama's health care reform agenda is fulfilled. However, the torturous path its traveled, the way it was shaped behind the back of ordinary Americans, what its has achieved, how it was used to undermine the right of working women to legal and safe abortion on demand, and how it will still leave millions without insurance (including the undocumented workers), among others show the weakness of the U.S. capitalist class. Before his death, senator Kennedy went on record to confess that one of his failure as a senator was not to support Nixon's health care reform proposal. The present bill is somewhat weaker than Nixon's proposal and similar to the reform in Massachusetts under Republican governor Mitt Romney. The fact that not a single Republicans voted for the reform indicates how far to the right they have traveled compared to Richard Nixon. Democrats could have opted for a public option, much discussed by their liberal wing, but at the end they voted for a “centrist” bill that included some Republican ideas. That shows how far the Democratic Party has moved to the right as well.

My intention here is not to discuss specifics of the health care law just passed. The law itself and the surrounding it are entirely within the policy framework I laid out analyzing the 1993-94 health care reform proposals (to read that article click here). Here, I like to draw your attention to an important aspect of the health care debate; that is the use of fascist groups by a section of the Republican Party establishment to advance their policy goals. Gerry Foley, an editor for Socialist Action, should get the credit for drawing attention to this phenomenon (to read Foley’s article click here). Fascist groups were mobilized to disrupt town hall meetings to discuss health care reform in August; union members that supported reform were target. In September, a demonstration of some 80,000 was organized against health care reform that called for extra-parliamentary action against the supporters of the reform. Finally, with the passage of the reform bill, many Democratic legislators or their family were target of hate mail, death threats and direct attacks.

The right-wing of the Republican Party has been instrumental in organizing the Tea Party movement; while there are some favorite Republican issue (anti-tax, for example) that unites these people, they are essentially an anti-working class, anti-immigrant movement of mostly white racist group that subscribe to a conspiracy theory that foreigners have taken over the federal government with the election of a Back president.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report entitled “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” “nativist extremist” groups that confront and harass suspected immigrants have increased nearly 80 percent since President Obama took office, and antigovernment “patriot” groups more than tripled over that period.

I tend to agree with Charles Blow, a New York Times Op-Ed page columnist, that these fascist groups and their merger with the Republican Party is a rearguard action. But I do not agree with the sense he conveys that they should be left to their own devises and the law enforcement. Today, for example, there was a report of arrest of one such fascist group in Michigan that calls itself the Hutaree (see a report here).

Mark Potok, who leads a program that tracks right-wing groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said it first took note of the Hutaree last year amid a surge in new “Patriot” movement groups, race-based hate groups, extremist anti-immigrant groups, Christian militants and other variations. “We’re seeing all kinds of radical right-wing groups grow very rapidly, especially in the militia world,” he said.

The New York Times article sited above note that “the indictment said the Hutaree, in anticipation of a war against its enemies, had been engaging in ‘military-style training,’ from weapons proficiency drills to ‘close quarter battle drills’ and the use of ‘ambush kill zones.’ The small group had acquired guns, ammunition, medical supplies, uniforms, communications equipment and ‘explosives and other components for destructive devices,’ it said.
“After attacking the police, the members planned to retreat to several planned ‘rally points’ and wait for the authorities to come after them. They were preparing fighting positions as well as ‘trip-wired and command-detonated’ bombs, it said.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin appeared with John McCain in Arizona to aid in his re-election campaign for the senate saying those who support McCain are the same Tea Party people. The fusion of fascist currents and the Republican Party has been in the making since at least the last presidential election.

The ultra-right has been organizing on a grassroots level for over three decades now. The danger exists that the same organizing effort creates a larger fascist movement that increasingly move to the center stage. It is high time that working people and its allies respond in kind by organizing themselves in class independent unions and other grassroots progressive movements, including the environment and ecology movements, and to respond by mass action. As I will discuss in the next post, the enemies of deep going social change and deep going environmental and ecological policies are the same: the capitalist class and their two party system that has been moving to the right for the past three decades.


Unknown said...

Useful information. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I fear what might happen if these somewhat isolated groups start merging and pooling resources. Or do you think that by their very nature they will be unable to do so?

Kamran Nayeri said...

Dear Farzod: The future of fascist groups in the U.S. depends on many factors. It is not possible to predict all of them.

But one can point to some general trends. First, the ethnic transformation of American society and culture is turning defensive some of the white population that has been ideologically dominant. Second, the economic decline of the American empire, and with it American power, undermines position of the same social group that benefitted most from its prosperity. Third, the capitalist offensive to revive profitability of the U.S. economy, has undermined the relatively comfortable position of the white workers and added to the ranks of white middle class and working class poor; combined with a racist ideology, it is easy to blame Blacks, immigrants, "others" instead of confronting the enemy within ones own identity group. This offensive is supported by both parties since the late 1970s. Fourth, there is a clear lack of a mass working class movement that can offer an alternative, especially to those most threatened by the infusion of immigrants who take the jobs from the bottom up.

Thus, Charles Blow is right to consider as rearguard action the fusion of fascist groups that prosper in this condition with the Republican Party. However, it would be foolish to dismiss this fusion as a passing phase in U.S. politics without considering its serious danger for the working people and our future. It is typical of liberal forces to ignore fascist danger, only to be washed aside by it. Fascism grows out of severe capitalist crisis. It would be foolish to relay on the government or its repressive apparatus to stop fascism; police force, for example, typically hold fascist sympathies.

To confront fascism is to prepare for an alternative ecosocialist society through organizing and mobilizing grassroots movements of the working people. Only such mass movement can stop fascist tendencies of the U.S. ruling classes, and prepare for the day that we can replace it.

NTROPEE said...

These gun-toting neo-fascist zealots will remain disparate, weak & disorganized UNTIL wealthy sectors of the ruling elite decide it's time to fund them and encourage them to unite. This is why the recent interconnections between paramilitary religious "patriots" and the Tea Party sector of the Republican right is disturbing. Tea Party folks have wealthy friends in high places.