“If we don’t get to the working classes, the fascists will” warned one audience member at the KCL Marxist Society’s ‘Fascism: What It Is And How To Fight It’ event on Thursday 25th October. With this pithy aphorism, the sentiment of the couple dozen-strong was neatly expressed. Fascism and other far-right ideologies had been gaining ground across the world as wealth inequality grew and the unhelpful media continued to sew discord between peoples.
Against the backdrop of the ‘V.I. Lenin proclaims Soviet power’ painting of 1917, Marxist Society President Oliver Brotherton led a historical tour through the rise and fall of 20th century fascism in Germany and Italy. “Fascism is typically a mass movement in the streets”, he said, “the ruling class picks them up and puts them in power… to completely annihilate the working class”. Fascism was painted as “society’s last resort” when neither the capitalist class nor the working class had the ability to take power – and instead authoritarian Bonapartism arises.
An important and heartening distinction was made in the speech; that in the 20th century, Fascism was wholeheartedly espoused by the majority of the educated class including teachers, professors and civil servants. Now, however, Fascism doesn’t reach these sectors of educated society because the economic excesses of the powerful have rendered these people into the working class category. Referencing the strikes of last academic year, the speaker quipped that “university lecturers had been treated like they work in McDonalds”.
In addressing the nature of far-right political movements, the speaker said “These people are angry. They’re really pissed off and they don’t know what they want.” A consensus formed amongst the audience and society members that the most effective way to oppose such reactionary movements was for the Left “‘to stop being ashamed of itself” and “present a clear alternative”.
Despite the at times combative tone of the meeting, the members were clear to denounce any use of violence in the struggle to oppose Fascism and encourage Socialism. Simon Gomez Azza said “the proper way to fight Fascism… is to hammer the nail hard, to show no mercy and march against them.”
A major critique put forward at the meeting regarding Fascism was the lack of foundational principles or ideology behind the movement. This, it was said, makes Fascism easy to oppose by drawing attention to the Capitalist system which is the cause for the majority of human suffering.
This masking of Capitalism as the essential problem in society was given as the reason for the rise of far-right, xenophobic populism. One audience member criticized a culture of reactionary media by claiming “racism is a rhetoric pushed by the right wing elements to hide the real problem.”
Towards the end of a passionate and thorough discourse, the opportunity for socialist activism to reach a wider audience was stressed. According to the speaker, a divide was growing between the power of the ruling class and the people as the former “in capitalist society can’t really govern the way they used to.” In frank terms, the meeting approached its conclusion with an emphatic prognosis to cure the polarization of society: “the only way to resolve this is for the working class to take power.”