1920s >> 1925 >> no-248-april-1925

The red herring of anti-fascism

We have been asked by the “National Union for Combating Fascism” to sell their literature, including a monthly journal miscalled “The Clear Light.” We certainly do not intend to do so.

The February issue alone is sufficient condemnation of the Union. They describe themselves as revolutionary Socialists; a claim which is directly negatived by an hysterical 1,000 words of obscurity which appear as their manifesto. They reject the British Communists, but accept their anti-Marxist theory, according to which capitalism will in some mysterious way “collapse.” Thus on page 1 we are told that ”The day is dawning when the onus of choice will be flung upon the masses. . . .” But on page 2 we find that the workers “must be prepared … to overthrow the existing order.” No one explains why the workers need organise to overthrow something which is going to collapse from its own weakness. They are sure that capitalism is weak, the proof being “its greater readiness to resort to Brute Force.” In fact, as even the Communists have come to perceive, capitalism is stronger now than at any. time this century, and does any serious student really believe that American capitalism is weaker than capitalism in England because its methods in home affairs are so much more brutal? Lack of experience and training, not weakness, explain this brutality. The American plutocracy has much to learn from our own more skilful ruling class.

The N.U.C.F. make the idiotic assertion that there are in Great Britain hundreds of thousands of “revolutionary Socialists” accepting the doctrines set out by Marx and Engels in the Communist manifesto. Why these hundreds of thousands do not organise into a Socialist party and why they refrain from expressing their views at the ballot-box are mysteries upon which a clear light might well be turned.

The editors are apparently not of the working class, but are some more of the insolent and ignorant superior people who will show us how it is to be done. “Let us unite, let us prepare the masses, the poor victims of the old order,” is their modest programme.

They take pride in their “simple, clean, direct open light without hesitation and without compromise.” But, like Humpty Dumpty, when they use a word it means just precisely what they want it to mean. “No compromise” means ”Let all sections of the Movement hoist the white flag of truce between comrades.”

Let us “provide a rallying point for the progressives of all shades of Labour, Socialist, Communist and Anarchist opinion. …” The notion of an organisation of Labour – Socialist – Communist – Anarchist- Progressives is one for ribald mirth, and the imagination simply refuses to conceive of the kind of ”simple, clean, direct open fight” it would carry on. The Union thinks that ”the advocacy of violence is reactionary.” This is a curious declaration to be signed by anarchists and members of the S.D.F. and the Labour Party, for the only fight we remember them engaging in was the capitalist war of 1914, when they were of the opinion that violence on behalf of King Capital was the duty of the working class. We as Socialists are not prepared to compromise our opposition to defenders of capitalism masquerading as Labour parties, and we do not wish to obscure a plain issue by associating with members of anti-Socialist bodies.

The so-called Fascist danger is largely imaginary and not at all new. Capitalist violence is as old as capitalism, and the requirements of a Socialist policy have not been changed by the Mussolini episode. Fascist organisation in England can manage to exist mainly because unstable persons take them seriously and organise against them. Behind the rank and file of sincere but panicky people who join these freak parties, whether nominally “advanced” or “reactionary,” are usually to be found numerous job-hunters moved by an itch to lay hands on donations and subscriptions. We need not discriminate between the personalities of the N.U.C.F., for as regards possible harm to the cause of Socialism there never was much to choose between the unscrupulous and the foggy-minded.​


(Socialist Standard, April 1925)

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