50 Years Ago: Fascism and Ignorance
Once again, there is a demand that the Fascists in this country should be legally banned. This demand comes most strongly from what we can loosely call the Left Wing. A legal ban was their answer to the Fascists before the last war; they are, it seems, always wanting to ban something. It is no surprise that, as soon as the Fascists come in for some unnecessary publicity, the Left turn their attention momentarily from the bomb to the Blackshirts.
It is easy to see why the Left Wing, which mistakenly regards itself as consisting of democratic socialists, is so often eager to try to ban some other organisation’s ideas. They have always firmly embraced the idea of leadership, by which they mean leadership of the working class to some vaguely defined destination by some dubiously knowledgeable Left Wing politicians.
An essential of the leadership theory is the political ignorance of the unlucky people who are to be led. Leadership, in fact could not exist without blind and ignorant followers. The followers, reason the leaders, cannot be trusted to resist the temptations of race hate and totalitarianism. It is a waste of time to try to educate them. Like children who are kept away from a case of chicken-pox, the working class must be quarantined from the infection of fascist ideas.
Like any other favourite Left Wing theory, this one starts off on the wrong foot and never recovers from it. The working class do not need any more leaders to decide what ideas they may and may not come into contact with. Capitalism is full of leaders, pulling this way and that and all achieving nothing towards the solution of our problems. It is high time for the working class to wake up from their slumbers.
It is high time for them to get some knowledge of capitalism. They need to know how capitalism works. Why it breeds ugly and destructive ideas like Fascism. Why it can never solve its own problems. Why its leaders are powerless to staunch its course.
(From editorial, Socialist Standard, September 1962)