In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels described the spectre of socialism haunting the world. That year was 1848. More than a century and a half later, the much-predicted spectre continues to loom large, but it is the spectre of fascism rather than that of socialism carrying the people to their graves, not dug by the gravediggers of capitalism but by the capitalists – the beneficiaries of the exchange society. The expropriators are still expropriating. “Whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism”, Horkheimer wrote, “should also keep quiet about fascism”. What is this phenomenon called fascism that is rearing its hideous head? This is especially true for Europe, but other regions are not devoid of its pernicious tendencies. Some critics label the latest variety as neo-fascism, leaving one to wonder what new could emerge from the debris of barbarism. To walk back into history, like a flaneur, let’s take a promenade into the past. Fascism started in Italy. Benito Mussolini, once a member of the Communist Party, was the first to introduce a stifling cutthroat capitalist system-corporatism devoid of all forms of democracy, any difference of opinion, formation of the workers’ unions, etc. It was the rule of a demagogue, backed by the big capital, against the working class and the declining communist upsurge. Its salient aim was to crush the ongoing class struggle; anti-Semitism was not it is other’. In the Mussolini era, Italy was not an industrially advanced country. Its northern parts were industrialized, and class struggle was rife in places like Turin, but large swathes of the south were agrarian which sided with Mussolini in his march on Rome. “Capitalism in Italy”, Gramsci reveals, “was in infancy…. free competition, the essential principle of the capitalist bourgeoisie, had not yet touched the most important aspects of national affairs… political forms were mere arbitrary superstructures – they lacked any effectiveness and achieved nothing. The seats of power were still confused and interdependent… hence there was no class state in which the principle of free competition ensured efficiency with great parties… to keep the country united, dictatorship of one man was preferred… [That was] A system of colonial domination… [which was] collapsing” (Selected Pre-Prison Writings). To rescue the collapsing system, the weak bourgeoisie co-opted with the landlords and found Mussolini as their redeemer. The weak bourgeoisie was a collaborator with the landlords and the Vatican. To rescue the collapsing system, the weak bourgeoisie co-opted with the landlords and found Mussolini as their redeemer. To integrate Italy into international capitalism, Mussolini colonized Ethiopia, in the absolute silence of the League of Nations, and added it to its other African colonies. Through colonization, Mussolini found the means to accumulate capital. German fascism had an altogether different story. With a strong industrial base, the conflict between light and heavy industry became intense. The latter wanted a quick realization of its stagnant capital through the military-industrial complex. The Marxist forces were the biggest impediment. Hence, backed by the US and the British empires, it chose fascism to crush the strong and culturally hegemonic communist current that, according to Marcuse, had become second nature to the German people to the extent that even Hitler had to use the term National Socialism to counter the communist tendencies rife in Germany. In his book, “Stars Down to Earth”, Adorno mentions the decisive role of the German nobility including Hindenburg – the then president of the German Republic – in obstructing the communists vying for power from the very beginning with the collaboration of big capital and the fascists. The anti-Semitism was not the cause but the consequence of stagnant capital facing the dilemma of loss of profit and hence devaluation. Incidentally, it was the same period of recession when American capitalism had stagnated and was looking for markets abroad. J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, General Motors, General Electric, T.W. Lamont, Standard Oil, and the Manhattan, Chase, and National City banks financed the Third Reich’s military-industrial complex. Henry Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest award Nazi Germany could give to any foreigner, in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford was a vocal anti-Semite, wrote a book against Jews, and was notorious for quashing labour unions and controlling immigrant workers. Anthony Sutton in his excellent book “Wall Street & Rise of Hitler” has revealed how the American capital profited from building the German military might. Let us see how the critics define fascism. For A.J.P. Taylor, fascism is “little more than a terrorist rule by corrupt gangsters”. It’s rather a facile and incomplete definition. For Marcuse, National Socialism or fascism “tends to become the direct government of the most powerful social groups which have conquered or abolished all the intermediary legal and political institutions that stood between their particular interests and the commonwealth. Their regime, far from suppressing him, has emancipated the human individual in his most sinister instincts and aspects. National Socialism is neither an absolutist nor a socialist nor a nihilist revolution. The New Order has a very affirmative content: to organize the most aggressive and destructive form of imperialism which the modern age has ever seen” (Technology, War & Fascism). The affirmative content of the New Order was to maintain hegemony over the subjects through consent, but the consent had an element of coercion as well. Hitler’s rhetoric, A.J.P. Taylor says, was about guns before butter but it assured the supply of butter to the people before giving them guns. The butter, the erotic freedom, and Lebensraum built a consensus among the classes and created a one-dimensional society where followers were hungry for command and restrictions. Human freedom from objectified labour, a dangerous ideal, was substituted with economic security. Fascism became a cross-class phenomenon, which it continues to be. The freedom of sexuality – the Freudian Eros – was given free rein; the public expression of libido was given official approval and patronage. “That which was formerly guarded carefully and offered to a select few behind high walls”, E.R. Pope stated, came “to life for all of us – in the nocturnal magic of Nymphenburg Park… in the scanty clothing of the muses, in the undressed freedom of beautiful figures… Those who shout exultantly, filled with the joyful enthusiasm of action and gazing, are the German youth of 1939” (Ibid). Once the hegemony was established, dominance followed. The creation of the other was a necessity, a condition for the accumulation of capital, hence Jews were selected for dispossession. “Bourgeois anti-Semitism”, Adorno says, “has a special economic purpose: it conceals domination in production” (Minima Moralia). If Hitler was prepared to exchange a hundred thousand Jews for ten thousand trucks, Roosevelt was caging his citizens of Japanese descent in concentration camps. The idea of Lebensraum was borrowed directly from the Monroe doctrine. Either was an instrument of the dominant capital to dispossess its neighbours, natives, or beyond. To be Continued The writer is an Australian-based academic and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.