[In the fast changing international scenario during the post- second world war days, and the closely interlinked national scenario in India where the ruling Indian bourgeoisie was keen to consolidate its capitalist state structure and economy of the newly independent sovereign state, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the Founder General Secretary of the revolutionary Party of India, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) and one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of the post–Lenin era, presented his invaluable observations and analyses on different issues. One such was fascism which had developed in the post-second world war days as a unique phenomenon in the capitalist- imperialist world. Here, on the occasion of the 5th August 2016, the 40th Memorial Day of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, great leader of the proletariat, we are publishing some excerpts from his analyses and observations on fascism. Their relevance these days will amply attest to not just the depth and penetrability of those teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, but also to their invincibility and the foresight of the great leader and teacher. The excerpts are from online editions of different sources and arranged thematically without any chronological arrangement – Ed. Board, Proletarian Era] [Emphasis in bold fonts ours; emphasis in italics original].
“In fine, the second world war has, to the discomfiture of the capitalist-imperialists, deepened the general crisis of the world capitalist economy further … owing to the new economic conditions obtaining …
“The powerful capitalist countries have taken to militarized economy and centralization of capital to get out of the crisis of overproduction, excess capital and the market, whereas the backward capitalist countries are after concentration of capital and planning in order to achieve rapid industrial development, catch up with the powerful capitalist countries and emerge as their strong competitors in the foreign market. But, all the same, both the advanced and the backward capitalist countries are thereby laying the economic base of fascism.
“Fascism is a historically conditioned form of counter-revolution in which capitalism seeks to stave off revolution by an anticipatory move. It is designed to save the crisis-ridden, chaos-discredited capitalist order from collapse in the face of mounting dissatisfaction of the people against the existing system. In a definite conjuncture of circumstances, when the normal form of its economic organization, political institution and administrative apparatus fails to cope with the mounting capitalist crisis, when it becomes next to impossible to maintain any amount of stability of market and earn maximum profit, when the masses of the people, hard-hit by insecurity in life owing to crisis, feel the necessity for change in the existing conditions, the bourgeoisie, in order to maintain the most effective operation of the basic law of maximum profit of the capitalist economy under the circumstances, throws aside all veils from class dictatorship which parliamentary democracy puts on. These historical conditions impart to fascism some common characteristics which are its distinguishing features. They are mainly economic centralization, maximum concentration of political power in the state, rigid firmness in administration—all this leading to more and more identification of the interest of the monopolists with that of the state—and cultural regimentation.” [from Call of the Hour, p. 3, 8-9]
“Since the introduction of bourgeois democratic system in our country, cultivation of spiritualism and supernaturalism in various forms has been in full swing in all quarters. Every one has surely observed the increase and extensiveness of community worships, religious processions, religious meetings and discussions on the occasions of birth and death anniversaries of the Prophets. … knowing full well that the ancient times cannot be brought back, the old ideas of chastity and Hindu womanhood are being upheld as true ideals and support is being mustered around it. Where lies the difference between this call of becoming a superstitious “ideal housewife” and Hitler’s “Go back to the kitchen and be a good mother?” These attempts for combining religion with politics, …. are helping the dissemination of spiritual beliefs and various supernatural ideas opposed to rationalism. …
“On the one hand, because of the objective necessity for the growth of productive forces and military might of the capitalist society, the technological aspects of science are being cultivated, and, on the other hand, in the various fields of thoughts and ideas, supernaturalism, theism, dualism and various other idealistic philosophies opposed to rationalism and based on the ‘theory of belief’ are being fostered. The simultaneous application of science in the technological development and cultivation of spiritualism in every field of human thought, such as art, literature and values, etc., definitely carry indication of the growth of all-out fascism in our country. In my opinion, “in the fields of philosophy and culture, fascism is a peculiar fusion of modern science and spiritualism.” [from Crisis in Culture, and Fascism, p.5]
“The essence of all religion is blind faith in personified or abstract supernatural forces exercising control over worldly things and events. Since scientific reasoning strikes at the root of this blind faith, the bourgeoisie in our country like everywhere else have lost their past progressive role and have turned themselves into protagonists of spiritualism today.
The exploiters and the ruling class always conspire to dupe people with the opium of religion in order to prevent them from correctly diagnosing the cause of their present exploitation and becoming conscious of the laws of development and social progress. So, the fascists also have no other alternative than to preach spiritualism for keeping this blind faith in religion alive. “Doctrine beautifully defined and carefully elucidated with headlines and paragraphs might be lacking but something was to take its place, something more decisive – Faith” – which tone was reflected in these words of Mussolini is, in the main, also being echoed by the bourgeois leaders and cultural protagonists of our country… [from Crisis in Culture, and Fascism, p.7].
“It has become the main characteristic feature of the neo-fascist culture in our country to go on spreading all bourgeois and petit-bourgeois evil ideas, like the theory of absolutism about the nature of the state, the principle of class-collaboration and cooperation between mutually conflicting classes instead of class struggle, virtual denial of the proletarian internationalism in the name of universal humanism, propagation of national chauvinism and above all cult of revivalism on the plea of national tradition. As they are fully aware of the dictum that “the more the blindness, the more the fanaticism”, the bourgeoisie are trying their utmost through the cultural movements to build up the sense of blind submission and discipline in the name of restraint, peace and order…
“Without these, the development of all-out fascism is impossible in any country. This is because blind obedience, sense of mechanical discipline and prejudices of all sorts are the foundation of fascism. In our country, the desire and mentality for free discussions, debates and exchange of views are fast disappearing from all walks of national life. In all controversial issues — either a boastful arrogance and big-power chauvinism or the same old theory of belief is being harped on.” [ from Crisis in Culture, and Fascism, p.5-6]
“Fascist culture is thus a queer admixture of scientific or truthful and illusory elements…… The aim is to turn the mental process of the people from the scientific path of causality to the mystic alley of blind faith, preconception and obscurantism, ultimately developing contempt for social action… As such, non-class or supra-class ideas dominate the fascist culture.” [from Call of the Hour, p.10-11]
“Fascism is a peculiar fusion of spiritualism and science. The adoption of the technological aspect of science in its bid to develop the economic and military might of the fascist state and the dishing out of all sorts of anti-science religious fads and idealistic jugglery as the panacea for all the ills that are the concomitant evils of the exploiting capitalist system and the present society, go together in the name of national culture and heritage.” [from Call of the Hour, p.10]
“National jingoism has always been a powerful instrument in the hands of the bourgeoisie to poison the mass mind against the ideology of class struggle and proletarian internationalism… Patriotism of the masses has no conflict with the ideology of proletarian internationa-lism; rather without being an upholder of the ideology of proletarian internationalism, one cannot be truly patriotic today. But reactionary bourgeois nationalism is incompatible with the ideology of proletarian internationalism… So fascism can ill-afford to tolerate the real patriotic feelings of people.
“…fascism bases itself on nationalism, class harmony and the so-called need for union of all classes as also on hostility to all non-nationalistic socialism, especially to communism. Social democracy, on these points, hardly differs from fascism. Before the rise of fascism, social democracy had propagated these very ideas and thereby prepared the ground for fascism. In conclusion, fascism grew and developed in the womb of social democratism. If it was true in the prewar days, it is thousand times more true now. Because, social democracy is the last prop of capitalism in the present era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. And we have shown that fascism has become the order in all the capitalist countries now. The two now have fused together. Fascism is entrenching itself through social democratic plans and programmes.” [from Call of the Hour, p. 11, 12]
“There are some people who regard the severe repressive nature of administration, any dictatorship as fascism. …there is torture and repression in every anti-people administrative system, … But fascism is more devastating than that. Mere repression cannot do so much harm to a country. But fascism is an all-out counter-revolutionary upsurge. On the one hand, it destroys the process of rational thinking in people, makes them self-centred, makes knowledge, learning and education technology-oriented, that is, it engenders a group of technocrats in the country who have completely abandoned all sorts of human values, who have no sense of responsibility towards people and society, to whom employment and wage slavery are simply everything, and who are ready to do anything and everything in exchange of money – and in this direction they channelize the cultivation of science and learning. On the other hand, fascism fosters all sorts of spiritualism, age-old superstitions, irrational mindset and blindness. Fascism is a peculiar fusion of spiritualism, obscurantism and irrational bent of mind with the technological aspects of science. When this happens in a country the reasoning faculty itself dies out in the country. … To make man fanatic with the poison of national chauvinism, on the one hand, and, on the other, to foster out-dated traditionalism while raising vague slogans of socialism, revolution and progress — if all these three can be combined, then the ground for ascent of fascism is ready in a country. It should be borne in mind that the ruling bourgeois class after having misled the intelligentsia succeeds in masterfully combining these three things then only, when the mindset for carrying on mutual discussions on the basis of reason and logic really ceases to exist in society. This provides the golden opportunity for fascism to rise… It is for this, therefore, that a struggle against irrational mindset is necessary, that an environment for cultivation of knowledge, science and history, of dialogue, discussion and polemics, of criticism of each others’ views, is essential. Alone if such an environment prevails, will it become truly difficult for parties wedded to the exploiting class to make inroads amongst the masses. …
“I need to draw your attention to the serious question of the crisis in ethics and morality. It is true that the food crisis in the country is intensifying, the price of essential commodities is increasing, industrialization is not taking place, unemployment is on the rise and there is shortage of electricity. All of us are getting extremely angry over all these problems. But what is of greater concern and more damaging than this is the severe crisis that has appeared in our social life as a result of the fast decline in ethics and morality and the accentuating irrational bent of mind. It should be borne in mind that however much might be the torment of want and oppression — a nation cannot be crushed by that. The British kept us subjugated for nearly two hundred years but they could not destroy the entire nation. The USA has turned Vietnam into a veritable desert by extensive and indiscriminate bombing, day after day, and forced the people there to live in underground shelters but could not crush the backbone of the whole nation. But are the rulers of our country creating economic misery only? The arguments with which they justify their unjust acts and ask the people to support them; the way the police openly tramples the laws every day, and the way the political leaders and administrators give indulgence to such conduct of the police; and what is more, if irrational mentality has reached such a level that even the youth of the country do not want to see reason, behave indecently in public and elderly people too remain silent on seeing it; moreover, if there is so much lack of tolerance for the opinion of others among the people of all strata of society – then what does all this prove? Does it prove that we are merely starving and suffering from want? Rather, does it not prove also that our moral backbone is getting shattered? Remember, a nation can stand erect even if it goes hungry, can conduct struggle even without food, if it possess higher human attributes. But if fascism takes root very few will remain in the country worthy to be called man. Because, fascism creates hindrance in the man-making process. [from Fascism and Moral Ethical Crisis in Left, Democratic Movement, p.14-5, 17-8]
“…it (Fascism) has assumed different forms in different countries to suit the local conditions. Somewhere it has adopted the form of individual dictatorship, somewhere the autocratic rule of a military junta and yet in some other countries it has assumed the democratic garb, keeping the parliament still alive but limiting its power by way of economic and political centralization. The appearance of fascism in a ‘democratic’ form through the two-party parliamentary system of government is certainly a post-war social phenomenon, having no historical precedent. Because of its seemingly democratic appearance it is, at the same time, the most deceptive.
“Fascism always and everywhere adopts a dual policy of suppression and persuasion or deception. Its aim is not so much to ruthlessly suppress the mass force as to win it over to its side as volunteers who will be willing to carry out the fascist plans and programmes for ‘national reconstruction’. Without a cooperating mass force at its back, fascism can hardly hold its sway. Fascism, therefore, adopts social democratic plans, grants minor economic concessions to the people, tries to control anarchy in the capitalist economy and the insecurity in life flowing therefrom like unemployment, etc. … In short, a fascist state takes the position of a so-called bourgeois welfare state. Along with these so-called welfare measures, it carries relentless ideological battles to weed out the revolutionary ideas. And when the unconscious masses take these measures to be anti-capitalist and pro-people and lend the fascists an enthusiastic support in the carrying out of their plans and programmes, the fascists concentrate all their powers to exterminate communism spiritually and the communists physically. In its crusade against communism fascism advocates its own fascistic culture, a queer admixture of social democratism, national jingoism and mysticism.
“It is often argued that the danger of fascism comes from the right reaction. If by right reaction is meant social democracy then we do not see any error in this formulation. But the term right reaction is not being used in this sense; it is being used to mean conservatism. At least in our country this is the current connotation of the term… fascism requires mass back-ing for its growth and development. It is impossible to have the support of the people unless their imagination can be captured and sentiments won over. Conservatism has nothing to offer to people to drag them towards itself. It is the outmoded outlook of the discredited class or a section of the class and is hated by the toiling millions for its open and blunt advocacy for the vested interests and their old privileges. To capture the imagination of people and enlist their voluntary support is needed a relatively radical programme containing socialistic promises to the people and patriotic platitudes, which social democracy furnishes. In fact, it is not conservatism but social democracy that has the potential danger of fascism in it.” [from Call of the Hour, p.9, 10, 11-12]
“Although outwardly there appear to be many opposing forces in politics, … but viewing the situation from the context of ultimate struggle, I hold, only two contending forces are there in politics — one for revolution, the other opposing revolution — in whatever nomenclature might it be posed. One is the politics of countering revolution, … And the other is the politics of organizing revolution.
This politics of opposing revolution has paved the road to usher in fascism — whether consciously or unconsciously, unknowingly, just as the intellectuals, youth and students in Italy and Germany objectively helped in installation of fascism, forgetting their heritage. They did not usher in fascism knowingly. Confused and duped by Hitler’s fake progressive slogans and his hoax of national socialism, and Mussolini’s deceit of democratic socialism, nationalization and social welfare measures, the intellectuals, students and youth of Germany and Italy objectively strengthened fascism. They sold out their conscience to the money power of the monopolists. In flocks they got enlisted in the troops of Nazi hooligans. They did not have any prick of conscience. Just see, Germany, that once stood out in the whole of Europe as a powerful nation with all-round great heritage in education, culture, cultivation of knowledge and science, industrial advancement and working class movement, is discredited and divided today owing it to Nazism. Its earlier prestige in the world community stands no more. What havoc and harm has Nazism wreaked on Germany and the world at large, which people around the globe have condemned in one voice, calling it the worst enemy of humanity! But when fascism came in Italy and Germany, it came in a cloak of deceit spreading illusion. It came, hiding itself behind the smokescreen of confusing slogans of progress and socialism.” [from Mass movement in India and Tasks of the Youth, p.2,3]
Call of the Hour: First published in June 1962 in Socialist Unity, the then English organ of the Party: quoted from Selected Works, vol. II., Online edition.
Crisis in Culture, and Fascism: Article published in 1957 in Ganadabi : from SW, vol.IV, Online edition.
Fascism and Moral Ethical Crisis in Left, Democratic Move-ment : Speech on April 24, 1973, Foundation Anniversary of party. First published in Bengali on May 30, 1973 from SW, vol.IV, Online edition
Mass movement in India and Tasks of the Youth: Speech on June 21, 1975; first published 24 June , 1975: from SW, vol.III. Online edition.