[Marxism] Far Right

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri Jun 25 02:25:17 MDT 2004


Rob wrote:

 The fact remains that the core of the organised working class clearly did not vote Nazi, as their traditional party's vote held up (my original point).  As the 30+% vote that the Nazi's got was not form the 30+% of the population (overwhelmingly working class) who still voted red, there must have been more than `some' middle class people who voted Nazi.

Me:

I think you are basically correct there. However, "the working class" doesn't simply consist of the stereo-typical blue-collar factory workers, at least if you define working class as all those outside the professional classes who, lacking other means, depend on a wage or salary for an income.

Rob:

You seem not to understand my point about the fact that 90+% of workers voted against the Nazis in the delegates elections for the Nazi unions.  The point is that, when the Nazis had triumphed, when the workers' parties had failed the test and been destroyed, when you would have expected the workers to be utterly demoralised and open as never before to Nazi propaganda (especially now that it was all pervasive and unchallenged) they didn't vote for them.  Show me a similar indice of middle class opposition and I'll eat my modum.

Me:

I am well aware of your point. In fact workers' anti-Nazi resistance (including even some strikes) continued through the 1930s and even during the 1940s (although by that time it became much more difficult and mostly went underground).

Rob:

Finally, you say that the far right is not important and we should devote our energy to the mainstream parties.  That you couldn't see the point of a demo confronting the far right.  First, the two aren't counterposed.  The mainstream right uses the far right as a cover.  They can slide rightwards and spout racist filth because the likes of Le Pen etc make it legitimate.  Here in Australia, the demonstrations against Pauline Hanson transformed a situation where she was being treated in the press as a legitimate politician to one where she was seen as a disruptive and extreme figure.  I would argue that was the beginning of her downfall.

Me:

No, that is not what I am saying and if you read what I said you will see that. Of course developments on the far right of the political spectrum are significant and you have to keep an eye on them. But certainly in Holland the far right isn't all that significant, quantitatively and politically, and they don't get much of a chance, whereas the pieces of legislation which make life much tougher than need be for immigrants were approved by the liberal-conservative, christian democrat and social democrat party leaderships. 

Rob:

I think its a bit hard on poor Ernie to blame unnamed deficiencies in his analysis of fascism for the rise of the Vlaams Blok.  To the extent that he shares complicity (along with the rest of us) for the failure of the far left to build mass organisations (which could provide a fighting alternative current to resist neo-liberalism, uncercutting the appeal of fascism & right wing populism etc etc) he might have something to answer for.  I'll leave it to someone else to argue with you about open borders, as I've already gone on too long.

Me:

Of course I am not blaming the rise of Vlaams Blok on Ernest Mandel's "deficient analysis of fascism". That's ridiculous. Mandel actually reported to a Belgian government commission of inquiry into the history of Nazi occupation in Belgium. Point was that in Belgium, unlike Holland, part of the established parties including social democrats and some trade unionists supported or collaborated with the Nazis. This was something which Ernest as a 20-something working with Abram Leon/Wainstock was trying to explain, i.e. he was trying to explain the evolution of political and class consciousness in Belgium. Ernest was a resolute opponent of fascism and wrote a lot about it, gave speeches and talks on it. No one can say he didn't do his bit there. But there is a sense I think in which he didn't *politically* come to grips with Belgian culture in some important respects, and his political analyses of what you needed to actually do to build a new radical organisation just did not result in any substantial party with lasting influence. He had very significant political-ideological influence on the Belgian Left for two decades or more but it did not lead to very significant organisational gains. I think one of the problems was that the Trotskyists sought to impose old models on a new situation, or sought to assimiliate the new situation to old models. But the last word about all that will come from Jan-Willem Stutje who's working on a biography of Ernest. 

I will pursue the open borders issue at some stage in the future.

Jurriaan








More information about the Marxism mailing list