The editors further maintain that, historically, fascism has come to power not as a majority but as a significant minority, and it came to power in spite of being a minority through cooperation of the judiciary sector, elimination of the opposition, and the tacit consent of a middle sector that is opposed to the leftwing alternative. They maintain that these factors were present in the parliamentary-judiciary-media coup d’état against Lula and Dilma (see “The ultra-Right wins in Brazil” 11/26/2018).
The Argentinian economist Claudio Katz, however, maintains that the various manifestations of the ultra-Right in the world today are different from classical fascism, in that they embrace economic neoliberalism rather than the economic nationalism of classical fascism. “All the variants of the global ultra-right [today] share the same combination of neoliberalism with xenophobia. That is why they reject immigration but accept the continued global circulation of capital and goods. They are chauvinists fascinated by the market who reject the protectionism of their predecessors.” He maintains that conditions in the world today are pointing to the emergence of a new form of fascism, “neoliberal fascism.”
Such a neoliberal fascism, in Brazil or any nation in the semiperipheral and peripheral zones of the world-economy, would involve the eclipse of any national development project that represents the interests of the national bourgeoisie; for it would involve the complete subordination of national productivity, commerce, and finance to international capital. Such subordination indeed has been the tendency in the semiperiphery and periphery since 1980. Elites of the periphery and semi-periphery can adjust to this turn away from autonomous national economic development, if they adapt by reconverting their investment to financial capital and international corporations. Although there is some resistance, the elite can adapt to neoliberal fascism in the semiperiphery/periphery.
However, for popular sectors of the periphery and semiperiphery, reaction to neoliberal policies takes a different form. Inasmuch as neoliberal priority to international capital generally has negative effects on urban and rural employment and on the standard of living of the people, the global neoliberal project has given rise since the 1990s to progressive social movements. In Latin America, the renewal of the social movements led to progressive and socialist governments, now under counterattack by the Latin American Right. Ultimately, the restauration of the neoliberal project in Latin America would require repression of the awakened popular classes, which could be accomplished through control of the military and police forces by the executive branch, and the subordination of the parliament to these bodies of force. Such then are the basic characteristics of the emerging neoliberal fascism in the semi-peripheral and peripheral zones: subordination to imperialist neocolonial powers and to international capital, adaptation of elites to such subordination, the increasing militarization of the state, the repression of social movements and the people; and manipulation of the media of communication.
In my last post (“The ultra-Right wins in Brazil” 11/26/2018), I wrote of the possibility of neoliberal fascism in Brazil and elsewhere, although with different terminology. I suggested the possibility of an alliance in Brazil between the Right (committed to neoliberalism) and the ultra-Right (characterized xenophobia and repression and represented by Bolsonaro). I maintained that such a turn by the Right to the ultra-Right is a possibility, because the Right has no project to offer for the benefit of the nation and the people; it only returns to the anti-national and anti-popular neoliberalism of the 1980s. The Right, therefore, will be rejected by the people, as occurred from 1994 to 2014. The politicians of the Right can only maintain themselves in power by turning to the ultra-Right. That is, by abandoning the pretense to democracy and turning to repression of social movements, with the support of a fascist minority formed by the scapegoating of the marginal, the political errors of the Left, and the media distortions of the alternative proposal of the Left.
In contrast to the semiperipheral and peripheral zones, the ultra-Right in the USA can embrace economic nationalism. Neoliberalism since 1980 has been implemented only partially in the core. In the neoliberal creed, the nations of the semi-periphery and periphery do not have the right to intervene in the market to protect their national economies, but the global powers do. Accordingly, Trump’s economic nationalism is fully consistent, in practical terms, with Brazilian neoliberalism and subordination to international capital and with the historic intentions of U.S. imperialism in Latin America.
Trump’s economic nationalism provokes much resistance in the U.S. power elite, because many sectors of the industrial elite have made their adjustments to U.S. deindustrialization during the last twenty-five years, through investments in peripheral manufacturing and finance capital. So there is a civil war within the U.S. power elite, with many castigating Trump for his refusal to accept the rules of a world-system dominated by international capital, transnational corporations, a manipulated international media of communication, and the myths of representative democracy. Trump, on the other hand, discerns the popular dissatisfaction with representative democracy and the relative economic decline of the USA, and he seeks to obtain popular support for a militarist economic nationalism through the scapegoating of the marginal. That is to say, Trump seeks to revive the fortunes of the declining hegemonic neocolonial power with a turn toward a new form of fascism.
The profound contradictions of the world-system began to be evident in the 1960s and 1970s. As they became evident, the global elite turned to the Right, which only deepened the contradictions. Now, showing signs of a move to the ultra-Right or neoliberal neofascism, the world-system is exposing its true character. From a scientific vantage point based in the perspective of the colonized, we are able to see its essence as a system established on a foundation of force, conquest, slavery, and colonialism, which evolved to a neocolonial world-system, with apparent but not real forms of democracy. For us, it is hardly surprising that, in its hour of profound structural crisis, the world-system would return to its roots, shedding its democratic masque and revealing its hidden essence of force and domination, trademarks of fascism.
In making clear its true character, the world-system demonstrates the only possible road for humanity. The movements of the Left in the North must develop a more global and historical consciousness, and form political parties that educate the people, explaining the colonial and repressive character of the world-system. The Left in the North must develop alternative political parties that educate the people toward rejection of the Right and the ultra-Right, toward an anti-fascism that also sees the repressive character of “representative democracy,” and toward cooperation with the neocolonized peoples of the world in the development of a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system.
Editors. “Interrogating the Bolsonaro Era.” New Cold War (November 17, 2018).
Katz, Claudio. “Interrogating the Bolsonaro Era,” New Cold War (November 17, 2018).