Thursday, September 07, 2006

Islamo-fascism confusions and Comintern lessons

Useful article at CJR Daily on the strange career of the term 'Islamo-fascism'. In part this is linked to the silly comparison between now and the 1930s on which I have posted earlier. But the articles referred to are lacking in any analysis of the policies of Islamic regimes. It is as silly as the use of the term 'populist' by the left to identify politicians they dislike; John Howard, Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Jeff Kennett all received this treatment. Populism is a style of government but it does not provide the content of government policies, regimes of the left such as Peronism, Langism or even PASOK in Greece are not explained by designating them populist, see Sassoon on PASOK. Fascism is more than a style of politics, it is a specific form of radical populist conservatism that sweeps aside the traditional parties of capital, but has the reluctant acquiescence of capital in doing so. Fascism uses an anti-capitalist and revolutionary demagogy to gain popular support, even if most of its support comes from the electorate of the traditional right. Georgi Dimitrov correctly highlighted fascism's appeal in his addresses to the 1935 Comintern congress he saw the success of fascists in invading the rhetorical terrain of the left and the same argument was made by Franz Neumann. Stephen Schwarz at least sees that fascism has a relation to conservatism, but then seeks to distinguish it on the grounds that it replaces ruling elites, but fascism replaces the political elites not the economic ones. Katha Pollitt is better and highlights the modernising nature of the fascist regimes of the 1930s in contrast to fundamentalism. I would go further fascist ideology was not just uniforms they had a fairly coherent model of economic management based on Listian autarky as Michael Mann argues, Islamic fundamentalism has no program of disengagement from the capitalist world economy. Perhaps the major similarity between fascism and Islamic fundamentalism is that they are both in part the results of the failures of the left, something which Dimitrov did see. But even if fundamentalism and fascism are distinct they are both forms of populist conservatism. Similar tactical points arise: how to turn the ideology of the regime against it, how to use its rhetoric strategically, Palmiro Togliatti is good on this. Why do even 1930s Stalinists like Dimitrov and Togliatti show more insight than the contemporary revolutionary left?


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