The Rise of Fascism in Europe

The ever-widening gap between the elites and masses continues to cause problems for us all. Where oil barons profit from burning fossil fuels that lead to rising coastlines and then safely retreat to their in-land luxury penthouses once regions become uninhabitable, the poor struggle to recover life earnings from tropical storms. While the vast majority of Britons search for the means to heat their homes, aristocrats use tax-payer money to pay for an imperialist’s funeral. Problems once thought to have been eradicated from the world find themselves appearing again: the rise of fascists in Europe.

The West often holds itself as the bastion of freedom of democracy, labeling communist or one-party states as authoritarian while being the external force that sanctions these states into famines and conflicts. Yet even its own population is beginning to recognize the hypocrisy of their governments, as recent events find the Western world on the brink of ushering in an era of right-wing governments and extremist movements. In France last spring, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen may have lost her election against incumbent Emmanuel Macron, but her National Rally party won a sizable portion of parliament seats — certainly more than enough to thwart any remotely progressive plan Macron has to offer. Eastward, Poland is on a trail of regressive policies with the state being the most restrictive in Europe in terms of women’s reproductive rights. With near-total abortion bans, women struggle to find abortion providers even in the case of rape or incest. The country, which currently functions as a refugee site for displaced Ukrainians, also forces women who have experienced wartime rape to escape Poland in order to access abortion. Domestically, the same pattern holds, where over a year ago former President Trump incited a mob to attack the Capitol. On top of that, abortion rights have been revoked in 13 states and other civil liberties face similar threats. Yet Democrats and other elites have barely taken any step to curb the fascist movement. Why is that? It is not that they are unaware of the far-right’s rise to prominence, as nearly all of their rhetoric centers around ‘saving democracy’.

The problem is that we are ruled by elites, and elites only serve elite interests. To look at the source of the issue, we have to identify what they care about most: capital. Capital refers to the social relation where wage-labor produces profit for the elites with capitalists being those who own the means of production and exploit workers for profit. To make profit, capitalists must first create a market, have workers create commodities for the market, and then expropriate those commodities from the laborer. This is called commodity fetishism, and it serves to distinguish a commodity, let us say an iPhone, from the person who labored to create it. By separating the laborer from the product, the cruel nature of capitalism is allowed to function because consumers like you and I are removed from seeing the exploitation behind it. So what does this have to do with fascism? Well, fascism and capitalism go hand-in-hand, and more often than not, capitalists will defend fascism for the sake of capital.

Let us look at the case of abortion in the U.S. For years, Republicans have been undermining the pro-choice cause and to many, it seems that the Democrats have done nothing about it. This is because ultimately, Republicans and Democrats work for the elite alike, and the reversal of abortion rights is a bipartisan movement to expropriate the commodities of labor and children from women’s bodies. 

Our country has been facing a labor shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a million people succumbed to the virus and as a result, workers are no longer tolerating the horrendous conditions they have been forced under for decades. Unions are popping up across the nation and workers are creating better conditions for themselves. This threatens profit motives so elites must create a condition to curb it. They do so by forcing women into childbirth. For one, having children creates incentives for people to work longer hours as an extra mouth to feed is a drain on savings. Secondly, a boom in live births will eventually fill up the shortage of missing workers. Thirdly, and most importantly, childbirth more often than not forces women back into the home. Women have already made up the majority of layoffs in the beginning of the pandemic and experts estimate that one out of four women reported being unemployed due to the pandemic — twice the rate compared to men. Patriarchal standards enforce the idea that women must be the one to keep the private sphere going, so more women are going to quit.  Ultimately, a system is engineered where women are working regardless — caring for a child on top of being a full-time cleaner and cook — with no pay, whereas the man in the household (using heteronormative terminology) works extra hours to compensate for the loss. Here, labor is expropriated from women for free, and the product of labor — a healthy baby and a tidy household — serves as a platform for the man to conduct his labor on, creating a worker-employee relationship where a capitalist can receive all of this for the price of the man’s labor alone. Think this is a bit too conspiratorial? History shows evidence of this cycle in the past. During the 15th century after the massive labor shortage from the Black Death, the cycle of feudalism came to an end. Western Europe experienced the state of primitive accumulation — a state where capitalism was not fully-fledged but the beginnings of violence and destruction still impacted many. Women, who had more rights under the feudal movement, were relegated to the home in order to reproduce for fledgling capitalists. This is known as the great historic defeat for women. Historically, civil rights will always be curbed if it means protecting capital interests.

Elites have been colluding across borders for decades to create this condition for the sake of capital. Fascism is capitalism at its final stage, and capitalists often choose to let it fester rather than jeopardize their sources of income. And contrary to expectations, fascists always claim to be for the people. It is part of their appeal. Much of the Nazi’s rhetoric, for example, was about the common man. Yet they are almost always funded by elites. As author Vincent Bevins wrote in his book, The Jakarta Method, Nazi Germany was partially funded by Texaco executives who wanted a quick buck. In fact, a lot of elites fund fascism right up until it threatens their capital interests. In the 20th century, Cuban history involved a brutal dictator named Fulgencio Batista, who, being completely backed by U.S. elites, maintained a dictatorship in order to exploit Cuba’s sugar monocrop for his superiors. Indonesia and Chile suffered from genocidal massacres against left-wing parties in which thousands died to ensure the West’s ability to profit off of them. Nearly a quarter of Bali’s population was massacred as Indonesia’s internal warfare spilled across borders from the conflict. Brazil had all of its left-wing parties infiltrated and eradicated by reactionary U.S-backed right-wing parties. Domestically, union-busting has only intensified since the beginning of the 20th century. And now, we are seeing the result of these left-wing extermination policies at home and abroad. In Italy, where left-wing parties were also destroyed and left in ruins, the recent win of ultra-conservative Giorgia Meloni signifies that the country has only fascists and populists remaining. Capitalists will always prioritize their interests over democracy and now this disregard is showing its effects. 

This is not to say the global situation is hopeless. On the other side of the world, Latin America is in the midst of a pink wave. In Brazil, a run-off election between the left-wing Lula and the right-wing incumbent Bolsonaro will happen by the end of October, with Lula taking the lead in the first round of elections. Should Lula emerge victorious, he will be the head of the sixth left-leaning government in Latin America. The other five — Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia — continue to make progressive advancements. Just last month, Cubans voted in a referendum that completely abolished the patriarchal nuclear family structure. The new family code does not just establish rights for same-sex couples (a win against heteronormativity), but also encourages fluid, multi-generational household dynamics by enshrining elder and extended family guardianship rights to help children escape abusive households, often inflicted by immediate family members. On top of that, it provides fathers with rights that were previously exclusively the mothers. It also recognizes that women cover most of the responsibilities in a household and aims to correct this uneven distribution. Essentially, this is the most progressive social policy the world has seen in a long time. While the U.S. reverses women’s right to choose and same-sex marriage is on the line, Cubans have decided for themselves in a referendum with over 74% turnout (compared to the 66.9% turnout in the 2020 U.S. presidential election) that a family is made up of the people we love and care for, not just the people tied to us by blood and has changed the law to reflect that.

The Cuban people have shown a progressive world is possible for us all. Through decades of revolutionary activism along with active participation in voting from the nation’s citizens, Cuba has fostered a communal and democratic state that strives for the common good, not just the elite minority’s interests. The country has given us a glimpse on achieving what was once thought to be impossible, and shows us that power can lie in the hands of the people. What we need, now more than ever, is to unite to make it happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.