A class analysis of racism
Since society first became divided into classes, the ruling class of the time has used the oppression of sections of the exploited classes to maximise exploitation and reinforce its rule. Under capitalism, the oppression of women, black workers and other groups has reaped super-profits and helped ensure the reproduction of existing class relations economically, ideologically and politically – not least by fomenting or perpetuating divisions within the working class itself.
Such oppression is sustained by sets of prejudicial ideas and assumptions, for example those of sexism and racism. These ideologies apply across class boundaries, affecting members of the oppressed group in every class, although their impact is felt most severely by those in the exploited classes.
Putting an end to capitalist property relations and the exploitation of labour would remove the material basis for social oppression. No class in society would gain from the super-exploitation of any section of the working class, or have the means by which to secure it. The reorientation of priorities in production to meet the needs of the people would further reduce the scope for conflict over scarce provision, whether of jobs, housing, public services or essential goods.
The experience of socialism confirms that prejudice and discrimination on grounds of gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age etc., can survive the abolition of capitalism, at least for a period, weakened but not altogether eliminated. But socialism furnishes the material basis, and therefore the potential, to bring all forms of social oppression to an end.
With the abolition of capitalism, the most powerful forces for the perpetuation of racist, sexist, homophobic and other reactionary attitudes are disarmed, leaving the forces of socialism with the responsibility to consign them to the rubbish heap of history, promoting a culture of equal rights and liberation instead.”
The YCL Programme Britain’s Road to Socialism
The relationship between fascism and racism stems from the fact that fascist parties, movements and fascism in power often use racism and demagogy to divide the workers or scapegoat a particular section of the working class.
Comrades, fascism in power was correctly described as the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.
The most reactionary variety of fascism [was] the German type of fascism. It has the effrontery to call itself National Socialism, though it has nothing in common with socialism. German fascism is not only bourgeois nationalism, it is fiendish chauvinism. It is a government system of political gangsterism, a system of provocation and torture practised upon the working class and the revolutionary elements of the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. It is medieval barbarity and bestiality, it is unbridled aggression in relation to other nations.
German fascism [was] acting as the spearhead of international counter-revolution, as the chief instigator of imperialist war, as the initiator of a crusade against the Soviet Union, the great fatherland of the working people of the whole world.
Fascism is not a form of state power “standing above both classes — the proletariat and the bourgeoisie,”. It is not “the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie which has captured the machinery of the state,”. No, fascism is not a power standing above class, nor government of the petty bourgeoisie or the lumpen-proletariat over finance capital. Fascism is the power of finance capital itself. It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.”
Georgi Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism
Georgi Dimitrov was General Secretary of the Comintern 1934–1943, a period when the Fascist tide was on the rise all over Europe and the Communist movement had to mobilise and build alliances to defeat this most vile form of reaction. Above he describes Fascism during that period but his insights into Fascism as a ruling class tactic are still invaluable today:
With the development of the very deep economic crisis, with the general crisis of capitalism becoming sharply accentuated and the mass of working people becoming revolutionized, fascism has embarked upon a wide offensive. The ruling bourgeoisie more and more seeks salvation in fascism, with the object of taking exceptional predatory measures against the working people, preparing for an imperialist war of plunder, attacking the Soviet Union, enslaving and partitioning China, and by all these means preventing revolution.
The imperialist circles are trying to shift the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working people. That is why they need fascism.
They are trying to solve the problem of markets by enslaving the weak nations, by intensifying colonial oppression and repartitioning the world anew by means of war. That is why they need fascism.
They [were] striving to forestall the growth of the forces of revolution by smashing the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants and by undertaking a military attack against the Soviet Union — the bulwark of the world proletariat. That is why they need fascism.”
HOPE not hate mobilises everyone opposed to the British National Party’s (BNP) and English Defence League’s (EDL) politics of hate. It was formed in 2004 as a positive antidote to the BNP and has the support of the Daily Mirror, trade unions, celebrities and community groups across the country.
The YCL and the Communist Party provide a class analysis for fascism and racism in society. We struggle to expose and defeat fascism and racism in Britain and internationally.
International anti-fascist magazine. 25 years of fighting racism and fascism.