Switzerland is a picture-perfect mountain state in the centre of Europe.
Why the ideology of antifascism is serving the aims of counterinsurgency in Switzerland is easy to explain. Antifascism in Switzerland is state doctrine in this country, since the second world war. Faced with the threat of invasion by Nazi Germany, the right wing and liberal parties of Switzerland formed a unity government with the Social Democrats. This unity government adopted a doctrine for – what they called - the spirtual defence of the nation – And this unity Government of right and left-wing parties is - in changing composition – but still - up until today ruling the country without any opposition.
Switzerland is an imperialist, a corporatist and protectionist, postfascist state. It is a country in which the native population have been promoted to be foreworkers of capital in command of migrant labour. These predominantly Swiss foremen live in relatively safe and well-paid conditions. While the material base of this lifestyle is being paid for by the world’s downtrodden masses.
I am a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. Our Fellow Workers suffered serious workplace accidents at the shop floor in a brand-new biochemical plant, built by the multinational American firm Biogen in Switzerland. Fellow Workers suffered burns from chemicals and machinery they must clean while in operation. I saw pictures of Fellow Workers leaving shift bleeding out of their ears and noses. They were not allowed to see a doctor present on the premises. They were not allowed to drink water from the company fountains. They had to work without a guaranteed weekend off, in i believe, 13-hour shiftwork with heavy equipment. When our fellow workers see a Swiss person at work, it is a boss. Such are the conditions of work in the dreamland of the world’s ordo-liberal right wing.
Over this situation the Swiss left is pouring out its bad conscience while they pity us migrants. Arguing that we as a class should vote for this or that party of bootlickers, for us to avoid what they call fascism or the extreme right. All the while our comrades are right now in a struggle before court in the old Swiss City of Basel. The city where the headquarters of companies such as Syngenta and Novartis are located. Because one Fellow Worker told the press about the working conditions in the plant whilst standing on company premises, he was victimised. In Switzerland speaking to the public at the workplace is forbidden by law.
A federation of base unions including the I.W.W. is suing against this victimisation The lawyers engaged by the Multinational Biogen and its subcontractors – against the I.W.W., are offspring of the old white ruling class patriciate family Burkhardt of Basel. This fine bourgeoise family is dating back its rule right to the European Renaissance anno 1490. And this I want to tell you, the xenophobic and class war campaigns of the political right wing are a tool, not against immigration per se, but to keep us disenfranchised, not only before the law, but in everyday life. After all, they want us migrants here. Disciplined and working.
This anti-social behaviour within the ranks of our class, this narcissistic self-indulgence, while we as a human species right now are increasingly facing the catastrophe of all of society, is not just a privilege of the right wing. You hear the same privileged talk in the ranks of the political and parliamentary left, when their functionaries are urging us to vote, raising their finger like the good meaning pedagogues and good cops they are, warning us workers of the threat of fascism and dictatorship, if we prefer not to. They want us to vote for a system that enslaves us, and which is, all things considered, a pure form without content.
So please excuse me, but before I can answer the question on antifascism, I have to shine a light and develop some concepts on our post fascist democracies for us to become clear, what is meant by the concept of antifascism today. Please stay with me. And excuse me for saying but given the intensification of labour in the metropoles since the 1970s, people, I say, should have better things to do than wasting their thought on the workings of democracy. But here we are. They do. Now, what shall we, according to our masters, be rooting for?
On the first sight, democracy makes a lot of sense. It appears to be good for us and in our interest. Within democracy there is an ideal obligation to attribute power to the people. At the same time, however, there is a real claim by the oligarchy to rule over the people. This leads to a general contradiction. The contradiction exists between the individual claim to rule and the content of modern societies, which are mass societies based on the division of labour. Therefore, in modern societies every state must account for the masses on its territory. Give them an expression. A constitution does just that. For a democratic bourgeoise constitution Karl Marx, whom I quote here, is criticising an encompassing contradiction. He writes:
«Der umfassende Widerspruch aber dieser Konstitution besteht darin: Die Klassen, deren gesellschaftliche Sklaverei sie verewigen soll, Proletariat, Bauern, Kleinbürger, setzte sie durch das allgemeine Stimmrecht in den Besitz der politischen Macht. Und der Klasse, deren alte gesellschaftliche Macht sie sanktionierte, der Bourgeoisie, entzieht sie die politischen Garantien dieser Macht. Sie zwängt ihre politische Herrschaft in demokratische Bedingungen, die jeden Augenblick den feindlichen Klassen zum Sieg verhelfen und die Grundlagen der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft selbst in Frage stellen. Von den einen verlangt sie, dass sie von der politischen Emanzipation nicht zur sozialen fort-, von den anderen, dass sie von der sozialen Restauration nicht zur politischen zurückgehen.» http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me07/me07_035.htm Civil war in France: Third Chapter.
Marx says, that with a democratic constitution and universal suffrage, there is no longer any political guarantee for the bourgeoise that its social power will not be suddenly taken away from them. But exactly this stepping back from political rule – the loosing of its political guarantee of rule - is up to date the greatest triumph of the bourgeoise. Because social conflicts are now being addressed as political conflicts to the state.
With a constitution there is though a formal extension of civil liberties, but the content of these liberties is restricted. Because for the masses there may as well be the potential to claim political power, but political power is separated from social power. The extension of social power of the class would mean the politization of the relations of production. But these production relations are the seat of the social power of the bourgeoise. The bourgeoise state therefore simply cannot grant power to the masses, it is bound to the purpose of securing the ownership of private property.
In everyday consciousness then, exactly this functional dependency – the purpose of the state of securing private property- disappears, vanishes behind the appearance of the state as embodying the common and general principle of popular sovereignty. And hence the state is embodying the common good and by granting access to political rule for the dispossessed, it is successfully conveying the consciousness of citizenship down to the lowest strata of the class. All in all, a democratic constitution is an integration performance – or a domestication - par excellence.
In denying the reality of irreconcilable class interests, in a democratic state, the antagonism between capital and labour is mediated as a mere consumer sentiment that lays claim to be recognised as this or that identity mingling within a pluralism of interests that all orient themselves in their social consciousness towards the sphere of distribution or distributional policies of the state.
Exactly this interclassism is a historical result of fascism - the plural uniform version of the democratic people’s parties and its labour unions of left and right finds itself as a progressive expression of its historical predecessor - the fascist unity party and fascist unity unions. It is striking that social institution like the kindergarten in Italy or social insurance in Germany are being valued as very modern social achievement of the democratic nation, while in reality they were being implemented by Otto von Bismarck, the former Chancellor of the German Empire.
For the run of the mill constitutional peoples party, there is no more conflict, all identities become right, all unite against the people’s enemy and so on. The first historical task of fascism was to dissolve proletarianism without touching capitalism. The result of fascism is the authoritarian state in its post-fascist neoliberal outlook we have today. This authoritarian state rests on the willingness of the privileged to make self-sacrifices as long as freedom and prosperity can be protected.
I am stressing that what characterises post fascist democracy, or what fascism did achieve historically, what is new, is first and foremost the formation of society along the lines of an interclassist compromise. And despite the increase in the number of uprisings all over the planet, none of the movements up to date, come close to questioning the social power of the bourgeoise. All the uprisings have been recuperated by political forms. But the political form is the limit of emancipation.
To tell you a recent example. In 2004 a Minister or something like that of the radical left in Government in the capital city and state of Berlin sold most of the social housing stock to the market. Thus – as was claimed - saving the state from bankruptcy. One Object sold in 2004 had a bookvalue of 405 million, which today is worth 7 billion.
Today the housing market and with it, social conflicts are heating up. I quote the autonomous Group Friends of the Classless society on the housing situation in Berlin – with their text. »No ship will come to save us ».
«For many years, the city’s rents were lower than in most other German places, not to mention other European capitals like London or Paris. Over the last ten years, however, Berlin’s population has grown by 400,000 - more than ten percent—and the local government has all but stopped building affordable housing. This has led to rents rising sharply - by forty-two percent (for new leases) since 2016, more than anywhere else in the country. And with a homeownership rate of barely fifteen percent, this problem affects an enormous part of the population.
It was against this background that some left-wing activists initiated a referendum over expropriating corporate housing stocks in the city. Named after one such real estate corporation, the initiative “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.” (EDW) first got huge numbers of volunteers to collect the necessary 170,000 signatures and then, in September 2021, won at the ballot box with 56.4 percent voting “yes.”
Even if the envisaged expropriation was merely a forced sale, it would represent an encroachment on the sacred freedom of property. That is why the Senate repeatedly said that such a step would send “the wrong signal.”
Therein lies the crux of every left-wing government: it, too, must court capital, because without investment, there are no jobs and no tax revenue. And therein, consequently, lies the crux of the campaign: as much as it strikes pragmatic tones and exercises budgetary expertise, the step it demands is one that even a left-wing Senate is unlikely to take. Some representatives of the campaign are aware of the foreseeable consequences of expropriation, but they don’t see a problem in it: “If the rating agency Moody’s threatens Berlin with a credit rating downgrade, we say with our campaign: yes, stay away. We don't want you here.” No government, however nominally left-wing, can adopt that position if it still has half a right mind. But the campaign has chosen to pin its hopes fully on the government.
The friends argue -
“What would certainly scare off the actually existing working class would be a scuttling of the referendum. Victories, on the other hand, inspire and create trust and confidence,” write two campaigners.2 But this kind of failure is inevitable. In the end, there is likely to be a huge demoralization: the tireless scrambling of several thousand activists will in all likelihood have been for naught. Either the Senate will water down the matter and a compromise that helps no one will be reached, or, contrary to expectations, it will introduce a law to buy 240,000 apartments at a bargain price, in which case the courts will intervene. Or, and this would be an even more fatal outcome politically, the “expropriation” will go through, but the “rent insanity” will continue to run rampant.«
The only sane option that is left would be to reclaim this political struggle as a social revolutionary struggle against the state. Because in the end – as the friends argue -no ship will come to save us. If this happens however, if the proletariat refuses the political diffusion of its immediate social interest, once the commune of Berlin finally springs into being, the threat of fascism and a bloody war would be certain. As for the ruling class, the state must be strong and the economy free. Because what the bourgeoise fears, is the politization of its social base after having lost its political guarantee to rule.
Fascism promises that, if the depoliticization of society and a technocratic style of political management is questioned by the proletariat, this aim can be achieved through organized terror against the masses. But thanks to the current passivity of the masses, thanks to the effectiveness of electoral and constitutional propaganda, for the ruling class today, there is simply no need yet to organize and incur the unproductive cost of extended state terror against them.
One dimension of this pro-capitalist and statist propaganda is the ideology of antifascism as weapon of counterinsurgency. No one knows if the ruling class will rather choose to evaporate the planet than giving up its power. Insofar Antifascist Action has a very direct link to counterinsurgency, for those who argue, that the task of human emancipation is impossible to achieve, anyway. That the lesser evil for them, is just good enough for us. For the enemies of a communist world revolution life is hell and suffering and they consider life to be hell in the future. Are they masochists? Or are they masochists who actually do believe, capitalism is able to reform the world and make it a better place? No.
What is striking is the fact, that the gospel of antifascism is preached by precisely those people, who do not heel on it, that they themselves and as organisations abandoned any stringent thought about the real world in favour of safeguarding their own privileges in their gated communities, in the metropoles, on their petty formal jobs or retired in the seats of government. May the world go to hell.
All the while progressive governments are seemingly powerless to stop the encrouchment of the authoritarian state upon what is left of our civil liberties. More and more repressive policing laws are enacted all across planet on the grounds of protecting the constitution. For example, Swiss citizens voted in favour of a law, last year, that is empowering the police to imprison children and force them to work at will, if they dare to speak up in public to overthrow the state.
I see two historical tendencies at work. First, as I argued, the bourgeoise refrained from political rule. The tendency towards an authoritarian state is not only driven by the manipulation of those with money and the capitalists. The contradictions of capitalism are intensifying with the accumulation of time and with it the constitution is more and more interpreted as an instrument of policing. This is a historical retreat or undoing of the idéal of democracy towards the dictatorship of capital on the ground of the constitution.
Second , historically, While the contradictions of world capitalism intensify, and here I quote Quote Walther Benjamin, Social Democracy thought fit to assign to the working class the role of the redeemer of future generations, in this way cutting the sinews of its greatest strength. This training made the working class forget both its hatred and its spirit of sacrifice. End of quote. Antifascism as an ideology. Like any other ideology, is a waste of time, postponing the revolution to a day that will never come.
Thank you Johannes Agnoli.