While the raise of fascism in Italy or Spain was caused mostly by paramilitary or military violence, we cannot, we must not ever ignore that the right-wing wolf under the "democratic" sheep skin was key in their rise in both states, giving them the economic resources and the political power that allowed them to thrive. Fascism and conservatism are just the same thing in two different modalities: the same individuals and their networks of economic and political power switch between one and the other at their convenience.
Good cop, bad cop. The same dungeon and the same torture.
But this reactionary hubris of the oligarchies and their political and media cronies is probably best understood in the case of Hitler's raise to power, which is sometimes claimed to be a democratic rise by popular election, what is not really true.
Austerity policies cause Fascism
|Not worth the paper it was printed on.|
Hungarian worthless currency in 1946.
Another typical myth about the raise of fascism is that it was propelled by hyper-inflation. This is again false. While German hyper-inflation was going on, the Nazis were weak. It was only when hyper-inflation was drastically tackled by hyper-austerity measures very similar to the ones we suffer now, when Hitler found his niche in popular discontent.
And what politics did he apply when he rose to power? Military Keynesianism (heavy state expenditure), which was totally unsustainable in the mid-run and therefore required of a sustained imperialist expansion, which was designed to head East: against the Soviet Union primarily, which was meant to become "the India of Germany", the great colonial empire that would sustain Germany as great power able to feed and cloth its own population at the expense of those supposedly "sub-human" Slavs.
But between Germany and the USSR was Poland and, not geographically but conceptually, Great Britain. The British bourgeois oligarchies had been toying with fascism in Europe for more than a decade and were happy with it... as long as it did not become a competitor. Nazi Germany dared to try and was therefore involved in a Western war it did not desire at all.
While the Soviet war effort and sacrifice no doubt saved Europe from Nazism later on, initially it was the inter-imperialist competition between London and Berlin, the same one that triggered World War I, which delayed the blow against Russia.
The dirty facts of Hitler's rise to power or how the conservatives put him there
But back to Hitler's rise. Which are the facts? Did he really reach power "democratically" as some claim?
First of all the Weimar's Right courted the Nazis and did not outlaw them, even if there were plenty of reasons to do so, as they openly advocated for a coup and the destruction of the Republic. Instead they attacked the socialdemocrat government of Prussia, putting the largest and most central German lander under federal (right-wing) control by means of an institutional coup, using the same Presidential emergency powers that Hitler would use later on (not even with Nazi support Von Pappen held a majority in the Reichstag).
In the elections of June 1932, in which the Nazis resorted to populist violence measures such as supporting a worker strike with their SA militia, the Nazis managed to get a plurality of the vote (37%) and of seats (230). However they lost the Presidential election as everybody else rallied around Hindenburg, much as they did around Chirac in France a decade ago, out of fear of something much worse.
The socialdemocrats, as the rest of the Weimar bloc, were being electorally punished but were still the second force (133 seats), while the communists managed to gain third position (89 seats).
In such circumstances no stable government could be formed so back to the ballots. In November 1932, the Nazis lost some ground, while only the communists and the DNVP (national-conservatives) gained support. The Nazi plurality (193 seats) was not that strong anymore compared with that of the wider Left (221 seats, even if divided in two parties). The Weimar "moderate" Right Wing held the key to power with 169 seats (split in many parties).
This resulted in the appointment of Hitler as vice-Chancellor of a coalition government.
On January 1933 Hitler was made Chancelor with conservative support (again a coalition government).
On February 1933, the Nazis burned the Reichstag and blamed the communists, what was used as pretext to persecute many KPD members and also to weaken their popular appeal. It was also pretext for the general abolition of most human rights and civil liberties: a state of emergency ensued.
|Nazi patrol 1933|
The last "elections" were held on March 1933, in which the Nazis openly resorted to large scale violence and coercion against communists and socialdemocrats alike, banning newspapers, etc. SS militiamen patrolled the streets menacingly, while all the resources of the Big Capital were poured onto the Nazi campaign. Even with such methods, Hitler could not assure a majority for the NSDAP (288/647 seats).
The KPD was then banned and their seats declared null. A new Nazi-Conservative coalition ensued with Hitler as Chancellor.
The Enabling Act allowing the Cabinet (i.e. Hitler, Hindenburg's influence as President was almost never exerted) to enact laws without need of Parliament approval, required of 2/3 of the votes: 431. With the 81 communist seats and the opposition of the 120 socialdemocrat ones, Hitler needed everybody else to pass the dictatorship bill.
He got that support: not just his national-conservative allies voted for but also the Catholic (Christian-Democrats of today), the Bavarian Right, the all-German Right, etc. Every single right-winger representative voted for Hitler's dictatorship (but for two absent deputies). Only the SPD voted against (the communist were already banned and several socialdemocrat deputies were in prison already).
The next months were of formal change to the III Reich. All thanks to the "moderate" Right Wing and the bourgeoisie in general (never mind the gullibility of wide sectors of the working class, of course).
Germany 1932, France 1914
The notorious socialdemocrat (social-liberal) defeat of this Sunday (only 14% of support) and the weakening of real Left parties, which have been dragged by the PS collapse in popular appeal, it seems, puts one of the most crucial European states in the same situation, more or less, as Germany in 1932.
In all logic Hollande will have to call for early elections because his support is obviously way too weak to continue without them, nor with them. Then the French Nazis will almost certainly get a plurality of the Parliament and force the hand of the conservatives. Alternatively the conservatives (second force in these elections) can benefit from the Nazi scare and get power for themselves within a coalition, maybe even one including the PS. Their policies will satisfy nobody, no doubt, so in the next elections, whenever they are, the Nazis will win (or hopefully not but very likely they will).
At least this is one of the most likely chain of events. Once Le Pen is in power, she will never allow democracy again and the French Republic will enter a long shadowy night of darkness and fear unknown since the German occupation. And it will no doubt affect its neighbors as well.
Which is the solution? I say round them up before it is too late. But it is already too late probably. Fascism is best eradicated when young and weak, when it grows it becomes a clearly unmanageable problem. That is why we say once and again: zero tolerance against fascism!
We must get ready for the worst because it will come no doubt. Fascism and freedom cannot coexist, so Europe will be dragged to wars of all kind.
Be strong, be prepared. No pasarán!
Be strong, be prepared. No pasarán!