Does fascism lead to communism too?

by Jehu

I got this question from one of my follows:

“How do you see fascism as an alternative path to communism?”

I have asserted on more than one occasion that fascism, or what Marxists since Luxemburg have called barbarism ends in communism just like socialism. This is admittedly a heresy from the point of view of most Marxists.

However, the basis for this statement is taken directly from Marx, who wrote this in Capital, volume 3, chapter 15:

“Development of the productive forces of social labour is the historical task and justification of capital. This is just the way in which it unconsciously creates the material requirements of a higher mode of production.”

To compare capitalist accumulation to socialism, we have to ask ourselves a question: What is the purpose of socialism? The purpose of socialism is to consciously create the material requirements of a higher mode of production. In other words, what socialism does consciously, capital is already doing unconsciously; there is no distinction to be made between the two modes of production on this score.

Fascism or barbarism is a form of capital and capital is characterized by incessant accumulation. According to Marx, capital is “a historical mode of production corresponding to a definite limited epoch in the development of the material requirements of production.”

Of course, capital in the period of fascism or barbarism differs in a way we already understand from the period prior to fascism. People usually define the difference this way: there was a period when management of production was carried on privately free from government intervention, followed by a period characterized by increasing state regulation.

Like most concepts in economics, this is badly stated. In fact, the 19th century saw successive forms of increasingly social management of capitalist production replace one another. As the scale of the productive forces increased, management of production was carried in larger units involving many capitalists with only formal ownership of the means of production. Marx and Engels proposed that this trend would continue until the point where only the state could manage the social production process.

There was not in fact two fast and fixed periods, laissez-faire and fascism, but the progressive emergence of increasingly socialized forms of management of the productive forces of capital. The capitalists try to resist this, of course, but society is forced to recognize the social character of capitalist production. Capital would impose the necessity for social management of the productive forces on society, no matter how it resisted.

This social management could take one of two forms: The first form we already know about: socialism, or the lower phase of communism. The working class would overthrow the bourgeois state, replace it with its own association and assume the task of creating the material requirement for full communism.

Socialism differed from capitalism in that it enforced the rule that “he who does not work, neither shall he eat” on the exploiting classes as well. But socialism is a crude form of communism, the communism of poverty and labor. The whole of society becomes a work house and labor is merely generalized, not abolished.. It is an advance relative to capital in that no one is forced to labor for another and no one can live by the labor of others.

An advance, yes, but still a nasty crude mode of production founded on scarcity. The historical justification for socialism is that this period is necessary to further develop the productive forces to meet the material requirements of full communism. The working class, having organized itself as the ruling class of society, undertakes this crude form of communism in order to put an end to labor entirely.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the working class did not take the reins of society at the point where the state was forced to assume management of the social production process? What would happen then? Instead of socialism, we would have fascism: the management of the social production process by the bourgeois state.

In place of the capitalist owner managing production, or even a team of managers hired by the capitalists, the state would now be in charge. As in the case of privately hired managers, the state would act in place of the capitalist and carry out those functions. As in the case of private managers, effectively the state would function as the capitalist and would increasingly become the capitalist as it managed more of production.

This would be true even if formal ownership remained in the hands of the individual capitalists. The state would manage production and the capitalists would clip coupons — collect dividends as their share of profits.

Of course, in the previous period (so-called laissez-faire) the state was far from hands off — for example, you can’t get much more interventionist than abolishing slavery. But the fascist period is distinct because only the state can accomplish what would have to be accomplished: unless the state assumes management of production, the mode of production collapses. What is different is not state intervention, but that absent this intervention, capitalism ends.

In any case, at a certain point in the development of the mode of production this would be the situation as Marx saw it (I think): At a certain point in the evolution of capital some form of directly social management of production would have to emerge. Whether this took the form of socialism, a workers’ association, or fascism, the existing state, would be entirely beside the point. It would matter to us, of course, but it would not matter in terms of the historical trajectory of social production.

In either case, social production would completely triumph over the entire planet because it is far more productive of material wealth than individual commodity production and social production creates the material requirements for communism.

If my reasoning is correct, communism would be inevitable no matter whether the period is traversed under the rule of the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Fascism does not put an end to capitalistic accumulation by any means and capitalistic accumulation is the way capital unconsciously creates the material requirements for a higher mode of production.

I think there is no other conclusion we can arrive at, based on Marx’s theory, than one that sees fascism as just another path to communism.