Political Report to the United Front Against Austerity, New York City, October 27, 2012 3
A mAss mvemeT BUilT ARU ecmic emAs
The required mass movement must be built on the most basic issues o economic survival. We learned inthe 1960s and 1970s that a oreign war, unless the casualties mount to the millions, cannot be the basis ora movement able to contend or power. We learned during the last decade that even a oreign war combinedwith mass skepticism about a alse ag operation is also inadequate to the task. Process reorms like campaignfnance limitations will appeal to the good government wing o the petit bourgeoisie, but this is also notenough. Only the bedrock lie or death issues o individual and amily survival can impel working people toenter the political ray with all its risks.
Ui BUsTig A RAsTic AUsTeRiT ARe The essece F FAscism
So ar there are no black shirted or brown shirted storm troopers in American streets, and thus no classicalCentral European ascist movement, but this is beside the point. In a country with an entrenched tradition o elections and representative government, and a country which is so ar not reeling rom millions o war dead onthe scale o World War I, ascism will inevitably look dierent in modern America, but the essence is likely to bethe same.
The top priority for both Mussolini and Hitler was to smash the trade union movement
, and this issomething the United States is well on its way to achieving by more gradual means. And then came the austerity.In Fascist Italy, the Mussolini regime reduced wages between 1927 and 1935 by 60% to 75%, even as the cost o living was rising by 30%. In Nazi Germany, Hitler cut wages in his frst 2 ½ years in power ater 1933 by 25% to40%. Taxes and special contributions skimmed o another 20% to 30%. So, cutting the standard o living o working people by two thirds to three quarters appears as one o the essential eatures o ascism. Union bustingand austerity are ascism. We are here to fght that ascism.
AUsTeRiT Pschsis gAve hiTleR vicTR
We must also recall that it was austerity that gave Hitler political victory. Anton Erlekenz was a moderate tradeunion ofcial who campaigned against the austerity psychosis in Germany in 1930-1932, beore Hitler seizedpower. He saw clearly that as long as millions remained unemployed, the struggle against ascist ideology, nomatter how well intended and executed, was hopeless and doomed. Only by replacing austerity with the recovery program and creating millions o jobs could ascism be deeated.I a democratic government in Germany had orced the central bank to issue several billion marks o long-term, low-interest credit – as demanded by the trade unionist Woytinsky and the civil servant Lautenbach – theautobahns and superhighways could have been started in 1931 and 1932, putting millions o unemployed back to work. The loss o millions o desperate supporters could have cut Hitler o at the knees. Such a policy mighthave meant no Nazi dictatorship, and no World War II in Europe. In the era o nuclear weapons, we are playingor even bigger stakes today.The democratic orms o representative government in this country cannot and will not survive very long in theace o 30 to 40 million unemployed.
BReAk UT F The ThRee-sTeP PRcess F ePRessi, icTATRshiP, WRl WAR
Another word or austerity was and still is
, and Erlekenz was right to say that i you want to stopascism you must “put an end to deation, this immense destruction o labor, economic value, and capital.” Nopolemics against ascist ideology, no matter how brilliant, would do the job. No denunciation o ascist crimes,however graphic, could win the argument against the hunger and despair coming rom unemployment.In the 1930s, and they are relevant because we are now in a similar depression, the world was caught in a threestep process o economic depression, totalitarian dictatorship, and world war. The totalitarian dictatorship grew out o the collapse o representative government and also o older authoritarian regimes. And the world war grew out o depression scarcity as reected through the inner dynamics o the totalitarian governments.