Fascism’s capitalist roots and the fight for democracy

BY:Ismael Parra| March 20, 2024
Fascism’s capitalist roots and the fight for democracy


Anti-social, fascist, right-wing strategies are being deliberately used to decompose the social fabric of the American ideal. The essence of this ideal is found in phrases like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,”or “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

U.S. society is embedded with some limited but essential elements of democracy. Two of these are the right to vote and governance by popularly elected representatives. Neither of these can be developed fully under capitalism, and are always undergoing attempts at being limited and influenced by powerful economic forces because they interfere with profits for the privileged few. Examples of this are the millions spent by companies on lobbying Congress, and the restraints put on unions.

The case of the presidential elections being decided by the Electoral College is a testament to the limits placed on U.S. democracy by capitalism since the time of its early development in this country.

Coordinated, fascist right-wing initiatives can be seen at the federal level. The Jan. 6 attempted coup by Trump and various Republican Congresspersons and state officials was one example. Another is the passing of voter suppression laws in various states. In Florida, for example, laws have been passed that permanently take away the right to vote from formerly incarcerated citizens.

Fascist-type events and anti-democratic laws are developed, planned, and financed by corporate monopolies and the wealthy individuals that own these companies. One need only recall the Hobby Lobby company that refused to provide family planning options in their employees’ healthcare coverage.

Terrible pain and disruption to individuals and families were also caused by those who profited from production and distribution of Oxycontin and Oxycodone. Hundreds of thousands of people were unnecessarily prescribed these highly addictive drugs, manufactured by Purdue Pharma. Nearly half a million people died from opioid overdoses and the Sackler family which owns the company was forced to pay close to $6 billion in compensation.

Then there are the Koch brothers who have spent millions via groups they privately fund to pass anti-worker and anti-union legislation.

Anti-social strategies are implemented through conservative structures like the Republican Party, right wing anti-union law firms, or the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These groups meet as private citizens to hide the corroboration between business and government.

Powerful individuals within the military hierarchy, financial institutions, and various legal organizations also help push forward a fascist agenda.

Organizations like the Oath Keepers, various fundamentalist so-called “Christian” groups, or Daughters of the American Revolution, which has more than one million registered members, are used to help develop a mass base for this agenda. Others like the KKK and the Proud Boys are used to wield terror and fan the flames of open racism and male supremacy. Inside all of these groups you can find carefully worded fascist ideology hidden in their founding statements of constitution.

Rich “wannabe” rulers and their puppets work to design, implement, and spread anti-democratic and fascist ideas among the people.

Aren’t voting rights, labor rights, marriage and reproductive rights, or the right to free speech, education, housing and healthcare at all important to at least some workers in the base of the Republican Party? Yes, of course they are important to them!

Do any of these people have an interest in honest, democratic governance? Yes, of course they do! In fact, workers who are part of the GOP base, who are mostly white, are nonetheless subject to many of the same harms and injustices inflicted against workers who are part of the Democratic Party base, and indeed all workers.

These harms are inflicted on all workers, regardless of party affiliation, by the exploitative system in which we all live.

The majority of workers in both the Democratic and Republican parties are considered white. As part of the Democratic Party base, white workers vote alongside the majority of workers of color in the U.S., reflecting the heterogeneous composition of our American landscape.

Despite the diversity of the U.S. working-class, the notion of the U.S. “melting pot” is a false one. In reality, people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds that have come to U.S. shores are kept separated and divided from each other. At first, many came as colonizers that brought indentured workers. Later, others were brought as slaves to a continent populated by First Nations societies. These First Nations were more advanced in many areas than the invading colonizers from Europe.

Because of victories achieved through long struggles, various peoples in the U.S. are more physically integrated in their work places, though divisions remain. Capitalism creates exploitation because it is based on the cooperation of many to produce something, but the profits from that social work is kept by the company owners.

Racism and exploitation

Racism helps create the illusion of superiority in the psyche of white and even lighter-skinned workers. This illusion of superiority enables the employer to pay workers of color less than white workers. The disunity generated by this gap also means employers are able to pay lower wages to all workers generally.

By paying the lowest possible wage to workers of color, the employer is able to bring down the top wage as well so that the entire pay scale has been shifted downward. In part, this is supported by white workers who do not fight for the best possible wage for their fellow workers who may be of color.

The racial wage difference is important to capitalists because it obviously creates greater profits, and it also creates conflict and sustains divisions and disunity among workers. This is why it is in the best economic interest of white workers to fight racism and all forms of discrimination. Only when workers are united can they successfully challenge the employers about wages and other conditions at work.

Wages and conditions on the job may also affect workers’ lives outside of work. The concept that a union should not concern itself with problems in the lives of workers outside of the job is another right-wing strategy to keep the strength created by union solidarity out of the neighborhoods that workers live in and out of the social struggles faced by workers in their communities.

The sex-based wage difference also creates greater profit and works in a similar way, increasing profits and lowering wages for all workers by paying women less than men. It is easy to see how, in particular, women of color are in the most exploited position under capitalism. In fact, Black and Latina women are at the bottom of this wage disparity.

In places of work that have a union, workers are less prone to artificial divisions fostered by the employer and the problems of wage disparity are far less. Through their unions, workers can demand the highest possible wage be paid to all workers, even when differential wages are necessarily paid to workers doing different types of work. When we, as workers, are integrated, destructive racist and sexist ideas begin to break down, and unions become stronger when they consciously work to end racism and sexism.

Capitalism seeks to divide working people not only in our workplaces, but in other areas of life as well. While past struggles have helped us become more integrated now in our places of leisure, such as at a ball game, segregation remains a powerful force in the areas where we live. This is a result of both past restrictive covenants (contract clauses disallowing people of color from owning or renting certain properties) and because of ongoing redlining by banks who refuse to offer mortgages to people of color in certain areas. Here again, unions must play a role in fighting against the segregation of our communities.

Racism creates conflict in our daily reality. The huge number of workers, both in the Republican and Democratic Parties, that are daily beaten down and exploited by employers in our capitalist system are also the huge numbers needed to protect all of us and nature from the harms caused by capitalism.


Fascists, led by the most reactionary, racist, sexist, and militaristic sections of the monopoly capitalist class, take power over all governing and productive structures. They resort to threats and physical, terroristic violence against workers and the oppressed to subjugate them and reap super profits. Fascists seek to eliminate all democratic institutions, even bourgeois capitalist ones. To impose mandates that prevent workers from encroaching on capitalist profits, fascists use legal repressive structures like the police and military, as well as extra-legal non-state organizations like the KKK and others.

Fascism is planned and arises intentionally. It is a purposeful response to the huge ground swell of workers responding in numerous democratic ways, through mass organizations, to their increasing collective impoverishment.

Capitalism cannot avoid pushing for greater and greater profits. Fascism arises because this drive for profits stifles progress for all people in the society, especially workers.

Workers transform nature into the many products that we buy and use daily. Workers also distribute these products, including naturally occurring ones, and workers provide the services we need and use. We workers produce all goods and services at the request of business owners, because we accept the job, especially if we are unable to find another.

The impoverishment of workers living under capitalism is a result of the employers’ constant theft of part of our wage instead of paying us the full value we create. Over time, workers also recreate all the value that the capitalist originally invested. The unpaid part of our wages, and the constant and regular accumulation by corporate owners, becomes enormous wealth in the hands of the owners and is transformed into greater and greater concentrations of capital, or wealth.

Further, impoverishment comes from the huge profits big businesses make by selling products at inflated prices back to the millions of workers who produced them.

In the leadup to fascism’s development, the physical and mental violence that it unleashes against workers, women, and the oppressed once it is in power is masked by “favorable to business” laws, and more stringent anti-democratic anti-labor laws — to restrict the organization of unions, for example. The violence is then expanded through organized vigilante groupings with no legal status, as well as by the formal repressive forces of the state (e.g. the police, fire departments, sheriffs, or the courts). Military forces can be used, like the national guard or even the army. The threat of violence helps to consolidate power and the reins of government and the military in the hands of a small administrative sector that is usually beholden to a single leader. This single leader is supported by the most fascist-minded individuals among the big corporate capitalists, who control a huge proportion of the country’s wealth.

In the founding days of our nation an electoral system was developed to guarantee the continued existence of an unfair and unjust economic and social system transported from Europe and imposed here. This is why women could not vote and slaves were only considered three-fifths of a white person. It favored, and was in the hands of, white men that owned large businesses and land. Today, the Republican Party is resorting to the most anti-democratic methods of rule in order to maintain this anti-worker, anti-nature, regressive, and antiquated economic mode, not only here in the U.S., but around the world. They are working to reverse every democratic gain won by the U.S. working-class and oppressed peoples since the country’s founding.

Workers do not want violence in their lives. Masses of workers must be convinced to use every non-violent democratic means to organize and struggle to stop the fascist direction our country is moving in today.

Masses of workers can defend and expand their democratic power by united action at the ballot box, and through other non-violent forms of resistance, even “the general strike,” or work slow downs and stoppages. There are many forms of effective democratic resistance that can be used. Through engagement in these forms of struggle, mass working-class and people’s unity is developed, as well as an understanding of the capitalist system. On this basis, more complex forms of struggle become possible and winnable.

Corporate-owned media — radio, television, and online — is manipulated and used to undermine the organized struggle of working people. Organized workers can defend our bourgeois democratic system and fight to make it more democratic, if not stopped by anti-democratic legislation being passed in state legislatures. The right to vote, a limited but essential element of our democracy, is very important for us to defend and expand.

The capitalist class and its media fear the ability of working people to achieve power through collective democratic struggle and to ultimately build a fairer economic system, socialism, that works to solve the problems of workers by prioritizing themselves and all people before corporate profits.

Socialism allows the surplus wealth generated from workers’ labor to be used for the people’s needs, and not to satisfy the whims of any one individual. It uses that collectively produced wealth for the betterment of all aspects of the society. Socialism could also constitutionally guarantee union and other workers’ rights, access to affordable quality healthcare, education, housing, and arts.

Only socialism can provide a permanent way to better the mass of people’s lives and guarantee that the democratic rights won in struggle will not be taken away from us, but instead be put into law. It puts the health of our society and the well being of the planet first, not profits.

It is important both to build a broad, democratic, anti-fascist movement and to fight for radical reforms. To paraphrase an article by friend and author Eric Gordon, “the larger solidarity with pro-democratic forces, indeed, has to become our overriding principle.”

Building the Communist Party USA is vital to the struggle for socialism. The CPUSA constantly works to build unity and develop working-class and socialist consciousness and organization.

We can only get to socialism through struggle on all levels, from intellectual debates and writing, to marching in the streets, from voting in elections and building unions where we work, to talking about these things with our friends, families, and in our churches and organizations, and all the other democratic, non-violent activities you can think of. Participate in developing the reforms that will make workers’ lives better. To ensure these improvements to workers’ lives are permanent and not taken away when a different political party wins in the Congress, remember that only socialism can guarantee the rights of all and prohibit the exploitation of any.

Images: Climate activists protest Trump by Julia DeSantis / Climate J20 (CC BY 2.0 DEED); Florida college students protest Ron DeSantis’ attacks on education by Santiago Mayer (Twitter/X); Striking Local 174 members walk the picket lines outside the GM Ypsilanti Processing Center by UAW (Facebook); People protest “Right-to-work” (for less) laws in Madison, Wis. by Peter Gorman (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED)


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