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By PAULO HENRIQUE LIMA*

Antifascism is not restricted to a method of struggle based on direct action or on coping with police violence. Nor is anti-fascism a locus of personal or collective self-identification

First, it is necessary to establish a differentiation between what fascism is as a political regime and what the fascist movement is. Fascism as a political regime, as well as the Military Dictatorship and Bonapartism, is a particular form of capitalist “state of exception”.

In turn, the fascist movement is an extreme right-wing mass movement, made up mainly of the middle classes and parts of the bourgeoisie, which aims to change political regimes and implement a fascist-type dictatorship, destroying democratic freedoms and popular organizations.

Fascism was historically a political regime of exception, in a context marked by a deep crisis of imperialism between the two great world wars. During the crisis, liberal ideas were supplanted by the extreme right, enabling the emergence of fascist regimes in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Japan.

According to the Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo, there is an umbilical relationship between fascism and racist ideas of racial supremacy. Hitler and Mussolini aimed to colonize the entire world, exterminating Jews, blacks, gypsies, LGBTs, as well as socialists, communists, and all those who opposed their plan of political domination.

Antifascism, then, is the popular reaction against fascism or against the fascist threat. It is based on unity between the various sectors of the left: social democrats, socialists, communists and anarchists, while seeking to expand the movement to all democratic sectors or those opposed to fascism.

In this sense, anti-fascism is not restricted to a method of struggle based on direct action or on coping with police violence. Neither is anti-fascism a locus of personal or collective self-identification, as some autonomist groups want. These restricted conceptions of anti-fascism gained strength especially during the 90s and 2000s, due to the profound ideological crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union and the experiences of transition in Eastern Europe.

It is worth noting that without the international communist movement and the Soviet Red Army, it would have been impossible to defeat fascism during World War II.

As a popular reaction, anti-fascism must combine the different forms of struggle: direct action, mass struggle, institutional struggle, ideological and, depending on the historical context, superior forms of struggle.

According to historian Eric Hobsbawm, the confrontation with fascism starts from the understanding that it is necessary to defeat a “common enemy”, and this objective has historically unified not only the sectors of the left, but also sectors that defend liberal democracy and in some places even conservatives. .

The anti-fascist front received different names in each country. But its fundamental content is the defense of democracy and democratic freedoms. And at the same time that it sought breadth, it guaranteed the independence of male and female workers to defend its strategic program. After the defeat of the fascist regimes, these different political forces confronted each other again in the dispute for political power. It was like this in China, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Germany and Italy.

In the midst of a deep international economic crisis and especially with the election of Donald Trump in the United States, far-right and supremacist movements gained strength around the world. Far-right governments were elected in Hungary and Brazil. Before that, there was already, through a coup, a neo-fascist government in Ukraine. Neofascism is configured as fascism of the XNUMXst century.

In Brazil, since the election of Bolsonaro, a great challenge has been posed for the popular forces: how to prevent the authoritarian rise of the federal government and the transition to a fascist regime. This challenge places the importance of the democratic question and the necessary broad anti-fascist unity at the center of the debate between the popular forces.

The health crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic and its almost 30 deaths in Brazil, further deepens the economic and political crisis, bringing even more dramatic contours. Out Bolsonaro became a humanitarian issue. The demonstrations carried out on May 31 by organized supporters pointed the way, neo-fascism will only be defeated by popular mobilization. At the same time, historical experience teaches us that right now sectarianism and dogmatism only get in the way. Unity of the left, breadth and combination of forms of struggle are essential to anti-fascism.

* Paulo Henrique Lima, a historian, is a member of the National Directorate of Popular Consultation.

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