A Synopsis of Fascism And Social Revolution By R. Palme Dutt (published 1936)

by Rich Gibson


Fascism is an inevitable result of capitalism and its decay if the social revolution is delayed.


Chapter 1

Fascism is the logical result of the fact that the form of private ownership of the means of production can progress no further and must create violent crises, stagnation, and decay. Only the social organization of production can sanely organize production, and this can only come through social revolution.

The world available for capitalist exploitation now contracts. Fascism is a further stage of capital in crisis. A massive world army of unemployed people grows, and as this world crisis grows, so does the need of bosses to lower the costs of production. There are but two alternatives, social revolution or destruction. The class struggle now intensifies. .

Chapter 2

After WWI there was a brief period of capitalist stabilization based on (a) the defeat of the world revo (b) the use of social democracy and concessions to workers and © the strength of American capitalism, not hurt by the war and not yet wholly fouled by decay. This was a hollow form of stabilization which could not ·last.

But social democracy masked the class struggle and disorganized workers so they were not ready for the crisis ahead.



Without revolution capitalism remains in power--and finds ways to do it. The capitalist way out of crisis is, necessarily, more decay.

(a) They destroy the productive forces, restrict production, hold back needed commodities. War is the most complete expression of this.

(b) They revolt against the machine, hold back science, here technological improvements create unemployment, there is a return to cottage industries.

(c) They revolt against science in favor of racism, religion, mysticism, superstition.

Capitalism can no longer rationally justify itself, so it turns to obscurantism, quackery, and attacks culture and education (Darwin).

(d) Capitalism revolts against even modest forms of democracy and parliament. They turn to open forms of coercion and violence. They develop the authoritarian state.

(e) Capitalists cry out for national self sufficiency, an impossible lie which seeks to hide the intensified struggle for the world markets.

(f) They turn to war as the final solution, open national chauvinism, massive boosts in armaments, and war propaganda spreads, "war means work".

The sole alternative to the growth of Fascism, the decay of capitalism, is world revolution.

Chapter 4 What Is Fascism
Fascism is the most complete working out, in certain conditions of decay, of the most typical tendencies and policies of modern capitalism. These are its characteristics:

(a) The main aim is to maintain capitalism over revolution, individual appropriation over social production.

(b) The capitalist dictatorship intensifies

(c) Limitation and repression of the independent working class movement and propping up of a system of organized class collaboration.

(d) Revolt against parliamentary democracy

(e) Closer concentration of each imperialist bloc into a single economic/political unit

(f) Extending state monopolist organization of industry and finance

(g) Advance to war as a necessary accompaniment to the increasing imperialist tensions.

"Fascism is, in short, a movement of mixed elements…(middle and lower class) financed and directed by finance capital…to defeat the working class revolution ... "

The middle class vacillates, torn between classes. Where the working class is strong, the middle class can be swept along. But where reformism dominates, the middle class turn to Fascism. Thus Fascism gains strength when workers are held in check by reformist leadership.

Chapter Five How Fascism Came to Italy

The main method of the bosses was liberalism and concessions, as long as their forces were unprepared. Even in the face of outright Fascism, social democracy looked to parliamentary means for defense. The revolution in Italy was defeated by reformism. Fascism came when workers were disillusioned and disorganized already. The transition to fascism was no sudden, abrupt break, but of a continuation of the same old bosses using new means.

Chapter Six Fascism in Germany

In 1918, after a workers revo in Germany, reformists led workers back into the hands of the bosses. Fascism grew to power under the protection of reformists who refused to carry through the revolution, who refused to smash the state. They chose capitalism over communism.

Fascism requires a mass base which comes when the people are disgusted with reformism. Fascists then dogmatically preach about "national" socialism.

Social democracy, even under Fascism, unites with the bosses, rather than with the reds, as a lesser evil. Thus the line of lesser evils means the passive acceptance of every date of development to complete Fascism. Reformists, not Fascists, paralyzed workers will to resist. Opposition to Fascism came from communists alone. The German cp, however, had few industrial workers. Though it was large in numbers.


Chapter Seven Fascism in Austria

Reformists supported one fascist over another in an election. In 1918-19 the reformists halted and sold out a revolution. When the present policy is class collaboration. It determines future action.

Chapter Eight Social Democracy (SD) and Fascism

Social democracy shares twin characteristics with Fascism. In fact it is social Fascism

These are the shared tendencies:

(a) Both split the working class and hope to maintain capitalism. Both create a favored section of the work force. Fascism and reformism exist together and supplement one another. Fascism draws the middle and lower classes, SD the upper structure of industrial workers. Fascism smashes workers organizations from without, SD undermines them from within. Fascism relies on force. Then lies: SD relies on lies, then force.

(b) Fascism draws many of its leaders from SD (Pilsudski) and fascist ideology comes from SD which closely ties its party with its nation and endorses class collaboration. Fascism and SD are both anti communist.

SD helps Fascism come to power by:

Disorganizing workers, preaching defeatism, opposing real struggle, disarming strikers, warring on reds, pointing people away from class battles and toward ballots etc. SD drives militants out of unions. SD adapts to fascist forms of government and serves as handmaiden to Fascism.

Chapter Nine The Theory and Practice of Fascism

"The reality of Fascism is the violent attempt of decaying capitalism to defeat the proletarian revolution and forcibly arrest the growing contradictions of its whole development. All the rest is decoration and stage play ...”

"Fascism differs from capitalist parties only in its particular methods…to realize the same basic aims.”

Most fascist ideology shares the idea of the corporate state. Capitalism cannot defend itself on rational grounds and looks elsewhere for excuses, racism, mysticism, etc. Fascist demagogy plays on the hopes and the fears and the emotions and ignorance of the poor and suffering for the benefit of the rich ...”

Fascism is a form of capitalism disguised in the corporate state. Production still is for profit. Class ownership controls the means of productions; workers work for wages. Individuals appropriate while society produces. Under socialism the workers own the means of production and produce for use.

The corporate state is:

(a) Maintenance of class exploitation under the cover of unity

(b) Continued capitalist ownership

(c) State intervention to protect property

(d) Joint councils of labor and capital

(e) dedication to war

There is little difference here with the “demands” of liberals ... but Fascists go further.

They smash the workers organizations and abolish the right to strike. (Would this be needed today?) . (What about killing reds?)

Fascism means war…its methods and policies reproduce the conditions of war. But already in a pre-war period.

International Fascism is a contradiction in terms. All national fascist alliances can only be temporary. Imperialists only identify momentary common short 'term 'goals.

Fascism, capitalism in decay, intensifies the exploitation of women. Women are driven out of industry and back to the home. (True of modern Fascism?)


Chapter Ten Fascism and the Organization of Social Decay

Fascism, which seeks to violently smash the working out of contradictions in society, causes society to cease to develop, and hopes to strangle progress.

(a) Fascism tries to halt class struggle, not by the abolition of classes, but by the permanent subjugation of the exploited to the exploiters

(b) When it tries to restrict the contradictions of capitalism, it must restrict the productive forces. "

(c) Fascism tries to stop international development and trade

Fascism is thus capitalist anarchism , barbarism, hopelessness and pessimism.

Chapter Eleven Tendencies to Fascism in Western Europe and America

Liberal democracy in the most developed capitalist countries has been a luxury that will be short lived. As world markets break down, colonies revolt, the world tribute diminishes, the bosses withdraw concessions and reforms and launch attacks.

These general conditions favor fascist development in these countries:

(a) Intense economic crisis and class struggle

(b) Widespread disillusionment with democracy

(c) Large number s of middle class and workers under bosses influence

(d) Absence of a revolutionary party

Britain, France and the US all harbor all of these elements. Fascism develops differently in different countries, but bourgeois democracy lays the path for fascism.

(a) Government increases to act on its own -- above parliament .

(b) Police are centralized under military forms and more $ is spent on cops

(c) There are more restrictions on free speech and assembly

(d) Active government repression of workers

(e) More police violence against workers

(f) Forced work programs and lowered welfare standards

(g) Anti communist government laws

The US Roosevelt New Deal was embryonic Fascism. It did all of the above and made war preparations.

Fascist movements go through long trial and error periods . "Only fools will laugh at the awkwardness of these embryonic stages, and not realize the character of the serpent that’s being incubated. " fascism, via the ruling class, creates leaders. Fascists require ruling class backing. The ruling class still controls the state machinery. Thus workers must build their own movement to smash the ruling class.


Chapter Twelve Fascism And Social Revolution

Fascism cannot solve the contradictions of capitalism or halt its collapse. But reformists tie workers to capitalism, even in its fascist phases, thus weakening and dividing the resistance. With the working class divided, capitalists organize a mass fascist movement of the middle class. Even then capitalists try to mask their aims by declaring their movement "socialist" and demanding "nationalization of the banks" etc.

Fascism arises out of capitalism in crisis, out of the weakness of the ruling class.

Bourgeois democracy breeds Fascism. Thus the "fight against Fascism cannot be fought on the basis of trusting bosses' democracy as a defense against Fascism…the fight against Fascism can only be conducted on the basis of a united class fight…”

The harder workers fight at the beginning the harder it is for bosses to advance Fascism: reformism, which believes there is no other way, fears and prays to capitalism and acts like a slave hoping for scraps.

"The laying bare of the civil war at the root of class society, the explosion of all the illusions of peace and loyalty, that is, above all, the historical role of Fascism. Fascism attempts to organize society on the basis of civil war ... That is the most complete expression of the final bankruptcy of capitalism and the certainty of its collapse."

Communism is the only alternative to capitalism. Fascism is only inevitable if the working class follows the doomed line of reformism.

Bourgeoisie democracy BREEDS fascism…The more workers place their trust in legalism, in constitutionalism, in bourgeois democracy, the more they make sacrifices to save the existing regime, as the “lesser evil’ against the “menace” of fascism, the heavier become the fascist attacks and the more rapid the advance to capitalism. To preach confidence in legalism, in constitutionalism, in the capitalist state, means to invite and guarantee the victory of fascism.” R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, 1935.p49

Many would-be reformers of capitalism (including the Labour Party propagandists and the Independent Labour Party) urge that if only the capitalists would pay higher wages to the workers, enabling them to buy more of what they produce, there would be no crisis. This is utopian nonsense, which ignores the inevitable laws of capitalism—the drive for profits, and the drive of competition. The drive of capitalism is always to increase its profits by every possible means, to increase its surplus, not decrease it.” — Capitalism or Socialism in Britain?