The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism
What is Anti-Fascism?


Front Page
Section Two
Section Three
Section Four
Back page

The phrase 'anti-fascism' suggests opposition to fascism. If that were all there was to it, it wouldn't be worth writing about. Almost everyone who has heard of fascism is opposed to it. It is known as one of the main causes of World War II and the concentration camps in which millions died.

But anti-fascism has always meant more than simply opposition to fascism.

Before World War II, anti-fascism was the slogan which recruited people across Europe and America to travel to Spain to oppose General Franco's coup against the left-wing government. It was clear even at the time to a small group of ultra-leftists in France and Italy that it was a mistake to volunteer for this apparently noble cause. Their critique sounds kind of retro today, but with the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that they were right. Today, we can see that those who volunteered for the 'International Brigades' under a coalition of anarchist and communist leaders fought and died for a cause that was not only doomed, but worse than useless, even if it had succeeded.

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls are great novels about the Spanish Civil War. They are also accurate accounts of how the Communist Party, controlled by the Soviet Union, used the volunteers as cannon-fodder, then murdered its political rivals within the left-wing coalition or abandoned them to the right-wing forces they were fighting.

So Franco won, massacred his opponents, and established a military dictatorship which kept Spain in the middle ages for forty years. What is uncontested is that he refused to enter Spain into World War II on the side of Hitler, who respected Spain's neutrality. Had the left won the Spanish Civil War, the government would have been a puppet of Moscow. Spain would probably have been forced to enter the war on the side of the Allies, and many more Spaniards would have died.

The extent to which people were inspired by anti-fascism during World War II can be exaggerated. For example, most of the Russian soldiers fighting the Germans at Stalingrad weren't motivated by left-wing propaganda; they were marched to the front at gunpoint. But after the war, anti-fascism was found to be useful to the victors, and given a new lease of life. During the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leaders, if any crime could be attributed to the Allies, the USA and the Soviet Union, as well as to the Axis powers, the charge was dropped. Thus air force commander Göring was not tried for bombing cities, nor admiral Dönitz for sinking civilian ships, since the Allies committed both these war crimes too. Göring was sentenced to death for his minor role in the Holocaust, though his bombing campaigns were by far his greatest crimes.

Each country had its specific contribution to make to the war effort – the Americans had their atom bombs, the Russians liked their rape, and the Germans' specialty was genocide. In practice, the German Holocaust was little different from what the Allies were doing at the same time: the German government murdered many innocent civilians from Germany and neighboring countries using poison gas and other methods, and the Allies did the same thing using bombs. But British schoolchildren are taken on trips to see the ruins of Belsen, but not Dresden. This one-sided interpretation of history is enforced by law in Germany and Austria. Anti-fascism has become a central pillar of the official version of history under whose influence we have all been raised. When an Australian historian was arrested in London recently for holocaust denial, it was not for denying the genocide of the Tasmanian aborigines.

Why anti-fascism, rather than anti-communism or anti-democracy? No-one actually argues that bombing people is less barbaric than gassing them, yet that is what, implicitly, we are being told when we are taught to hate Hitler but to respect Roosevelt. This is anti-fascism – not just opposition to one set of war criminals, but support for the other set. Anti-fascists cannot claim to be opposed to both sides – why would they call themselves 'anti-fascists' if they do not believe fascism is worse than other forms of civilization, if they do not believe that gassing Jews is worse than burning Germans to death? This immediately raises the worst aspect of anti-fascism. The phrase we have all learned, 'The Holocaust', means the attempted genocide of the Jews, excluding other holocausts, excluding other categories whom the Nazis attempted to wipe out, and excluding the equally monstrous crimes of the Allies. Anti-fascism discriminates in favor of Jews.

This hypocritical, self-righteous, discriminatory, racist perspective also supports vigilance (and often violence) against individuals and small groups of alleged fascists in the world today. It means exaggerating their importance, and blaming them for 'hate crimes', many of which turn out to be fake. We are urged to be on guard against the non-existent threat of the emergence of a major racist movement. When a lone lunatic commits a crime against a minority person, the media make out its a movement. And the reason the media exaggerate the threat of hate crimes is because it sells, and it sells because we believe – we, with our selective moral attitudes, keep anti-fascism alive:

  • The US media ran a series of stories about 'black churches' being burned down by racists. It turned out that kids were setting fire to churches at random, indifferent to the buildings' ethnicity.
  • French Jews faked an anti-semitic attack by Muslims on the Metro – the media devoted a lot more space to the alleged attack than to the subsequent police announcement that it was made up
  • A black woman in Oregon put a burning cross in her own front yard to try to claim she was a victim of racists
  • Jews in London invented cases of racial harassment
  • A black man was injured in a fight in an Oregon town. He told police nothing racist was said – it just happened that the other participants were white. Despite this clarification, local anti-fascists continue to use it as an example of a 'hate crime' in their efforts to suppress freedom of speech.
  • A black teenager in New York claimed she suffered a horrific assault by a group of white men including the assistant district attorney. After an emotional campaign on her behalf by black politicians, she was found to have invented the incident in its entirety.
  • A Jewish couple in Oregon set fire to their own apartment and scratched swastikas on their car and claimed it was a hate crime
  • Another black woman, in North Carolina, claimed to have been raped by several white students from an Ivy League university. Despite obvious inconsistencies in her story, the police proceeded. The students were subjected to trial by media, but in the end, she was proven to be lying.

I could go on. In fact, I will. Where hate crimes are not simply invented, they are often exaggerated. A California woman was convicted of the capital crime of murder because her dog went berserk and killed another woman. The woman was criminally irresponsible in allowing a large dangerous dog to roam free, but there was not a shred of evidence she had deliberately set the dog on the victim. The reason the jury came to such an unjustified verdict was the campaign in the media to make the accident a 'hate crime' – the victim was a lesbian, and the dog-owner's husband is a lawyer, some of whose clients belong to a prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood. The murder conviction was overturned on appeal. A well-publicized case in Portland, Oregon, in 1988, where an Ethiopian man, Mulugeta Seraw, was killed, a skinhead was found guilty of premeditated murder, and a racist group, White Aryan Resistance, was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for allegedly contributing to his death, illustrates the dangers of exaggerating the organized racist threat. A more detailed account can be found at the end of this booklet, but to summarize:

  • Seraw was killed in an unplanned street brawl, not a premeditated lynching
  • It was manslaughter, not murder
  • The racist group did not contribute to his death

An even graver example of what can happen when anti-fascism affects the legal system is the death of Vicki Weaver, who, with her husband and children, were besieged in a remote Idaho cabin in 1992, where clearly they were not doing anyone any harm. The FBI shot her dead while she held her baby in her arms because of the racist views of her husband. Some anti-fascists say they do not support state-organized anti-fascism. They believe 'the community' should confront 'the racists', not rely on the police to do it. They criticize the police for not going far enough. It is not clear what they would have done to the Weaver family.

But the major consequence of anti-fascism today is even more serious: it helps the state of Israel ensure the continuation of uncritical support in Western countries for its ongoing program of ethnic cleansing. Anti-fascism, by making the murder of Jews by the Germans more of a crime than the murder of Germans by the Allies, effectively implies pro-Jewish racism. Zionism is the implementation of that particular form of racism. Anti-fascism is used to suppress speech which could undermine support for Israel in the West.

A peace activist shot trying to save children from Israeli bullets

The clearest example is Germany. It is difficult to overestimate how deeply Zionism is rooted in this country, whose politicians are trying to persuade the European Union to adopt a law making it illegal to deny Israel's right to exist – the primary victims of this law will be Muslims. This angst permeates German society, especially the left:

    'The basic opinions of the Anti-Germans include support of the state of Israel and - although this is only true for some - American foreign policy such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a critique of mainstream left anti-capitalist views, which are thought to be simplistic and structurally anti-Semitic, and a critique of anti-Semitism, which is considered to be deeply rooted in German cultural history' (Wikipedia)

As a result, opposition to Zionism in Germany, one of Israel's main supporters, is difficult, radical websites and journals have suppressed articles about Israeli war crimes and protests against them, and some Germans even commemorate the bombing of Dresden and other Allied war crimes. Why do Western countries make such efforts to prosecute Serbs for ethnically cleansing Muslims, but support Jews doing exactly the same thing? If Turkey joins the European Union, it will contain some countries in which it is illegal to deny the genocide of the Jews, and another where it is illegal to assert that the genocide of the Armenians happened!

All these aspects of anti-fascism – a lack of skepticism about alleged hate crimes, overestimating the threat of right-wing violence, a one-sided view of World War II, the belief that crimes against Jews are worse than crimes against other people, the belief that crimes committed by Jews are not as bad as crimes committed by other people, and the censorship of speech which could offend Israel's supporters – reinforce each other.

A Note on the Title

The title of this booklet is taken from Wilhelm Reich's book The Mass Psychology of Fascism, a product of anti-fascism in the thirties, but the content bears no resemblance, so anyone reading this pamphlet thinking they are getting a treatise on psychology will be disappointed. But having got this far, they have probably already paid for it. However, the title is semi-serious, because there is a psychological aspect to the way anti-fascism undermines a rational analysis of how Western societies work. In particular, the social pressure not to question the burden of supporting Israel is enormous, at all levels of society. How can the Anti-Defamation League, which seeks to undermine the First Amendment, the foundation of academic freedom, persuade academics to apologize for teaching students about Israel's crimes? Why would theaters suppress a play about a US citizen murdered by the Israeli armed forces, in order to avoid hurting Jewish feelings? Why do US presidents grovel before the leaders of a far smaller country dependent on the generosity of US taxpayers? The irrational in politics is never so clear as when discussing the power of the Israel Lobby.