catholic fascism is absolutely on the march, worldwide

The Spanish elections and the rise of the fascist Vox party
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Nov 12 2019

image Javier Ortega Smith, Sec-Gen of Vox, addresses supporters gathered outside the party headquarters
waiting for results of the general election in Madrid, Sunday Apr 28 2019.(Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP)

The rapid rise of the fascist Vox party in Sunday’s Spanish elections is a warning of serious political dangers facing workers in Spain and around the world. As it faces mounting political protest and anger against social inequality, the ruling class is moving to set up fascist police-states tasked with violently repressing social opposition in the working class. Vox officials have publicly hailed the record of the “national army” of Gen Franco, who launched a coup in 1936 against the Spanish Second Republic. The resulting Civil War led to over a quarter million deaths and the imposition of a dictatorship that ruled Spain until 1978, three years after Franco’s death. Franco interned hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, banned strikes and political parties, censored the press and had thousands tortured by the secret police. The Franco regime was so despised by workers in Spain and across Europe after it fell that when Vox was founded in 2014, it attracted virtually no support. For several years, despite its extensive connections inside the army brass and the Popular Party (PP), Vox won 50,000 votes or less, well under 1% of the vote. Vox’s vote surged after the brutal police crackdown on the peaceful Catalan independence referendum of Oct 2017, and particularly amid Spanish nationalist attacks in the media against mass protests in Barcelona opposing last month’s jailing of Catalan nationalist political prisoners. On Sunday, Vox won 3.6 million votes (15%), doubling its parliamentary fraction from 24 to 52 seats, third behind only the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the PP.

Vox’s rise is part of a broad trend in European capitalist politics towards the growth of neo-fascist parties, nationalism and the official public legitimization of fascist dictators.
The AfD is currently the third-largest party in Germany, after years of propaganda by right-wing extremist professors and state officials to legitimize militarism and minimize the genocidal crimes of Nazism. Mass protests against the AfD have only intensified the ruling elite’s determination to rehabilitate Nazism. Last week, parliamentary president Wolfgang Schäuble denounced a “pacifist attitude” as the disastrous result of the Nazi defeat in WW2, which he called “the catastrophe of 1945.” Macron hailed Nazi-collaborationist dictator Philippe Pétain as a “great soldier” as he launched his brutal crackdown on “yellow vest” protesters a year ago.  Amid growing anger at his social cuts, Macron continues to appeal to the far right, recently granting an interview to the far-right Current Values magazine attacking migrants and the Muslim veil. As a result, polls show he would now barely defeat neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen in a presidential election, by 55% to 45 %.

The growth of fascism in official European politics does not signify a return to the mass popular support enjoyed by the Nazi Party, Mussolini’s National Fascist Party or the Francoite Falange. For now, it is a carefully staged political campaign, driven from the top to promote violent, right-wing and nationalist opposition to social and political protest. Vox’s rise is a classic example.  While it has surged based on its anti-Catalan propaganda amid the wall-to-wall media denunciation of the independence referendum, no mass movement has emerged in Spain taking up Vox’s calls to deploy the army and execute political “criminals” in Catalonia. Polls confirm that large majorities of Spanish people support a negotiated settlement in Catalonia, despite the anti-Catalan hysteria in the media. The promotion of Vox and of Franco comes overwhelmingly from the state machine. The PSOE allowed Vox to officially join its public prosecutor in persecuting Catalan officials who were given decade-long jail terms last month for organizing the peaceful 2017 referendum. And the Supreme Court in June issued an extraordinary ruling honoring “don Francisco Franco,” declaring that his Oct 1 1936, self-proclamation as ruler of Spain during the Civil War made Franco the head of state, effectively ruling that Franco’s coup was legitimate.

Finally, the ruling elite focused the election campaign entirely on attacking mass protests in Catalonia, which were savagely repressed, with hundreds of arrests. Issues of concern to workers, like jobs, social programs and a halt to military-police violence, were off the table. The caretaker Socialist Party (PSOE) government, speaking for the entire capitalist class, had already written to the EU pledging billions of euros in social cuts and military spending increases. All of this had the effect of boosting Vox. The bourgeoisie’s failure to elicit broader support for its pro-fascist campaign up to now cannot, however, be a cause for complacency. The fascist threat is growing and its parties are winning increased support thanks to their constant promotion as the only alternative to the despised official parties. Three decades ago, bourgeois propagandists proclaimed that the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant the “End of History” and the triumph of capitalist democracy. In fact, none of the contradictions of capitalism that drove the European bourgeoisie to stake its fate on fascist regimes in the 1930s had been resolved. Facing explosive anger at social inequality produced by decades of post-Soviet EU austerity and mass unemployment, the ruling class is again preparing dictatorship.

Sunday’s Spanish election revealed the breakdown of the parliamentary system established in 1978 in talks between the Francoite fascists, the PSOE and the Spanish Stalinists. The PSOE-PP duopoly at the heart of that regime has collapsed. Each of the four elections in Spain since 2015 has resulted in a hung parliament, and no party has been able to muster a parliamentary majority since then. The ruling class is responding through Vox by turning back to Francoism. Deep and historically rooted opposition to fascism and nationalism exists in the European working class, but it cannot be mobilized without a political reckoning with the Stalinist and Pabloite professors, army officers and union bureaucrats making up Podemos. Founded in 2014 as a “radical democratic” party, Podemos has since 2015 called for coalition governments with the pro-austerity, pro-war PSOE. Constantly promoting Spanish nationalism and indicating his support for the devil’s bargain of the 1978 Transition, Podemos Gen Sec Pablo Iglesias boasted in 2017 that he was a better nationalist than the right wing:

We will not allow them to say that they are more patriotic than we are.

Podemos is hurtling further to the right, completing its integration into the police state machine. Last month Iglesias again pledged loyalty to the PSOE as it cracked down on the Catalan nationalists, touring Catalonia to applaud the police and declaring happily:

Institutional relations between the police forces are working.

It is the pseudo-left posturing and reactionary nationalist politics of Podemos that blocks working class opposition to the PSOE on its left, allowing Vox to posture as the only opponent of the alliance stretching from Podemos and the PSOE to the PP. Explosive mass protests and struggles of the working class are already unfolding across Europe and beyond. The struggle to unify workers across all linguistic and regional divisions in Spain, together with their class brothers and sisters across the European continent, in a struggle to take state power and build a socialist society, will undermine the reactionary and unpopular nationalist politics of the bourgeoisie.

Vox declares itself main opposition party as Spanish government talks begin
Alejandro López, WSWS, Nov 12 2019

Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox, addresses supporters gathered outside the party headquarters
following the general election in Madrid, Sunday Apr 28 2019. (Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP)

Amid growing calls for a grand coalition between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP), the Vox party has declared itself the main opposition party in parliament. Sunday’s elections resulted once again in a hung parliament, the fourth in as many elections since 2015. The PSOE obtained 120 seats, 56 seats short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament. The PP won 87 seats, followed by the far-right Vox, which went from 24 to 52 seats, becoming the third-largest party in parliament. The pseudo-left Podemos party got 35, losing seven since the April 2019 elections, while the right-wing, anti-Catalan party Citizens went from more than 40 seats to 10. Yesterday after an executive meeting of Vox, its leader Santiago Abascal called again for repression of protests in Catalonia, threatening:

Spaniards have voted us to make us the opposition. We will vote against any PSOE government. We will not vote for or back a minority PSOE government. Until we respond to the national emergency in Catalonia, we cannot attend the social emergency of our country. Responsibility belongs to others.

Meanwhile, a bitter battle is unfolding within the ruling elite over how to form a government. The right-wing press is leading a growing campaign for a PSOE-PP grand coalition. El Mundo published an editorial demanding:

Pedro Sánchez fails in the elections: it’s the time for a grand coalition. Sunday’s election results are more fragmented and have created a more ungovernable political scenario. Spain is mired in reformist immobility, social fatigue and secessionist threat to national unity. Therefore, only a great agreement of constitutionalist forces, with a reformist vocation and with the spirit of concord inherent in the genesis of our democracy, would allow us to end the blockade. The general interests of Spain demand a great coalition between PSOE and PP. It is an unprecedented formula in our country, but absolutely necessary.

El Español, which called for a grand coalition before the election, yesterday published an editorial which demanded:

No excuses or delays: Spain needs the grand coalition. … A PSOE-Podemos government would be arithmetically possible, but it would not guarantee a government strong enough to face the challenges facing our country. … Only a grand coalition remains, unusual in Spain but usual in certain other European countries. The situation is of such gravity that it forces us to make a virtue of necessity.

The pro-PSOE daily El País, while not openly advocating a grand coalition, is calling for a PSOE-PP agreement, asserting:

It is important to explore the possibilities of a minimum programme that allows the legislature to be launched.

For the moment, the PSOE has rejected such a possibility. On Monday its organization secretary José Luis Ábalos said after a meeting of the PSOE executive committee:

We are not going to bank on a grand coalition with a political right that does not accept its share of responsibility.

However, he left open the possibility of the PP backing a minority PSOE government, saying:

I hope all political forces will exercise utmost responsibility and not exclude any options on the table. … The PP could abstain in order to quickly facilitate a PSOE government.

The other scenario is a PSOE government with Podemos. On Monday, Ábalos said:

Our commitment is to make sure there isn’t a third election, but a progressive government.

Such scenario would require the PSOE to secure the support of Podemos, More Country Party, Citizens Party, Basque Nationalist Party, Canary Islands Coalition, Teruel Exists, Cantabria Regionalist Party and Nationalist Galician Block. This indicates the extraordinary fragility of any PSOE government that could be assembled on this basis. To avoid relying on support from the separatist Catalan Republican Left, whose leader Oriol Junqueras was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a show trial organised by the PSOE, Sánchez would need support from at least seven parties to obtain a parliamentary majority. None of the coalition governments being proposed have anything to offer to the workers. They all represent stepped-up militarism, attacks on democratic rights and social austerity. The acting PSOE government has laid out an austerity plan for the European Commission, including cuts in health care and education, to slash €3.7b by the end of 2020. The European Commission is demanding €6.6b in cuts. Last week, Sánchez passed a decree without a parliamentary vote allowing Madrid to intervene “with exceptional and temporary” networks and telecoms services, including telephony, fibre optics and Internet, against “threats to public order.” This allows the government to order the urgent removal without court approval of any digital communication for reasons of “public safety,” “civil protection,” “emergencies,” “defence of human life” or “interference with other networks.” The law opens the door to mass censorship amidst an explosive rise of mass protests and strikes, from the Pindo auto industry to Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria in the Middle East, Ecuador and Chile in Latin America, and Catalonia in Spain itself. It underscores that the rise of Vox is only the most obvious manifestation of the entire ruling elite’s drive towards police-state rule.

Vox, a party that until only recently failed to get more than 50,000 votes in a national election, ran a fascist campaign. It called for the suspension of the Catalan regional government; a state of emergency; sending troops to suppress mass protests in the region; seizing Catalan TV stations, schools and police units; banning secessionist, nationalist and leftist parties; and revoking laws condemning Francoism. The rise of Vox and other neofascist parties across Europe is driven from above by the media, the state and sections of the military and police forces. It has benefitted from the media’s endless promotion of Spanish nationalism and police-state repression in Catalonia. Its 52 deputies include retired pro-Francoite generals, former police and Civil Guards, anti-LGBTI activists, holocaust deniers, lawyers and Catholic fundamentalists. The fact that a fascist party can announce itself to be the main opposition party in parliament is above all due to the role of Podemos. Podemos endlessly called for a coalition government with the pro-austerity and militarist PSOE, even as the PSOE whipped up Spanish chauvinism and called for a new crackdown on the Catalan nationalists. Podemos also demands that the population endorse the reactionary verdict which has imprisoned nine Catalan activists and politicians as political prisoners; supports police repression in Catalonia; and has run a campaign based on patriotism. At his last campaign meeting in Madrid, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias declared:

Podemos is the only patriotic political force in Spain. I am appealing to the vote of the homeland, of the people, of a people who want democracy to defend themselves against the powerful.

This endless promotion of nationalism and the Spanish homeland by Podemos has handed the initiative within official politics to Vox. Podemos is once again calling for a PSOE-Podemos government. Yesterday Iglesias cynically said:

If after the April elections it was a historic opportunity, now it is a historical necessity, and the only way to stop the far right.


One Comment

  1. Posted November 12, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    As it faces mounting political protest and anger against social inequality, the ruling class is moving to set up fascist police-states tasked with violently repressing social opposition in the working class.

    (emphasis mine)
    excuse my dopiness, but i am having trouble following the wsws diagram:
    • vox is fascist, also national socialist (also nationalist, also (presumably) socialist),
    • catalan campaign was strongly supported by israel and soros,
    • it was created by the ruling class,
    (more could be said about wsws’ fiat denunciation of AfD’s political aims but best to not muddy the waters now).

    ergo, the ruling class, as denounced by wsws, is in diametric opposition to and by interests and behind-the-scenes (as always) activity of israel and soros.
    note too, that israel and soros are often portrayed as belonging to antagonistic camps, but i am glad that we can count both israel and soros enlisted as brothers-in-arms in our fight for freedom from the oppression of the ruling class.

    and don’t forget to read a bit of protocols as part of the daily meditating regimen.

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