False Equivalency and the Fetishism of Free Speech

In the days following the murder of activist Heather Heyer as a result of the fascist attack in Charlottesville, leftists far and wide correctly condemned the words and actions of the neo-fascist Trump, who explicitly – and repeatedly – declared a false equivalency between the fascists horde and the anti-fascists who opposed them. The implicit equivalency established by Trump in his initially bemoaning of violence on many sides” later gave way to a more direct verbal attack on the opponents of fascism during the now infamous debacle at the Trump Tower on August. In the latter instance, the imperialist leader actually took steps beyond equivalency, virtually absolving white nationalists and neo-Nazis of most wrongdoing while buttressing his ham-handed criticisms of the antifascists in Charlottesville.

It is not unsurprising that Trump would seek to legitimize the positions and tactics of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and their Confederate forbearers at the present point in human history, as he most certainly sees them as powerful allies and enforcers in the effort to curtail the imminent decay of capitalism. At the same time, it is also encouraging that the tragic events of Charlottesville ultimately galvanized antifascist sentiment among a broad range of groups and movements. But a fundamental problem remains with respect to how and why fascism must be combated.

“I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” boasts a tired, old platitude.[1] Fascism has lingered and now thrives in the United States under the auspices of “free speech,” a well-intentioned but highly fetishized cornerstone of American society. It endures in America not only because it is tolerated, but because it is zealously defended. A destructive and murderous worldview that promotes slavery and genocide, fascism is unworthy of the protections offered through the doctrines of liberalism.

The Second World War was the proving ground of this Weltanschauung as a mechanized ideology, wherein untold millions on three continents perished, in the first phase as victims of fascism and in the later phases as its opponents. The same is true with respect to the American Confederacy, which sought to preserve the enslavement of black Americans in the face of the institution’s imminent demise.

Communists have always stood in opposition to the insidiousness of oppression, whether it manifested south of the Mason-Dixon line or Nazi-era ghettoes of Eastern Europe. In 1864, Karl Marx penned a letter to Abraham Lincoln praising the U.S. president’s resolve in ending the scourge of slavery in the United States.

[The workingmen of Europe] consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.

Decades later, Comrade Joseph Stalin put Marx’s vision into practice, leading the worldwide opposition to the forces of fascism following Nazi Germany’s invasion of the U.S.S.R. in 1941. Stalin gave no hint of the implicit moral equivalency that now allows fascism to fester in present-day America. In the face of the barbarous and bloodthirsty Nazi invaders, Stalin unequivocally called for the “complete destruction” of fascism and punishment for its adherents. His leadership – along with the collective resolve of the Soviet people, their allies, and partisans in occupied countries – ultimately led to the annihilation of fascism at the close of conflagration. The processes and practices of “denazification” followed, effectively outlawing fascism as throughout Germany. Much to the credit of Comrade Stalin, Nazism was effectively eradicate in the German Democratic Republic until the restoration of capitalist rule in unified Germany four decades later.

But while American forces were a signatory of the proclamations which implemented denazification throughout post war Germany, the doctrine of “free speech” likely impressed upon Americans that it was untenable to impose similar restrictions at home. The American government itself infamously cavorted with Nazis behind the scenes during this time, as well. [2]

Just like the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the aftermath of the Civil War, the dénouement of World War Two brought about new renaissance of sorts for fascism in America. Old prejudices commingled with the hate-filled philosophies that were allowed to spread in the name of protected, “free” speech, giving way to deadly new strains of American fascism, including neo-Nazism and the Christian identity movement.

Even in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, a poll conducted by major American media outlets indicated that 9% of Americans – 30 million United States citizens – continue to regard white supremacy as “acceptable.” Countless more regard the protection of such views as essential to the fabric of American society, effectively creating a false equivalency between meaningful social discourse and barbarism. It is deeply troubling that so many Americans remain sympathetic and enabling towards a vanguard of aspiring terrorists and murderers. It is also a call to action for good people everywhere to recognize and oppose fascism in all forms.

The current trend with regard to how corporate media and citizen journalism propagate fascist ideas and agendas through a seemingly endless parade of interviews and forums, all of which strive to provide the “other side” of an argument in which no rational person should engage. Fascists only benefit through the continued opportunity to grow their ranks through free and unencumbered self-promotion. Those who provide fascists and their ilk with the means to spread their poisonous ideology and defend this as a “right” are, in fact, little better than the fascists themselves.

For too long, fascists and their ideological predecessors have promoted their designs of hatred and violence with the tacit support of the American government, mainstream press outlets, and misguided proponents of free expression. Repression, brutality, and murder are the real-world manifestations of fascism as an ideology. Preventing the spread of this ideology by any and all means is therefore essential. It is thus the duty of antifascists – including all communists and our fellow travelers – to isolate and suppress the message of the fascists, irrespective of the medium or method.

No tolerance for fascists! No protection for fascists! No free speech for fascists!

Oppose the neo-fascist Trump regime and white supremacy in all forms, today and moving forward to a better future!


[1] The quote is often misattributed to Voltaire.

[2] In fact, the American government aided many Nazis in flight from prosecution via Operation Paperclip, which unfolded in the months and years following Germany’s surrender.



Categories: History, Racism, Reactionary Watch, Second World War, Theory, U.S. News, United States History, Workers Struggle, World History

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