Editorial from the April 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard
The cause of the triumph of the groups that have gone under the name of “Socialist” in the years immediately following the war, and the reason they failed to hold the support of the people afterwards, has not yet been properly appreciated by those who aspire to lead the labour movement. Labour leaders of one kind or another attribute their declining influence to what they look upon as a peculiar, powerful and savage bogeyman, “Fascism,” and do not ask themselves what Fascism really is and why it claims adherents so rapidly even among working men. The savagery attributed to the various Fascist movements is by no means new, it has been a common characteristic of the social struggle for ages and is not a particular and pernicious post-war growth.
Capitalism was born and flourished on brutality, both at home and abroad. As far as England is concerned, what a record of brutality is contained in the history of the treatment of its factory and agricultural slaves during the last century, of the treatment of the Irish peasant, the African and the Hindu. What recent proceedings have surpassed in brutality the wiping out of the Communards in France sixty-three years ago ?
Apart from other considerations the point to be kept in mind is that all privileged classes, from the beginning of their existence in the distant past, fight savagely against all attempts that they believe will encroach upon their privileged position and, where the means are available, they will continue to do so. In modern times the privileged groups are neither capable enough nor numerous enough to do the work of suppression themselves and so they beguile sections of the oppressed into the belief that the interests of all are identical with the continuance of privilege and they endeavour to weaken the movement for change by setting other sections at loggerheads.
Such being the position the only thing that will combat capitalist movements is clearness of understanding—the spread of knowledge among the workers. Temporary expedients that give a movement size without solidity only raise false hopes and leave the way open for the inevitable collapse. The desertion by workers from the labour parties of England, Italy and Germany was, to a great extent, due to the compromising policies of those parties. On the other hand, had those parties been soundly based, had compromise been excluded, the parties in question would have been smaller, but solid; they would have raised no false hopes nor brought to many the despair they have done.
While parties claiming to be Socialist ally themselves with capitalist groups to gain temporary ends, working men will not draw a line of fundamental distinction between any of the groups that solicit their support. While their suffrages are asked for in support of reforms that do not make any fundamental difference in their social position, the workers naturally tend to support the group that makes the most enticing promises, whatever be the label—in fact, the newer the label the better. Those who do not fulfil their promises are temporarily deserted. The capitalists know this quite well, hence their misuse of the term "Socialist” so much lately.
That is all there is to it at the bottom, and Fascism is no more permanent than the other reform movements that have been used to stave off the inevitable abolition of capitalism.