The ant and the grasshopper

Ağustos böceği ve karınca

Events cast shadows long before,

One such event would be a war.

But how are shadows to be seen

When total darkness fills the screen?

Bertolt Brecht

“Five Children’s Songs”


How foreseeable! How obvious! How banal! The results of the elections that unfolded in the 27 European countries held on 6-9 June were greeted extensively as if there were something novel, something surprising. For many years, at least since the onset of the Third Great Depression in the wake of the misnamed “global financial crisis” of 2008, fascism, under the coy and reserved demeanour of proto-fascism, has been on the rise. But the darkness cast on left-wing thinking since the 1970s and the 1980s, magnified by the trauma of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), led to the blindfolding of international socialism, the international workers movement and the left-wing intelligentsia.

The rise of fascism was simply hidden from the view of the masses. No, this was “populism”, that catch-all phrase that stands out for its sheer ambiguity and means all kinds of things to all kinds of people. Nothing serious, then. Some racism, to be sure. A rift in the united front of globalisation defenders, ranging from the Bidens and von der Leyens all the way to post-modern and left-liberal (in the European sense) pundits. A thorn on the side, but nothing grave. No amount of warning regarding the simple facts of life was sufficient for these sleepwalkers, not Brexit, nor the rise of Trump or Bolsonaro, nor the fact that one-third of the French voters supported Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections in France in 2017. Even during the previous elections to the European Parliament in 2019, when in three of the four largest countries of pre-Brexit Europe (France, Italy, and Britain) the “populists” came first, the imperturbable analysts of left and classic right were not to be bothered, for after all in many countries (Austria and the Netherlands most conspicuously) where “populism” had been on the rise for a long time, the trend had been reversed, so went the consolation. And above all the Greens were the biggest winners of the elections and that comforted consciences and purses. 

We at DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party) warned against the myopia of the pundits of the left both in diagnosing the nature of the movement (defining proto-fascism as “populism” was an unadulterated crime for supposedly left-wing movements and thinkers that claimed, even half-heartedly, to be pro-working classes) and in underestimating the degree of severity of the emerging threat. Unfortunately, this epidemic of blindness was not confined to the adepts of postmodernism, left-liberalism, post-Marxism and Co., but very widespread even among the ranks of those claiming to be revolutionary Marxists. So, a precious span of a decade (if one counts from the generalised warning of the 2014 European elections and Brexit and the election of Trump in 2016) or even of a decade and a half (if one counts from the onset of the Third Great Depression) was wasted in ruminating on “populism”.

The sleepwalkers finally woke up with the storming of the Capitol, Trump’s caricatural March on Rome, on 6 January 2021. And immediately, as if an imaginary International Central Committee of the Enemies of Marxism had made a solemn resolution, all the adepts of the “populism” school immediately turned to the use of the dirty word “fascism”, which none had dared pronounce openly in polite company. It is in the aftermath of this shock caused by Trump’s attempt at subverting the American electoral system that now comes the tremor of the European elections of 2024. I invite the readers to inspect the widely-read papers of the imperialist world: the New York TimesLe MondeEl PaisLa Repubblica, possibly the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung etc. and assure them that almost nowhere is the word “populist” widely used (and abused!). It is true that even at this stage, the word “fascism” or any qualified version of it (“neo-fascist”, “post-fascist”, “proto-fascist”, the latter being what we think is the scientific characterisation) is rarely used. However, “populism” is falling out of fashion. In its stead comes at least an appellation that is more faithful to the true nature of these movements, “the far right”, “l’extrême droite”, “l’estrema destra” etc., although this still hides from the view of the masses the degree of the urgency of the threat.

The Euro elections of 2024: a brief glance

The first thing

You have to learn is the art of observation.

Bertolt Brecht

“Speech to Danish Working-Class Actors

on the Art of Observation”

As we have already pointed out, the five-yearly elections to the European Parliament have served as a good indicator of the rise of proto-fascism on the old continent. 2014 was the election that signalled the generalisation of the new phenomenon, the rise of proto-fascism: from a few countries like France and Austria and later Greece, Hungary, and Italy, the phenomenon now hopped to many countries around the continent. 2019 then served as a laboratory for the observation of both the inundation of almost the entire continent by these movements, but also, and this is very important for the future of the movement itself, the diversification, in certain countries at least, of tendencies within it and the contradictions between these tendencies (the fully fascist wing, less effective at this stage versus the proto-fascist version, movements of different origins vying for the same trophy of mass support, e.g. Giorgia Meloni vs. Matteo Salvini in Italy, which later, in 2022, was reproduced in France in the form of the contest between Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour at the presidential election etc.) The 2024 elections should therefore have come as no surprise to anyone, except, of course, for the majority of the leftish pundits, the postmodernists and the post-Leninists, the post-colonialists, the post-Marxists and the left-liberals, who for long years had deluded themselves both with respect to the nature and to the degree of severity of the danger. Now, they are amazed at the leap forward of the fascists and we Marxists are amazed at their amazement! The results of the present elections are extremely clear in the message given by the masses, but only an outcome of the previous development that has been gestating for the last decade and a half.

Let us briefly recapitulate the results obtained in elections across the European Union (EU). With the exception of some Nordic countries (Finland and Sweden) and the Baltic countries, proto-fascist parties are either on the rise or standing their ground in almost every country, as well as what we prefer to provisionally name “quasi-fascist” parties, such as Orbán’s party in Hungary or the PiS in Poland. It is ticklish to observe that in the two above-named Nordic countries, proto-fascism has slightly lost ground for these are the two self-same countries that have recently joined NATO, thus suggesting that NATO membership is a good substitute for fascism! We refrain from drawing such a conclusion, of course, but simply point out that in the two groups of countries under discussion (i.e. Nordic and Baltic) political life is over-determined by the Ukraine war and thus the tendency of proto-fascist parties to side with Russia in its frictions with the EU and NATO has probably been the decisive factor in the ebb suffered by those parties in Sweden and Finland and the stagnation of their next of kin in the Baltic countries. No one should become smug in the Nordic countries. Just remember the example of Austria, where simply due to an indefensible scandal that broke out immediately before the elections of 2019 the proto-fascist party lost a lot of its support, the tendency has once more reverted this time to breath-taking increase in support, their percentage rising to 26 per cent, catapulting them to first place at the national level. And to think that for those who dismissed the proto-fascist menace in 2019, one of the basic arguments was the Austrian situation! Netherlands, the other instance used by those who blew up exceptional cases of uneven development in 2019 also saw Geert Wilders’ party in the Netherlands rise from no representation in the European Parliament to seven MEPs elected (with a sizeable vote tally of 17 per cent). 

When we look at the general scene, the tendencies are unmistakable. Proto-fascists made a tremendous showing in the big four of the EU countries: they came in first in France and Italy, second in Germany, and third in Spain. We have already seen that in a country historically essential for the EU such as Austria, too, they came first. Some of the more peripheral countries of Eastern Europe also display a remarkable shift: in both Romania and Bulgaria, there was an explosion of mass support to the proto-fascists and in the latter country from a level of 1 per cent in 2019, the party polled in 2024 a mind-blowing 15 per cent! 

There are other countries where proto-fascists made their first appearance on the scene: Romania is the champion here as well, with six MEPs out of the total of 33 allotted to the country, whereas, it had none before. Portugal is also an exceptionally important case, where the brand new Chega raised its vote from 1.5 per cent to 10 per cent, winning two MEPs for the first time. Among the other first-time winners may be counted Luxemburg, Cyprus, Croatia, as well as the long-existing Wilders party, which, in quite baffling fashion, had no MEPs before.

With respect to the new composition of the European Parliament, we have seen differing figures and estimations in different sources. The exact figure of proto-fascists and quasi-fascists (repeating that we are using this term only provisionally, for lack of a better one) represented in the parliament cannot, for the moment, be pinned down in precise manner, both because some results were late in coming, but also, more structurally and therefore more importantly, not all unconventional movements of the right can be regarded as tributaries of an overall tendential rise of the fascist movement across the EU. However, an exact figure is not that important since in very exceptional cases does the practical instances of voting in the European Parliament have a decisive importance either from the point of view of the EU’s legislative acquis communautaire or from the more general political viewpoint. What is important is the weight of the different families offascist or semi-fascist forces in the overall constellation of political families in the parliament. 

A very good indicator in this sense is the fact that approximately one in four of MEPs belong either to one of the two parliamentary groups that may legitimately be considered to be within this political family, i.e. the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR, 73 MEPs) and Identity and Democracy (ID, 58 MEPs), the rest coming from a nebulous group of MEPs commonly called “diverse extreme right”. A full 25 per cent of the overall figure of 705 MEPs! Telling testimony of the level of power in the EU of the fascist scourge!

Four plain conclusions

He observes badly who does not know

How to use what he has observed.

Bertolt Brecht

“Speech to Danish Working-Class Actors…”


In similar manner to the 2019 Euro elections, RedMed will be publishing intelligent commentary on the election results in many individual countries and regions in the coming days. We are eagerly awaiting to learn about the specific conditions and dynamics of single countries and regions through these well-thought-out Marxist analyses. We will not pass hasty judgments on any of these until being fully informed through these and other sources. However, we would, even at this early stage, like to draw four plain conclusions from the overall situation, each we think a warning sign to the advanced proletariat and revolutionary Marxists.

First, the 2024 elections cannot be characterised as a qualitative leap relative to what has already been unfolding for long years. Despite the near-panic that has overtaken internationally the leftish intelligentsia, the results obtained in these elections simply are a continuation of existing trends, only adding to the breadth and the depth of what has already been going on for the last decade and a half. Although we ourselves have recurrently indicated the importance of these and other elections throughout this period, no one should fall into the trap of parliamentary cretinism and imagine that elections are of decisive importance for the future of either nations or of humanity at large. The future will be played out more importantly on streets and plazas, in factories and neighbourhoods, at universities and schools, and in all probability unfortunately in battlefields. Elections are important in providing opportunities for spreading the word to the great masses of the people in combating the poisonous ideas of fascism and as indicator of the mood of the population, in particular the proletariat. Some elections are more important than others of course. In this period, the presidential elections of 5 November this year in the United States will be much more decisive than these Euro elections, since the US is still the principal trend- and pace-setter in the imperialist world and since Donald Trump, who is already openly advocating subversion of the conventional US political system, will raise hell whether he wins or loses. Thus, the US presidential election this fall is more important than others because it is not only an election!

Secondly, the major exception to what has been said in the preceding paragraph of the quantitative, and not qualitative, nature of the changes brought about by these Euro elections is the political situation in France. Here, the growth in the mass influence and power mustered by the Rassemblement National (National Rally) of Marine Le Pen and her dauphin Jordan Bardella has created a qualitative change, nay an earthquake, that could possibly bring fascism in its proto-fascist guise to share power in this country of central importance in Europe. The fallout of this qualitative leap is evident in the pacing up of developments in the country: the declaration of snap legislative elections by Macron; the formation of the Nouveau Front Populaire (New Popular Front) of primarily four left-wing reformist parties, two of them (the Socialist Party and the Greens) being characterised by a bourgeois class nature; the crack in the so-called “cordon sanitaire” of the so-called “republican parties” against Marine Le Pen’s party opened by Eric Ciotti, the contested but still (as of this writing) leader of the formerly Gaullist party of Les Républicains, in collusion with a powerful capitalist as well as a media magnate, Vincent Bolloré; and the very palpable, though far from guaranteed, prospect of Jordan Bardella taking over as prime minister after the elections. This is an earthquake that is closing the period of the rise of fascism in France, one that has been going on in slow but accelerating pace for almost half a century, and the opening of a new period that will throw the country into a convulsive setup that will be marked by fascism’s direct and immediate quest for power. This does not mean that we are at the threshold of a new 1933 and that Marine Le Pen is going to act like Hitler once in power. The examples of Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, and most recently Meloni demonstrate that the forms and pace of the advent of a fascist regime in the 21st century will take very different forms from the 1920s and the 1930s. And nor is it at all inevitable. Everything will depend on the reciprocal actions of the forces on the field and particularly the turn class struggle will take.

Let us highlight the fact that we preferred to say that France is the “major exception” that displays a quantitative leap and not the “only exception”. That is because the discussion to take place on RedMed may provide for us other examples of countries or regions that may be considered by our comrades at the threshold of a novel and qualitative change. On the other hand, once a qualitative change has taken over a country like France, already in ebullition since 2016 and thus central to the European situation, the potential of the concatenation of many others subsequently will have been placed on the agenda.

The third conclusion we would like to draw is that another qualitative change is brewing towards a perceptibly increased influence of fascism on the overall politics of the EU. It has become apparent that through her political manoeuvering, Giorgia Meloni has made herself indispensable for the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. This rabidly pro-US imperialist president of the Commission needs the support of forces outside the orbit of the European People’s Party, i.e. the group that represents mainstream conservative and Christian democratic parties in the European Parliament. By pairing some of her initiatives with von der Leyen (most notably in garnering the support of the Tunisian dictator Kais Saied for her anti-migration policies together with the latter) and by perceptibly softening her tone regarding the Ukraine war and cosying up with the US, Meloni has posed as a go-between in relations between the fascist movement and the Commission President. This is the first time that fascists are gaining influence, albeit only partial, within the EU establishment, i.e. the formal power structure of the EU. The fact that Meloni was comforted by a rise of her vote from 26 per cent in the parliamentary elections of 2022 to 29 per cent in the Euro elections and the resounding triumph of Marine Le Pen’s party in France will probably lead to a collaboration of the two “iron ladies” of Europe in the coming years in shaping EU policy, despite their present disagreement on the Russian question for the moment and the fact that they are members of two different parliamentary groups (Meloni’s FdI belongs to ECR while Le Pen’s RN is in ID) .

The final conclusion is one we at DIP  have been hammering on for a quarter of century now. The rise of fascism is of course stoppable. History unfolds under the traction of material forces, but is never preordained, always depending on the  reciprocal actions of the contending forces, their level of mobilisation and their strategic and tactical dexterity. The rise of fascism is the result of the deep malaise within the imperialist-capitalist system that has been the structural basis of the spread of racism, ideological revanchism, and the retrograde worldview of fascism. 

Nowadays having woken up to the threat posed by fascism, which until yesterday went under the label of “populism” for them, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements of the left intelligentsia concoct all kinds of superficial “principal causes” to explain the rise of fascism. Prominent among these is migration. Migration is of the nature of a series of mediations that provide excuses for the fascist movement. Whoever asserts, in belated inquiry into the nature of the rise of fascism, that migration is the basic cause is simply playing into the hands of fascism. No, migration, as well as the poverty and the growing misery of the working classes in the so-called “host countries” with respect to migratory flows, are both the end product of the same scourge that has bedevilled the capitalist world system in the last half century. This is capitalism’s deep-seated economic crisis since the mid-1970s, culminating in the Third Great Depression of the last decade and a half, coming as it did after what we prefer to call the “thirty-year crisis”. Having impoverished and immiserated the masses in all countries and swelled the reserve army of labour through its policies of globalism, capitalism is throwing the two sides, the “native” host country workers and the migrants cum refugees in antagonistic confrontation. Fascism was and is, first and foremost, racism conjured to divide the international working class. Fascism is nationalist lunacy in the age of imperialist internationalisation of capital, thus a living contradiction. Fascism is the suicidal adventurist policy of capital to overcome the contradiction between its socialised and internationalised productive forces and its system of private appropriation. It is the outcome of the historic decline of capitalism due to this contradiction. 

Only socialism will save the day. This is the strategic orientation. Only the unity of workers of different nations can contain and push back fascism. Thus, no political force that has a vested interest in the existing system that serves the bourgeoisie can provide any service to the struggle against fascism except for brief transitory moments. No hope can be invested in the New Popular Front that has been formed in France, for none of these parties will even consider for a moment a full break with capitalism. In the hypothetical presence of a revolutionary party of the advanced proletariat, it might be possible to set up temporary alliances with one or two, but nothing more. And nothing at all can be expected from the Socialist Party or the Greens, of bourgeois and petty bourgeois nature through and through.

It is high time to stop ruminating on “populism” or the “extreme right” or other appellations that hide the true nature of these parties. Il faut appeler un chat un chat as the French say. One needs to call a spade a spade. And to organise in order to fight back. By any means necessary.

It is the ants of the world proletariat that will gnaw and eventually exterminate fascism, not the grasshoppers, spokespeople of the modern petty-bourgeoisie.