Fascism and the Fall of Roe v. Wade

OAP, Béal Feirste

In ‘The Fascist Offensive’, Georgi Dimitrov lays out clearly what fascism is and how it operates. He writes;

Fascism is the power of finance capital itself… The development of fascism, and the fascist dictatorship itself, assume different forms in different countries, according to historical, social and economic conditions and to the national peculiarities, and international position of the given country.

What does this mean in practice? Fascism is a situation where the state is governed in the interests of the finance capitalist class, but due to the differing material conditions from nation to nation, the outward political character of these nations may differ considerably while still being dictatorships of the international bourgeoisie. In the United States, fascism has manifested itself in a reactionary, colonial, and Christian conservatism, one that engages in the violent suppression of workers and marginalised groups, and in racist national chauvinism internationally.

What relevance does this have to the recent repealing of Roe v. Wade, and with it the federal protection afforded to people’s right to terminate a pregnancy? As Marxists we need to recognise these issues from a social scientific point of view. While many liberals wish to frame these issues on cultural terms (primarily to wash their hands of liability for this appalling ruling) we need to recognise that these events are driven by social and economic issues, not by cultural reaction in the superstructure untethered from the economic base. This ruling is just the most overt of a list of events that reveal a wave of reaction primarily targeting already marginalised people in our society, driven by a growing socio-economic crisis facing the finance-capitalist class.

This crisis is precipitated by the increasing lack of easily exploitable labour due to decreasing birth rates and a rapidly ageing population. With fewer workers to sell their labour to the capitalists, the proletariat finds itself in an empowered position. They can demand greater wages in the workplace, greater rights when they are selling their labour, and greater benefits of having sold their labour. Otherwise, they can leave their workplace, as there are many other companies clamouring for labour which will try to outbid the original employer. For the finance capitalist this simply will not do. It is completely contrary to their interests for labour to have any greater power to demand things of its employers. Unemployment must remain high and workers must remain desperate and grateful for what scraps they are afforded in order for finance capitalists to maximise their own profits and power. The solution to this problem that has emerged is to drive up birth rates and create as many new workers as possible so that future generations of labour can return to the more tenuous, easily exploitable conditions that benefited the finance capitalist class so well. Roe v. Wade is one feature of this: by limiting reproductive autonomy, many more children may be born that may then be used for their labour value. However, this does not stop solely with Roe v. Wade. Recommendations made to the Supreme Court by Justice Clarence Thomas include the repealing of federal protections for contraceptives, same-sex marriage, and same-sex relationships. It does not end at the borders of the United States either. In Britain and Ireland, there has been a huge rise in the amount of openly transphobic rhetoric being allowed not just in print media but aired by our national broadcasters. These positions are not coincidental: the attacks on those who can become pregnant and LGBTQ+ people are all symptoms of this international bourgeois class anxiety about the future viability of their exploitative position at the top of society. 

Already we see the cheerleaders of reaction, emboldened by the US decision, taking to our streets

In response to this analysis, many people argue that this is an oversimplification; that there is no international cabal of people meeting to decide how best to oppress the working class. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of Marxist analysis. As Marxists, we do not believe that the ruling class use their power in such a direct conspiratorial way. Rather, in much the same way as a person can act on their subconscious impulses without recognising the root motivation for what they do, society is compelled to change based on the socio-economic needs of the ruling classes, without members of those classes needing to directly intervene to push these events to occur. This reaction is driven by the needs of the ruling class in society whether members of that class are directly involved in the creation of these events or not. 

The fact that people who can become pregnant and LGBTQ+ people are the primary victim of this reaction is at once abhorrent and unsurprising, occupying as they do an already marginalised position in society, often used as the shock absorbers for economic crashes and the stripping of public services. The ruling class again comes to rely on their age-old tactic of further victimising those most vulnerable of groups in order to weather the storm they themselves created. It is far easier for them to divide up the working classes and exploit some more than others than it is for them to come for us all at once, and far too many working-class people fall for this tactic and do not stand alongside our marginalised comrades. 

How should we, as a revolutionary working-class organisation, respond to this violent fascist reaction? Firstly, we must educate ourselves and others. We must understand what fascism is, see through the purely cultural rhetoric and understand its root causes. Secondly, we must confront fascists wherever they may be. We cannot allow them a space in our communities or the platform with which to spread their reactionary hatred. Thirdly, we must begin the construction of an alternative. We must be consummate modernists, imagining a progressive, socialist, genuinely Irish future in which our marginalised comrades are welcome, and the finance capitalist class is not. Only when we understand our enemy, give them no space in which to organise, and begin the construction of a new society where fascism cannot possibly grow will we have fulfilled our duty as anti-fascists and socialist republicans.

2 thoughts on “Fascism and the Fall of Roe v. Wade”

  1. “In the United States, fascism has manifested itself in a reactionary, colonial, and Christian conservatism, one that engages in the violent suppression of workers and marginalised groups, and in racist national chauvinism internationally.”
    Uh, nope. In true american fashion, they have TWO fascist branches. There’s this one, and there’s the other one that is ok with the gays and trans, but also wants to take your rights and free speech too.

    • If we are looking at this from a political party perspective, yes I can see how that applies, though I’d be hesitant to suggest that the Democratic Party are “ok” with LGBT+ people, moreso I think they’re begrudgingly pursuing votes cynically. However, American fascism is a cultural phenomena not unique to the Republican Party. The entirety of mainstream American society is driven by this fascism which I’d argue is reactionary, colonial and Christian conservative. The whole state apparatus is ideologically informed by this fascism, even if the other party controls the state. That said, I’m not American and my position may be misinformed.


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