The defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election was seen by many as a repudiation of fascism. After Biden was declared the winner of the election, Big Easy Magazine, whose slogan is “Unapologetically Progressive,” published an article entitled “America Defeats Fascism.” MSNBC announced, “Today, as Joe Biden is declared the president-elect, a historic wrong has been made right.” The Guardian stated, “Biden’s win marks the end of Trump’s war on democracy and truth.” If Biden’s defeat of Trump was a victory over fascism, it was of the pyrrhic variety. As Pyrrhus said after his victory at Asculum, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” This is the state of the left in the United States after the Biden campaign. One more establishment Democratic victory of this nature, and we shall be utterly ruined. Democracy did not win when Joe Biden won, and fascism did not lose when Trump lost.
A Biden presidency does not at all signal a defeat of fascism. A key component in the rise of fascism has been the assistance of social democratic parties. As Georgi Dimitrov explained,
“Fascism was able to come to power primarily because the working class, owing to the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie pursued by the Social-Democratic leaders, proved to be split, politically and organizationally disarmed, in face of the onslaught of the bourgeoisie.”
This is exactly what the Democratic Party under the leadership of Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi represents. In his victory speech, Biden said, “To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.” Biden’s call for bipartisanship signals a further transformation of the Democratic party into a social-fascist party and follows the pattern of only performative resistance established during the Trump years. The Democratic party is not an opposition party. Rather than attempting to fight the fascism of the Republican party under Trump, Biden is seeking to work with many of the same politicians who have now twice refused to vote to impeach Trump. Only recently he said, “We need a Republican Party that is principled and strong.” These are not the actions of someone who wants to fight the increasingly fascist nature of the Republican party.
J. T. Murphy warned us in 1930, “Social-Democracy…passes swiftly from the reform of capitalism ostensibly on behalf of the workers to the violent defence of capitalism against the working class.” This is what the Democratic Party today represents. They are a party of capitalism. In a CNN town hall on January 31, 2017, Nancy Pelosi said, “We’re capitalists and that’s just the way it is.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who ran as a progressive in the presidential primary, has said, “I am a capitalist to my bones.”
A capitalist party will defend capitalism against socialism even it means the ascent of fascism. This is what happened with the Social Democratic Party in Germany, who murdered Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht when they took a stand against capitalism and attempted to establish a Soviet republic in Germany. The Social Democratic party’s violent repression of labor and socialist movements helped pave the way for the Nazi takeover of Germany. As Georgi Dimitrov said, “All this, however, does not make less important the fact that, before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.” This is the position that the Biden/Harris administration is taking – facilitating the victory of fascism in the United States. Fighting socialism is more important to the Democrats than fighting fascism.
“Let me define the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties. That is what is in this bill. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has 70 enhanced penalties, and my friend from California, Senator Feinstein, outlined every one of them. I gave a list to her today. She asked what is in there to every one of them. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 125,000 new State prison cells.”Joe Biden
In addition to directly facilitating the rise of fascism through defending capitalism, Biden is supporting policies that lend strength to the fascist movement. Even before the white nationalist assault on the Capitol, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.” This follows the pattern Biden has set throughout his career of writing crime bills. This includes the 1994 crime bill enacted under Bill Clinton and the Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991. He has claimed on multiple occasions he wrote the Patriot Act. During the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer of 2020, Biden said, “You can ban chokeholds … you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. … Instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg.” Shooting them in the leg is not police reform – it is police brutality.
During his campaign for the presidency, Biden said, “I want to get police more money in order to deal with the things they badly need…” This is in direct contradiction to the demands of the Movement for Black Lives, who call for the following, “We demand investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people.” As Biden said on a call with various civil rights leaders, “I also don’t think we should get too far ahead ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police’ anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing — which I promise you, will occur. Promise you.” In this call, Biden was already backing off of even the weak reformist policies he supported and is blaming the left in doing so. Strengthening the police, an organization – already full of white supremacists, will only strengthen the power of the fascist movements in the United States.
Biden’s response to the January 6th invasion of the capitol was alarming. He called it “An assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it.” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris tweeted, “Fidelity to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our democracy.” This differs very little from when Trump said in 2016, “We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order.”
What good is law and order, when the rule of law of the United States is firmly based on racism and the defense of private corporations? The police force was not created to protect and serve the working class. As Sam Mitrani says, “They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid-to-late-19th century from the threat posed by that system’s offspring, the working class.” As Howard Zinn put it, “The state and its police were not neutral referees in a society of contending interests. They were on the side of the rich and powerful.” Not only are they on the side of the rich, but the police are also inherently racist in nature. As Chris Hedges explains, “The entrenched racism in America has always meant that poor people of color are the first cast aside in society and disproportionately suffer from the most brutal forms of social control meted out by the police and the prison system.” Strengthening the police and domestic terrorism laws is a response that only feeds the oppression of minorities and the working class. Defunding the police will reduce the power of the oligarchy – which is why both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are against it.
One of the greatest examples of modern-day fascism occurred at Standing Rock during the Obama/Biden. Here the forces of the state came together with privately contracted mercenaries from the TigerSwan security company to defend a private oil company against peaceful indigenous protesters. William Robinson describes their role, “TigerSwan was charged with organizing a counter-insurgency campaign against the protesters in coordination with the company and with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including National Guard troops.” (Robinson 856) War for oil has often been waged by the United States throughout the world, but Standing Rock brought the war home and focused it against some of the most marginalized in our society. As Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale said, “Domestic imperialism at home is in fact fascism…. The police state that exists here in America right now is in fact fascism right before our eyes.” (Foner 94) When asked about the treatment of the water protectors, Obama called it “a challenging situation.” The Obama/Biden administration did nothing to end this situation and allowed it to “play out” as their terms ended.
While Standing Rock is an example of imperialism brought home, it pales in comparison to the imperialism abroad that Biden has supported throughout his entire career. In 1998, Biden called for war in Iraq. In 1999, he coauthored a bill with John McCain that authorized a potential ground assault in Kosovo. When the opportunity to actually go to war in Iraq came up again, Biden enthusiastically supported it. Biden’s pro-war cabinet selections have shown that he has not changed his position on imperialism. In recent confirmation hearings, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, stated that Biden will consider Guaido as the leader of Venezuela. This paves the way for more brutal sanctions and potential coup attempts. Biden supports a fascist police state at home and an imperialist military agenda abroad.
The argument against Biden as a fascist is that he is not an authoritarian leader and does not seek that power. Where Trump admired dictators and mentioned wanting to be president for life, Biden pays lip service to the importance of democracy and the constitution. Yet, we can see that modern-day fascism can exist within a political system that is nominally democratic. As Robinson writes, “The new modalities of social control and ideological domination blur boundaries, so that there may be a constitutional and normalized neofascism, with formal representative institutions, a constitution, political parties, and elections – all while the political system is tightly controlled by transnational capital and its representatives and any dissent that actually threatens the system is neutralized if not liquidated.” (Robinson 854) This is an incredibly accurate description of what happened to stop the Bernie Sanders campaign – the corporate powers came together and neutralized the threat to capitalism that the Bernie Sanders movement posed. Multi-billionaire Mike Bloomberg spent over $1 billion in the primary with the sole goal of defeating Bernie Sanders. With the support of the corporate media, Joe Biden, who had come in fourth place in Iowa and fifth place in New Hampshire, was propped up as a viable candidate. The ability of the corporate elite to choose our candidates is not democracy – it is fascism. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign spent more than $1.6 billion, over 60% from large donors. Ultimately 190 billionaires donated to his campaign. This is a perfect example of the tight control corporations hold over the United States’ electoral system. If Joe Biden follows up on his promises to his big donors, he will be a puppet for the ruling elites. His recent coronavirus response healthcare plan is that of health insurance lobbyists, not the public option he ran on. He is already making good on his promises to his corporate donors.
Biden represents some of the worst elements of patriarchy. When Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her allegations regarding Brett Kavanaugh, the Democrats did everything they could to support her and attempt to stop Kavanaugh’s appointment. Yet when Lucy Flores, Amy Lappos, D.J. Hill, Caitlyn Caruso, Ally Coll, Sofie Karasek, Vail Kohnert-Yount, Alexandra Tara Reade, and Eva Murry came forward with their accounts of Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior, there was not only silence but actual defense of Biden. Joe Biden’s chosen running mate, Kamala Harris, said of Biden’s accusers in April 2019, “I believe them and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.” Yet she turned around and accepted the nomination as Biden’s Vice-Presidential candidate. Now Biden has chosen Anita Dunn for a temporary position in his administration – the same woman who gave Harvey Weinstein public relations advice before his sexual harassment scandal went public. The #MeToo and #BelieveWomen movements were thrown under the bus in order to facilitate the nomination of a defender of neoliberalism and the capitalist system. The Democratic Party believes women only when it is convenient. Misogyny is perfectly acceptable if it advances their corporate agenda. This reinforcement of patriarchy is just one more element that lends strength to fascist movements in the United States.
Corporate media propaganda bears much of the responsibility behind the rehabilitation of Joe Biden. Tara Reade and Biden’s other accusers were not given fair treatment by our corrupt corporate media system. Tara Reade was so relentlessly smeared that only recently Mother Jones, a theoretically progressive outlet, had to remove her name from their “Top 10 Lunatics” list. This is nothing new – the capitalist newspapers of the 1920s covered Mussolini in a generally positive light. As the Smithsonian Magazine notes, “From their perspective, the post-WWI surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than Fascism.” This is why today’s media compared Bernie Sanders to coronavirus and to Nazism. His anti-capitalist program was considered a much greater threat than the possibility that an alleged rapist in Biden could be defeated by Trump. The media was more interested in covering up Joe Biden’s many shortcomings than in reporting the truth. While Joe Biden did win the presidency, he was down-ballot poison; the Democrats lost seats in the House and only managed to get to a tie in the senate. His cabinet picks differ little from those that Citibank chose for Obama in 2008. Joe Biden’s presidency represents near-total control of the transnational corporate class.
In Biden’s victory speech, he said, “I sought this office to restore the soul of America.” This differs very little from Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again.” Both slogans hearken back to a mythical past. In a speech on the doctrine of fascism, Afredo Rocco said, “A powerful innovating movement, issuing from the war and of which Fascism is the purest expression, was to restore Italian thought in the sphere of political doctrine to its own traditions which are the traditions of Rome.” These sentiments do not differ greatly from each other. What is the soul of the United States that Biden wishes to restore? It is not as Biden claims, “Decency, respect, tolerance — that’s who we are, that’s who we’ve always been.” Anyone who has read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States knows the United States is a settler-colonial state that was born through the genocide of the native populations and slavery of African peoples. There is no mythical past we should aspire to. There have only been the worst ravages of capitalism – colonialism, racism, and imperialism. The neoliberal Biden administration can only restore a corrupt soul that supports increased growth of fascist power.
Biden may not be the open fascist Donald Trump was, but his history shows that his corporate-controlled administration leads to an increasingly fascist system. As Malcolm X said, “The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative.” Where Donald Trump openly encouraged white supremacists and police brutality, Joe Biden does it covertly. Joe Biden argues for police reform but wants to increase funding to the police. He says we should believe women – but not when they accuse him. The dangerous hypocrisy of the Democratic party and the Biden administration is a slippery slope leading to an outright fascist state. Democracy is dead.
Foner, Philip S. (Ed.). (1970) The Black Panthers Speak. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.
Robinson, William. (2019) Accumulation and the Global Police State. Critical Sociology, 45(6).