John Michael Greer’s grasp of the fascist phenomenon is much stronger than Samir Amin’s. As might be expected from a voice so unambiguously aligned with the Left, Amin is entirely indifferent to the essentially populist nature of fascism and its erosion of property rights.
Property has no meaning apart from free disposal, equivalent to an Exit option on a particular instantiation of wealth. Fascism’s statist subordination of the independent ‘plutocracy’ — realized through more-or-less severe restrictions on the free disposal of assets, both formal and informal — is therefore inconsistent with the protection of private property, which is rather eroded from its foundations. (Where communism expropriates, fascism — more efficiently — attenuates.)
Amin is therefore writing from a position of structurally-unobservant Marxist dogma when he remarks of “fascist regimes” in general:
… they were all willing to manage the government and society in such a way as not to call the fundamental principles of capitalism into question, specifically private capitalist property, including that of modern monopoly capitalism. That is why I call these different forms of fascism particular ways of managing capitalism and not political forms that challenge the latter’s legitimacy, even if “capitalism” or “plutocracies” were subject to long diatribes in the rhetoric of fascist speeches. The lie that hides the true nature of these speeches appears as soon as one examines the “alternative” proposed by these various forms of fascism, which are always silent concerning the main point — private capitalist property.
On the contrary — every fascist regime qualifies the liberal right to free disposal of ‘strategic’ economic assets, and thus subverts “private capitalist property” at the root. Indeed, the forms of property most radically affected by fascist governance are precisely those identifiable with a capitalistic (i.e. productive) character. In the case of large-scale capital assets determined as the ‘commanding heights’ of a modern industrial economy, especially those of clear military significance, utilization is directed as stringently under fascist conditions as communistic ones (although typically with considerably greater administrative competence and pragmatic flexibility). When socialism emphasizes practicality, it tends to adopt fascistic traits — such as nationalism and state-supervised bourgeois management — automatically.
Amin’s essay, however, is far from uninteresting. It’s most striking analysis, which also seems to have been its motivating topic, concerns political Islam. Amin’s disdain for this rising ideology is classically Marxist, and entirely untainted by New Left opportunism. In consequence, he is positioned as a voice in the wilderness, addressing a sympathetic audience that has been marginalized to the edge of disappearance.
After formulating a four-fold typology of fascist regimes, Amin resolutely folds Islamism into it, stating:
… the Western powers (the United States and its subaltern European allies) … have given preferential support to the Muslim Brotherhood and/or other “Salafist” organizations of political Islam. The reason for that is simple and obvious: these reactionary political forces accept exercising their power within globalized neoliberalism (and thus abandoning any prospect for social justice and national independence). That is the sole objective pursued by the imperialist powers.
Consequently, political Islam’s program belongs to the type of fascism found in dependent societies. In fact, it shares with all forms of fascism two fundamental characteristics: (1) the absence of a challenge to the essential aspects of the capitalist order (and in this context this amounts to not challenging the model of lumpen development connected to the spread of globalized neoliberal capitalism); and (2) the choice of anti-democratic, police-state forms of political management (such as the prohibition of parties and organizations, and forced Islamization of morals).
The anti-democratic option of the imperialist powers (which gives the lie to the pro-democratic rhetoric found in the flood of propaganda to which we are subjected), then, accepts the possible “excesses” of the Islamic regimes in question. Like other types of fascism and for the same reasons, these excesses are inscribed in the “genes” of their modes of thought: unquestioned submission to leaders, fanatic valorization of adherence to the state religion, and the formation of shock forces used to impose submission. In fact, and this can be seen already, the “Islamist” program makes progress only in the context of a civil war (between, among others, Sunnis and Shias) and results in nothing other than permanent chaos. This type of Islamist power is, then, the guarantee that the societies in question will remain absolutely incapable of asserting themselves on the world scene. It is clear that a declining United States has given up on getting something better — a stable and submissive local government — in favor of this “second best.”
Beyond an appeal for “vigilance”, Amin has little to propose in practical response to this predicament. Given the near-total evaporation of secular-leftist constituencies in the Muslim world, accompanied by the disappearance of a confident anti-Islamist Left outside it, this absence of practical direction is scarcely surprising.