My ten cents' worth on Destiny
Here's a quick contribution I made to the discussion John's article sparked on indymedia:
Fascism has to be defined ultimately in terms of class relationships. Fascism occurs when a capitalist class, or a section of the capitalist class, is unable to control an insurgent section of the working class using the normal insitutions of the state. Fascist leaders often come from the petty bourgeoisie or military, and they are called in because they can mobilise a section of the petty bourgeoisie and/or working class to smash organised labour and the left.
Fascist leaders also destroy bourgeois democracy (ie multi-party parliamentary democracy), because it is a luxury capitalism cannot afford in a revolutionary crisis. Fascist leaders also frequently rein in the 'free' market, using a 'corporate state' state to commandeer economic resources and to force puppet unions and a cowed bourgeoisie to cooperate 'in the national interest'.
When John mentions Maori, commies, and other groups I think he is pointing out that real fascists would be aiming to destroy the whole of the labour movement and the left. I've visited the National Front website and I notice that they spend almost as much time attacking leftists (and especially those dreaded 'communists'!) as any other group. They are also very anti-Maori.
The National Front's project of mobilising the white working class can only succeed if they destroy cross-race working class institutions, the most important of which is of course the union movement. They'd like to create white-only unions, and they naturally hate communists because good communists are amongst the staunchest trade unionists.
Outfits like the NF hang around on the political fringes until a crisis makes them into a credible force and they are needed by a section of the bourgeoisie.
I don't think it's possible for a Maori fascist movement to exist, because the capitalist class in New Zealand is overwhelmingly white, and Maori are the core of the working class that a crisis-ridden capitalism would use fascism to smash.
Maybe the only example of an indigenous fascist movement in this part of the world is the Taukei movement in Fiji, which is sponsored by a part of the Fijian elite with close links to the US and the army, and which uses violently anti-Indian language to mobilise poor working class and petty criminal indigenous Fijians.
I think that the model to use to understand Destiny is not the Blackshirts but the Ratana Church. Ratana organised 'Te Morehu' - the poor and atomised people left on the margins of both Pakeha and traditional Maori society after the dispossesions of the nineteenth century. Tamaki is picking up some of the declassed, atomised workers who were hammered by the neo-liberal onslaughts of the 80s and 90s - he is giving these people a sense of community and purpose, but he is doing it by adapting rather than resisting the ideology of the oppressor.
Everyone carries on as though Tamaki's Americanisms are something new, but Ratana used American titles like 'President' in his Church and adapted American imagery - one of the early Ratana symbols was a ladder rising out of a convertible car (message: we can use the material world to get spiritual rewards). For Tamaki as for Ratana, America represents dynamism and modernity and success.
Of course Ratana did try to blance modernity with tradition, and in the 30s guided his church into an alliance with Labour and the trade union movement, organisations based on a collectivist ideology. Tamaki, on the other hand, is trying to create a sense of community for his followers using an ideology of extreme individualism! He preaches neo-liberal economics, self-reliance and the rest of the Act religion, but the needs of his congregation tug the other way, and force him to run a de facto welfare service.
The contradiction between the need for community and the ideology of individualism also forces Tamaki to give his flock a sort of oppositional identity. Like all cult members, they come to define themselves by their distance from 'mainstream' society - they are the healthy cells in a sick society, and boy does it make them feel good!In my view, Tamaki's march on Wellington was largely an exercise in catering to the psychological needs of his followers. The march allowed them to achieve a vicarious sense of community and self-esteem by 'branding' themselves in opposition to the Godless rest of us.
Tamaki has not sought to liaise with other right-wing organisations and fundamentalist churches to stop the Civil Union Bill and similar progressive bits of legislation. On the contrary, he actually tried to persuade sympathetic 'outsiders' not to join the Destiny March, and he got his followers to wear a uniform that he knew would anatagonise the greater part of the population. I think he is preoccupied with trying to control and direct the massive contradictions in his own organisation, not seriously trying to intervene in national politics.
Which leaves us the question: how can we activate that contradiction between Destiny's ideology and the needs of its members?