In the transition from armed peace to war, the revolution/counter-revolution confrontation grows increasingly direct and generalized, but there is not, as some claim, a transformation of the democratic state into a fascist state. Instead we find ourselves confronted by a state which through restructuring has experienced a modification in the specific gravity of its basic components; initially the peaceful-reformist instruments predominated over the military-repressive instruments, but now it is annihilation which dominates and subordinates to itself the reformist function.
Fascism and social democracy are oscillating forms of political power assumed by the bourgeoisie in the period of monopoly national capitalism. We could even say, simplifying as much as possible, that fascism and social democracy have historically been mutually exclusive.
In the imperialist state, on the other hand, the substance of these political forms coexists, giving rise to an “original” regime, neither fascist nor social democratic, but representing a dialectical surpassing of both forms.
Some define the stage of transition from armed peace to war as a process of fascistization, and the political form of the state in this stage as a “new fascism.”
Even if these two categories capture some aspects of this phenomenon, they are unable to explain it in any depth and they introduce significant elements of confusion.
First of all, fascism is not a metahistorical phenomenon (i.e. outside of history), but represents a form assumed by the bourgeois state at a specific stage of development of the productive forces (monopoly capitalism with a national basis), and therefore presents specific characteristics which are not observed in the Imperialist State of the Multinationals.
The imperialist state appropriates, perfects, and mystifies aspects of the fascist state, the entire apparatus of the preventative counter-revolution, discarding all of its nationalist baggage (intensified national consciousness, autarky).
There is also another aspect which must be borne in mind: fascism had to conquer the old liberal state from the “outside,” reshaping it in order to serve its strategic project. Now, however, the seizure of the apparatus by the political personnel of the imperialist bourgeoisie proceeds exclusively along “internal lines.” Therefore the imperialist state is not fascist.
FROM the Resolution of the Strategic Directorate of the Red Brigades (February 1978), in: 1978: A New Stage in the Class War? Selected Documents from the Spring Campaign of the Red Brigades