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Blackshirts and Reds:
Rational Fascism and the
Overthrow of Communism

bookcover From the Michael Parenti Political Archives:

Blackshirts and Reds explores some of the big issues of our time: fascism, capitalism, communism, revolution, democracy and ecology — terms often bandied about but seldom explored in the original and exciting way that has become Michael Parenti’s trademark.

Parenti shows how “rational fascism” renders service to capitalism, how corporate power undermines democracy, and how revolutions are a mass empowerment against the forces of exploitative privilege. He also maps out the external and internal forces that destroyed communism, and the disastrous impact of the “free-market” victory on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He affirms the relevance of taboo ideologies like Marxism, demonstrating the importance of class analysis in understanding political realities and dealing with the ongoing collusion between ecology and global corporatism.

Written with lucid and compelling style, this book goes beyond truncated modes of thought, inviting us to entertain iconoclastic views, and to ask why things are the way they are. It is a bold and entertaining exploration of the epic struggles of yesterday and today.



1. Rational Fascism

Fascism historically has been used to secure the interests of large capitalist interests against the demands of popular democracy. Then and now, fascism has made irrational mass appeals in order to secure the rational ends of class domination.

2. Let Us Now Praise Revolutions

Revolutions are democratic developments that expand the freedoms of people who enjoyed no freedom under oppressive pre-revolutionary regimes. Revolutions are a mass empowerment against the forces of exploitative privilege. They bring a dramatic reduction in political and economic oppression.

3. Left Anticommunism

Like conservatives and reactionaries, most of the U.S. Left greeted communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe with fear and loathing, and with idealized expectations that took no account of Western encirclement and the survival necessities of socialism under siege.

4. Communism in Wonderland

The internal irrationalities and weaknesses of past communist economies and the systemic reasons why productivity stagnated and reforms were so difficult to effect.

5. Stalin’s Fingers

Newly published documentation on the gulag reveals a somewhat different picture of the repressive nature of communist systems, both in the past and in recent times. The historic accomplishments in economic development within communist countries represented a positive gain in the lives of hundreds of millions.

6. The Free-Market Paradise Goes East (I)

Repression by conservative forces in the former communist states in the name of “democratic reform”. Privileges from pre-communist days restored to the old owning classes. Western investors plunder the public sector at great profit to themselves, reducing the former communist countries to Third World levels.

7. The Free-Market Paradise Goes East (II)

The emergence of free market rapacity and growing inequality, widespread crime, social maladies, and victimization, especially of women, children, the elderly, and the poor. The Third Worldization and cultural decay of formerly collectivist societies.

8. The End of Marxism?

Understanding the fundamental concepts and discoveries of a view of society and politics that today is more relevant than ever, helping us to overcome truncated modes of thought, teaching us to ask why things are as they are.

9. Anything But Class: Voiding the C-Word

Class power as more than a demographic category. Anything-but-class explanations of social realities that invite us to deny the obvious links between wealth and power and the collision of ecology with capitalism.

Related page:

An Appeal to All Working People

This is the September 1996 election statement of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), and it’s every bit as relevant today as it was then. Although the SEP is a Marxist party, and thus hampered by the conceptual limitations of scientific materialism, this election statement is nevertheless the best primer I’ve found so far on the political, economic and moral ideals of international socialism.

About the Author

Michael Parenti Michael Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1962. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, in the United States and abroad. His writings have been translated into Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, Polish, German, Bangla, and Dutch.

He is the author of fourteen books (see below). His articles have appeared in CovertAction Quarterly; Monthly Review; Prevailing Winds; The Humanist; New Political Science; Nature, Society and Thought; The Nation; Z Magazine; Dollars and Sense and numerous other publications.

He appears on radio and television talk shows to discuss current issues and ideas from his published works. Dr. Parenti’s talks and commentaries are played on radio stations to enthusiastic audiences in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

He lectures on college campuses and before a wide range of audiences across the country. His books are enjoyed by both lay readers and scholars, and have been used extensively in college courses.

Among the many topics he treats are:

See also:

Articles & Selections from Published Works of Dr. Parenti http://www.michaelparenti.org/articles.html

A brief, unauthorized history of politically motivated faculty firings at the University of Vermont since 1972

Professor Will Miller’s Introduction for Dr. Michael Parenti before an overflow audience on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of his firing by the UVM Trustees.

Books by Michael Parenti


“America’s foremost progressive writer and speaker, Parenti is illuminating, penetrating, and never afraid of the truth.”

— James Petras
SUNY professor and noted author

“Radical in the true sense of the word, [Parenti] digs at the roots which...sustain our public consciousness.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review

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