Colonialism, Green Resistance, and Fighting Eco-Fascism: An Interview With Eco-Anarchist Kevin Tucker

In an effort to start to broaden the voices of antifascists, we are doing interview across the radical spectrum to open up space to expanding what we understand as resistance. Kevin Tucker is a “Primal Anarchist” who takes inspiration from hunter-gatherer societies and looks to take on many of the inequities inherent in settler colonialism and industrial capitalism.

His new book is called The Cull of Personality: Ayahuasca, Colonialism, and the Death of a Healer, where he unpacks the extractive history of “Ayahuasca Inc.” that many in the liberal-left are selling as a solution to our mass alienation and trauma. As a vocal antifascist, Tucker has a unique perspective in the fight against fascism, both in its relationship to Western colonialism and to the trends of eco-fascism that permeate.

We talk about both of these with him, where he dives deep into his research into how these forms of intersecting oppression manifest.

Why did you choose to focus on Ayahuasca for your last book?

Really the story felt like it presented itself in a lot of ways. 

The Cull of Personality centers on the killing of the Shipibo-Conibo plant healer, Olivia Arévalo, in April 2018 by a Canadian man, Sebastian Woodroffe. Woodroffe was just one of many thousands of people out there riding the wave of thinking that ayahuasca—a hallucinogenic brew made from a vine and additional plants—was going to transform mental health approaches for the West. Essentially this kind of superfood fad approach to thinking that there was going to be some kind of consumption-based answer to the existential crisis that modernity has created. 

The reality of it is that ayahuasca becomes exalted, but entirely out of context—the same way that colonizers have always approached extractable “resources” along the colonial frontier. Regardless of the meaning and spin that gets put on ayahuasca, it becomes another globalized commodity. To paraphrase the historian Daniel Immerwahr, the history of colonialism is really this search for obscure forest products. 

Here, you have the history of ayahuasca falling in the traces of empire between guano, yerbamate, shrunken heads, rubber, and oil. I had already been working on different projects that drew out those links, but then when I heard about the killing of Arévalo, I anticipated it to be the story of colonialism and cultural appropriation. The more I dug into it; the more it became this far more intertwined narrative that gave a more insidious picture about how colonialism functions and continues to perpetuate itself. 

Ayahuasca, in other words, became more of a character in this larger story, but the deeper it goes, the more entrenched the realities and nuances of civilization become apparent. What does it mean to have regions where the goal was more based in extraction over settlements? What impact does that have upon Indigenous societies? How far do the ripples of contact spread and why? 

The defenders of ayahuasca—and any similar plant-based medicinal or hallucinogen—will start at the end: we are here to uphold and validate Indigenous knowledge. As though eco-tourism will save the soul of the colonizer and their progeny. That allows us to create this kind of a savior complex whereby we are here to save and salvage a “dying culture” or some threatened cultural memory and preserve it, which innately disempowers the peoples who lived within it. 

In the case of eco-tourism, that’s even truer. 

It’s white washing colonialism and putting this smiling face on this industry where there are hundreds to thousands of these predatory retreat centers and a genuine industry built around this plant and a faux-imagining of an Indigenous society—one that is exclusionary and often dancing upon graves not yet filled. 

So the story is really about colonialism and civilization, ayahuasca became the primary character. It’s important to draw it out, because we forgive the good intentions of someone like Woodroffe since we don’t want to see what they really say about us. And what they say about the way we interact with the world and its consequences. We can draw clearer lines around a brutal colonizer like Francisco Pizarro, but Woodroffe remains less clear. 

The truth is that both of them, like all of us, share in the same legacy.

 

How does the West’s appropriation of Ayahuasca exist in the history of colonialism?

This is a trickier question; the long answer is the book. The quicker answer is that the problem here is two-fold: cultural appropriation and also the creation of cultural memory. To understand one, we have to understand the other. 

So let’s start at the end: cultural appropriation. 

In this case, ayahuasca has taken on this mystical element due to pro-psychedelic counter-cultural writers creating this mythic past for a substance they encountered. Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs wrote The Yage Letters, which is based around ayahuasca. More recent books like The Cosmic Serpent carry on the work of people like Terence McKenna, who wrote The Food of the Gods

What happened is that drop out culture was searching all across the world for some kind of legitimacy. Often they found it in these hyper-idealized and reductionist views of Indigenous societies, which they boiled down to a single substance or a single ritual. 

That’s reductionist because we’re talking about enmeshed cultures—ones that are typically divided up by anthropologists and administrators or missionaries. That’s really this process of extrapolating our own divisions and crises upon societies that we, as a civilization, encounter. The world for most societies just isn’t capable of being divided into neat categories and broken apart. 

So along come the back-to-the-land hippies and psychedelic drop outs, mixed with really uncritical pop anthropology and pharmacology, and then all of the sudden they think that they are upholding cultures by trying to cram the entirety of who they are and what they feel into a single plant or ritual or item, something of that nature. 

Clearly, that isn’t an accurate reflection of anything other than a commodified culture trying to distill a rooted one.

At best, it’s paternalistic: we’re here to validate and save a piece of your culture from us, by turning it into something we find value in. Often something that is here to save us from ourselves. It’s a pit of irony that is just literally disgusting. 

The colonial reality of this process is that we don’t have to encounter or realize the harsh realities behind any degree of cultural memory or tradition of the cultures that colonizers encounter. We’re talking about militaries and missionaries here who have directly targeted, killed, tortured, and dismembered any agent of spiritual practice within Indigenous societies. 

Missionaries and administers have always been after ethnocide—the destruction of culture—when the practices of genocide don’t yield a complete reduction of a people to unmarked graves. Any spiritual or religious practice becomes a target, first and foremost, alongside the act of removing the ability for autonomy and subsistence for a people. 

That is something that we have done and that we continue to do. Every single thing about cultural traditions and memories amongst Indigenous societies is here because they fought for it, not because some Westerner discovered it like an arcane treasure hidden in early explorer accounts. Indigenous societies struggle to maintain their cultures, often that might mean hiding or even lying to outsiders about practices that we are going to leech in any predatory manner.

In every single one of these cases, it has been the avenues and positions of cultural memory that have been under direct attack by colonizers in all forms. Be it the execution of healers, shamans, two spirits, elders, and medicine people within these societies, or the targeting of cultural vestiges from language to ritual to practices. Indigenous societies have and continue to struggle against this, so when a Westerner comes along and acts like they’ve resurrected a giant that no one in this culture had prior knowledge of or had supposedly forgotten, it’s hard not to see the colonial legacies on full display. 

It’s a hubristic refusal to acknowledge the realities of privilege we have when facing Indigenous societies from the perspective of the Westerner and to believe we have discovered something. These societies know what they have and it exists in a context. When you go to an ayahuasca retreat or buy white sage at the grocery store, you are encountering an object with a massive lineage and not having to confront that or see what it entailed to get that item to you. 

So the first and easiest path to cross here is that ayahuasca is nothing new in terms of cultural appropriation. McKenna’s wife had given talks about being spoken to by ayahuasca and talked about “liberating” it from the forest. That’s a pretty awful position to put yourself in, but there you have it. It’s just another iteration of this white savior complex, but imposed upon plants over people. That leads to this divorce between realities where we can just find ourselves as casual observers of a flattened world without context. 

So that leads to the other part of the equation: cultural memory. 

Cultural memory, especially for oral cultures, is constantly shifting and evolving. When the hype around ayahuasca spread, it came from people who already believed psychedelics helped make us human and they could easily presume that any psychoactive plant in use currently had always been in use. The same set of books mentioned above had peddled this false notion that ayahuasca use is thousands of years old—also that it would have played into notions about psychoactive substances helping form our humanness. 

Ayahuasca here is particularly relevant because it becomes a part of the cultural memory for a lot of societies in the Amazon, though tellingly absent from others. It doesn’t make it less of an issue surrounding cultural appropriation to point out that the use and spread of ayahuasca came largely as a result of civilization, not that it is a vestige of life beyond it. 

This was kind of shocking to me in researching the book. There are a number of psychoactive plants being employed in the Amazon prior to Western contact. Ayahuasca does end up showing up on the landscape here, but not until much later. 

The earliest accounts of anything similar arise in encomiendas—plantations for enslaved natives in the colonial era. Here, natives from all kinds of societies were captured and thrown in with each other by missionaries, military, and administrators. So you had this mix of cultures—peoples who don’t share languages or customs—that might have resulted in the creation, use and spread of this particular brew. However, there’s no evidence to really support that strongly. Ayahuasca, typically tied with Indigenous peoples in the Amazon, really only seemed to come into the fold more recently. 

Nearly all of the ayahuasca ritual that we are going to hear about comes from Mestizo religious views and all in the wake of the rubber boom. You see it more in the rubber bubble cities like Iquitos, but then the mystique of Indigenous origins really nailed the tourists. It became more “exotic” and more attention was put on it as a forest-based product and ritual in and of itself.

So the ayahuasca rituals and ideas that most tourists and enthusiasts come in with is one that has less to do with long standing cultural traditions and more to do with the way that cultural memories must incorporate and adapt to modernized society. That doesn’t make it less of a part of the culture, but shows how those memories evolve in light of colonialism. 

And in this case, that’s where all of this ties back together: ayahuasca arrives on the scene, in part, to help heal the traumas of colonialism and extraction. It is a cultural response and evolving cultural memory. But the problem is that when it becomes exalted as this separate sacred ritual, it’s easy for Westerners to think that ayahuasca carries some kind of innate truth, one that can exist outside of any cultural context and history. 

We then do what we’ve always done: we destroy the forests to try and create some kind of center or retreat for it. We try to embody an imposed sense of oneness and act like these cultures have answers to questions we just haven’t accessed yet. As though each society has access to some innate truth and that this or that plant must be the entryway into that exaltation. 

There is that paternalism again. We act like these societies have it all figured out, so we can just borrow their more recently arisen support structure and own that too. You have to be so far removed from even the concept of history to think the world is really this simple or that you can make changes without accommodating for transitions. 

It just shows how aloof we are to what colonialism looks like on the ground: a cultural embraces a coping mechanism and then we look at them like they can and should personally save us with this forest magic. It’s ridiculous. But worse than that, it’s just as extractionist as any other resource torn from the Amazon.

 

Why is it so critical to focus on the history of settler colonialism when discussing the rise of the far-right?

The entirety of the far-right is built upon the Manifest Destiny that drove settler colonialism in the first place. 

We can’t act like this is something new or we risk misunderstanding it entirely. That’s the problem with history and it’s something that the revisionists that run rampant in the right particularly love: focus on the warfare aspects and battlefront nostalgia and you can pretend like there was a fair and just war at the heart of colonialism. 

Obviously, that isn’t the case. The presentation of history and embodiment of it within statues and museums permits this cognitive dissonance between present and past, events and trajectories. It isolates the world into moments, which ensures that we don’t see the larger and overarching patterns. That’s why it’s so important to keep looking back further to understand civilization at large and even the processes of domestication. If we aren’t looking to fundamentally understand where power originates, then it ensures we only treat a wound instead of deal with a particular pathology. 

The core of far-right narratives, especially with the alt-right, has reignited the Manifest Destiny subtext of narratives of conquest. The Proud Boys call themselves “Western chauvinists” unflinchingly. They get this far because tilting those narratives really never took much work. The point of the narratives was always to hide the empire of America into the story of nation building. The ends justify the means, which also serves to erase the persistence of colonizer-settler systems and practices. 

When you look at the expansion of empires and civilizations, you see these patterns repeat constantly. It’s only increasingly crucial to dig deeper into history of the Americas in particular. 

The principles of freedom, that sacred core of individualism, that underlie the American identity in general, but far-right ideologies in particular, are a historical creation. One made possible by the confluences of technology and expansionism. In a very real sense, technology made it possible for might to equal right. 

So you see the history of European expansionism really flourishing in the isolation of Americanism. The “right to” became weaponized on the frontier, all concepts of freedom included the right to enslave and eradicate and dispossess entire populations. This was new land, clear for the taking and granted for conquest by divine right. There are all these layers to it, but they build on each other. 

There are some great books coming out on the subject these days, Greg Grandin’s End of the Myth and Daniel Immerwahr’s How to Hide an Empire are two very recent ones. But the relationship between colonialism and imperialism with technology and the organization of state power is absolutely crucial. The basis of settler-colonialism is entitlement. Grandin, in particular, really draws out how that entitlement was used to embolden people who were effectively cannon fodder. To take this degree of dispossession that they had and infuse it into the settler mindset: if you win here, you will earn your freedom in land. 

Really that’s the core of the far-right narratives: frontier ideology imposed on an expanding world. The alt-right takes it a step further, amplifying the nativist drum pounding online—a world where boundaries and borders are virtually meaningless. It’s a way of staking an identity in an era of flux. That, to me, is an important thing to realize, but if you don’t see the lineage there, then you can act like this is a new problem instead of what it really is: a modernized variant of an old and fatal one. 

 

What role do anarchists have in fighting fascism?

We ought to have a massive role in fighting fascism in general, but the problem is that the far-right has also latched onto the term anarchism too. Libertarians have drifted into this very individualistic undercurrent of anarchist theory and so you’re seeing this validation and expansion of once extremely fringe beliefs, things like anarcho-capitalism and national anarchism. 

So I think the anarchist milieu ought to have a bit of a reckoning with itself, sort out some of these hyper-individualistic and egoist perspectives to see how they could lead towards fascistic ideologies themselves under the same banner. 

But that also emphasizes that these fascistic ideas are freakishly easy to slide into. We’ve seen that fascist creep in far more places than I’d like to admit and it’s both frightening and pathetic that this can be true. 

That said, you would think that anarchists should be at the forefront of fighting fascism. If you see that the unifying bond between fascists is, as you’ve said, fundamentally in the idea of upholding inequality as a driving force, then egalitarianism is clearly its opposite. If you uphold anarchism as a principle of egalitarianism rather than just the absence of a governing body, then clearly fascists need attacked. 

I would hope that is a universal amongst anarchists, but it unquestionably is not the case. 

At the end of the day, they are preaching inequality as a virtue and embodying that frontier ideology. Those are things that anarchists ought to be opposed to, but particular anyone who is against civilization ought to be thoroughly aware of. And I think with the long-overdue prevalence that Indigenous struggles are starting to finally see, the link between the realities of colonialism, extraction, and civilization are only becoming more apparent. 

It should be a given that anarchists, particularly anti-civ anarchists, are anti-fascist and it has pained me to see this isn’t case. It needs to be said, it needs to be solid, re-affirmed grounding. 

It also cannot end there. You have said that “fascism is the unanswered question of late capitalism” or something to that degree, and I think that’s absolutely true. So the problem is that all of these fascist narratives exist in this vacuum of ungrounded theory and knee jerk reactionism to our crumbling day-to-day reality. This is why I think it’s so vital to be asking bigger questions about where power originates from and understanding how it morphs. These things didn’t start with capitalism and certainly they didn’t start with Trump. Those are all just propellants on a dumpster fire. If we want to really root out fascism, which we need to be definitively doing, then we need to keep out of this shallow cesspool where fascist narratives can so easily take root and keep drawing out the questions of origins and seeing these larger patterns of power and domination. 

The denigration of anarchism relies on leaning into the individualistic spirit of the colonizer. We need to understand that. This is where the fascist creep comes in: isolationism. In both time and space. If we limit our world so narrowly, then everything is an assault or, more importantly, perceived as an assault. 

 

What is eco-fascism and what is its significance today?

Eco-fascism is the epitome of half-truths and short sightedness. Sadly, it’s also not far from the surface in a lot of shallow ecological critique.

It boils down to the principle that unsustainable populations and habits threaten the Earth, so the way to reduce or remove that threat is totalitarian states. It should sound a bit off-putting because it really is. The problem that I’ve seen is that a lot of environmental and ecological critique or ethos do really emphasize the catastrophic realities of life within civilization, but they are just looking at what is and not how it got here. 

I came to my own perspectives on ecology by way of deep ecology, which is also the foundation for groups like Earth First! The entire spectrum of deep ecology’s adherents runs the gamut within EF! You have these older redneck patriarchs and then younger rowdy anarchists with a big focus on politics and identity. 

Deep ecology is just another form of a biocentric—or Earth-focused—perspective, that can mean a lot of things. For those founding redneck types, that lent itself towards bioregionalism, which could easily backslide into eco-nationalism. All this nonsense about strict borders and a border wall? Ed Abbey and Dave Foreman blazed the trail on a lot of that from a supposed ecological perspective. Not that they were effective, but their views were foreboding. 

The reality of the situation is that a response to fascism everywhere requires deeper questions. From a deep ecology perspective, you can easily get sucked down this rabbit hole of thinking that problems of our world come down on the reducible problem of human population. 

In some ways, the question is kind of a chicken and egg thing for deep ecology and primal anarchy or anarcho-primitivism, but it’s a really significant one. Clearly human populations shot up with agriculture and have continued to grow exponentially. Are the problems that civilizations have created because of humans or because of systems? A primal anarchist or anarcho-primitivist critique lands squarely on systems, eco-fascism lurks in a shallower reply and saying that population itself is the issue. If you think that’s all it is, then reducing or controlling the population is a freakishly clear answer. But that’s such a shallow mess. There’s literally no way to control populations en masse without fascistic practice. 

This is becoming an issue because there is genuine ecological crisis unfolding in the world and at alarming rates. So long as there is this insane back-and-forth about whether it is happening or not, and who is ultimately responsible, then the door is open for this kind of reaction. There have been people who have used the rise and persistence of eco-fascism as a reason to deny ecological perspectives or critiques, but that’s also just feeding into the frenzied world that we currently face: one that seems to easily slide into fascistic thoughts and normalize them. 

The reality of fighting fascism, on all fronts and in all forms, is don’t give a platform to these lunatics. Don’t let them control debate or discussion about any of this, because they’re simply trying to take a shallow reactionary realization and unfold it into nativist drum pounding rituals where the state or ethnostate is the answer. It’s a grotesque form of tribalism, but if you let them initiate the discussion, then they’ve already set the table. 

The significance of eco-fascism, then, is just that literally anything right now seems like a potential entry point for these really grotesque forms. If you keep everything surface level, then there’s that opening. So my response to all of it is to go deeper, but also don’t let fascists and fascist sympathizers control the discussion.

 

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Nationalism is No Alternative: An Interview With German Antifascists

This discussion is with Linda and Miro, German comrades who did a speaking tour in the US in the fall of 2018. They have been antifascist activists for over 10 years and are part of the …ums Ganze! alliance. Both are involved in the campaign “Nationalism is No Alternative” that tries to finds answers to the new tactics of the extreme Right. This interview was conducted via email following discussions during their time in the US. Their organization, …ums Ganze!, is an anti-capitalist, antiauthoritarian alliance currently consisting of eleven groups based in Germany and Austria. It was founded in 2006 in order to organize radical Left critiques and analysis in both theory and practice. The term “…ums Ganze!” can be roughly translated as “…to the whole (thing)!” and means that the alliance’s focus lies in an antiauthoritarian analysis and critiques which cover the whole complexity of the state, nation, and capital. …ums Ganze! made its first appearance during the anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm, Germany in 2007. 

The interview was conducted by the Perspectives on Anarchist Theory journal collective, a project of the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS).

 

Tell us about your organization(s). What are their roots in different political groups and movements of the past? What is their political orientation?

We are part of …ums Ganze!, which was founded in 2006 and is basically an alliance of anti-authoritarian communist groups. …ums Ganze! is part of different struggles such as the feminist women‘s strike, confronting the housing crisis, and antifascism. We think that the very principles of capitalist society are the roots of these crises, so we do not advocate for reform or aim for a greener and more social capitalist society, but rather try to push for a social revolution. Therefore, we talk, fight together, and organize with people outside of leftist scenes and bubbles – at least we try to. Our aim is to actually win (there a some texts in English that can be found here: https://umsganze.org/other-languages/).

We have our roots in the German antifa movement. In the early 1990s, the radical Left collapsed and the fascist movement grew exponentially, especially in the former East Germany (GDR). Many within the strong subculture of autonomous anarchists thought antifascism was the most important struggle and joined antifa groups. But the autonomous antifascist movement was heavily divided between traditional anarchists who did not want to work together with unions, Social Democrats, or the media, and a more pragmatic wing who built large autonomous groups and tried to leave the subculture by strategically working with non-radical leftists. The latter groups sought to influence public opinion through media campaigns and push popular youth culture to the Left through youth organizing. These large antifa groups and their strategic concept to be openly radical, anticapitalist, and anti-state, but also to be accepted by normal people and able to actually build power in your town or city through self-organized but very committed groups, are the roots we are coming from. uG! is also part of a European network of antiauthoritarian groups called Beyond Europe (https://beyondeurope.net/).

 

Discuss the idea of being “post-antifa.” Can you put this idea into historical context? How has the German antifascist movement developed after struggling so long against neo-Nazis? What lessons do you have from this struggle that you bring into your work today?

In the early 2000s, the antifascist movement was entrenched in bitter discussions and split up along various lines. For example, the Left leaning government started to mobilize society, and sometimes even the police, against fascists, sometimes the state even supported antifascist education programs with money, so the antifascist movement had to reevaluate what they thought of the state. Also, they discussed what to think about 9/11. Some thought the Islamist jihadists were allies in the fight against the imperialist United States, while others thought it was another form of fascism that needed to be fought against. Some of those antifascists were even in favor of the “global war on terror” and the invasion of Iraq. (We think that neither is correct). 

Some in the antifascist movement and in the broader radical Left discussed how to be successful outside of antifascist struggles and rebuild the radical Left, since antifascism often did not have the answers for many urgent problems. For example, in 2005, the government composed of the Social Democrats and the Greens slashed unemployment benefits and introduced a benefit system that pushed a lot of people into poverty and consisted of degrading procedures. Antifascists criticized the movement against these cuts for its reformism and tried to push fascists, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, and other enemies of emancipation out of the movement, which is a very important job. But they were unable to present a credible way forward that would lead to improving living conditions.

In order to build a radical Left that is part of social movements and able to radicalize and win, two new organizations were formed: the interventionistische Linke (Interventionist Left) and …ums Ganze! Both are called “post-autonomous” and “post-antifa” since we are trying to use the experiences of the autonomous and antifa movement but use them in different social struggles, as well as to organize outside of autonomous subcultures without repeating the mistakes the orthodox communists usually make when they build their hierarchical party structures.  

 

How has the movement and its various organizations responded to the rise of the Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland (AfD))? How have you adapted and changed tactics in response? Is this party continuing to grow, or have they reached their peak and are starting to decline?

The AfD, even though it is now controlled by fascists, is not a traditional neo-Nazi party. They employed tactics that you probably know from Donald Trump‘s campaign. They present themselves as rebels against an imagined leftist elite that has nothing but contempt for the average working man(!). They disguise their racism as concerns for cultural preservation, they make use of conspiracy theories, and they appeal to older men by marking feminism and feminists as enemies. They don’t give a fuck about the truth and are happily contradicting themselves. They are kind of clever in using social media and the traditional media.

In the last national election in 2017, the AfD won 13% percent of the vote and therefore now has 94 members of parliament and all the infrastructure and money that comes with that. In some parts of Eastern Germany, the AfD passed the conservative party and is the leading party, polling at 25%. The next local elections in these states this fall can yield significant gains for the AfD. The European elections this spring showed that, in many areas, the AfD stabilized their outcome somewhere between 8% and 15% of the vote. So, except for several large regions in Eastern Germany, they are neither growing nor declining.

With the help of some billionaires’ money and support from the media, the AfD was and is able to push their narrative. The established parties (mostly the social democrats and the conservatives) reacted by condemning the AfD as an organization but moved themselves to the right, and incorporating the AfD‘s politics into their own programs and rhetoric. 

In part, the antifascist movement had to adapt its tactics to the new threat. Traditional neo-Nazi skinheads can be doxxed, and most people are unhappy when they learn about the neo-Nazi background of their neighbor or co-worker. But antifascists experienced that doxxing an AfD party official, in a country where at least 15% support the party, is not causing any problems for the party official; it is, rather, free publicity. When antifascists show that the party official is an anti-refugee racist and bigot, many people do not have a problem with that. They voted for him becausehe publicly stands for that. Another problem is that the AfD‘s organizing today is, to a large degree, done online, and we have not yet found a way to deplatform their Whatsapp chatgroups and Facebook pages. The rallies of the fascist movement are a mere spectacle to provide content for fascist YouTube channels. So, antifascists may be able to stop people from going to those rallies, but that does not help because they are able to listen to the speeches on their computers.

To be fair, some of the old militant antifascist tactics are still working fine. In some urban areas where the movement is strong, militants are able to put so much pressure on AfD members that the party is unable to build local structures, because it is just no fun to be the face of the AfD in some cities. Also, all over the country, antifascists were able get a lot of party meetings canceled by putting pressure on venues. For example, the campaign “Kein Raum der Afd” (No Space for AfD) researched the pubs in Berlin where the AfD would hold their meetings and put pressure on them. Right now, it is impossible to find any restaurant or bar within Berlin that is still willing to host AfD events. 

Right now, we learn from the success of the AfD that just doing antifa work, meaning following the fascists around and trying to counter each of their moves, is important but not enough. We have to think about how to build a strong radical left that has answers for the problems of our time. So, we are trying to update our own movement. We came up with a campaign called Nationalism is No Alternative (NIKA). NIKA is not trying to convince AfD voters to not be fascist anymore, but rather tries to organize all those young people who are outraged by the AfD rhetoric. In order to do that, we have stepped up our social media presence, updated our style, and held easily accessible, open meetings that everybody who is willing can attend. But we did not disguise our politics; we are still openly anti-capitalist and anti-state.

(Antifascists having a cup of coffee in front of the home of a fascist organizer. They knew he would not be home, since he was leading a demonstration at the time, but they wanted him to know they knew where he lived and that they were not afraid of him.)
 

What is the overall political situation in Germany now? What are the prospects for fundamental social change there? What are the reasons for despair? What are the reasons for hope?

In the years directly following 2015, the right was able to mobilize tens of thousands in the streets. It was a proper movement. Right now, the dynamic phase is (temporarily) over, even though they still have the groups and networks to restart mobilizing masses if the occasion arises. We saw that in late August, 2018 in Chemnitz. Following the murder committed by a refugee, a local rightwing party, the AfD, and fascist football hooligans organized huge demos and attacks on perceived migrants and leftists.  

The right is now settling and establishing themselves. They are building structures that are here to stay, which is very dangerous. So now we have a situation where the right is still very motivated from their earlier successes, and that is also dangerous. In the last two years, there have been several cases of right wing terrorism committed either by people that were part of the new right wing movement or have been neo-Nazis for a long time and felt that now is the time to act. In June, 2019 a neo-Nazi murdered a conservative politician on his porch because he was pro-refugee in 2015. Also, the fascists within the state have seemingly woken up: leftist media uncovered a network of police and military special forces who built their own terrorist infrastructure and trained for civil war. One chapter of this group already ordered 200 body bags and kept a list of 25,000 people they wanted to kill (https://taz.de/taz-Recherche-auf-Englisch/!5558072/).

But society is not just moving to the right; rather, it is polarizing. The Left is still pretty small and the organizations are weak, but we are more able to intervene in debates. There is a huge new movement to stop climate change that is openly confronting the fossil fuel industry, in many major cities there are big leftist movement against the rent increases, and in Berlin, there is a large movement pushing to expropriate every business that owns more than 3,000 apartments in the city. While the AfD dominated the talk show debates in 2015, now they aren’t even invited anymore, and that is not because the TV stations suddenly learned about the importance of deplatforming fascists, but because they don’t have any answers apart from “close the borders” or “deport refugees.” Being able to dominate the public discourse around key topics such as housing or climate change is important antifascist work.

(500 people spontaneously demonstrated against the deportation of forty-nine refugees to Afghanistan at the Frankfurt airport.) 

 

Looking at what is going on in the US from Germany now, what are your observations? How would you compare what you see happening here to what you are experiencing in Germany?

A lot of things are quite similar: we both live in a society where a lot of people feel that there are hard times coming and that the standard of living might decline. They think, therefore, it is a good idea to keep competition out by building border fences, etc. The countries are heavily divided, and the right is established or even hegemonic in parts of the country. In both countries, the antifascist left seems to be able to confront the fascists in the streets, but in my opinion needs to think more about the fascists within the established institutions, such as the secret service, the police, the military, official politics, and important think tanks. The fascists seek to transform society very subtly, and there is little to be done about that with small demos and small scale affinity groups. 

When we went to the US, we got a feeling of how much more the police and the fascists are militarized. Also life seemed harder with the horrible healthcare system. We felt so much respect for all the comrades who get up and fight and risk getting injured or imprisoned. 

(While their comrades tried to block an important AFD assembly, antifascists of “Nationalism is No Alternative” intervened into a liberal antifascist event with a banner that reads, “If You Organize Deportations Then You Had Better Keep Quiet about Fascism,” which paraphrases Max Horkheimer who said “If you don’t want to talk about capitalism then you had better keep quiet about fascism.”)

 

What lessons can you share from your experience fighting fascism, sexism, racism and nationalism in Germany to those of us struggling against these things here in the US?

The main things we are thinking about right now are to not just think about how your activity helps to push back the enemy, but to always aim to build your own movement, as well. Does this activity help to convince and organize my target audience? Who is my target audience? And maybe, how do we break through our isolation and start talking to people who are not yet convinced?

 

If you liked this interview please support the work that made it possible. You can make a one-time donation – or become a monthly sustainer – to the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS), the organization that produces Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (who did this interview) by clicking Here! 

This interview originally appeared on the Institute for Anarchist Studies website here.

 

(40,000 people marched in Dresden against fascism on August 24th, 2019.)

 

Support “No Pasaran,” a New Patreon to Research and Report on Fascism and Build Resistance

There is a new Patreon project from antifascist researcher and journalist Shane Burley (who we have interviewed before) that is going to be the central place to research and report on what is going on with the global far-right. Independent journalism in the support of antifascist organizing is of critical importance, and as the mainstream media fails us and independent outlets are being closed one after the other, it is up to us to defend free journalists.

Become a Patron!

The new No Pasaran Patreon will have exclusive essays, articles, interviews, as well as podcasts talking with antifascists from around the world. This is a great way to help support antifascist voices while people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are looking to silence us.

Become a Patron!

We will continue sharing different projects that we think are worthy to raise up, and we may even do a Patreon of our own to help us produce more high quality writing in support of antifascists!

Community Action: Anti-Trans Speaker with Ties to Soldiers of Odin and Proud Boys Set to Speak in Vancouver on June 23

By Jeff Shantz

The University of British Columbia appears to be at it again. Mere months after hosting far-right speaker Ben Shapiro, and agreeing to host far-right figures Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern—an event that was eventually cancelled after community mobilization and outcry—the elite Vancouver university is going ahead with a talk by an anti-trans activist, Jenn Smith, with various ties to far-right groups like the Soldiers of Odin, Proud Boys, and Culture Guard. He event is scheduled for the evening of June 23, 2019. Smith has even used Soldiers of Odin as “bodyguards” at preceding events.

Smith’s talk is directed against the British Columbia educational system’s LGBTQ2-inclusive and supportive program SOGI 123 (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity). Smith, “a 54 year-old transgender identified male” who uses his identity to target the trans communities is slated to speak as well against “transgender ideology” and “transgender politics.” Smith has stated “that men cannot be women (and vice versa), no matter how much they pretty themselves up.” Transphobic, anti-trans politics, have been long connected to contemporary far Right movements and viewpoints.

In response, UBC says it will rely on the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the colonial police force that was recently involved in the racial profiling of a Black graduate student at a major academic congress on UBC’s campus). The RCMP is itself a force of settler colonial domination and white supremacy. Many people are not made to fee safe by its presence. This is in addition to the threat posed by the far Right groups who have accompanied Smith previously. The perspectives being pushed by Smith make communities, schools, and workplaces more dangerous and threatening, especially for transgender students.

As was the case for the Shapiro and Molyneux and Southern events, Smith’s scheduled appearance is being opposed by UBC Students Against Bigotry and other community members. Community outrage managed to get other scheduled Smith talks cancelled at Douglas College in Metro Vancouver and Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia.

PEGIDA Racists Rally Again in Toronto, Confronted by Antifascsists, May 4, 2019

By Jeff Shantz

Anti-fascists in Toronto had to mobilize once more to oppose far Right racists PEGIDA (the “Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes”) who organized an anti-Muslim, anti-refugee rally at University Avenue and Armoury Street in the city’s downtown. Fascists were present from a range of groups, including Wolves of Odin, Soldiers of Odin, Canadian Combat Coalition and Northern Guard.

Part of a larger international network, PEGIDA is one of the most publicly active of the new far Right groups mobilizing anti-Muslim hate in the Canadian context. They began organizing demonstrations in Quebec in 2015 and have been a regular presence in several cities in Canada since. They hold monthly rotating rallies in Toronto and London, Ontario. Their rallies have been a magnet for neo-fascist individuals and groups, including the Northern Guard, Proud Boys, and the armed anti-Muslim Three Percenter militia.

An estimated 80 antifascists showed up to confront the 20 or so fascists. Toronto police again operated to provide the fascists a space to spew their hate. And spew they did. Someone from the fascist crowd set off a smoke bomb. This is something that so-called yellow vests protesters have taken to doing at small demonstrations at highway overpasses near Toronto. Andre Ch (Canadian Nationalist Party), Derek Storie/Rick Boswick (Yellow Vests), and members of Wolves of Odin, Proud Boys, and other Nationalist Party members were also involved in burning a Quran.

The fascists also tried to attack antifascists using their flag poles as weapons to do so. Toronto police, unsurprisingly, did nothing to stop that. They did however deploy violence against the antifascists reportedly using their police bikes to strike at antifascists.

The antifascists did manage to keep the fascists from marching. They remained confined to the space provided by and protected by police.

Given the recurrence of PEGIDA rallies in Canada, and Ontario in particular, much organizing remains to keep them from mobilizing.

Three Strikes and Molyneux and Southern are Out of Vancouver (For Now)

By Jeff Shantz

Earlier this week we reported that antifascist mobilizations had caused two Vancouver venues to cancel planned talks by far Rightists/white supremacists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern hosted by the University of British Columbia “Free Speech Club” (FSC). We can now happily report that the FSC’s third attempt to host Molyneux and Southern in Vancouver has been thwarted despite their efforts to move it underground to a secret location.

Antifascist mobilization kept the focus and pressure up throughout, contacting venues and tracking down the final secret location. In this the UBC Students Against Bigotry played key parts (even as they maintained a unique position toward other antifascist organizing locally).

This final cancellation comes only hours after a fascist in Aotearoa (New Zealand) shot up two mosques in Christchurch killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more in a targeted assault on Muslim people. Clearly even the fascists in Vancouver could figure out that holding an event with those particular speakers in this time frame was not a wise idea.

Especially given that the garbage spewed by Molyneux and Southern was taken up by the Christchurch shooter. Notably the fascist killer posted a “manifesto” online entitled “The Great Replacement,” the same title used by Southern for one of her videos, a reference to far Right fictions of “white genocide” peddled by many white supremacists.

Despite these cancellations we remain ever vigilant for any future far Right events in Metro Vancouver. Their hatred and brutality have no place here or anywhere and its should now be certain to people in Vancouver that any platform for these characters is a platform for brutal violence.

Antifascist Mobilization Leads Two Venues to Cancel Molyneux and Southern Event in Vancouver (BC): “Free Speechers” Turn to “Secret Location” for March 15

By Jeff Shantz

Anti-fascsists and anti-racists in Vancouver (Unceded Coast Salish territories) have successfully mobilized to get two venues to  cancel a planned speaking event by Canadian far Rightists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern scheduled for Friday March 15.

The speaking event is being organized by the so-called “Free Speech Club” at the University of British Columbia, a Rightwing group that uses the cover of “free speech” to host far Right figures who oppose the “free speech” (and the very existence) of Muslims, feminists, Leftists, etc. while promoting white supremacy. The club has previously organized and hosted a speaking event by Ben Shapiro.

Molyneux, from Toronto, is the founder and host of the Freedomain Radio podcast and YouTube channel which has posted videos under titles like “The Death of Europe – European Migrant Crisis,” “Migratory Patterns of Predatory Immigrants,” and “The Female Evil” which espouse racist and anti-Semitic views. Southern, of Surrey, another YouTube favorite of altRightists has posted videos with titles such as “Asking Feminists: Women’s Rights or Islam” and “Why I Hate Pride Parades.”

This event was originally scheduled for March 16 at the Chan Center at UBC, where the Shapiro even was held, but was cancelled following mobilized community opposition, including a petition that gathered 450 signatures in a matter of days. The free speech club claims security costs were too high for the Molyneux/Southern event prompting a move to the Hellenic Community of Vancouver (HCV, 4500 Arbutus St, Vancouver).

This led to mobilizing to convince the HCV center to cancel. A demonstration was called for the 15th to oppose Molyneux and Southern. Right before midnight on March 12, ahead of the HCV general meeting of the 13th, the Free Speech Club put out a tweet saying the HCV was cancelling the event in response to the volume of community complaints.

Antifascists are still vigilant. The Free Speech club have said they will go ahead with the event in a “secret location.” Details to follow, when available.

For now it is satisfying to listen to the whine rising from the now twice disappointed “free speechers” as via their social media:

“ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Hellenic Centre must cancel our booking due to physical threats of harm towards their community, and church. Domestic Terrorist groups like ANTIFA have bullied this religious community into a crippling and life threatening situation. Please do not direct your hate towards this community. We are currently booking a new venue which will remain private and for ticket holders only.

– FSC Team”

Militancy in the Workplace: Interview With IWW Organizer Doug Geisler Pt. 2

Why is the labor movement such a central vehicle for revolutionary social change?  Why are they growing today?  Why did they go into decline?

We continue our interview with revolutionary union organizer Doug Geisler about how to build a revolutionary labor movement, and about his roleplaying game Beat the Boss, which teaches players how to organize their workplace.

What is a labor union? What really defines it?

A union is a group of workers that have the same employer that comes together to change what they hate and keep what they love at work.  A union is defined by the relationship between workers and bosses. It seems simplistic but history and law have laid so many complications on this relationship that people on the outside can be confused or afraid of the unknown. That complication is probably by design.

Why was there such a decline in labor unions in the U.S.?

To me, there are two reasons for the decline:

1) Labor was full of itself and turned inward. It ignored trends in business that eroded the edges of their domain. It ceased taking audacious steps to organize new industries in new ways.

2) A close coalition of business and social actors assessed, in the mid-60’s, that a vast pool of comfortable labor (high buying power baby boomers) and a growing labor pool of people of color would begin questioning the foundation of capital (and capital’s ties to American christianity) and took every opportunity to demolish a thinking, allied working class’s attempts to gain freedom.

Why do you think Millenials are turning back to organized labor?

My generation grew up on the very tail end, the bottom of the barrel of the class victories that the previous generation won and cemented in the Post-war detente. Millenials have found that the barrel is empty. The new paradigm for capital (gig work, monetizing fun, etc.) has stripped away all patriotic dressing from the debate. The cold war is over and communism is no longer grounds to invalidate someone’s argument.

What is Beat the Boss intending to accomplish?

Roleplaying games, especially thanks to talented improv-ers and the world’s most popular RPG, have become more accepted. Gaming offers the opportunity to experience new points of view. That builds empathy. I’m getting the game out there to encourage people to become comfortable with union organizing. After nearly 20 years of organizing there are patterns to this interaction. Pattern and experience builds comfort. There are best practices and lessons directly related to (and learned from) the field that are reinforced by the rules of the game. After creating a campaign or running one that the community produces players should see opportunities in their own work lives.    

Additionally, when more creative people put their minds to the problems of workers new, innovative ideas will come to light. The fight for justice can end up stodgy.
Do you think gaming can be a center of reigniting workplace organizing?

Gaming and workplace organizing have key elements in common: a core group of people come together to collaboratively solve problems; both talk out resolution; and it’s difficult to find time to schedule a meeting.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/346468029/beat-the-boss/widget/video.html

TRUMP’S BETRAYAL OF SYRIA – PARIS COMMUNE FALLS AGAIN?

By David Van Deusen

December 22, 2018, Vermont -As an American, as a Vermonter, and as a Labor leader I have marched many times against US lead wars.  However, I do not oppose wars and US military action because I assert war as always unjust and always unnecessary.  I am not philosophically a Kantian; this is not a moral imperative for me. I am also no liberal. If truth be told it was only through war and armed conflict that Vermont and the United States became republics free from the British Empire. And like the US, Ireland would still be an exploited outpost in the same empire if it were not for the force of arms demonstrated by the IRA. Cuba, today, without their victorious 1959 revolution, likewise would remain an economic colony of America.  And further, it was only through the Allied war effort that Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy & their murderous ideologies were crushed for generations. But since my birth, from the Vietnam War, to armed interventions against Latin America, up through the invasion of Iraq, I am hard pressed to find a US military intervention that, by purpose or accident, carried with it an intrinsic moral clarity; rather contemporary US military action time and again has been launched to serve the interests of corporations and a tiny minority of wealthy elite.

For these reasons I was proud to serve as a Vermont AFL-CIO officer when we were aligned with US Labor Against The War, and when our Unions called for the rapid withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.  I was also proud to have helped write the Vermont AFL-CIO resolution stating our solidarity with the Longshoremen when they conducted a one day strike, shutting down West Coast ports as an act of resistance against the Iraq War. And even now I am supportive of calls coming to finally end the generation-long war in Afghanistan.  But again, I do not condemn such military actions because I am a pacifist or because I am rejecting the notion of war in and of itself. I do so because I judge the conflicts which the US engages in, much more often than not, as wrong and immoral based on the specific facts and specific interests being served by these imperialistic conflicts.

For some years now the United States has provided arms and limited Special Forces support (now 2000 boots on the ground) to the Kurdish lead YPG/YPJ in Syria.  The YPG/YPJ has used these arms to extend their control over most of northern Syria. They have effectively engaged ISIS, driving them out of the north. They have also held the dictatorship at bay (and they have brought a relative stability to this region of Syria).   But what deserves our respect is not simply their military prowess, but rather the type of society which they seek to create in liberated areas. They hold socialist tendencies, but what sets them apart is their desire to organize their world according to directly democratic means; something like a secular, decentralized, Town Meeting system where all the people have an actual voice and an unabstracted vote concerning the issues that face them as a people and as a community.  Here they take political influence from the Vermont anarchist sociologist Murray Bookchin. Their vision, similar to that espoused by the EZLN & the Zapatistas (Chiapas, Mexico), is as far reaching as that which was dreamed of on CNT/FAI barricades in Spain from 1936-1939. Their fight has parallels to Mahkno and his brigades in the Ukraine in 1919. They do not fight for an ethic Kurdish state, but rather for a new social formation whereby the individual and the community collectively control the world in which they live.  Their dreams, perhaps, are not dissimilar to those who manned the walls of the Paris in 1871. And to this very point in time, remarkably, they have been winning.

The historical significance of what they have been achieving in Rojava (northern Syria) has not been lost on those in other nations who also can imagine what a truly democratic and equitable society could look like.  Presently hundreds, if not thousands, of regular working people (Americans included) have made the difficult journey to Syria in order stand with them, rifle in hand, to fight for this common dream. And many have died defending this dream from ISIS, from Turkey, and from those who instead seek the domination and brutality of a misguided & twisted Islamic state or the repression which a dictatorship or new form of fascism brings in its wake.  And still they fight, and still they organize a direct democracy, composed of Kurds & Arabs, in the lands which they have freed.

And now, our own (so called) President Donald Trump has announced his intent to withdraw the 2000 brave American troops currently deployed in this region (and who by circumstance fight with honor alongside YPG/YPJ).  And even tonight, Turkey stands in wait, sharpening their swords…

But given the long history of the US imperialism and economic subjugation, why has the US supported them?  Some would argue that the very presence of US guns mark the YPG/YPJ as no more than pawns of a morally questionable US foreign policy.  Some would say they are dupes of the CIA. After all, why would the US elite support a revolution which seeks to topple the exploitive American capitalism which underpins the old world order (and which continues to sell out American and foreign workers alike)?  How can this be? The answer is simple… The United States has supported this revolution because YPG/YPJ are fiercely opposed to ISIS and are effective fighters. The US therefore has acted on the premise that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (at least for a time).  

No one should be under any illusion that the US ruling class has supported the YPG/YPJ because they approve of the cooperative democratic society which they seek to create.  The ruling elite of the US (Republican & Democrat) would be perfectly happy supporting an authoritarian dictator as long as such a strongman would support America’s perceived long term economic and strategic interests.  But as it turns out, few in northern Syria were or are willing to engage in a protracted fight just to see the deck chairs of authoritarian politics rearranged. But the people have been willing to fight (and die) for something much more far reaching.  And this has transformed the YPG/YPJ into something far more significant than a regional militia; it has made them into a multi-ethnic force capable of constantly beating back ISIS and other reactionary elements in Syria. And for America, the short term aim was always to diminish ISIS.   Here, as the YPG/YPJ was compelled to face existential enemies on all fronts, they were glad to accept guns and logistical support from wherever they would come. When a man’s house is on fire he does not stop to ask the politics of the one who hands him a bucket of water. If that bucket comes from a Republican, it does not make him a Republican. Thus the US support for the YPG/YPJ was nothing more than a temporary marriage of convenience, and the YPG/YPJ are not defined by the politics (and motivations) of those that offer them material aid.          

But now, after the YPG/YPJ has diminished ISIS and pushed them into more remote areas, Trump has grown tired of this marriage and his Administration’s true face has begun to look up to again reveal its twisted contours.  Trump would have American troops evacuate in order to turn their attention to other more sinister projects (such as those transpiring on our southern border). And no matter that the second largest army in NATO (the increasingly Islamic-Fascist Turks) have announced their desire to launch invasions of northern Syria with the sole aim of crushing this experiment in direct democracy, the United States of America is preparing to look the other way.  The reactionary government of Turkey, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, views the YPG/YPJ as a treat in that they represent an alternative not only for Syria but also for Turkey. Further driving Ankara’s genocidal ambitions, is the government’s view of the YPG/YPJ as having close links to the armed PKK (which operates within Kurdish-Turkey and which shares similar politics with their Syrian cousins). What gives Erdoğan & the Turks pause, for now, is the presence of American troops.  Once this deterrent is removed, it is hard to envision a chain of events which does not include a devastating invasion of this island of hope, this city on the hill overlooking the chaos that is the Middle East.  And no matter how America got there, once America leaves Trump will own the history that follows. If the Paris Commune must fall again let it be known that the invaders were enabled by a country which once called itself great.       

 

In Solidarity with the YPG/YPJ & The Struggle in Rojava,

David Van Deusen, District Vice President of the Vermont AFL-CIO

 

***

 

What follows is a link to the resolution passed by the Green Mountain Central Labor Council of the Vermont AFL-CIO in support of the YPG/YPJ and the struggle in Rojava.  This resolution was passed in February of 2018:

https://vt.aflcio.org/green-mountain-labor-council/news/solidarity-struggle-rojava

The Rising Wave of Fascist Terror: Notes on Its Organization and Disruption

 

By Joshua Sturman

The week of October 21st saw three high profile, fascist terrorist attacks. The first of these was an unsuccessful attack on (purportedly) left-wing political leaders: pipe bombs were sent to several prominent Democratic Party politicians, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The next two were more successful and explicitly racist in nature. On October 24, a terrorist failed to gain access to a Black church near Louisville, KY, then crossed the street to a grocery store and murdered two Black shoppers. The following Saturday, October 27, a terrorist entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and opened fire, killing elevent Jewish worshipers. This week of terror was followed by a high-profile attack the following week in Tallahassee, FL, when a misogynistic attacker murdered two women in a yoga studio on November 3.

We must not doubt that all of these attacks were fascist in nature. Each attack targeted a type of person on which fascist, extralegal violence is traditionally inflicted: the left, subordinated races, and women. A0t least one of the terrorists, the Pittsburgh shooter, was tied to the fascistic social media site Gab, a refuge for right-wing extremists banned from Twitter and Facebook.

These four attacks, like all acts of terrorism, served a double function. On the one hand, they served to inflict immediate harm on the “enemies” of fascism, whether these enemies be political opponents, such as left-wing politicians, or people whose free existence is a fundamental threat to the fascist project, such as Black people, Jews, and women. On the other hand, the attacks served to create a climate of fear, a climate eventually intended to scare opponents of fascism out of exercising their freedom.

Students of the American fascist movement will recognize that all four of these attacks fit into the longtime white supremacist strategy of “leaderless resistance.” First proposed by Louis Beam in 1983, the strategy marked a departure from the attempt to build popular institutions such as the Ku Klux Klan towards the reconstitution of the movement into one in which “all individuals and groups operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction.” The adoption of leaderless resistance as a key organizing principle encouraged fascist activists to act without directly consulting one another, instead interpreting the public proclamations of fascist leaders by themselves and acting as they see fit. It took and continues to take advantage of the widespread authoritarianism, racism, and misogyny embedded in American culture, gambling that these ideas can be activated in independent activists through the piecemeal diffusion of fascist propaganda, thereby creating a general social attitude of support for and fear of fascists without relying on the establishment of a major institutional presence dedicated to supporting the fascist cause.

To date, the largest successful act of terrorism carried out on the basis of leaderless resistance was Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols’ bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, including many children. Other high profile terrorist attacks carried out on the basis of this strategy other than those mentioned above include Frazier Glenn Miller’s attack on a Kansas Jewish Community Center in April, 2014, Elliot Rodger’s rampage through Isla Vista, CA the following month, and Dylann Roof’s massacre of Black churchgoers in July, 2015.

One major advantage of this strategy for fascist organizing (which is emphasized by Beam) is that the decentralization of activism keeps movement leaders safe from activist criminality. Popular institutions are easy targets of government suppression because such institutions link everyone from foot soldiers to the institutions’ upper echelons through the institutional hierarchy. As a result, taking down someone at any level of the hierarchy can lead to the imprisonment of all members on conspiracy and collaboration charges and a resultant disorganization. By keeping white supremacist cells as small as possible, the leaderless resistance is able to avoid large scale suppression by either the government or anti-racist and anti-fascist movements through a separation of propagandists and theorists from terrorist activists. Strategies developed publically by fascist ideologues can be taken up by individuals or small cadres who serve as martyrs without the ideologues facing repercussions greater than public censure.

Another advantage of leaderless resistance (which goes unmentioned by Beam) is that very few of those engaged in the strategy need to be cognizant of their participation. Only a handful of ideologues need to be intentionally focused on shifting the Overton window – the limits of acceptable discourse – for efforts to be successful. A small but dedicated group of theorists and propagandists making a concerted effort can move fascist concepts into the mainstream. Once this is accomplished, mainstream politicians and media outlets are able to whip up racist, misogynistic, anti-leftist, and anti-liberal hysteria to the point where lone-wolf terrorists are bound to emerge. Knowledge of this phenomenon helps explain why aforementioned terrorist Frazier Glenn Miller, who previously maintained ties to the white supremacist terrorist cell The Order, spent the first several decades of his life propagandizing through the KKK before picking up guns, as well as why former terrorist Don Black has abandoned his paramilitary activities in favor of running the influential white supremacist website Stormfront. When fascist ideologies penetrate mainstream society, some number of people will be brought to the point of “leaderless” violence regardless of their familiarity with white supremacist tactics.

In light of the above, it is clear that fascist media platforms like Gab and Stormfront, as well as “fellow-traveler” forums like 4chan and 8chan and offline institutions like Stormfront book clubs, are crucial aspects of the success of leaderless resistance. These platforms and others like them play several roles. First, they serve as spaces for the development of fascist theory, locations where committed activists can further fascist doctrines and where inductees can receive indoctrination. Second, they serve as repositories for mainstream figures to draw ideas from, either directly or through layers of distillation as concepts are taken up and filtered through mainstream platforms like Twitter, once the Overton window has moved. Third, they serve as vehicles for the highest levels of agitation, pushing those on the edge of terrorism to engaging in leaderless resistance.

Despite the importance of these radical right-wing spaces, explicitly and implicitly fascist forums are not a sufficient environment for the production of lone-wolf fascist terrorists in and of themselves. As indicated above, they remain reliant on fascist ideology mainstreaming itself through public figures for the strategy to be fully successful. Wittingly or not, these public figures make their own contribution to acts of terror carried out in the name of leaderless resistance. Most obviously and as previously noted, anti-democratic, racist, and misogynistic statements from prominent politicians and media personalities contribute to fascist agitation. They also both create and reflect public support for terrorist activities. Racist statements from Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson therefore contribute to the spread of racist propaganda and indicate to fascist theorists that large segments of the public are supportive of (aspects of) the fascist cause. Even more crucial than statements are actions of material support. Presidential pardons like those given to prominent racists Dinesh D’Souza and Joe Arpaio demonstrate that elites and the public are willing to support them (to a degree) not only rhetorically, but concretely. Media narratives downplaying or dismissing the threat of fascism, such as the widespread claim that the bombs sent to Democrats were an elaborate hoax designed to discredit the Republican Party, provide space for fascists to move in public without fear of social exclusion, let alone retribution.

What is most important to note throughout in an examination of leaderless resistance is that while the strategy has led to a relatively non-institutional fascist movement, it has not led to an unorganized one. Fascist leaders, theorists, and propagandists are linked to fascist activists, including terrorist activists, through formal, predictably operating channels. Fascist ideology, tactics, strategies, and “commands” are declared in explicitly fascist venues such as Stormfront, Radix Journal, or the National Policy Institute Forum. They are then conveyed to larger, “fellow-traveler” locations like 4chan, where they are picked up and placed on larger, politically neutral sites like Facebook and Twitter, and then heard from the mouths of politicians like Donald Trump, media figures like Tucker Carlson, and celebrities like Kanye West. At each stage of transmission, the ideology and commands are available to be heard by activists, at louder and louder volumes at each stage, some of whom inevitably begin leaderless resistance, thereby reliably producing the results sought by those who initiate the process. Additionally, each stage provides the initiators of the process with feedback on methods of refining the content and distribution techniques of their propaganda as they can see which ideas are and are not transferred and the degree to which ideas are distorted as they pass from one place to another. What ultimately links all the locations is the shared epistemological framework the concepts produce and maintain as they are transmitted, a fascist framework initiated by a small cadre of fascist activists for the purpose of agitating leaderless resistance.

The threat of fascist insurgency must be taken seriously. The recent attacks prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that fascist violence is both immanent and rising. Moreover, the above analysis demonstrates it is highly organized movement. It must be challenged. There are several areas of social existence in which this can be done.

First, fascist space in the range of acceptable discourse must be eliminated. Allowing any space for fascist propaganda is, as discussed above, a key hinge of the fascist leaderless resistance strategy, without which the production of fascist terrorists and activists cannot operate. Actions taken by major corporations and private citizens alike to remove fascist media platforms from the web, as well as successful struggles to prevent fascists from propagandizing on college campuses, mark the most significant contributions of recent vintage to this effort. Unfortunately, it is likely that such actions are too little, too late. Now that mainstream, widely followed political figures and media outlets have adopted fascistic rhetoric, fascist discourse has probably saturated mainstream culture to a point where simple “no-platforming” is no longer a viable strategy. At present it seems the far-right has opened the Overton window for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, such actions demonstrate widespread disapproval of fascism, racism, and misogyny that may serve to demoralize and demobilize fascist activists in the long term. Such actions may also serve to disrupt fascist organization in ways that cannot be accurately valued at the present moment.

More important in the near future than closing the discursive space in which fascists operate is taking away the material base of fascist activists. Since the base of dedicated fascist activists is relatively small, crippling that base is both simpler than closing the Overton window and an effective way to smash the beating heart of fascism. Several strategies have been successfully employed to this end. Once again, major corporations have played a part in the fight, with prominent payment processing and fundraising companies taking adverse actions against major fascist organizations, though they have often not gone far enough. Other effective actions have seen fascists lose their jobs and face difficulty at their universities. Attacking the material base of fascist operations disrupts fascists’ ability to  participate in activism by increasing the cost of such participation or simply overwhelming them with the difficulty of maintaining their everyday existence. Additionally, it can serve to prevent the process of fascist organization from beginning when it is the originators of fascist theory who are attacked. This said, assaults on the material base have limited effectiveness in combating fascist terror carried out by already radicalized activists. The leaderless resistance strategy intentionally relies on terrorists to commit to, plan, and carry out attacks over relatively brief time periods, thereby avoiding detection (and consequently resistance) until the time of the attack. Furthermore, because most terrorists die or go to jail in the course of their action, attacking their economic base is of limited effectiveness even if their motives are suspected ahead of time. It takes few resources to stage a terror attack when the attacker does not intend to live after the fact. For these reasons, depriving key fascists of a material base does more to stunt the movement over a longer period of time than to prevent bloodshed in the near future.

Another, and possibly the most, effective means of fighting fascism is to socially isolate fascists. Isolation destroys fascists ability  to evangelize. It prevents the transmission of fascist ideology from one part of the leaderless organization to another, thereby limiting fascists’ numbers and preventing the spread of radicalization. Moreover, disrupting social ties among fascist activists using methods like infiltration creates paranoia and lack of trust in the fascist community, effectively preventing interfascist solidarity. These strategies can even disrupt leaderless resistance, since confidence in community support and the agitation of friends can lead to individuals undertaking terrorist actions. Yet even attacks on the social lives of fascists face obstacles. The biggest of these challenges is the internet, which serves as a space for geographically and physically isolated and communally shunned fascists to come together. Moreover, fascist internet spaces are easily reconstituted after disruptions. Even more importantly, anti-fascist organizers must be cognizant their efforts serve to isolate only the most committed fascists. Isolating members of the general public with some authoritarian, racist, or misogynistic tendencies is both impracticable given the reach of these tendencies in American culture and risks stigmatizing the naive who would, if treated with care, abandon fascist leanings in favor of liberal and leftist positions.

Fascism must also be fought through a transformation of left and liberal institutions. Activist organizations must add a function of machine politics to themselves at the same time that the machine political operations in existence must begin to organize direct actions. The fascist right has already perfected this strategy through organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). These organizations keep activists mobilized and furthering the fascist agenda in periods between election cycles, while ensuring a base for right-wing politicians in election periods. The role of far-right mainstream politicians in promoting fascist terrorism and agitating the fascist base, and the government’s ability to suppress both fascist and left-wing movements as it likes, is too important to cede in the anti-fascist struggle. However, mobilizing simply for elections requires enormous effort and resources to reestablish electoral organizations every two to four years. By adding machine aspects to anti-fascist organizations and activist aspects to machine organizations, the most important work, that is, direct action, can be accomplished while a grip on the formal levers of political power is maintained.

A broad-based coalition of leftists and liberals must agree on common terms for fighting the fascist threat. Fascism is able to gain power quickly in a fractured political environment, where factionalism and infighting keep anti-fascists of all varieties fighting with each other and away from anti-fascist organizing. While a revolutionary left consensus may be the ideal tool for mobilizing against fascism, it is not a necessary one. Common terms enable different tendencies in the anti-fascist struggle to fight a common enemy how they see fit while remaining in solidarity with those with whom they are not in total agreement.  “We must,” above all and in the words of Assata Shakur, “love each other and support each other.” We must help each other grow and stand in solidarity, instead of indulge in petty personal disputes in the face of growing fascism. We must resolve differences with respect for one another and without forcing our comrades to abandon deeply held beliefs that, while contrary to ours, do not harm the anti-fascist struggle. The fascists are well organized and “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Taking on Fascism and Racism from the Ground Up.