Why is a Fascist Publishing House Releasing Books by Goldman, Berkman, and Kropotkin?

For anyone that has been looking at the problem of creeping fascism in the U.S. and Europe, National-Anarchism has become an entryist tool for the far right to move into otherwise far-left anarchist movements. National-Anarchism, a term coined by nationalist activist Troy Southgate, sees a form of “anarchism” where autonomous communities are created on the basis of things like race, ideology, or sexual orientation. Generally, they mix deep ecology and some post-left and anti-state politics with ultra-conservative social views, racial separatism, and a violent anti-Semitism. They attempt to appropriate anarchist symbols, organizing styles, and social structures, and you’ll often see them attempt to join in the black block at protests. There have been incidents over the years in the United States with National-Anarchist organizations attempting to gain entry into anarchist projects. The National Anarchist Tribal Alliance(NATA) of New York has made a fuss after being kicked out of the New York Anarchist Bookfair, as well as the now-defunct Bay Area National Anarchist(BANA) being booted out of San Francisco based events and attacked at actions. BANA tried to make a name for itself protesting the movie Machete, saying that it was anti-white, as well as protesting immigration and doing talks on the importance of “tribe.” Several National-Anarchists have joined things like the Traditionalist Youth Network and the Traditionalist Workers Party in California, joining together with classic Christian racists like Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrot to develop a violent anti-immigrant movement.

Much of the rhetorical center of National-Anarchism in the U.S. is around Attack the System, a website we have covered extensively in the past. The site, run by former anarchist Keith Preston, advocates what it calls Pan-Secession, an idea that different ideological groups should revolt against the “Empire” and sort of go their own way. Their conception of anarchism is “left, right, and center,” where they believe that everything that people call anarchism should be a part of the broad anarchist project. They often work with anarcho-capitalist and libertarian types, as well as many of the newer far-right variants like Tribal Anarchists, Anarcho-Monarchists, Agorists, and National Anarchists.

Keith Preston knows his way around the anarchist movement, coming out of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Workers Solidarity Alliance in the past(all of which abhor his recent views and behavior). He attempts to persist that he is, in fact, still an anarchist, yet he spends most of his time speaking at white nationalist conferences and supporting nationalist movements.

For those who continue to read many books considered anarchist “classics,” they may have found a volume that raised some concerns. When looking at Keith Preston’s small repertoire of strange books one stands out, Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman. The book, which takes essays by Goldman that are in the public domain, has an introduction by Keith Preston. This, on its face, is problematic, and when the publisher is seen to be Black House Publishing Ltd, it only becomes more blatant.

Black House Front Page

Black House Publishing is one of the most prolific neo-fascist publishers coming out of Europe, yet attempts to say that it really just publishes books on politics. The top masthead lists “Anarchism, “Capitalism,” “Socialism,” “National Socialism,” and “Fascism,” which is intended to lend to the notion that it is non-partisan and instead just surveying the left-right spectrum. When you browse through their titles, the reality of their perspective becomes bare.

On the front page, besides the most recent book by Preston, there are two volumes on the English interwar founder of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley, one his autobiography (which, ironically, has the same name as Leon Trotsky’s biography), as well as as an “authorized” history of Mosley and the British union. There are two books on Jews, one that claims to simply be about “Zionism, Islam, and the West” by controversial far-right author Kerry Bolton, as well as a book on “central banking” that resurrects anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Their books on Fascism and National Socialism are extensive, republishing public domain Nazi books like The Programme of the NSDAP and False Gods: The Jerusalem Memoirs by Adolf Eichmann. For those who might suggest that this is just an attempt by a publisher to republish historical works for profit, their books include a swathe of manuscripts that buck this trend with almost a dozen books published by Mosley and a whole library of more recent books by reactionary authors.

Anarchism and Other Essays

The books on anarchism that it holds show a further difficulty as they have the singular book Attack the System by Preston, the book by Goldman introduced by Preston, as well as Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist by Alexander Berkman and The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin. Both of these books are also published by Black House, where they take the public domain texts and publish them for a National-Anarchist audience. This may seem like a glaring contradiction for those who know the historical opposition to fascism that anarchists have had, but in the world of Third Positionist neo-fascism, they live in these contradictions. These classic books are often used by National-Anarchists to endorse some of their broad-based fascism since they can be picked through to find vague passages that they can use to ally with the more simplistic elements of their anti-authoritarian program. The fact that Goldman, Berkman, and Kropotkin would not ally with capitalists, nationalists, or related movements is one that is lost on this swathe of their movement, and a reality they hope to obscure by publishing their books.

Conquest of Bread

This is not the first time that fascist organizations have attempted to appropriate older anarchist thought, but this is an ongoing profit center for Black House publishing and one that can actually confuse anarchists who are attempting to find affordable volumes of these classic texts. Right now they are selling each of these books for slightly more than you will pay from other publishers (AK Press included) when you find them on Amazon, but they are cheaper on the Black House website. Conquest of Bread and Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist were released this month, which is part of why they have gone under the radar, but Anarchism and Other Essays has been out since December of 2012.

It is hard to confront this misappropriation since these texts are in the public domain and that is something we want to continue since it allows for open republishing of these books and we do not want to encourage strict intellectual property. Instead, this presents a challenge for how to undermine the distribution of these books, which are problematic for coherent anarchist politics and provides a clean entry point for far-right ideas.

First, this could mean confronting retailers and making sure to challenge their placement of these books, and all the works put out by Black House. These are particularly pernicious, and therefore the language could be used that they are deceiving the readership as to the book in question. Amazon has never been the most responsive to public pressure, but they did bring down all Confederate Flag merchandise during the recent controversy, so this does provide an avenue. While sending emails to customer service people is fine, it needs a coordinated, large-scale campaign to be effective in any way. It will also be useful to indicate in reviews and comments on the products exactly what the book is as, you will notice, on these large retail situations, most of the purchasers have no idea exactly what they are buying.

The most concerted way to confront this type of entryism is to create a very visceral anti-fascist kernel to anarchist organizing projects, to educate and agitate around issues like racism and nationalism, and to continue to confront and disallow far-right entryism. These books are a clear instance of this, but we can continue to close doors to them by giving our movements a foundation in anti-fascist struggle.

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