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Confronting Fascist Entryism: Bioregionalism, Left-Hand Path, and the Brooklyn Commons

 

Recently a supporter emailed us to let us know something a little strange happening at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Among the Lovecraftian horror authors, R’lyeh themed t-shirt vendors, and various international films, the organizers had invited someone a touch more eccentric. Diabolus Rex is an occultist from the area who spends his time building the Ragnarok Engine, which is a large metal ship that is meant to generate occult energy. Speaking in a mix of prophetic End Times jargon, conspiracy prose, and pan-esoteric mashups, he says that this will fuel a black magic enterprise, possibly bringing the end of the world.

Though on first glance Rex is likely to appear as an oddity that an H.P. Lovecraft fanfest would enjoy a peek at, but that is really only without delving deeper. Rex was featured on Jack Donovan’s podcast Start the World. People will know Donovan as a part of the controversial Wolves of Vinland folkish heathen group, and for speaking at white nationalist conferences like American Renaissance and writing for publications like the Radix Journal. Know for his Queer Fascism, Jack writes about “male tribalism” and the need for men to think only about their in-group and to reclaim a culture of violence.

This was not Rex’s only connection to the Alt Right as on his Facebook he shares links from the esoteric-loving white nationalist publisher Counter Currents and rants about blocking Muslim immigration. More than this, he focuses on a “will to power” reading of left-hand path mysticism where he believes in creating a culture of hierarchy based in the domination of others, which includes human sacrifice. He even includes Julius Evola, the fascist mystic, as one of his key influences, as well as seeming to draw on Aryan esoteric and rune magic. He makes snide comments about Jews, and especially about “socialists” and those who want “equality.”

The question of whether Rex is a fascist is dubious; he seems to straddle a line in some ways, and may or may not actually fall firmly into that category. The burden of his meta-politics does not fall on the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (even though they were notified ahead of time of his connection), but it presents a clear problem that happens in spaces from left to right, from the arts to the social sciences.

Anti-fascist researcher and author Alexander Reid Ross made this process the key idea for his upcoming book from AK Press, Against the Fascist Creep. In it he chronicles the neo-fascist project since World War II and the shifting, often contradictory strategies that fascist movements take. Using ideas and patterns from the left, fascist movements attempt to co-opt struggles, transform radical movements, and adopt elements of the left while maintaining a far-right meta-politics. This means that areas that are not normally associated with racialist and nationalist politics, such as the pop arts, environmentalism, or anti-colonialism, have become places they believe they can make inroads.

To gain popularity, fascists develop and adapt syncretic ideologies to meet and manipulate leftists and radical activists. Their motivations are often concealed through the rhetoric of the “right to difference” and “racial diferentialism.” It is important to see through and reject the rhetoric of fascism in order to garner a better understanding of its general adherence to inequality, elitism, and hate. (AFC, pg. 7)

While most people subscribing to Left Hand Path traditions would find fascist politics and racism disgusting, there are those who see it as a way to developing an imperial power. People may reject the notion that ideologues like Rex have a creeping fascist politics because of the sexual libertine ideas and animal rights adherence, but these are just pieces of what is a larger philosophy of power and domination.

The fascist entryism into areas associated with the left is both conscious and unconscious, and those on the far right often see these crossover movements as legitimately a part of their struggle.

***

Quite a while ago, bioregionalists in Oregon were putting on a conference about their ecological movement. There is a push to look at the bioregion of the Pacific Northwest, sometimes divided up into being the western side of Oregon and Washington, as a distinct ecological “bioregion.” While there are nationalist movements that want to redefine state boundaries, bioregionalism is generally a project of the left and sees itself as a progressive notion for protecting environmental areas. Because of its creation of borders and boundaries, as well as because of right-wing intervention into environmental movements, it has also attracted those from the more questionable elements of the right.

Among the various invitees for the conference was also Vince Rinehart, a tribal member of the Tlingit people and an editor with the National Anarchist website Attack the System. AtS is well known for allying with white nationalists and racialists, developing their own “pan-secessionist” ideology that calls for anarchists uniting with fascists to attack “the empire.” Keith Preston, the founder of the website, often speaks at neo-fascist conferences like the National Policy Institute. Rinehart himself supports a strong tribal nationalism, one where racial groups could get their own exclusive tribal communities.

After the public learned that Rinehart was included in the conference there was an understandable uproar, and many in the more questionable areas of the bioregionalist community tried to defend Rinehart’s inclusion. There was an aspect of agreement with Rinehart: it took opposing ideologies coming together to defend the bioregion. This is exactly the “creeping fascism” that those on the right want, to undermine coherent politics and to gain entry into revolutionary movements for their own philosophical bent.

This showed up in an especially embarrassing blog post by Casey Bryan Corcoran after Rose City Antifa refused to participate. Here Corcoran admitted to both understanding Attack the System’s fascist roots and to doing a recorded interview with them.

I want to be clear that I am not denying Fascism’s unsavory past and present.  I will also not deny the unsavory past and present of the Left.  I am hopeful that Bioregionalism can be formulated in a way that opposes both toxic ideologies, and I see both the Left and the Right as his-stories not to be repeated.  I also reject both the Trojan Horse of ‘Third Position’ racialism, and the re-colonizing impositions and racial animosities that thrive in Leftist subcultures.  However, attacking everyone I don’t see eye-to-eye with has proven a terrible way to build a community, and I have engaged in dialogue with a good handful of people expressing remarkably problematic ideas about life, taking my fair share of flack for this in the process.  I feel this risk is worth it, as I feel no human being is motivated by pure evil intentions.  Pardon my optimism if you must.   I have also observed peoples ideas change over time, mostly as the result of relationships with other people who are not quick to judge.

Here he goes into the defining characteristic of creeping fascism, the ability to “move beyond right and left” to something new. This is Third Positionism crystalized, the refusal to see fascism for what it is in an effort to “move beyond the failures of the past.” He continues on to use ad hominem attacks, to dance around the clear far-right associations, and to defend Rinehart’s racialist politics.

Rinehart was eventually removed from his panel against his own protest, though he still spoke at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon at the University of Oregon. The conference is known for including controversial speakers like Lierre Keith, the transphobic founder of Deep Green Resistance. Rinehart spoke on a panel with members of Occupied Cascadia and Portland State University Cascadia chapter.

Rinehart went on Jack Donovan’s podcast as well to defend himself, as well as to re-commit himself to solidarity with ethnic nationalism.  Though at the time Rinehart was already known for his problematic views, this was only the tip of the iceberg and many in the Cascadia bioregionalist movement seemed fine with flirting with the most reviled ideas imaginable. There was something of a reckoning and the left wing of the bioregionalist movement is much more conscious of this type of entryism today, but it is something that continues in left spaces regardless.

***

Recently the Brooklyn Commons turned a few heads when they hosted Christopher Bollyn, a 9/11 Truther who has entered crossover politics from his deep anti-Semitism. Bollyn was formerly a staff member at the Liberty Lobby, which published Spotlight. The Liberty Lobby was the organization founded by Willis Carto, and was the leading white nationalist organization for decades. Though it is less known than organizations like the National Alliance, it was arguably even more influential, starting off in the 1960s with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and riding a wave of anti-Communism and anti-integrationist fervor on the right into influence in the halls of power. They eventually became open about their racialist politics, believing that Jews secretly run the world, that black people have lower IQs than whites, and that people of color are more prone to crime. They founded the Holocaust Denial organization The Institute for Historical Review, and after that organization was wrestled away from Carto by some previous employees he went on to found the Barnes Review to do the same thing.

Bollyn was on the staff of the Liberty Lobby between 2000 and 2006, when the Spotlight was renamed the American Free Press. Bollyn, with his penchant for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, claims that Jews themselves were behind all U.S. government decisions, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is real, and that Jews actually did the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Bollyn has been incredibly public about what he thinks about Jews, not usually even hiding behind anti-Semitic “dog whistle” language. Below are a few quotes compiled by anti-fascist writer Spencer Sunshine.

  • “Great nations, like the United States, France, and Germany, once had anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic political parties that acted to challenge the pernicious influence of secret Masonic and Jewish organizations.  Today we no longer have such political parties to counter these secret networks and find ourselves ruled by B’nai B’rith and Jewish Freemasons.”
  • “The ‘false flag’ ter­ror­ism of 9–11 is a mon­strous Jewish-Zionist crime of our time.  The true cul­prits of this heinous crime are clearly being pro­tected by a gang of like-minded Jew­ish Zion­ists in the high­est posi­tions of the U.S. government.”
  • “It seems like being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf.”
  • He openly cites the Protocols line that: “Not a single announcement will reach the public without our control.”
  • “I suspect that Arlen Specter is a high-level agent of the B’nai B’rith, the secret organization of Jewish Freemasons which I consider to be the real Elders of Zion.”

After the Commons booked Bollyn there was a near revolt by many of the organizations and projects that use the place, including Jacobin Magazine, the Right to the City Alliance, and the Marxist Education Project. They wrote a letter to the Commons listing their disdain in a quick statement.

As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.

The event was allowed to continue by the space’s owner, Melissa Ennen, who is a 9/11 Truther herself. In her own statement she said that there should be space for hateful people to speak because it can also be enlightening.

I never intended for The Commons to be a safe space at all times. Nor was it designed to be a cozy cocoon for intramural debate among leftists. From the beginning my goal has been to foster discussion among disparate groups across a wide political spectrum.

This is clearly a cherry-picked decision since usually the Commons would not normally allow a speaker with openly racist views, even though they represent “a wide political spectrum.” Instead, she wants to make it a left-specific space, except in that they allow anti-Semites.

Once the event did take place there was a small, yet understandably angry, contingent outside protesting the event. Those who tried to go inside were assaulted by security, and other people associated with the Commons attacked opposition in different situations. Some Antifa organizations have now called for a boycott on the Commons, which is a boycott we are joining in to send a message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.

***

In all of these situations, what happens is a break in left-oriented politics allows for some of the most abhorrent examples of far-right politics to work their way in. Though they are often challenged in the end, this has allowed many of these movements to flourish in ways that a concerted opposition would eliminate. This comes, in part, from the fact that education about fascism and its interlocking tentacles is not well done even in radical spaces, and it is important to understand the depths of the nationalist project and how it tries to seek crossover into, and cover from, the left. It also feeds on the unchecked acts of bigotry and oppression inside of leftist spaces, where racism, sexual assault, and abuse still happen even though the rhetoric and ideas are intended to challenge it.

This is an ongoing project, one that does not end in one project or confrontation.   Instead, as the fascist movement shifts and changes, we need to be virulent and learn about how it is attempting to adapt. Radical environmentalism, anti-imperialist movements, animal rights, Palestinian solidarity, anti-globalization, pagan religious communities, and many iconoclastic arts projects all have a special place in this because they are areas that Nazis have attempted to stake their claim. A clear idea of what the threat is, a coherent politic in opposition, and the ability to shift and adapt is what will help to ensure that creeping fascism is crushed at entry.

5 thoughts on “Confronting Fascist Entryism: Bioregionalism, Left-Hand Path, and the Brooklyn Commons”

  1. This is why I got out of the Cascadia Independence movement. It was mostly left-anarchist when I started in 2011 but by 2012 the right wing entryism was a big problem, and nobody had the integrity to stand up to the right-libertarian and fascist elements creeping in and defend our identity as a group with liberation and equality at its core.

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    1. I totally disagree with “nobody had the integrity to stand up to the right-libertarian and fascist elements creeping in and defend our identity as a group with liberation and equality at its core” … I am constantly calling out Big L Libertarians and the right wing … and with the exception of Reddit most social media I am involved with are anti Libertarian and right wing.

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      1. Maybe it was a matter of my perceptions then. It seemed that the movement was intensely vulnerable to entryism to me and I was really uncomfortable with that. I certainly wasn’t calling you out in particular (we’ve met, by the way).

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