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AIDS Conspiracy Theories—tracking the real genocide (David Gilbert, 1997)

We are reprinting here an essay from David Gilbert, a political prisoner who has spent the last several decades working on AIDs education and advocacy in prison.  He deep work on the AID crisis has put him up against the growing conspiracy theories around the disease, which even penetrate black communities where the disease has had a special trail of death.  These conspiracy theories have far right roots in white nationalist organizations, as do many conspiracy theories, and there is a pattern there that is common to many of the far right conspiracy theories that creep into left wing political spaces.  This essay is about twenty-years old, but we decided to bring it back into the conversation by re-publishing it to contribute to the discussion about the cost of conspiracy theories and how to confront them as we do with any form of far-right entryism.  This pamphlet is published in a print form by Kersplebedeb Publishing, an incredible Canadian publishing house that publishes a number of anti-fascist classics.  Please support their work.

An Almost Perfect Fit

AIDS – which can so heartlessly take people away in their prime of life – is the lethal scourge of our day, and it is still light years away from being brought under control. This epidemic seems to have an uncanny knack for attacking people that the dominant society considers “undesirable”: gays, injection drug users (IDUs), and prisoners. And AIDS has increasingly become a grim reaper in the Black and Latino communities within the U.S. and among Third World people internationally.

The commonly cited U.S. statistic that Black people have twice the rate of AIDS as white Americans understates the problem because it is based on a cumulative figure (that is, the total number since 1981). But early on in the epidemic a large majority of the diagnosed cases were among white gay men. (It is very possible that there were many undiagnosed cases among IDUs – particularly Black and Latino – who lacked access to decent medical care.) Looking at new rather than cumulative cases gives us a better picture of what is going on now. In 1992 the rate of new cases for Latinos was 2.5 times higher than for whites. 1 The stark Black/white ratios for the rate of new AIDS cases in 1993 was 5/1 for men and 15/1 for women. 2 By then, AIDS had become the leading cause of death of Black people between the ages of 25 and 44, 3 And it continues to get worse as the AIDS hurricane moves deeper into the ghettos and barrios.

Internationally, the racial disparity is even worse: about 80% of the world’s 9 million deaths from AIDS through the end of 1995 have occurred in Africa, 4 and this plague has already orphaned over 2 million children there. 5 In short, there is a powerful correlation between medical epidemiology and social oppression. What is more, that mesh fits – like a tailor made suit – on the extensive body of history of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) and medical experiments against people of color, prisoners, and other unsuspecting citizens. Such CBW in North America started when the early European settlers used smallpox infected blankets as a weapon of genocide against Native Americans. It includes the pre-market testing of birth control pills, before proper dosage was known, on Puerto Rican and Haitian women who were not warned of the potentially severe side effects.

Recent revelations about U.S. human radiation experiments led to a comprehensive review of all government agencies by a Presidential Advisory Committee. They found that there had been at least 4,000 U.S. government sponsored human radiation experiments, involving as many as 20,000 people, including some children, between 1944 and 1974. 6 It has also been documented that the U.S. Army conducted hundreds of tests releasing “harmless” bacteria, viruses, and other agents in populated areas, including a test to see how a fungal agent thought mainly to affect Black people would spread. 7(For an excellent summary of U.S. CBW, see Bob Lederer’s article in Covert Action Information Bulletin, #28, Summer, 1987.)

The most apposite example is the four decade-long Tuskegee Syphilis study. Starting in 1932, under U.S. Public Health Services auspices, about 400 Black men in rural Alabama were subjects in an experiment on the effects of untreated syphilis. They were never told the nature of their condition or that they could infect their wives and children. Although penicillin, which became available in the 1940s, was the standard of treatment for syphilis by 1951, researchers not only withheld treatment but forbade the men from seeking help elsewhere. This shameful “experiment” was stopped in 1972, only after a federal health worker blew the whistle. 8

Nor is experimentation on people of color a thing of the past. Beginning in 1989, 1,500 children in West and East Los Angeles and Inglewood were given the experimental Edmonston-Zagreb, or E-Z, measles vaccine as part of a government-sponsored trial. Most of the subjects were Latino or New Afrikan (Black). The parents of these children were never told that they were part of an experiment with an unlicensed drug, and thus had a less than adequate basis for giving their consent. The E-Z vaccine was also tested in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Guinea, and more than a dozen other Third World countries. Trials in Los Angeles, conducted with the cooperation of Kaiser Permanente, the Centers for Disease Control and John Hopkins University, were stopped two years later after questions were raised about the vaccine’s relationship to an increased death rate among female infants. 9

On another level, the drug plague in the ghettos and barrios has the effect of chemical and biological warfare against those communities. The government’s role in this scourge is probably much more direct than the obvious stupidity and corruption. There has been considerable evidence, going back to the 1960s, of CIA involvement in international drug-trafficking in order to raise money to finance anti-Communist guerrilla forces in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Nicaragua.

A new bombshell has just hit with the August 18-20, 1996 series of articles by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News. Based on recently declassified documents, court testimony, and personal interviews, Webb describes how a CIA operation was instrumental in the new influx of cheap cocaine into Black communities in the early 1980s, paving the way for the emergence of the devastating crack epidemic. The CIA set up and ran the “Contras,” a terrorist force fighting to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Starting in 1982, two key Contra fundraisers (Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandón), enjoying obvious protection from investigation and prosecution, brought the first large-scale and cheap supplies of cocaine into South-Central Los Angeles.

Once we move beyond specific health issues into the political realm, government plots to prevent or destroy Black liberation are a continual and central feature of U.S. history. The most relevant example for today’s dire political situation is the FBI’s “Cointelpro” (counterintelligence program), which peaked (but undoubtedly didn’t end) in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This secret but extensive sabotage campaign against Black liberation and other movements of oppressed people, as well as against white radical groups allied with them, was exposed only after activists broke into an FBI office and found some of the documents. For example, a 1968 FBI memo calls on agents to:

…prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups…prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability. ..prevent the rise of a black “messiah” who would unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolmb X (sic) might have been such a “messiah”…

The program included a devilish array of dirty tricks and disruptions. While of course none of the documents explicitly discuss assassinations, about 40 Black Panthers were murdered over this five year period, and the Panthers were hit with over 1,000 arrests on trumped-up charges. Another grisly example is what was done to the Native American movement. In the three years following their 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, at least 69 American Indian Movement members and supporters met violent deaths. (For more detail on Cointelpro, see Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, Boston: South End Press, 1990.)

The violent plots against these movements have everything to do with the terrible setbacks in power and conditions for oppressed peoples today.

In light of all the documented horrors, there are good reasons why so many prisoners as well as a significant portion of the New Afrikan community believe that government scientists deliberately created AIDS as a tool of genocide.

There is only one problem with this almost perfect fit: It is not true. The theories on how HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – was purposely spliced together in the laboratory wilt under scientific scrutiny. Moreover, these conspiracy theories divert energy from the work that must be done in the trenches if marginalized communities are to survive this epidemic: grassroots education and mobilizations for AIDS prevention, and better care for people living with HIV

 

Dangerous to Your Health

It is this dangerous diversion from focusing on the preventive measures so urgently needed to save lives that makes the rash of conspiracy theories so disturbing. That’s the concern that compelled the writing of this paper. I’ve been doing AIDS education in prison for over nine years; these conspiracy myths have proven to be the main internal obstacle – in terms of prisoners’ consciousness – to concentrating on thorough and detailed work on risk reduction. What’s the use, believers ask, of making all the hard choices to avoid spreading or contracting the disease if the government is going to find a way to infect people anyway? And what’s the point of all the hassles of safer sex, or all the inconvenience of not sharing needles, if HIV can be spread, as many conspiracy theorists claim, by casual contact such as sneezing or handling dishes?

The core of the mind-set that undermines prevention efforts is “denial.” People whose activities have put them at risk are often so petrified that they don’t even want to think about it. Conspiracy theories serve up a hip and seemingly militant rationale for not confronting one’s own risk practices. At the same time, such theories provide an apparently simple and satisfying alternative to the complex challenge of dealing with the myriad of social, behavioral, and medical factors that propel the epidemic.

In addition to my extensive personal experience, a recent study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that New Afrikans who believed in the conspiracy theories are significantly less likely to use condoms or to get tested for HIV. 10 To put it bluntly: The false conspiracy theories are themselves a contributing factor to the terrible toll of unnecessary AIDS deaths among people of color.

While convinced by scientists I know that humans did not design HIV, my main concern here is not to disprove the conspiracy theories. Neither do i attempt to solve the problem of the origins of AIDS or even review the many different theories and approaches to that question. The origin of this disease, as of many others, is likely to remain unsolved for years to come. Various theories of AIDS origins include: a virus that jumped species, an accidental byproduct of biological warfare experiments on animals, a new viral mutation, and a virus that lived in an isolated ecological niche until new social conditions facilitated the explosion of an epidemic. There is also a set of theories based on the now highly dubious proposition that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. (For excellent discussions of HIV’s likely history and the social factors that facilitated the explosion of the epidemic, see Gabriel Rotello, “The Birth of AIDS,” OUT, April, 1994, and Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague, pp. 281-390.)

Instead this article examines the validity of one set of theories being widely propagated to prisoners and to New Afrikan communities: that HIV was deliberately spliced together in the lab as a weapon of genocide. These theories have had important public health and political implications. My urgent, life and death purpose is to refocus attention on AIDS prevention and care and, more broadly, on the struggle against the racist and profit-driven character of a public health system that is causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Readers not interested in a detailed critique of the conspiracy theories are invited to skip right to the last three sections of this essay, starting with “The Real Genocide.” Hopefully, that is also where all readers will concentrate their attention.

 

Scientific Unraveling

When first introduced to a conspiracy theory in 1987, 1 believed it because of the sordid history of U.S. chemical and biological warfare. The version I saw then was based on the work of two East German scientists, Jakob and Lilli Segal, and was published by the Soviet news agency Tass on 3/30/87. They claimed that HIV couldn’t have possibly evolved naturally and that it was obviously an artificial splice between visna virus (a retrovirus is one that infects the nervous system of sheep) and HTLV-1 (the first retrovirus known to infect humans). They argued that the splice was created at the notorious CBW lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland and then tested on prisoners in the area.

Upon receiving and believing this article, I immediately sent it to a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology (now at the University of Massachusetts Medical School), who specializes in immunology, Janet Stavnezer. My friendship with Janet goes back to the 1960s and her support for civil rights and the anti-war movement. While that does not make her analysis infallible, there is certainly no way she could be a conscious part of a conspiracy against oppressed people. Stavnezer’s response to the article I had found so politically credible was unequivocal: the splice theory that the Segals posit is scientifically impossible. (All references in this paper to Stavnezer’s analysis, as well as to her colleague at U. Mass. who specializes in virology – professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, Dr. Carel Mulder – come from personal correspondence and discussions.)

A couple of years later the Soviet Union withdrew the Segals’ charges. But it is open to interpretation whether they did so because the “science” involved is so demonstrably dishonest or because with “ Perestroika, ” they were now cultivating diplomatic favor with the U.S. In any case, there are other fatal flaws in the Segals’ theory. First, in an obvious error of U.S. geography, they speculated that Maryland prisoners, once released, congregated in New York City to become the seedbed of the epidemic; but most Maryland prisoners would return to Baltimore, or Washington D.C., and neither of those cities was an early center of AIDS. Second, they posit sophisticated forms of genetic engineering and cloning that hadn’t yet been invented in 1977. 11

Since the Segals there have been a number of related theories that HIV was man-made. One posits a splice of visna virus and equine infectious anemia virus; another, a splice of visna virus and bovine leukemia virus. One sets the date at Fort Detrick back to 1967; another implicates the World Health Organization (WHO), starting in 1972. Most of these other theorists (such as Robert Strecker, John Seale and William Douglass) come from the far right politically and charge that – whether it was engineered at Ft. Detrick and/or by WHO – the AIDS virus is a Soviet biological warfare assault on the Western world.

I sent these various splice theories to Stavnezer and Mulder for review; none of them holds water scientifically. The method for analyzing the relationship of different viruses is to compare the base pairs of nucleic acids that constitute the DNA. None of the viruses posited in the various splice theories has nearly enough similarity (or homology) with HIV to be one of its parents.

At the same time as my 1987 inquiry, another, and far more exhaustive, study independently came to a similar conclusion: the various genetic engineering theories were fundamentally flawed. Investigative journalist Bob Lederer researched the topic for Covert Action Information Bulletin (CAIB), a publication that has been outstanding at exposing CIA and related operations. Lederer, an anti-imperialist and an AIDS activist, also started out with a political predisposition for believing the government could well have created AIDS. His in-depth research led him to conclude that the series of HIV-splice theories were false. One of his prime sources was Dr. David Dubnau, a long-time activist against CBW, who was emphatic: the HIV splice theorists “are simply wrong.” This movement scientist independently offered the same explanation as Stavnezer and Mulder: HIV does not have any nearly sufficient sector of homology with the proposed parent viruses. 12 

Needing a vehicle for the deliberate dissemination of the allegedly spliced virus, the conspiracy theorists also characterize various vaccination programs (against smallpox in Africa, hepatitis-B among gay men in the U.S., and polio in various places) as examples of CBW campaigns. While vaccination programs with inadequate controls for contamination may have contributed to the spread of infection, they could not have been a prime cause: The geography of the vaccination campaigns does not correspond with the locations of early centers of AIDS 13 – and retrospective tests have not found any such contamination. l4

Meanwhile, such unsubstantiated rumors can dangerously discourage people here and in the Third World from getting the same protections for their children that have done so much to stop diseases among more privileged whites. The danger is illustrated by the unnecessary and serious 1989-91 outbreak of measles among children within the US. More privileged children had routinely been protected by a safe and effective vaccine (not the later, experimental E-Z variety) in use since 1963. The tragic result of the public health system’s failure to carry out thorough vaccination campaigns in poor, primarily Black and Latino, communities was 27,000 cases of measles and 100 deaths in 1990 alone. 15

There is another major problem with the splice theories – timing. Why in the world would scientists searching for a weapon of genocide in the early 1970s plunge into the then-completely-uncharted territory of human retroviruses when there were already many known and available lethal agents? Marburg virus, for example, discovered in 1967, would make an excellent candidate. 16On the other hand, scientists had no reason to even consider the class of viruses to which HIV belongs as possible CBW agents to destroy the human immune system.

The first human retrovirus (HTLV-I) was not discovered until 1977, and even then it could not immediately be linked to any disease. Yet the epidemiological evidence shows that AIDS already had appeared in several countries by 1978. 17 For full-blown AIDS cases to already be so geographically dispersed, HIV (a virus with a long incubation period) had to have existed at least several years before that.

And it is probably considerably older. Retrospective tests on blood taken in 1971-72 from 238 IDUs across the U.S. found that 14 of the 1129 samples – or 1.2 percent – were HIV antibody positive. l8 There are also a number of known cases of patients who died of AIDS-defining diseases decades ago. These include: a teenager who died in St. Louis in 1968 with four different opportunistic infections; a Norwegian sailor, his wife and a child in the late 1960s; and a sailor in England in 1959. Preserved tissue and blood samples from all of these cases later tested HIV antibody positive, although when the more difficult direct test was tried in two of these cases they could not recover HIV itself. 19

Medical case histories going back to the 1930’s – the earliest period in which accurate records were kept – show isolated cases with all the earmarks of AIDS. Various analyses of the DNA sequences – a technique used for broad assessment of a species’ age – have provided estimates for the age of HIV that range from 30-900 years.20

Whenever HIV first arose, and however long it may have subsisted at a low level in isolated populations, there is no mystery as to why its spread would take off in the mid-1970s. There were a host of new social conditions to serve as powerful amplifiers for any infectious agent: international jet travel flourished; a sexual revolution provided many more opportunities for multiple sexual partners; injection drug use greatly accelerated; there was a revolution in the use of a range of blood products, including multiple-donor blood-clotting factors for hemophiliacs; and there was the scandalous practice, born of poverty, of multiple re-use of syringes for legitimate medical practices in Third World countries.

The travel, sex, drug and blood products revolutions all combined by the mid 1970s to create powerful amplifiers for the rapid global spread of infectious diseases. 21 Far from being an anomaly, AIDS is a harbinger of other pandemics to come if humanity doesn’t radically change our approach to worldwide public health.

In brief, the lack of knowledge of any human retroviruses before the late 1970s and the compelling evidence for the earlier genesis of HIV virtually eliminate the possibility that scientists deliberately designed such a germ to destroy the human immune system. More specifically, and decisively, Stavnezer and Dubnau independently confirm that all the alleged splices are in fact impossible because HIV does not have nearly enough genetic similarity with any of the proposed parent viruses.

 

Shyster Science

The most common article on the alleged conspiracy theory circulating in New York State prisons is “WHO Murdered Africa,” by William Campbell Douglass, M.D., which appeared in Health Freedom News, September, 1987. (“WHO” stands for the World Health Organization.) Douglass has developed these themes at book length in AIDS: The End of Civilization (Brooklyn: A & B Books, 1992). His work deserves careful scrutiny because he has become a prime source for many Black community militants and prisoners who embrace the conspiracy theory out of a sincere desire to fight genocide. Douglass, however, who is white, expresses little concern for Black lives. Instead his avowed purpose is the defense of Western civilization, and he describes his politics as “conservative” – which turns out to be quite an understatement for his ultra-right wing political agenda.

The authorities’ response to the AIDS crises has been disastrously inadequate, and establishment science has tended to be arrogant and glib. Their quick pronouncement of the African green monkey theory of the origins of HIV and their intense promotion of AZT as the main medical response to AIDS were particularly suspect. This experience makes people prone to embrace any attacks on establishment science. But the crisis we face demands that we think critically rather than become simply reactionary.

Douglass is clearly opposed to mainstream science, but what he offers instead is a bizarre cocktail of half-truths, distortions, and lies. He may be an MD, but he obviously has little or no background in genetics, virology, or epidemiology. On p. 171 (all page references are to his book) he confuses the most basic distinction in epidemiology between the cause of AIDS (a virus) and a means of transmission (dirty needles). He evidently thinks (p. 230) that all RNA viruses are retroviruses, which is like thinking all fruits are citrus. In fact his whole discussion there and in his article as to the possibility of transmission by insects displays a fundamental ignorance of the science involved. 22 There is also something radically wrong with his statistics, as he offers five very different figures for the number of HIV infections in the U.S. (pp. 53, 60, 63, 168, 170) without making any effort to reconcile the variations.

Douglass “proves” that HIV is a splice of two other viruses by comparing the shapes as depicted in his own crude and inaccurate sketches of them (p. 231). But the scientific method for determining the degree of relatedness of different viruses is by detailed comparison of the sequence of base pairs of nucleic acid in the DNA. Such an analysis in fact disproves the splice theory.

Douglass also promotes a strange cure for numerous ailments – photoluminescence – in which small amounts of blood are drawn, irradiated with ultraviolet light and reinjected (pp. 251-252). Treatment at his Clayton, Georgia clinic can span several weeks and cost thousands of dollars. 23

Disinformation

Douglass goes beyond such misconceptions and distortions to perpetrating fraud. His “smoking guns” to prove the conspiracy are two key articles, one from Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the other from Science. If you take the time to read the actual articles, they don’t say anything like what he claims they do. Douglass must be consciously promoting a disinformation campaign.

His centerpiece is that WHO actually called for engineering a retrovirus to cause AIDS. He “proves” this by citing a 1972 article in the WHO Bulletin (A. Allison, et. al., “Virus-Associated Immunopathology: Animal Models and Implications for Human Disease,” 47:1, pp. 257-264). Douglass is emphatic: WHO is talking about “retroviruses” and is calling for scientists to “attempt to make a hybrid virus that would be deadly to humans.” As Douglass sums it up:

That’s Aids. What the WHO is saying in plain English is ‘Lets cook up a virus that selectively destroys the T-cell system of man, an acquired immune deficiency. ‘”
(The above quotes are from Douglass’s “WHO Murdered Africa,” and the underscorings are all his. He presents an almost identical description in his book, p. 80.)

On the surface, it is astonishing that any conspirators would reveal themselves by openly publishing a call for such an evil project. If one takes the time to find and read the WHO article in question, it becomes totally obvious that Douglass completely flipped the whole meaning and intent. The article in question (1) is NOT primarily about retroviruses; (2) is NOT at all about engineering new viruses; (3) NEVER discusses making hybrids; and (4) is absolutely NOT about making a virus to destroy the human immune system.

Instead, the article is all about a number of viruses already known at the time that cause various illnesses (in humans and other mammals). Evidence was emerging by 1972 that some of these known viruses, in addition to their direct damage, worked in part by selective effects on the immune system – in some cases by impairing and in other cases by overstimulating immune responses. There is a call to study these secondary effects. The article is simply a legitimate inquiry into existing diseases and has absolutely nothing to do with creating some new virus to cripple the immune system.

Douglass offers only one quote from the original article. Not only does he completely change the context, he also makes a crucial deletion from the quote: the list of viruses they are studying (Bulletin , op. cit., at p. 259). All the listed viruses were related to already recognized illnesses most are not retroviruses; none is a retrovirus that affects humans; and none is suspect in any of the proposed scenarios for HIV-splicing. Douglass has created a bogeyman out of thin air.

The other key and verifiable fraud is Douglass’s oft-repeated claim that “Seventy-five million Africans became infected, practically simultaneously.” [his emphasis] (p. 83 of his book). The cite offered for this figure is an article by T.C. Quinn, J.M. Mann, et. al. in Science 234, p. 955. But this 1986 article never mentions 75 million people infected or anything like that, not on the page Douglass cites, not anywhere else. The authors, who’ve done very valuable work on AIDS in Africa, don’t offer a specific figure because not enough was known at the time. But they do cite, on p. 962, “estimates of several [i.e. two to ten] million infected in Africa.” Incidentally, Douglass never mentions that this same Science article presents strong evidence contradicting his allegations that HIV can be transmitted by mosquitoes and that HIV was spread by vaccinations.

Aids Holocaust in Africa

Douglass’s citation of seventy-five million infected practically simultaneously is a far cry from the actual discussion of between two and ten million over the course of five years. But the actual numbers are a true horror and have continued to rise over the years. By flaunting blatantly phony figures, Douglass makes a cruel mockery of the real AIDS conflagration consuming Africa. He would have us write Africa off as a lost cause, making AIDS medical care and prevention there already beyond hope. This direction is the exact opposite of what is needed: to fight fiercely for world health resources for this most pressing human need. (See my articles on the AIDS holocaust in Downtown, 1 1/10/93, and in Toward Freedom, August, 1996.)

Awareness of the real and horrendous human toll must serve as a rallying cry to promote the urgently needed measures that can stem the current march of death. WHO’s official estimates of the world wide toll reached by the beginning of 1995 was 18.5 million HIV infections, 6 million cumulative cases of AIDS, 4.5 million AIDS deaths. About 2/3 of these HIV infections and 3/4 of those AIDS cases occurred in Africa. 24 The Global AIDS Policy Coalition offers figures that are somewhat higher, and probably more accurate. They estimate that 1.3 million Africans died of AIDS in 1995 alone, bringing the cumulative death toll there to 7.6 million. 25

The lies about a WHO conspiracy serve as a diversion from attacking the real causes of this tragedy: the way imperialism and neo-colonialism have drained and crippled Africa. As Dr. Pierce M’pele, director of Congo’s Anti-AIDS Program, puts it: “It is undeniable that AIDS is a disease that comes with poverty.” 26

Here are some of the ways the exploitation of Africa and the resulting poverty have blown the dangerous spark of HIV into a raging AIDS forest fire:

  • 300,000 Africans are becoming infected with HIV each year from blood transfusions alone 27 because those plundered nations don’t have the money to screen their blood supply.
  • HIV is also being spread because many health clinics can not afford disposable needles and have to reuse old ones. For example, a mission hospital in rural Zaire had just 5 syringes to use for its 300 to 600 daily patients. 28
  • One of the most powerful factors in the sexual transmission of HIV is untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A recent pilot project in rural Tanzania showed that proper treatment for STDs can reduce HIV transmission by 42 percent. 29 The high rate of untreated STDs in Africa is a direct result of the lack of the most basic public health resources.

At the same time, the prevailing poverty means that many Africans with AIDS don’t have even the most basic medication – such as an aspirin to relieve pain or a lotion for itches that can have them scratching until bloody. 30

These conditions result not only from the history of exploitation but also from current programs imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that force these governments to spend money on debt payments to banks rather than on health care for people. Uganda is typical; they spend just $3 per person a year on health care compared to $17 per person on debt payments. 31 But in another way Uganda is atypical. Despite the poverty, community initiatives and government education on prevention have resulted in a major decline in new HIV infections. 32 Given this courageous start by people in Uganda, think what they could accomplish with a workable public health budget.

Overall, the world has failed to marshal even one-tenth of the $2.5 billion a year that WHO says is needed to mount an effective prevention campaign throughout the Third World. Compare that paltry but unattainable sum to the more than $40 billion a year these same countries lose in debt payments to banks in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. The phony charges about WHO actually serve to reinforce the prevailing and deadly neo-colonialism. The U.S.’s failure to pay any of its 1995 assessment of $104 million – one-quarter of WHO’s budget 33 – has gutted that agency’s already grossly inadequate program of assistance to vulnerable and impoverished countries. Meanwhile over 2.7 million human beings worldwide are becoming newly infected with HIV every year. 34

The crimes around AIDS are just one part of a global economic order where 14 million children die from hunger and easily preventable diseases each year, where 2 billion people are illiterate and where 1.5 billion people have little or no access to health care.35

Douglass would have us believe that Africa was essentially already murdered by 1981 and have us off chasing the WHO bogeyman. In contrast the urgent need is to stop the murders in progress , to save lives in Africa, by attacking the real source of the problem – global exploitation and the misuse of resources.

 

Deadly Lies

Douglass’ disinformation becomes a deadly threat when he discredits the very prevention measures needed to save lives:

It is possible that even the government propaganda concerning intravenous drug use is a red herring. If the intravenous route is the easiest way to catch AIDS, why does it take as long as five to seven years for some recipients of contaminated blood to come down with AIDS?

    (p. 171)

Here he seems to forget the well established incubation period between infection with HIV and the onset of AIDS, although he manages to remember it later when he refers to a “latency” period of 10 years. (p. 245).

And arguing that there isn’t a perfect correlation between the number of acts of intercourse and infection, he declares, “AIDS is not a sexually transmitted disease.” (p. 243)

Then, after sabotaging prevention efforts by disparaging the well-established danger of needle sharing and unprotected sex, Douglass fuels hysteria with claims that AIDS can be contracted by casual contact. In his article he says, “The common cold is a virus. Have you ever had a cold? How did you catch it?” By failing to differentiate between airborne and bloodborne viruses, he is conjuring up a scare tactic as scientific as a warning that your hand will be chopped off if you put it in a goldfish bowl because, after all, a shark is a fish. He also asserts, citing no evidence, that “the AIDS virus can live for as long as 10 days on a dry plate,” and then asks, “so, are you worried about your salad in a restaurant that employs homosexuals?”

While people are understandably skeptical of government reassurances on any matter, we can turn instead to the experiences of families of people with AIDS and of grassroots AIDS activists: There are hundreds of thousands of us who have worked closely with infected people for years without catching the virus. The unwarranted fears about casual contact deter sorely needed support for our brothers and sisters living with HIV infection and divert attention from the most common means of transmission: unprotected sex and shared drug injection equipment.

 

Reactionary Politics

Despite the apparent irrationality, there is a coherence to Douglass’ distortions and fabrications. They are driven by an ultra-right wing political agenda which, as research by Terry Allen of Covert Action Quarterly shows, goes back to the 1960s. Douglass, a member of the John Birch Society, ran a phone line spouting a 90-second “patriotic message.” In it, he railed against the Civil Rights Movement, and denounced the National Council of Churches and three presidents as part of a “Communist conspiracy.” Among the nuggets he offered callers in at least 30 U.S. cities was the likelihood “that those three civil rights workers [presumably Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman] in Mississippi were kidnapped and murdered by their own kind to drum up sympathy for their cause.” In another he predicted that “The Civil Rights Act will turn America into a Fascist state practically overnight.” 36

Two decades later he was blaming gays for AIDS in The Spotlight , the organ of the ultra-right Liberty Lobby, for which he wrote regularly and in which he ran advertisements for “The Douglass Protocol,” his cure-all medical clinics. In 1987, he wrote, “Some have suggested that the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] is waiting for the majority of the homosexuals to die off before releasing ribavirin,” a drug he was at the time promoting as a miracle cure for AIDS. Douglass, however, opposed withholding a “suppressed” cure, “although I feel very resentful of the homosexuals because of the holocaust they have brought us.” 37

The political heart of AIDS: The End of Civilization is quite explicit: AIDS is part of the “entire mosaic of the current attack against western [sic] civilization.” (p. 14). The term “western” is a thinly veiled way of saying “white.”

Douglass sees AIDS as a diabolical plot perpetrated by WHO, which “is run by the Soviets.” (p. 118). He weaves an elaborate and intricate plot for how the Communists – much like an invading virus – took over the machinery of the U.S. Army CBW labs at Ft. Detrick and the U.S. National Institutes of Health in order to use them to create and propagate AIDS.

Douglass is so deep into the tradition of the Communist bogeyman that he doesn’t bother to revise this scenario for his 1992 edition – after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nor does he explain how such an involved and extensive plot would not get exposed now that there is no Soviet loyalty and coercion to prevent past operatives from talking about it. He even goes so far as to charge that a Soviet functionary named Dr. Sergei Litivinov was the head of WHO’s AIDS control program in the late 1980s. But it is a matter of indisputable record that the American Jonathan Mann, whose writings Douglass cites favorably, was the Director from the founding of the program in 1986 until 1990 – when he was replaced by another American, physician Michael Merson. 38

Historically, one important function of generating anti-Communist hysteria has been to use it as a political cover to mobilize Americans against Third World people’s efforts to achieve control over their own land, labor, and resources. The Vietnam War is one of many examples. Many of us who are anti-racist are very critical of WHO because it is Western-controlled and offers such a pitifully inadequate response to the health needs of the world’s majority. But self-avowed rightists like Douglass hate the UN and WHO because of the little bit of say that Third World nations have there. Rather than put this in explicitly racist terms, the issue is rationalized as “Soviet control” – even to the degree of misstating who was the director of WHO’s AIDS prevention program and even after the Soviet Bloc has collapsed.

In the guise of a program against AIDS, Douglass proposes a basketful of traditional ultra-right and neo-Nazi political policies:

  • Support and strengthen the powers of local law enforcement (p. 139)
  • Make preemptive military strikes against Russia (p. 138)
  • Abolish the UN and WHO (p. 120)
  • Stop all illegal Mexican immigration into the U.S. (p. 253)

Then there are a number of other proposals more directly about AIDS:

  • Mandatory testing for HIV (p. 66)
  • Quarantine of all those with HIV (pp. 165-6)
  • Removal of HIV children from school (p. 161)
  • Incarceration, castration, and even execution to stop prostitution (p. 158)

While these may have some visceral appeal to people’s fears, a wealth of public health and activist experience has shown that such repressive measures are counterproductive in practice. Discrimination and repression drive those with HIV and the risk activities underground, making people unreachable for prevention, contact notification, and care. But while completely negative in terms of public health, such proposals are very useful for furthering the right wing’s police state agenda.

Douglass fans fears about casual transmission in order to promote a political platform. He argues that if we don’t overcome a tradition “where civil rights are more revered than civil responsibility” hundreds of millions will die (p. 165). And here is the final appeal in his book: “[I]t appears that regulation of social behavior, as much as we hate it in an egalitarian society such as ours, may be necessary for the survival of civilization” (p. 256).

 

A Sign of the Times

As bizarre, self-contradictory, and refutable as his pronouncements are, Douglass is not an isolated crackpot. Not only does his material readily get published but it also has been widely propagated among Black prisoners. In addition, his program is in perfect harmony with the politics of Lyndon LaRouche, a notorious neo-Nazi with documented links to U.S. intelligence agencies. Somehow, for 28 years now, LaRouche has always had plenty of money for a host of slick publications and for a series of front organizations that operate on a national and international scale. 39

LaRouche’s “National Democratic Party Committee” organized the intensely homophobic campaign in 1986 for Proposition 64 in California, which would have mandated an AIDS quarantine. (Fortunately the voters rejected this measure.) The “scientific” source the LaRouchites used for their reactionary campaign was Robert Strecker, MD. Douglass has worked closely with Strecker, considers him a mentor, and dedicates End of Civilization to him.

We live in a strange and dangerous period when the attractive mantle of “militant anti-government movement” has been bestowed on ultra-right wing, white supremacist groups. The only reason they can get away with such a farce is that their big brother – the police state – did such an effective job in the blood-soaked repression of the genuine opposition, such as the Black Panthers, rooted in the needs and aspirations of oppressed people. With people’s movements silenced, the right has coopted the critique of big government and big business to achieve new credibility.

The resurgence of the ultra-right is based on growing discontent. The previous guarantee of economic security and significant privileges for a wide range of middle and working class white people has become threatened by global capital’s relentless quest to boost profits. The right wing, however, portrays the threat as primarily coming from the inroads made by women, immigrants and people of color. Thus their vehemence and militancy springs from the same legacy of white supremacy and violence that is the basis of the government they criticize, and their program is in essence a call far a return to the pioneer days’ ethos that any white male had the right and power to lay a violent claim to Native American land or New Afrikan labor, and female subservience. In short, while capitalizing on legitimate anger against the establishment, the far right’s logic leads only to an intensification of white supremacy and violent repression.

Michael Novick reported in White Lies/White Power (p. 309) that within the far right “The LaRouche groups are particularly dangerous because, despite their fascist orientation, they have been attempting to recruit from Black groups for some time.” Another source or AIDS conspiracy theorists is the political analysis of Bo Gritz, head of the “Populist Party.” 40 As Novick’s book shows, the “Populists” use anti-business rhetoric to try to recruit among the left, but the organization has clear roots in the Klan and definite ties to the extremely white supremacist “Christian Identity” movement.

When such forces propagate AIDS conspiracy theories among New Afrikans, one result is to divert people from the grassroots mobilization around prevention and education that could serve to foster greater cohesion, initiative, and strength within the Black community. At the same time, the right fans the flames of homophobia, which has combined with racism within the predominantly white gay & lesbian movement to prevent the forging of a powerful alliance of the communities being decimated by the government’s negligence and inaction on AIDS.

Whatever the right’s motives are, the practical consequences are clear: There is a definite correlation between believing these myths and a failure to take proven, life saving preventive measures.

To put it in three words: These Lies Kill.

The Real Genocide

The New York Times ran a series of articles in May, 1992 expressing alarm that many Black people believe in various conspiracies – with AIDS as a prime example. In their editorial of 5/12/92, the Times could only understand this as “paranoia.” Educated white folks, to the degree they are aware of such matters, tend to be “amazed” by such beliefs among Blacks. But what is actually amazing is that so many white people are so out of touch with the systematic attack by the government-medical-media establishment on the health and lives of New Afrikans. Indeed the problem is far more powerful and pervasive than any narrow conspiracy theory can capture.

The health horror this society imposes on New Afrikans is not at all made into a “mainstream” public issue, but Black people know what they are experiencing. That may explain why some people become very vested in a plot scenario that seems to crystallize, in an unmistakable way, the damage being done. The bitter twist, though, is that those conspiracy theories are serving as a red herring that can divert people from tracking down and stepping to the real genocide.

There was a radical gap between the life expectancies of New Afrikans and of white Americans even before AIDS burst onto the scene. A Health and Human Services Dept. report showed that “excess deaths” among Black people for 1980 – the number of Black people who died that year who would not have if they had the same mortality rate as whites – was 60,000. That figure marks more unnecessary deaths in one year alone than the total of U.S. troops killed during the entire Vietnam War.

The Black body count is a direct result of overwhelming Black/white differences in living conditions, public health resources, and medical care. The infant mortality rate – a good indication of basic nutrition and health care – is more than twice as high for Black babies, and Black women die in childbirth at three times the rate of white women. There are also major differences in terms of prevention, detection, treatment, and mortality for a host of other illnesses, such as high blood pressure, pneumonia, and appendicitis. (The summary in the two paragraphs above is based on “Black Health in Critical Condition,” by Steve Whitman and Vicki Legion, Guardian, 2/20/91.) The comparisons are even starker when you look at class as well as race, and, of course, the health status of both Latinos and poor whites is worse than that of the more well-to-do whites.

The situation has worsened since 1980 with the advent of AIDS and the new wave of tuberculosis (TB). TB, long considered under control in the U.S., began to resurge in 1985. One big factor was the greater susceptibility of HIV-infected people. But TB is an important example for another reason: It has always been closely linked to poverty. Crowded tenements, homeless shelters, jails, inadequate ventilation, and poor nutrition all facilitate the spread of this serious disease. Given the distribution of wealth and privilege, it is not surprising that the rate of TB for New Afrikans is twice that for white Americans.

In addition to disease, the tragedy of the high rate of Black-on-Black homicide – a secondary but particularly painful source of needless deaths – is in its own way a corollary of the frustration and misdirected anger bred by oppression. Black people are also assailed by a range of problems such as high stress, poor nutrition, and environmental hazards. One telling example of environmental hazards is the excessive blood levels of lead in children – a condition with proven links to lowered academic performance and to behavioral disorders. For the latest survey, in 1991, harmful levels of lead were found in 21 percent of Black children compared to 8.9 percent for all children. 41

The public health history makes it clear: Far from being a mysterious new development with AIDS, it is all too common for epidemics and other health hazards to flow along the contours of social oppression.

While government plots such as the Tuskegee and the secret radiation experiments do in fact exist, the brutal damage they’ve done is small-time compared to the high human costs of the everyday functioning of a two-tiered public health system – the malign neglect of denying people basic means of prevention and treatment.

Overall, the conditions for people of color within the U.S. can best be described as a concatenation of epidemics cascading down on the ghettos and barrios: AIDS-TB-STDs; unemployment, deteriorating schools, homelessness; drugs, internal violence, police brutality, wholesale incarcerations; violence against women, teen pregnancies, declining support structures for raising children; environmental hazards. All of these mutually reinforcing crises very much flow from the decisions made by government and business on social priorities and the allocation of economic resources. (The numerous public health essays of Rodrick and Deborah Wallace provide excellent analysis of the sources and effects of this series of epidemics.)

When governmental policies have such a disparate impact on survival according to race, that fits the crime of genocide as defined under international law. Whatever term one uses, the cruelty of tens of thousands of preventable deaths is unconscionable. This reality is the basis for the scream of a people that “mainstream” society seems unable or unwilling to hear. These conditions are the real genocide in progress that must be confronted.

STDs and Drugs

There are two particular ways in which the racist structure of U.S. society fosters the spread of HIV: The public health system fails to stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); and the legal system seeks only to punish drug abusers rather than treat them or ameliorate the underlying social and economic causes.

A major risk factor for HIV transmission is untreated STDs. These infections can concentrate HIV-laden blood cells in the genital tract and can also cause genital sores, which are easier points of entry for HlV. 42 Although some STDs can be readily contained by responsible public health programs, rates began to soar for Blacks in the mid-1980s, with, for example, a doubling of the syphilis rate for Blacks from 1985 to 1990. At the same time, the rate remained stable for whites. This grave racial difference probably results from the lack of adequate STD clinics and the failings of public health education, along with the more general breakdown in social cohesion and values that can affect communities under intense stress.

Drugs, along with the violence and police repression that accompany them, constitute a plague in their own right for the ghettos and barrios. However, the public perception that illicit drug use is more prevalent among non-whites is wrong. Household surveys conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse show that New Afrikans, 12 percent of the U.S. population, comprise 13 percent of illicit drug users. Where there is a tremendous difference, though, is in incarceration. 74 percent of the people in prison for drug possession are New Afrikans 43

There is also a major disparity in terms of drug-related infection by HIV. Some studies indicate an HIV rate (seroprevalence) among Black IDUs five time higher than among white IDUs. 44 While partially a result of which drugs are used and how they are used, there is certainly a big and deadly difference in who has access to new (sterile) needles and syringes through either pharmacies or personal networks. Also, on the street, police are much more likely to stop and search Blacks and Latinos. This practice deters injection drug users of color from carrying personal sets of works (in states where they are illegal) and pushes them instead to share needles at shooting galleries.

 

Criminal Negligence

Many people are now aware, from books like And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, of how the government and medical establishment shamefully fiddled while the early AIDS flames began sweeping through the gay community. But there is almost no public discussion of today’s deplorable failures around AIDS prevention, which continue to wreak havoc in the ghettos and barrios.

The latest example is hardly known beyond the immediate circles of AIDS workers. Health agencies and AIDS service organizations distributed hundreds of thousands of leaflets over the years teaching a quick bleach method for sterilizing needles and syringes. It involved shooting a 10% solution of bleach in and out three times and then thoroughly rinsing with water. The method looked good when tested in the laboratory, and it made sense to try to get the information out quickly and widely. But when actual studies in the field were completed in 1993, the results were a very high rate of transmission, 45 revealing that the method was useless on a practical level.

Health authorities analyzed what went wrong and developed a new – more thorough and complicated – bleach method that should work well if the user takes the time to conscientiously carry out all steps. Literature published after 1993 describes this new, more effective method. But there has been no wide-scale effort to publicize – to ring an urgently needed alarm – about the error of the old method that was disseminated to perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. As I know from my work in the field, most IDUs don’t even bother to look at new literature because they’re sure they already “know” the bleach method. At the same time, there’s been no serious effort to find ways to teach IDUs, who may be impatient to get high, practical methods to assure they complete the cleaning process properly. Studies indicate that 80% of drug users do not clean their equipment for the more than 30 seconds that is required. 46

A main reason the authorities haven’t trumpeted the warnings about the problems with bleach – the failure of the old method and the difficulty of getting IDUs to take the time to do the new method correctly – may well be to avoid pressure for programs that provide users with new, sterile needles and syringes. In fact the government initially suppressed the report on a study the government itself had commissioned on “needle exchange programs.” (NEPs). The report, which concluded that NEPs are highly effective, was eventually leaked to the press.

The main resistance comes from politicians who don’t want to risk being labeled “soft on drugs.” Drugs are indeed incredibly destructive to oppressed communities, but the phony posturing of politicians is no part of the solution. Instead of decent ways to make a decent living, the politicians dish out poverty and despair; instead of drug treatment centers and programs to build community cohesion, they proceed with wholesale incarceration of the youth; instead of seeing the need for self-determination in the Black and Latino communities, the politicians use the drug crisis as a rationale to catapult us toward a police state. The vehement opposition to NEPs follows this same failed pattern. It does nothing to stop drugs but rather sows pain and death for people of color.

The study that the government commissioned and then tried to suppress involved a comprehensive review of all known needle exchange programs and experiments in the U.S. and Canada. The authors found no evidence that the NEPs led to any increased drug use. 47 (And of course such programs could even help reduce drug use if they served as a form of outreach for involving users in drug treatment programs – except that the “anti-drug” politicians aren’t providing the funding for treatment.) While it doesn’t increase drug use, providing sterile equipment is highly effective in reducing HIV transmission. In one telling example the study found the rate of HIV among IDUs to be five times higher in states where needles are proscribed compared to states where they are legal. 48 A recent open letter from 32 AIDS prevention researchers declared that, after extensive research, experts are virtually unanimous that NEPs are highly effective in reducing HIV transmission without leading to increased drug use. Yet, there is still a ban on any federal AIDS funds for such programs, and many states still outlaw possession of needles. 49

Tens of thousands of IDUs, their lovers and their children have been condemned to die because health agencies won’t advertise their mistake and because politicians won’t risk being labeled “soft on drugs.”

Shared needles is just one of the areas for risk reduction. For overall prevention work, the far and away most effective method for sharply reducing HIV transmission is peer education. 50 Homeboys and/or homegirls with appropriate training in HIV/AIDS information speak the same language, live in the same situations, and can work with the people in their communities in the detailed, consistent, caring, ongoing way needed to achieve concrete changes away from risky behavior. In fact, such peer programs are the only approach proven to work.

Prisons are not only a locale of some of the highest HIV rates in the U.S., but they are also a place where people who might have been constantly on the move in the street are stationary and collected – a perfect setting for peer education. And the vast majority of prisoners eventually return to their outside communities – where they can spread AIDS awareness, or they can spread AIDS. But prison administrations have generally been hostile to peer-led HIV-AIDS education; only a pitiful handful of such programs exist, and many of those are hamstrung by bureaucratic restrictions.

Allowing misinformation about cleaning needles to persist, blocking needle exchange programs, failing to treat STDs, thwarting prison peer programs are major examples of the current criminal negligence on AIDS – and in particular of how this plague has been allowed to expand in the ghettos and barrios.

 

Fight Power/Fight the Plague

Waiting for the government to stop AIDS would be suicidal. We have to step to the problem by taking responsibility for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And the peer education model shows us that we do have the ability to make a big difference through our own grassroots efforts.

At the same time, communities that take initiative to help themselves can ally to demand socially beneficial use of social resources. Our tax money that goes to corporate welfare – the $2.5 billion, for example, for one unnecessary Sea Wolf submarine being produced simply to keep the companies afloat, or the hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for the savings and loan scandal – could instead be spent on public health and other human needs, both nationally and internationally.

What we don’t need is Dr. Douglass and the like convincing people that HIV is not spread through sex and drugs. Instead, we need to engage the youth in detailed and sensible education on sexuality and responsibility, and we need to make measures available to move IDUs away from needle-sharing. We don’t need hysteria about casual contact to generate cruelty toward people with AIDS and to foster support for police state repression. Instead, we need to support and learn from our brothers and sisters with HIV, and we need more open and democratic dialogue throughout the communities. Finally, we don’t need to be led on a wild goose chase searching for the little men in white coats in a secret lab – which we will never find – which only leads us away from confronting the colossal crimes of malign neglect that are right in front of our faces, that can be documented, that are completely rooted in racism, homophobia, and profiteering.

Once we see the real nature of the problem, we can step to it with programs of proven effectiveness against AIDS that also strengthen oppressed communities:
grass roots public health education and mobilization that includes and fights for:

  • extensive peer-led programs in prisons, schools, and communities;
  • thorough and responsible sex education in the homes, schools and other institutional settings for youth, along with more and accessible STD clinics;
  • general access to NEPs, and much more intensive and culturally relevant anti-drug education and treatment.

At the same time we need movements that fight:

1) to make the resources of society, now being lavishly squandered on the superrich, available in order to:

      a) stop lethal public health and environmental conditions with programs that respond to initiative and leadership within the Black, Latino, and poor communities;

 

      b) make medicine and social services for survival needs universally available;

 

    c) put qualitatively more effort and focus into treatment and research for AIDS and the host of other health problems causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

2) for international solidarity with the people of Africa, including an end to the debt payments, along with reparations back to them, so that they can mount the health campaigns needed against the scourges now threatening to take millions of souls.

It’s time to stop the real genocide.

David Gilbert
#83A6158
Clinton Correctional Facility,
Box 2001, Dannemora, New York,
12929
USA

Glossary

AIDS: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
AW: AIDS Weekly
AZT: also known as “Zidovudine” and as “Retrovir”, an anti-viral drug often prescribed for AIDS
CAIB: Covert Action Information Bulletin
CBW: chemical and biological warfare
CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CIA: US Central Intelligence Agency
Cointelpro: Counterintelligence Program
DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid
E-Z: Edmonston-Zagreb, an experimental measles vaccine
FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation
FDA: Food and Drug Administration
HIV: human immunodeficiency virus
IDUs: injection drug users
MD: medical doctor
NEPs: needle exchange programs
NYT: New York Times
RNA: ribonucleic acid
STDs: sexually transmitted diseases
TB: tuberculosis
UN: United Nations
WHO: World Health Organization


REFERENCE NOTES

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, March 1993.

2. CDC figures reported in the New York Times ( NYT), 9/9/94.

3. NYT, 9/19/94.

4. Figures are based on correlating the August, 1994 report (at the World Conference on AIDS, in Japan) by the Global AIBS Policy Coalition and the update of their figures cited in J. Osborne, “The Unbeliever, New York Times Book Review, 4/7/96, p.8. Global Coalition estimates are somewhat higher – and in my opinion probably more accurate – than official figures from the World Health Organization.

5. J. Mann, D. Tarantola, and T. Netter, eds., AIDS in the World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), p.90, gives an estimate of 1.3 million by 1992. The death toll has more than doubled since then.

6. The Final Reports White House Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995. 925pp.).

7. L. Cole, “OpEd” pieces, NYT 1/25/94 and 3/23/95.

8. Stephen B. Thomas and Sandra Crouse Quinn, “The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, 1932 to 1972: Implications for HIV Education and AIDS Risk Reduction Programs in the Black Community, American Journal of Public Health, 81:11, Nov., 1991, p.1501. For an in-depth discussion, see James Jones, Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (New York: The Free Press, 1981).

9. Marlene Cimmons, “CDS Says It Erred in Measles Study,” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1996.

10. AIDS Weekly (A W), 1 1113/95.

11. Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (New York: Penguin, 1995), p.362.

12. B. Lederer, “Origins and Spread of AIDS,” Covert Action Information Bulletin (CAIB), 28, Summer, 1987, p.47.

13. See T. Quinn, et al., “AIDS in Africa: An Epidemiologic Paradigm,” Science, Nov. 21, 1986, p.959.

14 Garrett, op. cit. p. 381.

15. Ibid., p. 510-11.

16. See the description in Ibid., pp. 53-59.

17. Ibid., pp. 291, 297, 350, 381 and Lederer, lox. cit., p. 47.

18. Garrett, op. cit., p. 363.

19. Ibid., pp. 364-65, 380.

20. For a fuller discussion, see Gabriel Rotello, “The Birth of AIDS,” Out, April, 1994.

21. For an in-depth discussion of these revolutions and their role see Ibid., and Garrett, op. cit., pp. 281-390.

22. For an explanation of the actual factors involved, see “Can Mosquitoes Transmit AIDS?” Natural History, July, 1992, p.54.

23. Glenn Garelick, “Desperately Seeking Solutions: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” American Health, May, 1992.

24. AW, 12/25/95.

25. Cited in J. Osborne, op. cit.

26. AW, 12/4/95, p.26.

27. AW, 12/4/95.

28. Garrett, op. cit., p. 129.

29. H. Grosskurth, et al., “Impact of Improved Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Rural Tanzania,” The Lancet , 346:530-36, Aug., 1995.

30. AW 1/29/96.

31. NYT, 3/16/96.

32. NYT,4/7/96.

33. NYT, 3/11/96.

34. Estimate by the UN Joint Programs on HIV/AIDS, cited in NYT, 6/7/96. They give the figure in the form of 7,500 new HIV infections per day.

35. Fidel Castro, speech at “Summit for Social Development,” Copenhagen, 3/11/95.

36. Lawrence Peirez, “The Telephone Hate Network,” ADL Bulletin , Sept., 1965.

37. William C. Douglass, MD, “New AIDS Scandal Brews,” Spotlight , Oct. 5, 1987.

38. For an account of the founding and development of WHO’s Global Programme on AIDS, see Garrett, op. cit., pp. 360, 459-81.

39. For more on LaRouche see B. Lederer, “Origins and Spread of AIDS, (Part II), CAIB 29, Winter, 1988, pp. 56-7; and M. Novick, White Lies/White Power (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995).

40. E.g., a speech by Gritz is included as an appendix in Terrance Jackson’s AIDS/HIV Is Not A Death Sentence (New York: Akasa Press, 1992).

41. NYT, 2/7/96.

42. Judith Wasserheit of the CDC, “Heterogeneity of Heterosexual Transmission: The Roles of Other STDs. Presentation at the XI International Conference on AIDS, Vancouver, July 10, 1996, Abstract We.C.453.

43. Marc Mauer and Tracy Huling, Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later (Washington: The Sentencing Project, 1995), pp. 5, 12.

44. My calculations based on the several studies on drug use, race and HIV summarized in Justicia, 12/95.

45. CDC et al., “HIV/AIDS Prevention Bulletin,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3/31/93; and Medical Alert,10/11/1993.

46. Medical Alert, 10/11/1993.

47. P. Laurie, A.L. Reingold, B. Bowser, et al., The Public Health Impact of Needle Exchange Programs in the U.S. and Abroad: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations, School of Public Health, U.C. Berkeley, and Institute for Health Policy Studies, U.C. San Francisco (Wash. D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1993), p. 18.

48. Ibid., p. 5.

49. AW, 1/29/96.

50. There is virtual unanimity on this point in studies presented at the various “AIDS in the World” conferences and in the studies of the National Academy of Science.


  * HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is one of the subset of viruses known as retroviruses. A retrovirus stores its genetic information in the form of a single-stranded RNA instead of the more usual double-stranded DNA. Only after the retrovirus penetrates the host cell does it construct a DNA version of its genes, using a special enzyme called reverse transcriptase.

Antifa Worldwide: A Brief History of International Antifascism

 

By Alexander Reid Ross

 

Fascism, as we know it today, came amid the sweeping nationalism accompanying World War I. Numerous leftists shifting from left to right ported their watchwords of solidarity and insurrection over to militant formations designed to destroy the left and seize power. They were not unopposed in this mobilization of a left and right so-called “revolution.” This is the story of the revolutionaries, renegades, and warriors who broke with the powerful movement toward totalitarianism and continue to struggle as partisans for freedom and equality.

Fascism did not emerge on its own as a full cloth ideology. It developed from a complex history of anti-Semitism, ultranationalism, reactionary Catholicism, and the conditions of economic exploitation of industrial workers and peasants. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Dreyfus Affair marked the flash point for violent confrontations between left and right as ultranationalist anti-Semites framed a Jewish army captain for conspiring with the hated Prussians. The right relied on leagues and sporting clubs through which they could practice for physical confrontation while developing the mannerisms and affectations that would attempt to refine an otherwise blunt and stupid politics. Long at odds over the question of anti-Semitism, the left organized through associations, syndicates, and humanitarian organizations to support Dreyfus, organizing an important consensus that would affect future political positions.

In Germany, a financial crisis led to pogroms against Jews. Pogroms throughout Eastern Europe also led to the strengthening of Jewish workers’ defense organizations like the Jewish Bund. Tough men of the Jewish working class, the Bund stewarded marches for dignity and better wages, organized self-defense trainings, and developed autonomous aid networks within Jewish sectors. While Vladimir Lenin criticized the Bund for representing stop-gap politics, the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party went about building combat groups that would resist the counter-revolutionary forces of the Black Hundreds.[1] The anarchists of Russia went a similar direction, including Voline of the St. Petersburg Soviet, Uncle Vanya who helped organize workers’ insurrections from Samara to Ukraine.

But Fascism emerged through the breakdown in the Dreyfusard consensus, the alliance of ultranationalists and leftists around the notion of destroying liberal parliamentarianism, and in doing so managed to bypass the strongest left-wing resistance in the early stages. Instead, through the aesthetics of futurism, the charismatic leadership of Mussolini, and the syncretic positions of national syndicalism, Fascists presented themselves as marking the radical edge that could finally penetrate the armor of moderate politics. Recognizing the danger, anarchists like Errico Malatesta called for a broad antifascist front that discarded political differences in favor of resisting the vicious hierarchies and empty rhetoric of Fascists. Marxists, under the leadership of Antonio Gramsci, would brook no compromise with the anarchist-supported Arditi del Popolo (Army of the People), hoping instead for a mass insurrection of armed workers. With the resistance internally fragmented and the left under assault by an increasing alliance between the Fascists and the state, Mussolini entered government supported by a mass movement and the Fascist blackshirts continued to assassinate and apprehend leaders like Malatesta and Gramsci.

In Germany, the left stood similarly fractured. World War I ended through a massive revolution that started in a Naval mutiny and resulted in the abdication of the Kaiser, as well as a Bavarian insurrection that deposed the local government and established a “Soviet” led by anarchists and communists. Having voted to enter the war, the Social Democrats rose to power through popular left-wing sentiment and compromises with the far right—in particular, the Freikorps, a paramilitary force of army veterans who the Social Democrats would deploy to brutally crush a Communist uprising in Berlin led by Rosa Luxemberg and Karl Liebknecht and the Bavarian Soviet, as well as a renewed uprising in the industrial Ruhr Valley led by a militant force calling itself the Red Army of the Ruhr. It was only after the defeat of these three significant left-wing revolutionary uprisings that Hitler would rise in a beerhall in Munich and pretend to lead a “national revolution” of Freikorps and other paramilitary rightist factions under Nazi guidance.

The left scrambled to the defensive to set Hitler back on his heels, setting up its own combat groups (Kampfbunds) and attacking Nazi meetings and events. Even the Social Democrats, observing the fearsome rise of the brutal Stormtroopers, set up the militant Reichsbanner, but the leadership had already granted significant powers to the Freikorps and the SA simply heightened the tensions. By the early 1930s, the German Communist Party had adopted a defeatist attitude, marking the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and supporting Nazi strikes and parliamentary efforts like a significant “no confidence” vote in the Reichstagg. Those who risked life and limb in the streets fighting Nazis were placed in vulnerable positions by their own leadership. When Hitler took power, the aspirations of the Communist Party’s “First Hitler, then us!” strategy proved totally foolish, as the Nazis immediately demobilized the Kampfbunds, including Antifaschistische Aktion, and sent the left to concentration camps.

In France and the UK, resistance to fascism also manifested in street battles and strategic competitions over urban space. Famously, the UK antifascists repeatedly broke up the meetings of the pugilistic cad, Oswald Mosley, refusing to yield London’s working class East End to fascist influence by halting a march in an event that came to be known as the Battle of Cable Street. Meanwhile, French fascists asserted that they had created fascism by destroying the Dreyfusard consensus, and paramilitary formations emerged across the far right enlisting, paradoxically, the support of anti-Jewish North African Arabs in exchange for money and services. While members of the French radical left “drifted” toward fascism vis-a-vis the “neo-socialism” of Marcel Dèat and the populism of former Communist Party central committee member, “le Grande Jacques” Doriot, others confronted fascists, blockaded meeting venues, and launched antifascist boycotts. Unlike in Germany and Italy, the French and English left was able to prevent voluntary capitulation to fascism—perhaps in part as a result of the rejection of the defeatist line that “bourgeois socialists” and “radical liberals” and even moderate conservatives should be considered as bad as, if not worse than, fascism.

Perhaps nowhere was fascism more heavily contested, however, than in Spain where fascism had a significant following. In 1930, a military coup by Miguel Primo de Rivera adopted fascism “spiritually,” but generally reproduced the old 19th Century authoritarian conservatism and bare-knuckles corporatism. While General Miguel fell from grace, however, his son José Antonio Primo de Rivera, also known simply as José Antonio, rose to prominence and supported a purer form of fascist dictatorship led by the militant forces of a fascist Falange that would defeat leftism in the streets. Leftists, of course, rose to the challenge and fought tooth and nail against the fascism of Spanish aristocrats that situated itself within the working class through an alliance with the Committees of the National Syndicalist Offensive under the leadership of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos. Street fighting between the left and the Falange-National Syndicalist alliance grew extremely intense, with assassinations and beatings spilling over onto left-wing sympathizers and liberals. Following the election of the left-wing Popular Front, leftist police assassinated a leader of the reactionary Catholic conservatives named Calvo Sotelo, sparking an outcry that led, in no small part, to the invasion of Spain by the colonial military forces of Francisco Franco. Although the Popular Front incarcerated José Antonio, the Falange formed a significant, loyal, and ferocious section of Franco’s army, which met with the valiant opposition of anarchist militias hoping not only to defend the Republic but to further the revolutionary interests of self-determination, land, and liberty. Under the anarchist leader, Buenaventura Durruti, the Iron Column marched against Franco’s invading force along with a quasi-Trotskyist forces of POUM, the liberal fighters under Largo Caballero and the Stalinist-backed Communist Party. However, supplied by corporate powers across the Atlantic and tacitly enabled through Allied neutrality and appeasement, the armies of Franco beat down the antifascist resistance with Hitler and Mussolini’s overt assistance.

When Hitler’s tanks rolled into France the next year, it found relatively little resistance. Partisan forces emerged from Italy to Greece and across the Eastern Front. These partisans worked to sabotage fascist communications and supply lines, assassinate officials, and develop antifascist networks, workers’ associations, and societies to propagandize against their respective repressive regimes. After Mussolini and Hitler invaded Greece in 1941, leftists brokered a tenuous truce with ultranationalist “Hellenic Patriots” who supported parafascist dictator Ioannis Metaxas. Fighting persisted in Ukraine and the Balkans, as well, where Nazi-allied forces committed some of the worst atrocities of the war. When the US invaded Italy and occupied Rome in 1943, the partisans of the North engaged in fierce behind-the-lines struggle against the likes of the Black Prince Borghese who remained faithful to Mussolini’s government-in-exile, the Republic of Salò. Russia marshaled and lost tens of millions of people in the explicitly antifascist war to defeat the Reich and the ideology it represented, while the fascist-friendly Allen Dulles set up the architecture for a post-war insurgency inclusive of fascist “stay-behinds” fighting against Soviet influence in Europe.

 

The tenuous peace between partisans unravelled after the War and the collapse of the Reich, at which point the British supported the Hellenic forces’ military struggle against the Communist partisans with whom they had fought only months prior. Similarly, in Italy, the US’s Office of Strategic Services, later eclipsed by the CIA, recruited Fascist agents to oppose the left-wing Popular Front in the 1946 elections, continuing over the next decades to support links between Fascist networks within the government and clandestine terrorist groups targeting public infrastructure in a “Strategy of Tension” designed to pull the population toward the security state. These fascist groups like Black Prince Borghese’s Fronte Nazionale, which included the Nuovo Ordine and Avanguardia Nazionale, were schooled by the CIA-supported Greek military dictatorship that took power in 1967, and attempted on at least one occasion the similar overthrow of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party, were opposed in the streets by a mass movement of left-wing workers, students, and women in the tradition of antifascist partisans.

In France, Franco-sympathizer Pierre Poujade extended the street fights of the 1930s into the 1950s with his radical right populist party of the Union de Défense des Commerçants et Artisans, which was heavily contested by the left. The far-right paramilitary group Organisation Armée Secrète emerged out of the far-right hatred of the post-War Fourth Republic and resistance to decolonization in Algeria to plague the left and set the violent standard for fascist militants organized through groupuscules like Occident and the Groupe Union Défense. These organizations met opposition in Algeria by the militants of the Front de Libération National and in France by militant ultras. A former Poujadist named Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had purportedly lost the use of one eye in a particularly brutal street fight before rising to lead the new National Front in 1972. Some three years later, a bomb blast ripped through Le Pen’s Paris apartment, followed just two years later by a car bomb that killed Le Pen’s close ally, “national revolutionary” François Duprat.

In Italy, the assassinations, fights, and bombings between left and right grew so intense that the period between 1969 and the late 1970s became known as the Years of Lead. The “Hot Summer” of 1969, in which a wave of factory strikes and occupations spread to the general population, sparking the Autonomia movement, was followed by an explosion in Milan’s Piazza Fontana set by fascists to frame the left. Police rounded up anarchists and leftists by the hundreds, including a railroad worker named Giuseppe Pinelli who died in police custody, producing a massive outcry throughout Italy. As fascists persisted in attempting to infiltrate left-wing groups and co-opt the leadership of Autonomia, ongoing clashes and bomb blasts rocked Italy, which spilled into other countries as Italian fascists laying low abroad helped to spread their strategies and tactics elsewhere.

In Germany, opposition to fascism was similarly complicated by post-war “stay-behind” networks. Like Italy, the post-war order in Germany maintained tacit bonds between state entities like the Bundesnachrechtendienst and non-state fascist groupuscules. However, fascist groups like the Sozialistische Reichsparty faced a ban, making overt organizing difficult. At the same time, veterans organizations became breeding grounds for Holocaust denial and Nazi propaganda, and anti-immigrant sentiment was not unusual. During the 1980s, a strong horizontalist resistance movement grew in opposition to nuclear weapons, environmental destruction, and economic exploitation called the Autonomen movement, which targeted and was targeted by fascists seeking to generate mass resistance to immigration, refugees, and multicultural society. Partly in response to the Autonomen movement and the government’s ban on certain fascist parties, “national revolutionaries” developed the strategy of “Freie Kameradschaften”—small groups of 3 to 5 people committed to engaging in political violence against the homeless, disabled people, migrants, non-whites and non-straight people. Through the Freie Kameradschaften, fascists began to appropriate the strategies of the Autonomen movement, including donning black clothing and black masks to maintain anonymity. Yet they met with violent resistance from the leftist Autonomen movement, which produced a new wave of horizontalist Antifaschistische Aktion groups.

As with the Italian terrorists who fled through Franco’s Spain to promote fascism elsewhere in the world, Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie had escaped to areas of Latin America and worked to foster a new international movement. Throughout Latin America, and most notoriously in Argentina where the fascist-organized Alianza Anticommunista Argentina fought a “Dirty War” against left-wing Peronists known as Montoneros, fascists helped train and create anti-left paramilitary groups that instigated the conditions for Civil War and military coup. These forces found militant opposition in the form of national liberation armies like the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional in El Salvador who engaged in a long-term revolutionary war against paramilitaries who committed such heinous acts as assassinating the Archbishop Romero during mass and raping then murdering a group of Catholic nuns. At the same time, fascist networks oriented through Salazar’s Portugal strove to maintain colonialism in African countries like Guinea-Bissau, where anti-colonial forces under Amílcar Cabral fought them.

Such far-right and colonial networks developed and/or supported by fascists found happy allies within the US government, including the fairly extensive intelligence networks created by fascist propagandist Willis Carto, Roy Cohn and Lyndon Larouche. Intimately tied to the former’s large base of supporters was a rising fascist militant named David Duke, who mass marketed a new generation of Ku Klux Klan violence as “white civil rights.” Having fallen off after its height in the 1920s, the Klan received a boost of support from the White Citizens Councils and the populist politician George Wallace in the 1960s; however, Wallace’s events faced violent resistance from community groups, and FBI support for integration hindered the Invisible Empire’s growth. The resurgent Klan found powerful opposition in the form of civil society groups and new anti-racist formations.

 

As the Southern Poverty Law Center came into effect, working within the courts and peaceful social organizations to promote diversity against hate, left-wing radicals developed more militant strategies for opposing the rise of fascism. Targeting racism through militant class struggle, the Workers’ Viewpoint Organization attempted to organize an inter-racial textile workers’ union to oppose the Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. However, the Klan fought back, uniting with area fascists for a 1979 ambush against an anti-Klan rally that left five dead and five wounded. Other left-wing groups like the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee emerged with the desire to expose fascism within the US and to defeat racism through militant class struggle, and met with varying levels of success in the Midwest amid the rise of fascist skinheads.

As well as Latin American military dictatorships, Italian fascists also influenced the English far-right, bringing the “political soldier” concept to a group of fascists that decided to splinter front the National Front and organize skinheads as the frontline shock troops of a new fascist movement. These fascist skinheads mobilized through a network of Oi! punk bands and publications, spreading throughout North America and meeting an increasingly organized resistance by the mid-1980s. Anti-racist skinheads organized into Anti-Racist Action, Red and Anarchist Skinheads, and local manifestations of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, among other groups, to confront fascists attempting to create a violent mass movement against non-straight, non-white people in society. As fascist skinheads were beaten out of urban areas by anti-racists, fascist strategy moved toward the militia and Patriot movement during the 1990s, which provided a new kind of “leaderless resistance” based in rural areas where the left had a less formidable presence.

These small bands of violent fascists often identified with the fascist skinhead movement also appeared in France under the Parti Nationaliste Française et Européen and Troisième Voie through the related paramilitary formation, the Jeunneses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires, who at times stewarded marches of Le Pen’s Front National. With Le Pen increasingly pressuring the centrist parties at the polls, the French Socialist Party created the popular S.O.S. Racisme group, which promoted multiculturalism through large events and public gatherings. In the streets, the foot soldiers of the “national revolution” found more violent opposition from gangs like the Black Dragons and Duckie Boys. Similarly, in the UK, the large Rock Against Racism movement gave way to the Anti-Nazi League, which cultivated a mass movement against the National Front and British National Party. More confrontational and revolutionary left-wing groups also emerged like Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action, which like Anti-Racist Action joined the militant horizontal strategies and tactics of Antifaschistische Aktion. By the late 2000s, these groups and groups like them were increasingly referred to as “Antifa.”

The appropriation of Autonomen movement strategy and tactics came to a head amid the 2008 recession, when “Autonomist Nationalists” began to form black blocs from the Czech Republic to Germany and the Netherlands. The black blocs were repeated by supporters of the “CounterJihad” movement appearing in Germany as PEGIDA and in England as the English Defense League, among other places. Meanwhile, those groups have seen a rising wave of opposition, including a humiliating running battle between fascists and antifascists in Brighton that left the “March for England” in tatters. This and other events showed that groups with names like National Action and National Resistance that have emerged from Sweden to Ukraine, linking up for spontaneous street demonstrations and acts of mob violence, are virtually impossible to oppose without organized community defense.

In the US, the CounterJihad groups associated with the militia movement galvanized the anti-mosque movement of 2014, appearing outside of places of worship or community centers often with black masks armed with assault rifles and other weapons. These formations are increasingly opposed by likewise-armed community defense groups and antifas who seek to protect non-white communities from attacks and intimidation. More recently, the alt-right has emerged in league with Donald Trump, taking much of its inspiration from the “intellectual” fascist milieu that emerged during the Years of Lead to link left and right and reproduce the conditions that led to the destruction of the Dreyfusard consensus. Where the alt-right has moved into the physical space of real life, it has been dogged by antifa opposition—as in the recent protests against Milo Yiannopolos at the University of California–Berkeley.

 

Fascism has never arisen without opposition through community consensus. Instead, antifascists have worked to root out fascist infiltration and “entryism” that seeks to pass as the merger of left and right, while also militantly opposing fascist marches and meetings. Where fascism obtained power, it did so through the largely through the betrayal of the organized left by its leadership, along with state collaboration with the fascists amid significant, often violent, fighting amongst left-wing groups. If, in Italy and Germany, antifascists had decided to join with powerful liberals and even conservatives to defend their communities against Blackshirts, if the Communists of Germany had not succumbed to the temptation of labelling social democrats the equivalent of fascists while completely alienating everyone outside of a particularly small section of the industrial working class, perhaps fascism might never have emerged—perhaps it would have only been a detail in the history of Italy in the 1910s. It is wise, then, to heed the warnings of history and to maintain a form of militant antifascist action based in tactical alliances and the spirit of friendship rather than vulgar self-interest and political bravado. Where fascism is proud, we must be humble. Where fascism is divisive, we must unite. Where fascism is weak, we must strike.

 

[1] The shock troops of the merciless anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine, the Black Hundreds are widely seen today as some of the earliest formations of what would become the fascist movement, and it was none other than the famous writer Fyodor Dostoevsky who, with a co-author, would set out the platform of the “conservative revolution” followed by the later melding of the German “Patriotic movement” and Marxian theorists known as the National Bolshevik wing of the Nazi Party.

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Alexander Reid Ross teaches geography at Portland State University. He is the author of Against the Fascist Creep and the editor of Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab. His articles have appeared at sites like ThinkProgress, The Ecologist and the Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security. Project Censored recognized his work for Media Democracy in Action in Censored2016.

Rally Against the Nationalist Front and Traditionalist Workers Party in Kentucky

The Nationalist Front is a new confederation of neo-Nazi, KKK, and Alt Right groups that is trying to capitalize on a Trump presidency.  Made up of some of the more obvious sectors of the white nationalist movement like the National Socialist Movement, the groups who, until recently, was well known for emblazoning a swastika over the America flag.  The Traditionalist Workers Party, the political wing of Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Youth Network, is one of the most well-known groups in the new confederation, and they have been successful at pulling both from the Alt Right community and the more traditional rural white supremacist organizations like the White Knights.  Matthew Heimbach and TWP recently presented at the Right Stuff planned Atlanta Forum, which was coordinated as a Southern Nationalist event by the people behind the Rebel Yell podcast.

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TWP and those in the Nationalist Front are known for their street actions, and now that Trump is threatening to lower federal scrutiny on white supremacist organizations in favor of targeting Muslims, they now think that they can make a show of strength in the South.  They recently announced a rally for April 29th in Pikeville, Kentucky, a town with scarcely over 6,000 people.  This is historically the kind of area where they hope to recruit from, but only if they are able to reframe the narrative on their own terms and come without opposition.  They are messaging the event as taking a “stand for white working families,” part of the fascist populism that TWP is known for, arguing that they stand for the white working class against leftist immigration, free trade, and internationalism.

This action by TWP is not going unchallenged as a counter rally has already being organized and it is going to need the support of antifascists around the country.  That rally meets at Pikeville Park on Main Street, and we are linking to the Facebook event below.

RSVP at the Facebook Event and Get Directions

Twitter and Reddit Are Now Banning the Alt Right

The Alt Right is, fundamentally, a social media phenomenon.  The concept of the Alt Right has been around since 2010, a specific confluence of white nationalism influenced by various strands of thought including Neoreaction, Paleoconservatism, the European New Right, and so on.  The phenomonon of the Alt Right, as we know it today, is that of the popularization of those ideas, turning their racialism into Twitter trolls, snarky blogs, and annoying podcasts.  They have relied on Web 2.0 platforms like Twitter for publicity and SoundCloud for podcast hosting because it puts them on an equal footing with the giants of media opinion.

The only problem is that their racism violates every rule the platform has, giving them a finite life.  Over the last year many of their leaders have been banned from Twitter.  First, Milo Yiannoupoulos of Breitbart was shuttered for leading a racist harassment raid on actress Leslie Jones.  Later Ricky Vaughn was kicked off, and then Richard Spencer and many others.  Likewise, SoundCloud began dropping white nationalist podcasts like the Daily Shoah and Fash the Nation, and PayPal severed their funding.  Though many of them are trying to make new platforms like Gab their home, they just aren’t going to happen in the public consciousness.

On Saturday, February 4th, Twitter just went through on a huge banning campaign.  They shut down Charles Johnson (AKA Reactionary Tree), the account for the newly form AltRight.com, Dr. Joyce, Murdoch/ Murdoch, and several dozen other Alt Right figures were dropped from Twitter.  This is the only way for them to break into the mainstream even a little bit, which is a huge hit to a movement that needs this trolling platform to find a place for itself.  Cuckservative gave it a boost, #AltRight gave it a name, and its ability to take racism viral is what made it relevant, and without platforms like Twitter it is almost as though it will cease to be.

At the same time, Reddit has begun the purge of Alt Right subreddits that have become a home for the ugliest racism on the Internet.  R/AltRight and R/AlternativeRight has been banned from the site, with R/The_Donald likely to be next.  What this shows clearly is that they are banning them based on ideological grounds, understanding that Alt Right online forums are where plans for doxing and harassment begin.

While the Alt Right is still larger than we ever could have imagined a few years ago, the last six months have been a brutal social attack on them, and they are reeling.

The Alt Right’s Anonymity is Failing, and They Are Unable to Withstand Exposure

Among the crowd of well-dressed white nationalists that made up the now infamous National Policy Institute conference in November 2016, he certainly stood out. In a purple t-shirt, an unkempt man with a thick Scottish accent took to grand metaphor and shocking allegations to keep across a message of white separatism. Millennial Woes, the pseudonym for Colin Robertson, has become an Alt Right star in the caustic cauldron that was 2016. His strange YouTube videos, often long-winded Google Hangouts with other Alt Right celebrities, are so numerous that in the world of constant racist podcast streams and talking-head webcams, he has stood out.

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Colin Robertson – Millenial Woes

While his face has been well seen over the last two years, he has attempted to remain completely anonymous. The expectation was that his name, address, and personal information would remain his own, hidden from the media, all while his face and voice became ubiquitous, easily accessible in a search engine. When British tabloids finally revealed who he was several weeks ago, the only person that seemed surprised that this occurred was Robertson.

The Alt Right, as it exists today, has relied on anonymity as the key to its growth. White nationalism has been personally toxic for decades, and someone’s associations with open racism and anti-Semitism often making it difficult for them to keep a job or a hold down relationship. The ability for people to interact in a meaningful way while remaining anonymous to the general public has been exactly what the Alt Right needed to get a large base of educated Middle Class racists, exactly the crowd who would not be willing to give up their comfortable life in the way that many public KKK members and neo-Nazis have. They have been able to have their cake and eat it too: they keep their bourgeois lives in tact while also continuing to contribute to a revolutionary fascist movement.

The step beyond being a Twitter “shitlord” was to start blogging and, later, podcasting, where people could hear your racial slurs without ever seeing the face of the person on the other end of the microphone. This became popular as pseudoanonymous Alt Right ideologues became well known, from the crowd at The Right Stuff podcast network to people like Paul Kersey and his blog Things Black People Don’t Like. The number of people living under false names yet joining weekly web radio shows is growing, all with the idea that their anonymity could be maintained for the long-term. As they make the next step towards in-person organizing, this step is even more difficult, making it impossible to remain in obscurity for long.

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Emily Youcis

2016’s National Policy Institute conference was the largest white nationalist event of the year, a place where the Alt Right could get together to pat each other on the back after a year of media validation and the arrival of the Trump Train. In the crowd were scores of these Alt Right media celebrities, both “out” and still under the radar. Emily Youcis has recently made a name for herself for her surrealist Alt Right cartoons and vicious racist remarks, and she stormed out of the building to tangle with the protesters out front. After the aggressive confrontation and heavy media saturation of the event, Youcis was fired from her job selling pistachios for the Philadelphia Phillies. She has since then gone on the Alt Right blogosphere and Twitter to make appeals for donations since she now lacks an income to make her bills. Youcis had not hidden her face or name from the public, and so retribution from her employer was a matter of time. For others, they have worked hard to keep their images out of photos and hide information so as to avoid recognition.

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Cooper Ward – Ghoul

The Daily Shoah has been the center of this effort, becoming a popular podcast that streams to thousands of listeners who tune in every week to hear their “Opie and Anthony for white nationalists” brand of angry racial epithets. The hosts Mike Enoch, Seventh Son, Ghoul, and, off and on, Bulbasaur, rant about weekly political issues, inventing their own racial slurs, talking about “Jewish domination,” and pining for a “white Ethnostate.” After Ghoul began doing a video series without a mask and publicizing his image, activists quickly identified him as Cooper Ward, a talkative philosophy student at the University of Nebraska. He was quickly identified as an organizer with the white nationalist American Vanguard, though he has denied this when questioned by It’s Going Down. After Red Ice Radio hosted a show with a “reactionary Jew” who was asking if fascist Jews could be a part of the Alt Right, something akin to a meltdown occurred on the Right Stuff message boards. The hosts of the Daily Shoah were accused of being Jews and homosexual sympathizers; funny since they have been some of the most virulently anti-Semitic and homophobic people imaginable.

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Van Bryant II – Bubasaur

After some prodding on both sides, Bulbasaur and Seventh Son were doxed by their former fans, revealing them to be Van Bryant II and Jesse Craig Dunstan, respectively. While they have discussed the desire to go public for quite some time, the fact that this could have ramifications for their careers is something they could not abide. Enoch, their talkative leader, was a software developer making a six-figure salary in Manhattan, and he took special accommodations to avoid being identified in his personal life while skyrocketing to fame in the white nationalist circuit.

Just a few days later people started hearing rumblings that Enoch was about to be revealed after someone traced an article he mentioned on Red Ice Radio to a post on The Mises Institute website from years before, and then used an old PayPal address to find his real name: Mike Peinovich. The internet came apart at the seams at this point as Mike Peinovich was revealed to be one of the most well known white nationalists in the country. He was immediately fired from his job at the tech startup Pronoun, where he was a front-end developer. His family reportedly then disowned him, except for this wife.

It was at this point that the Peinovich saga took an even more bizarre turn as it was then revealed that his wife, Ames Friedman, a PR executive in New York, was Jewish. This made the neo-Nazi wing of the Alt Right lose their mind and declare that Enoch was a “Jewish spy,” and Enoch conceded that he had hid this. He went on Rebel Yell to apologize profusely for what he has done, and it was even suggested that he was leaving his wife. It does appear now that they will stay together, though he continues to believe that Jews are subversive agents out to destroy the white race. Without a job and having lost everything, Enoch is vowing to continue to push the Right Stuff and the Daily Shoah forward, though he has been “rent seeking” for money to pay his bills while he waits to start his media empire.

While these revelations are fresh, it is clear that the fallout has been dramatic, and several have started hiding from the limelight. First, Cooper Ward left The Daily Shoah, and later so did Van Bryant, also pulling all of his social media from the Internet. Jess Dunstan has not gone into complete hiding, and even put a song by his own band on a co-hosted episode of Fash the Nation, which many are interpreting to mean that he is comfortable with taking the next step into doing this work in real life. He later began saying his name on the air, refusing to hide like his “comrades” did. This is likely because he is self-employed, though the fallout is likely to continue in this regard.

The real results of this kind of revelation can be seen as newspapers arrived at the home of Colin Robertson, asking to speak with the man behind Millennial Woes. They were instead met with the police as Robertson cowered inside, refusing to allow the press to see his face. In a statement put up on his YouTube channel he said he had left the country and is being supported by a network of his supporters. His YouTube channel has become one of the dominant institutions on the Alt Right, with over five hundred videos and 23,000 subscribers. He put out a public statement saying that he has had to go into hiding in another country and that this may be the end of his anonymous career, one built on such a tenuous grasp on reality that he actually believed he could go under the radar while putting his face on camera.

The growth of the Alt Right has rested solely on the ability to have a voice while remaining anonymous. The Right Stuff, Millennial Woes, and more blogs and podcasts than we can count have been built on this principle, with podcasts like the Neoreaction Ascending the Tower or The Fatherland being open about what would happen if they were doxed. If their identities were revealed then lucrative careers would be shattered, marriages and families torn apart, and social outcast status imposed. Part of what has kept white nationalism to the fringes and the participation of only the edges of acceptable society is that there are consequences for participation, and this rash of Internet participation has tried to blow this open. Now, a series of doxings is closing this window back up.

Some on the Alt Right are trying to push back on this and create a network of support for those being revealed. Part of this is white nationalist attorney Kyle Bristow’s Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, an organization founded to “promote the United States Constitution and to oppose people who and organizations which strive to usurp the freedoms it guarantees.” Bristow, who gained much of his experience consulting National Alliance projects, hopes to fund those who are losing their careers for white nationalist participation, namely though some form of crowd funding.

What they want, more than anything, is to create negative consequences for those who do the doxing. They had a small victory when a Salon editor was fired after posting Richard Spencer’s address on Facebook with a line about how his grandparents “took baseball bats to Bund meetings.” While they thought this was a step in the right direction, as the punching of Richard Spencer shows clearly, the culture has shifted even further into an antifascist mindset. Trump’s election put a sense of urgency around a general disgust with the far right, and now more and more people are willing to stand up and take a militant approach to organizing. At the same time, even the centrist and moderate left public is unwilling to let the Alt Right pass in their midst, which means it is still just as toxic as it ever was to be an open white nationalist.

While the Alt Right wanted to create consequences for those doxing them, journalists are continuing to reveal their information. Fash the Nation, which was the most popular podcast in the Right Stuff podcast network, went off the air and took down its website when they got wind that they were about to be doxed. Their information will still likely come out shortly, and there is little they can do as their work has been mirrored all over the internet. At the same time, their toxic internal culture threatens to dox them daily, and there is little reason to believe that the structure of anonymity will continue more than a few more months. The Alt Right now has a choice: go big or go home. The answer for many of the middle class young adherents will be to choose a family and a career over a failed revolutionary tract.

The question will be if those that are going out in the open will find enough to sustain themselves, and most will quickly see that the future for people like Mike Peinovich are less than rosy. Few people can get the family and investment funds that Richard Spencer has achieved, and therefore life as an open racist is going to be difficult. For antifascists, it will be important to institutionalize this information as much as possible; to follow up when the information is revealed and make sure everyone in their life is aware. It will also mean replicating this over and over again, therefore robbing them of the sense that they can hold down a normal existence while actively contributing to that movement. It will also mean confronting their platform hosting, distribution companies, and financial tools to sever their access to the culture and their ability to raise funds. Without this, a life out of the closet is even less viable.

This end result was inevitable for a movement who never reconciled the fact that they went full fascist with ugly racism without developing a professional infrastructure. What the Daily Shoah did was create a fandom off of the most disgusting kinds of racist humor imaginable, all of which was not slow enough to bring the culture with it. This is to our benefit since we know that they lack the ability to propagandize society and since they couldn’t insulate their vanguard from consequences, they will lose them as well. All the pieces are here for antifascist organizations; all it requires now is to use them thoughtfully and effectively.

Responding to the Fascist Creep: An Interview With Alexander Reid Ross

Below is an interview conducted with anti-fascist author and organizer Alexander Reid Ross addressing many of the themes raised in his upcoming book, Against the Fascist Creep.  We discuss what the idea of “creeping fascism” is, where it has become prevalent, and what organizations have begun to confront it.

 

Anti-Fascist News: Could you explain a little bit about this concept of “creeping fascism” that you built the book on?

 

Alexander Reid Ross: So the idea of creeping fascism is the emergence of fascism on the global stage through its tacit and often concealed acceptance either organizationally or in theory. So, for example, when leftwing movements in, say, 2009-2010 started trading in a very conservative language of ethnic nationalism and separatism, you know, like “white people deserve their own place because people of color are naturally inclined towards one another,” that was a sign that there some kind of influence and networking that was going on, and, again, if not organizationally, then in the ideological terrain. And I’m not saying that all left wing organizations were doing that, but I did notice a marked pattern in some of them. There was a sense in some sectors, even when Occupy came around, that we had to defeat the liberals in power even if that means letting the fascists in through the back door. I think that’s been proven false, and we need to learn from those mistakes through material analysis.

 

AFN: What kind of movements was that showing up in?

 

ARR: I think I saw it emerging in the anarchist movement and, to an extent, in some of the left wing issue based movements where Marxists were more prevalent, whether anti-imperialist or anti-war or whatever. Then there are the non-left or post-left radical groups that are just as vulnerable, if not more so. I found out, for example, that the national anarchists had been trying to affect an influence, like in Earth First! even, in the northeast, which came as kind of a surprise to me. It did sort of open my eyes to the fact that because as an editor of the Earth First! Journal during that period, I had been sort of unwittingly implicated in this process.

I think there was also a point after 2008 and the market crash that radical movements experienced an influx of people and didn’t have a filtering process that was equipped to handle the parsing through of different ideas that exist in the radical milieu, and that’s really where it takes place. Fascism emerges from the radical milieu as a combination of right and left wing ideas. If you just want to say, “I’m neither left nor right but I’m radical,” then there’s going to be a lot of territory that is contested, and that is very vulnerable to a sort of fascistic proclamations and ideological positions.

 

AFN: How do you respond to that then or how should left wing movements respond to that creeping influence? What are effective strategies I guess?

 

ARR: I think first and foremost is education. That was one thing that I started to do for myself after the news about Earth First! came out. The fact was that this one national anarchist had helped to schedule a fundraiser for Earth First!, and then they used that to speak very loudly to a European national anarchist audience about connections between Earth First! and national anarchism.

Any single move like that can be blown up into direct coordination, which is terrible, but you can always immediately quash that openly. What’s more difficult is that you have to be careful about the world of ideas in order to recognize how left wing intentions and ideas can be twisted by racists or sexists, and how that is connected to organizational affinities. So it’s equally important to recognize both the intellectual history of fascism and the trajectory of different fascist organizations. Both have fostered new movements and ideological currents that have also segued into the left wing.

The organizational factor is particularly important when talking about national anarchism because a lot of people see broader radical subcultures or milieus as more safe or secure from fascism than the left. For example, people embrace queer culture as distinct from the left, denying that fascism can have queer folks, suggesting that if there are queer people in a particular group or movement it can’t be fascist. Of course some of the most important fascists have been queer, from Rohm to Kuhnen, Nicky Crane, and Douglas P to David McCalden and perhaps Roy Cohn. The same thing goes for environmentalism, vegetarianism, avant-garde music and cultural scenes, punk, and other subcultural milieus.

Without any kind of introspection, the left or subcultures can safely say that Fascism is ultranationalist and administrative, so you would never have a fascist talking about breaking down nation-states and building up anti-hierarchical communities or, rather, communities who function through “organic hierarchy.” But, in fact, if you look at fascist organizations in the past, that is precisely what’s made them more radical than their conservative antagonists—that they have attacked nationalism in a bureaucratic or technocratic form, saying that what’s necessarily in politics is a nationalism of energy and vigor rather than a nationalism of intellectuals and functionaries, and what’s necessary isn’t a nation-state at all but a “spiritual empire” with a grand patriarch at the helm who makes the law through decision.

Without understanding the way that those ambiguous ideas are applied in different milieus, like with national anarchism and autonomous nationalism and those sorts of things, radicals can fall for easy platitudes. Pan-secessionism is another great example. When radicals start talking about the need for separatism without a clear, cosmopolitan follow-up strategy, they leave ourselves wide open to their influence and the insinuation of fascism and the ability for fascist ideas and movements to gain ground in the radical milieu and also in the broader subcultures and in mainstream cultures. When they start talking about ethnic separatism—particularly white separatism, whether de jure or de facto—they’ve basically given up the field.

I think that people in the radical milieu are very disconnected from the impact and effect that they have and their ideas actually have on the mainstream. People often look to radicals to get a sense of direction, particularly vis-a-vis subcultures, so if fascists are given a pass to influence subcultures then the mainstream is far more likely to accept them piecemeal on the basis of accepted ideas and attitudes which are very deleterious. For example, you’ve probably heard of people who you might have thought of as a left wing or a radical saying things like “I don’t believe in equality” or “equality is nonsense” or “I don’t believe in freedom,” or that kind of thing. These kinds of statements seem geared to impress people or shock them or both, but does all that really work for us?

 

AFN: As there has been a rise of white nationalism, what movements or organizations do you think have really effectively started to counter organize that?

 

ARR: It is great to see all of the Antifa groups springing up, the first of which I think was Rose City Antifa, but New York City Antifa and a bunch of others are equally important. When it works, it’s one of the best models for channeling the popular reflexes and spontaneous movements towards confronting fascism in organized and focused ways. I think networking these horizontal groups will provide important support bases for people down the road.

In the long run I also think that groups Public Research Associates and Searchlight have done great watchdogging, and more recently the One Peoples Project has been excellent at pinpointing National Policy Institute and American Renaissance. The alt-right. They were really the first group to identify these sort of “mom’s basement trolls” as wielding a significant power in todays Internet 2.0 or in todays intellectual circuit, academia even. And they’ve done a really good job at confronting it as well, not just through massive protests but through pressure campaigns; calling, getting their events shut down.

Other media outlets are key. Anti-Fascist News has done an awesome job of disseminating key information about these groups and this movement before anybody else and that’s one of the reasons people say mainstream society is influenced by the radical movements. Part of the reason is because radical movements can see changes when they are happening in mainstream society so that distance where its difficult to measure the impact, and the effect is also part of the virtue because it means that there’s a critical analysis that’s taking place. That’s why I think that, for example, Anti-Fascist News has been able to do such a great job of identifying these momentum-building movements and also chokepoints of getting them shut down.

So I do think that there is always going to be a place for militant anti-fascism, but a huge part of that is just researching, understanding a cost-benefit analysis strategy, and rather mainstream stuff like getting events shut down. So those are some of the biggest things, I think—like the increase of organized Antifas, people willing to show up in the streets and willing to protest and fight fascists, and the middle ground mainstream groups, of which I think One People’s Project has been the most forward thinking and I think also media like Anti-Fascist News and It’s Going Down, for example, have really picked up a lot of slack in terms of analyzing Trump, analyzing the alt-right, and actually using intelligence to shut them down.

 

Articles by Alexander Reid Ross

 

Order Against the Fascist Creep at AK Press

Mike Enoch is Now Leaving His Wife After White Nationalists Admonish Him for Marrying a Jewish Woman

The media has been a storm over the last several days as all the hosts of the Daily Shoah have been doxed, some by their own white nationalist comrades who did not believe their politics were pure enough, and others by antifascist organizers.  Mike Enoch was the last of these to be revealed as Mike Peinovich, a well-paid tech worker from Manhattan.  This revelation was done by a group no one had heard of using some of the information that Enoch has given away himself, as well as using an old PayPal address that he was raising money with.

What followed was a rampant series of articles from Salon, Forward, and others, all revealing the details about Mike Peinovich and his alleged job at a tech start-up (they denied he worked there, however).  At the same time, they revealed that Mike’s wife was partially Jewish and ran a YouTube channel with liberal politics, including support for LGBTQ people.  This is a surprise since his wife has appeared on the Daily Shoah, including reading a racist version of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” filled with racial slurs.

The Daily Shoah then put out a special episode where the hosts said that Mike was unavailable because he was in the process of separating from his wife.  Apparently, the opinions of Nazis on the Internet were enough to peer-pressure him into literally leaving his wife.  At the same time, they allege that his family has completely disowned him and that he is out of a job.  They are saying that this is going to make him come back to the show, likely because he has nothing left to lose.

This loss of anonymity is likely going to dissuade many others from getting involved in this type of project as few people want to get a divorce, lose their job, and get shunned by their family.

Against the Fascist Creep Looks at How Fascism Presents a Threat to the Left, and How We can Fight It

Fascism, as an iconoclastic and revolutionary political orientation, is one that has made itself dynamic by bucking the traditions associated with the Right. While it is anti-liberal, anti-multicultural, and anti-democratic, it is also anti-conservative. As it believes in a mythical understanding of a “pure” past, it believes that the institutions of the past, the authorities that exist today, can no longer be “conserved.” Instead, they need a radical solution; one that destroys the conventional order and rebuilds one that they believe is a modernist interpretation of the empires of the deep past. This is not an accurate interpretation of historical nations, of course, but instead a reactionary fantasy that is colored by unrestrained hatreds, the desire to oppress, and the need to rethink contemporary society and reinstate explicit inequality.

To do this project, fascism looks to many movements and ideas associated with the Left in an attempt to “get to the root” of the problem and to recruit revolutionaries who could be swayed by their romanticism. This process is where fascists use Leftist projects for Right wing core ideas, like inequality, racial nationalism, and a cult of violent masculinity. This process was not just true in interwar Europe, but even today as neo-fascism attempts to make its way into social movements founded on Left wing principles. Anti-imperialism, radical ecology, animal rights, post-colonialism, broad-based anti-capitalism, and other projects have all seen attempts at entryism by the far right, and they have worked hard to have their ideas infect these political tendencies, so much so that often times people are unaware that a fascist politic has made its way into their political vision.

This is the founding idea behind the fantastic new book, Against the Fascist Creep, by anti-fascist journalist and author, Alexander Reid Ross. The book, just released by AK Press, outlines a history of fascism since its development in Italy, Germany, Austria, and other European nations, and how it has shifted and evolved in the decades since.

The “fascist creep,” as I am using the term in this text, refers to the porous borders between fascism and the radical right, through which fascism is able to “creep” into mainstream discourse. Howev­er, the “fascist creep” is also a double-edged term, because it refers more specifically to the crossover space between right and left that engenders fascism in the first place. Hence, fascism creeps in two ways: (1) it draws left-wing notions of solidarity and liberation into ultranationalist, right-wing ideology; and (2), at least in its early stages, fascists often utilize “broad front” strategies, proposing a mass-based, nationalist platform to gain access to mainstream po­litical audiences and key administrative positions. (AtFC, pg. 3)

Ross weaves a history in the crevices where fascism attempts to find an avenue into mainstream discourse and reclamation of its revolutionary potential. In the years after World War II, fascist ideologues changed their rhetoric and strategies, often arguing for ethnic separatism, anti-colonial racial nationalism, and meta-political orientations so that they could avoid the associations with the failed movements of Mussolini and Hitler. At the same time, far right terrorism through the Years of Lead had direct ties to the spiritual paths of people like Julius Evola and to right populist political parties like France’s Front Nationale. Over the years the development of neofolk, Asatru and ethnic forms of Nordic paganism, the militia movement, the European New Right, and, later, the Alt Right, were all attempts at finding a new space for fascist ideas and a way to make them new and exciting again to an upcoming generation of racialists.

In the U.S., the development of national anarchism through groups like the Bay Area National Anarchists and the National Anarchist Tribal Alliance of New York, have been a part of this continuous reimagining, and they had the potential to try and recruit from the left. Projects like Attack the System, the national-anarchist, pan-secessionist project we have discussed before, has attempted to bridge the world of Left and post-left anarchism with fascism, allowing in white nationalists as a real “revolutionary” force. In the case of the radical environmental movement, where anarchism has intersected with revolutionary forms of ecology, National Anarchism has made larger inroads by exploiting deconstructionist impulses. This was particularly true in the case of Green Anarchist magazine, which Ross explains was the target of entryism by the syncretic fascist philosopher Troy Southgate.

As Southgate navigated the fascist scene, he became increasingly drawn to a branch of the left-to-right ecology movement cofounded by a British intellectual named Richard Hunt. Hunt’s UK-based journal, Green Anarchist, advocated positions that were just as problematic as, if not worse than, its US coun­terparts. Hunt’s “beyond right and left” political ideology gener­ated particular hostility from the left. A supporter of village-level anarchism on a bioregional basis that operated outside of present contexts of nation-states and consumer societies, Hunt argued that racism was natural to people but unhelpful in the context of anticapitalist movements. While Hunt supported blood and soil–style bioregional movements, he incorporated nationalist histories and “ethnopluralism” in keeping with Benoist’s ideals of diversi­ty. When Hunt backed the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Persian Gulf War based on patriotic sentiment, he was pushed out of Green Anarchist and formed a new journal entitled Alternative Green, which more explicitly advocated for a decentralized bioregionalism with traditionalist and nationalist tendencies, seeing the potential of national and cultural rebirth after the collapse of industrial civilization. (AFC 162-63)

Anti-imperialist projects have found allies in white nationalists in that they are for “Ethno-pluralism,” the right to separation from the dominant culture to maintain cultural “legitimacy.” While many discuss the right to reclaim identity for indigenous people or those of African descent, the fascist element in this discourse believes that white should be afforded this as well, and instead of seeing race as a social invention with consequence they think it is a biological and spiritual reality that should create divisions among groups. In this way, they are “against empires” since they see it as a form of “globalization” that destroys ethnic nationalism and homogeneity in nation states.

What Ross analyzes is broadly within the “Third Positionist” camp, which utilizes elements of the left for a far right purpose. This means anti-capitalist critiques from the right, even going as far as to embody some of the same visioning as the left.

With its syncretic configuration of political ideology, Third Positionism took root in the skinhead and neofolk subcultures as a kind of palingenetic ultranationalism that, with a pessimistic and nihilist sense of modern life, looked toward a revolutionary new age born of traditional culture that could thrive amid the collapse of liberal multiculturalism. (AFC 137)

While Third Positionism is often called a variant on fascism, even a minority within the larger movement, it is actually the dominant expression of fascism. The Alt Right, Neoreaction, racialist paganism, and so on, are all forms of Third Positionist thought, and the meta-political projects like Neofolk, which attempt to push fascist ideas through non-political venues, are comfortably within this analysis as well. It is from this vantage point that entryism on the left presents itself, and this can happen ideologically even without a concerted strategy from fascist organizers.

Ross attempts to answer these contradictions by putting out a call for consistency and understanding of how politics develop, to see the consequences of ideas. Are your politics consistently opposed to racial nationalism and in favor of multicultural society? Are your environmental politics intersectional, opposed to racism, and in favor of immigration? The Left’s projects have to have a clear understanding of the motivating factors for their own political ideas, as well as the ideas of the far right. The “fascist creep,” as Ross labels it, is the way that fascism can seep into left spaces, such as music circles or the movement against international capitalism. This can mean sorting out the way that anti-Semitic narratives seep into the anti-corporate and Palestinian solidarity movement, the “natural law” discourse that is celebrated in some Deep Ecological projects, and the cynical nihilism that has often been a part of the anti-consumerist movement, and to then build a politic that keeps the values of equality and diversity at the center of these varied movements. This is a call for intersectionality, or class compositional analysis, that sees that these movements need a way to remain connected and cannot throw each other aside for short-term gains.

As the Alt Right grows in the U.S., so does the anti-fascist movement. In Trump’s America there has been a validation of their toxic racism, yet there is also a growth of a mass anti-fascist movement that wants to shuffle off their influence. To do this effectively necessitates having a deep understanding of the movements we oppose so that we can clearly see where fascism is, where it grows, and where it comes from. Without that we are scrambling in the dark, calling anything reactionary or authoritarian “Fascism” without being able to see its growth in the corners. Ross’s book can be a guide for this, tracing us through how this movement of hierarchy and inequality has changed over the years, and he is able to boil it down to its essentials.

 

You can order his book here directly from AK Press.

 

 

Anti-Racist Action of Columbus Plans Public Demonstration to Confront Neo-Nazi Activists with Ties to Central Ohio

The Columbus chapter of Anti-Racist Action (ARA) held a public demonstration on Saturday, January 14th to confront Greg Anglin, a local business owner who served as the original registrant of The Daily Stormer, a nationally known neo-Nazi website, run by Greg’s son Andrew Anglin, a former resident of Worthington. Greg Anglin’s Worthington business address still receives donations for the site. Through The Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin is organizing and publicizing an armed white-nationalist march in Whitefish, Montana, home of white nationalist Richard Spencer, which was originally scheduled for Martin Luther King Day weekend, but has been postponed after the city of Whitefish rejected the group’s incomplete permit application. Anglin now says the march will likely take place in February. ARA went forward with its demonstration, which was originally planned to coincide with the armed march in Whitefish. Speakers included members of ARA and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

ARA and anti-fascist allies are urging community members to stand up against the hateful rhetoric that Anglin and his supporters promote. “We are taking action to send a clear message to hate groups from Worthington to Whitefish, that their dangerous, xenophobic agenda will not be tolerated”, said Timothy Philip, an ARA spokesperson.

  • WHO:     Anti-Racist Action of Columbus and Community Allies

  • WHERE:    6827 N. High St., Worthington, OH 43085

  • WHAT:    Demonstration Against Hate from Worthington to Whitefish

  • WHEN:    January 14th, 2017 at 1:00 P.M.

ARA is an international network of people from all walks of life who are dedicated to eliminating racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people.

Massive Protests at Trump’s Inauguration Aim to Set a Tone of Resistance for the Coming Years

Below is the press information that the “Media Working Group” of the DisruptJ20 organizing effort made available outlining the schedule of events for the inauguration day protests Washington D.C.

***

Fully-Permitted “Festival of Resistance,” Checkpoint Actions, Unpermitted Marches, DisruptJ20 Action Camp
Press Events Scheduled this Week Include Access to a Sign-Making Session and a Nonviolent Direct Action Training at the DisruptJ20 Action Camp

Press Events / Photo Ops:
1) Wednesday, Jan 11, 6 PM – 7 PM, Art Event, sign making, banner painting, art, photo op
Tyghe Berry Studio, 1241 Evart Street NE, Washington DC
2) Thursday, Jan 12, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM, Press Conference, get info on street protests
St Stephen’s Church Auditorium, 1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC
3) Saturday, Jan 14, 2 PM – 3 PM, Nonviolent Direct Action Training, workshop, photo op
SIS Building Atrium, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Washington DC — Activists and organizers are planning massive protests and acts of resistance throughout the week of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump on January 20. The DC Counter-Inaugural Welcoming Committee, also known as DisruptJ20, is planning a “Festival of Resistance,” a massive permitted, family-friendly march and rally on the 20th, as well as an unpermitted “Anticapitalist Bloc” march, protests at all twelve Secret Service security checkpoints, activist parties, and more. The goal is to give expression to the massive opposition to Trump’s right-wing, racist, and misogynist agenda. Organizers intend to demonstrate that people of conscience are the majority, and take steps towards organizing that sentiment into a force that can have an impact on Trump’s ability to claim a mandate, setting a tone of resistance for the coming years.
**Schedule of Protest Events is below.**

Three press events will help the media organize coverage for the protests of the Inauguration. At 6 PM on Wednesday, January 11, an art event will take place to give press a glimpse of the artistic and creative energies that will be expressed during the inauguration week of resistance. At 9:30 AM on Thursday, January 12, a press conference will give media access to activists and organizers planning some of the most memorable and disruptive events of the week. At 2 PM on Saturday, January 14, an open nonviolent direct action training will allow press to see activists in a hands-on training to learn how to engage in civil disobedience and safely risk arrest.

Beginning at 9 AM on January 20, McPherson Square in downtown Washington DC will be a DisruptJ20 staging area and rallying point for many marches, as well as spontaneous, unpermitted events. An unpermitted, anticapitalist march will begin at 10 AM in Logan Circle. A fully-permitted DisruptJ20 march will begin at 12 PM at Columbus Circle and march to McPherson Square. Another permitted march organized by Occupy Inauguration will start from Malcolm X Park (often called Meridian Hill) and march downtown to McPherson Square join DisruptJ20. McPherson Square will contain tents, portable toilets, a stage, sound system, signage, a medic area, food donations, and other amenities. More unpermitted actions are likely to occur at some point after 3 PM and continue into the evening.

Colorful disruptions will occur right at the Inaugural Parade Route. DisruptJ20 organizers have identified twelve checkpoints that participants will have to pass through in order to attend the inaugural festivities. To call attention to the many threats faced by people and planet, each of these twelve checkpoints will be the site of an issue-specific protest. Issues will include racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+, antiwar, immigrant and border justice, labor, climate, and other issues.

Each checkpoint protest is being organized by a group or set of groups in collaboration with DisruptJ20. In the past, each checkpoint has included metal detectors, police officers, the Secret Service, and national guard. Details and logistics are still being pulled together for these twelve actions, and information will be released publicly as soon as possible.

DisruptJ20 is also coordinating mass housing for activists from out of town, legal support for arrestees and others, medic teams to be present in the street, de-escalation teams to respond to conflict, media teams to relay current information, gathering spaces for activists, and more. Information such as welcome packets, maps, and event calendars will be distributed to the press and public.

Many groups are allied with DisruptJ20 in sending a clear message during the J20 week. A climate-specific day of action will occur on Thursday, January 18, culminating in a Earth2Trump Roadshow with performers and speakers. Antifascist groups are planning a protest at the “Deploraball,” a Trump celebration planned by white supremacists, Nazis, and rape apologists on January 19 at the National Press Club. The ANSWER Coalition is planning a large rally on January 20. A #Trump420 event planned by the DC Marijuana Justice Coalition will feature people handing out marijuana joints. Through the evening, the Peace Ball, the UnNagural, and the Unity Ball will all provide entertainment, music, and libations while standing opposed to Trump’s agenda. The All in Service DC campaign has coordinated, during the lucrative weekend, for bars and restaurants to give donations to local nonprofits serving at-risk communities. The People’s Inaugural Ball on January 20 and People’s Inauguration on January 21 are being planned by #StayWokeAndFight with Howard University to call for racial justice. The Women’s March on Washington will occur on Saturday, January 21.

From January 14 to January 16, DisruptJ20 will hold the DisruptJ20 Action Camp, a series of trainings and workshops in DC to prepare people for upcoming actions, particularly those around the Inauguration. The trainings aim to provide space for participants to collectively analyze and discuss why resistance and action is important under the Trump administration, how we can resist, and what future our actions are building towards.

More releases of information from the DisruptJ20 Media Team are forthcoming, and there will be a press conference call on the evening of January 20 to provide information on the day’s activities. Please visit our DisruptJ20 Media page if you wish to sign up to receive these releases.

# # #

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

We are organizing a week of trainings, actions, and events leading up to the mobilization on January 20th. Below you will find details about these events as well as convergence space for the week starting with January 14th.
January 14-16th – Action Camp
Jan 14 – 15th – American University, 10am-7pm
Jan 15th – Action Spokes Council
Jan 16th – St Stephens, 1525 Newton St NW, 10am-7pm
January 15th – Trade Justice blockade webinar – http://tradejustice.net/11517
January 17-19 – Convergence Space
Food, daily NVDA trainings, Affinity group meetings, spokes councils
St Stephens, 1525 Newton St NW, 9am-6pm
January 18 -21st- Climate Convergence
January 19th – Deploraball
January 20th –
Early Morning – Blockades Action
9am – Outdoor Convergence Space @ McPherson Square opens
10am – Anti-Capitalist Anti-Fascist Bloc @ Logan Circle
12pm – Festival of Resistance, permitted march starting @ Columbus Circle
2pm – Rally at McPherson Square