The Left Overs: How Fascists Court the Post-Left
By Alexander Reid Ross
A few months ago, the radical publication, Fifth Estate, solicited an article from me discussing the rise of fascism in recent years. Following their decision to withdraw the piece, I accepted the invitation of Anti-Fascist News to publish an expanded version here, with some changes, at the urging of friends and fellow writers.
In Solidarity, ARR
Chapter 1: The Early Composition of Fascist Individualism
A friendly editor recently told me via email, “if anti-capitalism and pro individual liberty [sic] are clearly stated in the books or articles, they won’t be used by those on the right.” If this were true, fascism simply would vanish from the earth. Fascism comes from a mixture of left and right-wing positions, and some on the left pursue aspects of collectivism, syndicalism, ecology, and authoritarianism that intersect with fascist enterprises. Partially in response to the tendencies of left authoritarianism, a distinct antifascist movement emerged in the 1970s to create what has became known as “post-left” thought. Yet in imagining that anti-capitalism and “individual liberty” maintain ideological purity, radicals such as my own dear editor tend to ignore critical convergences with and vulnerabilities to fascist ideology.
The post-left developed largely out of a tendency to favor individual freedom autonomous from political ideology of left and right while retaining some elements of leftism. Although it is a rich milieu with many contrasting positions, post-leftists often trace their roots to individualist Max Stirner, whose belief in the supremacy of the European individual over and against nation, class, and creed was heavily influenced by philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. After Stirner’s death in 1856, the popularity of collectivism and neo-Kantianism obscured his individualist philosophy until Friedrich Nietzsche raised its profile again during the later part of the century. Influenced by Stirner, Nietzsche argued for the overcoming of socialism and the “modern world” by the iconoclastic, aristocratic philosopher known as the “Superman” or “übermensch.”
During the late-19th Century, Stirnerists conflated the “Superman” with the assumed responsibility of women to bear a superior European race—a “New Man” to produce, and be produced by, a “New Age.” Similarly, right-wing aristocrats who loathed the notions of liberty and equality turned to Nietzsche and Stirner to support their sense of elitism and hatred of left-wing populism and mass-based civilization. Some anarchists and individualists influenced by Stirner and Nietzsche looked to right-wing figures like Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, who developed the idea of a “conservative revolution” that would upend the spiritual crises of the modern world and the age of the masses. In the words of anarchist, Victor Serge, “Dostoevsky: the best and the worst, inseparable. He really looks for the truth and fears to find it; he often finds it all the same and then he is terrified… a poor great man…”
History’s “great man” or “New Man” was neither left nor right; he strove to destroy the modern world and replace it with his own ever-improving image—but what form would that image take? In Italy, reactionaries associated with the Futurist movement and various romantic nationalist strains expressed affinity with the individualist current identified with Nietzsche and Stirner. Anticipating tremendous catastrophes that would bring the modern world to its knees and install the New Age of the New Man, the Futurists sought to fuse the “destructive gesture of the anarchists” with the bombast of empire.
A hugely popular figure among these tendencies of individualism and “conservative revolution,” the Italian aesthete Gabrielle D’Annunzio summoned 2,600 soldiers in a daring 1919 attack on the port city of Fiume to reclaim it for Italy after World War I. During their exploit, the occupying force hoisted the black flag emblazoned by skull and crossbones and sang songs of national unity. Italy disavowed the imperial occupation, leaving the City-State in the hands of its romantic nationalist leadership. A constitution, drawn up by national syndicalist, Alceste De Ambris, provided the basis for national solidarity around a corporative economy mediated through collaborating syndicates. D’Annunzio was prophetic and eschatological, presenting poetry during convocations from the balcony. He was masculine. He was Imperial and majestic, yet radical and rooted in fraternal affection. He called forth sacrifice and love of the nation.
When he returned to Italy after the military uprooted his enclave in Fiume, ultranationalists, Futurists, artists, and intellectuals greeted D’Annunzio as a leader of the growing Fascist movement. The aesthetic ceremonies and radical violence contributed to a sacralization of politics invoked by the spirit of Fascism. Though Mussolini likely saw himself as a competitor to D’Annunzio for the role of supreme leader, he could not deny the style and mood, the high aesthetic appeal that reached so many through the Fiume misadventure. Fascism, Mussolini insisted, was an anti-party, a movement. The Fascist Blackshirts, or squadristi, adopted D’Annunzio’s flare, the black uniforms, the skull and crossbones, the dagger at the hip, the “devil may care” attitude expressed by the anthem, “Me ne frego” or “I don’t give a damn.” Some of those who participated in the Fiume exploit abandoned D’Annunzio as he joined the Fascist movement, drifting to the Arditi del Popolo to fight the Fascist menace. Others would join the ranks of the Blackshirts.
Originally a man of the left, Mussolini had no difficulty joining the symbolism of revolution with ultranationalist rebirth. “Down with the state in all its species and incarnations,” he declared in a 1920 speech. “The state of yesterday, of today, of tomorrow. The bourgeois state and the socialist. For those of us, the doomed (morituri) of individualism, through the darkness of the present and the gloom of tomorrow, all that remains is the by-now-absurd, but ever consoling, religion of anarchy!” In another statement, he asked, “why should Stirner not have a comeback?”
Mussolini’s concept of anarchism was critical, because he saw anarchism as prefiguring fascism. “If anarchist authors have discovered the importance of the mythical from an opposition to authority and unity,” declared Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt, drawing on Mussolini’s concept of myth, “then they have also cooperated in establishing the foundation of another authority, however unwillingly, an authority based on the new feeling for order, discipline, and hierarchy.” The dialectics of fascism here are two-fold: only the anarchist destruction of the modern world in every milieu would open the potential for Fascism, but the mythic stateless society of anarchism, for Mussolini, could only emerge, paradoxically, from a self-disciplining state of total order.
Antifascist anarchist individualists and nihilists like Renzo Novatore represented for Mussolini a kind of “passive nihilism,” which Nietzsche understood as the decadence and weakness of modernity. The veterans that would fight for Mussolini rejected the suppression of individualism under the Bolsheviks and favored “an anti-party of fighters,” according to historian Emilio Gentile. Fascism would exploit the rampant misogyny of men like Novatore while turning the “passive nihilism” of their vision of total collapse toward “active nihilism” through a rebirth of the New Age at the hands of the New Man.
The “drift” toward fascism that took place throughout Europe during the 1920s and 1930s was not restricted to the collectivist left of former Communists, Syndicalists, and Socialists; it also included the more ambiguous politics of the European avant-garde and intellectual elites. In France, literary figures like Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud began experimenting with fascist aesthetics of cruelty, irrationalism, and elitism. In 1934, Bataille declared his hope to usher in “room for great fascist societies,” which he believed inhabited the world of “higher forms” and “makes an appeal to sentiments traditionally defined as exalted and noble.” Bataille’s admiration for Stirner did not prevent him from developing what he described decades later as a “paradoxical fascist tendency.” Other libertarian celebrities like Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Maurice Blanchot also embraced fascist themes—particularly virulent anti-Semitism.
Like Blanchot, the Nazi-supporting Expressionist poet Gottfried Benn called on an anti-humanist language of suffering and nihilism that looked inward, finding only animal impulses and irrational drives. Existentialist philosopher and Nazi Party member, Martin Heidegger, played on Nietzschean themes of nihilism and aesthetics in his phenomenology, placing angst at the core of modern life and seeking existential release through a destructive process that he saw as implicit in the production of an authentic work of art. Literary figure Ernst Jünger, who cheered on Hitler’s rise, summoned the force of “active nihilism,” seeking the collapse of the civilization through a “magic zero” that would bring about a New Age of ultra-individualist actors that he later called “Anarchs.” The influence of Stirner was as present in Jünger as it was in Mussolini’s early fascist years, and carried over to other members of the fascist movement like Carl Schmitt and Julius Evola.
Evola was perhaps the most important of those seeking the collapse of civilization and the New Age’s spiritual awakening of the “universal individual,” sacrificial dedication, and male supremacy. A dedicated fascist and individualist, Evola devoted himself to the purity of sacred violence, racism, anti-Semitism, and the occult. Asserting a doctrine of the “political soldier,” Evola regarded violence as necessary in establishing a kind of natural hierarchy that promoted the supreme individual over the multitudes. Occult practice distilled into an overall aristocracy of the spirit, Evola believed, which could only find expression through sacrifice and a Samurai-like code of honor. Evola shared these ideals of conquest, elitism, sacrificial pleasure with the SS, who invited the Italian esotericist to Vienna to indulge his thirst for knowledge. Following World War II, Evola’s spiritual fascism found parallels in the writings of Savitri Devi, a French esotericist of Greek descent who developed an anti-humanist practice of Nazi nature worship not unlike today’s Deep Ecology. In her rejection of human rights, Devi insisted that the world manifests a totality of interlocking life forces, none of which enjoys a particular moral prerogative over the other.
Chapter 2: The Creation of the Post-Left
It has been shown by now that fascism, in its inter-war period, attracted numerous anti-capitalists and individualists, largely through elitism, the aestheticization of politics, and the nihilist’s desire for the destruction of the modern world. After the fall of the Reich, fascists attempted to rekindle the embers of their movement by intriguing within both the state and social movements. It became popular among fascists to reject Hitler to some degree and call for a return to the original “national syndicalist” ideas mixed with the elitism of the “New Man” and the destruction of civilization. Fascists demanded “national liberation” for European ethnicities against NATO and multicultural liberalism, while the occultism of Evola and Devi began to fuse with Satanism to form new fascist hybrids. With ecology and anti-authoritarianism, such sacralization of political opposition through the occult would prove among the most intriguing conduits for fascist insinuation into subcultures after the war.
In the ’60s, left-communist groups like Socialisme ou Barbarie, Pouvoir ouvrier, and the Situationists gathered at places like bookstore-cum-publishing house, La Vielle Taupe (The Old Mole), critiquing everyday life in industrial civilization through art and transformative practices. According to Gilles Dauvé, one of the participants in this movement, “the small milieu round the bookshop La Vieille Taupe” developed the idea of “communisation,” or the revolutionary transformation of all social relations. This new movement of “ultra-leftists” helped inspire the aesthetics of a young, intellectual rebellion that culminated in a large uprising of students and workers in Paris during May 1968.
The strong anti-authoritarian current of the ultra-left and the broader uprising of May ’68 contributed to similar movements elsewhere in Europe, like the Italian Autonomia movement, which spread from a wildcat strike against the car manufacturer, Fiat, to generalized upheaval involving rent strikes, building occupations, and mass street demonstrations. While most of Autonomia remained left-wing, its participants were intensely critical of the established left, and autonomists often objected to the ham-fisted strategy of urban guerrillas. In 1977, individualist anarchist, Alfredo Bonanno, penned the text, “Armed Joy,” exhorting Italian leftists to drop patriarchal pretensions to guerrilla warfare and join popular insurrectionary struggle. The conversion of Marxist theorist, Jacques Camatte, to the pessimistic rejection of leftism and embrace of simpler life tied to nature furthered contradictions within the Italian left.
With anti-authoritarianism, ecologically-oriented critiques of civilization emerged out of the 1960s and 1970s as significant strains of a new identity that rejected both left and right. Adapting to these currents of popular social movements and exploiting blurred ideological lines between left and right, fascist ideologues developed the framework of “ethno-pluralism.” Couching their rhetoric in “the right to difference” (ethnic separatism), fascists masked themselves with labels like the “European New Right,” “national revolutionaries,” and “revolutionary traditionalists.” The “European New Right” took the rejection of the modern world advocated by the ultra-left as a proclamation of the indigeneity of Europeans and their pagan roots in the land. Fascists further produced spiritual ideas derived from a sense of rootedness in one’s native land, evoking the old “blood and soil” ecology of the German völkische movement and Nazi Party.
In Italy, this movement produced the “Hobbit Camp,” an eco-festival organized by European New Right figure Marco Tarchi and marketed to disillusioned youth via Situationist-style posters and flyers. When Italian “national revolutionary,” Roberto Fiore, fled charges of participating in a massive bombing of a train station in Bologna, he found shelter in the London apartment of Tarchi’s European New Right colleague, Michael Walker. This new location would prove transformative, as Fiore, Walker, and a group of fascist militants created a political faction called the Official National Front in 1980. This group would help promote and would benefit from a more avant-garde fascist aesthetic, bringing forward neo-folk, noise, and other experimental music genres.
While fascists entered the green movement and exploited openings in left anti-authoritarian thought, Situationism began to transform. In the early 1970s, post-Situationism emerged through US collectives that combined Stirnerist egoism with collectivist thought. In 1974, the For Ourselves group published The Right to Be Greedy, inveighing against altruism while linking egoist greed to the synthesis of social identity and welfare—in short, to surplus. The text was reprinted in 1983 by libertarian group, Loompanics Unlimited, with a preface from a little-known writer named Bob Black.
While post-Situationism turned toward individualism, a number of European ultra-leftists moved toward the right. In Paris, La Vieille Taupe went from controversial views rejecting the necessity of specialized antifascism to presenting the Holocaust as a lie necessary to maintain the capitalist order. In 1980, La Vielle Taupe published the notorious Mémoire en Défense centre ceux qui m’accusent de falsifier l’histoire by Holocaust denier, Robert Faurisson. Though La Vielle Taupe and founder, Pierre Guillaume, received international condemnation, they gained a controversial defense from left-wing professor, Noam Chomsky. Even if they have for the most part denounced Guillaume and his entourage, the ultra-leftist rejection of specialized antifascism has remained somewhat popular—particularly as expounded by Dauvé, who insisted in the early 1980s that “fascism as a specific movement has disappeared.”
The idea that fascism had become a historical artifact only helped the creep of fascism to persist undetected, while Faurisson and Guillaume became celebrities on the far-right. As the twist toward Holocaust denial would suggest, ultra-left theory was not immune from translation into ethnic terms—a reality that formed the basis of the work of Official National Front officer, Troy Southgate. Though influenced by the Situationists, along with a scramble of other left and right-wing figures, Southgate focused particularly on the ecological strain of radical politics associated with the punk-oriented journal, Green Anarchist, which called for a return to “primitive” livelihoods and the destruction of modern civilization. In 1991, the editors of Green Anarchist pushed out their co-editor, Richard Hunt, for his patriotic militarism, and Hunt’s new publication, Green Alternative, soon became associated with Southgate. Two years later, Southgate would join allied fascists like Jean-François Thiriart and Christian Bouchet to create the Liaison Committee for Revolutionary Nationalism.
In the US, the “anarcho-primitivist” or “Green Anarchist” tendency had been taken up by former ultra-leftist, John Zerzan. Identifying civilization as an enemy of the earth, Zerzan called for a return to sustainable livelihoods that rejected modernity. Zerzan rejected racism but relied in no small part on the thought of Martin Heidegger, seeking a return authentic relations between humans and the world unmediated by symbolic thought. This desired return, some have pointed out, would require a collapse of civilization so profound that millions, if not billions, would likely perish. Zerzan, himself, seems somewhat ambiguous with regards to the potential death toll, regardless of his support for the unibomber, Ted Kaczynsky.
Joining with Zerzan to confront authoritarianism and return to a more tribal, hunter-gatherer social organization, an occultist named Hakim Bey developed the idea of the “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ). For Bey, a TAZ would actualize a liberated and erotic space of orgiastic, revolutionary poesis. Yet within his 1991 text, Temporary Autonomous Zone, Bey included extensive praise for D’Annunzio’s proto-fascist occupation of Fiume, revealing the disturbing historical trends of attempts to transcend right and left.
Along with Zerzan and Bey, Bob Black would prove instrumental to the foundation of what is today called the “post-left.” In his 1997 text, Anarchy After Leftism, Black responded to left-wing anarchist Murray Bookchin, who accused individualists of “lifestyle anarchism.” Drawing from Zerzan’s critique of civilization as well as from Stirner and Nietzsche, Black presented his rejection of work as a nostrum for authoritarian left tendencies that he identified with Bookchin (apparently Jew-baiting Bookchin in the process).
Thus, the post-left began to assemble through the writings of ultra-leftists, green anarchists, spiritualists, and egoists published in zines, books, and journals like Anarchy: Journal of Desire Armed and Fifth Estate. Although these thinkers and publications differ in many ways, key tenets of the post-left included an eschatological anticipation of the collapse of civilization accompanied by a synthesis of individualism and collectivism that rejected left, right, and center in favor of a deep connection with the earth and more organic, tribal communities as opposed to humanism, the Enlightenment tradition, and democracy. That post-left texts included copious references to Stirner, Nietzsche, Jünger, Heidegger, Artaud, and Bataille suggests that they form a syncretic intellectual tendency that unites left and right, individualism and “conservative revolution.” As we will see, this situation has provided ample space for the fascist creep.
Chapter 3: The Fascist Creep
During the 1990s, the “national revolutionary” network of Southgate, Thiriart, and Bouchet, later renamed the European Liberation Front, linked up with the American Front, a San Francisco skinhead group exploring connections between counterculture and the avant-garde. Like prior efforts to develop a Satanic Nazism, American Front leader Bob Heick supported a mix of Satanism, occultism, and paganism, making friends with fascist musician Boyd Rice. A noise musician and avant-gardist, Rice developed a “fascist think tank” called the Abraxas Foundation, which echoed the fusion of the cult ideas of Charles Manson, fascism, and Satanism brought together by 1970s fascist militant James Mason. Rice’s protégé and fellow Abraxas member, Michael Moynihan, joined the radical publishing company, Feral House, which publishes texts along the lines of Abraxas, covering a range of themes from Charles Manson Scandinavian black metal, and militant Islam to books by Evola, James Mason, Bob Black, and John Zerzan.
In similar efforts, Southgate’s French ally, Christian Bouchet, generated distribution networks and magazines dedicated to supporting a miniature industry growing around neo-folk and the new, ”anarchic” Scandinavian black metal scene. Further, national anarchists attempted to set up and/or infiltrate e-groups devoted to green anarchism. As Southgate and Bouchet’s network spread to Russia, notorious Russian fascist, Alexander Dugin, emerged as another leading ideologue who admired Zerzan’s work.
Post-leftists were somewhat knowledgable about these developments. In a 1999 post-script to one of Bob Black’s works, co-editor of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, Lawrence Jarach, cautioned against the rise of “national anarchism.” In 2005, Zerzan’s journal, Green Anarchy, published a longer critique of Southgate’s “national anarchism.” These warnings were significant, considering that they came in the context of active direct action movements and groups like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a green anarchist group dedicated to large-scale acts of sabotage and property destruction with the intention of bringing about the ultimate collapse of industrial civilization.
As their ELF group executed arsons during the late-1990s and early-2000s, a former ELF member told me that two comrades, Nathan “Exile” Block and Joyanna “Sadie” Zacher, shared an unusual love of Scandinavian black metal, made disturbing references to Charles Manson, and promoted an elitist, anti-left mentality. While their obscure references evoked Abraxas, Feral House, and Bouchet’s distribution networks, their politics could not be recognized within the milieu of fascism at the time. However, their general ideas became clearer, the former ELF member told me, when antifascist researchers later discovered that a Tumblr account run by Block contained numerous occult fascist references, including national anarchist symbology, swastikas, and quotes from Evola and Jünger. These were only two members of a larger group, but their presence serves as food for thought regarding important radical cross-over points and how to approach them.
To wit, the decisions of John Zerzan and Bob Black to publish books with Feral House, seem peculiar—especially in light of the fact that two of the four books Zerzan has published there came out in 2005, the same year as Green Anarchy’s noteworthy warning against national anarchism. It would appear that, although in some cases prescient about the subcultural cross-overs between fascism and the post-left, post-leftists have, on a number of occasions, engaged in collaborative relationships.
As Green Anarchy cautioned against entryism and Zerzan simultaneously published with Feral House, controversy descended on an online forum known as the Anti-Politics Board. An outgrowth of the insurrectionist publication Killing King Abacus, the Anti-Politics Board was used by over 1,000 registered members and had dozens of regular contributors. The online platform presented a flourishing site of debate for post-leftists, yet discussions over insurrectionism, communisation, green anarchy, and egoism often produced a strangely competitive iconoclastism. Attempts to produce the edgiest take often led to the popularization of topics like “‘anti-sexism’ as collectivist moralism” and “critique of autonomous anti-fascism.” Attacks on morality and moralism tended to encourage radicals to abandon the “identity politics” and “white guilt” often associated with left-wing anti-racism.
Amid these discussions, a young radical named Andrew Yeoman began to post national anarchist positions. When asked repeatedly to remove Yeoman from the forum, a site administrator refused, insisting that removing the white nationalist would have meant behaving like leftists. They needed to try something else. Whatever they tried, however, it didn’t work, and Yeoman later became notorious for forming a group called the Bay Area National Anarchists, showing up to anarchist events like book fairs, and promoting anarchist collaboration with the Minutemen and American Front.
An important aspect of the Anti-Politics Board was the articulation of nihilist and insurrectionary theories, both of which gained popularity after the 2008 financial crisis. In an article titled, “The New Nihilism,” Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) pointed out that the rising wave of nihilism that emerged during the late 2000s and into the second decade could not immediately be distinguished from the far right, due to myriad cross-over points. Indeed, Stormfront is riddled with users like “TAZriot” and “whitepunx” who promote the basic, individualist tenets of post-leftism from the original, racist position of Stirnerism. Rejecting “political correctness” and “white guilt,” these post-left racists desire separate, radical spaces and autonomous zones for whites.
Through dogged research, Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon, discovered whitepunx’s identity: “Trigger” Tom Christensen, a known member of the local punk scene. “I was never an anti [antifascist] but I’ve hung out with a few of them,” Christensen wrote on Stormfront. “I used to be a big punk rocker in the music scene and there were some antis that ran around in the same scene. I was friends with a few. They weren’t trying to recruit me, or anybody really. They did not, however, know I was a WN [white nationalist]. I kept my beliefs to myself and would shut down any opinions the[y] expressed that seemed to have holes in them. It’s been fairly useful to know some of these people. I now know who all the major players are in the anti and SHARP [Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice] scene.”
For a time, Christensen says he hung out with post-leftists and debated them like Yeoman had done. Less than a year later, however, Christensen followed up in a chilling post titled, “Do You Think It Would Be Acceptable To Be A ‘Rat’ If It Was Against Our Enemies.” He wrote, “I had an interesting thought the other day and wanted peoples opinions. If you were asked by the Police to provide or find evidence that would incriminate people who are enemy’s [sic] of the movement, i.e. Leftists, reds, anarchists. Would you do it? Would you ‘rat’ or ‘narc’ on the Left side?” Twenty one responses came beckoning from the recesses of the white nationalist world. While some encouraged Christensen to snitch, others insisted that he keep gang loyalty. It is uncertain as to whether or not he went to the police, but the May 2013 discovery of his Stormfront activity took place shortly before a grand jury subpoenaed four anarchists who were subsequently arrested and held for contempt of court.
In another unsettling example of crossover between post-leftists and fascists, radicals associated with a nihilist group named Ultra harshly rebuked Rose City Antifa of Portland, Oregon, for releasing an exposé about Jack Donovan. An open member of the violent white nationalist group, Wolves of Vinland, Donovan also runs a gym called the Kabuki Strength Lab, which produces “manosphere” videos. As of November 2016, when the exposé was published, one member of Ultra was a member of the Kabuki Strength Lab. Although Donovan runs a tattoo shop out of the gym and gave Libertarian Party fascist Augustus Sol Invictus a tattoo of the fasces there, a fellow gym member wrote, “Obviously Jack has very controversial beliefs and practices that most disagree with; but I don’t believe it affects his behavior in the gym.” Donovan, who has publicly parroted “race realist” statistics at white nationalist gatherings like the National Policy Institute and the Pressure Project podcast, also embraces bioregionalism and the anticipation of a collapse of civilization that will lead to a reversion of identity-bound tribal structures at war with one another and reliant on natural hierarchies—an ideology that resonates with Ultra and some members of the broader post-left milieu.
It stands to reason that defending fascists and collaborating with them are not the same, and they are both separate from having incidental ideological cross-over points. However the cross-over points, when unchecked, frequently indicate a tendency to ignore, defend, or collaborate. Defense and collaboration can, and do, also converge. For instance, also in Portland, Oregon, the founder of a UK ultra-leftist splinter group called Wildcat began to participate in a reading group involving prominent post-leftists before sliding toward anti-Semitism. Soon he was participating in the former-leftist-turned-fascist Pacifica Forum in Eugene, Oregon, and defending anti-Semitic co-op leader, Tim Calvert. He was last seen by antifas creeping into an event for Holocaust denier, David Irving.
Perhaps the most troubling instance of collaboration, or rather synthesis, of post-left nihilism and the far right is taking place currently in the alt-right. Donovan is considered a member of the alt-right, while Christensen’s latest visible Facebook post hails from the misogynistic Proud Boys group. These groups and individuals connected to the alt-right are described as having been “red-pilled,” a term taken from the movie, The Matrix, in which the protagonist is awakened to a dystopian reality after choosing to take a red pill. For the alt-right, being “red-pilled” means waking up to the “reality” offered by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, misogyny, and white nationalism—usually through online forums where the competitive iconoclasm of “edge-lords” mutates into ironic anti-Semitism and hatred. Among the most extreme forms of this phenomenon occurring in recent years is the so-called “black pill”—red-pillers who have turning toward the celebration of indiscriminate violence via the same trends of individualism and nihilism outlined above.
“Black-pillers” claim to have shed their attachments to all theories entirely. This tendency evokes the attitude of militant anti-civilization group, Individuals Tending to the Wild, which is popular among some post-leftist groups and advocates indiscriminate violence against any targets manifesting the modern world. Another influence for “black-pillers” is Adam Lanza, the infamous mass shooter who phoned John Zerzan a year before murdering his mother, 20 children, and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Zerzan has condemned Individuals Tending Toward the Wild, and months after Lanza’s horrifying actions, he penned a piece imploring post-left nihilists to find hope: “Egoism and nihilism are evidently in vogue among anarchists and I’m hoping that those who so identify are not without hope. Illusions no, hope yes.” Unfortunately, Zerzan developed his short communiqué into a book published by Feral House on November 10, 2015—the day after Feral House published The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement co-authored by Eddie Stampton, a Nazi skinhead.
In light of these cross-overs, many individualist anarchists, post-leftists, and nihilists tend not to deny that they share nodal networks with fascists. In many cases, they seek to struggle against them and reclaim their movement. Yet, there tends to be another permissive sense that anarchists bear no responsibility for distinguishing themselves from fascists. If there are numerous points in which radical milieus become a blur of fascists, anarchists, and romantics, some claim that throwing shade on such associations only propagates fallacious thinking, or “guilt by association.”
However, recalling the information in this essay, we might note that complex cross-overs seem to include, in particular, aspects of egoism and radical green theory. Derived from Stirnerism and Nietzschean philosophy, egoism can reify the social alienation felt by an individual, leading to an elitist sense of self-empowerment and delusions of grandeur. When mixed with insurrectionism and radical green thought, egoism can translate into “hunter versus prey” or “wolves versus sheep” elitism, in which compassion for others is rejected as moralistic. This kind of alienated elitism can also develop estranged aesthetic and affective positions tied to cruelty, vengeance, and hatred.
Emerging out of a rejection of humanism and urban modernism, the particular form of radical green theory often embraced by the post-left can relativize human losses by looking at the larger waves of mass extinctions. By doing this, radical greens anticipate a collapse that would “cull the herd” or cause a mass human die off of millions, if not billions, of people throughout the world. This aspect of radical green theory comes very close to, and sometimes intertwines with, ideas about over-population compiled and produced by white nationalists and anti-immigration activists tied to the infamous Tanton Network. Some radical green egoists (or nihilists) insist that their role should be to provoke such a collapse, through anti-moralist strikes against civilization.
As examples like Hakim Bey’s TAZ and the lionization of the Fiume misadventure, Zerzan and Black’s publishing with Feral House, and Ultra’s defense of Donovan indicate, the post-left’s relation to white nationalism is sometimes ambiguous and occasionally even collaborative. Other examples, like those of Yeoman and Christensen, indicate that the tolerance for fascist ideas on the post-left can result in unwittingly accepting them, providing a platform for white nationalism, and increasing vulnerability to entryism. Specific ideas that are sometimes tolerated under the rubric of the “critique of the left” include the approval of “natural hierarchies,” ultranationalism understood as ethno-biological and spiritual ties to homeland and ancestry, rejection of feminism and antifascism, and the fetishization of violence and cruelty.
It is more important today than ever before to recognize how radical movements develop intersections with fascists if we are to discover how to expose creeping fascism and develop stronger, more direct networks. Anarchists must abandon the equivocations that invite the fascist creep and reclaim anarchy as the integral struggle for freedom and equality. Sectarian polemics are the result of extensive learning processes, but are less important than engaging in solidarity to struggle against fascism in all its forms and various disguises.
Alexander Reid Ross is a former co-editor of the Earth First! Journal and the author of Against the Fascist Creep. He teaches in the Geography Department at Portland State University and can be reached at email@example.com.
 Black writes, “Bakunin considered Marx, ‘the German scholar, in his threefold capacity as an Hegelian, a Jew, and a German,’ to be a ‘hopeless statist.’ A Hegelian, a Jew, a sort-of scholar, a Marxist, a hopeless (city-) statist — does this sound like anybody familiar?’ Full text available on Libcom at https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-anarchy-after-leftism
The term “fascism” has been thrown around left circles for decades as a proxy for authoritarianism, racism, or both. This inability to properly define and understand how fascist movements erupt and grow has created a deficit in organizing, and as we head into a Trump presidential administration and the massive growth of the Alt Right and white nationalism organizers across the left need the tools to break down these movements and how they work. There have been a lot of “reading lists” put out recently, so we thought we would compile one of our own that combines a whole number of threads that are important for understanding how fascism works. This includes detailed looks at the Alt Right, the more mainstream “Alt Lite,” the role of Neofolk and goth music, white nationalist organizing, the history of white nationalist violence, how the revival of scientific racism works, how anti-Semitism plays out, and all the other tentacles that make the intersectional beast of the new fascist movement.
This list of readings is far from complete, and this page is going to continue to be updated as we add new sections and flesh out the ones that are here. If you think there are some great ones that are missing, let us know, and also know that it is the writings, videos, and audio recordings below that make up a lot of the thinking that goes into this website. We have also angled the list below more in favor of newer articles as well as ones that are generally accessible(though there are a few academic ones dotted in there).
- The Alt Right and the New American Fascism (CounterPunch)
- Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right (Political Research Associates)
- Alternative Fascism: The Alt Right and Fascist Branding (Anti-Fascist News)
- Calling Them ‘Alt Right’ Helps Us Fight Them (Three-Way Fight)
- The Alt Right and the Quest for White Identity (The Guardian)
- My Journey Inside of the Alt Right (The Huffington Post Magazine)
- The Dapper White Nationalist Who Wins Even if Trump Loses (Richard Spencer) (Mother Jones)
- Geeks for Monarchy: A Profile on Neoreaction (Tech Crunch)
- The Rich Kids of Fascism (It’s Going Down)
- Introducing the Alt Lite, the People Mainstreaming the Alt Right’s White Nationalism (Anti-Fascist News)
- Breitbart Goes Full Fash (Anti-Fascist News)
- Fighting the Trojan Horse of Hipster Fascism (Earth First! Journal)
- Neofascist: Heathen Harvest, Neofolk, and Fascist Subcultural Entryism (Anti-Fascist News)
- The Neofolk Band “Changes” and Their Open Fascism (Anti-Fascist News)
- Death in June – A Nazi Band? (LibCom)
- Counter Culture Fascism (SpitFire)
- Neofolk or Neovolk (One People’s Project)
- Apoliteic Music: Neofolk, Martial Industrial, and “metapolitical fascism” (Patterns of Prejudice)
White Nationalist Organizing
- The New Neo-Nazis: How Matthew Heimbach is Building a Racist Network Across the U.S. (It’s Going Down)
- Guide to Understand Identity Europa (It’s Going Down)
- 20th Century White Supremacist Groups (C-Span)
- The Undying Appeal of White Nationalism (Candles and Torches)
- The Problem of Left Anti-Semitism and Fascist Entryism (Rose City Antifa)
- Anti-Semitism in the White House: Stephen Bannon, Donald Trump and the Alt Right (Truthout)
- Understanding Anti-Semitism (The New Republic)
- Guide to Understanding Holocaust Denial (Remember)
- Race and IQ: A Tale of Shoddy Science (The Guardian)
- Overview on the “Race Realist” Movement (Salon)
- People Keep Misunderstanding Race and IQ (The Atlantic)
- “Race Realism” Is Pseudoscience (Psychology Today)
- What is Fascism? (Robert O. Paxon)
- Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism (Umberto Eco)
- What is Fascism? (Matt Lyons)
- Quotes on Fascism (Three Way Fight)
- Populism as a Core Element of Fascism (Chip Berlet)
- What Fascism Is, and What it’s Not (Roger Griffin)
- Fascism and Anti-Fascism (Don Hammerquist)
- The Paradox of Reactionary Modernism (Jeffrey Herf)
Queerness and Fascism
- Gay Nazi, Gay Aryan, Gay Supremacist (Pop Matters)
- Queer Fascism: Why White Nationalists Are Dropping Homophobia (Anti-Fascist News)
- Confronting the New Right (Gods & Radicals)
- Rainbow Heathenry: Is a Left-wing, multiracial Heathenry Possible? (Gods & Radicals)
- Who are the Wolves of Vinland? (Rose City Antifa)
- Satanism and the Far Right (Detoxorcist)
- Fascism Against Time: Nationalism, Media Blindness, and the Cult of Augustus Sol Invictus (Gods & Radicals)
- Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchist (Political Research Associates)
- Co-Opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction (Patterns of Prejudice)
- What is Third Position (Political Research Associates)
- How to Draw Lines Against Political Entryism on the Left (Political Research Associates)
White Nationalist Violence
- From Rhodesia to Charleston: Looking at Who is Responsible for Lone Wolf Terrorism (Anti-Fascist News)
- Institutionalizing Lone-Wolf Terrorism: How Fascist Organizations Inspire Mass Violence (The Hampton Institute)
- Terror From the Right: A History of Far Right Acts of Terrorism (Southern Poverty Law Center)
- KKK: A History of Racism (Southern Poverty Law Center)
- How to Overthrow the Illuminati (Self-titled)
- Will The History Books Record How Nazis Made Eyes at the Malheur Occupation? (Truthout)
- Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement (Rural Organizing Project/ Public Research Associates)
- Basic Militia Movement History (Anti-Defamation League)
- Understanding the Racism of the Militia Movement (Three Way Fight)
- A Detailed History of the American Patriot Movement (Southern Poverty Law Center)
Donald Trump and White Nationalism
- Meet the Shocktroops of Trump’s America (Raw Story)
- A Complete History of Donald Trump’s Relationship With White Nationalism (Media Matters)
- Trump the Fascist (Anti-Fascist News)
- Trumping Democracy: Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action (Political Research Associates)
- Trumpism (LibCom)
- “Death to the Klan” and Armed Antifascist Community Defense in the U.S. (It’s Going Down)
- Unionism as Anti-Fascist Strategy (Twin Cities IWW General Defense Committee)
- Fascist Free Speech is a Straw Man Argument (Dissent Magazine)
- An Anti-Fascist Response to a Trumpist Future (NYC Antifa)
- Lessons on Defeating White Nationalism from the Coalition That Keeps Defeating David Duke (Waging Nonviolence)
- A Movement of Long Knives: Death in June, Alternative Nationalism, and Building a New Antifa (Anti-Fascist News)
- The Changing Face of Anti-Fascism (Truthout)
- Anarchism vs. Fascism (Anti-Fascist News)
- What We Need for Antifascist Organizing in Trump’s America (NYC Antifa)
- Tips for Challenging the Far Right (Political Research Associates)
- The History and Future of Black Anti-Fascism (Truthout)
- Everday Anti-Fascism (Roar Mag)
Recently a supporter emailed us to let us know something a little strange happening at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Among the Lovecraftian horror authors, R’lyeh themed t-shirt vendors, and various international films, the organizers had invited someone a touch more eccentric. Diabolus Rex is an occultist from the area who spends his time building the Ragnarok Engine, which is a large metal ship that is meant to generate occult energy. Speaking in a mix of prophetic End Times jargon, conspiracy prose, and pan-esoteric mashups, he says that this will fuel a black magic enterprise, possibly bringing the end of the world.
Though on first glance Rex is likely to appear as an oddity that an H.P. Lovecraft fanfest would enjoy a peek at, but that is really only without delving deeper. Rex was featured on Jack Donovan’s podcast Start the World. People will know Donovan as a part of the controversial Wolves of Vinland folkish heathen group, and for speaking at white nationalist conferences like American Renaissance and writing for publications like the Radix Journal. Know for his Queer Fascism, Jack writes about “male tribalism” and the need for men to think only about their in-group and to reclaim a culture of violence.
This was not Rex’s only connection to the Alt Right as on his Facebook he shares links from the esoteric-loving white nationalist publisher Counter Currents and rants about blocking Muslim immigration. More than this, he focuses on a “will to power” reading of left-hand path mysticism where he believes in creating a culture of hierarchy based in the domination of others, which includes human sacrifice. He even includes Julius Evola, the fascist mystic, as one of his key influences, as well as seeming to draw on Aryan esoteric and rune magic. He makes snide comments about Jews, and especially about “socialists” and those who want “equality.”
The question of whether Rex is a fascist is dubious; he seems to straddle a line in some ways, and may or may not actually fall firmly into that category. The burden of his meta-politics does not fall on the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival (even though they were notified ahead of time of his connection), but it presents a clear problem that happens in spaces from left to right, from the arts to the social sciences.
Anti-fascist researcher and author Alexander Reid Ross made this process the key idea for his upcoming book from AK Press, Against the Fascist Creep. In it he chronicles the neo-fascist project since World War II and the shifting, often contradictory strategies that fascist movements take. Using ideas and patterns from the left, fascist movements attempt to co-opt struggles, transform radical movements, and adopt elements of the left while maintaining a far-right meta-politics. This means that areas that are not normally associated with racialist and nationalist politics, such as the pop arts, environmentalism, or anti-colonialism, have become places they believe they can make inroads.
To gain popularity, fascists develop and adapt syncretic ideologies to meet and manipulate leftists and radical activists. Their motivations are often concealed through the rhetoric of the “right to difference” and “racial diferentialism.” It is important to see through and reject the rhetoric of fascism in order to garner a better understanding of its general adherence to inequality, elitism, and hate. (AFC, pg. 7)
While most people subscribing to Left Hand Path traditions would find fascist politics and racism disgusting, there are those who see it as a way to developing an imperial power. People may reject the notion that ideologues like Rex have a creeping fascist politics because of the sexual libertine ideas and animal rights adherence, but these are just pieces of what is a larger philosophy of power and domination.
The fascist entryism into areas associated with the left is both conscious and unconscious, and those on the far right often see these crossover movements as legitimately a part of their struggle.
Quite a while ago, bioregionalists in Oregon were putting on a conference about their ecological movement. There is a push to look at the bioregion of the Pacific Northwest, sometimes divided up into being the western side of Oregon and Washington, as a distinct ecological “bioregion.” While there are nationalist movements that want to redefine state boundaries, bioregionalism is generally a project of the left and sees itself as a progressive notion for protecting environmental areas. Because of its creation of borders and boundaries, as well as because of right-wing intervention into environmental movements, it has also attracted those from the more questionable elements of the right.
Among the various invitees for the conference was also Vince Rinehart, a tribal member of the Tlingit people and an editor with the National Anarchist website Attack the System. AtS is well known for allying with white nationalists and racialists, developing their own “pan-secessionist” ideology that calls for anarchists uniting with fascists to attack “the empire.” Keith Preston, the founder of the website, often speaks at neo-fascist conferences like the National Policy Institute. Rinehart himself supports a strong tribal nationalism, one where racial groups could get their own exclusive tribal communities.
After the public learned that Rinehart was included in the conference there was an understandable uproar, and many in the more questionable areas of the bioregionalist community tried to defend Rinehart’s inclusion. There was an aspect of agreement with Rinehart: it took opposing ideologies coming together to defend the bioregion. This is exactly the “creeping fascism” that those on the right want, to undermine coherent politics and to gain entry into revolutionary movements for their own philosophical bent.
This showed up in an especially embarrassing blog post by Casey Bryan Corcoran after Rose City Antifa refused to participate. Here Corcoran admitted to both understanding Attack the System’s fascist roots and to doing a recorded interview with them.
I want to be clear that I am not denying Fascism’s unsavory past and present. I will also not deny the unsavory past and present of the Left. I am hopeful that Bioregionalism can be formulated in a way that opposes both toxic ideologies, and I see both the Left and the Right as his-stories not to be repeated. I also reject both the Trojan Horse of ‘Third Position’ racialism, and the re-colonizing impositions and racial animosities that thrive in Leftist subcultures. However, attacking everyone I don’t see eye-to-eye with has proven a terrible way to build a community, and I have engaged in dialogue with a good handful of people expressing remarkably problematic ideas about life, taking my fair share of flack for this in the process. I feel this risk is worth it, as I feel no human being is motivated by pure evil intentions. Pardon my optimism if you must. I have also observed peoples ideas change over time, mostly as the result of relationships with other people who are not quick to judge.
Here he goes into the defining characteristic of creeping fascism, the ability to “move beyond right and left” to something new. This is Third Positionism crystalized, the refusal to see fascism for what it is in an effort to “move beyond the failures of the past.” He continues on to use ad hominem attacks, to dance around the clear far-right associations, and to defend Rinehart’s racialist politics.
Rinehart was eventually removed from his panel against his own protest, though he still spoke at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon at the University of Oregon. The conference is known for including controversial speakers like Lierre Keith, the transphobic founder of Deep Green Resistance. Rinehart spoke on a panel with members of Occupied Cascadia and Portland State University Cascadia chapter.
Rinehart went on Jack Donovan’s podcast as well to defend himself, as well as to re-commit himself to solidarity with ethnic nationalism. Though at the time Rinehart was already known for his problematic views, this was only the tip of the iceberg and many in the Cascadia bioregionalist movement seemed fine with flirting with the most reviled ideas imaginable. There was something of a reckoning and the left wing of the bioregionalist movement is much more conscious of this type of entryism today, but it is something that continues in left spaces regardless.
Recently the Brooklyn Commons turned a few heads when they hosted Christopher Bollyn, a 9/11 Truther who has entered crossover politics from his deep anti-Semitism. Bollyn was formerly a staff member at the Liberty Lobby, which published Spotlight. The Liberty Lobby was the organization founded by Willis Carto, and was the leading white nationalist organization for decades. Though it is less known than organizations like the National Alliance, it was arguably even more influential, starting off in the 1960s with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and riding a wave of anti-Communism and anti-integrationist fervor on the right into influence in the halls of power. They eventually became open about their racialist politics, believing that Jews secretly run the world, that black people have lower IQs than whites, and that people of color are more prone to crime. They founded the Holocaust Denial organization The Institute for Historical Review, and after that organization was wrestled away from Carto by some previous employees he went on to found the Barnes Review to do the same thing.
Bollyn was on the staff of the Liberty Lobby between 2000 and 2006, when the Spotlight was renamed the American Free Press. Bollyn, with his penchant for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, claims that Jews themselves were behind all U.S. government decisions, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is real, and that Jews actually did the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Bollyn has been incredibly public about what he thinks about Jews, not usually even hiding behind anti-Semitic “dog whistle” language. Below are a few quotes compiled by anti-fascist writer Spencer Sunshine.
- “Great nations, like the United States, France, and Germany, once had anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic political parties that acted to challenge the pernicious influence of secret Masonic and Jewish organizations. Today we no longer have such political parties to counter these secret networks and find ourselves ruled by B’nai B’rith and Jewish Freemasons.”
- “The ‘false flag’ terrorism of 9–11 is a monstrous Jewish-Zionist crime of our time. The true culprits of this heinous crime are clearly being protected by a gang of like-minded Jewish Zionists in the highest positions of the U.S. government.”
- “It seems like being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf.”
- He openly cites the Protocols line that: “Not a single announcement will reach the public without our control.”
- “I suspect that Arlen Specter is a high-level agent of the B’nai B’rith, the secret organization of Jewish Freemasons which I consider to be the real Elders of Zion.”
After the Commons booked Bollyn there was a near revolt by many of the organizations and projects that use the place, including Jacobin Magazine, the Right to the City Alliance, and the Marxist Education Project. They wrote a letter to the Commons listing their disdain in a quick statement.
As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.
The event was allowed to continue by the space’s owner, Melissa Ennen, who is a 9/11 Truther herself. In her own statement she said that there should be space for hateful people to speak because it can also be enlightening.
I never intended for The Commons to be a safe space at all times. Nor was it designed to be a cozy cocoon for intramural debate among leftists. From the beginning my goal has been to foster discussion among disparate groups across a wide political spectrum.
This is clearly a cherry-picked decision since usually the Commons would not normally allow a speaker with openly racist views, even though they represent “a wide political spectrum.” Instead, she wants to make it a left-specific space, except in that they allow anti-Semites.
Once the event did take place there was a small, yet understandably angry, contingent outside protesting the event. Those who tried to go inside were assaulted by security, and other people associated with the Commons attacked opposition in different situations. Some Antifa organizations have now called for a boycott on the Commons, which is a boycott we are joining in to send a message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.
In all of these situations, what happens is a break in left-oriented politics allows for some of the most abhorrent examples of far-right politics to work their way in. Though they are often challenged in the end, this has allowed many of these movements to flourish in ways that a concerted opposition would eliminate. This comes, in part, from the fact that education about fascism and its interlocking tentacles is not well done even in radical spaces, and it is important to understand the depths of the nationalist project and how it tries to seek crossover into, and cover from, the left. It also feeds on the unchecked acts of bigotry and oppression inside of leftist spaces, where racism, sexual assault, and abuse still happen even though the rhetoric and ideas are intended to challenge it.
This is an ongoing project, one that does not end in one project or confrontation. Instead, as the fascist movement shifts and changes, we need to be virulent and learn about how it is attempting to adapt. Radical environmentalism, anti-imperialist movements, animal rights, Palestinian solidarity, anti-globalization, pagan religious communities, and many iconoclastic arts projects all have a special place in this because they are areas that Nazis have attempted to stake their claim. A clear idea of what the threat is, a coherent politic in opposition, and the ability to shift and adapt is what will help to ensure that creeping fascism is crushed at entry.
For anyone that has been looking at the problem of creeping fascism in the U.S. and Europe, National-Anarchism has become an entryist tool for the far right to move into otherwise far-left anarchist movements. National-Anarchism, a term coined by nationalist activist Troy Southgate, sees a form of “anarchism” where autonomous communities are created on the basis of things like race, ideology, or sexual orientation. Generally, they mix deep ecology and some post-left and anti-state politics with ultra-conservative social views, racial separatism, and a violent anti-Semitism. They attempt to appropriate anarchist symbols, organizing styles, and social structures, and you’ll often see them attempt to join in the black block at protests. There have been incidents over the years in the United States with National-Anarchist organizations attempting to gain entry into anarchist projects. The National Anarchist Tribal Alliance(NATA) of New York has made a fuss after being kicked out of the New York Anarchist Bookfair, as well as the now-defunct Bay Area National Anarchist(BANA) being booted out of San Francisco based events and attacked at actions. BANA tried to make a name for itself protesting the movie Machete, saying that it was anti-white, as well as protesting immigration and doing talks on the importance of “tribe.” Several National-Anarchists have joined things like the Traditionalist Youth Network and the Traditionalist Workers Party in California, joining together with classic Christian racists like Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrot to develop a violent anti-immigrant movement.
Much of the rhetorical center of National-Anarchism in the U.S. is around Attack the System, a website we have covered extensively in the past. The site, run by former anarchist Keith Preston, advocates what it calls Pan-Secession, an idea that different ideological groups should revolt against the “Empire” and sort of go their own way. Their conception of anarchism is “left, right, and center,” where they believe that everything that people call anarchism should be a part of the broad anarchist project. They often work with anarcho-capitalist and libertarian types, as well as many of the newer far-right variants like Tribal Anarchists, Anarcho-Monarchists, Agorists, and National Anarchists.
Keith Preston knows his way around the anarchist movement, coming out of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Workers Solidarity Alliance in the past(all of which abhor his recent views and behavior). He attempts to persist that he is, in fact, still an anarchist, yet he spends most of his time speaking at white nationalist conferences and supporting nationalist movements.
For those who continue to read many books considered anarchist “classics,” they may have found a volume that raised some concerns. When looking at Keith Preston’s small repertoire of strange books one stands out, Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman. The book, which takes essays by Goldman that are in the public domain, has an introduction by Keith Preston. This, on its face, is problematic, and when the publisher is seen to be Black House Publishing Ltd, it only becomes more blatant.
Black House Publishing is one of the most prolific neo-fascist publishers coming out of Europe, yet attempts to say that it really just publishes books on politics. The top masthead lists “Anarchism, “Capitalism,” “Socialism,” “National Socialism,” and “Fascism,” which is intended to lend to the notion that it is non-partisan and instead just surveying the left-right spectrum. When you browse through their titles, the reality of their perspective becomes bare.
On the front page, besides the most recent book by Preston, there are two volumes on the English interwar founder of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley, one his autobiography (which, ironically, has the same name as Leon Trotsky’s biography), as well as as an “authorized” history of Mosley and the British union. There are two books on Jews, one that claims to simply be about “Zionism, Islam, and the West” by controversial far-right author Kerry Bolton, as well as a book on “central banking” that resurrects anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Their books on Fascism and National Socialism are extensive, republishing public domain Nazi books like The Programme of the NSDAP and False Gods: The Jerusalem Memoirs by Adolf Eichmann. For those who might suggest that this is just an attempt by a publisher to republish historical works for profit, their books include a swathe of manuscripts that buck this trend with almost a dozen books published by Mosley and a whole library of more recent books by reactionary authors.
The books on anarchism that it holds show a further difficulty as they have the singular book Attack the System by Preston, the book by Goldman introduced by Preston, as well as Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist by Alexander Berkman and The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin. Both of these books are also published by Black House, where they take the public domain texts and publish them for a National-Anarchist audience. This may seem like a glaring contradiction for those who know the historical opposition to fascism that anarchists have had, but in the world of Third Positionist neo-fascism, they live in these contradictions. These classic books are often used by National-Anarchists to endorse some of their broad-based fascism since they can be picked through to find vague passages that they can use to ally with the more simplistic elements of their anti-authoritarian program. The fact that Goldman, Berkman, and Kropotkin would not ally with capitalists, nationalists, or related movements is one that is lost on this swathe of their movement, and a reality they hope to obscure by publishing their books.
This is not the first time that fascist organizations have attempted to appropriate older anarchist thought, but this is an ongoing profit center for Black House publishing and one that can actually confuse anarchists who are attempting to find affordable volumes of these classic texts. Right now they are selling each of these books for slightly more than you will pay from other publishers (AK Press included) when you find them on Amazon, but they are cheaper on the Black House website. Conquest of Bread and Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist were released this month, which is part of why they have gone under the radar, but Anarchism and Other Essays has been out since December of 2012.
It is hard to confront this misappropriation since these texts are in the public domain and that is something we want to continue since it allows for open republishing of these books and we do not want to encourage strict intellectual property. Instead, this presents a challenge for how to undermine the distribution of these books, which are problematic for coherent anarchist politics and provides a clean entry point for far-right ideas.
First, this could mean confronting retailers and making sure to challenge their placement of these books, and all the works put out by Black House. These are particularly pernicious, and therefore the language could be used that they are deceiving the readership as to the book in question. Amazon has never been the most responsive to public pressure, but they did bring down all Confederate Flag merchandise during the recent controversy, so this does provide an avenue. While sending emails to customer service people is fine, it needs a coordinated, large-scale campaign to be effective in any way. It will also be useful to indicate in reviews and comments on the products exactly what the book is as, you will notice, on these large retail situations, most of the purchasers have no idea exactly what they are buying.
The most concerted way to confront this type of entryism is to create a very visceral anti-fascist kernel to anarchist organizing projects, to educate and agitate around issues like racism and nationalism, and to continue to confront and disallow far-right entryism. These books are a clear instance of this, but we can continue to close doors to them by giving our movements a foundation in anti-fascist struggle.
The post-industrial, black metal, and neofolk music scene has been defined by fascist plausible deniability. The earliest days of the black metal scene were defined by iconoclastic misanthropic malaise, a generalized anger against everyone and everything. The scene was mired with early days of violence, but also embarrassing interviews from early bands about their obsessions with death and “evil.” This culminated in the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes of Burzum, as well as the dozens of church burnings. The burnings themselves were both begging for some kind of high-schoolesque rebellion as well as a resistance against the past Christianization of Scandinavia, namely in Norway. Virknes eventually came out as a racial Odinist and white nationalist, with the church burnings being an act of religious war both against a “universalist/non-ethnic” religion and against an ethos that says “turn the other cheek.”
The black metal community was largely defined later by fellow far-rightist Michael Moynihan, who wrote the book Lords of Chaos about the early years. The book, largely built on interviews with the band, see the movement as being the manifestation of an Odinic demonic spirit welling up in them. This draws on an idea from Carl Jung that people have archetypical spirits in their collective unconscious based on race, with white “Aryans” having the spirit of Nordic gods inside of them. This is the foundation of racial heathenry and is an idea that both animated much of Nazi occultism and the contemporary ethnic Asatru and Odinic sects.
While National Socialist Black Metal is certainly a phenomenon, racism is not the permanent state of the black metal community. Instead, there are very real problematic elements in terms of violence and nihilism, some of which taking an elitist and masculanist obsession, but the vast majority of bands do not share nationalist sympathies openly. What people tend to pick up on is instead that they share many themes with genres like neofolk and martial industrial, both of which have strong ties to the far-right.
Neofolk broadly can be defined by resurrecting musical styles inspired by early pre-Christian music synthesized with modern post-industrial. You might find throw backs to Renaissance, Romantic, Medieval, and other eras mixed with traditional European “folk music.” This is then paralleled with a lyrical obsession with pre-Christian myths, paganism, warrior stories, fairy tales, along with general themes of occultism, religion, decadence and decline, and romanticism of the past. This has often been associated with fascism in as much as many of the prominent bands have lyrical and aesthetic content that draws both on Nazism and on broader fascist themes, of which fans often use plausible deniability to say that it is more about lurid obsessions rather than their own fascist politics. This might be accepted if the lyrics were not often a straight line to Pan-European nationalism, as well as seeing prominent bands directly associated with fascist movements. The most obvious of these has been Death in June, but Sol Invictus, Fire + Ice, Ostara, Allerseelen, and Waldteufel, among many others, have been shown to not only play with imagery, but to have aligned themselves with the far-right. This often ranges between Nordic racial paganism to the traditionalism of Julius Evola to right-wing interpretations of Aliester Crowley’s Thelema and Chaos Magick, all focused on hierarchy, power, strength, and elitist control.
It has often been difficult to verify these sorts of allegiances, mainly because they are incredibly subtle references. Much of the inspiration for neofolk is in resurrecting a European romanticism, yet the neofolk scene attracts many who have anti-racist sympathies yet also enjoy the mythos and themes of early Europe. If a person wants to verify exactly what this musical scene is delving into we luckily do not have to jump into esoteric Gothic magazines or foreign press because a few Americans have created a website to dumb down their own pan-pagan racism.
Heathen Harvest is a music website focusing on “post-industrial” for over a decade. Here you are really going to find news, interviews, features, and reviews about music spanning the “Dark genres” and “extreme music.” Though this could broadly include metal and industrial, it seems to have carved a niche for itself in the music associated with dark religious obsession, paganism, and the occult. If you know what you are looking at, even just a quick survey will reveal that there are racial sentiments boiling under the surface.
In almost every interview on the site they will begin referencing racial and neo-fascist themes. Often times questions reference the perennial traditionalism of Julius Evola, books like Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, or racial paganism. While some musicians resist these associations, many play into them directly, even if not incredibly deeply. Ostara, for example, gets prompted repeatedly by the interviewer to discuss Spangler and traditionalism, which they oblige, but it is clear that they are having a difficulty making their way through the list of fascist texts that have been provided for them by the scene. What drives a common spirit is a disgust for the “modern world,” a term that has become in popular use from Evola. Some interpret this as things like industrial capitalism and environmental destruction, but in the traditionalist school this more aptly means multiculturalism, democracy, and equality.
Their podcast, The Forest Passage, drops much of the pretense and takes us directly back to the racism of the Alt Right. In Podcast #12, they open with jokes like calling our current period the “current year,” a joke from the rabidly racist and anti-Semitic podcast The Daily Shoah. They go on to deride “liberals” for their universalizing morality, they admire nationalism instead of “globalism,” and certainly side with the idea that elites should be running society. They had on Florida Libertarian Party candidate Augustus Sol Invictus, where they rapped about Left-Hand Path occultism and nationalism. In this episode one of the hosts discusses Germany’s choice to let in Syrian refugees, which they say is “destroying” Europe. They present contemporary politics as “Nationalism vs. Globalism,” presenting the common straw-man argument from fascists that to be against nationalism is to be in favor of global corporate capitalism. One of the hosts derives his name GJ Anarch from far-right philosopher Ernst Junger’s concept of the Anarch, which means a “sovereign person.” At almost any point on their website you can find references to the coming collapse, when the western decadence of the “Kali Yuga” will bring us back to a possible Western Golden Age. While they rarely jump into openly “racist” language, they have a consistent voice in favor of white racial nationalism. They functionally make the same arguments as places like the Radix Journal or The Daily Shoah, but have recolored it with esoteric, pagan, and counter-cultural language so as to provide an intellectual mirage that provides a feeling of rebellious superiority to their audience. Plainly put: They are white nationalism with an occultist lens and inside of a musical scene.
VICE Magazine did a recent article called “How a Thor Worshipping Religion Turned Racist” looking briefly how the resurrection of Nordic paganism became racially inclined. HH responded to this by stating that they mischaracterized racial paganism, going into the tired rhetoric about “love for your own doesn’t mean hate for the other.” They specifically come to the support of Asatru Folk Assembly founder Stephen McNallen and the band Changes, whose members were also members of the Third Positionist American Front.
If you claim to favour the global patchwork that is multiculturalism then you cannot set about removing chosen patches from that quilt. You also cannot take it upon yourself to redefine any of those patches lest the cultures that they represent have set out to harm you—and even then you’ll be fighting the force of a million forefathers who have slowly woven that world for their descendents. This goes for any folk around the world—all of whom deserve control over the culture of their ancestors. In practical terms this control may manifest as a sense of exclusivity, but consider this: exclusivity maintains the boundary between one thing and another—forest and field; football and rugby; public and private. It is no more hateful an act than it would be to reject D♯ from a musical composition in the key of A-minor.
The website goes on to have reviews of Julius Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right, a tome where Evola observes the points where fascism diverted from a true right wing path, as well as his autobiography, The Path of Cinnebar. Their commitment to “folksih” Heathenry, meaning racially defined Heathenry, is near complete, though they do hold a single article containing arguments in favor of universalist heathenry and against folkishness . Their reviews extend to right-wing journals, like the “radical traditionalist” TYR, also edited by Michael Moynihan. That occasional journal publishes work looking at the “pre-Modern European traditions,” though this is very eschewed. In reality it publishes articles on Odinism, Evola, and right-wing interpretations of myths and folktales, featuring white nationalist Heathens like Colin Cleary. HH are often covering Arktos Media, a traditionalist publisher run by white nationalist John Morgan. The publisher was founded to translate and publish works of the French New Right like Alain De Benoist and traditionalists like Julius Evola for an American audience. They have really gotten behind neofolk, both as a popular right-wing musical scene and one that focuses on the traditionalist and romantic themes of Europe rather than just the vulgar racism of the skinhead Oi! and Rock Against Communism scene(Though they include interviews with RAC musicians like Vapaudenristi.). They regularly review books with racial content, especially as it applies to edge political scenes like National Anarchism. This includes a shining review of A Life in the Political Wilderness by Welf Herfurth, which draws on the work of Troy Southgate, Tomislav Sunic, and Alain De Benoist. They follow similar queues to other nationalist website in reviewing the work by controversial French author and Islamophobic iconoclast Michel Houellebecq, giving a “traditionalist” review of his book Submission. All of this really is just a snippet as this content is such a regular feature that even a survey of it would be incredibly dense. HH is likely to counter these claims, citing reviews of books like The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement by Robert Forbes where they show little sympathy, but this should only be persuasive to those who do not have a firm understanding of what the new trends in neo-fascism are and how they differ from the antiquated skinhead gang culture. HH represents a vision of nationalism and anti-egalitarian thinking that grounds itself in spiritual and philosophical themes, and so its own self aggrandizement is likely what allows it to feel as though it is not in the same camp as Combat 18 and those that clashed with Antifa in Dover.
What is most insidious about HH is that is has crossover appeal, which is to say that it is not explicitly a racial website. Many bands refuse to take the bait on the racism, including bands like Agalloch. It should be noted that HH absolutely does not interfere with bands with left and post-left leanings, and gives them an open platform to speak up from this perspective. An example of this would be an interview they have BRUT, where the band members discuss the way that female musicians have been marginalized in the industrial and dark music scene. This runs in contrast to the way that many authors, editors, and podcast hosts make fun of the concept of “toxic masculinity,” and often discuss the need for men to come together in tribes(or, in particular, “white men”) against the modern world(Jack Donovan comes up more than once, and his books are reviewed on the site.). Given the fact that they focus on “extreme” music, you are going to get a lot of anti-authoritarian left bands as well, though there seems to be little differentiation done by them when it comes to HH’s affiliations.
What should be noted is that even the non-racist crowd inside much of these circles have supported and joined up with problematic musicians like Michael Moynihan, Boyd Rice, and Death in June. The boundaries are not set inside of neofolk as they would inside of the anti-racist world, so we have to keep that in mind so as to see them for their intentions rather than just their associations. While Agalloch may be willing to support Sol Invictus, they have also stated that their opposition to the “modern world” is exclusively because of techno-industry and not because of multiculturalism. This makes their associations equally problematic, but notes that not everyone inside of this musical subculture share the nationalist political roots.
Heathen Harvest has now prepared a tour across the U.S. of popular European neofolk and post-industrial bands, though they are only one of the sponsors along with Annihilvs Power Electronix. Operation Equinox 2016 will include the Danish bands Of The Wand and the Moon and Die Weisse Rose, the U.S. based Blood and Sun, and Vril Jager, Destroying Angel, and Scout Pare-Phillips. Blood and Sun also joined bands like Waldteufel at Stella Natura, a questionable neofolk music festival put together by the Asatru Folk Assembly. Luke Tromiczak of the band was interviewed on Episode 13 of The Forest Passage, where he talks about the romanticism and opposition to modernity in neofolk. According to New York City Antifa, Luke Tramicza has dressed as a Nazi brownshirt at shows, collaborates with Nazi bands, and has “associates in White Power circles.” Fascism Watch, who wrote a letter trying to have a New York City venue cancel a show with Blood and Sun and Death in June listed that he had “neo-Nazi connections in his native Minnesota.”
Die Weisse Rose actually naming themselves after the German pacifist student movement that resisted the Nazis, yet they list their politics as Revolutionary Conservative on MySpace. This puts them in line with people like fascist legal scholar Carl Schmitt, another obscure philosopher popular with this strain of the far-right.
Of the Wand and the Moon, the project of Kim Larsen, has often gotten painted with the same brush because of their focus on romanticism and runes, and while there is not strong indications from his music, his use of fascist symbols is so dense that it is hard to argue with these allegations. Larsen has especially been targeted for using the same runic Algiz necklace as members of the neo-Nazi Heathen Front. With situations like this it is quite difficult to determine exactly how to approach it, as well as his collaborations and compilations with bands like Death in June, Sol Invictus, and Allerseelen(She was also featured at Stella Natura). What this says very clearly is that even if Larsen does not hold racial ideas, he is certainly not an ally to the aims of anti-fascist progress and standards. Vril Jager takes its name from a Nazi-era fighter plane, and also a project of Kim Larsen.
This tour provides an opportunity for anti-fascists to either confront the concerts directly or to pressure the bands not associated with racist causes to distance themselves from the more problematic elements. If bands like Die Weisse Rose eschew racist politics, then it is reasonable to hold them to the same standards of association that we would in any other community. No one wants to be culturally policed, but instead it is critical to continue to show the reactionary power that fascist music can have and how it is mobilizing a very dangerous white nationalist movement that is leading to mass violence against refugees across Europe. Segregating bands like Blood Axis and Death in June from the rest of the musical movement, putting them in the same camp as skinhead “white noise” scenes, will help to keep the organized racism out of subcultural and Goth spaces. With this kind of creeping sub-cultural fascism, anti-fascists need to confront them directly and build a movement that is not going to allow it to seep in under vague philosophical arguments that attempt to divert our attention from the reality of their genocidal racism.
This gives you an opportunity to contact the venues to tell them that the community does not want to deal with racist bands and promoters, as well as to contact the bands directly to tell them that this music community will not accept fascist associations. The shows will be on the east coast and midwest, so local counter-organizing can happen drawing on the larger anti-racist movements of the regions. Below some of the dates below is the venue contact information.
3/25/2016 Machines With Magnets – Pawtucket, RI
Address: 400 Main Street Pawtucket, RI 02860
- 1728 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD, 21201
- email: TheDepot.firstname.lastname@example.org
On a recent episode of the cleverly titled Fash the Nation, another podcast project of the Right Stuff, they opined about Trump’s big failure in Iowa. To join the regular hosts Jazz Hands McFeels and Marcus Halberstram they invited Raiden, a Twitter “sensation” who bragged about how good he is at trolling. He proudly declared that he keeps “hate facts” in his bookmarks so he is ready to “Red Pill” people on social media, a term used originally by the Men’s Rights crowd and means to reveal the truth(which actually means to be racist). He went on, at length, about how great he was at harassing people on Twitter, so much that he often gets banned. The hosts egged him on, also congratulating him for this major “achievement.”
The new Alt Right is being tactically informed by people like the Right Stuff and the Daily Shoah who think that internet trolling, using infectious memes, and arguing with people in web forums is the same thing as political organizing. Their project relies on this since they usually do not come from a history of political engagement, but instead from the recesses of extreme ideology that remote web forums often inspire. While this is embarrassing right off the bat, it is not without its avenues. They have successfully disseminated things like the Cuckservative, Alt Right, and Facts Aren’t Racist hashtags, they have created a groundswell of reactionary internet support for Trump, and they are feeding the vanguard of the racist movement to commit acts of violence and eventually join the kind of political organizations that we are seeing all over Europe.
We at Anti-Fascist News have also been pretty consistently “trolled” and blogged about from the far-right, where they are just begging to get a mention. The Daily Shoah has devoted segments of several of their shows to us, and their forum will link to us so many times that we quickly become the top Google search results(good strategy guys). Attack the System, the website run by Keith Preston and best known for pushing National Anarchism, has run a full six articles about us, desperately trying to pull us into a debate. We actually did counter a couple of their claims, only because they have occasionally moved their arguments into anarchist circles and so we need to develop a good rhetorical foundation to unhinge their ‘pan-secessionist” rhetoric. Occidental Dissent, the Traditionalist Youth Network, the National Anarchist Network of Texas, Jack Donovan, and others have made us the target of their attention in recent months, hoping that they can get a word in on our conversation. Daily we get hate comments, often with racial slurs, and usually they believe that we are going to allow their comments to be posted so that they can, again, troll. On Twitter they will tag us so as to draw us into an “internet feud” so they can fuel their blog diarrhea, especially since their lack of relevance can stop them from having appealing content.
Our policy is to completely refuse to discuss things, allow them to link to us, or to even provide access to our social media. We regularly block fascists if they tag us on Facebook or Twitter, which happens a couple times a week. We will work to break the links when they link directly to our website, and we never, ever allow racist or right-wing comments to post on our website. We aim to be a useful resource for anti-fascist and anti-racist organizing, so we prioritize the goals of organizing above all else. Complete radio silence and removing them as regularly as you can will be the best way to regularly segregate them from important conversations. We prefer if our boosts in traffic comes from anti-racists looking to find out what is happening inside of the racist community, not just out of a lurid curiosity, but because we need this information to inform strategy.
As long as we continue, we expect to get followed closely by these groups as they look for any avenue to get coverage. Instead, in our discussions about them we refuse to link to them or provide them an open platform of any type.
The last bastion for anarchists who don’t organize is to write. The three editors of Anti-Fascist News have stayed committed to not falling into this pattern as we know how a “managerial class,” as recent commentators have referred to it, is antithetical to anarchist visions of directly run social systems. Keith Preston, who runs the National Anarchist website Attack the System, does not share this commitment as his politics lie in wait only in the theoretical. This is why we do not take his assertion that pan-Secessionism, and his idea of the revolutionary potential of the radical right, very seriously.
Preston has, of course, released response to response to response. We are going to keep this short only because there is actual organizing we are trying to make this a resource for.
One quick introductory note on the use of names. All contributors and the website’s three editors come under the same name “antifascistfront(We literally say where many of the contributors come, so it is clear the range of authors that are in place).” For someone who attempts to bastardize the history of Anti-Fascist Action, Keith should probably know the utility of a uniform “common front” where by names and faces are united so as to engage in a common purpose. This is in line with the use of free association(we know you are aware of that part of anarchist theory) and direct action. This comes out of Autonomen and Autonomist factions where by anarchism influence Marxist economic theories. The exchange between anarchism and Marxism has been complex and ongoing, yet this idea that Marxism has infiltrated anarchism and that is why it has adopted socially left values is not just bizarre, it has zero basis in fact. Today, Marxist factions, as small and scattered as they are, are continually a socially conservatizing force and several steps behind in these struggles. This has always been true in older periods of Marxism where struggle is centrally set on a united working class along economic lines, not along lines of other oppressed identification. The idea is then proposed by neo-fascists that the Frankfurt School completely reshaped all social struggles on every level so that anti-racism and anti-patriarchal struggles would supplement class struggle. The main purpose of this conspiracy theory is to create a narrative where by it is actually Jewish philosophers that have started this process and, therefore, must be only done for Jewish domination. There are literally no Marxist academics or organizers that would agree with the radical right’s estimation of Marxism as the driving force towards social progress through the Frankfurt School. The struggle between communist countries or dominant sub-sections and fascism is due to the size of communism as a left-ideology in militant areas during the interwar period. The assertion that Preston makes is that Antifa really draws its history from the German Communist Party(KPD) in the mid-1930s is dubious, the only real connection is the symbology that most of us identify under the auspices of a “united front.” The allegations of nationalism in the KPD is bizarre as it lacks the ideological racialism that most identify with nationalism as such, but you are right about one thing: none of us would support KPD politics in the 21st century. Instead, we cite the long history of anti-fascism that is united along anti-racist, and broad-based anti-fascist politics. Today, Antifa is actually drawn from the creation of Anti-Fascist Action in Britain in 1985. This concept came out of a period when anarchism was shifting towards dominance in the larger left, only because of the historic failure of state communism. More than this, it is the failure of simple labor-centric politics to have the tools necessary to confront the ways that people actually experience oppression, as well as the need to attack cultural power on multiple fronts. To say that the KPD “invented” anti-fascism is a right-wing delusion where by you boil literally hundreds of independent and intersecting movements just down to one group who made a flag.
Other anti-fascist images, such as the downward sloping three arrows, comes from the social democratic Iron Front who hardly share the hard-line state Marxism. The KPD, the failed German Revolution, and the position of racism within their party is a history that fails to have a connection to modern anti-fascist organizing since the dynamics of state allied communist parties is past, but it does actually show the degree to which Marxism fails to address issues like racism, patriarchy, and queer liberation.
Ideologically, the anarchist project of modern times owes so little to Marxism in all the ways that most people understand Marxist theory. Marxism does not see the power dynamics that are central to interpersonally identified oppressions, such as race or gender, as foundational. Instead, economic relations act as the base to the larger superstructure by which other forms of oppression can rest alongside disparate pieces of culture. This runs counter to most contemporary anarchist’s conception of oppression, where anything beyond class struggle would have to be secondary. The influence of Marxism on anarchism is in much of the critiques of capitalism, which you would see in the work of people like Wayne Price(We are guessing you remember him). The Marxism that does tend to maintain some types influence in anarchist circles are, ironically, the Marxists that you cited to make your point. There is differing opinions about the work of Negri and Hardt among our editorial collective, especially as it comes to the de-emphasis of the nation state, yet this disagreement is within a particular framework: namely, the discussion of politics leading towards liberation. If anything, anarchism has influenced Marxism more on social issues than the latter as you can see the emergence in most of the ideas in many of the anarchists Preston sites, such as Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman. The issue Preston takes up is if reactionary counter-cultural movements, from neo-Nazis to Mormon Fundamentalists, can be united to challenge the global hegemony of capitalist power. The reality is that with visions so radically different, as well as analysis about power and oppression so different, they hold little tactical or ideological virtue in each other. Simply put: we don’t want the same things, and even in challenging the state we would engage with it in such radically different ways that we do not hold stake in each other’s success. We believe in dual power and, only to some degree, prefiguration of the world we want to see. In doing so, we engage in anti-oppression politics inside of the methods we use towards larger movement building, which we hope are cumulative moves towards revolutionary struggle.
The influence on anarchism over the second half of the 20th century came instead from anarchism’s ability to adapt to different ideas it comes in contact with during periods of struggle. This means its connection to the Civil Rights Movement, Radical Feminism, Radical Ecology, the anti-nuke movement, Animal Rights, and a whole other range of actual social movements that allowed anarchism this evolution. This really comes from the notion, which is primary in anarchist thought from the start, that anarchism is a struggle against oppression on multiple fronts. Anarchism’s opposition fundamentally to hierarchy means confronting all the places that oppression seeps into people’s experiences, and confronting that as a unique place of struggle. This is the point by which intersectionality influenced the modern movement, coming out of the Combahee River Collective in Boston in the mid-1970s where it came from the combined experiences of both racism and sexism experienced by women of color.
The real key issue that Preston’s arguments here rest on(possibly all of his stale arguments, in general) is whether or not things like racism and sexism actually exist as significant forms of oppression and if all these completely unrelated and antagonistic ideological forces can basically be called the same thing. There are literally stacks of books about this issue, but we are simply going to refer you back to our previous article about anarchism and its ideological position as the direct opposition to fascism broadly understood. There are core values underlying the anarchist tradition, such as unmediated democracy and radical anti-hierarchical egalitarianism, on which the political and social ideas rest. We believe that “any cook can rule,” that people are very different while all being equal in value, and that direct participation is crucial to a fully realized existence. These assumptions are not shared in your right-wing libertarian variants, even if they both find value in the larger anti-authoritarian tradition. Even though we do not think that these ideas are ultimately liberatory, we would not get into a tit for tat argument with you about whether anarcho-capitalism or N-A could be broadly understood to be anti-authoritarian.
One thing that Preston mentions both in his last article and in much of his larger work is a critique of Political Correctness. He often joins in with the narrative that PC culture is the grand leviathan that controls the culture, which is ideologically pre-school in nature. The notion that liberal social norms are somehow equal to capitalism, the church, the communist party, or the corporation in different times and places is ridiculous. We want to add, however, that we also oppose things like Political Correctness and call-out culture. Much of what you lump together with contemporary anarchism or Marxism you bring over from mainstream liberalism, which are exactly many of the points at which the radical left breaks away. We do not, however, see these as grand travesties that are the equal to the violence implicit in racial nationalism.
Preston does make it clear that he does not see the oppression faced by people of color, women, and queer folks as being significantly dominant and therefore they are more of a battle amongst interest groups. White nationalists love this line as it gives them the excuse to say that they are just fighting for white interests just like other groups fight for their own interests. The reality is that racism is real, just as rates of job hiring, incarceration, police violence, and pretty much all areas of social life can be seen as disparate between whites and racial groups of color. Women are the victim of misogynist violence at rates so systemic that their own home is one of the most dangerous places they can be and pregnant women are more likely to die from homicide than in any other way. Rape, assault, and harassment are daily threats for non-male members of our society, and the notion that a straight white man can pontificate about how this oppression is just a thing of the past is breathtaking.
We have gladly engaged in some jabs your direction, but we do want one thing to be taken incredibly sincerely. The idea that ideological positions that hold almost no connection rather than opposition to the state(We would guess that you do not even agree with us as to what a state actually is.) do not have any business being discussed as the same project. When you stand with neo-fascist organizations(even though we are sure that you will dispute that description) you empower their revolutionary vision, one that necessitates our failure. In times of crisis and collapse there is a lot of revolutionary potential, both on the right and the left, so the challenge of anarchism is to present liberatory potentials opposed to the rise of reactionary forces. The fringes of these movements do not hold similar enemies since our politics are a tool for achieving specific values. National Anarchism seeks to build up the idea of the ethnic nation as a viable unit of identity and resistance, but we want to counter that notion with the idea that working class unity and broad community is both more functionally successful in terms of struggle and more inspiring to the human soul. Ethnic struggle is one that has been successful on the left only in that it opposes the oppression from the dominant groups in the society, but to say that white nationalism and black nationalism are the same thing is to lack an understanding of what ideologically motivates the two groups. Instead, our anarchism is something that runs so much deeper than the surface ideas you throw around, ones that will never be reconciled with your ideas.
Recently, in our blog looking at the National Policy Institute we mentioned that their line-up included former anarchist Keith Preston. As we mentioned in the article, Preston used to be a member of the anarcho-syndicalist Workers Solidarity Alliance and was at the founding convention of the Love and Rage Anarchist Federation. It should also be mentioned that he was a member of the syndicalist union the Industrial Workers of the World. The reason that this is relevant, as we will get to later, is that Preston came from organizations associated with the broad anarchist tradition and not just countercultural “scenes” associated with anti-authoritarian tendencies.
According to Preston’s own descriptions of himself, after disagreements over what he saw as identity politics and the “cult of antiracism” in Love and Rage, he started looking towards Libertarianism and Anarcho-Capitalism. He later got involved in just about every disparate ideological strain that could vaguely be associated with anti-statism, then working to find ways for collaboration for these groups, left, right, and center. He himself argues for a concept call “pan-secessionism” or “anarchy-pluralism,” where by these “different anarchist tendencies” can collaborate in creating regional communities in a decentralist grid. It needs to be stressed, however, his idea of what different anarchist tendencies includes strange right-wing constructs that no one in the anarchist camp would include including such charming ideas like anarchy-monarchism, national anarchism, anarchy-capitalism, and anarchy-fuedalism.
Keith picked up our article to giggle about the reference to him speaking at the NPI conference, where he has spoken in the past. After first quoting us and then going onto mention Alexander Reid Ross’s expose series on Michael Schmidt, he went on to address claims that he is a “former anarchist.”
Whether these guys like it or not, I’m still an anarchist who embraces the entire range of anarchist and decentralist thought. Sorry if that if upsets anyone.
He goes on to make jokes about people’s shock at an anarchist’s support of secretive ideas about racism and genocidal fascist traditions. Yeah, it certainly was pretty funny.
The question about whether or not what Keith Preston considers anarchist is one that has been explained at length over and over again, especially about the so-called “anarchy-capitalism.” Preston’s ideas are based solidly on the idea that ideologies that literally have no historical or ideological connection can still be said to be the same thing. Libertarianism, which is a completely deregulated form of capitalism, is a tradition that really did not exist in any meaningful way(We already know that you will probably dispute this Preston, but that is only grasping at straws) before the 1980s where people like Murray Rothbard vocally tried to take the “anarchist” title as a way of undermining the historic libertarian tradition. Rothbard, working with people like Lew Rockwell, produced work throughout the 1980s that by today’s standard might even be seen as white nationalist, but not to mention hideously vile to working class people and minorities. We are not going to go into the volumes and volumes of literature that outlines why “anarchy-capitalism” has no connection to anything understood to be anarchism, but we will go into just a few areas of this.
Literally, every single traditional anarchist that Preston likes to prop up on his website, Attack the System, consider themselves primarily of an anti-capitalist tradition. Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, and even Pierre Joseph Prodhoun and Max Stirner, were all violently anti-capitalist. Bakunin’s first formulation of contemporary anarchism came out of a split in the first meeting of the International Workingman’s Association with Karl Marx, where Bakunin saw the communist tradition better served by an anti-statist tendency. It was not simply that socialism was a part of the anarchist tradition, it was the foundation of it. Kropotkin fueled this even further by developing the very basis on which the ideas of modern anarchism rested, which is today known as Anarcho-Communism. While many traditions have split from the surface political forms of this, the foundational ideas have remained the same. Rudolph Rocker brought these ideas into the workplace, Emma Goldman elaborated them into gender and sexual liberation, and as they came up through the 20th century they adapted to the struggles against oppression from different oppressed identities.
What anarchism never did, however, was become a tool for those who own capital to justify a complete release of any constraints for their cruelty. Anarchism, at its core, has always been an idea about the smashing of social and political hierarchy, embedded in capitalism and enforced by the state. It is not that anarchists are opposed to the state just because it is a bureaucratic machine, but instead because it enforces ruling class interests and are created in the image of that class. To be opposed to the state is because of its role in capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. There is literally no connection then to “national anarchist” ideas that are based around the idea that white people are somehow an oppressed class, which is against all common understanding of power and history. There is no role for bigotry, anti-Semitism, the oppression of women and queer people, or for the rich to maintain their wealth. No Keith, there is literally no connection between what anyone in anarchism actually thinks and does and what you espouse on your silly platforms.
In a recent presentation at NPI, Preston embarrassed himself as he went on to show how white nationalism was compatible with anarchism. In his stuttery twang, he spit out his idea of “totalitarian humanism,” which is one of his charming notions that the left forces their ideology of “humanism” on the right. His use of these types of labels is a way of creating a mirage about the fact that he is playing with pre-school ideas about how the world works, where by any attempt to confront racism and domination is somehow the real oppression. To do this it doesn’t require any deeper analysis about white supremacy, heteronormativity, or what people of oppressed classes have actually experience in their lives. Instead, Preston can rail against Political Correctness as the true evil, which I’m sure is much worse than the crisis of sexual assault happening against women worldwide or the vicious cruelty of de-regulated capitalism on the working class.
What is really at the core of anarchism? It was never just liberty for liberty’s sake, but understanding that true freedom for the individual comes from challenging oppression, authority, and hierarchy. The analysis looks at the role that capitalism and the state have in suppressing most of the world for the benefit of the few, and intersectionality has helped to draw out the way that other oppressed identities can create a more complete matrix. Anarchist do not oppose the state because it forces equality, it limits capitalist accumulation, or it is to “modern.” They oppose it because it does not allow for equality, because it is a tool of capital, and because it is a brutal machine for the interests of the ruling class. These are not just the ideas of “one strand” of anarchism, but literally all strands of anarchism. While anarchists may disagree about the methods and the tools, they never disagree on the basic ideas about capitalism and oppression. What you describe are a series of right-wing ideas that you are trying to provide a venue for on the radical left.
More importantly, Preston has worked hard to create a space for some of the most vile fascist and white nationalist strains in the U.S. He is supporting a conference October 31st, 2015, that will discuss explicit anti-Semitism(Kevin McDonald), that will have silly misogynist rants(Jack Donovan), that will argue for an ethnically cleansed “ethno-state”(pretty much the rest of the speakers), and will be a meeting space for people associated with just about every single major player in the “white right.” He has been published and/or interviewed in places like Alternative Right, Red Ice Radio, Radix Journal, and Counter Currents. He is right along side people making claims that African descended people’s are degenerates with lower IQs than whites. He is paired next to people who deny the holocaust, who think the world is run by a secret cabal of Jews using pornography and banking to destroy the white race, and who state that major world events are Jewish conspiracies. He stands next to those who think that rape is just a social construct, that white people need to rid their continent of people of color, that we need to re-establish a fascist(and yes Keith, we mean fascist by any broad definition of political fascism) world order. Fascism is the core flip side of the anarchist project, where by they intend to enforce hierarchy, social authority, and inequality. Fascism, and all of its various “strands”(We are sure you will love that term, Keith.) is the political opposite of the anarchist project, where there is literally no crossover and anarchism requires the explicit failure of all of these traditions.
In Preston’s most recent book, named Attack the System, after his own website, he put a big American flag on the cover alongside a few bullets. Do you think that anarchism is unique to America as a country? Do you think that the imperial state of the U.S., built on slavery and exploitation, and crystalized in the flag, is somehow anarchist? What do you think most anarchists would see when they see your claims of a “new anarchist perspective” emblazoned in front of the American flag?
Plainly put, you serve a different community, not the one you claim.
As Preston likes to lament, he is going to continue to call himself an anarchist despite his detractors. Feel free to do that Preston, but you know as well as we do that there is nothing in your simplistic idea about the world that can fit in anything that anarchism was built on. Do you actually think that any of the traditional anarchist voices you like to toss around would have supported your various capitalist and racial separatist ideas? I’m sure that these are backflips that you have to do mentally while you realize that you are more welcome in circles full of swastika tattoos and shaved heads than the anarchist movements that are growing internationally.
So no, Keith, you are not an anarchist, but you can keep putting it on as a Halloween costume so you do not have to confront the fact that you have joined hands with racists, sexists, and homophobes. We would call this shameful, but it is pretty clear that this is the only community that will have you at this point.
Keith Preston is likely to respond to this blog, and he will mention all of these different “anarchists” that support his anarcho-pluralism, yet your pack of fringe “dissidents” mean very little to people involved in the actual anarchist movements. He will likely use white nationalist buzzwords like “cultural Marxist” to describe us, which is just a silly anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in an attempt to say that Frankfurt School Marxism has had more influence than it has had because of its “Jewish character.” He will probably call us authoritarians, because to angry white men being told that their opinion does not matter is just as oppressive as Jim Crow. We want to say up front that Preston’s opinion on our anarchism because what we are saying here is not a fringe idea, but what anarchists along vast sets of traditions will agree on.
So Preston is set to humiliate himself even further on Halloween as he begs the pseudo-intellectual racists at NPI to be in their club, and they will be more than willing to take his “island of broken toys” into their camp of violence, nationalism, and reactionary anger. We, for one, would like to write you a letter of recommendation for your entry into the Alternative Right.
You are one of them, not one of us.
The long awaited article from Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stephens has had its first volume released, and later chapters will come out every couple days for the next couple of weeks to give it time to simmer with those who have a stake in its contents. This volume outlined a little bit about Michael Schmidt’s background, then mostly looking at a 2008 internal document he shared with the South African platformist organization Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front. The article itself goes into the deeply problematic elements of the paper that essentially says that people of color will never take the lead in revolutionary movements. Instead, white anarchists are essentially the vanguard that will lead these communities who can only serve at a lower level.
The racist implications of this paper are clear, even if people have disagreements about what Schmidt’s intent was. Schmidt himself has chosen not to remain silent about this part of the article as he has taken to social media to speak out in anger.
So it took my former publishers in the US a whole 18 days to come up with a single 2008 internal discussion document in which I ask difficult – and no doubt politically incorrect – questions as to why the ZACF had failed to (at that stage; they have now) attract significant black membership, as their “proof” that for decades I’ve been an undercover white supremacist. I’d say I was devastated if I hadn’t regained my sense of humour about all this buffoonery.
In fact the document was given to them by those who started this whispering campaign against me, so they probably had it 18 days ago; why wait so long? Because they are clutching at straws!
What he is mentioning at the end is that the statement came from AK Press a couple of weeks ago, yet the article itself was not ready at that time. Many expressed frustration that the evidence was not made immediately.
The next volume of the series on Schmidt will be released on Wednesday, October 14th.