Category Archives: Right Wing Politics

Survivors and Antifascists Confronting Misogynists, Proud Boys, and Patriot Prayer in Portland This Saturday

The far-right formation Patriot Prayer, and its base of Proud Boys, are again descending on Portland to try and antagonize the community.  This time led by Alt Light internet personality Haley Adams, they are holding a #HimToo event in Downtown Portland on November 17th.  Created in response to the growing #MeToo movement to confront unchecked sexual assault, and highlighted by the blatant misogyny of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings, Adams created the #HimToo event to give men “a day to speak about how they feel, what they have gone through,” raising the specter that false rape allegations are ruining the lives of men, which neglects the fact that false reporting is almost complete non-existent.

In response an organized coalition has created a number of events intended to compliment each other, raise the voices of affected people, and then confront the far-right directly.

Starting at 12pm, at Chapman Square, Pop Mob has organized an event called “Survivors Are Everywhere: A Survivor Shout Out” to show open solidarity with ALL survivors of sexual assault.

Not everyone is able to share their story. Some survivors choose to stay silent for their safety, others are silenced by those around them. Some survivors refuse to be silent.

The alt-right is trying to silence survivors, erase trans identities, control the bodies of women and people of color, and criminalize families and individuals seeking safety. WE ARE ALL SURVIVORS. As Audre Lorde said, “there is no such thing as a single issue struggle”. People are suffering multiple attacks because they belong to more than one targeted group. We are stronger when we stand together and lift up all of our voices.

Join us November 17th, as one strong, fierce, community coming together to amplify the voices of survivors who break the silence and share their stories. Stand in solidarity with survivors as we show the country that we will not back down, we will not shut up, and we will not be erased!

#SURVIVORSAREEVERYWHERE

Survivor stories will then be shared, some anonymously.  The Portland Democratic Socialists of America will be having a pre-rally at 11:30 and marching over to join the Pop Mob rally.

They have produced a video to promote the event, breaking down the boundaries between survivors and showing that all will be welcome:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpopmobpdx%2Fvideos%2F726095727753702%2F&show_text=0&width=560

 

Rose City Antifa will also be organizing people in support of the survivor rally, focusing on the lies perpetuated by Patriot Prayer and their supporters about the #MeToo movement and casting doubt on survivors.

Patriot Prayer are holding a rally that will again bring misogyny to the streets of our city. We as a city have to stand up and reject their attempt to cast doubt on the sexual violence that women and others experience in our society. This so called ‘himtoo’ rally is another attempt by this crew of misogynists to come into our city and attack our community.

This rally by Patriot Prayer attempts to cast men as victims of false accusations of sexual assault. Not only is this untrue, it attempts to form a backlash to survivors so that their stories and allegations can be discounted. Patriot Prayer is attempting to create a world where men can abuse and assault people with impunity.

As a community we must stand against this attempt by Haley Adams and Patriot Prayer, a group rife with misogynists and domestic abusers, to turn back the clock on how sexual assault is treated in our society. Join us in pushing this misogyny out of our city.

The #HimToo rally banks up against the survivor rally in the same location, Terry Shrunk Plaza.  The survivor rally will begin at 12pm, and Patriot Prayer officially starts at 2pm, yet antifascists, feminists, and community members will continue past that point to show that the far-right’s anti-feminism has no place in Portland.

Join the rally and the protest of Patriot Prayer on Saturday, November 17th, and let’s build a vibrant feminist antifascist movement.  We believe survivors, and we will stand with you!

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Far Right National Citizens Alliance Plans Convention and Rally for Halifax in November

Jeff Shantz

 

The far right, anti-migrant, anti-Muslim National Citizen’s Alliance (NCA) has announced that it will host a national convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 17. The Calgary, Alberta, based organization has also announced plans to run candidates in the 2019 Canadian federal (national) elections, through they are not yet an officially registered party. Their leader is Stephen Garvey. The racists are also planning a public rally for November 18.

Vocally opposed to immigration and multiculturalism in Canada the NCA (formerly the National Advancement Party of Canada) couches its racism in appeals (obliviously)  to “Canada’s traditional identity, heritage, culture” and they refer to the “basic cultural norms of Canada” that they want migrants to be made to adhere to. Their campaign will pursue a “strong no nonsense immigration policy that puts the well-being and safety of the Canadian people first and implementing a temporary pause and substantial reduction in immigration.”

There have been at least three previous attempts at public rallies in Nova Scotia by the NCA in the last few months alone. Each one has been shut down by mobilized anti-fascist, anti-racist opposition, including the K’jipuktuk Halifax Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) . In June opposition shut down an attempted rally at a Halifax park. In August the NCA tried twice to hold a rally in Dartmouth but were largely outnumbered by about 80 to 10 and escorted from site by those dependable allies of far Rightists, the local police.

In May, the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival “banned” the NCA from attending the festival but only after egregiously allowing them to participate in the festival parade. There they marched openly with a banner reading: “Save Our Canada!” and uploaded a propaganda video from the parade.

Halifax anti-fascists and anti-racists have been able to mobilize significant numbers to confront and drive off the NCA, a few times this year already. Looks like they will be doing so again in November.

 

#AllOutPDX Against Patriot Prayer on August 4th: What You Need to Know

On Saturday, August 4th, there will be one of the largest actions against Patriot Prayer, and their acolytes the Proud Boys, in the two years they have been terrorizing the West Coast.  Coming from Washington and areas around Portland, they have been converging on the city to hold far-right rallies with deep anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and incredibly violent rallies where they have been attacking leftists.  Patriot Prayer, while using the civic nationalist rhetoric of “independent Trumpism,” have made themselves a vessel for white nationalist groups, including the active support and participation of groups like Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Workers Pary, Cascadian Legion, Operation Werewolf recruits, as well as members of neo-Nazi skinhead gangs and “Patriot” militia groups like the Oath Keepers and 3%ers.

The last several rallies and marches from Patriot Prayer have increasingly become centered on the Proud Boys, the civic nationalist street gang that is known for its violent attacks.  On June 30th, the Proud Boys brutally attacked counter-protesters, critically hospitalizing community members, and this came after several unprovoked street attacks from various Proud Boys in the weeks before.  This Saturday they will be holding another public rally, centered on founder, and Senate candidate in Washington Joey Gibson.  This event has a vague goal of “freedom” and other buzzwords, but the point is to attack the left.

This action is being countered by a massive coalition.  Pop Mob, which means “popular mobilization,” has organized a mass coalition to march and amass on Patriot Prayer.  Rose City Antifa and other militant organizations will be having a huge direct response to Patriot Prayer, and both projects are coming together in mutual aid to shut down Patriot Prayer.

Here are the critical things that every attendee on Saturday should know.

10:30am

There will be a rally at City Hall in downtown Portland made up of a number of community groups and labor unions to stand against Patriot Prayer’s hateful rhetoric.  This will include SEIU Local 503, the Western State Center, Portland Jobs With Justice, and others.

11:30

Converge on Tom McCall Waterfront Park at the Salmon Street Fountain.  This is where Patriot Prayer will be coming.  This action will be frontlined by militant antifascists, including Rose City Antifa, Eugene Antifa, PNW Antifascist Workers Collective, SHARP, and RASH NW.  This will be backed by Pop Mob, which makes up the large mass of participants.  This coalition has been endorsed by a range of groups, from the one’s listed on the 10:30am rally to other groups like KBOO, Black Rose – Rosa Negra, the Democratic Socialists of America, and many other churches, labor unions, and community groups.  This is one of the largest coalition actions of the year.  This means that there will be spaces for both type of participation, and the “green zone” behind the militants intended to be a space where protesters can be protected to speak their views and support the protest of Patriot Prayer.

People are no longer meeting at Chapman Square, that was a placeholder location until Patriot Prayer revealed their actual location.

Patriot Prayer will have the ability to carry guns, and many promise to be armed.  If they are in Terry Shrunk Plaza, where they often amass, they are banned from bringing in weapons because it is a federal park and their are regulations preventing that.  This is not the case for Waterfront Park, and they have been open about bringing guns.  The announcement of the guns is intended to frighten counter protesters, and in a recent video from Joey Gibson he included a young boy playing with a semi-automatic weapon.

Patriot Prayer is also saying that they are going to be putting upwards of 35 members of their own group, including Proud Boys, dressed in black bloc clothing into the antifascist crowd.  Those people can then attack counter protesters or try to catch them being foolish.  This groups is supposed to be run by Russell Schultz, one of the violent Proud Boys doxxed by Rose City Antifa.  This is likely bluster to create a sense of internal discord, but may be something to watch for.

The far-right side is raising money to bring in Proud Boys from other state, and they had between 60-80 at the June 30th rally.  They could be bringing even more this time, and they will all be coming in at least four busses from Vancouver, across the river in Washington.  Those busses will have armed security on them.  The Proud Boys are the most violent contingent, and will come in body armor specifically to fight.

Protocols

  • Go in groups, do not walk by yourself.  Stay with the large crowd of protesters.
  • Prepare for police repression, depend on antifascists for defense and not the police.
  • The large mobilization is safer when they are all together, and the militant bloc is prepared for community self-defense.
  • Rose Hip Medics will be there, they are street medics trained to provide support to protesters injured by far-right thugs and the police.
  • InfoWars “reporters” are going to be there to try and harass protesters on camera.  Gibson and Proud Boys have gone on InfoWars to celebrate brutalized community members and to erroneously claim antifa are bringing guns.
  • Reporters and photographers/videographers should respect boundaries, including avoiding close-up shots on masked protesters.  Movement photographers should be aware that PP members are going to be using cameras in your crowd, so make sure to check in with others in advance so they know what you are filming and you can get good boundaries.

Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys Clash With Antifascists in Portland in Bloody Confrontation [VIDEO]

Video by Daniel V. Media

On June 30th, far-right provocateur Joey Gibson brought his group, Patriot Prayer, back to Portland in an effort to stoke the anger of a city grieving from violent racist attacks.  On June 3rd, Patriot Prayer held a march whose sole purpose appeared to be to fight the left.  Lacking in political content, the repeatedly marched their crowd into counter-protesters, attacking them at will.  The Proud Boys, the Alt Light street-gang started by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnis, has become the dominant portion of Patriot Prayer’s base as the rest of their larger support by Trump republicans slowly recedes.  Over the past year many their key young participants have joined the Proud Boys, to the point that Patriot Prayer seems to be simply an extension of the regional Proud Boys crews.

On June 3rd they attacked people with increased brutality, though were fought back readily by a crowd of antifascists organized by Rose City Antifa.  They eventually were unable to continue their marching and were chased off the streets as their numbers dwindled.  They vowed to return to “stand their ground,” announcing the June 30th date.

On the day of, it was clear that they had dug into their connections across the country and had Proud Boys from crews in multiple states including, reportedly, California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and others.  The crowd was dominated by Proud Boys in their yellow/black Fred Perry shirts, and after a school bus of additional Proud Boys arrived from over the river in Vancouver, they numbered around 80 participants. (Note, some people have listed the number closer to 60, some closer to 100.  For our part, we counted about 80.)

They held their typical round of speeches, with long-winded diatribes from Joey Gibson comparing himself to the “founding fathers.”  Then a Proud Boy rapper named Political Muscle, a white guy with clunky rhymes, did raps about Antifa.  Another speaker discussed the Book of Revelation and the Satanists that control the government, and who were communists, were going to install all of us with RFID chips (The Mark of the Beast).

Once it was time for their march they got into multiple, well-planned formations and put on body armor, preparing to attack.  They were open about this, mentioning that they were there to push back on the left and to fight if they deemed it necessary.  They were hit with bottles, eggs, and other projectiles right out of the gate as they turned the corner away from the park.  Two blocks later they took a left and were met, without obstruction by the police, counter-protesters.  After a short standoff the Proud Boys charged protesters and attacked in brutal fashion, often ganging up on individuals and beating them on the ground.  Several people went completely limp on the ground and had to be rescued by passersby, and could have died without that support.  Ambulances had to come through to pull out the critically injured, including one protester who had cranial bleeding and a fractured skull.

Once the Proud Boys were pushed back, the police declared their permit pulled and the scene a riot, amid the dozens of flash grenades and pepper-balls they were firing.  The Proud Boys continued their march despite this, yelling at the police even though it was clear that law enforcement had let them attack protesters without objection and had aimed their crowd-control weapons almost exclusively at antifascist protesters.  One local reporter wrote that they had heard the police talking in a coffee shop nearby and saying that they were tired of this and would “just let them fight.”

As the march continue there were more and more disruptions from antifascists that were swarming on all sides, resulting in dozens of street brawls.  In several of these situations, as is clear in the video, the Proud Boys were allowed by the police to continue their beatings, and sometimes even appeared encouraged to do so.  Eventually Patriot Prayer was forced back into their park under police protection, unable to complete their march.

The video below clearly shows the Proud Boys level of violence, which is only increasing.  This was one of the most brutal situations of far-right violence in a city that has been marked by skinhead attacks, and as it escalates it seems that the Proud Boys could easily become murderers.  Without the antifascists there, including Rose City Antifa, the Pacific Northwest Antifascist Workers Collective, and Labor Against Fascism, a lot more people would have been hurt.  They successfully pushed back their advance and denied them unopposed use of the space, a victory that has continued for two years now.

Joey Gibson will be returning on August 4th with a similar strategy, and antifascists will be out there to stop him.

Antifascists Confront Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys in Portland on June 3rd [VIDEO]

By Daniel V. Media

A year after Patriot Prayer, and it’s leader Joey Gibson, brought in white-nationalist and neo-Nazi speakers for an Alt-Right rally they returned with another rally labeled as a “Free Speech” event.  This came one year after the action they held in the same location on June 4th, 2017, where almost four thousand people came out to oppose them. This charade quickly became clear when they showed up with the white-nationalist and misogynist hate-group Proud Boys and attacked journalists, one incident involving a Portland Mercury reporter being shoved and then questioned who she was reporting for.

Anti-fascist groups Rose City Antifa, Eugene Antifa, Rash NW, Pacific Northwest Anti-Fascist Workers Collective, and others organized to shut down this rally and prevent white-supremacists and those that give them a cover to organize under from marching in the streets and instilling fear in the at-risk communities that they target.

Police struggled to keep Patriot Prayer’s numbers protected which lead to panic and anger from their crowd. After several attempts by Patriot Prayer to march, all of which were prevented by the large coalition of anti-racist activists, Patriot Prayer returned back to Terry Shrunk Plaza and called it a day.

Several core members of Patriot Prayer, along with Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who has been arrested for fighting at past events, were chased throughout the streets of Portland and finally found police protection at the Portland Waterfront. The numbers of the crowd opposed to Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys had swelled from random onlookers who only had to hear who was being chased to join in on defending their town from hate.

Rose City Antifa has continued a series of articles outlining exactly who these Proud Boys are and a call to hold them publicly responsible.

Here is the Facebook event for the June 9th action against Patriot Prayer in Kent, WA, where Patriot Prayer is targeting a Planned Parenthood location

June 9th – Say NO to Misogyny/Say NO to Hate

Patriot Prayer will also be returning to Portland, in the same plaza, on June 30th to further antagonize the city.  There will be a counter action.

Alex Jones Goes Full Alt Right Talking About ‘Race Science’ and ‘Jewish Power’

While Alex Jones and the conspiracy-hug Infowars is often roped in with the Alt Right, it really doesn’t fit.  The Alt Right is defined primarily by its white nationalism, not just its cultural friends and online behavior.  Instead, Jones, at least in his current incarnation, is more a part of the populist radical right sphere that does not commit to full white nationalism, and what we generally refer to as the Alt Light.  While he may like Trump, hate immigrants, and argue for a range of radical right policies, he simply does not validate the open anti-Semitic and white supremacist statements.

That seems out the window as Jones publicly states, on his regular show, his views on racial science (pseudo-scientific racism) and “Jewish Power,” which basically means his belief in Jewish bio-social control of money and social systems.

 

In the rant he talks primarily about Jews, after saying that different ethnic groups have different “traits.” This stems from racist ideas that link up IQ and personality traits, such as sexual restraint and criminality, to race. Obviously the Alt Right and white nationalists simply ascribe all negative qualities and low IQ to non-white races in the Global South. The difference is that they note the Jews high “average IQ,” and then suggest they use this intelligence to destabilize Western nations in an effort to give Jews, as a group, an advantage.

Jones then goes on about Jews’ “innate” ability with money and their use of Usury, a common anti-Semitic caricature of Jews as greedy money lenders.

The importance of these comments should not be overlooked since he has made explicit what many people though was implicit: Jones appears to adhere to a white nationalist vision of the world where race determines individual cognitive function and Jews control the key institutions of the Western world.

 

Roy Moore’s Systemic Danger to Democracy

By Gleb Tsipursky

The front-runner candidate for Alabama Senate, Republican Roy Moore, called The Washington Post “fake news” after the newspaper published a thorough investigation reporting on sexual encounters between Moore and multiple teenage girls, one as young as 14. Moore’s attacks on this highly-reputable newspaper are part of a recent broader pattern of prominent public figures using the label of “fake news” to denounce quality investigative journalism that reveals corruption and abuse of power. Such attacks pose an urgent and systemic danger to our democracy, as they encourage corruption and abuse of power by undermining credible media reporting on such behavior.

As a high-quality, well-respected venue, The Washington Post would not publish such a controversial story without a thorough investigation. The article was based on multiple interviews with over 30 people who knew Moore at the time the sexual encounters happened, between 1977 and 1982. The journalists were careful to paint a balanced story, including some negative facts about the women who accused Moore, such as divorces and bankruptcies.

Perhaps most telling of the high quality of reporting and credibility of the newspaper is the fact that a number of prominent Republican leaders are calling on Moore to withdraw from the race. Immediately after The Post publishes its story, Republican Senator John McCaincalled for Moore to step aside immediately, and Montana Senator Steve Daines withdrew his endorsement, as did Utah Senator Mike Lee. After a fifth woman stepped forward to accuse Moore independently of The Post’s story, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell statedthat Moore “should step aside,” and so did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

On the other hand, Republicans well-known for making false accusations of mainstream media outlets being “fake news” defended Moore and supported his attack on The Post. For example, former Donald Trump adviser and head of Breitbart Stephen Bannon accused the The Post of being “purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party” for conducting its thorough investigation. Prominent Virginia Republican Corey Stewart also refused to criticize Moore and instead attacked the newspaper. A number of Fox News commentators,such as Gregg Jarrett, also attacked The Post.

Unfortunately, these attacks on quality investigative reporting represent part of a broader trend of conservative politicians across the country adopting the tactic of condemning media as “fake news” whenever there are stories unfavorable to them. As an example, Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin tweeted that the reporter Tom Loftus of the largest newspaper in Kentucky, The Courier-Journal, is “a truly sick man” for “sneaking around” Bevin’s manor. Loftus at the time was working on a story about how Bevin faced an ethics complaint over an accusation of bribery for purchasing this manor for about a million dollars below market price from a local investor, Neil Ramsey. Apparently, shortly before getting a million-dollar discount on this manor, Bevin appointed Ramsey to the Kentucky Retirement Board, which oversees $16 billion in investments.

Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie used a similar approach when caught abusing his power. He ordered a number of state-run beaches in New Jersey closed on June 30, yet he used a closed state beach in Island Beach State Park for himself and his family on July 2. Reporters for New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, secretly photographed him and his family using the beach. When asked about whether he was on the beach that day, Christie denied it. When confronted with photographic proof, Christie did not acknowledge and apologizing for his lies and his abuse of power in using a closed public beach for the benefit of himself and his family. He instead attacked The Star-Ledger for its reporting.

Without the attacks on the media, the investigations of Christie and Bevin would have simply revealed the sordid affairs of corruption and abuse of power. Our democracy would have worked correctly with voters appropriately getting the important information from credible sources, the largest newspapers in Kentucky and New Jersey. With these accusations, Bevin and Christie distract attention from the corruption and abuse of power, and instead present themselves as fighters against supposed media bias.

In doing so, Moore, Bevin, Christie and many others are tapping the anti-media bias of the Republican base inflamed by Trump’s attacks on the media. He has expressed pride over his branding of high-quality venues like “CBS, and NBC, and ABC, and CNN” as “fake news.” We are now reaping the whirlwind of politicians caught engaged in immoral, abusive, and corrupt behavior using Trump’s anti-media rhetoric to protect themselves and continue engaging in such activities.

Now, it doesn’t mean that Democrats will not try similar tactics. For example, the prominent film director Harvey Weinstein, a well-known and high-profile fundraiser for and influencerin the Democratic Party, accused The New York Times of publishing fake news when they revealed his sexual harassment. However, neither the Democratic base nor prominent Democrats bought this accusation, and Weinstein was quickly ousted from his leading roles.

By contrast, Bevin’s popularity in the polls was climbing in Kentucky, a conservative state, at the same time that he was making his accusations. Moore has continued to be staunchly supported by the Alabama Republican Party and base, despite the accusations and the withdrawal of support from many mainstream Republicans. Only in New Jersey, a liberal-leaning state, did voters express discontent over Christie’s behavior.

However, all of us – regardless of our party affiliation – will be greatly harmed if politicians are able to get away with corruption, immorality, and abuse of power through labeling of credible media sources as fake news. This tactic is posing an existential and systemic threat to our democracy, and we must do everything possible toprotect quality journalism and overall promote truthful behavior.

 

P.S. Want to promote truth and fight lies? Take the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org, get your friends to take it, and call on your elected representatives to do so.

 

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of the forthcoming The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. One of the lead creators of the Pro-Truth Pledge, he is a professor at Ohio State and President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights. Connect with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn, and follow his RSS feed and newsletter.  

 

A Micropolitics of Fascism

 

By Jeff Shantz

It is important that fascism is openly being named and opposed in the present context. Yet the mechanisms of fascist flourishing and spread in current period require some further understanding. And on levels that are not often considered (beyond the visible manifestations of explicit fascist creeps mobilizing). There is too a soft ground of support and sustenance for the more overt manifestations of fascism.

French psychoanalyst Felix Guattari presented an article in 1973, when few were thinking actively about a present fascism entitled “Everybody Wants to be a Fascist.” Guattari recognized in 1973 that fascism was still very much “a real political problem” and not merely a pure theoretical matter (154). In any event as Guattari asks: “Besides, isn’t it a good idea to discuss it freely while we still can” (1973, 154). And we need to talk about it in ways that go beyond the standard or typical features to understand how fascism survives, reproduces, and recurs.

This was an early discussion of micropolitics and fascism. No one should feel that it is all over and the good guys won. For Guattari: “Through all kinds of means—in particular, movies and television—we are led to believe that Nazism was just a bad moment we had to go through, a sort of historical error, but also a beautiful page in history for the good heroes” (Guattari 1973, 166).

Elements of fascism leap transhistorically across generations. They proliferate in other forms. They adapt to new conditions. They move intergenerationally. There are different types of fascism. Italian, Spanish, German, etc., but there are also continuing threads. Fascism is not renewable like a complete artifact. Fascism is in constant evolution.

Guattari takes neither a historical nor sociological approach. He seeks a micropolitical examination of the molecule of fascism. Fascism is dangerous and molecular. This can be massified but not as a totalitarian organism.

Guattari makes a provocative move in his analysis. He suggests that fascism is an internal part of desire. It is immanent in desire, not something that comes from without, for Guattari. It emerges at a microphysical scale. It is not located in individuals but in sets of relationships. Whenever there is desire there is a microfascist potential.

We need to address the in/visibility of fascism that is (and has been) everywhere operative in the present. The Trump campaign was a lightening rod for tendencies that have been long in play. As Guattari warned at that time, we do indeed need to talk about fascism while we still can. And we need to talk about it more fully.

 

 

Micropolitics and Macropolitics of Desire

In works of Felix Guattari and his colleague Gilles Deleuze, desire is the key economic concept. Desire is both political and psychological as well as financial. The “eco” in economy draws from the original Greek for household or habitat, or milieu in Deleuze and Guattari. For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is productive. Desire involves and structures a specific milieu. Desire acts within social context, the situation. Guattari notes a distinction between desire and pleasure. While one might speak of a revolutionary desire, it would appear odd to refer to a revolutionary pleasure.

For Guattari, fascism is, in fact, a key theme for understanding the issue of desire in the realm of the social. In Guattari’s view, you cannot put pleasure in the same sentence with revolution (1973, 154-155). You cannot talk of a “pleasure of revolution” but can readily speak of a “desire for revolution” or a “revolutionary desire” (1973, 155). The reason Guattari gives is that the meaning of pleasure is connected to, inseparable from, an “individuation of subjectivity” (1973, 155). On the other hand, desire is not intrinsically linked to this individuation.

There is a macropolitics of desire, which acts on larger social groupings. At the same time there is a micropolitics of desire. Guattari emphasizes the micropolitical. His goal is “to put in place new theoretical and practical machines, capable of sweeping away the old stratifications, and of establishing the conditions of a new exercise of desire” (156).

Guattari goes beyond the association of psychoanalysis with the small scale (the person and family) and politics only with large social groupings. Rather there is a politics that addresses itself to the individual’s desire and a desire that manifests itself in a wider social field (1973, 155). For Guattari, this politics has two forms: “either a macropolitics aiming at both individual and social problems, or a micropolitics aiming at the same domains (the individual, the family, party problems, state problems, etc.)” (1973, 155-156).

Macropolitics has been given the dominant emphasis. But politics works at micropolitical levels as well. In his terms, molar and molecular. Not a dichotomy. Not dialectical.

The self is a multiplicity of “desiring machines.” How they operate and what they produce are as crucial as what they are. In Crain’s words: “One’s sense of personal identity is itself a product of desire related to a broader social structure” (2013, 3). As Crain suggests, one does not simply desire an iPhone, one desires being seen as someone with an iPhone.

Desire produces not only objects, but rules. What you want structures your behavior (Crain 2013, 3). The desire for an iPhone produces new desires—taking pictures of trivia, posting them to Facebook or Instagram. Checking repeatedly for likes and follows. These new desires form habits. And these habits form rules governing our actions (Crain 2013, 3).

How do these minute habits and rules relate to your political actions? For Deleuze and Guattari, there is no fundamental difference. Except that one affects others (Crain 2013, 3). This is the notion of micropolitics. The habits and rules speak to desire investing itself in the world (Crain 2013, 3).

Macropolitics draws from “small interpersonal dealings with one another” (Crain 2013, 3). If the macropolitical structure becomes repressive how is it drawing from and organizing desire (Crain 2013, 3)? And why would “we” (specific people in a specific context) desire fascism? This gets to the heart of the growth of fascism, in a particular desiring form of the so-called “Alt Right,” for example, and the rise of Trump.

For Deleuze and Guattari, fascism only emerges because it is wanted, desired. Micropolitics is a sense that others should follow the rules that our own habits have produced. The desire is for others to follow your rules. This is the imposition of desire on others.

Written large you get Trump and “Make America Great Again”—make others follow your rules of an America that you desire (in a context where you perceive the existing rules not working in your favor and where others express diverse views, habits, or rules).

One might ask about the molar level and identity. White supremacy and the figures of Steve Bannon, Richard Spencer, and David Duke. The Authoritarian Personality (of Theodor Adorno and Frankfurt School fame) speaks of the winning loser who is obsequious to those above while being brutal to those below. White rage and hatred of Obama is directed at the Affordable Care Act which hurts mostly the poor (overwhelmingly poor whites).

State fascism always seeks homogeneity (even in a context of diverse microfascisms) (Crain 2013, 4). Fascism seeks to impose an order on the chaos of desire. It is ultimately suicidal. Homogeneity is only realized in death (Crain 2013, 4).

 

 

A Typology

In pursuit of his labors, Guattari develops a typology of fascism. Guattari identifies three approaches that have been undertaken. Of the three approaches, the first two maintain the distinction between small and large social groupings for Guattari. Only the third attempts to move beyond this distinction (1973, 156).

First is “sociological analytical formalist thought.” This seeks to identify and classify “species.” It seeks common elements while distinguishing differences. The first re/produces sociological types. These focus on national, historical types of fascism. Italian, German, etc. Each has specific phenomena that mark it.

Sociological. On one hand this approach minimizes differences to pull out a common feature. In this way it will distinguish three types of fascism—Italian, German, and Spanish. On the other hand, the approach will magnify differences to construct species, as between fascism and Western democracies (1973, 156). Guattari finds little of interest in this approach.

Second is a “synthetic dualist neo-Marxist thought.” This puts forward a collective representation of the desire of the masses expressed through the party and ultimately the state. The second, Marxist approach, distinguishes revolutionary desires of the masses and the Marxist categories imposed on them. This “massifies” mass desires.

There is a dualism. A code wielding political class and a passive mass of followers. This is viewed in relation to the power of the state. What type of state does it produce?

The dualist neo-Marxist approach encounters another gap then. This is between the reality of the masses’ desires and the supposed representation of those desires.

The Marxist system poses itself as the collective representation of the masses’ desires, rather than failing to recognize the creativity and desire of the masses as occurs in sociological thought. Sociology reduces social objects to things. It is reifying. While Marxism recognizes the existence of revolutionary desires, in contrast to the sociological, it imposes mediations on them—Marxist theory and the representation of the party (Guattari 1973, 157).

The differences that flow through the desires of the masses become “massified”—turned into standard formulations viewed as necessary for class and party unity (Guattari 1973, 157). There is a dualism between representation and reality, between the party leaders and the masses. Bureaucratic practices flow from this. The oppositions revolve around a third party—the state.

Third is “political analysis” in a “connection of a multiplicity of molecular desires which would catalyze challenges on a large scale” (156-159). Political analysis speaks to a “univocal multiplicity” rather than the mass (159). Micro-groupings offer challenges and there is no necessary unitary content. For Guattari, the “unification of struggles is antagonistic to the multiplicity of desires only when it is totalizing, that is, when it is treated by the totalitarian machine of a representative party” (159).

Desire creates itself when saying is doing (1973, 160). When saying is doing, as Guattari puts it, the division of labor between the specialists (in saying and in doing) ends (1973, 160).

Guattari is not interested in representing the masses and interpreting their struggles. You do need some political analysis though. Guattari seeks a conception of desire that does not have an object or a center. It does not distance as in representation or interpretation. Mediation must be bypassed.

This is done in the third approach, political analysis. for Guattari, this political analysis “refuses to maintain the disjunction between large social groupings and individual problems, family problems, academic problems, professional problems, etc.” (1973, 158). It does not reduce struggles to alternatives of classes or camps (Guattari 1973, 158). Theoretical and practical truth are not the domain of the party.

A micropolitics of desire, in this way, would not present itself as representing the masses and interpreting their struggles (Guattari 1973, 158). In Guattari’s perspective:

“It would no longer seek support from a transcendent object in order to provide itself with security. It would no longer center itself on a unique object—the power of the State, which could only be conquered by a representative party acting in lieu of and instead of the masses—but rather, it would center on a multiplicity of objectives, within the immediate reach of the most diverse social groupings.” (1973, 158)

Challenges are catalysed on a larger scale by “a multiplicity of molecular desires” (Guattari 1973, 159). There is a “univocal multiplicity of desires” rather than an “ideal unity” representing and mediating multiple interests (Guattari 1973, 159). What Guattari suggests has relevance for thinking about contestational risings, of resistance among diverse forces. In his words:

“This multiplicity of desiring machines is not made of standardized and regulated systems which can be disciplined and hierarchized in relation to a unique objective. It is stratified according to different social groupings, to classes formed by age groups, sexes, geographic and professional localizations, ethnic origins, erotic practices, etc. Thus, it does not realize a totalizing unity. It is the univocity of the masses’ desire, and not their regrouping according to standardized objectives, which lays the foundation for the unity of their struggle.” (1973, 159)

The threat to the multiplicity of desires comes when the unification of struggles is totalizing. As when dealt with by the totalitarian form for the representative party (Guattari 1973, 159). Desire always wants to go “off the track.” It wants not to “play by the rules.”

By Guattari’s own claim he seeks not reductivist comparisons but to complexify the models in terms of fascism, for example. In his words, “[T]here are all kinds of fascisms” (as all kinds of bourgeois democracies, for example) (Guattari 1973, 161).

The groupings break up once one considers “the relative status of, for example, the industrial machine, the banking machine, the military machine, the politico-police machine, the techno-structures of the State, the Church, etc.” (Guattari 1973, 161). So, as Sinclair Lewis famously said—” “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

The Nazi party changed. Himmler’s SS was not Rohm’s SA. They operated in specific domains. And, as Wilhelm Reich suggests, they each bore a specific relationship to the revolutionary desires of the masses.

Yet, simplifications should not interfere with grasping “the genealogy and the permanence of certain fascist machineries” (Guattari 1973, 162). This is the same fascism that operates under different forms. And which, for Guattari, can continue to operate in families and in schools.

Totalitarian systems produce formulas for the collective seizure of desire (Guattari 1973, 163). These depend too on productive forces and the relations of production. At the same time, and despite his contributions, Guattari drifts into totalitarian analysis (a la Arendt) and shares some of the limitations of that approach.

 

 

Microfascisms

Guattari stresses that what fascism set in motion continues to proliferate in contemporary social space (1973, 163). Today’s productive forces unleash a whirlwind of desires. Guattari looks at the continuity of the fascist machine in different forms. For Guattari, it is important to confront totalitarian machines in their micropolitical aspect. Otherwise “you find yourself a prisoner of generalities and totalizing programs, and representative instances regain their power” (164).

In Guattari’s view: “Molecular analysis is the will to a molecular power, to a theory and practice which refuse to dispossess the masses of their potential for desire” (164-165). In Western capitalism the totalitarian machine lives in “structures capable of adapting desire to the profit economy” (171). Western capitalism is subversive in this way of molecularization. It gets “under the skin” (we simply have to have the newest newness).

Thus, the bureaucratic systems must “miniaturize their repressive machines” (Guattari 1973, 164). We could see this today in debates over micro-aggressions or in the minutia of memes.

Desire gets away from encoding. It avoids containment. There is no dichotomy between saying and doing. There is a process of connectivity. Machines.

Disobedience, disruption, resistance to demands of stakeholders. Micropolitics of desire: Refuse any formula to slip by at whatever scale. Fascism in family, political structure, etc.

There is a capacity of fascism to spread throughout the social body. Memes. IRC. The meme machine and the circulation of memes is able to coalesce desire in particular ways. In the present period the oddest portions of the Internet become politically important. The memeification of Pepe. “Pepe for President.” Pepe the frog says “It feels good, man.”

4chan was launched in 2003. 4chan is hyper-err-production. It decenters the individual as both source and lack. In 4chan anonymity is a goal. It is keeping individuation at bay. No one wants celebrities or personal benefit in that space. The anonymity of social dislocation, unfamiliarity, market forces.

The aim is to release intense flashes of desire and intention. It is delirious and incoherent. Trump rolls the joy of winning and the despair of losing into one. He is the loser who won.

 

Why Fascism?

The fascist party is organized like a police force. In this it compartmentalizes the masses in a way a straightforward military dictatorship cannot (Guattari 1973, 165). A military dictatorship does not draw on libidinal energies in the manner a fascist dictatorship does.

In response to the question of why German capital did not simply turn to military dictatorship after 1918 or 1929 (“Why Hitler rather than General von Schleicher?”) Guattari turns to libertarian socialist Daniel Guerin in suggesting that big capital did not want to “deprive itself of this incomparable, irreplaceable means of penetrating into all the cells of society, the organization of the fascist masses” (1973, 165).

For Guattari, the coming together of four libidinal series in the figure of Hitler crystallized a mutation of  a “new desiring mechanism in the masses” (1973, 165). First was a “plebeian style.” This gave him a handle on the people. Second, a “veteran-of-war style.” This allowed him to somewhat neutralize the military elements and gain some of their confidence. Third, and most relevant for the Trumpist figure, “a shopkeeper’s opportunism.” Guattari expands on this: “a spinal flexibility, a slackness, which enables him to negotiate with the magnates of industry and finance, all the while letting them think that they could easily control and manipulate him” (1973, 166). Finally, and crucially, “a racist delirium.” This was “a mad, paranoiac energy which put him in tune with the collective death instinct released from the charnel houses of the First World War” (Guattari 1973, 166).

We should have little question of this in relation to Trump after Charlottesville, his response to it (“on many sides,” alt Left,” etc.), and his pardon, a short week after, of the sadistic Sheriff Arpaio.

Hitler tried to forge a compromise among different machines of power that sought their own autonomy—the military, police, and economic machines (Guattari 1973, 167). Trump, like the early fascist regimes, will provide some economic solutions to current issues. A phony boost to the economy or markets, a dip in unemployment, a public works program (of Brownshirt infrastructure as I have already discussed elsewhere). And  these will be compared favorably by the administration to the feeble efforts of Obama.

Note the similarities of Trump’s language in this regard with the language used by Guattari to describe fascist rhetoric—“The socialists and communists had a bad program, bad leaders, a bad organization, bad alliances” (1973, 168). One might add to this, in Trumpist style: “Sad.”

And remember,  a section of the bourgeoisie only rejected fascism because it stirred too powerful forces of desire in the masses and was too unstable. Global capital could only consider the elimination of fascism in the presence of other means to control class struggles (including Stalinism) (Guattari 1973, 167). The United States could ally with Stalin because his form of containing mass turmoil was more stable than that offered by Nazism.

 

Lessons for the Left and Desire

There is a very real (non-metaphorical) social war that is being waged in the United States. It goes by names like neoliberalism and involves cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, the increase in military spending, the tightening of borders, growing detention and deportations, cuts to education spending, increases in incarceration, etc. Historically fascism responds to political and economic crisis. The crisis of 2007 and 2008 was an economic crisis. It gave rise to some resistance in the form eventually of Occupy Wall Street.

The Left today is extremely divided amongst itself presently, unlike the lesser divisions that marked much of the 1930s. The rallying cry of a more united Left in Spain was “Let Madrid be the tomb of fascism.”

Guattari reminds us that at the very beginning the Leftist organizations in Italy and Germany had been liquidated. This is always the aim of early fascism. It is the aim of the alt-Right and the anti-antifa today.

Still, as Guattari suggests, we need to ask why these organizations collapsed like houses of cards. His answer is that these organizations never offered the masses a real alternative, one that could tap their energies of desire (or even direct it away from the fascist draw) (1973, 168. Guattari follows Wilhelm Reich in suggesting this.

Wilhelm Reich notes too how an element can change into its opposite under certain conditions. So the anti-capitalist rebellions of the mass of German people, in acute contradiction to the objective functions of fascism, became interwoven with that function and transformed for a period into its own opposite—a reinforcement of German capital and its rule (1972, 29-30). Social democratic support of capital as a defense against fascism.

Mechanistic communism as in the Comintern, overlooked the revolutionary tendencies of the fascist mass movement, where revolutionary and reactionary tendencies were temporarily combined in fascism (Reich 1972, 30). The Comintern could not turn the revolutionary tendencies to its own advantage.

Desire. The micropolitics of desire sparked by the anti-capitalist rebellions, flowed into the revolutionary tendencies within fascism. Especially as the Leftist movements faltered. This is not to say, as some contemporary liberals might, that the Left caused fascism. Rather it is a reminder to the Left to finish the job.

Reich notes, commenting in the 1930s, that:

“In Germany there were, at the end, some thirty million anticapitalist workers, more than enough in number to make a social revolution; yet it was precisely with the help of the staunchest anticapitalist mentality that fascism came into power. Does an anticapitalist mentality qualify as class consciousness, or is it just the beginning of class consciousness, just a precondition for the birth of class consciousness? What is class consciousness anyway?” (1972, 285-286)

Reich points out the challenge of desire for socialists. The average worker in Germany, he says, was not interested in Soviet Five Year Plans or their economic achievements except inasmuch as they present increased satisfaction of the needs of workers (1972, 293). Reich describes the thoughts of the workers as follows: “If socialism isn’t going to mean anything but sacrifice, self-denial, poverty and privation for us, then we don’t care whether such misery is called socialism or capitalism. Let socialist economy prove its excellence by satisfying our needs and keeping pace with their growth” (1972, 293).

Even as sections of the masses acted against their own interests in lifting Hitler to power (Reich 1972, 283). As Reich says:

“While we [communists] presented the masses with superb historical analysis and economic treatises on the contradictions of imperialism, Hitler stirred the deepest roots of their emotional being. As Marx would have put it, we left the praxis of the subjective factor to the idealists; we acted like mechanistic, economistic materialists.” (1972, 284)

 

In different terms, for Guattari:

“By reterritorializing their desire onto a leader, a people, and a race, the masses abolished, by means of a phantasm of catastrophe, a reality which they detested and which the revolutionaries were either unwilling or unable to encroach upon. For the masses, virility, blood, vital space, and death took the place of a socialism that had too much respect for the dominant meanings.” (1973, 168)

And in this is a lesson (an old one) for today. The Left must not be afraid to go beyond the traditional terrain of politics. It must seek more than reformist liberal democracy or politics as usual. And it must make its uprisings all the way, not part way. Lest it dig its own grave.

Guattari concludes:

“It can be said of fascism that it is all-powerful and, at the same time, ridiculously weak. And whether it is the former or the latter depends on the capacity of collective arrangements, subject-groups, to connect the social libido, on every level, with the whole range of revolutionary chains of desire.” (1973, 171)

This again echoes the insights provided by Wilhelm Reich in the 1930s. We might think of this in terms of the collapse of the alt-Right, and its confidence in its desires, after Charlottesville. And we might reflect on this before becoming too confident it will not recover and regroup.

 

Conclusion

Capitalist machines tap the working class potentials for desire. In Guattari’s words: “These machines infiltrate the ranks of the workers, their families, their couples, their childhood; they install themselves at the very heart of the workers’ subjectivity and vision of the world.” (1973, 169). Guattari makes a point, easy to overlook, that industrial capitalism decodes all realities. This liberates greater waves of desire. We might think of this in terms of the desires in trolling, fake news, sarcasm, and nihilism expressed today and which rise along with, as part of Trumpism. Capitalism always needs to search for new formulas for totalitarianism to control struggles of desire (of migrants, of racialized people, of prisoners, etc.).

Political practice is at an impasse. A social totality is locked in inertia. Despite the best intentions of those involved. There is a surplus of information and a lack of action. The Right personalizes national ills. The Left does not personalize. Rather it looks at structural forms. The Right looks for and focuses on particular groups that can be vilified.

Fascism is the charismatic leader with a cult following and religious fervor. It is the regular refusal of all philosophical positions. This is so throughout its various incarnations. On deception Reich suggests:

“A worker trained in the class struggle is not often deceived, but many, very many, have been ideologically softened up. Only a minority are trained. The majority, thanks to the free trade unions, have never known a strike. There is hardly a “dangerous worker” left in the factories. And so the average worker may have a correct sense of what is happening, but he is without leadership and is forced to fall back on the hope that Hitler means well, after all, and that “he’s doing something for us workers.” He accepts the pittance without realizing that he is really the master and nobody has any presents to give him.” (1972, 311)

The fears of anonymous society give rise to a desire to submerge oneself—maintain anonymity—in the figure of the leader—who is known and even famous. The leader carries one’s desires forward for them in a  way that takes the heat—so you can remain anonymous and not have to be accountable. Even if they are wrong or get  hammered they are respected because they have put themselves out there and taken the heat—for you.

Modern society is marked by docile, passive interchangeability. Anywhere, anyone. This is not revolutionary anonymity. It is rather an anonymity to blandness. The mask of democracy and interchangeability of voting or polls.

The black bloc is a visceral response to the phony transparency of liberal democracy. Also  the use of minimal violence to expose much deeper and extreme violence. It rests on masking. That is both its strength and its weakness. Transparency gets you clobbered.

Modern citizens are too comfortable, but not comfortable. They are isolated, detached, fragmented, lonely, exposed. This relates to their susceptibility to social phobias. As Reich puts it: “Such a man is psychically so deformed that simply being told he is a “fully valid member of society” will make him feel better, especially if he is given some kind of uniform to wear” (1972, 310). He wants an impossible comfort.

Trumpism and the end of comfort. Fear based politics related to climate change. First impacts of climate change. Reflected in fear of the refugee. Fear of the “outside invasion.” Which will only increase as the climate crisis increases.

Affect. Trump projects symbolic disarray that only the symbolic leader can address. Support for Trump is acknowledgement that the bet will never be placed. Giving your money and knowing it will not be placed. You will be ripped off. The more it goes off the rails the more it works and the more people join. Trump does not hold together well—and that is a big part of his appeal. The euphoria of empty promises. Finding solace in distress. Alterity and alternative facts. For Guattari, the more it breaks down, the better it works. Unlike totalitarianism it liberates the desires o the masses for their own death. It is an escape that is suicidal.

 

 

References

Crain, Caemeron. 2013. “Microfascism.” The Mantle

Guattari, Felix. 2009 [1973]. “Everybody Wants to be a Fascist.” In Chaosophy: Texts and Interviews 1972-1977. New York: Semiotext(e), 154-175

Reich, Wilhelm. 1973. Sex-Pol: Essays, 1929-1934. New York: Vintage Books.

Producerism: The Homegrown Roots of Trumpism

Jeff Shantz

The disturbing rise of Donald Trump to the presidency and the growing  mobilization of rightwing forces in the United States has driven attempts to understand and situate trumpism and the particular brand of politics his rise signals. Most commentators have been tempted to look at rightist traditions outside of the US, whether right populism in Europe or Latin America or historic fascist movements as in Italy, Germany, or Spain. Yet I would suggest we can better understand trumpism and its place in rightist developments in the US by looking at a forgotten homegrown American lineage—producerism.

Producerism refers to a political-economic perspective of right wing populism. At the center of producerist ideas and movements is the notion that so-called productive members of society, typically industrial or more skilled workers, small business people, and individual entrepreneurs are threatened by dual pressures coming from so-called parasitical strata both above and below them in the social hierarchy. From above are the economic and political elites who live parasitically by usurping the value produced by their workers in the form of surplus value or profit. From below the middle class workers are threatened by the poor, unemployed, and those who receive social welfare. Both the elite and the non-elite strata live off of the value produced by the middle classes. Producerists present a picture of an imperiled middle class that is responsible for social wealth, growth, and development but is constantly squeezed by non-productive forces from above and below. The dual squeezing of middle class labor is said to drain society of its productive faculties and resources, leading to stagnation and eventual decline. The end result is a society that is lazy and unproductive due to pressures toward idleness, parasitism, and freeloading. For producerists, the middle class are the real engines of social growth and development are should fully enjoy the fruits of their labor, free of undue control from capital or taxation by government.

Producerism is an undertheorized, often overlooked perspective, yet one that has influenced a range of historical and contemporary right wing movements. Producerism was developed by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan to mobilize working class whites against former slaves, union organizers, and Jewish workers in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Producerism found some expression in William Jennings Bryan’s populist opposition to the rail and mining monopolies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1960s producerist rhetoric was used by George Wallace in his anti-federal, campaigns for states’ rights. It also found expression in Richard Nixon’s appeals to the “silent majority” and his so-called “Southern Strategy” to become president. Contemporary expressions of producerism are found in the Reform Party of America and figures like Pat Buchanan and Glenn Beck. The more recent Tea Party movement in the US, and its rhetoric of middle class decline, tax-cutting, cuts to social spending, anti-immigration policies, etc. is perhaps the most dramatic recent expression of producerism as a political movement. The images of the “Momma Grizzly” or “Hockey Mom,” popularized by Sarah Palin, are expressions of the tenacity or resilience of the middle class and entrepreneurialism.

Producerism represents a critique of capitalism and free market ideologies, but does so from a conservative or reactionary rather than a radical or progressive perspective. For producerists, the primary class within social change is the middle class rather than the proletariat or working class more broadly, as in anarchism and communism. In producerist perspectives, it is the so-called productive middle class, particularly better paid industrial or skilled workers rather than service sector workers or the poor, that produces value in society.

The value produced by middle class workers suffers a dual expropriation by economic and politics elites. On one hand the value they produce at work is expropriated by executives and owners who retain that value as profit. On the other hand the portion of value retained by middle-class workers as their wages is expropriated by government elites in the form of taxation. For producerists, middle class workers always bear a disproportionate and unfair burden in national taxation schemes.  On the one end, corporations enjoy a variety of tax breaks, rebates, and loopholes.  On the other end, producerists claim that the poor and lower wage workers are not taxed as heavily. This latter claim, of course, overlooks the heavier burden placed on lower paid and poor workers by regressive taxes such as consumption or sales taxes. The earnings expropriated through taxes are redistributed both upwards (as corporate grants and tax relief) and downwards (in social welfare spending for the poor and unemployed).

The usurpation of middle class value by large corporations and international finance capital siphons wealth out of the country, limits free enterprise and entrepreneurship, and destroys small business through monopolization. At the same time, the underclasses and migrant labor drain productive wealth away from entrepreneurs and industrial production giving it instead to supposedly wasteful government programs that benefit the least, rather than the most productive, strata in society.

Producerists, unlike anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, and communists, are typically not anti-capitalists. Producerists differ from anarchists or anarcho-syndicalists even in the way that they view capital. Some producerists draw a distinction between what they view as productive industrial capital (which is usually portrayed as domestic) and so-called idle or unproductive financial or speculative capital (which is often constructed as international). While industrial capital is involved in the production of real material goods that address specific needs, such as automobiles or refrigerators, financial capital is viewed as purely symbolic or frivolous, undermining productive capital by wasting resources on speculative schemes aimed only at profiting the financiers. Speculative capital is connected with the rootless interests of cosmopolitan or multinational investors. This distinction between national capital and international capital or investors can give rise to racist formulations as in anti-Semitic constructions of finance capital as part of a Jewish world conspiracy. Such were the infamous formulations at the center of Nazi ideology, in which ill-defined notions of Jewish, cosmopolitan, and communist were equated in a paradoxical framework that also included global capital (also ill-defined).

In the period of capitalist globalization companies engaged in outsourcing, global movement, or investment, rather than domestic production, are viewed as a threat. Some producerists advocate protectionist policies and high tariffs to safeguard the domestic economy and workers. Foreign transnational companies are viewed as a threat, yet domestic transnationals, such as Wal-mart and Ford are viewed more favorably. The internationalist threat is, once again, posed from above (bankers, financiers, Trilateralists, the United Nations) as well as from below (socialists, communists, migrants, labor solidarity).

While primarily economic in orientation producerism often takes on cultural critiques.  Middle class values, associated for producerists with a sturdy work ethic, patriarchal and heteronormative family structure, and values of thrift and conservatism, are counterpoised against the so-called “decadence” of supposedly unproductive classes such as artists and writers.  These cultural workers, who are believed to live from government subsidies, grants, or welfare, are viewed as dangerous bohemians who threaten economic prosperity as well as cultural values.  Their “lifestyles” are again viewed as being subsidized or underwritten by the productive work and surplus value produced through the labors of the hard working middle class.

Often the terms are racialized as the middle class is presented as white and African-Americans and Hispanics are presented as lazy or bound by “cultures of poverty.” Producerists often take on nativist, even explicitly racist, positions toward immigrants.  Immigrants are viewed as a threat to the middle classes as they can be used to drive down labor values by expanding the labor market and, thus, depressing wages. Producerists accuse migrants of representing a drain on social services, particularly welfare, education, and health care.

Producerist narratives are often also gendered, presenting middle class workers as male and proper families as male-headed.  The narratives are also often heteronormative, presenting homosexuality as a form of unproductive decadence that threatens cultural values of restraint and discipline.

Producerism bears some relation to notions of social Darwinism in which poverty is viewed as the lack of “fitness” of the poor who should be left to survive by their own labors. Where the poor fail to succeed or survive the outcome is viewed as a reflection of natural selection at work.

The political ideology with which producerism bears the greatest similarities is indeed fascism. Indeed fascism is often viewed as a form of producerist ideology. Fascism, like producerism, also presents a view of society in which the middle class suffers a dual threat coming from above (financial capital) and below (the poor, unionized workers, the left). Hitler expressed the view that the state should respond only to the claims of the productive classes which excluded migrants and the poor.

Some producerists support skilled craft associations, even craft unions, as free associations of individuals. Yet they oppose industrial unions, particularly radical or syndicalist unions, as threats to production or advocates for the less productive. It bears watching to see what types of union formations might emerge as part of contemporary trumpist initiatives and to oppose them.

 

Further Reading

Berlet, Chip and Matthew N. Lyons. 2000. Right-wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: Guilford Press.

Betz, Hans-Georg and Stefan Immerfall, eds. 1998. The New Politics of the Right: Neo-Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies. New York: St. Martin’s Press

Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London: NLB

Zernike, Kate. 2010. Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America. New York: Times Books

 

Originally Published in the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review #70

Tendencies of Trumpocalypse

By Jeff Shantz

The rise of Trump and more importantly the far Right movements around him raise some questions about the nature of the Trumpocalypse (and its relation to Right populism or more to the point to fascism). The question is now being asked whether or not it is true that there is fascism of some sort in the US at the present time. While not providing a firm answer on that question there are some initial tendencies or shaping features that are suggestive and should be addressed. These are outlines of Trumpocalypse rather than hard and fast conclusions.

Fascism refers to a unique and most extreme form of bourgeois rule. This is so because under fascism the bourgeoisie gives up some of its control to shock troops and loses its customary hold over the mechanisms of liberal democracy. Big capital desires fascism to do its dirty work for it and fascism becomes a tool of big capital. Finance capital through fascism gathers all the organs and institutions of the state. Schools, press, municipalities. Not only the executive. Workers groups are crushed. At its heart fascism is an armed movement that uses extreme violence against the Left.

Some suggest that populism is a more useful term than fascism right now. Yet there are problems with the use of populism to describe the far Right movements today. Centrist notions of populism equate Left and Right. Both are lumped together as non-liberal, against trade, etc., and therefore both are bad. In this way the centrist notions of populism are similar to earlier versions of totalitarianism analysis, as in the work of Hannah Arendt, for example. FDR was referred to as a fascist by some communists. While at the same time Hitler was called a passing phenomenon—to be followed in turn by a victorious proletarian revolution.

At the same time there is a Trumpism—against urbanism, rationalism, metropolitanism. It is a proto-fascist movement. It is about a dynamic. The proposed “purification” of society. A new anthropology—creating the human anew (as in fascism).

Of some importance, there is a tendency to underestimate the movements of contemporary brownshirts in the US. Some commentators might still assume that real fascists in the US live in bunkers in the desert and are merely odd survivalists. But that is a dangerous misreading of current movements. It is an analysis from the 1990s. Fascists today, and this is one thing that can be said about the Trump campaign, have come above ground.

 

Trump and Brownshirt Infrastructure

Trump represents the construction wing of Wall Street. He will oversee a regime of infrastructure building particularly of Brownshirt infrastructure. That is infrastructure of repression such as prisons, policing infrastructure. His will be a regime of building as his campaign expressed—build a wall; build prisons; build detention centers. He will provide help to banks and he will provide help to construction industries.

Trump will build his base and reward it through Brownshirt infrastructure and physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports). This will help the Midwest and the Rust Belt and shore up his base in those areas. That means it will reinforce the white nationalist base and white nationalist rhetoric.

Tax holidays for corporations to repatriate wealth. If taxed at one percent it could be used to fund Brownshirt infrastructure. Funding would be through banks and government would secure the loans. This will be a state assisted accumulation of capital.

 ***

Trump represents warmed over Reaganomics. His plan is the dream of investment bankers. The DNC will carry out his agenda as it benefits Wall Street. There will be a battle in the DNC over the nature of support for Wall Street. They will do so around infrastructures spending and a child care tax.

The Democrats will align with Trump. Sanders, Warren, Chuck Schumer, and the AFL-CIO have all said they could work with Trump. They will hope to gain some credit for some policy decisions. Yet this will only reify Trump as the dealmaker who gets stuff done and can work with anyone (on his terms) as he has said throughout his campaign. There will be no benefit accruing to Democrats for doing this.

This raises the need for organizing within the infrastructure industries. At present too many unions in those industries are crass business unions with less than progressive practices.

Contemporary far Right populism, Trumpism, in the US, is something of a coalition of the one percent with people of all classes who are outcast (dislocated from the social system at all levels), declasse (particularly, of course, among white American males). People supporting Trump are not the most downtrodden, not the classic lumpenproletariat, as is often assumed. They are instead the ones who fear losing their assumed place in the social structure, those who fear precarious status and economic decline (the much talked about loss of the middle class).

 

Context

Fascism comes to power when the Left has abdicated its role and responsibility. That is when it is not fighting fascism directly in the streets or when it has not carried through a revolution in the making. Today’s far right operates in a different context and has a different intent.

In Europe and Latin America there are right populist movements. There are fascist organizations, but they are small and few in number. Furthermore, they have no significant connection to either capital or state power. Big capital is not significantly supporting the fascist groups. The main purpose of the current far right is anti-globalism. But big capital wants globalism. Social phobias find a home in the parties of the far right—nationalism, not globalism.

The one percent (particularly building capital) has little interest in populism. It wants migration, for example, in order to keep wages down and increase completion on the labor market. Indeed, many of the voices for the movement of refugees come from neoliberal capital rather than the broad Left.

Historic fascism emerged in face of an imploding world market. Some might suggest that there is no need of fascism for capital since there is no Left working class movement and no imploding world market.

Yet one can see hints of an answer in current social struggles, particularly over extreme energy. As one instructive example we might look to the militarization of police at Standing Rock. Some mobilization against extractives. Is this being used as an impetus for capital to mobilize fascism in the present period? The militarization has already happened in Canada. As the stakes get higher this militarization will increase. It has not yet developed in the form of Right wing mobilization of civilian gangs to attack Indigenous peoples defending their lands. But there are isolated individual instances that suggest it could.

 

When Reform Fails

Far Right populism is what you get when social reform or social democracy fails. Today there are not significant working class movements of the Left in the US. Right wing populism thrives where the Left has failed. There have been mass movements representing refutation of elites and neoliberalism recently. Arab Spring, Indignados, Occupy Wall Street represent examples. There has been, since the decline of these movements, a hard swing to the Right. This is represented in Trump, Modi, UKIP, and the Front National in France, etc. In the current context the far Right has taken up the challenge that the Left has failed to meet.

The Left has abandoned even its bread and butter “wheelhouse” issues. There is virtually no Left movement against global trade agreements anymore. While there has been some spoken opposition against CETA and the TPP there is no semblance of the public mobilizations that challenged NAFTA in the 1980s and early 1990s and the WTO in Seattle in 1999 or the FTAA in Quebec City in 2001. There has been no large scale movement against any of the smaller agreements passed over the last few years either. And that is at the level of manifestations, not at the level of organization in workplaces and neighborhoods.

And this has been an organizational challenge. The Left in the West has built very little in the way of real world, material infrastructures of sustenance and resistance. Unfortunately the far Right has moved in to occupy this abandoned territory. Megachurches gave a center to sprawling suburbs. They provided community life. The Left used to do this but does not anymore.

Unions are business unions and there is no contestatory ideology. They offer service for workers for pay. They organize over contracts and grievances. It is a commodified form of unionism. There is nothing that makes mainstream unions inherently working class, let alone radical working class. Organized labor has become a form of clientalism. Organized labor does not organize labor. It is focused on contract negotiations. There are some public campaigns on issues like education. There are some “get out the vote” efforts.

 

Neoliberal Populism Today

The present period is perhaps closer to the 1970s period of neoliberal populism. The Left in the 1970s was marked by three different tendencies. First was welfare state social democracy. Second was the advocacy of class conflict. Third was the denial of class (post-modernism).

Neoliberalism impelled a shift from understandings of classes to notions of taxpayers versus elites. Corrupt elites were understood not as capital and politicians but as state bureaucrats and unions within neoliberal frameworks. Individual liberation was viewed as everything. The aim of neoliberal populism was identified as getting welfare state and union bosses off your back, not capital. This would supposedly allow anyone to win in the market game. These were staple views espoused by Reagan and Thatcher.

After some years of course the realization grew that the market game produced mostly losers. And these losers were working class. By the time this realization set in for broad cross-sections of people there was no likelihood of getting back the welfare state that neoliberals had transformed (into a carceral or workfare state). Capitalist globalization circumvented and destroyed unions.

Now neoliberalism is unpopular and the welfare state is not on offer. The Left cannot deliver on hopes for a return to the welfare state. Right wing populism emerges keeping at its center the rugged individualism of neoliberal populism. But now it has also to focus on bailed out bankers and big capital. It must focus on corporate welfare as well as social welfare as its motivating social ills. But, not surprisingly, Right wing populism gives less focus to corporate welfare. Indeed, for Right wing populists many of their leaders are part of the establishment.

Neoliberalism has made the irrationality of supporting capitalism (a planet destroying system) seem to be the only possibility on the planet. Right wing populism has been ramping up a counter-revolution in culture. It is a cultural counter-revolution rather than an economic counter-revolution.

The Democratic Party claims that they can be and will be better managers of neoliberal capitalism. They claim to be more efficient and thus will be able to manage more tax money to put into some, limited range of, social programs. They also claim a more diverse base of interests in their representative politics. The Democratic Party since 2008 has, despite the hopeful rhetoric, been pro-Wall Street and pro-war as, indeed, it has always been. They offer nothing to the working class, even in the Sanders wing.

 

In Response

Fascism always needs to be fought directly, not argued with. You cannot fight power unless you build power. There is a need for organizing infrastructures of sustenance and resistance. Syndicalist organizing and a militant approach to challenging structures of ownership and control are crucial. On the one hand there will be a need to organize against development capital. On the other green syndicalist approaches can connect struggles over extreme energy and extractives.

It might be recognized that organizers have to engage with some Trump voters (some, not by any means all). Not doing so is to replay the elitism of Hillary Clinton. At the same time, and crucially, organizers have to support and defend the main targets of Right wing populism. There is a pressing need to find the common ground there.

There are real questions about how to provoke progressive politics in the US. One necessity is to refocus on locally based struggles and work to share them and their lessons internationally.

Some have suggested a Left Tea Party. This is a futile hope. There is no Left equivalent of the Kochs and Coors who build up Right wing infrastructures. The Left cannot have a Left version of the Tea Party. The Left has no real organizational form or movement like the Tea Party. The Tea Party was a real movement, it was not strictly Astroturf. There is no equivalent on the Left.

One approach is to think of organizing space. Especially in the cities. Trumpism is a war against the cities. It is a war against diversity. It is a war against metropolitanism. Cities are refuges of migrants, queers, women, unions, the Left. Cities are also a concrete space. Imagined communities do not exist the way cities do. There could be a broad based strategy focused on cities.

Cities are controlled by real estate developers. Thus struggles confront the Trump wing of builders and real estate capital. Cities are huge bases of support and opposition. They are large economies. There is a need to organize city by city. At the same time it is a historical fault of the Left not organizing the working class in the suburbs. Suburbs are the areas of the working class. Yet the Left organizes downtown in the city center.

Finally something must be said about the anti-Trump protests. The Republican Party wants to pose the working class as white reactionaries. Anti-Trump protests are working class protests. The diversity of the working class. A working class revolt against Trump. These manifestations are already posing questions of organization (beyond street manifestations) anew.

 Originally published in the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, Issue # 69