The crowd of over two thousand protesters chanted as they marched through East London, an area that is notable for its history of multicultural inhabitants. The crowd donned Anti-Fascist Action flags, many with faces covered for fear of further police repression. The voices echoed a complexity to the “Brexit” vote that those outside of the European Union (and even those inside of the EU) attempt to grasp with what this decision means and symbolizes.
This week, a majority of 51.9% of voting United Kingdom residents voted to leave the European Union, a project that they have been a part of for over forty years. This is the first country in the EU to do this, a zone that was intended to both reconcile political tensions and to smooth over neo-liberal capitalist expansion. This is the first vote since the 1970s, and, at the time, the vote was not even close. Today, the force to leave toppled over the edge and is forcing a push away from the united continental project. Even after a Britain First affiliate and advocate of Brexit killed a pro-immigrant British MP, the vote still passed through with a slim majority.
While it has been largely acknowledged that the Brexit campaign was a xenophobic and racist push from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Britain First, there has also been a reasonable Lexit (left exit) side to the campaign. Internationally, left circles have been debating the merits of this position, debating the role of a left contingent inside of a hard right campaign. Groups in the United States like the International Socialist Organization have showed a certain admiration for the Lexit contingent, while most mainstream progressives are standing back in horror.
The primary impulse for many on the radical left is to look at the vote as a series of component parts that have meaning, while the politics themselves will largely play out as business as usual.
A comparison to the Donald Trump campaign stateside is useful, especially as it has often been used by the British left to put the recent events in England in context. When comparing the realities of the political choices of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump it quickly reminds us just how little a vote allows for real decision making as it retains ruling class power no matter the distinction. Though there are great differences between the candidates, they are minor when it comes to large-scale social systems, and do nothing to challenge systemic inequality. You will never be able to vote the rich out of their wealth
It has mobilized a revolutionary wing of the far-right to begin crossing over into the racialist undercurrent of the right-wing segment of the white working class, creating a populist-right block that is as frightening as it is large. This has shifted the politics in the country to the right on social issues and race, and has created an open space to transform “dog whistle” racist politics into blunt racial nationalism. The possible Trump presidency and the right-populist community, only reinforced ideologically by the Alt Right, could act reciprocally, as Trump’s call for banning Muslim immigration has mobilized their Islamophobia, which will then further push Trump to live up to his promise
This effect is largely meta-political: it effects the underlying values, philosophies, and impulses that drive political decisions. For those of us on the anti-fascist left, this both mutates the working class and creates a violent reactionary force of Stormtroopers against any left revolution. This is the most destructive turn a society can take, the barbarism promised as the endgame of global capitalism.
When it comes to Brexit, this is the largest victory in decades for the far-right, who are growing across all sectors in the country. Given a state of economic turmoil since the global financial crisis, as well as coming after decades of neo-liberal austerity, the white working class of Britain have been pressed to the point of rupture. That angst is painted racially as the right has played on tensions from the “refugee crisis,” attempting to shift the blame from the rich to the immigrants. The targeting of immigrants, especially Islamic immigrants, has been the signature of the far-right since the earliest rumblings of the National Front in the 1970s up through the brief rise of the British National Party. Now that the English Defense League(EDL) and PDGIDA have tried to expand Islamophobia beyond the narrow neo-Nazi crowd, they have been able to sow a deep fear of immigrants in a public that normally would not have been touched by the British nationalist movements. Likewise, the growth of the Alt Right and movements like National Action have brought in a younger generation of educated neo-fascists who are hoping to use the social turmoil to capture a working class who may have had their discontent channeled into the radical left.
This has come together like a neutron star with the Brexit vote, a crossover issue that has given their rhetoric a place in the general public. They were given access to the minds of the people and were able to push through an exit vote not just on the issues of economic “free trade,” but on British identity.
It is less important what the vote was, and more central about why it was. The exit of Britain from the EU was due to a massive campaign with racial undertones, even if the left-wing of that vote came for economic reasons. For immigrants living in the UK, especially those of color, are speaking out en masse right now about the fear they are experiencing, and that racial attacks and harassment have gone through the roof. Right now the streets of London are a scary place for all but a white British base, exactly what Britain First was hoping for. No matter what the ideal economic effects of the vote were for socialists and progressive in Britain who supported the exit, it is having the effect of tossing a massive victory to the far right and allowing the racist undercurrent to bubble to the surface.
The real question here is if there will be any substantive gains for working people in Britain from the vote that would outweigh the social wave of the far-right that they are going to see from this victory. Organizations like Britain First, UKIP, the EDL, BNP, PEGIDA, and others are only going to grow at this point, gaining power not in the ballot box, but in the streets. They will further co-opt the righteous anger of the working class, turning it back on itself and dividing ranks further.
In a world where proxies work as a side-channel for larger meta-political goals, Brexit acts as a shift to the right even if the politics do not divert greatly from standard neo-liberal expansion or if they are even to fit into the larger goals of the anti-globalization movement.
This left-right alliance owes, to a large part, to the vagueness that has permeated from the anti-globalization movement since the 1990s. While Americans often associate it with the hard left/post-left turn of things like the Battle for Seattle. The war against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were, in essence, the battle against the all-encompassing power of Late Capitalism, where the issues of “globalization” were the issues of unregulated capitalism feeding off of the Global South.
This is where the terminology of “imperialism” fails to recognize what was/is actually taking place in global capitalism, where the term lends itself to traditional empires that ravaged the world through colonialism up to the earliest days of capitalism. Today, it is multinational corporations and institutions of market exploitation that run the world, not monolithic super states. When the UK’s economy dominates the world, that is capitalism running the state, rather than imperialism of the traditional aristocracy(though that aristocracy certainly graduated to the capitalist class when the politics shifted). The use of imperialism rhetorically on the radical left is more of an attempt to maintain continuity to political ideology of the past rather than an accurate description of most nation’s behavior, but one thing is true: whether it is traditional imperialism and colonialism or the unrestrained carnivorous passions of corporations, the Global South always loses.
The anti-globalization movement was a mass action against that, one that united artists and the black bloc and unions and immigrant rights organizations, and which saw the solution to these global problems both as the repudiation of capitalism and the use of localization for economics, food production, and community. This created strange ideological bedfellows as the far-right also saw a certain opportunity in the logic of “going local,” of bioregionalism, and of keeping out of foreign wars. This was old nationalism repackaged in hippie aesthetics and food politics, and they could oppose “globalism” since it also imported cosmopolitan multiculturalism. In a way, this helped to further develop the far-right’s Third Positionist anti-capitalism, since modern capitalism cared not for their “traditional” life and instead looked to commodity and reproduce.
The problem is that, philosophically and meta-politically, the anarchist core of the anti-globalization movement and the eco-friendly fascists crowding their fringes were the core opposite of one another. To help draw this distinction, terms like “para-globalization” began to be used, drawing on anarchist communist notions of “internationalism.” This was meant to say, clearly, that it was not so much globalization that we opposed, but “this globalization.” The globalization of capital. Instead, we support the international struggle of the working class against capital, even if we support decentralized federalism as a more responsive and successful way of organizing society. This rhetorical battle was never primary, however, and a lack of clear politics, both implicit and explicit, allowed the far-right to bloom inside of spaces thought to have radical left hegemony.
In anti-globalization, the issue of “globalization” was always a proxy for capitalism and the racial, sexual, and national oppression that comes along with its expansion into the Third World. For the far-right, globalization was a proxy for the “destruction” of nations, race, gender, and sexual boundaries. If they both see a victory, then it can strengthen the far-right as it mobilizes the radical left. In many ways, many of the more fringe elements in places like AdBusters and in eco-anarchist circles reveled in this murky ideological waters, and flirted with the far-right, not because they were sympathetic to them, but because they needed a broad coalition. This “linking up” with the far-right has never bloomed anything of value, and instead has always been the hallmark of a revolutionary fascist movement that attempts to draw elements of the far-left’s politics into a value set of the far-right. This means that fascist often oppose capitalism, and sometimes even the state, for reasons that they are not sufficient in propping up nationalism and inequality. They want a society more rooted in inequality, where a market does not just produce inequality as a side-effect, but that the inequality perfectly reflects their ideas about race and gender and are reinforced through whatever system of social coercion they see fit.
When Brexit is looked at as a proxy, the reality is that for the right it was a vote on immigration. UKIP ran billboard ads with large pictures of streams of refugees, dog-whistling that they are the “brown hordes invading Britain.” The vote was painted as one about immigration from the start, even when UKIP made promises that this exit will save the country money that they could then put into the National Healthcare Service (a promise they have already backed away from). In this way it draws on the isolationism of the Old Right, where they are saying that we can better take care of ourselves by forgetting everyone else. The Alt Right in the U.S. has also jumped on board to sing their praises, with the Daily Shoah, Fash the Nation, the Traditionalist Youth Network, the Daily Stormer, American Renaissance, and Counter-Currents all claiming a major victory for nationalism. The only real dissent came from Richard Spencer of the Radix Journal, who, while also reveling in the “success” of Brexit, thinks that it could further “divide white people.”
While Lexit may have sided with the removal from the EU for different reasons, they still have created a right-left alliance that has emboldened the far-right through their proxy politics. Since the vote does little to change the actual politics of the country, yet does a lot to fuel the far-right, what does Lexit actually hope to gain out of this? At the same time, while the EU was still an infrastructure for global capital to exploit workers, how did the exit do anything to challenge that dynamic? What it certainly did was guarantee a large number of workers being laid off, foreign employees being deported, and pensions to be sacked, all of which for no tangible gains.
The left of Britain, beyond the few Lexit supporters, were largely united on staying. Neo-liberalism does not depend on the EU; it depends on capitalism as a system. Labor was almost universally aligned, with unions seeing an economic downturn that could effect membership. This turned out true as the markets opened the day after the UK’s vote, with over $5 billion in wealth disappearing and Britain dropping from the 5th largest economy to the 6th. Many laughed for ages about this on social media, especially the fact that the British ruling class is taking a dramatic hit financially. The problem is that this hits pensions and investments of working class families around the country, and will be felt economically through the lowest sectors of the population. This is not an isolated financial problem, nor is the coming recession, and the shudders could mean massive austerity both inside and outside of the country.
The discourse about imperialism has returned in this discussion, especially the idea of “breaking up the empires.” There is a certain logic to this, but it is also important to look at the dominated nations inside of the United Kingdom. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay, despite Donald Trump’s embarrassing statements upon landing in Scotland to promote his bourgeois golf club.
This exit vote presents further problems for Northern Ireland as it will be even more difficult to transfer between the Northern province and the main country of Ireland. Currently, EU member nations are easy to travel between. This is actually part of the strange inter-European xenophobia at play in the Brexit decision, where Polish immigrants are specifically seeing a backlash against them and may have a difficult time staying in the UK in its post-EU form. For the Irish, this further blocks up the nation. On the one hand, this is re-igniting the possibility of Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK to become sovereign nations. At the same time, this Brexit vote does not do much to mobilize that leaving since it essentially puts their identity within Britain only rather than the EU at large.
The question now is if this decision will collapse markets in such a way that working people will take another hit, and if revolutionary movements will actually gain anything from the crushing recession. The answer is likely no since inside or outside the EU, the class positions remain largely the same. The only difference is that remaining would have seen economic stability last slightly longer. For working families in the UK who are barely surviving as it is, this could be the last push towards poverty.
Against Corporate Nationalism, In and Out of the EU
Instead of focusing on the politics of Brexit, it may be worth looking at exactly how this decision reflects the social climate of the country, how the far-right is going to mobilize, and what the left’s actual goals are inside of the larger EU situation. This often comes off as a “fuck both sides” argument, which, given the nature of the corporate EU on one side and the reactionary nationalists on the other, makes sense. Christopher Hayes of MSNBC posted a position that sums up our feelings perfectly:
I don’t want a future in which politics is primarily a battle between cosmopolitan finance capitalism and ethno-nationalist backlash.
It is impossible to ignore the violence and racism that has permeated the country in the wake. Thousands of people have reported harassment, chants of “we voted for you to leave,” and threats on people of color and immigrants around the country. Violence has increased so quickly that people are hiding indoors, frightened that their family is going to be murdered by white racialists patrolling immigrant neighborhoods with guns. Right now, the UK is a scary place to be in.
The battle after Brexit will not be to bring the UK back into the EU, event though a reversal referendum may come through and Scotland will fight tooth and nail to remain. The fight will be to confront the racism that was once subdermal and has now been brought to the surface, given a pass by the semi-respectability of UKIP and the populism behind Brexit. As their economy continues to fall, and working people get a financial attack that was unwarranted and unnecessary, the discontent could further feed the Britain First movement. Those on the radical left cannot stand for this, and instead should develop a strong movement that takes that righteous anger and channels it back where it belongs: in the direction of a financial elite who will do whatever it takes to make the non-rich lose. Crisis is the perpetual state of capitalism, and it is time for the reality of social inequality to obliterate the victim-blaming racial narratives that have divided working people for centuries.
After the Traditionalist Youth Network, Traditionalist Workers Party, the Golden State Skinheads, and various KKK members and neo-Nazis rallied in front of the California Capitol Building on Sunday, the anti-fascists in the crowd swarmed them in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Before they were even confronted directly, one of the Nazis stabbed an elderly woman who was doing nothing more than yelling. As they were shut down and had their members humiliated, they began stabbing anti-fascist protesters, sending several to the hospital.
Even though their members almost all left broken and bruised, and their meeting was not allowed to happen, the Traditionalist Youth Network are continuing to “claim victory” for stabbing people. Matthew Heimbach, their leader, often prided himself on “fighting fair,” yet this act of stabbing protesters and then hiding is one of the most shameful in their sordid history.
Using this rhetoric, the Traditionalist Workers Party/Traditionalist Youth Network is using this act of putrid disgrace to fundraise for their nationalist aims. Alleging, still, that they are a “peaceful” ethnic nationalism, TradYouth is asking that supporters use this opportunity to send money to their PayPal account.
We delivered the message we intended to deliver today; We will not be intimidated. We will not stand down. Our event was a victory by all metrics. We won the physical fight. We provoked the leftists into showing their true colors. The national media story about our event is becoming a conversation about how our attempt to peacefully demonstrate was viciously attacked by the leftist mob.
Christians, pagans, and skeptics marched as one today, fighting and winning as one. Workers of all professions battled side-by-side. High school dropouts and the college educated stood their ground against what was the single greatest show of anti-white force ever organized in America…and won! Today was not only a victory against the forces of the Left who wish to exterminate our people, but against the voices on the Right who would divide our cause up by religion, class, and background.
No clever “metapolitics” can work around the fact that our enemies want us dead. While blog posts and social media debates are excellent work for our cause, they’re not a replacement for men who are willing to risk injury or even death to guarantee that our message is heard and our voices are not silenced or marginalized. I was not out there today and neither was Matthew Heimbach. We fully trusted the leadership of our California chapter and GSS to host a successful event, and they succeeded against staggering odds. We all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.
But we also owe them a real financial debt, as well.
The fact that PayPal is still allowing them to do business, even though they are technically an LLC, is surprising. PayPal has shut down funding to a number of nationalist organizations, such as the Daily Shoah podcast and National Youth Front, the organization that was later rebranded by Nathan Damigo as Identity Europa. Neither of those groups, as disgraceful as they are, have ever engaged in the type of racist violence that Trad Youth has now displayed, yet Matthew Heimbach is continuing to raise money using PayPal.
The Donation link on their page takes you to pay directly to the Traditionalist Youth Network, LLC, which does not have the protections of a non-profit organization. It is time to let PayPal know that Trad Youth is using their service to fund a violent terrorist movement, one that stabs protesters when their event gets shut down.
We need to contact PayPal’s Customer Service center collectively and let them know that a violent neo-Nazi organization, which is easily provable with public information, is trying to use PayPal to raise money. You can either email the report in at email@example.com, or you can go to their Customer Service center here to do a direct email or a phone call. We recommend doing both if you have the time.
When looking back at the event, it is delusional that they are claiming victory today. They were not able to recruit, almost all of their organizers were chased out with force, and they were made to look like the degenerate fools that they are. This is attempt at spin will not work simply because the KKK and neo-Nazis skinheads have so destroyed any public media game they could have had with their persistent and cartoonish violent racism.
What the action in Sacramento really displays is that anti-fascists are growing in numbers and increasing in militancy. This has come in response to the growing threat the Alt Right and the rest of the neo-fascist movement presents, and is one that has to be shut down at every chance.
If sending an email, feel free to send along a link to some of the articles below to give them a better idea of who this group is and what they have done.
For those who have been watching this saga unfold, things are becoming more and more difficult for neo-fascist politician Augustus Sol Invictus. Running for Marko Rubio’s seat in the Senate, this candidate is running with the Florida Libertarian Party(against their general wishes). He is a Thelemite pagan, which is the part that many focus on, who argues in favor of hierarchy, nationalism, various types of eugenics, and taking power with a show of strength.
In general, Invictus went under the radar for months, with news stories mainly focusing on his embarrassing videos of animal sacrifice and his public use of drugs during ceremonies. This was, however, until he was shutdown by Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon, and then denied access to Canada where the reformed American Front were organizing an event for him. Shortly after he announced that he was speaking at the National Socialist Movement’s conference, and was decidedly dropped from pagan and political events around the country.
Invictus is now trying to raise his profile even further by coming to Chicago. He has recently just announced this, though he has yet to put an exact time and location for this. Though the far-right will be his base, he often draws those out of neofolk/post-industrial music scenes, pagan circles, and general counter-cultural areas that attempt to be iconoclastic without being expressly political. His high profile nature has allowed this to be a perfect event to counter for regional anti-racist and anti-fascist organizers, so this puts those in the Chicago area on notice.
Below we are putting a short reading list of articles about Augustus Invictus, and the efforts to counter-organize his presence. We will update the website with more specific information as it becomes available.
Richard Spencer, the National Policy Institute(NPI), and the rest of the Alt Right hid behind the security of the government backed Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. on March 5th. Every year NPI, who is the definition of suit-and-tie white nationalism, holds two conferences. This spring conference is the shorter of the two, usually just taking up just an evening and having three speakers rather than a full line-up. This conference was called Identity Politics, which is a play on the identify politics that have permeated leftist space. Since their “identitarianism” is all about advocating for “white identity,” they often attempt to claim that they are just like feminists, black advocates, or LGBT people, advocating for their “own interests.” The event could easily have just been Donald Trump themed as that is what the promotional material, and all the speeches, consisted of.
For years, NPI and its associated Radix Journal, have pushed a more pseudo-intellectual and radical direction, focusing on anti-political figures, philosophers, and revolutionaries. Their goal was to create a radical right intellectual counter-culture, that was until Donald Trump’s guttural racism taught them it was better to just dumb it down and troll on Twitter. Now the NPI conference has forgone its diversity of racist voices and instead just find different ways to say “vote for Trump.”
The three speakers were well traveled, starting with NPI’s president and the founder of the Radix Journal and, formerly, Alternative Right, Richard Spencer. Spencer has become a leader of this American version of the New Right, now called Alt Right after the term he coined for the various forms of dissident right-wing strands of thought. Spencer has become a leading voice mainly because he controls the platform, where he gives very similar whimsical speeches that are devoid of strategy and tactics. That was essentially what was at play this evening as Spencer rapped poetic about Trump, elevating him towards their intellectual tradition while ignoring the fact that Donald Trump’s racial politics are a form of primitive populism rather than the elitist right-wing philosophy they advocate.
RamZPaul did a version of his regular sort-of-stand-up, this time explaining what the Alt Right is in a speech ironically called “The Alternative Right and Masturbating to Anime.” This was a reference to a recent Republican commentator Rick Wilson who said on MSNBC that Donald Trump supporters had “Hitler iconography on their Twitter accounts” and “masturbated to Anime.” This speech seems sort of like child’s play for Paul, yet he usually does this type of comedic exposition, with previous ones for topics like the Dark Enlightenment. RamZPaul became an internet sensation with his racist and anti-modern comedy routines, which are bare-bones, talk-into-the-camera fare. This seemed to have some relevance when he was the only person doing a funny act inside of the Alt Right, but now that the Right Stuff and their various skit-makers have come along, RamZPaul seems as though he has become obsolete. This was extra apparent on the 5th as he bumbled along his speech, missing most joke opportunities and showing obvious how limited his knowledge was beyond Alt Right talking points.
The largest attraction of the three seems to be Professor Emeritus of the University of California at Long Beach Professor Kevin McDonald. We have covered McDonald at length in the past as he is the most prominent and persuasive anti-Semite of the last fifty years. His Culture of Critique book series declares Judaism to be a “group evolutionary strategy” that Jews use to compete with Gentiles for resources. They use their ethnocentrism, high “verbal intelligence,” and cripsis to undermine Western values like nationalism, identity, and masculinity. They do this by creating pseudoscience that are meant to actually disrupt society, such as Boesian Anthropology, Freudian Psychology, and Frankfurt School Marxism. His conspiracy thinking now says that Cultural Marxism (a term they invented), started by Jews like Leon Trotsky and Theodor Adorno, injected the egalitarian values of Marxism into the social sphere, where they undermine national identity and natural hierarchies. He has been able to create a veneer of science over a unified theory of anti-Semitism, which white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and their ilk have rallied around in an effort to try and explain their anti-Semitism. He has been open (since receiving tenure, at least) about his racial nationalism, editing the white nationalist web-publication The Occidental Observer and the journal the Occidental Quarterly. Most recently, McDonald has been working on a book on the history of the “white race,” which uses outdated ideas such as Nordicism and eugenic understandings of racial differences to try and construct a narrative about Aryans.
Instead of going into most of that trite, he went back to the favorite recent subject of the other two speakers: Donald Trump. He could not get far beyond his admiration for Donald, though even he could not seem to justify Donald’s spastic buffoonery by caking it in “identitarian” terms. He went on to say that the GOP had not lived up to their demographic base, namely helping out white men.
The crowd was noticeably smaller than October’s gathering, closer to 150 people, which was in part because it was a smaller event and because it had been less promoted. The major difference was that the anti-fascist presence outside was both larger and more confrontational, a turn that shows how the relevance of the Donald Trump candidacy is also bringing out Antifa supporters to get involved in counter-organizing. Effigies of speakers like RamZPaul were hung out, and photos of participants taken so as to lift the veil that many of these internet focused race trolls tend to hide behind.
This included an official participation from the Party for Socialism and Liberation(PSL), who has signs reading “SHUT IT DOWN! National Policy Institute = Racist White Supremacists.” This was an incredible turn as anti-fascist organizing is often perceived as being exclusively an anarchist movement, and this kind of unity is going to be crucial now that we are up against an increasing threat of Alt Right white nationalism. From the racists’ own accounts, there were two guarded elevators in which to enter and some were able to evade the growing crowd of several dozen anti-fascist protesters, which gives Antifa a tactical advantage at NPI’s coming Fall event. Covering these entrances provides them the opportunity to take photos that can later be used to identify participants, many of which (especially in the Daily Shoah and My Posting Career crowd), are hiding behind their podcast microphones and Twitter handles.
Events like this are now explicitly using Donald Trump as a rallying cry as the event was more or less a universal declaration of Trump love. Richard Spencer did caution against believing that Donald Trump himself was Alt Right, but instead noting that they both have a common trajectory and that Donald Trump is mainstreaming their positions of ethnic nationalism, enforced hierarchy, and racial hatred. This should mobilize anti-fascists to replay what happened in Chicago at other Donald Trump events, where their numbers can easily overwhelm the silly tough-persona of the proposed Lion’s Guard. It also shows that this Donald Trump mobilization can be used reflexively to go after explicit white nationalists, and that an anti-fascist movement is only growing.
Note: Before we get started, we want to unequivacably say that we do not think that AdBusters is a fascist or fascist allied publication. We enjoy a great deal of what they publish, support their project, and will continue to re-post articles, videos, and art from them. Instead, AdBusters is just an example where the left creates open points that fascists can infiltrate.
The conventional political spectrum often betrays the actual process for radicalization that takes places on what we call the “far-right.” The term far-right is often negated by comparative fascist studies scholars because it lacks clear boundaries. Is it right populism? Was Hitler on the far-right, or Ron Paul? What we generally mean is anything that is within the fascism spectrum, from racialist to masculanist to other forms of militant right-wing politics. The defining feature of fascism is that it adopts many aspects of the left, while maintaining the values of the far-right. This means it may critique capitalism, argue for protection of the environment, and be anti-war, yet do it for reasons that are racialized, based on hierarchy, and opposed to democracy and equality. It is because of this that they have found easy entry points into the left, often using a lack of ideological coherence or the willingness to be open to conflicting views if they share some political affinity.
Fascist infiltration in left spaces is reported reasonably often, from participation in Palestinian support work inspired by their anti-Semitism to points when the American Freedom Party or National Socialist Movement will join actions against the TPP. When we get to vaguer left spaces, where analysis is growing and reshaping, this can be the perfect place to slide in and create doubt and complicate the analysis.
AdBusters has been a left institution for a couple of decades now. Coming out of the “Culture Jamming” period of the 1990s, it was really founded on anti-globalization principles that were critical of global capitalism because of the way it destroys human interactions, replaces consciousness with vapid branding, and generally destroys the earth, communities, and free thinking through compulsive consumerism. This type of analysis has become less and less popular since the 2008 financial crisis, largely because it is a critique of the excesses of capitalism. Today, many people would love to have access to that kind of suburban wasteland, but as poverty and the inability to join the working middle class grows, the focus on capitalism’s effects at creating “boredom” and general affluence is less central. That being said, they have continued to be an incredibly relevant publication, and they were the rhetorical beginning of Occupy Wallstreet, even if they did not do any real organizing work.
While they are often criticized for using the same flashy style as the media organizations they critique, they have used a beautiful design model to subvert conventional communication. They also attempt to go beyond the analysis of the left at many points and forgo conventional political essays in favor of appeals that are often more emotional, narrative, and experimental.
Within this model, a clear political line is lacking, and they likely support having a diversity of voices. Inside of that model, however, there has been a lacking of discernment for how some voices have become present. Part of this comes from the willingness to include voices that would be controversial, even on the radical left, and part of it comes from a lack of understanding among the editors of what fascist crossover politics actually look like.
As is common in publications that deal with issues like American foreign policy, Palestinian oppression, and AIPAC, AdBusters has been accused of anti-Semitism. They would likely say that this is a buzzword used to denigrate supporters of Palestine, and it has been on occasion, but it is also incredibly accurate for many choices they have made. In a much publicized issue from March 2004, they ran a story called “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?,” which looked at the number of supposed Jews among the Neoconservative establishment of the time. This attempt to identify “Jewish power” is a major fascist talking point, and is often parroted by people like white nationalist academic Kevin McDonald, where they try and show that Neconservatism is a movement comes from former Trotskyists and is actually is a “far-left” and Jewish ethnic agenda. This comes from the idea that Jews operate on an ethnic interest collectively, and therefore they are actually allied with Israel instead of the U.S. The article itself outlines a key area of entryism: the inability to be discerning. Here, instead of having a clear analysis of Israel, its role in global capitalism, and then the politics key to the Bush administration, they focus in on something that has an incredible history of violent oppression: whether or not they are Jews.
A lot of ink has been spilled chronicling the pro-Israel leanings of American neocons and fact that a disproportionate percentage of them are Jewish. Some commentators are worried that these individuals – labeled ‘Likudniks’ for their links to Israel’s right wing Likud party – do not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests. For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?
Drawing attention to the Jewishness of the neocons is a tricky game. Anyone who does so can count on automatically being smeared as an anti-Semite. But the point is not that Jews (who make up less than 2 percent of the American population) have a monolithic perspective. Indeed, American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and many of them disagree strongly with Ariel Sharon’s policies and Bush’s aggression in Iraq. The point is simply that the neocons seem to have a special affinity for Israel that influences their political thinking and consequently American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Here at Adbusters, we decided to tackle the issue head on and came up with a carefully researched list of who appear to be the 50 most influential neocons in the US (see above). Deciding exactly who is a neocon is difficult since some neocons reject the term while others embrace it. Some shape policy from within the White House, while others are more peripheral, exacting influence indirectly as journalists, academics and think tank policy wonks. What they all share is the view that the US is a benevolent hyper power that must protect itself by reshaping the rest of the world into its morally superior image. And half of the them are Jewish.
Again, in 2010 an issue had a cover comparing the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto, which caused them to be pulled from shelves in different places. This may be a defensible point when discussing the open-air prison that Gaza had become, but it lacks a clear willingness to confront anti-Semitism as well when building a political analysis about the Palestinian people.
Lasn himself is fond of publishing 9/11-Truthers who blame the attack on the World Trade Center on “Zionist Jews.” This includes people like Bill and Kathleen Christison, who published their article “Elliot Abrams: Dual Loyalist and Neocon Extraordinaire.” Here they said that the former deputy national security adviser was behind the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. We should look closely at their title, mainly “dual loyalist.” While they are trying to eschew direct connections, this is the kind of rhetoric that was employed for years in American anti-Semitism where it is said that Jews are actually loyal to Israel instead of the U.S. (hence they have “dual loyalties”). This is not a direct line, but more of a “dog whistle” to anti-Semitic images of Jews as secretive, diabolical, and using crypsis to hide in society.
AdBusters has also been supporter of Israeli writer Gilard Atzmon, who has often referred to his own anti-Semitism even though he is an ethnic Jew. He has written essays that say that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic forgery that claims to be a written account of Jewish leaders planning the destruction of the West, had “prophetic qualities.” Atzom has even gone as far as asking borderline Holocaust Denial questions, saying “if the Nazis ran a death factory in Aushwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them?”
We are ardent supporters of the Palestinian people, but to create a pro-Palestinian politic built on anti-Semitism rather than a clear political analysis is to inhabit the same racism and conspiracy theory that built the pogroms and Holocaust.
In response to the perceived anti-Semitism in AdBusters, the Canadian Jewish Congress created a campaign against Shoppers Drug Mart, that caries AdBusters, demanding that they pull the magazine from their 515 stores. This came after AdBusters ran a spread that compared the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip under Israeli apartheid. This comparison is one more out of bad taste than anything, yet is a clear example of the paradox created in circles that discuss these issues without a clear understanding of the prevalence of anti-Semitism. What has happened over the past twenty years has turned the Gaza Strip into the world’s largest open-air prisons. What has been done to the Palestinian people, however, deserves no connection to the Holocaust unless your purpose is to undermine the trauma that the Holocaust imposed uniquely on the Jewish people. Instead, going after the assault on Gaza on its own terms is not only acceptable, but imperative. Memes that allege that “Zionists are the real Nazis” simply attempt to resurrect anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews so as to dismiss their humanity and to rob their suffering of importance.
Beyond their flirtation with anti-Semitism, much of what seems to be a problematic politic comes from a lack of political orientation, even broadly defined, that would filter out the more questionable voices. An example of this, which has been challenged in places like Alternet and Jacobin Magazine, has been the magazine’s promotion of Italian conspiracy theorist Beppe Grillo. He is labeled as “Italy’s Alex Jones,” a title that should reveal his M.O. right away. He is known especially for going after things similar to chemtrails, being an anti-vaxxer and 9/11-Truther, and providing false cures for cancer. He has provided manifesto-like works that argue for something like the Matrix, with virtual citizenship that is achieved through state coercion. He is backed by Bianroberto Casaleggio, who is known for allegiances with Italy’s far-right movements, including the Northern League separatist movement.
Despite these obvious issues, they labeled him “nuanced, fresh, bold and committed as a politician,” as well as being something of a performance artist and being opposed to austerity measures in Europe. “[C]ountries around the world, from Greece to the US., can loot [him] for inspiration.”
[Grillo] was planting the seed of a renewed-accountable, fresh, rational, responsible, energized-left, that we can hope germinates worldwide.
In a later May/June article they ran another piece supporting Grillo. Micah White, who is now labeled as being the person in AdBusters who created the Occupy Wallstreet name before it turned into a movement, put out a video saying that the Occupy Movement should take a next step by following Grillo’s strange 5-Star Movement, the same one funded by the separatist movements in Italy.
After the defeat of Occupy, I don’t believe that there is any choice other than trying to grab power by means of an election victory…This is how I see the future: we could bring the 5-Star Movement to America and have the 5-Star Movement winning elections in Italy in America, thereby forming an international party, not only with the 5-Star movement, but other parties as well.
As Jacobin reported, in the days after that video Germany’s Der Spiegel said that Grillo’s discussion of restructuring the parliamentary system was strangely close to Mussolini’s. Directly before that, the 5-Star Movement MP, Roberta Lombardi, was seeing media coverage after posting support for the early period of fascism in Italy.
A lot of comparison has been made between AdBusters and places like Info Wars and Prison Planet, mainly because of their “free your mind” rhetoric. Their line “neither left nor right, but straight ahead” is eerily reminiscent of the Third Positionist fascist rhetoric that attempts to unite political elements of the left and right behind a virulent far-right set of values. AdBusters itself is assumed to be an anarchist project, which could probably be considered true, but more than anything it is uneven. In an attempt to deconstruct “everyday capitalism” it often resorts to body shaming of fat people as signs of “cultural excess,” again body-shames thin people for being caught up in cultural images of beauty, and certainly revels in insulting the “sheeple” who do things like shop on Black Friday, not acknowledging that this is often due to a lack of means. In general, it represents a semi-elitist understanding of the political spectrum in these instances, though it would be incredibly unfair to reduce AdBusters as a whole simply to these cringe-inducing moments.
The term “mental environmentalism” has been picked up as central to the AdBusters project, which is also espoused by their editors. It is broken down as the way that capitalism and culture can jam your mind, confusing your sense of self, and can could be considered a form of sensory “pollution.”
Mental environmentalism is an emergent movement that in the coming years will be recognized as the fundamental social struggle of our era. It is both a unifying struggle – among mental environmentalists there are everything from conservative Mormons to far-left anarchists – and a struggle that finally, concretely explains the cause of the diversity of ills that threaten us.
To escape the mental chains, and finally pull off the glorious emancipatory revolution the left has so long hoped for, we must become meme warriors who, through the use of culture jamming, spark a wave of epiphanies that shatter the consumerist worldview.
Culture jamming is their answer to this, subverting branding and advertising to open up free space. This is the name for Kalle Lasn’s, AdBuster’s founder, book. This is an idea that was incredibly influential through anarchism of the 1990s and early 2000, and it is still an important component of struggle and survival in a capitalist world of simulacra and mental colonialism. That being said, the AdBusters project fails to make clear distinctions that do not allow this to go into a right-wing direction, which it easily could with the assumption that these same forces of consumer capitalism attack identity, nationalism, and create decadence.
This ability to shift to the right has been seen very clearly in their most recent issue in early 2016, that comes with the tagline “Rejecting Modernity.” This phrasing is incredibly telling, and it is perhaps the “go to” line for the esoteric neo-fascist Third Positionist movement. The term “Against the Modern World” comes from fascist philosopher and esotericist Julius Evola, who not only rejects the technology of the modern world, but also its equality, democracy, immigration, racial mixing, and other “degeneracies.” He believed the modern world to be in what the ancient Vedas called the “Kali Yuga,” or a Dark Age. This was the last in a period of ages, starting with the glorious Golden Age, after which there would be a destruction and the cycle would begin again. Some in this fascist interpretation of the Vedas saw this cycle of ages in terms of the Caste system, with each age being dominated by that caste. In the Golden Age we were controlled by the Brahmin caste, a priestly caste that maintained the hierarchies of the world’s spiritual traditions. Today we were ruled by the lowest caste, the worker, who, through ideologies like Marxism, have taken control of society from the natural aristocracy.
This rejection of modernity is the call in fascist cultural spaces like neofolk, racial heathenry, and other types of far-right, left hand path esotericism. Going after the modern world is also a somewhat sanitized way of speaking about their politics, where they instead focus on obsessions with things like the myths of pre-Christian Europe rather than just ranting about race mixing. They also end up finding some type of rhetorical crossovers with areas of the radical left, as we see in this case. This rhetoric is frighteningly close to what we see in parts of green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism, with people like John Zerzan. Zerzan, who is also published reasonably often at AdBusters, believes we should return to hunter-gatherer societies that were “unalienated” and non-hierarchical. He also would reject modernity, as well as appropriate much of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Zerzan also speaks about the problems of what he calls “mass cultural orientation,” a term that walks a very close line to “multi-culturalism.” He also chooses to publish his books at Feral House Press, a publisher known for the involvement of fascist writer Michael Moynihan and has the penchant for publishing many far-right tomes. In a review of Zerzan’s 2008 book Twilight of the Machines, anti-fascist writer Spencer Sunshine discusses this ideological closeness, but does note that Zerzan himself is not associated with those ideas.
For example, in a 1993 review of Tom Rockmore’s Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy, Zerzan writes that Rockmore “convincingly demonstrates that Heidegger’s Nazism was no mere contingency or accident.” But Twilight of the Machines contains a number of references to Heidegger, even though they are not always completely favorable. Adorno, in The Jargon of Authenticity, said that thinkers who championed the unmediated self (such as Heidegger and psychologist Carl Jung) forwarded intrinsically fascist perspectives. Adorno, along with many post-structuralists, also questioned the existence of any kind of complete social totality, as well as the possibility of an unfragmented self.
Zerzan rejects these views as reflections of our own alienated society, but the fact that fascists are drawn to Zerzan’s views, and that he is inspired by certain philosophers with ugly pasts, raises concerns. In fact, it is easy to see why Nazis see his attack on symbolic thought as the same as their attack on the Jews who they claim are the source of alienation, decadence, and abstraction. Nazis see his championing of the unmediated community as the same as their desire for a homogenous, racially-pure community, which they think will exist as a unified whole, free of fragmentation.
Zerzan is not sympathetic to Nazi ideas, but in terms of certain philosophical categories, there is a closeness. Because of this, and because he rejects Adorno’s path of separation from fascism, he needs to go further than denouncing fascist political actors; he needs to confront their philosophies directly. Zerzan needs to explain why his views are fundamentally different, and incompatible, with theirs.
Zerzan, as well as many other green anarchists and those on the anti-Civ post-left, are often appropriated by those on the far-right who reject the “modern world.” AdBusters seems willing to put itself in that camp as well, uncritically using phrasing and overlapping ideological critiques with this neo-fascist movement. The issue goes on to include the regular spread for AdBusters, such as the loneliness and impersonality of the “modern world.” This part of the analysis puts them directly on par with this wing of the modern fascist politic, and there is little present here that separates them substantially from those who see this modern world as basically a contemporary “Weimar” Germany where people are alienated from their true racial identity.
As they say in Jacobin, the “Battle for the Mind,” is at the center, rather than something that could be derived from a social view or politic.
Lasn might claim not to believe in leaders, but he believes in elites: marketing professionals with a higher calling, responsible for shepherding public consciousness to save humanity from brands, from themselves.
And by exaggerating the mass media’s ability to zombie-fy the public, jammers could imagine that they, too, had Svengali-like powers over ordinary proles. For all the “tools” Adbusters offered to sway public consciousness – stencilling, stickering, page defacement, supermarket trolley sabotage – there was never much emphasis on social skills, on persuading people with politics instead of bombarding them with theater or treating them like hackable machines.
More than anything, what sets culture jammers apart from social anarchism and weds them to the Grillo camp of quacks is a unifying emphasis on a theory called “mental environmentalism.” Mental environmentalism, Micah White explains, is “the core idea behind Adbusters, the essential critique that motivates our struggle against consumer society.”
For Adbusters, concern over the flow of information goes beyond the desire to protect democratic transparency, freedom of speech or the public’s access to the airwaves. Although these are worthwhile causes, Adbusters instead situates the battle of the mind at the center of its political agenda. Fighting to counter pro-consumerist advertising is done not as a means to an end, but as the end in itself. This shift in emphasis is a crucial element of mental environmentalism.
In this way, his project could easily shift over to technocratic control or the far-right, without the ability to actually utilize culture jamming with a social endgame. We would likely disagree with parts of the Jacobin analysis, as well as their counter-politic, but that does not mean that they are without a cogent criticism of what is happening with the culture jamming project. In a lot of ways there is an underlying elitism that happens in this project, with the “plebes” in the streets unable to differentiate the media images they are seen and in need of saviors like Lasn, and possibly other benevolent elites, to come and rescue them. This is starkly different than the ground-up revolutionary spirit in play with most anarchists, and instead harkens to much of the Conservative Revolutionary or Radical Traditionalist ideas that we literally need to be saved by an elite caste of rulers, ones bound by virtue to lead a revolution “from above.”
The revival of a hero aesthetic is also a central notion of resurrecting a fascist politic, one that comes in odds with the “homogenizing effects of egalitarianism.” In one issue, AdBusters decided to “jam” another culture jam, one by Barbara Kruger created in 1987. This was a billboard with a classic image of a girl feeling a boy’s arm as he flexes with the line saying “we don’t need another hero.” This image was critiquing what we now call “toxic masculinity.” As was outlined in by Max Haiven in the journal article “Privatized Resistance: AdBusters and the Culture of Neoliberalism,” Lasn and AdBuster’s critique largely undermines their larger project and reveals something else problematic about their politics.
By sharp contrast, AdBusters’ ‘jam’ of Kruger’s ‘jam’ is not only a refutation of Kruger’s intervention, but also a keen example of why hers was necessary in the first place. With the romantic image of two young male “radicals” in a violent protest situation, AdBusters has reclaimed the masculinized individualist hero problematized by Kruger’s socialist-feminist intervention. AdBusters seems to not only suggest that we need violent vanguardist leaders to confront global power, but, in a way, that revolution has been made effeminate by works like Kruger’s which do not meet consumer culture with the unmediated gestural action to which AdBusters aspires. Gone is the deep intentionality and cunning of Kruger’s work, which invited the audience to think of themselves critically and reflexively as participants in their own liberation. The AdBusters jam represents the politics of the gesture in which revolutionary acts and culture jamming are prized for their own sake. Here, the gesture is valourized both in the content of the jam, the two masked male youth whose target is unknown (for all we know that would be firebombing a mosque), but also in the jam itself which the history and politics of Kruger’s prior intervention is chucked out the window in favour of a gestural resistance of the petty little boys (and their regimes) she so ardently and cleverly critiqued.
Haiven goes on to compare AdBusters to films like Fight Club, where there is a “seductive yet problematic claim to ‘radical resistance.’
As a result, AdBusters resistance becomes coded in the figure of Tyler Durden, the hypermasculinized leader of an essentially fascist terrorist cell. Durden’s attitude, which valourizes the “mayhem”—causing gesture, devoid of a broader strategy or alliances, relegates any form of social critique or solution to social ills as ‘an act of bad-faith or the unacceptable whine of victimization.”
This mode of reverting to hypermasculinization as a form of resistance has been a problematic aspect of many radical circles, especially noted in the forest defense movement and in insurrectionary anarchist and ultra-left circles. This should not mean that those movements are guilty of those qualities as such, but that they have allowed for entry by those ideas and behaviors, just as AdBusters has. Lasn regularly valorizes his characters, such as his characterization of the Situationists in his book Culture Jam, saying they were “heroes” and were “unbridled and anarchical, pure vessels of poetic expression, living somehow out of time(pg 105).” While this image may share the description with Ernst Junger’s figure of the “Anarch,” this does not make it a fascist fantasy, but it does present a problematic dynamic.
Haiven goes on to note that not only do they lack a clear direction for what this revolutionary spirit should be, except to not be “wimpy,” but their analysis of the state is often directly in line with right-wing libertarian critiques.
Jacobin jumps on the “Scientology like” language used to describe Mental Pollution in much of their writing, which are essentially pseudo-science in the guise of revolutionary psychology. This is true, but when drawing on the writing of people like Naomi Klein it is hard to defend the idea that mass advertising is anything but harmful. That does not, however, justify an analysis almost completely centered on misreadings of psychology, which blame people for doing things like seeking conventional medical treatment. What culture jammers should do then is turn their criticisms back on AdBusters, illuminating the parts of their program that make little sense, draw on bigotries and reactionary ideas, and create a culture of self-blame rather than revolutionary politics.
It was even suggested by Jacobin that AdBusters would seek an allegiance with the Tea Party, and, in a sense, they have in that they have published Tea Party voices. What they point to is an interview with Lasn where he basically fawns over the Tea Party, and he sees their dissent as the key point rather than their political orientation.
People are coming up with the Optimist Party and all kinds of weird stuff, but nonetheless I feel that something serious could happen. We may well see something like the True Cost Party of America—a radical new way of looking at the global economy and the ecological future. It could well be a sort of strange hybrid party, a getting-together of the left and the right. If you look at the Tea Party, they are totally convinced that America is going in the wrong direction, that there is something fundamentally wrong with America, and that is a very similar feeling to what we have on the left. So maybe this third party will not be the usual kind of a clearly left or right party.
In one issue of AdBusters during this period, they posted the article of a World War II survivor who accounted the horrors of the Third Reich, except the only horrors were things like socialized medicine. The account did not include most of what is commonly understood to be the genocidal violence and discrimination of Nazi fascism, but instead was an opportunity to say that since everyone was getting free medical treatment, there was no money or time for medical research. Lasn continued this lack of discernment over whether or not the Tea Party could be a revolutionary force in his article “Regime Change in America.”
AdBusters anti-consumerist credentials have often been called into question, especially when they released their “Blackspot campaign.” This was an incredibly expensive shoe they sold that looked like a carbon copy of the then popular Converse All-Stars, with a black spot over where the logo would be. Critics have pointed out that this was simply another form of consumerist ploys, where they were using their cultural clout as a counter-cultural force and identity to share a product that would have its own brand appeal. In the earlier mentioned article by Haiven, they discuss the way that AdBusters and Lasn responded to criticism of the Blackspot campaign, including by people like Naomi Klein. Buy Nothing Day, another campaign they are famous for, is the object of almost complete derision on the left, where they seem to lack any strategic focus and instead create inter-class victim blaming so as to develop a completely ineffective attack on corporate capitalism.
It needs to be said that AdBusters has repeatedly ran anti-fascist articles, especially a popular one that begged the question as to whether or not right-wing America was turning fascist. They have repeatedly published articles on the “traits” of fascism by people like Umberto Eco, and often publish articles deriding reactionary ideas in things like “hipster culture.” Because of this, as well as the rest of their publishing trajectory, AdBusters should continue to be thought of as a radical left publication with incredible value.
What this instead brings up is what a lack of discernment and a willingness to publish some voices uncritically can do. Entryism is the primary tactics of the establishing radical right, and for those elements that attempt to co-opt parts of a left analysis, such as National Anarchists or neo-Tribalists, it requires a certain amount of depth and self-criticism to weed out their attempts to gain entry. This co-optation has happened either intentionally or ideologically all over the place, and the complexity of these ideas has created a smokescreen that makes onlookers often unable to see when a subcultural fascism is taking place. This was true in publications like Green Anarchist, is is true now in Olympia with Sadie and Exile, and it will be increasingly running along this paradox as fascists further try to infiltrate deep green, anarchist, and radical spaces. AdBusters has made themselves uniquely vulnerable to this type of discourse, and so we should continue to engage with them so as to create a dividing line as to what kind of voices we are willing to accept.
It may have seen a bit odd to see one of the biggest white nationalist intellectual events in the U.S. happening on Halloween, but there is a certain obviousness about it. Samhain, as it was originally known, was a traditional holiday in pre-Christian Europe where it was said the fabric between the land of the living and the land of the dead was at its thinnest. It was then a time to remember the ancestors, a tradition that made its way into the Christian churches that were built on top of the pagan past, and we see it with the establishment of later holidays like Old Hallow’s Eve before All Saints Day and the Dios De La Muertos celebrations in Latin American countries. With the white nationalist fetishism of paganism under a their self-created concept of “meta-genetics,” there is a certain attraction for them to pontificate about the “threatened” white race in the name of the ancestors on a day like this.
The National Policy Institute’s 2015 conference took place at the Washington Press Club this past October 31st, hosting some of the biggest names in the organized racist community. Richard Spencer, the President of NPI, celebrated this fact, referencing anti-racist posters featuring them as labeling them the “Superheroes of Hate,” and jokingly saying “Avengers Assemble” about their line-up. The conference, as we wrote about during the run up to the actual event, featured a rainbow assortment of white nationalist paranoia. The most featured speaker of the day, so it seemed, was Kevin McDonald, who has been working on a book on the “origins of the white man.” He recently did a podcast episode for Radix Journal, Richard Spencer’s online publication, where they discussed the origins of the “Aryan” race. Here they both indulged in elementary understandings of genetics and embarrassing overreaches about the importance of white racial in-groups. McDonald himself expounded on the idea of developing moral structures, in-group cohesion, and what he calls “pathological altruism” that he alleges is both innate to white people and is destroying them by disallowing them to fight for their ethnic interests. This essentializes whiteness in a way that is anti-scientific, as if having darker skin tones in a lineage changes that genetic history in any way. Spencer and McDonald lament about the Goths, who were eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, and they opine about this being the potential result of the “white man.” McDonald, now a retired University of California Long Beach psychology professor, is best known for his academic anti-Semitism, where he developed a theory that Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy” that Jews use to dominate Western societies for access to resources. No one in evolutionary psychology proper agree with this notion, nor agree that there is some type of biological urge to fight for resources with people of different ethnic origins. There is no evidence that we have some biological radar for people of similar ethnic origins that drive us towards allegiance. That is simply not how genetics work, as anyone who has taken a high school science class should be able to discern.
We were also looking at Keith Preston, a former anarchist who likes to parade himself at nationalist gatherings in an effort to find some community as his support for racism has had him ousted from anywhere on the radical left. At this conference he went on about the “Left’s worship of the State,” though his background should have informed his understanding of the anti-authoritarian and anarchist left’s actual association with the State. What Keith really references here is the left’s association with anti-racist and egalitarian values, which he sees as being totalitarian in its monolithic nature. This is an embarrassingly middle school interpretation of authoritarianism, and really lacks even the most basic ideas of where anarchism came from and what the tradition advocates at its core. It was never anti-authoritarian for anti-authoritarian’s sake, but instead a revolutionary libertarian communist tradition, opposed to hierarchical oppression but never in favor of an “anything goes” politic of “pan-secessionism.”
Sam Dickson returned, a Southern lawyer who enjoys a life both as a Southern Nationalist and as a predatory land merchant who takes gleeful pleasure in making money on evicting black families. After saying the much quoted line about “giving blacks Manhattan,” he went on to note that he wants a country for ALL white people. “White people, as we’ve become a minority, will not be able to live in a state of severe repression and discrimination,” he said. “Our ethno-state will not be a meeting of the Tea Party; it’s not going to be the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s going to be a genuine ethno-state with Christians, Catholics, alcoholics, tee-totallers, gay people. It’s not going to be a subset of the right.”
The conference was well covered by a few media outlets, with Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and Raw Story doing full pieces on it. For this, Spencer arranged a press period, which was a sort of delusional show since there were only three journalists there. A big question that was presented to the panel, which included Dickson and Spencer, was if Jews were white. Spencer responded by saying “I think Jews are Jews.” This was a good sound bite as people went on to make anti-Semitic remarks and jokes throughout the day with the laughing support of the crowd. “The Jews exist precisely because they were apart,” said Spencer. “Precisely because they had a sense of apartness—perhaps you could say a little bit of paranoia, about trying to stay away. That’s a clear aspect of Jewish—” At this point he stopped and realized that he was playing his anti-Semitism too straight, and then begged the reporters not to print his line about Jewish paranoia. Spencer thinks of himself as having a very nuanced understanding of Jews, and he hates when he is quoted like some kind of vulgar anti-Semite, but his ideas are so in line with traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes that it is a mirage for him to believe he is any different from people like Kevin McDonald or David Duke.
The conference itself also stood apart from the traditional portrayal of the far-right in the United States as mainly Christian. Instead, there was a strong push towards a kind of racial atheism and paganism, which is expressly noticeable by having the neo-folk band Changes performing in the evening.
One of the real set pieces of the day was the live podcast that they recorded as a discussion and Q&A with Spencer, two hosts from Sweden’s Red Ice Radio, and Mike Enoch from The Right Stuff and The Daily Shoah. Enoch decided, for some reason, to wear aviators at the microphone as he thought that might confuse the anti-fascists who were in the room. Though the rest of the information still continues to come out, some east coast antifa organizations have stated that they were still in the room at that point and have photos of the panel. One person taking photos was forced out of the venue earlier in the day, which was a testament to the paranoia in the room. Enoch is well-known for turning their “alt right” community into a bouquet of racial slurs, holocaust denial, fantasies about killing minorities and Jews, and generally being one of the more self-congratulation focused disgusting examples of the reality of “ethno-nationalism.” It was in this podcast, but really across the neo-fascist movement in the U.S. over the last several months, you can see the influence of Enoch and The Daily Shoah. The panel, who usually tries to couch their rhetoric in academic jargon, instead celebrated the “trolling” nature of their internet presence and state over and over again that this is a sign that “something is happening.” They repeat this as if it is a mantra they really want to believe, and since they have no concept of organizing or movement building it must seem that using the n-word in a podcast under a pseudonym or creating the #cuckservative hashtag is the same thing as creating a revolutionary political movement. Spencer himself banks on this idealism, the idea that if we change our minds we can change the world, instead of looking at the material realities of the world, which gives anti-fascists their greatest tool in combating their reactionary lies.
The conference offered a dramatically discounted rate from its original outrageous dollar amount(this is calculated to give it a posh appearance, which is why the conference is such a poor organizing tool) for millennials, which there were quite a few of. They then used this to say that they are a young movement, but really it is simply that within the racist sphere the young professionals are more likely to attend their event than a Klan rally. It is less that this is a new turn for millennials and more that any of them attracted to white nationalism are there, and their numbers are being vastly oversold. Just as on the internet, the reactionaries love to over speak, and therefore appear more numerous than they actually are. The questions during the Become Who We Are podcast panel were telling as few had any concept of political organizing or even how to communicate their ideas in anything approximating a cogent argument. They did, however, find unity in making fun of the small protest outside, which, from the sound of it, was underorganized and did not have a good strategy for challenging the conference. This has been a problem unique to the United States Antifa organizations, that fail to do long-term movement building or, in turn, actually physically confront anybody. There needs to be choices made about how the action is meant to be effective, whether this means trying to interfere and shut down the event, or, on the other hand, to create a mass coalition to show the power of anti-racist unity in the face of regressive nationalism.
Jack Donovan’s appearance is again a strange addition to the group, but says more about what a fascist movement is really composed of more than anything else. Donovan is known as a sort of “anti-gay” gay writer, a person who coined the term “andriophile” to identify queer men who do not want to identify with what he see’s as an effeminate gay identity. In recent years he focuses on “male tribalism,” is a certain radical wing of the Men’s Rights Movement, and writes about tribal bands dissociating themselves with the larger society and State. In his “Rules for Barbarians,” he focused on things like not caring about the fate of out-group peoples. This ties into work he has been writing for a long time, including last-year’s article “I Don’t Care” over at Radix Journal. Donovan, beyond being deeply misogynist and an advocate of brutal hierarchical violence, is much more wishy-washy when it comes to race. In his article “Why I Support White Nationalism,” he expresses a tacit support for the racialist movement since they are essentially men who want to create their own tribalist society with an in-group and out-group. In his recent article and podcast on the Wolves of Vinland, a folkish Asatru group modeled on a motorcycle gang, it seemed apparent that he was interested in joining. He then wrote a review of “What is a Rune?” by white nationalist Heathen Colin Clear for Counter-Currents, which shows a move in favor of identitarian paganism. Even though his talk did not reference race much, he spoke at the Human BioDiversity obsessed American Renaissance last year. All of this indicates a drift towards white identity for Donovan, though the movement will likely only take him in at an arm’s length distance because of his homosexuality. Mike Enoch really enjoys making gay jokes about him, but Enoch really just loves any time when he can use queer sexuality to degrade people.
The conference had a reported 175 attendants, which may seem like a lot except considering that there really are not a huge catalogue of similar events. For years NPI has lead a faction of the “alt right” that focused on a pseudo-spiritual and academic discourse in favor of ethnic nationalism, but here we are seeing a shift away from neutral coded language and a more open support of traditional racism and Jew-blaming. Spencer is now calling for the need for a whites-only “European empire,” which he alleges is a part of the white “Faustian nature.” When discussing his hometown issue when a group of White Fish, Montana residents got together to stand against his racism, he mentioned how he thought to himself, “What would a Jew do?” The crowd laughed and clapped with glee, and he went on about how he can use his superior logic to turn things around on them. This is all good rhetoric, but the movement he is a part of is composed mainly of double-speak, angry racist rants about pop culture(the humiliating boycott of the new Star Wars is prime example), and the lack of even basic understanding of how to create a movement that can transform anything is what leaves them behind.
This does not, however, meant that they are no longer a threat. There is still a huge growth happening here, crossovers in the form of Donald Trump’s campaign and the fringe movements like Neoreaction and the Dark Enlightenment, and their effort to co-opt “radicalism” and “dissent.” To really confront NPI and the growing faction of pseudo-intellectual revolutionary nationalists, there needs to be an anti-fascist movement that does what the far-right was never able to do: to build a movement. Anti-fascist and anti-racists will have to destroy the narrative that nationalists are building, which is easy to do since reality and public opinion really are on our side. Sticking to the Antifa idea of “no platform” is critical, and that does not mean shooting silly-string onto NPI conference attendents, but not allowing them to have a public voice.
People associated with class struggle anarchism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, and the like, love to say that anarchism really is a specific iteration of worker and class politics with a libertarian, anti-oppression edge. They hate to answer with more poetic renditions of what anarchism is, if only to be dumped into the “lifestyle” camp with post-leftists and primitivists. The reality is that it is as much a mindset and set of values as it is a specific politic coming out of the split in the IWA between Marx and Bakunin. The anarchist idea is one that goes to the heart of authority, challenging its illegitimacy and all forms of social hierarchy and oppression. In this way anarchism is fundamentally opposed to all forms of social stratification and bigotry, looking not just at its independent and personal forms, but also the social systems that put prejudice into systemic practice. Not only are we against racism, but also against institutional white supremacy. Not just opposed to sexism, but looking to smash patriarchy. Abhorred by homophobia, but also looking to overthrow heterosexist hegemony. Anarchism is the core urge to throw off the shackles of control, to share resources and community in equality, and to get rid of our masters politically, spiritually, and socially. The key values then return us to the most direct, and unmediated forms of social organization based on direct democracy, direct action, mutual aid, and solidarity. These tools are today used as forms of resistance and perseverance, but only through struggle will we form the basic social structures of a post-revolutionary society.
It is in every feature we see anarchism as the mirror opposite of fascism, the direct negation of everything it stands for. In this way anarchism, in practice, is anti-fascism, hopefully to be realized in a post-revolutionary society as well as an improvement to our current world.
From Marx to Total Liberation
Traditionally, Marxism is usually associated as the primary force standing at odds with fascism. Both the far right and the conventional far left enjoy this narrative as it gives them both legitimacy. For Marxists, it helps them draw on their past to give ever greater meaning to their own political legacy. The same is true of fascists, who often use the spread of Bolshevism as a historical double back to justify the excesses of interwar European fascist states. Marxism existed, as a revolutionary force that took their assumed base, the working class, and subverted what the aristocracy and ruling class thought should be a perpetual underclass. One of fascism’s core ideals, as presented by Mussolini, is “class collaboration,” which essentially means that all current classes are necessary. For this to be the case then the working class must gladly serve their role, as must their overseers in the ruling class. Class warfare then pulls as the threads of the caste system, where by there is a clear social hierarchy and the peasants and workers are not seen as capable of ruling society. Communism was then a counter agent, often associated with Jews, and thought of as the metastasized cancer of Western Civilization. This worked really well with communism existing on the far left of the political spectrum and fascism on the far right to create antagonisms, but no political distinction is this simple.
The post-WWII fascist and leftist narratives both moved based orthodox Marxism in similar ways. Today, fascists vaguely blame what they call “cultural Marxism,” a term only they use to describe socially left aspects of culture. One of the core anti-Semitic myths is that the Frankfurt School, which produced culturally focused radicals like Theodore Adorno, was secretly both an organization for Jewish ethnic interests and were so successfully subversive that their ideas have now begun to dominate not just the left, but the subconscious of Western culture as a whole. The idea here is then that the ideas of the Frankfurt School were secretly cooked up by Jewish intellectuals to create decadence, perversion, and relativism in otherwise straight and upright white men, and they are doing this to protect Jews from anti-Semitism. If they can destroy the sovereignty of white civilization by undermining their conservative religious values and then debasing their racial hegemony with third-world immigration of people of color, they can then subvert the white population’s aversion to the Jews as a parasitic class. Neatly put: they create dangerous ideas to destroy white people so that they will be safe and on top. While this idea sounds so insane as to need little denouncement, its position as an Illuminati type conspiracy theory has given it repeated resurgence in the Internet message-board collective basement of the far right. Not only does it make outrageous claims that could never be proven and have no ability to be true, but it fundamentally misses any of the key concepts, historical trajectory, and antagonisms of the Frankfurt School. What is more important, it really has bypassed the key role that anarchism has made as both its adversary and its ideological polar opposite.
Over many of the historic, and more recent, clashes with fascism, anarchism has played an incredibly key role in its defeat. This comes in part because of the history of anarchist movements erupting during the same crisis that often breeds reactionary movements, but also because it has a unique interest in seeing fascism smashed.
Today many are pointing out that anarchism, though often vaguely practiced and understood in first-world countries, has become the leading form of left or post-left political ideology. As Andrej Grubacic and David Graeber so eloquently state in Anarchism, or the Revolutionary Movement of the Twenty-First Century:
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the age of revolutions is not over. It’s becoming equally clear that the global revolutionary movement in the twenty first century will be one that traces its origins less to the tradition of Marxism, or even of socialism narrowly defined, but of anarchism. Everywhere from Eastern Europe to Argentina, from Seattle to Bombay, anarchist ideas and principles are generating new radical dreams and visions. Often their exponents do not call themselves “anarchists”. There are a host of other names: autonomism, anti-authoritarianism, horizontality, Zapatismo, direct democracy… Still, everywhere one finds the same core principles: decentralization, voluntary association, mutual aid, the network model, and above all, the rejection of any idea that the end justifies the means, let alone that the business of a revolutionary is to seize state power and then begin imposing one’s vision at the point of a gun.” (1)
There have been scores of volumes as to why anarchism has both diversified and been popularized from the 1980s onward, all of which we could never do justice here, but we have to see that this anarchist spirit is what is driving the movements of today. From the anti-globalization protests to mobilizations against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. From the massive Occupy movement to the uprisings of Black Lives Matter, the Marxist parties that once led America to the brink of revolution are almost completely irrelevant, and instead the anarchist spirit is spreading as the fundamental way that we can create a new world. The obvious reasons here is that the anarchist project is both always evolving and always headed to the root of the issue. It doesn’t just seek to just overthrow capitalism and the state, but all forms of hierarchy and oppression. This means that it is a constant ongoing process, and that it has the ability to evolve and change according to the personalities and cultures of those practicing. It is not steeped in rigidity like most determinism-infused Marxism, and its different strands, such as syndicalism, can act as complimentary strategic points rather than limiting ideological dogmas.
The other reality is that most people have already seen revolutionary Marxism, at least of the Leninist party variety, as an incredible failure. The most powerful “movement for liberation” became the most genocidal tyranny of the 20th century. It is this resulting beauracratic State Capitalist failure that almost destroyed the revolutionary left, and there are few who are willing to do Trotskyist backflips in logic to pretend that somehow it will be different next time. What we are left with is one revolutionary trajectory that is, though diversified, the only place we have to go to create a transformative alternative to the waves of reaction.
What Political Spectrum?
For any part of the anarchist vision to be made reality, from the local to the post-revolutionary, it requires a loss of fascism in equal measure. Every key element of anarchism sees fascism as its inverse, meaning that the goals can never exist simultaneously. While both the left-right paradigm and most criticisms of that paradigm are weak and not withstanding under scrutiny, one of the better of these would be the structure Nolan Chart, though we will need to redefine which corner each one has. We need to say upfront that this still does not accurately represent the role we see of anarchism in the political, but for discussion’s sake it helps to map out its relationship to other political tropes.
A more correct version of this chart might have Marxism and Liberalism in direct opposition while anarchism and fascism are in opposite corner as well. Anarchism is then seen as the mix of socialism and autonomy, which could also be interpreted purely as one of social freedom and social equality. By exact parallels, fascism is socially conservative and represents a strong state. The more apt description would be against equality and freedom or democracy. It would be more accurate to actually just put anarchism and fascisms at the very top and bottom corners, respectively, since they display the core extremes as represented here. The polarities would be extreme state communism on the far left, free-market minarchism on the far right, anarchism at the top and fascism at the bottom. This would then represent fascisms disavowal of free-market capitalism, but its respect for things like essential property rights and the right of private corporations over market sectors. From here you can go through and take specific ideological manifestations and place them accordingly, even though anarchism is ever changing and diverse enough to never fully be positioned on any political spectrum.
So, in this context, what is anarchism?
The simplest answer is a libertarian form of communism, but this really misses the core values at the center. Anarchism seeks to liberate us from oppressive systems of illegitimate authority and hierarchy, with the actors of this being the oppressed classes. In terms of economics, this means the working class taking the means of production in a form of stateless communism that is founded on the necessity of freedom and individual identity. It also means the confrontation of existing forms of social oppression, as well as the ongoing process of challenging new forms and subverting oppression whenever it comes up. The foundation then is that a free and healthy society is one that is fully socially and economically equal, where differences between people are no longer expressed through hierarchy, and an ongoing process of living lives with more direct control and less mediation is key. Anarchists believe that race, gender, and other identities as social constructs, as well as nation states that must be abolished in favor of internationalism.
In direct contrast, fascism and related ideologies is best expressed by the title of Tomislav Sunic’s book on the European New Right, ‘Against Democracy and Equality.’ They agree with radical traditionalist mystic Julius Evola when see stated that society is most healthy when stratified. They are against democracy, as they don’t see the masses as having the ability to rule. They are in favor of an upper controlling elite with aristocratic interests, as they believe that there is inherently a class best meant to rule. They believe in the pure rule of genetics over identity, where things like racial ethnicity as having a determining factor over internal qualities like temperament and intelligence. They believe in nationalism, where a set people have interests in each other rather than the rest of society. They are often also opposed to capitalism, but this is because they capitalism creates too much equality and takes the importance away from nation and race. They instead want to purposely re-enforce social stratification and separation instead of just allowing some measure of this to happen on its own, as is the neoliberal situation. They may or may not support totalitarian state measures, but they always support a form of social authoritarianism where a society has strict social mores set by elites whose interest is maintaining a social order.
The term fascism itself is rarely going to be used in these circles, as it has been permanently marred with its association with the Holocaust of the Third Reich. This new brand of the far right is also hardly historical re-enactors as they have modernized the ideas that birthed the interwar movements. The fascism of Italy, Germany, Romania, Austria, and Spain were all somewhat unique in structure, and there were hundreds of movements and ideologues that you never heard of because their version of these essential fascist ideas did not end up taking state power. Today the far right likes to separate itself from ‘fascism,’ which it sees as failed movements of the Second World War. Instead it has rebranded its ideas and modernized its goals and political programs, but the core ideas and values remain the same.
A great example of this rebranding has come from Counter Currents publisher Greg Johnson, who has fashioned himself a sort of “intellectual” of this far right brand. His publishing house, which is mainly made up of republishing tomes by people like Savetri Devie and Jonathan Bowden, has tried to establish a right-wing intellectual current similar to what they have in France. What he is calling the North American New Right, which is essentially just him publishing what he can after having to leave the Occidental Observer, is established on taking the core values of fascism away from its archaic political manifestations (2). As he laments in his key essay “New Right vs. Old Right,” he sees it as an important re-establishment of right-wing principles that only a fascist movement can.
“The true Right, in both its Old and New versions, is founded on the rejection of human equality as a fact and as a norm. The true right embraces the idea that mankind is and ought to be unequal, i.e., differentiated. Men are different from women. Adults are different from children. The wise are different from the foolish, the smart from the stupid, the strong from the weak, the beautiful from the ugly. We are differentiated by race, history, language, religion, nation, tribe, and culture. These differences matter, and because they matter, all of life is governed by real hierarchies of fact and value, not by the chimera of equality. The true right rejects egalitarianism root and branch. The true right has three species: traditional society, the Old Right, and the New Right. Every traditional society known to man is inegalitarian. All forms of traditional society have been destroyed—or are in the process of being destroyed—by modern, egalitarian, mass society. For our purposes, the Old Right means Fascism, National Socialism, and other national-populist movements, which are the pre-eminent attempts to restore traditional hierarchical social forms within the context of modernity. Fascism and National Socialism were not merely reactionary, rear-guard resistances to modern egalitarianism by partisans of corrupt hierarchies. They represented a genuinely revolutionary impetus to restore vital, archaic, hierarchical values within the context of modern science, technology, and mass society. Our ideal is a hierarchical society free of exploitation and injustice because the sole justification of political inequality is the common good of the body politic, not the factional good of the ruling stratum. So how does the New Right differ from Fascism and National Socialism? This is a vital question, because of the intense stigmas attached to these movements since the Second World War. The North American New Right, like the European New Right, is founded on the rejection of Fascist and National Socialist party politics, totalitarianism, terrorism, imperialism, and genocide.” (2)
This sums up the breadth of the movements in general. The coloring of each of these subsets tends to take on many of the aesthetics from which it is dissenting. The Traditionalist Youth Network, White Student Union, and Youth for Western Civilization use the grassroots student-organizing model, and often look more like more confrontational brown-shirts. The National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, Radix Journal, Occidental Quarterly, and VDare, when it applies, often looks and sounds more like the paleoconservative splits from the Republican Party. Institute for Historical Review, Mankind Quarterly, Counter Currents, and many others put on the vein of academic intellectualism. All of these share key ideas and social visions, while they rarely use the term “fascist” to describe themselves.
In many ways, these far-right movements are an effort to create a coherent right wing that is in opposition to the fractured ideologies of the mainstream right. They’re assessment of the lack of ideological consistency and true opposition to the left’s values is correct, and they instead want to develop something that has an “entirely different starting point,” as Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute and Radix Journal likes to say. What you will notice is that there is often a similar estimation of contemporary politics between anarchists and those on the far right in as much as the far right is completely willing to accept their own racism sexism, and homophobia, and is completely willing to estimate the issues with capitalism, globalism, and contemporary party politics in ways that are real and meaningful. The difference is where they fall on these things, not in the way that they interpret them. Many of the accusations that they throw at the far left, like the desire to destroy white hegemony and the nation state, are entirely valid and correct. The difference is that the left sees them as a positive while the right sees them as apocalyptic.
You can look at a number of social forms and goals and assign a sort of positive preference from anarchists and direct opposition from fascists. Equality, pervasive democracy, multiculturalism, a sexually liberated and diverse society, and the destruction of gender roles, are all core ideological principles of the anarchist project, as well as direct fighting points for fascists to target. Anarchism, as the furthest political point away from fascism, actually takes the elements that fascism abhors and finds its political footing on the most extreme version of that. So, fascism openly opposes democracy because it violates their self-avowed elitism. Anarchists, on the other hand, support direct democracy, which intends to hand the democratic process even more directly to the people. The far right strongly opposes equality seeing that people are not made that way. Anarchism goes one further and opposes every single form of hierarchy, from political structures to social relations.
It is in this direct contrast that we find the fundamental point about the battle between the two polar opposites: to fight for anarchism is to be implicitly anti-fascist. Success in the revolutionary anarchist sense would be the negation of every fascist goal so successfully that you create the purest form of their opposition. You cannot cohabitate with the far right since their ideological principles would mean to undermine every single element you look for, whether it is in projects for survival in the current world or projects that are for revolutionary implementation.
The only way that anarchists can win is if fascists lose in every conceivable way.
Introduction to Civil War
The history of modern revolutions is often the history of ideological civil wars where different sides represent ideological oppositions. Competing political factions vie for control, and we see that this point of pressure can often force the more extreme polarities of the political spectrum to mark these different parties. Though this doesn’t break down into the clean “anarchist vs. fascist” dichotomy, it does tend to take on a separation between the left and the right based on values, even if the political ideas are not always so well defined.
If we look to the 1917 Russian Revolution we see a history where the Menshevik majority, the direct-action focused Narodniks, and the anarchist populations heavily infiltrated the left insurrection. These factions headed even more to the left as the Soviets headed towards October, and the “white” forces doubled down on the traditional hierarchies of the Czar. While the more conservative Bolshevik’s ended up dominating the other factions and eventually purging them from the early days of Soviet Russia, there was a clear ideological split that affected the populations. Many people in the peasantry and working class shifted dramatically to a reactionary pro-Czarist position, often times defending what little privilege they still had.
The example of the Spanish Revolution of 1936 is possibly the most telling example of this ideological civil war in the 20th Century. The coup in 1936 from General Francisco Franco, with the support of the nationalist Fallange party and financial backing from Germany and Italy, overthrew the newly formed republic. Engaging in the civil war for the republic took as a coalition with the Abraham Lincoln brigade being the notable army of volunteers, many from the United States. The CNT, which had been directly clashing with Fallange forces for several years prior, began collectivizing land and industries into what many call the most comprehensive Anarchist social revolution in history. With the support of Stalin back communist forces they took on the fascist insurgency, only to have the Soviet armies turn on them to sell them out to state forces. This eventually weakened the revolution and allowed for Franco’s victory, but it saw as the countries political divides became a sharp line for how Spain was to end up. Catalonia ended up as the marker of Anarchist revolutionary forces against the fascist armies coming from the south, supported by a broad coalition of ideological forces that had some differences yet remained in unity on their fundamental values. (3) This period does not just mark anarchism’s position in challenge to European fascism, but really its most profound modern growth in theory and practice. The Spanish Revolution defined anarchism until the New Left, and still overshadows every current that has come later. It is through anti-fascist struggle it was able to realize the most key parts of a community transformation.
In the modern context, the street battles that have marked anti-fascism have been marked by movements such as Anti-Fascist Action and Anti-Racist Action, as well as hundreds of groups taking on similar positions and strategies. The primary component here is “physical resistance,” which has been an important point in shutting down the kind of resurgent nationalism. The conflicts have raged in European countries most apparently, which has a longer history of organized fascist currents, but in the U.S. this often has come into clashes with the KKK, skinhead gangs, and now many of the intellectual and culturally “alternative” fascist groups. The foundation of these movements has been on anarchist participation, often with ties to anarchist cultural and art subcultures, but always drawing from an anarchist tradition towards direct action problem solving. While non-violence remains a trend inside anarchist circles, it is the more nuanced “anti-violence” position that sees self-defense and removing racist elements as a primary vessel to actually rid a community of violence in the macro sense.
No Ideology Beyond Ideology
The modern conception of radical politics has seen a lot of issues in recent years as fragmented ideologies that lack full political analysis have dominated many conversations. Many have actually made calls for peace between the radical right and left based on the fact that they share mutual interest in the abolition of our current state and economic system, and that both are considered enemy terrorists of the state in the post-9/11 security infrastructure. The majority of these calls are coming directly from the right itself, which has a vested interested in blurring the lines between their ideological differences. There has even been a strong push on the right to absorb many of the radical ideas of anarchists, which often times appear outside the current left-right spectrum because anarchists hold such a fundamental critique of all elements of the current socio-political order.
The two forms this tends to take are with so called National Anarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism. Anarcho-Capitalism is one that many have encountered for years, which was proposed by Murray Rothbard in the 1980s as a way of co-opting and subverting their enemies on the left. While they utilize much of the libertarian language we know from individualist anarchism, the New Left, and even some legitimate left sources, they instead focus on absolving any state protections against unfettered capitalism. This is essentially tyranny to the purest degree, maintaining the coercive elements of capitalism without any of the state concessions that organizers have fought for, such as labor and housing restrictions. Many on the American libertarian side have created narratives about how this deregulated capitalism would actually break up monopoly and create diversified wealth, but this is based on pseudoscientific understandings of free market capitalism. In general, they have close associations with paleoconservatives and others on the fringes of the right that consort with racialist factions.
The first of these two is one of the more bizarre cults of syncretic paleogenisis that has come in recent years. Essentially coined by former National Front organizer Troy Southgate, National Anarchism draws on many of the anti-capitalist notions of Third Positionism to essentially create a “tribalist” ideology. This calls for a form of “pan-Anarchism” where by small tribal communities based on affinity replace the current associated order. Instead of being federated in a standardized anarchist conception, these communities would have only minor interaction and trade and could provide their own criteria for membership. In the rhetoric of the National Anarchists you will find that race and ethnicity is the defining characteristic they work with, and there is a strong anti-Semitic and anti-Feminist strain running through all of it. Because of its strange use of left wing imagery and social structures, it has gone under the radar for many anti-fascists until recently. They also often times put themselves as being anti-fascist as well, but their ideological framework still holds the exact same values about hierarchy, tradition, race, gender, and authority that even the most state oriented fascists do. Concepts like “racial holy war” still permeate their literature, as does this notion about the purity of “natural divisions” between peoples. Just being anti-statist does not make you an anarchist or give enough to make them allies.
The anti-statism of anarchism comes in the fact that the state is coercive and institutionalized violence in support of the current classes, both economically and socially. It is designed as a method for stratifying society through the use of force and, as a social form, will always do this. Anarchists oppose the state because of their opposition to this illegitimate authority and hierarchy, but not just because it is a dominant institution. Anarchists do not seek to abolish the state because it penalizes white nationalists or because it regulates the banking industry. There is a fundamental value set that drives this anti-statism.
If there is to be a long-term vision of success for anarchism then it has to be implicitly anti-fascist because it represents the open advocacy of every single element of society that anarchists seek to abolish. As we fight for different intersecting elements in society we need to see where those threats are, both from the immediate system and from the organized forces of reaction that will be challenging these victories on some fundamental level. Every victory that that is struck directly against fascism is a victory for the anarchist project since it undermines the enemies of these goals since anarchist values cannot be fully successful with any organized fascist presence.
From the White Working Class
We also must understand that the same popular classes for revolution are recruited from in both the far right and left, and we need to understand the split in consciousness that takes place in the white working class. Noel Ignatiev, known for his seminal book How the Irish Became White, writes as a part of the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation that anarchist struggle will also be paired on the flip side by a more militant fascist movement as the two are birthed out of the same forms of crisis.
“Alongside class struggle, it is to be expected that militant white-supremacist movements with anti-capitalist slogans would grow among the poorest and most alienated sectors of white society. The fascists are the vanguard of the white race; however, the big problem right now is not the white vanguard, but the white mainstream. Any anti-fascist struggle that does not confront the state reinforces the institutions that provide the seedbed for fascism. Moreover, every time the fascists are able to depict their opponents as defenders of the existing system, or mere reformers, they gain support among those whites that believe that nothing less than a total change is worth fighting for. An anti-fascist counter-rally where people gather to hear speeches, chant slogans, and shake their fists in rage is a display of impotence, and the more people who attend, the more they reveal their futility. Fascism and white supremacy will only be defeated by a movement aimed at building a new world. It is not enough to declare this commitment abstractly, by waving the red or black flag; it must be expressed in the content and forms of the struggle itself. How to do that is no easy question. But it is the question of the hour.” (4)
What is implicit here is that the most successful anti-fascist movement is to have a successful anarchist movement that is based more in material goals and movements than ideological baggage. The best fighting is going to be done on the ground and by creating a real viable alternative to racialism.
For the Sake of the Radical
The implicit clash between fascism and anarchism is one of a myriad of reasons that organized anti-fascism is an important point of struggle. Fascists try to co-opt the idea of “radicalism” that the revolutionary left needs to develop a comprehensive revolutionary movement. Likewise, organized racists feed into violence against people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender presentation, and other identities, all of which is an important intersection of confrontation for anti-fascists. In general, anti-fascists also have an impetus to fight because of the potential for organized reactionaries to literally push society backwards. All of these together gives a reason to challenge their presence that is tangible and meaningful.
Anarchists need to fight to empower revolutionary political ideas and to keep the process of working class organizing moving forward. Anything that undermines this process should be seen as a barrier to success, and fascist reactionaries will also try to take their ideas to the working class to undermine solidarity and class cohesion. Fascism is real and will crop up in times of crisis and turmoil, the same period that sees anarchism return to the mouths of people looking for a different way forward. Let’s remind them that fascism has no future.
Graeber, David & Andrej Grubacic. “Anarchism, Or the Revolutionary Movement of the Twenty-first Century.” com, May 14th, 2009.
Johnson, Greg. “New Right vs. Old Right.” New Right vs. Old Right. San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2013.
M. Testa. “The Spanish Anarchist lives for liberty, virtue and dignity.” Militant Anti-Fascism. Oakland: AK Press 2015. Pg 85-98.
Ignatiev, Noel. “To Advance the Class Struggle, Abolish the White Race.” A New World in Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation. Oakland: AK Press 2003. Pg. 80.
As Death in June began making its rounds on the Death of the West tour (a line often used throughout White Nationalist literature, and the title of a book by it’s public face, Patrick Buchanan), an anti-fascist group began to rally to have the dates canceled and shows protested. As the organizing began there was a mad rush to defend DIJ by a fan base that could not imagine that an iconoclastic band such as this could really be responsible for the kind of hate they were being accused of. “They are representing a kind of folk culture.” “They only use fascist imagery as an ironic shock.” “They are queer friendly, and play in Israel.” These are only a few of the justifications given, while most people simply cited that they don’t usually say anything racial so therefore do not fit in the Nazi category. This was responded to by a difficult discussion about the factions within Nazism and an attempt at a critical analysis about the use of fascist and nationalist imagery, most of which was lost on those defending DIJ.
What this tends to bring up is less a question of how DIJ presents themselves and more a difficulty in the discourse around anti-fascism. Today a rising tide of fascism takes on multiple political programs, finds entryism into a variety of cultural movements seen as traditionally both left and right, and often times shades itself in images that are completely alien.
The term Nazi is often hard to apply, and therefore the discussion often creates confusion and robs anti-fascists of the ability to truly mobilize around this issue. It is much easier, in comparison, to target things like the North Dakota town being infiltrated by the National Socialist Movement and the Creativity Movement (formerly World Church of the Creator) as the aesthetics and most people generally understand rhetoric. But what about the tribalist rhetoric present in DIJ? How about the discussion of paganism, right wing anti-capitalism, folkish culture, and the various tenants of rising ”intellectual” fascism. This creates a disconnect as anti-fascists are often reduced to the most obvious, and often least effective, target. The question here becomes what the goals of an anti-fascist movement should be, and what the results of a fascist current can be when not countered.
There are two primary problems that a fascist movement can create when entering a community.
1. Extreme violence towards members of communities that oppose them. This means the targeting of minorities, Jews, LGBTQ folks, and others for violence.
2. Entry into existing movements to push them in a fascist direction, whether on the right or the left.
The first one has often been the target of anti-fascist groups, and for good reason. The most common issue that a militant racist movement will cause is spontaneous violence for people, such as the random attacks on people of color on the street. This is an incredibly difficult problem since, by and large, anti-fascist groups are really not equipped for the kind of community policing that this requires. This does not mean it is unnecessary, but in reality it creates such a point of violence that most people cannot risk their lives to participate. Likewise, though people often hurl epithets at the police, calling them fascists, they are usually not, and the police usually targets Nazi gangs pretty regularly. Problems with the police do not usually come from their participation in openly fascist movements (at least in this country), but instead in their protection of a system of capital and institutionalized oppression. The system exhibits consistent racism on a daily basis, but this is fundamentally different than a paramilitary force that hopes to establish an explicitly racist social system. For anti-fascists that do want to target these groups, they are going to have to commit to a life at risk of violence and retaliation.
This fact does not, however, mean that their efforts are not needed, but instead much less effective. The violence of explicit Nazis is often unprovoked, unplanned, and difficult to counter. Instead, a praxis of community protection and solidarity can be employed, where safe spaces are established and large-scale community response networks can be created.
The second problem is the one that is both more persistent in our current climate and often less targeted. This comes in several forms, less often having participants of an open Neo-Nazi self-identification. Instead, these people may refer to themselves as radical traditionalists, revolutionary conservatives, reactionaries, neo-pagans, or simply “concerned citizens.” The rhetoric here often changes with whatever the cultural subsets of these ideas are, but the fact remains that they share a White Nationalist worldview. Their primary focus is to now enter social movements, community spaces, spiritual communities, and the like, and influence them in a certain direction, usually towards the “preservation of the European traditions and people.” They may not recite the “14 words” explicitly, but the content of their speech remains the same. It is here that things become more difficult, but there are some mainstays that we can look towards.
What is the primary issue for White Nationalists to focus on? Immigration (you may also say Affirmative Action, but this has really receded as will be discussed later). What is the second most primary issue for them? There is none.
This is not because White Nationalists view immigration as a problem above all else, even though their current rhetoric will lead you to believe this. Instead, they have found a dividing issue in which they can enter and shift the conversation consistently. In a different generation, there were contentious issues that were easy to enter the public discussion about, yet today immigration is on many people’s minds and mixed consciousness about this issue is common even in “progressive” communities.
A great example of this is the clearly racialist website VDare. Run by White Nationalist Paul Goddfried, this is an anti-immigration website that hosts a “variety of viewpoints” that are critical of immigration. It is through this website, and really only through this type of discourse, that someone like Peter Brimelow is able to be taken seriously and be invited to mainstream conservative events like C-PAC. Brimelow hosts openly racist writers on VDare, as well as well known reactionaries like Pat Buchanan. Here they are given a gift in that racist immigration ideas are still mainstream and accepted within the sphere of “reasonable discourse,” and therefore White Separatist ideas become part of this sphere through VDare’s position on the issue. The same is true of overt racists like Steve Sailer and the former National Review contributor John Derbyshire.
Other issues come and go as racists feel as though they can utilize them. At times they have been on both the vanguard of the pro and anti-environmental movements. They have at times been conservative Evangelical Christians, while also shifting to Germanic Neo-Pagan movements with an ethnic identitarianism. They are both hyper rational, and critical of materialism and science. They lack consistency in their issues and their approach to criticism, yet remain consistent in their conclusions.
The diversity and complexity of this has really taken shape with the injection of far-right academics into this discourse, usually coming out of Western Europe. Movements like Noveaux Drois, GRECE, the French New Right, as well as individual authors like Alain DeBenoit and Jonathan Bowden developed a canon to be essentially the fascist equivalent of Frankfurt School Marxism. Domestically, the vanguard of this “novel restatement of fascism” comes in places like Alternative Right, Count-Currents publishing, Voice of Reason radio, and others. There is again nothing consistent in the politics of these areas, except their criticisms of multiculturalism, egalitarianism, and anything that could possibly rip white Europeans from their “glorious history.” At Attack the System we see the North American lead of National Anarchism, amongst other similar strains like Anarcho-Feudalism and Anarcho-Monarchism. Here former Worker Solidarity Alliance member turned National Anarchist, supports secessionist movements where people abolish the state in favor of ethnically homogenous tribal sects. Richard Spencer, previously of Alternative Right and now Radix Journal, focuses on what he calls Radical Traditionalism, creating an essentialist and biological explanation for almost every social system. Here he consistently argues for fascist policies as the continuation of the great “Western civilization,” based on heroism, strength, and a strict nationalism. All of these utilize the language of academia and activism to argue for some of the most reprehensible views on race and politics, with a starting point that popular democracy is a perversion and that people are inherently unequal.
There have always been intellectual vanguards on the far right, so these new terms and publications are nothing new. What is different, however, is that the vigilance of their entryism has waned. It may seem obvious when looking at their writing that they are getting at something fundamentally fascist, even when avoiding the word outright. At the same time, as these ideas enter our movements we have not created the kind of united fronts that are important.
An example of this has been the uncomfortable relationship between these nationalist neo-tribalist movements and the radical environmental and Anarcho-Primitivist currents. While people like John Zerzan and Kevin Tucker critique all aspects of civilization for its alienating effects, and advocate a return to a pre-civilized way of living, there are definite elements to their discourse that have become questionable. What Zerzan often refers to as a critique of “mass cultural orientation” often resembles the newly forming critiques of multiculturalism that are happening on the far-right, as well as the inherent belief in Primitivist politics that people with special needs must be sacrificed. There is a definite spiritual element to this analysis, at times echoing the folkish connection between the people and the land. Fetishism of tribal communities is common, often forgetting to discuss how a return to these original tribal communities often takes the form of racial segregation. This is not to say that people like Zerzan himself share these fascist worldview, and likely far from it, but this has created a clear opening. Recently, a National Anarchist was added to the editorial collective of Green Anarchist in Britain, forcing many infoshops to remove it from their shelves. Often times this discourse has affected green communities, and it is not uncommon for things like race and nation to be discussed alongside these anti-civ perspectives. In Deep Green Resistance we see a respect for the top-down militia style that we see in right-wing paramilitarism, as well as an acceptance of transphobia without a consistent backlash.
As we entered into the Occupy Movement, the diversity of political ideas and backgrounds created a lot of ideological conflicts. While this disagreement is totally welcome in a multifaceted mass movement, we again saw a return of the conspiracy theory and “libertarianism”(for most anarchists, calling capitalists libertarians feels like a punch in the stomach). We saw things like 9/11 Truthers, Mises Institute fellows, and many on the fringes of right-wing economics being discussed. As an undercurrent to many of these are classic conspiracies about the control Jews have in the media, banking, and politics, many of which are the same that the John Birch Society had in the past. The inherent “inequality” of people is central to the ideas present in people like Murray Rothbard, and his racial views are well known. As a search for openness was heralded as incredible in these burgeoning occupations, we began to see an unquestioning acceptance of borderline conspiracy theories and disgusting views on the poor as part of the acceptable range of discourse. While many of these “libertarians” had connections to neo-confederate, militia, and racial movements, we still sat through talks on the gold standard and the Federal Reserve as if this fringe element was just a part of our revolutionary milieu.
The problem is, they aren’t. These ideas do not make up political allies in left communities, especially ones that have committed themselves to an anti-racist egalitarian worldview. Without the ability to identify this rhetoric for what it is it is difficult to be able to see it when it begins to influence our movements. Just like a parasite turns its host against itself, these movements go from being our tools for social change to their weapon for social destruction.
The question that comes up here is how can we go forward with an anti-fascist praxis that can be both effective and comprehensive. This often begins by knowing what we are looking for, and what we are fighting. Without a clear understanding of what fascism is we will only be able to spot it in its most obvious caricatures of itself. Unfortunately, the fascist movements that will attempt to gain powerful holds in America will likely not be under a Nazi flag. This makes them harder to spot, harder to attack, and harder to suffocate.
What people have done for years is attempt to create a “generic definition of fascism.” What this means is a way to describe what fascism is that is not dependent on a particular movement, conflict, country, or period of time. What is the specific fascist element? Some argue that there is no generic fascism because it is always a false ideology that is specific to the dictator and always just a way to exploit a population. While this is true, there are common features that bind together fascist movements even though they may be culturally and contextually different.
There has often been an effort to simply define authoritarian movements as fascist, though this is not a universal connection. Marxists often define fascism as the more reactionary sector of capital, but this misses its most key elements. Fascism as a state philosophy is almost universally anti-capitalist because capitalism creates too much multiculturalism and does not put the welfare of a homogenous racial or cultural group first. In this way fascism is often described as a right-wing socialism, where by a welfare state is used to systematically exclude people. The fundamental core of fascism is the belief in the essential nature of hierarchy. If people are fundamentally unequal, then society should be stratified and democracy should be waned since the governing of the people is best left up to an elite. Any form of capitalist representative democracy, which most anarchists and anti-authoritarians would say isn’t even a true democracy, allows for too much class mobility and popular control. Instead, a fascist state is meant to force hierarchy to exist without the irregularity of capital. This state is meant to subvert democratic institutions along an ideological line, force “class collaboration,” and make sure that inequality is observed. Many on the modern intellectual fascist line return to the ideas of Julius Evola, a radical right wing philosopher that states that societies are healthier the more clearly the social stratification and hierarchy is. He asserts that modernity is a “feminizing” and equalizing force that strips of our national, racial, and spiritual identity, which is inherent in “traditional” societies. This shows the next key element of fascism, which is a paleogenic myth about the “true nature” of society. Fascism promises to restore the true order, the heroic history that never was. Fascism outlines a mythology about a particular grouping by suggesting that in the past it was racially homogenous, filled with heroes, perfectly run, and where by people are spiritually fulfilled. This often forgets the history of extreme oppression that most people experienced historically as subjects of the empires they hope to emulate in a modern context, as well as the fact that there is no genetic homogeneity in any of these European communities at any point in history. The reality is that this vision of its past was never true, but that does not negate that fascists believe we can return to it.
Elitism, essentialism, and racism are all key since they create a worldview that inequality is “natural” and that nations are essential characteristics of a person’s biology. Without this return to the pure essential it is hard for them to argue that a nation has something crucial to offer, but if you assume that all things are based in biology they can string together a narrative that racial categories define our cultural realities. There is no contemporary science to justify these racial categories and no evidence to propose that people of Germanic decent have something fundamentally different about them than anyone from any other part of the world, which is why they easily slip into pseudo-scientific double speak, quoting obscure philosophers and playing with subjective terms like “identity”
There is a lot of discussion about what is truly fascist, what is proto-fascist, and what simply has “fascist elements.” The answer to this for anti-fascist organizers comes a lot different than academics that make it simply an intellectual exercise. Instead, we have to see fascism as something to be opposed and countered, not simply something that exists as an idea on its own. Fascism attempts to conquer and transform our communities, so its definition is only as useful as we can use it as a category to identify and destroy. Fascism is not defined by its command economics or its anti-capitalism, but by its elitist, hierarchical, racist nationalism and mythology. It’s perceived return to the past, its utopian visions of superiority, and its belief in the essential nature of sexual, gender, racial, and social roles.
Within this context we can see an entire historical run for fascism as it arises as a distinct current within a political movement, even if that current does not take over every apparatus of government and social life. Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy are often proposed as the only true manifestations of fascism, but this negates the reality of its place in the Fallange in Spain, the Iron Guard in Romania, and, most recently, the paranoid race-based nationalism of North Korea. Fascism makes up a distinct worldview where by imagery has substantive meaning and ethnicity is a defining characteristic.
Fascism does likewise not attach itself to specific political formations. There has often been a very common comparison, usually by the less intelligent conservative milieu, that any kind of nationalized industry thus denotes fascism because they also nationalized that industry in Germany and Italy. This is an obvious logical fallacy, but does present some of the problems with discerning fascism. While it does often take on authoritarianism, and the idea of authority whether in a macro level through “fuher” type leadership and on the micro level by strong men within the family, it does not necessarily denote totalitarianism. National Anarchists argue for a state-free form of nationalism, where by tribal and racial authorities are important without the apparatus of the state. This is one of the many “third position” fascist ideas that have become popular, where it is not uncommon to combine previously thought of as non-complimentary social ideas.
The key element here will never be a type of political machinery, but instead a distinct one of values. Political methodology is usually chosen because of its perceived effectiveness in realizing a sort of value. From the perspective of most people, equality, freedom, and the like are common values, though the methods of how to achieve this very greatly. Among the radical right, this sense of value is completely different. Instead, hierarchy, authority, tradition, and strength over the weak are the values, and the political apparatus that is chosen is just the method. While the kind of state fascism seen in Italy and Germany may be the kind that is commonly known, it is not the only method that these people come up with. The totalitarian tyranny of Soviet Russia took on many of the state functions that Nazi Germany did, but different in that they thought this oppression could lead to an egalitarian democracy. The difference is the Nazis used these tools to smash both.
From here we can begin to sketch together a profile that is common amongst the various groups, often hiding behind the syncretic “dualism” of Third Position fascism. At their core is a disbelief in the capability of all people to rule, the inequality and stratification amongst people, the essential nature of value in biology, and the need to lead through violence, heroism, and strength.
The definition of fascism should then come from what is useful rather than what is academically perfect. In this way, the broader definition of the history of fascism can trace a series of examples of fascism that may not fit the definitions verbatim. The reason is that while these movements are diverse and may not hold every single element of fascism, this is still their dominant current and can be reduced to this common denominator for the purpose of targeting. This does not mean, however, that we should be liberal with the term. Without the key elements of inequality, authoritarianism, and the like it does not really represent a revolutionary fascist current, but rather just the most barbarous elements of the current capitalist system. When the Obama, and previously Bush, administration engage in corporatism and totalitarianism, it does not inherently make it fascist. As anti-authoritarians we already have a critique of these elements and currently oppose the state of the system, but this does not necessarily represent fascism. Instead, fascism is going to run counter the current mechanisms of capitalism and the State since they do not perfectly represent the forceful implementation of their vision. Instead, they can influence or overthrow the State, in the same way that various strains of the left could. We very well could devolve into fascism in America, but it is likely to not simply come from the regular functions of capital and the State.
The war that is at play here is not with the fascists for the fate of society (yet), but instead over the fate of radicalism.
Fascism, as a radical current, critiques the current social order for various reasons, often times taking to task the same things that revolutionaries do on the left. Boredom. Environmental destruction. Alienation. Poor living standards. All of these things are presented often times within the fascist program of critique, but it does so with a fundamentally different set of values. As they come in contact with people looking for a deeper analysis and have a general distrust of the system, they present an alternative. They do this inside the various radical movements that are at play to attract revolutionaries, and inside conservative social movements to attract the reformists. While we will not be persuading potential converts inside the right-wing anti-immigration movement, those working in Palestinian support and radical environmentalism can and should be comrades in an intersectional struggle against oppression. If these struggles are primary to someone, they are susceptible to systemic critiques that support their current issue. If we allow these disgusting ideas to become a viable option for those in struggle, we will let our movements be areas of inflation for the fascist movements.
For committed anti-fascist organizers there needs to be a few ideas that can lead a way forward away from the current failures and to begin to target fascist movements as they arise, try to make entry into radicalism, and shift current social movements.
1. It is important to differentiate fascist intellectual movements and political organizing from fascist gang culture. The main reason for this is not ideological, but tactical. In the case of skinhead gangs or KKK militants there is rarely a deeply thought ideological root, but rather a pairing of racial difference with economic and personal strife. Here they tend to recruit the down and out, often youths with difficult backgrounds, and their main tool is violence. The reality here is that they will never influence any movement, and even the far right would like to disassociate at any chance. Instead, they pose the risk of spontaneous violence to communities of color, LGBT color, and anyone else they begin to add to their list of discontents. This presents a fundamentally different challenge from targeting white nationalists in American Renaissance or The Occidental Observer, who are there making poised ideological arguments to people willing to absolve themselves of conventional ethical logic. The plan of action is completely different, as approaching skinheads is really a matter of physical defense of self and community. Here they need to be dealt with simply as agents of violence, and in reality police will still act as their adversary. This is also not a conventional battle of political organizing as it would be with actual political organizers, and you do not have to win people to your side since they have already done a pretty good job alienating everyone around them already. This does not mean that anti-fascists should not strike against groups like Combat 18, but it means that this is a guerilla war and community organizing does not take on the same precedence. Instead, it is social movement fascists and intellectual right-wingers that need to be targeted through social movements that hold a radical enough analysis that their charade can be unveiled.
2. The fascism of tomorrow will never look like the fascism of yesterday. While a fetishism of nationalist images is a permanent fixture of far right institutions, with Death in June being the perfect example, the most classic images of World War II fascism have been completely stripped from the intellectual and social movement fascists. You are not going to see a swastika from the National Anarchists at a Palestinian solidarity rally, nor are you going to see pictures of Hitler in the pages of the Radix. Instead, you are going to see vague references to nationalism, identity, spirituality, tradition, and the like, all of which can go under the radar if you are looking for “Heil Hitlers.” The reality is that the obvious images of traditional war fascism are so repugnant to everyone in modern society that people who share those ideas are never going to cloak themselves in them if they want any chance of success. The fascist movements that do so, like the National Socialist Movement or the National Alliance, make up the most organized wing of the skinhead gang culture, but in the end the only threat they present is motivating spontaneous violence. They will never have power in social movements or statist politics. Instead, fascism will take on the same core ideological principles and motivate them within existing movements. This was seen very plainly in the reactionary behavior of the Tea Party, and the open invitation that they gave to openly fascist organizations like the American Third Position Party (now called the American Freedom Party). Here the rhetoric was the same, though cloaked in libertarian jargon. This society is being stripped from the inside by immigrants and non-whites, degenerating our culture, and taking the country from its rightful inheritors. The rhetoric was so cleanly disguised that it was often dismissed by even left-wing people as something wholly different. When the release of the Ron Paul papers came out, he was able to disguise clearly racist and homophobic articles as being some kind of clerical error. When Anonymous hacked the website for the American Third Position Party they found clear communication between those in the Ron Paul camp and those in the “whites only” political party. There was even an image of Ron Paul shaking hands with Don Black, the founder of the large white nationalist network Stormfront. None of this seemed to matter to young Ron Paul supporters who were more interested in his attacks on the TSA and marijuana laws than the fact that he was exploiting racial tension to bring in a southern voting base. These are fascist ideas repackaged, and having a clearly successful strategy to influence political discourse. Similar situations have occurred in different radical communities, whether it is continuing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the 9/11 attacks or influencing the pagan religious movement by associating Norse paganism with ethnic identity. The names and faces have changed, but the core ideology has not. It means that while we are looking for swastikas, we miss the Asatru Alliance creating bonds between mainstream Wiccans and white nationalists. Nazis will never rise again, but nationalists of a different sort can and will influence the social movements that continually reshape society.
3. Anti-fascist organizers should be able to differentiate between fascists, but there is no reason to do so when organizing publicly. It is important to be able to understand fascist ideas, imagery, and history so that they can be identified and their efforts countered, but this does not mean that we need to engage in long winded public exercises on the difference between National Bolshevism and nationalist Satanism. Instead, call a fascist a fascist. There is an effort to differentiate between proto-fascism, crypto-fascism, and real fascism, but in the end they are all just various levels of the same thing. To the public, the declarations should be simple. Someone can go on long diatribes about ethnic identity and Jungian archetypes, but in reality they simply are a racist. It may be more complicated than that to them, but it is not in any practical terms to the anti-fascist. The definition of fascism must remain useful, so do not publicly overcomplicate the discussion. This differentiation is exactly what they want since they do see themselves as more complicated than those stereotypes, but it is more useful to maintain them because in the end they simply are anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, race baiting authoritarians. To successfully target them we need research, but to the outside we need only scorn
4. Drop your liberal moralism. Fascism is the core opposite of a free and equal society. It represents the exploitations of the darkest parts of humanity, and the barbarism that is at the polar opposite of anti-authoritarian and egalitarian movements. There should be one, and only one goal, destroy fascism. The kind of respect and “even playing field” logic that many people like to utilize in a liberal democracy needs to go out the window when you are dealing with a direct spawn of evil. Success is the only possibility; their defeat is the only goal. This should come from any means possible, with no moral reservation. This does not mean that you should target confused people with absolute impunity, but know a real fascist organizer when you see one and seek to destroy. They do not deserve to make their case, this allows them to talk around issues and cloud things. Do not let them speak, do not let them have their own organizations, do not let them have a livelihood, do not let them live in your community.
5. Know fascism when you see it, but not all things that should be opposed are fascist. Free market corporate capitalism is a radical tool of class destruction and should be opposed. Imperialist wars on the Muslim world are racist and used to deepen the pockets of corporate pockets, and should be opposed. Rape culture is a disgusting aspect of the ongoing patriarchal structure, and should be opposed. Domestic spying and wiretapping are an encroaching police state that strips us of our liberties, and should be opposed. This does not mean that they are all necessarily fascist. If you have a clear understanding of what fascism is then you will be able to target and irradiate it. If you have a social and class analysis that is growing and targets systemic flaws, then you have the ability to really deal with society as a whole. This means knowing what you are looking and seeing it for what it is. As an anarchist I find capitalism and the state incredibly tyrannical, but they are not always fascist (and today, usually are not). Fascism remains the vanguard of the reactionary elements of every social sector, boiled down and magnified.
Where does this leave us with Death in June? As has been pointed out by many an anti-fascist blog, his ideas make up an affinity for radical Strasserist fascism aligned with National Bolshevist Third Positionism. This sounds like academic pseudo-jargon, and it is. The fact of the matter is that this is how they see themselves, how they differentiate themselves from the other forms of fascism that they do not perfectly align themselves with. What does it mean for us? The bottom line is that they are fascist, not matter what sub labels and traditions they attempt to quote from. Simply because they appeal to a queer audience or play shows in Israel does not mitigate the layers of fascist ideas that permeate not only their imagery and lyrics, but also outright statements in interviews. We do not need to get into a discussion about the details, especially when we can look at those details and see them for what they really are. A fascist does not deserve to be argued with. They do not deserve point and counter point. They do not deserve to have their ideas paired against ours. They represent the purest form of the enemy, the crystallization of every element of the current society that forces us to reject its basic premise. If Death In June wants to go on diatribe about folkish communities and tradition, let them. We will be on the other side trying to end the words before they even begin. To really combat fascism, we have to know what it looks like and what its tactics will be. To do this we need a way forward that does not only look to the past, but looks at our own communities and sees it when it begins to take shape.
Death in June has hidden itself from criticism with irony and calls to pre-Christian paganism, and these are claims that can be debunked with a quick Google search. Pearce has said openly that they began looking towards the ideas of early Nazi Gregor Strasser, which often takes a more economically socialist position than Hitler ended up taking the party in later years. In an article by John Eden at Who Makes the Nazis, he re-asserted Pearce’s public affiliation for violent White Nationalist actions. “It has been widely corroborated that Pearce dedicated a song from the stage to the ‘White Wolves’ – a neo-Nazi grouping who had initially claimed responsibility for these atrocities. In much the same spirit, a valedictory message was posted to the Di6 Yahoo group forum immediately following Anders Breivik’s Utoya massacre, and mainland bombing.” Pearce has also shown open support for genocidal Croatian nationalists, and continues to take inspiration from the neo-fascist National Bolshevist movement that is popular amongst the most violent skinhead gangs in Russia.
Pearce’s eugenic ideas have been posted in very clear terms, though he often shades the racial elements. “MAINLAND EUROPA, HAS SEVERE STOCK PROBLEMS. THAT, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE HAS ONLY GOT WORSE. THOSE WHO SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO BREED ARE DOING SO WITH SUCH FREQUENCY THAT THE UK IS BEING OVER POPULATED BY MORONS WITH NOTHING TO DO EXCEPT HARASS THE REST OF THE POPULATION,” said Pearce. Whether it was when he glorified white domination of people of color by saying “Thank the Gods for Euro-colonialism,” or when he openly attacks non-white immigration and Islam, it is pretty clear where his allegiances are. In an interview in 1998 with Scapegoat he said plainly, “Depending upon their ‘version’ of Eurocentric Racialism, then 9 times out of 10 I feel very comfortable with it.”
These quotes are not a-typical for him, and this has happened on a regular basis. For those who see the esoteric and gothic turn that a lot of White Nationalism has taken in the last twenty years, then this is no surprise. But for those who are regularly looking for the traditional demons, they are going to have trouble parsing them out in a subcultural that treats shock as inherently artistically valid. They are likely not to know about the occasional acceptance of various queer identities in White Nationalist circles these days, often championed by Portland’s Jack Donovan who refers to himself as an “andriophile” because “gay” is “associated with effeminacy, feminism, and leftist politics.” The point here is not that there is a common acceptance of queer identities on the far right, which there is certainly not in any meaningful way, but that one point of contradiction is not enough to discredit their fascist ties. Many of these movements are perfectly willing to accept internal contradictions in the favor of pushing their agenda.
The more important argument, rather than focusing just on the band themselves, is to really look what they open a space for. If you are to find many of the more contemporary intellectual White Nationalists from organizations like Counter-Currents, Occidental Observer, Alternative Right, and American Renaissance on social media, you will find that there is a direct correlation to the band. As an article at the One People’s Project pointed out, it is much more that the band creates a comfortable meeting space for people with these racial perspectives. One former fan reflects on their experience at a show:
“Then I saw the first Call the Paramedics shirt, and then shit got even less subtle up to and including National Alliance patches and Nazi medals. This was not a crowd I wanted to be hanging out with all night. Mind you, they were a very small portion of the attendants but the fact that they were there at all was increasingly upsetting as the night went on. Most of the folks were just sort of willfully ignorant of what was around them. Just like me.”
“I noticed Kevin I. Slaughter in the audience. His publishing company – Underground Amusements – publishes some of the works of Jack Donovan an anti-feminist, anti-gay, anti-equality author. There was a couple next to me that was chanting out any line they found adequately racist and kept yelling for a song called “Enemy Within” that I’d never heard before (I looked the lyrics up when I got home and was not surprised what I found. Ugh.).”
“When I got outside, it was all pretty much laid bare. The folks who had been asked to cover or remove offensive symbols re-revealed them (the extremely anti-racist staff of the venue was extremely vigilant in their enforcement of this standard inside the club and anyone was who did not comply was told they had to leave – outside the club they had no say) and it was at this point that I just said “Fuck this” and walked home feeling like a sucker that had played a part in something that was really disrespectful and shameful.”
If we give the excuses ourselves as to why this kind of thing should be allowed in our communities then we create the space for the development of a fascist movement that will grow before it can be confronted. The best organizing disallows the violence before it even takes shape, and we need to know that without a strong form of resistance then this discontent and collapse in our country can easily become the kind of reactionary wave that we never previously believed would be present.
Big thanks to NYC Anti-Fa who provided many of the quotes by Pearce.[/i]
The numbers quickly broke three hundred as the Rose City Antifa called for an action to stop the White Man’s March in the spring of 2014. Under the now common banner of taglines like “Anti-Racism is a Code Word for Anti-White” and “Stop White Genocide,” the White Man’s March was a poorly constructed idea for white nationalists to rally around. The event was pushed by members of the American Freedom Party in Portland, though as the counter-protester’s numbers swelled it became clear that the far right had skipped town. It was true, actually, as the main caller for the march spoke on The White Voice, a now defunct white nationalist podcast network, about how they headed up to Spokane, Washington. They then went on to brag about their massive turnout and banner drop. There were less than a dozen in total.
With numbers like these seeming increasingly dismal for many of these open neo-Nazi actions, the question should be rightly asked what kind of actual risk do neo-fascists hold? There has always been the obvious one, as was mentioned in Movement of Long Knives and will be discussed in a later essay, that for the militant skinhead and Ku Klux Klan factions, the risk is with disorganized bits of random extreme violence. This is a very real, if dwindling, threat, and will always be a small part of the racist right. When it comes to the more organized and “intellectual” far right, what potential do they actually have?
They certainly are not going to sway electoral politics in any meaningful way, which is actually quite contrary to the rhetoric the left usually uses when discussing the threat of the racist right. While there are some connections of what’s left of the paleoconservative and paleolibertarian Republican establishment, who will be focusing on immigration in the coming years, but this is a clouded connection at best. Websites like VDare link together anti-immigrationists from the mainstream to the white nationalist fringes, but any explicit connections between people or ideas from the fascist edge will be the death knell for any politician. Just ask House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was publicly roasted after it came to light that he spoke at the European-American Unity and Rights Organization organized by David Duke. There were, in previous years, a minor connection between those on the conservative side of the party and the less militant white nationalist organizations. People like Mike Huckabee even spoke at the conferences for organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens, but today they would never be caught dead at one of these events.(1) In response to being abandoned by the conservative establishment, most of these groups have begun to likewise abandon hope for the conventional electoral sphere entirely.
To put it straight, while racism is still alive and well in American politics, open fascist rhetoric is not.
The threat from fascist groups could then be in the general social sphere, where their ideas can influence the majority of public opinion. This, again, seems doubtful while the public face of racism today is one that is implicit to the social structures and less one that is openly advocated. Instead, ideas of ethnic pluralism and equality have, in name only, won out in the public conversation. This does not mean that they have actually been implemented in the American system, which would be functionally impossible to do as capitalism drives inequality into the heart of our communities. Instead, idea of publicly advocating inequality and racism has become socially unacceptable. It just is not cool to argue for an ethnostate on CNN.
So why are we continuing a battle against fascism as a social idea and political force? Why do we fight?
When It’s Broke, They Offer the Fix
Fascism, today, is an integrated philosophy that takes on numerous titles, like white nationalism, ethnic nationalism, ethnopluralism, neo-reaction, radical traditionalism, identitarianism, and many others. The ideas that are center remain ethnic tribalism, masculanism, authoritarianism, hierarchy and inequality. While there are differences in political, religious, and social structures, the core values and ideas remain constant.
Where this ideological force has led itself in the 21st century is to exist in points of social fracture rather than to insert itself into dominant social institutions. This means that fascism is being targeted at radicalism of all sorts and towards the possibility of a social collapse. Within what many call the “suit and tie” fascist crowd in the United States, the battle they are waging is over the fate of radicalism itself, rather than the country as a whole.
The key element here is that fascism presents itself, and honestly believes itself to be, against the current “system.” This system, which we can leave completely undefined here, is the complex order that results in what you see around you. For those on the radical left, who are steeped in organizing and theory, this can be see as the result of class and social hierarchy, the developments of late capitalism, the bourgeois state, and the rest. But this is not a natural development for everyone who begins a process of dissent. Instead, the miseries that are experienced in daily life, the beauracracies and poverties, the alienation and desperation, all are the result of a complex set of forces working against their best interests. People on the verge of this radicalization are often looking for iconoclastic, revolutionary ideas that can both explain the current order in a deep and meaningful way, while also showing a transformative option that completely reorganizes society. This orientation can exist almost supra political in that it is not necessarily assigned a political ideology, yet it is more guttural and a response to the commonly understood failures of the system. Often times there are critiques shared by both the far left and far right, such as of international finance, though the values that drives such critiques are radically different. What is needed then is to have the ideological gap filled, and this is where fascists today are finding their niche.
There are a lot of reasons while fascist ideas have been provided an open space or any legitimacy to fill these ideological spaces. One of them is the left’s position within the current order of things. The first thing in this discussion that needs to be acknowledged is the success the historic left has had on reshaping the values in America. While avoiding an actual egalitarian society, we have crafted an almost universal value set that instinctually supports ideas like equality, democracy, individual freedoms, and diversity. These ideas are shared openly and must have lip service paid to them by everyone in polite society if they are to be seen as decent. This does not mean, however, that they have to then act on those ideas in meaningful ways, but that those are the moral ideas that have come to dominate the general social fabric. This actually presents an issue for the revolutionary left in that they still need to see themselves as being in opposition to fundamental aspects of the current order. When fascist ideas are presented by far right organizations, they immediately present their key ideas as being anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, and anti-diversity. In essence, they are in opposition to the key moral arguments of the current order. This goes a long way for their argumentation as they present themselves as the antecedent to the current “system,” even if this framework seems absurd to those on the left. The reactionary ideas the fuel the intellectual fascist milieu are actually at the heart of the American experience, which has, while professing leftist values, has internalized class exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other social hierarchies. It may seem obvious to those with a left analysis at play that the fascist notions are the opposite of transgressive, yet with the leftist coloring that we have given to society it is easy to say that these fascist ideas are in direct opposition. From here it is not a far step to say that the left-liberal paradigm is what actually drives the negative effects of the current order, and therefore the radical right holds the keys to subversion.
What fascists next use to attack the left’s credibility as a revolutionary force is probably the most obvious, and a critique we should be taking to heart for more reasons than one. When Matthew Heimbach, formerly of the White Student Union and now lead organizer with the Traditionalist Youth Network, was discussing his counter-action at May Day in Washington, DC, he repeatedly pointed out that he saw the left as the “militant wing of the system.” “The Weathermen Underground are professors now,” he quipped to Richard Spencer, director of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. Spencer himself has repeatedly discussed the institutionalization of the radical left, pointing out that you cannot really be dissenting from the system if you are a “tenured faculty member” at a place like Harvard(2). This is fundamentally a true statement, and one that can be legitimately hurled at the radical left sphere. Radical Marxist and anarchist ideas have become commonplace in academia, but you are never going to see a national socialist or Mussolini revivalist getting tenure in a philosophy department. Likewise, community and labor organizers, with ideas firmly planted in the radical left, are a common career path, but no one is going to be paying ethnonationalists a comfortable wage with benefits. We should be happy that there is little institutional support for these people, and that their careers are always at risk when they are exposed for who they are, but it also lends credibility to their argument. They say that we are the system, while they are the true challenge to the system.
It is important to note that the way they describe the left is always a complete mischaracterization at best, often times relying on a less than clear understanding of what the ideas we are putting into practice are. This is especially true when it comes to anarchism, which the far right loves to co-opt the language of. But even if it is a mischaracterization, there are enough small kernels of truth that they can exploit to make the argument that the left lacks any real threat to the current order. Again, without a clear ideological and class analysis, this makes their arguments seem to have merit. Once the ideological framework is laid, it can be difficult to uproot.
The Problem of “Identity”
The core challenge that fascism then presents to us is when they first acknowledge the failure of the current system in very key and fundamental ways, and then attach their critiques to it, followed by their own solutions. To do this they have to seek out, or make themselves available to, people with a vague critique of the “system.” In our current period this has meant to go after venues where there is a strong anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian current that also lacks clear directives and ideas. The Occupy movement opened these gates at several points, but so has the allowance of conspiracy theory to become prevalent in radical circles, general anti-statist rhetoric, and the use of intergroup squabbling and disagreement. This becomes incredibly clear in the white working class that is squeezed in times of crisis and often has to choose between trying to maintain the small amount of privilege that they have, or to join a revolutionary movement that challenges class hierarchy. As Ba Jin points out at length in “Ten Theses on the U.S. Racial Order,” this creates a dual form of radicalism present at all points of struggle, one that runs to the radical left and one that stakes its claim on the right.
Whites remain a privileged stratum in the U.S. by definition, though the “wages” of whiteness have shrunk in absolute terms for 30 years, and have grown more porous with the adoption of colorblind public policy. The bourgeoisie remains overwhelmingly white, and the white proletariat continues to waver in its allegiance between white supremacy and class struggle. Whites retain access to the housing, education and employment benefits from which most blacks and “dark” racial groups are excluded; yet the defeat of de jure segregation has limited the extent of these benefits, and allowed some “middle layer” racial groups, and a few black, to gain access to them as well. At the same time deindustrialization and neoliberalism have steadily eroded the living standards of the lumpen and working class whites in most parts of the country, driving many into poverty or extreme debt. Proletarian whites have responded with bewilderment and outrage to these developments, giving rise to contradictory political trends. On one side, they have engaged in fascist militia-ism and the Tea Party movement, on the other, they have predominated in the ranks of the Occupy movement and the trade union battles, which the unions must now embrace for their very survival even as they work to limit their potentials. In opposing the regressive gender regime of the far with, white women, queers and trans people undermine support for potentially fascist politics among the white proletariat. (3)
When the rhetoric available to growing sectors of the working revolutionary class, this can split the potential populations. This should also be noted that, while still heavily dominated by whites, this issues has come up in communities of color as well where anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and conspiracy theory has often been placed alongside revolutionary racial politics.
What has become an incredibly common tactic is to have the focus shifted to more problematic areas of the populist left. The far right has staked much of its claims to the left’s demise on things like political correctness, personal anecdotes of bigotry disconnected from a larger narrative, and “call out culture.” These are some of the easiest points at which they attempt to discredit the left because they show the largest amount of error and the least bit of connection to a revolutionary politic. Political correctness, in general, refers to the focus on correct language and behavior that is not deemed offensive to those with oppressed identities. While this is a good barometer to consider when considering what language to use, it is by no means the endgame of a radical left political analysis. Larger stories dealing with the political correctness narrative often come from people outside of radical left or organizing circles, and these stories certainly lack the ability to tie this momentary lapse in liberal judgment with the larger issues of systemic white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression. These also create some of the more embarrassing forms of movement infighting, as well as incredibly toxic online debate culture. The issues of interpersonal politics are not the most structurally sound elements associated with the left, and are easy to draw up reactionary fervor around because they lack accountability. Simply put, it is easy to create a right wing backlash when your example of the radical left is people arguing about who spoke over who in your reading group.
From here it is often an easy direction to provide a litany of reactionary political frames that can relate to someone’s identity, in the same way strains of the left deal with individual identity based oppressions. White nationalism is the most obvious of these, but Men’s Rights Activism and the new “straight pride” movements are increasingly relevant. Here they can reverse an oppression narrative, stating that the dominant case for whatever identity it happens to be is actually oppressed because of left-wing anti-oppression politics. Men are oppressed by feminism, whites are oppressed by multiculturalism, straight people are oppressed by queer theory, and so on. All of these continue to use deconstructionist language that uses these specific theories of oppression as a sort of “base and superstructure” explanation for why the larger “system” is so corrupted. A great example of this would be the popular white nationalist critique of global capitalism’s failure being rooted in the abandonment of tradition for modernity, homogeneity for globalism, and hierarchy for egalitarianism. None of this makes any sense in any kind of linear logic, of course, but that is not really the point.
This process is an important one since it brings up issues that are often discussed in anti-racist circles where by white often lack positive identity as it has been robbed by privilege. In general, the quest for identity is an incredibly human one, and white have often been socially placed into a position where their identity is based on a struggle to maintain social power above other racial groups. In the long-standing academic quest to find the “Generic Fascism,” which is to say an outline of exactly what fascism “is” in the most common case, Umberto Eco created a great outline of common features that the fascist movement often needs to inspire mass potential. In Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, the seventh primary element is one who sees the politic feeding on those who lack identity.
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others. (4)
Eco’s outline also sees the establishment of tradition, the conflict between that tradition and modernity, and the inclusion of diversity and intellectualism as distinct features of modernity. With this it is easy to develop a narrative of identity rooted in tradition by stripping away all forms of critique and counter-point. Here you can develop an entire “theory of the world” in ways that will not even leave itself subject to radical critiques from anywhere else, and therefore can instinctually operate in cult-like ways. In a sense, this creates an “idea virus” that obliterates all other facts and logics so that they can reinforce the “in group” and “out group” dynamic that they have defined by their appropriation and validation of social constructs like “race,” “nation,” and “tradition.” In just the way that those with an anti-oppression analysis see things like sexual orientation and gender presentations that are identities based on experience and therefore used in survival and struggle, fascist will see categories like “white” and “male” as individual groups that need to be first identified with and then defended.
The complexity of identity that fascist ideologies attempt to answer and exploit are very fundamental to our understanding of how nationalism has always worked. In Stuart Hood and Litza Janz’s very basic introduction to fascism, they observe that it is actually the abolition of individuality that can help people in times of crisis to feel as though they have found some kind of personhood.
Paradoxically, submersion in the mass gives you identity, the shared power of nationality and race. Fascism appeals to the romanticism of youth, the lure of self-sacrifice to a common cause, the rediscovery of comradeship in battle. Social differences vanish in the unselfish experience of danger, discomfort and suffering. Fascism gives you a clear and identifiable enemy. (5)
The same can be true of identification through struggle on the left, primarily anti-oppression and/or class struggle, but these are identities of social category rather than essential ones. Fascist categories, such as gender and race, are seen in their eyes as being biologically and spiritually concrete, and those on the left see them as social constructs. These reactionary ideas then hope that they can strip away the progress of modernity to find something “real” that works much better, a process that is regressive and intent on returning monstrous inequality and tyranny into the public world.
For a long period many of these strands of reactionary politics were disparate, but in recent years organizations like the National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, Counter-Currents Publishing, and others have worked hard to make these simply different fingers on the same hand. These coalesce in movements dubbed things like the Alternative Right, the Dark Enlightenment, or other movements challenging “modernity.” It is with these kinds of critiques that they fade directly into the kinds of deeper fascist philosophical traditions like the racial traditionalism of Julius Evola, the conservative revolution of Ernst Junger and Carl Schmidt, and the New Right of people like Alain De Benoist and Guillaume Faye. Whether it is a “cult of masculinity,” regaining “organic societies,” or “preserving European civilization,” they hold certain “truths” to be self-evident.
The final purpose of these fascist narrative generators is to create a revolutionary narrative where one is needed yet entirely lacking. In the past fascist “philosophy” was roundly ignored as anything coherent because it was usually a façade for simple racist ideas, the personality cult of this leader or that, or simply a retrograde interpretation of conservatism. We shouldn’t give contemporary fascist ideologues more credit than they are due, but they have worked for decades to create a seemingly coherent set of ideas that can blend in amongst the menu of radical philosophies that we are used to in a hyper connected information age. Here they can trace the failure all the way back to the “left’s” victory in the French Revolution as the start of the fall away from aristocracy, nobility, and ethnic heritage governing society. All of these things are misinterpretations of feudal monarchies, but what is important is that they superimpose modern conceptions of race, gender, and social stratification on something that appears to have continuity to romanticize periods of the past. This is classic fascist mental architecture that has been similar since its start in the interwar period.
The next primary area where the far right attempts to stake its claim on revolutionary politics is in movements that are commonly associated with the left, but can transmute to the right for whatever reason. The most popular and notable of these has been animal rights and radical environmentalism. The reasons for this are more piecemeal than actually ideological; which was ironically termed “idea clusters” by far-right academic Paul Gottfried. His term originally was meant to describe the mainstream Republican Conservative Movement started by William Buckley on an anti-communist crusade, where by different perspectives that have no ideological connection are mashed together and then touted as a coherent ideology. This would mean things like conservative sexual mores, mixed with free market economics and interventionist foreign policy. This can actually be applied to the far right as they stake their claim on many of these fields previously given to the left. Environmentalism, as British right-wing impresario Jonathan Bowden commented, can be attributed to the right in that it is the preservation of nature as a guiding force. He sees the left as using egalitarian control over nature rather than letting nature guide the way, which he sees as inherently anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic. This view of ecology is actually shared by many Marxists, who have a sort of anti-nature, bioengineering view of how to preserve the biosphere. At the same time, however, there are enough voices in radical ecology that speak to the balance and social harmony necessary in preserved ecosystems that it seems people like Bowden are simply placing their ideology upon ecology, rather than deriving it from ecology. At the same time, the desperation that often comes in radical environmental politics has led people to increasingly totalitarian ideas in some cases, and often shift into the blaming of the third-world, immigration, and increasing populations. This has led to the far right shift toward Third Positionist ideas that are specifically racist and anti-Semitic, which was seen in the right-wing co-optations of publications like Green Anarchist. It was again seen very recently as two former Earth Liberation Front prisoners were released and then shown to have joined openly fascist movements. These went under the radar because of their focus on things like the esoteric Nazism advocated by people like Miguel Serrano and the racist Hindu heretic Savitri Devi, really focusing on the kind of alt-religious interpretations of white nationalism. (6)
Palestinian solidarity movements have been one of the more obvious culprits because of the associated anti-Semitism, and unfortunately a lot of this rhetoric has been accepted in movements like Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions, though open anti-Semitism is condemned. The anti-war movement has seen some of their largest mobilizations, especially in “liberal” areas where nationalists will often attempt to go under the radar or be allowed to participate because of “freedom of speech.” This has created clashes when members of many of the larger fascist movements, including open neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance and National Socialist Movement, will come out for anti-war protests based on an Old Right notion of isolationism. This is the same logic for which they join the classical left and Big Labor to oppose “free trade” deals like the coming TPP, where they propose a kind of “economic nationalism” in opposition to the outsourcing of American jobs. While the largest thrust of these movements would never stand with the values that drive the politics of these groups, on the very surface they do share similar sentiments. This is what has allowed the more esoteric and complicated organizations to go under the radar, though a Swastika will still get someone thrown out quickly even by the most accepting liberal participant.
The difficulty of identifying fascist currents is something that has been discussed at length in a lot of places, and this has been especially true with its presence under the guise of paganism. While people are usually fairly aware of the violently racist Wotanist movement of David Lane, it is the more moderate “folkish” Asatru and Odinism that is often associated with intellectual fascist movements that goes under the radar. Because of shared symbolism and religious structure with Wicca and neopaganist trends conventionally associated with the left, without going deep into their ideological foundations it can be easy to let this go unchallenged. This has allowed for these groups, like Stephen McNallen’s Asatru Folk Assembly, to have a lot more influence in larger pagan communities than you would expect. It is here where they are allowed to profess a soft form of ethnic nationalism by proposing lines between pagan traditions based on the participant’s ethnic heritage, which they claim is similar to the “blood quorum” requirements of Native American tribes. They fail to acknowledge that the reason for tribal use of this requirement is based on the need to defend against racist oppression, but their use of American New Age symbolism has allowed the logical conclusions of their proposals to be ignored.
In all of these sectors, from anti-war organizing to pagan Reconstructionism, what we have here are options for radical visions, with some being political and some being spiritual in nature. The participation of the far right, even in marginal areas of these movements, allows them to be a part of the conversation around radical social ideas, and therefore some of the most frightening nationalist notions become a part of the spectrum when discussing revolutionary concepts. Simply put: they have become a radical option for people on the hunt for revolutionary answers to social problems.
So, in the end, it was never the conventional political sphere that was really at risk for falling to the far right, at least as it stands now, but instead the fate of the “radical option.” This means that in the increasing crisis of international capitalism, peak oil, climate change, etc., the radical options become increasingly relevant, and, as radicals, that is what we want. But if we are to bank on providing radical critiques of the current system, we need to have these far right ideas identified and removed. Liberals who support a liberal state can expect that the state will generally suppress these far right movements. This has essentially been the focus of much of the liberal anti-fascist movement, with organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center providing training and information to law enforcement on how to combat the threat. For those who actually counter the legitimacy of the bourgeois state, this creates an issue since we need to also create a comprehensive anti-fascism within radical circles. This does not just mean an ideological opposition, but actually a functional way of dealing with it when it comes up. Even if these movements do not have the ability to shift the entire force of populist anti-capitalist movements or anti-statist movements, even a small crack can allow parts of their ideas to seep in. These would destabilize the very basis of these radical movements, which should have an anti-hierarchical equality at the center of its value set. If ideas like misogyny, racialism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, fat phobia, and other forms of oppressive hierarchy that are advocated by these movements are allowed to give that bigotry legitimacy in our movements, even in part, it could undermine the very center of what we are fighting for. We fight for a revolutionary vision because we want a world where freedom, equality, and democracy can flourish, and we are not willing to give up those values to right-wing revolutionary forces that also want to undermine the current order, but to very different ends.
Understanding the why is the easy part, it is the how that takes the work. Identifying the sources of where fascist ideas focused on entryism in left movements are coming from is critical. Right now the newly repackaged form of scientific racism known as Human Biological Diversity has seen an explosion in the blogosphere, and is creating a crossover that holocaust denial had in the 80s and 90s. Movements like the Neo-Reactionary and Dark Enlightenment are uniting internet culture and the tech world in a mystified anti-egalitarian ethos, and really just tries to make old radical traditionalist ideas hip. We know that anti-Zionism, anti-modern environmentalism, and misanthropic animal rights are all having difficulty pushing these movements out, so giving it extra thought and awareness is critical. It is going to be increasingly important to understand the fragmented nature of these intellectual strains as they further deviate from the traditional organization.
We need an open dialogue with understanding within social movements so that they trends can be first identified and then countered. Without this conversation it will be difficult to actually create the kind of common understanding as to why these ideas are abhorrent, and we need to give support for discussion that helps draw these issues out into the open. This does not, however, mean that open dialogue with fascists is useful. While internally talking to and hearing each other is critical, but radio silence has always been the best option with the right. They are developing their movements for entryism in our own, which means they are training their people to debate these issues. Do not give them the opportunity, but instead we need to inoculate each other against their subversion.
The final challenge to radicals is not going to be entirely with “purifying” movements as, in weak points, there will always be a chance for ambitious young haters to make their case to those disaffected by the mainstream. Instead, the most effective way to challenge this entryism is to create a left movement that has the kind of teeth to challenge the current order in meaningful and visible ways. This means to empower all areas of the movement while strengthening ideas and analysis about the “how and why” of it. To show a labor movement that is founded on a challenge to capitalism while also showing the ability to win. By having a housing justice movement that fundamentally goes after racial inequality in housing and the commodification of housing, while actually taking over entries areas of cities from developers. By having an anti-patriarchy movement that actually challenges male hegemony while taking real gains in the fight against sexual assault, for free access to reproductive health services, and the ability for open gender fluidity. What we need is to present a movement and narrative that is powerful enough to challenge orthodoxy on its own because nothing will rob the right’s power to claim new converts than the ability to create the most enticing radical option.