Far Right Yellow Vests Convoy Rolls into Ottawa: Met with Resistance

By Jeff Shantz

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, a convoy made up of hundreds of semi-trucks, pickups, cars, and buses rolled into Ottawa for a protest against the Liberal federal government. Dubbed the United We Roll Convoy, the protest originated in Alberta ostensibly to protest the federal government’s policies on the oil industry and to call for new oil pipelines and extractives industry developments. However, the convoy and protest were made up largely of people associated with the far Right “Yellow Vests” movement in Canada (the original name of the convoy was the “Yellow Vest Convoy”—changed to cover up that connection). The Yellow Vests movement in Canada have nothing in common with the French Gilets Jaunes and are really an effort by far Right and white supremacist groups to give a populist dressing to their hate.

Despite spokespeople’s efforts to emphasize the fossil fuel industries, and to deny far Right and racist motivations, participants have openly stated their displeasure with the government recently signing a non-binding United Nations compact on global migration. Even lead convoy organizer, Glen Carlitt, has insisted that “Canada’s borders need to be controlled by Canada and its citizens.”

While the convoy of vehicles took up a large space, almost a kilometre of Wellington Street, in front of Parliament, the numbers of actual individuals protesting was relatively small. Notably they included far Right speakers, in fact known fascists, such as open white supremacist, self-proclaimed propagandist for the “alt-Right” Faith Goldy. Fascist supporters of the convoy included: David Selvers and Millennium Crane in Sault Ste Marie; Christopher Hayes of Soldiers of Odin and Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI). Dan Dubois, leader of the Canadian Combat Coalition, led the convoy at points along the route. The Yellow Vests movement has issued death threats against Muslims in Canada.

What is perhaps more telling is the open public support, and active participation, of several high-profile mainstream conservative politicians in Canada. This includes federal Opposition Leader and Conservative Party head Andrew Scheer, and leader of the new alt-Right Peoples Party of Canada (and former Conservative Party member and leadership hopeful) Maxime Bernier, high ranking Conservative Member of parliament, Pierre Poilievre and Conservative Senator David Tkachuk. Scheer went a step further and got into one of the trucks with a slogan on the side. Ontario Premier Doug Ford gave supportive public messages to the Yellow Vest convoy along the way, as did United Conservative Party of Alberta leader Jason Kenney.  

The convoy was confronted, and indeed outnumbered, by a counter rally organized by Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa and Ottawa Against Fascism. Under the banner Stand Up for Land Defenders, the counter rally shouted down and drowned out Yellow Vests speakers with chants of “Nazi Scum off Our Streets!” About two dozen people held a round dance in front of Parliament and the Yellow Vests. Predictably police organized to protect the fascists. They stood facing the Indigenous and antifa rally who they clearly view as the threat here.

Indigenous counter-protesters, like Wolf Tabobondung of Wasauksing First Nation, point out that the extractives projects and pipeline developments that the Yellow Vests are promoting are being carried out on Indigenous lands and imposed on Indigenous communities. Often these are unceded lands, that the state and corporations have no standing over, and in other cases are happening in violation of treaties. These are significant matters that connect issues of resource extraction, industrial development, statist “nation building,” and fascist mobilization (including against Indigenous communities).

A point that can be raised in this regard is the composition of the Yellow Vests convoy. The trucking industry in Canada is made up of large numbers of workers of color, including many recent migrants. Yet, for a rally of supposed truckers, the Yellow Vests convoy was exclusively or nearly exclusively made up of white drivers. In no way a representative expression of concerns and interests of drivers in the industry.

How We Can Organize and Beat Back Our Boss: An Interview With Union Militant Doug Geisler

 

The struggle in our workplaces is some of the most direct organizing that working class people can do, creating power directly at the point of economic production.  Unions, the collective strength of workers, have the ability to grind the economy to a halt and completely re-establish how power and resources are distributed.  For decades the labor movement has been under attack, but a new generation of union radicals are coming forward with a revolutionary vision for how we can take back our power in our everyday lives.

Doug Geisler has been an IWW member and union organizer for twenty years, and how now created a roleplaying game to teach people exactly how they can organize their workplace.  We talked with him about where the labor movement is at, how Millenials can push it further, and what his game Beat the Boss is going to accomplish.

For people who did not grow up in a union family, or do not have a foundation in organizing in their workplace, what is a union?

A union is a group of workers that have the same employer that comes together to change what they hate and keep what they love at work.   A union is defined by the relationship between workers and bosses. It seems simplistic but history and law have laid so many complications on this relationship that people on the outside can be confused or afraid of the unknown. That complication is probably by design.

Why was there such a decline in labor unions in the U.S. over the past forty years?

To me, there are two reasons for the decline: 1) labor was full of itself and turned inward. It ignored trends in business that eroded the edges of their domain. It ceased taking audacious steps to organize new industries in new ways. 2) a close coalition of business and social actors assessed, in the mid-60’s, that a vast pool of comfortable labor (high buying power baby boomers) and a growing labor pool of people of color would begin questioning the foundation of capital (and capital’s ties to American christianity) and took every opportunity to demolish a thinking, allied working class’s attempts to gain freedom.

Why do you think Millenials are turning back to organized labor?

My generation grew up on the very tail end, the bottom of the barrel of the class victories that the previous generation won and cemented in the Post-war detente. Millenials have found that the barrel is empty. The new paradigm for capital (gig work, monetizing fun, etc.) has stripped away all patriotic dressing from the debate. The cold war is over and communism is no longer grounds to invalidate someone’s argument.

What is Beat the Boss intending to accomplish?

Roleplaying games, especially thanks to talented improv-ers and the world’s most popular RPG, have become more accepted. Gaming offers the opportunity to experience new points of view. That builds empathy. I’m getting the game out there to encourage people to become comfortable with union organizing. After nearly 20 years of organizing there are patterns to this interaction. Pattern and experience builds comfort. There are best practices and lessons directly related to (and learned from) the field that are reinforced by the rules of the game. After creating a campaign or running one that the community produces players should see opportunities in their own work lives.    

Additionally, when more creative people put their minds to the problems of workers new, innovative ideas will come to light. The fight for justice can end up stodgy.

Do you think gaming can be a center of reigniting workplace organizing?

Gaming and workplace organizing have key elements in common: a core group of people come together to collaboratively solve problems; both talk out resolution; and it’s difficult to find time to schedule a meeting.

Neo-Nazi Gym In East Nashville Closes To Move Into New Location

Vengeance Strength Kvlt” an Alt-Right Neo-VolkishGym has closed its East Nashville location on Gallatin Pike in order to move into a new building. This comes from an anonymous tip sent to us that all the gym’s fitness equipment had been removed from inside of its formal location. Posts from VSK’s social pages also confirmed that they had not only closed but where relocating into a bigger facility.
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The gym first sparked controversy at its East Nashville opening in 2017 for being tied to the White Power group “Wolves Of Vinland” as part of “Operation Werewolf” started by known extremist Paul Waggener.
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The gym stayed open a total 6 months before Anonymous vandals smashed the windows and defaced the gym’s muralforcing it to close for 2 months for remodeling.
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Since it’s re-opening VSK has shared spaces with Neo-Fascist Marcus Follin who spoke at White Supremacist Conference in Burns Tennessee. The gym also sells merchandise to its customers dismissing equality and human rights on top of housing White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and WOV supporters.
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Community Watch Takes Down Proud Boys in Nashville

On New Year’s Eve the local chapter of the Proud Boys organized a public bar meetup of new old and washed up members. As a response we organized several actions such as doxx pieces, flyer-campaigns along the streets and bars they have been seen or located, video propaganda, and a “Community Watch” the day of their meetup.
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A social media flyer advertising “January Is Coming” was posted to an Instagram Account belonging to “Matthew Walter” a member of the local chapter.
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On December 31st a small group of locals met at an undisclosed location for a brief meeting about how to operate for the night. Being unaware of exactly how many Proud Boys where headed into the city, the overall goal of the watch was to gather as much information as possible to get whoever showed up in town fired from their jobs.
The initial plan for the watch was to have people form “survey teams” and be on standby in case of any violence. This plan was almost instantly scrapped after reports of FOX News host Tomi Lahren  being in a nearby bar. Given the Proud Boys allegiance to the 45th President of the United States it was undoubtedly clear that they would want to go associate with fellow xenophobes. A Tweet from Matthew Walter also confirmed their interest.
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Our group searched town for Wildhorse Saloon and staged outside the bar. We sent in an independent journalist to take pictures and search for any members that were featured in our doxx. After about an hour or so, no reports of any Proud Boy uniforms were spotted in the bar. The situation slowly began to seem more like a false flag and big talk with no action. That was until a screenshot of a Tweet by Twitter troll “@ProudGrittyBoy” was sent to us that indicated 5 Proud Boys were headed inbound to Wildhorse Saloon.
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Given that our group had been on the grounds for almost 2 hours now, most of the community watch had dispersed and was enjoying New Years. However an Anti Fascist spotted Proud Boy Jimi Long driving a Sliver Van pulling off the street that Wildhorse Saloon was on. Later a post by user @ProudGrittyBoy on twitter stated that a group of about 5 Proud Boys was dropped off at Wildhorse Saloon. Given the hashtags, location, and timing of the Tweet we were able to confirm that @ProudGrittyBoy on Twitter was actually Jimi Long. And he had been running a fake account used to harass Anti Fascists on social media. This revelation confirmed several suspicions our group had about the Proud Boys membership in Nashville. Such as where they organize, about how many are active in the city, and what their sock puppet accounts are. This gave us all the information that we needed for the night.
The following day after the “Community Watch” Matthew Walter  publicly declared that he was no longer involved with the group after discovering that his Chapter was tracked the entire night. This is just one of the many outcomes that we wanted to manifest and not turn into a massive street brawl. We were able to get members to quit before becoming highly active, without any injuries, arrests, or false news propaganda being spread in the process. Our very first “Community Watch” was successful and is just the beginning of the work that will be done in Nashville in 2019.

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Donate to Support North Valley Mutual Aid, Doing Direct Support and Organizing For Communities Devastated by the Wildfires

As we are writing this the death toll of the “Campfire” wildfire in California is at 68 with well over 600 missing.  Working-class communities like Chico, California and Paradise have been heavily hit, with many families losing absolutely everything.  While charities are trying to help out, NGOs have huge limitations, and direct action inside of communities is necessary to bring them together for survival.

Right now the North Valley Mutual Aid network has formed of community members working together to support each other, using direct action strategies that does not just rely on the large charitable organizations.  This project has been organized, in part, by members of the AK Press collective, who are based in Chico.  This is a project of community members working together, solving the issues, and providing much needed support.

Click here to donate to the North Valley Mutual Aid network, and help us to build a support system for those picking up their lives after this unbelievable tragedy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insurgent Supremacist: An Interview With Matthew N. Lyons on Antifascism, Anti-Imperialism, and the Future of Organizing

Matthew N. Lyons is an anti-fascist author and researcher whose work stretches back twenty-five years.  Always at the front of understanding how the far-right shifts and reconfigures itself, he has developed deep historical and theoretical work that is directly intended to aid in antifascist organizing that sees results.

His book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, co-authored with Chip Berlet, looked through America’s history and dug into exactly what the elusive term “populism” means, and how it motivates working-class people to take up radical right-wing political movements.  He has been especially pioneering at the blog Three-Way Fight, named for the concept that in any revolutionary struggle you can have an insurgent force that is different that either the left and the ruling class, and it is at that point you can often find fascist ideologues building their own version of a revolutionary movement.

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In Lyons’ most recent book Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire, he looks at the strains of fascism that appropriate anti-imperialist and other struggles often associated with the left, how the far-right is changing and creating new social movements, and how we can understand fascism’s future.

This is an interview with Matthew N. Lyons that asks some of these questions, how to understand populism and fascism, how fascists use anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist politics, and what we can do about it.

 

Your book spends a great deal of time discussing the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-war movements that intersect with fascism.  What is the nationalist investment in these issues?  How does their perspective break from the left’s interpretation of these movements?

In the book sections you’re referring to, my focus isn’t so much on the intersection of anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-war movements with fascism. Rather, it’s on the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-war tendencies within far right movements themselves. These tendencies have taken various forms and have deep historical roots within both classical fascism and sections of American conservatism. In the United States today, far rightists believe that the U.S. government and many transnational institutions such as the United Nations are controlled by malevolent globalist elites, who are working to weaken and destroy traditional societies and homogenize everyone to help build up their own wealth and power. White nationalists define this supposed threat in racial terms, as Jewish elites versus the white race, while other branches of the U.S. far right (such as Christian theocrats and most Patriot groups) tend to define it as an attack on U.S. national sovereignty and western culture.

There are a couple of different things going on here. Fascists and other far rightists have a long history of offering distorted versions of leftist, radical politics, to help them capitalize on people’s rebellious energy and anger at the status quo. When I describe it this way, it sounds like political opportunism, and that’s definitely part of it. But on a deeper level, there’s also a genuine conflict here, between modern global capitalism and the traditional social hierarchies such as race and nation and gender that have served capitalism well in the past but now sometimes restrict it. Modern global capitalism depends on moving goods and services and workers and investments across old boundaries, national and otherwise. This threatens many traditionally privileged social groups, whose privilege is based on those boundaries and divisions. So then you get, for example, multinational corporations pushing to let in more foreign workers, and sparking an anti-immigrant backlash. And you also get multinational corporations pushing to project military power overseas to help protect their investments, and sections of the right, fascist and otherwise, lining up against them and saying our people has nothing to gain from these wars.

On a surface level, far right opposition to military interventionism or capitalist elites or imperialism can sound leftist. But there are basic underlying differences. Leftist politics is predicated – at least in theory – on promoting human equality and dismantling human oppression and exploitation. In contrast, fascists and other far rightists believe that human equality is a sham. They say that inequality is either unavoidable or a positive good to be protected. To them, global capitalist elites are evil because they see them as promoting equality, not opposing it. A related issue is that a genuinely radical critique of power focuses on systems of oppression and exploitation, whereas far rightists generally analyze power in terms of conspiracy theories, which blame social problems on a sinister group of outsiders (such as Jews) who supposedly distort the normal workings of society.

 

How do you define fascism?

In Insurgent Supremacists and other writings I offer a working definition of fascism as “a revolutionary form of right-wing populism, inspired by a totalitarian vision of collective rebirth, that challenges capitalist political and cultural power while promoting economic and social hierarchy.” This is based on an effort to combine two different approaches. The historian Roger Griffin sees fascism as a political ideology that emphasizes a myth of national palingenesis, or collective rebirth out of a near-fatal crisis. In contrast to that, a series of independent Marxists (from August Thalheimer in the 1930s to J. Sakai and Don Hamerquist today) have analyzed fascism as having a contradictory relationship with the capitalist ruling class – attacking the left and promoting class hierarchy but also pursuing an agenda that clashes with capitalist interests in important ways. Both of these approaches regard fascism as a right-wing revolutionary force, but Griffin is strong on delineating fascist ideology while the independent Marxists are strong on fascism’s class dynamics. Both are important.

I draw a sharp distinction between fascism and what I would call conservative authoritarianism. Most repression in capitalist societies operates more or less directly in the interests of big business. I see fascism as a drive to wrest political control away from big business and establish a new political elite. Historically, fascists have cut deals with capitalists to help them win power, but capitalists’ assumption that they could then rein in fascists has proved wrong. Instead, fascists have set about trying to reshape all spheres of society according to their own totalitarian agenda and, in the case of German Nazism, undertook a profound and far-reaching transformation of the social order in keeping with their racist ideology. Many capitalist regimes have pursued genocide against subject populations, but Nazism is the only regime that has pursued genocide against a significant section of the industrial working class, an effort that directly clashed with capitalists’ economic interests.

In the United States today, fascist politics is still driven by a totalitarian vision to reshape society, but that can take different forms. White nationalists’ vision centers on race and their dream of creating an all-white nation. But I think it’s appropriate to use the term “fascism” also for totalitarian right-wing visions that don’t center on race. The most important example is the hardline faction within the Christian right – spearheaded by Christian Reconstructionists – that wants to impose a full theocracy. That vision centers on religion, of course, but also on male supremacy and gender conformity – much more than race. Also, some fascist currents, such as the Lyndon LaRouche network, carry forward classical fascism’s vision of a large centralized state, but many fascists now want to impose their totalitarian vision in a decentralized manner – through “tribal” networks or segregated “ethno-states” or local churches and patriarchal families. I’ve used the term “social totalitarianism” to describe this kind of politics that is simultaneously authoritarian and decentralist.

 

How do you see the Trump administration in relationship to insurgent white nationalism?  Has your opinion of it changed in the time that Trump has been in office?

White nationalists – not just people with racist politics but people who specifically want to create an all-white nation – played a bigger role in electing Donald Trump in 2016 than they had in electing any of his predecessors. More specifically, alt-rightists’ skillful use of internet activism was a significant factor in defeating Trump’s Republican rivals and to a lesser extent in defeating Hillary Clinton. After the election, Richard Spencer proclaimed that alt-rightists were the vanguard of the Trump coalition. At the same time, alt-rightists were clear that Trump was himself not a white nationalist – he was useful to them, but he was not one of them. He would do some of what they wanted, and he would buy them time and space to spread their message, but he did not share their long-term goals.

Since Trump’s inauguration, alt-rightists have had very mixed feelings about his administration. They have liked his demagoguery and scapegoating and his moves against immigrants of color and Muslims, but wish he would go a lot further. They like some of his foreign policy actions, like challenging free trade orthodoxy and criticizing NATO and reaching out to Kim Jong-un. But to varying degrees they also think he has capitulated to (or maybe is being blackmailed by) the conservative establishment. They don’t much care for the staunchly conservative positions he’s taken on tax policy and destroying Obamacare. They hate his support for Israel and his missile strikes against Assad’s government in Syria. Some of them still look on Trump positively, while others think he is beyond redemption.

In Insurgent Supremacists, I argued that Trump’s administration represented a coalition between conventional conservatives of various kinds and “America First” nationalists, some of whom had ties with the alt-right. I still think that’s accurate. Several of the America Firsters have left the administration, such as Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn, but there are several still there, such as Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, and especially Jeff Sessions. They benefit from what seems to be Trump’s sincere contempt for most establishment politicians, but they’re limited by the lack of a coherent organizational base and the lack of a coherent base of support within the ruling class. The Mercers and Peter Thiel are scary, but it’s unclear to me whether they represent a larger organic tendency within the business community or just hardline right-wingers who suddenly happened to become billionaires. It’s clear there are business sectors that are happy Trump is dismantling industrial regulations, but that part of his agenda is just an extension of previous neoliberal policies. Which business sectors support America First nationalism? I’m very interested to learn more about that.

The periodic warnings that Trump is either a fascist or is moving in a fascist direction seem to be picking up momentum again. I don’t agree, although I agree with some elements of the argument. A lot of people use the term “fascism” much too loosely, to cover any and all forms of right-wing authoritarianism or repression. To me, fascism has to involve a drive to systematically transform all areas of society according to a totalitarian ideological vision. I don’t see any evidence that Trump has such a vision or has the drive to implement any such systematic change, and he certainly doesn’t have the kind of independent organizational base you would need to carry it out.

What I do think is true and is quite serious is that Trump is making the U.S. political system more authoritarian. Part of that is continuing the process of incrementally expanding the government’s repressive powers and machinery, a process that has been going on for decades under both Republican and Democratic presidents. But Trump and his supporters are also dramatically changing the political climate, ratcheting up the scapegoating and demonization of political opponents, even mainstream ones, to levels we haven’t seen since the early 1950s. Trump and his supporters have vilified news reporting to the point that the New York Times can publish a major expose of his family’s tax crimes and he doesn’t even bother to deny it. These moves don’t add up to anything close to fascism, but they do significantly weaken the liberal-pluralist framework (it’s not democracy but it’s not a dictatorship either) and make it significantly easier for some kind of systematic, organized, ideologically driven authoritarianism to emerge and impose itself. I don’t think Trump is part of that but it could come quickly.

 

How do you define populism? Why do you think that there has been an upsurge of populism around the world right now? 

I see populism as a type of politics that aims to rally “the people” around some form of anti-elitism. That’s how Chip Berlet and I defined it in Right-Wing Populism in America, and it’s based on political scientist Margaret Canovan’s work. Populism can be broadly divided between left-wing and right-wing varieties. John Judis in The Populist Explosion gives a good succinct explanation of the difference. He says that left-wing populists define the struggle in dualistic terms – the people versus the elite – while right-wing populists claim the elite is manipulating one or more out-groups – such as immigrants or Muslims or welfare mothers – so that “the people” are being squeezed from above and below.

There are serious problems with both left-wing and right-wing populism, but the problems are different. Left-wing populism can be a framework for attacking real inequity and disempowerment, and to that extent it can play a positive role, but it oversimplifies social conflict by reducing everything to the people versus the elite. So it tends to gloss over – and thereby reinforce – other forms of oppression that don’t coincide with that simple dividing line.

 

Right-wing populism glosses over lots of stuff as well, but the bigger problem is that it directly targets oppressed and marginalized groups for scapegoating and demonization, because its concept of “the people” is as much about defending privilege as it is about anti-elitism. In addition, the way right-wing populism defines the elite is itself based on a kind of scapegoating, which focuses either on a specific subset within the elite or on people who aren’t elite at all. So even though right-wing populism feeds partly on people’s anger at being beaten down, it channels that back into attacks that strengthen and intensify hierarchy and oppression and institutionalized violence.

As you say, there’s been an upsurge of populism lately in many parts of the world, and that includes both left and right versions. In very broad terms I see two big contributing factors. One is a crisis in the global capitalist system – highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis but going far beyond it – and a widespread recognition that the conventional policies that have dominated most governments for decades really only serve a tiny minority. The other big factor is the weakness of the radical left – brought about by a combination of external repression and its own internal failings – and the radical left’s inability to rally major segments of the population in most countries. So, many people are hungry for alternatives, hungry for a way out, and a lot of times populism seems like the best option.

 

Are there any examples of organized resistance happening currently that you think are a good model for combating the far-right?

I don’t know that there’s any one example where I’d say, “here’s the model of resistance for us to follow,” but I think there have been a number of very positive developments. I think the principle of “diversity of tactics” is very important – meaning actions organized so that there is room for people to take a variety of militant and non-militant approaches, and where those are understood as complementing and supporting each other, rather than competing or in conflict. I know that folks in the Bay Area and in Portland, for example, have worked hard over the past year or more to build coalitions based on this approach, and have had some important successes as a result.

I also really like the principle of “community self-defense,” as advocated by the Twin Cities General Defense Committee of the IWW and others, meaning that antifascists should not look to the state to protect us, because the state is really not on our side, but rather should look to build connections with, and base themselves in, working class communities. Another positive example I would cite is the network Solidarity & Defense Michigan, which is one of a number of groups that helped to halt the alt-right’s mobilizing drive in 2017-2018, and which has emphasized the linkages between resisting far rightists and combating institutionalized oppression in the form of housing evictions, police violence, deportations of immigrants and refugees, and so on.

I also particularly appreciate when people approach antifascist activism in a spirit of humility and willingness to learn from mistakes. I think an example of that was the article “Tigertown Beats Nazis Down,” which is a self-critical reflection on the April 2017 mass protest against Richard Spencer in Auburn, Alabama. I can’t speak to the specific events that happened there, but I thought the spirit of the article was really constructive and positive.

 

How can the anti-imperialist movement insulate against the far-right?

First, leftist and liberal anti-imperialists should have a strict policy of non-collaboration with far rightists. That means not attending their political events and not allowing them to attend ours. It means not giving them a platform on our media to air their views, and not legitimizing their media by accepting invitations to publish our articles or be interviewed.

Second, let’s recognize and combat oppressive dynamics within the left that resonate with far right politics – dynamics such as authoritarianism and transphobia and sexual violence. And more specifically let’s combat the elements of far right ideology that have influenced sections of the left itself. In the 1980s, the Christic Institute borrowed “anti-establishment” conspiracy theories from the Lyndon LaRouche network and other far right sources and repackaged them for progressive audiences. Today, groups like the Center for Research on Globalisation play a similar role. Let’s develop strong radical analyses of institutionalized power systems and reject fake-radical conspiracy theories, many of which are rooted in antisemitism.

And we need consistent radicalism specifically with regard to Israel. I’m an anti-Zionist Jew: I reject Israeli apartheid rule over Palestinians and Zionist appropriation of Jewish identity for racist and imperialist ends, and I reject smear campaigns that equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. But it’s disturbing and dangerous when we see self-described leftists portraying Zionists as some kind of super-powerful force controlling U.S. foreign policy or global capitalism, or dismiss any concerns about antisemitism on the left as Zionist propaganda.

Third, I think we need to reject simplistic left analyses that celebrate any perceived opposition to U.S. international power as “anti-imperialist” – and that automatically equate anti-imperialist with “progressive.” The Assad government has implemented neoliberal economic policies, collaborated with the CIA’s rendition program, and murdered thousands of Palestinians, but somehow it’s supposed to be anti-imperialist now. And if all anti-imperialism is automatically progressive, are we supposed to celebrate the 9-11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Those attacks hit the centers of imperialist power more forcefully than anything Assad and his allies have ever done, but they also killed 3,000 people and were carried out in the name of a deeply reactionary ideology. And if all anti-imperialism is automatically progressive, are we supposed to join forces with the neonazis who did in fact celebrate the 9-11 attacks as heroic blows against globalist Jewish elites? What’s needed here, again, is a recognition that there are more than two political poles in the world, and – as radical antifascists have been saying for years – my enemy’s enemy is not necessarily my friend.

Anti-Fascist Mobilization Opposes Pegida, Soldiers of Odin, and Wolves of Odin in London, Ontario

Jeff Shantz

Pegida, an anti-Islam group active in Canada and with connections to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Europe (particularly Germany), has been holding regular rallies in London, Ontario. While Pegida have made few inroad on their own in London, they have made growing links with neo-fascist groups like Soldiers of Odin (SOO) and Proud Boys.

On Saturday, October 13, 2018, a rally of several Pegida members along with a dozen or so SOO and a few Wolves of Odin and other neo-fascist supporters was confronted by a much larger counter-mobilization of antifascists. With cops present the fascists held their ground outside the City Hall building.

London is the sort of city one might expect fascists to receive some reception in. It is a mid-size city in Canada known to be generally politically conservative with a sizeable white collar professional workforce with many company headquarters located there. It could well be a foundation for fascism as a conservative white collar middle strata feels squeezed by economic pressures from above (capital, ownership) and social demands from below. And clearly Pegida and SOO and others see it that way given their persistence in holding events there. On multiple occasions they have held events outside City Hall.

Of note, a SOO member gave a positive shout out to   local city councillor Phil Squire. That the mainstream politicians are open in working with fascists is something that bears attention and response in Canada as elsewhere. It appears to be a more common phenomena in Canada as witness in Edmonton where three United Conservative Party candidates openly partied with SOO, including taking photos with them at a campaign event. Perhaps more infamously, Rob Ford, Premier of the country’s largest province Ontario has taken photos with fascist Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy and her entourage. When called out, Ford, unsurprisingly given his own politics, refused to apologize.   

On October 13th, the antifascists gave Pegida a reason not to come back. And showed that as their numbers remain small the opposition seems to be growing in size and confidence.

Organizing Matters: Tent Cities, Self-Determination, and (Against) the Fascist Targeting of Homeless People

By Jeff Shantz

Some have expressed confusion over the apparently contradictory actions of neo-fascist Soldiers of Odin (SOO) toward homeless people in various urban contexts in Canada. There is a dual targeting of homeless people as opponents to be socially cleansed and as potential recruits. Both within the same fascist organization. Understanding the strategies of SOO in targeting homeless people tells us important things about how fascists are mobilizing and how collective organizing can work against them.

On one hand SOO have mobilized confrontations and attempted assaults against homeless people on multiple occasions in Nanaimo, British Columbia, a small, historically blue collar city, now university town. They have taken a poor bashing, bigoted approach against homeless people. On the other hand SOO have tried to recruit homeless people to their cause in Surrey, British Columbia, a blue collar suburb, and new, gentrifying, city center, in Metro Vancouver. They have also tried to do food servings as means of recruitment of homeless people in Edmonton, a major industrial city and seat of provincial government in Alberta.

So, what is behind these apparent contradictions and inconsistencies—bigoted anger and friendly recruitment? Well, to understand the SOO tactics around interacting with homeless people we first have to analyze the different contexts in each case, and, in particular, the levels and types of organizing among homeless people themselves. And we can also look at assumptions about community responses. These assessments provide important lessons about the need to organize our communities—all our communities, including the most marginalized and excluded—in order to oppose and discourage (and hopefully stop) fascist mobilizations. And they provide lessons about the role played by poor bashing and hatred by mainstream institutions.

 

Class Solidarity and Organizing Against Individual Vulnerability and Fascist Recruitment

In terms of organizing, it is important to note that in Surrey, where SOO tried to recruit homeless people into an anti-migrant position, using false claims that refugees were taking up housing from homeless people, there was little collective self-organizing on the basis of autonomy, self defense, and community solidarity. So SOO could approach individual homeless people to stir up resentments as potential recruits. Luckily homeless people there had little time for them. There were community support groups who worked in solidarity with residents of The Strip, where dozens of people lived in tents (but which was not an organized tent city). There were discussions about the real nature of SOO which helped build opposition. And SOO offered nothing to people except racist blame placing.

In Edmonton, similarly, homeless people were not organized in any sort of collective, self-determining, autonomous space. So SOO again apparently assumed they could also recruit homeless people playing on desperate circumstances to stir up, to construct, individual resentments.

In Nanaimo, conversely, and I would argue significantly, homeless people had self-organized into a conscious, a class conscious, tent city community, Discontent City. Along with allies they could collectively organize to oppose and confront SOO and other bigots and poor bashers. In Nanaimo, SOO viewed collectively organized homeless people as a threat. As a point of working class solidarity against bigotry and division and for an alternative built from the ground up. The fascists may have recognized the class solidarity operating in Discontent City  and viewed it as an obstacle to their own efforts to split the working class and target more vulnerable sectors (including migrants).

 

Producerism and the Targeting of Homeless People  

Fascists view organized homeless people (as part of the working class more broadly) as a threat needing to be removed. Generally fascists have targeted homeless people for violence. This is in keeping with their producerist vision. This is a Right wing approach to class issues that divides the working class between supposedly productive “producers” (in a way they further construct as white workers) and those they view as unproductive or as social parasites. This latter category can include both bosses, who do not labor productively, and unemployed people.

For fascists, the supposedly productive sectors of the working class are pinched by the unproductive who allegedly live off of their labor from both above and from below (without properly distinguishing actual exploiters who steal surplus value and less fortunate workers who have simply not had a sale of their labor power in a system where only bosses have the power to hire and fire). Rather than seeing all who need to sell their labor to survive as working class in a vision of class solidarity, and anti-capitalism, the producerist view divides working class people among deserving and undeserving according to fascist criteria.

 

Class Wide Organizing

Fascists have typically viewed homeless people as targets to be socially cleansed, and/or as recruits to be bought for a potentially small price. Where there is a class conscious organizing the latter becomes improbable. So the fascists feel a material threat.

This shows the importance of class-wide organizing , including among our most vulnerable members. This provides the defense against recruitment and mobilization of opportunistic fascists looking to use people in dire straits as fodder for their movements. This is a lesson about organizing more broadly in a context in which working class people feeling vulnerable and hopeless and economically precarious can be susceptible to supporting or sympathizing with far Rightists or become open to actual active recruitment.

Notably, in Nanaimo, there has developed a layer of poor bashing opponents or the tent city who have shown up in larger numbers to hurl epithets at homeless people and to express support for the SOO mobilizations. And this has been encouraged by mainstream political institutions that have opposed the tent city and used poor bashing language and policy approaches against tent city residents ad supporters. Notably, the leader of SOO on Vancouver Island has decided to run for city council in upcoming municipal elections.

 

Conclusion

So the role of official political entities in fanning fascist flames must also be recognized and openly contested.  But collective organizing and self defense provide important counters to all of this. Fascists fear collective organization of working class people for solidarity and social and economic justice. In its absence they see an open ground for organizing of a fascist basis. In this way, the actions of SOO are not so much contradictory as shaped by the absence or presence of threats and potentials they see for their own organizing.

Mohawks Block Far Right La Meute from Entering Their Territory at Kanesatake

Jeff Shantz

An attempted mobilization by far Right group La Meute (Wolf Pack) at Oka, Quebec, on Saturday, September 15, 2018, was stopped in its tracks by Mohawk activists who refused to let the racists cross their territory at Kanesatake. Mohawk community members rallied to block entrance to the reserve as a vehicle caravan of La Meute members and supporters sought to gain access. La Meute is known for its anti-migrant and Islamophobic positions and has organized several public rallies in Quebec.

The racists, who flew several banners and flags with racist slogans from their vehicles clearly viewed their efforts as some form of intimidation and provocation. It did not work as they were forced to turn away. The Quebec provincial police, the SQ, did the usual work of police in assisting fascists as they intervened to escort La Meute supporters away from the blockade, Mohawk resisters sent them all off with warnings not to come back.

Taking on Fascism and Racism from the Ground Up.