We come to mark it on our calendar every year. It comes as the annual chance to bring issues together, meet and greet and have an action that is often more about getting re-energized than about getting something done. This has gotten many May Day actions locally criticized for taking a huge amount of time, energy, and money, yet not resulting in movements that are any stronger. However, the last two years have really started to buck this trend, with last year really drawing issues of immigration together with the high profile fight between the ILWU and United Grain. This year Portland joined with cities around the country in identifying an overarching theme that effectively dominated the messaging: Black Lives Matter.
As groups gathered in the South Park Blocks there was a clear trend moving in that direction. $15Now had a large presence, which is drawing on the strength that they have had in the Northwest in recent months. The recent April 15th Fight for $15 action drew hundreds in Portland as $15Now, Jobs With Justice, SEIU and AAUP worked together to target the wage gap for workers in fast food, care working, and adjunct teaching. This messaging was continued, though Black Lives Matter was notably added to many signs and banners. They, along with Portland Jobs With Justice, made the largest labor showing, which is not unusual for a march that tends towards the more radical side of labor inclusion. Along the way there were many from Unite HERE Local 8, SEIU 49 and 503, AFSCME, Laborers’ and the Teamsters, though ILWU was notably absent. This is surprising after the announcement of ILWU’s May Day action in solidarity with Baltimore, as well as their huge contingent last year. The Carpenters and Painters unions, respectively, all brought notable contingents, as well as groups like the Portland Industrial Workers of the World, Portland Solidarity Network, and the VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project.
The day began with a pre-march starting at Portland State University called by groups like the Student Organizing Committee, made up of students from multiple Portland area colleges, and Don’t Shoot PDX, marching in solidarity with Baltimore. Several hundred challenged the campus and took the streets in a large un-permitted march, galvanizing energy that they led back down to the May Day central meeting space. From here on the messaging continued towards targeting racist police violence, and it integrated that message into areas that this type of analysis is often absent. A large banner read “Labor Against Racist Police Murder” drew a strong line about where many in the local labor community stand, where the police union often tries to draw divisions in the AFL-CIO over this issue.
The participation demographics also shifted further away from the sea of homogenous white faces that have often colored other actions. Folks of color, as well as organizations like the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, shifted the conversation in a way that really indicts the institutional racism that is getting highlighted in these high-profile police killings. Throughout the march, which made many stops, detours, and splits, folks of color took the lead in showing direction and targeting purveyors of institutional violence.
“How many people must die in this system before we realize it was not built for us?” said Adrienne Cabouet, challenging the liberal notion that the institution of policing simply needs to be reformed.
After the march took off, taking well over a thousand people to the streets, the first stop was to swarm the Justice Center, as speakers called out the trend, both nationally and regionally, to scapegoat communities of color and to act with violent fervor with complete impunity. The march then headed straight down to Burnside, the major road dividing Downtown Portland, and hit a right to take the bridge. This was when police made their first confrontation, lining up to block protesters. It was in moments like this that we have seen a clear change in the character of protests, where organizers and participants are much more willing to challenge the violence of the police. Instead of backing down, their voices were loud with chants and speak-outs that showed a real energy that stood against the officers. Quickly storm troopers in tactical gear showed up, and police began pepper spraying the crowd, clearly agitated that some people were peacefully using strong language. Instead of running, the crowd blocked the tear gas and sat down in defiance, proving that they controlled the situation and the streets.
At this point the march split in two and one headed down the Naito Parkway, then up to Pioneer Courthouse Square. Here, street theater and chants targeted the racial aspects of Wells Fargo’s involvement in the private prison system. The downtown Wells Fargo branch shut down as protesters did a mock “slave auction,” and a banner was displayed reading “Felon is the New Name for N*****.” After a convergence in the square where speakers discussed the personal ways that police violence has brought fear into their families, the march re-engaged the streets in an unpermitted action. It was here the police openly used flash-grenades and pepper gas, hitting several protesters that had to be carried out. The police demanded the streets cleared, which had almost no response. Burnside Bridge remained a target, getting shut down as protesters continued to push.
What we saw for the 2015 May Day is a notable shift towards militancy, really brought about by the escalations in state violence. While all of these issues are clearly related, as economic inequality and racism are scourges of social hierarchy, the blood that is soaking our streets brings us to a place of urgency. This was felt in spades around every movement represented there. Cultural and ethnic groups were standing alongside the various community organizations. Groups like the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Movimiento Estudianti Chicano de Astlan, as well as a coalition project made up of groups like the AARP and BLMPDX declaring “Solidarity Against State Violence and U.S. Imperialism.” This is a strong turn where by the idea of organizing has pushed out of its usual circles and into those that have often stayed on the periphery. Now it is necessary. Now it has to happen.
Another notable addition was the increase in the presence of housing groups. Beyond the Portland Solidarity Network discussing its tenant support campaigns, there were representative organizations from the Right to the City Coalition and the Western Regional Advocacy Project. Right to the City is looking towards focusing on progressive candidates for local office in 2016 and WRAP has been focused on the Homeless Bill of Rights, but both show a trend returning housing justice to the forefront of organizing circles. Much of this may be coming from the beginning Renter’s Assemblies, which have been having a huge recent success in Portland and around the country. It also is likely coming from Socialist Alternative’s push to follow $15Now with a focus on rent control, which is the pattern they showed in Seattle. Either way, this return to the targeting of housing issues is critically important as Portland’s livability rapidly declines with rising rents, and a new housing crisis could be close on the horizon. PDXSol was specifically discussing a project on the outer eastside of Portland, where they have been working with tenants who have been pushed out of the center of the city by rising rents and gentrification.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that is changing the shape of organizing. This kind of mobilization towards inclusivity and against the institutional racist violence that is ever present is an incredible development. As Freddie Gray’s killers have been indicted, let’s hope this only mobilizes folks to take on the police in further escalations. It is through the collective action of the people that we can transform systems, and create a community that can use systems of transformative justice rather than state violence to drive safety. What we are also seeing is that movements are again using annual mobilizations like May Day to push existing social movements, which is the perfect way to utilize a mass grouping that already exists. In 2014 ILWU drew a breakaway to confront United Grain, but this year it was more than a dozen groups who were all converging on a single theme: end racist violence. In this way it was several parallel and converging movements not just tapping into the existing thrust of May Day, but completely taking it over. And in this situation, that is the best thing that could have happened.
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.
The recently deceased Gordon Baum founded the Council of Conservative Citizens in the 1980s to try and resurrect the goals and principles of the White Citizens Councils. Baum was a former staff organizer with the original Citizens Councils of America attempting to stop integration in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement. After his failure he decided to begin working towards attacking social integration by creating an organization that focused on racial issues while remaining tied to the political mainstream.
What stands out as unique about the CofCC is that it maintains continuity to the past. For most groups on the political radical edge, both on the right and the left, it is difficult to maintain the original group structure for decades. Instead, groups that are successful in some historical period become a brand name that has power rather than being able to continue its original structure. A great example of this is the various generations of the Ku Klux Klan. Veterans of the Confederate Army founded the first Klan in Tennessee in 1865. The goal of this was to essentially create a paramilitary force that could overthrow the Republican, Reconstructionist state and re-establish Chattel White Supremacy. It declined and then restarted in 1915, then hitting incredible size by the 1920s. This is generally the KKK that people think of that forced waves of massive lynching of people of color all through the south, but also maintaining political power by getting Governors and Senators elected around the country. At its peak it had 4-5 million members, which was, at that time, about 15% of the eligible population. The third wave of the class started during the Civil Rights movement and were much more subcultural and fragmented, engaging in acts of violence throughout the south. Today the third wave somewhat maintains while dozens of different groups continue to say that they are the true tradition of the Klan, and it has had minimal success mainstreaming with figures like Don Black and David Duke. Each generation of the Klan has no organizational connection to the previous generation. The only connection is essentially the brand, even organizational structures and organizing goals change. The sheets stay the same.
The CofCC on the other hand actually does maintain continuity, to some degree, to the White Citizens Councils. Baum created the CofCC off of the original mailing list, so it was able to re-engage the members of the original councils that maintained their racist anger about the ongoing integration process.
It is from this formation in 1988 that the next complication begins to surface: its connection to mainstream conservatism. Organizations that deal with white nationalism do, in general, rebuke the political system of the U.S. because of its ongoing attempt towards progress, however piecemeal and “in name only.” It is hard for open white nationalist organizations to maintain any connections to mainstream politicians at this point because of the political liability that they maintain. The White Citizens Councils themselves were made up of segregationist conservatives that were a part of the mainstream political conversation of their time, and so when transferred to the CofCC there is still much of the political coherence. This was especially true in the Deep South where being associated with the White Citizens Councils is actually a political benefit even today. Their Statement of Principles included that this is a Christian country, that the United States are for European people, that the U.S. is a sovereign nation, that traditional family is central, and that they support racial integrity.
For years the CofCC participated in the Conservative Political Action Conference, a mainstream political conference that hosts all major Republican candidates of the period. They maintained a table with a large Confederate Battle flag. The late Sam Francis, one of the few paleoconservative white nationalists that somehow maintained a connection to mainstream conservative media outlets, edited their newsletter, the Citizen Informer. Their website and newsletter focuses on political issues that can tie directly to race, like racially components in crime, education, welfare, affirmative action, “forced bussing,” and others.
A lot has been made recently of their connections to mainstream Republicans, from hosting them at their conference to the $65,000 that their founder contributed to contemporary Republican candidates. This main seem like a certain amount of excessive attention, but the connection here is much more elaborate than people might understand. Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was an early supporter of the CofCC and spoke at their conference in 1993. In 1998, Republican Congressman Bob Bar provided the keynote address at the CofCC’s conference, while former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke to them five times. As recent as the period from 2000 to 2005, 38 elected officials attended CofCC events. These are not flukes, but really key elements of the CofCC that draws people into their events and conferences. The founding of the CofCC also included former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox and later Louisiana Congressmen John Rarick. In 2009, Republican Mississippi State Senator Lydia Chassaniol addressed the group with an appropriately titles speech “Cultural Heritage in Mississippi” where she made offensive claims about African Americans. She later confirmed that she is a member.
The CofCC has often been tied to this unofficial network of pseudo-political racialist groups internationally, even sending people to the Front National event in France. The members even presented nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate Battle Flag.
So then what kind of demographic makes of the rest of the CofCC? Jared Taylor, a proponent of Race and IQ debates and founder of the white nationalist American Renaissance organization, acts as one of their most prominent spokespeople. James Edwards, host of the racialist Political Cesspool radio program, sits on their Board of Directors. They have members of skinhead gangs like Volksfront, Hammerskin Nation, and Blood and Honour, in their membership, and often hosts discussions about racial inferiority, the innate criminality of black people, neo-Confederate revisionism, and even hosted a “historian” who’s “orthodox Christian” view of slavery is that it was a beautiful relationship between slave and master. Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Youth Network even gave a speech recently calling for white revolution towards an “ethno-state.”
So the curiosity of the Council of Conservative Citizens is how they have straddled the line between open white supremacist vanguard and semi-mainstream conservative activism. As mentioned, their board member James Edwards hosts a radio show that regularly brings on white nationalists, holocaust deniers, klansmen, and others from the “pro-white” movement. This show is hosted by the Christian Liberty News Network, which carries it on regular radio stations beyond its Internet presence. Their radio ads feature a number of conspiracy theory, white racialist, and alternative medicine ads, which also includes one for the CofCC. Here, among its various principles, its says “The CofCC supports racial purity, which is a part of God’s law.” How is this allowed on a relatively mainstream Christian radio network? How can politicians continue to claim that they were unaware of the CofCC’s agenda when it is shown so blatantly and publicly?
A large part of this answer is the importance it plays in southern politics even today. As with any institution that represents a vocal minority, politicians will have to pander to be elected. The Council of Conservative Citizens, by many counts, is the largest organization of its type in the country. It is certainly the largest that maintains an aesthetic and structure that blends into similar conservative and Tea Party groups, yet has a very committed membership. This allows for them to be the acceptable wing of the far right for politicians to continue to pander to. At the same time, they continue to represent a Southern Nationalism that is of critical cultural importance to many in the south. Similar to Southern Nationalist organizations like the League of the South they are allowed to have a dual politic by many of the people who look to them for leadership. They provide a revolutionary vision of a white southern state while also providing options for people to engage in contemporary politics. The bottom line is that this open racial rhetoric still plays in parts of the south and Midwest, where as coded racial language often drives whites in the rest of the country.
The CofCC also is allowed to blend into the panorama of American conservative organizations where race baiting, homophobia, and violent nationalism are still acceptable form of rhetoric. On a quick look at the CofCC website it would appear indistinguishable from most Tea Party, Paleoconservative, or Constitutionalist websites. If we are to be honest, many of their ideas are simply more openly articulated versions of many of these “dog whistle” right wing political organizations.
This is not a new type of politic and, because of controversies in recent years; the CofCC is being pushed further to the right as conventional politicians all but shun them. The CofCC is one of many groups that have maintained a bridge between the fringe and the edges of the mainstream. VDare, an anti-immigration website ran by former National Review writer Peter Brimelow, has hosted white nationalists regularly since its founding, but also is a meeting spot for mainstream Republican politicians and anti-immigration activists. The anti-tax movement of the 1980s and 90s was one of the best example of these where the Ron Paul movement was often matched by open neo-Nazis and militiamen, though in the 2000s we began seeing a left-cultural oriented libertarian movement that separated it from its right wing past. In the early 1990s, David Duke represented this crossover point very publicly where a former neo-Nazi and Klan leader, who never rejected his racism and anti-Semitism, almost won by a Senatorial position and Governor of Louisiana. He did with a state legislative seat, which he used to try and push bills to sterilize women receiving welfare. Pat Buchanan also mainstreamed these nationalist ideas in the 1992 Republican primary, though this has more well coded language that the rest. Today, a number of organizations continue to maintain this bridge from a number of locations. Traditionalist Catholics, neo-confederates, paleoconservatives, and other right wing groups have ties that go both ways, that makes them acceptable in both camps.
The far right does fundamentally break from the Republican mainstream in that their value system rejects equality and democracy. Republicans may have a very distorted understanding of this, but many of them will agree in the fundamental equality of peoples on some level. This is not a universalized value by any means, and we see that there are still crossover points that we thought were long closed. The issue here is not that these right wing politicians will crossover to white nationalist organizations, but that their racial ideas will influence contemporary political discourse. Dozens of politicians have been associated with the CofCC, and you can certainly see where their politics of racial fear and separation have been allowed to seep into regional politics.
On the other end, the CofCC has seen a huge influx of press because Dylann Roof, the shooter in Charleston, cited it. In a recent NPR interview, a former FBI Terrorism investigator, who spent the late 1980s and early 1990s going undercover in neo-Nazi groups, mentioned that, while ideologically disgusting, not all of these groups are at risk for violence. He mentioned that it is important to look at the patterns of violence themselves rather than the underlying ideology. There is certainly some truth in this logic in that some people are predisposed to this violent behavior and many people would never engage in this type of violence no matter what ideological foundations they were provided. The problem with this, however, is that the white nationalist ideology and justifications maintain violence as implicit. The CofCC justifies their ideas of racial separation by making pseudoscientific arguments about genetics that make blacks appear as qualitatively inferior to whites. They manipulate news stories to make it appear as though blacks are attacking whites at a genocidal rate, raping white women and attacking children. These ideas create a sense of urgency, as well as separate people of color from the same humanity as fellow white people. This dehumanization fundamentally makes it easier to make them the target of violence, as well as give the sense that violent targeting of people of color as being socially responsible. This is also true in terms of the anti-Semitic attacks where by Jews are seen as essentially demonic cabals controlling and destroying white people. The ideas here are statistically much more likely to lead to acts of violence than almost any other. This is especially true as the SPLC’s recent reports that right wing terrorism has been almost twice as frequent as Muslim terrorism since September 11th, 2001. While the CofCC does not advocate violence, has condemned the attacks, and probably honestly thinks that these acts are counter-productive, the violence is built into their narrative. It feeds into anger and disorientation of many people on the edge, and is built to push them into murderous acts.The CofCC is no doubt in its period of decline, and this recent association with extreme violence will be the final nail in the coffin in terms of their political connections. Gordon Lee Baum died in March of 2015 and his son has proved incompetent in taking the organization forward. Their existence was based on their ability to straddle the fence between open white supremacy and regular politics, but this last push will no longer allow them into the open political sphere. In recent days people like Jared Taylor and James Edwards have begun doing interviews to defend the council, but they continue to go on and on about black crime rates rather than just stand against the murders. The CofCC has slowly become just another meeting place for organized white nationalists, usually with a southern flare, and the kinds of people we are seeing surround the organization now shows that it has finally taken a full plunge into the underground. They, along with the associated League of the South, will likely join in on the coming fight to keep the Confederate Battle Flag up in southern states, but their association with the issue could only help the opposition.
The question really comes to whether or not white nationalists will maintain organizations that can tie themselves to the mainstream. To the right of the CofCC are groups like the American Freedom Party, which was originally the neo-fascist American Third Position Party. The AFP is roundly denounced for its open racial rhetoric, association with Golden State Skinheads, and for essentially being a meeting place of other white nationalist organizations. The CofCC membership that does want to maintain ties may just flood over to constitutionalist and libertarian parties, groups working on border issues like immigration and affirmative action, or they may focus specifically on overturning the recent marriage equality decision. On the other hand, this may be what is needed to push them further into the radical sphere, which could result in even more acts of isolated ‘lone wolf’ violence. What is clear is that a light has been shown on organizations that were previously able to go under the radar through their ability to mimic the mainstream American conservative movement. What will serve people who want to organize against this type of racism best is to really look at the politics of the CofCC and to be aware of it when it pops up with different aesthetics.
As many of the readers will know, Russia has been on the vanguard of the worldwide rise in the radical right. The fall of State Capitalism(Socialism) resulted in unrestricted capitalism and a Balkanization where national identity became a point of massive contention. Eurasianism, Third Positionist ideas under the “national Bolshevist” idea, as well as ultra-conservative politics influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church has shifted the entire country to the right. This includes the Russian State, but this is really only in result to a shift in the demands of the population. Many Russian neo-Nazi groups, who often still show allegiance to Communist “heroes” that they have re-interpreted as Russian Imperialists, have created violent “flying squads” that attack immigrants and queer folks. This has made Russia one of the most dangerous countries for non-straight, non-white people, and a burgeoning area for “black shirt” movements.
The Associated Press is now reporting that Russian neo-Nazi leader Ilya Goryachev has been found guilty on five murders that he ordered followers to carry out. The AP’s release outlines the entire case:
Moscow’s highest court sentenced a leader of a militant neo-Nazi group to life in prison Friday after he was convicted of ordering five brutal killings, including that of a prominent human rights lawyer.
A jury earlier this month found 33-year-old Ilya Goryachev guilty of ordering five killings, setting up and running an extremist cell, and illegally possessing firearms.
The Moscow City Court said in a statement Friday the life sentence reflected the “exceptional danger of the defendant for society.”
Several activists of Goryachev’s group, called The Militant Organization of Russian Nationalists, were sentenced to jail time earlier this year.
Goryachev, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was hiding in Serbia before he was extradited in 2013.
Among those murdered by Goryachev’s group is lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was shot after leaving a news conference near the Kremlin in January 2009. Markelov, 34, was appealing the early release of a Russian military officer convicted of killing a young Chechen woman. A journalist walking with Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, also died in the attack. A Russian nationalist extremist from Goryachev’s group was sentenced to life in prison for the killings in 2011.
Recent high-profile trials of neo-Nazis like Goryachev have been perceived as the Kremlin’s attempt to curb xenophobic views that have been increasingly popular in Russia in recent years.
Following the exact same trend towards “Lone Wolf” action as Dylan Rooff’s recent rampage in South Carolina, John Russell Houser opened fire in a Lafayette theater killing two. A trip into the motivational base of the murders was too spooky for many media outlets who roundly focused on platitudes and offensive questions about a tenuous mental state. The direct line to ideological white nationalism, that was just as present with Houser as it was with Rooff, is only slowing being acknowledged.
In a certain sense, it was even more obvious with Houser and the lack of identification with the far-right in the general discourse is bizarre. He was an avid connoseur of racialized internet forums, the kind of cranky den that those with an anger tinged with racial overtones love to hide in. A few choice examples here show that this was not just a person feeding a deep seated rage, but that he had been invited into the logic of organized Ethnonationalism both on the domestic and international sides.
Writing on a message board for Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn’s proposed New York Office:
Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that come forth in ALL situations.
While Golden Dawn continues to try to skate behind the obvious organized behavior of its members, and continue to make claims about the peaceful nature of nationalism, the obvious correlations to the barely-hidden racialism ties directly to an American history of racist organizing devolving to the point of “lone wolf” massacres.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, Houser left dozens of messages there admiring the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” campaign, as well as anti-federalist conspiracies that would be familiar to Sovereign Citizen’s and Militia people. It looks like he attended David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) Conference in New Orleans, which made waves after it was released that so did House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. After this was released by a Louisiana blogger, Duke threaten to reveal other GOP players who attended.
For many people it may seem difficult to reconcile the genial appearance of “suit and tie” white nationalism of places like the National Policy Institute and American Renaissance with the violence in Layfayette, but it does not require a creative mind to connect the dots. Houser was a great admirer of The Bell Curve, amongst other books that discussed the connection between race and intelligence. This is foundational of the Human Biological Diversity (HBD) outlook that drives much of the pseudointellectualism of these groups, making wild claims about the myriad of ways that blacks fall short and Jews are exceptionally gifted(apparently, when you go to far up the skills ladder you become dangerous). His online posts reflected an unrestrained personality, one whose intensity is only outdone by its actual action.
Here are a few very choice examples, collected at Medium:
The process has its own individual quirks, but the results are usually the same. The organized racist presence likely has no affinity for the actions(or personality) of people like Houser, but it is their rhetorical framework that gave him the logic he needed to pull the trigger. Even if violence is not discussed, though it is clear that he had been exposed to the more militant “vanguarist” neo-Nazi writings, the process of conspiratorial anti-intellectualism and the devaluation of black bodies is enough to drive someone on the edge into maniacal orgies of personal genocide. A personal disaster can often be enough to allow someone into the most extreme elements of an ideology in which they are already prone to, especially if it requires great personal sacrifice. This happened when Houser was evicted from his home in 2014, which really seemed to further disconnect him from community and a sense of value. It is not this loss alone that creates a shooter, but only when it is fed a diet of explicit victim baiting and race-hatred. You cannot murder with impunity when the people on the other end of the scope are equally human, and the rhetoric of white supremacy begins with the targeting and undermining of black and brown humanity.
In a certain way, it is not even the more militant racist organizations that are to blame since it is clear from his online affiliations that he did not have a personal connection to them. Instead, it is the more politically correct above-ground ones that helped to foster a world view where personal violence was right and reasonable.
There is blame to go around, and this time we don’t need for the shooter to quote a website to know who the culprit is.
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.
The twenty-four hour news cycle often produces strong flashes when it transcribes hot news stories, coming in brief moments before the full picture has been painted. A shooting at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people declared official casualties of the church. Reports say that the shooter began as a parishioner joined in Bible study before picking up heavy artillery and opening fire.
At first this came as a big surprise, and certainly a break from the recent barrage of police murders that have marked the last months of coverage. This stood out as a return to a type of interpersonal violence that is easy to condemn and classify across the political spectrum. Confusion erupted and we saw that commentators were slow to cite race as the cause and to classify the deaths as an act of racial terrorism. The shooting in Charleston, which appears to many people on first glance as a completely random act of violence, is one that fits perfectly in an American tradition that has seen incidents like these without any evidence of slowing. It was not until eyewitness reports come in did the rhetoric begin to change, that its racial connection was solidified. One survivor reported that when confronted the shooter said,” I have to do it. You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. You have to go.” Now that his self-described “Manifesto” is in hand it is incredibly clear what this was: an act of racial warfare.
The document he produced can easily be dismissed as the rantings of a deranged young man, which, in some ways, it is, yet that misses one of the key insights that comes across in his work. The thought process and ideas he cites were not original to him and were instead adopted directly from publications and organizations that have constructed narratives about black populations in the United States. No substantive analysis is being done on the text, which is a common occurrence in American law enforcement as it brings out our desire to avoid adding reason and logic to events that seem to defy explanation. The first part of this is the immediate assumption of mental illness, which then relieves them of having to search for any logically sound reasoning. Mental illness is commonly used to completely reject normal engagement, which is partially why so many media outlets have denied this as an act of terrorism. Simply put: crazy people do crazy things, but terrorism, on the other hand is ideological. The second primary reason is that in it he takes a positive view towards racism, saying essentially that racist ideas are “correct.” This comes directly up against the understood notion in the liberal establishment that racism as a conscious concept has been completely overcome and that any example of racist ideas no longer need to be engaged because they are self-refuting. This is something that the radical left often shares as movements have long dispelled and challenged racist myths, yet this does not mean that a substantial population are not still promoting conscious racism in influential ways.
Racism as a public ideology has gained pariah status while racial inequity has seeped into the very fabric of the American state and economic system. White privilege has been the target of movements seeking to abolish the racial caste system that was fermented to protect Chattel slavery and kept us through eras of Jim Crow and mass incarceration. As this racial hierarchy is challenged there remains a vanguardist minority that seeks to re-establish White Supremacy as a formal system. Today, a certain subset of the organized racist-right maintains a pseudo-academic and pseudo-scientific veneer that hides open bigotry as a motivating factor and has created a series of ideas and philosophical foundations to argue their racialized points. These ideas remain on the fringe, but can seep into the culture in a number of ways. While the radical White Nationalist community does not maintain a popular public face, they have been influential in crossover political topics like immigration. They have been successful in influencing the debates in favor of discussions around America’s racial heritage in ways that other contemporary “hot button” issues just would not. The fringes of the right, from paleoconservatives to Constitutionalists, tax resisters to militia men, all have had historic connections to the vanguardist racist-right, and we see these ideas represented in flash moments in crossover points like the Ron Paul campaign or the battle in Nevada over ranching property rights. The strongest example of their influence, however, is with how they radicalize people in more profound and individualized ways.
Dylann Roof’s Manifesto, published on his website The Last Rhodesian, is both incoherent and lacking in deep thought, but shows moments where his thought process strays from his own delusions. The vast majority of the bumbling document discusses things like the Trayvon Martin murder, the ANC election during the 1990s in South Africa, and support for segregation. He discusses, at length, what is phrased as “black on white crime,” a rhetorical favorite for racialist groups who are attempting to create a narrative about a supposed plague of racialized violence against whites. This is still a surface idea that derives from his most central concept: that blacks are a genetically inferior subspecies.
“Anyone who thinks that White and black people look as different as we do on the outside, but are somehow magically the same on the inside, is delusional. How could our faces, skin, hair, and body structure all be different, but our brains be exactly the same? This is the nonsense we are led to believe. Negroes have lower IQs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior. If a scientist publishes a paper on the differences between the races in Western Europe or Americans, he can expect to lose his job. There are personality traits within human families, and within different breeds of cats or dogs, so why not within the races?”
The behavior he rants about is seen as only a consequence of intelligence. Criminality, sexual control, the ability towards delayed gratification, the ability to maintain families and careers are all a subset of what he sees as the mental inferiority of black people as an ethnic category. This is taken straight out of the artificial debate over race and IQ, a concept that has been suggested since the earliest days of slavery when the white plantation class manipulated new scientific understandings to give a social excuse for their cruelty. This played out as “racial hygiene” and Eugenics, the idea that we can affect genetic outcomes by limiting the breeding of supposed “inferiors,” all of which is central to the institutional violence seen in places like the early American south. This debate was relaunched with right-wing money in post-WWII American scientific climate, where the language and aesthetics shifted after Nazism was so roundly associated with mechanistic genocide. The Pioneer Fund was created to support research that would designate blacks as genetically inferior to whites. The Pioneer Fund provided funding to studies on twins and adopted racially mixed siblings in an effort to first determine that intelligence and other dominant mental faculties were predominately genetic and, second, to prove that in the same social conditions, black s and whites will perform with different effectiveness. With this we have seen controversial and questionable studies that, though the scientific community almost roundly rejects their conclusions, continue to be retread by those looking to justify their racial anger. Arthur Jensen did this famously for decades, and in recent years people like J. Phillip Rushton and Richard Lynn used their positions as tenured faculty to push a version of evolutionary psychology that sees population groups as being more or less intelligence based on their geographic region. As marginal as we think these ideas are, they have occasional breaches into the mainstream. In 1994, Charles Murray, a generally popular conservative now with the American Enterprise Institute, co-authored The Bell Curve, which, among other things, determined that intelligence is largely genetic and will dictate socio-economic positioning. Within this racial differences in intelligence is given real credibility, so much so that it has been the foundation of racist publications from that point forward. More recently, Nicholas Waid’s book A Troublesome Inheritance does its best to determine that race is not a social construct and instead dictates things like personality types, familial structures, and social progress. And, of course, for these white authors, black people remain stunted at the bottom of their evolutionary ladder.
Some of the dominant institutions on the right maintaining the genetically inspired racial myths come with American Renaissance and, as we have seen in the news recently, the Council of Conservative Citizens. American Renaissance has been having their regular conferences since 1990 where they bring on fringe academics to talk about topics like race and IQ, all tinged with value-laden language and dog-whistle epithets. In recent years the dialogue has shifted someone to a more philosophical tone where calls for a “white homeland” are commonplace. This is the definition of the “suit and tie” racist crowd where open racial slurs are almost non-existent, where Nazi and Klan symbolism is disallowed, and innocuous names and subject titles make it appear as a boring academic conference rather than a call for racial holy war. American Renaissance has been paramount in propagating a term coined by conservative columnist Steve Sailer, Human Biological Diversity (HBD). This harmless sounding euphemism is a code word for the idea that certain population groups, namely racial groups, simply have biological difference between them. What difference is discussed more than all others? Intelligence.
This has led to a pseudo-academic blogosphere discussing these alleged racial differences in language that often disassociates itself from criticism. As Holocaust Denial did in the 1980s-90s, HBD has the ability to cross over into subcultures simply because it uses academic-sounding language that people rarely have the tools to refute. When you combine that with a growing sense of distrust in our dominant scientific and health institutions with a general decline in education and of left ideological explanations for our current social catastrophe, it is easy to see why a dissident movement is forming around ideas that most previously would have seen as insane. As we move further towards economic and ecological collapse, more extreme versions of these dissident movements begin to pop up. With Neo-Reactionaries and the Dark Enlightenment we are witnessing a desire to return to a world that knows no democracy and equality, that sees tradition, authority, stratification, and top-down control as natural and preferred. These may seem like ideas best left to the dark side of Internet message board, but in counter-cultural, big-tech, and new intellectual movements, these far-right ideas are seeing resurgence. Race and intelligence are seen as one of the most central components of their arguments, proving that democracy is a failure because not all people are simply capable of running society.
One of the key elements that separate these groups from racists of the past is their use of slight variants in the theory; in this instance it is the “Asian hypothesis.” This essentially notes that East Asians, on average, score higher on IQ tests even then whites, which has led to many Asian bloggers to support HBD claims. This allows HBD fanatics to buck the “white supremacist” claim while still closely allying whites as the upper-levels of the stratification with Sub-Saharan Africans and Australian Aborigines rounding out the bottom. This logic is, again, one that has to be learned and is not present in unaffiliated racists, except those whose ideas where shaped by this community. This is why, when Roof addresses the Asian community in his writing, it takes on a special significance.
“I have great respent(sic) for the East Asian races. Even if we were to go extinct they could carry something on. They are by nature very racist and could be great allies of the White race. I am not opposed at all to allies with the Northeast Asian races.”
The organization that Roof has specifically linked to, the Council of Conservative Citizens, was formed in the 1980s by Gordon Baum on the mailing lists of the “white citizen’s councils” that fought segregation. They held onto Republican rhetoric, associating themselves with the edges of the GOP while openly touting White Nationalist ideas rooted in HBD. In recent years the association with Republican party leaders has gone public as major politics were seen to speak as their conference Between 2000 and 2004 38 major elected officials have spoken at CofCC at conferences, including people like Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour and Trent Lot. In recent years the fallout has pushed CofCC further to the right, now banned from participating in conferences like CPAC. Alongside these featured politicians were talks on Jewish banking control, the beauty of Chattel slavery, and the “white genocide” that is happening through immigration and miscegenation.
The romantization that Roof had with the racist right was not only with the mainstreaming CofCC but also with more ingrained racist institutions like the seminal white nationalist forum Stormfront. Created by former Klan leader Don Black, it has existed as a sort of hub for the more radical elements of the far right movement. According to the SPLC, almost 100 murders from the last six years can be traced back to Stormfront. As they try to update their image by banning images of the Third Reich and open racial slurs, the truth remains that the discourse that remains there is still tied to vulgar violence.
The issue of this as a “lone wolf” attack has led a lot of people confused. The term in this context comes from an essay from White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger as an option for violent action outside of an organizational structure. This has become incredibly important as we are seeing militant racist organizations like skinhead gangs or variants of the KKK decline sharply, yet we see violent actions remain constant. In the SPLC’s study of domestic right-wing terrorism over the last six years, they concluded that a full 74% of attacks where from a single person, and 90% either alone or in pairs. While the organized violent actors may be on the decline, the side that has only been increasing is the growing undercurrent of publications and blogs promoting the scientific racism of the future.
What happens is that incidents like these can blind us to whom the real actors are. Is there an active Klan group orchestrating these attacks? Was it a skinhead faction bent on making a name for themselves? Roof himself notes that neither one of these are at play any longer, so he needs to take the reigns. The voice of the future of these movements is one that never would publicly advocate violence of this kind, and may even honestly believe it to be the antithesis of successful racial organizing. Yet in the hands of an increasingly disaffected population it is like a grenade waiting to find a target. Roof was raised on the intellectual racially oriented movement work that created a theory of social-biology, not the open violence of something like Aryan Nations. Our work in the anti-fascist/anti-racist movement has, traditionally, been focused towards open Neo-Nazis in the north and the KKK in the south, but as these become the players of the past we have yet to adapt to the new face of hate. In the future, it will be discourse that logically leads to acts of “lone wolf” violence, yet it is the rhetoric itself that creates an ideological underpinning and support where the only logical response is murder. If we are to create anti-fascist movements that can actually confront the real threat of openly racist violence then it has to look at the seemingly disconnected source that builds the logic and justification for the trigger pulled later.
No matter how the particular far right and neo-fascist movement sees itself, mass killings in the name of their racial agenda is always going to be bad news. Aryan Nations was a meeting spot for neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Christian Identity Adherents, and racist militia movements, and was completely undone after a passing family was attacked in front of their compound. White Aryan Resistance was financially undercut after associated skinheads murdered Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, Oregon. Charges are often brought against associated organizations, and even if they are not formally indicted they certainly are put under the federal looking glass. This is the current state of the Council of Conservative Citizens who is having the FBI going through their materials with a fine toothcomb.
Beyond the hope that other ‘lone wolves’ will be inspired by the violence in a sort of “propaganda of the deed” dynamic, it undercuts their messaging in serious ways. While insurrectionary and vanguardist racial groups certainly exist, even they tend to want to argue philosophical ideas around their racial perspectives and engage in movement building. The modern racialist movement has been heavily influenced by internet-fed pseudo intellectualism, is returning to fascist roots in philosophical movements like the Conservative Revolution and French New Right, and are trying to create a semi-coherent set of ideas that can feed their endgame. In general, the uniting point here is the advocacy of a white ethnostate, though the specifics are particular to the political faction at the microphone.
When instances of violence come up it is difficult to present themselves and thoughtful and peaceful ‘activists.’ The Council of Conservative Citizens is a specifically good example of this in that they existed as a fully aboveground white nationalist organization that maintained ties to the mainstream GOP. It is now clear from his writing that Dylann Roof was inspired to action by the reports of racial differences and ‘black on white crime’ as reported on the CofCC’s website. There you will find pseudoscience about race and intelligence, trumped up reports on racial crime, and other types of ultra conservative and nationalist rants. What you will not find, however, are calls for Racial Holy War. That being said, their publication and their rhetoric, even as mild as it is for their movement, still resulted in violence. This is the kind of association that will rattle their movement to the core, and will likely completely demolish the Council.
The action itself has ramped up a debate that has come in and out of fashion: the remove of the Confederate Battle Flag from public spaces in the south. For many of these groups that are associated with neo-Confederacy as a part of their racial mythology, this could be a bridge to far. Unfortunately for them, any credibility that they had in the popular media market has been stunted by their association with nine dead parishioners in a famed black church in South Carolina.
So how are white nationalists reacting to this situation?
This has been incredibly variable, especially in the CofCC. Many of the people who are deeper in the leadership of the CofCC have rebuked any media contact, but several of their members who are associated with a number of racialist organizations have decided to step up in its defense. Jared Taylor, best known for the white nationalist and scientific-racist organization American Renaissance, has gone on media interviews defending the CofCC. While he continues the line that they are not responsible for the crime, which they have openly condemned, the information cited is still real and legitimate.
“He did not get inspiration from the Council’s website, he got information. And the reason the information was so disturbing to him is because the facts, the reality, of the overwhelmingly “black on white” nature of interracial crime is something that is almost never reported. It’s, in fact, deliberately concealed.”
He continued to return to the racial demographics of crime from several different, unrelated questions. This has been the pattern for Taylor’s interaction with the media; especially debates he tries to get in any forum that will have him. Taylor does go on to say that he and the Council absolutely condemns the shooting.
James Edwards, who sits on the board of both the CofCC and the white nationalist American Freedom Party, hosts his regular radio show The Political Cesspool where he ranted and raved in the usual confusing manor. Though he certainly denounced the shooting, he also praised what he said was the clarity and “intelligence” of his manifesto (which was riddled with racial slurs and writing errors). He doubted the “official story” that has come out and indulged in conspiracy theories about how he could be a government plant, the shooting could have been a result of the medication the shooter was taking, and that the manifesto was created after the fact. He used this as an opportunity to support Roof’s assertions about things like “black on white rape,” which has been a favorite racist talking point since the days of slavery. When going on Richard Spencer’s Radix Podcast to discuss this, he went on about how this was going to be used to strip the South of its “heritage.” In response, Spencer actually spent a great deal of time trying to remind us that we need to begin targeting those with mental illness for the removal from polite society.
In an attempt to act as an unofficial “spokesperson” for the Council, Edwards released a statement to the press that read:
“I unequivocally condemn Dylann Roof’s murderous actions, but in no way was there a legitimate “link” between the alleged shooter and the Council of Conservative Citizens. To say that there is a “link” because he once visited the website reeks of Soviet-era smear tactics. The C of CC cannot reasonably be held accountable for the psychotic reaction this deranged individual had in response to reading truthful statements regarding interracial crime.
According to the Department of Justice, every year there are approximately 500,000 violent, interracial crimes (completed or attempted / threatened). Of these, nearly 83 percent are committed by blacks against whites.
Every year, there are some 20,000 rapes or sexual assaults (including threats) of white women by blacks, but crimes of this sort by white men against black women are so unusual, they scarcely appear in crime statistics.
My prayers go out to the families of the victims in Charleston. After the healing begins to occur it is my sincere hope that mature Americans can finally begin to have an honest conversation about race, rather than being subjected to a one-sided lecture.”
In Richard Spencer’s article on the shooting at Radix Journal he began by noting, without any sense of irony, that this is a tragedy that is going to be used by others as a political tool. He takes it back to the brewing controversy over the Confederate flag where he works hard to ignore the obvious associations between a history of institutional violence against African Americans and the symbol of the Antebellum South.
“As I write, it appears that the shooting has become the tipping point in this decades-long controversy. Roof’s crime, of course, had nothing at all to do with the Confederacy, or how best to honor those who died in a lost cause. That so many have justified removing the flag on the basis of the shooting demonstrates the power of symbolism and narrative over history and fact.
Moreover, it is necessary for us to talk about the meaning of this event, and its political after-effects, for the reason that it was not a “senseless act of violence,” much like John Hinckley Jr. apparently shot Ronald Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster.”
While he does continue to tow the line of apologism for the act itself, he moves into a kind of meta-commentary where he begins to question whether or not political violence in this way should really be that condemnable.
“Whether political violence is considered to be legitimate and necessary—or illegitimate “terrorism”—is determined by its success and symbolic impact. We forget that the vaunted “Founding Fathers” could have, so easily, been remembered as dangerous eccentrics, who rebelled against their rightful (and quite liberal) monarch out of personal ambition or avarice. In turn, the Confederacy could have been remembered as a just, Jeffersonian order, if it had achieved military victory.”
Counter-Currents Publishing, which has made a name for itself in trying to create a philosophically backed fascist movement modeled on European right-wing intellectuals, joined right in with the usual vile rhetoric that they revel in. Not only were several articles on the subject published, while also being distracted by the recent marriage equality ruling, they also published Roof’s manifesto in an unabridged and annotated version. This will likely not be the last time that this brief blog post driven by homicidal racial rage is republished as the work of some sort of “visionary.” Writing at Counter-Currents website, Brian Tobin laments that these acts of extreme violence are simply the result of an integrated society that is deteriorating because of its multiracial character.
“ How much longer will the majority of whites in America — the ones who can not afford to live in any area other than the “culturally enriched” — be pushed around by policy makers who use them as lab rats in their “cultural” experiment for “public” good? How long will they sit and watch their neighborhoods turn into Third World, crime-ridden slums, right before their eyes, and say nothing? How long will it take for the “backpack of white privilege” to weigh so heavily that it begins to send its wearers into great rage, anger, and frustration?
And isn’t history supposed to be our greatest teacher? Yet no one wants to admit that Dylan Roof is now part of our collective history and memory. The only way to avoid another Dylan Roof episode from airing on network TV is if we finally start learning from (y)our mistakes.
I honestly believe that Dylan Roof’s actions should be heeded as a warning. A warning to the current establishment; a warning to those who wish to maintain the status quo.
What warning is that, you ask? Either embrace the truth and put an end to your relentless critique and attack on White Americans, their history, and their culture, or feel the backlash of those with backpacks becoming to heavy to carry without complaint. To either grant white Americans the same privileges that are afforded to minorities of all stripes, or accept the consequences of which history has written, and the television narrated.”
Though many of the smaller blogs and message boards have erupted in outrage over being associated with such a person and that the flag would be the after target, those associated with the neo-Confederate movement have been somewhat muted. The League of the South, which was created by nationalists coming out of the preservationist Sons of Confederate Veterans, has been having website issues, so they don’t really have the ability to make much of a public episode over it. The Traditionalist Youth Network, which was best known for their campus White Student Union projects, has deep ties to Southern Nationalism and the symbols there in. Matt Parrot, one of the least sensational of the crowd, noted that it would be impossible for people to differentiate between their work and that of the shooter.
“We’ve consistently renounced and rejected violence and hatred at every opportunity, but it honestly doesn’t matter. The American government, media, and academia refuse to distinguish between ourselves and Dylann Roof. For them, the fact that he had ideas similar to our own confirms that our ideas are evil and must be stamped out at all costs. America will willfully disregard the fact that terrorist violence knows no ideology. There are environmental terrorists, socialist terrorists, anarchist terrorists, religious terrorists, anti-religious terrorists, and an impressive list of anti-racist and anti-white terrorists in recent memory.
Dylann Roof falsely believed the lie that the ideology underlying White Advocacy necessarily entails violence. This is a lie which permeates our society, the belief that to be pro-white must necessarily entail being vehemently–even murderously–anti-minority. It doesn’t, but the ADL, the SPLC, the mainstream media, and the federal government have invested millions and millions in crystallizing this falsehood in the collective American mind; that the only way to promote White interests is with violence. A small minority of White Nationalists, many of them outright cranks and many of them surely government assets operating honeypots, also repeat this lie.
It is a lie, and it needs to be put to rest before more lives are lost.”
Matthew Heimbach, the more vocal Southern identitarian of the group, has been notably absent from this discourse, which may give evidence of person problems taking predominance.
It has been pretty well understood that the battle over the Confederate flag is one that has already been won in the minds of most Americans. For white nationalists, this would be a poor way to maintain their goals and a bad place to dig in their heels. But with those who have grave ties to Southern heritage, it is the only historical continuity that gives their sense of racial separatism any American legitimacy.
The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the many disaffiliated organizations trying to build themselves in the image of the 1920s Klan, has announced that they will be marching on the South Carolina statehouse in July. After stating that the flag is the wrong target and is a part of “white people’s culture” they set the date for July 18th where they will be calling for other white nationalists to join them in support. This is a unique stand, and one that is fitting for the kind of irrational, emotion-laden organizing the Klan is known for, and it will be difficult to image they get more than a couple dozen people out. And very few without their bed sheets.
Occidental Dissent, which does argue militant white revolution from a Southern Nationalist perspective, lists eight different rallies that have taken place. The Virginia/Maryland chapter of the League of the South did have a “rally” in support of the flag, though it looks like there were only a small handful of people. There are also micro actions in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but with usually only a carload of Southern supporters, it is hard to think how they would look against the crowds ripping the flag off its pole.
For the rest of the crowd, they will certainly be flying the flag when tied to the South, but there will likely be a more quiet response. For the “alt right” and Dark Enlightenment crowd, American symbols are something to wholesale reject. For places like the CofCC, they know very clearly that they have much more to lose by jumping into the fight. What you can expect is massive Anti-Fascists actions at any even associated with this as the numbers are swelling against them. What could be a nice turn, and something we are seeing painted over monuments to Confederate generals, is that the Black Lives Matter branding and organizing will link up here and provide a lasting analysis of white supremacy in America. While these white nationalists are on the vanguard of restoring white privilege to its glory days, it is institutional racism that affects most People of Color’s lives on a daily basis. If the two issues can be united then this can be a powerful step in a movement to undo a history of white domination.