Tag Archives: against the fascist creep

Knowledge is a Weapon: New Books to Fight Fascism

The rise of the Alt Right, the growth of “free speech” hard right confrontations, the increased militia presence, and the Trumpian populist revolution, have all put the idea of fascism sweeping America and Europe on people’s minds.  At the same time, a massive antifascist wave, both of explicit Antifa organizations and broad-based community groups, has skyrocketed, making the clash between the far-right and antifascists an almost daily occurrence.  As a part of that equation, a number of reporters, scholars, and organizers have begun researching and writing about this, trying to get at the heart of what causes the rise of fascist movement and how counter-organizing can be successful.

We have collected some recent titles below with a look at what they cover and our thoughts on how useful they can be.  This is only a small sample of what is out there, and self-consciously Western-centric given the situation, but these are a good starting point for arming yourself with knowledge to make counter-organizing more fruitful.

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Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It

By Shane Burley, AK Press (Will be released on November 21st)

Pre-Order Here

Journalist Shane Burley digs in deep on the Alt Right, American white nationalism, and how the various fascist movement work, how they evolved, and what their future is.  Since he began researching and writing about the Alt Right early on, he provides deep insights into the nature of the far-right and both their weaknesses and strengths.  The second half of the book looks at the myriad of forms of resistance, looking at Antifa organizations, mass-movement antifascism, rural struggles, inter-religious organizing, community defense, college activism, and a whole range of options.  This is a broad look at understanding how fascism works in America, and the different tools that can be employed in effective resistance.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fascism Today by Shane Burley

Fascism Today

by Shane Burley

Giveaway ends December 25, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook

By Mark Bray, Melville House

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Historian Mark Bray has put his background in European history to analyze the growth of militant anti-fascism and he chronicles its history back to the interwar growth of European fascism.  He then breaks down the theoretical and tactical lessons, looks at how they have been applied in different countries, and creates a pragmatic guide for how Antifa organizations can effectively confront fascists in the streets.  A guide that is specific to particular types of militant antifascism and is wonderfully written with dense information from antifascists.

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Making Sense of the Alt-Right

By George Hawley, Columbia University Press

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You might find it odd that we are recommending a book by a Republican political science professor, but Hawley’s work since Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism has been some of the most insightful on the far-right available.  With Making Sense of the Alt-Right, he again digs in deep on the ideological background the Alt Right, how it evolved, and where it is going.  His work is clear and concise, even though his politics may be the inverse of our own.  His work is something that should continue to be put into use for better understanding of these movements, especially from someone who has deeply researched American conservatism.

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Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump

By David Neiwert, Verso Books

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David, a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center based in the Pacific Northwest, has been covering the hard right for years.  In this book he chronicles the development of the hard right in the 2000s, focusing heavily on the culture of talk radio, patriot militias, the Tea Party, and Fox News.  Part of his analysis of the fascist right is hit and miss, but there is a good narrative and history of the edges of the GOP.

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Against the Fascist Creep

By Alexander Reid Ross, AK Press

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Alexander Reid Ross’s book is one of the best contemporary books on the history and ideologies of fascism.  Focusing heavily on the areas that fascism pulls from the radical left, it looks at dissident strains of Third Positionism, and how the rhetoric and methods of the left are often used for fascist ends.  This is a great precursor volume to Fascism Today, and is incredible for connecting the history in the U.S. to that of Europe and Eurasia.

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Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt right

By Angela Nagle

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Nagle’s book received a massive amount of media attention, but the slim volume mainly analyzes the culture of online forums like 4Chan and 8Chan and how white nationalists employed its iconoclastic behavior for fascist politics.  Her own politics are dubious in some places, especially the blame she places on the left and queer activists, but her observations and research about the nature of right-wing web forums has been invaluable.  In reality, this analyzes only a small piece of the puzzle, but is a great look at how the trolling culture evolved to dominate the far-right.

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Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win

Edited by Mike Taber, Haymarket Books

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Looking at Clara Zetkin’s presentation to the 1923 International Workingmans Association meeting on fascism, it uses that Marxist analysis to argue for a “united front” approach to fascism.  While some of this orthodox Marxist approach to understanding fascism, especially describing it as the “reactionary wing of finance capital,” is not something we agree with (Fascism Today and Against the Fascist Creep especially take issue with this approach), this is a volume to be excited about as it is a useful piece of the history of antifascism.

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: An Antifascist Report on the Alternative Right

By Matt Lyons, It’s Going Down, Bromma, and Kay Kersblebedeb

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Long-time scholar of the far-right Matt Lyons, known for co-authoring Right Wing Populism in America with Chip Berlet and for blogging at Three-Way Fight, leads this volume with a long essay outlining the details of the Alt Right’s rise and ideology.  His main essay is followed by several others that also analyze the Alt Right, including the incredible anti-fascist website It’s Going Down and the editor of the anti-fascist publisher Kerblebedeb.  A real must-have right now for dealing with the Alt Right specifically.

We are also looking forward to several other books that, while we know little about the titles themselves, we are expecting something great.  Matt Lyons (who provides the forward to Fascism Today) will have a new book on the far-right coming out from Kersblebedeb next year, and Harrison Fluss and Sam Miller from Jacobin will also have a book on the Alt Right.  There is likely to be a slew of other volumes to be released, and we will add to this list as time goes on.  Check out an older list of interesting volumes that all deserve a read as well.

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Responding to the Fascist Creep: An Interview With Alexander Reid Ross

Below is an interview conducted with anti-fascist author and organizer Alexander Reid Ross addressing many of the themes raised in his upcoming book, Against the Fascist Creep.  We discuss what the idea of “creeping fascism” is, where it has become prevalent, and what organizations have begun to confront it.

 

Anti-Fascist News: Could you explain a little bit about this concept of “creeping fascism” that you built the book on?

 

Alexander Reid Ross: So the idea of creeping fascism is the emergence of fascism on the global stage through its tacit and often concealed acceptance either organizationally or in theory. So, for example, when leftwing movements in, say, 2009-2010 started trading in a very conservative language of ethnic nationalism and separatism, you know, like “white people deserve their own place because people of color are naturally inclined towards one another,” that was a sign that there some kind of influence and networking that was going on, and, again, if not organizationally, then in the ideological terrain. And I’m not saying that all left wing organizations were doing that, but I did notice a marked pattern in some of them. There was a sense in some sectors, even when Occupy came around, that we had to defeat the liberals in power even if that means letting the fascists in through the back door. I think that’s been proven false, and we need to learn from those mistakes through material analysis.

 

AFN: What kind of movements was that showing up in?

 

ARR: I think I saw it emerging in the anarchist movement and, to an extent, in some of the left wing issue based movements where Marxists were more prevalent, whether anti-imperialist or anti-war or whatever. Then there are the non-left or post-left radical groups that are just as vulnerable, if not more so. I found out, for example, that the national anarchists had been trying to affect an influence, like in Earth First! even, in the northeast, which came as kind of a surprise to me. It did sort of open my eyes to the fact that because as an editor of the Earth First! Journal during that period, I had been sort of unwittingly implicated in this process.

I think there was also a point after 2008 and the market crash that radical movements experienced an influx of people and didn’t have a filtering process that was equipped to handle the parsing through of different ideas that exist in the radical milieu, and that’s really where it takes place. Fascism emerges from the radical milieu as a combination of right and left wing ideas. If you just want to say, “I’m neither left nor right but I’m radical,” then there’s going to be a lot of territory that is contested, and that is very vulnerable to a sort of fascistic proclamations and ideological positions.

 

AFN: How do you respond to that then or how should left wing movements respond to that creeping influence? What are effective strategies I guess?

 

ARR: I think first and foremost is education. That was one thing that I started to do for myself after the news about Earth First! came out. The fact was that this one national anarchist had helped to schedule a fundraiser for Earth First!, and then they used that to speak very loudly to a European national anarchist audience about connections between Earth First! and national anarchism.

Any single move like that can be blown up into direct coordination, which is terrible, but you can always immediately quash that openly. What’s more difficult is that you have to be careful about the world of ideas in order to recognize how left wing intentions and ideas can be twisted by racists or sexists, and how that is connected to organizational affinities. So it’s equally important to recognize both the intellectual history of fascism and the trajectory of different fascist organizations. Both have fostered new movements and ideological currents that have also segued into the left wing.

The organizational factor is particularly important when talking about national anarchism because a lot of people see broader radical subcultures or milieus as more safe or secure from fascism than the left. For example, people embrace queer culture as distinct from the left, denying that fascism can have queer folks, suggesting that if there are queer people in a particular group or movement it can’t be fascist. Of course some of the most important fascists have been queer, from Rohm to Kuhnen, Nicky Crane, and Douglas P to David McCalden and perhaps Roy Cohn. The same thing goes for environmentalism, vegetarianism, avant-garde music and cultural scenes, punk, and other subcultural milieus.

Without any kind of introspection, the left or subcultures can safely say that Fascism is ultranationalist and administrative, so you would never have a fascist talking about breaking down nation-states and building up anti-hierarchical communities or, rather, communities who function through “organic hierarchy.” But, in fact, if you look at fascist organizations in the past, that is precisely what’s made them more radical than their conservative antagonists—that they have attacked nationalism in a bureaucratic or technocratic form, saying that what’s necessarily in politics is a nationalism of energy and vigor rather than a nationalism of intellectuals and functionaries, and what’s necessary isn’t a nation-state at all but a “spiritual empire” with a grand patriarch at the helm who makes the law through decision.

Without understanding the way that those ambiguous ideas are applied in different milieus, like with national anarchism and autonomous nationalism and those sorts of things, radicals can fall for easy platitudes. Pan-secessionism is another great example. When radicals start talking about the need for separatism without a clear, cosmopolitan follow-up strategy, they leave ourselves wide open to their influence and the insinuation of fascism and the ability for fascist ideas and movements to gain ground in the radical milieu and also in the broader subcultures and in mainstream cultures. When they start talking about ethnic separatism—particularly white separatism, whether de jure or de facto—they’ve basically given up the field.

I think that people in the radical milieu are very disconnected from the impact and effect that they have and their ideas actually have on the mainstream. People often look to radicals to get a sense of direction, particularly vis-a-vis subcultures, so if fascists are given a pass to influence subcultures then the mainstream is far more likely to accept them piecemeal on the basis of accepted ideas and attitudes which are very deleterious. For example, you’ve probably heard of people who you might have thought of as a left wing or a radical saying things like “I don’t believe in equality” or “equality is nonsense” or “I don’t believe in freedom,” or that kind of thing. These kinds of statements seem geared to impress people or shock them or both, but does all that really work for us?

 

AFN: As there has been a rise of white nationalism, what movements or organizations do you think have really effectively started to counter organize that?

 

ARR: It is great to see all of the Antifa groups springing up, the first of which I think was Rose City Antifa, but New York City Antifa and a bunch of others are equally important. When it works, it’s one of the best models for channeling the popular reflexes and spontaneous movements towards confronting fascism in organized and focused ways. I think networking these horizontal groups will provide important support bases for people down the road.

In the long run I also think that groups Public Research Associates and Searchlight have done great watchdogging, and more recently the One Peoples Project has been excellent at pinpointing National Policy Institute and American Renaissance. The alt-right. They were really the first group to identify these sort of “mom’s basement trolls” as wielding a significant power in todays Internet 2.0 or in todays intellectual circuit, academia even. And they’ve done a really good job at confronting it as well, not just through massive protests but through pressure campaigns; calling, getting their events shut down.

Other media outlets are key. Anti-Fascist News has done an awesome job of disseminating key information about these groups and this movement before anybody else and that’s one of the reasons people say mainstream society is influenced by the radical movements. Part of the reason is because radical movements can see changes when they are happening in mainstream society so that distance where its difficult to measure the impact, and the effect is also part of the virtue because it means that there’s a critical analysis that’s taking place. That’s why I think that, for example, Anti-Fascist News has been able to do such a great job of identifying these momentum-building movements and also chokepoints of getting them shut down.

So I do think that there is always going to be a place for militant anti-fascism, but a huge part of that is just researching, understanding a cost-benefit analysis strategy, and rather mainstream stuff like getting events shut down. So those are some of the biggest things, I think—like the increase of organized Antifas, people willing to show up in the streets and willing to protest and fight fascists, and the middle ground mainstream groups, of which I think One People’s Project has been the most forward thinking and I think also media like Anti-Fascist News and It’s Going Down, for example, have really picked up a lot of slack in terms of analyzing Trump, analyzing the alt-right, and actually using intelligence to shut them down.

 

Articles by Alexander Reid Ross

 

Order Against the Fascist Creep at AK Press