Tag Archives: alexander reid ross

Antifascism Today: A Conversation Between Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross

As the far-right is constantly shifting and redefining itself, both in the U.S. and in Europe, it can be hard to pin down the enemy so as to create a successful counter force.  Antifascism today requires a deep understanding of the underlying principles and behaviors of the fascist right, as well as to understand how social movements can and should operate in the 21st Century.

Below is a conversation between Shane Burley (Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It) and Alexander Reid Ross (Against the Fascist Creep) about what makes up the fascist movement today, how it is changing, and how antifascism can be strengthened.  A particular amount of time here has been dedicated to the idea of “decolonizing antifascism” and how antifascist can think about fascism as a truly international force that is not only cemented to Europe and the U.S.

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Understanding the European New Right and Why It Matters to Antifascists: A Reading List

The Alt Right’s growth took a lot of people by surprise.  It was not just because of its explosion of popularity and public interest, but by the way that its ideas were coded and often phrased in leftist rhetoric.  This was not a product of their own invention, but a trend called “Third Positionsim” that has dominated since the early 1970s.  This trend takes elements of the left, such as anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, or environmentalism, and plugs it into open fascism, trying to create a synthesis that can attract more recruits.

The most adept of this methodology was a French academic and fascist named Alain de Benoist and the European New Right movement he started.  Here they used a complex left-sounding language to rebrand fascism, calling it a “nationalism for all peoples” and trying to ally themselves with post-colonial and anti-capitalist movements for white nationalist reasons.  The European New Right slowly came stateside, influencing people like the National Policy Institute’s Richard Spencer.  While the work of the ENR is densely academic and rarely translated, we have compiled a list of resources so you can quickly learn about this fascist current that has helped to launch the Alt Right in the U.S. and the violent “identitarian” movement that is blocking refugee boats in Europe.  This will help us to understand their arguments, how their propaganda has worked, and how to stem off fascist entryism into left movements.

 

The Man Who Gave White Nationalism a New Life (Best overview, Buzzfeed)

The Long Game of the European New Right (The Conversation)

Some Notes on the European New Right (Chip Berlet)

The French Ideologues Who Inspired the Alt Right (The Daily Beast)

Confronting the New Right (Gods & Radicals, a look at the ENR’s influence on paganism)

Apoliteic music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and ‘metapolitical fascism’ (Anton Shekovtsov, article on fascist meta-politics touching on ENR, traditionalism, aesthetics, and neofolk/martial industrial music)

Rebranding Fascism (Article on ENR, esoteric fascism, and National Anarchism, Political Research Associates)

The French Origins of “You Will Not Replace Us” (The New Yorker)

 

Academic Papers (Some of these are tough, but they give really deep background for those trying to get inside the fascist mind.  These also generally require some type of academic log in or subscription, but since they are all valued we decided to include them anyway.)

Myth and Violence: The Fascism of Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist

Between Metapolitics and Apoliteia: the Nouvelle Droite’s Strategy for Conserving the Fascist Vision in the ‘Interregnum (Great academic paper on ENR by Roger Griffin)

 

ENR and the Identitarian Movement and the Front National

The Ruthlessly Effective Rebranding of Europe’s Far Right (The Guardian)

European Politics Are Swinging to the Right (Time)

Nothing New Under the Fascist Sun: Le Pen, Trump, and the Alt Right (Jacobin)

 

A Nihilist Speaks with the Devil: A Rejoinder on the 25 Theses on Fascism

This article is an addendum to the recent piece written by Shane Burley for the Institute for Anarchist Studies, Twenty-Five Theses on Fascism.  The below article builds on that discussion, and responds directly to a criticism published here.

 

By Alexander Reid Ross

During the late Soviet days, the bohemian dissident Alexander Dugin used to stay up late with an assembled group of aesthetes in the flat of Yuri Mamleev, situated just a few blocks from the great statue of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The circle of friends who trudged down Yuzhinsky Pereulok to Mamleev’s apartment building, ringing six times before gaining entrance and climbing six flights of stairs to his flat, engaged in what they called the “mystical underground.” Exchanging stories on ancient myths, esoteric secrets, and cosmic mysteries, the “Yuzhinsky Circle” embraced alcohol, guitars, and occult fascism. They participated in Satanist ritual, held séances, and hoped to reach a kind of reality-breaching mystical state through which everyday reality might break down and the delirium of fascist worship would bring the arcane from the ether all “Seig Heils” and “Heil Hitlers” (Clover 152-153).

A wild, freewheeling drinker, Dugin mistakenly left a collection of forbidden texts in his own apartment, and when KGB agents found them in a search of his house, he catfished on the Yuzhinsky Circle to save his own hide. Joining a KGB-connected “historical restoration society” (read: ultranationalist political organization) called Pamyat (Memory), Dugin wormed his way to the core of nationalist leadership advancing through the waning Soviet nomenklatura before another Russian fascist pushed him out for his ambition (Clover 161-165). Subsequently, Dugin moved to Western Europe in 1989 and took up with the so-called “European New Right” in Belgium and France, where he learned the networks of European fascism and the parlance of “geopolitics” (Shekhovtsov 37). Also in France was Eduard Limonov, a Russian punk who had lived dissolute in New York City before joining the European New Right in France in guest editing the left-right satirical periodical L’Idiot International (Lee 317-319, 478n74). After the fall of the Soviet Union, Limonov and Dugin returned to the Motherland, met amid red-brown circles, and designed the National Bolshevik Party while disseminating fascist precepts through other party organizations, such as the populist Russian National Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Atkins 81; Chaudet, Parmentier, Pelopidas, 54; Clover 209-213; Sedgewick 231-232).

Their ideology hinged on geopolitical notions of “large spaces”—a spiritual empire from Lisbon to Kamchatka comprised of ethno-states in which cultural minorities would be Verboten (Bar-On 205). Yet they insisted on other ideas for the spectacle—absolute power in the form of the man, whether Bakunin, Stalin, or Hitler (Shenfield 209). Sweeping, history negating deeds that could remake the past through a stroke of expurgatory violence. “A revolutionary has his own morality: it is the effectiveness and success of his struggle against global despotism,” Dugin would write in Eurasian Mission (158). Insisting that liberalism depends on techniques to the point of gutting meaning from life, Dugin’s Fourth Political Theory insisted, “the liberal discovers his way to [fascism] when he takes one step further and achieves self-affirmation as the unique and ultimate instance of being” (110). The uniqueness of the individual opens to affirmation not unlike what Heidegger discovered in Nietzsche’s later works called “positive nihilism”—the clearing and leveling process of destructive nihilism that opens to a movement toward philosophical recreation (poesis). “Logos has expired and we all will be buried under its ruins unless we make an appeal to chaos and its metaphysical principles, and use them as a basis for something new,” Fourth Political Theory continues. “Perhaps this is ‘the other beginning’ Heidegger spoke of.” (211)

What stirs in the heart of these feverish words is the heart of revolutionary idealism—the deconstruction of the reality produced by the various moving pieces of everyday life through an act of symbolic sabotage that at once reveals the obscure meaning of life and death, the movement of the stars, the arcane. Yet the direction of this motion toward sublime truth is contaminated with ultranationalist presuppositions that manipulate revolution toward the ends of insidious interests. This is why it’s fatal for revolutionaries to ignore fascism in its germ—its summoning and deployment of revolution theory, its assessment of nihilism and usage of avant-garde constructions. Yet Paul Simons, with his captious review of Shane Burley’s 25 Theses on Fascism, does exactly this while seeming to promote the old canard that “the left are the real fascists.” We will see how a skewed reading of both Burley’s text and source texts facilitate this strange turn in Simons’s analysis, allowing him to conclude with unfounded attacks on left antifascists rather than carry out a concerted effort to locate and disperse fascism where it lies.

 

Disingenuous Reading

First, we might begin with an assessment of the more finicky claims Simons makes regarding Burley’s points. First on Arendt, Simons faults Burley for making her subjective hatred of Eichmann’s willingness to participate in genocide through bureaucracy into a general re-evaluation of the malaise of Germans when faced with that genocide. Yet are the two not coterminous? Eichmann’s behind-the-scenes consent to fascist genocide, channeled through bureaucratic punctiliousness, represented the crisis of modern alienation from not only the means of production, but the means of mass destruction. “The logic of the Eichmann trial,” Arendt wrote, “would have demanded exposure of the complicity of all German offices and authorities in the Final Solution — of all civil servants in the state ministries, of the regular armed forces, with their General Staff, of the judiciary, and of the business world.” However, Arendt contends that the trial “carefully avoided touching upon this highly explosive matter — upon the almost ubiquitous complicity, which had stretched far beyond the ranks of Party membership” (my emphasis) (Arendt 13).

For Arendt, as Judith Butler observes, the crimes of Eichmann were carried out by Germans throughout the land, largely emerging from “the degradation of thinking” and “the way in which the crime had become for the criminals accepted, routinised, and implemented without moral revulsion and political indignation and resistance” (Butler). Surely there is room within this larger critique of mass inaction during the Shoah for Burley’s comment on the “malaise” of the German public and bureaucracy — an observation similarly made by Baumann, among others (29). Why fault Burley for his interpretation, in line with the best literature on the Holocaust, rather than investigate more deeply the questions of why—why did the Shoah happen and do we not see a hauntingly similar degradation of thinking in modern society from today’s Executive Branch to the general public?

Continuing a sad refusal to confront material rather than wrestle with facts, Simons faults Burley for using Benjamin’s assessment of fascism as the “aestheticization of politics” by claiming, tendentiously, that Benjamin’s reversal in the form of Communism (politicization of aesthetics) is a “swipe” (!) rather than a restitution. In fact, Benjamin understood aesthetics as deeply political. Margaret Cohen’s text is vital here: “Benjamin makes use of surrealism, then, not only for its shocklike aesthetics but also because the movement provides a conceptual paradigm with the potential to explain why these shocklike aesthetics work to political effect” (197). Benjamin of course took option with the vulgarity of Marxists’ focus on economics, but still actively maintained a politicalizing approach to aesthetics and an open affinity with the left. The trouble here remains that Simons seems too quick to call foul because he wants to score points against the left instead of engage in genuine discourse.

Looking at these two crucial misreadings, we must observe that, after criticizing Burley for using two thinkers very close to, if not within, the Frankfurt School (Arendt and Benjamin), Simons faults Burley for ignoring “completely” the Frankfurt School. Clearly in a compact 25 Theses Burley will not be able to delve completely into every contention held by all manner of thinkers who have ever considered fascism. Because Burley did not mention Poulantzas or Malatesta or Simone Weil or García Lorca, for instance, does not mean that he has ignored those writers. Yet the way Simons, himself, ignores appropriate understandings and usage of Arendt and Benjamin speaks to a disingenuous and insensitive reading.

 

Contending with Fascist Statism

Perhaps more importantly, Simons privileges the statal attributes of fascism over its non-statal and even anti-state processes to the point of pretending the latter don’t exist. Fascism begins, as with Dugin’s “mystical underground,” as a kind of collection of different disenfranchised ideological formations focused on overthrowing liberal democracy and restoring a kind of archaic, mythical sovereignty. Simons does not recognize this and in fact references Giovanni Gentile’s famous entry in the Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, written in 1932 in efforts to sum up the Fascist ideology. Early formulations of fascism that emerged first in 1914 and then again following World War I are either avoided or revised in that publication. Fixed within the context between Mussolini’s solidification of the Italian Fascist state and the rise of Hitler to power in Germany, Gentile’s work presented a propaganda piece meant to show off the intellectual grandeur of Mussolini’s power rather than a descriptive assessment of the functional core of the movement. In point of fact, several years before Mussolini asked Gentile to produce the Doctrine of Fascism, he would insist that Fascism could have no doctrine, because it was an impulse rather than an ideology.

According to historian David D. Roberts, “Fascism was ‘anti-intellectual’ insofar as intellectualism suggested the need and the scope for some dogma, some finished ideology, some rational blueprint. The Fascists agreed that there could be no such thing precisely because history was open-ended in ways only now being fully grasped. Under the circumstances, the key was to create the instrument for ongoing action – action that was itself open ended – as opposed to laying out some intellectualistic blueprint. Mussolini often boasted that Fascism was modern in precisely that sense of eschewing doctrinal baggage, the better to keep up with the grand and mutable reality of life. And he took delight on turning the tables on liberal critics; skeptics had said that Fascism was ephemeral because it lacked a doctrine, ‘as if they themselves had doctrines and not instead some fragments adding up to an impossible mixture of the most disparate elements” (289).

It is unclear what happens when one approaches fascism “teleologically,” as Simons encourages us to do, because he has not explained what he means; however, if one approaches it historically, with Roberts or Paxton, for instance, one finds that fascism tends to undergo metamorphosis as it rises to power. First as a revolutionary phenomenon linking left and right through an aesthetic glorification of violence and destruction often associated by fascists, themselves, with nihilism, fascism gains the fidelity of a hardcore group of idealists in the middle classes, reactionaries among the ruling class, and military men hoping to use their skills for the nationalist cause. Gradually, as fascists organize and assemble larger bodies, their ideology is more firmly established in communication with other contending political powers in order to absorb them, compromise with them, or destroy them. Once fascists attain power, their ideology is concretized into a dogma that can interpellate subjects into a functioning economic and political system. These systems can vary depending on the place, as the Romanian Iron Guard state differed significantly from Italian or German fascism. However, this very concretization leads to a kind of inertia through which fascists abandon their revolutionary precepts and either effectively become conservatives or simply lose power (Paxton 23).

Most unsettling of all is Simons’s claim that fascism cannot exist without a nation-state. Firstly, fascism repudiates the Westphalian nation-state, searching for more mythical understandings of sovereignty than Althussian federalism and its like could offer. In the words of scholar Stephen Shenfield, “fascism has never been committed to the principle of the nation-state. Its ideal has been rather that of the multiethnic empire, within which to be sure one particular nation was to occupy the dominant position” (16). For this reason, Hitler looked down on the parliamentary system underpinning the Kaisership when compared to, say, Frederick Barbarossa or Frederick the Great (Kershaw 13-14); and similarly, Mussolini could not appreciate an messy Italian nation-state forged through the Risorgimento more than the glamour of Scipio Africanus (Quartermaine 210).

The point is that this sort of Imperium is the desiderata of fascists from Francis Parker Yockey to Troy Southgate to Dugin, all of whom demand a spiritual empire of federated ethnic territories constructed through a kind of traditionalist unity implied by the “daily plebiscite” assumed under patriarchal control. Denying the “anarcho-fascist” tendencies of Michael Moynihan and male-tribalist Jack Donovan, or the “national anarchist” tendency of Southgate, opens the door for the kind of entryism that has plagued radical milieux associated, unfortunately, with Anarchist News and Anarkismo. Given the fact that fascism, in its earliest phases, relies on insinuating itself within subcultures and left-wing factions to grow, those tendencies must remain actively aware of these basics, or else fall prey to its machinations. We have seen radicals’ susceptibility to incidental cooperation with fascists time and time again—whether it is La Vielle Taupe in Paris moving from ultra-left revolutionary center to a hub for Holocaust denial or, more recently, egoist Wolfi Landstreicher publishing his translation of Max Stirner’s The Ego and Its Own (Now called The Unique and His Property) through a press run by a fascist who attends fascist meet-ups like the National Policy Institute, asserts eugenicist positions, and does art for books by Donovan and white nationalist leader Greg Johnson.

Simons’s ongoing denial is why his insistence that all attempts at mass organizing enlist the tactics of fascism (in fact, the fascists explicitly enlisted the tactics of leftists who came before them) appears so scurrilous and baseless. One might hope that a bit of clarity would be granted to the conversation by identifying tactics, themselves, as less the purchase and property of a given political organization than operationally useful for different reasons. From that point, we might begin a meaningful discourse on our successes and failures as antifascists. Otherwise, taking pot shots at the antifascist left is a lousy substitute for adept analysis.

 

Bibliography

  • Arendt, Hannah. 1965. Eichmann in Jerusalem. New York: Viking Compass Books.
  • Atkins, Stephen E. 2004. Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Bar-On, Tamir. Rethinking the French New Right: Alternatives to Modernity. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Baumann, Z. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust. Maldon, MA: Polity Press.
  • Butler, Judith. “Hannah Arendt’s challenge to Adolf Eichmann.” The Guardian. 29 August 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/hannah-arendt-adolf-eichmann-banality-of-evil, retrieved December 17, 2017.
  • Chaudet, Didier, Florent Parmentier, and Benôit Pélopidas. When Empire Meets Nationalism: Power Politics in the US and Russia. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Clover, Charles. 2016. Black Wind, White Snow. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Cohen, Margaret. 1995. Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist Revolution. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.
  • Dugin, Alexander. 2012. The Fourth Political Theory. Translated by Mark Sleboda and Michael Millerman. UK: Arktos Media Ltd.
  • Dugin, Alexander. 2014. Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism. Edited by John B. Morgan. UK: Arktos Media, Ltd.
  • Gregor, A. James. 2004. Giovanni Gentile: Philosopher Of Fascism. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Kershaw, Ian. 2013. Hitler. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Lee, Martin A. 2013. The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Far-Right Extremists. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2007. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York, NY: Random House.
  • Quartermaine, Luisa. 1995. “Slouching Toward Rome: Mussolini’s Imperial Vision.” In Urban Society in Roman Italy, edited by Tim J. Cornell, Kathryn Lomas. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Roberts, David D. 2006. The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-century Europe: Understanding the Poverty of Great Politics. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Sedgewick, Mark. 2004. Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. New York NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Shekhovtskov, Anton. 2015. “Alexander Dugin and the West European New Right, 1984-1994.” Eurasianism and the European Far Right: Reshaping the Europe–Russia Relationship. Edited by Marlene Laruelle. New York, NY: Lexington Books.
  • Shenfield, Stephen. 2016. Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies and Movements. New York, NY: Routledge.

The Sound of Resistance: Antifascist Interviews and Podcasts [AUDIO]

 

Now that words like Antifa are well known, a lot of media attention has been placed on anti-fascist organizers and writers.  In an attempt to capture some of this material, we have created a large list of podcasts that cover antifascist issues, both in the form of reports, interviews, discussions, and talks.  This is not a fixed list, we will be building on it and adding to it as we go on.  Please comment with your favorite podcast, or email us some that should be added!

Interviews

Shane Burley (Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It)

Mark Bray (Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook)

Alexander Reid Ross (Against the Fascist Creep)

 

Daryle Lamont Jenkins

 

Spencer Sunshine

 

Matthew Lyons

It’s Going Down (IDG Cast)

 

Friendly Anarchism

Antifascist Paganism

 

Crimethinc

 

Final Straw

 

Regular Journalism Coverage

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.

Enter Giveaway

 

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Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook

By Mark Bray, Melville House

Order Here

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

Order Here

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

Order Here

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

Order Here

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

Order Here

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

Order Here

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

Order Here

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.

EGOMANIA! A Response to My Critics on the Post-Left

 

By Alexander Reid Ross

 

My piece, “The Left-Overs: How Fascists Court the Post-Left,” has been shared on Facebook more than 2,000 times now and numerous interpretations have made the rounds. I feel like I must apologize for the inappropriate uses of “Left-Overs,” which unfortunately came across to some as against the post-left specifically. I would like to use this space to humbly correct what has been written about me and the subject of my article.

Those who are familiar with my work recognize that I outted Michael Schmidt, a fascist in the platformist tendency. During the heated first months of that episode, a number of post-leftists managed to condemn me for perpetuating “call out culture” while using my work to launch sectarian attacks against platformism. Meanwhile platformists attacked me for being a post-left primitivist. Since then, Schmidt has admitted, “my mind was toying with [national-anarchism’s] disastrous, racist arguments” (a taste of the truth, but not the buffet to be sure).[1]

Now, post-leftists who reveled in the controversy of “Schmidtgate” find in my present work “the very definition of a sectarian attack.” Although some of the critical engagement with my work bears the marks of sincere inquiry, much of it comes from rage. The recent 5,500 word piece, “Post-Left vs. ‘Woke’ Left,” by Dr. Bones, takes the reader on an extended tour of the latter. I have done my best to counter his efforts by taking on the former.

Forget that Bones antagonized me personally, admitting in a public apology, “I took something I’m sure has no truth to it whatsoever and threw it in his face not because I believed it but because I wanted to hurt him… This was not a fair or even a civil tactic, this was just stupid, cruel, and mean.” When one is dealing with a milieu with a reputation for troll tactics, reddit politics, and chan behavior, it helps to have a thick skin. Apology accepted.

What truly matters is that, in his vitriolic critique, Bones gets most facts plainly wrong and his essay is chock full of spurious accusations. I am, in fact, not “calling for the abandonment of any ideas [fascists] might steal to be thrown away,” whatever that means (it sounds like it would rid the world of ideas altogether and make us all a bit more like Bones).

Let’s look at my most daring claims and see whether or not they deserve the kind of animosity I have faced over the past week:

 

  • “[I]n imagining that anti-capitalism and ‘individual liberty’ maintain ideological purity, radicals such as my own dear editor tend to ignore critical convergences with and vulnerabilities to fascist ideology.” This claim stands up based on evidence I provided, including the correspondence that I had with my editor, as well as the defensive reaction to the piece. I am also clearly positing “radicals” not “post-leftists” specifically.

 

  • “[T]his situation [of ideological cross-over] has provided ample space for the fascist creep.” I am not marking the post-left as “particularly” vulnerable to entryism, nor am I saying that the post-left is, itself, fascist.

 

  • “[The] presence [of fascists among former Earth Liberation Front members] serves as food for thought regarding important radical cross-over points and how to approach them.” All I am implying here is that cross-over points in ideology and practical work should be recognized as important in the struggle against entryism and the clarification of anarchist ideas.

 

  • “[A]lthough in some cases prescient about the subcultural cross-overs between fascism and the post-left, post-leftists have, on a number of occasions, engaged in collaborative relationships.” I list a number of examples, and there are many more to boot. In recent twitter correspondence, one of my critics insisted, aside from the invective they aimed at me, that they agree with my thesis, but did not like the fact that I provided supporting evidence. As the Latin aphorism goes, “Precepts guide, but examples drags along” (Præcepta ducunt, at exempla trahunt).

 

To clarify, reviewing my central points, I never called the post-left fascist, called any of its leading figures fascist, or even made a claim that it is “particularly” vulnerable to fascist entryism.

 

What is the Point?

 

Perhaps the crux of my article is here: “It stands to reason that defending fascists and collaborating with them are not the same, and they are both separate from having incidental ideological cross-over points. However the cross-over points, when unchecked, frequently indicate a tendency to ignore, defend, or collaborate. Defense and collaboration can, and do, also converge.” I am saying it would be wise to check those cross-over points to ensure they are not putting a group or person in a vulnerable position in relation to the fascist creep. For example, I know plenty of pagans; many fascists are also pagans; it is wise for my pagan friends to avoid pagan groups tending toward fascism, like the Asatru Folk Assembly. With this in mind, it is incumbent on antifascists to expose fascist groups or persons and the cross-over points that they exploit—this should be seen as a service and a duty, not an attack.

Yet Bones takes me to task for putting anarchists on notice that “scary individualists are particularly weak to ‘entryism’ and the fascist creep.” If this were true, I would agree with my critic, “This is patently ridiculous.” I have worked and played with post-leftists for the last ten years, including direct action groups, reading groups, and black blocs, and I have published most of my work on Trump in It’s Going Down and Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, both of which have generously published my articles in zines. My experience shows that I am no sectarian. Before ten years ago (roughly between the years of 1999-2004), my political alignment was basically post-left anarchist and even up to 2009, I was participating in things like a post-left reading group with green anarchist, Dan Todd, at the Dry River Radical Resource Center in Tucson, Arizona, that hosted post-left anarchy luminary, Lawrence Jarach, following his interesting piece, “Why I’m Not an Anti-Primitivist.”[2]

I am ecumenical in observing the cross-overs with the far right among collectivists as well as individualists, or as post-leftist, William Gillis, puts it in his review of my book, Against the Fascist Creep, I am “equal opportunity in [my] work.”[3] I clarify in the third sentence of my offending piece, “Fascism comes from a mixture of left and right-wing positions, and some on the left pursue aspects of collectivism, syndicalism, ecology, and authoritarianism that intersect with fascist enterprises.” The next sentence reads, “Partially in response to the tendencies of left authoritarianism, a distinct antifascist movement emerged in the 1970s to create what has become known as ‘post-left’ thought.”

So when I write about the post-left, I am clearly describing an antifascist tendency that emerged from a rejection of left-wing authoritarianism that shared common traits with fascism. The subtitle of my work is, “How Fascists Court the Post-Left,” not “How the post-left turned into a writhing cesspool of fascist ugliness.” Those who accuse me of authoring an anti-post-left “hit piece” ignore that I call it a “rich milieu” in “Left-Overs.” Oversights happen, but let me note that I have faced criticisms from antifascist post-leftists telling me I should not have pulled as many punches as I did. Suffice it to say that the defensive reactions have been instructive, in no small part, for the facts they get wrong.

 

Does the Post-Left Exist?

 

The principle critique of my work is that I have misunderstood or misconstrued the post-left milieu and the thought of its important intellectual rock stars—particularly Max Stirner. This is quite tricky, because post-leftists often insist that the term, “post-left,” amounts to nothing more than a sticky signifier—a place-holder that brings together a variety of tendencies based on temporary affinities.

Due to this loose system, which developed amid affinities between nihilists, green anarchists, individualists, egoist communists, and insurrectionaries, Bones claims that I am “literally chasing a ghost, a spook, a figment of his imagination. Egoists see no need to join with anybody. Alexander has decided we’re kin to primitivists simply because we don’t want to work in a goddamn factory or uphold the wretched consumer society he clearly sees worth saving.”

This denial of post-leftism as a milieu is not entirely accurate. According to Bob Black’s “Notes on ‘Post-Left Anarchism,’” “Among the people I was thinking of as post-left anarchists were Fredy Perlman, John Zerzan, Dan Todd, Hakim Bey, Max Cafard, Michael William, John Moore, the Fifth Estate writers of the 70’s and 80’s (such as George Bradford/David Watson and Peter Werbe), Wolfi Landstreicher (he had other names back then), the Green Anarchism writers (especially John Connor), and several regular contributors to Anarchy: A Journal of Desire including its editor Jason McQuinn (then known as Lev Chernyi), Lawrence Jarach, and Aragorn.”[4] With the caveat that the post-left exists on its own terms, our readers will hopefully recognize, against dissemblances, that I am not higlty-piglty scrabbling together a discursive field out of little else but hot air and black ink. Bones even insists (repeatedly) on the importance of understanding “why a Post-Left even exists.”[5]

 

A Bit About Stirner

 

Bones accuses me of never having read Stirner or Nietzsche, although I have read virtually all of Stirner and Nietzsche. The sensitivity is incredible, given that I devote only one sentence to Max Stirner in “The Left-Overs,” writing that he held a “belief in the supremacy of the European individual over and against nation, class, and creed.” For this, I have been subjected to some of the most intense invective I have ever experienced in my life. Bones calls me a “fucking asshole” in his piece and a leftist “class struggle” meme page attacks me as a liberal antifa cuck, deploying the racist vocabulary of the alt-right to denounce antifascism as if they were not proving my point.

Bones does not deny the Eurocentrism of Stirner’s insistence on a “really Caucasian” age following the purging of “innate Negroidity” and “Mongloidity.”[6] Yet he refuses to acknowledge the tacit racism, despite the fact that Stirner’s editor and translator, David Leopold, wrote in his introduction to Cambridge University Press’s 1995 edition of The Ego and Its Own, “Individual and historical development are the two primary forms of the Stirnerian dialectic, but in order to clarify its form he inserts ‘episodically’ a racial (and racist) analogue of the historical account.”[7] Those calling my interpretation of Stirner “dishonest,” “disingenuous,” and “dirty” must hurl the same invective at Dr. Leopold, an Oxford University fellow and professor entrusted with the leading edition of Stirner’s main text (available through Libcom).

Can we chalk this up to blind ignorance, friends? Stirner’s historical account runs parallel to the then-popular Aryan myth, wherein the passage of humans from Africa to Asia to Europe signifies a cultural-linguistic process of evolution. Bones posits Stirner’s rejection of nationalism as a defense against the charge that he was racist. Yet recall now that I mentioned that Stirner held a “belief in the supremacy of the European individual over and against nation, class, and creed.” Race and nation are different subjects, and looking at the complex history of ideological cross-overs, we can see fascinating outcroppings of the work of Stirner and Nietzsche that reject modern nationalism while reinforcing racist imperialism. The inability to detect this exposes a crucial vulnerability to racist anti-statism, which we will come to shortly.

 

Stirnerists and the Foundations of Fascism

 

In the 1860s, Stirner would become a topic for historians and philosophers of the mind, from Friedrich Lange’s History of Materialism to Hartmann’s Philosophy of the Unconscious. There is little doubt that perhaps the most influential thinker of nihilism, Friedrich Nietzsche, was familiar with Stirner, familiar as he was with those two influential texts. He lent his student, Adolf Baumgartner, a copy of Ego and Its Own in 1874.[8] Less than ten years later, shortly before publication of his most essential work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche confessed to his friend Ida Overbeck the deep influence of Stirner on his thinking before worrying, “they will be talking of plagiarism.”[9]

Like Stirner, Nietzsche asserted the philosophical importance of iconoclasm—of destroying dominant paradigms that contain the individual. Nietzsche looked at the spirit of his day—the decadence of urban expansion, mundane philosophy, the herds of nationalism and flocks of the Church—as a form of passive nihilism. To overcome it, he predicted a new Superman would come about to annihilate the falsity of everyday life through an “active nihilism” perhaps evocative of an “eternal return” of human freedom.[10]

Anarchist writer George Woodcock notes, “Nietzsche himself regarded Stirner as one of the unrecognized seminal minds of the nineteenth century.”[11] By the end of the 20th Century, Nietzsche and Stirner formed fundamental pillars of radical thought. Writer and editor, Benjamin Tucker, discussed the significance of Stirner to anarchism, while Emma Goldman popularized Nietzsche.[12]

Aside from these influences, Stirner and Nietzsche also had a tremendous effect on Dora Marsden, a feminist leader who held the Aryan female genius responsible for breeding humanity into the New Order.[13] Aside from being a Stirnerist, Marsden was also influenced by the anti-Semitic and misogynistic individualist, Otto Weininger, who counted Stirner, with Ibsen and Nietzsche, as the only scholars to ever understand true ethics and individualism.[14] Though she was an egoist and an important member of the women’s movement, her agreement with Weininger led her to essentialize the sex binary in her writings. Weininger would also influence the Nazi regime and Evola openly admired him.[15]

As Stirner’s work gained traction, it also garnered increasing attention from the right. In his 1908 text, Gospels of Anarchy, and Other Contemporary Studies, Vernon Lee observed a similarity between Stirner’s “psychology” and that of anti-Semitic reactionary, Maurice Barrès.[16] This similarity was not an anomaly—Barrès was aware of the Young Hegelians and Stirner through the works of Saint-René Tallandier, and Stirner’s influence could be found in the first two volumes of Barrès’s Cult of Myself as well as Enemy of the Law.[17] By the 1920s, James Huneker’s book, Egoists: A Book of Supermen, could place Stirner and Nietzsche alongside Barrès within the same individualist milieu without controversy.[18]

Significantly, Barrès and his reactionary ally, Charles Maurras, would forward the earliest prefigurations of fascism. In his journal, La Cocarde, Barrès sought to reach out to “the proletariat of bacheliers, to those youths whom society has given a diploma and nothing else.”[19] To achieve such a goal, Barrès included the left-wing voices of Eugéne Fournière and Fernand Pelloutier, along with nationalist compatriots. In the spirit of La Cocarde, Maurras joined with the former anarcho-syndicalist, Georges Valois, to launch the Cercle Proudhon with Eduard Berth, a close associate of the famous syndicalist, Georges Sorel. Despite Maurras’s importance, Valois would later claim Barrès as the progenitor of original fascism.[20]

Here in its germ, at the merger of individualism and collectivism, nationalism and socialism, fascism could be found. Following the developments of the day, Benito Mussolini called Sorel the “notre Maître (Master)” and encouraged his followers to return to Stirner.[21] In Germany, conservative revolutionary, Ernst Jünger, conjured up the figure of the “magic zero,” exhorting readers to annihilate the modern world and produce the New Age of the “Anarch”—who “embodies the viewpoint of Stirner… that is, the anarch is unique.”[22]

It was the desire for the New Man and the New Age that created the conditions for fascist palingenesis (the ideology of rebirth). This movement was facilitated by avant-gardists like Filippo Marinetti, who praised the “destructive gesture of the anarchist,” and Gabriel D’Annunzio, who theorized an aesthetic, poetic and spiritual unity of the nation.[23] Hence, there is no doubting the influence of Stirner in the seedbed of fascism—from Barrès, Mussolini, and Jünger to Marinetti, D’Annunzio, and Weininger. But wait! There’s more!

 

The Problem with Bataille

 

Another critical mistake my critics have made is denying that avant-gardist, Georges Bataille, was influenced by Stirner. This fact is supported by among the most basic works on Bataille.[24] Not only was Bataille influenced by Stirner, but his reading of Stirner came during the crucial window between his denunciation by the Surrealists in 1930 and his publishing of “The Psychological Structure of Fascism” three years later, in which he calls fascism, “the constitution of a total heterogenous power whose manifest origin is to be found in the prevailing effervescence… the emanation of a principle which is none other than that of the glorious existence of a nation raised to the value of a divine force (which, superseding every other conceivable consideration, demands not only passion but ecstasy from its participants).”[25] Since “fascism is an imperative response to the growing threat of the working class movement,” for Bataille, those who believe in the “liberating subversion of society” must recreate the process through which human lives would be emancipated.[26]

The problem with Bataille is that this recreation looked a lot like fascism. In 1934, a year after writing “The Psychological Structure of Fascism,” Bataille attended the “Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution” in Rome. In response to what he saw as the inevitable rise of fascism, in a letter to his friend Pierre Kaan, he declared, “I have no doubt about the level on which we will have to place ourselves: it can only be that of fascism itself, which is to say the mythological level. It is therefore a question of posing values participating in a living nihilism, equal to the fascist imperatives.”[27] In the words of scholar Rainer Friedrich, “Doubtlessly, at that point, Bataille’s discourse displayed a strong affinity to fascism.”[28] As did members of his coterie.

A member of Bataille’s 1935-1936 group, Counter-Attack, wrote, “We prefer, in any case, and without being duped, the anti-diplomatic brutality of Hitler, which is surely less fatal to peace than the drooling excitation of diplomats and politicians.”[29] A few months later, Surrealists who had participated in Counter-Attack released a statement attacking the “so-called group, within which had emerged some tendencies called ‘superfascist’ whose purely fascist character has become more and more evident.”[30] Identifying Bataille’s outlook as “surfascisme” and calling him “more fascist than the fascists” was not necessarily inaccurate.[31] In the translator’s introduction to Bataille’s own book, On Nietzsche, Stuart Kendall notes, “There was more than a little truth to the accusation, and intentionally so.”[32]

It is interesting that Bataille deploys the nihilist meta-narrative, which in a lot of fascist ideology functions as a part of the palingenetic core of rebirth. Although fascists often reject nihilism, individualism, and egoism, those denunciations come in connection to multiculturalism, liberalism, and democracy. On a deeper level, fascists like Jünger and Martin Hiedegger celebrated the dialectic of passive and active nihilism found in Nietzsche.[33] For Julius Evola, Stirner epitomized the first stage of a two-step process of emptying modern civilization of meaning—his form of “passive nihilism” is carried forward by philosopher Friedrich Nietszche into a New Age of spiritual realization by the New Man through “active nihilism.”[34]

It is crucial to recognize that Stirner’s rejection of modern nationalism is supported in fascism. Evola also championed the spiritual superiority of the “Aryan race” vis-à-vis “culture” and against modern civilization, which he identified with petty nationalism. Mussolini’s squadristi attacked nationalists as well as leftists.[35] Mussolini’s party saw palingenetic ultranationalism as the only way, a kind of organic rebirth of Ancient Rome in the height of Imperial grandeur under Scipio Africanus.[36] Fascism is Imperial rather than national, so Stirner’s call for a “truly Caucasian” age had its resonances on the right and left.

 

Individualism and Nihilism in Post-War Fascism

 

Stirner could not (and cannot) easily be shelved as left or right; his influence was perhaps more liminal and affective than direct and intellectual. As anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker lamented, “While the atomization of the individual is the constant, while humongous buildings populate the cities, while avenues are designed for machines, while collective transportation is designed for cattle and not human beings, anti-social/anti-communitarian actions will certainly remain present, expressed with the bitter angst shown throughout Stirner’s work.”[37] As much as his prejudices can be considered a symptom of his time, Rocker viewed Stirner’s reception by nihilists and individualists as similarly conditioned by the environment.

After the War, Stirner’s work was preserved in perhaps the definitive text on US individualism, James J. Martin, Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827–1908. Published in 1953, Martin’s text noted Stirner’s influence in upholding the individual over and against the notion of natural rights in anything other than their voluntary manifestation.[38] Going on to publish anti-interventionist texts, Martin fell into the circle of a young Murray Rothbard, whose own writings on “anarcho-capitalism” in his journal Left & Right attempted to draw anti-war radicals toward free market ideals.[39]

Rothbard and Martin connected on their appreciation for Holocaust denier, Harry Elmer Barnes, who called Martin’s work “the most formidable achievement of World War II Revisionism.” Following Barnes’s death in 1968 (and a glowing obituary in the final issue of Left & Right), Martin founded his own publishing house and published texts on anarchy, Holocaust denial, and anti-interventionism.[40] Martin’s individualism and Rothbard’s incipient neoliberalism formed no small part of the seedbed from which the most right-wing faction of the libertarian movement sprang into being.

On a speculative note, Stirner’s influence might make sense here due to his translation of Jean-Baptiste Say’s free market works into German.[41] For this same reason, echoes of his thought are often seen in Ayn Rand’s ruthless “objectivism” by scholars and observers. Yet Stirner cannot be placed exclusively among neoliberalism, as his legacy continues to inform nihilists, individualists, insurrectionary anarchists, and ultra-leftists who believe in communization. Perhaps due to this mixture, the philosophies of individualism and nihilism continued to find even broader audiences in the cross-over between left and right ideas in the 1970s.

Perhaps the most functionally fascist of these influences came as Evola’s work was received by a new generation of fascists who made a concerted effort to infiltrate the left and restore the foundation of fascism. This work of the “European New Right” included the Evolian rejection of nationalism in favor of local cultures composing a larger, federated “spiritual empire.” European New Right leader, Alain de Benoist, returns to the process of “positive nihilism” whereby Europeans will “build on a site which has been completely cleared and leveled…. If a new right is to be brought into being we have to start from scratch.”[42] While Benoist and his project generally denounce “abstract” individualism, their “communitarian” project arguably tends toward the spiritual reclamation of the Evolian “universal individual” through its tacit elitism.[43]

Much of this was stated relatively plainly in “The Left-Overs,” which has been maligned by one respected anarchist as “that insane article.” The negative reaction is largely a mixture of defensiveness and inability to understand the central, palingenetic core of fascism, but again the willingness to jump to hostility and invective is extremely telling of the blindspot. If I am insane, I am like Diogenes the Cynic holding a lamp in the daylight in the search for an honest man, taking the winding path of history past those influenced by Stirnerist individualism and nihilism who set the foundation for and participated in fascism, such as Weininger, Marinetti, Barrès, D’Annunzio, Mussolini, Schmitt, Jünger, and Martin (i.e., some of the most important fascists in history).

 

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

 

Looking up Stirner in the fascist blogosphere today, one finds the most important cross-overs. In the Counter-Currents article, “We Are All Egoists—and Why That’s a Good Thing,” by former anarchist “race realist,” Aedon Cassiel, Stirner’s egoism avoids the “immature, anti-social, or sociopathic” approach, moving instead toward a synthesis of individualism and collectivism that provides for “a flourishing social commons.” This, of course, is not to say that a reading of The Ego and Its Own that permits such a synthetic social relationship of individuals is automatically fascist, but rather that it has significant weight across the spectrum.

In another article from Counter-Currents, Stirner is referred to approvingly at the beginning of the tradition of Nietzsche and D’Annunzio as developing the “consumate individualist”—“in the space beyond Left and Right, as well as beyond good and evil—with the aristocratic radical on the common ground of Life.” It is significant that the first citation used by the author of this piece refers to the exuberant chapter dedicated to D’Annunzio in Temporary Autonomous Zone, a seminal text in the post-left milieu by spiritualist, Hakim Bey (i.e., the text that praises proto-fascist right-left cross-over is then used by a fascist to talk about a “space beyond Left and Right”).[44]

Stirner’s mercurial attitude and iconoclastic attack on all structures of everyday life quickly elevated him to star-status in the online forums of the post-left during the 2000s, as his cyber-influence extended to the internet subcultures of trans-humanism. Stirner became a reference point for neoreactionaries who joined other interested individualists in message boards like 4chan’s /lit/ section. As meme wars grew, Stirner memes emerged from chan boards and neoreactionary websites, along with post-left anarchist forums, green anarchist platforms, nihilist groups, and occult circles.

In some cases, this cross-section produces meme wars of antifascists against fascists and/or anarcho-capitalists against anti-capitalist egoists and/or green anarchists against trans-humanists, and so on. In other cases, there are convergences between otherwise different factions. For instance, in retaliation for “Left-Overs,” the admins of Anarchist News posted a hoax article purportedly authored by me but compiled from plagiarized copy-and-pastes of different articles of mine to create rambling nonsense—of course, a fascist posted in the comments. Why not? Am I damned for expecting something more from a site that “repeatedly published ‘national anarchists’ despite widespread condemnation,” according to Gillis?[45]

With the development of the alt-right, newer syntheses of Stirnerism became possible. Stirner soon became a topic of interest, a conversation piece between Stirner-influenced nationalist Jonathan Bowden and alt-right founder, Richard Spencer. Alt-right accounts like “Darth Stirner” emerged, encouraging young radicals to abandon “rose-colored glasses” and open their eyes to the need for interning the enemies of the white race.[46]

 

Final Thoughts

 

Despite their recurrence in fascist ideology, I would not leap to the conclusion that nihilist or individualist thought are essentially fascist. Was Marsden proto-fascist? Was Stirner proto-fascist? These may seem like interesting questions, but they’re rather superficial. Rather than casting blame against one or another individual, I prefer to think of proto-fascist conditions. Perhaps this is not individualist of me, but it is by no means an attempt to brand the post-left as a fascist milieu. Rather, my article was an attempt to illustrate the conditions that brought and bring about fascism. Recall, I have never claimed that individualism and nihilism were the sole or even the principle influences for fascism, nor that the post-left is “particularly” susceptible to cross-over as opposed to the authoritarian or even anti-authoritarian left.

Now, instead of reflecting on the true, stated intension of my articles, my detractors have jumbled together innumerable conjectures that continue to miss the mark. To attack me for pointing out vulnerabilities to fascist entryism in relation to ideological cross-over points and switch the conversation to utterly false denial of the racist tendencies of white, Eurocentric philosophers is to fall into ignorance. It suggests that one is less concerned with the presence of racism than the accusation (and who is making it). And it indicates a deeply disconcerting pattern of “defending the bros” as opposed to careful consideration of the facts.

In a world where fascists attempt to enter radical milieus and draw people to the right, it is imperative to understand their methods. I have provided (or attempted to provide) a historiographic roadmap through which we can contemplate the cross-over points that act as entryways for the right into the post-left and exit paths from the post-left toward fascism. We must understand these aspects of fascism and its relation to radical politics if we are to defeat it. If we do not respect and uphold the value of truth, we are no better anyway.

Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt (Fate guides the willing, and drags the unwilling).[47]

 

 ***

Alexander Reid Ross is a journalist and lecturer at Portland State University. He has been published in Truth-Out, ROAR Magazine, and Upping the Anti, and is the author of Against the Fascist Creep (AK Press, 2017).

***

 

[1] Michael Schmidt, Letter to the Council of the Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH), Mary 7, 2017. The council refused his resignation and instead terminated his position.

[2] Jarach may recall that he took me to school over the correct dates of the Paris Commune.

[3] William Gillis, “Against the Pull of Simplicity and Disconnect,” Center for a Stateless Society, April 2, 2017, https://c4ss.org/content/48385.

[4] Bob Black, “Notes on ‘Post-Left Anarchism,’” Anarchist Library, 2015, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-notes-on-post-left-anarchism.

[5] He also, somewhat awkwardly, makes the claim that the post-left is more amenable to resistance movements around the world and particularly in Latin America than “HIS [my] anarchy”—an interesting perspective given the abundance of organizationalist anarchism in Latin America, and the fact that my first book, Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab, is dedicated to assessing non-sectarian, popular resistance movements on their own terms. Ed., Alexander Reid Ross, Grabbing Back: Against the Global Land Grab (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2014).

[6] Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own, trans: David Leopold (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 62-63.

[7] Ibid, xvii.

[8] Albert Lévy, Stirner et Nietzsche, trans. Mitch Abidor (Paris: Societé Nouvelle de Librairie et d’Édition, 1904), https://www.marxists.org/subject/anarchism/levy/stirner-nietzsche.htm.

[9] See Rüdiger Safranski, Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, trans. Shelly Frisch (New York City: WW Norton & Co, 2003), 127.

[10] Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche: Writings from the Late Notebooks, trans. Kate Sturge, ed. Rüdiger Bittner (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 120-121.

[11] George Woodcock, Anarchism : A History Of Libertarian Ideas And Movements (New York City: Meridian Books, 1962), 94, http://rebels-library.org/files/woodcock_anarchism.pdf.

[12] Benjamin R. Tucker, Instead of a Book, By a Man too Busy to Write One (New York City: Benjamin R. Tucker, 1897), https://archive.org/stream/cu31924030333052/cu31924030333052_djvu.txt; Andrew Cornell, Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2016), 39.

[13] Lucy Delap, The Feminist Avant-Garde: Trans-Atlantic Encounters of the Early Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 277.

[14] Otto Weininger, Sex and Character, trans. (London: William Heinemann, 1906), 96, http://www.theabsolute.net/ottow/schareng.pdf.

[15] Racist and anti-Semitic aspects of the women’s movement were ported through the post-war period by Nazi mystic, Savitri Devi, who asserted a kind of green philosophy not unlike today’s Deep Ecology. One can still detect today inflections of a reductionist women’s movement in the “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists”, who aside from engaging in some cross-overs with far-right hate groups also infect tendencies within the radical green movement (specifically the group Deep Green Resistance). See Michelle Renée Matisons and Alexander Reid Ross, “Against Deep Green Resistance,” no. 28 (Oakland, CA: Institute for Anarchist Studies/AK Press, 2014), https://anarchiststudies.org/2015/08/09/against-deep-green-resistance-by-michelle-renee-matisons-and-alexander-reid-ross/.

[16] Vernon Lee, Gospels of Anarchy, and Other Contemporary Studies (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908), 31.

[17] Ida-Marie Frandon, Barrès: Precurseur (Paris: Éditions Fernand Lanore, 1983), 17-21, 50-57, 70-73.

[18] James Huneker, Egoists, a Book of Supermen: Stendahl, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Anatole France, Huysmans, Barrès, Nietzsche, Blake, Ibsen, Stirnern, and Ernest Hello (New York City: Scribners, 1921).

[19] Maurice Barrès, quoted in Judith Surkis, Sexing the Citizen: Morality and Masculinity in France, 1870–1920 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 98.

[20] Zeev Sternhell, Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, trans. David Maisel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 1986), 107.

[21] Mussolini, Opera Omnia, 35 vols. (Florence, Italy: La Fenice, 1951–1963), 15:194; A. James Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism (New York: Free Press, 1969), 156; Stephen B. Whitaker, The Anarchist-Individualist Origins of Italian Fascism (Bern: Peter Lang 2002), 86. I note in my book that “One should resist the temptation to make too much of Fascism’s syndicalist or individualist tendencies.” See Alexander Reid Ross, Against the Fascist Creep (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2017).

[22] Julien Hervier, Ernst Jünger, The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Jünger, trans. Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995), 82.

[23] Barbara Spackman, Fascist Virilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Social Fantasy in Italy (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 49, 123-126; Zeev Sternhell, The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 187-188.

[24] Michael Richardson, Georges Bataille (New York City: Routledge, 1994), 21.

[25] Georges Bataille, “The Psychological Structure of Fascism,” trans. Carl R. Lovitt, New German Critique, No. 16 (Winter, 1979), 81.

[26] Ibid, 76

[27] Stuart Kendall, Georges Bataille (London: Reaktion Press, 2007), 127.

[28] Rainer Friedrich, “The Enlightenment Gone Mad (I) The Dismal Discourse of Postmodernism’s Grand Narratives,” Arion 19 (3):31-78 (2012), http://www.bu.edu/arion/the-enlightenment-gone-mad-i-the-dismal-discourse-of-postmodernisms-grand-narratives/

[29] Jean Dautry, “Sous le feu des canons français at alliés,” Contre-attaque, March 1936, (Mélusine de l’université Paris-III Sorbonne Nouvelle), http://www.andrebreton.fr/work/56600100744230. My translation.

[30] Quoted in Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Rethinking the Political: The Sacred, Aesthetic Politics, and the Collège de Sociologie (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011), 142, ^152.

[31] Kendall, 127.

[32] Georges Bataille, On Nietzsche, trans. Stuart Kendall (Albarny, NY: SUNY Press, 2015), xiii. These are not at all hidden threads, and are all too well known by Bataille aficionados of the right like Nick Land. At the same time, it might help to remind the reader that I never accused Bataille of being a fascist; I simply noted in “The Left-Overs” that he “experimented with fascist aesthetics,” and followed that up with quotes. Yet for such a modest suggestion, I received outlandish (and revealing) vitriol.

[33] Martin Heidegger, Neitszsche, Vols. III & IV, trans. David Farrrell Krell (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), https://taradajko.org/get/books/Heidegger_Nietzsche.pdf. For more on Jünger’s nihilism, see Ernst Jünger, Das abenteuerliche Herz. Erste Fassung: Aufzeichnungen bei Tag und Nacht, in mtliche Werke, Vol. 9 (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1979), 116-117. Several people have attacked my evidenced claim of the attraction that Carl Schmitt felt for Max Stirner by referring to his post-war work, avoiding his youth and the inter-war years when he did things like paraphrase the Proudhonian axiom, “whoever invokes humanity is cheating.” See Safranski, 125.

[34] See Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger, trans. Joscelyn Godwin, Constance Fontana (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003), 18-19, http://www.cakravartin.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/Julius-Evola-Ride-the-Tiger-Survival-Manual-for-the-Aristocrats-of-the-Soul.pdf. See

[35] George P. Blum, The Rise of Fascism in Europe (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), 22.

[36] Peter Bondanella, A History of Italian Cinema (New York: Continuum, 2009), 47.

[37] Rudolf Rocker, Anarchy and Organization, trans. Libcom (Libcom, 2003), https://libcom.org/files/Rudolf%20Rocker-%20Anarchy%20and%20organisation.pdf.

[38] James J. Martin, Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827–1908 (Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles Publisher, 1970), 201, 215.

[39] John Payne, “Rothbard’s Time on the Left,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 19, no.1 (Winter 2005): 10–11.

[40] Murray N. Rothbard, “Harry Elmer Barnes, RIP,” Left & Right 4, no. 1 (1968), 3; StephenMeansMe, “Reason Magazine Addresses That 1976 “Holocaust Denial Edition,” LittleGreenFootballs, July 27, 2014, http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/43649_Reason_Magazine_Addresses_That_1976_Holocaust_Denial_Edition.

[41] John Powell, Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800-1914 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2005), 397.

[42] Alain de Benoist, “Regenerating History,” in Fascism, ed. Roger Griffin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 169-170.

[43] Although Evola credits Stirner, Weininger, and Nietzsche, he states that Carlo Michelstaedter’s individualism trumps them all. See Joscelyn Godwin, “Forward” to Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins, trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions), 5, http://cakravartin.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/julius-evola-men-among-the-ruins.pdf.

[44] Among the most hysterical claims is that I accused people like Hakim Bey of being a fascist. Such a brainless misreading of my text distorts my thesis and its supporting evidence. Bey romanticized the imperial occupation of Fiume by D’Annunzio that effectively set the stage for fascism, and compares it to Paris in 1968 and the Autonomia movement of the early 1970s—but that does not make him a fascist. Regardless of whether his comparisons ring true, his description of Fiume is just another example of how post-leftists occasionally find themselves tolerating proto-fascism or even acting (wittingly or unwittingly) in league with fascists. Hakim Bey, Temporary Autonomous Zone (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2003), 123-126.

[45] Gillis, op. cit. National-anarchists are fascists. See Graham D. Macklin, “Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction,” Patterns of Prejudice 39, no. 3 (September 2005): 301–26, http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=2439.

[46] Matthew Lyons, Ctrl-Alt-Delete (Political Research Associates, 2017), http://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/01/20/ctrl-alt-delete-report-on-the-alternative-right/#sthash.CQimN0ES.dpbs.

[47] “Fate guides the willing, and drags the unwilling” – Seneca

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