As we collectively wait for the longer article discussing the recent allegations that well known anarchist author Michael Schmidt has also been working as an active white nationalist, the dialogue all around the board has become confusing. Schmidt’s book Black Flame has been important in “red and black” anarchist circles, and he has certainly been known and trusted by many inside of organizing circles. The revelation that he could very well be joining the South African reactionary front is frightening, and people are reeling.
The global Anarkismo network, which ties together various “platformist” and “especifist” anarchist organizations released a statement on the issue, though it should be said that this does not necessarily reflect the opinion of all of the organizations or individuals involved with the project.
The international Anarkismo Network, which brings together class struggle anarchist organisations from more than a dozen countries in both the global South and North, and has relations with far more from across the globe, has noted with great surprise and concern the recent accusations by AK Press that Michael Schmidt is a fascist working undercover to infiltrate the anarchist movement .
Michael Schmidt has been a regular and long-standing contributor to Anarkismo.net and, in the past, has sat on its editorial and delegates groups. If these accusations are proven to be true Anarkismo will take immediate and appropriate action to ban him from posting on the website, as well as to guard against any possible future infiltration.
Before we can make any pronouncements on the matter, however, we need to carefully examine both the AK Press evidence, the article by Alexander Reid Ross, as well as Michael Schmidt’s response to the evidence and article. As a network Anarkismo has not taken sides, and will not accuse the accuser or the accused before there is more information and all the evidence has been presented. Both sides will have to explain themselves thoroughly first and be available for answering any serious questions about the information.
However, we must be clear that we feel the way in which AK Press has dealt with the matter is irresponsible and prejudicial, judging and condemning Michael Schmidt without presenting any evidence, and without allowing him the right to defend himself, or to respond to the article before making the public announcement of 25 September 2015.
Both sides must be given a fair chance to have their say.
The Anarkismo Network therefore demands that the alleged “incontrovertible evidence” be released by AK Press with immediate effect, and not to refer us to the journalist: since AK Press itself has endorsed the position, it must take responsibility for the proof.
We furthermore demand that AK Press unconditionally and explicitly state, also with immediate effect, that its allegations refer to Michael Schmidt alone, and not to any publishers, co-authors, editors, left organisations or currents with which Michael Schmidt may have been associated.
We urge AK Press to publish Michael Schmidt’s official responses on its newswires and sites, as we believe that he has the right to defend himself.
Schmidt has been active in the Anarkismo project, publishing quite a bit of original work there over the years and interacting with many of the member organizations.
The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History took a somewhat stronger stance in support of Schmidt, mainly citing the lack of evidence presented along with the accusations.
The Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH) – a multinational research project currently based in the Global South (Brazil and South Africa) – heard the shocking AK Press accusation (Sept. 25th, 2015) that Michael Schmidt, one of our members, is supposedly an “undercover fascist”. AK Press states that they have “received and compiled” what they “consider to be incontrovertible evidence that Michael Schmidt is a white nationalist trying to infiltrate the anarchist movement”.
This statement was made without presenting any supporting evidence. It is only stated that a person called Alexander Reid Ross “will soon be publishing an article that presents all the details in a more comprehensive manner.”
The allegations came as enormous and terrible surprise. We would like in this statement to point out some of the measures we have already taken to deal with this matter, and to note some concerns regarding the manner in which the matter is being handled by AK Press.
Michael Schmidt is, at this moment, on a leave of absence from the IATH to allow him, and the IATH, to deal adequately with the matter. He will be on leave to prepare his defense, and will remain so until the IATH Council has taken a final position.
We will only make our final statement on the matter after carefully analyzing the AK Press evidence (not presented yet) and Michael Schmidt’s responses.
We cannot proceed further without criticizing the way in which AK Press has acted. AK Press has already tried, condemned and sentenced Michael Schmidt (in a “juridical” sense). They alone received and compiled the evidence, interpreted it, reached judgment and sentenced Michael Schmidt by cancelling his upcoming book, and by putting out of print two previous books in which he was involved.
All this was done without presenting evidence to the public, and without allowing him the right to defend himself. We think that these measures – which are guaranteed in the most basic of the “democratic” states that we so regularly criticize – must surely be guaranteed in any model of libertarian “justice.”
The result should have been foreseen. Hundreds of people have shared AK Press Facebook’s sentencing, and individuals and organizations have reproduced it. Michael Schmidt has been publicly condemned, with no evidence presented, and no opportunity to defend himself.
We are not here, to defend one side, or the other. We believe that we will only be able to do so once all the evidence has been presented by AK Press and by Michael Schmidt in his responses.
But we would like to appeal to people in the “libertarian milieu” to proceed in the same way, taking into account the basic ethics that we believe anyone, who claims to be an anarchist, should uphold.
To minimize the damage, we insist that AK Press immediately make public the evidence it used so that we, and others, can analyze the case and take a definite, well informed and evidence-based position.
Likewise, the Anarchist Federation out of the UK was less confident in Schmidt, and reminds people that this situation with Schmidt should be a ‘wake up call’ about infiltration and ultra-right ideas. But this only lasted a moment, as they actually pulled the article they originally posted and replaced it with the line:
This article has been removed at this time on the back of internal discussions within the AF and communications with the ZACF. We should have an updated version of this article available shortly.
What this really says is that people are hesitant to roundly remove Schmidt from their community until they have hard proof, which is a reasonable position to take.
Schmidt uses several different Facebook accounts, with various different names ranging from his taken name(Michael Schmidt), to other aliases. On one of these he has posted responses to the AK Press accusations, as well as going deeper into how the issue was raised and how it was handled in the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front. On these Facebook threads, members of the Third Positionist National Revolution chimed in, which was alarming since they were clearly friends with Schmidt.
This seemed especially noteworthy after a fake page was created for AK Press that posted a long message saying that they retracted the accusations against Schmidt and have begun to see the “revolutionary potential” of National Anarchism. This is untrue, Schmidt’s books are remaining out of print at AK Press and there is no reason to believe that they will ever support decentralist fascist movements like National Anarchism.
Schmidt, in his large response to the accusations, said he thought that he was being interviewed by Alexander Reid Ross, who exposed this news, because he was listed as a source on Wikipedia about National Anarchism. The quote, which he was surprised was used as a source for this encyclopedia page, was taken from an article he did for Anarkismo. This line does sound somewhat sympathetic towards National Anarchism, but at the very least is uninformed about the way that National Anarchism actually plays into the ideological legacy of third positionist fascism.
Misdiagnosed by most anarchists as fascist, “national anarchism” fuses radical decentralism, anti-hegemonic anti-statism (and often anti-capitalism), with a strong self-determinist thrust that stresses cultural-ethnic homogeneity with a traditional past justifying a radical future; this is hardly “fascism” or a rebranding of “fascism,” for what is fascism without the state, hierarchy and class, authoritarianism, and the führer-principle?
We know that there is a Stormfront account run by Michael Schmidt, though he stated that this was used for research for his position as a reporter. The account, which is called Karelianblue, has a great number of extremely racist posts, going far beyond what appears to be reasonable research. There are also posts about the National Anarchist organization that he is accused of starting called Black Battlefront.
Black Battlefront is a racially-aware, anti-racist revolutionary cadre network of White African politico-social soldiers defending our unique culture, under the anarchist black flag! We are pan-secessionist militants who staunchly oppose Boer Genocide and we work for the establishment of White African base area communities in South Africa and Namibia (in particular, but also elsewhere in Africa) where we can live out our cultural prerogatives unmolested by the Black majority. We take our inspiration from militants and cultural warriors of the calibre of Nestor Makhno, Kai Murros, Jim Goad and Troy Southgate. Interested people can apply to join our facebook group and if we believe you are genuine, we’ll sign you up.
Now, the group mentioned was stated to be a fake by Schmidt used to get him closer to members of National Anarchist movements, but the double-sided politics displayed here looks more like an honest attempt to form this group than a total artifice.
These various connections should not be used as a hard evidence of Schmidt’s connection to the larger “alt fascist” movement, but they are creating a general confusion about what is true and showing that there is certainly an organized right-wing contingent that is holding a stake in Schmidt’s place in the anarchist movement. Schmidt has been using social media since the accusations came forward to constantly post articles and photos about anti-fascist traditions and issues that are relevant to a multiracial South Africa.
One notable absence from this discourse is Lucien van Der Walt, Schmidt’s co-author of Black Flame. He very well may just be staying out of the discussion until more clear evidence is made available, which may be a smart position to take. Many have thrown out accusations that he knew about Schmidt’s alleged association with the far-right, but this is really just hearsay at this point.
Any evidence about Schmidt’s connections to the far right has yet to be released, so for those who are unsure of what to do in this situation will have to wait a bit longer until the large expose is released. Right now there are forums everywhere that are becoming heated arguments taking sides on the issue. We prefer to say that it remains to be seen, though we respect the people making the accusations as well as Schmidt’s right to respond to them.
In the last few days, those in anarchist, platformist, syndicalist, and related circles have been reeling from the accusations from AK Press that their Black Flame author, Michael Schmidt, is a closet white nationalist. The accusations were made while they were getting ready to publish the sequel to Black Flame, Global Fire, which he would begin book tours on shortly. As of yet the main evidence has not been made available as the author, Alexander Reid Ross, is still working on the story. Since then many organizations have put out responses, with many asking for evidence before taking the accusations as fact.
In response, Michael Schmidt responded to the accusations directly with a lengthy statement outlining a defense to these accusations. He states plainly and without ambiguity that the claims are untrue and a misreading of the ‘evidence.´
Two swallows don’t make a summer – Michael Schmidt’s reply to AK Press allegations, 27 September 2015
Right up front I want to state that the hurtful allegations made against me by the AK Press Collective – that I have been masquerading as an anarchist while I am in fact a fascist – do not only have an impact on me, but directly damages more than two decades of hard work on behalf of the anarchist movement by my closest comrades. This is especially true of Prof Lucien van der Walt, my co-author of Black Flame, who has committed the past 15 years to researching and writing its as-yet unpublished sister volume, Global Fire, a huge synthesis of world anarchist organisational and ideological history. I must stress in the strongest possible terms that Lucien and others such as my comrades at the Institute for Anarchist Theory and History (IATH) in São Paulo, Brazil, https://ithanarquista.wordpress.com/ are entirely faultless in this affair and so cannot possibly be tarred with the same brush: the allegations relate solely to myself and to no-one else.
Secondly, thanks for all the messages of support from my friends and comrades around the world, including those that have taken a “let’s hear the evidence first” approach, because that’s the polite way to do things. I initially thought AK Press had gone public without contacting me first, but on trawling through my alternate email I found a message from Zach Blue – so thanks to the AK Press Collective for attempting to alert me to the pending allegations.
Researching the white ultra-right
AK Press has yet to produce its evidence against me, but I know what it consists of. The allegations arise from a lengthy interview conducted with me by the writer Alexander “Sasha” Reid-Ross over June to August 2015. Sasha told me he was researching a book on that weird and worrying new entryist tendency called “national-anarchism” for publication by AK Press under the title Against the Fascist Creep (I have a record of the entire interview if needed). I expected that he had approached me because for some reason, Wikipedia cites me as a source on “national-anarchism” because of a paragraph extracted from a very long review of two brilliant books on South Asian anarchism by Maia Ramnath in which I say that Gandhi’s thought, far from being anarchist, appears more as a precursor to “that strange hybrid of recent years,” as I called it, “national anarchism”; the full review is online here: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/23404 .
It is definitely an unusual take on Gandhi, but it is obvious that I in no way support “national-anarchism” nor find it has anything in common with genuine anarchism. Bear in mind that the article was peer-reviewed by both Lucien van der Walt and the anarkismo editorial collective before being published. In any case, I was eager to assist and Sasha is very knowledgeable and a thorough researcher. I’m now not sure if he really is planning such a book, or whether he was simply tasked by AK Press with investigating allegations that I was involved with the “National Anarchist Movement,” but that is irrelevant to the issue at hand.
The allegations have their origin with the fact that since 2005 until I shut it down recently, I maintained a profile on the white supremacist website Stormfront. Let me explain: I am an investigative journalist by profession and in 2005 was working at the Saturday Star in Johannesburg. My beat included extra-Parliamentary politics – social movements, trade unions, and political organisations from the ultra-left to the ultra-right. My editor Brendan Seery allowed me to set up a Stormfront account under which I could pose as a sympathetic fellow-traveller in order to keep an eye on what the white right-wing in South Africa was talking about: in other words, this was professionally vetted by my editor.
For the next decade I kept my finger on the pulse of the right by reading and occasionally posting on Stormfront. Most of my posts were pretty neutral in tone, though I did have to take an essentially racist stance in order to fit in and not arouse suspicion: this was distasteful, but is part and parcel of doing undercover work. I have since shut the account down, but some of the results of my work on the white right are included in the first chapter of my new book, A Taste of Bitter Almonds, which is due out in November (see Background below); these make it clear that while I attempt to understand the white right, I am no friend of theirs.
In 2009, with Black Flame published, I started researching contemporary claims to the anarchist label, including “anarcho-primitivism,” “post-anarchism” and “national-anarchism” for a section in the up-coming volume with Lucien van der Walt, Global Fire: the intent was to critique and discredit their claims to anarchist legitimacy, but I needed to get to know their materials properly first. I used my Stormfront profile to make contact with Troy Southgate, the founder of “national-anarchism”. In order to establish my bona fides with him and his circle, I established two false Facebook profiles, one of a woman, another of a man, and a blog purporting to be that of a Southern African “national-anarchist” outfit called Black Battlefront set up by the couple.
I fleshed things out by inventing back-stories on the couple, the guy as a white Namibian, and the woman as a risk analyst of Ukrainian-American descent; I also had them write two detailed pieces, one a “Creed” of Black Battlefront in order for the false organisation to sound plausible in a “national-anarchist” context, and another a critique of Jared Diamond’s great book Guns, Germs and Steel, to establish the woman as a serious thinker who would be of interest to Southgate. This positioning allowed me to talk on a personal level with Southgate and his cronies and so round out my research.
To be frank, though I readily admitted my Stormfront profile to Sasha, I lied to him about those profiles when he asked me because although I finished my research on “national-anarchism” more than a year ago, I still wanted to maintain the links to Southgate and his “National-Anarchist Movement” just in case – and the first rule of undercover work is you only tell who you absolutely need to, so I did not even tell my former comrades in the ZACF. Sorry for lying, Sasha, Lucien and the rest, but intense confidentiality is my practice as an investigative journalist; for example, in the 2000s, I never even discussed with my then-wife what I was working on until it was published (do I need to state that she’s an Indian woman and that she very kindly did the hard work of proof-reading Black Flame?). But now that my cover is blown, it makes no difference.
My life took a dramatic turn for the worse in July 2010 when I was hospitalised with meningitis – and as a parting gift, the meningitis provoked a massive seizure that broke my spine in five places. In the aftermath of that, I spent a month in hospital, mostly in a delirium caused by the virus and the medication. In the subsequent months, due to heavy pain medication and perhaps some brain damage caused by the meningitis/seizure, my memory is patchy about what I posted online under my Stormfront and Facebook aliases – Sasha questioned me in detail about this period, but, for example, I remember absolutely nothing about the entire first month out of hospital when I was apparently cared for by some friends (thanks, guys, but my mind is still a blank!). Although I initially thought my account had been hacked, because I couldn’t remember making some of the posts, I now accept that I must have posted what is there.
In any case, as a result of one of those posts in that period, in 2011 some anarchist comrades came across a Black Battlefront link to my Stormfront profile and in shock recognised my face. My ZACF comrades hauled me onto the red carpet and grilled me about this – and rightly so! I admitted to them that the Stormfront profile was mine, but explained that it had been vetted by my editor and that I still used it for research; I did not admit to the Facebook profiles because a few months before, a good friend had confessed to me that for years she had worked as an agent for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), actually being paid to be the girlfriend of one of our comrades, to keep an eye on us; I could not risk my penetration of the “National-Anarchist Movement” becoming known in activist circles in case other NIA agents got wind of it and used the information for their own ends. Nevertheless, the ZACF accepted my explanation. What AK Press has now discovered, I believe, based on Sasha’s questions, is exactly what the ZACF discovered back in 2011; I infiltrated the far-right; it did not infiltrate me! Background: my position on race & nationalism
I won’t detail my anarchist activism, save to say that in 1992 I joined what became the Durban Anarchist Federation (DAF) in 1993 – while apartheid was still in force and I was ducking the Military Police who were trying to force me into part-time military service – and was in Chiapas in 1996 as a DAF delegate, then switched to the anarcho-syndicalist Workers’ Solidarity Federation (WSF) in 1997, following its key comrades into the Bikisha Media Collective in 1999 when the WSF disbanded, and again into the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) when it was founded in 2003, taking with me the Anarchist Black Cross (South Africa) which I founded in 2002. It goes without saying that all these organisations were multi-racial and anti-fascist.
After two decades of activism in black working class and poor townships, I resigned from the ZACF in 2009 to focus on my research and writing. Apart from numerous Workers’ Solidarity and Zabalaza journal and online www.anarkismo.net articles, which serve to affirm my anti-racist credentials, my published books are:
1) Anarquismo Búlgaro em Armas (Brazil, 2008). This, on the Bulgarian Anarchist Communist Federation over 1919-1948, is the first in a series looking at anarchist mass movements that defended themselves by force of arms. The next in the series will be on Uruguay in 1956-1985, and on Manchuria in 1929-1945 – which shows that not all such movements were “white”.
2) Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (AK Press, USA, 2009), with Lucien van der Walt. A controversial attempt to discover the coherent heart of anarchist theory by looking at the historical record, it has been translated into German (Nautilus, Germany, 2012), and translations are pending in Spanish, French and Greek. This book remains my core statement of political belief and I have not wavered from it (note the positions in Chapter 10 in particular on the intersections of race, nationalism and class, which are profoundly anarchist). Its unpublished sister volume Global Fire stresses the practical internationalism of the anarchist movement and its practical engagement with race and national liberation particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Oceania and Asia.
3) Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism (AK Press, USA, 2013), which is the English translation of the French original (Lux Éditeur, Canada, 2012). This is in some ways a pocket version of Black Flame & Global Fire together: a potted history of the international anarchist movement in five waves from 1868, it stresses the multi-ethnic, transnational nature of the movement across the decades and is unique for its non-Western scope.
4) Drinking with Ghosts: the Aftermath of Apartheid’s Dirty War (BestRed, South Africa, 2014). This looks at the continuing damage done by the legacy of apartheid transnationally in Southern Africa – it avoids most local books’ narrow nationalist perspective and is explicitly anarchist in perspective.
5) A Taste of Bitter Almonds: Perdition and Promise in the New South Africa (BestRed, South Africa, due November 2015). This takes the controversial position that the corporate entity that is “South Africa” was established on the bones of the genocide of First Nations people here, stresses the multi-ethnic and mixed-race nature of all South Africans including myself, and consists of interviews across the country with the poor and excluded, mostly black, majority from an anarchist perspective. Conclusion
Two swallows don’t make a summer, and the fact that I maintained a Stormfront profile and some fake Facebook accounts does not make me a fascist: they need to be seen in their proper context of my exhaustive research into the international anarchist movement over the past 15 years – work that is pretty much unique in terms of the breadth and depth of its non-Western (ie: non-white) materials. In 26 years of paid journalism and 23 years of unpaid anarchist activism, I don’t believe I’ve ever written an article that had even a whiff of white supremacy, fascism or racism to it – yet I do realise I am saying this as a white South African who continues to benefit directly from centuries of institutional racism. I won’t make any claim about how many back friends I have, but the fact is that my most beloved friends and comrades hail from diverse cultures across the planet. I truly hope that this response is taken by those friends and my comrades at AK Press in a constructive spirit and that, even if we only finally manage agree to disagree over my methods of research, at least then part with no ill feelings.
Red & Black regards
The rumors and evidence pieces are numerous at this point, but without a coherent claim we will just say that the accusations have been made by trusted sources, but we have yet to see exactly what is being accused.
As Death in June began making its rounds on the Death of the West tour (a line often used throughout White Nationalist literature, and the title of a book by it’s public face, Patrick Buchanan), an anti-fascist group began to rally to have the dates canceled and shows protested. As the organizing began there was a mad rush to defend DIJ by a fan base that could not imagine that an iconoclastic band such as this could really be responsible for the kind of hate they were being accused of. “They are representing a kind of folk culture.” “They only use fascist imagery as an ironic shock.” “They are queer friendly, and play in Israel.” These are only a few of the justifications given, while most people simply cited that they don’t usually say anything racial so therefore do not fit in the Nazi category. This was responded to by a difficult discussion about the factions within Nazism and an attempt at a critical analysis about the use of fascist and nationalist imagery, most of which was lost on those defending DIJ.
What this tends to bring up is less a question of how DIJ presents themselves and more a difficulty in the discourse around anti-fascism. Today a rising tide of fascism takes on multiple political programs, finds entryism into a variety of cultural movements seen as traditionally both left and right, and often times shades itself in images that are completely alien.
The term Nazi is often hard to apply, and therefore the discussion often creates confusion and robs anti-fascists of the ability to truly mobilize around this issue. It is much easier, in comparison, to target things like the North Dakota town being infiltrated by the National Socialist Movement and the Creativity Movement (formerly World Church of the Creator) as the aesthetics and most people generally understand rhetoric. But what about the tribalist rhetoric present in DIJ? How about the discussion of paganism, right wing anti-capitalism, folkish culture, and the various tenants of rising ”intellectual” fascism. This creates a disconnect as anti-fascists are often reduced to the most obvious, and often least effective, target. The question here becomes what the goals of an anti-fascist movement should be, and what the results of a fascist current can be when not countered.
There are two primary problems that a fascist movement can create when entering a community.
1. Extreme violence towards members of communities that oppose them. This means the targeting of minorities, Jews, LGBTQ folks, and others for violence.
2. Entry into existing movements to push them in a fascist direction, whether on the right or the left.
The first one has often been the target of anti-fascist groups, and for good reason. The most common issue that a militant racist movement will cause is spontaneous violence for people, such as the random attacks on people of color on the street. This is an incredibly difficult problem since, by and large, anti-fascist groups are really not equipped for the kind of community policing that this requires. This does not mean it is unnecessary, but in reality it creates such a point of violence that most people cannot risk their lives to participate. Likewise, though people often hurl epithets at the police, calling them fascists, they are usually not, and the police usually targets Nazi gangs pretty regularly. Problems with the police do not usually come from their participation in openly fascist movements (at least in this country), but instead in their protection of a system of capital and institutionalized oppression. The system exhibits consistent racism on a daily basis, but this is fundamentally different than a paramilitary force that hopes to establish an explicitly racist social system. For anti-fascists that do want to target these groups, they are going to have to commit to a life at risk of violence and retaliation.
This fact does not, however, mean that their efforts are not needed, but instead much less effective. The violence of explicit Nazis is often unprovoked, unplanned, and difficult to counter. Instead, a praxis of community protection and solidarity can be employed, where safe spaces are established and large-scale community response networks can be created.
The second problem is the one that is both more persistent in our current climate and often less targeted. This comes in several forms, less often having participants of an open Neo-Nazi self-identification. Instead, these people may refer to themselves as radical traditionalists, revolutionary conservatives, reactionaries, neo-pagans, or simply “concerned citizens.” The rhetoric here often changes with whatever the cultural subsets of these ideas are, but the fact remains that they share a White Nationalist worldview. Their primary focus is to now enter social movements, community spaces, spiritual communities, and the like, and influence them in a certain direction, usually towards the “preservation of the European traditions and people.” They may not recite the “14 words” explicitly, but the content of their speech remains the same. It is here that things become more difficult, but there are some mainstays that we can look towards.
What is the primary issue for White Nationalists to focus on? Immigration (you may also say Affirmative Action, but this has really receded as will be discussed later). What is the second most primary issue for them? There is none.
This is not because White Nationalists view immigration as a problem above all else, even though their current rhetoric will lead you to believe this. Instead, they have found a dividing issue in which they can enter and shift the conversation consistently. In a different generation, there were contentious issues that were easy to enter the public discussion about, yet today immigration is on many people’s minds and mixed consciousness about this issue is common even in “progressive” communities.
A great example of this is the clearly racialist website VDare. Run by White Nationalist Paul Goddfried, this is an anti-immigration website that hosts a “variety of viewpoints” that are critical of immigration. It is through this website, and really only through this type of discourse, that someone like Peter Brimelow is able to be taken seriously and be invited to mainstream conservative events like C-PAC. Brimelow hosts openly racist writers on VDare, as well as well known reactionaries like Pat Buchanan. Here they are given a gift in that racist immigration ideas are still mainstream and accepted within the sphere of “reasonable discourse,” and therefore White Separatist ideas become part of this sphere through VDare’s position on the issue. The same is true of overt racists like Steve Sailer and the former National Review contributor John Derbyshire.
Other issues come and go as racists feel as though they can utilize them. At times they have been on both the vanguard of the pro and anti-environmental movements. They have at times been conservative Evangelical Christians, while also shifting to Germanic Neo-Pagan movements with an ethnic identitarianism. They are both hyper rational, and critical of materialism and science. They lack consistency in their issues and their approach to criticism, yet remain consistent in their conclusions.
The diversity and complexity of this has really taken shape with the injection of far-right academics into this discourse, usually coming out of Western Europe. Movements like Noveaux Drois, GRECE, the French New Right, as well as individual authors like Alain DeBenoit and Jonathan Bowden developed a canon to be essentially the fascist equivalent of Frankfurt School Marxism. Domestically, the vanguard of this “novel restatement of fascism” comes in places like Alternative Right, Count-Currents publishing, Voice of Reason radio, and others. There is again nothing consistent in the politics of these areas, except their criticisms of multiculturalism, egalitarianism, and anything that could possibly rip white Europeans from their “glorious history.” At Attack the System we see the North American lead of National Anarchism, amongst other similar strains like Anarcho-Feudalism and Anarcho-Monarchism. Here former Worker Solidarity Alliance member turned National Anarchist, supports secessionist movements where people abolish the state in favor of ethnically homogenous tribal sects. Richard Spencer, previously of Alternative Right and now Radix Journal, focuses on what he calls Radical Traditionalism, creating an essentialist and biological explanation for almost every social system. Here he consistently argues for fascist policies as the continuation of the great “Western civilization,” based on heroism, strength, and a strict nationalism. All of these utilize the language of academia and activism to argue for some of the most reprehensible views on race and politics, with a starting point that popular democracy is a perversion and that people are inherently unequal.
There have always been intellectual vanguards on the far right, so these new terms and publications are nothing new. What is different, however, is that the vigilance of their entryism has waned. It may seem obvious when looking at their writing that they are getting at something fundamentally fascist, even when avoiding the word outright. At the same time, as these ideas enter our movements we have not created the kind of united fronts that are important.
An example of this has been the uncomfortable relationship between these nationalist neo-tribalist movements and the radical environmental and Anarcho-Primitivist currents. While people like John Zerzan and Kevin Tucker critique all aspects of civilization for its alienating effects, and advocate a return to a pre-civilized way of living, there are definite elements to their discourse that have become questionable. What Zerzan often refers to as a critique of “mass cultural orientation” often resembles the newly forming critiques of multiculturalism that are happening on the far-right, as well as the inherent belief in Primitivist politics that people with special needs must be sacrificed. There is a definite spiritual element to this analysis, at times echoing the folkish connection between the people and the land. Fetishism of tribal communities is common, often forgetting to discuss how a return to these original tribal communities often takes the form of racial segregation. This is not to say that people like Zerzan himself share these fascist worldview, and likely far from it, but this has created a clear opening. Recently, a National Anarchist was added to the editorial collective of Green Anarchist in Britain, forcing many infoshops to remove it from their shelves. Often times this discourse has affected green communities, and it is not uncommon for things like race and nation to be discussed alongside these anti-civ perspectives. In Deep Green Resistance we see a respect for the top-down militia style that we see in right-wing paramilitarism, as well as an acceptance of transphobia without a consistent backlash.
As we entered into the Occupy Movement, the diversity of political ideas and backgrounds created a lot of ideological conflicts. While this disagreement is totally welcome in a multifaceted mass movement, we again saw a return of the conspiracy theory and “libertarianism”(for most anarchists, calling capitalists libertarians feels like a punch in the stomach). We saw things like 9/11 Truthers, Mises Institute fellows, and many on the fringes of right-wing economics being discussed. As an undercurrent to many of these are classic conspiracies about the control Jews have in the media, banking, and politics, many of which are the same that the John Birch Society had in the past. The inherent “inequality” of people is central to the ideas present in people like Murray Rothbard, and his racial views are well known. As a search for openness was heralded as incredible in these burgeoning occupations, we began to see an unquestioning acceptance of borderline conspiracy theories and disgusting views on the poor as part of the acceptable range of discourse. While many of these “libertarians” had connections to neo-confederate, militia, and racial movements, we still sat through talks on the gold standard and the Federal Reserve as if this fringe element was just a part of our revolutionary milieu.
The problem is, they aren’t. These ideas do not make up political allies in left communities, especially ones that have committed themselves to an anti-racist egalitarian worldview. Without the ability to identify this rhetoric for what it is it is difficult to be able to see it when it begins to influence our movements. Just like a parasite turns its host against itself, these movements go from being our tools for social change to their weapon for social destruction.
The question that comes up here is how can we go forward with an anti-fascist praxis that can be both effective and comprehensive. This often begins by knowing what we are looking for, and what we are fighting. Without a clear understanding of what fascism is we will only be able to spot it in its most obvious caricatures of itself. Unfortunately, the fascist movements that will attempt to gain powerful holds in America will likely not be under a Nazi flag. This makes them harder to spot, harder to attack, and harder to suffocate.
What people have done for years is attempt to create a “generic definition of fascism.” What this means is a way to describe what fascism is that is not dependent on a particular movement, conflict, country, or period of time. What is the specific fascist element? Some argue that there is no generic fascism because it is always a false ideology that is specific to the dictator and always just a way to exploit a population. While this is true, there are common features that bind together fascist movements even though they may be culturally and contextually different.
There has often been an effort to simply define authoritarian movements as fascist, though this is not a universal connection. Marxists often define fascism as the more reactionary sector of capital, but this misses its most key elements. Fascism as a state philosophy is almost universally anti-capitalist because capitalism creates too much multiculturalism and does not put the welfare of a homogenous racial or cultural group first. In this way fascism is often described as a right-wing socialism, where by a welfare state is used to systematically exclude people. The fundamental core of fascism is the belief in the essential nature of hierarchy. If people are fundamentally unequal, then society should be stratified and democracy should be waned since the governing of the people is best left up to an elite. Any form of capitalist representative democracy, which most anarchists and anti-authoritarians would say isn’t even a true democracy, allows for too much class mobility and popular control. Instead, a fascist state is meant to force hierarchy to exist without the irregularity of capital. This state is meant to subvert democratic institutions along an ideological line, force “class collaboration,” and make sure that inequality is observed. Many on the modern intellectual fascist line return to the ideas of Julius Evola, a radical right wing philosopher that states that societies are healthier the more clearly the social stratification and hierarchy is. He asserts that modernity is a “feminizing” and equalizing force that strips of our national, racial, and spiritual identity, which is inherent in “traditional” societies. This shows the next key element of fascism, which is a paleogenic myth about the “true nature” of society. Fascism promises to restore the true order, the heroic history that never was. Fascism outlines a mythology about a particular grouping by suggesting that in the past it was racially homogenous, filled with heroes, perfectly run, and where by people are spiritually fulfilled. This often forgets the history of extreme oppression that most people experienced historically as subjects of the empires they hope to emulate in a modern context, as well as the fact that there is no genetic homogeneity in any of these European communities at any point in history. The reality is that this vision of its past was never true, but that does not negate that fascists believe we can return to it.
Elitism, essentialism, and racism are all key since they create a worldview that inequality is “natural” and that nations are essential characteristics of a person’s biology. Without this return to the pure essential it is hard for them to argue that a nation has something crucial to offer, but if you assume that all things are based in biology they can string together a narrative that racial categories define our cultural realities. There is no contemporary science to justify these racial categories and no evidence to propose that people of Germanic decent have something fundamentally different about them than anyone from any other part of the world, which is why they easily slip into pseudo-scientific double speak, quoting obscure philosophers and playing with subjective terms like “identity”
There is a lot of discussion about what is truly fascist, what is proto-fascist, and what simply has “fascist elements.” The answer to this for anti-fascist organizers comes a lot different than academics that make it simply an intellectual exercise. Instead, we have to see fascism as something to be opposed and countered, not simply something that exists as an idea on its own. Fascism attempts to conquer and transform our communities, so its definition is only as useful as we can use it as a category to identify and destroy. Fascism is not defined by its command economics or its anti-capitalism, but by its elitist, hierarchical, racist nationalism and mythology. It’s perceived return to the past, its utopian visions of superiority, and its belief in the essential nature of sexual, gender, racial, and social roles.
Within this context we can see an entire historical run for fascism as it arises as a distinct current within a political movement, even if that current does not take over every apparatus of government and social life. Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy are often proposed as the only true manifestations of fascism, but this negates the reality of its place in the Fallange in Spain, the Iron Guard in Romania, and, most recently, the paranoid race-based nationalism of North Korea. Fascism makes up a distinct worldview where by imagery has substantive meaning and ethnicity is a defining characteristic.
Fascism does likewise not attach itself to specific political formations. There has often been a very common comparison, usually by the less intelligent conservative milieu, that any kind of nationalized industry thus denotes fascism because they also nationalized that industry in Germany and Italy. This is an obvious logical fallacy, but does present some of the problems with discerning fascism. While it does often take on authoritarianism, and the idea of authority whether in a macro level through “fuher” type leadership and on the micro level by strong men within the family, it does not necessarily denote totalitarianism. National Anarchists argue for a state-free form of nationalism, where by tribal and racial authorities are important without the apparatus of the state. This is one of the many “third position” fascist ideas that have become popular, where it is not uncommon to combine previously thought of as non-complimentary social ideas.
The key element here will never be a type of political machinery, but instead a distinct one of values. Political methodology is usually chosen because of its perceived effectiveness in realizing a sort of value. From the perspective of most people, equality, freedom, and the like are common values, though the methods of how to achieve this very greatly. Among the radical right, this sense of value is completely different. Instead, hierarchy, authority, tradition, and strength over the weak are the values, and the political apparatus that is chosen is just the method. While the kind of state fascism seen in Italy and Germany may be the kind that is commonly known, it is not the only method that these people come up with. The totalitarian tyranny of Soviet Russia took on many of the state functions that Nazi Germany did, but different in that they thought this oppression could lead to an egalitarian democracy. The difference is the Nazis used these tools to smash both.
From here we can begin to sketch together a profile that is common amongst the various groups, often hiding behind the syncretic “dualism” of Third Position fascism. At their core is a disbelief in the capability of all people to rule, the inequality and stratification amongst people, the essential nature of value in biology, and the need to lead through violence, heroism, and strength.
The definition of fascism should then come from what is useful rather than what is academically perfect. In this way, the broader definition of the history of fascism can trace a series of examples of fascism that may not fit the definitions verbatim. The reason is that while these movements are diverse and may not hold every single element of fascism, this is still their dominant current and can be reduced to this common denominator for the purpose of targeting. This does not mean, however, that we should be liberal with the term. Without the key elements of inequality, authoritarianism, and the like it does not really represent a revolutionary fascist current, but rather just the most barbarous elements of the current capitalist system. When the Obama, and previously Bush, administration engage in corporatism and totalitarianism, it does not inherently make it fascist. As anti-authoritarians we already have a critique of these elements and currently oppose the state of the system, but this does not necessarily represent fascism. Instead, fascism is going to run counter the current mechanisms of capitalism and the State since they do not perfectly represent the forceful implementation of their vision. Instead, they can influence or overthrow the State, in the same way that various strains of the left could. We very well could devolve into fascism in America, but it is likely to not simply come from the regular functions of capital and the State.
The war that is at play here is not with the fascists for the fate of society (yet), but instead over the fate of radicalism.
Fascism, as a radical current, critiques the current social order for various reasons, often times taking to task the same things that revolutionaries do on the left. Boredom. Environmental destruction. Alienation. Poor living standards. All of these things are presented often times within the fascist program of critique, but it does so with a fundamentally different set of values. As they come in contact with people looking for a deeper analysis and have a general distrust of the system, they present an alternative. They do this inside the various radical movements that are at play to attract revolutionaries, and inside conservative social movements to attract the reformists. While we will not be persuading potential converts inside the right-wing anti-immigration movement, those working in Palestinian support and radical environmentalism can and should be comrades in an intersectional struggle against oppression. If these struggles are primary to someone, they are susceptible to systemic critiques that support their current issue. If we allow these disgusting ideas to become a viable option for those in struggle, we will let our movements be areas of inflation for the fascist movements.
For committed anti-fascist organizers there needs to be a few ideas that can lead a way forward away from the current failures and to begin to target fascist movements as they arise, try to make entry into radicalism, and shift current social movements.
1. It is important to differentiate fascist intellectual movements and political organizing from fascist gang culture. The main reason for this is not ideological, but tactical. In the case of skinhead gangs or KKK militants there is rarely a deeply thought ideological root, but rather a pairing of racial difference with economic and personal strife. Here they tend to recruit the down and out, often youths with difficult backgrounds, and their main tool is violence. The reality here is that they will never influence any movement, and even the far right would like to disassociate at any chance. Instead, they pose the risk of spontaneous violence to communities of color, LGBT color, and anyone else they begin to add to their list of discontents. This presents a fundamentally different challenge from targeting white nationalists in American Renaissance or The Occidental Observer, who are there making poised ideological arguments to people willing to absolve themselves of conventional ethical logic. The plan of action is completely different, as approaching skinheads is really a matter of physical defense of self and community. Here they need to be dealt with simply as agents of violence, and in reality police will still act as their adversary. This is also not a conventional battle of political organizing as it would be with actual political organizers, and you do not have to win people to your side since they have already done a pretty good job alienating everyone around them already. This does not mean that anti-fascists should not strike against groups like Combat 18, but it means that this is a guerilla war and community organizing does not take on the same precedence. Instead, it is social movement fascists and intellectual right-wingers that need to be targeted through social movements that hold a radical enough analysis that their charade can be unveiled.
2. The fascism of tomorrow will never look like the fascism of yesterday. While a fetishism of nationalist images is a permanent fixture of far right institutions, with Death in June being the perfect example, the most classic images of World War II fascism have been completely stripped from the intellectual and social movement fascists. You are not going to see a swastika from the National Anarchists at a Palestinian solidarity rally, nor are you going to see pictures of Hitler in the pages of the Radix. Instead, you are going to see vague references to nationalism, identity, spirituality, tradition, and the like, all of which can go under the radar if you are looking for “Heil Hitlers.” The reality is that the obvious images of traditional war fascism are so repugnant to everyone in modern society that people who share those ideas are never going to cloak themselves in them if they want any chance of success. The fascist movements that do so, like the National Socialist Movement or the National Alliance, make up the most organized wing of the skinhead gang culture, but in the end the only threat they present is motivating spontaneous violence. They will never have power in social movements or statist politics. Instead, fascism will take on the same core ideological principles and motivate them within existing movements. This was seen very plainly in the reactionary behavior of the Tea Party, and the open invitation that they gave to openly fascist organizations like the American Third Position Party (now called the American Freedom Party). Here the rhetoric was the same, though cloaked in libertarian jargon. This society is being stripped from the inside by immigrants and non-whites, degenerating our culture, and taking the country from its rightful inheritors. The rhetoric was so cleanly disguised that it was often dismissed by even left-wing people as something wholly different. When the release of the Ron Paul papers came out, he was able to disguise clearly racist and homophobic articles as being some kind of clerical error. When Anonymous hacked the website for the American Third Position Party they found clear communication between those in the Ron Paul camp and those in the “whites only” political party. There was even an image of Ron Paul shaking hands with Don Black, the founder of the large white nationalist network Stormfront. None of this seemed to matter to young Ron Paul supporters who were more interested in his attacks on the TSA and marijuana laws than the fact that he was exploiting racial tension to bring in a southern voting base. These are fascist ideas repackaged, and having a clearly successful strategy to influence political discourse. Similar situations have occurred in different radical communities, whether it is continuing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the 9/11 attacks or influencing the pagan religious movement by associating Norse paganism with ethnic identity. The names and faces have changed, but the core ideology has not. It means that while we are looking for swastikas, we miss the Asatru Alliance creating bonds between mainstream Wiccans and white nationalists. Nazis will never rise again, but nationalists of a different sort can and will influence the social movements that continually reshape society.
3. Anti-fascist organizers should be able to differentiate between fascists, but there is no reason to do so when organizing publicly. It is important to be able to understand fascist ideas, imagery, and history so that they can be identified and their efforts countered, but this does not mean that we need to engage in long winded public exercises on the difference between National Bolshevism and nationalist Satanism. Instead, call a fascist a fascist. There is an effort to differentiate between proto-fascism, crypto-fascism, and real fascism, but in the end they are all just various levels of the same thing. To the public, the declarations should be simple. Someone can go on long diatribes about ethnic identity and Jungian archetypes, but in reality they simply are a racist. It may be more complicated than that to them, but it is not in any practical terms to the anti-fascist. The definition of fascism must remain useful, so do not publicly overcomplicate the discussion. This differentiation is exactly what they want since they do see themselves as more complicated than those stereotypes, but it is more useful to maintain them because in the end they simply are anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, race baiting authoritarians. To successfully target them we need research, but to the outside we need only scorn
4. Drop your liberal moralism. Fascism is the core opposite of a free and equal society. It represents the exploitations of the darkest parts of humanity, and the barbarism that is at the polar opposite of anti-authoritarian and egalitarian movements. There should be one, and only one goal, destroy fascism. The kind of respect and “even playing field” logic that many people like to utilize in a liberal democracy needs to go out the window when you are dealing with a direct spawn of evil. Success is the only possibility; their defeat is the only goal. This should come from any means possible, with no moral reservation. This does not mean that you should target confused people with absolute impunity, but know a real fascist organizer when you see one and seek to destroy. They do not deserve to make their case, this allows them to talk around issues and cloud things. Do not let them speak, do not let them have their own organizations, do not let them have a livelihood, do not let them live in your community.
5. Know fascism when you see it, but not all things that should be opposed are fascist. Free market corporate capitalism is a radical tool of class destruction and should be opposed. Imperialist wars on the Muslim world are racist and used to deepen the pockets of corporate pockets, and should be opposed. Rape culture is a disgusting aspect of the ongoing patriarchal structure, and should be opposed. Domestic spying and wiretapping are an encroaching police state that strips us of our liberties, and should be opposed. This does not mean that they are all necessarily fascist. If you have a clear understanding of what fascism is then you will be able to target and irradiate it. If you have a social and class analysis that is growing and targets systemic flaws, then you have the ability to really deal with society as a whole. This means knowing what you are looking and seeing it for what it is. As an anarchist I find capitalism and the state incredibly tyrannical, but they are not always fascist (and today, usually are not). Fascism remains the vanguard of the reactionary elements of every social sector, boiled down and magnified.
Where does this leave us with Death in June? As has been pointed out by many an anti-fascist blog, his ideas make up an affinity for radical Strasserist fascism aligned with National Bolshevist Third Positionism. This sounds like academic pseudo-jargon, and it is. The fact of the matter is that this is how they see themselves, how they differentiate themselves from the other forms of fascism that they do not perfectly align themselves with. What does it mean for us? The bottom line is that they are fascist, not matter what sub labels and traditions they attempt to quote from. Simply because they appeal to a queer audience or play shows in Israel does not mitigate the layers of fascist ideas that permeate not only their imagery and lyrics, but also outright statements in interviews. We do not need to get into a discussion about the details, especially when we can look at those details and see them for what they really are. A fascist does not deserve to be argued with. They do not deserve point and counter point. They do not deserve to have their ideas paired against ours. They represent the purest form of the enemy, the crystallization of every element of the current society that forces us to reject its basic premise. If Death In June wants to go on diatribe about folkish communities and tradition, let them. We will be on the other side trying to end the words before they even begin. To really combat fascism, we have to know what it looks like and what its tactics will be. To do this we need a way forward that does not only look to the past, but looks at our own communities and sees it when it begins to take shape.
Death in June has hidden itself from criticism with irony and calls to pre-Christian paganism, and these are claims that can be debunked with a quick Google search. Pearce has said openly that they began looking towards the ideas of early Nazi Gregor Strasser, which often takes a more economically socialist position than Hitler ended up taking the party in later years. In an article by John Eden at Who Makes the Nazis, he re-asserted Pearce’s public affiliation for violent White Nationalist actions. “It has been widely corroborated that Pearce dedicated a song from the stage to the ‘White Wolves’ – a neo-Nazi grouping who had initially claimed responsibility for these atrocities. In much the same spirit, a valedictory message was posted to the Di6 Yahoo group forum immediately following Anders Breivik’s Utoya massacre, and mainland bombing.” Pearce has also shown open support for genocidal Croatian nationalists, and continues to take inspiration from the neo-fascist National Bolshevist movement that is popular amongst the most violent skinhead gangs in Russia.
Pearce’s eugenic ideas have been posted in very clear terms, though he often shades the racial elements. “MAINLAND EUROPA, HAS SEVERE STOCK PROBLEMS. THAT, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE HAS ONLY GOT WORSE. THOSE WHO SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO BREED ARE DOING SO WITH SUCH FREQUENCY THAT THE UK IS BEING OVER POPULATED BY MORONS WITH NOTHING TO DO EXCEPT HARASS THE REST OF THE POPULATION,” said Pearce. Whether it was when he glorified white domination of people of color by saying “Thank the Gods for Euro-colonialism,” or when he openly attacks non-white immigration and Islam, it is pretty clear where his allegiances are. In an interview in 1998 with Scapegoat he said plainly, “Depending upon their ‘version’ of Eurocentric Racialism, then 9 times out of 10 I feel very comfortable with it.”
These quotes are not a-typical for him, and this has happened on a regular basis. For those who see the esoteric and gothic turn that a lot of White Nationalism has taken in the last twenty years, then this is no surprise. But for those who are regularly looking for the traditional demons, they are going to have trouble parsing them out in a subcultural that treats shock as inherently artistically valid. They are likely not to know about the occasional acceptance of various queer identities in White Nationalist circles these days, often championed by Portland’s Jack Donovan who refers to himself as an “andriophile” because “gay” is “associated with effeminacy, feminism, and leftist politics.” The point here is not that there is a common acceptance of queer identities on the far right, which there is certainly not in any meaningful way, but that one point of contradiction is not enough to discredit their fascist ties. Many of these movements are perfectly willing to accept internal contradictions in the favor of pushing their agenda.
The more important argument, rather than focusing just on the band themselves, is to really look what they open a space for. If you are to find many of the more contemporary intellectual White Nationalists from organizations like Counter-Currents, Occidental Observer, Alternative Right, and American Renaissance on social media, you will find that there is a direct correlation to the band. As an article at the One People’s Project pointed out, it is much more that the band creates a comfortable meeting space for people with these racial perspectives. One former fan reflects on their experience at a show:
“Then I saw the first Call the Paramedics shirt, and then shit got even less subtle up to and including National Alliance patches and Nazi medals. This was not a crowd I wanted to be hanging out with all night. Mind you, they were a very small portion of the attendants but the fact that they were there at all was increasingly upsetting as the night went on. Most of the folks were just sort of willfully ignorant of what was around them. Just like me.”
“I noticed Kevin I. Slaughter in the audience. His publishing company – Underground Amusements – publishes some of the works of Jack Donovan an anti-feminist, anti-gay, anti-equality author. There was a couple next to me that was chanting out any line they found adequately racist and kept yelling for a song called “Enemy Within” that I’d never heard before (I looked the lyrics up when I got home and was not surprised what I found. Ugh.).”
“When I got outside, it was all pretty much laid bare. The folks who had been asked to cover or remove offensive symbols re-revealed them (the extremely anti-racist staff of the venue was extremely vigilant in their enforcement of this standard inside the club and anyone was who did not comply was told they had to leave – outside the club they had no say) and it was at this point that I just said “Fuck this” and walked home feeling like a sucker that had played a part in something that was really disrespectful and shameful.”
If we give the excuses ourselves as to why this kind of thing should be allowed in our communities then we create the space for the development of a fascist movement that will grow before it can be confronted. The best organizing disallows the violence before it even takes shape, and we need to know that without a strong form of resistance then this discontent and collapse in our country can easily become the kind of reactionary wave that we never previously believed would be present.
Big thanks to NYC Anti-Fa who provided many of the quotes by Pearce.[/i]