Tag Archives: anarcho-primitivism

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

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The Left-Overs: How Fascists Court the Post-Left

The Left Overs: How Fascists Court the Post-Left

By Alexander Reid Ross

 

A few months ago, the radical publication, Fifth Estate, solicited an article from me discussing the rise of fascism in recent years. Following their decision to withdraw the piece, I accepted the invitation of Anti-Fascist News to publish an expanded version here, with some changes, at the urging of friends and fellow writers.

In Solidarity, ARR

 

 

Chapter 1: The Early Composition of Fascist Individualism

 

 

A friendly editor recently told me via email, “if anti-capitalism and pro individual liberty [sic] are clearly stated in the books or articles, they won’t be used by those on the right.” If this were true, fascism simply would vanish from the earth. 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. Partially in response to the tendencies of left authoritarianism, a distinct antifascist movement emerged in the 1970s to create what has became known as “post-left” thought. Yet in 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.

The post-left developed largely out of a tendency to favor individual freedom autonomous from political ideology of left and right while retaining some elements of leftism.  Although it is a rich milieu with many contrasting positions, post-leftists often trace their roots to individualist Max Stirner, whose belief in the supremacy of the European individual over and against nation, class, and creed was heavily influenced by philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. After Stirner’s death in 1856, the popularity of collectivism and neo-Kantianism obscured his individualist philosophy until Friedrich Nietzsche raised its profile again during the later part of the century. Influenced by Stirner, Nietzsche argued for the overcoming of socialism and the “modern world” by the iconoclastic, aristocratic philosopher known as the “Superman” or “übermensch.”

During the late-19th Century, Stirnerists conflated the “Superman” with the assumed responsibility of women to bear a superior European race—a “New Man” to produce, and be produced by, a “New Age.” Similarly, right-wing aristocrats who loathed the notions of liberty and equality turned to Nietzsche and Stirner to support their sense of elitism and hatred of left-wing populism and mass-based civilization. Some anarchists and individualists influenced by Stirner and Nietzsche looked to right-wing figures like Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, who developed the idea of a “conservative revolution” that would upend the spiritual crises of the modern world and the age of the masses. In the words of anarchist, Victor Serge, “Dostoevsky: the best and the worst, inseparable. He really looks for the truth and fears to find it; he often finds it all the same and then he is terrified… a poor great man…”

History’s “great man” or “New Man” was neither left nor right; he strove to destroy the modern world and replace it with his own ever-improving image—but what form would that image take? In Italy, reactionaries associated with the Futurist movement and various romantic nationalist strains expressed affinity with the individualist current identified with Nietzsche and Stirner. Anticipating tremendous catastrophes that would bring the modern world to its knees and install the New Age of the New Man, the Futurists sought to fuse the “destructive gesture of the anarchists” with the bombast of empire.

A hugely popular figure among these tendencies of individualism and “conservative revolution,” the Italian aesthete Gabrielle D’Annunzio summoned 2,600 soldiers in a daring 1919 attack on the port city of Fiume to reclaim it for Italy after World War I. During their exploit, the occupying force hoisted the black flag emblazoned by skull and crossbones and sang songs of national unity. Italy disavowed the imperial occupation, leaving the City-State in the hands of its romantic nationalist leadership. A constitution, drawn up by national syndicalist, Alceste De Ambris, provided the basis for national solidarity around a corporative economy mediated through collaborating syndicates. D’Annunzio was prophetic and eschatological, presenting poetry during convocations from the balcony. He was masculine. He was Imperial and majestic, yet radical and rooted in fraternal affection. He called forth sacrifice and love of the nation.

When he returned to Italy after the military uprooted his enclave in Fiume, ultranationalists, Futurists, artists, and intellectuals greeted D’Annunzio as a leader of the growing Fascist movement. The aesthetic ceremonies and radical violence contributed to a sacralization of politics invoked by the spirit of Fascism. Though Mussolini likely saw himself as a competitor to D’Annunzio for the role of supreme leader, he could not deny the style and mood, the high aesthetic appeal that reached so many through the Fiume misadventure. Fascism, Mussolini insisted, was an anti-party, a movement. The Fascist Blackshirts, or squadristi, adopted D’Annunzio’s flare, the black uniforms, the skull and crossbones, the dagger at the hip, the “devil may care” attitude expressed by the anthem, “Me ne frego” or “I don’t give a damn.” Some of those who participated in the Fiume exploit abandoned D’Annunzio as he joined the Fascist movement, drifting to the Arditi del Popolo to fight the Fascist menace. Others would join the ranks of the Blackshirts.

 

 

Originally a man of the left, Mussolini had no difficulty joining the symbolism of revolution with ultranationalist rebirth. “Down with the state in all its species and incarnations,” he declared in a 1920 speech. “The state of yesterday, of today, of tomorrow. The bourgeois state and the socialist. For those of us, the doomed (morituri) of individualism, through the darkness of the present and the gloom of tomorrow, all that remains is the by-now-absurd, but ever consoling, religion of anarchy!” In another statement, he asked, “why should Stirner not have a comeback?”

Mussolini’s concept of anarchism was critical, because he saw anarchism as prefiguring fascism. “If anarchist authors have discovered the importance of the mythical from an opposition to authority and unity,” declared Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt, drawing on Mussolini’s concept of myth, “then they have also cooperated in establishing the foundation of another authority, however unwillingly, an authority based on the new feeling for order, discipline, and hierarchy.” The dialectics of fascism here are two-fold: only the anarchist destruction of the modern world in every milieu would open the potential for Fascism, but the mythic stateless society of anarchism, for Mussolini, could only emerge, paradoxically, from a self-disciplining state of total order.

Antifascist anarchist individualists and nihilists like Renzo Novatore represented for Mussolini a kind of “passive nihilism,” which Nietzsche understood as the decadence and weakness of modernity. The veterans that would fight for Mussolini rejected the suppression of individualism under the Bolsheviks and favored “an anti-party of fighters,” according to historian Emilio Gentile. Fascism would exploit the rampant misogyny of men like Novatore while turning the “passive nihilism” of their vision of total collapse toward “active nihilism” through a rebirth of the New Age at the hands of the New Man.

The “drift” toward fascism that took place throughout Europe during the 1920s and 1930s was not restricted to the collectivist left of former Communists, Syndicalists, and Socialists; it also included the more ambiguous politics of the European avant-garde and intellectual elites. In France, literary figures like Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud began experimenting with fascist aesthetics of cruelty, irrationalism, and elitism. In 1934, Bataille declared his hope to usher in “room for great fascist societies,” which he believed inhabited the world of “higher forms” and “makes an appeal to sentiments traditionally defined as exalted and noble.” Bataille’s admiration for Stirner did not prevent him from developing what he described decades later as a “paradoxical fascist tendency.” Other libertarian celebrities like Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Maurice Blanchot also embraced fascist themes—particularly virulent anti-Semitism.

Like Blanchot, the Nazi-supporting Expressionist poet Gottfried Benn called on an anti-humanist language of suffering and nihilism that looked inward, finding only animal impulses and irrational drives. Existentialist philosopher and Nazi Party member, Martin Heidegger, played on Nietzschean themes of nihilism and aesthetics in his phenomenology, placing angst at the core of modern life and seeking existential release through a destructive process that he saw as implicit in the production of an authentic work of art. Literary figure Ernst Jünger, who cheered on Hitler’s rise, summoned the force of “active nihilism,” seeking the collapse of the civilization through a “magic zero” that would bring about a New Age of ultra-individualist actors that he later called “Anarchs.” The influence of Stirner was as present in Jünger as it was in Mussolini’s early fascist years, and carried over to other members of the fascist movement like Carl Schmitt and Julius Evola.

Evola was perhaps the most important of those seeking the collapse of civilization and the New Age’s spiritual awakening of the “universal individual,” sacrificial dedication, and male supremacy. A dedicated fascist and individualist, Evola devoted himself to the purity of sacred violence, racism, anti-Semitism, and the occult. Asserting a doctrine of the “political soldier,” Evola regarded violence as necessary in establishing a kind of natural hierarchy that promoted the supreme individual over the multitudes. Occult practice distilled into an overall aristocracy of the spirit, Evola believed, which could only find expression through sacrifice and a Samurai-like code of honor. Evola shared these ideals of conquest, elitism, sacrificial pleasure with the SS, who invited the Italian esotericist to Vienna to indulge his thirst for knowledge. Following World War II, Evola’s spiritual fascism found parallels in the writings of Savitri Devi, a French esotericist of Greek descent who developed an anti-humanist practice of Nazi nature worship not unlike today’s Deep Ecology. In her rejection of human rights, Devi insisted that the world manifests a totality of interlocking life forces, none of which enjoys a particular moral prerogative over the other.

 

 

Chapter 2: The Creation of the Post-Left

 

 

It has been shown by now that fascism, in its inter-war period, attracted numerous anti-capitalists and individualists, largely through elitism, the aestheticization of politics, and the nihilist’s desire for the destruction of the modern world. After the fall of the Reich, fascists attempted to rekindle the embers of their movement by intriguing within both the state and social movements. It became popular among fascists to reject Hitler to some degree and call for a return to the original “national syndicalist” ideas mixed with the elitism of the “New Man” and the destruction of civilization. Fascists demanded “national liberation” for European ethnicities against NATO and multicultural liberalism, while the occultism of Evola and Devi began to fuse with Satanism to form new fascist hybrids. With ecology and anti-authoritarianism, such sacralization of political opposition through the occult would prove among the most intriguing conduits for fascist insinuation into subcultures after the war.

In the ’60s, left-communist groups like Socialisme ou Barbarie, Pouvoir ouvrier, and the Situationists gathered at places like bookstore-cum-publishing house, La Vielle Taupe (The Old Mole), critiquing everyday life in industrial civilization through art and transformative practices.  According to Gilles Dauvé, one of the participants in this movement, “the small milieu round the bookshop La Vieille Taupe” developed the idea of “communisation,” or the revolutionary transformation of all social relations. This new movement of “ultra-leftists” helped inspire the aesthetics of a young, intellectual rebellion that culminated in a large uprising of students and workers in Paris during May 1968.

The strong anti-authoritarian current of the ultra-left and the broader uprising of May ’68 contributed to similar movements elsewhere in Europe, like the Italian Autonomia movement, which spread from a wildcat strike against the car manufacturer, Fiat, to generalized upheaval involving rent strikes, building occupations, and mass street demonstrations. While most of Autonomia remained left-wing, its participants were intensely critical of the established left, and autonomists often objected to the ham-fisted strategy of urban guerrillas. In 1977, individualist anarchist, Alfredo Bonanno, penned the text, “Armed Joy,” exhorting Italian leftists to drop patriarchal pretensions to guerrilla warfare and join popular insurrectionary struggle. The conversion of Marxist theorist, Jacques Camatte, to the pessimistic rejection of leftism and embrace of simpler life tied to nature furthered contradictions within the Italian left.

With anti-authoritarianism, ecologically-oriented critiques of civilization emerged out of the 1960s and 1970s as significant strains of a new identity that rejected both left and right. Adapting to these currents of popular social movements and exploiting blurred ideological lines between left and right, fascist ideologues developed the framework of “ethno-pluralism.” Couching their rhetoric in “the right to difference” (ethnic separatism), fascists masked themselves with labels like the “European New Right,” “national revolutionaries,” and “revolutionary traditionalists.” The “European New Right” took the rejection of the modern world advocated by the ultra-left as a proclamation of the indigeneity of Europeans and their pagan roots in the land. Fascists further produced spiritual ideas derived from a sense of rootedness in one’s native land, evoking the old “blood and soil” ecology of the German völkische movement and Nazi Party.

In Italy, this movement produced the “Hobbit Camp,” an eco-festival organized by European New Right figure Marco Tarchi and marketed to disillusioned youth via Situationist-style posters and flyers. When Italian “national revolutionary,” Roberto Fiore, fled charges of participating in a massive bombing of a train station in Bologna, he found shelter in the London apartment of Tarchi’s European New Right colleague, Michael Walker. This new location would prove transformative, as Fiore, Walker, and a group of fascist militants created a political faction called the Official National Front in 1980. This group would help promote and would benefit from a more avant-garde fascist aesthetic, bringing forward neo-folk, noise, and other experimental music genres.

 

 

 

 

While fascists entered the green movement and exploited openings in left anti-authoritarian thought, Situationism began to transform. In the early 1970s, post-Situationism emerged through US collectives that combined Stirnerist egoism with collectivist thought. In 1974, the For Ourselves group published The Right to Be Greedy, inveighing against altruism while linking egoist greed to the synthesis of social identity and welfare—in short, to surplus. The text was reprinted in 1983 by libertarian group, Loompanics Unlimited, with a preface from a little-known writer named Bob Black.

While post-Situationism turned toward individualism, a number of European ultra-leftists moved toward the right. In Paris, La Vieille Taupe went from controversial views rejecting the necessity of specialized antifascism to presenting the Holocaust as a lie necessary to maintain the capitalist order. In 1980, La Vielle Taupe published the notorious Mémoire en Défense centre ceux qui m’accusent de falsifier l’histoire by Holocaust denier, Robert Faurisson. Though La Vielle Taupe and founder, Pierre Guillaume, received international condemnation, they gained a controversial defense from left-wing professor, Noam Chomsky. Even if they have for the most part denounced Guillaume and his entourage, the ultra-leftist rejection of specialized antifascism has remained somewhat popular—particularly as expounded by Dauvé, who insisted in the early 1980s that “fascism as a specific movement has disappeared.”

The idea that fascism had become a historical artifact only helped the creep of fascism to persist undetected, while Faurisson and Guillaume became celebrities on the far-right. As the twist toward Holocaust denial would suggest, ultra-left theory was not immune from translation into ethnic terms—a reality that formed the basis of the work of Official National Front officer, Troy Southgate. Though influenced by the Situationists, along with a scramble of other left and right-wing figures, Southgate focused particularly on the ecological strain of radical politics associated with the punk-oriented journal, Green Anarchist, which called for a return to “primitive” livelihoods and the destruction of modern civilization. In 1991, the editors of Green Anarchist pushed out their co-editor, Richard Hunt, for his patriotic militarism, and Hunt’s new publication, Green Alternative, soon became associated with Southgate. Two years later, Southgate would join allied fascists like Jean-François Thiriart and Christian Bouchet to create the Liaison Committee for Revolutionary Nationalism.

In the US, the “anarcho-primitivist” or “Green Anarchist” tendency had been taken up by former ultra-leftist, John Zerzan. Identifying civilization as an enemy of the earth, Zerzan called for a return to sustainable livelihoods that rejected modernity. Zerzan rejected racism but relied in no small part on the thought of Martin Heidegger, seeking a return authentic relations between humans and the world unmediated by symbolic thought. This desired return, some have pointed out, would require a collapse of civilization so profound that millions, if not billions, would likely perish. Zerzan, himself, seems somewhat ambiguous with regards to the potential death toll, regardless of his support for the unibomber, Ted Kaczynsky.

Joining with Zerzan to confront authoritarianism and return to a more tribal, hunter-gatherer social organization, an occultist named Hakim Bey developed the idea of the “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ). For Bey, a TAZ would actualize a liberated and erotic space of orgiastic, revolutionary poesis. Yet within his 1991 text, Temporary Autonomous Zone, Bey included extensive praise for D’Annunzio’s proto-fascist occupation of Fiume, revealing the disturbing historical trends of attempts to transcend right and left.

Along with Zerzan and Bey, Bob Black would prove instrumental to the foundation of what is today called the “post-left.” In his 1997 text, Anarchy After Leftism, Black responded to left-wing anarchist Murray Bookchin, who accused individualists of “lifestyle anarchism.” Drawing from Zerzan’s critique of civilization as well as from Stirner and Nietzsche, Black presented his rejection of work as a nostrum for authoritarian left tendencies that he identified with Bookchin (apparently Jew-baiting Bookchin in the process).[1]

Thus, the post-left began to assemble through the writings of ultra-leftists, green anarchists, spiritualists, and egoists published in zines, books, and journals like Anarchy: Journal of Desire Armed and Fifth Estate. Although these thinkers and publications differ in many ways, key tenets of the post-left included an eschatological anticipation of the collapse of civilization accompanied by a synthesis of individualism and collectivism that rejected left, right, and center in favor of a deep connection with the earth and more organic, tribal communities as opposed to humanism, the Enlightenment tradition, and democracy. That post-left texts included copious references to Stirner, Nietzsche, Jünger, Heidegger, Artaud, and Bataille suggests that they form a syncretic intellectual tendency that unites left and right, individualism and “conservative revolution.” As we will see, this situation has provided ample space for the fascist creep.

 

 

Chapter 3: The Fascist Creep

 

 

During the 1990s, the “national revolutionary” network of Southgate, Thiriart, and Bouchet, later renamed the European Liberation Front, linked up with the American Front, a San Francisco skinhead group exploring connections between counterculture and the avant-garde. Like prior efforts to develop a Satanic Nazism, American Front leader Bob Heick supported a mix of Satanism, occultism, and paganism, making friends with fascist musician Boyd Rice. A noise musician and avant-gardist, Rice developed a “fascist think tank” called the Abraxas Foundation, which echoed the fusion of the cult ideas of Charles Manson, fascism, and Satanism brought together by 1970s fascist militant James Mason. Rice’s protégé and fellow Abraxas member, Michael Moynihan, joined the radical publishing company, Feral House, which publishes texts along the lines of Abraxas, covering a range of themes from Charles Manson Scandinavian black metal, and militant Islam to books by Evola, James Mason, Bob Black, and John Zerzan.

In similar efforts, Southgate’s French ally, Christian Bouchet, generated distribution networks and magazines dedicated to supporting a miniature industry growing around neo-folk and the new, ”anarchic” Scandinavian black metal scene. Further, national anarchists attempted to set up and/or infiltrate e-groups devoted to green anarchism. As Southgate and Bouchet’s network spread to Russia, notorious Russian fascist, Alexander Dugin, emerged as another leading ideologue who admired Zerzan’s work.

Post-leftists were somewhat knowledgable about these developments. In a 1999 post-script to one of Bob Black’s works, co-editor of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, Lawrence Jarach, cautioned against the rise of “national anarchism.” In 2005, Zerzan’s journal, Green Anarchy, published a longer critique of Southgate’s “national anarchism.” These warnings were significant, considering that they came in the context of active direct action movements and groups like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a green anarchist group dedicated to large-scale acts of sabotage and property destruction with the intention of bringing about the ultimate collapse of industrial civilization.

As their ELF group executed arsons during the late-1990s and early-2000s, a former ELF member told me that two comrades, Nathan “Exile” Block and Joyanna “Sadie” Zacher, shared an unusual love of Scandinavian black metal, made disturbing references to Charles Manson, and promoted an elitist, anti-left mentality. While their obscure references evoked Abraxas, Feral House, and Bouchet’s distribution networks, their politics could not be recognized within the milieu of fascism at the time. However, their general ideas became clearer, the former ELF member told me, when antifascist researchers later discovered that a Tumblr account run by Block contained numerous occult fascist references, including national anarchist symbology, swastikas, and quotes from Evola and Jünger. These were only two members of a larger group, but their presence serves as food for thought regarding important radical cross-over points and how to approach them.

To wit, the decisions of John Zerzan and Bob Black to publish books with Feral House, seem peculiar—especially in light of the fact that two of the four books Zerzan has published there came out in 2005, the same year as Green Anarchy’s noteworthy warning against national anarchism. It would appear that, although 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.

 

 

 

 

As Green Anarchy cautioned against entryism and Zerzan simultaneously published with Feral House, controversy descended on an online forum known as the Anti-Politics Board. An outgrowth of the insurrectionist publication Killing King Abacus, the Anti-Politics Board was used by over 1,000 registered members and had dozens of regular contributors. The online platform presented a flourishing site of debate for post-leftists, yet discussions over insurrectionism, communisation, green anarchy, and egoism often produced a strangely competitive iconoclastism. Attempts to produce the edgiest take often led to the popularization of topics like “‘anti-sexism’ as collectivist moralism” and “critique of autonomous anti-fascism.” Attacks on morality and moralism tended to encourage radicals to abandon the “identity politics” and “white guilt” often associated with left-wing anti-racism.

Amid these discussions, a young radical named Andrew Yeoman began to post national anarchist positions. When asked repeatedly to remove Yeoman from the forum, a site administrator refused, insisting that removing the white nationalist would have meant behaving like leftists. They needed to try something else. Whatever they tried, however, it didn’t work, and Yeoman later became notorious for forming a group called the Bay Area National Anarchists, showing up to anarchist events like book fairs, and promoting anarchist collaboration with the Minutemen and American Front.

An important aspect of the Anti-Politics Board was the articulation of nihilist and insurrectionary theories, both of which gained popularity after the 2008 financial crisis. In an article titled, “The New Nihilism,” Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) pointed out that the rising wave of nihilism that emerged during the late 2000s and into the second decade could not immediately be distinguished from the far right, due to myriad cross-over points. Indeed, Stormfront is riddled with users like “TAZriot” and “whitepunx” who promote the basic, individualist tenets of post-leftism from the original, racist position of Stirnerism. Rejecting “political correctness” and “white guilt,” these post-left racists desire separate, radical spaces and autonomous zones for whites.

Through dogged research, Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon, discovered whitepunx’s identity: “Trigger” Tom Christensen, a known member of the local punk scene. “I was never an anti [antifascist] but I’ve hung out with a few of them,” Christensen wrote on Stormfront. “I used to be a big punk rocker in the music scene and there were some antis that ran around in the same scene. I was friends with a few. They weren’t trying to recruit me, or anybody really. They did not, however, know I was a WN [white nationalist]. I kept my beliefs to myself and would shut down any opinions the[y] expressed that seemed to have holes in them. It’s been fairly useful to know some of these people. I now know who all the major players are in the anti and SHARP [Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice] scene.”

For a time, Christensen says he hung out with post-leftists and debated them like Yeoman had done. Less than a year later, however, Christensen followed up in a chilling post titled, “Do You Think It Would Be Acceptable To Be A ‘Rat’ If It Was Against Our Enemies.” He wrote, “I had an interesting thought the other day and wanted peoples opinions. If you were asked by the Police to provide or find evidence that would incriminate people who are enemy’s [sic] of the movement, i.e. Leftists, reds, anarchists. Would you do it? Would you ‘rat’ or ‘narc’ on the Left side?” Twenty one responses came beckoning from the recesses of the white nationalist world. While some encouraged Christensen to snitch, others insisted that he keep gang loyalty. It is uncertain as to whether or not he went to the police, but the May 2013 discovery of his Stormfront activity took place shortly before a grand jury subpoenaed four anarchists who were subsequently arrested and held for contempt of court.

In another unsettling example of crossover between post-leftists and fascists, radicals associated with a nihilist group named Ultra harshly rebuked Rose City Antifa of Portland, Oregon, for releasing an exposé about Jack Donovan. An open member of the violent white nationalist group, Wolves of Vinland, Donovan also runs a gym called the Kabuki Strength Lab, which produces “manosphere” videos. As of November 2016, when the exposé was published, one member of Ultra was a member of the Kabuki Strength Lab. Although Donovan runs a tattoo shop out of the gym and gave Libertarian Party fascist Augustus Sol Invictus a tattoo of the fasces there, a fellow gym member wrote, “Obviously Jack has very controversial beliefs and practices that most disagree with; but I don’t believe it affects his behavior in the gym.” Donovan, who has publicly parroted “race realist” statistics at white nationalist gatherings like the National Policy Institute and the Pressure Project podcast, also embraces bioregionalism and the anticipation of a collapse of civilization that will lead to a reversion of identity-bound tribal structures at war with one another and reliant on natural hierarchies—an ideology that resonates with Ultra and some members of the broader post-left milieu.

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. For instance, also in Portland, Oregon, the founder of a UK ultra-leftist splinter group called Wildcat began to participate in a reading group involving prominent post-leftists before sliding toward anti-Semitism. Soon he was participating in the former-leftist-turned-fascist Pacifica Forum in Eugene, Oregon, and defending anti-Semitic co-op leader, Tim Calvert. He was last seen by antifas creeping into an event for Holocaust denier, David Irving.

Perhaps the most troubling instance of collaboration, or rather synthesis, of post-left nihilism and the far right is taking place currently in the alt-right. Donovan is considered a member of the alt-right, while Christensen’s latest visible Facebook post hails from the misogynistic Proud Boys group. These groups and individuals connected to the alt-right are described as having been “red-pilled,” a term taken from the movie, The Matrix, in which the protagonist is awakened to a dystopian reality after choosing to take a red pill. For the alt-right, being “red-pilled” means waking up to the “reality” offered by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, misogyny, and white nationalism—usually through online forums where the competitive iconoclasm of “edge-lords” mutates into ironic anti-Semitism and hatred. Among the most extreme forms of this phenomenon occurring in recent years is the so-called “black pill”—red-pillers who have turning toward the celebration of indiscriminate violence via the same trends of individualism and nihilism outlined above.

“Black-pillers” claim to have shed their attachments to all theories entirely. This tendency evokes the attitude of militant anti-civilization group, Individuals Tending to the Wild, which is popular among some post-leftist groups and advocates indiscriminate violence against any targets manifesting the modern world. Another influence for “black-pillers” is Adam Lanza, the infamous mass shooter who phoned John Zerzan a year before murdering his mother, 20 children, and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Zerzan has condemned Individuals Tending Toward the Wild, and months after Lanza’s horrifying actions, he penned a piece imploring post-left nihilists to find hope: “Egoism and nihilism are evidently in vogue among anarchists and I’m hoping that those who so identify are not without hope. Illusions no, hope yes.” Unfortunately, Zerzan developed his short communiqué into a book published by Feral House on November 10, 2015—the day after Feral House published The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement co-authored by Eddie Stampton, a Nazi skinhead.

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

In light of these cross-overs, many individualist anarchists, post-leftists, and nihilists tend not to deny that they share nodal networks with fascists. In many cases, they seek to struggle against them and reclaim their movement. Yet, there tends to be another permissive sense that anarchists bear no responsibility for distinguishing themselves from fascists. If there are numerous points in which radical milieus become a blur of fascists, anarchists, and romantics, some claim that throwing shade on such associations only propagates fallacious thinking, or “guilt by association.”

However, recalling the information in this essay, we might note that complex cross-overs seem to include, in particular, aspects of egoism and radical green theory. Derived from Stirnerism and Nietzschean philosophy, egoism can reify the social alienation felt by an individual, leading to an elitist sense of self-empowerment and delusions of grandeur. When mixed with insurrectionism and radical green thought, egoism can translate into “hunter versus prey” or “wolves versus sheep” elitism, in which compassion for others is rejected as moralistic. This kind of alienated elitism can also develop estranged aesthetic and affective positions tied to cruelty, vengeance, and hatred.

Emerging out of a rejection of humanism and urban modernism, the particular form of radical green theory often embraced by the post-left can relativize human losses by looking at the larger waves of mass extinctions. By doing this, radical greens anticipate a collapse that would “cull the herd” or cause a mass human die off of millions, if not billions, of people throughout the world. This aspect of radical green theory comes very close to, and sometimes intertwines with, ideas about over-population compiled and produced by white nationalists and anti-immigration activists tied to the infamous Tanton Network. Some radical green egoists (or nihilists) insist that their role should be to provoke such a collapse, through anti-moralist strikes against civilization.

As examples like Hakim Bey’s TAZ and the lionization of the Fiume misadventure, Zerzan and Black’s publishing with Feral House, and Ultra’s defense of Donovan indicate, the post-left’s relation to white nationalism is sometimes ambiguous and occasionally even collaborative. Other examples, like those of Yeoman and Christensen, indicate that the tolerance for fascist ideas on the post-left can result in unwittingly accepting them, providing a platform for white nationalism, and increasing vulnerability to entryism. Specific ideas that are sometimes tolerated under the rubric of the “critique of the left” include the approval of “natural hierarchies,” ultranationalism understood as ethno-biological and spiritual ties to homeland and ancestry, rejection of feminism and antifascism, and the fetishization of violence and cruelty.

It is more important today than ever before to recognize how radical movements develop intersections with fascists if we are to discover how to expose creeping fascism and develop stronger, more direct networks. Anarchists must abandon the equivocations that invite the fascist creep and reclaim anarchy as the integral struggle for freedom and equality. Sectarian polemics are the result of extensive learning processes, but are less important than engaging in solidarity to struggle against fascism in all its forms and various disguises.

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Alexander Reid Ross is a former co-editor of the Earth First! Journal and the author of Against the Fascist Creep. He teaches in the Geography Department at Portland State University and can be reached at aross@pdx.edu.

[1] Black writes, “Bakunin considered Marx, ‘the German scholar, in his threefold capacity as an Hegelian, a Jew, and a German,’ to be a ‘hopeless statist.’ A Hegelian, a Jew, a sort-of scholar, a Marxist, a hopeless (city-) statist — does this sound like anybody familiar?’ Full text available on Libcom at https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-anarchy-after-leftism