The Alt Right’s growth took a lot of people by surprise. It was not just because of its explosion of popularity and public interest, but by the way that its ideas were coded and often phrased in leftist rhetoric. This was not a product of their own invention, but a trend called “Third Positionsim” that has dominated since the early 1970s. This trend takes elements of the left, such as anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, or environmentalism, and plugs it into open fascism, trying to create a synthesis that can attract more recruits.
The most adept of this methodology was a French academic and fascist named Alain de Benoist and the European New Right movement he started. Here they used a complex left-sounding language to rebrand fascism, calling it a “nationalism for all peoples” and trying to ally themselves with post-colonial and anti-capitalist movements for white nationalist reasons. The European New Right slowly came stateside, influencing people like the National Policy Institute’s Richard Spencer. While the work of the ENR is densely academic and rarely translated, we have compiled a list of resources so you can quickly learn about this fascist current that has helped to launch the Alt Right in the U.S. and the violent “identitarian” movement that is blocking refugee boats in Europe. This will help us to understand their arguments, how their propaganda has worked, and how to stem off fascist entryism into left movements.
Academic Papers (Some of these are tough, but they give really deep background for those trying to get inside the fascist mind. These also generally require some type of academic log in or subscription, but since they are all valued we decided to include them anyway.)
The post-industrial, black metal, and neofolk music scene has been defined by fascist plausible deniability. The earliest days of the black metal scene were defined by iconoclastic misanthropic malaise, a generalized anger against everyone and everything. The scene was mired with early days of violence, but also embarrassing interviews from early bands about their obsessions with death and “evil.” This culminated in the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes of Burzum, as well as the dozens of church burnings. The burnings themselves were both begging for some kind of high-schoolesque rebellion as well as a resistance against the past Christianization of Scandinavia, namely in Norway. Virknes eventually came out as a racial Odinist and white nationalist, with the church burnings being an act of religious war both against a “universalist/non-ethnic” religion and against an ethos that says “turn the other cheek.”
The black metal community was largely defined later by fellow far-rightist Michael Moynihan, who wrote the book Lords of Chaos about the early years. The book, largely built on interviews with the band, see the movement as being the manifestation of an Odinic demonic spirit welling up in them. This draws on an idea from Carl Jung that people have archetypical spirits in their collective unconscious based on race, with white “Aryans” having the spirit of Nordic gods inside of them. This is the foundation of racial heathenry and is an idea that both animated much of Nazi occultism and the contemporary ethnic Asatru and Odinic sects.
While National Socialist Black Metal is certainly a phenomenon, racism is not the permanent state of the black metal community. Instead, there are very real problematic elements in terms of violence and nihilism, some of which taking an elitist and masculanist obsession, but the vast majority of bands do not share nationalist sympathies openly. What people tend to pick up on is instead that they share many themes with genres like neofolk and martial industrial, both of which have strong ties to the far-right.
Neofolk broadly can be defined by resurrecting musical styles inspired by early pre-Christian music synthesized with modern post-industrial. You might find throw backs to Renaissance, Romantic, Medieval, and other eras mixed with traditional European “folk music.” This is then paralleled with a lyrical obsession with pre-Christian myths, paganism, warrior stories, fairy tales, along with general themes of occultism, religion, decadence and decline, and romanticism of the past. This has often been associated with fascism in as much as many of the prominent bands have lyrical and aesthetic content that draws both on Nazism and on broader fascist themes, of which fans often use plausible deniability to say that it is more about lurid obsessions rather than their own fascist politics. This might be accepted if the lyrics were not often a straight line to Pan-European nationalism, as well as seeing prominent bands directly associated with fascist movements. The most obvious of these has been Death in June, but Sol Invictus, Fire + Ice, Ostara, Allerseelen, and Waldteufel, among many others, have been shown to not only play with imagery, but to have aligned themselves with the far-right. This often ranges between Nordic racial paganism to the traditionalism of Julius Evola to right-wing interpretations of Aliester Crowley’s Thelema and Chaos Magick, all focused on hierarchy, power, strength, and elitist control.
It has often been difficult to verify these sorts of allegiances, mainly because they are incredibly subtle references. Much of the inspiration for neofolk is in resurrecting a European romanticism, yet the neofolk scene attracts many who have anti-racist sympathies yet also enjoy the mythos and themes of early Europe. If a person wants to verify exactly what this musical scene is delving into we luckily do not have to jump into esoteric Gothic magazines or foreign press because a few Americans have created a website to dumb down their own pan-pagan racism.
Heathen Harvest is a music website focusing on “post-industrial” for over a decade. Here you are really going to find news, interviews, features, and reviews about music spanning the “Dark genres” and “extreme music.” Though this could broadly include metal and industrial, it seems to have carved a niche for itself in the music associated with dark religious obsession, paganism, and the occult. If you know what you are looking at, even just a quick survey will reveal that there are racial sentiments boiling under the surface.
In almost every interview on the site they will begin referencing racial and neo-fascist themes. Often times questions reference the perennial traditionalism of Julius Evola, books like Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, or racial paganism. While some musicians resist these associations, many play into them directly, even if not incredibly deeply. Ostara, for example, gets prompted repeatedly by the interviewer to discuss Spangler and traditionalism, which they oblige, but it is clear that they are having a difficulty making their way through the list of fascist texts that have been provided for them by the scene. What drives a common spirit is a disgust for the “modern world,” a term that has become in popular use from Evola. Some interpret this as things like industrial capitalism and environmental destruction, but in the traditionalist school this more aptly means multiculturalism, democracy, and equality.
Their podcast, The Forest Passage, drops much of the pretense and takes us directly back to the racism of the Alt Right. In Podcast #12, they open with jokes like calling our current period the “current year,” a joke from the rabidly racist and anti-Semitic podcast The Daily Shoah. They go on to deride “liberals” for their universalizing morality, they admire nationalism instead of “globalism,” and certainly side with the idea that elites should be running society. They had on Florida Libertarian Party candidate Augustus Sol Invictus, where they rapped about Left-Hand Path occultism and nationalism. In this episode one of the hosts discusses Germany’s choice to let in Syrian refugees, which they say is “destroying” Europe. They present contemporary politics as “Nationalism vs. Globalism,” presenting the common straw-man argument from fascists that to be against nationalism is to be in favor of global corporate capitalism. One of the hosts derives his name GJ Anarch from far-right philosopher Ernst Junger’s concept of the Anarch, which means a “sovereign person.” At almost any point on their website you can find references to the coming collapse, when the western decadence of the “Kali Yuga” will bring us back to a possible Western Golden Age. While they rarely jump into openly “racist” language, they have a consistent voice in favor of white racial nationalism. They functionally make the same arguments as places like the Radix Journal or The Daily Shoah, but have recolored it with esoteric, pagan, and counter-cultural language so as to provide an intellectual mirage that provides a feeling of rebellious superiority to their audience. Plainly put: They are white nationalism with an occultist lens and inside of a musical scene.
VICE Magazine did a recent article called “How a Thor Worshipping Religion Turned Racist” looking briefly how the resurrection of Nordic paganism became racially inclined. HH responded to this by stating that they mischaracterized racial paganism, going into the tired rhetoric about “love for your own doesn’t mean hate for the other.” They specifically come to the support of Asatru Folk Assembly founder Stephen McNallen and the band Changes, whose members were also members of the Third Positionist American Front.
If you claim to favour the global patchwork that is multiculturalism then you cannot set about removing chosen patches from that quilt. You also cannot take it upon yourself to redefine any of those patches lest the cultures that they represent have set out to harm you—and even then you’ll be fighting the force of a million forefathers who have slowly woven that world for their descendents. This goes for any folk around the world—all of whom deserve control over the culture of their ancestors. In practical terms this control may manifest as a sense of exclusivity, but consider this: exclusivity maintains the boundary between one thing and another—forest and field; football and rugby; public and private. It is no more hateful an act than it would be to reject D♯ from a musical composition in the key of A-minor.
The website goes on to have reviews of Julius Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right, a tome where Evola observes the points where fascism diverted from a true right wing path, as well as his autobiography, The Path of Cinnebar. Their commitment to “folksih” Heathenry, meaning racially defined Heathenry, is near complete, though they do hold a single article containing arguments in favor of universalist heathenry and against folkishness . Their reviews extend to right-wing journals, like the “radical traditionalist” TYR, also edited by Michael Moynihan. That occasional journal publishes work looking at the “pre-Modern European traditions,” though this is very eschewed. In reality it publishes articles on Odinism, Evola, and right-wing interpretations of myths and folktales, featuring white nationalist Heathens like Colin Cleary. HH are often covering Arktos Media, a traditionalist publisher run by white nationalist John Morgan. The publisher was founded to translate and publish works of the French New Right like Alain De Benoist and traditionalists like Julius Evola for an American audience. They have really gotten behind neofolk, both as a popular right-wing musical scene and one that focuses on the traditionalist and romantic themes of Europe rather than just the vulgar racism of the skinhead Oi! and Rock Against Communism scene(Though they include interviews with RAC musicians like Vapaudenristi.). They regularly review books with racial content, especially as it applies to edge political scenes like National Anarchism. This includes a shining review of A Life in the Political Wilderness by Welf Herfurth, which draws on the work of Troy Southgate, Tomislav Sunic, and Alain De Benoist. They follow similar queues to other nationalist website in reviewing the work by controversial French author and Islamophobic iconoclast Michel Houellebecq, giving a “traditionalist” review of his book Submission. All of this really is just a snippet as this content is such a regular feature that even a survey of it would be incredibly dense. HH is likely to counter these claims, citing reviews of books like The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement by Robert Forbes where they show little sympathy, but this should only be persuasive to those who do not have a firm understanding of what the new trends in neo-fascism are and how they differ from the antiquated skinhead gang culture. HH represents a vision of nationalism and anti-egalitarian thinking that grounds itself in spiritual and philosophical themes, and so its own self aggrandizement is likely what allows it to feel as though it is not in the same camp as Combat 18 and those that clashed with Antifa in Dover.
What is most insidious about HH is that is has crossover appeal, which is to say that it is not explicitly a racial website. Many bands refuse to take the bait on the racism, including bands like Agalloch. It should be noted that HH absolutely does not interfere with bands with left and post-left leanings, and gives them an open platform to speak up from this perspective. An example of this would be an interview they have BRUT, where the band members discuss the way that female musicians have been marginalized in the industrial and dark music scene. This runs in contrast to the way that many authors, editors, and podcast hosts make fun of the concept of “toxic masculinity,” and often discuss the need for men to come together in tribes(or, in particular, “white men”) against the modern world(Jack Donovan comes up more than once, and his books are reviewed on the site.). Given the fact that they focus on “extreme” music, you are going to get a lot of anti-authoritarian left bands as well, though there seems to be little differentiation done by them when it comes to HH’s affiliations.
What should be noted is that even the non-racist crowd inside much of these circles have supported and joined up with problematic musicians like Michael Moynihan, Boyd Rice, and Death in June. The boundaries are not set inside of neofolk as they would inside of the anti-racist world, so we have to keep that in mind so as to see them for their intentions rather than just their associations. While Agalloch may be willing to support Sol Invictus, they have also stated that their opposition to the “modern world” is exclusively because of techno-industry and not because of multiculturalism. This makes their associations equally problematic, but notes that not everyone inside of this musical subculture share the nationalist political roots.
Heathen Harvest has now prepared a tour across the U.S. of popular European neofolk and post-industrial bands, though they are only one of the sponsors along with Annihilvs Power Electronix. Operation Equinox 2016 will include the Danish bands Of The Wand and the Moon and Die Weisse Rose, the U.S. based Blood and Sun, and Vril Jager, Destroying Angel, and Scout Pare-Phillips. Blood and Sun also joined bands like Waldteufel at Stella Natura, a questionable neofolk music festival put together by the Asatru Folk Assembly. Luke Tromiczak of the band was interviewed on Episode 13 of The Forest Passage, where he talks about the romanticism and opposition to modernity in neofolk. According to New York City Antifa, Luke Tramicza has dressed as a Nazi brownshirt at shows, collaborates with Nazi bands, and has “associates in White Power circles.” Fascism Watch, who wrote a letter trying to have a New York City venue cancel a show with Blood and Sun and Death in June listed that he had “neo-Nazi connections in his native Minnesota.”
Die Weisse Rose actually naming themselves after the German pacifist student movement that resisted the Nazis, yet they list their politics as Revolutionary Conservative on MySpace. This puts them in line with people like fascist legal scholar Carl Schmitt, another obscure philosopher popular with this strain of the far-right.
Of the Wand and the Moon, the project of Kim Larsen, has often gotten painted with the same brush because of their focus on romanticism and runes, and while there is not strong indications from his music, his use of fascist symbols is so dense that it is hard to argue with these allegations. Larsen has especially been targeted for using the same runic Algiz necklace as members of the neo-Nazi Heathen Front. With situations like this it is quite difficult to determine exactly how to approach it, as well as his collaborations and compilations with bands like Death in June, Sol Invictus, and Allerseelen(She was also featured at Stella Natura). What this says very clearly is that even if Larsen does not hold racial ideas, he is certainly not an ally to the aims of anti-fascist progress and standards. Vril Jager takes its name from a Nazi-era fighter plane, and also a project of Kim Larsen.
This tour provides an opportunity for anti-fascists to either confront the concerts directly or to pressure the bands not associated with racist causes to distance themselves from the more problematic elements. If bands like Die Weisse Rose eschew racist politics, then it is reasonable to hold them to the same standards of association that we would in any other community. No one wants to be culturally policed, but instead it is critical to continue to show the reactionary power that fascist music can have and how it is mobilizing a very dangerous white nationalist movement that is leading to mass violence against refugees across Europe. Segregating bands like Blood Axis and Death in June from the rest of the musical movement, putting them in the same camp as skinhead “white noise” scenes, will help to keep the organized racism out of subcultural and Goth spaces. With this kind of creeping sub-cultural fascism, anti-fascists need to confront them directly and build a movement that is not going to allow it to seep in under vague philosophical arguments that attempt to divert our attention from the reality of their genocidal racism.
This gives you an opportunity to contact the venues to tell them that the community does not want to deal with racist bands and promoters, as well as to contact the bands directly to tell them that this music community will not accept fascist associations. The shows will be on the east coast and midwest, so local counter-organizing can happen drawing on the larger anti-racist movements of the regions. Below some of the dates below is the venue contact information.
3/23/2016 Nothing Changes – New York, NY *combined performance
3/25/2016 Machines With Magnets – Pawtucket, RI
Address: 400 Main Street Pawtucket, RI 02860
3/27/2016 Black Bear Bar – Brooklyn, NY @ Sort Påske Festival
70 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
3/30/2016 The Convent – Philadelphia, PA *combined performance
People associated with class struggle anarchism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, and the like, love to say that anarchism really is a specific iteration of worker and class politics with a libertarian, anti-oppression edge. They hate to answer with more poetic renditions of what anarchism is, if only to be dumped into the “lifestyle” camp with post-leftists and primitivists. The reality is that it is as much a mindset and set of values as it is a specific politic coming out of the split in the IWA between Marx and Bakunin. The anarchist idea is one that goes to the heart of authority, challenging its illegitimacy and all forms of social hierarchy and oppression. In this way anarchism is fundamentally opposed to all forms of social stratification and bigotry, looking not just at its independent and personal forms, but also the social systems that put prejudice into systemic practice. Not only are we against racism, but also against institutional white supremacy. Not just opposed to sexism, but looking to smash patriarchy. Abhorred by homophobia, but also looking to overthrow heterosexist hegemony. Anarchism is the core urge to throw off the shackles of control, to share resources and community in equality, and to get rid of our masters politically, spiritually, and socially. The key values then return us to the most direct, and unmediated forms of social organization based on direct democracy, direct action, mutual aid, and solidarity. These tools are today used as forms of resistance and perseverance, but only through struggle will we form the basic social structures of a post-revolutionary society.
It is in every feature we see anarchism as the mirror opposite of fascism, the direct negation of everything it stands for. In this way anarchism, in practice, is anti-fascism, hopefully to be realized in a post-revolutionary society as well as an improvement to our current world.
From Marx to Total Liberation
Traditionally, Marxism is usually associated as the primary force standing at odds with fascism. Both the far right and the conventional far left enjoy this narrative as it gives them both legitimacy. For Marxists, it helps them draw on their past to give ever greater meaning to their own political legacy. The same is true of fascists, who often use the spread of Bolshevism as a historical double back to justify the excesses of interwar European fascist states. Marxism existed, as a revolutionary force that took their assumed base, the working class, and subverted what the aristocracy and ruling class thought should be a perpetual underclass. One of fascism’s core ideals, as presented by Mussolini, is “class collaboration,” which essentially means that all current classes are necessary. For this to be the case then the working class must gladly serve their role, as must their overseers in the ruling class. Class warfare then pulls as the threads of the caste system, where by there is a clear social hierarchy and the peasants and workers are not seen as capable of ruling society. Communism was then a counter agent, often associated with Jews, and thought of as the metastasized cancer of Western Civilization. This worked really well with communism existing on the far left of the political spectrum and fascism on the far right to create antagonisms, but no political distinction is this simple.
The post-WWII fascist and leftist narratives both moved based orthodox Marxism in similar ways. Today, fascists vaguely blame what they call “cultural Marxism,” a term only they use to describe socially left aspects of culture. One of the core anti-Semitic myths is that the Frankfurt School, which produced culturally focused radicals like Theodore Adorno, was secretly both an organization for Jewish ethnic interests and were so successfully subversive that their ideas have now begun to dominate not just the left, but the subconscious of Western culture as a whole. The idea here is then that the ideas of the Frankfurt School were secretly cooked up by Jewish intellectuals to create decadence, perversion, and relativism in otherwise straight and upright white men, and they are doing this to protect Jews from anti-Semitism. If they can destroy the sovereignty of white civilization by undermining their conservative religious values and then debasing their racial hegemony with third-world immigration of people of color, they can then subvert the white population’s aversion to the Jews as a parasitic class. Neatly put: they create dangerous ideas to destroy white people so that they will be safe and on top. While this idea sounds so insane as to need little denouncement, its position as an Illuminati type conspiracy theory has given it repeated resurgence in the Internet message-board collective basement of the far right. Not only does it make outrageous claims that could never be proven and have no ability to be true, but it fundamentally misses any of the key concepts, historical trajectory, and antagonisms of the Frankfurt School. What is more important, it really has bypassed the key role that anarchism has made as both its adversary and its ideological polar opposite.
Over many of the historic, and more recent, clashes with fascism, anarchism has played an incredibly key role in its defeat. This comes in part because of the history of anarchist movements erupting during the same crisis that often breeds reactionary movements, but also because it has a unique interest in seeing fascism smashed.
Today many are pointing out that anarchism, though often vaguely practiced and understood in first-world countries, has become the leading form of left or post-left political ideology. As Andrej Grubacic and David Graeber so eloquently state in Anarchism, or the Revolutionary Movement of the Twenty-First Century:
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the age of revolutions is not over. It’s becoming equally clear that the global revolutionary movement in the twenty first century will be one that traces its origins less to the tradition of Marxism, or even of socialism narrowly defined, but of anarchism. Everywhere from Eastern Europe to Argentina, from Seattle to Bombay, anarchist ideas and principles are generating new radical dreams and visions. Often their exponents do not call themselves “anarchists”. There are a host of other names: autonomism, anti-authoritarianism, horizontality, Zapatismo, direct democracy… Still, everywhere one finds the same core principles: decentralization, voluntary association, mutual aid, the network model, and above all, the rejection of any idea that the end justifies the means, let alone that the business of a revolutionary is to seize state power and then begin imposing one’s vision at the point of a gun.” (1)
There have been scores of volumes as to why anarchism has both diversified and been popularized from the 1980s onward, all of which we could never do justice here, but we have to see that this anarchist spirit is what is driving the movements of today. From the anti-globalization protests to mobilizations against the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. From the massive Occupy movement to the uprisings of Black Lives Matter, the Marxist parties that once led America to the brink of revolution are almost completely irrelevant, and instead the anarchist spirit is spreading as the fundamental way that we can create a new world. The obvious reasons here is that the anarchist project is both always evolving and always headed to the root of the issue. It doesn’t just seek to just overthrow capitalism and the state, but all forms of hierarchy and oppression. This means that it is a constant ongoing process, and that it has the ability to evolve and change according to the personalities and cultures of those practicing. It is not steeped in rigidity like most determinism-infused Marxism, and its different strands, such as syndicalism, can act as complimentary strategic points rather than limiting ideological dogmas.
The other reality is that most people have already seen revolutionary Marxism, at least of the Leninist party variety, as an incredible failure. The most powerful “movement for liberation” became the most genocidal tyranny of the 20th century. It is this resulting beauracratic State Capitalist failure that almost destroyed the revolutionary left, and there are few who are willing to do Trotskyist backflips in logic to pretend that somehow it will be different next time. What we are left with is one revolutionary trajectory that is, though diversified, the only place we have to go to create a transformative alternative to the waves of reaction.
What Political Spectrum?
For any part of the anarchist vision to be made reality, from the local to the post-revolutionary, it requires a loss of fascism in equal measure. Every key element of anarchism sees fascism as its inverse, meaning that the goals can never exist simultaneously. While both the left-right paradigm and most criticisms of that paradigm are weak and not withstanding under scrutiny, one of the better of these would be the structure Nolan Chart, though we will need to redefine which corner each one has. We need to say upfront that this still does not accurately represent the role we see of anarchism in the political, but for discussion’s sake it helps to map out its relationship to other political tropes.
A more correct version of this chart might have Marxism and Liberalism in direct opposition while anarchism and fascism are in opposite corner as well. Anarchism is then seen as the mix of socialism and autonomy, which could also be interpreted purely as one of social freedom and social equality. By exact parallels, fascism is socially conservative and represents a strong state. The more apt description would be against equality and freedom or democracy. It would be more accurate to actually just put anarchism and fascisms at the very top and bottom corners, respectively, since they display the core extremes as represented here. The polarities would be extreme state communism on the far left, free-market minarchism on the far right, anarchism at the top and fascism at the bottom. This would then represent fascisms disavowal of free-market capitalism, but its respect for things like essential property rights and the right of private corporations over market sectors. From here you can go through and take specific ideological manifestations and place them accordingly, even though anarchism is ever changing and diverse enough to never fully be positioned on any political spectrum.
So, in this context, what is anarchism?
The simplest answer is a libertarian form of communism, but this really misses the core values at the center. Anarchism seeks to liberate us from oppressive systems of illegitimate authority and hierarchy, with the actors of this being the oppressed classes. In terms of economics, this means the working class taking the means of production in a form of stateless communism that is founded on the necessity of freedom and individual identity. It also means the confrontation of existing forms of social oppression, as well as the ongoing process of challenging new forms and subverting oppression whenever it comes up. The foundation then is that a free and healthy society is one that is fully socially and economically equal, where differences between people are no longer expressed through hierarchy, and an ongoing process of living lives with more direct control and less mediation is key. Anarchists believe that race, gender, and other identities as social constructs, as well as nation states that must be abolished in favor of internationalism.
In direct contrast, fascism and related ideologies is best expressed by the title of Tomislav Sunic’s book on the European New Right, ‘Against Democracy and Equality.’ They agree with radical traditionalist mystic Julius Evola when see stated that society is most healthy when stratified. They are against democracy, as they don’t see the masses as having the ability to rule. They are in favor of an upper controlling elite with aristocratic interests, as they believe that there is inherently a class best meant to rule. They believe in the pure rule of genetics over identity, where things like racial ethnicity as having a determining factor over internal qualities like temperament and intelligence. They believe in nationalism, where a set people have interests in each other rather than the rest of society. They are often also opposed to capitalism, but this is because they capitalism creates too much equality and takes the importance away from nation and race. They instead want to purposely re-enforce social stratification and separation instead of just allowing some measure of this to happen on its own, as is the neoliberal situation. They may or may not support totalitarian state measures, but they always support a form of social authoritarianism where a society has strict social mores set by elites whose interest is maintaining a social order.
The term fascism itself is rarely going to be used in these circles, as it has been permanently marred with its association with the Holocaust of the Third Reich. This new brand of the far right is also hardly historical re-enactors as they have modernized the ideas that birthed the interwar movements. The fascism of Italy, Germany, Romania, Austria, and Spain were all somewhat unique in structure, and there were hundreds of movements and ideologues that you never heard of because their version of these essential fascist ideas did not end up taking state power. Today the far right likes to separate itself from ‘fascism,’ which it sees as failed movements of the Second World War. Instead it has rebranded its ideas and modernized its goals and political programs, but the core ideas and values remain the same.
A great example of this rebranding has come from Counter Currents publisher Greg Johnson, who has fashioned himself a sort of “intellectual” of this far right brand. His publishing house, which is mainly made up of republishing tomes by people like Savetri Devie and Jonathan Bowden, has tried to establish a right-wing intellectual current similar to what they have in France. What he is calling the North American New Right, which is essentially just him publishing what he can after having to leave the Occidental Observer, is established on taking the core values of fascism away from its archaic political manifestations (2). As he laments in his key essay “New Right vs. Old Right,” he sees it as an important re-establishment of right-wing principles that only a fascist movement can.
“The true Right, in both its Old and New versions, is founded on the rejection of human equality as a fact and as a norm. The true right embraces the idea that mankind is and ought to be unequal, i.e., differentiated. Men are different from women. Adults are different from children. The wise are different from the foolish, the smart from the stupid, the strong from the weak, the beautiful from the ugly. We are differentiated by race, history, language, religion, nation, tribe, and culture. These differences matter, and because they matter, all of life is governed by real hierarchies of fact and value, not by the chimera of equality. The true right rejects egalitarianism root and branch. The true right has three species: traditional society, the Old Right, and the New Right. Every traditional society known to man is inegalitarian. All forms of traditional society have been destroyed—or are in the process of being destroyed—by modern, egalitarian, mass society. For our purposes, the Old Right means Fascism, National Socialism, and other national-populist movements, which are the pre-eminent attempts to restore traditional hierarchical social forms within the context of modernity. Fascism and National Socialism were not merely reactionary, rear-guard resistances to modern egalitarianism by partisans of corrupt hierarchies. They represented a genuinely revolutionary impetus to restore vital, archaic, hierarchical values within the context of modern science, technology, and mass society. Our ideal is a hierarchical society free of exploitation and injustice because the sole justification of political inequality is the common good of the body politic, not the factional good of the ruling stratum. So how does the New Right differ from Fascism and National Socialism? This is a vital question, because of the intense stigmas attached to these movements since the Second World War. The North American New Right, like the European New Right, is founded on the rejection of Fascist and National Socialist party politics, totalitarianism, terrorism, imperialism, and genocide.” (2)
This sums up the breadth of the movements in general. The coloring of each of these subsets tends to take on many of the aesthetics from which it is dissenting. The Traditionalist Youth Network, White Student Union, and Youth for Western Civilization use the grassroots student-organizing model, and often look more like more confrontational brown-shirts. The National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, Radix Journal, Occidental Quarterly, and VDare, when it applies, often looks and sounds more like the paleoconservative splits from the Republican Party. Institute for Historical Review, Mankind Quarterly, Counter Currents, and many others put on the vein of academic intellectualism. All of these share key ideas and social visions, while they rarely use the term “fascist” to describe themselves.
In many ways, these far-right movements are an effort to create a coherent right wing that is in opposition to the fractured ideologies of the mainstream right. They’re assessment of the lack of ideological consistency and true opposition to the left’s values is correct, and they instead want to develop something that has an “entirely different starting point,” as Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute and Radix Journal likes to say. What you will notice is that there is often a similar estimation of contemporary politics between anarchists and those on the far right in as much as the far right is completely willing to accept their own racism sexism, and homophobia, and is completely willing to estimate the issues with capitalism, globalism, and contemporary party politics in ways that are real and meaningful. The difference is where they fall on these things, not in the way that they interpret them. Many of the accusations that they throw at the far left, like the desire to destroy white hegemony and the nation state, are entirely valid and correct. The difference is that the left sees them as a positive while the right sees them as apocalyptic.
You can look at a number of social forms and goals and assign a sort of positive preference from anarchists and direct opposition from fascists. Equality, pervasive democracy, multiculturalism, a sexually liberated and diverse society, and the destruction of gender roles, are all core ideological principles of the anarchist project, as well as direct fighting points for fascists to target. Anarchism, as the furthest political point away from fascism, actually takes the elements that fascism abhors and finds its political footing on the most extreme version of that. So, fascism openly opposes democracy because it violates their self-avowed elitism. Anarchists, on the other hand, support direct democracy, which intends to hand the democratic process even more directly to the people. The far right strongly opposes equality seeing that people are not made that way. Anarchism goes one further and opposes every single form of hierarchy, from political structures to social relations.
It is in this direct contrast that we find the fundamental point about the battle between the two polar opposites: to fight for anarchism is to be implicitly anti-fascist. Success in the revolutionary anarchist sense would be the negation of every fascist goal so successfully that you create the purest form of their opposition. You cannot cohabitate with the far right since their ideological principles would mean to undermine every single element you look for, whether it is in projects for survival in the current world or projects that are for revolutionary implementation.
The only way that anarchists can win is if fascists lose in every conceivable way.
Introduction to Civil War
The history of modern revolutions is often the history of ideological civil wars where different sides represent ideological oppositions. Competing political factions vie for control, and we see that this point of pressure can often force the more extreme polarities of the political spectrum to mark these different parties. Though this doesn’t break down into the clean “anarchist vs. fascist” dichotomy, it does tend to take on a separation between the left and the right based on values, even if the political ideas are not always so well defined.
If we look to the 1917 Russian Revolution we see a history where the Menshevik majority, the direct-action focused Narodniks, and the anarchist populations heavily infiltrated the left insurrection. These factions headed even more to the left as the Soviets headed towards October, and the “white” forces doubled down on the traditional hierarchies of the Czar. While the more conservative Bolshevik’s ended up dominating the other factions and eventually purging them from the early days of Soviet Russia, there was a clear ideological split that affected the populations. Many people in the peasantry and working class shifted dramatically to a reactionary pro-Czarist position, often times defending what little privilege they still had.
The example of the Spanish Revolution of 1936 is possibly the most telling example of this ideological civil war in the 20th Century. The coup in 1936 from General Francisco Franco, with the support of the nationalist Fallange party and financial backing from Germany and Italy, overthrew the newly formed republic. Engaging in the civil war for the republic took as a coalition with the Abraham Lincoln brigade being the notable army of volunteers, many from the United States. The CNT, which had been directly clashing with Fallange forces for several years prior, began collectivizing land and industries into what many call the most comprehensive Anarchist social revolution in history. With the support of Stalin back communist forces they took on the fascist insurgency, only to have the Soviet armies turn on them to sell them out to state forces. This eventually weakened the revolution and allowed for Franco’s victory, but it saw as the countries political divides became a sharp line for how Spain was to end up. Catalonia ended up as the marker of Anarchist revolutionary forces against the fascist armies coming from the south, supported by a broad coalition of ideological forces that had some differences yet remained in unity on their fundamental values. (3) This period does not just mark anarchism’s position in challenge to European fascism, but really its most profound modern growth in theory and practice. The Spanish Revolution defined anarchism until the New Left, and still overshadows every current that has come later. It is through anti-fascist struggle it was able to realize the most key parts of a community transformation.
In the modern context, the street battles that have marked anti-fascism have been marked by movements such as Anti-Fascist Action and Anti-Racist Action, as well as hundreds of groups taking on similar positions and strategies. The primary component here is “physical resistance,” which has been an important point in shutting down the kind of resurgent nationalism. The conflicts have raged in European countries most apparently, which has a longer history of organized fascist currents, but in the U.S. this often has come into clashes with the KKK, skinhead gangs, and now many of the intellectual and culturally “alternative” fascist groups. The foundation of these movements has been on anarchist participation, often with ties to anarchist cultural and art subcultures, but always drawing from an anarchist tradition towards direct action problem solving. While non-violence remains a trend inside anarchist circles, it is the more nuanced “anti-violence” position that sees self-defense and removing racist elements as a primary vessel to actually rid a community of violence in the macro sense.
No Ideology Beyond Ideology
The modern conception of radical politics has seen a lot of issues in recent years as fragmented ideologies that lack full political analysis have dominated many conversations. Many have actually made calls for peace between the radical right and left based on the fact that they share mutual interest in the abolition of our current state and economic system, and that both are considered enemy terrorists of the state in the post-9/11 security infrastructure. The majority of these calls are coming directly from the right itself, which has a vested interested in blurring the lines between their ideological differences. There has even been a strong push on the right to absorb many of the radical ideas of anarchists, which often times appear outside the current left-right spectrum because anarchists hold such a fundamental critique of all elements of the current socio-political order.
The two forms this tends to take are with so called National Anarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism. Anarcho-Capitalism is one that many have encountered for years, which was proposed by Murray Rothbard in the 1980s as a way of co-opting and subverting their enemies on the left. While they utilize much of the libertarian language we know from individualist anarchism, the New Left, and even some legitimate left sources, they instead focus on absolving any state protections against unfettered capitalism. This is essentially tyranny to the purest degree, maintaining the coercive elements of capitalism without any of the state concessions that organizers have fought for, such as labor and housing restrictions. Many on the American libertarian side have created narratives about how this deregulated capitalism would actually break up monopoly and create diversified wealth, but this is based on pseudoscientific understandings of free market capitalism. In general, they have close associations with paleoconservatives and others on the fringes of the right that consort with racialist factions.
The first of these two is one of the more bizarre cults of syncretic paleogenisis that has come in recent years. Essentially coined by former National Front organizer Troy Southgate, National Anarchism draws on many of the anti-capitalist notions of Third Positionism to essentially create a “tribalist” ideology. This calls for a form of “pan-Anarchism” where by small tribal communities based on affinity replace the current associated order. Instead of being federated in a standardized anarchist conception, these communities would have only minor interaction and trade and could provide their own criteria for membership. In the rhetoric of the National Anarchists you will find that race and ethnicity is the defining characteristic they work with, and there is a strong anti-Semitic and anti-Feminist strain running through all of it. Because of its strange use of left wing imagery and social structures, it has gone under the radar for many anti-fascists until recently. They also often times put themselves as being anti-fascist as well, but their ideological framework still holds the exact same values about hierarchy, tradition, race, gender, and authority that even the most state oriented fascists do. Concepts like “racial holy war” still permeate their literature, as does this notion about the purity of “natural divisions” between peoples. Just being anti-statist does not make you an anarchist or give enough to make them allies.
The anti-statism of anarchism comes in the fact that the state is coercive and institutionalized violence in support of the current classes, both economically and socially. It is designed as a method for stratifying society through the use of force and, as a social form, will always do this. Anarchists oppose the state because of their opposition to this illegitimate authority and hierarchy, but not just because it is a dominant institution. Anarchists do not seek to abolish the state because it penalizes white nationalists or because it regulates the banking industry. There is a fundamental value set that drives this anti-statism.
If there is to be a long-term vision of success for anarchism then it has to be implicitly anti-fascist because it represents the open advocacy of every single element of society that anarchists seek to abolish. As we fight for different intersecting elements in society we need to see where those threats are, both from the immediate system and from the organized forces of reaction that will be challenging these victories on some fundamental level. Every victory that that is struck directly against fascism is a victory for the anarchist project since it undermines the enemies of these goals since anarchist values cannot be fully successful with any organized fascist presence.
From the White Working Class
We also must understand that the same popular classes for revolution are recruited from in both the far right and left, and we need to understand the split in consciousness that takes place in the white working class. Noel Ignatiev, known for his seminal book How the Irish Became White, writes as a part of the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation that anarchist struggle will also be paired on the flip side by a more militant fascist movement as the two are birthed out of the same forms of crisis.
“Alongside class struggle, it is to be expected that militant white-supremacist movements with anti-capitalist slogans would grow among the poorest and most alienated sectors of white society. The fascists are the vanguard of the white race; however, the big problem right now is not the white vanguard, but the white mainstream. Any anti-fascist struggle that does not confront the state reinforces the institutions that provide the seedbed for fascism. Moreover, every time the fascists are able to depict their opponents as defenders of the existing system, or mere reformers, they gain support among those whites that believe that nothing less than a total change is worth fighting for. An anti-fascist counter-rally where people gather to hear speeches, chant slogans, and shake their fists in rage is a display of impotence, and the more people who attend, the more they reveal their futility. Fascism and white supremacy will only be defeated by a movement aimed at building a new world. It is not enough to declare this commitment abstractly, by waving the red or black flag; it must be expressed in the content and forms of the struggle itself. How to do that is no easy question. But it is the question of the hour.” (4)
What is implicit here is that the most successful anti-fascist movement is to have a successful anarchist movement that is based more in material goals and movements than ideological baggage. The best fighting is going to be done on the ground and by creating a real viable alternative to racialism.
For the Sake of the Radical
The implicit clash between fascism and anarchism is one of a myriad of reasons that organized anti-fascism is an important point of struggle. Fascists try to co-opt the idea of “radicalism” that the revolutionary left needs to develop a comprehensive revolutionary movement. Likewise, organized racists feed into violence against people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender presentation, and other identities, all of which is an important intersection of confrontation for anti-fascists. In general, anti-fascists also have an impetus to fight because of the potential for organized reactionaries to literally push society backwards. All of these together gives a reason to challenge their presence that is tangible and meaningful.
Anarchists need to fight to empower revolutionary political ideas and to keep the process of working class organizing moving forward. Anything that undermines this process should be seen as a barrier to success, and fascist reactionaries will also try to take their ideas to the working class to undermine solidarity and class cohesion. Fascism is real and will crop up in times of crisis and turmoil, the same period that sees anarchism return to the mouths of people looking for a different way forward. Let’s remind them that fascism has no future.
Graeber, David & Andrej Grubacic. “Anarchism, Or the Revolutionary Movement of the Twenty-first Century.” com, May 14th, 2009.
Johnson, Greg. “New Right vs. Old Right.” New Right vs. Old Right. San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2013.
M. Testa. “The Spanish Anarchist lives for liberty, virtue and dignity.” Militant Anti-Fascism. Oakland: AK Press 2015. Pg 85-98.
Ignatiev, Noel. “To Advance the Class Struggle, Abolish the White Race.” A New World in Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation. Oakland: AK Press 2003. Pg. 80.