The Old Mole Variety Hour is a great program on a local community radio in Portland, Oregon, where as part of a longer episode on local political music and labor organizing we joined in to discuss tenants issues. Drawing on the larger ideas of community syndicalism, the discussion looked at both the longer term prospects for a tenant movement and how this plays together with the new tenant assemblies that are happening around the country. What can we learn from the history of tenants unions and rental strikes? Student unions? Public transit unions? Where ever people have power because of their role within a sector, there may be a way to draw out the pattern of organizing that was seen in the revolutionary union movement.
The twenty-four hour news cycle often produces strong flashes when it transcribes hot news stories, coming in brief moments before the full picture has been painted. A shooting at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people declared official casualties of the church. Reports say that the shooter began as a parishioner joined in Bible study before picking up heavy artillery and opening fire.
At first this came as a big surprise, and certainly a break from the recent barrage of police murders that have marked the last months of coverage. This stood out as a return to a type of interpersonal violence that is easy to condemn and classify across the political spectrum. Confusion erupted and we saw that commentators were slow to cite race as the cause and to classify the deaths as an act of racial terrorism. The shooting in Charleston, which appears to many people on first glance as a completely random act of violence, is one that fits perfectly in an American tradition that has seen incidents like these without any evidence of slowing. It was not until eyewitness reports come in did the rhetoric begin to change, that its racial connection was solidified. One survivor reported that when confronted the shooter said,” I have to do it. You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. You have to go.” Now that his self-described “Manifesto” is in hand it is incredibly clear what this was: an act of racial warfare.
The document he produced can easily be dismissed as the rantings of a deranged young man, which, in some ways, it is, yet that misses one of the key insights that comes across in his work. The thought process and ideas he cites were not original to him and were instead adopted directly from publications and organizations that have constructed narratives about black populations in the United States. No substantive analysis is being done on the text, which is a common occurrence in American law enforcement as it brings out our desire to avoid adding reason and logic to events that seem to defy explanation. The first part of this is the immediate assumption of mental illness, which then relieves them of having to search for any logically sound reasoning. Mental illness is commonly used to completely reject normal engagement, which is partially why so many media outlets have denied this as an act of terrorism. Simply put: crazy people do crazy things, but terrorism, on the other hand is ideological. The second primary reason is that in it he takes a positive view towards racism, saying essentially that racist ideas are “correct.” This comes directly up against the understood notion in the liberal establishment that racism as a conscious concept has been completely overcome and that any example of racist ideas no longer need to be engaged because they are self-refuting. This is something that the radical left often shares as movements have long dispelled and challenged racist myths, yet this does not mean that a substantial population are not still promoting conscious racism in influential ways.
Racism as a public ideology has gained pariah status while racial inequity has seeped into the very fabric of the American state and economic system. White privilege has been the target of movements seeking to abolish the racial caste system that was fermented to protect Chattel slavery and kept us through eras of Jim Crow and mass incarceration. As this racial hierarchy is challenged there remains a vanguardist minority that seeks to re-establish White Supremacy as a formal system. Today, a certain subset of the organized racist-right maintains a pseudo-academic and pseudo-scientific veneer that hides open bigotry as a motivating factor and has created a series of ideas and philosophical foundations to argue their racialized points. These ideas remain on the fringe, but can seep into the culture in a number of ways. While the radical White Nationalist community does not maintain a popular public face, they have been influential in crossover political topics like immigration. They have been successful in influencing the debates in favor of discussions around America’s racial heritage in ways that other contemporary “hot button” issues just would not. The fringes of the right, from paleoconservatives to Constitutionalists, tax resisters to militia men, all have had historic connections to the vanguardist racist-right, and we see these ideas represented in flash moments in crossover points like the Ron Paul campaign or the battle in Nevada over ranching property rights. The strongest example of their influence, however, is with how they radicalize people in more profound and individualized ways.
Dylann Roof’s Manifesto, published on his website The Last Rhodesian, is both incoherent and lacking in deep thought, but shows moments where his thought process strays from his own delusions. The vast majority of the bumbling document discusses things like the Trayvon Martin murder, the ANC election during the 1990s in South Africa, and support for segregation. He discusses, at length, what is phrased as “black on white crime,” a rhetorical favorite for racialist groups who are attempting to create a narrative about a supposed plague of racialized violence against whites. This is still a surface idea that derives from his most central concept: that blacks are a genetically inferior subspecies.
“Anyone who thinks that White and black people look as different as we do on the outside, but are somehow magically the same on the inside, is delusional. How could our faces, skin, hair, and body structure all be different, but our brains be exactly the same? This is the nonsense we are led to believe. Negroes have lower IQs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior. If a scientist publishes a paper on the differences between the races in Western Europe or Americans, he can expect to lose his job. There are personality traits within human families, and within different breeds of cats or dogs, so why not within the races?”
The behavior he rants about is seen as only a consequence of intelligence. Criminality, sexual control, the ability towards delayed gratification, the ability to maintain families and careers are all a subset of what he sees as the mental inferiority of black people as an ethnic category. This is taken straight out of the artificial debate over race and IQ, a concept that has been suggested since the earliest days of slavery when the white plantation class manipulated new scientific understandings to give a social excuse for their cruelty. This played out as “racial hygiene” and Eugenics, the idea that we can affect genetic outcomes by limiting the breeding of supposed “inferiors,” all of which is central to the institutional violence seen in places like the early American south. This debate was relaunched with right-wing money in post-WWII American scientific climate, where the language and aesthetics shifted after Nazism was so roundly associated with mechanistic genocide. The Pioneer Fund was created to support research that would designate blacks as genetically inferior to whites. The Pioneer Fund provided funding to studies on twins and adopted racially mixed siblings in an effort to first determine that intelligence and other dominant mental faculties were predominately genetic and, second, to prove that in the same social conditions, black s and whites will perform with different effectiveness. With this we have seen controversial and questionable studies that, though the scientific community almost roundly rejects their conclusions, continue to be retread by those looking to justify their racial anger. Arthur Jensen did this famously for decades, and in recent years people like J. Phillip Rushton and Richard Lynn used their positions as tenured faculty to push a version of evolutionary psychology that sees population groups as being more or less intelligence based on their geographic region. As marginal as we think these ideas are, they have occasional breaches into the mainstream. In 1994, Charles Murray, a generally popular conservative now with the American Enterprise Institute, co-authored The Bell Curve, which, among other things, determined that intelligence is largely genetic and will dictate socio-economic positioning. Within this racial differences in intelligence is given real credibility, so much so that it has been the foundation of racist publications from that point forward. More recently, Nicholas Waid’s book A Troublesome Inheritance does its best to determine that race is not a social construct and instead dictates things like personality types, familial structures, and social progress. And, of course, for these white authors, black people remain stunted at the bottom of their evolutionary ladder.
Some of the dominant institutions on the right maintaining the genetically inspired racial myths come with American Renaissance and, as we have seen in the news recently, the Council of Conservative Citizens. American Renaissance has been having their regular conferences since 1990 where they bring on fringe academics to talk about topics like race and IQ, all tinged with value-laden language and dog-whistle epithets. In recent years the dialogue has shifted someone to a more philosophical tone where calls for a “white homeland” are commonplace. This is the definition of the “suit and tie” racist crowd where open racial slurs are almost non-existent, where Nazi and Klan symbolism is disallowed, and innocuous names and subject titles make it appear as a boring academic conference rather than a call for racial holy war. American Renaissance has been paramount in propagating a term coined by conservative columnist Steve Sailer, Human Biological Diversity (HBD). This harmless sounding euphemism is a code word for the idea that certain population groups, namely racial groups, simply have biological difference between them. What difference is discussed more than all others? Intelligence.
This has led to a pseudo-academic blogosphere discussing these alleged racial differences in language that often disassociates itself from criticism. As Holocaust Denial did in the 1980s-90s, HBD has the ability to cross over into subcultures simply because it uses academic-sounding language that people rarely have the tools to refute. When you combine that with a growing sense of distrust in our dominant scientific and health institutions with a general decline in education and of left ideological explanations for our current social catastrophe, it is easy to see why a dissident movement is forming around ideas that most previously would have seen as insane. As we move further towards economic and ecological collapse, more extreme versions of these dissident movements begin to pop up. With Neo-Reactionaries and the Dark Enlightenment we are witnessing a desire to return to a world that knows no democracy and equality, that sees tradition, authority, stratification, and top-down control as natural and preferred. These may seem like ideas best left to the dark side of Internet message board, but in counter-cultural, big-tech, and new intellectual movements, these far-right ideas are seeing resurgence. Race and intelligence are seen as one of the most central components of their arguments, proving that democracy is a failure because not all people are simply capable of running society.
One of the key elements that separate these groups from racists of the past is their use of slight variants in the theory; in this instance it is the “Asian hypothesis.” This essentially notes that East Asians, on average, score higher on IQ tests even then whites, which has led to many Asian bloggers to support HBD claims. This allows HBD fanatics to buck the “white supremacist” claim while still closely allying whites as the upper-levels of the stratification with Sub-Saharan Africans and Australian Aborigines rounding out the bottom. This logic is, again, one that has to be learned and is not present in unaffiliated racists, except those whose ideas where shaped by this community. This is why, when Roof addresses the Asian community in his writing, it takes on a special significance.
“I have great respent(sic) for the East Asian races. Even if we were to go extinct they could carry something on. They are by nature very racist and could be great allies of the White race. I am not opposed at all to allies with the Northeast Asian races.”
The organization that Roof has specifically linked to, the Council of Conservative Citizens, was formed in the 1980s by Gordon Baum on the mailing lists of the “white citizen’s councils” that fought segregation. They held onto Republican rhetoric, associating themselves with the edges of the GOP while openly touting White Nationalist ideas rooted in HBD. In recent years the association with Republican party leaders has gone public as major politics were seen to speak as their conference Between 2000 and 2004 38 major elected officials have spoken at CofCC at conferences, including people like Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour and Trent Lot. In recent years the fallout has pushed CofCC further to the right, now banned from participating in conferences like CPAC. Alongside these featured politicians were talks on Jewish banking control, the beauty of Chattel slavery, and the “white genocide” that is happening through immigration and miscegenation.
The romantization that Roof had with the racist right was not only with the mainstreaming CofCC but also with more ingrained racist institutions like the seminal white nationalist forum Stormfront. Created by former Klan leader Don Black, it has existed as a sort of hub for the more radical elements of the far right movement. According to the SPLC, almost 100 murders from the last six years can be traced back to Stormfront. As they try to update their image by banning images of the Third Reich and open racial slurs, the truth remains that the discourse that remains there is still tied to vulgar violence.
The issue of this as a “lone wolf” attack has led a lot of people confused. The term in this context comes from an essay from White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger as an option for violent action outside of an organizational structure. This has become incredibly important as we are seeing militant racist organizations like skinhead gangs or variants of the KKK decline sharply, yet we see violent actions remain constant. In the SPLC’s study of domestic right-wing terrorism over the last six years, they concluded that a full 74% of attacks where from a single person, and 90% either alone or in pairs. While the organized violent actors may be on the decline, the side that has only been increasing is the growing undercurrent of publications and blogs promoting the scientific racism of the future.
What happens is that incidents like these can blind us to whom the real actors are. Is there an active Klan group orchestrating these attacks? Was it a skinhead faction bent on making a name for themselves? Roof himself notes that neither one of these are at play any longer, so he needs to take the reigns. The voice of the future of these movements is one that never would publicly advocate violence of this kind, and may even honestly believe it to be the antithesis of successful racial organizing. Yet in the hands of an increasingly disaffected population it is like a grenade waiting to find a target. Roof was raised on the intellectual racially oriented movement work that created a theory of social-biology, not the open violence of something like Aryan Nations. Our work in the anti-fascist/anti-racist movement has, traditionally, been focused towards open Neo-Nazis in the north and the KKK in the south, but as these become the players of the past we have yet to adapt to the new face of hate. In the future, it will be discourse that logically leads to acts of “lone wolf” violence, yet it is the rhetoric itself that creates an ideological underpinning and support where the only logical response is murder. If we are to create anti-fascist movements that can actually confront the real threat of openly racist violence then it has to look at the seemingly disconnected source that builds the logic and justification for the trigger pulled later.
No matter how the particular far right and neo-fascist movement sees itself, mass killings in the name of their racial agenda is always going to be bad news. Aryan Nations was a meeting spot for neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Christian Identity Adherents, and racist militia movements, and was completely undone after a passing family was attacked in front of their compound. White Aryan Resistance was financially undercut after associated skinheads murdered Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw in Portland, Oregon. Charges are often brought against associated organizations, and even if they are not formally indicted they certainly are put under the federal looking glass. This is the current state of the Council of Conservative Citizens who is having the FBI going through their materials with a fine toothcomb.
Beyond the hope that other ‘lone wolves’ will be inspired by the violence in a sort of “propaganda of the deed” dynamic, it undercuts their messaging in serious ways. While insurrectionary and vanguardist racial groups certainly exist, even they tend to want to argue philosophical ideas around their racial perspectives and engage in movement building. The modern racialist movement has been heavily influenced by internet-fed pseudo intellectualism, is returning to fascist roots in philosophical movements like the Conservative Revolution and French New Right, and are trying to create a semi-coherent set of ideas that can feed their endgame. In general, the uniting point here is the advocacy of a white ethnostate, though the specifics are particular to the political faction at the microphone.
When instances of violence come up it is difficult to present themselves and thoughtful and peaceful ‘activists.’ The Council of Conservative Citizens is a specifically good example of this in that they existed as a fully aboveground white nationalist organization that maintained ties to the mainstream GOP. It is now clear from his writing that Dylann Roof was inspired to action by the reports of racial differences and ‘black on white crime’ as reported on the CofCC’s website. There you will find pseudoscience about race and intelligence, trumped up reports on racial crime, and other types of ultra conservative and nationalist rants. What you will not find, however, are calls for Racial Holy War. That being said, their publication and their rhetoric, even as mild as it is for their movement, still resulted in violence. This is the kind of association that will rattle their movement to the core, and will likely completely demolish the Council.
The action itself has ramped up a debate that has come in and out of fashion: the remove of the Confederate Battle Flag from public spaces in the south. For many of these groups that are associated with neo-Confederacy as a part of their racial mythology, this could be a bridge to far. Unfortunately for them, any credibility that they had in the popular media market has been stunted by their association with nine dead parishioners in a famed black church in South Carolina.
So how are white nationalists reacting to this situation?
This has been incredibly variable, especially in the CofCC. Many of the people who are deeper in the leadership of the CofCC have rebuked any media contact, but several of their members who are associated with a number of racialist organizations have decided to step up in its defense. Jared Taylor, best known for the white nationalist and scientific-racist organization American Renaissance, has gone on media interviews defending the CofCC. While he continues the line that they are not responsible for the crime, which they have openly condemned, the information cited is still real and legitimate.
“He did not get inspiration from the Council’s website, he got information. And the reason the information was so disturbing to him is because the facts, the reality, of the overwhelmingly “black on white” nature of interracial crime is something that is almost never reported. It’s, in fact, deliberately concealed.”
He continued to return to the racial demographics of crime from several different, unrelated questions. This has been the pattern for Taylor’s interaction with the media; especially debates he tries to get in any forum that will have him. Taylor does go on to say that he and the Council absolutely condemns the shooting.
James Edwards, who sits on the board of both the CofCC and the white nationalist American Freedom Party, hosts his regular radio show The Political Cesspool where he ranted and raved in the usual confusing manor. Though he certainly denounced the shooting, he also praised what he said was the clarity and “intelligence” of his manifesto (which was riddled with racial slurs and writing errors). He doubted the “official story” that has come out and indulged in conspiracy theories about how he could be a government plant, the shooting could have been a result of the medication the shooter was taking, and that the manifesto was created after the fact. He used this as an opportunity to support Roof’s assertions about things like “black on white rape,” which has been a favorite racist talking point since the days of slavery. When going on Richard Spencer’s Radix Podcast to discuss this, he went on about how this was going to be used to strip the South of its “heritage.” In response, Spencer actually spent a great deal of time trying to remind us that we need to begin targeting those with mental illness for the removal from polite society.
In an attempt to act as an unofficial “spokesperson” for the Council, Edwards released a statement to the press that read:
“I unequivocally condemn Dylann Roof’s murderous actions, but in no way was there a legitimate “link” between the alleged shooter and the Council of Conservative Citizens. To say that there is a “link” because he once visited the website reeks of Soviet-era smear tactics. The C of CC cannot reasonably be held accountable for the psychotic reaction this deranged individual had in response to reading truthful statements regarding interracial crime.
According to the Department of Justice, every year there are approximately 500,000 violent, interracial crimes (completed or attempted / threatened). Of these, nearly 83 percent are committed by blacks against whites.
Every year, there are some 20,000 rapes or sexual assaults (including threats) of white women by blacks, but crimes of this sort by white men against black women are so unusual, they scarcely appear in crime statistics.
My prayers go out to the families of the victims in Charleston. After the healing begins to occur it is my sincere hope that mature Americans can finally begin to have an honest conversation about race, rather than being subjected to a one-sided lecture.”
In Richard Spencer’s article on the shooting at Radix Journal he began by noting, without any sense of irony, that this is a tragedy that is going to be used by others as a political tool. He takes it back to the brewing controversy over the Confederate flag where he works hard to ignore the obvious associations between a history of institutional violence against African Americans and the symbol of the Antebellum South.
“As I write, it appears that the shooting has become the tipping point in this decades-long controversy. Roof’s crime, of course, had nothing at all to do with the Confederacy, or how best to honor those who died in a lost cause. That so many have justified removing the flag on the basis of the shooting demonstrates the power of symbolism and narrative over history and fact.
Moreover, it is necessary for us to talk about the meaning of this event, and its political after-effects, for the reason that it was not a “senseless act of violence,” much like John Hinckley Jr. apparently shot Ronald Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster.”
While he does continue to tow the line of apologism for the act itself, he moves into a kind of meta-commentary where he begins to question whether or not political violence in this way should really be that condemnable.
“Whether political violence is considered to be legitimate and necessary—or illegitimate “terrorism”—is determined by its success and symbolic impact. We forget that the vaunted “Founding Fathers” could have, so easily, been remembered as dangerous eccentrics, who rebelled against their rightful (and quite liberal) monarch out of personal ambition or avarice. In turn, the Confederacy could have been remembered as a just, Jeffersonian order, if it had achieved military victory.”
Counter-Currents Publishing, which has made a name for itself in trying to create a philosophically backed fascist movement modeled on European right-wing intellectuals, joined right in with the usual vile rhetoric that they revel in. Not only were several articles on the subject published, while also being distracted by the recent marriage equality ruling, they also published Roof’s manifesto in an unabridged and annotated version. This will likely not be the last time that this brief blog post driven by homicidal racial rage is republished as the work of some sort of “visionary.” Writing at Counter-Currents website, Brian Tobin laments that these acts of extreme violence are simply the result of an integrated society that is deteriorating because of its multiracial character.
“ How much longer will the majority of whites in America — the ones who can not afford to live in any area other than the “culturally enriched” — be pushed around by policy makers who use them as lab rats in their “cultural” experiment for “public” good? How long will they sit and watch their neighborhoods turn into Third World, crime-ridden slums, right before their eyes, and say nothing? How long will it take for the “backpack of white privilege” to weigh so heavily that it begins to send its wearers into great rage, anger, and frustration?
And isn’t history supposed to be our greatest teacher? Yet no one wants to admit that Dylan Roof is now part of our collective history and memory. The only way to avoid another Dylan Roof episode from airing on network TV is if we finally start learning from (y)our mistakes.
I honestly believe that Dylan Roof’s actions should be heeded as a warning. A warning to the current establishment; a warning to those who wish to maintain the status quo.
What warning is that, you ask? Either embrace the truth and put an end to your relentless critique and attack on White Americans, their history, and their culture, or feel the backlash of those with backpacks becoming to heavy to carry without complaint. To either grant white Americans the same privileges that are afforded to minorities of all stripes, or accept the consequences of which history has written, and the television narrated.”
Though many of the smaller blogs and message boards have erupted in outrage over being associated with such a person and that the flag would be the after target, those associated with the neo-Confederate movement have been somewhat muted. The League of the South, which was created by nationalists coming out of the preservationist Sons of Confederate Veterans, has been having website issues, so they don’t really have the ability to make much of a public episode over it. The Traditionalist Youth Network, which was best known for their campus White Student Union projects, has deep ties to Southern Nationalism and the symbols there in. Matt Parrot, one of the least sensational of the crowd, noted that it would be impossible for people to differentiate between their work and that of the shooter.
“We’ve consistently renounced and rejected violence and hatred at every opportunity, but it honestly doesn’t matter. The American government, media, and academia refuse to distinguish between ourselves and Dylann Roof. For them, the fact that he had ideas similar to our own confirms that our ideas are evil and must be stamped out at all costs. America will willfully disregard the fact that terrorist violence knows no ideology. There are environmental terrorists, socialist terrorists, anarchist terrorists, religious terrorists, anti-religious terrorists, and an impressive list of anti-racist and anti-white terrorists in recent memory.
Dylann Roof falsely believed the lie that the ideology underlying White Advocacy necessarily entails violence. This is a lie which permeates our society, the belief that to be pro-white must necessarily entail being vehemently–even murderously–anti-minority. It doesn’t, but the ADL, the SPLC, the mainstream media, and the federal government have invested millions and millions in crystallizing this falsehood in the collective American mind; that the only way to promote White interests is with violence. A small minority of White Nationalists, many of them outright cranks and many of them surely government assets operating honeypots, also repeat this lie.
It is a lie, and it needs to be put to rest before more lives are lost.”
Matthew Heimbach, the more vocal Southern identitarian of the group, has been notably absent from this discourse, which may give evidence of person problems taking predominance.
It has been pretty well understood that the battle over the Confederate flag is one that has already been won in the minds of most Americans. For white nationalists, this would be a poor way to maintain their goals and a bad place to dig in their heels. But with those who have grave ties to Southern heritage, it is the only historical continuity that gives their sense of racial separatism any American legitimacy.
The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the many disaffiliated organizations trying to build themselves in the image of the 1920s Klan, has announced that they will be marching on the South Carolina statehouse in July. After stating that the flag is the wrong target and is a part of “white people’s culture” they set the date for July 18th where they will be calling for other white nationalists to join them in support. This is a unique stand, and one that is fitting for the kind of irrational, emotion-laden organizing the Klan is known for, and it will be difficult to image they get more than a couple dozen people out. And very few without their bed sheets.
Occidental Dissent, which does argue militant white revolution from a Southern Nationalist perspective, lists eight different rallies that have taken place. The Virginia/Maryland chapter of the League of the South did have a “rally” in support of the flag, though it looks like there were only a small handful of people. There are also micro actions in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but with usually only a carload of Southern supporters, it is hard to think how they would look against the crowds ripping the flag off its pole.
For the rest of the crowd, they will certainly be flying the flag when tied to the South, but there will likely be a more quiet response. For the “alt right” and Dark Enlightenment crowd, American symbols are something to wholesale reject. For places like the CofCC, they know very clearly that they have much more to lose by jumping into the fight. What you can expect is massive Anti-Fascists actions at any even associated with this as the numbers are swelling against them. What could be a nice turn, and something we are seeing painted over monuments to Confederate generals, is that the Black Lives Matter branding and organizing will link up here and provide a lasting analysis of white supremacy in America. While these white nationalists are on the vanguard of restoring white privilege to its glory days, it is institutional racism that affects most People of Color’s lives on a daily basis. If the two issues can be united then this can be a powerful step in a movement to undo a history of white domination.
The recently deceased Gordon Baum founded the Council of Conservative Citizens in the 1980s to try and resurrect the goals and principles of the White Citizens Councils. Baum was a former staff organizer with the original Citizens Councils of America attempting to stop integration in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement. After his failure he decided to begin working towards attacking social integration by creating an organization that focused on racial issues while remaining tied to the political mainstream.
What stands out as unique about the CofCC is that it maintains continuity to the past. For most groups on the political radical edge, both on the right and the left, it is difficult to maintain the original group structure for decades. Instead, groups that are successful in some historical period become a brand name that has power rather than being able to continue its original structure. A great example of this is the various generations of the Ku Klux Klan. Veterans of the Confederate Army founded the first Klan in Tennessee in 1865. The goal of this was to essentially create a paramilitary force that could overthrow the Republican, Reconstructionist state and re-establish Chattel White Supremacy. It declined and then restarted in 1915, then hitting incredible size by the 1920s. This is generally the KKK that people think of that forced waves of massive lynching of people of color all through the south, but also maintaining political power by getting Governors and Senators elected around the country. At its peak it had 4-5 million members, which was, at that time, about 15% of the eligible population. The third wave of the class started during the Civil Rights movement and were much more subcultural and fragmented, engaging in acts of violence throughout the south. Today the third wave somewhat maintains while dozens of different groups continue to say that they are the true tradition of the Klan, and it has had minimal success mainstreaming with figures like Don Black and David Duke. Each generation of the Klan has no organizational connection to the previous generation. The only connection is essentially the brand, even organizational structures and organizing goals change. The sheets stay the same.
The CofCC on the other hand actually does maintain continuity, to some degree, to the White Citizens Councils. Baum created the CofCC off of the original mailing list, so it was able to re-engage the members of the original councils that maintained their racist anger about the ongoing integration process.
It is from this formation in 1988 that the next complication begins to surface: its connection to mainstream conservatism. Organizations that deal with white nationalism do, in general, rebuke the political system of the U.S. because of its ongoing attempt towards progress, however piecemeal and “in name only.” It is hard for open white nationalist organizations to maintain any connections to mainstream politicians at this point because of the political liability that they maintain. The White Citizens Councils themselves were made up of segregationist conservatives that were a part of the mainstream political conversation of their time, and so when transferred to the CofCC there is still much of the political coherence. This was especially true in the Deep South where being associated with the White Citizens Councils is actually a political benefit even today. Their Statement of Principles included that this is a Christian country, that the United States are for European people, that the U.S. is a sovereign nation, that traditional family is central, and that they support racial integrity.
For years the CofCC participated in the Conservative Political Action Conference, a mainstream political conference that hosts all major Republican candidates of the period. They maintained a table with a large Confederate Battle flag. The late Sam Francis, one of the few paleoconservative white nationalists that somehow maintained a connection to mainstream conservative media outlets, edited their newsletter, the Citizen Informer. Their website and newsletter focuses on political issues that can tie directly to race, like racially components in crime, education, welfare, affirmative action, “forced bussing,” and others.
A lot has been made recently of their connections to mainstream Republicans, from hosting them at their conference to the $65,000 that their founder contributed to contemporary Republican candidates. This main seem like a certain amount of excessive attention, but the connection here is much more elaborate than people might understand. Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was an early supporter of the CofCC and spoke at their conference in 1993. In 1998, Republican Congressman Bob Bar provided the keynote address at the CofCC’s conference, while former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke to them five times. As recent as the period from 2000 to 2005, 38 elected officials attended CofCC events. These are not flukes, but really key elements of the CofCC that draws people into their events and conferences. The founding of the CofCC also included former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox and later Louisiana Congressmen John Rarick. In 2009, Republican Mississippi State Senator Lydia Chassaniol addressed the group with an appropriately titles speech “Cultural Heritage in Mississippi” where she made offensive claims about African Americans. She later confirmed that she is a member.
The CofCC has often been tied to this unofficial network of pseudo-political racialist groups internationally, even sending people to the Front National event in France. The members even presented nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen with a Confederate Battle Flag.
So then what kind of demographic makes of the rest of the CofCC? Jared Taylor, a proponent of Race and IQ debates and founder of the white nationalist American Renaissance organization, acts as one of their most prominent spokespeople. James Edwards, host of the racialist Political Cesspool radio program, sits on their Board of Directors. They have members of skinhead gangs like Volksfront, Hammerskin Nation, and Blood and Honour, in their membership, and often hosts discussions about racial inferiority, the innate criminality of black people, neo-Confederate revisionism, and even hosted a “historian” who’s “orthodox Christian” view of slavery is that it was a beautiful relationship between slave and master. Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Youth Network even gave a speech recently calling for white revolution towards an “ethno-state.”
So the curiosity of the Council of Conservative Citizens is how they have straddled the line between open white supremacist vanguard and semi-mainstream conservative activism. As mentioned, their board member James Edwards hosts a radio show that regularly brings on white nationalists, holocaust deniers, klansmen, and others from the “pro-white” movement. This show is hosted by the Christian Liberty News Network, which carries it on regular radio stations beyond its Internet presence. Their radio ads feature a number of conspiracy theory, white racialist, and alternative medicine ads, which also includes one for the CofCC. Here, among its various principles, its says “The CofCC supports racial purity, which is a part of God’s law.” How is this allowed on a relatively mainstream Christian radio network? How can politicians continue to claim that they were unaware of the CofCC’s agenda when it is shown so blatantly and publicly?
A large part of this answer is the importance it plays in southern politics even today. As with any institution that represents a vocal minority, politicians will have to pander to be elected. The Council of Conservative Citizens, by many counts, is the largest organization of its type in the country. It is certainly the largest that maintains an aesthetic and structure that blends into similar conservative and Tea Party groups, yet has a very committed membership. This allows for them to be the acceptable wing of the far right for politicians to continue to pander to. At the same time, they continue to represent a Southern Nationalism that is of critical cultural importance to many in the south. Similar to Southern Nationalist organizations like the League of the South they are allowed to have a dual politic by many of the people who look to them for leadership. They provide a revolutionary vision of a white southern state while also providing options for people to engage in contemporary politics. The bottom line is that this open racial rhetoric still plays in parts of the south and Midwest, where as coded racial language often drives whites in the rest of the country.
The CofCC also is allowed to blend into the panorama of American conservative organizations where race baiting, homophobia, and violent nationalism are still acceptable form of rhetoric. On a quick look at the CofCC website it would appear indistinguishable from most Tea Party, Paleoconservative, or Constitutionalist websites. If we are to be honest, many of their ideas are simply more openly articulated versions of many of these “dog whistle” right wing political organizations.
This is not a new type of politic and, because of controversies in recent years; the CofCC is being pushed further to the right as conventional politicians all but shun them. The CofCC is one of many groups that have maintained a bridge between the fringe and the edges of the mainstream. VDare, an anti-immigration website ran by former National Review writer Peter Brimelow, has hosted white nationalists regularly since its founding, but also is a meeting spot for mainstream Republican politicians and anti-immigration activists. The anti-tax movement of the 1980s and 90s was one of the best example of these where the Ron Paul movement was often matched by open neo-Nazis and militiamen, though in the 2000s we began seeing a left-cultural oriented libertarian movement that separated it from its right wing past. In the early 1990s, David Duke represented this crossover point very publicly where a former neo-Nazi and Klan leader, who never rejected his racism and anti-Semitism, almost won by a Senatorial position and Governor of Louisiana. He did with a state legislative seat, which he used to try and push bills to sterilize women receiving welfare. Pat Buchanan also mainstreamed these nationalist ideas in the 1992 Republican primary, though this has more well coded language that the rest. Today, a number of organizations continue to maintain this bridge from a number of locations. Traditionalist Catholics, neo-confederates, paleoconservatives, and other right wing groups have ties that go both ways, that makes them acceptable in both camps.
The far right does fundamentally break from the Republican mainstream in that their value system rejects equality and democracy. Republicans may have a very distorted understanding of this, but many of them will agree in the fundamental equality of peoples on some level. This is not a universalized value by any means, and we see that there are still crossover points that we thought were long closed. The issue here is not that these right wing politicians will crossover to white nationalist organizations, but that their racial ideas will influence contemporary political discourse. Dozens of politicians have been associated with the CofCC, and you can certainly see where their politics of racial fear and separation have been allowed to seep into regional politics.
On the other end, the CofCC has seen a huge influx of press because Dylann Roof, the shooter in Charleston, cited it. In a recent NPR interview, a former FBI Terrorism investigator, who spent the late 1980s and early 1990s going undercover in neo-Nazi groups, mentioned that, while ideologically disgusting, not all of these groups are at risk for violence. He mentioned that it is important to look at the patterns of violence themselves rather than the underlying ideology. There is certainly some truth in this logic in that some people are predisposed to this violent behavior and many people would never engage in this type of violence no matter what ideological foundations they were provided. The problem with this, however, is that the white nationalist ideology and justifications maintain violence as implicit. The CofCC justifies their ideas of racial separation by making pseudoscientific arguments about genetics that make blacks appear as qualitatively inferior to whites. They manipulate news stories to make it appear as though blacks are attacking whites at a genocidal rate, raping white women and attacking children. These ideas create a sense of urgency, as well as separate people of color from the same humanity as fellow white people. This dehumanization fundamentally makes it easier to make them the target of violence, as well as give the sense that violent targeting of people of color as being socially responsible. This is also true in terms of the anti-Semitic attacks where by Jews are seen as essentially demonic cabals controlling and destroying white people. The ideas here are statistically much more likely to lead to acts of violence than almost any other. This is especially true as the SPLC’s recent reports that right wing terrorism has been almost twice as frequent as Muslim terrorism since September 11th, 2001. While the CofCC does not advocate violence, has condemned the attacks, and probably honestly thinks that these acts are counter-productive, the violence is built into their narrative. It feeds into anger and disorientation of many people on the edge, and is built to push them into murderous acts.The CofCC is no doubt in its period of decline, and this recent association with extreme violence will be the final nail in the coffin in terms of their political connections. Gordon Lee Baum died in March of 2015 and his son has proved incompetent in taking the organization forward. Their existence was based on their ability to straddle the fence between open white supremacy and regular politics, but this last push will no longer allow them into the open political sphere. In recent days people like Jared Taylor and James Edwards have begun doing interviews to defend the council, but they continue to go on and on about black crime rates rather than just stand against the murders. The CofCC has slowly become just another meeting place for organized white nationalists, usually with a southern flare, and the kinds of people we are seeing surround the organization now shows that it has finally taken a full plunge into the underground. They, along with the associated League of the South, will likely join in on the coming fight to keep the Confederate Battle Flag up in southern states, but their association with the issue could only help the opposition.
The question really comes to whether or not white nationalists will maintain organizations that can tie themselves to the mainstream. To the right of the CofCC are groups like the American Freedom Party, which was originally the neo-fascist American Third Position Party. The AFP is roundly denounced for its open racial rhetoric, association with Golden State Skinheads, and for essentially being a meeting place of other white nationalist organizations. The CofCC membership that does want to maintain ties may just flood over to constitutionalist and libertarian parties, groups working on border issues like immigration and affirmative action, or they may focus specifically on overturning the recent marriage equality decision. On the other hand, this may be what is needed to push them further into the radical sphere, which could result in even more acts of isolated ‘lone wolf’ violence. What is clear is that a light has been shown on organizations that were previously able to go under the radar through their ability to mimic the mainstream American conservative movement. What will serve people who want to organize against this type of racism best is to really look at the politics of the CofCC and to be aware of it when it pops up with different aesthetics.
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.
- Resta. “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.
The numbers quickly broke three hundred as the Rose City Antifa called for an action to stop the White Man’s March in the spring of 2014. Under the now common banner of taglines like “Anti-Racism is a Code Word for Anti-White” and “Stop White Genocide,” the White Man’s March was a poorly constructed idea for white nationalists to rally around. The event was pushed by members of the American Freedom Party in Portland, though as the counter-protester’s numbers swelled it became clear that the far right had skipped town. It was true, actually, as the main caller for the march spoke on The White Voice, a now defunct white nationalist podcast network, about how they headed up to Spokane, Washington. They then went on to brag about their massive turnout and banner drop. There were less than a dozen in total.
With numbers like these seeming increasingly dismal for many of these open neo-Nazi actions, the question should be rightly asked what kind of actual risk do neo-fascists hold? There has always been the obvious one, as was mentioned in Movement of Long Knives and will be discussed in a later essay, that for the militant skinhead and Ku Klux Klan factions, the risk is with disorganized bits of random extreme violence. This is a very real, if dwindling, threat, and will always be a small part of the racist right. When it comes to the more organized and “intellectual” far right, what potential do they actually have?
They certainly are not going to sway electoral politics in any meaningful way, which is actually quite contrary to the rhetoric the left usually uses when discussing the threat of the racist right. While there are some connections of what’s left of the paleoconservative and paleolibertarian Republican establishment, who will be focusing on immigration in the coming years, but this is a clouded connection at best. Websites like VDare link together anti-immigrationists from the mainstream to the white nationalist fringes, but any explicit connections between people or ideas from the fascist edge will be the death knell for any politician. Just ask House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was publicly roasted after it came to light that he spoke at the European-American Unity and Rights Organization organized by David Duke. There were, in previous years, a minor connection between those on the conservative side of the party and the less militant white nationalist organizations. People like Mike Huckabee even spoke at the conferences for organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens, but today they would never be caught dead at one of these events.(1) In response to being abandoned by the conservative establishment, most of these groups have begun to likewise abandon hope for the conventional electoral sphere entirely.
To put it straight, while racism is still alive and well in American politics, open fascist rhetoric is not.
The threat from fascist groups could then be in the general social sphere, where their ideas can influence the majority of public opinion. This, again, seems doubtful while the public face of racism today is one that is implicit to the social structures and less one that is openly advocated. Instead, ideas of ethnic pluralism and equality have, in name only, won out in the public conversation. This does not mean that they have actually been implemented in the American system, which would be functionally impossible to do as capitalism drives inequality into the heart of our communities. Instead, idea of publicly advocating inequality and racism has become socially unacceptable. It just is not cool to argue for an ethnostate on CNN.
So why are we continuing a battle against fascism as a social idea and political force? Why do we fight?
When It’s Broke, They Offer the Fix
Fascism, today, is an integrated philosophy that takes on numerous titles, like white nationalism, ethnic nationalism, ethnopluralism, neo-reaction, radical traditionalism, identitarianism, and many others. The ideas that are center remain ethnic tribalism, masculanism, authoritarianism, hierarchy and inequality. While there are differences in political, religious, and social structures, the core values and ideas remain constant.
Where this ideological force has led itself in the 21st century is to exist in points of social fracture rather than to insert itself into dominant social institutions. This means that fascism is being targeted at radicalism of all sorts and towards the possibility of a social collapse. Within what many call the “suit and tie” fascist crowd in the United States, the battle they are waging is over the fate of radicalism itself, rather than the country as a whole.
The key element here is that fascism presents itself, and honestly believes itself to be, against the current “system.” This system, which we can leave completely undefined here, is the complex order that results in what you see around you. For those on the radical left, who are steeped in organizing and theory, this can be see as the result of class and social hierarchy, the developments of late capitalism, the bourgeois state, and the rest. But this is not a natural development for everyone who begins a process of dissent. Instead, the miseries that are experienced in daily life, the beauracracies and poverties, the alienation and desperation, all are the result of a complex set of forces working against their best interests. People on the verge of this radicalization are often looking for iconoclastic, revolutionary ideas that can both explain the current order in a deep and meaningful way, while also showing a transformative option that completely reorganizes society. This orientation can exist almost supra political in that it is not necessarily assigned a political ideology, yet it is more guttural and a response to the commonly understood failures of the system. Often times there are critiques shared by both the far left and far right, such as of international finance, though the values that drives such critiques are radically different. What is needed then is to have the ideological gap filled, and this is where fascists today are finding their niche.
There are a lot of reasons while fascist ideas have been provided an open space or any legitimacy to fill these ideological spaces. One of them is the left’s position within the current order of things. The first thing in this discussion that needs to be acknowledged is the success the historic left has had on reshaping the values in America. While avoiding an actual egalitarian society, we have crafted an almost universal value set that instinctually supports ideas like equality, democracy, individual freedoms, and diversity. These ideas are shared openly and must have lip service paid to them by everyone in polite society if they are to be seen as decent. This does not mean, however, that they have to then act on those ideas in meaningful ways, but that those are the moral ideas that have come to dominate the general social fabric. This actually presents an issue for the revolutionary left in that they still need to see themselves as being in opposition to fundamental aspects of the current order. When fascist ideas are presented by far right organizations, they immediately present their key ideas as being anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, and anti-diversity. In essence, they are in opposition to the key moral arguments of the current order. This goes a long way for their argumentation as they present themselves as the antecedent to the current “system,” even if this framework seems absurd to those on the left. The reactionary ideas the fuel the intellectual fascist milieu are actually at the heart of the American experience, which has, while professing leftist values, has internalized class exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other social hierarchies. It may seem obvious to those with a left analysis at play that the fascist notions are the opposite of transgressive, yet with the leftist coloring that we have given to society it is easy to say that these fascist ideas are in direct opposition. From here it is not a far step to say that the left-liberal paradigm is what actually drives the negative effects of the current order, and therefore the radical right holds the keys to subversion.
What fascists next use to attack the left’s credibility as a revolutionary force is probably the most obvious, and a critique we should be taking to heart for more reasons than one. When Matthew Heimbach, formerly of the White Student Union and now lead organizer with the Traditionalist Youth Network, was discussing his counter-action at May Day in Washington, DC, he repeatedly pointed out that he saw the left as the “militant wing of the system.” “The Weathermen Underground are professors now,” he quipped to Richard Spencer, director of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. Spencer himself has repeatedly discussed the institutionalization of the radical left, pointing out that you cannot really be dissenting from the system if you are a “tenured faculty member” at a place like Harvard(2). This is fundamentally a true statement, and one that can be legitimately hurled at the radical left sphere. Radical Marxist and anarchist ideas have become commonplace in academia, but you are never going to see a national socialist or Mussolini revivalist getting tenure in a philosophy department. Likewise, community and labor organizers, with ideas firmly planted in the radical left, are a common career path, but no one is going to be paying ethnonationalists a comfortable wage with benefits. We should be happy that there is little institutional support for these people, and that their careers are always at risk when they are exposed for who they are, but it also lends credibility to their argument. They say that we are the system, while they are the true challenge to the system.
It is important to note that the way they describe the left is always a complete mischaracterization at best, often times relying on a less than clear understanding of what the ideas we are putting into practice are. This is especially true when it comes to anarchism, which the far right loves to co-opt the language of. But even if it is a mischaracterization, there are enough small kernels of truth that they can exploit to make the argument that the left lacks any real threat to the current order. Again, without a clear ideological and class analysis, this makes their arguments seem to have merit. Once the ideological framework is laid, it can be difficult to uproot.
The Problem of “Identity”
The core challenge that fascism then presents to us is when they first acknowledge the failure of the current system in very key and fundamental ways, and then attach their critiques to it, followed by their own solutions. To do this they have to seek out, or make themselves available to, people with a vague critique of the “system.” In our current period this has meant to go after venues where there is a strong anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian current that also lacks clear directives and ideas. The Occupy movement opened these gates at several points, but so has the allowance of conspiracy theory to become prevalent in radical circles, general anti-statist rhetoric, and the use of intergroup squabbling and disagreement. This becomes incredibly clear in the white working class that is squeezed in times of crisis and often has to choose between trying to maintain the small amount of privilege that they have, or to join a revolutionary movement that challenges class hierarchy. As Ba Jin points out at length in “Ten Theses on the U.S. Racial Order,” this creates a dual form of radicalism present at all points of struggle, one that runs to the radical left and one that stakes its claim on the right.
Whites remain a privileged stratum in the U.S. by definition, though the “wages” of whiteness have shrunk in absolute terms for 30 years, and have grown more porous with the adoption of colorblind public policy. The bourgeoisie remains overwhelmingly white, and the white proletariat continues to waver in its allegiance between white supremacy and class struggle. Whites retain access to the housing, education and employment benefits from which most blacks and “dark” racial groups are excluded; yet the defeat of de jure segregation has limited the extent of these benefits, and allowed some “middle layer” racial groups, and a few black, to gain access to them as well. At the same time deindustrialization and neoliberalism have steadily eroded the living standards of the lumpen and working class whites in most parts of the country, driving many into poverty or extreme debt. Proletarian whites have responded with bewilderment and outrage to these developments, giving rise to contradictory political trends. On one side, they have engaged in fascist militia-ism and the Tea Party movement, on the other, they have predominated in the ranks of the Occupy movement and the trade union battles, which the unions must now embrace for their very survival even as they work to limit their potentials. In opposing the regressive gender regime of the far with, white women, queers and trans people undermine support for potentially fascist politics among the white proletariat. (3)
When the rhetoric available to growing sectors of the working revolutionary class, this can split the potential populations. This should also be noted that, while still heavily dominated by whites, this issues has come up in communities of color as well where anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and conspiracy theory has often been placed alongside revolutionary racial politics.
What has become an incredibly common tactic is to have the focus shifted to more problematic areas of the populist left. The far right has staked much of its claims to the left’s demise on things like political correctness, personal anecdotes of bigotry disconnected from a larger narrative, and “call out culture.” These are some of the easiest points at which they attempt to discredit the left because they show the largest amount of error and the least bit of connection to a revolutionary politic. Political correctness, in general, refers to the focus on correct language and behavior that is not deemed offensive to those with oppressed identities. While this is a good barometer to consider when considering what language to use, it is by no means the endgame of a radical left political analysis. Larger stories dealing with the political correctness narrative often come from people outside of radical left or organizing circles, and these stories certainly lack the ability to tie this momentary lapse in liberal judgment with the larger issues of systemic white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression. These also create some of the more embarrassing forms of movement infighting, as well as incredibly toxic online debate culture. The issues of interpersonal politics are not the most structurally sound elements associated with the left, and are easy to draw up reactionary fervor around because they lack accountability. Simply put, it is easy to create a right wing backlash when your example of the radical left is people arguing about who spoke over who in your reading group.
From here it is often an easy direction to provide a litany of reactionary political frames that can relate to someone’s identity, in the same way strains of the left deal with individual identity based oppressions. White nationalism is the most obvious of these, but Men’s Rights Activism and the new “straight pride” movements are increasingly relevant. Here they can reverse an oppression narrative, stating that the dominant case for whatever identity it happens to be is actually oppressed because of left-wing anti-oppression politics. Men are oppressed by feminism, whites are oppressed by multiculturalism, straight people are oppressed by queer theory, and so on. All of these continue to use deconstructionist language that uses these specific theories of oppression as a sort of “base and superstructure” explanation for why the larger “system” is so corrupted. A great example of this would be the popular white nationalist critique of global capitalism’s failure being rooted in the abandonment of tradition for modernity, homogeneity for globalism, and hierarchy for egalitarianism. None of this makes any sense in any kind of linear logic, of course, but that is not really the point.
This process is an important one since it brings up issues that are often discussed in anti-racist circles where by white often lack positive identity as it has been robbed by privilege. In general, the quest for identity is an incredibly human one, and white have often been socially placed into a position where their identity is based on a struggle to maintain social power above other racial groups. In the long-standing academic quest to find the “Generic Fascism,” which is to say an outline of exactly what fascism “is” in the most common case, Umberto Eco created a great outline of common features that the fascist movement often needs to inspire mass potential. In Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, the seventh primary element is one who sees the politic feeding on those who lack identity.
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others. (4)
Eco’s outline also sees the establishment of tradition, the conflict between that tradition and modernity, and the inclusion of diversity and intellectualism as distinct features of modernity. With this it is easy to develop a narrative of identity rooted in tradition by stripping away all forms of critique and counter-point. Here you can develop an entire “theory of the world” in ways that will not even leave itself subject to radical critiques from anywhere else, and therefore can instinctually operate in cult-like ways. In a sense, this creates an “idea virus” that obliterates all other facts and logics so that they can reinforce the “in group” and “out group” dynamic that they have defined by their appropriation and validation of social constructs like “race,” “nation,” and “tradition.” In just the way that those with an anti-oppression analysis see things like sexual orientation and gender presentations that are identities based on experience and therefore used in survival and struggle, fascist will see categories like “white” and “male” as individual groups that need to be first identified with and then defended.
The complexity of identity that fascist ideologies attempt to answer and exploit are very fundamental to our understanding of how nationalism has always worked. In Stuart Hood and Litza Janz’s very basic introduction to fascism, they observe that it is actually the abolition of individuality that can help people in times of crisis to feel as though they have found some kind of personhood.
Paradoxically, submersion in the mass gives you identity, the shared power of nationality and race. Fascism appeals to the romanticism of youth, the lure of self-sacrifice to a common cause, the rediscovery of comradeship in battle. Social differences vanish in the unselfish experience of danger, discomfort and suffering. Fascism gives you a clear and identifiable enemy. (5)
The same can be true of identification through struggle on the left, primarily anti-oppression and/or class struggle, but these are identities of social category rather than essential ones. Fascist categories, such as gender and race, are seen in their eyes as being biologically and spiritually concrete, and those on the left see them as social constructs. These reactionary ideas then hope that they can strip away the progress of modernity to find something “real” that works much better, a process that is regressive and intent on returning monstrous inequality and tyranny into the public world.
For a long period many of these strands of reactionary politics were disparate, but in recent years organizations like the National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, Counter-Currents Publishing, and others have worked hard to make these simply different fingers on the same hand. These coalesce in movements dubbed things like the Alternative Right, the Dark Enlightenment, or other movements challenging “modernity.” It is with these kinds of critiques that they fade directly into the kinds of deeper fascist philosophical traditions like the racial traditionalism of Julius Evola, the conservative revolution of Ernst Junger and Carl Schmidt, and the New Right of people like Alain De Benoist and Guillaume Faye. Whether it is a “cult of masculinity,” regaining “organic societies,” or “preserving European civilization,” they hold certain “truths” to be self-evident.
The final purpose of these fascist narrative generators is to create a revolutionary narrative where one is needed yet entirely lacking. In the past fascist “philosophy” was roundly ignored as anything coherent because it was usually a façade for simple racist ideas, the personality cult of this leader or that, or simply a retrograde interpretation of conservatism. We shouldn’t give contemporary fascist ideologues more credit than they are due, but they have worked for decades to create a seemingly coherent set of ideas that can blend in amongst the menu of radical philosophies that we are used to in a hyper connected information age. Here they can trace the failure all the way back to the “left’s” victory in the French Revolution as the start of the fall away from aristocracy, nobility, and ethnic heritage governing society. All of these things are misinterpretations of feudal monarchies, but what is important is that they superimpose modern conceptions of race, gender, and social stratification on something that appears to have continuity to romanticize periods of the past. This is classic fascist mental architecture that has been similar since its start in the interwar period.
The next primary area where the far right attempts to stake its claim on revolutionary politics is in movements that are commonly associated with the left, but can transmute to the right for whatever reason. The most popular and notable of these has been animal rights and radical environmentalism. The reasons for this are more piecemeal than actually ideological; which was ironically termed “idea clusters” by far-right academic Paul Gottfried. His term originally was meant to describe the mainstream Republican Conservative Movement started by William Buckley on an anti-communist crusade, where by different perspectives that have no ideological connection are mashed together and then touted as a coherent ideology. This would mean things like conservative sexual mores, mixed with free market economics and interventionist foreign policy. This can actually be applied to the far right as they stake their claim on many of these fields previously given to the left. Environmentalism, as British right-wing impresario Jonathan Bowden commented, can be attributed to the right in that it is the preservation of nature as a guiding force. He sees the left as using egalitarian control over nature rather than letting nature guide the way, which he sees as inherently anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic. This view of ecology is actually shared by many Marxists, who have a sort of anti-nature, bioengineering view of how to preserve the biosphere. At the same time, however, there are enough voices in radical ecology that speak to the balance and social harmony necessary in preserved ecosystems that it seems people like Bowden are simply placing their ideology upon ecology, rather than deriving it from ecology. At the same time, the desperation that often comes in radical environmental politics has led people to increasingly totalitarian ideas in some cases, and often shift into the blaming of the third-world, immigration, and increasing populations. This has led to the far right shift toward Third Positionist ideas that are specifically racist and anti-Semitic, which was seen in the right-wing co-optations of publications like Green Anarchist. It was again seen very recently as two former Earth Liberation Front prisoners were released and then shown to have joined openly fascist movements. These went under the radar because of their focus on things like the esoteric Nazism advocated by people like Miguel Serrano and the racist Hindu heretic Savitri Devi, really focusing on the kind of alt-religious interpretations of white nationalism. (6)
Palestinian solidarity movements have been one of the more obvious culprits because of the associated anti-Semitism, and unfortunately a lot of this rhetoric has been accepted in movements like Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions, though open anti-Semitism is condemned. The anti-war movement has seen some of their largest mobilizations, especially in “liberal” areas where nationalists will often attempt to go under the radar or be allowed to participate because of “freedom of speech.” This has created clashes when members of many of the larger fascist movements, including open neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance and National Socialist Movement, will come out for anti-war protests based on an Old Right notion of isolationism. This is the same logic for which they join the classical left and Big Labor to oppose “free trade” deals like the coming TPP, where they propose a kind of “economic nationalism” in opposition to the outsourcing of American jobs. While the largest thrust of these movements would never stand with the values that drive the politics of these groups, on the very surface they do share similar sentiments. This is what has allowed the more esoteric and complicated organizations to go under the radar, though a Swastika will still get someone thrown out quickly even by the most accepting liberal participant.
The difficulty of identifying fascist currents is something that has been discussed at length in a lot of places, and this has been especially true with its presence under the guise of paganism. While people are usually fairly aware of the violently racist Wotanist movement of David Lane, it is the more moderate “folkish” Asatru and Odinism that is often associated with intellectual fascist movements that goes under the radar. Because of shared symbolism and religious structure with Wicca and neopaganist trends conventionally associated with the left, without going deep into their ideological foundations it can be easy to let this go unchallenged. This has allowed for these groups, like Stephen McNallen’s Asatru Folk Assembly, to have a lot more influence in larger pagan communities than you would expect. It is here where they are allowed to profess a soft form of ethnic nationalism by proposing lines between pagan traditions based on the participant’s ethnic heritage, which they claim is similar to the “blood quorum” requirements of Native American tribes. They fail to acknowledge that the reason for tribal use of this requirement is based on the need to defend against racist oppression, but their use of American New Age symbolism has allowed the logical conclusions of their proposals to be ignored.
In all of these sectors, from anti-war organizing to pagan Reconstructionism, what we have here are options for radical visions, with some being political and some being spiritual in nature. The participation of the far right, even in marginal areas of these movements, allows them to be a part of the conversation around radical social ideas, and therefore some of the most frightening nationalist notions become a part of the spectrum when discussing revolutionary concepts. Simply put: they have become a radical option for people on the hunt for revolutionary answers to social problems.
So, in the end, it was never the conventional political sphere that was really at risk for falling to the far right, at least as it stands now, but instead the fate of the “radical option.” This means that in the increasing crisis of international capitalism, peak oil, climate change, etc., the radical options become increasingly relevant, and, as radicals, that is what we want. But if we are to bank on providing radical critiques of the current system, we need to have these far right ideas identified and removed. Liberals who support a liberal state can expect that the state will generally suppress these far right movements. This has essentially been the focus of much of the liberal anti-fascist movement, with organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center providing training and information to law enforcement on how to combat the threat. For those who actually counter the legitimacy of the bourgeois state, this creates an issue since we need to also create a comprehensive anti-fascism within radical circles. This does not just mean an ideological opposition, but actually a functional way of dealing with it when it comes up. Even if these movements do not have the ability to shift the entire force of populist anti-capitalist movements or anti-statist movements, even a small crack can allow parts of their ideas to seep in. These would destabilize the very basis of these radical movements, which should have an anti-hierarchical equality at the center of its value set. If ideas like misogyny, racialism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, fat phobia, and other forms of oppressive hierarchy that are advocated by these movements are allowed to give that bigotry legitimacy in our movements, even in part, it could undermine the very center of what we are fighting for. We fight for a revolutionary vision because we want a world where freedom, equality, and democracy can flourish, and we are not willing to give up those values to right-wing revolutionary forces that also want to undermine the current order, but to very different ends.
Understanding the why is the easy part, it is the how that takes the work. Identifying the sources of where fascist ideas focused on entryism in left movements are coming from is critical. Right now the newly repackaged form of scientific racism known as Human Biological Diversity has seen an explosion in the blogosphere, and is creating a crossover that holocaust denial had in the 80s and 90s. Movements like the Neo-Reactionary and Dark Enlightenment are uniting internet culture and the tech world in a mystified anti-egalitarian ethos, and really just tries to make old radical traditionalist ideas hip. We know that anti-Zionism, anti-modern environmentalism, and misanthropic animal rights are all having difficulty pushing these movements out, so giving it extra thought and awareness is critical. It is going to be increasingly important to understand the fragmented nature of these intellectual strains as they further deviate from the traditional organization.
We need an open dialogue with understanding within social movements so that they trends can be first identified and then countered. Without this conversation it will be difficult to actually create the kind of common understanding as to why these ideas are abhorrent, and we need to give support for discussion that helps draw these issues out into the open. This does not, however, mean that open dialogue with fascists is useful. While internally talking to and hearing each other is critical, but radio silence has always been the best option with the right. They are developing their movements for entryism in our own, which means they are training their people to debate these issues. Do not give them the opportunity, but instead we need to inoculate each other against their subversion.
The final challenge to radicals is not going to be entirely with “purifying” movements as, in weak points, there will always be a chance for ambitious young haters to make their case to those disaffected by the mainstream. Instead, the most effective way to challenge this entryism is to create a left movement that has the kind of teeth to challenge the current order in meaningful and visible ways. This means to empower all areas of the movement while strengthening ideas and analysis about the “how and why” of it. To show a labor movement that is founded on a challenge to capitalism while also showing the ability to win. By having a housing justice movement that fundamentally goes after racial inequality in housing and the commodification of housing, while actually taking over entries areas of cities from developers. By having an anti-patriarchy movement that actually challenges male hegemony while taking real gains in the fight against sexual assault, for free access to reproductive health services, and the ability for open gender fluidity. What we need is to present a movement and narrative that is powerful enough to challenge orthodoxy on its own because nothing will rob the right’s power to claim new converts than the ability to create the most enticing radical option.
- Brinker, Luke. “David Duke threatens to run against “sellout” GOP congressman Steve Scalise.” Salon, January 29, 2015. http://www.salon.com/2015/01/29/david_duke_threatens_to_run_against_sell_out_gop_congressman_steve_scalise/
- “Taking a Stand.” Matthew Heimbach Interview by Richard Spencer. Vanguard Radio. Radix Journal, May 23, 2013. http://www.radixjournal.com/vanguard-radio/podcast/2013/5/16/taking-a-stand?rq=heimbach
- Jin, Ba. “Ten Theses on the U.S. Racial Order.” Red Skies at Night 1 (Spring 2013): Pg 37.
- Eco, Umberto. “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt,” in American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges. (New York: Free Press, 2006). Pg ii.
- Stuart Good and Litza Jansz. Fascism: A Graphic Guide(London: Icon Books Ltd, 2013). Pg. 95.
- “Former ELF/Green Scare Prisoner “Exile” Now a Fascist.” August 5, 2014. https://nycantifa.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/exile-is-a-fascist/
The Renter’s Assemblies have been something that people in housing justice circles have been hearing rumbles about for a while. Rumored to be coming out of the Right to the City Coalition, which deals with progressive solutions to economic and housing problems, the assemblies were meant to have an open air of possibility for tenants from around the country to come together locally and talk about both problems and solutions. In Portland, Tori Abernathy and Nick Caleb began promoting the first Renter’s Assembly in Portland, Oregon, looking to discuss the rising difficulty of being a working-class tenant in a city that is being driven by “creative class” gentrification. There was a sequence of three renter’s assemblies in February, where tenants could share their experiences and local organizations that deal with housing issues would discuss their projects and ideas for the future of local housing justice. A discussion would then form where people could reflect both on the experiences that were shared and the organizing proposals that they heard, with the hope that we could eventually head in the direction of something tangible.
From the beginning, the assemblies were driven by an almost base level of emotion as people shared stories of almost universal exploitation. People reported about being forced out of their homes of more than a decade by developers gentrifying the area. Renter’s almost forced on the streets after having their requests for repairs answered with an eviction notice. Discussion went towards how the older working-class communities of the city were being forced out of the city center and into the fringes, being pushed further and further away from the city that had held their heart for years.
After the success of the first sessions, the Renter’s Assemblies were organized again for April 21st and 26th, with an organizing committee forming of people both coming in as individuals as well as those who are already involved in housing groups. On April 21st, the Socialist Alternative began by presenting their vision for working towards rent control in Portland. Following the model established by victories in Seattle, they want to follow up Portland’s $15Now campaign, which is fighting for a $15/hr minimum wage, by pushing into rent control, just like was done in Seattle after their minimum wage battle was won. They discussed the centrality of affordable housing to class struggle more broadly, saying openly “a renter is crisis is a worker in compliance.” This draws on the fact that when housing is unstable, it can often force workers to be less willing to challenge orthodoxy and organize.
Next, Living Cully, a community non-profit made up of four organizations dealing with low-income communities of color in the Cully Neighborhood, discussed their multi-faceted campaign. While working on infrastructure development in the area, they are operating with the knowledge that this can often allow for displacement of the communities they are working with. This draws on the clear contradiction between the idea that housing is a human right with the fact that housing is currently a commodity. Their goal is then to work towards two distinct endgames: decommodification and regulation. They cited that in many other countries around 30% of housing is considered “social housing,” which would be the equivalent of public housing. In the U.S., our numbers are closer to 1-2%. One of the tools they want to use to take housing out of the market is the community land trust model, where people own their home but the land can’t go on the open market and affordability restrictions can be put in place. Another option for them is the limited equity co-op, where ownership of the property goes directly to the tenants in a co-operative fashion. They are engaging in a coalition to influence the Portland Comprehensive Plan, which is a long-term plan for the city to develop its physical geography. This can often lead to the kind of “urban renewal” programs that are pilots for developers to decimate local communities. They are additionally working towards renter protections, including rent control, renter intimidation restrictions, and ending no-cause eviction.
At the April 26th assembly, presentations began with the Portland Solidarity Network talking about its structure for tenant campaigns. These use a “direct action” format, where a renter who has been exploited by a landlord determines exactly what material damages and results they would like to see and then they collectively develop an “escalation plan” to fight towards that goal. In the long-term, PDXSol discussed the need to develop tenant organizations in neighborhoods and rental buildings, with unionization and assemblies being a way of maintaining tenant control no matter what legislation or politicians come through City Hall. Here, things like rent strikes and tenant action can be the pressure point that will get results, and can have the same effect in housing that the labor movement had in workplaces. One of the primary barriers to long-term tenant organizing is no-cause eviction, and it is possible to target this specific issue with mass tenant mobilizations and anti-eviction actions. While it is illegal to evict someone for organizing in Oregon, the burden of proof is on the tenant rather than the landlord. This means that any long-term organizing can be subject to no-cause eviction, which means that landlords can just evict everyone organizing without much effort to conceal the intentions. In general, no-cause eviction keeps tenants in an incredibly vulnerable place, and organizations like the Community Alliance of Tenants have noted that no-cause eviction can actually be the target that the elimination of which can lead to rent control.
Nick Caleb, former City Council candidate, followed up PDXSol and reiterated much of the discussion about rising rents and displacement, again echoing the need for tenant mobilization and direct action.
For all of the assemblies, the bulk of the time was spent sharing stories and ideas. Tenants stood before the room and spoke of their own personal experiences, where property management companies that treated them like small numbers on a large spreadsheet stripped their safety and dignity. The conversations very quickly moved into the organizing sphere, as the dozens of people at each assembly were clearly there to turn experience into action. Two primary ideas began floating around, which were, in some ways, also reflected in the organizations that presented. Rent control and no-cause eviction seemed to stand out as the two primary ideas that people were identifying, with groups like Socialist Alternative and several of the non-profits primarily looking towards rent control and PDXSol and others advocating tenant organizations looking at no-cause eviction. This was all discussed in very complimentary way, especially how to integrate the two demands, with possibly having one being a stepping-stone to the other. The idea of mass tenant mobilization was brought up with a great deal of energy, starting possibly with open events that brought broad ideas like “housing is a human right” or “tenant power.” This could then be the starting point of shifting the Renter’s Assemblies to larger goals and long-term organizing efforts.
The assemblies themselves are still in the early stages, but that is what makes them so exciting. At every point the discussion had a clear anti-capitalist dimension, and the ideas all had a tinge of political radicalism. This was not just a room made up of long-time activists and organizers, but a representational make-up of the city’s tenants. There was a readiness towards action that was palpable, and it came directly from the fact that the conditions in the city were changing in a way that was going to force people into organizing. The material conditions were driving theoretical perspectives, and constructive anger seemed to be what were fueling people to go further with their ideas.
This is a project that many are committed to sticking with, both locally and nationally. With the possibilities that something like this has, it can act as a “seed organization” both to draw people into existing housing organizations and to form something wholly new. But more importantly, what it has the potential to do is to kick start a tenant-focused housing movement, one that was sorely missed with the foreclosure-centered housing actions that came out of the financial crisis. Today, many of our major cities are becoming unlivable for those on limited incomes, and the time has come to take our neighborhoods back. Today, we started by simply talking to each other. Now we have the relationships we need to move things from the conference rooms into the streets.