From the Institute for Anarchist Studies
Since Trump’s election, fascism has barged onto center stage, moving more brazenly into public space, mainstream media and public discourse than it has in decades. This renewed and emboldened presence of overt fascism has been met by an explosion of analysis and discussion about its history and politics, and the conditions necessary for its emergence. A proportionally growing attention is also being paid to the history and politics of anti-fascism.
This is welcome, and it is crucially needed. However, it’s also true that the bulk of the writing and speaking on fascism and anti-fascism—the better-selling books, the high-profile interviews–are being done by white men.
As antifascists, it should be clear that our brand is empathy and liberty. We stand not only on the side of love, but also on the side of joy. We fight nazis because we want a world where speech can be free. The contradiction of a shallow first glance fails to capture us. Sometimes the best way to maximize freedom and liberate love, is to resist that which would destroy or silo them into inbred cesspools of homogeneity. When we punch nazis, or spend years researching, infiltrating, and exposing them, we do it for love, not out of a vulgar brutalism. Don’t ever let someone steal that truth from us.
[We’re trying new things – and more than that, we think anarchists everywhere should be trying new things, because a lot of the old stuff hasn’t worked, and might even be a bit boring. In this vein, we are announcing a new relationship with a local anarchist who wants to practice his writing skills; some readers may already be familiar with him, either from the internet or the scene.]
About 250 people turned out for a rally and march in Hamilton, Ontario called by some informal local anarchists in solidarity with the anti-fascists who confronted the far-right in Charlottesville. We were especially thinking of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a nazi drove his car into a demonstration, as well as of all those who were injured.
The rally gathered in front of Jackson Square, where a large red and black banner read “Antifascist Here and Everywhere! Solidarity with Charlottesville”. Over a thousand leaflets were distributed, inviting people to a fundraiser dinner and to make the link the with context in Canada:
“As the far-right tide continues to rise south of the border, reactionaries in Canada are copying their practices and rhetoric as a way of maintaining and deepening the racist, patriarchal, and colonial social structures that dominate North America. While the ideas of the far right have become more normalized, the killing of this anti-fascist shows us what the consequences of these ideas are.”
The election of Donald Trump has for many been an awakening to the growing historical potency and momentum of what we may accurately refer to as neofascism. Trump is not the first of this breed to gain state power, only the most flamboyantly obnoxious. Neofascists are driving the Russian chariot, successfully convinced the British public to approve Brexit, and have growing parliamentary strength throughout Europe. By paying lip service to the electoral process they are more subtle than their traditional forebears, while having all the same key characteristics: authoritarian nationalism, populist demagoguery, imperialist militarism, an appeal to xenophobia, and a cult of personality built around bombastic figureheads. There has been a groundswell of resistance inspired by Trump, but this has been more an instinctual reaction against smug neofascist hypocrisy than an expression of any coherent counternarrative. Ideologically the opposition is diverse, a smorgasbord popular front with liberal, centrist, and radical elements. Of these I would argue that the anarchists offer the most viable alt-left antifa narrative, because only they correctly diagnose government as the essential problem rather than looking to it for solutions.
“The question is not: who has the guns? but rather: what do the people with the guns do? 10,000 or 100,000 proletarians armed to the teeth are nothing if they place their trust in anything beside their own power to change the world. Otherwise, the next day, the next month or the next year, the power whose authority they recognize will take away the guns which they failed to use against it.”
Published March 2, 2017
Gabriel Kuhn has been writing political books from the late ’90s on topics ranging from women pirates to football and the State. In this interview Freedom reviewer Luther Blisset talks to him about the Autonomen, workers’ councils and the history of anti-fascism in sport.