Filed under: Ami du Radical, Analysis, Anarchist Movement, Anti-fascist, Featured, US
Since the events of Unite the Right, the nation has been forced to consciously reckon with the threat of widespread fascism and white nationalism. Through a gruesome 48-hour period, the public bore witness to a resurgence of the darkest spectacles of colonial, white supremacist violence, living nightmares of torchlight and bloodshed. With no bodycam footage to suppress, no mug shot to delegitimize the victim, it seems a large segment of the public has finally been shaken out of their torpor. There is no disguising now that America contains not only an active movement of far-right, white nationalist murderers, but also a white supremacist superstructure which buttresses every organ of the state, and all of American history. While it is disappointing that it took the Charlottesville terror attack to awaken them, when multiple alt-right attacks and dozens of police executions did not, we can already recognize a shift in public perspective.
Within hours of the attack, white nationalists and alt-right goons were thrown into discord. Having spent so many months (and years) salivating over the idea of sparking a cultural war, their first foray into all-out street combat taught the fascist movement how unprepared they truly are. Between their losses on the battlefield, the public shame heaped upon them for their savagery, and the culminating murder which has proven their true intentions beyond reproach, fascists have made the painful realization that their prophesied crusade will not end in victory. They have succumbed, for the umpteenth time, to factionalism and elitism, falling over themselves in a rush to determine who is at fault, who should be ousted, and who should be counted as the “true” alt-right.
Not so for the left. Even as antifascists and anti-racists grieved the latest victims of fascist barbarity, a collective sense of outrage swelled worldwide, and poured out into the streets in solidarity marches, vigils, direct actions, and recommitments to fight on every front, in every community. By the very hands of the white nationalists themselves, a great doom was written for their movement on August 12th. The antifascist and anti-racist organizations of so-called America are growing, individually and as a whole. The public is becoming less convinced by centrist hand-wringing, and the media has at long last taken a serious, if flawed, look at contemporary white nationalism and antifascism.
The tide has turned. The high days of the alt-right ended with the election of Donald Trump. Now, the sun rises on the ranks of the workers, marching towards something greater, more permanent, than the J20 arrestees might have imagined possible.
THE ALT-RIGHT IN PANIC AND MANIA
The alt-right and its assorted factions have, ironically, splintered over the events of Unite the Right. While hardcore ethnostatists and outright neo-Nazis have been threatening lethal violence at many rallies this year, the cryptofascists and “cleaned up” white nationalists of the alt-right have been scrambling to distance themselves not just from the murder of Heather Heyer, but from one another and, in some cases, from the alt-right itself.
Baked Alaska was early in the lineup of shameless turnabouts, having been sent to the hospital after a severe macing. While he recovered, and speculation cropped up that he might have maced himself intentionally to garner sympathy, he took to twitter to speak out against the racist bile and hatemongering around which he’s built a social media image. Having managed Milo Yiannopoulos’ college tour, indulged in anti-semitic jokes and the white supremacist “milk” meme, tweeting the 14 Words, and publicly identifying as a white nationalist, Tim Gionet suddenly had a change of heart. Now, he is urging others to reject violence and embrace peaceful coexistence.
Gavin McInnes issued a firm denouncement of the alt-right, insisting that his anti-masturbation cult, the Proud Boys, had not been in attendance. He neglected to mention, however, that not only were multiple Proud Boys spotted at Unite the Right, including one displaying a forearm tattoo of the “Proud Boys” name, but that the white nationalist organizer of the event, Jason Kessler, is himself a long-time friend of the Proud Boys. Alex Michael Ramos, one of the fascists involved in the brutalization of Deandre Harris, is both a member of the III% Militia and FOAK, the militant wing of the Proud Boys.
In a text conversation with Mike Peinovich, McInnes confirmed the willingness of his henchmen to make an appearance at Unite the Right, and their generally favorable views of white nationalism. However many times he assures the public that his group does not directly support white nationalism, nor is it part of the alt-right, there comes a point when a person is no longer just “crashing on the couch” and has become an official roommate.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 16, 2017
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 24, 2017
Even the ugliest parts of the fascist movement have tried to divorce themselves from Unite the Right. Vanguard America, the neo-nazi organization spawned from the Iron March forums, has participated in a lengthy campaign to publicly push a white supremacist, white nationalist agenda with Nazi-themed posters and stickers. The terrorist James Fields was photographed with one of their shields early in the day during August 12th, and Vanguard America was quick to point out that Fields is not an official member, but rather one of the participants who took one of the shields handed out by Vanguard America that morning. This, of course, is a meaningless distinction: as full-fledged Nazis, the members of Vanguard America follow an ideology based around genocide, and share the guilt for the manifestation of their ceaseless calls for bloody violence against non-whites, non-cishet folks, and leftists.
The pinnacle of hypocrisy came when Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo held a press conference to extricate themselves from the ugly movement they’ve worked so hard to create. Spencer was especially combative with the attending reporters, making a laughable gambit for public sympathy by focusing on the behavior of police, parroting the criticisms usually leveled against officers by leftists. “I have never felt like the government or police were against me,” he said, referring to an as-yet unspecified instance of police prejudice against the alt-right. “There has never been a situation in my life when I’ve felt this way.”
Jason Kessler, organizer for the event, echoed this sentiment: “This has changed everything. I thought that the police would uphold constitutional law no matter what.” Spencer has stuck by the line that the police are to blame for the violence and eventual murder which unfolded in Charlottesville, saying that they did not “do their job,” that they didn’t patrol the streets. Most importantly, he has tried to compartmentalize himself, his movement, and the actions of individual fascists, and pleaded for patience while an investigation takes place to determine the “real” cause of Fields’ attacks.
“We need to wait,” he implored, “for these institutions to do their job.”
Damigo, for his part, questioned why the police did not provide different exits from the park, theorizing on why order was not enforced, and playing second fiddle to Spencer’s long-winded deflections. Damigo, of course, is himself a violent felon who served five years behind bars for a racially-motivated armed robbery against taxi driver Changiz Ezzatyar. As a white nationalist, and founder of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, Damigo’s every ideological tenet is rooted in hatred, genocidal inclination, and a disregard for the human rights of others based on their organic identities. It is unspeakably crass for such an individual to wail and moan over the behavior of police, and his personal victimization, especially when he is inexplicably allowed to continue his education in a collegiate environment while publicly engaging in neo-nazi rallies. This to say nothing of the verifiable manner in which police handed control of the conflict in Charlottesville over to the fascists: as filmed by Unicorn Riot, the alt-right initiated the first clashes, attempted to beat a man to death, and were allowed to walk free during and after their attacks on antifascists.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 14, 2017
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 16, 2017
Unlike Spencer, who has always been a “charming face” for the alt-right, Damigo has gotten his hands dirty as an organizer – even in Charlottesville, Spencer gave Damgio most of the credit for pulling together the various strands of alt-right, white nationalist, and fascist factions. Damgio is taking an active role in putting boots on the ground for fascists: he plans to return to the Bay Area for a rally on the 27th of this month, the scene of a brawl at UC Berkeley in April which appears to have been the training ground for some of the more coordinated and thuggish fascist elements who appeared in Charlottesville. Damigo cut his teeth at Berkeley using Identity Evropa as a bridge between loosely-connected, neo-fascist elements of the alt-right. This next rally will undoubtedly be more violent than the last, and certainly be just as openly sanctioned by police as the “Battle of Berkeley,” where our comrades were disarmed by officers working alongside the alt-right before the inevitable hand-to-hand conflict began.
If Spencer represents the retreating half of the alt-right, Damigo represents the empowered fascist movement. It wasn’t a day after the murder of Heyer that screenshots surfaced of a Discord chat room in which white nationalists were gloating over the death and destruction caused by their brethren, thirsting for more in the future. For all the shrinking and doubling-back done by softer elements of the alt-right, an equal portion has been energized by the understanding that in addition to being given free reign by police during protests, they also have the capacity to kill without being collectively blamed by the legal system. At Charlottesville, we saw a fruition of the gradual paramilitarization of fascists which has taken place over the past six months. Militias brandishing weapons protected the fascists’ leaders, guns were drawn by white nationalists to threaten counter-protesters, and while police have had access to photographs and names of the men responsible for beating Deandre Harris and the UVA students, those men are walking free as we speak. Some states have even drafted legislation to insulate people like James Fields from legal ramifications if they should “accidentally” run over protesters.
Ahead of two upcoming far right rallies in the Bay Area, Kyle Chapman says he's ready to "do a lot more" than go to jail for the movement. pic.twitter.com/bHpnaAyszJ
— Berkeley Antifa (@berkeleyantifa) August 18, 2017
Neither of these trends should be underestimated. Some portion of the alt-right will attempt to soften its image even further, blending into the jungle of mainstream politics and camouflaging themselves in concern for the rule of law. They will continue the outright lie that “white advocacy” isn’t code for white supremacy, that individual violence doesn’t represent a movement which was once best-known for chasing female game developers out of their homes with death and rape threats. This will allow them to deceive a portion of the centrist liberal population, convince them that “violence isn’t the answer,” and make room for white supremacy to worm its way back into the undergrowth to avoid a messy death.
But other fascists have made a fateful decision to endorse and escalate the malice and cruelty of Charlottesville. Nathan Damigo will become a figurehead for the militant fascist wing, demonstrating that with the backing of police and the benefit of the doubt from the legal system, murder and terrorism will be an effective weapon in the future, if used with finesse. Neo-nazis and militiamen will blend closer together, and mutate into something more grizzly and bloodthirsty than the larval stage of the alt-right, tempering their actions with talk of gun rights and self-defense. What we saw in Charlottesville was a display of the naked brutality and racism which has always lurked in America’s heart: a cadre of torch-wielding white supremacists surrounding a black congregation, attempting to immolate teenagers who stand in their way, and chanting the slogans of the Third Reich without shame or hesitation.
Even the soft-spoken and cordial Spencer couldn’t resist a little fantasizing: during his press conference he offhandedly mentioned that if they’d wanted to, the fascists could have killed antifa members “with their bare hands.”
THE WORKING CLASS AWAKENS
When Trump delivered his “many sides” comment following the Charlottesville battle, it seemed he’d finally crossed a line between ambiguity and outright complicity with fascists – at least in the eyes of the public and the mainstream media, who up until now have been fairly reluctant to directly accuse Number 45 of having a favorable view towards white nationalists. He was bombarded immediately with outrage and disgust, even from within his own party. No doubt most of the politicos were merely covering their asses or opportunistically seizing on Trump in a moment of vulnerability, but surprisingly, it appears a growing sector of the population is recognizing the necessity of the antifascist movement.
The most visible change in rhetoric came from the publications which, in earlier weeks, have critiqued antifascists, dusting off the tired (and now, disproven) argument that forcefully confronting white supremacists will paradoxically drive more people to identify with white supremacy. In an Atlantic article entitled “The Rise of Antifa,” just six days before the murder of Heather Heyer, Peter Beinart theorized that by challenging the monopolized violence of the state, and taking the fight to the Nazis themselves, antifascists are fueling the fears of conservatives and actually adding to the alt-right’s ranks.
After Charlottesville, the tune of the mainstream jounro shifted to a near polar opposite of this line of reasoning. Brian Feldman, writing for NYMag, penned a piece which addressed Baked Alaska’s expended defense of using racist memes, Nazi symbolism, and genocidal rhetoric “ironically,” to stir up outrage for his own amusement:
“White nationalists hiding behind the label of “troll” — like Weev, Baked Alaska, Millennial Matt, and their thousands of anonymous comrades — can spout shit online with no work or investment, and when called on it, dance away with more jokes or claims that it’s all just talk… The Ironic Nazi is framed as a product of how easy platforms make it to be an asshole online. The ones who came to Charlottesville were the exact opposite: focused, methodical, and intentional in their efforts. For [Tim] Gionet, it meant coordinating travel, lodging, and times to meet up with other demonstrators. It meant going out of his way to stand with literal white supremacists, and investing time, money, and possible bodily harm to do so. Consider the words of college student Peter Cvjetanovic, a picture of whom, mid-shout while holding a tiki torch, circulated widely on social media this weekend. “I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo,” he told news station KTVN, despite having traveled to Charlottesville specifically to protect the legacy of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. In the real world, it’s not “just talk” anymore.”
From Vox, Dara Lind published an article which included the subheading, “Trump basically lied about who was to blame in Charlottesville,” under which read, “The violence was initiated, on Friday night, by right-wing marchers who assaulted protesters around a statue of Thomas Jefferson. While both counter-protesters and marchers engaged in some throwing of water bottles and rocks on Saturday, the marchers were the ones projecting a military presence and who initiated the bulk of the confrontations. The image Trump evoked, of a mass of counter-protesters ‘charging with clubs,’ is a complete invention.”
In general, the media has opened up not only to the truth behind the “alt-right” moniker, which has always been a cover for various white supremacist and fascistic cells across the nation, but has also begun to seriously consider and report upon the antifascist movement. The critiques are sometimes half-cocked, but some publications have genuinely examined the roots of antifascism, its growth through the ’80s and ’90s in Europe, and its newfound foothold in the US as far-right ideology becomes normalized. The New York Times published an article which established the outline of the antifascist response to Charlottesville:
““As soon as they got close,” said the young man, who declined to give his real name and goes by Frank Sabaté after the famous Spanish anarchist, “they started swinging clubs, fists, shields. I’m not embarrassed to say that we were not shy in defending ourselves.”
Sabaté is an adherent of a controversial force on the left known as antifa. The term, a contraction of the word “anti-fascist,” describes the loose affiliation of radical activists who have surfaced in recent months at events around the country and have openly scuffled with white supremacists, right-wing extremists and, in some cases, ordinary supporters of President Trump. Energized in part by Mr. Trump’s election, they have sparred with their conservative opponents at political rallies and college campus speaking engagements, arguing that one crucial way to combat the far right is to confront its supporters on the streets.
Unlike most of the counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville and elsewhere, members of antifa have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy. As explained this week by a dozen adherents of the movement, the ascendant new right in the country requires a physical response.”
It was the Washington Post, however, which did the most admirable job of defining the outline of antifascism, the history of the movement, and its differentiation from liberalism. As written by Mark Bray:
“There are antifa groups around the world, but antifa is not itself an interconnected organization, any more than an ideology like socialism or a tactic like the picket line is a specific group. Antifa are autonomous anti-racist groups that monitor and track the activities of local neo-Nazis. They expose them to their neighbors and employers, they conduct public education campaigns, they support migrants and refugees and they pressure venues to cancel white power events. The vast majority of anti-fascist organizing is nonviolent. But their willingness to physically defend themselves and others from white supremacist violence and preemptively shut down fascist organizing efforts before they turn deadly distinguishes them from liberal anti-racists.”
There are, of course, plenty of journalists blaming antifascists for the violence of the far-right, and the term “alt-left” has crawled its way out of the mouths of liberals and Democrats and into the vernacular of Trump himself, an eventuality most leftists predicted months ago. Yet even there, the media was impressively prepared to counter the claim that an “alt-left” even exists. Sam Kriss, in a Politico article, mocked the artificial concept of a counterbalance to the alt-right, and unpacked the term’s origins as a meaningless epithet invented by liberals to slander everything from Sanders supporters to hardcore Communists:
“Something like “alt-left” was always going to happen; it’s a product of whatever it is in our brains that conditions them to think in terms of opposites. As soon as everyone starts talking about the “alt-right”—that inchoate and incoherent grouping of Nazis, Klansmen, resentful failsons sweating from video games and chicken fingers, cynical media wannabes, bloviating internet commenters who think they’re Ignatius J. Reilly, and others who think they’re the Joker—that word seems to sit on one side of a seesaw, across from a silence waiting to be filled. If there’s an alt-right, there must, somewhere, somehow, be something called an alt-left, otherwise the universe is unbalanced.”
While the media has grappled with the events of the Charlottesville riot and altered its perception of the leftist bloc, the working class has experienced a dramatic awakening of its own potential. Sickened, heartbroken, and infuriated by the no-shit Nazis preying on their neighbors and comrades, decent people have begun to take matters into their own hands. Some have taken a vital step in the journey towards a legitimate, contending revolution: they are recognizing their own dormant power, and how it can be wielded against the state itself.
When Jason Kessler slithered back into the limelight after his rally ended in bloodshed and horror, he attempted to hold a brief press event to state his case. He made it through roughly one full sentence before the community turned on him with unrelenting vengeance, literally chasing him out of the area. Ignoring the presence of security and police, members of the crowd managed to strike Kessler at least twice as he fled, his voice drowned out in cries of “Nazi scum!”
Unite the Right rally organizer Jason Kessler was chased away by protesters during a press conference in Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/5HOnoc0yal
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 13, 2017
Dr. Cornel West appeared on Democracy Now to speak up for the people who, on Friday the 11th, were trapped in St. Paul’s Church in Charlottesville, when the fascist horde descended upon them. In a gut-wrenching reenactment of the Reconstruction, torch-bearing white supremacists had surrounded and encircled the congregation, holding them hostage inside the church. As Dr. West explained, it was the students of UVA who averted disaster, young people who put their bodies at risk, were doused with lighter fluid and beaten with torches. In the face of dangers no teenager should have to witness, they demonstrated courage that most adults could not summon, and attempted to take back the area from the fascists. Dr. West went on to thank antifascists and anarchists for their hand in defending the clergy who demonstrated during the following day’s protests:
“You had a number of the courageous students, of all colors, at the University of Virginia who were protesting against the neofascists themselves. The neofascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back. The next day, for example, those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists who approached, over 300, 350 anti-fascists. We just had 20. And we’re singing “This Little light of Mine,” you know what I mean?… The anti-fascists, and then, crucial, the anarchists, because they saved our lives, actually. We would have been completely crushed, and I’ll never forget that.”
— anastasia kārkliņa (@mzfayya) August 14, 2017
Dr. West had nothing but venom, however, for pro-Trump figure Paris Dennard, when the two exchanged words on Anderson Cooper 360. Faced with more apologia for Trump’s pandering to white supremacists, Dr. West stated very plainly what is at stake: “This is life and death, man, this ain’t no game… we’ve got a neo-fascist movement escalating…”
On Saturday the 19th, Bostonians arose to confront the next iteration of fascist uprising at the transparently-named “Free Speech Rally” set to take place in their city. Against a band of perhaps a hundred, an estimated 40,000 people organized on the Commons. The scene itself spoke volumes about the public’s newfound resolve against white supremacy, neo-naziism, and the assorted, opaque labels under which those evils pass into mainstream society. During the demonstration, Confederate flags were set ablaze, fascists were shamed as they retreated, and the rally was ended quickly, leaving the public to contend with the aggressive police presence instead.
In the midst of such a beautiful example of solidarity and anti-racist attitudes came a glimmer of something new, a forbidden hope in the heart of onlooking revolutionaries: when a small contingent of antifascists in black bloc gear arrived at the Boston Commons, they were greeted with applause and cheers from the assembled crowd as they marched to the front line.
The small contingent of Antifa arrive at the Boston rally. Everywhere they go, people run to them and cheer out support. pic.twitter.com/ZFt2G0aLDl
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) August 19, 2017
ANTIFASCISM ON THE RISE
Following the Charlottesville attack, an outpouring of sympathy materialized into acts of solidarity worldwide. From Bern, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, to London, and Greece, antifascists who have fought this war longer than most of their American counterparts organized rallies to support their newfound comrades. It was a reminder that the struggle against oppression is a global one spanning centuries of human existence. Across the United States, similar rallies connected Heather Heyer’s murder to the deaths of the Portland victims, to the ongoing violence of white supremacist colonialism, to the unending lynchings committed by the modern-day slave patrol, and brought together comrades of many ideologies, colors, genders, and ages.
Across the country you can feel it and see it happening before your eyes. Sense of fear being lost. Of finding collective power once again.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 15, 2017
But as the saying goes, “mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living.”
The community of Durham County in North Carolina showed us what it means to take the fight to the state. Days after Unite the Right, the residents of Durham decided their officials had not acted swiftly enough in removing a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier. They decided to remove it themselves, toppling the cheaply-made monument, one of the mass-produced, pro-slavery statues erected during the Reconstruction to reinforce white supremacy and pro-Confederate revisionism. Local police acted quickly to arrest one of the protesters involved, and tracked down others over the following week. To show solidarity with their fellow anti-racists, more than a hundred other residents of Durham County arrived at the sheriff’s office to demand they be arrested as well, as many of them had participated in the demolition themselves.
Throughout the week, defacements of colonial monuments and Confederate statuary continued. The Jefferson Davis memorial in Arizona was tarred and feathered on the 17th, cleaned by the state, and then spray painted with a “KKK.” In Bolton Hill, Baltimore, a 114-year-old Confederate statue was drenched in red paint. A hammer and sickle was painted onto the Confederate monument in Kansas City, Missouri. A statue of Christopher Columbus was similarly covered in red paint in Houston, while elsewhere in Baltimore, an anarchist armed with a sledgehammer laid low the oldest standing monument dedicated to that explorer-cum-mass murderer, built in the 18th century.
These demolitions are a small step, but a vital one, in the fight against the state. By physically eliminating the symbolism of white supremacy, radicals not only attack the tradition of honoring men who killed, raped, and pillaged in the name of colonial imperialism, but also attack the boundary between the state’s authority and themselves. As a result of these actions, and as a direct result of the Charlottesville demonstrations, multiple cities and universities have moved to take down these statues themselves. With each one, a notch of American colonial veneration is removed, and the legitimacy of a state built around the invasion of indigenous soil is thrown off of our collective consciousness. But antifascists didn’t stop at marble and bronze.
In Minneapolis’ Hennepin County, protesters gathered at the county jail in a show of solidarity with those in Charlottesville, and to speak out against the rising presence of unambiguous white nationalism in America. A Nazi was burned in effigy. The crowd struck down the Hennepin County flag, burned it, and hoisted an antifascist flag in its place.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 15, 2017
On August 19th, Durham County residents caught wind of a rumor that the Klan was organizing another rally of its own, and acted with incredible swiftness to counter-protest. But when the hooded goons didn’t show up, the demonstrators turned their mutual love into an impromptu bloc party instead. Durham residents quickly formed into a marching column, circling the area and chanting the familiar slogan of “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Passing the county jail, they cried “we see you, we love you,” eliciting a grateful cheer from those inside the jail. When the march concluded, and no Klansmen were in sight, the soul of human commonality rose up in the attendees, and the bloc party ensued. With cases of bottled water, food, music, and jubilation, the region temporarily became an autonomous zone patrolled by police and uninterrupted by fascist agitators, a microcosm of non-hierarchal society. David A. Graham, writing for the Atlantic, describes the scene:
“It was a diverse cross-section of the Durham community: young and old, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. There were hipsters with sculpted mustaches and band t-shirts, men with graying dreadlocks, black-clad anarchists with bandanas over their faces even in the heat, women in hijabs, and young men obeying the old Southern dictum: Sun’s out, guns out. There was a drum circle, of course, and more chants. Some people climbed up on scaffolding outside the building and just sat there, surveying the scene. Photographers amateur and professional roamed the crowd. Local TV journalists, and your correspondent, sweated through their dress shirts and then kept sweating.”
The barrier between the black bloc antifascist and the sign-wielding anti-racist is becoming less dense, not so much as to suddenly imbue every citizen with an anti-capitalist and anti-state philosophy, but enough to humanize the people behind the bandanas. A sense of trust is building between the people who find themselves compelled to defend one another from their common enemies: the state, the police, the fascists, and the Klan. In the process, antifascists are becoming more confident in their own abilities, more protective of one another, and more instinctively cooperative leftists who may read different authors, but share common goals. And with each success, they grow bolder, more concerned with the price of failure than the cost of victory.
Direct action is doing what laws and debates cannot. As of this writing, over 60 “America First” rallies like the one in Boston have been cancelled, the organizers understanding with finality that their presence is not welcome in our communities. Antifascists have incorporated more complex and diverse tactics into their strategies, as exemplified in Charlottesville. A recent anonymous article published on IGD, “Charlottesville is Barely The Start,” offers a look at how intricate antifascist plans for community self defense have become, and how rapidly they are learning to respond to the chaos of a street battle:
“Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.
… Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned. We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.”
In the coming weeks, the alt-right will attempt to recoup its losses at Charlottesville, staging more gatherings to intimidate the public, more grandiose theatrics to convince themselves that their movement is a righteous one. They have been proven wrong more than once, and while they have repeatedly spilled the blood of our comrades, they have never prevailed in quelling the antifascist cause. Although they grow more vicious and more militaristic, they fail time and again to appeal to anyone but their own grotesque, racist mob. They retain a tenuous influence in the government, and their Goblin King still sits on the throne of the American Empire. But the bulk the population has lost faith in the government, in electoralism, and in capitalism, and marching under a swastika isn’t going to convince anybody that puffed-up trust-fund 30-somethings can build a better civilization. Meanwhile, antifascism has ascended and entered the public lexicon, and the neo-nazis who thought themselves saviors of the white race have been rebuked by the people they assumed would bow to a new master so long as his skin looked like theirs.
The antifascist movement is evolving beyond purely defensive measures, into the realm of active engagement with fascists before, during, and after they arrive for their rallies. The intensity of the pushback against white nationalism has cut the fascist movement in half, between those whose imagination cannot exceed Roman-style shield walls, and those who have resorted to obfuscation, duplicity, and renunciations of white nationalism and the alt-right in order to save their own hides. Every step forward, every small victory, has built up momentum against oppression, against the colonial state, and against the exploitative systems which will cease to function when they can no longer divide us. The revolutionary spark is being born in the minds of thousands who have come see their own struggles as part of a greater machine which has vampirically preyed upon the working class for centuries, and must be dismantled completely before freedom is possible for any of us.
FORWARD TO LIBERATION
Here is the grim reality of our situation: this conflict cannot, and will not, lose inertia on its own.
The fascist movement has found its calling. Given enough leeway by the liberal bloc, and fueled by a right-wing which has always quietly accepted the votes of white supremacists, the neo-fascist right has reached maturity. It will shed the uncommitted and the less-than-serious, becoming more violent and chaotic even as it loses numbers. Whatever cry-wolf antics Richard Spencer employs to blame the crimes of his movement on police inaction, fascists are fully aware that the state is on their side: there’s a reason the FBI didn’t uncover hardcore leftists when it investigated police departments for extremist political positions. While statue vandals are rounded up the day after their alleged crimes, the men who tried to burn UVA students alive will go unpunished, even when their names and faces are made public.
But antifascism has become equally ensconced in 21st century America. After the presidencies of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and Trump, about half the population recognizes that the state has no concern for their interests, that their lives will not improve no matter who is made president, and that global warfare, capitalist strangulation, and mass incarceration are the final stage of America’s development. A growing percentage of us do not bother to vote. We are at the mercy of the 0.01%, who reap everything we sow, rob us with both taxes and wages, and doom us to a police state where we are unceasingly surveilled, imprisoned, brutalized, and three of us are killed every day by government-sanctioned executioners.
And behind it all is the cultural and economic structure which led inevitably to the rise of American fascism, the beast which now lurks in our cities and occasionally lunges at the throats of our comrades.
Antifascists have grown strong through class conflict. The conjoined evils of capitalism, militarism, and nationalism are now a common point of discourse among former liberals. Time and again, in ways big and small, antifascists and anti-racists have risen to the challenge and gained insight into their own capability. But with each victory, there is a greater battle looming on the horizon.
The alt-right cannot stand forever. But time will tell if antifascists are prepared to counteract the paramilitary gangs which will be birthed like bloatflies from the corpse of cryptofascism. When fascists become accustomed to combat during their scheduled rallies, can antifascists learn to strike at them the night before? If the police become even more heavy-handed in their tactics, can we protect ourselves? If Trump attempts to unify the nation and repair his plummeting approval rating through warfare with Afghanistan or a preemptive strike against the DPRK, could we rapidly build a strong antiwar response? If the DOJ weaponizes the legal system against us, either through invasions of our privacy, brutal prison sentences like those faced by the J20 defendants, or by declaring antifascists to be terrorists and exposing us to attacks from the DHS, are we capable and willing to disobey and fight back?
And what of the rest of the population; when the liberal bloc and Democratic party attempt to coopt our struggles and take credit for our victories, how will we respond? When the people look for alternatives to electoral politics and corporate parties, will we have meaningful answers for them? When all the statues are torn down, how else do we attack the concepts of state supremacy, police benevolence, and American exceptionalism?
Whatever the future holds, this much is undeniable: antifascism will not be quietly put down, as the alt-right had hoped after Berkeley. The problems which have led us to this point, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, the continued nostalgia for a freedom-loving America which never existed, cannot be undone overnight, and so this movement will not suddenly lose its purpose. Our course is set, and more people are beginning to understand that the black bloc is merely one appendage of a movement which sees prison slavery, imperialism, wage labor, and white supremacy as many faces of the same enemy. If we are incredibly fortunate, we will live long enough to see a day when, together as workers, we hammer the columns of the state into dust, and build a new society from the rubble.