Filed under: Analysis, Anarchist Movement, Anti-fascist, Featured, The State, US
The far-Right is changing its strategy, largely due to the excitement around Trump fading in the wake of the latest bombings in Syria as well as his approval ratings continuing to plummet, even among white men. The insurgent far-Right which made up the vanguard within grassroots support for Trump is now faced with the reality that Trump is exactly who he always has been: a career politician and billionaire – not a populist who will make the lives of everyday working people, even white ones, better. They must also contend with the fact that their candidate is now in office; they need a reason for existing.
The insurgent far-Right which made up the vanguard within grassroots support for Trump is now faced with the reality that Trump is exactly who he always has been: a career politician and billionaire – not a populist.
The first change in the far-Right’s strategy is that they are trying to mobilize a broad network of people through social media to converge in set places, often far away from where they live. For instance in Berkeley, the vast majority of the people on the Alt-Right/far-Right side were from out of town and even, out of California. This mobilization of forces on their end over a vast geographic area is very costly and this is why we are seeing numerous fundraisers spring up to bus people in from Southern California to “defend” Ann Coulter, who is also planning to speak in Berkeley in a few days. Ironically, as the grassroots scrapes their pennies together for gas money, big conservative groups and billionaires are funneling millions towards far-Right speakers and has-been talking heads like Coulter and Milo. The latter is even attempting to plot their ‘comeback’ through another Berkeley appearance, even threatening to extend their event if the university doesn’t give them money. Time will tell if this strategy is effective, but it’s side effect is bringing diverse groups together across the far-Right that normally are openly hostile towards each other.
This brings us to the second change, which is the emergence of a “big tent” of ideas among the far-Right, that allows for the formation of alliances between groups that formerly didn’t work together. This means members of the 3%ers militia making friends with the Proud Boys, an “Alt-Lite” network headed by Gavin McInnes, who are in turn working with neo-Nazis in Identity Evropa, who then extend protection to talking heads like Ann Coulter in the face of counter-protests.
Towards this reality, Kyle Chapman, aka ‘Based Stickman’ recently declared that he is now formally creating a ‘Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights” which will operate under the umbrella of the Proud Boys. He has also stated that he is going to be teaming up with the Alt-Right “American Fascist” attorney, Augustus Invictus, to create a kind of legal support group for far-Right militants. In short, the hard ideological lines are falling away, and white supremacists are being seen simply as another segment of a broad coalition with similar goals.
At the same time, the leaders of these movements proclaim that they are ‘American nationalists’ and not ‘white nationalists,’ although for anyone that cares to investigate, the connections between the various factions are clear. For instance on the 15th in Berkeley, organizers claimed they told Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa that he could not be in the general vicinity of where the speakers were addressing the crowd, but at the same time, one of the speakers, Brittany Pettibone, writes for the same white nationalist website that Damigo does, which in turn is run by Richard Spencer. This shows that the far-Right still wants a “pro-America” public face, yet also understands that it needs its Nazis, just like Trump.
This shows that the far-Right still wants a “pro-America” public face, yet also understands that it needs its Nazis, just like Trump.
Furthermore, it seems like more and more, the main talking points of the Alt-Right are being generalized within the broader Right, while a strict adherence to different aspects of doctrinaire white nationalism is being discarded. Thus, people like Chapman, McInnes, Milo, Bannon, and Alex Jones all talk about the need for the “Western man” to destroy the Left, Islam, ‘cultural Marxism,’ and feminism, while the Alt-Right proper would only argue that the word “white” needs to be added in front of “Western.”
There is also the realization that many on the Right are having about the continuous kid gloves they receive from the police at demonstrations. In short, they know that the police are by and large, on their side. This should not be surprising, as police associations largely backed Trump. As Berkeley rally organizer Richard Black detailed in his analysis of the day, without the support and before-hand coordination with Berkeley police, the antifascists would have overrun and shut down the rally before it began.
Much of these events are also framed in a way that is unsurprisingly palatable to the State as well as many liberals. For instance, the March 4th and April 15th events in Berkeley were marketed as “free speech” rallies, which aimed to push back against the “violent” and “out of control” anarchist and antifascist movements which were successful in shutting down Milo Yiannopoulos’ talk in early February. This is a narrative that cuts through just as many liberals as it does Breitbart and glosses over the very fascist underpinnings of the insurgent far-Right and the drastic need to oppose them.
Who needs riot police that can be sued when you can have 50 ‘Based Stickmans’ willing to do it for free?
To go back to the bigger picture though, it seems that this far-Right alliance eventually will come up against difficult questions of what are its goals and what is its strategy? Is it just being brought into existence to attack anarchists, antifascists, and the Left, or will the overt fascist segments with actual goals for taking power push for a revolutionary overthrow of the State? Also, what happens if the movement splits hard with Trump? Will that mean decreased numbers for the Right in the street, or will it not matter, as today a red hat is worn more often than not, just to piss people off, rather than to signify support of Trump’s “program.”
Speaking to that “program,” as Trump has predictably not done anything to improve the lives of the majority of poor and working-class people, the far-Right has continued to search for enemies to explain this reality, outside of anything that would question capitalism and the governments that protect it and thus has continued to settle for the need to attack and beat back social movements and struggles which actually do challenge the status-quo.
One thing seems clear, the ‘Alt-Knights’ that are being organized under Chapman have the potential to act as a reserve army for the State. Who needs riot police that can be sued to deal with Black Lives Matter protesters, fast food workers on strike, immigrant rights demonstrators, homeless people, tenants, or foreclosed homeowners fighting eviction, or people blocking a pipeline when you can have 50 ‘Based Stickmans’ willing to do it for free?
In many ways, we perhaps will not be able to see just how far this reality will play out until a large scale social movement or struggle, along the lines of Occupy, Black Lives Matter, or #NoDAPL, threatens the ability of the regime to govern as such, and the far-Right steps up to attack it.
whoever reigns over this disaster is simply managing a ship that is sinking regardless of who steers.
It’s no surprise that the Ku-Klux-Klan and the early fascist formations in Italy and Germany began under similar conditions – as a violent reserve army on the far-Right, backed by wealthy business owners, which were aimed against social movements that sought to better the lives of poor, working-class, and oppressed people.
But if the final goal of the far-Right is to act as a reserve and backup army of the State, then the role of anarchists must be to galvanize support for an anti-authoritarian, community based, ecological, and grassroots response not only to fascism, the Alt-Right, and Trump, but moreover to the disaster that is modern industrial capitalism. Because as both Leftist parties like Syriza in Greece or Trump’s proto-fascism in the US have shown, whoever reigns over this disaster is simply managing a ship that is sinking regardless of who steers.
In short this means that anarchists must not simply just push for militant hardcore action against the far-Right, it means that we must create the basis for support for our movement within the general population but also against racist and reactionary forces. In practice this looks like people preparing to defend themselves against the far-Right as much as it does organizing in our communities as well as building on the ground alternatives to both the government and this economy that does not serve us.
The question is: will we allow ourselves to continue to sink with this ship with guns to our backs, be they from the police or the far-Right, or plot a course away from disaster, fascism, and ecological collapse?