The Alt-Right is falling apart.
This is not our diagnosis, but the stated reality from the Alt-Right itself. As many a neo-Nazi pundit has pointed out, the rising trajectory that began in 2016 has ended, and in the place of unity, we instead see infighting and finger pointing. Lines in the sand within the Alt-Right have been drawn, camps have been formed, and rivalries and tensions are clear. While the exact ins and outs of who hates who and why deserves its own column from the Grouch and would take too long to explain here, the key point is that the upwards trajectory of the Alt-Right has been broken and things are coming apart for them in a real way.
Moreover, the degree to which the anarchist and antifascist movement has contributed to this disintegration cannot be overstated. Speaking on a Facebook livestream, “American fascist” Augustus Invictus, in the middle of a denouncement of Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, complained that the massive antifascist rallies and heavy defeats for the Alt-Right since Charlottesville made them appear weak. Furthermore, the Alt-Right insistence on portraying themselves as victims, especially at a time when so many people are beginning to see them as violent murderers, further hurts their cause.
KKK members and neo-Nazis rally in Shelbyville, Tenneseee. Photo
The Alt-Right has also not been able to solve its problem of “optics” or repair the damage done after its defeat in Charlottesville. In each of the subsequent Alt-Right demonstrations that have taken place since August 12th, members of the Alt-Right have attempted to, or have successfully, engaged in acts of violence in the wake of their continued defeats. This includes attempts by supporters of Patriot Prayer to run over antifascists in the Pacific Northwest, Milo Yiannopoulos’ failed ‘Free Speech Week’ which saw attacks and harassment in Berkeley, a failed neo-Nazi rally in Philadelphia which ended in skinheads attacking antifascist counter-demonstrators, an attempted murder by neo-Nazis after Richard Spencer’s talk in Gainesville, Florida, and finally, the massive failure of the ‘White Lives Matter’ rally in middle Tennessee, which saw neo-Nazis and Klansman attacking working-class Tennesseans on their lunch breaks and outside of restaurants.
In the face of this failure, all sections of the Alt-Right are now setting their sights on rival factions. Richard Spencer seems to be blocking with Patriot Front and Identity Evropa and they are in turn focusing their remaining energy on speaking events and continued outreach to college students. Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer, once one of the foremost defenders of ‘National Socialism,’ now claims it was all a troll and is pushing for a rebranding of fascism as “American Nationalism.” Meanwhile, the hardest break has been between the Nationalist Front formation and the rest of the Alt-Right, with even sections of the Nationalist Front now seemingly throwing the Traditionalist Worker Party under the bus. Lastly, the section of the Alt-Right still in some contact with the Alt-Lite, namely people associated with James Allsup, are pushing to ride the current waves created Bannon, and call for the movement to reenter establishment conservative circles and leave behind the torch lit rallies.
The Alt-Right has been dealt a serious blow, however we should recognize that it is in their disintegration that they are perhaps their most dangerous, as some will leave behind building a mass movement an instead opt for outright violent action.
The current period thus presents us with three questions. The first, is how do we deal with the formations of the Alt-Right that are left? Namely the Nationalist Front in the South, and the Alt-Right formations close to Richard Spencer focused around recruiting on college campuses. Second, as comrades in Murfreesboro noted, even in small rural towns, we are seeing large numbers that are unprecedented, and on Halloween, we saw over 600 turn out against Milo in Orange County without much notice. How do we interact with the large numbers of people that are coming out and taking part in antifascist mobilizations, both in terms of spreading our ideas and making these events go deeper? Lastly, there is the question about how to transition this energy and enthusiasm against auxiliary far-Right groups onto the structural functioning of settler colonial democracy, especially against those making policy, namely around immigration, who have largely come out of suit and tie white nationalist circles.
Mobilizing in the Breakdown
As anarchists, we have done an excellent job in pushing a set of ethical practices in regards to combating the Alt-Right. Currently, “no platforming” and “Nazi punching” are as much a part of the American lexicon as “red pilling.” In short, the need for a grassroots, autonomous, and militant response to the auxiliary far-Right has been articulated on a mass level. However, at a time when it is clear that the Trump administration is emboldening and in turn feeding off of, the Alt-Right, such a position is also not difficult to make. On the other hand, where we have failed, is in explaining that the Alt-Right is but a crystallization of racial apartheid and patriarchy; not a deviation from the status quo by its most steadfast supporter.
Also, as more people have mobilized to become involved in mass antifascist action, has the spreading of anarchist tactics and principles also increased? We have helped create a crisis that people are now responding to, but are we failing to reap the benefits of mass numbers now showing up to engage with us? If all we are in these moments are people that show up in masks to “punch Nazis,” then our influence in these moments will continue to degrade and moreover, it will be easier for the State to remove and repress us, so long as we are seen as an outside and alien body, as opposed to members of a fighting community.
In past waves of struggle, such as in the antiglobalization and Occupy movements, much of the radicalizing effect that many people experienced lay in both the forming of relationships, but also in the creation of spaces that allowed ideas, tactics, and strategies to be shared and made popular. As antifascism is a defensive struggle and the nature of doxxing and the fears of Alt-Right violence are very real, we must think about what it would mean to create these spaces again in a new context. Broadly speaking, how could we use antifascist mobilizing as a space to share practices of security culture and encryption, discussion of autonomous and horizontal organizing, and also why we do not work with or rely on the police?
We also have to think about using this moment as a vehicle to raise the consciousness of people that are becoming engaged in autonomous social struggle. In short, we can’t talk about white supremacists without also talking about white supremacy as a racial caste system of domination and a cross-class relationship between the elites and white workers. Thus, in the lead up to these confrontations and in their aftermath, we should be thinking about creating spaces which allow these conversations to take place.
In terms of opportunities to put this into practices, we can look towards upcoming potential Alt-Right conferences, future Richard Spencer speaking events, Milo’s “Troll Academy” tour visits, continued attempts by Alt-Right groups (such as Identity Evropa’s ‘Operation Siege’) to organize and recruit on campus, as well as any potential Alt-Right rallies that may pop up. Overall, we should think about not only how to engage in these moments, but also what we can get out of them as a movement.
Moreover, we should work to forge lasting relationships with communities that are activated in these engagements, from immigrant and refugee groups coming out to demonstrations, labor unions that organize and show up, Black Lives Matter chapters, angry locals, and student formations.
The Forest Through the Fashy Haircuts
“As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”
— FAIR founder and board member John Tanton, Oct. 10, 1986
“I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
— John Tanton, letter to eugenicist and ecology professor Garrett Hardin (now deceased), Dec. 10, 1993
While we have been focusing on the street based Alt-Right, a second component of the white nationalist movement has been helping to push policy, namely on the terrain of immigration. The group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has roots in white supremacist circles and has had a deep impact within the Trump administration. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans.
Anti-immigrant white nationalists have always been part of the beach head of the Alt-Right, helping white nationalists find a home at places like Breitbart as columnists and tickling the fancy of people like Steve Bannon. Groups such as V-Dare, who participate in neo-Nazi and white nationalist conferences along with Richard Spencer, have a currency outside of straight white nationalist circles, and are regularly cited by pundits like Ann Coulter. FAIR however has managed to push this ability to mainstream its views one step closer, catapulted by their already existing ties to politicians like Jeff Sessions, advisers like Steven Miller and Kellyanne Conway, and local Trump campaign managers.
Julie Kirchner of DHS
In January, Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of FAIR became the chief of staff at the US Customs and Border Protection, essentially the police force for DHS. According to the DHS website, Kirchner now serves:
…as the fifth Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman) at the Department of Homeland Security. In this role, she leads an independent component dedicated to helping individuals and sponsors navigate the legal immigration system and resolve problems that arise while their applications for immigration benefits are processed at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Jon Feere, Advisor to ICE’s Acting Director
Another FAIR to Trump appointee, Jon Feere, became an advisor to ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan. In both of these cases, these individuals had no actual experience in law enforcement or government, and literally went from writing and researching in white nationalist think tanks to serving in positions which affect the lives of millions of poor and working-class people.
Bigger still is Kris Kobach, who has risen to prominence under Trump and leads his “voter fraud” panel, whose stated goal is to implement voter ID check (which was used in the 2016 election) across the US. This program would kick millions off of voter rolls for the crime of having black and brown sounding names and would drastically reorganize American political power.
Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State, also comes out of the Nativist movement:
Kobach authored SB1070, the notorious “papers please” law in Arizona, which the Supreme Court found largely unconstitutional in 2012. Kobach has played a key role in the passage of many other nativist laws in cities and states around the country and remains a sought after adviser for anti-immigrant politicians.
Kobach’s connections to hate groups reaches back to 2004, when he first served as counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR’s leaders have historical ties to white supremacists and eugenicists and who have made numerous racist statements and was named a hate group by the SPLC in 2007.
As recently as 2015, Kobach was a featured speaker at a “writer’s workshop” organized by The Social Contract Press, a white nationalist publisher known for resurrecting the obscure racist novel Camp of the Saints.
There is also evidence that a grassroots push from FAIR helped create the pressure needed to push for the destruction of DACA. In late June of this year, FAIR held their annual conference bringing together politicians, law enforcement, pundits, and (then) Trump advisers such as Sebastian Gorka. Soon after the Conference, various forces began pushing Trump to repeal DACA, after which, Trump announced that DACA would be destroyed and set a clock that threatens to deport upwards of 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ along with their friends and families. According to the SPLC:
FAIR’s deep ties to law enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol were also on display. Brandon Judd and Hector Garza, president and vice president, respectively, of the National Border Patrol Council, were in attendance, along with Art Del Cueto head of the Tucson Border Patrol Union.
A number of Sheriffs FAIR works with also attended, including Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, MA, Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, MD, and Sam Page of Wentworth, NC.
Breitbart also helped mainstream and push FAIR’s talking points, along with studies conducted by the think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies, which grows out of FAIR, through its coverage and reporting. One report wrote:
Far-right Breitbart News has used its rising platform to parrot and amplify the anti-immigrant movement’s bigoted message. Reports and other publications produced by anti-immigrant groups like the Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform reliably garner positive coverage from the outlet once described by Steve Bannon as “the platform for the alt-right.”
While much of the Left celebrated after the departures of Bannon and Gorka, the reality is that many within the Trump administration still have deep ties to the ‘suit and tie’ wing of the white nationalist influenced Nativist and anti-immigrant movement. Moreover, Mike Pompeo, a businessman, Republican politician, and also mainstay in anti-Muslim circles, was appointed by Trump to head the CIA. Frank Wuco went from far-Right anti-Muslim pundit to advisor to DHS.
Thus, when one takes a step back and looks at the full picture, it becomes clear that while two of the most prominent faces of white nationalism have left the White House (only to return to Breitbart), many of the people actually implementing and directing policy are still working in their positions – full steam ahead.
The point in mentioning all of this, is that while the media celebrates the leaks of emails which show a pipeline between neo-Nazis and Breitbart, hardly a stink is made at those within the government and law enforcement who are pushing and carrying out policies which are impacting the lives of millions and are actively based around a white nationalist worldview.
Anarchists must organize and confront this reality. The Trump administration can deal with being cut off from the Richard Spencers of the world, but its suit and tie cousins it still needs to actively pull from to direct policy, lead its cops, and run its bureaucracies.
As we have written before, antifascism presents anarchists both with an opportunity and a potential limitation. Our activity has helped mobilize tens of thousands to take the streets, but we need to work to ensure that our revolutionary ideas as well as our tactics and strategies are spreading across the social terrain as we take action. Moreover, we need to realize that white nationalists have already entered into the halls of government and law enforcement and are currently actively directing in part internal policy, specifically around immigration. As we move forward, we need to begin formulating what it would mean to take the energy of the current moment and apply it towards this reality.
In the future, we need to not only bring people up to speed about the current situation, but also push our own analysis and set of ideas about a different form of life outside of capital and the State. If recent events have shown anything, it’s that we can do just that, but we need to expand our capacity, organize, and utilize our networks.