Recently, Denver’s antifascists kicked off what will hopefully be an aggressive campaign against alt-right infiltration of their community. During a demonstration against Turning Point USA and their guest speaker, Ivan Throne, five antifascists were arrested, at least three of whom spent the night in jail. Independent media group Unicorn Riot was there to capture the unfolding events.
As part of their coverage and analysis, UR mentioned a convoluted tangle of associations between the police and the conference attendees, which vaguely hints at underlying conflicts of interest for law enforcement officials who defend pro-Trump individuals and organizations.
The Denver Police Department appears to, at the very least, have a vested interest in pushing the agenda of the Trump administration, and therefore its supporters. But this is no dimly-lit conspiracy orchestrated behind closed doors; this is the expected, natural course of events during times of proletarian insurgency and fascist uprising, demonstrated throughout the 20th century. To understand this dynamic, the following essay will vivisect what will be referred to hereafter as “essential collusion,” a repressive form of symbiosis between the state, a far-right entity, and the public supporters of both.
THE ROLE OF POLICE IN FASCISM AND FAR-RIGHT TERROR
In his book, Our Enemies in Blue, author Kristian Williams lays out the core misconceptions surrounding the function of the police. Though they are billed as “crime fighters,” the fact is that wherever an upper class’s interests come into conflict with those of the lower class – who universally outnumber the elite and suffer for their benefit – a police entity becomes necessary. This was true during the Norman conquest, with the institution of prototypical sheriffs, but more recently, the function of the police was laid bare during the Reconstruction.
Following the defeat of the Confederates, America was caught between two monolithic social conflicts; firstly, the South had fallen into economic decline due to its dependence on slavery. This caused a dramatic rift between the two halves of white society: those who had lost some of their privilege, and those who were taking advantage of newfound institutionalized power. The North deployed federal troops to secure southern territory, and the Radical Republicans sought harsh penalties against the vanquished traitors of the Confederacy — not because of purely abolitionist ideology, of course, but also because of the Radicals’ opposition to Slave Power, the political advantage of the slaveowner class enabled by such factors as the “three-fifths clause.”
Secondly, the ex-slave population was momentarily allowed increased mobility. Not only did freed folk migrate north, adding to Southern labor instability, but they began taking charge of their own narratives and identities by reclaiming abandoned land for their own needs. This presented both a crisis and an opportunity for white society. As before, white America feared the specter of a black uprising, by now intensified by the successes of the Haitian Revolution, but additionally, the nation had to be unified and healed without disturbing the balance of capitalism. This meant preserving the dominance of the elite over the laborer.
The solution was found, as always, in police repression.
During the Reconstruction, police entities worked in concert with local militias, lone vigilantes, and of course, the Ku Klux Klan, to systematically amputate any outgrowth of Black agency. Pro-business southern Democrats were insistent on having economic dominance over the black population, because only by exploitation of that vast source of labor could their previous levels of wealth be equalled. And so it was done; not only were whites empowered by the local authorities to violently repress freed black folk, and not only did the police orchestrate a good portion of that violence, but white society eventually struck a deal with itself. The Klan was abetted regularly by local police (many of whom were members themselves), militias were given free reign to terrorize black congregations, and night riders operated with impunity. Finally, Rutherford B. Hayes was made president in exchange for equalizing power in the South, and black autonomy was offered up as a sacrifice.
This dynamic played out more than once: when the elite class senses that the state’s power is being weakened, they will quickly unify around their mutual interests. So it goes that the police, and the Trump administration, are destined to empower the alt-right while repressing the Left at every opportunity.
The Denver Police Department was on the scene during TPUSA’s conference at the Grand Hyatt, taking an early, preventative stance against the antifascists. There were about eight officers at the entrance, six guarding the driveway for arriving attendees, and two more issuing commands. During the demonstration, officers arrested a total of five antifa members.
It should come as no surprise that a percentage of Denver’s officers belong to one of the two major police unions in the city: the Denver Police Protective Association, and a chapter of the better-known Fraternal Order of Police. Both of these organizations — like Turning Point’s own membership — are stringent supporters of Donald Trump. The FOP, specifically, issued as part of their endorsement of the president a list of “potential actions” which might occur over the president’s first 100 days in office. They stressed that this was not a list of demands, but speculations about the upcoming “law and order” regime.
Of course, via their endorsement, the FOP openly announced their dovetailing of interests with that of the Trump administration. This list includes nods to concerns raised by police; repealing order 13688 which removed unnecessary military equipment from police hands; implementing the “Restoring Community Safety Act” to combat the nonexistent epidemic of violent crime in America; pressuring sanctuary cities with cuts to federal funds, and so on. The FOP is, additionally, the group which pressured Walmart to stop carrying Black Lives Matter apparel, calling the items “offensive.”
But more importantly for the antifascists of Denver, the DPD has been indirectly instructed by the Trump administration itself. Unicorn Riot uncovered an expense in the City of Denver’s online checkbook showing that the DPD had been paid to attend a seminar on “counter-terrorism” and “counterinsurgency” delivered by one Sebastian Gorka.
Gorka is a prominent figure in the shadowy far-right ecosystem of America. A national security advisor to Trump, Gorka is also a “national security contributor” at Breitbart, a participant in the right-wing strategic group known as Groundswell, and last but certainly not least, a longstanding member of Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian Nazi organization.
In short, the DPD, whose roster includes pro-Trump Fraternal Order members, was paid to attend a seminar hosted by a far-right Nazi strategist for the Trump campaign, to be instructed on countering grassroots radical organizations. This is the state organ entrusted with “maintaining order” at the conference of TPUSA, a Trump loyalist student organization which platforms the alt-right, that gaggle of mild racists and full-throttle white supremacists which constitutes Trump’s vanguard party.
It may seem surprising that the Denver Police, who have never needed to respond to an act of terrorism, attended a seminar based around that subject. However, the antifascists were unsurprised when, upon leaving the morning picket line, they spotted a police truck carrying eight riot officers in tactical gear, hiding behind a 7-11 just yards away from the Hyatt hotel. This is what “counterinsurgency” will mean in the near future; pre-loaded, overwhelming, brute-force repression for even the mildest of liberatory actions.
And where is the alt-right, and Turning Point? Politely shaking hands with the officers, musing over the fate of the arrestees, and thanking the police for their service. These two groups share mutual benefit in repression of the left. This is the soul of “essential collusion.” There is no conspiracy, only instinctive symbiosis pregnant with oppression.
TURNING POINT, THE ALT-RIGHT, AND FASCIST VIGILANTISM
TPUSA’s latest alt-right speaker is Ivan Throne, who follows multiple nationalist accounts on twitter, and has written long, venomous screeds against feminism and Islam. It is patently obvious at this point that TPUSA has strong ties with the alt-right, the most obvious being Charlie Kirk’s own contribution to Breitbart, but more immediately the organization’s repeated platforming of alt-right figureheads like Ivan and Milo.
Both Ivan and Milo have spoken in favor of persecution for Muslims, as well as leftists, feminists, BLM supporters, and so on; stated plainly, they espouse an ethnocentric nationalism built around the patriotic “American identity.” This folds into the larger narrative of Trump’s supporters, who have applauded his calls for increased national security, stricter border control, state-sanctified witch hunts against immigrants and refugees, public support for the police, and of course, forceful action against the invisible enemy of Islamic extremists. Similarly, Trump and his voter bloc have agreed in their opposition to leftist ideology and, in particular, anti-regime protesters.
Most recently, Ivan has unveiled a project entitled “Violent Solutions,” which at first analysis appears to merely be a database through which antifascists will be identified and reported to the FBI. Although mostly empty bluster (like everything Ivan does), this eventuality presents a unique threat to Antifa in Trump’s America: this is a concrete example of essential collusion between the state and the far-right. Communication between America’s police, military, and intelligence community is at an all-time high, with various state organs sharing information even with completely unrelated sister forces. Arrests are made public, with the suspect’s full name handed out to multiple agencies and, most importantly, to the alt-right, whose main weapon continues to be the threat of doxxing. Police do not take seriously the threat of online harassment or dox-facilitating platforms like reddit. Revealing the identity of protesters is their job, and police responsibility for a suspect’s safety ends at the jailhouse doors.
In the same vein, we can view the total lack of scrutiny in the UW Seattle shooting outside a Milo speaking event, and more frighteningly, the Trump administration’s deliberate ignorance of white supremacist terrorism, which has surged out of the woodwork since his election with renewed vigor and, now, a kind of codified impunity. So long as they do not overstep the limit of their leashes, neo-Nazis, far-right extremists, white nationalists, and fascist vigilantes will be downplayed or tolerated endlessly by the state. They are not ejected from pro-Trump rallies, nor thoroughly examined by the media, nor directly opposed by law enforcement.
This is no different than the attitude of police and militia entities during the Reconstruction. To protect both sides of this social conflict equally would require otherworldly dedication to the letter of the law. The path of least resistance and maximal benefit is to, instead, either directly enable or passively condone the violence of the far-right (so long as their violence is against leftists and revolutionaries), knowing neither the police nor the vigilantes will be punished, and that the destruction of the defiant will bring about order – specifically, an authoritarian, nationalist order. Their order.
FASCIST ITALY: HISTORY DOESN’T REPEAT, BUT IT DOES RHYME
On January 3rd, 1925, Mussolini delivered a speech to the Chamber of Deputies, taking responsibility for the violent actions of the Blackshirts (or squadristi), and announcing a second wave of repression against all those disloyal to the fascist party. It was declared that order would be restored to Italy “within forty-eight hours.”
The next day, every prefect was ordered to suppress all “suspect” political parties, organizations, and individuals, meaning those who opposed the fascist regime. Prior to this period, the fascists had not addressed nor interfered with the Blackshirts’ vigilantism, but now Mussolini was publicly decreeing their fusion with the state powers. Specifically, this meant collaboration with the Carabinieri, the Italian gendarmerie, who utilized (or bullied) the local police forces and brought them into line with the repressive campaign against leftists of all stripes. They were actively entrusted with enforcing fascist ideology, supported always by the vigilantes.
A Blackshirt poster reading “Ready yesterday, today, and tomorrow to fight for the honor of Italy.”
The Blackshirts themselves began as bands of washed-up soldiers, reorganized into local militias to serve as the fascist party’s militant wing. They had sworn oaths of loyalty to the national identity, and to Mussolini himself – fascist conflation of the Nation and the Leader into a single, semi-religious figure. But soldiers would not be enough, and so the Blackshirts gained a new source of recruitment: the Opera Nazionale Balilla.
Stylized in the image of a proudly patriotic youth organization, the ONB was the invention of Futurist philosophers like Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who idealized the image of a youthful, nationalistic, militarized institution which would breed strong, capable warriors for the fatherland. Marinetti called it a “[school] of courage and patriotism.” The ONB orchestrated education and training for its membership, including military exercises designed to acclimate a young man to combat and military discipline. When they came of age, these boys became fresh recruits for the Blackshirts, and began their careers as anti-leftist goon squads, brutalizing socialists, communists, and anarchists alike.
The ONB also enjoyed a total monopoly on this form of recruitment; all youth organizations besides itself were banned by the government, and attempts to organize similar leftists bodies were swiftly extinguished — with, of course, the blessings of local law enforcement, or at least their deliberate ignorance. Students were prime candidates; satellite bodies of the ONB like the GUF freely recruited students of higher education, and the National Balilla Institution was later placed under the direct authority of the Ministry of National Education.
In short: a student organization was able to openly recruit proto-vigilantes, because existing paramilitary forces had quashed any leftist resistance, and both the ruling party and its law enforcement organs were willing to look the other way, or even cooperate, while benefiting from the repressive efforts of these collaborators. There was no conspiracy. Deliberately managed coaction was unnecessary. This partnership was the inevitable conclusion to the rise of fascism.
This article will conclude with an ultimatum: if you consider yourself a radical, an anarchist, or a community organizer, any cooperation with the police is counterproductive, compromising, and potentially deadly.
There is no plausible route forward that does not include, not just resisting, but actively opposing the efforts of the police. Not only are they vocally supported by the regime, but the very authority with which they simultaneously abet the alt-right while restraining social movements is granted by the state itself. Their monopoly on violence, their access to military equipment, their communication with intelligence agencies, and their carte blanche regarding brutality are symptomatic of their ultimate function: maintaining the status quo.
The police have an intrinsic proclivity to ignore Bikers for Trump, Identity Evropa, Turning Point USA, the NPI, and all forms of Trump-centric vigilante violence, because to oppose it would mean jeopardizing their own dominance within the state apparatus. They will not be on the prowl for the people burning mosques or black churches. They will be infiltrating anarchist organizations, secretly photographing protesters’ faces, and collecting the names of antifascist arrestees, assuming the alt-right doesn’t do it for them.
Suddenly, the sight of college republicans chanting “Back the Blue” loses its innocent husk. When we talk about “community self defense,” the conversation should revolve around this question: if the state, the police, the alt-right, and fascist vigilantes all benefit from mutually-discounted behavior, why should we tolerate their existence or presence in our communities at all?