The problem when we rely on the First Amendment to protect a community from the rise of fascism and white supremacy is that we are relying on an institution at all. The institutions that created this country were built by and for white supremacists. By using the white supremacist’s tools in our resistance, we legitimize them. These tools were never meant to break the power of authority over us. Therefore, we must manufacture our own tools. The power of the people has always been in numbers. When we coalesce into a single voice shouting “YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!” in all the different ways we can, we become a threat to the fascist power structure whose cause Milo champions.
I disagree that colleges are complicit, but only because I do not think the responsibility lies with them; the ethical obligation to win is ours.
Inciting Anger Then Blaming the Victim: Liberals and Fascists Agree
The most important discussion that must come from last night’s protest is one around property damage and how it is used by various people to construct the narrative of the protestors themselves. “Protest decorum” is a despicable—and effective—means of cutting down a protest. The Right has a tactic for discrediting protests: Milo or someone like him will provoke or agitate a group of people, and when people respond like we did last night with property damage he can condemn the entire protest without engaging at all.
The more imminent threat is when liberals join this rhetoric and sell out the left. “Oh. those people who smashed the Starbucks really detract from the message.” We see milquetoast liberals, who, as Dr. King famously named in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, are “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefer…a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” These liberals repeatedly agree with Milo and the rest of the self-described “alt-right.”
When people say “you aren’t protesting the right way,” they avoid engaging with the substance of the protest itself. We must consider why people are so angry. What is the significance of the burning limousine with “WE THE PEOPLE” and “Ⓐ” spray painted on the side in gold on January 20th at Washington, D.C.? What is the meaning of the black bloc dancing to N.W.A.’s “Fuck tha Police” by a burning piece of police equipment on February 1st at Berkeley? We must engage with these forms of political expression if we are to resist the rise of fascism in this country. We cannot disregard these expressions and hope to survive the ascendancy of the far-Right!
Contrary to the mainstream media’s narrative, the goal of property damage is not simply a love of destruction and chaos. All the property damaged last night belonged to the government or multinational corporations: Starbucks. Bank of America. Wells Fargo. Chase. A police generator. A police floodlight. These represent the ruling class, and Milo and the violence he causes is a symptom of the power this class wields.
If we are to earnestly discuss property damage and violence, that conversation cannot begin with the violence of the protesters against the state, businesses, or police. We must focus on the violence perpetuated by those entities. To do otherwise is to betray the very people who are seeking justice.
What Can We Do?
When someone advocates for fascism—the way that Milo Yiannopolous, Richard Spencer, Nathan Damigo, and Steve Bannon do—we shut it down. This is our ethical obligation. That includes the black bloc. However, pushing back against the false narratives of liberals who condemn us, at times is more important than addressing the neo-Nazi response though, because we need a coalition if we are going to win.
Anarchists and communists don’t always get along, but we agree that fascism is to be destroyed. There is a solidarity of interest there, but there also needs to be a solidarity of interest between leftists and liberals. Emma Goldman said “True social harmony grows naturally out of solidarity of interests.” There can be such a harmony, but we need liberals to stop siding with the fascists. I have a message for mainstream liberals: Our interests include blocking the rise of a far-right, totalitarian, authoritarian state, just like yours. So, let’s get together and salt the earth so that no seeds of fascism may ever germinate here.
We must seek solidarity with one another. True, there are many ways to resist the rise of fascism in the U.S. But two major steps in fighting that existential threat is for liberals to stop undercutting the left and agreeing with the fascists at every step and for everyone to stop relying on the Constitution to protect our society. Fascism uses liberalism’s ideals to come to power, and then dismantles those very ideals once there. Dick Gaughan wrote about the choice we all must make in the threat of fascist domination: “In January you’ve still got the choice/ You can cut the weeds before they start to bud/ If you leave them to grow high they’ll silence your voice/ And in December you may pay with your blood.”