[The following article was published on the New Politics website on April 29, 2011.]
"Perhaps what I champion is not so much the anarchist as much as the 'anarch,' the superior individual who, out of sheer strength of will, rises above the herd in defiance and contempt of both the sheep and their masters."
-- Keith Preston, "The Thoughts That Guide Me: A Personal Reflection" (2005)
Freedom from government tyranny has always been a central theme of right-wing politics in the United States. From the original Ku Klux Klan that denounced "northern military despotism" to the Tea Partiers who vilify Barack Obama as a combination of Hitler and Stalin, U.S. rightists have invoked the evil of big government to both attract popular support and justify their own oppressive policies. Witness the rise of so-called National-Anarchism (NA), an offshoot of British neonazism that has recently gained a small but fast-growing foothold in the United States. National-Anarchists advocate a decentralized system of "tribal" enclaves based on "the right of all races, ethnicities and cultural groups to organize and live separately." National-Anarchists criticize statism of both the left and the right, including classical fascism, but they participate in neonazi networks such as Stormfront.org and promote anti-Jewish conspiracy theories worthy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Anti-statism is a key part of National-Anarchism's appeal and helps it to deflect the charge of fascism.
Keith Preston, who calls himself a "fellow traveler" of National-Anarchism, is in some ways even more dangerous. Preston is a former left-wing anarchist who advocates a revolutionary alliance of leftist and rightist libertarians against U.S. imperialism and the state. Unlike many far rightists who claim to be "beyond left and right," Preston actually incorporates many leftist ideas in his political philosophy and apparently is still in touch with some actual leftists. An intelligent, prolific writer, Preston has established himself over the past decade as a respected voice in libertarian, paleoconservative, and "Alternative Right" circles. His "anarcho-pluralism" represents a sophisticated reworking of far right politics that is flexible, inclusive, and appeals to widely held values such as "live and let live." Unlike most rightist ideologies, it also has the potential to serve as a bridge between a wide variety of rightist currents such as white nationalists, Patriot/militia groups, Christian rightists, and National-Anarchists -- and even some left-wing anarchists, liberal bioregionalists/environmentalists, and nationalist people of color groups.
In this article I will outline the major features of Preston's political program, strategy, and underlying philosophy. Although Preston claims that implementing anarcho-pluralism would result in an expansion of freedom, in reality it would promote oppression and authoritarianism in smaller-scale units. Although Preston is an individualist who does not directly advocate the racial determinism and separatism of his friends the National-Anarchists, he has made it a priority to (in his own words) "collaborate with racialists and theocrats," claiming that leftists who oppose such collaboration are the true bigots. Digging deeper, Preston's opposition to the state is based on a radically anti-humanistic philosophy of elitism, ruthless struggle, and contempt for most people.
Preston offers a window into the larger issue of right-wing decentralism. This article will trace both the historical roots of the phenomenon and its various branches of recent decades, including libertarian, Christian rightist, neonazi, and Patriot movements in the United States. Preston blends these U.S.-based influences with ideas drawn from the European New Right, a decentralist offshoot of classical fascism, and from German Conservative Revolution figures of the 1920s and 1930s, who influenced but mostly stood outside of the Nazi movement. Preston's own relationship with fascism is much closer than he acknowledges. While he lacks fascism's drive to impose a single ideological vision on all spheres of society, he offers a closely related form of revolutionary right-wing populism. Above all, Preston and his rightist allies embody the main danger associated with fascism -- to preempt the radical left as the main revolutionary opposition force.