- the America First movement that opposed U.S. entry into World War II,
- wartime Axis support for anti-colonial struggles within the British and French empires, and
- Francis Parker Yockey’s call for post-war fascists to ally with the USSR and Third World nationalist movements.
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In “Anti-Imperialism and the U.S. Far Right,” I highlight some of the strategic questions that far rightists are facing today:
“First, in opposing ZOG [the ‘Zionist Occupation Government,’ i.e. Washington] or the globalist conspiracy, should they align themselves with a countervailing power (most immediately Russia, but in the long run maybe China or someone else) or pursue an independent course? Second, should they work together with non-white and non-rightist forces internationally, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, or left-populists such as Hugo Chavez? These issues are actively being debated, and could significantly affect the kind of organizing work that far rightists do and their capacity to attract supporters.”So I was very interested to read the recent article “Beyond Trump and Putin: The American Alt-Right’s Love of the Kremlin’s Policies” in the online journal The Diplomat. Author Casey Michel argues that many of the white nationalists and fascists supporting Trump’s campaign have also been praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Youth Network/Traditonalist Workers Party called Putin “the leader, really, of the anti-globalist forces around the world.” Richard Spencer, arguably the alt-right’s founder, recently praised Russia as “the sole white power in the world.” A number of American white nationalists, such as American Renaissance head Jared Taylor, have denounced U.S. foreign policy at political gatherings in Russia, such as the 2015 Russian Imperial Movement conference in St. Petersburg and the 2016 Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia conference in Moscow. (I wrote here about the 2014 AGMR conference, which was also attended by various U.S. rightists, as well as by leftists associated with the Workers World Party.)
This phenomenon doesn't mean we should accept every accusation that right-wingers are sympathizing with Moscow. Others, such as Glenn Greenwald, have charged that the Clinton campaign and its supporters have engaged in Kremlin-baiting — using smear tactics to imply that political opponents on both the left and the right are friendly to Russia and therefore disloyal to the United States. Michel is dismissive of this concern as the work of "lefty journalists with little grasp on post-Soviet developments." I disagree. Kremlin-baiting by Clintonites is real — and far right overtures to the Russian government are also real.
Looking beyond the alt-right, Michel reports that several Christian right leaders have also praised Putin, such as Bryan Fischer (former American Family Association spokesperson) and Franklin Graham (evangelist and son of Billy Graham). At the same time, a John Birch Society spokesperson told Michel that the U.S. “should not be partnering with countries [like Russia] that are enemies to American liberty.”
It’s easy to find support for Michel’s argument that many alt-rightists see themselves and Putin’s Russia as on the same side. At Counter-Currents Publishing, a leading alt-right forum, Gregory Hood argued three years ago that the alliance between Russia and Assad’s Syria represented a force for good against the evils of globalism and U.S. dominance:
“The United States is a revolutionary leftist power on a scale that dwarfs anything seen since the days of the French Revolution. It funds opposition to all traditional social systems, it openly defies international law in the name of a more primal creed of universal human rights, and it consistently applies diplomatic, economic, and eventually military force against what remains of Western Civilization.”It would be interesting to compare this formulation with the rhetoric of those U.S. leftists who defend the Assad government as a supposed anti-imperialist bulwark against U.S-backed Islamist terrorism.
* * *
“Syria, like its protector Russia, stands for something different. It stands for autonomy – a responsible governing class that identifies its well-being with that of continued survival of the state and the national population, not just some economic system or abstract creed. It holds that traditional social forms and cultures have a right to survival. It is under the ‘dictator’ Assad that marginalized but longstanding groups like Middle Eastern Christians or minority Islamic sects can survive in relative peace and security. It is under American-backed ‘democratic’ regimes that such populations are either persecuted or destroyed.”
But not all alt-rightists agree. At the Alternative Right blog, Colin Liddell criticized Putin’s “suppression of Russian nationalist groups and the thought crime laws he has introduced that are aimed at suppressing historical viewpoints critical of the Red Army and the Holocaust/ Holohoax narrative…” Liddell continued, “As a de facto multicultural state, Russia has to be wary of straight-forward ethno-nationalism…” — not a compliment coming from an alt-rightist. Liddell’s fellow blogger “Duns Scotus” continued in this same vein in “The Boundless Insanity of Neo-Russian Imperialism”: “Along with its geopolitical, temporal, and ideological borderlessness, the Russian imperialist entity…believes firmly in racial, religious, and ethnic borderlessness. Muslims, Jews, atheists, Christians—are all weighed and balanced only in as much as they serve the imperialist entity and its essentially soulless interests.”
I have written previously that most white nationalists’ support for Donald Trump is qualified and opportunistic. They see his campaign as useful, but don’t believe he will bring about the changes they want. Maybe their support for Putin is conditional in the same way. Whether they choose sides or not, U.S. far rightists are an autonomous force, not tools of a foreign power.
Thanks to Michael Pugliese for pointing me to Casey Michel's article.