Dec 31, 2020

Lockdowns, the Insurgent Far Right & the Future of Antifascism: Three Way Fight talks with It’s Going Down

Three Way Fight contributors Xtn and Matthew Lyons were recently interviewed for the It’s Going Down podcast. From the IGD description:

“We discuss the recent events in Salem, Oregon, where members of far-Right and neo-fascist groups attempted to storm the state capitol in opposition to lockdown measures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We then discuss Proud Boy violence in DC, Trump’s recent comments that upcoming demonstrations on January 6th will be ‘wild,’ the push by some of his advisors to declare ‘partial martial law,’ and finally the challenges faced by revolutionary antifascists in the current period: both in terms of confronting the far-Right, but more broadly the need to address the conditions and realities that are bringing so many angry working people into ongoing far-Right formations and protests.”

Some of the themes touched on in the interview:

  • the post-election shift by large sections of the right from a system-loyal to a system-oppositional stance
  • Trump as a “weak authoritarian” and what that says about his administration’s relationship with the ruling class
  • the far right’s capacity to tap into real grievances and the need to delineate liberatory responses from fascist ones
  • the dangers of antifascism being used to bolster the state’s repressive apparatus
  • the outlook for the far right after Trump leaves office
  • the rise of a dynamic, diverse antifascist movement in recent years and the successes born of radical, community self-defense approaches.

It’s Going Down is “a digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements across so-called North America.”

Dec 30, 2020

On Toscano’s Critique of “Racial Fascism”

By Devin Zane Shaw

Editor's introduction: Does racist state repression equal fascism? Did white supremacist capitalism create fascism in the United States long before it arose in Europe? In this post, Devin Zane Shaw applies a three way fight approach to explore Black radical thinking about fascism and antifascism from W.E.B. Du Bois to George Jackson and Angela Davis. Shaw argues that it’s important to address both the deep connections AND the conflicts between the U.S. liberal political order and fascism, and that we need related but different strategies to combat far-right street movements and the racist capitalist system.

Alberto Toscano’s “The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism,” published last October in Boston Review, is part of a broader reconsideration of fascism in light of colonialism, settler-colonialism, and the Prison Industrial Complex (hereafter PIC). His work is part of an antifascist current which is rightly critical of the mainstream discussion among liberal intellectuals, whose analyses of the far right and the Trump administration tend to rely on analogies between the present conjuncture and German and Italian fascism, eliciting—at least on social media—poor comparisons between current events and prospective Reichstag fires or the collapse of the Weimar Republic. While Toscano highlights the importance of including the Black Radical critique of PIC in antifascist thought, his account does not situate his concepts of “racial fascism” or “late fascism” (analogically modeled on the concepts of “racial capitalism” and “late capitalism”) within a three-way fight framework.

In their analogies, the mainstream liberal view often presents the recent rise of the far right and so-called “Trumpism” as a marked departure from prior American politics. Toscano, drawing on the Black Radical tradition, argues that recent events are deeply rooted in colonialism, settler-colonialism, and antiblack racism. He shows that a number of Black intellectuals in the 1930s, such as George Padmore and Langston Hughes, had demonstrated the family resemblances—though, importantly, not outright identity—between settler-colonialism and European fascism.

Black and white photo of Du Bois in profile
W.E.B Du Bois, circa 1911
We will focus here on Toscano’s reading of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, a “monumental reckoning with the history of U.S. racial capitalism.” His interpretation of Du Bois uncritically accepts an understanding of fascism that blocks an appreciation of the three-way fight. Toscano argues that

the overthrow of Reconstruction enacted a “racial fascism” that long predated Hitlerism in its use of racial terror, conscription of poor whites, and manipulation of (to quote the famous definition of fascism by Georgi Dimitrov) “the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist sector of finance capital.”

Toscano’s interpretation of Black Reconstruction results in a reductive view of Du Bois’s concept of the public and psychological wages of whiteness. Though Black Reconstruction and Dimitrov’s speeches on fascism both date from 1935, they present starkly different directions in antiracist and antifascist praxis. Dimitrov posited a narrow view of fascism as the most reactionary faction of capital to legitimate a popular front policy, which allowed communists to organize with social democrats and factions of the bourgeoisie which opposed their most reactionary peers.

In the United States, the popular front also led to a shift in the Communist Party USA position on Black liberation from self-determination to civil rights. And even though Dimitrov’s speeches called for the mass antifascist party in the US to fight for the equal status of Black Americans, their interests were, as Robin D.G. Kelley observes in Hammer and Hoe, his study of communist organizing in interwar Alabama, effectively sidelined in Communist Party work during the popular front.* While the Black Panther Party later adopted the popular front line under their leadership as a Black vanguard party (hence, I believe, Toscano’s invocation of it), the claim that fascism is rooted in the most reactionary faction of capitalism came to be paired, via George Jackson, with focoist underground armed resistance severed from mass organizing. We should keep these historical pitfalls in mind when developing our own antifascist praxis.

For Du Bois, the wages of whiteness functioned to establish a broad recomposition of settler-state hegemony across class lines for the white bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, and working class (I will explain settler-state hegemony below). But the wages of whiteness did more than merely align racial interests against class interests. Here, we step from Black Reconstruction to Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa’s Black Resistance to the Ku Klux Klan in the Wake of Civil War (2006). We should also note that white racists formed clandestine system-oppositional groups (such as the first Ku Klux Klan), which carried out terror in the Reconstruction South. In response, Black Southerners engaged in self-defense to fight back. On this basis, we may also conclude that the recomposition of settler-colonial hegemony around the wages of whiteness also pulled system-oppositional white racists within a system-loyal paradigm while effectively disarming Black opposition to racism and Jim Crow.

A three-way fight perspective must examine how settler-state hegemony coalesces between the interests of capital and white settlerism, so that militant antifascism can successfully fight both.

For Du Bois, the hegemony which coalesces around the wages of whiteness marked the defeat of what he called “abolition democracy” by Northern industrialists and Southern whites. In terms of the three-way fight, his account differentiates between abolition democracy, system-loyal Northerners and system-oppositional Southerners. What Toscano calls “racial fascism” would be part of a broad hegemony and not merely the most reactionary faction of capital. But Toscano doesn’t necessarily evoke Dimitrov to the letter. More accurately, Toscano adapts Dimitrov’s line to treat racial fascism as a form of “extreme” capitalism (or “late fascism,” which is as problematic a term as “post-fascism” used by others)—that is, as an extreme form of the capitalist system rather than as a reactionary or extremist faction of the bourgeoisie.

Given that contemporary forms of the system-oppositional far right emerged conditioned by, and in response to, the ascendency of the neoliberalism and the PIC, Toscano is correct to return to criticisms of PIC developed by George Jackson and Angela Y. Davis (among others). More specifically, modern forms of the far right and fascism are a reaction to liberation struggles, “preventive counterreform” even. However, it becomes especially important to untangle counterrevolutionary forces without conflating them. Thus it would be necessary to disentangle state power—embodied here in the development of PIC within generally liberal legal parameters—and its relationship to white supremacy: both how neoliberal hegemony coalesces around “law and order” and how, despite this recomposition of whiteness and hegemony, far-right groups on the ground shift toward system-oppositional currents in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The latter facets escape the horizon of Toscano’s account. 

Instead, Toscano returns to his initial challenge to liberal antifascists. On the basis of Jackson and Davis, he contends that the growth of PIC is not a departure from liberal governance but part and parcel of its modern forms. But his schematic assertions remain problematic. For example, he argues:

This [a view that takes George Jackson's and Angela Davis's concept of fascism] both echoes and departs from the Black radical theories of fascism, such as Padmore’s or Césaire’s, which emerged from the experience of the colonized. The new, U.S. fascism that Jackson and Davis strive to delineate is not an unwanted return from the “other scene” of colonial violence, but originates from liberal democracy itself.

On the one hand, in the last few years there has been a well-warranted revival of interest in Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, but his observation that fascism was imperialist violence turned back upon Europe does not accurately describe how fascism is conditioned by a settler-colonial society. On the other hand, Toscano’s account also incorrectly draws a false dilemma between the “other scene” of colonial violence and liberal democracy in order to assert the continuity between liberal democracy and fascism. The distinction is a false dilemma because settler-colonialism—the dispossession and oppression of Indigenous peoples—is not beyond the borders of and historically prior to liberal democracy but within it and ongoing.

It becomes especially important to untangle counterrevolutionary forces without conflating them: both how neoliberal hegemony coalesces around “law and order” and how far-right groups on the ground shift toward system-oppositional currents in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Thus, I contend that a three-way fight perspective must examine how settler-state hegemony coalesces between liberalism and white supremacy, or between the interests of capital and white settlerism, so that militant antifascism can successfully fight both. In other words, an analysis of the far right and fascism in North America must maintain an analytic distinction between liberalism and white supremacy even though there is a constantly moving dialectic between them. They converge through some common interests and diverge on others.

We have seen how, according to Du Bois, these interests converged through the wages of whiteness (although his account must be modified to incorporate how the white settlement of the western frontier served in the formation of post-Reconstruction hegemony). They have diverged more recently, for example, when liberal factions of settler-state hegemony have extended formal protections for minorities demanded by civil rights movements. In response, far-right groups have turned toward system-oppositional forms of organization.

In general, I assert that far-right movements are system-loyal when they perceive that the entitlements of white supremacy can be advanced within bourgeois or democratic institutions and they become insurgent when they perceive that these entitlements cannot. On this basis, we cannot collapse the reactionary dimension of PIC and the reaction of system-oppositional far-right movements. I would suggest that the far-right street movements defending the thin blue line remain in need of interpretation—what actual material benefits accrue to them for rallying on the side of the police, and what symbolic or ideological needs are met here? Why do some far-right groups ally with state power and others reject it?

We will conclude by revisiting Toscano’s claim that fascism is a form of “preventive counterreform.” It is a longstanding view, at least since Clara Zetkin’s essay “The Struggle against Fascism” (1923), that fascism emerges on the basis of the revolutionary failure of the left. Given that the left lacks the strength it had many decades ago it is more accurate to describe the recent far-right reaction as preventive counterreform, attempting to block the formation of a mass militant antifascist, antiracist, and anticapitalist movement from growing out of the antipolice uprising during 2020. And here Toscano’s account fails us; it ends without outlining any conclusions for antifascist practice. In my view, this failure occurs because he has identified fascism as a political or state form of “extreme” capitalism, which collapses antifascism into the struggle against this system. By contrast, militant antifascism has to organize against both far-right street movements and capitalism.

Indeed, the present crisis also runs deeper than terminological choices like “preventive counterreform” imply. There were, this summer and fall, widespread antifascist and antiracist struggles against both policing and insurgent right-wing groups. The police and the far-right sometimes took up tactical alliances (even if it was merely law enforcement looking the other way when far-right groups went on the attack) and in other cases policing turned against these groups (we can see this in the federal law enforcement crackdown against the Boogaloo Boys and others).

As I have argued, during the fall of 2020, it was uncertain whether far-right groups would align as system-loyal or system-oppositional after the US presidential election. It was possible that the election would result in a reorganization of settler-state hegemony with a more prominent public and perhaps institutional role for far-right organizing. Although I thought it unlikely, I also did not want to minimize the danger of this possibility either. The other possibility, that the far-right would be pushed organizationally back toward system-opposition, appears to be the result of Trump’s defeat—though, of course, along the way the Republican party has also been pulled even further toward far-right tendencies.

Toscano helps highlight the counterrevolutionary threat of the still present mechanisms of PIC and other state apparatuses, but the far-right as a system-oppositional movement remains outside his analytic horizon. While liberal antifascists, on his account, cannot naively congratulate themselves for defeating fascism by electing Biden, Toscano’s own position is detached from a practical relationship to ongoing militant antifascist movements.

*          *          *

* Surveying Communist Party USA organizing in Alabama, Robin D.G. Kelley argues that the party “practically ceased to function as an independent, autonomous organization…the failure of the CIO’s Operation Dixie, anticommunism within the AFL-CIO, not to mention the anticommunism of the NAACP, weakened or destroyed the Communist-led unions, leaving an indelible mark on the next wave of civil rights activists and possibly arresting what may have been a broader economic and social justice agenda” (Hammer and Hoe, xx). 

Photo: Addison N. Scurlock, National Portrait Gallery collection, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dec 9, 2020

American Strasser

by Kdog

Tom Metzger is dead. Fuck that muthafucker. 

Photo of Tom and John Metzger with dog

For those of us that came of age in the 1980s antifascist wars against white power boneheads—Tom Metzger was an arch-enemy. The California TV repairman and ex-Klansman was the founder and leader of White Aryan Resistance (WAR), a radical and innovative fascist group that was among the first to embrace the alienated young proles in the white power music scene.

Metzger played a crucial role in 1970s-1990s American fascist movement—one that left him with bloody hands that he never fully paid for. Back in the late 80s I was told by multiple sources that Metzger had put out a hit on me and a couple of Black anti-fascist skinheads—one from Chicago, and one, like me, in Minneapolis. In the early 90s my now partner, traveling from Chicago, was thrown up against the wall with dozens of other anti-racist skinheads by Portland cops while protesting outside Metzger's famous trial. We thought about that fucker—and he was more than aware of us.

Metzger could read the playing field better than any other American fascist of his time - and he was committed to making an impact. This made him incredibly dangerous to people of color, to the Jewish community, to queer folks, to antiracists and leftists. But Metzger was also regarded as dangerous by the System, which while still as structurally racist as ever, was anxious to modernize the face and methods of its rule in the post-Civil Rights era. In fact, in contradiction to widespread leftist assumptions of constant police-fascist collusion, Metzger's organizing was repeatedly infiltrated and spied upon by agents and informants.


When fans of the British white supremacist band Skrewdriver first started catching on at the margins of the North American punk scene, most fascist leaders saw them only as trouble: lumpen, violent, disorganized, drug users, etc. Metzger though, probably grinning and rubbing his hands together, saw only (to borrow a quote) "good trouble, necessary trouble."

Metzger re-oriented his entire operation towards this emerging generation of radical racists. His new organization adopted the militant name "White Aryan Resistance (WAR)," and his newspaper combined crude racist cartoons with revolutionary calls to smash the system. Metzger didn't have time for a right-wing version of "Respectability politics"—he embraced confrontation. WAR's shocking appearances on Oprah Winfrey's and Geraldo Rivera's TV shows spread the word in the pre-internet era that there was a new racist in town—one who wouldn't back down. This was underlined in red, when WAR kicked Geraldo's ass on TV, leaving him with a busted nose.

But propaganda stunts weren't their only game. Metzger was a committed organizer who would take personal phone calls from outcast racist youth from all over the country. (An Anti-Racist Action militant recently recalled calling up the WAR Hotline to leave a nasty antifa message, only to be left speechless when the devil himself answered.) WAR promoted the white power music scene—like the "Aryan Woodstock" music concerts—a decade before the National Alliance was convinced to fund Resistance Records. And crucially, Metzger sought to recruit them into an organization. Alongside WAR, Metzger promoted the White Student Union, WARSkins, and the Aryan Women’s League as different avenues leading to the same place.

It was not just Metzger's nose for opportunity that made him so influential—but also his politics. Metzger was the most serious proponent of "Third Position" politics ("neither capitalism or communism") among American fascists of this era. Metzger saw himself as a revolutionary, not a conservative; an anti-capitalist, not an elitist. For anti-fascists, understanding the politics and approach of Metzger and WAR, will give us a better understanding of the spectrum of nazi politics and the specific threats and potentials posed by the Third Positionist wing of the fascist movement.

When a mass white power gang culture emerged on the streets of Portland OR in the late 80s (law enforcement estimated there were 300 nazi skins in the city of 300,000), Metzger was the only nazi organizer to respond. A young WAR organizer Dave Mazella was sent up to Portland to try and cohere and organize the several white power skinhead gangs, like East Side White Pride (ESWP), into a more political and disciplined force. This was an Aryan version of the Fred Hampton approach. Mazella partied with and agitated the gang members and three weeks into the mission, a crew of ESWP skins attacked and beat to death an Ethiopian student named Mulugeta Seraw with baseball bats.

The conflagration that followed included years of organizing and streetfighting by militant anti-fascists for the streets of Portland and the soul of its youth subcultures, a special state-wide gang unit aimed at containing this breach of social peace, and a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to try and take Metzger off the field.

Anti-Racist Action and other anti-nazi skins being searched
by police outside of Metzger's trial in Portland.

The Dragons

Tracing Tom Metzger's path is useful in understanding fascist politics and organization in North America. Metzger had been the California chief of David Duke's revitalized and "nazified" Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He was part of an important generation of state Klan leaders—"Grand Dragons"—including Louis Beam in Texas (went on to author the influential "Leaderless Resistance" strategy), Don Black in Alabama (later founded the "Stormfront" discussion board), and Glenn Miller of the Carolina Knights of the KKK (pioneered adopting camouflage and armed marches and was a participant in the Greensboro Massacre death squad).

Like most of this crew, Metzger was a veteran—enlisting in the U.S. Army in the early 60s. After getting out of the military, Metzger moved from Indiana to work in California and it was there his affiliation to the radical Right began. Metzger attended anti-communist luncheons sponsored by the Douglas Aircraft Company (a predecessor to the McDonnell Douglas aerospace giant) and joined the far-right John Birch Society. Metzger worked on the presidential campaigns of Barry Goldwater and George Wallace and on Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial run—but soon found that framework too tame. Even the virulently anti-communist Minutemen militia, which he was briefly involved in, was not radical enough. He also found himself disagreeing with the Right on a key issue—Metzger opposed the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Metzger was still deeply racist and antisemitic—he preached that people of color were sub-human "mud people" and that Jews were a sinister race of manipulators holding white workers in check. These themes remained continually embedded within his political outlook.

In Duke's Knights of the KKK, Metzger began to hit his stride. He successfully combined provocative action with mainstream media engagement. Metzger and his California Klan ran armed "Border Watch" patrols against Mexican immigrants that received wide attention and created a blueprint used by racist vigilantes today.

Klan rally at Border Field State Park, July 4, 1979. 
Metzger stood on a picnic table, surrounded by Klansmen 
and shouting a racist speech through his bullhorn.

In 1980 Metzger led his California Klan into a militant confrontation against the police and left-wing anti-fascists at Oceanside CA. Metzger's KKK eschewed the white robes for motorcycle helmets, battle shields, and dogs. Anti-fascist protesters that day first assumed that the assembling white supremacists were sheriff's deputies in riot gear. The rally and counter-protest turned into a melee with fists and clubs swinging on all sides. Bruce Kala (who later became a well-known anarchist activist in the East Bay), was taken down by several Klansmen and viciously beaten with baseball bats—leaving him with permanent injuries. Metzger's crew also fought the police that day and a Klan member's Doberman pinscher was shot and killed after attacking a cop.

Metzger's explicitly revolutionary (as opposed to conservative) approach and his consistent attempt to wrap his vile racism and antisemitism in class struggle colors represented a break with much of the U.S. white supremacist scene. Metzger fits more in the tradition of the Strasser brothers than typical nazis or fascists.
San Diego Union reporting on 1980 Oceanside, CA clash
between Klan, anti-fascists and cops.

Metzger's Klan versus the police with 
Klansman's dead doberman.


Gregor and Otto Strasser were German national socialist activists whose careers and activity ran parallel with Adolf Hitler.  After serving in Germany's military in the First World War, both the Strasser brothers joined the proto-nazi street militia "Freikorps." While Gregor became a well-known figure and led the Lower Bavarian "Storm Battalion," Otto actually defected to join the mass German Social Democratic Party for a time. Both brothers reunited in Hitler's NSDAP, after it had gained hegemony over the mass, disparate milieu of right-wing World War I vets. But inside the Nazi Party the Strassers maintained their clear "revolutionary" brand of national socialism that called for the Nazis to liquidate the German ruling-class through mass mobilization of the working-class, and establish a rabidly racist and antisemitic dictatorship. This position found an echo in the ideas of the even more influential Ernst Röhm, leader of the Nazi SA ("Brownshirts")—who advocated a "second revolution" of Aryan workers against the bankers and monopoly capitalists.

Hitler, however, was interested in sealing a deal with the German elite—and was willing to calm their nerves by suppressing the "socialist" aspect of the National Socialists. Gregor Strasser was removed as editor of one of the Nazis' daily newspapers and then kicked out of the Party. Both Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm were killed during the "Night of the Long Knives," an organized purge that eliminated a number of Hitler's rivals and served to show the German ruling class that the Brownshirts could be reined in. Otto Strasser had already left the Nazis, forming his own separate fascist party "the Black Front," advocating for the overthrow of Hitler from exile. "Strasserism" has become the label for nazis who seek to emphasize the "socialist" aspect of their politics alongside the national and racial. "Third Position" is another broader name for a similar set of politics.

All this is to point out that Metzger's revolutionary and anti-capitalist rhetoric is not novel. And the historical precedent suggests that there will continue to be a "left-wing" trend within fascism. We can't be caught off-guard by this and must be prepared to combat this trend’s particularities as well as its familiar white supremacist, patriarchal, and antisemitic pillars.

Third Position

It's unclear to me when and how Metzger moved fully into Third Position politics. I haven't built up the stomach to wade through the many episodes of his "Race & Reason" TV talk show or issues of the WAR newspaper to discover if there are clues. We do know that Metzger had a falling-out with David Duke—first over what Duke was doing with the dues paid by state KKK chapters, then over Duke's suit-and-tie strategy of mainstreaming the fascist message and eventually joining the Republican Party. Metzger regarded Duke as becoming just another bourgeois politician, unwilling to be bluntly honest or take needed militant action.

Metzger was also a student of political history and of the Left. Metzger was a big fan of Jack London, the famous author of The Call of the Wild and The Iron Heel, who was an ardent socialist AND racist. Metzger bragged of recruiting leftists to WAR—much of this was probably hype, but he did enlist and promote an ex-member of the Socialist Workers Party and a former member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

In 1985 Metzger attended a Louis Farrakhan speech and made a donation to the Nation of Islam (a path already walked by American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell in 1961). Metzger's daughter organized the Aryan Women's League—promoting the image of women as "brave racial warriors" in contrast they said to the passive image of women that Judeo-Christianity encouraged. And Metzger heaped praise on the soon to be expelled anti-immigration “Deep Ecologists” of Earth First.

Metzger loved to troll the Left. When the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC) started targeting Metzger, he responded with an article in his newspaper praising the Weathermen as "young white street-fighters" (Metzger being well aware that JBAKC traced its political roots to the Weather Underground).

John Brown Anti-Klan Committee flier against Metzger.

But beyond the trolling and PR stunts, there was another aspect of Metzger’s politics that seems influenced by the Left: the question of organization. Metzger aimed to make White Aryan Resistance into a popular, insurrectionary organization of political combat. An organization based in the (white) working class, lumpenproletariat, and petite bourgeoisie and hostile to and contemptuous of the elite and their law & order.

Metzger hoped his media efforts would spark organic racial "resistance" among lower-class whites and wanted WAR to be an organization that straddled the line between legalistic and armed struggle.

Metzger's consistent solidarity with neo-nazi prisoners—or "POWs" as he called them—like the captured terrorists of The Order, was clearly modeled on similar efforts by the Left on behalf of Puerto Rican, Black liberation, and anti-imperialist prisoners. And similar to much of the Left, WAR argued for solidarity with these prisoners despite advocating a different strategic approach than underground armed struggle.

It was only after the SPLC bankrupted Metzger and crippled WAR in their civil lawsuit on behalf of the family of Mulugeta Seraw that Metzger jettisoned his mass public approach in favor of advocating clandestine "lone wolf” tactics. Instead of seeing "lone wolf" tactics as cutting edge, we should understand them as the establishment apparently sees them: a marginalizing and losing strategy - and one they believe can be imposed on formerly dangerous groups.

Third Position vs the threewayfight

We need to sum up the aspects of Metzger's legacy that are distinct and represent a Third-Positionist/Strasserite tendency posing unique problems for anti-fascists—but also understand why Metzger and his brand of fascism are an enemy of all of the alienated, exploited, and oppressed—including, so-called “whites.”

Third Positionism is dangerous even if it remains marginal among organized fascists.  It can serve to sharpen up the overall fascist movement—make it more aware of class grievances within the white working-class and provide cover to accusations of class collaboration with the white elite. 

It can also be used by the State and the media to try and muddy the differences between revolutionary anti-authoritarians and the fascists, to present struggles against capitalism, patriarchy and the State as racist and antisemitic.

Metzger shows that fascists can and will advocate revolution against the system, clash with police and mainstream institutions, embrace a strategy that looks to organic popular militancy and aims to spark (white) working class-based action. Metzger was open to alliances with nationalists of other ethnicities (except Jews) and to allowing independent organizations of white women.

While all of this conflicts with common Left understandings of fascists, none of it is actually liberatory and it just represents a different kind of threat to the multi-racial working-class. Third Positionism does not break with the colonialist conceptions of "race" brought about by emperors, plantation owners, and slave catchers—it positions it as the central struggle of humanity. Capitalism isn't opposed by these fascists for its exploitation of human labor and destruction of the earth—but for its tendency to favor profit over any racial loyalty to white workers. These nazis may want to eliminate the present ruling class, but they want a new, sharper social hierarchy—one they delude themselves into believing is built on the firmer foundation of Nature and/or God.

1985 WAR newspaper headline. At this stage Metzger used
both American Resistance and Aryan Resistance as names.

For all of Metzger's noise about fighting the system, a look at the pages of the WAR newspaper will show that he was most committed to one kind of war—a race war against Black people, the Jewish community, and Mexican immigrants. In Portland it was not a banker, or a CEO, or an elitist politician— and not an antifa enemy combatant—who Metzger's contacts in the field murdered, but an unarmed college student from one of the poorest countries on the planet.

However "radical" Metzger's strategy, it would only mean massive violence and bloodshed among the multi-national working classes of the United State Empire and the abdication of any moral, human grounding for its white participants. These fascists might fire-up a base on hatred for the rich—but their fire is not directed upward. And ironically, this makes this kind of politics potentially interesting to the rich and their security services. When the chips are down and forces are needed that can speak the language of “socialism,” the Third Position could become useful.

To oppose these horrors, we must take to heart the slogan of the CNT labor union in the Spanish Civil War: "The War [Against Fascism] and the Revolution are Inseparable". We must understand that fascism is capable of a "revolutionary" face—and must never cede our opposition to the system. Left support for the status quo allows the fascists the mantle of righteous opposition. And our opposition is not only to this present arrangement of the pyramid—because unlike the fascists we oppose ALL forms of exploitation, oppression, and rank.

The alternative we champion cannot just live in slogans and theses, but must be perceivable on the ground, in the culture of our campaigns and organizations. The threewayfight is for freedom.

For further reading:

Elinor Langer, A Hundred Little Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement in America (Macmillan, 2003).

James Ridgeway, Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1990; Haymarket Books, new edition forthcoming 2021).

Erin Yanke, Mic Crenshaw, and Celina Flores, It Did Happen Here podcast (independently produced, 2020).

Don Hamerquist, J. Sakai, et al., Confronting Fascism: Discussion Documents for a Militant Movement (Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2002; 2nd edition 2017).

Hilary Moore and James Tracy, No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements (City Lights/Open Media, 2020).

Leonard Zeskind, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009).

Photo credits:

1) Tom and John Metzger. Photographed by Brian Smale for Rolling Stone.

2) Anti-racist skins outside Metzger trial. Photographed by Tom Treick for The Oregonian.

3) Metzger and Klansmen at 1970 border rally. Photographed by Robert Lachman for The Los Angeles Times.

4) Front page of The San Diego Union, 1980.

5) Metzger versus police. Photo courtesy of Bettmann Archives, via Getty Images.

6) Stop Klan Terror. Flier produced by the John Brown Anti Klan Committee. Reproduced here courtesy of Wikipedia.

7) Fragment of headline from WAR newspaper, 1985.