Aug 29, 2021

Understanding A22 PDX : discussion and analysis for the antifascist movements

Proud Boy attacks man in Portland Aug 22, 2001. Photo Getty Images
Proud Boy attacks man in Portland, Aug 22, 2001. Photo Getty Images


On August 22nd (A22), Portland, Oregon, played host to another of the demonstration/counter-demonstrations/streetfights that have defined much of the political terrain over the past several years.

Simultaneous with the growth of a mass far-rightism attached to Trump's rise, antifascism has evolved from a minority current to something much broader. But the events of A22 have highlighted some crucial general issues for the militant antifascist movement.

A22 raises many questions that our movements have thus far failed to properly grapple with: What are our goals and strategies? What is the relationship between organizing in affinity groups and building a popular resistance? How do we organize broadly democratic movements while respecting the autonomy of smaller groups and dissident tendencies? How do we develop principled stances and methods of action even in the face of serious disagreements, the outcome of which create risks for all participants and our movements as a whole? Is it time to rethink orthodox positions relating to "no platform", "diversity of tactics", and "we go where they go"?
 
Three Way Fight is hosting a series of replies to A22 and the questions it raises. We are seeking principled responses, not personal attacks or sectarian squabbles (or, for that matter, uncritical boosterism). We also ask that submissions take into consideration issues of movement security, remembering that both the fascists and the state will be searching for faultiness to divide our movements. That said, healthy movements need critical and sharp analysis, honest discussion, and vigorous debate.
 
We will be publishing several articles over the next few weeks and are starting by reposting two that have already been published and made public on A22.

 

Antifascists Stopped Proud Boys From Entering Portland’s City Center on Sunday by Shane Burley for Truthout

 

“[Today] was 100% a victory. The community came together and showed up for each other and their neighbors. The far right did their math, saw the widespread opposition in Portland, and decided they would rather go stand in an abandoned K-mart parking lot, miles away,” Larry told Truthout. “Portland kept them out of downtown and kept each other safe.”

 

 

We Went Where They Went — 8/22/21 Report back by section of Portland Black Bloc  published by Rose City Counter-Info

 

While we understand that people wanted to “defend” downtown Portland, which has been the primary battleground over the last few years, allowing the Proud Boys to go uncountered in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in all of Portland would have had disastorous consequences. We do not regret our decision to stand up to the fascists and let them know they are not welcome in our city…

 

Yes, confronting the fascists where they rallied was dangerous, and that should be expected. We cannot push fascism off of our streets without taking risks, and we all knew the risks we took. When fascists rally, we do not have the luxury of hanging back and avoiding all danger. Some crews we talked to on the waterfront told us that they “didn’t want to fight”, and so we did not ask them to. As anarchists, we center our our decision-making around freedom of association. We do not need to have every single person agree on what to do, we seek agreement only within the group taking action together. We reject majority rule and democracy,we embrace autonomy. No individual, crew, or formation of crews is bound by the abstract will of the entire collective. We seek consensus between the individuals in crews, and between crews that are working together, but this consensus need not ever extend any further. 

 

If you would like to join the discussion, send submissions to: threewayfight@gmail.com

Related posts:

Understanding A22 PDX: Three Responses

Understanding A22 PDX: Never Let the Nazis Have the Story! The Narrative Aspect of Conflict

Understanding A22 PDX: Broader implications for militant movements

Understanding A22 PDX: Response from a Comrade, "We Go Where They Go" as strategy for militant antifascism

There Will Always Be More Of Us: Antifascist Organizing

Aug 8, 2021

Guest post: A Response to "Seven Theses on the Three-Way Fight"


The concern is that the "everyday antifascism" the author is talking about, is a watered down version of antifascism which focuses too much on uniting with liberals and bourgeois democracy. We've seen some of this in the recent past where militant antifascists, even people who consider themselves to be revolutionaries, spend their time uniting with DSA and making themselves and their groups acceptable to social democrats and liberals. That's a hard habit to break.

I'm not saying that we don't unite our forces for specific struggles or in broad coalitions, we do. Facing fascists or the cops, I'm glad to see folks with us. But we need militant antifascism that is radical and revolutionary and works to unite the working class and the oppressed in the fight against fascism and white supremacy and the system which produces both. My point is we need to focus on building militant and radical and revolutionary organizations to fight fascism and the state, fascism and the whole system. And if we have revolutionary organizations which are open and clear about their beliefs and approach, then we can participate openly in broader formations or coalitions which include many different forces around specific struggles and issues.

The concern is that in the absence of such revolutionary organizations, then militant antifascists orienting to liberal antifascists results in everyday antifascism, which is not enough. Which is not up to the task of taking on fascists and white supremacists and the state and the whole system.

Editors note: With the publishing of Devin Zane Shaw's, Seven Theses on the Three-Way Fight, we are hoping to gather responses and critical replies. Our hope is to generate a broad and constructive discussion on the ways forward for the revolutionary and antifascist movements.

The following is an initial response by, Bob Day. Day is an anarchist and is an active member of both Detroit Eviction Defense and Solidarity & Defense. 

I appreciate this piece by Devin Zane Shaw, it raises important issues and helps to clarify some of the concerns I've had on the political approach and strategy expressed as Three Way Fight. I recommend the article and will discuss a couple of concerns here. There is plenty of good information in the article. I try to be an anarchist and revolutionary. I hope these comments can contribute to broader and ongoing discussions.

In Thesis #3, the author says: "... we must recognize the line of adjacency between militant antifascism and the egalitarian aspirations of bourgeois democracy. It is the shared appeal to egalitarianism which makes fostering a broader sense of everyday antifascism possible. But it also means, as I will argue in thesis six, that militants must uphold a revolutionary horizon to keep the limitations of liberal antifascism in focus."

I take this to mean that militant or radical antifascists should unite or attempt to unite forces with liberals around issues of equality and bourgeois democracy. It's not wrong to try to unite our forces to fight fascists or racist attacks or police murders or to fight for equality. It's right. But the fight usually comes against nazis or against police or against racists or in defense of people's rights, and it's a fight against the opposing side whether it's fascists or cops. These are fights, and it seems different than "egalitarian aspirations of bourgeois democracy." The point is coalitions and united fronts need to be built in actual struggles. We fight to defend democratic rights, and we fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie and their system.

The concern is that the "everyday antifascism" the author is talking about, is a watered down version of antifascism which focuses too much on uniting with liberals and bourgeois democracy. We've seen some of this in the recent past where militant antifascists, even people who consider themselves to be revolutionaries, spend their time uniting with DSA and making themselves and their groups acceptable to social democrats and liberals. That's a hard habit to break.

I'm not saying that we don't unite our forces for specific struggles or in broad coalitions, we do. Facing fascists or the cops, I'm glad to see folks with us. But we need militant antifascism that is radical and revolutionary and works to unite the working class and the oppressed in the fight against fascism and white supremacy and the system which produces both. My point is we need to focus on building militant and radical and revolutionary organizations to fight fascism and the state, fascism and the whole system. And if we have revolutionary organizations which are open and clear about their beliefs and approach, then we can participate openly in broader formations or coalitions which include many different forces around specific struggles and issues.

The concern is that in the absence of such revolutionary organizations, then militant antifascists orienting to liberal antifascists results in everyday antifascism, which is not enough. Which is not up to the task of taking on fascists and white supremacists and the state and the whole system.

Further in #3, the author differentiates between "system-loyal vigilantism and system-oppositional armed organization." Supporters of the Three Way Fight approach focus to a large degree on the "system-oppositional" forces. The U.S. certainly has both and a history of both. The U.S. was founded as a white supremacist state, a settler colonial state, and that continues. There is a long history of white supremacists ruling and running the country. The revolution in the U.S. was carried out largely to extend the colonization without limits, to take more indigenous lands, and to extend, expand and maintain the system of slavery. The U.S. system was and is a white supremacist system.

The white supremacists ruled openly and directly. They still do. The Civil War ended the slave system, but the Jim Crow system, the American Apartheid system soon replaced the slave system. There is and has been a close connection between the government, the police, the Klan, the white supremacist enforcers, the overseers. This is the U.S.

There also have been and are system oppositional fascist and fascistic forces. These are fascist forces which fight the police and the state and seek to overthrow the system. It's a mistake I think to focus on only one or the other. The "cops and the Klan go hand in hand" is true, and it always has been true. That there are system oppositional fascist forces also is true.

The mainstreaming of fascism and fascist ideas and organizing stands out in recent years. Fascist and proto fascist organizations like the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, Three Percenters and various racist and right-wing militias have grown, expanded and become tied in with the Republican Party, Trump, the local police and so on. The mainstreaming of fascism and white supremacy was so extreme that system oppositional fascists seemed to fall from view. Doesn't mean they've disappeared or aren't a danger, but the main fascist forces seem to be out in the open. There now is a mass base for fascism in this country which numbers in the millions.

Antifascist ideas and sentiments also have grown and expanded. There is a broad antifascist base in this country, also numbering in the millions, but the antifascist movement has not kept pace. I believe the antifascist movement is in crisis and part of the crisis is tied to the linking of antifascist groups with social democrats, liberals, DSA, Democrats. This is the taming and mainstreaming of the antifascist movement. This is part of the danger of militant antifascists orienting to liberal antifascists and everyday antifascism. The Democratic Party and DSA are based on pulling people out of movements and radicalism and militant antifascism into respectability politics, into the mainstream, into supporting the system.

It's not that the militant antifascists recruit and win over the liberal antifascists; it's the liberals and social democrats who overwhelm the militant antifascists and tame the antifascist movement into the various channels of the Democratic Party. The Democrats pose the problem as defending the system, defending "democracy" against the fascists. In many ways, the struggle appears as the fascists and Republicans against the Democrats. For many fascists and their mass base, the enemy is the Democrats. And antifascists and the Black Lives Matter movement are seen as appendages of the Democrats.

The task for militant antifascists is to break out of this trap, to be independent of liberalism and the Democrats and DSA and the system. I don't think the orientation to liberal antifascists or everyday antifascism aids in this task. I think it orients people to supporting the system and is a mistake.

In Thesis #4, the author says: "In North America, the historical development of liberal political and cultural institutions is inseparable from the development of settler colonialism." 1776 was the rebellion of the slaveowners, the big property owners to defend, expand and extend the slave system. 1776 was the big landowners, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest carrying out expansion of settlements into the Ohio country and beyond. It was genocide. George Washington was known as "the town destroyer" to the indigenous peoples he attacked, displaced and murdered. The "liberal political and cultural institutions" was a thin veneer on the white supremacist state, the settler colonial state, the United States of America.

This system, the USA as a country, is built on stolen land and stolen wealth. This means that the USA as a country, the USA as a white supremacist system, the USA as a settler colonial state, must be destroyed. That is the task. The orientation to liberal antifascism and everyday antifascism does not aid in the fight to destroy the system; the danger is it can help to prop up and support the system.

Many who support the fascists or are in the mass base of fascism seek the "American Dream." They seek a return to 1776, the open white supremacist, settler state. Many are petit bourgeois, small business owners or middle class or want to be. The American Dream they seek is the white supremacist dream, which was based on forcing indigenous people from their lands and stealing, occupying those lands for small farms and small businesses. The fascist base wants status and property; they want their American Dream restored. They want status at the expense of Black people and immigrants and refugees and indigenous people and beyond. Trump and others base their success on turning people's angers and fears on and against the Others. Instead of anger at the capitalists and the billionaires, the fascists and neo fascists and white supremacists stoke fear and urge people to direct their anger at Muslims or undocumented workers or the Black Lives Matter movement or Antifa.

Liberals have no answer, because liberals support the system. Liberals support the ruling class. Any orientation focusing on liberals to defeat fascism is destined to fail, because orienting to liberals means supporting the system and being respectable enough so as not to scare the liberals away. That's the wrong strategy. The only way to defeat the fascists and the white supremacists is to fight them and to destroy the system which gives rise to them and supports them. The only way is revolution.

The George Floyd uprisings of last year does provide the alternative. Millions of people, Black and white and united, rose up against the racist police and the white supremacist state. This is the potential; this is the mass base for revolution against the system. Many fascists and white supremacists acted as vigilantes and aided the police in attacking the protests. The author is correct in pointing out this out: " ... a common interest in defending settler state hegemony against challenges from the revolutionary left and the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples forms the basis of the line of adjacency between bourgeois liberalism and white supremacist settlerism." We need to take this understanding and focus on building the revolutionary left and liberation struggles of oppressed peoples. We need to organize to fight the state and the fascists. This should be our focus, and this means a break and a reckoning with liberals and progressives and social democrats who support this system. This doesn't mean we don't work with any of these forces; it does mean that we remain independent and critical as we work in broader formations around specific struggles.

In Thesis #5, the author recognizes or seems to recognize that fascists and white supremacists in this country have gone back and forth between system loyal and system oppositional. I think part of the problem with the Three Way Fight approach is the focus on system oppositional fascists. "Though contemporary far right movements are system-oppositional now, that has not unequivocally been the case historically." To say the least. George Washington was president, as were Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. While the Civil War raged, Lincoln hanged 38 Sioux warriors in Minnesota, and Lincoln had built his reputation by being a leader in the Blackhawk war in Illinois, the war against the indigenous people of what is now Illinois.

The Civil War ended slavery, but within a few short years, the white supremacists and the Klan had established the Black Codes, Jim Crow, segregation and the system of American Apartheid. The apartheid system replaced the slave system and was the law of the land for the next hundred years. White supremacy was the system. The Klan ruled in much of the country, and the apartheid system was law, was the system. Woodrow Wilson screened "The Klansman" in the White House and thought it was great.

The U.S. is and always has been a white supremacist state and system. The Civil Rights movement and the Black liberation uprisings and struggles in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s forced some important changes: the right to vote, outlawing discrimination in schools, housing, public accommodations and more. But it was the struggle of ordinary people, of Black people and supporters who forced these changes. And in the 50 years since, the white supremacist system has continued and remains. The right to vote is under attack. Discrimination continues. The fight for basic rights continues; the racist system continues. Liberals like the Clintons and Biden helped to maintain the white supremacist system by crime bills and mass incarceration and attacks on welfare and the rest. The white supremacist system has changed forms but continues. The cops and the Klan go hand in hand. It was true and remains true. And the liberals help to enable this and continue to support the system.

System oppositional fascists are a danger and a threat. They are a force in the country and must be exposed and defended against. But they are not the main threat. The author says "contemporary far right movements are system-oppositional now ....", I don't think that's true. There are far right white supremacists in Congress, in the courts, in the military, in the police, across the Republican Party, in conservative Christian churches, opposing vaccines and masks, doing Qanon and so on and so on.

The people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th were coming from a Trump rally. They didn't suddenly become system-oppositional. They were demanding the system serve them and overturn the election results. They were demanding Trump. They don't oppose the system. They oppose the Democrats. They demand to run the system and will use force to make it happen. They oppose Black Lives Matter and antifa and any force opposing them. They want their needs met, their needs first, their control, no matter what it takes or who it hurts. That's what we're up against.

And the liberals and Democrats will not stop them. They may see that a few of them go to jail, and they hold their hearings. But this changes nothing. The white supremacist right, the fascists, and the mass base for fascism is emboldened. This is a battle. This is class war.

This is not just Marx talking about the petit bourgeoisie getting crushed by the big capitalists. The petit bourgeois dream was the American Dream. And the white supremacist system delivered for many white settlers. They built their farms on land stolen from indigenous peoples. They built their businesses in towns where indigenous villages used to be. They were overseers and cops and managers for slaveowners and plantation owners and the white elites. That was then. Big capital has attacked small farmers for 150 years, so that small farmers are nearly extinct. McDonald's replaced the local restaurant decades ago.

Middle class and petit bourgeois white people are losing ground, are losing status, are being forced into the working class. This is capitalism. And their kids are having great difficulty finding middle class status or good paying jobs of any kind. The great fear of being pushed into the working class, of losing status is driving the frenzy of white people and others who make up the mass base of fascism. They buy into the racist scapegoating and refuse to turn and face, turn and fight the capitalist class and the system as part of a united working class.

The author states, correctly, that "there is no way fascism can be permanently defeated without overthrowing the conditions which give rise to it: capitalism and white supremacy, and in North America, settler colonialism." The author talks about a "revolutionary horizon," but it appears to be a vague and distant horizon, at best. A united front of the "major leftist ideological currents - socialism, anarchism or communism " is proposed, but there are no details. And the truth is that a united front of this sort would include Stalinists, DSA types, various Leninists/vanguardists and some anarchists and would be a mess. There would be no agreement on revolutionary horizon because the DSA types oppose revolution, the Stalinists/Leninists want an authoritarian state and anarchists want to destroy the state. It's back to militant antifascism with the revolutionary horizon receded into the mist.

No basis is presented for organizing around the revolutionary horizon, but the author says the revolutionary horizon must be maintained "to avoid being absorbed within the ideological parameters of liberal antifascism." Because the revolutionary horizon as discussed is so vague and limited, the conclusion is that militant antifascism will be absorbed within liberal antifascism. And this is what seems to be happening. The fascists continue to organize and grow, the Democrats do their investigations, and militant antifascism is in danger of being absorbed into the DSA and the Democratic Party and liberal antifascism.

The threat and the danger is that militant antifascism is being collapsed into a Popular Front with the liberals, an alliance with the liberal wing of the ruling class. This seems to be happening. The Popular Front, the alliance with the liberals leads to defeat.

There is an alternative to the Popular Front, to the vague alliance with the liberals. The need is for revolutionary organizations which can work in and help to initiate broader united fronts and coalitions. Revolutionary organizations which can maintain principles and critiques and beliefs, while working in broader united fronts which include antifascists, militants, leftists, community activists, workers and people from oppressed communities. These organizations and these united fronts can help to fight the fascists and help to defend our communities. This is not impossible. It takes organizations which are based in the reality of the need to fight the fascists and the state, the need to fight and overthrow the entire system of capitalism and white supremacy. Organizations which are clear that the fight is against the fascists and the state, the fascists and the police, the courts, the prisons, the government.

Revolutionaries can and must work with people who are not or are not yet revolutionaries. It's finding common ground, whether that's in a workplace, a union, a fight against evictions, a fight against the police, a fight against racists or a fight against fascists. The key is an honest and open approach to community self-defense, where we know we cannot ourselves provide that defense. We can work together with others in the community to build and provide that defense. So this is a revolutionary framework with some modesty and honesty. In this context, people who follow developments on the far right, people who help to expose fascists, people who participate in defense against fascist attacks, people who report on and document the fight against fascism in all its forms, all have important roles to play. The key is to have revolutionary organizations and united fronts based in communities and the working class, independent of politicians and preachers and nonprofits and the Democratic Party.

What we need are organizations which can maintain revolutionary approaches and analysis while working in broader united fronts and coalitions around specific demands and issues. The more organizations try to stay vague around militant antifascism and try to orient to liberal antifascists and everyday antifascism, the more organizations tie themselves to liberals, the state, the Democrats. And this is what we see happening today.

Aug 1, 2021

Seven Theses on the Three-Way Fight

By Devin Zane Shaw

The seven theses I propose here were first published as part of a preface to T. Derbent’s German Communist Resistance 1933–1945, published by Foreign Languages Press (2020). I have reworked parts of that preface here as a standalone essay that aims to summarize the praxis of the three-way fight and forecast problems and prospects going forward.

Sign held at rally, with drawing of a fist and the words "FIGHT FASCISM"
In leftist—that is, socialist, anarchist, and communist—circles, it is still common to hear discussions of fascism couched in terms similar to Dimitrov’s formulation of the Comintern’s popular-front line as established in 1935. He asserts that “fascism in power is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”[1] The prolonged afterlife of this definition is likely due in part to the fact that it was later adopted, with slight modification, by the Black Panther Party in its call for a united front against fascism in 1969: “Fascism is the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic (racist) and the most imperialist elements of finance capital.”[2] Though I readily accept that fascism must be understood as a movement that is enabled by and a reaction to capitalist crises, and I maintain that fascism cannot take power without some factions of capital collaborating with far-right movements, there are numerous problems with identifying its overriding class character with the most extreme factions of capital. If we re-examine Dimitrov’s two major essays from 1935—The Fascist Offensive and Unity of the Working Class—we find that his analysis hints at a more complicated picture of the class character of fascism, but that it is largely explained away as a product of demagoguery.[3] In any case, from this overarching perspective, the non-bourgeois elements of fascist movements are treated as mere instruments or lackeys of the fascist bourgeoisie.

Some critics reject the orthodox Marxist line represented by Dimitrov, but nonetheless preserve part of its form: where Dimitrov focuses on the specific class character of fascism, that is, locating its leadership within the most reactionary and extreme factions within the bourgeoisie, this non-orthodox interpretation treats fascism as an extreme version of some aspects of capitalist social relations. In other words, while Dimitrov focuses on fascism as a particularly extreme and terroristic form of one particular faction of bourgeois class rule, these critics treat fascism as a new particular application of the state’s repressive apparatuses. These critics also overstate how contemporary fascism breaks from patterns of classical fascism: Enzo Traverso’s “postfascism,” Samir Gandesha’s “posthuman fascism,” or Alberto Toscano’s “racial fascism” (which evokes a parallel to the concept of racial capitalism, but adding “racial” to fascism is redundant) or “late fascism.”[4] Fascism, though, is not merely a new phase of capitalism or state repression.

These variations on the thesis that fascism represents an extreme faction or policy of capitalism fall short for the same reason: they do not reflect the reality on the ground, in the concrete struggle between militant antifascism and far-right and fascist movements. It’s clearly not the bourgeoisie who were holding the tiki torches in Charlottesville. And while there are connections and ideological similarities between the far right and certain apparatuses of state power (such as the police), their organizational interests do not necessarily align. In sum, the received concept of fascism as an extreme faction or policy of capitalism does not explain the presence of system-oppositional currents in the far right that fight against bourgeois political and cultural power. (Which is different than saying bourgeois class rule; as I argue in theses two and five, far-right movements seek to reorganize capital accumulation on advantageous terms, not to overthrow capitalism.) Indeed, these Dimitrov variations, as it were, could each lend themselves to a supposed leftist argument against using direct action: if fascism is the product of the most reactionary elements of the class rule of capital or an extreme implementation of repressive state power, the argument goes, then using direct action against the far-right malcontents in the streets siphons resources from broader anticapitalist organizing. In other words, from this perspective, militant antifascism combats symptoms rather than causes.

Hence there is a need, from a militant perspective for a different approach. Unsurprisingly, there has been a growing interest in the history and practice of nonorthodox approaches to antifascist organizing: for example, the 43 Group, the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, Anti-Racist Action (ARA), and, as evidenced by the re-edition of the anthology Confronting Fascism in 2017, the three-way fight.[5] These groups sometimes had similar approaches but we must also highlight their differences. The three-way fight differs from the other groups because, despite the organizational, extra-legal and militant aspects of these groupings and movements, they did not develop the necessary revolutionary outlook to orient their activity. Even with ARA, the revolutionary concepts which formed the basis for three-way fight were a minority tendency. What is needed now are the revolutionary, liberatory visions and living forms of praxis of the three-way fight. I will tentatively define the three-way fight, which I will outline in more detail below, as an approach to antifascist struggle that situates militant action against both system-oppositional far-right groups and bourgeois democracy (as it is embodied, in North America, in both bourgeois democratic institutions and what I call settler-state hegemony, liberalism as ideology, and the repressive state apparatus). Reality on the ground is more complicated and rife with contradictions than a one-sentence definition can encapsulate, so while this tentative definition cannot replace the seven theses I propose below, it does serve as an starting point for the discussion.

The Present Conjuncture

Before presenting the seven theses on the three-way fight, I want to underline that, compared to the last five years, the coordinates of antifascist struggle have changed. While militant antifascism is best-known for its embrace of the diversity of tactics, over the past several years many militants have worked to create a broader social atmosphere of everyday antifascism, which brought those who I would call “liberal antifascists” into the broader struggle against far-right groups. Fostering everyday antifascism makes it possible to organize a broader movement in opposition to far-right groups when they mobilize in our cities. Everyday antifascism could, under the right conditions, bring larger crowds to counter-protests; it also provides political education on how the seemingly small things, like seating far-right groups at restaurants or providing lodging, enables the far-right threat to communities. With Trump in office, there was no chance that antifascism could be funnelled back toward state-sponsored American civic participation, although as election day approached, intellectuals such as Cornel West described their support for Biden as an “antifascist vote.” A united front of militant antifascists—largely drawn from socialist, communist, and anarchist backgrounds—was formed within a broader milieu that included sympathetic liberal antifascists who, if they were not drawn toward militant action, at least provided room to manoeuvre.

With Trump deposed from power, the situation has changed. The differences between liberal antifascists and militants are more starkly illuminated as the immediate threat—or, frankly, what is perceived by some to be the immediate threat—of fascism has abated. Thus we should reiterate the differences between these two currents of antifascism:

  • Militant antifascism upholds the diversity of tactics to combat far-right and fascist organizing; it organizes as a form of community self-defense which (at least ideally) builds reciprocal relationships with marginalized and oppressed communities. In addition, it ought to recognize and uphold the “revolutionary horizon” of antifascist struggle: fascism cannot be permanently defeated until the conditions which give rise to fascism are overthrown.
  • Liberal antifascism, in Mark Bray’s concise definition, entails “a faith in the inherent power of the public sphere to filter out fascist ideas, and in the institutions of government to forestall the advancement of fascist politics.”[6] Liberal antifascists appeal to the democratic norms of these institutions, but they also assume that law enforcement will apply force to repress fascism when it constitutes a legitimate threat; furthermore, they also tend to accept the converse of the foregoing proposition: if law enforcement doesn’t intervene, then no legitimate threat is present.

“When the threat of fascism seems to have passed … liberal antifascism returns to the paradigm of ‘extremism’ for categorizing militant and revolutionary leftist movements and the far right as two sides of the same extremist coin.”

In the wake of the far-right putsch on Capitol Hill on January 6th, 2021, when I was working on the first version of this essay, I suggested that the Biden administration was poised to marshal the popular outrage toward that event to siphon parts of the broader atmosphere of everyday antifascism—which previously made it possible to organize militant antifascist actions relatively openly—to fortify Democratic blocs. Biden had, for example, in August 2017, only a few weeks after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, published an editorial in The Atlantic denouncing Trump’s equivocations about the far right; he had also referenced Charlottesville several times during his campaign. However, as it turns out, mainstream liberal antifascists were content to encapsulate and isolate fascism around so-called “Trumpism,” which was defeated with the victory and inauguration of the Biden administration, though, they sternly warned, a more effective demagogue could wreak more havoc than Trump in the future.

We must, by contrast, disentangle an array of far-right phenomena: Trump’s particular propaganda campaign against the legitimacy of his electoral defeat; the drift, or push, of the Republican Party toward far-right ideology; Trump’s attempt to suppress the anti-police uprising; and the temporary alignment of ideologically system-oppositional groups as system-loyal vigilantism against antifascist and anti-racist organizing. What differentiates our perspective from the critique of “Trumpism,” which we must emphasize, is that we cannot lose sight of the far right as a relatively autonomous social movement. Trump’s ascendency was based in part on the emergence and growth of far-right organizing, and he certainly didn’t conjure them out of the blue. Likewise, his electoral defeat does not signal their defeat and dissolution.

In order to examine the present conjuncture, we must admit that coalitions which have formed over the last five years between militant and liberal antifascists were, from the beginning, fraught. The two groups adhere to incompatible ideological commitments and organizational strategies. As I have already noted, militant antifascists struggle against both the far right and bourgeois democracy. This dual struggle necessitates criticism of liberal antifascism as well. First, militant antifascists, as I argue in thesis six, must maintain a revolutionary horizon, in which their practices are directed toward not only fighting the far right, but forging organizational capacity and skill for broader social—though in its various manifestations, also class—struggle against capitalist rule. This struggle brings antifascist action into direct conflict with both the far right and the repressive state apparatus, and hence militants must carry out investigations into the relationship between law enforcement and far-right organizing. Liberal perspectives and militant perspectives will never align on law enforcement.

But as militant and liberal antifascist coalitions fragment, we must also pay close attention to the vicissitudes of liberal antifascism. In the interregnum between January 6th, 2021 and the Inauguration, some liberal antifascists framed American civic participation and protection of democratic institutions as antifascist, and on this basis, I had previously examined the potential for Biden to appropriate this discourse. As it turns out, Biden’s administration pivoted—not unlike numerous liberal antifascist intellectuals—from formulating an opposition of antifascism and fascism to an opposition between liberal norms and extremism. We must interpret this pivot.

Given that liberal antifascists rely on democratic norms and rational persuasion to criticize fascist positions, under normal circumstances they carry out criticism within the parameters of liberal institutions, especially through the medium of intellectual exchange and debate. And under normal conditions, liberal ideology writ large—and liberal antifascists as a whole are typically no exception—condemns insurgent organizing, whether it is the militant left or the far right, as political “extremism” (patterned on the discourse of so-called totalitarianism, which equivocates between communism and fascism). Hence liberal horseshoe theory, which empties fascism and militant antifascism of their explicit (and incompatible) political content in order to present them as two iterations of purportedly irrational violence, although, of course, the only thing the two share is the rejection of the state’s asserted monopoly on violence.

But when the far right mounts a significant challenge to bourgeois political and cultural power, threatening liberal institutions, and (unsurprisingly) intellectual exchange and debate prove ineffective, some liberal antifascists enter into coalitions with or within militant groups. We saw numerous instances of this over the last few years. Though there are pronounced theoretical and practical differences between them, these two currents of antifascism converge around a shared sense of egalitarianism, which opens for militants a broader horizon for organizing around the practices of everyday antifascism. As a consequence of this practical readjustment, as we have seen, liberal antifascists set aside the framework of “extremism” in order to enter the struggle between militant antifascism and the far right.

However, when the threat of fascism seems to have passed—that is, at least from the liberal perspective, when it appears that the far right has been unable to seize political, cultural, or institutional control—we should expect, and must prepare for, liberal antifascism to revert to its normal institutional habits. Thus as liberalism shores up political hegemony, liberal antifascism returns to the paradigm of “extremism” for categorizing militant and revolutionary leftist movements and the far right as two sides of the same extremist coin. I believe we are witnessing these shifts at the present moment, and hence it is all the more important that antifascist intellectuals both critique and refuse to collaborate with those think tanks and university institutions that push the “extremist studies” approach to fascism and antifascism. An academic pedigree for parts of the state security apparatus does not remove their ultimately repressive function.

When liberal antifascists categorize militant antifascism as extremist, they not only work to delegitimize militant currents; they also provide the ideological justification for the political use of force for repressive state apparatuses. If liberal antifascism succeeds in pulling everyday antifascism back toward bourgeois forms of institutional and cultural power, it will effectively empty everyday antifascism of any concrete political and organizational content, while setting the stage for state repression of militant antifascists.[7] The extension of law enforcement powers that follow in the wake of far-right actions related to the Capitol riot will redound against left-wing militants, because the repressive state apparatus specifically frames its work in this domain as a fight against extremism.

In my view, the political success of liberal antifascism will always be a pyrrhic victory. Militant antifascism draws its strength from its organizational capacity—that is, its ability to undermine far-right organizing. When words no longer match deeds, when theory no longer matches practical results, then militant antifascism enters into crisis. The principal contradiction of militant antifascism is that these forms of organizing often only last as long as the threat of far-right groups effectively persists. 

“Militant antifascism draws its strength from its ability to undermine far-right organizing. When words no longer match deeds, when theory no longer matches practical results, then militant antifascism enters into crisis.”

But repressive state violence, under the auspices of fighting political extremism, can apply force to accelerate the decomposition of militant organizing capacity. Liberal antifascists do not recognize, or do not adequately challenge, how their typical political framework legitimizes state power. They do not recognize how dismantling militant antifascist organizing capacity undermines community self-defense, and hence how it enables conditions for far-right forces to regroup. The danger remains that conditions arise in the future that are even more conducive to far-right movements than they have been over the last five years.

Seven Theses on Militant Antifascism

The foregoing scenario is far from a fait accompli. It can be forestalled by renewed efforts at militant political education and organizing around a united front policy. The electoral defeat of the Trump administration has untethered far-right organizing from its momentary system-loyal pretensions, though without necessarily undermining alliances that were forged by the mutual opposition of some far-right groups and police departments to the anti-police uprising of 2020. I will conclude by proposing a series of theses concerning a united front policy for militant antifascists in North America, though I believe some points also hold in other situations. I defend them in more detail elsewhere.[8] We will begin with defining two terms: fascism and the far right.

1. Fascism is a social movement involving a relatively autonomous and insurgent (potentially) mass base, driven by an authoritarian vision of collective rebirth, that challenges bourgeois institutional and cultural power, while re-entrenching economic and social hierarchies.

This definition of fascism—adapted from the work of Matthew N. Lyons and drawing from the discussion between Don Hamerquist and J. Sakai in Confronting Fascism (2002)—is a marked departure from the most common Marxist definition, which holds that fascism is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”[9] Whereas Dimitrov’s formulation, as it is typically applied, treats fascists in the streets as instruments of the most reactionary faction of capital, the definition I offer asserts that fascist social movements are relatively autonomous formations that challenge bourgeois institutional and cultural power. This autonomy does not preclude hegemonic formations between fascists and the bourgeoisie. As Hamerquist argues, the Nazis’ seizure of power united factions of the ruling-class interested in imposing fascism “from above” with non-socialist factions (and I’m using the term “socialist” as loosely as possible here) of the fascist movement and “nazi political structure had a clear and substantial autonomy from the capitalist class and the strength to impose certain positions on that class.”[10]

As to the class composition of fascism, T. Derbent comments that “workers were the only social group whose percentage of Nazi party members was lower than its percentage in the total population.”[11] Closer to the present, an examination of 49 of 107 persons arrested for participation in the Capitol riot indicates the generally petty bourgeois character of participants.[12] Both observations affirm that the class composition of the far right and fascism is more complex than the most reactionary faction(s) of the bourgeoisie. In North America, the far right draws from elements of the white petty bourgeoisie who are seeking to protect their social status—purchased, as W.E.B. Du Bois argues, through the wages of whiteness—and/or their class position. Fascism is, in my view, relatively autonomous because it is anti-bourgeois, but anti-capitalist only to the degree that it seeks to reorganize capital accumulation on terms conducive to its base. To illustrate: Hamerquist has adduced examples where fascist policies have interrupted the normal functioning of capitalism, but as Lyons notes, “no fascist movement has substantively attacked core capitalist structures such as private property and the market economy.”[13]

2. Fascist ideology and organizing develops within a broader far-right ecological niche.

Lyons defines the far-right as inclusive of “political forces that (a) regard human inequality as natural, inevitable, or desirable and (b) reject the legitimacy of the established political system.”[14] Lyons’s definition focuses our attention on two key features of the far-right milieu, within which fascists organize. First, far-right groups seek to re-entrench social and economic inequalities, but the social hierarchies they advocate aren’t necessarily drawn along racial lines. Lyons gives the example of the Christian far right, which advocates for a theocratic state that centers heterosexual male dominance. In general, this movement has embraced Islamophobia and “promotes policies that implicitly bolster racial oppression,” but some groups have conducted outreach to conservative Christians of color while others have formed alliances with white supremacist groups.[15] Fascist movements emerge within a broader milieu of rightwing social movements and these various groups sometimes establish alliances and sometimes conflict. In fact, one purpose of antifascist counter-protesting when these groups rally is to put pressure on their organizing; when these rallies are disrupted or dispersed through antifascist action, far-right alliances often rapidly splinter as prominent figures and groups within the far right trade accusations and recriminations.

Second, far-right groups reject the legitimacy of, as I would phrase it, bourgeois-democratic institutions of political and cultural power. Though mainstream conservatism has been pulled toward the far-right in ideological terms, organizational differences between “oppositional and system-loyal rightists is more significant than ideological differences about race, religion, economics, or other factors.”[16]

3. Militant antifascism is involved in a three-way fight against insurgent far-right movements and bourgeois democracy (or, in ideological terms, liberalism).

More precisely, each “corner” of the three-way fight struggles against the other two at the same time this struggle offers lines of adjacency against a common enemy. The first and most fundamental lesson of the three-way fight is that while both revolutionary movements and far-right movements are insurgent forms of opposition against bourgeois democracy, “my enemy’s enemy is not my friend.” Given that far-right groups also aim to recruit or ally with some leftist groups, it is all the more important to root out all forms of chauvinism within our practices and organizations. Second, we must recognize the line of adjacency between militant antifascism and the egalitarian aspirations of bourgeois democracy. It is the shared appeal to egalitarianism which makes fostering a broader sense of everyday antifascism possible. But it also means, as I will argue in thesis six, that militants must uphold a revolutionary horizon to keep the limitations of liberal antifascism in focus.

We will deal with the line of adjacency between the far right and bourgeois democracy (or liberalism) in the next two theses. But before moving on, we must examine the relationship between far-right groups and law enforcement. The slogan that “cops and klan go hand-in-hand” expresses two fundamental aspects of this relationship. First, it acknowledges the systemic role of law enforcement: that is, law enforcement protects the systemic white supremacy of North American settler-colonial states. Second, it also emphasizes not only common membership between the two groups (when police, for example, are also members of the KKK), but also the ideological bases, through which police and system-loyal vigilante groups find common cause in opposition to leftist movements.

However, it would be incorrect to assume that there are no antagonisms between law enforcement and far-right groups. In my view, it is more accurate to differentiate between what I would call system-loyal vigilantism and system-oppositional armed organization. On the terms established by Lyons, all far-right groups are ideologically system-oppositional, but not all of them are organized in system-oppositional forms. Over the last few years, many framed their actions as system-loyal vigilantism, which I would define as the use of violent tactics to harass, intimidate, or physically harm individuals or groups participating in transformative egalitarian movements. While some levels of law enforcement tend to be permissive or deferential toward system-loyal rightwing vigilantism, there are recent examples of law enforcement at the federal level moving to repress system-oppositional groups organized around armed insurgency. In 2020, law enforcement moved to incapacitate numerous far-right armed accelerationist groups, including members or groups affiliated with The Base, Atomwaffen, and the more loosely-affiliated boogaloo movement. Nevertheless, we must not mistake law enforcement repression to signal an unequivocal antagonism between police and the far right or any degree of common cause between these targeted far-right groups and militant and revolutionary leftist movements.

4. The particularity of the three-way fight is dependent on concrete social relations. Far-right and fascist groups draw on and respond differently to different social contexts. For example, during the interwar period, fascist movements drew from the imperialist aspirations of European nationalisms. In North America, far-right movements emerge in relation to broader ideological and material forms of settler-colonialism (which includes—meaning that capital accumulation is imbricated in—elements of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, ableism, and Indigenous dispossession). [17]

In North America, the historical development of liberal political and cultural institutions is inseparable from the development of settler colonialism. Nonetheless it would be undialectical to treat them uncritically as the same thing. Instead, in my view, it is more precise to contend that settler-state hegemony is formed by the mediation of bourgeois liberalism and white supremacist settlerism. I would define white supremacist settlerism as an ideological framework which privileges both white entitlement to land (possession or dominion) over the colonized’s right to sovereignty and autonomy, and entitlements encapsulated in what Du Bois called the “public and psychological wage of whiteness.” Examining the end of the Reconstruction period in the southern United States after the Civil War, Du Bois argues that the potential for the formation of abolition democracy, built on the solidarity between the black and white proletariat, was defeated by the hegemonic reorganization of settler-state hegemony which ensured forms of deference and the institutionalization of racial control, as well as opening institutional access to education and social mobility to poor whites, drawing them, even if only aspirationally, into the petty bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy.[18]

Du Bois’ analysis remains the prototype—though it must be theoretically corrected by incorporating the role that the settlement of the western frontier played in this dynamic—for conceptualizing settler-state hegemony and the role that whiteness plays within it. The presidential campaigns of 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and then the widespread antipolice uprising, offered two competing visions of reorganizing American settler-state hegemony—one which attempted to pull some system-oppositional far-right movements toward system-loyal organizing (embodied in the fall of 2020 as vigilantism) and the other which took on a form of superficial antifascism—but it also demonstrated that a common interest in defending settler-state hegemony against challenges from the revolutionary left and the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples forms the basis of the line of adjacency between bourgeois liberalism and white supremacist settlerism.

5. 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.

In the first thesis, I stated that fascist groups appeal to an authoritarian vision of collective rebirth. In North American settler-colonial societies, far-right and fascist groups demand the re-entrenchment of the social and economic hierarchies which enabled white social and economic mobility; they perceive that their social standing is in jeopardy and demand that settler-state hegemony be tilted “back” toward their advantage. In sum, far-right movements assert supposed “rights” of white settlerism which supersede the formal guarantees and protections granted through the liberal institutions of settler-state hegemony.

This thesis seemingly contradicts Lyons’s definition of the contemporary far right offered in thesis two. Though contemporary far right movements are system-oppositional now, that has not unequivocally been the case historically. Ken Lawrence, in “The Ku Klux Klan and Fascism” (1982), outlines how the KKK shifted between system-loyal and system-oppositional forms: in its earliest form, the KKK was a “restorationist movement of the Confederacy;” in the 1920s it was a mainstream bourgeois nativist movement; in the 1960s it was a reactionary movement fighting to preserve segregation; then finally, around the time Lawrence was writing, it shifted toward its present system-oppositional, insurgent position.[19]

I would suggest—as a provisional hypothesis which remains to be developed in more detail elsewhere—that liberalism and white settlerism were historically able to coexist in North America because the latter’s interests did not substantially interfere with the former’s. Fascism failed to emerge as a profound challenge to American political hegemony in the 1930s and 1940s because, as Sakai notes, “white settler colonialism and fascism occupy the same ecological niche. Having one, capitalist society didn’t yet need the other.”[20] From the 1950s to the 1970s, a variety of civil rights and liberation movements levelled a profound challenge to settler-state hegemony. Liberalism accommodated challenges from social-justice movements by extending formal legal protections to marginalized groups and by introducing new patterns of economic redistribution (social welfare). This did not overturn the expectations and entitlements of the wages of whiteness. As Cheryl Harris contends, “after legalized segregation was overturned, whiteness as property evolved into a more modern form through the law's ratification of the settled expectations of relative white privilege as a legitimate and natural baseline.”[21] In other words, white entitlements could be codified into law as long as they could be framed in supposedly color blind terms—but these color-blind terms would also contribute to the (incorrect) perception that systemic white supremacy has been pushed to the margins of American society.

As recent events reveal, settler-state hegemony is not immune to crisis. As Marx and Engels argue in The Communist Manifesto, the social position of the petty bourgeoisie is always tenuous because “their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on.” While the white petty bourgeoisie has repeatedly been “bought off” by social mobility or access to land (available due to Indigenous dispossession), even during the period of neoliberal policy, that does not mean that settler-state hegemony will continue to reorganize future hegemonic blocs successfully. The threat remains that an insurgent fascist movement, organized around the rebirth of the settler-colonial project, will fill that hegemonic vacuum. 

“Militant antifascists must maintain a revolutionary horizon to avoid being absorbed within the ideological parameters of liberal antifascism. At the same time, antifascist work cannot merely be absorbed into revolutionary work; antifascism is community self-defense.”

6. A revolutionary horizon is a necessary component to antifascist organizing; that is, there is no meaningful way in which fascism can be permanently defeated without overthrowing the conditions which give rise to it: capitalism and white supremacy, and in North America, settler-colonialism.

Militant antifascism is organized in order to meet the imminent threat of fascist organizing; it is an instantiation of community self-defense. A united front is necessary in situations where the revolutionary left is present but lacks a mass base, but it is always caught in a contradiction: the major leftist ideological currents—socialism, anarchism, and communism—converge in a united front but diverge around the particulars of the revolutionary horizon. While combatting fascism is the immediate task of militant antifascism, antifascists must maintain a revolutionary horizon, even if only in broad outline, in order to avoid being absorbed within the ideological parameters of liberal antifascism. At the same time, militants must also recognize that antifascist work cannot merely be absorbed into revolutionary work; antifascism is community self-defense.

7. Militant antifascism must uphold the diversity of tactics.

From a practical perspective, militant antifascism is distinguished from liberal antifascism by a willingness to use the diversity of tactics, up to and including physical confrontation, to disrupt far-right organizing. Effective militant organizing, though, must not transform the diversity of tactics into merely physical confrontation.[22] Antifascism seeks to raise the cost of fascist organizing and that is the most obvious reason that the diversity of tactics plays an important role in organizing. As Robert F. Williams observed in 1962, racists “are most vicious and violent when they can practice violence with impunity.”[23] Physical confrontation raises the stakes of fascist attempts to harass and intimidate communities as they organize. But it is important to emphasize that physical confrontation still tends to come late in practice: antifascists conduct research and publicize the fascist threat and dox fascists, we put pressure on supposedly community-accountable institutions to de-platform or no-platform far-right groups, when fascists rally we meet them in the streets to disrupt their actions. Militants uphold the importance of the diversity of tactics but that doesn’t mean, against popular conceptions, that violence is necessary. The critical question is always: which tactic can cause the greatest disruption to far-right movements at each stage of organizing?

*          *          *

Events of the last year especially have revealed the weaknesses of liberal mechanisms to stem far-right organizing. For years, liberal antifascists interpreted the lack of law enforcement pressure against the far right as a lack of urgent threat, and when the potential scope of far-right violence erupted into popular consciousness on January 6th, 2021, it was years too late. The failure of far-right and fascist groups to undermine the transition of government power was due not to police repression (in fact, there was a distinct absence of police repression on that particular day), but primarily to internal organizational weaknesses, which I would attribute in part to pressure brought to bear on these groups over the last five years of antifascist organizing. 

When confronted with emerging far-right movements, and unlike liberal antifascists, militant antifascists act sooner so that we don’t have to take greater risks later. Antifascists must maintain a revolutionary horizon, but at the same time remain focused on the immediate threat of fascist organizing. A world where fascists can openly organize is worse than one where they cannot. Though German fascism and Italian fascism were historically defeated in 1945, it will take a greater effort to defeat fascism once and for all. Part of that work must be done now by a united front of militant antifascists. 

Photo credit

Photo by Mark Dixon, Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh, 14 August 2017 (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons. Image has been cropped

Notes

1. George Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive and Unity of the Working Class (Paris: Foreign Languages Press, 2020), 4. Don Hamerquist discusses in passing how anarchist definitions of fascism during this time were similar to Dimitrov’s line. See Don Hamerquist, “Fascism and Anti-Fascism,” in Hamerquist et al., Confronting Fascism: Discussion Documents for a Militant Movement, 2nd edition (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2017), 30.
2. The Black Panther Party, “Call for a United Front against Fascism,” in Bill V. Mullen and Christopher Vials, eds., The U.S. Antifascism Reader (London: Verso, 2020), 269.
3. See Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive, 6: “Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals to their most urgent needs and demands.”
4. See Enzo Traverso, The New Faces of Fascism: Populism and the Far Right (London: Verso, 2019); Samir Gandesha, “Posthuman Fascism,” Los Angeles Review of Books, August 22, 2020; Alberto Toscano’s “The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism,” Boston Review, October 28, 2020. I have criticized Toscano in more detail in Devin Zane Shaw, “On Toscano’s Critique of ‘Racial Fascism,’” Three Way Fight, December 30, 2020.
5. See, for example, Mark Bray, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook (New York: Melville House, 2017), Daniel Sonabend, We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-war Britain (London: Verso, 2019); Hilary Moore and James Tracy, No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements (San Francisco: City Lights, 2020). Note that this list does not include antifascist approaches developed by groups that framed their struggle in terms of national liberation, though they are certainly worthy of study as well.
6. Bray, Antifa, 172.
7. As Matthew N. Lyons, notes, “repression…can even come in the name of antifascism, as when the Roosevelt administration used the war against the Axis powers to justify strikebreaking and the mass imprisonment of Japanese Americans.” See Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2018), ix.
8. See Philosophy of Antifascism: Punching Nazis and Fighting White Supremacy (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2020); “Between System-Loyal Vigilantism and System-Oppositional Violence,” Three Way Fight, October 25, 2020.
9. Dimitrov, The Fascist Offensive, 4.
10. Don Hamerquist, “Fascism and Anti-Fascism,” in Confronting Fascism, 41.
11. T. Derbent, The German Communist Resistance 1933–1945 (Paris: Foreign Languages Press, 2021), 99. Despite the repeated assertions by paternalistic liberals that fascism is a working-class movement, even liberal historians acknowledge that workers “were always proportionally fewer than their share in the population.” See Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Vintage, 2004), 50.
12. Lambert Strether, “The Class Composition of the Capitol Rioters (First Cut), Naked Capitalism, January 18, 2021.
13. Hamerquist argues, for example, that Fascist labor policy under the Nazis extended beyond “the genocidal aspect of continuing primitive accumulation that is part of ‘normal’ capitalist development…The German policy was the genocidal obliteration of already developed sections of the European working classes and the deliberate disruption of the social reproduction of labor in those sectors—all in the interests of a racialist demand for ‘living space’” (“Fascism and Anti-Fascism,” in Confronting Fascism, 43); Lyons, Insurgent Supremacists, 255.
14. Lyons, Insurgent Supremacists, ii.
15. Lyons, Insurgent Supremacists, 28.
16. Lyons, Insurgent Supremacists, ii.
17. In Confronting Fascism, Hamerquist and Sakai both criticized the assumption that fascism (even in North America) will continue to be necessarily white supremacist. Within the discussions of the three-way fight, the meaning of non-white participation in far-right movements remains an open debate. In my view, we must both assess the degree of non-white participation while also providing an explanation as to why this participation remains at the present moment marginal (for most individuals within ostensibly white supremacist movements or as autonomous organizations) within the broader far-right milieu. That account is provided in these theses.
18. W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860–1880, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 573–574.
19. Ken Lawrence, “The Ku Klux Klan and Fascism,” Urgent Tasks 14 (Fall/Winter 1982), 12. Reprinted in Bill V. Mullen and Christopher Vials, eds., The U.S. Anti-fascism Reader (London: Verso, 2020).
20. Sakai, “The Shock of Recognition,” in Confronting Fascism, 130.
21. Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” Harvard Law Review 106, no. 8 (June 1993), 1714.
22. Indeed, Petronella Lee contends, in a point that applies both to the creation of a broader antifascist culture and to the use of the diversity of tactics, that “we cannot focus almost exclusively on physical activities and/or traditionally male-dominated spaces. It’s important to have spaces, roles, and activities that account for the variety of diversity of social life—for example considering things like ability and age.” Nor should we perpetuate gender stereotypes in organizing community self-defense. See Anti-Fascism against Machismo (Hamilton: The Tower InPrint, 2019), 36.
23. Robert F. Williams, Negroes with Guns (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 4.