Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 7, 2018

The alt-right and antifa: way past their shelf-life

Filed under: anarchism,anti-fascism,Fascism — louisproyect @ 7:53 pm

Richard Spencer (l) with his lawyer and fellow fascist Kyle Bristow (r), who has retired from politics

Despite the meltdown of Newsweek, there is still some decent reporting going on. In a piece dated March 5th, Michael Edison Hayden poses the question “Is the Alt-Right Dying?” and provides ample evidence to the affirmative. Needless to say, this will have consequences for the adventurist-prone elements of the anarchist movement that takes its cue from Mark Bray’s “Anti-Fascist Handbook” rather than the Marxist classics. Among Hayden’s findings:

–Kyle Bristow, an attorney and key ally to Richard Spencer was dropping out of politics a day before he was slated to host a white nationalist conference in Detroit, Michigan.

–Richard Spencer was only able to attract an audience of 30 to 40 people at a talk he gave at Michigan State on March 5th. As expected, the antifa people came there spoiling for a fight and got one. Perhaps the arrest of 24 antifa activists, 12 on weapons felony charges that carries a five year prison term, might persuade others of a similar inclination that another approach is needed when seen in cost-benefit terms. After all, Spencer got media coverage that a talk to a tiny audience ignored by the left would have never generated.

–After Spencer aligned with the Traditionalist Workers Party led by Matthew Heimbach, the Daily Stormer began to deride the alliance since it saw Heimbach as “good-natured but socially awkward fat kid” whose “communist” rhetoric would turn people off from the fascist cause. Heimbach is consciously modeling himself on Gregor Strasser, not likely the sort of thing that will draw the average bigot into his ranks. As for Spencer, it seems that he is a huge fan of Chapo Trap House.

Remember when an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley provoked the kind of fighting that some viewed as a precursor of a virtual civil war of the kind seen in Weimar Germany in the late 20s? His appearance on the Bill Maher show convinced some that we had to get ready for some kick-ass street-fighting (at least if you were under 25 and had an excess of testosterone.)

Now, Yiannopoulos is yesterday’s news. To a large extent, the cancellation of a big book contract by Simon and Schuster had something to do with that. Unlike Bill Maher, Yiannopoulos’s editor was not particularly taken by him as his feedback to the half-wit would indicate:

Comment [A3]: Avoid parenthetical insults—they just diminish your authority. Throughout the book you’re [sic] best points seem to be lost in a sea of self-aggrandizement and scattershot thinking.

Comment [A185]: This is definitely not the place for more of your narcissism.

Comment [A293]: …You can’t just toss out poorly thought out theories about “going back into the closet,” as you might in a college lecture.

Comment [A407]: Tiresome and off the point.

Comment [A418]: The whole chapter is a problem in tone. Your usual style NEGATES any value your information might have.

Comment [A424]: Ego and self-aggrandizement backfire in book.

(For other editorial comments, read here.)

Perhaps the biggest factor in the marginalization of both the alt-right and antifa is how clearly the focus has shifted toward the “normal” functioning of the state rather than any fascist movement that by its very definition aims at the overthrow of the state. One can understand why the Krupps would have funded Adolf Hitler in 1925 but why in the world would the Kochs fund Richard Spencer when Trump and company are doing such a great job at smashing what’s left of the welfare state? Keep in mind that Hitler was needed to destroy the Weimar Republic, which despite all its flaws was far to the left of the DSA’s most utopian dreams of socialism.

Another thing to keep in mind is that anybody with their head screwed on right recognizes that the embryo of mass resistance to Trumpism was on display in West Virginia this week when schoolteachers inspired by the legacy of militant coal miner resistance to the bosses went out on strike and won a 5 percent pay raise that is almost unheard of in today’s austere economic environment. I worked 21 years at Columbia University and never got more than a 2 percent raise.

It is funny to see how the anarchists reacted to the strike. On the It’s Going Down website, you can read an article about the strike by an IWW member who after writing several thousand words about how important it was decides to distinguish his revolutionary purity from the ordinary resistance of ordinary people:

Though, this may not be my idealized idea of struggle, I recognize that this is a working-class struggle, unique in its moment while also deeply rooted in the militant class struggle that West Virginia is famous for. I encourage us to explore the use of churches and other cultural structures that make up the fabric of sometimes rural and sometimes geographically isolated communities that many workers come from as avenues for revolutionary networking.

Maybe this person should realize that his or her “idealized idea of struggle” (idealized idea? Talk about redundancy) should be laid to rest. Struggles grow organically out of the lived experience of the people who take part in them, not by reading Bakunin.

Finally, the teachers strike might drive home the reality that armed groups like Redneck Revolt have passed their shelf life. The real struggle in West Virginia is not having shoot-outs with a practically non-existent neo-Nazi movement but trying to figure out ways to build the mass movement. That takes brains, not trigger fingers.


  1. Louis,

    Have enjoyed your work for years, and was happy to take your recommendation to see “Young Karl Marx.”

    What do you make of these tactics from a Marxist perspective:



    Comment by Geoff — March 7, 2018 @ 9:42 pm

  2. Where would groups like The Southern Poverty Law Center be without the six member White Citizens Council of Chattanooga? They raise a fortune by terrifying mostly elderly, frequently Jewish subscribers that Hitler has risen from the grave. Louis is correct that often impotent reactionary groups or individuals receive an inordinate amount of attention that keeps them in the headlines. I’d worry more about Goldman Sachs than a schmuck who can’t draw more than 30 or 40 people on a huge campus.

    Comment by Elliot Podwill — March 7, 2018 @ 11:04 pm

  3. Sorry for the this totally unrelated comment, but just for a bit of levity …

    “Haven’t we had about enough of this cigar smoking shit in this country?…Sigmund Freud said ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’ Oh, yeah? Well, sometimes it’s a big, brown dick, with a fat, arrogant, white-collar business criminal asshole sucking on the wet end of it.”
    ___ George Carlin (1937-2008)

    Comment by Reza — March 7, 2018 @ 11:18 pm

  4. Spencer is the inevitable end product of the perverted Department of English at the University of Virginia–a sinister but basically unimportant organizational unit that exists for the sole purpose of suppressing truth.

    They are a distraction and a farce. Look at the truly terrifying Hermann Goering and compare with Spencer and see which is the more to be feared. Even the clown Hanfstaengl/Sedgwick was of more consequence–at least he could call on the antisemitic Harvard establishment of his day to continue their support of Nazism.

    There are no Goerings or Hitlers–or Mussolinis or Alfieris for that matter–on the alt-right in the US at present.

    This does not mean that real fearsome fascism does not exist at present–only that the so called alt-right, murderers and all, is not its second coming and never was.

    May the spirit of West Virginia spreads to the broader working classes. This, IMHO, not antifascism, is the real challenge.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — March 8, 2018 @ 12:56 pm

  5. well said/wiritten mr. proyect

    Comment by isabelle rawucg — March 9, 2018 @ 2:35 pm

  6. As usual, your article is complete rubbish.

    Armed workers militias have played a fundamental role in every proletarian revolt in history.

    What has most definitely past their shelf life are trot academic such as yourself.

    Comment by Nah — March 11, 2018 @ 5:53 am

  7. Antifa is not an armed workers’ militia. It’s a playground for petty bourgeois spoiled brats who would otherwise be using Daddy’s money to run the bulls in Pamplona or pull some other infantile exhibitionistic stunt. You are an imbecile.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — March 12, 2018 @ 10:31 am

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