Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 9, 2019

How real is the eco-fascist threat?

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology,Fascism — louisproyect @ 10:46 pm

Eco-fascist literature?

COUNTERPUNCH, AUGUST 9, 2019

In a manifesto that was posted to 8Chan just before he carried out his murderous attack on Walmart shoppers in El Paso, Patrick Crusius expressed “Green” values that are widespread on the left:

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”.

Dr. Seuss wrote “The Lorax” in 1971 as a protest against corporate despoliation of the environment. The contrast between a racist mass murderer and a gentle children’s book could not be starker. It is no wonder that there have been multiple attempts to come to terms with his eco-fascism.

This is not the first amalgam of Green and Brown values from a neo-Nazi terrorist. On March 15, 2019, an Australian named Brenton Tarrant killed 50 Muslims in a New Zealand mosque justifying his attack on the “replacement” theory that motivated Patrick Crusius. Crusius paid tribute to Tarrant in the first paragraph of his manifesto.

Continue reading

August 4, 2019

Understanding the El Paso killer’s manifesto in context

Yesterday I posted the manifesto written by Patrick Crusius to 8Chan, a website favored by white supremacists, just before he murdered or wounded dozens at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Some people have written comments on my blog or on FB questioning why I would give him publicity. I answered that since so much of his manifesto sounds like it could have been written by a leftist, it was incumbent on the left to explain this. So, here goes.

To start with, a mixture of nativism and leftist politics is not a new phenomenon in American history. Founded in 1844 and dissolved in 1860, the Know Nothing Party was trying to keep out Catholics, which meant the Irish basically but also some Germans. In 1854, they ran abolitionist Nathaniel Banks for president.

One of the main factors driving the anti-Catholic animus was the Pope’s counter-revolutionary attitude toward the revolutions of 1848. The Catholic church was a pillar of the old feudal state and the Know Nothing supporters feared that Catholic immigration would help tilt Washington against constitutional democracy. As you can see from James McPherson’s observation on the Know Nothing wiki page, the same kind of hysteria drove their nativism as Trump’s today.

Immigration during the first five years of the 1850s reached a level five times greater than a decade earlier. Most of the new arrivals were poor Catholic peasants or laborers from Ireland and Germany who crowded into the tenements of large cities. Crime and welfare costs soared. Cincinnati’s crime rate, for example, tripled between 1846 and 1853 and its murder rate increased sevenfold. Boston’s expenditures for poor relief rose threefold during the same period.

— James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 131

The People’s Party was formed in 1892 and dissolved in 1909. Its main leader was Tom Watson, who advocated an alliance of poor white and black farmers against the banks, the railroads and the Democratic Party that was seen as their instrument. Around 1900, he began to rail against blacks, Jews, Catholics and immigrants.

The platform of Watson’s 1892 campaign for president was a mixture of leftist and nativism. For example, it called for major benefits to the working class: “That we cordially sympathize with the efforts of organized workingmen to shorten the hours of labor, and demand a rigid enforcement of the existing eight-hour law on Government work, and ask that a penalty clause be added to the said law.”

But immediately above this plank was a typical nativist rant: “That we condemn the fallacy of protecting American labor under the present system, which opens our ports to the pauper and criminal classes of the world and crowds out our wage-earners; and we denounce the present ineffective laws against contract labor, and demand the further restriction of undesirable immigration.”

While many on the left view Trump as a throwback to this kind of xenophobia, in many ways FDR was the worst nativist of the 20th century. He refused to allow Jews into the USA as political refugees and suspended the constitutional rights of Japanese citizens in 1941 out of a combination of war hysteria and a long-time animosity toward them as I pointed out in a CounterPunch article:

In 1923, FDR wrote an article for Asia magazine titled “Shall We Trust Japan” that sounds like it could have been written by Ann Coulter:

Hatred of foreigners is deeply embedded in the American psyche, so much so that even the “socialist” Bernie Sanders is capable of saying things like: “If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”

With such fear and hatred of immigrants today, the only thing that distinguishes Patrick Crusius from the average Trump voter was his willingness to act on his poisonous views. The soil has been fertilized by three years of Trump’s bullshit and we can expect such massacres to take place on a regular basis.

But let me turn now to the question of his leftist views that include a hatred of corporations, the two-party system and environmental degradation. Unless you haven’t been paying attention, this dynamic has been at play for nearly a decade now as I have pointed out repeatedly on this blog.

The first time it came to my attention was over the ideological bloc formed around Syria, with leftists and rightists repeating the same talking points. On the right side of my blog, you’ll see a category called Red-Brown Alliance and you’ll find fourteen articles. In addition, there’s another category somewhat redundantly called right-left convergence that will return links to another five articles, the earliest dated June 16, 2014. Finally, there are articles that are categorized both as Russia and Fascism that overlap with the prior categories. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow you to retrieve articles that have multiple categories but there are at least four. So, altogether there are at least 23.

In many ways, the May 9, 2014 article titled “National Bolshevism rides again” is a good introduction to the phenomenon of leftist/rightist convergence. In Weimar Germany, the Nazi movement began as a demagogic attack on corporations and the Jews. Since many Jews were recent immigrants from Eastern Europe fleeing economic ruin and pogroms, they were treated like Latinos are in the USA today—as scapegoats.

Even before the Nazi party was formed, there were ultra-nationalists who shared Hitler’s hatred of the Jews and the banks. Among the representatives of the Kremlin in Germany was one Karl Radek who proposed a bloc between them and the Communist Party. He urged that the Communists commemorate the death of Albert Schlageter, a member of the Freikorps—the rightwing militia that killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In a battle against the Allied occupation of the Ruhr after WWI, Schlageter was killed and became a martyr of the right-wing, a German Timothy McVeigh so to speak. Radek stated that “…we believe that the great majority of nationalist minded masses belong not to the camp of the capitalists but to the camp of the Workers.”

Among the Communists most swayed by Karl Radek’s thinking was Ruth Fischer who gave a speech to rightwing students:

Whoever cries out against Jewish capital…is already a fighter for his class, even though he may not know it. You are against the stock market jobbers. Fine. Trample the Jewish capitalists down, hang them from the lampposts…But…how do you feel about the big capitalists, the Stinnes, Klockner?…Only in alliance with Russia, Gentlemen of the “folkish” side, can the German people expel French capitalism from the Ruhr region.

As a movement, National Bolshevism was independent of the Nazi Party even though it shared many of its precepts. Of the top Nazi leadership, it was Gregor Strasser who was most consistently hostile to big business. When Hitler decided to consolidate his rule around a more openly pro-capitalist agenda, Strasser and his cohorts were rounded up and executed during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Joining Strasser on the leftwing of the Nazi Party (using the term very loosely) was Joseph Goebbels who eventually peeled away from the left and became a top Nazi official.

After WWII, the National Bolsheviks and neo-Nazi groups began to crawl out of the underground and form new groups that were for the most part ignored by the left. If you want to read about their growing influence today, I strongly advise getting a hold of Anton Shekhovtsov’s “Russia and the Western Far-right: Tango Noir” that I reviewed for CounterPunch last year (https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/02/between-socialism-and-barbarism/). What has been happening over the past 8 years or so is a geopolitical realignment that brought together Putin’s nationalist ambitions, the far-right in Europe including Marine Le Pen and the AfD in Germany, and many on the left who supported Assad and the Donetsk separatists on an “anti-imperialist” basis.

RT.com has been key to this realignment. Early on, RT executives figured out that “Russia is good” programming would not work in the West but if you mixed “Russia is good” with “The West is Bad”, you might have a winning formula. This is commonly known as “whataboutism” and has a certain viability since it is based on the obvious reality that the West is pretty damned bad. If Assad is blowing up Syrian hospitals, then you can always feature news about Saudi Arabia doing the same thing in Yemen. (Not that you can get any news about Russian jets bombing hospitals in Idlib.)

While a bogus anti-imperialism brought the left and the right together, there has been a gradual adoption of “class struggle” rhetoric on the far right that echoes National Bolshevism and even Gregor Strasser’s hostility to banks and corporations. So much of this is cropping up nowadays, it surely must have seeped into Patrick Crusius’s brain. With a huge megaphone on Fox News, Tucker Carlson has been sounding “leftist” notes that must have endeared him to Max Blumenthal and Stephen F. Cohen who are regular guests on his show to talk about the need to avoid WWIII (i.e., back Putin’s war on the Syrian poor).

Within the last year or so, Carlson has begun to trash the rich. He shared Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resistance to Amazon building a headquarters in Long Island City, saying “Why is New York, which is crumbling, I’m there a lot, you may be there now, the city’s falling apart. It smells. The subways break. It’s disgusting. Why would the city be spending $3 billion to the richest man in the world?” He has also said things like “I’m definitely against a system where really the only success stories are like 27 billionaires who hate America, which is where we are now.” And “Our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule.”

Finally, on the question of whether Patrick Crusius is a “Green”. He wrote:

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”. Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations.

Every word of this is true. It doesn’t matter that the words were written by a fascist killer. We are dealing with an environmental crisis that is impossible to ignore unless you are some billionaire with huge investments in Monsanto, Exxon-Mobil and Dow Chemical. Keep in mind that Edward Abbey was a great radical environmentalist who devoted his life to writing about and acting on the need to protect wildlife and nature. He was also a vicious nativist who once wrote an editorial for the NY Times in 1988 that was rejected because it was toxic. Titled “Immigration and Liberal Taboos”, it stated:

Therefore-let us close our national borders to any further mass immigration, legal or illegal, from any source, as does every other nation on earth. The means are available, it’s a simple technical-military problem. Even our Pentagon should be able to handle it. We’ve got an army somewhere on this planet, let’s bring our soldiers home and station them where they can be of some actual and immediate benefit to the taxpayers who support them.

As scary as these white racist terror attacks are, we are not on the verge of a civil war in the USA or a fascist takeover. In the Weimar Republic, there was a danger and that was the result of massive revolutionary that had openly tried to overthrow the capitalist government in 1921 and 1923. Even though it never was able to form a common front with the social democrats, it was such a powerful threat that the ruling class was not ready for it to try a third time under a more savvy leadership.

No such conditions exist in the USA today. The working class is not in motion and trying to project wildcat teacher strikes as the opening of a rebirth of trade union militancy is an over-projection. I say this as someone who was a witness to many challenges to the corporate bosses during my youth, from Ed Sadlowski’s rank-and-file steelworkers movement to the Black-led auto workers caucuses in Lordstown and elsewhere.

The main task facing us is preparatory. There certainly will be major class battles down the road and we should take advantage of the relatively open conditions to begin to pull together a radical movement that eschews sectarianism but not at the expense of militancy. In the 1920s, there was a battle to win the loyalty of industrial workers with some defecting to the Nazi party because of the ineptness of the left. To win the working class to socialism, it is necessary to raise demands that speak to its basic needs such as the right to a job and the right to clean air and water. In pursuit of winning these demands, mass action is essential. Most workers view voting as a pointless exercise. I will conclude with a recommendation to read the article by the anonymous blogger behind “Cold and Dark Stars” that appears beneath this one. Titled “The Rise of the Right Wing is not Due to the Working Class Because Workers Don’t Vote” that is right on, as we used to put it in the 1960s.

 

The manifesto of the El Paso white supremacist killer

Filed under: Fascism,terrorism — louisproyect @ 12:49 am

Patrick Crusius, white supremacist murderer

From 8Chan.

The Inconvenient Truth

About Me

In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion. Some people will think this statement is hypocritical because of the nearly complete ethnic and cultural destruction brought to the Native Americans by our European ancestors, but this just reinforces my point. The natives didn’t take the invasion of Europeans seriously, and now what’s left is just a shadow of what was. My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement. This manifesto will cover the political and economic reasons behind the attack, my gear, my expectations of what response this will generate and my personal motivations and thoughts.

Political Reasons

In short, America is rotting from the inside out, and peaceful means to stop this seem to be nearly impossible. The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades. They are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history. The takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations. I could write a ten page essay on all the damage these corporations have caused, but here is what is important. Due to the death of the baby boomers, the increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric of the right and the ever increasing Hispanic population, America will soon become a one party-state. The Democrat party will own America and they know it. They have already begun the transition by pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc in the 1st Democratic Debate. They intend to use open borders, free healthcare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters. With policies like these, the Hispanic support for Democrats will likely become nearly unanimous in the future. The heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold. Losing Texas and a few other states with heavy Hispanic population to the Democrats is all it would take for them to win nearly every presidential election. Although the Republican Party is also terrible. Many factions within the Republican Party are pro-corporation. Procorporation = pro-immigration. But some factions within the Republican Party don’t prioritize corporations over our future. So the Democrats are nearly unanimous with their support of immigration while the Republicans are divided over it. At least with Republicans, the process of mass immigration and citizenship can be greatly reduced.

Economic Reasons

In short, immigration can only be detrimental to the future of America. Continued immigration will make one of the biggest issues of our time, automation, so much worse. Some sources say that in under two decades, half of American jobs will be lost to it. Of course some people will be retrained, but most will not. So it makes no sense to keep on letting millions of illegal or legal immigrants flood into the United States, and to keep the tens of millions that are already here. Invaders who also have close to the highest birthrate of all ethnicities in America. In the near future, America will have to initiate a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest as people lose their jobs. Joblessness in itself is a source of civil unrest. The less dependents on a government welfare system, the better. The lower the unemployment rate, the better. Achieving ambitions social projects like universal healthcare and UBI would become far more likely to succeed if tens of millions of dependents are removed.

Even though new migrants do the dirty work, their kids typically don’t. They want to live the American Dream which is why they get college degrees and fill higher-paying skilled positions. This is why corporations lobby for even more illegal immigration even after decades of it of happening. They need to keep replenishing the low-skilled labor pool. Even as migrant children flood skilled jobs, Corporations make this worse by lobbying for even more work visas to be issued for skilled foreign workers to come here. Recently, the senate under a REPUBLICAN administration has greatly increased the number of foreign workers that will take American jobs. Remember that both Democrats and Republicans support immigration and work visas. Corporations need to keep replenishing the labor pool for both skilled and unskilled jobs to keep wages down. So Automation is a good thing as it will eliminate the need for new migrants to fill unskilled jobs. Jobs that Americans can’t survive on anyway. Automation can and would replace millions of low-skilled jobs if immigrants were deported. This source of competition for skilled labor from immigrants and visa holders around the world has made a very difficult situation even worse for natives as they compete in the skilled job market. To compete, people have to get better credentials by spending more time in college. It used to be that a high school degree was worth something. Now a bachelor’s degree is what’s recommended to be competitive in the job market. The cost of college degrees has exploded as their value has plummeted. This has led to a generation of indebted, overqualified students filling menial, low paying and unfulfilling jobs. Of course these migrants and their children have contributed to the problem, but are not the sole cause of it.

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”. Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.

Gear

Main gun: AK47 (WASR 10) – I realized pretty quickly that this isn’t a great choice since it’s the civilian version of the ak47. It’s not designed to shoot rounds quickly, so it overheats massively after about 100 shots fired in quick succession. I’ll have to use a heat-resistant glove to get around this. 8m3 bullet: This bullet, unlike pretty much any other 7.62×39 bullet, actually fragments like a pistol hollow point when shot out of an ak47 at the cost of penetration. Penetration is still reasonable, but not nearly as high as a normal ak47 bullet. The ak47 is definitely a bad choice without this bullet design, and may still be with it.

Other gun(if I get one): Ar15 – Pretty much any variation of this gun doesn’t heat up nearly as fast as the AK47. The round of this gun isn’t designed to fragment, but instead tumbles inside a target causing lethal wounding. This gun is probably better, but I wanted to explore different options. The ar15 is probably the best gun for military applications but this isn’t a military application.

This will be a test of which is more lethal, either it’s fragmentation or tumbling.

I didn’t spend much time at all preparing for this attack. Maybe a month, probably less. I have do this before I lose my nerve. I figured that an under-prepared attack and a meh manifesto is better than no attack and no manifesto

Reaction

Statistically, millions of migrants have returned to their home countries to reunite with the family they lost contact with when they moved to America. They come here as economic immigrants, not for asylum reasons. This is an encouraging sign that the Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide. This will remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc which will make up for the loss of millions of baby boomers. This will also make the elites that run corporations realize that it’s not in their interest to continue piss off Americans. Corporate America doesn’t need to be destroyed, but just shown that they are on the wrong side of history. That if they don’t bend, they will break.

Personal Reasons and Thoughts

My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist. The job of my dreams will likely be automated. Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs. They will turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country. The environment is getting worse by the year. If you take nothing else from this document, remember this: INACTION IS A CHOICE. I can no longer bear the shame of inaction knowing that our founding fathers have endowed me with the rights needed to save our country from the brink destruction. Our European comrades don’t have the gun rights needed to repel the millions of invaders that plaque their country. They have no choice but to sit by and watch their countries burn.

America can only be destroyed from the inside-out. If our country falls, it will be the fault of traitors. This is why I see my actions as faultless. Because this isn’t an act of imperialism but an act of preservation. America is full of hypocrites who will blast my actions as the sole result of racism and hatred of other countries, despite the extensive evidence of all the problems these invaders cause and will cause. People who are hypocrites because they support imperialistic wars that have caused the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and untold numbers of civilian lives. The argument that mass murder is okay when it is state sanctioned is absurd. Our government has killed a whole lot more people for a whole lot less. Even if other non-immigrant targets would have a greater impact, I can’t bring myself to kill my fellow Americans. Even the Americans that seem hell-bent on destroying our country. Even if they are shameless race mixers, massive polluters, haters of our collective values, etc. One day they will see error of their ways. Either when American patriots fail to reform our country and it collapses or when we save it. But they will see the error of their ways. I promise y’all that.

I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems. Also because it’s completely unnecessary and selfish. 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics form interracial unions at much higher rates than average. Yet another reason to send them back. Cultural and racial diversity is largely temporary. Cultural diversity diminishes as stronger and/or more appealing cultures overtake weaker and/or undesirable ones. Racial diversity will disappear as either race mixing or genocide will take place. But the idea of deporting or murdering all non-white Americans is horrific. Many have been here at least as long as the whites, and have done as much to build our country. The best solution to this for now would be to divide America into a confederacy of territories with at least 1 territory for each race. This physical separation would nearly eliminate race mixing and improve social unity by granting each race self-determination within their respective territory(s).

My death is likely inevitable. If I’m not killed by the police, then I’ll probably be gunned down by one of the invaders. Capture in this case if far worse than dying during the shooting because I’ll get the death penalty anyway. Worse still is that I would live knowing that my family despises me. This is why I’m not going to surrender even if I run out of ammo. If I’m captured, it will be because I was subdued somehow.

Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets. Even though you might out gun a security guard or police man, they likely beat you in armor, training and numbers. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target. If a target seems too hot, live to fight another day.

My ideology has not changed for several years. My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.

Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.

July 29, 2019

Bella Ciao

Filed under: Fascism,music — louisproyect @ 10:32 pm

July 19, 2019

“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians”

Filed under: Fascism,Film,genocide,Romania — louisproyect @ 5:37 pm

Unless you are an aficionado of foreign films, it is likely that you are not aware that Romania has become one of the leading centers of avant-garde cinema. Like France in the late 50s and early 60s, a nouvelle vague movement in Romania appears to have come out of nowhere. Among the best known Romanian directors is Cristi Puiu, whose 2005 “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” set the standard for the country’s great leap forward. Like every other Romanian film I have seen since 2005, Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” is both politically and artistically stunning. Using techniques that were pioneered by Jean-Luc Godard in the 1960s, Jude has confronted Romania’s blind spot, namely the widespread refusal of its citizens to acknowledge its military’s responsibility for murdering over 100,000 Jews in 1941 when it was allied with Nazi Germany. Known as the Odessa Massacre (Odessa was within Romania’s borders at the time), it was seen by some historians as the beginning of the holocaust.

Despite the gravity of the subject, Jude decided to make a black comedy and even more remarkably succeeded beyond anybody’s expectations—including mine. In my review of “Vice” in today’s CounterPunch, I dismissed Adam McKay’s film as a jokey biopic of Dick Cheney that undercut the film’s aim of showing that the architect of the invasion of Iraq was some kind of monster. I regarded the film as an unintentional repeat of Mel Brook’s “Springtime for Hitler”.

The film’s title comes from a speech by Ion Antonescu, the prime minister of Romania in 1941, who defended the bloodbath in a 1946 war crimes tribunal as a necessary defense against the Jews. After becoming obsessed with the Odessa massacre, a young and attractive theater director named Mariana (Iona Iacob) has assembled a large cast of amateurs to help reenact the event in the central plaza of a small town. Like the Civil War battle reenactments in the USA, her goal is authenticity even at the risk of offending those who watch it. Authenticity does not just entail using uniforms and guns from a local military museum. It entails a simulation of Jews being herded into a wooden building that is then set on fire.

To get an idea of Jude’s willingness to break with commercial filmmaking’s strictures, he has a scene that lasts for a good five minutes that is about as “uncinematic” as can be imagined. In a Facetime conversation with a male friend in Austria, who was working there because of the poor local economy, they start off making small talk, including Mariana’s invitation to show him her “cunt”. From there, the conversation begins to switch over to her new project that he has some doubts about—it seems like everybody in Romania except her questions the need for such a reenactment. To help him understand her motivation, she reads him an extended passage from Isaac Babel’s “The Odessa Tales” that is set in the final days of the Russian Empire. The passage is a graphic description of the misery of Jewish peasants and the utter contempt a Russian officer has for them.

In another break with commercial filmmaking, Jude has Mariana squaring off with a town official who is okay with the reenactment, just not the Jews being exterminated since it might upset the children. This evolves into a long debate about the morality of war in which the official resorts to “Whataboutism”, the casuistry associated with the Assadist left in which the killing of Syrians is counterbalanced by the Western slaughter of Vietnamese, et al. Since every country has blood on its hands, why make Romanians feel guilty?

In the press notes for this film, that has the inside track for my nomination of best foreign language film of 2019, the director made this statement:

Thinking about our dark history makes one look back with the horrified gaze of Walter Benjamin’s angel of history, whose “face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”

“I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” opens today at the IFC Center in NY and at the Laemmle next Friday in Los Angeles.

I should also mention that I reviewed Jude’s “Aferim!” in 2015, another outstanding film that I described as follows:

“Aferim” is a vernacular term meaning something like “Bravo” that is heard from its characters throughout the film. It is obviously related to the Turkish word “aferin” that is part of the term “aferin sana” that means “good for you” and that my wife often says to me after I tell her I have been published in some high-toned journal.

It is used with irony in Jude’s film since everything is marked by degradation of the most appalling nature. It is the story of a father and son who are seen riding across a desolate plain on horseback in their search for a runaway slave. The father, named Constandin (Teodor Corban), is a constable and his son Ionita (Mihai Comanoiu) an unpaid assistant. The story evokes a John Ford western except in this instance the posse is wicked and the runaway slave, a Roma named Carfin Pandolean (Toma Cuzin), is their better. In fact, the higher up you are on the social ladder in feudal Wallachia, the closer you are to savagery.

“Aferim!” can be rented on iTunes for $4.99. It is also available for free on Amazon if you take out a trial subscription to the Sundance cable channel. In either case, it is a memorable film and an excellent introduction to Romanian film.

 

June 20, 2019

When the NY Times understood what the term concentration camp meant

Filed under: Fascism,repression — louisproyect @ 3:36 pm

April 5, 2019

The Eco-Fascist Canard

Filed under: Ecology,Fascism — louisproyect @ 5:50 pm

From the latest New Statesman: a photo of Eva Braun exercising by a pristine lake as if that has something to do with Barry Commoner or Rachel Carson

Recently, a New Statesman article titled Nature writing’s fascist roots has been making the rounds on Facebook. It seeks to explain the troubling statement made by the New Zealand neo-Nazi mass murderer Brenton Tarrant that he was an “eco-fascist”.

One of the main problems with the article is that it blurs the lines between naturalists and ecologists. For example, it refers to a 1927 “nature book” titled Tarka the Otter that was written by Henry Williamson, a Nazi sympathizer. There’s also a confusion between ecology and “back to nature” movements that romanticized rural life in England, with the cities being regarded as overrun by immigrants and other “subhumans”. The same phenomenon existed in Germany.

“Nature, with all its violence and beauty, was the primary model for conceiving German history and identity in the Third Reich,” the scholars Robert G Lee and Sabine Wilke have argued. The anti-industrial German Romanticism of the 19th century fed a surge of feeling for the notion of German soil and German forest: “There was no escaping the imagery, and there still isn’t,” Paul Scraton writes in his book Ghosts on the Shore. “The German word for beech forest, a very normal descriptive word… now carries the weight of a very different meaning: Buchenwald. The name of the extermination camp at Auschwitz? Birkenau. Birch meadow.”

Over the years, I have seen repeated references to this sort of thing. My first exposure to this was 22 years ago when people connected to Frank Furedi’s Living Marxism sect produced a TV show called “Against Nature” that included this observation by Furedi:

What we today call “environmentalism” is … based on a fear of change. It’s based upon a fear of the outcome of human action. And therefore it’s not surprising that when you look at the more xenophobic right-wing movements in Europe in the 19th century, including German fascism, it quite often had a very strong environmentalist dynamic to it. The most notorious environmentalists in history were the German Nazis. The Nazis ordered soldiers to plant more trees. They were the first Europeans to establish nature reserves and order the protection of hedgerows and other wildlife habitats. And they were horrified at the idea of hydroelectric dams on the Rhine. Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis were vegetarian and they passed numerous laws on animal rights.

I replied to this nonsense in an article titled “Nazi “Ecology” that offered a different take on Hitler’s actions. I argued they  had nothing to do with Green values. I wrote:

The Nazis promoted the view that the class-struggle in the city could be overcome by returning to the villages and developing artisan and agricultural economies based on cooperation. Aryans needed to get back to the soil and simple life.

The core of Nazi rural socialism was the idea that land-use must be planned. Gottfried Feder was a leading Nazi charged with the duty of formulating such policy. He made a speech in Berlin in 1934 in which he stated that the right to build homes or factories or to use land according to the personal interests of owners was to be abolished. The government instead would dictate how land was to be used and what would be constructed on it. Feder next began to build up elaborate administrative machinery to carry out his plans.

Not surprisingly, Feder earned the wrath of the construction industry. This segment of heavy industry had no tolerance for any kind of socialism, even if it was of the fake, nutty Nazi variety. Hitler had promised the captains of heavy industry that the “rabble-rousers” in his party would be curbed and Feder certainly fell into that category.

Hjalmar Schacht was a more reliable Nazi functionary who agreed with the need to curb Feder’s excesses. After Hitler named Schacht Minister of Economics on November 26, 1934, he gave Feder the boot and assured the construction magnates that business would be run as usual.

Consider also Walter Schoenichen, an aide to Herman Goering who in his capacity as Minister of the German Forests supervised the “Germanization” of forests in conquered territories. In 1941, the Nazis took control of the Bialowieza forest in Lithuania and they resolved to turn it into a hunting reserve for top officers. Open season was declared on the Jews, who made up 12 percent of the population in this region and who violated the ethnic purity of the proposed game farm. Five hundred and fifty Jews were rounded up and shot in the courtyard of a hunting palace operated by Battalion 332 of Von Bock’s army division. Goring decided that the purified forest should be altered into an extension of the East Prussian forests. An SS team led by Konrad Mayer, who had been Minister of Agriculture at Berlin University, planned a colonization program that would “Germanize” the forest. Poles, and any remaining Jews, were reduced to the status of barnyard animals to be penned up or slaughtered.

Schoenichen jumped at the opportunity to administer this program. This “total landscape plan” would first empty villages and then the unpopulated forest would be stocked with purely “Teutonic” species, including eagles, elk, and wolves. Since there was a painting of a bison on Goring’s wall, it was crucial to include this beast in the menagerie.

Read full article (http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/ecology/nazi_ecology.htm)

At the same time “Against Nature” aired, David Harvey came out with a book titled Justice, Nature & the Geography of Difference that warned against the idea of the “ecological Indian” and the susceptibility to eco-fascism in terms not that distant from Frank Furedi. The danger existed that well-meaning Green activists and Indians fighting for preservation of community rights can foster “nationalistic, exclusionary, and some cases violently fascistic” elements.

Harvey frets that things can go from bad to worse when the American Indian or their supporters abuse “militant particularism.” The next step, if one is not careful, is down the slippery slope into “nationalistic, exclusionary, and some cases violently fascistic” behavior. While it is very difficult to make the case that American Indian activists have actually ever joined skinheads or other fascist gangs, Luc Ferry does point out that the Nazis were enthusiastic about American Indian rights in “The New Ecological Order.” Ferry’s book, which Harvey cites uncritically, is a general assault on the environmental movement, which tries to draw out every reactionary tendency and place it in the foreground. An affinity between Nazis and the American Indian would be a very serious business indeed. Ferry states:

We have to be ignorant or prejudiced not to see it: Nazism contains within it, for reasons that are in no way accidental, the beginnings of an authentic concern for preserving “natural,” which is to say, here again, “original” peoples.

Turning Nazis into pro-ecology and pro-indigenous rights spokesman takes quite a bit of gumption on Luc Ferry’s part and a certain amount of fecklessness from Harvey to endorse his findings, especially in light of what John Toland wrote in his Adolf Hitler biography:

Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination–by starvation and uneven combat–of the ‘Red Savages’ who could not be tamed by captivity.

About a decade after “Against Nature” and Harvey’s book came out, the CPGB sect in England came up with the same warnings about eco-fascism in a series of articles in Weekly Worker by Jack Conrad.

A piece titled “Darker Shades of Green” had the following lead: “Jack Conrad questions the romantic images presented by green primitives and cautions against the seductive lures of ecofascism.” Like the New Statesman article, Conrad singles out Jorian Jenks as a prime example of eco-fascism:

The Soil Association in Britain counted Jorian Jenks amongst it founding members. He edited its journal Mother Earth till his death in 1963. In the 1930s he was the agricultural advisor to the British Union of Fascists and remained throughout his life a close associate and disciple of Oswald Mosley.

Now Jorian Jenks did oppose the use of chemical fertilizers and urged organic farming. This makes perfect sense, of course. The fact that he hooked up with Mosley should not serve as a warning, however. Agronomists with exactly the same sort of outlook have worked with left parties as well. Indeed, the Mosley website states:

His “Green” views were not all fully shared by all his old comrades, understandably perhaps, at a time after the war when the pressing need was for food in greater quantities. The Editor of “Union” and Secretary of Union Movement once told him wittily “people can forgive one eccentricity, but not two.”

And, also like the New Statesman article, Conrad next turns his attention to Germany, which in the eyes of anti-environmentalists like Anna Bramwell and Luc Ferry, is the spawning ground of eco-fascism. Indeed, I was somewhat dismayed to discover a reference to Bramwell in Conrad’s footnotes. Her work and Ferry’s has had a confusing effect on some very well-meaning Marxists besides Jack Conrad, not the least of which is David Harvey who eventually backed off from an analysis that Conrad’s echoes.

Conrad made much of the Wandervögel movement of the late 19th century which was a revolt of sorts against industrialization and called for a return to nature. There was also, according to Conrad, “a strong undercurrent of homoeroticism.” For Conrad, this might lead to fascism in the same way that marijuana leads to heroin. You start off on nature walks, graduate to gay sex and the next thing you know, you are beating up pawnbrokers.

 

January 11, 2019

Gauging the power of Ukraine’s neo-Nazis

Filed under: Fascism,Ukraine — louisproyect @ 7:55 pm

Over the past few months I have noticed a steady stream of FB posts that make the case that Ukraine is the motherlode of neo-Nazism globally. Some of it comes from obvious sources like RT.com but you can also find such reports in ostensibly more authoritative sources like Newsweek, which published an article titled “Ukraine Makes Birthday of Nazi Collaborator a National Holiday and Bans Book Critical of Anti-Semitic Leader”.

Another well-publicized report maintains that the USA is arming and training the notorious Azov Battalion. The Grayzone boys, as might have been expected, jumped on this in a Max Blumenthal article titled “The US is Arming and Assisting Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, While Congress Debates Prohibition”. It begins: “Known as a bastion of neo-Nazism, Ukraine’s Azov Battalion has received teams of American military advisors and high powered US-made weapons.” Interestingly enough, Blumenthal cites a source that in other instances would have been described as an untrustworthy:

Finally, this January, the transfer of the lethal weapons to Azov was confirmed by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL). Aric Toler, a DFRL researcher, asserted that “the US Embassy did absolutely help facilitate this transfer, and I’m not sure if they were aware that Azov would be the first to train with them.”

This is the same think-tank, which after forming a partnership with Facebook, was characterized by Blumenthal as “the merger of the national security state and Silicon Valley.”

In any case, everybody would describe the Azov Battalion, Svoboda and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) as fascist. The same with Bandera’s role as Nazi collaborator who murdered Jews.

The bigger question, however, is how much political influence such neo-Nazis have in Ukraine. There is some statistics that can help us understand the degree to which Ukrainian nationalism overlaps with Bandera-style neo-Nazism.

In fact, a poll was conducted among the Ukrainian population about their attitude toward the various armed forces and political leaders who fought over their country during WWII. Those affiliated with the USSR received support by 69 percent of all those between the ages of 18-29, while Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) garnered only 14 percent. As for political leaders, the UPA’s commander Roman Shukhevych was rated one percent lower than Joseph Stalin. Considering the fact that Stalin had been responsible for the death of millions of their countrymen in the early 1930s, that should give you a good idea of how much support there was for Bandera’s politics in 2012. For a full presentation of the statistics culled by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, go here.

Meanwhile, let’s review the kind of votes neo-Nazi candidates get in Ukraine. In the 2014 Rada elections, Svoboda won 6 seats. That meant out of 450 deputies, its percentage was .013. By contrast, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) just won 97 seats in the Bundestag, which made it the third largest party. With the Bundestag consisting of 598 seats, this means that AfD now represents sixteen percent of elected parliamentarians.

As for the Pravy Sektor, it managed to elect only a single member to the Rada in 2014 but he ran as an independent. This probably reflects the crisis that has beset the party in the post-Euromaidan period. In November 2015, its best-known figure Dmytro Yarosh quit the party, taking 20 percent of the membership with him.

Given the tendency by people such as Blumenthal, Stephen F. Cohen, and just about everybody writing for Consortium News to make an amalgam between the ruling party in Ukraine and groups like Pravy Sektor, you are dealing with propaganda, not responsible journalism. On August 3, 2015, the Financial Times published an article titled “Ukrainian far-right force puts Kiev in its sights”. It is this perspective that is sorely missing in Grayzone type articles:

Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector’s leader, called last week for a nationwide no-confidence referendum in President Petro Poroshenko . He was addressing a rally in Kiev of up to 5,000 Right Sector activists, angry over what they say is the government’s slow progress in fighting corruption and excessive concessions to Moscow as it attempts to reach a settlement over eastern Ukraine. “We are an organised revolutionary force that is opening the new phase of the Ukrainian revolution,” Mr Yarosh told the rally.

Earlier this month, two people were left dead in a shootout between off-duty Right Sector fighters and police near Ukraine’s previously peaceful western border – 1,500km away from the eastern conflict. The group claimed it was acting to destroy an illicit cross-border cigarette trade. Some observers suggest Right Sector was trying to take it over.

This leaves us with the worst of the lot, the Azov Battalion that has just spawned a political party with the innocuous title of National Corps. It organized a parade honoring Stephen Bandera on January 1 and is generally regarded as the most dangerous of the three far-right groups. Led by Andriy Biletsky, it could hardly be further from the political agenda of the ruling party that people like Stephen F. Cohen castigate for being a tool of the EU and NATO. In fact, Andriy Biletsky and the professor emeritus are not far apart when it comes to Western imperialism as Anna Nemtsova reported in the Daily Beast:

The commander of the Azov Battalion, the former founder of ultra-nationalist movement “Social-National Assembly” Andriy Biletsky, also known as “White Leader,” personally took the oath from members of the militia for “faithful service to the Ukrainian people.”

Biletsky’s party, the National Corps, is against Ukraine joining the European Union and NATO. He says he thinks the EU wouldn’t let Ukraine join, and that he is “not a fan of NATO.” Among other things, both demand Western European democratic standards for membership.

Given the minuscule votes for these neo-Nazi groups, it is virtually ruled out that they could ever replace the pro-EU and pro-NATO government in Kyiv as has been the case in a number of other Eastern European countries, especially Hungary. This does not mean that they don’t pose a threat. They have increasingly functioned as shock troops attacking the Ukrainian left and various social movements. With a sympathy for the ultraright in the police and the top ranks of the military, they are analogous to groups like those that showed up for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Nobody would expect such groups to ever win elections but they are capable of being used as a battering ram against the left. This is true of every country in Europe as well. There is a symbiotic relationship between right-populist parties following the letter of the law and the semi-clandestine bands that will resort to murder to achieve its goals.

The lynchpin of this far-right constellation of forces in Ukraine is the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov who has close ties to Andriy Biletsky. Avakov is a member of the People’s Party that is in a coalition with President Poroshenko’s party called Solidarity. If he fired Avakov, he would lose his slim majority in the Rada and Ukraine would be forced to call new elections.

Right now, Poroshenko is extremely unpopular. It is difficult to say which political force could replace him except to rule out the possibility of anybody resembling Viktor Orban becoming president. In a complex situation filled with contradictions, there is no mass right-populist movement in the wings even though there is a sizable neo-Nazi movement that could become a much more serious threat is such a movement took shape.

If you are at all concerned about Ukraine’s future and want to keep on top of developments there, I recommend bookmarking https://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org/ that is based in England. It is there that you will find a class analysis of the country as well as some promising developments in an overall grim situation. This one stands out:

September 26, 2018

July 22; Oklahoma City

Filed under: Fascism,Film — louisproyect @ 8:46 pm

Within ten minutes or so of the press screening for “July 22”, a narrative film about Anders Behring Breivik’s mass murder of young social democrats on the island of Utoya seven years ago on that very date, the narrative style was so unique and so effective that I was sure that this powerful film was made by the same man who made “United 93”. Like “United 93”, which told the story of the 9/11 hijacking  on the one plane that failed to hit its target, “July 22” is an understated, documentary-like account of an incident that lends itself to melodrama. Paul Greengrass, the British director and screenwriter for both films, does not make movies that deliver cheap thrills. Instead, you will get a more intense experience for the simple reason that it is more lifelike.

As the film begins, we see the crosscutting of scenes with Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) assembling the weapons he will need to launch a one-man war on “Cultural Marxism” and his target, the young people singing leftist folk songs around a campfire, in a meeting to discuss politics or playing soccer. You get the same sense of impending doom that was dramatized in “United 93”, a film that I panned upon first seeing but have grown to appreciate after further viewings on cable. Greengrass made little attempt in “United 93” to explain what led the hijackers to such extreme measures and follows suit in “July 22”. We never see any flashback explaining what turned Breivik into a killer but should know enough by now about the white supremacists on the rise everywhere to know it does not matter that much. Unfortunately it is ubiquitous. Clearly, he understood only a documentary could have unraveled the evolution of Salafist or neo-Nazi terrorism and that a narrative film was only charged with the task of creating powerful human drama. On that basis, he has succeeded admirably.

Most of you are probably aware of Breivik’s attack at Utoya but that was actually the second act on that bloody day. He began by detonating a bomb inside a van in front of the building where Norway’s Prime Minister had an office. It killed 8 people in a prelude to the massacre that would take place in an hour or so. He used the same ingredients that Timothy McVeigh used in his terror attack on an office building in Oklahoma City and for about the same reason: to launch a one-man war against the left. Dressed in a police uniform, Breivik showed up at a pier on the mainland near Utoya and put in a call to be ferried to the island to provide security for the young people. Since Norway was on high alert after the bombing, the ferry boat pilot assumed he was legitimate. But when the camp director and security met him when he got off the boat, they became suspicious after he could not answer questions about his credentials. This led him to kill his first two victims.

Next Breivik roams the island shooting the unarmed and frantic teens, taking the lives eventually of 69 campers. We share the horror of a group of about six young people who are clinging to a rocky ledge halfway between a cliff at the edge of the water and the shore below. Before long, Breivik spots them and opens fire as they run panic-stricken along the beach. Two are brothers: Viljar and Torje Hanssen, whose mother is the Labour Party mayor of a town in the far north. Viljar, the older brother, is felled by five bullets from Breivik’s automatic rifle. As his brother kneels over him in both grief and fright, Viljar tells him to run for his life.

Viljar is the hero of the film, even though he is not an action hero in a drama that could not possibly supply one. We see him going through an agonizing recovery that included repeated surgeries that stopped short of extracting the bullet fragments close to his brainstem. The head surgeon worried that in trying to remove them, his patient’s brain would be even more damaged than it already was, if not prove fatal. In fact, Viljar was given the bad news that a shifting fragment could end his life at any moment.

Viljar is played by Jonas Strand Gravli and will certainly get my nomination for best actor of 2018, especially in portraying the real life efforts of the young man to become mobile enough to testify against Breivik in the courtroom. Like everybody else in the cast, he is Norwegian even though he, like the rest, speak English. This was an odd choice by Greengrass and perhaps calculated to avoid the subtitles that are the bane of so many people.

Most of the film crosscuts once again between Breivik’s interaction with his lawyer, a Norwegian social democrat, and Viljar’s heroic efforts to make a life for himself under Job-like conditions. We know about the 69 fatalities of July 22, 2011 but a lot less about the 209 who were injured. As so often is the case, especially with automatic rifles, the wounds can inflict great pain through the remainder of the victim’s life.

In the press notes, Greenglass explains why he made this film:

I originally wanted to make a film about the migrant crisis. And I spent a fair amount of time researching what was happening in places like Lampedusa in southern Italy, and the realities of people trafficking.

But the more I worked on it, the more obvious it became that fear of migration, together with continuing economic stagnation, was driving a profound change in our politics.

The door was being opened to political extremism, across Europe. Across the West. With dangerous consequences I fear…

That’s what lead me to make this film – because Anders Breivik and Norway shows us the consequences of this process in dramatic terms, and in ways relevant to all of us, wherever we live.

Breivik saw himself – in his extreme narcissism – as raising the battle standard of extreme right-wing rebellion across the West.

But the way the people of Norway responded after the attacks, which is what our film is really about – the way politicians, lawyers and most importantly those families caught up in the violence responded – can inspire all of us with their dignity and their tenacious commitment to democracy.

“July 22” opens on Netflix and in theatres on October 10. Look for its arrival then.

Suffice it to say that the same socio-economic conditions that drove Breivik to carry out mass murder in 2011 exist today in the USA. Furthermore, they were also present when the American counterpart of Anders Behring Breivik carried out a similar attack on April 19, 1995. I speak here, of course, about Timothy McVeigh whose bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people and injured another 680.

To understand what drove him to such a murderous assault, I strongly recommend the documentary “Oklahoma City” that I watched a couple of months ago as a screener for the 2017 NYFCO awards meeting. Since it is now streaming on Netflix and on Youtube, don’t hesitate to view a film that will help you understand the neo-Nazi movements of twenty to thirty years ago that were much more lethal in their intentions than any that have shown up in Charlottesville or elsewhere more recently.

Unlike the followers of Richard Spencer et al, these groups were organized specifically as militias and were ready to open fire on anybody who stood in their way. However, McVeigh’s terrorist attack was beyond the scope of what was on their political agenda at the time just as was the case in Norway seven years ago. Indeed, an ultraright leader called to testify in Breivik’s defense described him as a mad man. Very few people considered McVeigh as a hero, except himself. As homicidal narcissists, McVeigh and Breivik stand alone.

Most of the groups that were in McVeigh’s orbit have faded from the scene but at the time they were involved in major confrontations with the authorities. We see footage of shootouts between the cops and various ultrarightists that predictably led to the latter being mowed down and consequently attaining martyr status for their supporters. McVeigh identified closely with the militia leaders under siege and saw every gun duel as proof that the government was the enemy of the people. In 1992, McVeigh identified closely with Aryan Nation member Randy Weaver who was in a stand-off with ATF officers surrounding his heavily fortified home in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Weaver, who had failed to show up in court for a firearms violation, saw himself as above the law basically. The view that the state was illegitimate was widespread among ranchers and survivalists in the Northwest, with the latest occurrence taking place over Ammon Bundy’s armed occupation of federal land two years ago.

But it was Waco that pushed McVeigh over the edge. In 1993, the religious cult Branch Davidians were suspected of stockpiling weapons and once again the ATF arrived to arrest its leader David Koresh, who became a martyr to the ultraright just like Randy Weaver.

After witnessing the siege turn deadly, mostly against the cult members, McVeigh decided to begin preparing for his revenge against an out-of-control federal government. Obviously, we are in a much different situation today. Instead of Janet Reno and Bill Clinton serving as Satanic figures to American white supremacists, we have a White House that is hailed as its champion. The victims are not people seen as advancing the interests of a socialist or liberal state such as young social democratic campers or government workers in Oklahoma City. Instead, they are the immigrants that both the Norwegian and American governments are using as a scapegoat. Today, Norway is ruled by the Conservative Party whose leader Erna Solberg warns that there is “no free entry into Europe”. For those hoping that the USA can become more like a Scandinavian country, this is not good news nor is it good news coming out of Sweden that the Sweden Democrats (a misnomered neo-Nazi party) is on the upswing. Ultimately, the best way to confront the ultraright is by drawing clear class lines and fighting for social justice by any means necessary. If that sounds like extremism, that’s to be expected in a period where moderation only leads to further erosions of constitutional and human rights.

 

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.

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