American Dream » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:35 pm wrote: http://blackcatnotes.com/2015/06/09/why ... rganizing/Why We Fight I: What Is the Real Threat of Fascist Organizing?When It’s Broke, They Offer the Fix
Fascism, today, is an integrated philosophy that takes on numerous titles, like white nationalism, ethnic nationalism, ethnopluralism, neo-reaction, radical traditionalism, identitarianism, and many others. The ideas that are center remain ethnic tribalism, masculanism, authoritarianism, hierarchy and inequality. While there are differences in political, religious, and social structures, the core values and ideas remain constant.
Where this ideological force has led itself in the 21st century is to exist in points of social fracture rather than to insert itself into dominant social institutions. This means that fascism is being targeted at radicalism of all sorts and towards the possibility of a social collapse. Within what many call the “suit and tie” fascist crowd in the United States, the battle they are waging is over the fate of radicalism itself, rather than the country as a whole.
The key element here is that fascism presents itself, and honestly believes itself to be, against the current “system.” This system, which we can leave completely undefined here, is the complex order that results in what you see around you. For those on the radical left, who are steeped in organizing and theory, this can be see as the result of class and social hierarchy, the developments of late capitalism, the bourgeois state, and the rest. But this is not a natural development for everyone who begins a process of dissent. Instead, the miseries that are experienced in daily life, the beauracracies and poverties, the alienation and desperation, all are the result of a complex set of forces working against their best interests. People on the verge of this radicalization are often looking for iconoclastic, revolutionary ideas that can both explain the current order in a deep and meaningful way, while also showing a transformative option that completely reorganizes society. This orientation can exist almost supra political in that it is not necessarily assigned a political ideology, yet it is more guttural and a response to the commonly understood failures of the system. Often times there are critiques shared by both the far left and far right, such as of international finance, though the values that drives such critiques are radically different. What is needed then is to have the ideological gap filled, and this is where fascists today are finding their niche.
There are a lot of reasons while fascist ideas have been provided an open space or any legitimacy to fill these ideological spaces. One of them is the left’s position within the current order of things. The first thing in this discussion that needs to be acknowledged is the success the historic left has had on reshaping the values in America. While avoiding an actual egalitarian society, we have crafted an almost universal value set that instinctually supports ideas like equality, democracy, individual freedoms, and diversity. These ideas are shared openly and must have lip service paid to them by everyone in polite society if they are to be seen as decent. This does not mean, however, that they have to then act on those ideas in meaningful ways, but that those are the moral ideas that have come to dominate the general social fabric. This actually presents an issue for the revolutionary left in that they still need to see themselves as being in opposition to fundamental aspects of the current order. When fascist ideas are presented by far right organizations, they immediately present their key ideas as being anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, and anti-diversity. In essence, they are in opposition to the key moral arguments of the current order. This goes a long way for their argumentation as they present themselves as the antecedent to the current “system,” even if this framework seems absurd to those on the left. The reactionary ideas the fuel the intellectual fascist milieu are actually at the heart of the American experience, which has, while professing leftist values, has internalized class exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other social hierarchies. It may seem obvious to those with a left analysis at play that the fascist notions are the opposite of transgressive, yet with the leftist coloring that we have given to society it is easy to say that these fascist ideas are in direct opposition. From here it is not a far step to say that the left-liberal paradigm is what actually drives the negative effects of the current order, and therefore the radical right holds the keys to subversion.
What fascists next use to attack the left’s credibility as a revolutionary force is probably the most obvious, and a critique we should be taking to heart for more reasons than one. When Matthew Heimbach, formerly of the White Student Union and now lead organizer with the Traditionalist Youth Network, was discussing his counter-action at May Day in Washington, DC, he repeatedly pointed out that he saw the left as the “militant wing of the system.” “The Weathermen Underground are professors now,” he quipped to Richard Spencer, director of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. Spencer himself has repeatedly discussed the institutionalization of the radical left, pointing out that you cannot really be dissenting from the system if you are a “tenured faculty member” at a place like Harvard(2). This is fundamentally a true statement, and one that can be legitimately hurled at the radical left sphere. Radical Marxist and anarchist ideas have become commonplace in academia, but you are never going to see a national socialist or Mussolini revivalist getting tenure in a philosophy department. Likewise, community and labor organizers, with ideas firmly planted in the radical left, are a common career path, but no one is going to be paying ethnonationalists a comfortable wage with benefits. We should be happy that there is little institutional support for these people, and that their careers are always at risk when they are exposed for who they are, but it also lends credibility to their argument. They say that we are the system, while they are the true challenge to the system.
It is important to note that the way they describe the left is always a complete mischaracterization at best, often times relying on a less than clear understanding of what the ideas we are putting into practice are. This is especially true when it comes to anarchism, which the far right loves to co-opt the language of. But even if it is a mischaracterization, there are enough small kernels of truth that they can exploit to make the argument that the left lacks any real threat to the current order. Again, without a clear ideological and class analysis, this makes their arguments seem to have merit. Once the ideological framework is laid, it can be difficult to uproot.The Problem of “Identity”
The core challenge that fascism then presents to us is when they first acknowledge the failure of the current system in very key and fundamental ways, and then attach their critiques to it, followed by their own solutions. To do this they have to seek out, or make themselves available to, people with a vague critique of the “system.” In our current period this has meant to go after venues where there is a strong anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian current that also lacks clear directives and ideas. The Occupy movement opened these gates at several points, but so has the allowance of conspiracy theory to become prevalent in radical circles, general anti-statist rhetoric, and the use of intergroup squabbling and disagreement. This becomes incredibly clear in the white working class that is squeezed in times of crisis and often has to choose between trying to maintain the small amount of privilege that they have, or to join a revolutionary movement that challenges class hierarchy. As Ba Jin points out at length in “Ten Theses on the U.S. Racial Order,” this creates a dual form of radicalism present at all points of struggle, one that runs to the radical left and one that stakes its claim on the right.
Whites remain a privileged stratum in the U.S. by definition, though the “wages” of whiteness have shrunk in absolute terms for 30 years, and have grown more porous with the adoption of colorblind public policy. The bourgeoisie remains overwhelmingly white, and the white proletariat continues to waver in its allegiance between white supremacy and class struggle. Whites retain access to the housing, education and employment benefits from which most blacks and “dark” racial groups are excluded; yet the defeat of de jure segregation has limited the extent of these benefits, and allowed some “middle layer” racial groups, and a few black, to gain access to them as well. At the same time deindustrialization and neoliberalism have steadily eroded the living standards of the lumpen and working class whites in most parts of the country, driving many into poverty or extreme debt. Proletarian whites have responded with bewilderment and outrage to these developments, giving rise to contradictory political trends. On one side, they have engaged in fascist militia-ism and the Tea Party movement, on the other, they have predominated in the ranks of the Occupy movement and the trade union battles, which the unions must now embrace for their very survival even as they work to limit their potentials. In opposing the regressive gender regime of the far with, white women, queers and trans people undermine support for potentially fascist politics among the white proletariat. (3)
When the rhetoric available to growing sectors of the working revolutionary class, this can split the potential populations. This should also be noted that, while still heavily dominated by whites, this issues has come up in communities of color as well where anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, and conspiracy theory has often been placed alongside revolutionary racial politics.
What has become an incredibly common tactic is to have the focus shifted to more problematic areas of the populist left. The far right has staked much of its claims to the left’s demise on things like political correctness, personal anecdotes of bigotry disconnected from a larger narrative, and “call out culture.” These are some of the easiest points at which they attempt to discredit the left because they show the largest amount of error and the least bit of connection to a revolutionary politic. Political correctness, in general, refers to the focus on correct language and behavior that is not deemed offensive to those with oppressed identities. While this is a good barometer to consider when considering what language to use, it is by no means the endgame of a radical left political analysis. Larger stories dealing with the political correctness narrative often come from people outside of radical left or organizing circles, and these stories certainly lack the ability to tie this momentary lapse in liberal judgment with the larger issues of systemic white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression. These also create some of the more embarrassing forms of movement infighting, as well as incredibly toxic online debate culture. The issues of interpersonal politics are not the most structurally sound elements associated with the left, and are easy to draw up reactionary fervor around because they lack accountability. Simply put, it is easy to create a right wing backlash when your example of the radical left is people arguing about who spoke over who in your reading group.
From here it is often an easy direction to provide a litany of reactionary political frames that can relate to someone’s identity, in the same way strains of the left deal with individual identity based oppressions. White nationalism is the most obvious of these, but Men’s Rights Activism and the new “straight pride” movements are increasingly relevant. Here they can reverse an oppression narrative, stating that the dominant case for whatever identity it happens to be is actually oppressed because of left-wing anti-oppression politics. Men are oppressed by feminism, whites are oppressed by multiculturalism, straight people are oppressed by queer theory, and so on. All of these continue to use deconstructionist language that uses these specific theories of oppression as a sort of “base and superstructure” explanation for why the larger “system” is so corrupted. A great example of this would be the popular white nationalist critique of global capitalism’s failure being rooted in the abandonment of tradition for modernity, homogeneity for globalism, and hierarchy for egalitarianism. None of this makes any sense in any kind of linear logic, of course, but that is not really the point.
This process is an important one since it brings up issues that are often discussed in anti-racist circles where by white often lack positive identity as it has been robbed by privilege. In general, the quest for identity is an incredibly human one, and white have often been socially placed into a position where their identity is based on a struggle to maintain social power above other racial groups. In the long-standing academic quest to find the “Generic Fascism,” which is to say an outline of exactly what fascism “is” in the most common case, Umberto Eco created a great outline of common features that the fascist movement often needs to inspire mass potential. In Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
, the seventh primary element is one who sees the politic feeding on those who lack identity.
To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order,
but, as we have recently seen, there are many others. (4)
Eco’s outline also sees the establishment of tradition, the conflict between that tradition and modernity, and the inclusion of diversity and intellectualism as distinct features of modernity. With this it is easy to develop a narrative of identity rooted in tradition by stripping away all forms of critique and counter-point. Here you can develop an entire “theory of the world” in ways that will not even leave itself subject to radical critiques from anywhere else, and therefore can instinctually operate in cult-like ways. In a sense, this creates an “idea virus” that obliterates all other facts and logics so that they can reinforce the “in group” and “out group” dynamic that they have defined by their appropriation and validation of social constructs like “race,” “nation,” and “tradition.” In just the way that those with an anti-oppression analysis see things like sexual orientation and gender presentations that are identities based on experience and therefore used in survival and struggle, fascist will see categories like “white” and “male” as individual groups that need to be first identified with and then defended.
The complexity of identity that fascist ideologies attempt to answer and exploit are very fundamental to our understanding of how nationalism has always worked. In Stuart Hood and Litza Janz’s very basic introduction to fascism, they observe that it is actually the abolition of individuality that can help people in times of crisis to feel as though they have found some kind of personhood.
Paradoxically, submersion in the mass gives you identity, the shared power of nationality and race. Fascism appeals to the romanticism of youth, the lure of self-sacrifice to a common cause, the rediscovery of comradeship in battle. Social differences vanish in the unselfish experience of danger, discomfort and suffering. Fascism gives you a clear and identifiable enemy. (5)
The same can be true of identification through struggle on the left, primarily anti-oppression and/or class struggle, but these are identities of social category rather than essential ones. Fascist categories, such as gender and race, are seen in their eyes as being biologically and spiritually concrete, and those on the left see them as social constructs. These reactionary ideas then hope that they can strip away the progress of modernity to find something “real” that works much better, a process that is regressive and intent on returning monstrous inequality and tyranny into the public world.Hijacking Revolution
For a long period many of these strands of reactionary politics were disparate, but in recent years organizations like the National Policy Institute, American Renaissance, Counter-Currents Publishing, and others have worked hard to make these simply different fingers on the same hand. These coalesce in movements dubbed things like the Alternative Right, the Dark Enlightenment, or other movements challenging “modernity.” It is with these kinds of critiques that they fade directly into the kinds of deeper fascist philosophical traditions like the racial traditionalism of Julius Evola, the conservative revolution of Ernst Junger and Carl Schmidt, and the New Right of people like Alain De Benoist and Guillaume Faye. Whether it is a “cult of masculinity,” regaining “organic societies,” or “preserving European civilization,” they hold certain “truths” to be self-evident.