A discussion of the relationship between the far-right and class politics from a far-left “anti-fascist” perspective. Some of this I agree with, and some of it I don’t, but my actual perspective on “anti-fascism” is that fascism is an archaic ideology that actually has very little influence in modern, Western countries. The two most significant examples of fascist movements in the West today would be Italy’s Cassa Pound and Greece’s Golden Dawn, both of which are largely considered to be criminal organizations by the Italian and Greek governments, akin to the mafia. Nearly every “far-right” group or individual in the USA who gets labeled as “fascist” is more in the vein of the 19th century Know-Nothings (the Proud Boys are the most notorious example, and even they would be to the left of the historic Know-Nothings, often considerably so).
Some contemporary “white nationalists,” like Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer, hold to ideas that are more in line with 1920s progressives (basically, technocracy plus racism). There is a tiny subculture of actual neo-Nazis, who are far less influential than many cults like Scientology or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and there are a few remnant Ku Klux Klan organizations that are still active, which are comprised mostly of informants and run of the mill losers. The main danger posed by “far-right” groups in the US is they tend to attract a disproportional number of psychopaths, some of whom will commit individual acts of terrorism (e.g. Dylan Roof). But, in this regard, they’re no different from all the other types of psychopaths who commit acts of violence.
However, there is a “right-wing authoritarian” threat in the US, though it doesn’t come from neo-fascist or neo-Know Nothing groups. The right-wing threat is that the right-wing of the ruling class (mostly Sunbelt capital, sectors of the military-industrial complex, and Israeli/Saudi-connected interests), along with sympathetic sectors from the petite bourgeoisie, will work to create a one-party authoritarian state of their own as the system continues to break down. It would be something like an American Erdoganism under a generic “Christian nationalist” rule that fronts for a capitalist oligarchy, or a Latin American-like caudillo, with the head of state being a Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz like figure that is tied into the right-wing of capitalism, the defense industry, US Zionism, “big oil’/Saudi interests, etc. This threat from the US right is not the most immediate threat. Totalitarian humanism, which favors traditional American-style repression of the Wilson/Palmer/Hoover/Cointelpro model is currently the dominant faction of the ruling class. Figures like Kamala Harris, who represents a synthesis of the conventional national security state and dominant sectors of the capitalist class with feminism and multiculturalism, are representative of the totalitarian humanist perspective. But they are faced with opposition from the right in the form described above, along with opposition from the further left sectors of the ruling class who wish to weaponize “anti-racist” or “rainbow” extremism as a means of deflecting anti-capitalism and anti-statism (an example would be Twitter’s support for figures like Ibram X. Kendi).
Obviously, as anarchists and anarchist fellow-travelers, we need to oppose all of these tendencies.
In this review essay, Three Way Fight contributor Devin Zane Shaw examines a wide-ranging set of writings on current fascist movements and antifascist strategy. In the process, Shaw advances a distinctive argument about fascism’s class politics, an issue on which Three Way Fight supporters hold a range of perspectives.
Shane Burley, Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse. AK Press, 2021. 353pp.
Reviewed by Devin Zane Shaw
Categories: Left and Right