Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right

An antifascist report on the far right movement that embraced Donald Trump.

Click the icon to order Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

This report is excerpted from Matthew N. Lyons’s forthcoming book, Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire, to be published by PM Press and Kersplebedeb Publishing. This report is also featured in Ctrl-Alt-Delete: An Antifascist Report on the Alternative Right, which is now available for pre-order.

For a printer-friendly PDF version, click HERE.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Maybe you first heard about them in the summer of 2015, when they promoted the insult “cuckservative” to attack Trump’s opponents in the Republican primaries.1 Maybe it was in August 2016, when Hillary Clinton denounced them as “a fringe element” that had “effectively taken over the Republican party.”2 Or maybe it was a couple of weeks after Trump’s surprise defeat of Clinton, when a group of them were caught on camera giving the fascist salute in response to a speaker shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”3

The Alt Right helped Donald Trump get elected president, and Trump’s campaign put the Alt Right in the news. But the movement was active well before Trump announced his candidacy, and its relationship with Trump has been more complex and more qualified than many critics realize. The Alt Right is just one of multiple dangerous forces associated with Trump, but it’s the one that has attracted the greatest notoriety. However, it’s not accurate to argue, as many critics have, that “Alt Right” is just a deceptive code-phrase meant to hide the movement’s White supremacist or neonazi politics. This is a movement with its own story, and for those concerned about the seemingly sudden resurgence of far-right politics in the United States, it is a story worth exploring.

This logo for the Alt Right has been appearing online, on posters, and at events.

The Alt Right, short for “alternative right,” is a loosely organized far-right movement that shares a contempt for both liberal multiculturalism and mainstream conservatism; a belief that some people are inherently superior to others; a strong internet presence and embrace of specific elements of online culture; and a self-presentation as being new, hip, and irreverent.4 Based primarily in the United States, Alt Right ideology combines White nationalism, misogyny, antisemitism, and authoritarianism in various forms and in political styles ranging from intellectual argument to violent invective. White nationalism constitutes the movement’s center of gravity, but some Alt Rightists are more focused on reasserting male dominance or other forms of elitism rather than race. The Alt Right has little in the way of formal organization, but has used internet memes effectively to gain visibility, rally supporters, and target opponents. Most Alt Rightists have rallied behind Trump’s presidential bid, yet as a rule Alt Rightists regard the existing political system as hopeless and call for replacing the United States with one or more racially defined homelands.

This report offers an overview of the Alt Right’s history, beliefs, and relationship with other political forces. Part 1 traces the movement’s ideological origins in paleoconservatism and the European New Right, and its development since Richard Spencer launched the original AlternativeRight.com website in 2010. Part 2 surveys the major political currents that comprise or overlap with the Alt Right, which include in their ranks White nationalists, members of the antifeminist “manosphere,” male tribalists, right-wing anarchists, and neoreactionaries. Part 3 focuses on the Alt Right’s relationship with the Trump presidential campaign, including movement debates about political strategy, online political tactics, and its relationship to a network of conservative supporters and popularizers known as the “Alt Lite.” A concluding section offers preliminary thoughts on the Alt Right’s prospects and the potential challenges it will face under the incoming Trump administration.

PART 1 – ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT

Ideological roots

Two intellectual currents played key roles in shaping the early Alternative Right: paleoconservatism and the European New Right.

Paleoconservatives can trace their lineage back to the “Old Right” of the 1930s, which opposed New Deal liberalism, and to the America First movement of the early 1940s, which opposed U.S. entry into World War II. To varying degrees, many of the America Firsters were sympathetic to fascism and fascist claims of a sinister Jewish-British conspiracy. In the early 1950s, this current supported Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunting crusade, which extended red-baiting to target representatives of the centrist Eastern Establishment. After McCarthy, the America First/anti-New Deal Right was largely submerged in a broader “fusionist” conservative movement, in which Cold War anticommunism served as the glue holding different rightist currents together. But when the Soviet bloc collapsed between 1989 and 1991, this anticommunist alliance unraveled, and old debates reemerged.5

In the 1980s, devotees of the Old Right began calling themselves paleoconservatives as a reaction against neoconservatives, those often formerly liberal and leftist intellectuals who were then gaining influential positions in right-wing think-tanks and the Reagan administration. The first neocons were predominantly Jewish and Catholic, which put them outside the ranks of old-guard conservatism. Neocons promoted an aggressive foreign policy to spread U.S. “democracy” throughout the world and supported a close alliance with Israel, but they also favored nonrestrictive immigration policies and, to a limited extent, social welfare programs. Paleconservatives regarded the neocons as usurpers and closet leftists, and in the post-Soviet era they criticized military interventionism, free trade, immigration, globalization, and the welfare state. They also spoke out against Washington’s close alliance with Israel, often in terms that had anti-Jewish undertones. Paleoconservatives tended to be unapologetic champions of European Christian culture, and some of them gravitated toward White nationalism, advocating a society in which White people, their values, interests, and concerns would always be explicitly preeminent. To some extent they began to converge with more hardline White supremacists during this period.6

These positions attracted little elite support, and after Reagan paleocons were mostly frozen out of political power. But they attracted significant popular support. In 1992 and 1996, Patrick Buchanan won millions of votes in Republican presidential primaries by emphasizing paleocon themes. Paleocons also played key roles in building the anti-immigrant and neo-Confederate movements in the ‘90s, and influenced the Patriot movement, which exploded briefly in the mid-90s around fears that globalist elites were plotting to impose a tyrannical world government on the United States. Some self-described libertarians, such as former Congressmember Ron Paul, embraced paleoconservative positions on culture and foreign policy.7 After the September 11th attacks in 2001, the resurgence of military interventionism and neoconservatives’ prominent roles in the George W. Bush administration solidified the paleocons’ position as political outsiders.8

The Alt Right’s other significant forerunner, the European New Right (ENR), developed along different lines. The ENR began in France in the late 1960s and then spread to other European countries as an initiative among far-right intellectuals to rework fascist ideology, largely by appropriating elements from other political traditions—including the Left—to mask their fundamental rejection of the principle of human equality.9 European New Rightists championed “biocultural diversity” against the homogenization supposedly brought by liberalism and globalization. They argued that true antiracism requires separating racial and ethnic groups to protect their unique cultures, and that true feminism defends natural gender differences, instead of supposedly forcing women to “divest themselves of their femininity.” ENR writers also rejected the principle of universal human rights as “a strategic weapon of Western ethnocentrism” that stifles cultural diversity.10

European New Rightists dissociated themselves from traditional fascism in various other ways as well. In the wake of France’s defeat by anticolonial forces in Algeria, they advocated anti-imperialism rather than expansionism and a federated “empire” of regionally based, ethnically homogeneous communities, rather than a big, centralized state. Instead of organizing a mass movement to seize state power, they advocated a “metapolitical” strategy that would gradually transform the political and intellectual culture as a precursor to transforming institutions and systems. In place of classical fascism’s familiar leaders and ideologues, European New Rightists championed more obscure far rightist intellectuals of the 1920s, ‘30s, and beyond, such Julius Evola of Italy, Ernst Jünger and Carl Schmitt of Germany, and Corneliu Codreanu of Romania.

ENR ideology began to get attention in the United States in the 1990s,11 resonating with paleoconservatism on various themes, notably opposition to multicultural societies, non-White immigration, and globalization. On other issues, the two movements tended to be at odds: reflecting their roots in classical fascism but in sharp contrast to paleocons, European New Rightists were hostile to liberal individualism and laissez faire capitalism, and many of them rejected Christianity in favor of paganism. Nonetheless, some kind of dialog between paleocon and ENR ideas held promise for Americans seeking to develop a White nationalist movement outside of traditional neonazi/Ku Klux Klan circles.

Early years and growth

Richard Spencer speaking at a National Policy Institute conference in 2016.

The term “Alternative Right” was introduced by Richard Spencer in 2008, when he was managing editor at the paleocon and libertarian Taki’s Magazine. At Taki’s Magazine the phrase was used as a catch-all for a variety of right-wing voices at odds with the conservative establishment, including paleocons, libertarians, and White nationalists.12 Two years later Spencer left to found a new publication, AlternativeRight.com, as “an online magazine of radical traditionalism.” Joining Spencer were two senior contributing editors, Peter Brimelow (whose anti-immigrant VDARE Foundation sponsored the project) and Paul Gottfried (one of paleoconservatism’s founders and one of its few Jews). AlternativeRight.com quickly became a popular forum among dissident rightist intellectuals, especially younger ones. The magazine published works of old-school “scientific” racism along with articles from or about the European New Right, Italian far right philosopher Julius Evola, and figures from Germany’s interwar Conservative Revolutionary movement. There were essays by National-Anarchist Andrew Yeoman, libertarian and Pat Buchanan supporter Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com, male tribalist Jack Donovan, and Black conservative Elizabeth Wright.13

AlternativeRight.com developed ties with a number of other White nationalist intellectual publications, which eventually became associated with the term Alternative Right. Some of its main partners included VDARE.com; Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, whose conferences attracted both antisemites and right-wing Jews; The Occidental Quarterly and its online magazine, The Occidental Observer, currently edited by prominent antisemitic intellectual Kevin MacDonald; and Counter-Currents Publishing, which was founded in 2010 to “create an intellectual movement in North America that is analogous to the European New Right” and “lay the intellectual groundwork for a white ethnostate in North America.”14

Founded in 2005, The National Policy Institute is a White nationalist, White supremacist think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.

In 2011, Richard Spencer became head of the White nationalist think-tank National Policy Institute (NPI) and its affiliated Washington Summit Publishers. He turned AlternativeRight.com over to other editors the following year, then shut it down completely, establishing a new online magazine, Radix, in its place. (The other editors then reestablished Alternative Right as a blog.) Compared with AlternativeRight.com’s broad ideological approach, Spencer’s later entities were more sharply focused on promoting White nationalism. Starting in 2011, NPI held a series of high-profile conferences that brought together intellectuals and activists from various branches of the movement. In 2014, the think-tank, together with supporters of Russian ENR theorist Aleksandr Dugin, cosponsored a “pan-European” conference in Budapest, although the Hungarian government deported Spencer and denied Dugin a visa.15

Starting in 2015, a much wider array of writers and online activists embraced the Alt Right moniker. As Anti-Fascist News put it, “the ‘alt right’ now often means an internet focused string of commentators, blogs, Twitter accounts, podcasters, and Reddit trolls, all of which combine scientific racism, romantic nationalism, and deconstructionist neo-fascist ideas to create a white nationalist movement that has almost no backwards connection with neo-Nazis and the KKK.”16 Some online centers of this larger, more amorphous Alt Right included the imageboard websites 4chan and 8chan, various Reddit sub-communities, and The Right Stuff blog and podcasts. Some Alt Right outfits offered neonazi-oriented politics (such as The Daily Stormer and the Traditionalist Youth Network), while others did not (such as Occidental Dissent, The Unz Review, Vox Popoli, and Chateau Heartiste).

Message boards like 4chan have become appropriated as online centers of a more amorphous Alt Right.

On many sites, Alt Right politics were presented in terms intended to be as inflammatory as possible, bucking a decades-old trend among U.S. Far Rightists to tone down their beliefs for mass consumption. Previously, antisemitic propagandist Willis Carto and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke had made careers of dressing up fascism as “populism” or “conservatism”; now Alt Rightists confidently derided antifascism in the way 1960s radicals had derided anticommunism: “We might not all be proper fascists,” The Right Stuff columnist Lawrence Murray wrote in 2015, “but we’re all a little fash whether we want to be or not. We’re fashy goys—we think a lot of nasty thoughts that keep leftists up at night during their struggle sessions. Might as well embrace it…”17

The Alt Right’s rapid growth partly reflected trends in internet culture, where anonymity and the lack of face-to-face contact have fostered widespread use of insults, bullying, and supremacist speech. More immediately, it reflected recent political developments, such as a backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement and, above all, Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. A majority of Alt Rightists supported Trump’s campaign because of his anti-immigrant proposals; defamatory rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims, women, and others; and his clashes with mainstream conservatives and the Republican Party establishment.

PART 2 – MAJOR IDEOLOGICAL CURRENTS

White nationalists, high- and low-brow

The original AlternativeRight.com magazine helped set the parameters of Alt Right White nationalism. In “Why an Alternative Right is Necessary,” published in 2010 soon after the magazine was launched, columnist Richard Hoste offered a paleocon-style criticism of the War on Terror and mainstream conservatives, coupled with a blunt new emphasis on race:

One would think that the odds of a major terrorist attack happening would depend on how many Muslims are allowed to live in the United States. Reducing Islamic immigration in the name of fighting terror would receive widespread public support, be completely practical in a way installing a puppet regime in Afghanistan wouldn’t, and not lead us to kill or torture anybody…. The idea that nothing must be done to stop the March Of Diversity is so entrenched in the minds of those considered of the Right that they will defend America policing the entire planet, torture, indefinite detentions, and a nation on permanent war footing but won’t mention immigration restriction or racial profiling.

We’ve known for a while through neuroscience and cross-adoption studies—if common sense wasn’t enough—that individuals differ in their inherent capabilities. The races do, too, with whites and Asians on the top and blacks at the bottom. The Alternative Right takes it for granted that equality of opportunity means inequality of results for various classes, races, and the two sexes. Without ignoring the importance of culture, we see Western civilization as a unique product of the European gene pool.18

A few months later, Greg Johnson at Counter-Currents Publishing declared that:

The survival of whites in North America and around the world is threatened by a host of bad ideas and policies: egalitarianism, the denial of biological race and sex differences, feminism, emasculation, racial altruism, ethnomasochism and xenophilia, multiculturalism, liberalism, capitalism, non-white immigration, individualism, consumerism, materialism, hedonism, anti-natalism, etc.

He also warned that White people would not survive unless they “work to reduce Jewish power and influence” and “regain political control over a viable national homeland or homelands.”19

In 2016, following the Alternative Right’s rapid growth, Lawrence Murray in The Right Stuff proposed a summary of the movement’s “big tent” philosophy: inequality of both individuals and populations is “a fact of life”; “races and their national subdivisions exist and compete for resources, land and influence”; White people are being suppressed and “must be allowed to take their own side”; men and women have separate roles and heterosexual monogamy is crucial for racial survival; “the franchise should be limited” because universal democracy “gives power to the worst and shackles the fittest”; and “Jewish elites are opposed to our entire program.”20 Alfred W. Clark in Radix offered a slightly different summary. In his view, Alt Rightists recognize human biodiversity; reject universalism; want to reverse Third World immigration into the West; are skeptical of free trade and free market ideology; oppose mainstream Christianity from a variety of religious viewpoints (traditionalist Christian, neo-pagan, atheist, and agnostic); and often (but not always) support Donald Trump. Unlike Murray, Clark noted that Alt Rightists disagree about the “Jewish question,” but generally agree “that Jews have disproportionately been involved in starting left-wing movements of the last 150 years.”21

Alt Rightists have promoted these ideas in different ways. Some have used moderate-sounding intellectual tones, often borrowed from the European New Right’s euphemistic language about respecting “difference” and protecting “biocultural diversity.” For example, the National Policy Institute has promoted “identitarianism,” a concept that was developed by the French New Right and popularized by the French group Bloc Identitaire. In 2015, Richard Spencer introduced an NPI essay contest for young writers on the theme, “Why I’m An Identitarian”:

Identitarianism… eschews nationalist chauvinism, as well as the meaningless, petty nationalism that is tolerated, even encouraged, by the current world system. That said, Identitarianism is itself not a universal value system, like Leftism, monotheism, and most contemporary versions of ‘conservatism.’ To the contrary, Identitarianism is fundamentally about difference, about culture as an expression of a certain people at a certain time…. Identitarianism acknowledges the incommensurable nature of different peoples and cultures—and thus looks forward to a world of true diversity and multiculturalism.22

Very different versions of Alt Right politics are available elsewhere. The Right Stuff website uses a mocking, ironic tone, with rotating tag lines such as “Your rational world is a circle jerk”; “Non-aggression is the triumph of weakness”; “Democracy is an interracial porno”; “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character”; and “Life isn’t fair. Sucks for you, but I don’t care.” An article by “Darth Stirner,” titled “Fascist Libertarianism: For a Better World,” further illustrated this style:

Dear libertarian, take the rose colored glasses of racial egalitarianism off. Look around and see that other races don’t even disguise their hatred of you. Even though you don’t think in terms of race, rest assured that they do. Humanity is composed of a series of racial corporations. They stick together, and if we don’t… Western civilization is doomed.

[…]

Progressives, communists, and degenerates of various stripes will need to be interned—at least during the transition period. Terrorism and guerrilla warfare can be prevented with this measure. In the instance of a coup d’état it would be reasonable to detain every person who might conceivably be an enemy of the right-wing revolution. Rather than starving or torturing them they should be treated well with the highest standard of living reasonably possible. Most of them will simply be held until the war is over and the winner is clear. This is actually much more humane than allowing a hotly contested civil war to occur.23

The Right Stuff doesn’t just offer quasi-irony, however, but also naked bigotry, as summarized by Anti-Fascist News:

[On The Right Stuff] they choose to openly use racial slurs, degrade women and rape survivors, mock the holocaust and call for violence against Jews. Their podcast, The Daily Shoah, which is a play on The Daily Show and the Yiddish term for The Holocaust, is a roundtable discussion of different racists broadcasting under pseudonyms. Here they do voice “impressions” of Jews, and consistently use terms like “Nig Nog,” “Muds[”] (referring to “mud races,” meaning non-white), and calling people of African descent “Dingos.” The N-word, homophobic slurs, and calls for enforced cultural patriarchy and heteronormativity are commonplace… The use of rhetoric like this is almost entirely missing from groups like American Renaissance, Counter-Currents, Radix Journal, Alternative Right, and even Stormfront, the main hub for racist groups who recently banned swastikas and racial slurs.24

Anti-Fascist News argues that different branches of the Alternative Right use different language to appeal to different target audiences. “The Right Stuff tries to mimic the aggression and reactionary insults of right-wing talk radio like Rush Limbaugh, while Radix would love to look a lot more like that trendy Critical Theory journal young grad students are clamoring to be published in.”25 This is more division of labor than factional conflict, as a number of Alt Right intellectual figures have appeared on The Right Stuff podcasts, for example.

Stylistic differences aside, though, Alt Rightists have also disagreed about substantive issues. One of the biggest points of contention has been whether White nationalists should work with Jews, or at least some Jews. Anti-Jewish bigotry and scapegoating have been prevalent across most of the movement, but with important variations and exceptions. For the minority of Alt Rightists who identify with neonazism, such as Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, uncompromising antisemitism is the overriding core principle.26 And for many others, Jews are a major existential threat. To The Right Stuff blogger “Auschwitz Soccer Ref,” Jews as a group have engaged in “2,000 years of non-stop treachery and backstabbing” and are “remorseless enemies who seek the destruction of the people they hate, which is us.” As a result, “anyone who self-identifies as a Jew or anyone who makes excuses for a continued Jewish presence in White homelands should be unapologetically excluded from this movement, and none of these people should ever be allowed to speak at alt right conferences no matter how pro-White they may seem.”27

American Renaissance is a monthly online magazine considered widely to be a White supremacist publication.

Not all Alt Rightists agree. American Renaissance, one of the movement’s central institutions, pioneered a version of White nationalism that avoided antisemitism. Besides publishing Jewish authors, both Jews and antisemites have been welcome at AmRen events as long as they set aside their disagreements.28 Richard Spencer, too, repeatedly welcomed Jewish writers and cited them as useful contributors to the movement.

Even Alt Rightists who view Jews as dangerous outsiders don’t necessarily regard them as the embodiment of pure evil. Serbian-American author Srdja Trifkovic wrote that “the Jews” had disproportionately contributed to the erosion of European civilization. Nevertheless, he hoped for an alliance with Jews against their common enemy, “the brown, black, and yellow multitudes” whose eventual attacks on the Jewish community might “easily exceed in ferocity and magnitude the events of 1942-45.”29 Similarly, Counter-Currents writer M.K. Lane described Jews as “a self-segregating and culturally arrogant people, a people who refuse to assimilate [and] who even when they do ostensibly assimilate, cause even greater harm than they did before desegregating.” Yet Lane also hoped that a significant number of Jews could be won over to ally with White nationalism since, “if we go down, they go down.” Of course, in such an alliance White nationalists “must not allow ourselves to become stooges.” Jews “living in our midst… could either be allowed to live in their own communities, assimilate in small numbers, or move to Israel. Anything as long as they refrain from subverting our societies…”30

Manosphere

While White nationalism has been central to the Alternative Right, patriarchal politics have played an increasingly important—and increasingly poisonous—role in the movement. The original AlternativeRight.com featured a range of views on gender, from patriarchal traditionalism to a kind of quasi-feminism. A number of male contributors expressed concern that their branch of the Right had attracted few women. Publisher and novelist Alex Kurtagic argued in 2011 that women and men had distinct natural roles, but that the White nationalist movement needed both:

Women are far more than nurturers: they are especially proficient at networking, community building, consensus building, multi-tasking, and moral and logistical support provision. These are all essential in any movement involving community outreach and where user-friendly, low-key, non-threatening forms of recruitment are advisable…. Women can create a much broader comfort zone around hardcore political activism through organising a wide range of community, human, and support-oriented activities…31

Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists argued more pointedly that sexist behavior by male Alt Rightists was driving women away:

Many women won’t associate with our ideas. Why is this important? Because it leaves half our people out of the struggle. The women that do stick around have to deal with a constant litany of abuse and frequent courtship invitations from unwanted suitors. …nothing says ‘you’re not important to us’ [more] than sexualizing women in the movement. Don’t tell me that’s not an issue. I’ve seen it happen in all kinds of radical circles, and ours is the worst for it.32

Logo for the White nationalist discussion site, Stormfront

As the Alternative Right has grown, it has abandoned this kind of self-criticism and debate about gender politics. Going beyond traditionalist claims about the sanctity of the family and natural gender roles, Alt Rightists have embraced an intensely misogynistic ideology, portraying women as irrational, vindictive creatures who need and want men to rule over them and who should be stripped of any political role.33 The Traditionalist Youth Network claims that “women’s biological drives are contrary to the best interests of civilization and… the past century or so of women’s enfranchisement and liberation has been detrimental to societal stability.” But the group frames this position as relatively moderate because, unlike some rightists, they don’t believe “that women are central to the destruction of Western Civilization”—they are simply being manipulated by the Jews.34 The Daily Stormer has banned female contributors and called for limiting women’s roles in the movement, sparking criticism from women on the more old school White nationalist discussion site Stormfront. Far-right blogger Matt Forney asserts that “Trying to ‘appeal’ to women is an exercise in pointlessness…. it’s not that women should be unwelcome [in the Alt Right], it’s that they’re unimportant.”35

A big reason for this shift toward hardline woman-hating is that the Alt Right has become closely intertwined with the so-called manophere, an online antifeminist male subculture that has grown rapidly in recent years, largely outside traditional right-wing networks. The manosphere includes various overlapping circles, such as Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), who argue that the legal system and media unfairly discriminate against men; Pickup Artists (PUAs), who help men learn how to manipulate women into having sex with them; Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOWs), who protest women’s supposed dominance by avoiding relationships with them; and others.36

Manospherians have emphasized male victimhood—the false belief that men in U.S. society are oppressed or disempowered by feminism or by women in general. This echoes the concept of “reverse racism,” the idea that White Americans face unfair discrimination, which White nationalists have promoted since the 1970s.

Daryush Valizadeh writes at the PUA site, Return of Kings.

Some manospherians are family-centered traditionalists while others celebrate a more predatory sexuality. Daryush Valizadeh, who writes at the PUA site Return of Kings under the name Roosh V, embodies this tension. He argues that the nuclear family with one father and one mother is the healthiest unit for raising children, and socialism is damaging because it makes women dependent on the government and discourages them from using their “feminine gifts” to “land a husband.” Yet Valizadeh has also written 10 how-to books for male sex tourists with titles such as Bang Ukraine and Bang Iceland. Valizadeh doesn’t dwell on his own glaring inconsistency, but does suggest in his article, “What is Neomasculinity?,” that the dismantling of patriarchal rules has forced men to pursue “game” as a defensive strategy “to hopefully land some semblance of a normal relationship.”37

Like the Alt Right, manosphere discourse ranges from intellectual arguments to raw invective, although the line between them is often blurred. Paul Elam’s A Voice for Men, founded in 2009, became one of the manosphere’s most influential websites with intentionally provocative articles arguing, for example, that the legal system was so heavily stacked against men that rape trial jurors should vote to acquit “even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.”38 Elam also “satirically” declared October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” urging men to fight back against physically abusive female partners. He offered “satire” such as:

I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.39

Manospherians also tend to promote homophobia and transphobia, which is consistent with their efforts to re-impose rigid gender roles and identities. At Return of Kings, Valizadeh has denounced the legalization of same-sex marriage as “one phase of a degenerate march to persecute heterosexuals, both legally and socially, while acclimating young children to the homosexual lifestyle.”40 On the same website, Matt Forney warned that trans women who have sex with cis men might be guilty of “rape by fraud.”41 At the same time, some manosphere sites have sought to reach out to gay men. A Voice for Men published a series of articles by writer Matthew Lye that were later collected into the e-book The New Gay Liberation: Escaping the Fag End of Feminism, which Paul Elam described as “a scorching indictment of feminist hatred of all things male.”42

One of the events that brought the manosphere to public attention was the Gamergate controversy. Starting in 2014, a number of women who worked in—or were critical of sexism in—the video game industry were subjected to large-scale campaigns of harassment, coordinated partly with the #Gamergate Twitter hashtag. Supporters of Gamergate claimed that that campaign was a defense of free speech and journalistic ethics and against political correctness, but it included streams of misogynistic abuse, rape and death threats, as well as doxxing (public releases of personal information), which caused several women to leave their homes out of fear for their physical safety.43 The Gamergate campaign took the pervasive, systematic pattern of threats and abuse that has been long used to silence women on the internet, and sharpened it into a focused weapon of attack.44 Gamergate, in turn, strongly influenced the Alt Right’s own online activism, as I discuss below.

There is significant overlap between the manosphere and the Alt Right. Both are heavily active on discussion websites such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, and a number of prominent Alt Rightists—such as Forney, Theodore Beale (pseudonym: “Vox Day”), James Weidmann (“Roissy”), and Andrew Auernheimer (“weev”)—have also been active in the manosphere. Many other Alt Rightists have absorbed and promoted manosphere versions of gender ideology.

Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh in Warsaw, Poland in 2014. (Photo: Bartek Kucharczyk via Wiki Commons).

But there have also been tensions between the two rightist movements. In 2015, Valizadeh (“Roosh V”) began to build a connection with the Alternative Right, attending an NPI conference and quoting extensively from antisemite Kevin MacDonald in a lengthy post about “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism And Activism On Western Culture.”45 Some Alt Rightists responded favorably. One blogger commented that the manosphere was “not as stigmatized” as White nationalism and the Alt Right, and suggested hopefully that, “since the Manosphere has a very broad appeal it is possible that bloggers such as Roosh and Dalrock [a Christian manospherian] might serve as a stepping stone to guide formerly apathetic men towards the Alternative Right.”46 Matt Parrott of the Traditionalist Youth Network praised Valizadeh’s “What is Neomasculinity?” as “a masterful synthesis of human biodiversity knowledge, radical traditionalist principle, and pragmatic modern dating experience.”47

But the relationship soured quickly, largely because Valizadeh is Persian American. Although Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer tweeted that Valizadeh was “a civilized and honorable man,”48 many White nationalists denounced him as non White and an enemy. One tweeted that he was “a greasy Iranian” who “goes to Europe to defile white women and write books about it.”49 After studying Valizadeh’s accounts of his own sex tourism, Counter-Currents Publishing editor-in-chief Greg Johnson concluded that Roosh “is either a rapist or a fraud” and “it is not just feminist hysteria to describe Roosh as a rape advocate.” More broadly, Johnson wrote, “for all its benefits… the manosphere morally corrupts men. It does not promote the resurgence of traditional and biologically based sexual norms.”50 Valizadeh responded by blogging “The Alt Right Is Worse Than Feminism in Attempting to Control Male Sexual Behavior.”51

Male tribalism

Jack Donovan, an early contributor to AlternativeRight.com who has stayed active in the Alt Right as it has grown, offers a related but distinct version of male supremacist ideology. In a series of books and articles over the past decade, Donovan has advocated a system of patriarchy based on “tribal” comradeship among male warriors. Drawing on evolutionary psychology, he argues that in the past men have mostly organized themselves into small, close-knit “gangs,” which fostered true masculinity and men’s natural dominance over women. Yet modern “globalist civilization” “requires the abandonment of human scale identity groups for ‘one world tribe.’” A combination of “feminists, elite bureaucrats, and wealthy men,” he writes, has promoted male passivity and put women in a dominant role.52

Jack Donovan has advocated a system of patriarchy based on “tribal” comradeship among male warriors. (photo: Zachary O. Ray via Wiki Commons).

Unlike Christian rightists, who argue that feminism misleads women into betraying their true interests, Donovan sees feminism as an expression of women’s basic nature, which is “to calm men down and enlist their help at home, raising children, and fixing up the grass hut.” Today, he argues, feminists’ supposed alliance with globalist elites reflects this: “Women are better suited to and better served by the globalism and consumerism of modern democracies that promote security, no-strings attached sex and shopping.”53

Donovan’s social and political ideal is a latter-day tribal order that he calls “The Brotherhood,” in which all men would affirm their sacred loyalty to each other against the outside world. A man’s position would be based on “hierarchy through meritocracy,” not inherited wealth or status. All men would be expected to train and serve as warriors, and only warriors—meaning no women—would have a political voice. In this version of patriarchal ideology, unlike the Christian Right version, male comradeship is central and the family is entirely peripheral. An example of the kind of community Donovan envisions is the Odinist group Wolves of Vinland, which Donovan joined after visiting their off-the-grid community in rural Virginia in 2014. The Wolves use group rituals (including animal sacrifice) and hold fights between members to test their masculinity.54 The Wolves of Vinland have also been praised by White nationalist groups such as Counter-Currents Publishing, and one of their members has been imprisoned for attempting to burn down a Black church in Virginia.55

Donovan has written that he is sympathetic to White nationalist aims such as encouraging racial separatism and defending European Americans against “the deeply entrenched anti-white bias of multiculturalist orthodoxies.” White nationalism dovetails with his beliefs that all humans are tribal creatures and human equality is an illusion. But in contrast to most Alt Rightists, race is not Donovan’s main focus or concern. “My work is about men. It’s about understanding masculinity and the plight of men in the modern world. It’s about what all men have in common.” His “Brotherhood” ideal is not culturally specific and he’s happy to see men of other cultures pursue similar aims. “For instance, I am not a Native American, but I have been in contact with a Native American activist who read The Way of Men and contacted me to tell me about his brotherhood. I could never belong to that tribe, but I wish him great success in his efforts to promote virility among his tribesmen.”57

Donovan also echoes the 1909 Futurist Manifesto, a document that prefigured Italian Fascism. (Image: Wiki Commons)

There are strong resonances between Donovan’s ideas and early fascism’s violent male camaraderie, which took the intense, trauma-laced bonds that World War I veterans had formed in the trenches and transferred them into street-fighting formations such as the Italian squadristi and German storm troopers. Donovan also echoes the 1909 Futurist Manifesto, a document that prefigured Italian Fascism with statements such as “We want to glorify war—the only cure for the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.”58 Thus it’s not surprising he has embraced the term “anarcho-fascism,” referring to “a unified male collective… bound together by a red ribbon of blood.”59

In the Alternative Right and among rightists in general, the most controversial part of Donovan’s ideology is that he advocates and practices “androphilia,” by which he means love or sex between masculine men. Donovan doesn’t call himself gay, rejects gay culture as effeminate, and justifies homophobia as a defense of masculinity rooted in the male gang’s collective survival needs. His version of homosexuality is a consummation of the priority that men in his ideal gang place on each other. As he has commented, “When you get right down to it, when it comes to sex, homos are just men without women getting in the way.”60 Many Alternative Rightists consider homosexuality in any form to be immoral and a threat to racial survival, and Donovan has been vilified on many Alt Right sites for his sexuality, yet his work has also won widespread support within the movement. Anti-Fascist News has noted a broader trend among many White nationalists to include openly homosexual writers (such as James O’Meara) and musicians (such as Death in June leader Douglas Pearce), while continuing to derogate gay culture.61

Right-wing anarchists

Like many far-right currents in the United States, the Alt Right offers a vision of the state that is both authoritarian and decentralist. Alt Rightists uphold classical fascism’s elitist and anti-democratic views on how society should be governed, and as the movement has grown it has increasingly applauded dictatorial figures such as Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.62 At the same time, the Alt Right goal of breaking up the United States into ethnically separate polities is inherently decentralist, and is rooted in both the European New Right’s vision of replacing nation-states with a federated “empire” and paleoconservatism’s traditional hostility to big government. The authoritarian/decentralist blend has been bolstered by two other political currents that have influenced the Alt Right: right-wing anarchism and neoreaction.

As part of its project to bring together a range of dissident right-wing voices, AlternativeRight.com published articles by self-identified anarchists Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists (BANA) and Keith Preston of the website Attack the System (ATS). National-Anarchism, which advocates a decentralized system of “tribal” enclaves, was initiated in the 1990s by Troy Southgate, a veteran of British neonazism.63 Over the following years, National-Anarchist groups formed in a number of countries across Europe, the Americas, and Australia/New Zealand. The first U.S. affiliate, BANA, began in 2007, and Southgate formally launched the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) in 2010.64

National-Anarchism is a White nationalist ideology. Like Identitarianism, it draws heavily on the ENR doctrine that ethnic and racial separatism is needed to defend so-called biocultural diversity. The N-AM Manifesto declares that race categories are basic biological facts and some people are innately superior to others. National-Anarchists also repeat classic antisemitic conspiracy theories and, like many neonazis, promote neopaganism and closeness to nature.65 But National-Anarchists reject classical fascism for its emphasis on strong nation-states, centralized dictatorship, and collaboration with big business. Instead, they call for breaking up society into self-governing tribal communities, so that different cultures, beliefs, and practices can co-exist side by side.66

National-Anarchists have not had a significant presence in the Alternative Right since BANA disbanded in 2011, but self-described anarcho-pluralist Keith Preston has continued to participate in Alt Right forums, for example speaking at National Policy Institute conferences and on The Right Stuff podcasts. Preston is a former left-wing anarchist who moved to the Right in the 1990s and then founded the group American Revolutionary Vanguard, which is better known today by the name of its website, Attack the System.67 ATS brings together a number of right-wing currents, including National-Anarchist, libertarian, White nationalist, Duginist, and others, among it editors and contributors, but Preston’s own ideology is distinct from all of these.68

Like the National-Anarchists, Preston advocates a decentralized, diverse network of self-governing communities, while rejecting left-wing anarchism’s commitment to dismantle social hierarchy and oppression. Authoritarian and supremacist systems would be fully compatible with the anarcho-pluralist model, as long as they operated on a small scale. But unlike National-Anarchists, Preston frames his decentralist ideal in terms of individual free choice rather than tribalism, and he is not a White nationalist.69 Although Preston has echoed some racist ideas such as the claim that non-European immigrants threaten to destroy Western civilization, his underlying philosophy is based not on race but rather a generic, Nietzschean elitism that is not ethnically specific.70 While Preston himself is White, several of his closest associates in the Attack the System inner circle are people of color.

Preston has offered several reasons for his involvement in the Alternative Right. He sees the movement as an important counterweight to what he calls “totalitarian humanism” (supposedly state-enforced progressive values, i.e., political correctness), he regards the Alt Right’s foreign policy non-interventionism and economic nationalism as superior to what the Republican or Democratic parties advocate, and he shares many Alt Rightists’ interest in earlier European “critics of liberal capitalism and mass democracy,”71 meaning people like Julius Evola, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Jünger. In addition, the Alt Right allows Preston to avoid political isolation, as his efforts to reach out to left-wing anarchists have been almost completely rejected.

Preston is a respected figure within the Alternative Right, and his anti-statist vision appeals to some White nationalists in the movement. For example, Counter-Currents author Francisco Albanese has argued that it provides “the best and most viable option for the ethnic and racial survival” of Whites in regions where they form a minority of the population. In addition, “it is only outside the state that whites can come to understand the true essence of community and construction of a common destiny.”72 At the same time, anarcho-pluralism offers potential common ground between White nationalists and other critics of the existing order, such as anarcho-capitalists and other “market anarchists,” whose ideas are regularly featured on Attack the System, as well as the “libertarian theocrats” of the Christian Reconstructionist movement.73

Preston’s approach to political strategy takes this bridge-building further. Echoing Third Position fascists, who denounce both communism and capitalism, Preston and ATS call for a broad revolutionary alliance of all those who want to destroy U.S. imperialism and the federal government. Within U.S. borders, this would involve a “pan-secessionist” strategy uniting groups across the political spectrum that want to carve out self-governing enclaves free of federal government control.74 As a step in this direction, ATS supported a series of North American secessionist conventions, which brought together representatives of the neo-Confederate group League of the South, the Reconstructionist-influenced Christian Exodus, the libertarian Free State Project, advocates of Hawaiian independence, the left-leaning Second Vermont Republic, and others.75

Neoreaction

Neoreaction is another dissident right-wing current with a vision of small-scale authoritarianism that has emerged online in the past decade, which overlaps with and has influenced the Alternative Right. Like the Alt Right and much of the manosphere, neoreaction (often abbreviated as NRx, and also known as Dark Enlightenment) is a loosely unified school of thought that rejects egalitarianism in principle, argues that differences in human intelligence and ability are mainly genetic, and believes that cultural and political elites wrongfully limit the range of acceptable discourse. Blogger Curtis Yarvin (writing under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug) first articulated neoreactionary ideology in 2007, but many other writers have contributed to it. Neoreaction emphasizes order and restoring the social stability that supposedly prevailed before the French Revolution, along with technocratic and futurist concerns such as transhumanism, a movement that hopes to radically “improve” human beings through technology. NRx theorist Nick Land is a leading advocate of accelerationism, which in his version sees global capitalism driving ever-faster technological change, to the point that artificial intelligence essentially replaces human beings. One critic wrote that neoreaction “combines all of the awful things you always suspected about libertarianism with odds and ends from PUA culture, Victorian Social Darwinism, and an only semi-ironic attachment to absolutism. Insofar as neoreactionaries have a political project, it’s to dissolve the United States into competing authoritarian seasteads on the model of Singapore…”76

PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. (Photo by JD Lasica via Flickr.)

Neoreactionaries, who are known for their arcane, verbose theoretical monologues, appear to be mostly young, computer-oriented men, and their ideas have spread partly through the tech startup scene. PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel has voiced some neoreactionary-sounding ideas. In 2009, for example, he declared, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible” and “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women…have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”77 Both Yarvin and fellow NRxer Michael Anissimov have worked for companies backed by Thiel.78 This doesn’t necessarily mean that Thiel is intentionally bankrolling the neoreactionary movement per se, but it points to resonances between that movement and Silicon Valley’s larger techno-libertarian discourse.

“At its heart, neoreaction is a critique of the entire liberal, politically-correct orthodoxy,” commented “WhiteDeerGrotto” on the NRx blog Habitable Worlds. “The Cathedral, a term coined by Moldbug, is a description of the institutions and enforcement mechanisms used to propagate and maintain this orthodoxy”—a power center that consists of Ivy League and other elite universities, The New York Times, and some civil servants. “The politically-correct propagandists assert that humans are essentially interchangeable, regardless of culture or genetics, and that some form of multicultural social-welfare democracy is the ideal, final political state for all of humanity. Neoreaction says no. The sexes are biologically distinct, genetics matter, and democracy is deeply flawed and fundamentally unstable.”79

While Alt Rightists largely agree with these neoreactionary ideas, and some outsiders have equated the two movements, Alt Right and neoreaction differ significantly. Alt Rightists might or might not invoke popular sovereignty as an achievement of European civilization, and try to strike a populist or anti-elitist pose, but neoreactionaries all regard regular people as utterly unsuited to hold political power—“a howling irrational mob” as NRx theorist Nick Land has put it.80 Some NRxers advocate monarchy; others want to turn the state into a corporation with members of an intellectual elite as shareholders.81 Conversely, neoreactionaries might or might not translate their genetic determinism into calls for racial solidarity, but for most Alt Rightists race is the basis for everything else.82 Unlike most Alt Rightists, leading neoreactionaries have not supported Donald Trump.83 In addition, while many Alt Rightists emphasize antisemitism, neoreactionaries generally do not, and some neoreactionaries are Jewish or, in Yarvin’s case, of mixed Jewish and non-Jewish ancestry.84 Indeed, in The Right Stuff’s lexicon of Alt Right terminology, “Neoreaction” translates as “Jews.”

At the same time, many Alt Rightists regard neoreaction as a related movement that offers many positive contributions. Some writers, such as Steve Sailer, have had a foot in both camps. Alt Rightist Gregory Hood has argued that White nationalism and neoreaction are complementary: “I’ve argued in the past that race is sufficient in and of itself to serve as a foundation for state policy. However, just saying that tells you very little about how precisely you execute that program. NRx and its theoretical predecessors are absolutely core to understanding how society works and how power functions.”85 Anarcho-pluralist Keith Preston applauded a proposal by NRxer Michael Anissimov to create breakaway enclaves in “low-population, defensible regions of the United States like Idaho.”86 On its own, neoreaction seems too esoteric to have much of a political impact, but its contribution to Alt Right ideology might be significant.

PART 3 – RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP

Political strategy debates

The Alternative Right first gained mainstream attention through its support for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. In exploring the Alt Right’s relationship with the Trump campaign and with Trump as president-elect, several issues deserve special attention: the movement’s debates about political strategy, its skillful use of online activism, and its attraction of a wider circle of sympathizers and popularizers who came to be known as the “Alt Lite.”

Alt Rightists’ embrace of Trump followed several years in which they argued about whether to work within existing political channels or reject them entirely. During this period, American Renaissance columnist Hubert Collins called on White nationalists to use the electoral process and ally with more mainstream anti-immigrant groups to keep Whites at as high a percentage of the U.S. population as possible.87 In contrast, Gregory Hood of Counter-Currents Publishing declared that the United States was “beyond reform” and political secession was “the only way out.” Sidestepping this issue, many Alt Rightists have followed the European New Right lead and focused on a “metapolitical” strategy of seeking to transform the broader culture. In Lawrence Murray’s words, “When the idea of White nationalism has taken root among enough of our people, the potential to demand, demonstrate, and act will be superior to what it currently is.”89 Jack Donovan has argued that the U.S. is on the road to becoming a failed state and urged Alt Rightists to “build the kinds of resilient communities and networks of skilled people that can survive the collapse and preserve your identities after the Fall.”90 To Donovan, this is an optimistic scenario: “In a failed state, we go back to Wild West rules, and America becomes a place for men again—a land full of promise and possibility that rewards daring and ingenuity, a place where men can restart the world.”91

Donald Trump speaking to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, 2016.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr).

Whether or not to work within established political channels has been debated at movement events, with some Alt Rightists moving from one position to another. Richard Spencer, for example, argued in 2011 that “the GOP could unite a substantial majority of white voters by focusing its platform on immigration restriction.” This strategy “would…ensure that future Americans inherit a country that resembles that of their ancestors.” But two years later, Spencer seemingly turned his back on the Republican Party and called for creating a separate White ethnostate in North America. He declared, “the majority of children born in the United States are non-White. Thus, from our perspective, any future immigration-restriction efforts are meaningless.” Spencer also argued that “restoring the Constitution,” (going back to an aristocratic republic run by property-owning White men) as some White nationalists advocated, would only lead to a similar or worse situation.

One approach has been to propose working within the system in order to weaken it, advocating changes that sound reasonable but require radical change—a right-wing version of the Trotskyist transitional demand strategy. Ted Sallis, for example, urged White nationalists to “demand a seat at the multicultural table, represented by real advocates of White interests, not groveling patsies.” This would involve using the language of multiculturalism to complain about “legitimate” cases of discrimination against Whites or members of other dominant groups. The aim here would not be “reforming the System. It is instead using the contradictions and weaknesses of the System against itself…”94

The Traditionalist Youth Network is a White nationalist group founded in 2013 by Matthew Heimbach.

To a large extent, Alternative Rightist support for Trump’s presidential candidacy followed a related approach of using the system against itself. Alt Rightists began praising Trump in 2015, and by mid-2016 most of the movement was applauding him. But this support was qualified by the recognition that Trump was not one of them and was not going to bring about the change they wanted. Brad Griffin, who blogs at Occidental Dissent under the name Hunter Wallace, hoped in late 2015 that Trump “provokes a fatal split that topples the GOP.” The Traditionalist Youth Network declared:

While Donald Trump is neither a Traditionalist nor a White nationalist, he is a threat to the economic and social powers of the international Jew. For this reason alone as long as Trump stands strong on deportation and immigration enforcement we should support his candidacy insofar as we can use it to push more hardcore positions on immigration and Identity. Donald Trump is not the savior of Whites in America, he is however a booming salvo across the bow of the Left and Jewish power to tell them that White America is awakening, and we are tired of business as usual.96

At The Right Stuff, “Professor Evola-Hitler” argued that Trump had broken important taboos on issues such as curtailing immigration and ending birthright citizenship, damaged the Republican Party’s pro-Israel coalition, shifted the party closer to ethnic nationalism, and “offers the opportunity for the Alt-Right to expand quickly,” but cautioned that “We need to be taking advantage of Trump, not allow Trump to take advantage of us.”97

Not all Alt Rightists supported Trump. The Right Stuff contributor “Auschwitz Soccer Ref” argued that Alt Rightists shouldn’t support Trump since two of his children had married Jews, making him “naturally loyal” to Israel.98 Jack Donovan suggested that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be preferable, because she would “drive home the reality that white men are no longer in charge… and that [the United States] is no longer their country and never will be again,”99 Keith Preston commented, “The alt-right’s attachment to Trump seems to be a mirror image repeat of the religious right’s attachment to Reagan, i.e. the case of an insurgent, somewhat reactionary, populist movement being taken for a ride by a thoroughly pro-ruling class centrist politician motivated primarily by personal ambition.”100 However, these anti-Trump voices were squarely in the minority.

Internet memes and harassment campaigns

Alt Rightists also turned online harassment and abuse into a potent tactic for frightening and silencing opponents. Photo: Sebastian via Flickr.

The main way that Alt Rightists helped Trump’s campaign was through online activism. A pivotal example came in the summer of 2015, when Alt Rightists promoted the #cuckservative meme to attack Trump’s GOP rivals as traitors and sellouts to liberalism. “Cuckservative” combines the words “conservative” and “cuckold,” meaning a man whose wife has sex with other men. As journalist Joseph Bernstein pointed out, “The term’s connotations are racist. By alluding to a genre of porn in which passive white husbands watch their wives have sex with black men, it casts its targets as impotent defenders of white people in America.”101 During the weeks leading up to the first Republican presidential debate, Alt Rightists spread the meme across social media to boost Trump and vilify his GOP rivals, as in a Tweet that showed a picture of Jeb Bush with the words, “Please fuck my country, Mexico. #Cuckservative.”102 As Anti-Fascist News pointed out, this initiative “allowed racialist discourse to shift into the public, making #cuckservative an accusation that mainstream Republicans feel like they have to answer to.”103

Alt Rightists also turned online harassment and abuse into a potent tactic for frightening and silencing opponents, borrowing directly from the manosphere’s Gamergate campaign discussed above. In the Spring of 2016, for example, anti-Trump protesters at Portland State University were flooded with racist, transphobic, and antisemitic messages, doxxing, and rape and death threats, sent from anonymous social media accounts. Reflecting the manosphere’s influence, Alt Right harassment often emphasized sexual violence and the humiliation of women and girls, even when men were the supposed targets.104 David French, staff writer at the conservative National Review, described the yearlong stream of relentless online abuse his family has endured because he criticized Trump and the Alt Right:

I saw images of my daughter’s face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photoshopped into images of slaves. She was called a “niglet” and a “dindu.” The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.105

PULSE Nightclub sign in Orlando (photo: Daniel Ruyter via Flickr).

Another example of Alt Right online activism was the campaign to “wedge gays and Muslims,” as “Butch Leghorn” of The Right Stuff put it. Writing in June 2016, two days after Afghani American Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Leghorn declared, “Gays will never be safe from Muslim violence, and the liberals will allow Muslim violence against gays because Muslims are higher ranked on the Progressive stack than gays…. This makes [the Orlando] shooting a very valuable wedge issue. By allowing Muslims into America, the Democrats are in effect choosing Muslims over gays. We simply need to hammer this issue. Meme magic is real boys, so spread this meme. Drive this wedge. Smash their coalition.”106 Leghorn offered several examples of talking points and images to use, such as a rainbow flag with the words “Fuck Islam” superimposed over it.

One of the Alt Right’s most skillful uses of social media in 2016 was the #DraftOurDaughters meme, which was trending on Twitter the week before the election. As the website Know Your Meme explained, “#DraftOurDaughters is a satirical social media hashtag launched by supporters of Donald Trump which encourages American women to register for Selective Service in preparation for hypothetical scenarios of United States military operations that would supposedly be launched by Hillary Clinton if she were elected as President of the United States.” The campaign included a series of fake Clinton campaign ads, many of which feature images of women in military uniform and slogans such as “Hillary will stand up to Russian Aggression. Will you stand with her?,” “I’d rather die in a war than live under bigotry,” and “In the White House or on Russian soil. The fight for equality never stops.”107

The Daily Stormer is White supremacist news and commentary website edited by Andrew Anglin.

#DraftOurDaughters portrayed the Clinton campaign as fusing feminism/multiculturalism and aggressive militarism. Since that was a reasonably accurate description of Clinton’s politics, the meme was equally effective as either disinformation or satire. A number of Alt Right sites, such as Vox Popoli and The Daily Stormer, promoted the campaign.108 Along with spreading the “ads” themselves, Alt Rightists also spread the phony claim that mainstream media had been taken in by them.109

The Alt Lite

As the Alt Right has grown and attracted increased attention, it has also developed complicated relationships with more moderate rightists. The movement has largely defined itself and drawn energy by denouncing conservatives, and some conservatives have returned the favor, such as the prestigious National Review.110 At the same time, other conservatives have taken on the role of apologists or supporters for the Alt Right, helping to spread a lot of its message without embracing its full ideology or its ethnostate goals. Richard Spencer and his comrades began to call this phenomenon the “Alt Right-lite” or simply the “Alt Lite.” Alt Rightists have relied on the Alt Lite to help bring its ideas to a mass, mainstream audience, but to varying degrees they have also regarded Alt Lite figures with resentment, as ideologically untrustworthy opportunists.

Breitbart News Network is the preeminent example of Alt Lite politics. Founded in 2007, Breitbart featured sensationalist attacks on liberals and liberal groups, praise for the Tea Party’s anti-big government populism, and aggressive denials that conservatives were racist, sexist, or homophobic. Under Steve Bannon, who took over leadership in 2012, the organ began to scapegoat Muslims and immigrants more directly.111 In March 2016, Breitbart published “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, which asserted—without evidence—that most Alt Rightists did not believe their own racist propaganda, but were actually just libertarians trying to shock people.112 The article helped boost the Alt Right’s profile and acceptability in mainstream circles, yet many Alt Rightists criticized it for glossing over their White nationalist ideology.113

Milo Yiannopoulos. (Photo by Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference via Flickr.)

Over the following months, Yiannopoulos—a flamboyantly gay man of Jewish descent and a political performer who vilifies Muslims and women and refers to Donald Trump as “Daddy”—became publicly identified with the Alt Right himself, to mixed reviews from Alt Rightists.114 Meanwhile, Steve Bannon declared Breitbart “the platform of the Alt Right” and began publishing semi-veiled antisemitic attacks on Trump’s opponents, all while insisting that White nationalists, antisemites, and homophobes were marginal to the Alt Right.115 Richard Spencer was pleased when Donald Trump hired Bannon to run his campaign, commenting that “Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers” and that the media outlet “has people on board who take us seriously, even if they are not Alt Right themselves.”116 But other Alt Rightists have been more critical of the Alt Lite phenomenon. At Occidental Dissent, Brad Griffin describes the Alt Lite as “basically conservative websites pushing Alt-Right material in order to generate clicks and revenue,” and asks, “What the hell does Milo Yiannopoulos—a Jewish homosexual who boasts about carrying on interracial relationships with black men—have to do with us?”117

CONCLUSION: THE ALT RIGHT AND THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY

Most Alt Rightists were thrilled by Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton, but not because they believe that Trump shares their politics or will bring about the changes that they want. Rather, they believe a Trump presidency will offer them “breathing room” to promote their ideology and to “move the Overton window” in their favor.118 In turn, they see themselves as the Trump coalition’s political vanguard, taking hardline positions that pull Trump further to the right while enabling him to look moderate by comparison. In Richard Spencer’s words, “The Alt Right and Trumpian populism are now aligned much in the way the Left is aligned with Democratic politicians like Obama and Hillary…. We—and only we—can say the things Trump can’t say . . . can criticize him in the right way . . . and can envision a new world that he can’t quite grasp.”119 The Traditionalist Youth Network was more specific: “We cannot and will not back down on the Jewish Question or our explicit racial identity. We won’t. Don’t worry. But we will join those who aren’t as radical as we are in pulling politics in our direction.”120

But the question of how to play that vanguard role has already sharpened tensions between the Alt Right and its sympathizers, and to some extent within the Alt Right itself. At the National Policy Institute conference shortly after the election, Spencer’s closing speech ended with the shout “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” which many audience members greeted with fascist salutes. The fact that it was caught on video by journalists made it a politically embarrassing moment. Alt Lite figure Mike Cernovich claimed, absurdly, that Spencer had acted on behalf of the government to deliberately discredit the movement. Several other sympathizers, and even long-time Alt Rightist Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, also criticized Spencer’s behavior as damaging.121

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

In the months and years ahead, there are likely to be further tensions within the larger Trump coalition, which spans from Alt Rightists to mainstream conservatives. Although Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor puts someone with Alt Right ties close to the center of power, most of his other appointments are hardline establishment figures. On a number of issues, from immigration policy to Israel, Alt Rightists could easily find themselves pushed into an oppositional role. VDare.com founder Peter Brimelow has warned that Alt Rightists might “revolt” if the Trump administration fails to move in the direction they want.122

Even if that happens, however, Alt Rightists could continue to exert significant pressure on a Trump administration, because they know how to speak effectively to a large part of his popular base. The Alt Right has helped revitalize White nationalist and male supremacist politics in the United States. While earlier generations of far-right activists broke new ground with online bulletin boards such as Stormfront, Alt Rightists have made effective use of the internet for everything from theoretical debate to mass campaigns of targeted ridicule. In previous decades, White nationalists largely relied on coded language and euphemisms when seeking mass support, but Alt Rightists often parade their hate ideology aggressively and confidently. Although the movement has seen its share of infighting, it has also been relatively successful in crafting a workable “big-tent” culture that welcomes diverse points of view and fosters fruitful interchange with related ideological currents.

The Alt Right has been buoyed by Donald Trump’s drive to the presidency, and has aided Trump in return, while maintaining a clear sense of the relationship’s limits. Unlike many grassroots initiatives that pour themselves into electoral politics and get trapped, the Alt Right is well positioned to maintain its own identity and freedom of maneuver. Because it mostly exists online, the Alt Right does not have the infrastructure needed to launch a guerrilla war (as Nazi/Klan forces did in the 1980s) or build pseudo-state institutions (as Patriot groups did in the 1990s and are attempting again now), but it is in a strong position to pursue a “metapolitical” transformation of the political culture and thereby lay the groundwork for structural change, centered on its vision of a White ethnostate.

Endnotes

[1] David Weigel. “‘Cuckservative’—the conservative insult of the month, explained.” The Washington Post, July 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/29/cuckservative-the-conservative-insult-of-the-month-explained

[2] Abby Ohlheiser and Caitlin Dewey. “Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech, annotated.” The Washington Post, August 25, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/25/hillary-clintons-alt-right-speech-annotated/

[3] Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum. “‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/

[4] I use the term “Far Right” to refer to political forces that (a) promote human inequality based on race, gender, or other factors as natural or inevitable and (b) reject the legitimacy of the U.S. political system. This definition is specific to the United States today and does not necessarily apply to other times or places.

[5] Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. (New York: Guilford Press, 2000), 145-47, 160-61.

[6] Ibid., 243-44, 283-84.

[7] Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli. “Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Old Right.” Political Research Associates, November 22, 2013. http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/

[8] Matthew N. Lyons, “Fragmented Nationalism: Right-Wing Responses to September 11 in Historical Context.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 127, no 4 (October, 2003), 398-404.

[9] Roger Griffin, “Plus ça change! The Fascist Legacy in the Metapolitics of the Nouvelle Droite.” Chapter for The Development of the Radical Right in France 1890-1995. (London: Routledge: 2000). Anton Shekhovtsov, “Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right a la Russe.” Religion Compass 3, no. 4 (2009): 697-716.

[10] Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier, “Manifesto of the French New Right in the Year 2000.” https://archive.org/details/ManifestoOfTheFrenchNewRightInTheYear2000

[11] In the 1990s, the ex-leftist journal Telos was instrumental in translating European New Right texts into English and engaging with ENR ideas. See for example the Telos Winter 1993-Fall 1994 (nos. 98-99) special double issue on “The French New Right: New Right-New Left-New Paradigm?”

[12] See, for example, Richard Spencer, “The Conservative Write.” Taki’s Magazine, August 6, 2008. http://takimag.com/article/the_conservative_write/print#axzz4VruMeHTg; Kevin DeAnna, “The Alternative Right.” Taki’s Magazine, July 26, 2009. http://takimag.com/article/the_alternative_right/print#axzz4VruMeHTg; and Jack Hunter, “Whither the Alternative Right?” Taki’s Magazine, November 3, 2009. http://takimag.com/article/whither_the_alternative_right#axzz4VruMeHTg

[13] Matthew N. Lyons, “AlternativeRight.com: Paleoconservatism for the 21st Century.” Three Way Fight. September 19, 2010, http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2010/09/alternativerightcom-paleoconservatism.html

[14] Greg Johnson, “Theory & Practice.” Counter-Currents Publishing, September 2010, http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/theory-practice/

[15] James Kirchick, “American Racist Richard Spencer Gets to Play the Martyr in Hungary.” The Daily Beast, October 7, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/07/american-racist-richard-spencer-gets-to-play-the-martyr-in-hungary.html

[16] Antifascist Front, “Alternative Internet Racism: Alt Right and the New Fascist Branding.” Anti-Fascist News, December 18, 2015. https://antifascistnews.net/2015/12/18/alternative-internet-racism-alt-right-and-the-new-fascist-branding/

[17] Lawrence Murray, “Fashism.” The Right Stuff, October 24, 2015. http://therightstuff.biz/2015/10/24/fashism/

[18] Richard Hoste, “Why an Alternative Right is Necessary.” AlternativeRight.com. February 24, 2010. http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/the-magazine/why-an-alternative-right-is-necessary

[19] Johnson op cit., 2010.

[20] Lawrence Murray, “The Fight for the Alt-Right: The Rising Tide of Ideological Autism Against Big-Tent Supremacy.” The Right Stuff, March 6, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/03/06/big-tentism/

[21] Alfred W. Clark, “What is the #Altright?” Radix, January 20, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/1/20/what-is-the-altright

[22] Richard B. Spencer, “Identitarianism—A Conversation Starter.” Radix, June 15, 2015. http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2015/6/15/identitarianisma-conversation-starter

[23] Darth Stirner, “Fascist Libertarianism: For a Better World.” The Right Stuff, January 23, 2013. http://therightstuff.biz/2013/01/23/fascist-libertarianism-for-a-better-world/

[24] Antifascist Front. “#Cuckservative: How the ‘Alt Right’ Took Off Their Masks and Revealed Their White Hoods.” Anti-Fascist News, August 16, 2015. https://antifascistnews.net/2015/08/16/cuckservative-how-the-alt-right-took-off-their-masks-and-revealed-their-white-hoods/

[25] Ibid.

[26] Andrew Anglin, “Intensified Jewing: Vox Covers the Alt-Right.” Daily Stormer, April 18, 2016. http://www.dailystormer.com/intensified-jewing-vox-covers-the-alt-right/

[27] Auschwitz Soccer Ref, “Zero Tolerance: Why Aren’t White Nationalists and Jewish Nationalists Fellow Travelers?” The Right Stuff, April 11, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/11/zero-tolerance-why-arent-white-nationalists-and-jewish-nationalists-fellow-travelers/

[28] Jared Taylor, “Jews and American Renaissance.” American Renaissance, April 14, 2006. http://www.amren.com/news/2006/04/jews_and_americ/

[29] Eugene Girin, “Is the Alt Right Anti-Semitic?” AlternativeRight.com, July 29, 2010. [Reposted in Radix.] http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/the-magazine/is-the-traditionalist-right-anti-semitic

[30] M. K. Lane, “Will Jews Change Sides?” Counter-Currents Publishing, February 17, 2016. http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/02/will-jews-change-sides/

[31] Alex Kurtagic, “Women as a Measure of Credibility.” AlternativeRight.com, May 25, 2011. http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/blogs/untimely-observations/women-as-a-measure-of-credibility

[32] Quoted in Lyons op cit. 2010.

[33] Matthew N. Lyons, “Alt-right: more misogynistic than many neonazis.” Three Way Fight, December 3, 2016. http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2016/12/alt-right-more-misogynistic-than-many.html

[34] Traditionalist Youth Network, “Jews Destroy Women: A Response to ‘Women Destroy Nations.” Traditionalist Youth Network, February 2016. http://www.tradyouth.org/2016/02/jews-destroy-women/

[35] Danielle Paquette, “The alt-right isn’t only about white supremacy. It’s about white male supremacy.” Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2016. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-alt-right-white-male-supremacy-20161125-story.html

[36] Jeff Sharlet, “Are You Man Enough for the Men’s Rights Movement?” GQ, February 3, 2014. http://www.gq.com/story/mens-rights-activism-the-red-pill

[37] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “What is Neomasculinity?” Roosh V, May 6, 2015. http://www.rooshv.com/what-is-neomasculinity

[38] Paul Elam, “Jury duty at a rape trial? Acquit!” A Voice for Men, July 20, 2010. http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/jury-duty-at-a-rape-trial-acquit/

[39] Paul Elam, “October is the fifth annual Bash a Violent Bitch Month” A Voice for Men, September 30, 2015. http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/domestic-violence-industry/october-is-the-fifth-annual-bash-a-violent-bitch-month/

[40] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “Why Homosexual Marriage Matters For Straight Men.” Return of Kings, October 12, 2015. https://archive.is/HzSIx#selection-139.0-139.16

[41] Matt Forney, “Are Transsexuals Who Sleep With Straight Men Guilty of Rape?” Return of Kings, December 8, 2014. http://www.returnofkings.com/48665/are-transsexuals-who-sleep-with-straight-men-guilty-of-rape

[42] Paul Elam, “Andy Bob exposes feminist hatred of gay men in new book.” A Voice for Men, January 7, 2016. http://www.avoiceformen.com/a-voice-for-men/andy-bob-exposes-feminist-hatred-of-gay-men-in-new-book/

[43] Stephen Totilo, “Another Woman in Gaming Flees Home Following Death Threats.” Kotaku, October 11, 2014. http://kotaku.com/another-woman-in-gaming-flees-home-following-death-thre-1645280338

[44] Amanda Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.” Pacific Standard, January 6, 2014. https://psmag.com/why-women-aren-t-welcome-on-the-internet-aa21fdbc8d6

[45] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism And Activism On Western Culture.” Return of Kings, May 4, 2015. http://www.returnofkings.com/62716/the-damaging-effects-of-jewish-intellectualism-and-activism-on-western-culture

[46] Dota, “Manosphere Rising.” Alternative Right, May 14, 2015. http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/2015/05/manosphere-rising.html

[47] Matt Parrott, “An Endorsement of Roosh’s ‘Neomasculinity’ Manifesto.” Traditionalist Youth Network, May 2015 [updated 19 January 2016]. http://www.tradyouth.org/2015/05/roosh-neomasculinity/

[48] David Futrelle, Hitler-loving dudes named Andrew agree: Roosh V is a-OK! (Even though he’s not white.)” We Hunted the Mammoth, August 15, 2015. http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/08/15/hitler-loving-dudes-named-andrew-agree-roosh-v-is-a-ok-even-though-hes-not-white/

[49] David Futrelle, “Roosh V shocked to discover that white supremacist movement is full of white supremacists.” We Hunted the Mammoth, February 24, 2016. http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2016/02/24/roosh-v-shocked-to-discover-that-white-supremacist-movement-is-full-of-white-supremacists/

[50] Greg Johnson, “Roosh Really is a Rape Advocate (& a Rapist, if He’s Telling the Truth).” Counter-Currents Publishing n.d., https://archive.is/T66uL

[51] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “The Alt Right Is Worse Than Feminism in Attempting to Control Male Sexual Behavior.” Return of Kings, February 22, 2016. http://www.returnofkings.com/79234/the-alt-right-is-worse-than-feminism-in-attempting-to-control-male-sexual-behavior; Futrelle 2016 op cit.

[52] Jack Donovan, The Way of Men. (Milwaukie, Ore.: Dissonant Hum.: 2012), 138-9.

[53] Ibid., 137, 148.

[54] Jack Donovan, “A Time for Wolves.” Jack Donovan, June 14, 2014. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2014/06/a-time-for-wolves/

[55] Rose City Antifa, “The Wolves of Vinland: a Fascist Countercultural ‘Tribe’ in the Pacific Northwest.” Rose City Antifa, November 7, 2016. http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/the-wolves-of-vinland-a-fascist-countercultural-tribe-in-the-pacific-northwest/

[56] Jack Donovan, “Mighty White.” Jack Donovan, December 18, 2011. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2011/12/mighty-white/

[57] Jack Donovan, A Sky Without Eagles: Selected Essays and Speeches 2010-2014. (Milwaukie, Ore.: Dissonant Hum, 2014), 166.

[58] F. T. Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto.” (1909). http://bactra.org/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html

[59] Jack Donovan, “Anarcho-Fascism.” Jack Donovan, March 3, 2013. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2013/03/anarcho-fascism/

[60] Jack Donovan, Comment. Roosh V Forum, November 16, 2012. https://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-17870.html

[61] Antifascist Front, “Queer Fascism: Why White Nationalists Are Trying to Drop Homophobia.” Anti-Fascist News, November 6, 2015.

[62] Shane Burley, “How the Alt-Right Is Attempting to Hide Its White Supremacist Ties.” Truthout, September 15, 2016. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37611-how-the-alt-right-is-attempting-to-hide-its-white-supremacist-ties

[63] Spencer Sunshine, “Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchists.” The Public Eye Magazine 23, no. 4 (2008), http://www.politicalresearch.org/2008/01/28/rebranding-fascism-national-anarchists/; Graham D. Macklin, “Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction.” Patterns of Prejudice 39, no. 3 (2005).

[64] Greg Johnson, “Bay Area National Anarchists: An Interview with Andrew Yeoman, Part 1.” The Occidental Quarterly, August 21, 2009. http://www.toqonline.com/blog/interview-with-andrew-yeoman-part-i/; “THIRD WAY: Introducing the National-Anarchist Movement.” National-Anarchist Movement, 3 October, 2010. http://www.national-anarchist.net/2010/10/third-way-introducing-national.html

[65] National-Anarchist Movement, “N-AM Manifesto.” National-Anarchist Movement (2010). http://www.national-anarchist.net/2010/09/national-anarchist-movement-manifesto_18.html

[66] National-Anarchist Movement, “National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) FAQ.” National-Anarchist Movement, November 21, 2012. http://www.national-anarchist.net/2012/10/national-anarchist-movement-n-am-faq.html

[67] Matthew N. Lyons, “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” New Politics (website), April 29, 2011. http://newpol.org/content/rising-above-herd-keith-prestons-authoritarian-anti-statism

[68] American Revolutionary Vanguard, “Statement of Purpose.” Attack the System, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/statement-of-purpose/

[69] Keith Preston, “The National-Anarchist Litmus Test.” Attack the System, April 24, 2009. https://attackthesystem.com/2009/04/24/the-national-anarchist-litmus-test/; Keith Preston, “The Thoughts That Guide Me.” Attack the System (2005), https://attackthesystem.com/the-thoughts-that-guide-me-a-personal-reflection/; Lyons 2011 op cit.

[70] Keith Preston, “Mass Immigration and Totalitarian Humanism.” Speech at National Policy Institute Conference, June 23, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyQPlCJxtEE; Preston 2005 op cit.

[71] Keith Preston, “What, Exactly, is the ‘Alternative Right?’” [Introductory comments.] Attack the System, December 23, 2015. https://attackthesystem.com/2015/12/23/what-exactly-is-the-alternative-right/

[72] Francisco Albanese, “Rethinking White Tribalism: Anarchy in the Southern Cone.” Counter-Currents Publishing, June 5, 2014.

[73] Keith Preston, “Anarchist Economics Compared and Contrasted: Anarcho-Capitalism vs Anarcho-Syndicalism/Communism.” Attack the System, March 21, 2015. https://attackthesystem.com/2015/03/21/anarchist-economics-compared-and-contrasted-anarcho-capitalism-vs-anarcho-syndicalismcommunism/; Michael J. McVicar, “The Libertarian Theocrats: The Long, Strange History of R. J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism.” The Public Eye, vol. 22, no. 3 (Fall 2007). http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v22n3/libertarian.html

[74] Keith Preston, “Anarcho-Pluralism and Pan-Secessionism: What They Are and What They Are Not.” Attack the System, August 8, 2010. https://attackthesystem.com/2010/08/08/anarcho-pluralism-and-pan-secessionism-what-they-are-and-what-they-are-not/

[75] Keith Preston, “Third North American Secessionists Convention — A Review.” Attack the System, November 19, 2008.

[76] Park MacDougald, “The Darkness Before the Right.” The Awl, September 28, 2015. https://theawl.com/the-darkness-before-the-right-84e97225ac19

[77] Peter Thiel, ‘The Education of a Libertarian.” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009. https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian

[78] Klint Finley, “Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries.” TechCrunch, 22 November 2013, http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/22/geeks-for-monarchy/

[79] Scharlach, “Neoreaction = Monarchy?” Habitable Worlds, 23 November 2013.

[80] Nick Land, “The Dark Enlightenment: Part 1.” The Dark Enlightenment (2013), http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/; MacDougald op cit.

[81] Finley op cit.

[82] Hubert Collins and Hadley Bishop, “Two Prominent Identitarians Give Us Their Thoughts On Neoreaction.” Interview with Michael McGregor and Gregory Hood. Social Matter, October 15, 2014. http://www.socialmatter.net/2014/10/15/724/

[83] Dylan Matthews, “The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder.” Vox, April 18, 2016. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/18/11434098/alt-right-explained

[84] Mencius Moldbug [Curtis Yarvin], “Why I am not an anti-Semite.” Unqualified Reservations, June 23, 2007. http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-i-am-not-anti-semite.html

[85] Collins and Bishop op cit.

[86] Keith Preston, “The Growth of the Alternative Right.” Attack the System, January 4, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/2016/01/04/the-growth-of-the-alternative-right/

[87] Anti-Defamation League, “Point of Contention: A Fractured White Supremacist Take on Immigration.” Anti-Defamation League, May 5, 2015. http://www.adl.org/civil-rights/immigration/c/point-of-contention-immigration.html

[88] Gregory Hood, “The Solution is State Power.” Counter-Currents Publishing, December 2012. http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/12/the-solution-is-state-power/

[89] Lawrence Murray, “White Nationalism FAQ.” The Right Stuff, April 14, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/14/white-nationalism-faq/

[90] Jack Donovan, “Becoming the New Barbarians.” Radix, December 23, 2013. http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/becoming-the-new-barbarians

[91] Jack Donovan, “The Bright Side of Illegal Immigration.” Jack Donovan, November 13, 2012. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2012/11/the-bright-side-of-illegal-immigration/

[92] Richard Spencer, “The Majority Strategy: The Essential Argument—Why The GOP Must Win White America,” V-Dare September 8, 2011. http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-majority-strategy

[93] Richard Spencer, “Facing the Future as a Minority,” The National Policy Institute April 30, 2013. http://www.npiamerica.org/the-national-policy-institute/blog/facing-the-future-as-a-minority

[94] Ted Sallis, “Democratic Multiculturalism: Strategy & Tactics.” Counter-Currents Publishing, November 19, 2014. http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/11/democratic-multiculturalism/

[95] Hunter Wallace [Brad Griffin], “Trump, White Nationalists, The Media.” Occidental Dissent, December 10, 2015. Comment by Hunter Wallace, December 10, 2015 at 8:53 pm. https://web.archive.org/web/20160114034742/http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2015/12/10/trump-white-nationalists-the-media/

[96] Traditionalist Youth Network, “The Trump Train and the Southern Strategy: The Only Hope for the GOP.” Traditionalist Youth Network, October 2015. http://www.tradyouth.org/2015/10/the-trump-train-and-the-southern-strategy-the-only-hope-for-the-gop/

[97] Professor Evola-Hitler, “Trump’s Our Guy for the 2016 Election. We Have No Choice.” The Right Stuff, April 29, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/29/trumps-our-guy-for-the-2016-election-we-have-no-choice/

[98] Auschwitz Soccer Ref, “Trump’s Not Our Guy. It’s Time to Stop Pretending Otherwise.” The Right Stuff, April 25, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/25/trumps-not-our-guy-its-time-to-stop-pretending-otherwise/

[99] Jack Donovan, “No One Will Ever Make America Great Again.” Jack Donovan, July 7, 2016. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2016/07/no-one-will-ever-make-america-great-again/

[100] Keith Preston, “The Alternative Right — An Autopsy.” Attack the System, May 21, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/2016/05/21/the-alternative-right-an-autopsy/

[101] Joseph Bernstein, “Behind The Racist Hashtag That Is Blowing Up Twitter.” BuzzFeed, July 27, 2015. https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/behind-the-racist-hashtag-some-donald-trump-fans-love

[102] Ibid.

[103] Antifascist Front (2015), “#Cuckservative” op cit.

[104] Robert Evans, “5 Things You Learn Being Attacked By The Alt-Right.” Cracked, September 20, 2016. http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2381-toddler-rape-threats-other-tactics-alt-right.html

[105] David French, “The Price I’ve Paid for Opposing Donald Trump.” National Review, October 21, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441319/donald-trump-alt-right-internet-abuse-never-trump-movement

[106] Butch Leghorn, “Wedging Gays and Muslims,” The Right Stuff June 14, 2016, http://therightstuff.biz/2016/06/14/wedging-gays-and-muslims/

[107] Know Your Meme. N.d. “#DraftOurDaughters.” Know Your Meme. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/draftourdaughters

[108] Eric Striker, “#DraftOurDaughters: Feminist Hillary Supporters Vow To Fight War With Russia For Us.” The Daily Stormer, October 28, 2016. http://www.dailystormer.com/draftourdaughters-feminist-hillary-supporters-vow-to-fight-war-with-russia-for-us/; Vox Day[Theodore Beale], “Draft our Daughters.” Vox Popoli, October 28, 2016. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/10/draft-our-daughters.html

[109] Abby Ohlheiser, “What was fake on the Internet this election: #DraftOurDaughters, Trump’s tax returns.” The Washington Post, October 31, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/10/31/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-election-draftourdaughters-trumps-tax-returns/

[110] Ian Tuttle, “The Racist Moral Rot at the Heart of the Alt-Right.” National Review, April 5, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/433650/alt-rights-racism-moral-rot

[111] Stephen Piggott, “Is Breitbart.com Becoming the Media Arm of the ‘Alt-Right’?” Hatewatch, April 28, 2016. Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/04/28/breitbartcom-becoming-media-arm-alt-right

[112] Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” Breitbart, March 29, 2016. http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/

[113] Antifascist Front, “Going Full Fash: Breitbart Mainstreams the ‘Alt Right’.” Anti-Fascist News, April 5, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/04/05/going-full-fash-breitbart-mainstreams-the-alt-right/

[114] Antifascist Front, “Meet the Alt Lite, the People Mainstreaming the Alt Right’s White Nationalism.” Anti-Fascist News, November 3, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/11/03/meet-the-alt-lite-the-people-mainstreaming-the-alt-rights-white-nationalism/

[115] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists.” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news; Michelle Goldberg, “Breitbart Calls Trump Foe ‘Renegade Jew.’ This Is How Anti-Semitism Goes Mainstream.” Slate, May 16, 2016. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/05/16/breitbart_calls_bill_kristol_a_renegade_jew_is_disgusting.html

[116] Richard B. Spencer, “Make Trump Trump Again.” Radix, August 17, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/8/17/make-trump-trump-again

[117] Hunter Wallace [Brad Griffin], “Alt-Right vs. Alt-Lite.” Occidental Dissent, November 23, 2016. http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2016/11/23/alt-right-vs-alt-lite/

[118] Vox Day [Theodore Beale], “Trumpslide!” Vox Popoli, November 9, 2016. “http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/11/one-last-chance-america.html; James Dunphy, “It’s Time to Turn Up the Heat.” Counter-Currents Publishing, November 2016. http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/11/its-time-to-turn-up-the-heat/

[119] Richard B. Spencer, “We the Vanguard Now.” Radix, November 9, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/11/9/we-the-vanguard-now

[120] Matt Parrott, “Trump Apocalypse Now.” Traditionalist Youth Network, November 2016. http://www.tradyouth.org/2016/11/trump-apocalypse-now/#more-53331

[121] Antifascist Front, “Let’s Watch as the Alt Right Implodes.” Anti-Fascist News, December 4, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/12/04/lets-watch-as-the-alt-right-implodes/

[122] Rory Carroll, “‘Alt-right’ groups will ‘revolt’ if Trump shuns white supremacy, leaders say.” The Guardian, December 27, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/alt-right-donald-trump-white-supremacy-backlash

Fascism

Portal Page

PRA’s analysis of fascism is indebted to a great many writers and scholars, including but not limited to Hannah Arendt, Chip Berlet, Matthew Lyons, and Cass Mudde. Below is a list of some of our top resources written over the years. It includes analysis on the current political moment as well as pieces that explore the meaning and history of fascism. Included as well are several books and reports that provide a greater context including the overlapping themes of right-wing populism, conspiracy theories, and demonization.

Top Resources:

‘Trumping’ Democracy: Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action by Chip Berlet
The candidacy of Donald Trump has prompted a vigorous public debate over whether or not Trump is flirting with fascism. Some analysts suggest his political dance partner is leading him to the tune of right-wing populism. Other analysts say Trump’s marriage to fascism already has been consummated. Either way, Trump is stomping on the dance floor of democracy in a way that could collapse it into splinters. It’s a “scary moment for those of us who seek to defend civil rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself,” warns political analyst Noam Chomsky.

What time is it?: Why We Can’t Ignore the Momentum of the Right By Scot Nakagawa and Tarso Luís Ramos
Broadly speaking, the consensus is that we’re in a time of great instability, revolt, and possibility. History teaches us that in times like these, we need to be both bold and vigilant. Authoritarian, chauvinistic, and bigoted movements assert themselves most aggressively when people feel socially and economically threatened. We know the drill. We’ve lived it again and again. But this time is different. This time, traditional sources of stability and leadership are being rejected on all sides, and people are seeking radical, or at least non-establishment, solutions. Our fear is that the Right Wing may be better positioned than we are to capitalize on this moment amongst white people – including white voters – and better positioned than ever before.

What is Fascism? by Matthew Lyons
Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a “spiritual revolution” against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge “alien” forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide.

Fascism! by Chip Berlet
The seeds of fascism, however, were planted in Italy. “Fascism is reaction,” said Mussolini, but reaction to what? The reactionary movement following World War I was based on a rejection of the social theories that formed the basis of the 1789 French Revolution, and whose early formulations in this country had a major influence on our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

What is the Third Position? by Chip Berlet
Today there is a new form of fascism, a neofascism, called the Third Position, which seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or supremacist religious nationalism. Third Position neofascists have organized in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, and they maintain some kind of loose network, at least for the purposes of discussing their shared ideas and agenda, but in some cases involving meetings and even funding.

Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, & Scapegoating
Report by Chip Berlet
Right-wing pundits demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation. Some angry people in the audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil. Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States.

Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort
By Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons
Right–wing militias and other anti–government organizations have received heightened public attention since the Oklahoma City bombing. While such groups are often portrayed as marginal extremists, the values they espouse have influenced mainstream politics and culture far more than most Americans realize. This important volume offers an in–depth look at the historical roots and current landscape of right–wing populism in the United States. Illuminated is the potent combination of anti–elitist rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and ethnic scapegoating that has fueled many political movements from the colonial period to the present day.

Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchite, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures To Progressives, And Why They Must Be Rejected
Report by Chip Berlet
The growth of fascist and proto-fascist ideology has created a dynamic where persons from far-right and fascist political groups in the United States are attempting to convince progressive activists to join forces to oppose certain government policies where there is a shared critique. The fascist right has wooed the progressive left primarily around opposition to such issues as the use of U.S. troops in foreign military interventions, support for Israel, the problems of CIA misconduct and covert action, domestic government repression, privacy rights, and civil liberties.

Drawing Lines Against Racism and Fascism and The Continuing Appeal of Racism and Fascism by Spencer Sunshine
Today, White separatists don’t always come in such easily identifiable forms, either in their dress or politics. A part of the White separatist and related Far Right movement has taken some unusual turns.2 Some fascists seek alliances with ultranationalist people of color—a few of whom, in turn, consider themselves fascists. New types of groups embrace White separatism under a larger banner of decentralization. For many decades, the Far Right has disguised or rebranded its politics by establishing front groups, deploying code words, or using other attempts to fly under the radar.3 As the years pass by, some of these projects have taken on lives of their own as these forms have been adopted by those with different agendas. Simultaneously, there is a revival of fascist influence within countercultural music scenes. And intertwined with these changes is a renewed attempt on the part of some White separatists to participate in, or cross-recruit from, progressive circles.

Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchists by Spencer Sunshine
Fascism has become increasingly international in the post World War II period, particularly with the rise of the internet. One of the most obvious results of this internationalization is the continual flow of European ideas to the United States; for example, the Nazi skinhead movement originated in Britain and quickly spread to the United States. In trade, Americans have exported the Ku Klux Klan to Europe and smuggled Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi literature into Germany.

Fascism Wrapped in the American Flag by Chip Berlet and Joel Bellman
Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. is frequently dismissed as a crank or political extremist with no further explanation of his views or the phenomenon he represents. In a democracy based on informed consent, to not understand the nature of the LaRouche phenomenon is a dangerously naive rejection of the lessons of history–because Lyndon LaRouche represents the most recent incarnation of the unique twentieth-century phenomenon known as totalitarian fascism. LaRouche is hardly the first proponent of these views, and he is unlikely to be the last. Therefore there is a deadly serious reason to study the rise and fall of Lyndon LaRouche, the man who brought us fascism wrapped in an American flag.

Populism as Core Element of Fascism

Portions of this essay first appeared on the PRA website in a section called “Too Close for Comfort” as preliminary research studies that were later incorporated into the book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, New York, Guilford Press, 2000; which maintains an updates website.

Fascism is a complex political current that parasitizes other ideologies, includes many internal tensions and contradictions, and has chameleon-like adaptations based on the specific historic symbols, icons, slogans, traditions, myths, and heroes of the society it wishes to mobilize. In addition, fascism as a social movement often acts dramatically different from fascism once it holds state power. When holding state power, fascism tends to be rigidly hierarchical, authoritarian, and elitist. As a social movement fascism employs populist appeals against the current regime and promises a dramatic and quick transformation of the status quo.

In interwar Europe there were three distinct forms of fascism, Italian economic corporatist fascism (the original fascism), German racial nationalist Nazism, and clerical fascism exemplified by religious/nationalist movements in Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and the Ukraine, among others.

Right-wing populism can act as both a precursor and a building block of fascism, with anti-elitist conspiracism and ethnocentric scapegoating as shared elements. The dynamic of right-wing populism interacting with and facilitating fascism in interwar Germany was chronicled by Peter Fritzsche in Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. Fritzsche showed that distressed middle-class populists in Weimar launched bitter attacks against both the government and big business. This populist surge was later exploited by the Nazis which parasitized the forms and themes of the populists and moved their constituencies far to the right through ideological appeals involving demagoguery, scapegoating, and conspiracism.

The Nazis expressed the populist yearnings of middle-class constituents and at the same time advocated a strong and resolutely anti-Marxist mobilization….Against “unnaturally” divisive parties and querulous organized interest groups, National Socialists cast themselves as representatives of the commonweal, of an allegedly betrayed and neglected German public….[b]reaking social barriers of status and caste, and celebrating at least rhetorically the populist ideal of the people’s community…

This populist rhetoric of the Nazis, focused the pre-existing “resentments of ordinary middle-class Germans against the bourgeois ‘establishment’ and against economic and political privilege, and by promising the resolution of these resentments in a forward-looking, technologically capable volkisch ‘utopia,'” according to Fritzsche.

As Umberto Eco explains, however, the populist rhetoric of fascism is selective and illusive:

Individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is a theatrical fiction….There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People….Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell…Fascism.

Fritzsche observed that “German fascism would have been inconceivable without the profound transformation” of mainstream electoral politics in the 1920’s “which saw the dissolution of traditional party allegiances.” He also argued that the Nazis, while an electorally-focused movement, had more in common rhetorically and stylistically with middle class reform movements than backwards looking reactionary movements. So the Nazis as a movement appeared to provide for radical social change while actually moving its constituency to the right.

The success of fascist movements in attracting members from reformist populist constituencies is due to many complex overlapping factors, but key factors are certainly the depth of the economic and social crisis and transformation of, and the degree of anger and frustration of those who see their demands not being met. Desperate people turn to desperate solutions.

WHAT IS THE THIRD POSITION?

Portions of this essay first appeared on the PRA website in a section called “Too Close for Comfort” as studies that were later incorporated into the book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, New York, Guilford Press, 2000; which maintains an updates website.

In the last few years of the 20th Century a new form of fascism emerged in a period of resurgent neofascism. Called the Third Position, it seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or supremacist religious nationalism. Third Position neofascists have organized in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, and they maintain some kind of loose network, at least for the purposes of discussing their shared ideas and agenda, but in some cases involving meetings and even funding.

For instance, Libyan president of Mu’ammar Qadhafi sponsored several international conferences in Libya promoting his special variation of racial nationalism and cultivating ideas congruent with Third Position ideology. Qadhafi also offered funds to racial nationalist groups active in the U.S. and Canada.1)Goldenthal, Howard. (1991). “Khadafy Connections,” Now (Toronto alternative weekly), July 4. During the Gulf War, according to the Searchlight magazine, “Neo-nazis is several European countries have been queuing up to shoulder arms for Saddam Hussein’s murderous Iraqi Regime.”2)“Neo-Nazi Mercenaries Sign on for Desert War,” Searchlight, March 1991, p. 5. One organizer for this attempted neonazi brigade, claimed he had over 500 volunteers from “several countries, including Germany, the USA, the Netherlands, Austria and France.”3)Ibid, p. 5. Revealing the Third Position motif, a racial nationalist journal, Nation und Europa, promoted the slogans “Arabia for the Arabs,” and “the whole of Germany for the Germans.”4)Ibid, p. 5. In Britain, some neofascists praised the regimes in Libya and Iran as allies in the fight against communism, capitalism, and Israel.5)Mareln, Richard. “Recap: The Third Position and the Political Soldiers” Searchlight, January 1990, p. 8.

The Third Position has a more intellectual aristocratic ally called the European New Right (Nouvelle Droit ) which is different from the U.S. New Right.6)For a brilliant short essay on the rise of the Nouvelle Droit see “Pograms Begin in the Mind” by Wolfgang Haug, a transcribed lecture with a challenging introduction by Janet Biehl. Green Perspectives, May 1992, (P.O. Box 111, Burlington, Vermont 05402). Intellectual leaders of the European New Right, such as Alain de Benoist, are hailed as profound thinkers in U.S. reactionary publications such as the Rockford Institute’s Chronicles. The more overtly neo-Nazi segment of the Third Position has intellectual links to the Strasserite wing of German national socialism, and is critical of Hitler’s brand of Nazism for having betrayed the working class. See magazines such as Scorpion or Third Way published in England. Third Position groups believe in a racially-homogeneous decentralized tribal form of nationalism, and claim to have evolved an ideology “beyond communism and capitalism.”

White supremacist leader Tom Metzger promotes Third Position politics in his newspaper WAR which stands for White Aryan Resistance. In Europe, the Third Position defines its racial-nationalist theories in publications such as Third Way and The Scorpion. Third Position adherents actively seek to recruit from the left. One such group is the American Front in Portland, Oregon, which ran a phone hotline that in late November, 1991 featured an attack on critics of left/right coalitions. Some Third Position themes have surfaced in the ecology movement and other movements championed by progressives.7)These two paragraphs are adapted from Berlet, Chip. (1994 [1990]). Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must Be Rejected. Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates. Online at http://www.publiceye.org/rightwoo/rwooz6_TOC.html.

The convergence among racial nationalists in North America and Western and Eastern Europe is discussed at length in Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds., Nation and Race, and Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg, The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right.8)Kaplan, Jeffrey, and Tore Bjørgo (Eds.). (1998). Nation and Race: The Developing Euro-American Racist Subculture. Boston: Northeastern University Press; Kaplan, Jeffrey, and Leonard Weinberg. (1998). The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.  There is a theoretical discussion of the European Third Position and racially separate nation-states by Robert Antonio in “After Postmodernism: Reactionary Tribalism.9)Antonio, Robert. (2000). “After Postmodernism: Reactionary Tribalism.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 106, no. 1, pp. 40–87. The anti-U.S. aspect of the Third Position is examined in “´Neither Left Nor Right´” in the Southern Poverty Law Center magazine, Intelligence Report.10)Southern Poverty Law Center. (2000). “´Neither Left Nor Right´” Intelligence Report, Winter 2000, pp. 40–47.

I argue elsewhere that a good case can be made that the religious ideology of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban is a form of clerical fascism or some close hybrid. It certainly is a form of religious nationalism. This could help explain the potential for links between Islamic religious supremacists and U.S. White racial supremacists. The White racial supremacists we are discussing are part of the U.S. Extreme Right, not the Patriot or armed militia movements or the Christian Right. This is purely a speculative exercise, however, based on ideological affinities. A similar argument that places the Islamic supremacists in the context of apocalyptic revolutionary millenarianism makes the same point, since most U.S. neofascists can be placed in the same category. See: The ‘Religion’ of Usamah bin Ladin: Terror As the Hand of God, by Jean E. Rosenfeld, Ph.D., UCLA Center for the Study of Religion.

In Right-Wing Populism in America, Matthew N. Lyons and I discussed the Third Position:

To varying degrees, some neofascists also shifted away from traditional fascism’s highly centralized approach to political power and toward plans to fragment and subdivide political authority. Many neonazis called for creation of an independent White homeland in the Pacific Northwest, based on the ethnic partitioning of the United States. Posse Comitatus, mostly active in rural areas, repudiated all government authority above the county level. And in the 1990s neonazi leader Louis Beam promoted the influential doctrine of “leaderless resistance.” While such decentralist policies may seem incompatible with full-blown fascism, we see them partly as defensive adaptations and partly as expressions of a new social totalitarianism. Industrial-era totalitarianism relied on the nation-state; in the era of out­sourcing, deregulation, and global mobility, social totalitarianism looked to local authorities, private bodies (such as churches), and direct mass activism to enforce repressive control.

In the 1970s and 1980s these efforts to reinterpret fascism were not confined to the United States, but took place among neofascists in many industrialized capitalist countries. European, Canadian, and South African neofascists, too, at times advanced the doctrine known as the Third Position, strengthened internationalist ties, used coded racial appeals, advocated ethnic separatism and the breakup of nation-states, and practiced solidarity with right-wing nationalists of color.11)Roger Griffin, Nature of Fascism, pp. 166–172. For general background, see Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg, Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right; Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds., Nation and Race; Martin A. Lee, Beast Reawakens; Cheles, Ferguson, and Vaughan, eds., Far Right in Western and Eastern Europe; Merkl and Weinberg, eds., Encounters with the Contemporary Radical Right; Hockenos, Free to Hate; Michael Schmidt, New Reich; Golsan, ed., Fascism’s Return. On philosophical aspects of neofascist and ethnonationalist ideology, see Antonio, “After Postmodernism.” On occult roots of some neofascist movements, see Spielvogel and Redles, “Hitler’s Racial Ideology.”

The Third Position—which rejects both capitalism and communism—traces its roots to the most “radical” anticapitalist wing of Hitler’s Nazi Party. In the 1970s and 1980s, neonazis in several European countries advocated the Third Position.12)See, for example, the magazines The Third Way and Scorpion. Its leading proponent in the United States was White Aryan Resistance, headed by former California Klan leader Tom Metzger. Metzger, who was a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1980, expounded his philosophy at the 1987 Aryan Nations Congress:

WAR is dedicated to the White working people, the farmers, the White poor. . . . This is a working class movement. . . . Our problem is with monopoly capitalism. The Jews first went with Capitalism and then created their Marxist game. You go for the throat of the Capitalist. You must go for the throat of the corporates. You take the game away from the left. It’s our game! We’re not going to fight your whore wars no more! We’ve got one war, that is right here, the same war the SA fought in Germany, right here; in the streets of America.13)“Metzger Begins Move to the Top,” The Monitor, January 1988, p. 5. See also Lawrence, “Klansmen, Nazis, Skinheads,” p. 33. On antecedents, see Schmaltz, Hate.

Tom Metzger’s organization vividly illustrates fascism’s tendency to appropriate elements of leftist politics in some sort of distorted form. Again, from Right-Wing Populism in America:

WAR supported “white working-class” militancy such as the lengthy “P-9” labor union strike against Hormel in Minnesota, stressed environmentalism, and opposed U.S. military intervention in Central America and the Persian Gulf. The Aryan Women’s League, affiliated with WAR, claimed that Jews invented male supremacy and called for “Women’s Power as well as White Power.”14)Monique Wolfing (leader of the Aryan Women’s League), discussion with Tom Metzger on “Race and Reason,” aired on San Francisco public access television, May 1989. See also Zia, “Women in Hate Groups.” Metzger’s television program, “Race and Reason,” was broadcast on cable TV in dozens of cities and aided cooperation among White supremacist groups. Through its Aryan Youth Movement wing, WAR was particularly successful in the 1980s in recruiting racist skinheads, who include thousands of young people clustered in scores of violent pro-Nazi formations. (Not all skinheads are racist and there are antiracist and antifascist skinhead groups.) Metzger and WAR’s position in the neonazi movement was weakened in October 1990 when they were fined $12.5 million in a civil suit for inciting three Portland skinheads who murdered Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw.15)“What Next For Metzger & WAR,” The Monitor, March 1991, p. 9. For background on the skinhead subculture see Hamm, American Skinheads.

Out of the stew of the Third Position, and the European New Right theories of intellectuals such as Alain de Benoist, came a new version of White Nationalism that championed racially separate nation-states.16)On de Benoist, see Martin A. Lee, Beast Reawakens, pp. 208–215; on convergence between continents, see Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds., Nation and Race; on Third Position and racially separate nation-states, see Antonio, “After Postmodernism.” In the United States this filtered down to White supremacists, who began to call themselves White Separatists.17)Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, ”White Power, White Pride!” Dobratz and Shanks-Meile believe that “most, if not all, whites in this movement feel they are superior to blacks.”18)Ibid., p. 124. See also Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, “Ideology and the Framing Process.” Instead of segregation, however, White Separatism called for “geographic separation of the world’s races” and in the United States this prompted calls for an Aryan Homeland in the Pacific Northwest.19)Ibid., pp. 89–107.

[Excerpts are from: Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, Chapter 13, pp. 265-286.]

Connections between Canadian Extreme Right racial nationalists and Libya have been reported by author Warren Kinsella.

“The Libyan government of Mu’ammar Qadhafi had been funding [Canadian nationalist Party Leader Don] Andrew’s group since at least April 1987, when a number of his members traveled to Tripoli for a “peace conference” to commemorate a U.S. bombing raid. Qadhafi liked the white supremacists because, like him, they believed in separate racial states and they despised Jews.”20)Kinsella, Warren. (1995). Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network. New York: HarperPerrenial, p. 258.

“Andrews worked closely with Wolfgang Droege, a leader of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who visited the U.S. to meet with members of the extreme right including David Duke.21)Ibid. p. 248-249.  Droege was arrested in Louisiana in 1981 with nine other extreme right activists in a plot to overthrow the government of the island of Dominica and establish a White homeland.22)Ibid. p. 238.

“In September 1989, at Andrew’s suggestion, Droege traveled to Libya with a group of 17 [Canadian] Nationalist Party members.”23)Ibid. p. 258.

Many U.S. White supremacists also practice a racial nationalist religion called Christian Identity. There is clearly a fluidity between political and religious ideologies based on ethnonationalist desires. Since the idea is to smash all current nations and redivide the world into separate nation states based on race or religion, there is a shared goal.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Goldenthal, Howard. (1991). “Khadafy Connections,” Now (Toronto alternative weekly), July 4.
2. “Neo-Nazi Mercenaries Sign on for Desert War,” Searchlight, March 1991, p. 5.
3, 4. Ibid, p. 5.
5. Mareln, Richard. “Recap: The Third Position and the Political Soldiers” Searchlight, January 1990, p. 8.
6. For a brilliant short essay on the rise of the Nouvelle Droit see “Pograms Begin in the Mind” by Wolfgang Haug, a transcribed lecture with a challenging introduction by Janet Biehl. Green Perspectives, May 1992, (P.O. Box 111, Burlington, Vermont 05402).
7. These two paragraphs are adapted from Berlet, Chip. (1994 [1990]). Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must Be Rejected. Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates. Online at http://www.publiceye.org/rightwoo/rwooz6_TOC.html.
8. Kaplan, Jeffrey, and Tore Bjørgo (Eds.). (1998). Nation and Race: The Developing Euro-American Racist Subculture. Boston: Northeastern University Press; Kaplan, Jeffrey, and Leonard Weinberg. (1998). The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
9. Antonio, Robert. (2000). “After Postmodernism: Reactionary Tribalism.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 106, no. 1, pp. 40–87.
10. Southern Poverty Law Center. (2000). “´Neither Left Nor Right´” Intelligence Report, Winter 2000, pp. 40–47.
11. Roger Griffin, Nature of Fascism, pp. 166–172. For general background, see Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg, Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right; Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds., Nation and Race; Martin A. Lee, Beast Reawakens; Cheles, Ferguson, and Vaughan, eds., Far Right in Western and Eastern Europe; Merkl and Weinberg, eds., Encounters with the Contemporary Radical Right; Hockenos, Free to Hate; Michael Schmidt, New Reich; Golsan, ed., Fascism’s Return. On philosophical aspects of neofascist and ethnonationalist ideology, see Antonio, “After Postmodernism.” On occult roots of some neofascist movements, see Spielvogel and Redles, “Hitler’s Racial Ideology.”
12. See, for example, the magazines The Third Way and Scorpion.
13. “Metzger Begins Move to the Top,” The Monitor, January 1988, p. 5. See also Lawrence, “Klansmen, Nazis, Skinheads,” p. 33. On antecedents, see Schmaltz, Hate.
14. Monique Wolfing (leader of the Aryan Women’s League), discussion with Tom Metzger on “Race and Reason,” aired on San Francisco public access television, May 1989. See also Zia, “Women in Hate Groups.”
15. “What Next For Metzger & WAR,” The Monitor, March 1991, p. 9. For background on the skinhead subculture see Hamm, American Skinheads.
16. On de Benoist, see Martin A. Lee, Beast Reawakens, pp. 208–215; on convergence between continents, see Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds., Nation and Race; on Third Position and racially separate nation-states, see Antonio, “After Postmodernism.”
17. Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, ”White Power, White Pride!”
18. Ibid., p. 124. See also Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, “Ideology and the Framing Process.”
19. Ibid., pp. 89–107.
20. Kinsella, Warren. (1995). Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network. New York: HarperPerrenial, p. 258.
21. Ibid. p. 248-249.
22. Ibid. p. 238.
23. Ibid. p. 258.

What is Fascism?

Originally published in 1997.

Author’s Note: I am skeptical of efforts to produce a “definition” of fascism. As a dynamic historical current, fascism has taken many different forms, and has evolved dramatically in some ways. To understand what fascism has encompassed as a movement and a system of rule, we have to look at its historical context and development–as a form of counter-revolutionary politics that first arose in early twentieth-century Europe in response to rapid social upheaval, the devastation of World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution. The following paragraphs are intended as an initial, open-ended sketch.

Fascism is a form of extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties. It emphasizes a myth of national or racial rebirth after a period of decline or destruction. To this end, fascism calls for a “spiritual revolution” against signs of moral decay such as individualism and materialism, and seeks to purge “alien” forces and groups that threaten the organic community. Fascism tends to celebrate masculinity, youth, mystical unity, and the regenerative power of violence. Often, but not always, it promotes racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. At the same time, fascists may embrace a form of internationalism based on either racial or ideological solidarity across national boundaries. Usually fascism espouses open male supremacy, though sometimes it may also promote female solidarity and new opportunities for women of the privileged nation or race.

Fascism’s approach to politics is both populist–in that it seeks to activate “the people” as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies–and elitist–in that it treats the people’s will as embodied in a select group, or often one supreme leader, from whom authority proceeds downward. Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power. It seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision of organic community, usually through a totalitarian state. Both as a movement and a regime, fascism uses mass organizations as a system of integration and control, and uses organized violence to suppress opposition, although the scale of violence varies widely.

Fascism is hostile to Marxism, liberalism, and conservatism, yet it borrows concepts and practices from all three. Fascism rejects the principles of class struggle and workers’ internationalism as threats to national or racial unity, yet it often exploits real grievances against capitalists and landowners through ethnic scapegoating or radical-sounding conspiracy theories. Fascism rejects the liberal doctrines of individual autonomy and rights, political pluralism, and representative government, yet it advocates broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels in its drive to power. Its vision of a “new order” clashes with the conservative attachment to tradition-based institutions and hierarchies, yet fascism often romanticizes the past as inspiration for national rebirth.

Fascism has a complex relationship with established elites and the non-fascist right. It is never a mere puppet of the ruling class, but an autonomous movement with its own social base. In practice, fascism defends capitalism against instability and the left, but also pursues an agenda that sometimes clashes with capitalist interests in significant ways. There has been much cooperation, competition, and interaction between fascism and other sections of the right, producing various hybrid movements and regimes.

Author’s postscript, December 2016.

In the nineteen years since I wrote “What is fascism?,” right-wing politics have continued to evolve, and my thinking about fascism has evolved as well. In particular, my concept of fascism has broadened with regard to the following points in the above sketch:

1. “Fascism…celebrates the nation or race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties…” I now believe the category of fascism should be extended to include some movements for which nation and race are secondary or irrelevant, but which promote a myth of collective rebirth around a shared culture or ideology, notably membership in a religious group. This includes certain totalitarian branches of the Christian right, Islamic right, Jewish right, and so on.

2. “Fascism seeks to organize a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power.” Some fascist movements, notably the European New Right and currents influenced by it, have deferred state power as a goal in favor of a “metapolitical” strategy. This means a long-term effort to transform the political culture, as a precondition to transforming institutions and systems of power.

3. Fascism “seeks to forcibly subordinate all spheres of society…usually through a totalitarian state.” Over the past half century, diverse branches of the far right—including several branches of neonazism—have rejected big centralized states in favor of various moves to decentralize political power. These currents represent forms of what I have called “social totalitarianism,” which seek to impose total ideological control through local governments and/or non-state institutions, such as church and family. I believe this represents a major shift in fascist politics, and one that has been overlooked by many scholars.

4. “[F]ascism defends capitalism against instability and the left…” Some writers have argued that German National Socialism challenged the basic economic principles of capitalism, by replacing the system of industrial wage labor with a system of slave labor in which workers on a mass scale were intentionally worked to death. This interpretation, coupled with the rise of anticapitalist ideology among some neofascists, has raised the question whether fascism might in some circumstances replace capitalism with another form of class rule—or with a chaotic breakdown of socio-economic systems.

For more in-depth discussions of what fascism means and how it relates to recent political developments, see my essays “Two Ways of Looking at Fascism” [http://sdonline.org/47/two-ways-of-looking-at-fascism/] (2008), “Is the Bush Administration Fascist?” [http://newpol.org/content/bush-administration-fascist] (2007), and “Trump: A fascist upsurge is just one of the dangers” [http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2015/12/trumps-impact-fascist-upsurge-is-just.html] (2015). 

‘Trumping’ Democracy: Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action

This article is part of the Winter 2016 issue of The Public Eye magazine.

The candidacy of Donald Trump has prompted a vigorous public debate over whether or not Trump is flirting with fascism. Some analysts suggest his political dance partner is leading him to the tune of right-wing populism. Other analysts say Trump’s marriage to fascism already has been consummated. Either way, Trump is stomping on the dance floor of democracy in a way that could collapse it into splinters. It’s a “scary moment for those of us who seek to defend civil rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself,” warns political analyst Noam Chomsky.1

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Image via Flickr, Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Back in 2010 Chomsky started lecturing about the collapse of the Weimar Republic in Germany into the abyss of Hitler’s totalitarian Nazism.2 There are parallels to our current political climate than need to be examined cautiously, even though conditions in the U.S. are not nearly as bad as those faced by the Weimar Republic.

Is it really fair to suggest Trump—neofascist or not—poses a danger to civil society itself, as occurred in Germany at the end of the Weimar Republic? A review of Trump’s rhetoric makes this a legitimate question. Trump keeps gaining ground. As New York Daily News columnist Shaun King wrote in November:

For nearly six straight months, no matter how racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, or anti-Muslim Trump gets, he has maintained his lead in the polls. In fact, from all indications, it appears the more his public talk resembles that of a white supremacist, the more rabid and entrenched his support gets.3

The examples of Trump’s fascist-sounding rhetoric are numerous. In June, Trump tweeted, “I love the Mexican people, but Mexico is not our friend. They’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on jobs and trade. FIGHT!”4 In July Trump falsely asserted, “The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”5

Trump’s sexism was displayed at the Republican debate on August 6 when he was asked by Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly about referring to women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” Trump later attacked Kelly on CNN, saying, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” The London Guardian reported that the “insinuation that Kelly was menstruating crossed a line for organisers of the Red State Gathering, a conservative event featuring GOP presidential hopefuls.” That group cancelled an appearance by Trump.6

Forging ahead, Trump claimed in September that the United States had become the “dumping ground for the rest of the world” for undocumented immigrants and proposed rounding up and deporting some 11 million of them, including their children, who are U.S. citizens.7 In a series of rambling and contradictory statements, Trump called for widespread surveillance of Muslims and refugees in the United States, and seemed to agree to the need for a federal database registering all Muslims, although he later backed off to say he was only considering it as a possibility. He confirmed that he wanted such a database for all Syrian refugees.8

As Trump’s viciousness ballooned, the corporate press shifted from portraying him as a carnival sideshow geek to recognizing that he posed a threat to civil society and even democracy itself.9

The media reported with palpable disgust when, during a press conference, Trump mocked the physical disability of New York Times seasoned political reporter Serge Kovaleski.10 Amid mounting disruptions of his campaign rallies by anti-Trump activists, Trump began to mock them, tried to silence them, and even ask that they be forcibly removed. In one incident Trump appeared to approve of the physical attack on a Black Lives Matter protestor who interrupted a November rally in Birmingham, Alabama.11

Supporters at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, AL, kick and punch a Black Lives Matter protester to the ground. Image via screenshot.

Supporters at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, AL, kick and punch a Black Lives Matter protester to the ground. Image via screenshot.

The Washington Post reported that Trump yelled, “Get him the hell out of here… Throw him out,” whereupon the protestor “fell to the ground and was surrounded by several white men who appeared to be kicking and punching him,” while CNN filmed video.12 Trump later remarked on Fox News that “Maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”13

This was the same rally at which Trump announced to his cheering supporters, “I want surveillance of certain mosques.”14

Trump’s appeal to White Nationalism became increasingly obvious. While Trump can’t control who supports his candidacy, the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos observed with disdain that even “the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, had endorsed him for President.”15

Writing about Trump’s nasty rhetoric, and the alarming welcome it has found during the Republican pre-primary media blitz, American Prospect journalist Adele Stan put it bluntly:

What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.16

A Weimar Moment?

The Weimar period is crucial to understand because it was that precise moment in Germany’s history when a broad united front, crossing traditional political boundaries to defend democracy, could have blocked the mass base of a right-wing populist movement threatening to morph into a fascist juggernaut.17

Professor Paul Bookbinder at the University of Massachusetts in Boston has studied the Weimar Republic as it eroded into fascism in Germany. His collection of essays at the Facing History and Ourselves website, in a section entitled “The Fragility of Democracy,” explores the moments when public interventions might have altered what happened in Europe.18

As Bookbinder told me, “right now our society is facing some of the same tensions as seen in the Weimar Republic. People didn’t take seriously the threat to democracy when they could have; and when they did see the dangers it was too late.”19 He continued:

There are certainly some similarities to the rhetoric of the Weimar Period in Trump’s speeches, but also in that of some other Republican candidates, and Trump especially seems to be playing to an audience of angry White men who have held a privileged status as a group, but now see their status being challenged by people who they see them as undeserving.

Some commentators now are referring to Trump as a fascist demagogue, and Bookbinder thinks “they have a point” since “Trump is a strange combination of a fascist demagogue and a late night talk show host comedian. But we shouldn’t laugh at him because his is dangerous. When I watch Trump, even his facial expressions have the character I associate with the fascist demagogue Adolf Hitler. Trump’s crude humor also plays to some of the prejudices of many in his audiences.”

Mass Media, Demagogues, and Scripted Violence

Perpetrators of ethnoviolence and attacks based on race, religion, or gender “often take their cues from what they hear in the media,” wrote Robert Reich in a column on his website after the deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November.20 Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, warned that “the recent inclination of some politicians to use inflammatory rhetoric is contributing to a climate” in which fear of violence is real and growing among targeted groups.

Reich, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, was shocked when Republican Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina continued to allege “that Planned Parenthood is selling body parts of fetuses,” even though the claim has been proven baseless. Fiorina isn’t alone, Reich continued. Mike Huckabee calls it “sickening” that “we give these butchers money to harvest human organs,” noted Reich. And after the Colorado shootings, Trump falsely claimed “some of these people from Planned Parenthood [are] talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car.” Much of Reich’s column consists of a horrific list of physical attacks on facilities operated by Islamic groups and Planned Parenthood in recent months.21

While violence is often used by ultra-right groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and various neonazi groups in the U.S., it is less common in conservative social and political movements. But Trump’s use of alarming right-wing populist rhetoric, aimed at mobilizing his predominantly White base, is changing that status quo.

The conservative Right generally tries to avoid this obvious and threatening sort of inflammatory language. In the Washington Spectator, political journalist Rick Perlstein, who has written several books about U.S. conservatism, observed of Trump that, “Previous Republican leaders were sufficiently frightened by the daemonic anger that energized their constituencies that they avoided surrendering to it completely, even for political advantage.”22 The Nazis cultivated the idea of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil. This, coupled with claims of a Jewish financial conspiracy and a sense of national humiliation that demanded redress, helped mobilize the mass base for fascism among the electorate in Weimer Germany. And it also legitimized the violence that followed Hitler’s rhetoric. Street fighting became rampant during the collapse of the Weimar Republic, as “Brownshirts” took to the streets to attack the targets singled out in Hitler’s speeches as a “threat” to Germany.

Similarly, Trump’s use of demagoguery aimed at scapegoated targets is laced with references to conspiracy theories involving President Obama—namely that he was not born in the United States. Tea Party conspiracists claim Obama is a secret Muslim and part of an evil plot. Trump also portrays Muslims in an apocalyptic framework, implying Muslims are a threat to the survival of the United States. Journalist Deborah Caldwell suggests this has touched a chord precisely because “people find his apocalyptic rhetoric enticing and familiar—because America has end-times obsession deeply embedded in its national psyche.” Conspiracism and apocalypticism are among the core components of right-wing populism, along with demonization, scapegoating, and “producerism,” which is the division of the population into “productive” members of society struggling against the “parasites” above and below who are subversive, sinful, or lazy.23

In their study of how media manipulation for political ends can help incite genocide, Mark Frohardt and Jonathan Temin looked at “content intended to instill fear in a population,” or “intended to create a sense among the population that conflict is inevitable.”24 They point out that “media content helps shape an individual’s view of the world and helps form the lens through which all issues are viewed.” According to the authors:

  • In Rwanda prior to the genocide a private radio station tried to instill fear of an imminent attack on Hutus by a Tutsi militia.
  • In the months before [conflicts] in Serbia, state television attempted to create the impression that a World War II–style ethnic cleansing initiative against Serbs was in the works.
  • Throughout the 1990s Georgian media outlets sought to portray ethnic minorities as threats to Georgia’s hard-won independence.

Frohardt and Temin found that demagogues facilitated the likelihood of violence against specific demonized and scapegoated target groups by creating a widespread fear in the general population that serious—perhaps lethal–attacks on them were “imminent;” even though “there was only flimsy evidence provided to support” these false claims. They continued:

When such reporting creates widespread fear, people are more amenable to the notion of taking preemptive action, which is how the actions later taken were characterized. Media were used to make people believe that “we must strike first in order to save ourselves.” By creating fear the foundation for taking violent action through “self-defense” is laid.

Thus demagogic rhetoric can produce “scripted violence,” in which the demagogue can claim there is no direct link between the inciting language and the violence of “random” perpetrators.25

Using the F-word — Why Terminology Matters

There are good reasons why Trump’s statements cause our progressive antennae to wiggle. Trump’s swaggering demeanor recalls that of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. A number of journalists have suggested that Trump is using rhetoric similar to that used by Adolf Hitler in mobilizing Germans to support fascism. Some just call Trump an outright fascist.26 In doing so, however, some writers have fallen victim to a hoax quote on fascism wrongly attributed to Mussolini: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”27

It’s not clear where this fake quote originated, but it confuses Italian corporatist syndicalism with modern business corporations. The spelling is the only major similarity. Mussolini and his adviser, fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, consistently wrote that under fascist rule corporations (and all other sectors of society) must bend to the iron will of the fascist ruler.28

Despite how loosely or inaccurately the terms are sometimes used, “fascism” and “totalitarianism” have very specific meanings. A totalitarian state is a central goal of fascist movements, including neofascism and neonazism. Totalitarian states enforce total control over every aspect of a person’s life—political, economic, social, and cultural—in order to reshape the individual and unify society. Totalitarianism is like authoritarianism on methamphetamines. Public debate and opposition are not tolerated. Core democratic systems are crushed. Dissidents are rounded up and sometimes executed. Political theorist and author Hannah Arendt argued that Nazism and Stalinism were the prime examples of totalitarian movements that gained state power.29

However frightening Trump’s ascent might be to progressives, the candidate is neither a neofascist nor a totalitarian ideologue, but a right-wing populist bully. And the distinction matters for reasons that go beyond simple taxonomy. Calling Republicans fascist or totalitarian leads progressive organizers into a dead-end of crafting the wrong tactics and strategies for the moment in which we live.

Professor Roger Griffin is a world-class authority on the subject of fascism, and author of several books including The Nature of Fascism.30 Griffin defines fascism as:

… a revolutionary form of nationalism, one that sets out to be a political, social and ethical revolution, welding the “people” into a dynamic national community under new elites infused with heroic values. The core myth that inspires this project is that only a populist, trans-class movement of purifying, cathartic national rebirth (palingenesis) can stem the tide of decadence.

Another expert, Emilio Gentile, author of The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy, says fascism raises politics to the level of a sacred struggle seeking totalitarian control over society. It is “a mass movement with multiclass membership” that

…believes itself invested with a mission of national regeneration, considers itself in a state of war against political adversaries and aims at conquering a monopoly of political power by using terror, [electoral] politics, and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys [electoral] democracy.31

Despite Trump’s campaign slogan—the promise to “Make America Great Again”—neither of these definitions describe his program, even though he appears to be getting close to neofascist rhetoric. Trump’s obvious early mass appeal is built around right-wing populism. Matthew N. Lyons and I defined the term in our book Right-Wing Populism in America:

Populism is a way of mobilizing “the people” into a social or political movement around some form of anti-elitism. Populist movements can occur on the right, the left, or in the center. They can be egalitarian or authoritarian, inclusive or exclusionary, forward-looking or fixated on a romanticized image of the past. They can either challenge or reinforce systems of oppression, depending on how “the people” are defined.32

Populism is confusing because it is at once an ideology, a strategic organizing frame, and a rhetorical narrative storyline that names friends and enemies. While left-wing populism often organizes people around expanding economic fairness, right-wing populism relies on prejudice and bigotry, demonization and scapegoating of an “Other,” and fears of traitorous, subversive conspiracies.

Trump uses populist rhetoric to appeal to “the people,” even as he campaigns on his status as an elitist member of the one percent. Margaret Canovan, author of Populism, a key academic book on several populist variants, calls this “politicians’ populism.”33 It’s a cynical scam, but one with a history of short-term success in political contests as the means of one set of elites unseating the faction of elites currently running the government. Italian philosopher Umberto Eco called this a “selective…qualitative populism” and warned that there “is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.” Thus we now have Trumpism: the use of right-wing populism to mask the fascistic demonization of targeted groups.

Although they can look similar, right-wing populism is distinct from fascism. As the University of Georgia’s Cas Mudde, an internationally-recognized expert on global right-wing movements, told the Washington Post in an article on Trump, “The key features of the populist radical right ideology—nativism, authoritarianism, and populism—are not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.”34

Mudde, author of Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, sees Trump’s ideology and rhetoric as comparable to several European movements,35 particularly Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France, and the Danish People’s Party. These right-wing populist movements flirt with fascist themes, but are not full-blown neofascist movements, although they share many similarities in terms of exclusionary rhetoric, organic nationalism, and nativist bigotry.36 The trickiest part is that many scholars now see right-wing populism as a building block of neofascist movements. Fascism emerges from right-wing populist mass movements when a faction of the one percent decides it is necessary to promote violence to regain control of a rapidly destabilizing nation facing a crisis. Fascism is the last resort of those in power trying to maintain control.

Fascism emerges from right-wing populist mass movements when a faction of the one percent decides it is necessary to promote violence to regain control of a rapidly destabilizing nation.

Terminological distinctions matter because some of the strategies and tactics we craft while organizing against a right-wing populist movement must be categorically different from organizing to block the rise of a totalitarian fascist state.

To challenge the current wave of vicious anti-democratic attacks in the United States we must study the forces that have unleashed them as well as determine the exact moment in history in which we struggle against them. People’s lives may depend on it.

As fascism builds toward grabbing state power, the situation quickly unravels.37 Sporadic attacks and acts of terrorism against the named scapegoats become more frequent and widespread. People need to focus on organizing around physical self-defense. This is not that moment. Things are bad, but not as bad as when Weimar collapsed into the hands of Hitler and his thugs.

During a period of right-wing populism, as we are experiencing now, the focus of organizing must be to defend the scapegoats targeted by demagogues like Trump. Millions of White people seem to be having panic attacks in the face of the changing racial demographics of our nation. Our task is to build citywide and even neighborhood coalitions to defend economic and social equality. The coalitions must be multi-issue and cross boundaries of race, gender, class, age, ability, and more.

The focus of organizing must be to defend the scapegoats targeted by demagogues like Trump.

Suzanne Pharr, author of In the Time of the Right, talks about “divisions that kill.”38 By keeping us divided, the defenders of the status quo have an easier time exploiting us. She suggests that in the current political climate, organizers must bring the discussion back to the neighborhood level. “We have to get people to talk about what duress they are experiencing and the losses their communities are experiencing. Then we need to talk about what has been stripped away from our community and family support systems.” This is how we can reach out to our neighbors and convince them to “stop blaming poor people and people of color and start looking in the direction of the forces holding us down.”

But be aware that the targeting by our right-wing adversaries is opportunistic and can shift in an instant to reproductive rights, the LGBTQ community, the environment, or “tax and spend” liberals. Back in 1994 the main target of the Right was the gay community, and right-wing strategists were using race as a wedge issue to get Black ministers to denounce the “Homosexual Agenda.”

The current crop of Republican candidates includes several active with the Christian Right and their agenda to curtail reproductive rights, force gay people back into the closet, and make women handmaids to male supremacy. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina makes wildly inaccurate statements about Planned Parenthood and Jeb Bush is beating the militarist war drums with a frenzied ad campaign. Behind these candidates are millions of dollars of donations from wealthy “Free Market” fanatics pushing “neoliberal” policies to gut government services and cut taxes for the rich.

No matter who becomes the Republican candidate for President in 2016, the damage is already being done, and it is increasingly harming a range of scapegoated targets. This is a new political and social moment. Republicans have used bigoted rhetoric in the past, but anger has grown as buying power and status have shrunk among many Whites. This is producing a more virulent strain of White Nationalist nativism and masculinist rage.

Why Are These People So Angry?

The crowd listening to Trump’s stump speech in Massachusetts this October cheered his attacks on Mexican immigrants. The supporters my partner and I spoke with were fed up with the status quo, suspicious of President Obama, and very much liked Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Great for whom? Cleary not everyone. Trump supporters are angry. They resemble the folks in the film Network, who were told by a raving demagogue to open their windows and shout: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”39 This is the quintessential right-wing populist primal scream. Who is kicking them down the ladder of success? Someone has to be blamed for turning their American Dream into a liberal, “politically correct” nightmare.

When Trump uses the phase “politically correct” he is using a concept re-engineered by the Right in the 1980s as a way to silence activists demanding equality for traditionally oppressed peoples and groups in the United States. This is similar to the propagandistic use of terms such as “radicalization” and “extremism” to demonize dissent on both the Left and the Right.

Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Trump’s rhetorical propaganda is aimed at appealing to a growing base of angry and frustrated White middle and working class people. In a script broadcast by Trump ad nauseum, he is telling them who to blame for their slipping economic, political, and social status. According to sociologist Rory McVeigh, people who join right-wing movements tend to be convinced they are losing or about to lose status, power, or privilege in one or more of three civic arenas: economic, political, or social.40

We have seen exclusionary, repressive, or right-wing populist movements in the United States before. President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) was cheered as a champion of “the people” even as he kept Black people in chains and forced the Cherokee nation out of their ancestral homeland to make room for White pioneers.41 After the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan launched a murderous wave of violence against freed slaves and their supporters in the South. The large populist movements of the late 1890s began as an overwhelmingly progressive force, seeking economic fairness and curtailing the abuses of economic elites, but some supporters later turned their anger against Jews and Blacks. The backlash against the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s frequently used populist-sounding conspiracist rhetoric, suggesting that communists and Jews were stirring up otherwise happy Black people in order to prepare the United States for a takeover by the Soviet Union. The presidential campaigns of George Wallace and Pat Buchanan were built using clear and coded right-wing populist appeals to a White nationalist base.42

In more recent history, the rise of the Tea Party exemplified right-wing populism, as an angry constituency was mobilized back in 2009.43 The Tea Party idea originated with supporters of uber-libertarian Ron Paul, but the franchise was scooped up by conservative billionaires who funded trainings and rallies around the country. Over time Christian Right activists played a leading role in local Tea Party groups, shifting the focus to a toxic blend of nativist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric coupled with homophobia and antiabortion propaganda.44 Now the Tea Party grassroots is heavily populated by White nationalists.45 This is Trump’s voter base.

Folks who support the Tea Party and other right-wing populist movements are responding to rhetoric that honors them as the bedrock of American society. These are primarily middle class and working class White people with a deep sense of patriotism who bought into the American dream of upward mobility.46 Now they feel betrayed. Trump and his Republican allies appeal to their emotions by naming scapegoats to blame for their sense of being displaced by “outsiders” and abandoned by their government.

Emotions matter in building social movements. The linkage of emotion and politics are at the heart of a forthcoming book by University of California, Berkeley, sociologist and author Arlie Hochschild. In it, Hochschild reports on many conversations with Tea Party members in the South, where the movement is strongest.47 Many she spoke with long doubted that Obama was American; even after the publication of his long-form birth certificate some still suspect that he is Muslim and harbors ill will toward America. Hochschild also observes that this set of beliefs was widely shared among people who otherwise seemed reasonable, friendly, and accepting. How she wondered, could we explain this?

Her premise is that all political belief

is undergirded by emotion. Given the experiences we’ve undergone, we have deep feelings. These shape our “deep story.” And this is an allegorical, collectively shared, “honor-focused,” narrative storyline about what “feels true.” We take fact out of it, judgment out of it. A “deep story” says what happened to us from the point of view of how we feel about it.

The “deep story” of the Tea Party is that the American Dream has leveled off. Ninety percent of Americans between 1980 and 2012 received no rise in salary while dividends from a rising GDP rose dramatically for the top 10 percent.

Since the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980, the one percent has enriched itself while pushing most of us into a downward spiral of exported jobs, lower wages, unsafe working conditions, and tax breaks for the wealthy. Government social services such as public health and food stamps have been slashed. Public works projects, from bridges to sewers, have been gutted. Shifting tax dollars to private charter schools has strangled public education, the keystone of democracy. This has been happening in communities of color for decades. Now it is front-page news because research shows it is devastating White working class and even middle class communities.48

Amid a rising gap between the rich and poor, the middle has been pressed out—especially blue-collar men, the bottom of the middle. Their search for other sources of “honor”—what Hochschild feels is an underlying crisis among Tea Party members—has also encountered resistance, and they have met with criticism, insult, and injury, from upper-middle class liberals who look down on them as “rednecks.”

Most Tea Party supporters feel the government is allowing them to be shoved aside, displaced, dispossessed, and disrespected by newcomers, outsiders, and immigrants who they don’t see as proper citizens (no matter their legal status).

Trump is popular among many Tea Party movement activists, although national leaders are remaining coy in terms of an endorsement.49 The Tea Party and Trump conspiracy theories feed off each other, and bolster a sense that there is a plot to disempower White people.

Trump and other Republican candidates capture their hearts and minds by telling them their anger is justified and then point them at scapegoats rather than the institutions that have failed them. A culture permeated by the legacies of White supremacy leads the White middle and working class to blame their real downward mobility on people of color and “non-White” immigrants, and in that way reproduces both structural racism and the class-based power of the one percent.

Much of this rhetoric, like Trump’s, began as a specific attack against Mexicans and Latinos, but it keeps expanding. There is a “Trump Effect increasingly sweeping through the country,” warned immigrant rights activist Pablo Alvarado, Director for the National Day Labor Organizing Network.50 For example, after the Paris attacks a number of Republican governors banned all refugees from entering their states.51 The Puente Human Rights Movement, a grassroots migrant justice organization based in Phoenix quickly responded with a statement declaring, “Scapegoating and xenophobia don’t make us safer.”52 But the attacks aren’t only coming from the Republican Right. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, for example, is now criticizing immigrant-sheltering sanctuary cities.53

The center of the entire political spectrum in the United States is being shifted to the Right. The political views of today’s “centrist” Democrats resemble the views of many Republicans during the Nixon administration. White voters have been maneuvered into choosing White racial privilege over their own economic security. This explains the question asked in Tom Frank’s 2014 book, What’s the Matter With Kansas?54 In 2015, the same mass base cheers Trump while he is mobilizing resentment. That tactic, which Jean Hardisty explored in her 1999 book of the same name,55 is a longtime part of right-wing politics in the U.S. But now, as demographers predict that the majority of the U.S. will be non-White by the middle of the century, the existing emotional response behind that resentment is getting stronger.

From Analysis to Action

The debate over what we should call Trump’s vicious political movement should not stop us from organizing now to protect the people being demonized and scapegoated as targets of White rage. The current wave of right-wing populism in the United States is breeding a backlash movement that will take creative and bold strategies and tactics as we organize to defend democracy and diversity in the public square.

Debate over what we should call Trump’s vicious political movement should not stop us from organizing now to protect the people being demonized and scapegoated as targets of White rage.

Trump is a political performance artist portraying the psychological Id of the American Dream. He unleashes the fearful and angry feelings of people who live in a society run as a zero sum game requiring the successful to climb up over those labeled as inferior. So as the old “Liberalism” consensus collapses from the center while the Right is on the rise, what do we do?

Our challenge is to expose the ideas and policies of Trump and his Republican cronies while competing for folks in their voting base who are legitimately concerned about their declining economic and social future. At the same time we need to put pressure on backsliding liberals who now have the space to abandon justice for unauthorized immigrants and other targets of Republican venom.

Our challenge is to expose the ideas and policies of Trump and his Republican cronies while competing for folks in their voting base who are legitimately concerned about their declining economic and social future.

Activists need to build broad and diverse local coalitions that tactically address local issues while strategically linking them to national struggles. Building broad, inclusive, and egalitarian coalitions is hard. Bernice Johnson Reagon is a progressive scholar, singer, and activist. She helped found the women of color a Capella vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Reagon advises that, when doing real coalition building, “Most of the time you feel threatened to the core, and if you don’t, you’re not really doing no coalescing.”56

There are times when liberals and progressives can form alliances, but it can be frustrating. PRA’s founder, Jean Hardisty, explained this in her essay My On-Again, Off-Again Romance With Liberalism. At times when the Right is a growing threat and the Left is weak, she argued, “liberal reforms have to be defended. Now we are swimming against a tide that is thick with peril…and like it or not” progressives must “work with liberals, as well as with any other left-leaning sectors” in a “united front against the agenda of the Right.”57 Also keep in mind the right-wing backlash is a coalition that has fissures and cracks that can be wedged apart. We need to analyze and take advantage of the stress cracks in any right-wing coalition while making sure in our coalition work these strains are openly discussed and resolved honestly and equitably.

The late progressive activist Audre Lorde reminded us that there is “no hierarchy of oppressions.” Race, class, and gender issues are all complex and related, and no single form of oppression trumps another. That’s why the concept of intersectionality is so important. All systems of oppression need to be unraveled. Currently the focus is on the hierarchies of power and privilege that maintain the system of oppression on which this nation was founded: White Nationalism. That’s the primary text and subtext of the Trump campaign rhetoric. At the center of our struggle today is the idea of a “White Race”—which in scientific terms is nonsense. But in terms of the struggle we face, “Whiteness” is at the center. There is a White Race in the minds of millions of Americans. Whiteness is a social, cultural, political, and economic fact.

Right now we need to be organizing against right-wing populist scapegoating, especially racist White Nationalism and anti-immigrant xenophobia. White people need to reach across the political divide and engage White neighbors in conversations about how the nasty rhetoric is making it difficult to have serious discussions on how to fix what is broken. We all need to be engaging in struggles in our local communities, schools, workplaces—even on the supermarket checkout line.

White people need to reach across the political divide and engage White neighbors in conversations about how the nasty rhetoric is making it difficult to have serious discussions on how to fix what is broken.

Back in 2010 as the Tea Party Movement was first brewing, Chomsky raised the example of the Weimar period in Germany as a warning. At a meeting held by Z Magazine, Chomsky fielded a set of questions on how the Left should organize against the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and antigay backlash arising out of the Tea Party.58

“First of all,” he said, “you need to understand it. They say to themselves ‘We work hard, we’re Christians, we’re White…and now They are taking it all away from Us.’”

Chomsky points out that, though often bigoted, these “feelings are genuine…and they have to be dealt with.” Organizing has to be “done in a way which doesn’t frighten people,” that doesn’t “elicit their worst emotions and reactions.” Hochschild’s sociological analyses and Chomsky’s political analysis reinforce each other.

According to Chomsky, we need to pay attention to the feelings of resentment which are “very understandable” from their point of view. You begin by recognizing that their anger “does have legitimate roots. People feel…seriously threatened…people’s way of life is being taken away from them.” It’s not the immigrants who should be blamed, however, but the greed of the financial sector, Chomsky says.

And when organizing, “You don’t want to brazenly flaunt in front of people your attacks on their values.” You need to help them understand that their values should lead them to tolerance instead of hate. Chomsky was asked how activists can build a successful movement. He replied to the whole room, “We all know how…by education, by organizing, by activism.”


Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America, has written scores of scholarly and popular articles on human rights, fascism, and right-wing movements. He served as a researcher at Political Research Associates for 30 years, and is creator of Trumpism.usAn expanded set of resources is being updated at Research for Progress.


Endnotes:

1 Correspondence with author.

2 Chomsky first raised the issue of Weimar at a lecture at Left Forum in New York City. Another Chomsky lecture mentioning Weimar presented at the Haven Center at the University of Wisconsin is available as a transcript, http://chomsky.info/20100408/

3 Shaun King, “King: Donald Trump shows he’ll do anything to appeal to his racist supporters,” New York Daily News, (updated) November 22, 2015. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/king-trump-hits-new-racist-tweet-article-1.2443413

4 Affan Chowdhry, “Trump leads in polls despite gaffes,” The Globe and Mail, July 15, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/trump-leads-in-republican-race-despite-gaffes/article25516246/.

5 Washington Post, “Fact Checker” column, July 8, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/.

6 Edward Helmore and Ben Jacobs, “Donald Trump’s ‘sexist’ attack on TV debate presenter sparks outrage,” August 8, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/09/megyn-kelly-donald-trump-winner-republican-debate.

7 David Leopold, “The shocking reality of Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions, MSNBC, 09/15/15. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/donald-trump-shocking-reality-deportation-plan

8 Lauren Carroll, “In Context: Donald Trump’s comments on a database of American Muslims, November 24th, 2015, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2015/nov/24/donald-trumps-comments-database-american-muslims/.

9 Jason Stanley “Democracy and the Demagogue, Opinionator – A Gathering of Opinion from Around the Web, The Stone, October 12, 2015, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/12/democracy-and-the-demagogue/

10 The Guardian,New York Times slams ‘outrageous’ Donald Trump for mocking reporter’s disability,” November 26, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/26/new-york-times-outrageous-donald-trump-mocking-reporter-disability.

11 Jenna Johnson and Mary Jordan, “Trump on rally protester: ‘Maybe he should have been roughed up’,” November 22, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/11/22/black-activist-punched-at-donald-trump-rally-in-birmingham/.

12 David Mark and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump: ‘I want surveillance of certain mosques’” CNN: Politics, November 21, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/21/politics/trump-muslims-surveillance/index.html  The video of the attack is in a section titled “Scuffle breaks out at rally,”

13 http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/22/politics/donald-trump-black-lives-matter-protester-confrontation/

14 David Mark and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump: ‘I want surveillance of certain mosques’” CNN: Politics, November 21, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/21/politics/trump-muslims-surveillance/index.html  The video of the attack is in a section titled “Scuffle breaks out at rally,”

15 Evan Osnos, “The Fearful and the Frustrated: Donald Trump’s nationalist coalition takes shape—for now, The New Yorker, “The Political Scene,” August 31, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/31/the-fearful-and-the-frustrated.

16 Adele M. Stan. 2015, “A Nation of Sociopaths? What the Trump Phenomenon Says About America,” American Prospect, September 9, 2015. http://prospect.org/article/nation-sociopaths-what-trump-phenomenon-says-about-america.

17 Paul Bookbinder, “Choices and Consequences in Weimar Germany,” Section: The Fragility of Democracy, (Weimar Republic Readings): four essays (Brookline, MA, Facing History and Ourselves, no date), https://www.facinghistory.org/weimar-republic-fragility-democracy/readings/choices-and-consequences.

18 Ibid.

19 Interview with the author, December 9, 2015.

20 Robert Reich, “Why Hate Speech by Presidential Candidates is Despicable,” November 29, 2015 http://robertreich.org/post/134235925280.

21 Ibid.

22 Rick Perlstein, “Donald Trump and the ‘F-Word’: An unsettling symbiosis between man and mob,” Washington Spectator, September 30, 2015. http://washingtonspectator.org/donald-trump-and-the-f-word/

23 Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America, 6-9. Terms explained in right sidebar here: http://www.rightwingpopulism.us/.

24 Mark Frohardt and Jonathan Temin, Use and Abuse of Media in Vulnerable Societies, Special Report 110, Washington, DC, United States Institute of Peace. October 2003, http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/websites/usip/www.usip.org/pubs/specialreports/sr110.pdf, (accessed 26/9/2012). Although an excellent study, the report is flawed by the failure to include a single footnote. See also Kofi A. Annan, Allan Thompson, and International Development Research Centre of Canada, The Media and the Rwanda Genocide (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2007).

25 Chip Berlet. 2014. “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,” in Matthew Feldman and Paul Jackson (eds), Doublespeak: Rhetoric of the Far-Right Since 1945 (Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2014). Excerpts at http://www.researchforprogress.us/topic/concept/scripted-violence/.

26 Chip Berlet, “Trump a Fascist?” Research for Progress. http://www.researchforprogress.us/topic/concept/trump-a-fascist/.

27 Chip Berlet, “Mussolini: The Fake Quote,” Research for Progress. http://www.researchforprogress.us/topic/concept/mussolini-fake-quote/

28 Benito Mussolini (with Giovanni Gentile), “The Doctrine of Fascism,” in Enciclopedia Italiana (1932); Benito Mussolini (with Giovanni Gentile), The Doctrine of Fascism (Firenze: Vallecchi Editore, 1935), this was the official English translation of the article in the Enciclopedia Italiana;  Benito Mussolini (with Giovanni Gentile), Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions (Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers, 1935), an expanded version of “The Doctrine of Fascism.” A discussion of the use of the fake quote is at

29 Hannah Arendt,  The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951). See also: Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Viking Press, 1963).

30 Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London: Routledge, 1993).

31 Emilio Gentile, The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy, translated by Keith Botsford (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996); See also regarding Nazi Germany as sacralized politics: David Redles, Hitler’s Millennial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation (New York: New York Univ. Press, 2005); Klaus Vondung, The Apocalypse in Germany ( Columbia and London: Univ. of Missouri Press, 2000). An expanded bibliography is at http://tinyurl.com/toxic-mix.

32 Chip Berlet and Matthew Nemiroff Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (New York: Guilford Press, 2000) http://www.rightwingpopulism.us/.

33 Margaret Canovan, Populism (New York: Harcourt, 1981).

34 Cas Mudde, “The Trump Phenomenon and the European Populist Radical Right,“ Washington Post, The Monkey Cage, August 26, 2015 https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/08/26/the-trump-phenomenon-and-the-european-populist-radical-right/ .

35 Cas Mudde. Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

36 Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America.

37 Bookbinder, “Choices and Consequences in Weimar Germany.”

38 Suzanne Pharr, “Divisions that Kill,” in Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, ed. Chip Berlet (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1995) http://www.publiceye.org/eyes/div_kill.html.

39 Network, Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky (Hollywood, CA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1976), Full quote at Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074958/quotes.

40 Rory McVeigh, David Cunningham, and Justin Farrell. “Political Polarization as a Social Movement Outcome: 1960s Klan Activism and Its Enduring Impact on Political Realignment in Southern Counties, 1960 to 2000 (American Sociological Review 79, no. 6 2014): 1144-171; Rory McVeigh, “Ku Klux Klan activism in the 1960s is linked to the South’s swing to the Republican Party, London School of Economics, the LSE US Centre’s daily blog on American Politics and Policy, December 17, 2014, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2014/12/17/ku-klux-klan-activism-in-the-1960s-is-linked-to-the-souths-swing-to-the-republican-party/.

41 Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America, pp. 40-46; Google Educational Resources, “Jacksonian Era: Populism,” online resource, https://sites.google.com/site/jacksonianera/Home/populism.

42 Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America.

43 Chip Berlet, “Reframing Populist Resentments in the Tea Party Movement.” In Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party. Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost, eds. (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2014); Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind, The Tea Party Movement in 2015, online report, (Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, 2015). http://www.irehr.org/2015/09/15/the-tea-party-movement-in-2015/.

44 Abby Scher and Chip Berlet, “The Tea Party Moment,” in Nella van Dyke and David S. Meyer, eds., Understanding the Tea Party Movement (Farnham and London: Ashgate, 2014).

45 Burghart and Zeskind, The Tea Party Movement in 2015.

46 Scher and Berlet, “The Tea Party Moment.”

47 The book is tentatively entitled Strangers in Their Own Land: a journey into the heart of the right, (New York: The New Press, 2016)

48 Michelle Chen, “Now White People Are Dying from Our Terrible Economic Policies, Too,” The Nation, November 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/now-white-people-are-dying-from-our-terrible-economic-policies-too/ Chauncey Devega, “Dear White America: Your working class is literally dying—and this is your idea of an answer?” Salon, Nov 6, 2015 http://www.salon.com/2015/11/06/dear_white_america_your_working_class_is_literally_dying_and_this_is_your_idea_of_an_answer/.

49 S.A. Miller, “Donald Trump enjoys support of tea party movement that refuses to fully embrace him,” The Washington Times, November 22, 2015, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/nov/22/donald-trump-enjoys-support-of-tea-party-movement-/.

50 Pablo Alvarado, “Reaction: L.A. Sheriff Reverses Course on Jail Deportations,” National Day Laborers Organizing Network, September 22, 2015 http://www.ndlon.org/en/pressroom/press-releases/item/1165-reaction-l-a-sheriff-reverses-course-on-jail-deportations

51 Scott Oathout “Gov. Ducey calls for immediate halt of new refugees to Arizona” KVOA Television, Nov 16, 2015 http://www.kvoa.com/story/30529819/gov-ducey-calls-for-immediate-halt-of-new-refugees-to-arizona.

52 “Puente Responds to AZ Gov. Ducey’s Announcement on Refugees,” Puente Movement, http://puenteaz.org/press-releases/puente-responds-to-duceys-announcement-on-refugees/.

53 Courtney Coren, “Dianne Feinstein Under Fire for Sanctuary City Bill,” August 3, 2015http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Dianne-Feinstein-sanctuary-city-bill/2015/08/03/id/665214. Newsmax is a right-wing website cited here to encourage touring the page to review the rhetoric.

54 Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 2004), http://www.whatsthematterwithkansas.com/.

55 Jean V. Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999). http://www.jeanhardisty.com/writing/books/.

56 Bernice Johnson Reagon, 1983, “Coalition Politics: Turning the Century” in Barbara Smith, ed., Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, 1983; Rutgers University Press, 2000. See also http://www.bernicejohnsonreagon.com/publications.shtml.

57 Jean Hardisty, “My On-Again, Off-Again Romance With Liberalism,” The Women’s Theological Center (now known as Women Transforming Communities), in the Brown Paper series, March 1996. Republished with permission by Political Research Associates, 2015 http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/03/24/my-on-again-off-again-romance-with-liberalism/.

58 Chomsky’s comments are assembled by the author from a transcript of a videotape of the event. He was speaking at Z Magazine’s Media Institute (for progressive journalists). Video: “What Went Wrong: A Q & A with Noam Chomsky,” a Z Video Production. Chomsky confirmed these are still his views in an e-mail to the author.

Not Fascism: Trump is a Right-Wing Nativist Populist

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt of the author’s forthcoming analysis of the new wave of right-wing nativism inspired by Donald Trump.

The outlandish populist rhetoric of Republican presidential wildcard Donald Trump has left many journalists at a loss for words—words such as bigotry, xenophobia, racism, sexism and demagoguery. These are the elements of the latest Nativist crusade.

Donald TrumpJournalists and scholars familiar with the rise of contemporary right-wing populist political parties and social movements in Europe recognize that xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and racist rhetoric can lead to acts of violence. The progressive press has done a better job of pointing out the potential for making some of our neighbors targets of White angst.

Adele Stan in the American Prospect (9/9/15) put it boldly:

What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.

Donald Trump Is an Actual Fascist” trumpets the headline in Salon (7/25/15) for Conor Lynch’s article. Undermining Salon’s headline, Lynch tells us the “GOP are obviously not fascists, but they share a family resemblance.” The resemblance, according to Lynch, is explained in the famous quote attributed to Italy’s fascist dictator during World War II, Benito Mussolini:

Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

According to Lynch, this “definition may very well fit the GOP ideology: a kind of corporate fascism.” Alas, the quote is a hoax, widely circulated on the internet but debunked years ago. Mussolini never wrote or said anything like that, since the fake statement refutes Mussolini’s views on fascism. Nor is Trump an example of creeping totalitarianism, for which Hitler and Stalin were the analytical icons for Hannah Arendt in her masterwork The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Part of the confusion over Trump’s ideology is definitional: Scholars write entire books trying to map out the contours of right-wing political and social movements, especially the line dividing right-wing populism and neofascism. The pre-eminent scholar in this area, University of Georgia’s Cas Mudde, explained in the Washington Post (8/26/15):

The key features of the populist radical right ideology – nativism, authoritarianism, and populism – are not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.

His ideology and rhetoric are much more comparable to the European populist radical right, akin to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the Danish People’s Party or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. All of them use the common radical right rhetoric of nativism, authoritarianism and populism.

What fuels this sort of bitter backlash movement now? The late scholar Jean Hardisty who founded Political Research Associates argued in 1995 that a confluence of several historic factors has assisted the success of the right in the United States:

  • a conservative religious revitalization,
  • economic contraction and restructuring,
  • race resentment and bigotry,
  • backlash and social stress, and
  • a well-funded network of right-wing organizations.

Each of these conditions has existed at previous times in US history,” wrote Hardisty. She also noted they overlap and reinforce each other. This backlash is picking up speed. The Republican voter base in the Tea Party long ago shifted its attention away from fiscal restraint toward anti-immigrant xenophobia, banning abortion and pushing gay people back into the closet.

The demonization and scapegoating that accompanies right-wing populism in the United States is breeding a backlash movement that will take creative and bold approaches as we organize to defend democracy and diversity in the public square.

This article and the forthcoming analysis are adapted from the author’s previous piece in FAIR.

The Continuing Appeal of Racism and Fascism

My recent PRA article “Drawing Lines Against Racism and Fascism” documented how cryptofascists and pro-White separatists are attempting to make inroads into progressive political and counter-cultural circles. It was based on a number of recent incidents where conflicts had arisen between antifascists and these untraditional Far Right activists. However, the dynamic I wrote about is so common that soon after the article was published, new events were reported in the media, and readers—who were previously unknown to me—shared their stories of similar encounters.

Some of these incidents came to light as comments on Walter Reeves’s Daily Kos post, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing; Racism, Anti-Semitism and Fascism: Infiltrating the Left,” which was based on “Drawing Lines.” In the lively discussion thread that followed, one commenter talked about encountering anti-Federal Reserve conspiracy theories (laced with anti-Semitism) at Occupy Wall Street, while a second had run into fascists in discussion circles about “ancient history and religion.”

The comments also revealed a more serious situation, involving a neo-Nazi man who regularly attends an atheist group’s meetings. One commenter wrote (in their own Daily Kos blog) that: “He seems to have a single focus: to bring up one of his many offensive topics (wildly racist ideology, holocaust denial, women should not be allowed to vote, gay bashing, praising Hitler…).” The blogger said the neo-Nazi continuously offended existing members with his comments and scared off new ones. His past forcible incarceration in a state mental health facility, along with his claims of gun ownership, intimidated the organizers enough that they were unable to stop his repeated disruption of the group.

Situations like the one involving this atheist group are complicated to deal with. But they underscore why progressive groups should both be prepared for such encounters, and have a plan ready to deal with them—comparable to having an evacuation route set and go bag ready for emergencies: you will probably never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.

“Drawing Lines” also recounted the story of a formerly imprisoned eco-activist who seems to have converted to a form of mystical fascism, and is now promoting his ideas in Pacific Northwest counter-cultural music scenes. Less than a week after my piece published, another former eco-prisoner—who also has converted to racist political views—popped back up. In 2008, while still in prison, this other activist was outed as having embraced racist ideology, and supporters cut ties with him. Now out of prison, an anti-fascist group put out a warning that he was attempting to worm his way back into the Seattle activist scene, particularly in animal liberation and Cascadian independence circles—both of which I had pointed to as targets of Far Right participation and/or cross-recruitment.

Interest by racists in the Cascadian independence movement (in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada’s British Columbia) has produced a reaction from antifascists.

Interest by racists in the Cascadian independence movement (in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada’s British Columbia) has produced a reaction from antifascists.

Less than two weeks after “Drawing Lines” was published, Ryan Giroux was arrested after a rampage in Mesa, Arizona, which left one dead and five injured. He is a skinhead who has been associated with the Hammerskins and Aryan Brotherhood, two of the most violent U.S. racist organizations. An old mugshot was circulated, showing him with a Thor’s Hammer tattooed on his face—a symbol associated with neopagan Heathenism (also discussed in “Drawing Lines”). While Giroux’s religious beliefs are unknown, the potential for the media to associate violent racism with the Heathen religious community as a whole prompted a quick response from Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR). They issued a statement saying their members “denounce Giroux, his associates, and any others who assisted him in perpetrating his terrible actions. … We call on all Heathens and Pagans to join us in standing for a Heathenry that is all-inclusive, genuinely tolerant, unquestionably opposed to bigotry, and rejects all who would co-opt our spiritual practice to advance their narrow-minded, dead-end, hateful agendas along with those who enable their continued presence.” HUAR also called for the ejection of supporters of the “racialist corruption of Heathen practice” and promised support for the Giroux’s victims.

No group (especially a minority religion) should be collectively held responsible for, or be obligated to denounce, the actions of individual adherents. However, if they do choose to respond to media coverage, HUAR’s statement—emerging from a community that is specifically targeted for recruitment from organized racists—is a solid example to follow.

Other instances of this phenomena were in Europe, but related to U.S. politics. The day after “Drawing Lines” was published, the U.S. government showed it was also following developments in post-Third Position fascism. In relation to the ongoing violence in Ukraine, which has spilled over into the United States, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Aleksandr Dugin to its sanctions list. Dugin promotes an aggressively expansionist form of Russian ultranationalism, derived from fascist strains like Third Positionism and the European New Right. In the United States, he is supported by New Resistance (which is named in my article), and is a former member of Russia’s National Bolshevik Party. In 2008, I wrote in The Public Eye magazine about this party’s popularity in post-Communist Russia, saying “the National Bolsheviks remain a powerful political movement today with a huge grassroots and youth base. As they grow older, they will remain influential in Russian politics for decades.”

Today, the U.S. government seems to agree with my assessment.

Finally, a number of people pointed out a situation in Britain that matched what I wrote in “Drawing Lines,” about the presence of people of color in groups that are explicitly inclusive of fascists, or promote or endorse White separatism. In this British situation, an animal rights declaration (called Non-Humans First) was written by a well-known animal rights activist, who is also a person of color. The declaration asks signatories to welcome racists into its fold, saying explicitly that “No one should be excluded from participation in animal rights activities based on their views on human issues.” (Signatories include groups which say they are based in Israel and Latin America.) The NHF declaration comes in the context of Far Right activists wanting to become involved in British animal rights activism. 

British animal rights activists opposed to a badger cull rejected calls to join forces with activists who were linked to Far Right groups.

British animal rights activists opposed to a badger cull rejected calls to join forces with activists who were linked to Far Right groups.

One comment (made in response to an article that denounces NHF), highlights a conceptual point in “Drawing Lines.” The commenter, defending NHF, wrote that people who “are racist and believe in racial separation…should be for allowing animals their separation from the human race.” This illustrates how newer forms of White separatism differ from White supremacists in approaching and appealing to normally non-racist political, social, and cultural movements; therefore, separatists and supremacists should not be treated synonymously.

These recent examples show how similar situations are more common than one might think. What I showed in “Drawing Lines” is that, while Left-Right crossover movements are not uncommon, these new forms—such as individual people of color arguing for working with fascists under an inclusive umbrella that respects “diversity”—present new problems for progressive activists to wrangle with. While not always easy, I hope that “Drawing Lines” can help activists understand why this phenomena came about, and encourage them to make policies and plans with how to deal with these forms of cross-recruitment and participation by Far Right activists and their enablers.

Ed note. If you witness Far Right participation or cross-recruiting in progressive political circles, send me a tip: s.sunshine@politicalresearch.org.

 

Drawing Lines Against Racism and Fascism

Crypto-fascists and pro-White separatists are entering and recruiting from progressive circles. This essay offers some guidelines for identifying and dealing with this growing problem.

For a printable brochure version, see bottom.

In the not-so-distant past, one had little problem identifying a White separatist. Generally, they came in two styles: white hoods and burning crosses, or oxblood Doc Martens and swastika tattoos. Both were usually shouting vulgar epithets about African-Americans, Jews, and LGBTQ folks. And their relationship with the Left was usually in the form of breaking either bookstore windows or activists’ bones—if not outright murder.1 Barring them from progressive spaces was an act of physical self-preservation—not a show of political principles in drawing a line against ideological racism and fascism.

Today, White separatists don’t always come in such easily identifiable forms, either in their dress or politics. A part of the White separatist and related Far Right movement has taken some unusual turns.2 Some fascists seek alliances with ultranationalist people of color—a few of whom, in turn, consider themselves fascists. New types of groups embrace White separatism under a larger banner of decentralization. For many decades, the Far Right has disguised or rebranded its politics by establishing front groups, deploying code words, or using other attempts to fly under the radar.3 As the years pass by, some of these projects have taken on lives of their own as these forms have been adopted by those with different agendas. Simultaneously, there is a revival of fascist influence within countercultural music scenes. And intertwined with these changes is a renewed attempt on the part of some White separatists to participate in, or cross-recruit from, progressive circles.

This essay was written after a multi-year collaboration with a number of anti-fascist activists; we have struggled to understand this new phenomenon and craft ways to deal with it. I will attempt to: explain why Far Right actors should not be allowed to participate in progressive circles, suggest criteria regarding where the line should be drawn in defining which politics are problematic enough to take action against, and offer suggestions on how to communicate with and encourage individuals who may want to leave those movements.

The Impact of the Far Right’s Presence on Progressive Circles 

It can be tempting for progressive activists to ignore the presence of Far Right political and cultural actors in progressive spaces, particularly if they are not actively engaged in explicitly hateful and/or openly political organizing. This argument is heard almost every time a call for exclusion is made. Additionally, some people may ask why it is not adequate for organizations to simply declare that they are opposed to racism and fascism. Yet these are mistaken approaches; they underestimate the effect of Far Right groups and their ideologies, misunderstand how these groups often portray themselves, and don’t acknowledge that ideologies are propagandized and spread by real people.

Tolerating the Far Right’s presence allows its followers to engage in a number of damaging actions, including: cross-recruiting (either openly, or by promoting Far Right ideas that are packaged as left-wing ideas to convince people that their ideas are ours), spreading Far Right talking points among progressive activists, compromising progressive groups’ security or privacy, and engaging in cultural work that spreads fascist ideas, especially within counter-cultural scenes.

Fascists have targeted animal rights/animal liberation political groups for infiltration and cross-recruitment for many years, much to the ire of anti-racist and other intersectional activists in these circles.

Fascists have targeted animal rights/animal liberation political groups for infiltration and cross-recruitment for many years, much to the ire of anti-racist and other intersectional activists in these circles.

Far Right cross-recruiting from the Left has long been a problem, and some Far Right groups are now in a renewed period of doing it—while intentionally disguising and/or soft-selling their real aims. In recent years, this has been observed in anti-war, progressive populist, radical Left, anarchist, environmental, animal rights, anti-Zionist, counter-cultural, and religious­ (especially esoteric, occult, and neopagan Heathen) circles.4 Some begin by repeating a sophisticated left-wing critique of problems with contemporary society, draw upon Leftist symbols and cultural orientation, and then offer racial separatism (along with the rest of the Far Right package) as the answer to these problems. European New Right ideologue Alain de Benoist—who promotes ecology and denounces capitalism, the consumer society, and imperialism—is a prime example.5

Others pick up on specific issues closely associated with the cultural Left and hitch them to the Far Right. For example, in Germany there is what Rolling Stone describes as an online “Nazi vegan cooking show.” As one of the show’s hosts states, “The left-wing doesn’t have a prior claim to veganism,” and “industrial meat production is incompatible with our nationalist and socialist world views.” Simone Rafael, editor of a German blog that monitors the extreme Right, describes this new “nipster” (Nazi hipster) milieu: “They use subjects like globalization and animal protection as entry points, and then offer a very simple worldview that makes complex subjects very easy to understand.” But, he continues, “In the end, it’s always about racism and anti-Semitism and nationalism.”6

Open political participation by the Far Right in progressive circles allows Far Right actors to teach their talking points to non-fascist activists. Over the years, the Far Right organization around Lyndon LaRouche has duped a variety of progressives into adopting their talking points, especially during the Iran-Contra affair in the late 1980s. More recently, right-wing critiques of the Federal Reserve gained traction within the Occupy Wall Street movement. The most benign of these ideas were grounded in Libertarian economics, but they quickly slid into (non-bigoted) conspiracy theories, and from there into thinly veiled—or even openly—antisemitic arguments. And for decades, environmentalists have struggled against fascist and other xenophobic interpretations of environmentalism.7

Others on the Far Right take a more subtle approach, often by claiming not to be political at all. For example, some try to sell White separatism as an individual choice as opposed to a political stance. This is actually a ruse. If some White people have the personal desire to be physically separate from people of color, they can move to the countryside and form racially exclusive communes. Instead, this argument has been heard in urban, left-wing settings as a form of propaganda arguing for the compatibility of White separatist and fascist politics with progressive ones under the banner of “autonomy.”

In a related fashion, certain skinhead concerts are promoted using the phrase “No Politics,” which signals that the bands playing may actually hold views sympathetic to fascism, and that Far Right activists and music fans are welcome—while simultaneously mollifying venue owners who may have concerns about the show. These ostensibly apolitical stances act as an entryway for, and protection of, Far Right ideas and spaces.8

Allowing Far Right participation can also pose a security risk. Far Right actors may use such opportunities to collect personal information on progressive activists and information about their organizations. This has been an ongoing problem, in particular for antifascist and other groups that monitor the Far Right.

Counter-Culture Fascism

Historically, fascism has had a strong cultural orientation, and since the 1970s, a prime location for fascist activism has been in the counter-cultures. (I am referring here to the more self-consciously political, post-WWII subcultures, including punk, skinhead, hippie, metal, neo-folk, industrial, and techno). The most famous success has been the creation of the Nazi skinhead milieu, but racist activism continues today among different musical scenes. Fascists tried to achieve political dominance in the counter-culture, and have occasionally been successful.  During the height of the Nazi skinhead movement, for example, they dominated the punk scene in certain cities.9

The circulation of obscure fascist imagery and themes by a number of neo-folk and goth bands has encountered resistance from anti-fascist fans, who regard it as a form of crypto-fascism. Tours by the band Death in June, in particular, have been met with boycott calls.

The circulation of obscure fascist imagery and themes by a number of neo-folk and goth bands has encountered resistance from anti-fascist fans, who regard it as a form of crypto-fascism. Tours by the band Death in June, in particular, have been met with boycott calls.

In the past, counter-cultures have been carrier groups and social bases for anti-capitalism, anti-racism, feminism, ecology, queer politics, and a variety of other progressive political movements. Counter-cultures are inherently “radical” in the sense that they seek to negate the current social reality and try to create an alternative. Politically, though, they are not intrinsically Left or Right. Fascism—as distinct from most other types of right-wing politics—seeks a radical transformation of the current Western social order (based on liberal­ism and democracy) and as such can appeal to counter-culturalists just as much as Marxism or anarchism can.

Therefore, the presence of Far Right attitudes in these counter-cultural scenes—even when they do not directly translate into fascist organizing—also has negative effects. Instead of a progressive, pro-queer, and feminist milieu, an atmosphere filled with reactionary social attitudes can become dominant. Even when the bands aren’t committed Nazis, a Far Right-leaning scene further repels the participation of those targeted by the Right. To give two concrete examples: few women may wish to attend concerts glorifying rape, and few Jews want to be entertained by bands playing neo-Nazi cover songs.

Four Lines of Exclusion

In recent years, antifascist activists in different cities have confronted the problem of crypto-fascists and pro-White separatists by calling for these individuals and groups to be excluded from progressive political circles, including conferences, organizing and cultural spaces, music venues, book fairs, and demonstrations.10 Such calls have not always been well-received; frequently other progressive activists, unfamiliar with these forms of Far Right politics, want to know how and where the line may be drawn against these groups.

When bringing up exclusions, the question of “free speech” inevitably comes up. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the protection of speech from interference by the government. To call for excluding a group, individual, or band is not to be mistaken for a call for the government to ban or otherwise violate the Constitutional rights of fascist and related groups. (Even from a realpolitik perspective, these kinds of restrictions often end up being used against progressives in rather short order.) But it is legal—and always has been under the First Amendment—for non-governmental political groups to decide who may attend private gatherings or be published in their media; free speech does not guarantee your right to crash anyone’s party, join their organization, or attend their meetings. Likewise, media are under no obligation to publish articles representing everyone’s viewpoints. Freedom of speech means that the government cannot suppress individuals from holding their own meetings or expressing political opinions publicly—it does not dictate that Far Right activists must be given open access to progressive events.

In addition, when identifying whom to exclude, simplistic rhetorical disavowals cannot be taken at face value; today it is nearly impossible to find almost anyone who will accept the label “racist” or “fascist.” Even hooded Klan members will publicly declare that they are not “racists” and do not “hate” others.11

These following four points of exclusion have differing levels of complexity. The adoption of White separatism as consistent with a political program is the most concrete and clear-cut. While antisemitic and related narratives are relatively easy to identify even when coded, not everyone is familiar with them, and some activists unknowingly use them. The use of fascist symbolism and imagery is complicated and has to be judged on a case-by-case basis. And last, the question of dealing with left-wing media, which promote problematic writers and speakers, can be the most complicated question when deciding about taking action.

1) Anyone who actively promotes or endorses the idea of White separatism should be treated as a Far Right activist. This includes those who accept the promotion of White separatism as a stance compatible with their political worldview.

Today, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are no longer the only groups that endorse White separatism. This is partly due to the secessionist fever that has spread across the U.S. Right, uniting Right Libertarians, conspiracy theorists, Christian theocrats, Sovereign Citizens, neo-Confederates, and traditional White separatists. New groups advocate “pan-secessionist” ideology, and seek to unite the right-wing secessionists with those traditionally closer to the Left, like (bio)regional separatism in Vermont and Cascadia, former Leftist Kirkpatrick Sale’s decentralist Middlebury Institute, and nationalist organizing by those who, in the old anti-imperialist terminology, are “oppressed nations” (Native Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color).12

However, the most contentious question today is the direct participation of people of color in groups that espouse White separatism as part of their ideology.13 Loosely organized groups like National-Anarchists, Attack the System, and New Resistance, which actively embrace White separatism as part of their decentralized schema, should be excluded from progressive circles—including people of color who are members of these groups.14 This also includes members of groups that are multi-racial, but which promote this political view.

In addition to these groups, some people of color are involved in openly fascist circles. Neo-Nazi groups are active in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Mongolia, and Malaysia; and members of these movements reportedly have ties in the United States.15

A Malaysian skinhead's t-shirt advertises Combat-18 -- a notoriously violent neo-Nazi skinhead organization which originated in Britain.

A Malaysian skinhead’s t-shirt advertises Combat-18 — a notoriously violent neo-Nazi skinhead organization which originated in Britain.

In the past, Leftists excluded White people affiliated with groups that espoused White separatism, such as White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and Aryan Nations. But this new secessionism is more complicated; for example, it has led to the spectacle of people of color advocating for the legitimacy of White separatism—by claiming either that all separatism is good separatism, or that a program of complete reciprocal racial separatism requires that all groups have their own geographical enclave.

Cooperation between racial separatists of differing backgrounds is a long-standing tradition. In the 1930s, when Mississippi’s arch-racist Senator Theodore Bilbo publicly called for the expulsion of African-Americans to Africa, members of Marcus Garvey’s movement (themselves proponents of African-American emigration to Africa) approached Bilbo as a potential collaborator. The Nation of Islam (NOI) also has a history of associating with White nationalists, including the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party; Malcolm X cited these associations as one of the reasons he became disgruntled with NOI. WAR’s Tom Metzger has supported and donated money to NOI and has addressed the New Black Panther Party (NBPP). In Florida, one Black separatist organization even held joint demonstrations with a local Klan group.16

However, calling for the exclusion of all supporters of White separatism should not be mistaken for a call for progressives to exclude activists who endorse nationalist forms of separatism for people of color, including Black, Native American, or Latino nationalists. It is only the advocacy of White racial separatism that is at issue. While the acceptance of what is called the “right to national self-determination” of racial and ethnic minorities as congruent with larger left-wing goals is not without its critics (including myself), it has a long-established history on the U.S. Left, and its advocates have included the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and the Young Lords. However, irrespective of the debates around it, national self-determination by an oppressed group of people is completely different from the “right” of White separatism. White separatism has never had a place in the Left, and its structural function is to reinforce—and not attempt to escape (regardless of whether this would work in practice or not)—existing social hierarchies. In the United States, White people as a group are firmly in control of the majority of economic resources and social power. White separatism is comparable to espousing gated communities for the rich: its purpose is to physically express existing hierarchical social and economic structures.17

2) Ideological antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other demonizations of minority groups—whether explicit or coded—should not be tolerated.

Antisemitism is a main theoretical plank for fascists and other Far Right actors, and Holocaust denial has always been a tactic with the goal of re-legitimizing fascism in the eyes of the public. Those who deny the Holocaust—one of the best-documented events of the last century—have no place in progressive political circles. The same goes for those who repeat traditional Nazi-era antisemitic conspiracies, such as that Jews control the government, banking system, or the mass media. This includes the propaganda group If Americans Knew or the American Free Press newspaper, which, while repeating classical antisemitic narratives, deploy code words such as “Zionists,” “Jewish neocons,” or the “Frankfurt School”—instead of “the Jews.”18 

Those who demonize other racial, ethnic, and religious minorities—in particular, those who blame Muslims for attempting to “destroy the West” (a claim more common in Europe) or call undocumented Latin American migrants “disease-carrying gang members”—should also be excluded.

However, excluding people based on this stance should be reserved for those who have been documented as having intentionally and repeatedly used these slanders, and who have been confronted about them. Some activists unwittingly use these demonizing narratives and are ignorant of their origins. Activists should not be excluded for actions and statements that might be considered antisemitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, racist, patriarchal, or otherwise but that fall short of clear-cut, intentional, repeated, and ideologically motivated demonization (i.e., as part of the deployment of a thought-out political philosophy). Many real progressives have made statements that others have, at one time or another, believed to be biased; discussions are needed about what constitutes racism, sexism, etc. not just for collective self-clarification, but also so that activists have an opportunity to change their own beliefs when necessary. 

3) Social and cultural groups (including bands and artists) that traffic in sustained fascist references should be excluded from progressive circles.

Many cultural actors in particular deny being openly fascist or racist, but on investigation promote a sustained amount of imagery, references, and concepts based on and derived from fascism and other forms of ideological racism, and are deploying them in order to disseminate this ideology. This must be separated from passing or ignorant references: usage of historical examples, non-ideologically motivated attempts to shock, or ironic usage.

In one recent example, an activist, who had recently been released from prison for environmentally motivated property destruction, ran a blog concerned with spiritual and cultural matters. The blog was also filled with fascist imagery such as swastikas, as well as black suns and runes used by the Nazis—alongside quotes from mystical fascist philosophers. The activist was also alleged to have made statements denouncing “forced multi-culturalism” and endorsing White separatism. This is an example of a person who should be excluded from progressive circles.19

However, the main focus of this problematic cultural work concerns bands and other musical projects. Sometimes, these are crypto-fascist projects engaging in conscious attempts to create a Far Right cultural milieu, as some neo-folk and black metal bands are alleged to be doing. Others are part of the “Rock Against Communism” (RAC) format. In the 1980s, RAC was promoted as a front group by explicitly Nazi musicians but has more recently been adopted by a variety of actors, including some people of color. (This is similar to the Sovereign Citizen movement, which also originated in White supremacist circles but which today has many people of color as adherents.20)

However, the question of how to determine whether a band should be excluded is a complicated affair; it has been debated for decades without a clear consensus arising. Because of the complexity of the subject, this will be dealt with separately in a forthcoming essay.

4) Any groups that provide an active platform for Nazi, fascist, and related speakers should be treated in a similar fashion as those sympathetic to White separatism.

This includes those who hold events for these speakers. For example, members of the Eugene, Oregon-based Pacifica Forum—which started as a progressive anti-war speaker series but later came to host antisemites and, eventually, outright neo-Nazis—should be treated as a Far Right organization. (Pacifica Forum members attended Occupy events in Eugene and Portland, Oregon, attempted to use a left-wing bookstore in Portland to host an antisemitic speaker, and one was a board member at an annual co-operative conference.)21

This question can be far trickier when it comes to periodicals, book presses, and online media. For example, many left-wing media have published antisemitic and crypto-antisemitic authors such as Alison Weir, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon; a well-known left-wing press even published Atzmon’s book.22 However, to what extent it is feasible to hold these publications and presses accountable is up for debate. 

Renunciation and Reintegration 

Antifascist activists sometimes have a “search and destroy” mentality about their opponents; they want to document their target, locate and confront it, and create a situation where it will go away. But this, too, can turn into its own problem: people don’t disappear, and once politicized, they tend to remain so. An organizer from Portland, Oregon’s Coalition for Human Dignity told me that antifascists’ inability to provide an alternative for young White youth attracted to the Nazi skinhead movement was one of his group’s greatest failings in confronting the surge of Nazi organizing in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Organized racist and fascist groups have long been involved in pagan, and in particular Heathen, religious circles. This in turn has helped galvanize Heathen circles to consciously resist racist elements, and to analyze structural racism more generally.

Organized racist and fascist groups have long been involved in pagan, and in particular, Heathen, religious circles. This in turn has helped galvanize Heathen circles to consciously resist racist elements, and to analyze structural racism more generally.

It is not infrequent for Far Right activists to become disenchanted with and wish to exit their political milieu, which can have negative social and professional effects on their lives. Sometimes, young people experiment with different identities and views without a serious commitment to them. Other times, progressive activists have been drawn into these Far Right groups and, once confronted, are willing to abandon them. Therefore, it is important to allow people to return to (or enter) progressive circles. If their Far Right affiliations are revealed, and they abandon these politics but are prevented from being allowed into non/anti-racist circles, there is a higher likelihood they will return to their prior beliefs—if for no other reason than simply because it will be a familiar social circle.

Progressive groups should come up with their own criteria for people who want to move away from Far Right politics and toward progressive political communities. Recommendations for this include: 1) requiring the person make a public statement disavowing Far Right views, and posting it in their former group’s media; 2) turning over all Far Right books, t-shirts, buttons, etc. to antifascists—especially patches or other insignia of any organizations they were members of; 3) removing all Far Right contacts on social media, and not attending events (either social, cultural, or political) hosted by these individuals or groups; 4) making a sincere statement of why their former views were problematic, with apologies made to anyone hurt by their actions. (The letter written by former White nationalist Derek Black, son of Stormfront founder Don Black, is exemplary.23) If they want to become actively involved as progressive political organizers, they should also 5) be required to go through a debrief to provide information about their former Rightist group’s structures, membership, recruiting tactics, and beliefs.

The same approach should be applied to organizations and media with a history of providing a platform for Far Right and related (antisemitic, Islamophobic, etc.) figures. They should also be able to change policy, apologize for their past, and be treated as a regular publication or platform again.

The evidence shows that Far Right cross-recruiting and participation in progressive circles will not go away, and progressives should adopt policies—and have plans ready—to deal with anyone who falls under the above four categories who wants to enter, attend, or participate in any progressive organizations, physical spaces, events, or demonstrations.

 Share on Twitter Button  Share on Facebook Button

print friendly image

download brochure

 endNOTES

1. For such a small political movement, White nationalists are fantastically violent, although exact numbers are difficult to come by. A 2012 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report lists “100 plots, conspiracies and racist rampages since 1995.” The SPLC’s Heidi Beirich calculated that users of the White nationalist Stormfront website “have murdered close to 100 people” between 2009 and 2014. See SPLC, Terror on the Right, 2012, http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/publication/terror_from_the_right_2012_web_0.pdf; Heidi Beirich, “White Homicide Worldwide,” 2014, http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/publication/white-homicide-worldwide.pdf.

The victims of these White nationalist and neo-Nazi attacks have varied, and include government workers, unsuspecting members of the public, and their own family members—but also political opponents, whether progressive or merely anti-racist. The most famous attack on Leftists was the 1979 Greensboro massacre, a joint operation of Klansmen and neo-Nazis, in which five participants at a Communist Workers Party-organized anti-racist march in Greensboro, North Carolina were killed. (One of the participants in the massacre, Frazier Glenn Miller, was arrested in 2014 for murdering three people at Jewish community centers in Kansas.) In 1998, two anti-racist skinheads were murdered in Las Vegas by Nazi skinheads. And in 2011 in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik murdered sixty-nine people at a socialist youth group’s retreat.

On the Greensboro Massacre, see Jill Williams, “Truth and Reconciliation Comes to the South: Lessons from Greensboro,” Public Eye, Spring 2007, vol. 22, no. 2, http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v21n2/reconciliation.html; on Miller, see Spencer Sunshine, “Frazier Glenn Miller & The Ongoing Trend of Former-Military Neo-Nazi Murders,” April 17, 2014, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/04/17/frazier-glenn-miller-the-ongoing-trend-of-former-military-neo-nazi-murders/; on the Las Vegas murders, see Lynda Edwards, “Death in the Desert,” Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999, http://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/death-in-the-desert/Content?oid=2263332; on Breivik, see John Nichols, “Glenn Beck’s ‘Hitler Youth’ Slur on Norway Victims Confuses WWII Sides,” July 26, 2011, Nation blogs, http://www.thenation.com/blog/162287/glenn-becks-hitler-youth-slur-norway-victims-confuses-wwii-sides#.

2. A note on the terminology used in this essay: “progressive” refers to the whole spectrum of political actors, from liberal Democrats to radical Leftists, who have a social justice approach that is critical of capitalism, and who oppose systems of oppression based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. “Far Right” includes all right-wing elements which have a racial component to their ideology; therefore even libertarians, who usually would not fall under this term, will be included here if they embrace White separatism as congruent with their politics.

3. Code words are discussed in an interview with Martin Lee and former PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet; see “Transcript: #26-98 When ‘Populism’ Has a Right-Wing Agenda,” Making Contact, July 1, 1998, http://www.radioproject.org/transcript/1998/9826.html.

4. For the anti-war movement, see “The Gulf War” section of Chip Berlet, Right Woos Left, February 27, 1999, http://www.politicalresearch.org/1999/02/27/right-woos-left; for progressive populists, see Spencer Sunshine, “The Right Hand of Occupy Wall Street: From Libertarians to Nazis, the Fact and Fiction of Right-Wing Involvement,” Public Eye, Winter 2014, 9–14, 18, February 23, 2014, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/02/23/the-right-hand-of-occupy-wall-street-from-libertarians-to-nazis-the-fact-and-fiction-of-right-wing-involvement/; for the radical Left, see “What is the Third Position?,” http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/third_position.html; for anarchists, see Spencer Sunshine, “Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchists,” Public Eye, Winter 2008, vol. 23, no. 4, 1, 12­–19 (posted online January 28, 2008), http://www.politicalresearch.org/2008/01/28/rebranding-fascism-national-anarchists/; for environmentalism, see  Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience (Edinburgh: AK Press, 1995), http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/germany/sp001630/ecofasc.html; for animal rights, see Panthères Enragées, “International Animal Rights Gathering,” August 22, 2013, http://pantheresenragees.noblogs.org/post/2013/08/22/international; for anti-zionism, see Center for New Community, “Neo-Nazi Infiltration of Anti-Globalization Protests” (press release, dated June 21, 2002), June 28, 2002, http://interactivist.autonomedia.org/node/1039; for counter-cultures, see Graham D. Macklin, “Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction,” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 39, no. 3, September 2005, http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=2439; for esoteric and occult tendencies, as well as Heathens, see Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity (New York: New York University Press, 2002).

5. See Sunshine, “Rebranding Fascism.”

6. Thomas Rogers, “Heil Hipster: The Young Neo-Nazis Trying to Put a Stylish Face on Hate,” Rolling Stone, June 23, 2014, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/heil-hipster-the-young-neo-nazis-trying-to-put-a-stylish-face-on-hate-20140623.

7. For an extensive discussion of LaRouchite influence on progressive politics, see Berlet, Right Woos Left; for Edward Flaherty’s critique of ten myths about the Federal Reserve, see http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/flaherty/Federal_Reserve.html; for fascism and the environmental movement in general, see Biehl and Staudenmaier, Ecofascism; and for one high-profile fight over xenophobic interpretations of environmentalism, see Michelle Nijhuis, “Immigration controversy engulfs Sierra Club board election,” Grist, March 2, 2004, http://grist.org/article/nijhuis-sierra/.

8. Roddy Moreno, singer for the antifascist Oi! band The Oppressed, said: “I find most people who talk about no politics mean left-wing politics but seem to have no problem with right wing politics. Fuck the government and fuck the police are political statements but no one says a word when bands sing about these things but as soon as a band says fuck the Nazis and fuck the racists you get accusations of “POLITICS”. At the end of the day life is political and it’s hard to ignore life.” See “An interview with Roddy Moreno,” January 14, 2012, http://torontosharp.blogspot.com/2012/01/interview-with-roddy-moreno.html.

The blog No Condemned 84 in Toronto described their opposition to the “no politics” approach this way: “This isn’t about being ‘PC,’ and this isn’t just about one dodgy band either—it’s about a disturbing agenda being pushed by the fence-sitters and closet-fascists who, under the deceptive banner of ‘no politics’ want to make our scene a safe zone for nazi bullshit. This isn’t a coincidence—it’s been a conscious strategy of the nazis after being forced underground in previous decades: infiltrate the ‘apolitical’ fold and recruit amongst the fence-sitters; after all, if you already listening to nazi bands and claim ‘anti-antifa,’ how much farther do you have to go?  The fascists smell easy pickings.” In another post they are more blunt: “All ‘no politics’ means for these lowlifes is: boneheads welcome.” (“Fence-sitters” are skinheads and others who associate with both racists and anti-racists, either refusing to make their own stance clear on the matter or alternating their views; “boneheads” are Nazi skinheads.) See “Sleeping With the Enemy: Condemned 84’s Affair with the Extreme Right,” May 23, 2013, https://condemned84.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/sleeping-with-the-enemy-condemned-84s-affair-with-the-extreme-right/; “Légitime Violence Interview with Russian neo-Nazi,” June 11, 2013, https://condemned84.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/legitime-violence-in-their-own-words/.

9. For an overview of the Nazi skinhead movement, see “Racist Skinheads: Understanding the Threat,” http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/skinheads-in-america-racists-on-the-rampage.

10. For examples, see, respectively: Rose City Antifa facebook post on the Cascadia Rising Bioregional Confluence, April 9, 2014, https://www.facebook.com/rose.cityantifa.3/posts/1484366921779755; Sasha, “The New Face of the Radical Right?,” April 29, 2014, http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/04/29/the-new-face-of-the-radical-right/; One Peoples Project, “Brooklyn Show Next Weekend Sparking Concerns,” August 24, 2014, http://www.onepeoplesproject.com/index.php/arts-culture/hate-music/1449-brooklyn-show-next-weekend-sparking-concerns; “NATA Unwanted at Anarchist Bookfair, 4/20 Conference, or seemingly anywhere else,” April 8, 2013, http://nycantifa.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/nata-unwanted-at-anarchist-bookfair-420-conference-or-seemingly-anywhere-else/; @ndy, “When White nationalists attack! New Right @ Gaza solidarity rally, Sydney, November 24,” December 7, 2012, http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=33191.

11. See for example, Tiffany Willis, “This Biracial Woman Confronts A Klansman. He Tells Her ‘I’m Not Racist’ (VIDEO),” June 23, 2014, http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/06/23/this-biracial-woman-confronts-a-klansman-he-tells-her-im-not-racist-video/.

12. Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli, “Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Old Right,” Public Eye, Fall 2013, 2–8, posted online November 22, 2013, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/.

13. Many scholars consider “White separatism” to be either synonymous with or a subset of “White supremacy.” However, a return to White supremacy—as practiced by Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, or the Jim Crow South—was abandoned by many hardline U.S. racist groups, even self-proclaimed Nazis, decades ago; for most of them, their new goal is racial separatism (although the exact details vary). During the 1980s and 1990s, when openly racist groups like White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and the Aryan Nations called for a separate White state, referring to them as White supremacist was less complicated, partly because of their vicious, derogatory views of people of color and Jews, and open Nazi references. However, the concept of White separatism has continued to evolve and expand out of the traditional racist White Right, and now groups are endorsing the notion for others without necessarily promoting it as their own central political goal. Using the term “White supremacist” to label a multi-racial group that endorses White separatism is a complicated affair—and one not likely to be easily understood by progressive activists who are unfamiliar with the more recent twists-and-turns of the Far Right. Therefore, it is time to reexamine the simple conflation of White supremacy and White separatism.

For the transition from White supremacy to White separatism, see Betty A. Dobratz and Stephanie L. Shanks-Meile “White Power, White Pride!” The White Separatist Movement in the United States (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997). See also

Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).

14. For National Anarchism, see Sunshine, “Rebranding Fascism”; for Attack the System, see Matthew N. Lyons,  “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism,” New Politics, April 29, 2011, http://newpol.org/content/rising-above-herd-keith-prestons-authoritarian-anti-statism; for New Resistance, see “Neo-Nazi Leader James Porrazzo Mixes Racism with Leftist Ideology,” Intelligence Report,  no. 148, Winter 2012, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/winter/the-fourth-position.

15. While this may seem like an oxymoron to many readers, it should be remembered that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party was mostly fixated on killing and persecuting other Europeans (such as Jews, Romani and Sinti, and Slavs), in addition to leftists, disabled people, and queer folks—many of the latter sharing the same Aryan background as their perpetrators. In sharp contrast to the positions of U.S. neo-Nazis, Black people did not loom large in the original German Nazis’ imagination.

In fact, the Nazis sought alliances in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. One otherwise traditional U.S. neo-Nazi group, Rocky J. Suhayda’s American Nazi Party, uses this fact to actively solicit the financial support of sympathetic people of color; see Southside Chicago Anti-Racist Action, “Infiltrated: The American Nazi Party In Illinois,” April 20, 2013, http://southsideantifa.blogspot.com/2013/04/infiltrated-american-nazi-party-in.html.

There is growing documentation regarding the profusion of neo-Nazi groups in Latin America and Asia. For Brazil, see Cnaan Liphshiz, “Brazil thwarts neo-Nazi bomb plot,” May 24, 2009, Haaretz, http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/brazil-thwarts-neo-nazi-bomb-plot-1.276586; for Chile, Colombia, and elsewhere in Central and South America, see Javier Duque, “Neo-Nazism in Latin America,” June 24, 2012, http://www.theprisma.co.uk/2012/06/24/the-nazi-shadow-in-latin-america/; for Mexico, see Elizabeth Rosales, “Youth Neo-Nazi Group in Mexico,” June 30 2014, http://www.sandiegored.com/noticias/54669/Youth-Neo-Nazi-Group-in-Mexico/; for Mongolia, see Tania Branigan, “Mongolian neo-Nazis: Anti-Chinese sentiment fuels rise of ultra-nationalism,” Guardian, August 2, 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/aug/02/mongolia-far-right; for Malaysia, see Nick Chester, “Meet the Malaysian Neo-Nazis Fighting for a Pure Malay Race,” Vice, May 18, 2013, http://www.vice.com/read/the-malaysian-nazis-fighting-for-a-pure-race.

One Center for New Community article describes two New York City bands associated with the RAC scene as “nationalist supporters of the Colombian death squads. They also have strong ties with a variety of neo-Nazi groups both in the United States and in Latin America, including Tercera Fuerza in Columbia, a neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.” See MJ Olahafa, “Neo Nazi Show Cancelled in NYC,” October 8, 2010, http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2010/10/08/neo-nazi-show-cancelled-in-nyc/.

Like all philosophies, National Socialism can be reinterpreted and appropriated by people of different backgrounds. Therefore the mere fact that activists are not White does not mean that they cannot be Nazis: after all, racist ultra-nationalists come in all backgrounds, whether or not they appropriate Nazi aesthetics and narratives.

16. On NOI’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, and Tom Metzger, see Martin A. Lee, “American Black Muslims, Neo-Nazis, Foreign Muslim Extremists Join Forces,” Intelligence Report, no. 105, Spring 2002, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2002/spring/the-swastika-and-the-crescent/strange; on Malcolm X, see his 1965 speech “There’s a worldwide revolution going on,” in Bruce Perry, ed., Malcolm X: The Last Speeches (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1989), 119­­–26.

Metzger attended a NBPP rally in 1993, and an undated online video shows him giving a speech to the group, in which he recounts the history of cooperation between Black and White racial separatists. See “The New Black Panther Party is Unlike its Namesake of the 1960s,” Intelligence Report, no. 100, Fall 2000, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2000/fall/snarling-at-the-white-man, and “Tom Metzger Addresses The New Black Panther Party,” uploaded July 4, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ5OHDJ_9FQ.

The Florida groups were the Pan-Afrikan International (PAIN) and John Baumgardner’s local Klan outfit. See Kirsten Gallagher, “2 Opposites Attract To Seek ‘Separatism,’” Orlando Sentinel, March 30, 1992, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1992-03-30/news/9203300164_1_ku-klux-klan-descendants-of-african; see also Gardell, Gods of the Blood, 115–17.

17. One recent example shows how complex this situation sometimes is: a Native American man who is a member of Attack the System (a pro-White separatist pan-secessionist group) was uninvited from speaking at a bioregionalism conference in Portland, Oregon. However, this disinvitation only happened after an antifascist group—that had been asked to present at the same conference about (White) White separatists attempting to participate in bioregionalist movements—refused to speak alongside him. (His support for Native American self-determination was not at issue; his support for White separatist views was.) See Rose City Antifa, Facebook post.

Similarly, a handful of people of color also belong to National-Anarchist groups—a movement which was created as an explicitly “entryist” tactic to spread a fascist, White separatist ideology inside progressive circles, but which has recently has been moving closer to a pan-secessionist position. (Entryism is the strategy of entering other political groups in order to either take them over or break off with a part of their membership. There can be a fine line, however, between intentional entryism and an existing member of group being converted to a new ideology.) All together, the result is that today we are confronted with people of color trying to inject into progressive circles the same core values that 1980s and 1990s U.S. neo-Nazis held: a commitment to White racial separatism and antisemitic narratives, including Holocaust Denial.

Ideas that uphold systemic oppression and racial privilege should be rejected, no matter the identity of the person espousing them. Advocates of oppression can be found among all groups of people.

18. It should be noted that many contemporary conspiracy theories—such as some about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergs—have origins mixed up in antisemitic theories, but no longer identify either Jews or a subset of Jews as the active agents of the conspiracy. Therefore, care must be taken in distinguishing between a coded antisemitic theory and one that has moved far enough away from this thinking to be no longer considered as such—even though it may still be legitimately criticized on political grounds as flawed. For permutations of antisemitic conspiracy theories, see Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort (New York: Guilford Press, 2000), 192-96.

19. “Former ELF/Green Scare Prisoner ‘Exile’ Now a Fascist,” August 5, 2014, http://nycantifa.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/exile-is-a-fascist/.

20.  See Kevin Carey, “Too Weird for The Wire: How black Baltimore drug dealers are using white supremacist legal theories to confound the Feds,” Washington Monthly, May/June/July 2008, http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2008/0805.carey.html.

21. For background on the Pacifica Forum, see CJ Ciaramella, “University to address Pacifica controversy,” Daily Emerald, January 8, 2010, http://dailyemerald.com/2010/01/08/university-to-address-pacifica-controversy/; for its involvement in the Occupy movement, see Spencer Sunshine, “20 On the Right in Occupy,” February 13, 2014, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/02/13/20-on-the-right-in-occupy/; for the bookstore incident, see “Rose City Antifa: Statement on Anti-Semites and their Collaborators,” June 25, 2009, http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/06/392268.shtml; for the co-op board, see “Confronting Bigotry in Our Movement: A Call for Reflection and Support,” https://www.scribd.com/doc/109889899/Confronting-Bigotry-in-Our-Movement.

22. Alison Weir, see Spencer Sunshine, “Campus Profile—Alison Weir: If Americans Knew,” http://www.politicalresearch.org/campus-profile-alison-weir-if-americans-knew/; this is a section from Chip Berlet, Debra Cash, and Maria Planansky, eds., Constructing Campus Conflict: Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses 2007–2011 (Boston: Political Research Associates, 2014), http://www.politicalresearch.org/resources/reports/; on Shamir, see Will Yakowicz, “His Jewish Problem,” Tablet, May 16, 2011, http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/67305/his-jewish-problem; on Atzmon, see “Not Quite ‘Ordinary Human Beings’—Anti-imperialism and the anti-humanist rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon,” http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/p/atzmon-critique_09.html; on the Left-wing press, see “Zero Authors’ Statement on Gilad Atzmon,” Lenin’s Tomb, September 26, 2011, http://www.leninology.co.uk/2011/09/zero-authors-statement-on-gilad-atzmon.html.

23. “Derek Black Email to Mark Potok, July 15, 2013,” http://www.splcenter.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Derek-Black-letter-to-Mark-Potok-Hatewtach.pdf. His letter is worth quoting:

“I acknowledge that things I have said as well as my actions have been harmful to people of color, people of Jewish descent, activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all, and others affected. It was not my intention then, and I will not contribute to any cause that perpetuates this harm in the future. Advocating for redress of the supposed oppression of whites in the West is by its nature damaging to all others because of the privileged position of white people in these societies. … It is impossible to argue rationally that in our society, with its overwhelming disparity between white power and that of everyone else, racial equity programs intended to affect the deep-rooted situation represent oppression of whites. … I do not believe advocacy against ‘oppression of whites’ exists in any form but an entrenched desire to preserve white power at the expense of others. I am sorry for the damage done by my actions and my past endorsement of white nationalism.”

Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchists

Multimedia: 
“The New Fascists” An interview with author Spencer Sunshine by Public Eye editor Abby Scher.

On September 8, 2007 in Sydney, Australia, the antiglobalization movement mobilized once again against neoliberal economic policies, this time to oppose the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit. Just as during the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington, in 1999, the streets were filled with an array of groups, such as environmentalists, socialists, and human rights advocates. And also just like in Seattle, there was a “Black Bloc”—a group of militant activists, usually left-wing anarchists, who wore masks and dressed all in black.

In Sydney, the Black Bloc assembled and hoisted banners proclaiming “Globalization is Genocide.” But when fellow demonstrators looked closely, they realized these Black Bloc marchers were “National-Anarchists”—local fascists dressed as anarchists who were infiltrating the demonstration. The police had to protect the interlopers from being expelled by irate activists.

Since then, the National-Anarchists have joined other marches in Australia and in the United States; in April 2008, they protested on behalf of Tibet against the Chinese government during the Olympic torch relay in both Canberra, Australia, and San Francisco. In September, U.S. National-Anarchists protested the Folsom Street Fair, an annual gay “leather” event held in San Francisco.

While these may seem like isolated incidents of quirky subterfuge, these quasi-anarchists are an international export of a new version of fascism that represent a significant shift in the trends and ideology of the movement. National-Anarchists have adherents in Australia, Great Britain, the United States, and throughout continental Europe, and in turn are part of a larger trend of fascists who appropriate elements of the radical Left. Like “Autonomous Nationalists” in Germany and the genteel intellectual fascism of the European New Right, the National-Anarchists appropriate leftist ideas and symbols, and use them to obscure their core fascist values. The National-Anarchists, for example, denounce the centralized state, capitalism, and globalization — but in its place they seek to establish a system of ethnically pure villages.

In 1990, Chip Berlet showed in Right Woos Left how the extreme Right in the United States has made numerous overtures to the Left. “The fascist Right has wooed the progressive Left primarily around opposition to such issues as the use of U.S. troops in foreign military interventions, support for Israel, the problems of CIA misconduct and covert action, domestic government repression, privacy rights, and civil liberties.”1 More recently, the fascist Right has also tried to build alliances based on concern for the environment, hardline antizionism, and opposition to globalization.

Fascism has become increasingly international in the post World War II period, particularly with the rise of the internet. One of the most obvious results of this internationalization is the continual flow of European ideas to the United States; for example, the Nazi skinhead movement originated in Britain and quickly spread to the United States. In trade, Americans have exported the Ku Klux Klan to Europe and smuggled Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi literature into Germany.2

The National-Anarchist idea has spread around the world over the internet. The United States hosts only a few web sites, but the trend so far has been towards a steady increase. But it represents what many see as the potential new face of fascism. By adopting selected symbols, slogans and stances of the left-wing anarchist movement in particular, this new form of postwar fascism (like the European New Right) hopes to avoid the stigma of the older tradition, while injecting its core fascist values into the newer movement of antiglobalization activists and related decentralized political groups. Simultaneously, National-Anarchists hope to draw members (such as reactionary counter-culturalists and British National Party members) away from traditional White Nationalist groups to their own blend of what they claim is “neither left nor right.”3

Despite this claim, National-Anarchist ideology is centered directly on what scholar Roger Griffin defines as the core of fascism: “palingenetic populist ultranationalism.” “Palingenetic,” he says, is a “generic term for the vision of a radically new beginning which follows a period of destruction or perceived dissolution.” Palingenetic ultranationalism therefore is “one whose mobilizing vision is that of the national community rising phoenix like after a period of encroaching decadence which all but destroyed it.”4

For the National-Anarchists, this “ultranationalism” is also their main ideological innovation: a desire to create a stateless (and hence “anarchist”) system of ethnically pure villages. Troy Southgate, their leading ideologue, says “we just want to stress that National-Anarchism is an essential racialist phenomenon. That’s what makes it different.” 5

Why should we pay attention to such new forms of fascism? There is no immediate threat of fascism taking power in the established western liberal democracies; the rise to power of Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s occurred in a different era and under different social conditions than those that exist today. Nonetheless, much is at stake.

These new permutations have the potential of playing havoc on social movements, drawing activists out from the Left into the Right. For example, when the Soviet Union collapsed, a number of non-Communist left-wing groups suddenly emerged in Russia offering the promise of a more egalitarian society sans dictatorship. However, the group that became dominant was the National Bolsheviks, who are probably the most successful contemporary Third Position fascist group (see glossary). Catching the imagination of disaffected youth by taking up many left-wing stances and engaging in direct action, they successfully obliterated their rivals by absorbing their demographic base en masse. The left-wing groups disappeared and the National Bolsheviks remain a powerful political movement today with a huge grassroots and youth base. As they grow older, they will remain influential in Russian politics for decades.

Even when small, Jeffrey Bale suggests it is important to pay attention to these fascist sects because they can serve as transmission belts for unconventional political ideas, influence more mainstream groups, and link up into transnational networks.6

Over the years, the antiglobalization movement has also created an opening for these Left-Right alliances. The Dutch antiracist group De Fabel van de illegaal pulled out of the antiglobalization movement in 1998 because of its links with far right forces. Pat Buchanan, the paleoconservative politician who holds racist and antisemitic views, spoke on a Teamsters Union platform during the demonstrations against the IMF/ World Bank in Washington D.C. in April 2000.7 Meanwhile, racists like Louis Beam (who has worked with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations) and Matt Hale (of the World Church of the Creator) praised the Seattle demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in 1999.8

At the same time, parts of the anti-imperialist Left (including some anarchists) have built alliances with reactionary Islamist movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah, called for open acceptance of antisemitism, and embraced nationalist struggles.9 This history prompts many cosmopolitan anarchists to worry that the overtures of newstyle fascists to radical Leftists could meet with some success.

SECT HISTORY AND STRATEGY

The National-Anarchists have their origin in the National Front, a far right British party with an impressive 1977 dark horse electoral success based on their xenophobic anti-immigrant platform. After the election, the group fractured into many internal factions before splintering into different sects. Troy Southgate, the main English-language National-Anarchist ideologue, is a veteran of this internecine maze. He joined the National Front in 1984, and subsequently joined a splinter group that eventually split again before becoming the National Revolutionary Faction (NRF), a small cadre organization openly calling for armed guerilla warfare.10

In the late 1990s however, the NRF started to morph into the National-Anarchist movement; the two were referred to interchangeably for a number of years, until the NRF disbanded in 2003.11 Southgate’s ideology does not seem to have changed substantially with the shift, and he continues to circulate his NRF-era essays.

The NRF’s only known public action as “National-Anarchists” was to hold an Anarchist Heretics Fair in October 2000, in which a number of fringe-of the-fringe groups participated. However, when they attempted a second fair, a variety of anarchists and anti-fascists blocked it from being held. After the same thing happened in 2001, Southgate and the NRF abandoned this strategy and retreated to purely internet-based propaganda.12

The fair reflected Southgate’s adaptation of the Trotskyist practice of entrism — the strategy of entering other political groups in order to either take them over or break off with a part of their membership.13 Southgate argues, “The NRF uses cadre activists to infiltrate political groups, institutions and services… It is part of our strategy to do this work and, if we are to have any success in the future, it is work that must be done on an increasing basis.”14 He claims that the NRF infiltrated the 1999 Stop the City demonstration and the 2000 May Day protest, as well as activities of the Hunt Saboteurs Association and the Animal Liberation Front.15

Beyond its tactical uses, entrism is a philosophy for the National-Anarchists as they recruit members from the Left and in particular anarchist groups. Instead of simply calling themselves “racist communitarians,” they purposely adopt the label “anarchist” and specifically appropriate anarchist imagery. Examples include the use of a purple star (anarchists typically use either a black star, or a half black star, with the other half designating their specific tendency, i.e., red for unionists, green for environmentalists, etc.), or a red and black star superimposed with a Celtic cross (the latter being a typical symbol of White Nationalists). The allied New Right factions in Australia and the UK also use the “chaos symbol” —an eight pointed star —which they adapt from left-wing counter-cultural anarchists.

The fascist use of the “black bloc” political formation at demonstrations is also an appropriation of anarchist and far left forms. In recent years, German fascists calling themselves Autonomous Nationalists have marched in large black blocs, waving black flags (a symbol of traditional anarchism), and even appropriated the symbolism of the German antifascist groupings.16

As far back as 1984, Pierre André Taguieff, an expert on the European New Right, condemned the “tactic of ideological scrambling systematically deployed by GRECE,” a rightwing think tank that embraced some leftist critiques of advanced capitalism while promoting core fascist ideas.17 Here we see that ideological scrambling deployed on a grassroots level.

It needs to be stressed that, despite the name, National-Anarchists have not emerged from inside the anarchist movement, and, intellectually, their origins are not based in its ideas. Anarchists typically see themselves as part of a cosmopolitan and explicitly antinationalist left-wing movement which seeks to dismantle both capitalism and the centralized state. They seek instead to replace them with decentralized, non-hierarchical, and self-regulating communities. Although similar to Marxists, anarchists are just as adamant in their opposition to racism, sexism, and homophobia as they are to capitalism. In the United States, anarchists were key players in the formation of labor unions, were the only political faction to support gay rights before World War I, were leaders in the free speech movement, and were active in helping to legalize birth control. The White Nationalists’ embrace of the anarchist label and symbolism is more than little ironic, since anarchists have a long history of physically disrupting White Nationalist events, for instance by groups like Anti-Racist Action. Anarchist military units were even formed to fight Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy.

THE QUESTION OF “FASCISM”

The National-Anarchists claim they are not “fascist.” Still, Troy Southgate looks to lesser known fascists such as Romanian Iron Guard leader Corneliu Codreanu, and lesser light Nazis like Otto Strasser and Walter Darré. Part of Southgate’s sleight of hand is to claim to be ‘against fascism’ by saying he is socialist (as did Nazis such as Strasser) and by supporting political decentralization (as do contemporary European fascists such as Alain de Benoist). Sometimes he proclaims fascism to be equivalent to the capitalism he opposes, or promoting a centralized state, which he also opposes.

Southgate is undoubtedly sincere in his aversion to the classical fascism of Hitler and Mussolini, and has cited this as a reason for his break from one of the National Front splinter groups. He sees the old fascism as discredited, and an abandonment of the true values of revolutionary nationalism. But his ultimate goal, shared with the European New Right, is to create a new form of fascism, with the same core values of a revitalized community that withstands the decadence of cosmopolitan liberal capitalism. This cannot be done as long as his views are linked in the popular mind to the older tradition.

THIRD POSITION

One of the two main influences on National-Anarchists is a minor current of fascism called Third Position. The origins of Third Position are in National Bolshevism, which originally referred to Communists who sought a national (rather than international) revolution. It soon came to refer to Nazis who sought an alliance with the Soviet Union. The most important of these was “left-wing Nazi ” Otto Strasser, a former Socialist who advocated land redistribution and nationalization of industry. After criticizing Hitler for allying with banking interests, he was expelled from the party. His brother, Gregor Strasser, held similar views but remained a Nazi until 1934, when other Nazis killed him in the Night of the Long Knives.

A number of postwar fascists continued this train of thought, including Francis Parker Yockey and Jean-François Thiriart.18 They saw the United States and liberal capitalism as the primary enemy, sought an alliance with the Soviet Union, and promoted solidarity with Third World revolutionary movements, including Communist revolutions in Asia and Latin American, and Arab anti-Zionists (particularly those with whom they shared antisemitic views). Thiriart’s followers in Italy formed a sect of “Nazi-Maoists” based on these principles, and after a gruesome August 1980 bombing in Bologna which killed 85 people, 40 Italian fascists fled to England, including Robert Fiore.

Fiore was sheltered by National Front member Michael Walker, editor of the Scorpion.19 This paper subsequently spread Third Position and New Right ideas into Britain’s National Front, and Troy Southgate openly credits it as a major influence.20 Third Position ideas also spread through the National Front via the magazine Rising.21 After a 1986 split, this new influence resulted in a reconfiguration of the party’s politics. Prominent members visited Qadafi’s Libya, praised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and forged links with the Nation of Islam in the United States.

Southgate claims to have abandoned Third Position fascism.22 This is a duplicitous claim. He has rejected a centralized state, and therefore its ability to nationalize industry or create an “ethnostate.” Nonetheless, National-Anarchists retain the two main philosophical threads of Third Position. The first is the notion of a racist socialism, as a third option between both capitalism and left-wing socialism like Marxism or traditional anarchism.23 The second is the stress on a strategic and conceptual alliance of nationalists (especially in the Third World) against the United States. Just as the National Front praised the Nation of Islam and Qadafi, the National-Anarchists praise Black and Asian racial separatist groups, and support movements for national self-determination, such as the Tibetan independence movement. Unlike many White Nationalists (such as the British National Party), National-Anarchists are pro-Islamist —but only “if they are prepared to confine their struggle to traditionally Islamic areas of the world.”24

As Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons note, Third Position fascism influenced U.S. groups such as the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the American Front and the National Alliance; Christian Identity pastor Bob Miles also held similar views.25 Often overlooked by commentators is the American Front’s affiliation with Southgate’s NRF, which he boasted of for years.26 Like the National Front, U.S. fascists Tom Metzger and Lyndon LaRouche also forged ties with the Nation of Islam.27 More recently, the National Alliance has incorporated Third Position politics. They attempted to cross-recruit left-wing activists by launching a fake antiglobalization website, and, in August 2002, held a Palestine Solidarity rally in Washington D.C.28

An early attempt to directly transplant National-Anarchist ideology to the United States was made by political provocateur Bill White. Starting his political odyssey as a left-wing anarchist, White briefly adopted a National-Anarchist stance at the height of the antiglobalization movement. He penned an infamous article for Pravda online in November 2001, which falsely claimed that National-Anarchists were part of anarchist black blocs.29 Later White linked up with the National Alliance before embracing the undiluted Nazism of the National Socialist Movement.

Currently there are two U.S. websites directly affiliated with the National-Anarchists.30 One is the work of a prolific Christian ex-Nazi skinhead, while the Bay Area site has established a regional “network.” It is this small group that claims to have taken part in demonstrations for Tibetan independence and protests against the Folsom Street Fair.

Additionally, as an identity within the White Nationalist scene, National-Anarchists continue to attract a number of followers in the United States. For example, one of the early collaborators of the Oregon-based magazine Green Anarchy affiliated with their perspective.31 U.S. National-Anarchists also frequently enter into discussions on Stormfront, the main internet gathering place for White Nationalists. There they defend their racial-separatist and antisemitic credentials to traditional fascists, many of whom look upon Third Position politics with skepticism, if not outright hostility. Apparently hearing White Nationalists promoting Islamist, Communist, and anarchist thinkers is as difficult for some of the Right to digest as it is for the Left.

BENOIST AND THE EUROPEAN NEW RIGHT

Besides Third Position fascism, the other major ideological influence on the National-Anarchists is the European New Right, especially the thinker Alain de Benoist. National-Anarchists have adopted his ideas about race, political decentralization, and the “right to difference.”

Benoist founded the think-tank GRECE, and has spent his life creating an intellectually respectable edifice for a core of fascist ideas. Like Southgate, Benoist loudly proclaims that he is not a fascist, but scholars such as Roger Griffin disagree. Griffin says that the New Right “could by the end of the 1980s be credited with the not inconsiderable achievement of having carried out a ‘makeover’ of classic fascist discourse so successfully that, at least on the surface it was changed beyond recognition.”32

Benoist extended the notion of an alliance of European nations with the Third World against their main enemies: the United States, liberalism, and capitalism. But against the fascists who desired a united Europe under a super-state, Benoist instead calls for radical federalism and the political decentralization of Europe. Roger Griffin describes this vision as:

The pluralistic, multicultural society of liberal democracy was to give way, not to a culturally, coordinated, charismatic, and, in the case of Nazism, racially pure, national community coterminous with the nation-state, but to an alliance of homogeneous ethnic-cultural communities ethnies within the framework of a federalist European “empire.”33

Benoist also incorporates many sophisticated left-wing critiques, sometimes sounding like a Frankfurt School Marxist. Today he denounces capitalism, imperialism, liberalism, the consumer society, Christianity, universalism, and egalitarianism; he defends paganism, “organic democracy,” and the Third World. He questions the role of unbridled technology and supports environmentalism and a kind of feminism.34 He also rejects biological determinism and embraces a notion of race that is cultural.35 Southgate follows practically all of these positions, which are not necessarily present in Third Position.

Because of these views, the European New Right is very different from the U.S. New Right, whose Christianity and free market views are anathema to the Europeans. The Europeans are closer to the paleoconservative tradition in the United States, and connect with The Rockford Institute, publisher of Chronicles.

Benoist’s main intellectual formulation is the “right to difference,” which upholds the cultural homogeneity and separateness of distinct ethnic-cultural groups. In this sense, he extends the anti-imperialist Left’s idea of “national self-determination” to micro-national European groupings (sometimes called “the Europe of a Hundred Flags”). The “right to difference” has influenced the anti-immigrant policies of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France, and a number of GRECE members joined this party, even though Benoist himself rejects Le Pen.36

Benoist has also influenced U.S. White separatism. Usually based around the demand for a separate White nation in parts of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, this became a popular idea in White Nationalist circles starting in the early 1980s.37 This decentralized regional perspective was matched by decentralized organizational schemas which emerged at the same time. Louis Beam advocated “leaderless resistance,” and the “lone wolf” strategy for far-right terrorism38, while Christian Identity Pastor Bob Miles started referring himself as a “klanarchist.”

Inverting language, Benoist claims that he is an antiracist. Racism, he argues, is a function of universalistic ideologies like liberalism and Marxism, which purportedly wipe out regional and ethnic identities. He says “Racism is nothing but the denial of difference.”39 But Taguieff, a keen observer of the European Right, identifies a “phobia of mixing” at the core of this form of racism. It is part of the “softer, new, and euphemistic forms of racism praising difference (heterophilia) and substituting ‘culture’ for ‘race.’”40

The influence of these New Right ideas on the National-Anarchists is explicit. In Australia, the National-Anarchist group is for all practical reasons coextensive with “New Right Australia/New Zealand” and at one point they claimed that “New Right is the theory, National-Anarchism the practice.”41 In Britain, Troy Southgate has been involved in New Right meetings since 2005.42 But while Benoist claims that he does not hate immigrants, repudiates antisemitism, and endorses feminism, the National-Anarchists show what New Right ideas look like in practice: crude racial separatism, open antisemitism, homophobia, and antifeminism. The “right to difference” becomes separate ethnic villages.

The New Right also has had a limited influence on elements of the Left intelligentsia. In the United States, the influential journal Telos (known for disseminating Western Marxist texts into English) moved rightward in the 1990s as its editor showed sympathy for Europe’s New Right and published Benoist’s works.43 It continues to publish Benoist, and explores the thought of Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt. Many Leftists now consider the once venerable journal anathema.44

RICHARD HUNT

Although Benoist advocates decentralized federalist political structures, the Australian National-Anarchists make clear that he does not go so far as to advocate anarchism itself.45 Instead the claim to “anarchism” apparently stems from Richard Hunt’s notion of “villages.” Originally an editor at the British magazineGreen Anarchist, which advocated an intensely anti-industrial environmental ethic, Hunt was expelled from the editorial collective for his right-wing views before founding Green Alternative, which is seen as an “ecofascist” publication.

Hunt adopted an apocalyptic, Mad Max-esque vision of a post-industrial society. Southgate comments that “to say that we have been hugely influenced by Richard Hunt’s ideas is an understatement,” and Southgate took over the editorial helm of Hunt’s magazine when he fell ill.46

Hunt’s critique also reverberated with the environmental strain of classical fascism, such as the views of Hitler’s agriculture minister Walter Darré. Southgate openly gushes over Darré’s “Blood and Soil” ideology in one article47 while white-washing him in another, referring to him merely as a “nationalist ecologist.”48 Many other contemporary fascist groups, especially WAR in the United States, also embrace environmentalism.

HOMOPHOBIA, ANTISEMITISM, ANTIFEMINISM

The National-Anarchists are quite open about their antifeminism and desire to exile queer people into separate spaces, but tend to hide their deeply antisemitic worldview. Troy Southgate says of feminism, “Feminism is dangerous and unnatural… because it ignores the complimentary relationship between the sexes and encourages women to rebel against their inherent feminine instincts.”49

The stance on homophobia is more interesting. Southgate said:

Homosexuality is contrary to the Natural Order because sodomy is quite undeniably an unnatural act. Groups such as Outrage are not campaigning for love between males — which has always existed in a brotherly or fatherly form — but have created a vast cult which has led to a rise in cottaging, male-rape and child sex attacks… But we are not trying to stop homosexuals engaging in this kind of activity like the Christian moralists or bigoted denizens of censorship are doing, on the contrary, as long as this behaviour does not affect the forthcoming National-Anarchist communities then we have no interest in what people get up to elsewhere.50

What this means in his schema is that queer people will be given their own separate “villages.” The recent National-Anarchist demonstrations in San Francisco were against two majority-queer events, the Folsom Street Fair and the related fair Up Your Alley. Their orchestrator, “Andy,” declares that he is a “racist” who hates queer people.

Andy also denies the charge of antisemitism against National-Anarchists, claiming that they merely engage in a “continuous criticism of Israel and its supporters,”51 as do the majority of Leftists and anarchists. Once again, this is a typical disingenuous attempt by National-Anarchists to duck criticism. Antisemitism is an important element of the political world views of Southgate and Herfurth.

Southgate actively promotes the work of Holocaust deniers, including the Institute for Historical Review, and holds party line antisemitic beliefs about the role of the international Jewish conspiracy. As a dodge, he sometimes uses the euphemism “Zionist”; for instance, he says “Zionists are well known for their cosmopolitan perspective upon life, not least because those who rally to this nefarious cause have no organic roots of their own.”52 In another interview he says that, “there is no question that the world is being ruthlessly directed (but perhaps not completely controlled) by International Zionism. This has been achieved through the rise of the usurious banking system.”53 And he describes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a forgery which is the world’s most popular antisemitic text) as a book which “although still unproven, accords with the main events in modern world history.”54

Meanwhile, his Australian counterpart Welf Herfurth is even more explicit in his neo-Nazi antisemitic views. In one speech, he describes the Holocaust as an “extrapolation” that “has been an enormously profitable one for the Jews, and one which has brought post-war Germany and Europe to its knees,” before referring to Israel as “the most powerful state in the Western world.” Herfurth concludes that “by liberating Germany from the bondage to Israel and restructuring a new Germany on the basis of a new ‘volksgemeinschaft,’ the German nationalists will liberate Europe, and the West as well.”55

CONCLUSION

Recently new groups of National-Anarchists, recruited through Southgate’s internet activism, have made the leap from contemplating their idiosyncratic ideas on the internet into making them the basis of really-existing politics, by joining demonstrations in Australia and San Francisco. Web pages and blogs continue to pop up in different countries and languages.

The danger National-Anarchists represent is not in their marginal political strength, but in their potential to show an innovative way that fascist groups can rebrand themselves and reset their project on a new footing. They have abandoned many traditional fascist practices—including the use of overt neo-Nazi references, and recruiting from the violent skinhead culture. In its place they offer a more toned down, sophisticated approach. Their cultural references are the neo-folk and gothic music scene, which puts on an air of sophistication, as opposed to the crude skinhead subculture. National-Anarchists abandon any obvious references to Hitler or Mussolini’s fascist regimes, often claiming not to be “fascist” at all.

Like the European New Right, the National-Anarchists adapt a sophisticated left-wing critique of problems with contemporary society, and draw their symbols and cultural orientation from the Left; then they offer racial separatism as the answer to these problems. They are attempting to use this new form to avoid the stigma of the old discredited fascism, and if they are successful like the National Bolsheviks have been in Russia, they will breathe new life into their movement. Even if the results are modest, this can disrupt left-wing social movements and their focus on social justice and egalitarianism; and instead spread elitist ideas based on racism, homophobia, antisemitism and antifeminism amongst grassroots activists.

GLOSSARY

Fascism: Fascism is an especially virulent form of far-right populism. Fascism glorifies national, racial, or cultural unity and collective rebirth while seeking to purge imagined enemies, and attacks both left-wing movements and liberal pluralism. Fascism first crystallized in Europe in response to the Bolshevik Revolution and the devastation of World War I, and then spread to other parts of the world. Postwar fascists have reinterpreted fascist ideology and strategy in various ways to fit new circumstances.

Third Position: Third Position politics are a minor branch of fascist thought. It rejects both liberal capitalism and Marxism for a kind of racially based socialism. Its main precursors are the National Bolsheviks, who were a fusion of nationalism and communism, and the Strasser brothers, key figures in the “left-wing” of the Nazi party. Third Positionists tend to support national liberation movements in the Third World, seek alliances with other ethnic separatists, and have recently supported environmentalism.

The Public Eye, Winter 2008, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 1, 12­–19.


  1. Chip Berlet, Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must Be Rejected (Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates, 1994).
  2. Jeffrey Kaplan and Tore Bjørgo, eds. Nation and Race: The Developing Euro-American Racist Subculture (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998).
  3. For recruitment of counter-culturalists, see Nick Griffin, “National-Anarchism: Trojan Horse for White Nationalism,” Green Anarchy 19, (Spring 2005). On spreading National-Anarchist ideas to BNP members, see Troy Southgate’s comments.
  4. Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 38.
  5. Email from Tory Southgate to National-Anarchist listserve, message #26659. November 30, 2003.
  6. Jeffrey Bales, “ ‘National revolutionary’ groupuscules and the resurgence of ‘left-wing’ fascism: the case of France’s Nouvelle Résistance,” Patterns of Prejudice, v36 #3 (2002), pp. 25–26.
  7. Anti-Fascist Forum, ed., My Enemy’s Enemy (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2003), p. 31.
  8. Don Hammerquist, J. Sakai, et al., Confronting Fascism (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, et al, 2002), pp. 35–38.
  9. On the alliance between certain sectors of the antiglobalization movement and Islamist factions, see Andrew Higgins, “Anti-Americans on the March,” Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2006, p. A1. For an example of contemporary left-wing calls to openly tolerate antisemitism, see Rami El-Amine, “Islam and the Left,” Upping the Anti #5, October 2007.
  10. Troy Southgate, “Transcending the Beyond: From Third Position to National-Anarchism,” Pravda, January 17, 2002.
  11. Graham Macklin, “Co-opting the Counterculture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction,”Patterns of Prejudice 39, no. 3 (2005), p. 325.
  12. Macklin, p. 325.
  13. Troy Southgate, “The Case for National-Anarchist Entryism.
  14. Neo-Nazis Join Animal Rights Groups,” Sunday Telegraph, June 19, 2001.
  15. Macklin, p. 318.
  16. See URL.
  17. Cited in Roger-Pol Droit, “The Confusion of Ideas,” Telos 98-99, (Winter 1993-Spring 1994), p. 138. GRECE stands for the “Groupement de recherche et d’études pour la civilisation européenne” – the “Research and Study Group for European Civilization.”
  18. Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens(Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1997), pp. 168-83; Kevin Coogan, Dreamer of the Day (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1999), pp. 191–92. For Yockey’s influence on Southgate, see Macklin, p. 320.
  19. Lee, p. 450 n40. See also Southgate, “Transcending the Beyond.”
  20. Troy Southgate, Interview, “Interview with Troy Southgate, Conducted by Graham Macklin.
  21. Macklin, pp. 303-4; Martin A. Lee and Kevin Coogan, “Killers on the Right,” Mother Jones 12, no. 4, (May 1987), p. 45.
  22. Macklin, pp. 317–18.
  23. Troy Southgate, “Was ‘Fascism’ Outside of Germany and Italy Anything More Than An Imitation?”; “Revolution versus Reaction: Social-Nationalism & the Strasser Brothers.
  24. Troy Southgate, “Enemy Within? Hizb-ut Tahrir, Al- Muhajiroun, & the Growing Threat of Asian Colonisation.
  25. Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America (New York & London: Guilford Press, 2000), pp. 269–70; see also Betty Dobratz and Stephanie Shanks-Meile, “White Power, White Pride!” The White Separatist Movement in the United States (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997), pp. 262–67. On Miles, see Lee, pp. 340-41.
  26. Southgate says, “We also have an excellent relationship with National-Bolsheviks like the American Front (AF), who, despite the fact that they do not share our anarchistic tendencies, are basically working for very similar objectives.” “Synthesis Editor Troy Southgate, Interviewed by Dan Ghetu.
  27. Berlet and Lyons, p. 267.
  28. The website for the “Anti-Globalism Action Network.” See also Center for New Community, “Neo-Nazi Infiltration of Anti-Globalization Protests,” Center for New Community, June 22, 2002; Anti- Defamation League, “Purported ‘Anti-Globalization’ Web Site Fronts for Neo-Nazi Group,” July 12, 2002. For the Washington, D.C. rally, see Anti-Defamation League, “Neo-Nazis Rally in Nation’s Capital,”; Susan Lantz, “Fascists Countered In D.C., ”Baltimore IMC, August 28, 2002; “Washington, DC: National Alliance Rally a Huge Bust,” Infoshop News, August 24, 2002.
  29. Bill White, “Anti-Globalist Resistance Beyond Left And Right: An Emerging Trend That Is Defining A New Paradigm In Revolutionary Struggle,” Pravda Online, November 2, 2001.
  30. folkandfaith.com is based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. bayareanationalanarchists.com/blog is based in California’s Bay Area. As unlikely as this location may seem, the NRF-affiliated fascist skinhead gang the American Front originated there as well. attackthesystem.com is another site sympathetic to National-Anarchists.
  31. See Griffin; The U.S.-based Green Anarchy is not to be confused with the UK-based Green Anarchist, despite shared ideology. Green Anarchy has explicitly denounced National-Anarchism.
  32. Roger Griffin, “Plus ça change! The Fascist Pedigree of the Nouvelle Droite,” draft, August, 1998; p. 5.
  33. “Plus ça change!” p. 4.
  34. Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier, “The French New Right in the Year 2000,” Telos, no. 115, (Spring 1999), pp. 117–144.
  35. Many fascist intellectuals have held this view, including early Nazi leader Otto Strasser, Italian occult philosopher Julius Evola, U.S. Third Position theorist Francis Parker Yockey, and German Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt. For a discussion of “spiritual” versus “biological” race, see Coogan, 313 n38, p. 481. See also Lee, pp. 96.
  36. “Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist,” Telos, nos. 98- 99, (Winter 1993-Spring 1994), pp. 173–207.
  37. Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, p. 99.
  38. See Jeffrey Kaplan, “Leaderless Resistance,” Terrorism and Political Violence 9 no. 3, (Autumn 1997), pp. 80–95; see also Dobratz and Shanks-Meile, pp. 171-74, pp. 267–68. For the influence on Troy Southgate, see Macklin, p. 312. Beam’s essay is also reproduced on the Australian National-Anarchist site.
  39. “Three Interviews with Alain de Benoist,” p. 180.
  40. Pierre-André Taguieff, “The New Right’s Vision of European Identity,” Telos, nos. 98-99, Winter 1993- Spring 1994; p. 123.
  41. New Right Australia New Zealand Committee, “Statement of New Right on National-Anarchism and Australian Nationalism.
  42. For the intellectual influence of the New Right on Southgate, see Macklin, p. 306.
  43. Telos nos. 98-99, Winter 1993 – Spring 1994.
  44. Tamir Bar-On, Where Have All the Fascists Gone? (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007).
  45. See New Right Australia New Zealand Committee.
  46. Synthesis Editor Troy Southgate, Interviewed by Wayne John Sturgeon,”; see also Macklin, pp. 312–13.
  47. Southgate, “Blood and Soil.
  48. Troy Southgate, “The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic.” On the link between German Nazis and ecology, see Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons From the German Experience (San Francisco: AK Press, 1995).
  49. Southgate, Sturgeon interview.
  50. Southgate, Sturgeon interview.
  51. A smear salad: Nick Griffin, Green Anarchy, and a concoction of fallacies,” Bay Area National-Anarchists, October 7, 2007.
  52. Troy Southgate, “Manifesto of the European Liberation Front, 1999.
  53. Southgate, Sturgeon interview.
  54. Troy Southgate, “Oswald Mosley: The Rise & Fall of English Fascism Between 1918-45.
  55. Welf Herfurth On Kameradschaft.