In Italy the Republic has never been able to fully settle accounts with fascism. By that, I mean that, under various conditions and in different cycles of Italian history, the antithesis between fascism and anti-fascism could emerge again, albeit in ever-changing ways. Anti-fascist culture has been through many ups and downs. It has, at times, enjoyed an absolutely overwhelming hegemony, also because of its rebirths — as in the early 1960s, and as in the long cycle opened up by 1968 and 1969, that is, in moments when it resisted attempts to erase or manipulate it — when it resisted attempts to reduce anti-fascism to nothing more than an ancient, historical memory. But what we are seeing today is another turning point.
Sacramento, California - Clashes broke out inside the Sacramento City Council chambers on May 23rd, as angry community members chanted, held banners, and shut down a small group of neo-Nazis who threw up Hitler salutes and attempted to address the council. The group of white supremacists was led by Ryan Messano of the bay area, who made headlines last week for attending a previous city council meeting, spewing racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Writing on the neo-Nazi friendly social media platform Gab, Messano gloated, “I’ve commented 20+ times under my name. None of the Leftists have put it together.”
This movement has many of the elements we recognize as fascism. Fascism is a far-right political approach that offers what the historian Robert Paxton calls “compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity” to people obsessed with perceived humiliation and social decline. Historically, fascist movements have taken the form of militant nationalist parties that turn against democracy in alliance with elements of the conservative elite. They engage in “redemptive violence” to pursue “goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.” Although it may seem to have come out of nowhere, today’s American fascism has roots in a surge of far-right violence in the late 20th century. We have much to learn from the recent evolution of fascism — and from anti-fascist responses — to help understand far right violence today.
Antifascism, as a politic and concept, has grown more appealing in the last 6 years because of the rise of right-wing authoritarianism domestically and globally rooted in patriarchy and ongoing (settler) colonialism. Nonetheless, there remains much confusion about fascism. Earlier this month, I was a featured panelist for a roundtable discussion with the editors of For Antifascist Futures: Against the Violence of Imperial Crisis and author of On Microfascism: Gender War and Death at the Red Emma’s bookstore in Baltimore. It was a compelling cultural and political exploration wherein we engaged the feminist and anticolonial dimensions of antifascism with readers and has since led me to deeper exploration of fascism’s historical relationship to liberal democracy, in the context of this current political and pop culture infused moment.
This document came out of numerous discussions with anti-fascists across the country. There has been repeated concern among ourselves and our comrades about a culture of anti-fascist activism that views exposing fascists online as the end-all be-all of anti-fascist organizing. Online exposés are one tool of many that anti-fascists use to materially disrupt fascist organizing in our communities. An exposé of a Nazi by itself is meaningless if it does not have a material impact on that fascist, their organizing, or the communities they threaten. Here we address some common stumbling blocks and best practices for outing Nazis in a way that sustains our movements, protects our communities, and most importantly, materially impacts fascist organizing.
This essay was written collaboratively by two Portland protest community members, Susan Anglada Bartley and Lexy Kahn, and is the result of conversations after participating in protests, both as frontline protestors and as writers and journalists. Throughout the article, we switch italicized and non-italicized fonts (Lexy in italics, Susan not) when we swap voices, offering two perspectives. We hope the processing we offer can be a catalyst for our comrades in Portland and worldwide who do the work of sorting out how to heal and walk forward. Throughout the writing of this article, we were both working forty hours-per-week, parenting, and doing our own healing, while also continuing our organizing work.
On July 1st, Chris Reyes and other forced birth activists posted a flier for a “Babies Lives Matter” event on Saturday, July 9th. About one hundred responded to the call, gathering at the Santa Monica pier, harassing and threatening passersby, and then marching on Planned Parenthood. Those in attendance included Proud Boys and known J6 rioter and violent fascist Tony “Rooftop Korean” Moon. Moon gained prominence after assaulting several women, including a journalist, unprovoked, at a Proud Boys rally in Southern California. He later made stickers of the attack, changing the image of a female journalist to that of an antifascist to bolster his violent image. When the second event on July 16th was announced by the far-Right, antifascists immediately began planning and spreading fliers to defend the clinic that same day.
In the months leading up to June 11th, antifascists in and surrounding Coeur d’Alene recognized the threat that queer folks were facing from both local and faraway fascists. Different collectives outside Coeur d’Alene got together to assess the risks of traveling to north Idaho to support and defend Pride and to establish goals for the day. Antifascist crews worked hard brainstorming and predicting potential outcomes, taking care to prioritize the safety of Pride attendees and vulnerable folks living in north Idaho. Eventually, crews decided the best and safest goals would be to: Create a buffer between the fascists and Pride attendees and mitigate potential harm. Antifascists were ready to defensively put their bodies on the line in case of a violent entrance into the park by fascists in order to slow them down and give Pride attendees more time to leave. Render aid in case of confrontations.
Boston, Massachusetts - Last weekend in South Boston, around 50 people mobilized to counter a possible appearance by the neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Social Club-131 (a nod to both the ‘National Socialism’ of the Nazi Party and ‘Anti-Communist Action’), after public outcry grew following the group’s appearance at the yearly St. Patrick’s Day parade. At the parade, around a dozen neo-Nazis, all wearing masks and flying a flag with a white nationalist symbol, held a banner reading, “Keep Boston Irish,” and handed out flyers promoting the group and attacking non-whites.
For more than 10 days, truckers opposed to vaccine mandates at the Canadian and U.S. borders have mobilized thousands of supporters to disrupt and terrorize the people of Ottawa. While beginning as a protest against vaccine mandates, the thousands who have poured into Ottawa have escalated the situation into a major occupation threatening the safety and well being of Ottawa residents. Ottawa’s mayor and police have finally been forced to declare a state of emergency after refusing to take measures for more than a week to quell the violence that has escalated in the nation’s capitol. Here in the United States, right-wing politicians and billionaires like Elon Musk are praising the truckers and the mobs who are rioting in downtown Ottawa and around the Parliament.
This article is a continuation of a previous one titled “Rethinking Revolution for an Age of Resurgent Fascism.” Ella Baker’s work leading the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League (YNCL) from 1930-1933 is here used to further inform today’s anti-fascism. Overall, this article relates Baker’s work to the dissenting views of German Communist Party (KPD) co-founder Clara Zetkin, specifically her views on fascism and the systemic alternative she referred to as a “Soviet Congress for a Soviet Germany.” This was a federation of autonomous councils formed in neighborhoods and workplaces for mutual aid, self-defense, and as dual power to succeed in revolution through general strikes in the event of a Nazi coup.
On August 17, 2019, a coalition of antifascist and progressive groups in Portland, Oregon organized a rally to protest a Proud Boy event planned in the city. The rally had a carnivalesque atmosphere created by PopMob — an antifascist group of concerned Portlanders which seeks to “resist the alt-right with whimsy and creativity” — and brought on a diverse range of organizations, from labor and religious groups and civil rights groups like the NAACP to more militant organizations like Rose City Antifa. During the protest, the latter, along with autonomous black bloc organizers, acted as a buffer between the crowds at the carnival and the hundreds of Proud Boys amassing at the other side of the waterfront park both groups were occupying.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the banning of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn, progressive sections organized massive mobilizations across the country on Thursday, October 7, resolving to strengthen the fight against fascism and the system that gives birth to it. The demonstrations, mainly called by student and youth organizations, included concerts and other cultural activities. Trade unionists from the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) and cadre of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also participated in the mobilization in addition to people from all walks of life. Major mobilizations were witnessed in the capital Athens and cities like Thessaloniki, Patras, Alexandroupolis, Heraklion, Kavala, Chania, Drama, Xanthi and Igoumenitsa.
Since the rise of the internet, and especially since the diffusion of the internet through all parts of everyday life, the far right has scattered, diversified and stuck itself back together. The internet has facilitated these tendencies, filtering and contorting familiar forms of activity and ideology, and pushed far-right groups to adapt, causing the decline of some formations and the break-up of others. Despite the lack of formal mass organizations, the far right has not gone away — instead it has produced new configurations of tactics, priorities and goals.
A whole ecosystem has grown up around the radical right as it has surged in visibility this century. The radical right can lay claim to its own stable of media personalities and political superstars, not to mention the social media platforms and political parties that cater to them. Its growth has been powered, in part, by some of the same social institutions that characterize and support mainstream culture: the political system itself, where many radical right parties attempt participation and in many countries field candidates; and the culture of social media, where followers can number in the millions. At times the radical right can rival mainstream actors in popularity and at times can even be indistinguishable from it. As the radical right has captured media attention, it has likewise provoked heated opposition.