Creeping Fascism With Alexander Reid Ross and Shane Burley [“Positively Revolting” Radio Show]

June 4th Confrontation Between Antifascists and the Far-Right in Portland, OR

Ani & Lyn welcome Portland author Alexander Reid Ross to discuss his book Against the Facist Creep and the ongoing efforts of right wing extremists to co-opt social movements. They’ll be joined by writer and filmmaker Shane Burley and his new book Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It. To get copies of both books call (877) 500–5266 during the show and pledge your support to KBOO.

As the election of Donald Trump shows, fascism in all its white nationalist and “alt-right” permutations is alive and well in the United States. A terrifying tour of the history and influence of the forces that helped bring the 45th president to power, Against the Fascist Creep maps the connections and names the names. It traces today’s often-disguised forms of rightwing extremism through the decades and across the globe to show how infiltration is a conscious and clandestine program for neofascist groups that seek to co-opt and undermine both the mainstream and the new social movements of the left.

-from Truth-out.org :

In light of the fact that Donald Trump is president, and that his consigliere Steve Bannon has publicly expressed a favorable view of the Italian fascist and SS enthusiast Julius Evola; considering the possibility that the neofascist Marine Le Pen’s Front National could win the 2017 elections in France; and given the explosive violence targeting Muslims, Jews and people of color in the US since Trump’s election, the time is certainly right to read and widely discuss Alexander Reid Ross’s new book, Against the Fascist Creep.

As the title suggests, Reid Ross is concerned here with the “fascist creep,” which is related to the idea of the “fascist drift,” or the disturbing attraction many 20th-century leftists felt for this new reactionary ideology. Fascists reject mainstream conservatism as decrepit and corrupt (see the contemporary alt-right’s repudiation of the GOP), and while they violently oppose liberalism, socialism and anarchism, they paradoxically wield left-wing notions, such as solidarity and liberation as part of their ultranationalist schemes for a falsely classless society, which is to be characterized by “natural hierarchy.” Fascism also relies heavily on myth, in the sense that its proponents seek to restore a “golden age” that supposedly existed in the putatively heroic past by means of “national revolution” against the existing liberal-parliamentarian order. This romantic-revolutionary element represents another commonality in the creep between fascism and leftism, considering the nostalgia for the precapitalist “lost paradise” that sometimes drives left-wing passions. In fact, Reid Ross writes that fascists gain ground precisely by deploying “some variant of racial, national, or ethnocentric socialism,” opportunistically inverting the internationalist goals of socialism. Clearly, fascists and leftists differ principally on the question of egalitarianism, with the latter defending equality by organizing against capitalism, the state, borders, patriarchy and racism, while the former use these oppressive systems to reproduce inequality, domination and genocide.​

Reid Ross’s newest volume is an excellent and disconcerting study of fascism’s origins, development, present and possible futures. Against the Fascist Creep deserves the broadest possible audience. Hopefully, it can help to inspire a new mass movement to resist all authoritarian ideologies, whether emanating from the State or the “autonomous” grassroots. To overcome the severe threat that fascism and neofascism pose to the Earth and its peoples, only mutual aid and cooperation on a vast scale can succeed. We must press forward by struggling militantly against Trumpism, the “radical” right, Third Positionism, “autonomous nationalism” and authoritarian leftism alike. Against these myriad political and philosophical absurdities, let us advance global anti-authoritarian revolution.​

Plus….

Fascism Today looks at the changing world of the far right in Donald Trump’s America. Examining the modern fascist movement’s various strains, Shane Burley has written an accessible primer about what its adherents believe, how they organize, and what future they have in the United States. The ascension of Trump has introduced a whole new vocabulary into our political lexicon — white nationalism, race realism, Identitarianism, and a slew of others. Burley breaks it all down. From the tech-savvy trolls of the alt-right to esoteric Aryan mystics, from full-fledged Nazis to well-groomed neofascists like Richard Spencer, he shows how these racists and authoritarians have reinvented themselves in order to recruit new members and grow.

Just as importantly, Fascism Today shows how they can be fought and beaten. It highlights groups that have successfully opposed these twisted forces and outlines the elements needed to build powerful mass movements to confront the institutionalization of fascist ideas, protect marginalized communities, and ultimately stop the fascist threat.

From the Portland Mercury:

Since Donald Trump’s election, discussion of what fascism looks like in America has reemerged. From a campaign pandering to white nationalist talking points, to explicitly racist policies like the Muslim travel ban, to the public re-emergence of white supremacists in the streets, the threat of fascism is material and deadly. Portland writer Shane Burley is no stranger to documenting it. His new book Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It clearly and accessibly contextualizes the current moment in the United States, as well as the varied tactics to combat it.

Burley divides the book into two sections, with a helpful glossary. He begins by defining the unique qualities of fascist ideology — revolutionary facism, writes Burley, “does not just want the tacit inequality and structural oppression that exists inside of capitalist states; it wants to build a society where inequality and bigotry are explicitly endorsed.” However, fascism is not currently defined by a singular party of ethno-nationalists, so Burley chronicles the many forms it takes: familiar images like skinhead “Nazi Punks,” but also armed far-right “Patriot” militia movements, “suit-and-tie fascists” like Richard Spencer, and phony studies and journals on “race science.”

While this discussion can feel uneven in places — a section on “Tribe and Tradition” ventures off into the far-right utilization of neo-folk or industrial music as a recruiting tool — it speaks to how American fascism is decentralized, which makes fighting it even more complicated. Through appeals to liberal values of debate and dialogue, fascists will often hide their more sinister aims. A prime example is calling their public events “free speech marches,” a rhetorical move that shifts the conversation away from their violent actions, builds legitimacy, and more importantly, works as a recruiting tool.

In the second half of the book, Burley convincingly lays out the “mass movement” antifascist approach. A mass movement necessitates that fascism be fought on all fronts. This means broadening the scope of what antifascism (antifa) looks like. He argues that while the common narrative pits non-aggressive protest against militant, physically confrontational antifa tactics, they’re both strategic tools. Activists combating fascism should be prepared to conduct research, contact employers and universities, and, at times, serve as a physical impediment to fascist violence. But it also means building long-term relationships through labor organizing, in rural communities as well as in cities, to counter the crumbling social safety net that catalyzes mass reactionary movements.

A week after a white supremacist ran his car through a crowd of antifascists in Charlottesville last August, murdering anti-racist activist Heather Heyer, an Alt-Right group tried to rally in Boston. Fifty white supremacists were met by an estimated 40,000 antifascists, effectively stopping the march. While this show of overwhelming support cannot be expected every time fascists turn out, fascist events cannot go undisrupted. Fascism thrives and grows when a blind eye is turned, and the left exposes weak points. To Burley, the solution comes through solidarity with each other, whether we mask up or not.

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It (AK Press). His work as appeared in places such as Jacobin, AlterNet, In These Times, Salon, Political Research Associates, Waging Nonviolence, Labor Notes, ThinkProgress, ROAR Magazine and Upping the Anti. Follow him on Twitter: @shane_burley1

Filmmaker and author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It. His work is featured at Jacobin, In These Times, Salon, Truthout, etc. @Shane_Burley1

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