A Last Post on the Antifa (For Now)

I’m getting a little tired of the whole antifa vs alt-right thing at the moment and am in the mood to move on, however, in fairness, I wanted to acknowledge that since my last post there has been a considerable increase in the commentary from the left critical of antifa violence. A certain discomfort with the violence and intimidation on the part of a sector of the left has been growing over the past few months. In the wake of Charlottesville and the recent antifa behavior in Berkeley – which was so outrageous that even the usual mainstream media outlets were unable to sustain the “clash of extremists” meme (although a number initially tried), let alone the even more preferable (to them) claim of “neo-nazi violence” – dissenting voices on the left have become more widespread.

While most the objections still focus on the arguing that antifa violence is strategically ineffective, alienating potential supporters and allowing the detestable deplorables to assume the role of victims, etc(1), a few actually condemned the acts in themselves(2).   Even before the Berkeley events Noam Chomsky had called antifa behavior “often wrong in principle” and after the events he was joined by others, including Chris Hedges, who argued in How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’ that the black bloc and the alt-right share “the same lust for violence….”

Carl Boggs, long-time left scholar and activist, went even further, arguing against the left’s propensity to attempt to silence offending voices in a Counterpunch article The Strange (and Tortured) Legacy of “Free Speech”

“The irony is that while the [Free Speech Movement] and its heirs did everything possible to expand the realm of free speech, new social forces – extreme identity groups, Antifa – want to restrict or deny freedoms.”

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Once Again in Berkeley

Today’s rampage in Berkeley by antifa thugs is one more opportunity for the left to disavow the practice of brutal physical assault on any opponent they can get their hands on, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.

Almost none of even those few on the left who publicly dissent from antifa tactics can actually bring themselves to just say that it’s simply wrong to beat people up because you disagree with them.

A good example of this is to be found in the “democratic” socialist magazine In These Times‘ (hardly the voice of the black bloc) debate Should We Deny Fascists a Platform? Even the most moderate of the 3 interlocutors, Nathan Robinson, can still only manage in his contribution We’ll Beat the Fascists With Ideas, Not Fists an argument based on expedience:

The appeal of shutting down right-wingers is easy to see; after all, nobody should want to see these speakers’ poisonous doctrines spread. But in the short term it’s counterproductive, and in the long term it’s suicidal.

It hardly needs repeating that to significant sections of the left the definition of a “fascist” is extraordinarily broad, exceeded only by that of a “racist”.  And so, as I have argued elsewhere (for example, here and here) for the vast majority of the left, free speech for the deplorable 1/2 of the country that voted for Trump is something to be allowed only when and if it suits our various radical and now even our not-so radical would-be Big Brothers.

Disavowal Won’t Save You

Antifascists argue that… physical violence against white supremacists is both ethically justifiable and strategically effective. – Mark BrayWho are the antifa? in the Washington Post.  Mr. Bray is a visiting historian at Dartmouth College and author of Antifa The Anti-Fascist Handbook.

Brooke: But not just that, right? Antifa is fundamentally against the right of fascists to speak and be heard.

Mark: That’s entirely correct. So, in your open you mentioned the popular slogan that liberals have adopted from Voltaire that, “I may disagree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Anti-fascists fundamentally disagree with that premise.  – Interview at Abolition Journal with Mark Bray

Now that the ruling class has given its antifa attack dogs free range, that movement’s theoreticians have suddenly become almost respectable.  Soft ball interviews, access to the mainstream media, and fawning coverage have provided a platform for the likes of Mr. Bray far beyond what they previously enjoyed.

A good example of this coverage is a recent review of Bray’s book in The New Yorker. While not completely uncritical, the reviewer fails to question a number of the author’s most dubious assertions and we are asked to accept on face value his assurances:

As for the slippery-slopists, afraid that antifa will begin with Fascists and eventually attack anybody who opposes them, Bray maintains that the historical record does not support this fear…

Actually, of course, the antifa’s definition of fascism (and white supremacism) is so broad that pretty much anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton and certainly any Trump voter almost certainly falls into that category and so is fair game for physical assault, economic ruin and social ostracism.

This should be obvious to anyone who has not been living under a rock for the past few years, but if you have been, Porter at The Kakistocracy provides the best summary of this I’ve seen so far, in a recent post We’re Going to Need a Bigger Moat.

And, just in case you’ve forgotten, it’s worth considering this very partial summary of violent attacks on the Trump campaign in Continue reading

Which Side Are You On?

We live in interesting times, as the fallout from the Charlottesville events reminds us yet again.

The physical conflict between elements of the right and left is hardly new, nor is the determination of the a significant section of the left to silence dissenting voices by any means necessary.

What is new and noteworthy, however, is the way in which they have been now been wholeheartedly joined in this by the ruling class itself.

And so we have an early vision of what an authoritarian order may look like in the 21st Century West.  Dissenters are silenced not primarily by direct state repression but by private actors – street level thugs engaging in physical intimidation which is then covered up by the elite media blaming the victims for being “violent.”  Fake “outrages” are manufactured and then the corporate media almost as one blares a false narrative, mobilizing the population for ritual mass denunciation of the evil-doers.

Dissidents are not only effectively silenced by being deprived of any access to the public sphere – now mainly controlled by a handful of huge tech corporations – but are also whenever possible deprived of their jobs and even prevented from carrying out such mundane activities as booking a room, a car or a flight.

The response of the left to all of this has been instructive.  A handful have criticized the more “ultra-left” elements, either for strategic errors (see, for example, The Unrepentant Marxist) or out of some slightly guilty sense of discomfort with the outright thuggery indulged in by certain of the antifa.

What has gone almost entirely uncriticized, by the left at least, has been the role of the corporations.  One would expect that a movement claiming to oppose and resist the capitalist system would at least be given pause to consider the ease with which the ruling class has shown that it can and will move against its enemies without the least accountability.  One would think that a truly subversive and revolutionary movement would, merely for the sake of self-preservation, oppose such actions, even when they are aimed at the right.

In fact, however, this is just another reminder of the two things we need to keep in mind about the left:

  • It is a fundamentally loyal opposition, a part of the system. It is unconcerned about the repression directed against the right because its members instinctively recognize, even though they may not admit it to themselves, that they will never be a fundamental threat to the system and are therefore safe from such treatment.
  • It hates and fears the people far more deeply than it opposes the ruling class.

 

P.S. In my recent reading around the net on this topic I came across an interesting web site – aptly named Sisyphean News. Committed to “Exposing Antifa and Working Against the Mainstream Media… the overall goal of Sisyphean news is to create a new platform where freedom of speech will always be protected.” While I believe that the author and I probably see many things differently, I wish him the best in this endeavor. I’d encourage you to drop by and read some of his posts, such as his latest Leftists Rally to Shut Down Freedom of Speech in Boston.

 

On the New Witch Hunt

Sorry, the blog at alternative-right.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.” – Blogger(1)

The braying bad faith of the political alliance which spans the entire spectrum from the mainstream media, corporate elites and GOP establishment to the Revolutionary Communist Party and the black bloc is reaching deafening proportions.

More than anything else, this feels like the early ’50s, with the alt.x movement playing the role of the CPUSA.  Those hard times are here now and there are no doubt worse to come.  Any voice speaking out in even the most moderate way in defense of the interests of the traditional American nation must recognize that the consequences can be real and unpleasant.  (Think job loss, black listing, physical assault, ritual denunciation, silencing, even prosecution when some criminal charges can be trumped up.)

But this too will pass – remember how things changed then over the course of a decade.  Let us hope and, more importantly, work to ensure that our ’60s lie ahead!

Note:

(1) This is what showed up when I tried to access Alternative-Right this morning. It may be that the site is moving elsewhere of its own accord but in the current climate one suspects the worst, especially in light of widespread corporate efforts to silence dissenting voices. (See, for example the announcement at Counter-Currents that their web-hosting service is cancelling its account and that the site may be going off-line, or any of the coverage regarding the purging of offending accounts by Facebook, Paypal, etc. Silicon Valley’s Nazi Purge Kicks Into Overdrive Or: How tech learned to stop worrying and begin policing speech at Vanity Fair is a good place to start.)

Charlottesville – Gimme Shelter?

The story of the events in Charlottesville hardly needs to be re-told. While the “Unite the Right” rally may have been the work of that alt.NS/KKK-lite wing of things that I find particularly alienating (think, Hunter Wallace, et al for example) make no mistake – the violence came from the antifa left, aided and abetted by the action and inaction of the powers-that-be and the “moderate” left. Further, while some of the more objectionable views expressed by certain “Unite the Right” participants played into the hands of our enemies (See Colin Lidell’s Charlottesville: You Know I’m Right) experience shows that even the most tepid sort of alt.lite civic nationalist gathering would have drawn (qualitatively at least) the same sort of violent, thuggish response.

Given the lessons of the past few years, none of this, of course, should be a surprise(1).  But, without a doubt, difficult times are ahead.  Clearly every effort will be made by the system and its flunkies on the left to use the Charlottesville events to intimidate and silence all anti-system voices.  In this regard today’s piece by Greg Johnson (with whom I usually disagree) The Altamont of the Alt Right? is a must-read, especially in its conclusion:

This is a call to arms. In the coming days and weeks, I want every one of my readers to both speak the truth about what happened in Charlottesville and also use this as an opportunity to impeach the credibility of the mainstream media and the political establishment. You need to speak out among your friends and relatives. You need to speak out on social media. You need to raid comment threads. You need to call into radio shows. You need to hone your talking points and share them with our comrades and allies. And you need to steel yourself for a long, hard fight, because the enemy never sleeps, never takes a day off, and never flags in flogging its lies to the masses….

This is only a setback if we allow it to be. We must seize upon it as our chance to expose the lies and hypocrisy of the Left and reassert the righteousness of our cause. This is an Übermensch moment for our movement. An obstacle has been thrown in our path. We need to surmount it. We have been presented with a crisis. We have to turn it into an opportunity.

So what are you waiting for?

Yes, what are we waiting for?

 

(1) I will forgo rehashing my views on the antifa and the role they play, but if you are curious, see my posts The System’s Useful (and Violent) Idiots and On the Left and “Fascism”.