A question about violence

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zylas
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Mar 4 2017 12:58
A question about violence

Hello, I am new here and I'd like to see your point of view on violence and antifascism, especially in the wake of recent events. (By the way, this isn't really related, but I just read the introductory guide and it explained the basic concepts better than anything I read before, especially the relationship between the state and capital, really good job on that)

First, the Richard Spencer incident. I am not at all morally opposed to the punch itself, and it felt very cathartic to see the nazi driven off. But how practical is it? I know that he himself said that they "can't have a public movement" if they're in constant fear of such incidents, but should we take the nazi's word for it? He knows what he says is publicly available, so it seems foolish to genuinely, openly say how best to oppose them. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit by assuming some kind of reverse psychology on his part, but it seems to me open violence like that scares people and makes them more sympathetic to him.

Secondly, on a larger scale, waging war on fascist, totalitarian regimes. Recently I saw some left wing people denounce Americans who during WW II opposed invading Nazi Germany, calling them nazi sympathisers. On the other hand, the Left was pretty unanimously opposed to the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for deaths oh hundreds of thousands, they used poisonous gas on Kurds. Now I know this isn't the reason USA invaded Iraq, but can't the same be said of Nazi Germany? They attacked only after years of war, Stalin's urging and after Hitler declared war on USA in the first place. Is the difference in approach between the two based on scale and power relation?

potrokin
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Mar 5 2017 22:42

If you ask me any fascist is fair game for violence as they intend to inflict violence on those they dislike. Conflict and violence is a core tenet of what they believe in and when they are not actually harming people they are whipping up hate for others to harm people.
As for the other point about war, I'm not sure I can answer it properly as it's probably rather complicated but I'll say this-
I think those two wars are perhaps different, in that it would have been easier to support the uprising against Saddam in 1991 and doing that would have been a better way of dealing with him- but that didn't happen. As you say, Hitler declared war on the US first, where as Saddam had no intention of picking a fight with them, he didn't attack america. However, an ally of Nazi Germany did attack the US. I guess the US could have intervened in some way against nazi germany or the spanish fascists but they didn't do that. I personally think the best way of dealing with these fascist regimes would be to support their enemies at points where they were weak but the US had vested interest in not doing that in both cases. I guess I come across here as somewhat of a believer in my enemies' enemy is my friend, which really I'm not but what I've stated is the only way I can think of dealing with these regimes effectively. In the case of Iraq it is easier to do as there is an actual uprising to get behind. In the case of germany, the nazis would have had to be dealt with either before or just after they gained power, something an anti-fascist Red Army could have perhaps dealt with had Lenin not died, or had Stalin not taken over. We don't know what would have happened though. I'm not a pacifist, I think violence is a necessary part of struggle, especially when it comes to fascists of all types.

zugzwang
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Mar 5 2017 05:02

The shenanigans of a few people on the streets, smashing windows or punching white nationalists, pales in comparison to the violence inflicted on the working class daily in the form of wage slavery and unemployment as well as historically with the violent US labor movement and anti-labor campaigns that destroyed most of the socialist and communist parties and organizations. Random senseless violence and cocktail-throwing is usually all that dishonest or misinformed people associate with anarchism, and that is mostly for propaganda reasons (never do they talk about Food Not Bombs, squatters taking over mansions for the homeless, etc.) It should not distract from the fact that we live in a violent capitalist system supported by state power that is responsible for all kinds of human degradation, misery and deaths, a perverse system in which (according to Oxfam) just eight people own the same wealth as half the world's population, or in which clothing and food is routinely destroyed or thrown away because it's less profitable to give away.

That said, I don't formally endorse punching wannabe Nazis in the face, but I don't think people should just stand by while the Spencer types capture political power and begin implementing their agendas, as they already have with Steven Bannon. I think people should organize themselves to oppose these ultra right-wingers, only using violence as a last resort and in self-defense. Then again, I wouldn't cry myself to sleep if Spencer happens to get smacked in the face and is prevented from talking about that goddamn frog.

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Reddebrek
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Mar 5 2017 08:18
zylas wrote:
Hello, I am new here and I'd like to see your point of view on violence and antifascism, especially in the wake of recent events. (By the way, this isn't really related, but I just read the introductory guide and it explained the basic concepts better than anything I read before, especially the relationship between the state and capital, really good job on that)

First, the Richard Spencer incident. I am not at all morally opposed to the punch itself, and it felt very cathartic to see the nazi driven off. But how practical is it? I know that he himself said that they "can't have a public movement" if they're in constant fear of such incidents, but should we take the nazi's word for it? He knows what he says is publicly available, so it seems foolish to genuinely, openly say how best to oppose them. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit by assuming some kind of reverse psychology on his part, but it seems to me open violence like that scares people and makes them more sympathetic to him.

Well the good news is we don't have to take their word for it at all there's a long history of violence working against fascism. The original Fascist movement the Italian Black Shirts were successfully opposed by a militant alliance the Arditi Popolo, however certain political parties that were in the group decided to abandon violence for elections and debates.

In the UK in the seventies the fourth largest party was the National Front, but despite being literal Hitler worshippers who were linked to a series of assaults, arsons and murder the opposition from the other political parties ended with Labour and Conservative governments compromising with them. Passing more anti immigrant controls and racist measures.

The NF were eventually driven out by a coalition of local minority communities forming defence groups and the largely Anarchist and Communist militant street fighting group Anti-Fascist Action.

In regards to your second point anyone who supports Fascism out of sympathy was a fascist to begin with. They just needed a kick to get them to grasp that thorny branch. So no real loss there.

Quote:
Secondly, on a larger scale, waging war on fascist, totalitarian regimes. Recently I saw some left wing people denounce Americans who during WW II opposed invading Nazi Germany, calling them nazi sympathisers. On the other hand, the Left was pretty unanimously opposed to the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for deaths oh hundreds of thousands, they used poisonous gas on Kurds. Now I know this isn't the reason USA invaded Iraq, but can't the same be said of Nazi Germany? They attacked only after years of war, Stalin's urging and after Hitler declared war on USA in the first place. Is the difference in approach between the two based on scale and power relation?

No its a question of politics. There were left wing opposition to WWII and leftist groups that supported the overthrow of Saddam, though both were in the minority. The American Communist party supported WWII because that was what the USSR wanted and most of the other leftist groups had embraced patriotism to a greater or lesser degree, and the naked aggression of the Axis meant it was easier to push the war as one of defence.

The same thing happened in WWI where most European socialist parties having spent decades denouncing war as imperialistic murder, suddenly voted for war in 1914, because the other side were the dangerous aggressor, not them. In the USA on the other hand the socialists were more vocally anti-war and the sentiment was popular because the war was viewed as a European affair in which America would be sticking its nose in needlessly.

With the 2003 invasion that wasn't the case, nobody really believed in the WMD threat and the regime had largely been defanged after the first war. Basically it was a textbook case of an imperial war.

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jef costello
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Mar 5 2017 11:24

The war against the Nazis wasn't fought to defeat Nazism. If it had been ideological then they wouldn't have left Spain under fascist rule and put Nazis back into positions of power in Gemrany and ITaly and other countries.

States use violence to advance their interests. Saddam committed genoicide and human rights abuses but there are plenty of others who have been allowed to do the same, including Saddam himself, when it suited.

A nazi getting a punch allows a bunch of free speech fetishists to get worked up about dangerous anarchists and justifies their own choices. I dislike the idea of escalating street violence on one level as the right generally have cops and the state on their side so we might just be authorising violence against us (not that any such qualms would hold back the right from using violence. Spencer himself probably not because he's a self-publicist looking to make money, not an idealist)
It's a tricky question, but if you can oppose fascist organising then it's a good thing.

zylas
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Mar 5 2017 20:42

I see. Does that mean that if a popular reaction to antifascist violence is widespread condemnation and support of the fascists resulting in them seizing power, it was already too late and the fascists would have done it anyway?

petey
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Mar 5 2017 22:10

jef's right, it's a tough question

jef costello wrote:
A nazi getting a punch allows a bunch of free speech fetishists to get worked up about dangerous anarchists and justifies their own choices. I dislike the idea of escalating street violence on one level as the right generally have cops and the state on their side so we might just be authorising violence against us

also, it gives rightwingers an excuse to (yet again) make themselves out to be victims

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/02/24/the_nra_s_wayne_lapierre_at_cpac_the_left_wants_to_kill_you_so_buy_guns.html

otoh, rightwingers seem to believe they alone have the bottle to resort to violence, and congratulate themselves on it. so when a spencer get slammed, it puts them on the back foot. i really believe that if fascists/rightwingers were made to know that they would be met on their own terms it would deter them better than liberal pontification. i'm pining a bit as we in the states scarcely have the history that you have in the UK with this.

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Steven.
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Mar 6 2017 11:37

Other people have given good responses, so I just wanted to say something brief here:

zylas wrote:
Maybe I'm giving him too much credit by assuming some kind of reverse psychology on his part, but it seems to me open violence like that scares people and makes them more sympathetic to him.

I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who has got into fascism through seeing a fascist get punched. Otherwise you would think quite a few people might get into it through watching Indiana Jones films.

On a more serious note, a big thing driving white nationalism and these kind of fascist groups is the myth of racial superiority, machismo and being the master race. Getting publicly decked is definitely offputting in this regard.

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Mar 6 2017 14:29

Not anarchist, but I like what Gilles Dauvé has to say:

Power does not come any more from the barrel of a gun than it comes from a ballot box. No revolution is peaceful, but its “military” dimension is never central. The question is not whether the proles finally decide to break into the armouries, but whether they unleash what they are: commodified beings who no longer can and no longer want to exist as commodities, and whose revolt explodes capitalist logic. Barricades and machine guns flow from this “weapon”. The greater the change in social life, the less guns will be needed, and the less casualties there will be. A communist revolution will never resemble a slaughter: not from any nonviolent principle, but because revolution subverts more (soldiers included) than it actually destroys.

As for antifascism, there are strong critiques of this from the Communist Left.

Probably the first articulation of this approach was by the KPD in the '20s. Eventually anti-fascism, as an ideology, and the Popular Front strategy, were adopted at the 7th World Congress of the Comintern in 1935, under the guidance of men like Dimitrov and Thorez. Whether or not these were cynical manouevres or simply ill thought-out, who knows? But they were promptly abandoned in 1939 after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact (only to be re-adopted later, after Russia was invaded).

With 'anti-fascism', the workers' movement was called to cooperate with Stalinist and mainstream, democratic forces (liberals and reformist-socialists) in order to defeat this "supreme evil" (fascism). The problem with this approach is, quite simply, that the Stalinists and democrats are simply part of the same continuum as the fascists.

  • In the revolutionary years in Germany, the Social Democrats called on militias (e.g. Freikorps) to defeat workers' uprisings, most infamously in 1919, with the quelling of the Spartacist uprising and the murder of Liebknecht/Luxemburg. In smashing the workers' uprisings of that time, and consolidating the power of the state and capital, the Social Democrats, in turn, cleared the way for fascism to do the same to them.
  • In Italy 1922, the constitutional order welcomed fascism into power - before that, the forces of the 'democratic' state worked with the fascist squadristi to attack militant workers demonstrations, etc.
  • In Spain, the Republic attacked the working-class and revolutionaries. The very same Republican order that many of the anarchists and Trotskyists tried to defend was attacking them(!) The likes of Durruti and the CNT (anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists), at different points, even supported co-operation with the state.

One of the most important influences for the communist left/ultra-left is Bilan, the journal of the Italian Communist Left forced into exile in France and Belgium, who opposed antifascism, the Spanish Civil War and WW2. In their words:

"In Italy, it was a government containing the representatives of democratic antifascism who stepped aside for a ministry led by the fascists, who thus gained a majority in this antifascist and democratic parliament even though the fascists had only had a parliamentary group of 40 out of 500 deputies. In Germany, it was the antifascist Von Schleicher who stepped aside for Hitler, who had been called in by that other antifascist Hindenburg, the chosen man of the democratic and social democratic forces."

And:

[I]f we examine the ideas of anti-fascism (at least as far as its programme is concerned) we find that they derive from a dissociation of fascism and capitalism. True, if we question a socialist, a centrist, or a Bolshevik-Leninist on the subject, they will all declare that fascism is indeed capitalism. But the socialist will say: "we need to defend the Constitution and the Republic in order to prepare for socialism"; the centrist will declare that it is much easier to unite the working class struggle around anti-fascism than around the struggle against capitalism; while according to the Bolshevik-Leninist, there is no better basis for unity and struggle than the defence of the democratic institutions which capitalism can no longer accord the working class. It thus turns out that the general assertion that "fascism is capitalism" can lead to political conclusions which can only stem from the dissociation of capitalism and fascism.

[From Anti-fascism: formula for confusion (1934)]

And:

Under the Popular Front the proletariat has lain down its specifically class weapons and agreed to compromise with the enemy. Onto the class fronts, which alone could have destroyed Franco's regiments and breathed confidence back into the peasants terrorised by the Right, other fronts have been grafted which are specifically capitalist. In Spain, the Union Sacrée for the imperialist massacre has been achieved by setting region against region and city against city, and by extension, State against State within the democratic and fascist blocs. The fact that it isn't a world war doesn't mean that the mobilization of the Spanish and international proletariat isn't currently being accomplished by means of the reciprocal throat-cutting going on under the imperialist banners of fascism versus anti-fascism.

[From Against the imperialist front for the massacre of Spanish workers we must oppose the class front of the international proletariat (1936)]

Fascism, liberal democracy and Stalinism (and Trotskyism, some anarchist currents, etc. etc.) each played their own part in derailing the militant working-class from a revolutionary course across Europe, sometimes in cooperation with one another (indeed, the Stalinists assassinated several Left Communists as 'Trotskyists'. After the war, Togliatti, whilst supporting the release of fascist prisoners, demanded the execution of the Italian left communists who opposed the imperialist war). The Bilan group stood for the restoration of the political independence of proletarian forces (working class vs. capital (liberal democracy, Stalinism and fascism)), for revolution, and against imperialist war (in Spain, WW2), which they viewed as the organised murder of the European working-class under the different flags.

On anti-fascism and its relation to imperialist war (even today, we see antifascist groups, in the UK and around the world voicing support for the Kurdish faction in the Syrian imperialist war, or even in Ukraine, where "antifascism" means support for Russian nationalists), see Dauvé's text When Insurrections Die.

Simone Weil also wrote:

"The absurdity of adopting war as a means of antifascist struggle is thus quite apparent. Not only would it mean fighting against a barbarous oppression by crushing the peoples under the weight of an even more barbarous massacre; it would even mean extending under another form the regime we want to abolish. It is childish to suppose that a state apparatus made powerful by a victorious war would alleviate the oppression to which the enemy state apparatus has subjected its own people; it is more childish still to believe that a victorious state would let a proletarian revolution break out in a defeated nation without immediately drowning it in blood."

And:

"Alas, there [in Spain] we also see forms of compulsion and instances of inhumanity that are directly contrary to the libertarian and humanitarian ideals of the Anarchists. The necessities and the atmosphere of civil war are sweeping away the aspirations that we are seeking to defend by means of civil war.

Here we loathe military constraint, police constraint, compulsory labor, and the spreading of lies by the press, the radio, and all the means of communication. We loathe social differentiation, arbitrariness, cruelty.

Well, in Spain there is military constraint. In spite of the influx of volunteers, mobilisation has been ordered. The defence council of the Generalitat, in which our FAI comrades hold some of the leading posts, has just decreed that the old military code is to be applied in the militias.

There is compulsory labor. The council of the Generalitat, where our comrades hold the economic ministries, has just decreed that workers must put in as much extra unpaid time as might be judged necessary. Another decree stipulates that workers whose rate of production is too slow will be considered seditious and treated as such. This quite clearly means the introduction of the death penalty in industrial production.

As for police constraint: the police had lost almost all its power before the nineteenth of July. But to make up for that, during the first three months of civil war, committees of investigation, responsible militants, and too often, irresponsible individuals carried out executions without the slightest semblance of a trial, and consequently without any possibility of syndical or other control."

Mike Harman
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Mar 7 2017 11:24

Critiques of anti-fascism when it turns into cross-class co-operation with the liberal state have to be balanced vs. grassroots opposition to fascism (whether Cable Street or or the protests against Milo at Berkeley). It's quite possible to be opposed to liberal anti-fascism and enjoy watching Richard Spencer getting punched, these aren't contradictory.

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Mar 7 2017 18:37
Mike Harman wrote:
Critiques of anti-fascism when it turns into cross-class co-operation with the liberal state have to be balanced vs. grassroots opposition to fascism (whether Cable Street or or the protests against Milo at Berkeley). It's quite possible to be opposed to liberal anti-fascism and enjoy watching Richard Spencer getting punched, these aren't contradictory.

^A common response.

But who in your mind has done more to create this atmosphere of xenophobia, and undermine class solidarity: the average, double-digit mass of balding, flag-waving, fascist grunts, plastered with Celtic cross tattoos, with the combined intelligence of a spoon; or the respectable, professional [predominantly] white, middle-class journalists of newspapers like the Express, the Mail, or The Sun, sitting in their Central London offices?

It strikes me that today's militant antifascists are effectively doing the state's job for them. Whether through targetting neo-nazis that are already on the state's radar, or glorifying and propagandising on behalf of the Kurdish front in the Syrian imperialist war.

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Mar 8 2017 14:19

Grappling with the question of white nationalism vs liberalism.

From what I understand, white nationalists believe that whites should maintain domination of society over all other races. How does this differ from centrist liberalism, other than the fact that white nationalists are stupid enough to actually verbalize their intentions?

Of course the most obvious proof of liberalism's white nationalist intentions is its history with support for policing/Clinton's notorious Crime Reform bill. However, maybe even thinking on a wider scale we can consider how liberals view the non-white world. Liberals have always sought to keep the global south impoverished.

Obama supported TPP for the explicit reason that he believed the US should maintain economic control over East Asia in order to stop Chinese expansion. He claimed that US human rights policies were better than China's so maintaining US hegemony was actually a progressive move.

Similarly, neoliberal ideologues Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and Alan Greenspan crafted the draconian bailouts of the East Asian economies during the 1997 financial panic there. The terms of the bailouts were so harsh that it continues to force these economies to hold massive dollar reserves, thereby running trade surpluses when they should be running deficits. The economies have slowed growth considerably. How many lives has this cost? Similar to white nationalism it has maintained the domination of the white race over the Asian economies, but it's couched in academic language so it's not possible to denounce Summers/Rubin/Greenspan as white nationalists.

In short, who really deserves to punched? If Spencer why not Greenspan?

Thing about Milo is he had a proven track record of targeting students at universities he went to. Perfectly reasonably to attack Milo in name of self-defense. Of course, the police and the immigration authorities have done much worse things, but they're too powerful to confront openly. When it boils down to it seems like really the question is about power, i.e who can we target and win against rather than a greater moral question as it is often discussed in terms of.

Mike Harman
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Mar 8 2017 17:12
But who in your mind has done more to create this atmosphere of xenophobia, and undermine class solidarity: the average, double-digit mass of balding, flag-waving, fascist grunts, plastered with Celtic cross tattoos, with the combined intelligence of a spoon;
or the respectable, professional [predominantly] white, middle-class journalists of newspapers like the Express, the Mail, or The Sun, sitting in their Central London offices?

See the problem here is by trying to show how these two groups reproduce the same ideology, you're inserting a dichotomy between them that's not there. Your classist (and ableist - 'combined intelligence of a spoon', really?) view of fascists matches the one which the liberal media up until recently relied upon to distinguish itself from them.

Richard Spencer did a fashion shoot for liberal magazine Mother Jones (and several other examples). "Meet the dapper white nationalist riding the Trump wave". . He also did a masters thesis on Adorno at Duke University.

The New Statemen's Laurie Penny was with Milo's entourage at Berkeley when his speech got shut down, and has been doing crap and not-very-critical interviews with Milo, Tommy Robinson and etc. since about 2012.

Berkeley Republicans probably wear blazers or some other horrible preppy crap too.

Now I think John Harris, Polly Toynbee, not to mention Katie Hopkins and similar are very responsible for the rise of xenophobia and islamophobia, then there's the BBC's obsession with UKIP, most of the parliamentary Labour party etc. However, there's a spectrum, and like Soapy says we should be prepared to no-platform 'liberals' if there's the capacity to do so (or at least not invite dogwhistlers like Paul Mason onto supposedly radical platforms as has been happening recently).

This isn't my area of focus, but "doing the state's work" is just laziness.

Fleur
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Mar 8 2017 19:20

Aside from the sheer exhilarating joy of seeing Richard Spencer getting punched in the face, or seeing Milo flee in fear, it's without nuance to dismiss these people as mere boot boys. There's a whole range of these people, and as Soapy says white supremacy is an ideology inculcated within liberalism. You can't debate with these people, reason with them and if some of them are threatening physically threatening people then bless the folks who are willing to take them on and beat them down in the streets. Don't allow them to believe that they are tolerable in any way.

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Mar 9 2017 03:41

It's got to be pretty undeniable at this point that we are talking about being opposed to freedom of speech for pretty much the whole of Western society.

If the idea is that fascists can't be tolerated because they can't be reasoned with, then by that same token liberals surely cannot be tolerated either.

If the argument is that fascists deserve to be attacked because they advocate violence against us or people we know, well then liberals and pretty much everyone on this planet deserves to be attacked for advocating for a whole host of issues, most of all the continuing existence of capitalism, which is truly "horror without end".

This brings up the question of do we, as anarchists, care about free speech? But maybe a more important question is can freedom of speech even exist within capitalism when we consider that people get their information directly or indirectly from the media, and the media simply parrots the ruling class and maintaining the status quo?

The very concept of freedom of speech itself is rife with contradictions. If the NYT newspaper editor rejects an op-ed because he disagrees with it, would anyone consider that attacking freedom of speech? Of course not, but in reality when the mass media fail to publish opinions that are contrary to their interests they are in fact attacking free speech. So the term "free speech" is itself loaded"

But if we take our platform to its logical conclusion, where do we draw the line? Do we consider pretty much everyone on this planet worthy of being violently attacked for espousing their beliefs? That is what we are talking about. The answer is complicated but let's be honest with what we are saying.

Mike Harman
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Mar 9 2017 10:31

Hmm that's making it more a moral question about who individually deserves a punch in the face. Don't think it's useful to talk in hypotheticals.

There are several cases where 'liberals' ability to speak/appear publicly has been disrupted by anarchists/communists. An obvious one is the 1968 DNC: https://libcom.org/history/chicago-1968

There are two separate incidents (at least) of Labour politician John Prescott getting attacked in public. He got a bucket of water chucked over him in 1998 at the Brit Awards by Chumbawumba ("That's for the Liverpool Dockers!") and egged by a farm worker in 2001 when out campainging (over conditions for farm workers).

It's worth talking about the limitations of street anti-fascism (i.e. whether 100 people turning up to oppose an EDL march is more or less of a priority than 100 people turning up to stop a deportation flight). But that's not a theoretical question about violence but a practical question about organising and priorities.

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Mar 10 2017 03:34
Mike Harman wrote:
Hmm that's making it more a moral question about who individually deserves a punch in the face. Don't think it's useful to talk in hypotheticals

Not about hypotheticals more about having something reasonable to say when someone brings up the subject of "free speech".

I guess one could say if the 1968 DNC protests were ok then why not shutting down fascist meetings

ajjohnstone
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Mar 10 2017 06:44

The SPGB has been the victim of violent hooliganism, from the Right but from the Left too, with its meetings broken up, in the past, in the name of "socialism" and "democracy"

It has held open and public meetings with fascists and neo-fascists, patriots and nationalists, class enemies and class collaborators and in all those encounters we have never heard of socialist ideas being kicked into the heads of our opponents.

Nor have we really witnessed any real decline in those anti-socialists or their nefarious influence by street fighting and no-platformism. They merely shift labels and causes.

Our fellow-workers when in despair and desperation and disillusionment are receptive to all manner of ideas and solutions...from authoritarian left-wing to totalitarian right-wing.

Workers offer a hearing and present an audience to the enemies of socialism, both wings, because our own voice is not sufficiently vocal to bestow hope or confidence.

Let's concentrate on building up receptive listeners than expressing our impotence and frustration with futile and ineffective gestures.

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Mar 10 2017 18:19

Yes, ajjohnstone gets closer to the truth.

Mike Harman wrote:
See the problem here is by trying to show how these two groups reproduce the same ideology, you're inserting a dichotomy between them that's not there.

I'm not doing anything of the sort. Indeed, that's what the antifascists do. The point I made above was precisely that militant (i.e. direct-action) antifascists have no means of responding to the broad wave of xenophobic propaganda that comes from the mainstream, "respectable" bourgeoisie (e.g. its press), and if one is to be an antifascist, rather than a mere street-fighter, then surely one also has to challenge the fascist drift at the level of ideas and politics (fascism, after all, fixes itself upon the acquisition of political power)? And this entails a movement similar to the [failed] antifascist fronts of old - equipped with both street milita and political front.

But today's militant antifascists are obsessed with direct action tactics - as such, they're just as useless as the liberal antifascists they claim to differentiate themselves from.

I believe that the choice we're confronted with today is not fascism or antifascism?, but socialism or barbarism?. And those who stress the former choice do so at the expense of the latter.

Unfortunately, there are some on here who believe that sticking the word 'proletarian', 'radical' or 'socialist' in front of any old cause transubstantiates its character, whereby the movement in question suddenly becomes worthy of communist support simply because it mutters something resembling our own language.

What's the difference between supporting antifascism on the basis of the horrors of the crimes of Nazism, and supporting antiimperialism on the basis of the horrors of Britain imperialism? Or perhaps we ought to differentiate between militant antiimperialism and liberal antiimperialism?

zylas
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Mar 10 2017 19:31
Craftwork wrote:
I'm not doing anything of the sort. Indeed, that's what the antifascists do. The point I made above was precisely that militant (i.e. direct-action) antifascists have no means of responding to the broad wave of xenophobic propaganda that comes from the mainstream, "respectable" bourgeoisie (e.g. its press), and if one is to be an antifascist, rather than a mere street-fighter, then surely one also has to challenge the fascist drift at the level of ideas and politics (fascism, after all, fixes itself upon the acquisition of political power)?

But today's militant antifascists are obsessed with direct action tactics - as such, they're just as useless as the liberal antifascists they claim to differentiate themselves from.

I too think xenophobia should be fought on political level as well, but where's the condemnation of antifascists coming from? There already are many prominent liberals speaking out against bigotry, why not let them be the "good cops" to the antifa's "bad cops"? It's not like everyone has to do both things.

By the way, I have another question that is somewhat related to this topic, but forgot to ask it in the first place. Should I make a new one, or ask here?

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Mar 10 2017 20:06

The problem with fascists is that they will in an organized way come to your meetings and beat you up, bomb your buildings, stab you on your way home, shoot you to death outside your door, terrorize public gatherings that are against their agenda etc.

Much of this discussion misses the point, liberal governments are a completely different problem, so are the police and the military.

Are the alt right capable of the above? I have no idea.

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Sike
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Mar 10 2017 23:18
Cooked wrote:
The problem with fascists is that they will in an organized way come to your meetings and beat you up, bomb your buildings, stab you on your way home, shoot you to death outside your door, terrorize public gatherings that are against their agenda etc.

So will the liberal state. For example, the US governments reaction to the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and '70s. Another example that comes to mind is the police bombing of the MOVE organization house and it's occupants in Philadelphia in 1985.

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Mar 10 2017 23:48
ajjohnstone wrote:
we have never heard of socialist ideas being kicked into the heads of our opponents.

Well, this is an odd way of describing the goal of anti-fascism; the point isn't to convert fascists to socialism through violence, it's to disrupt their ability to organise politically.

Craftwork wrote:
if one is to be an antifascist, rather than a mere street-fighter, then surely one also has to challenge the fascist drift at the level of ideas and politics

I think this is a criticism that gets leveled at every group that uses direct action tactics and it always follows the same structure: isolate the activity/element of an activity you don't like, then ask how that activity/element could possibly ever in isolation be politically productive.

So, yeah, sure, there are some who, imo, focus too much on the physical force side of anti-fascism. But that's not a criticism of anti-fascism itself, it's a criticism of a particular approach to it. In reality though, anti-fascists often are involved in more than just street violence.. AFA's 'physical and ideological opposition', for one, or from the AFN's how to set up an anti-fascist group:

Quote:
Do you simply want to support AFN street actions? Or might you want to get involved in relevant networks, such as migrant solidarity groups, or even host community meetings? There are AFN groups that do just one, some or all of these things.

There's obviously more to say but, you know, bed time.. wink

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Mar 11 2017 00:36
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If the idea is that fascists can't be tolerated because they can't be reasoned with, then by that same token liberals surely cannot be tolerated either.

Just on this, I think we have to differentiate from establishment liberals - whose ties to capital, the state, white supremacy, etc make it pointless for us to even engage with them - and your average, garden variety progressive Democratic voter of whom we should be building dialog and solidarity.

There's no such distinction with fascists. A fascist in power or a fascist in the street is an ideological racist willing to employ violence against immigrants, the left, whoever.

What I'm saying is that without qualification, I think we need be careful before we go around declaring that liberals can be equated with fascists.

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Mar 11 2017 19:57
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
If the idea is that fascists can't be tolerated because they can't be reasoned with, then by that same token liberals surely cannot be tolerated either.

Just on this, I think we have to differentiate from establishment liberals - whose ties to capital, the state, white supremacy, etc make it pointless for us to even engage with them - and your average, garden variety progressive Democratic voter of whom we should be building dialog and solidarity.

There's no such distinction with fascists. A fascist in power or a fascist in the street is an ideological racist willing to employ violence against immigrants, the left, whoever.

What I'm saying is that without qualification, I think we need be careful before we go around declaring that liberals can be equated with fascists.

Think you sorta missed the point, I was showing how justifications for attacking fascists could be used to attack anyone of pretty much any political persuasion