Chomsky on antifa

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the croydonian anarchist's picture
the croydonian ...
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Sep 18 2017 12:52

wow, that aviva quote.....conflating ethical consumerism with antifa, no matter the tactical flaws of what is going on, is so in accurate.

lettersjournal
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Sep 18 2017 13:17

The orientation of the anti-fascist is one of solving societal problems. Solving societal problems means thinking like a state, and so, thinking like a state, the anti-fascist solution to the problem (fascism) is a paramilitary/police solution. Of course, a state (or those attempting to be one) does not solve problems - or, when it does solve problems, it cannot do so without generating unintended consequences. (It's rarely mentioned, but the FBI's COINTELPRO program was used against the KKK in the 60s.)

Black Badger: It is simply not true that anti-fascism is a form of self-defense. In the US, it involves tracking down fascist groups and attacking them. Fascists are hard to find.

What I'm interested in is finding orientations other than that of 'solving societal problems'. And, anyway, problems are usually resolved in the space created by the abandonment of solutions.

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Sep 18 2017 13:42
lettersjournal wrote:
The orientation of the anti-fascist is one of solving societal problems. Solving societal problems means thinking like a state, and so, thinking like a state, the anti-fascist solution to the problem (fascism) is a paramilitary/police solution. Of course, a state (or those attempting to be one) does not solve problems - or, when it does solve problems, it cannot do so without generating unintended consequences. (It's rarely mentioned, but the FBI's COINTELPRO program was used against the KKK in the 60s.)

[...]

What I'm interested in is finding orientations other than that of 'solving societal problems'. And, anyway, problems are usually resolved in the space created by the abandonment of solutions.

More disingenuous alternative facts and fake news from lettersjournal. Who writes your copy? Milo Yiannopolous?

Do you ever get out from under you bed long enough to notice the events of the world? Obviously not! Why don't you get a lettersjournal column in the National Enquirer?

lettersjournal wrote:
Black Badger: It is simply not true that anti-fascism is a form of self-defense. In the US, it involves tracking down fascist groups and attacking them. Fascists are hard to find.

Ever heard of Auburn, Berkeley or Charlottesville? This is the most moronic thing you've ever written. Like I said above, you have a bright career ahead should you continue pursuing journalism.

Black Badger
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Sep 18 2017 23:13
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The orientation of the anti-fascist is one of solving societal problems.
It is simply not true that anti-fascism is a form of self-defense. In the US, it involves tracking down fascist groups and attacking them. Fascists are hard to find.

The orientation of the Professional Anti-Fascist Politician is one of solving societal problems. As I said, this is a problem of Activism, and perhaps ideological Anti-Fascism (like Anti-Imperialism), but not a broad, instinctual, antifascism; the latter is what I'm familiar with personally. Your dismissive condemnation is derivative of the critiques of the Popular Front-style of Anti-Fascism -- what might be called Establishment Anti-Fascism, which ossified after 1935 and flourished in the former Soviet Bloc after 1945. I'd wager that upwards of 99% of the folks who frequent this site would be against that too, since it relies on the mythology of various Party Communists -- a slow-moving target. Tankie antifascism is an anachronism and is not reflected in any of the relevant literature being put out by contemporary antifas (which is not to say that the literature is overflowing with incisive analysis -- it most certainly is not, at least not in English).

In the US, at least in months since the last presidential election, the "alt-right" has organized speaking events, rallies, and attacks. Do you not read the news? There's no need for any antifa to track down these creeps -- they travel far and wide and are quite public about their actions and intentions. So, I'm sorry to say that you're being willfully ignorant about this. Standing up to their provocations is 100% self-defense, and most people get that.

bootsy
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Sep 19 2017 23:12

"lettersjournal's" comments may be true of the Anti-Fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, but Antifa in 2017 is very much a different kettle of fish from the popular front Anti-Fascism of the previous century and the same is true of modern fascism. Fascism is not an official state ideology these days, I think the situation in Italy during the 60s and 70s is a better historical reference for the present discussion as the fascism of that period, along with the struggle against it, is far more similar to the context we face in the present. Fascists are an extra-parliamentary mass (to varying degrees) movement, which at times has the support of certain sections of the State, and are used by the State in order to exact violent repression against its enemies while allowing such politicians a degree of plausible deniability so as to remain within the political mainstream.

Antifa too is not a State ideology and in reality militant Anti-Fascism has almost no support from progressive capitalists like the US Democratic Party. So referring Antifa as a nationalist ideology more effective than fascism may hold water when we're talking about the world almost a century ago, but in the current context is self-evidently moronic.

All the ultra-leftists who insist on denouncing Antifa as a popular front ideology would do well to put down the Bordiga for a moment and take a look at the world in front of them. Anti-Fascism is less an ideology than it is a strategic perspective based upon the necessity of resisting fascism by any means necessary. Ignoring them or refusing to join Anti-Fascist demonstrations out of the facile insistence that doing so would mean strengthening progressive capitalist factions simply demonstrates lettersjournal's profound ignorance of reality. The Democrats, the Labour Party along with most other socialist or progressive parties have no interest in uniting with working class communists and radicals as part of an Anti-Fascist front, they have no interest in Anti-Fascism full stop, because at this point they aren't at war with a fascist government and they're not in a position where they must unite into a coalition of Anti-Fascist governments in order to resist an existential threat posed by fascist expansionism. That much should be blatantly obvious.

In Italy the militant working class movement fought with fascists out of necessity, because in reality the fascists are the State's armed dogs just like the police, except unlike the police they have no leash. Resisting fascism is just as much a necessity as resisting the State in order to build working class power through class struggle. Beneath lettersjournal's comments seems to lie the deluded belief that if the working class only carries out an economic struggle against their bosses, fascists and other such extra-State forces will simply leave us alone and merely busy themselves with fighting their enemies amongst the bourgeoisie. This is so not true, fascists .from the Nazis to the Brown Shirts to the KKK to the Italian neo-fascists, have historically made it a priority to attack working class militants of all stripes - socialist, communist, anarchist, etc - and they will invariably bring the war to us regardless. This may not worry lettersjournal since like other nihilists he lacks the backbone required to stand behind any movement or set of beliefs and ideals bigger than his/herself. However for me, if I know there is a group of people who are hell-bent on destroying me and my friends, I'm going to at least go down swinging! Or, more preferably, I would prefer to not go down at all... On the other hand the position of the Bordigists like LJ seems to be little different to the turn-the-other-cheekism of liberals like Chomsky.

lettersjournal
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Sep 19 2017 17:05
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However for me, if I know there is a group of people who are hell-bent on destroying me and my friends, I'm going to at least go down swinging!

This warlike approach could be applied to lots of enemies. Islamists, for example. Or drug dealers.

If you forgot about the anti-fascist activism and went about your life, it's likely you would henceforth never encounter a single fascist, much less have to defend yourself against one, whereas if you define yourself in opposition to a thing, you cleave yourself to it. (In the same way, if you defined yourself as an anti-Islamist, I'm sure you would find yourself in fights with Islamists.) The handful of right-wing speaking events mentioned here were publicly advertised spectacles that attracted activists and media from around the country. To call what happened at them 'self-defense of working class communities' is a crude propaganda technique.

To continue on the vein of the 'solving societal problems' orientation, it is not a coincidence that fascism is what the media is covering right now. This orientation is always stuck on what is in the news (this week Syria! next week fascists!). All of us face a difficult situation: there are a lot of bad things going on in the world, and there are a lot of forces more powerful than us trying to grab our attention and recruit us for this or that enthusiasm. Why this enthusiasm instead of that one? Why try to solve this problem instead of that? Why fight these bad guys instead of those bad guys? Once you go down the road of solving particular problems (fascism, air pollution, whatever), you end up thinking like a state. What makes radical ideas beautiful is that they are useless.

A heuristic: if my enthusiasms are also promoted by journalists and activists and politicians, I'm a sucker. Sure, I am earnest in these enthusiasms and sure of their authenticity - that's what makes me a sucker. 'Self-defense' is the rationale for every war. Don't go to war. Don't be a sucker.

A longer meditation: https://insipidities.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-dumping-of-set-of-87-unsent-tweets.html

lettersjournal
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Sep 19 2017 17:12

Let's suppose our situation today were a replay of Italy in the 60s and 70s or Germany in the 30s and 40s. Why in the world would we choose to play the same move that was played then? Why reflect on those periods and then do anti-fascism again, knowing how it worked out?

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Sep 19 2017 18:58
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To continue on the vein of the 'solving societal problems' orientation, it is not a coincidence that fascism is what the media is covering right now. This orientation is always stuck on what is in the news (this week Syria! next week fascists!). All of us face a difficult situation: there are a lot of bad things going on in the world, and there are a lot of forces more powerful than us trying to grab our attention and recruit us for this or that enthusiasm. Why this enthusiasm instead of that one? Why try to solve this problem instead of that? Why fight these bad guys instead of those bad guys? Once you go down the road of solving particular problems (fascism, air pollution, whatever), you end up thinking like a state. What makes radical ideas beautiful is that they are useless.

Tell this to grieving family members and friends who just lost a loved one to a racist or fascist lynching. It sure must be great to live in a world of pure abstractions, where nothing is connected to reality.

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Sep 19 2017 22:20
lettersjournal wrote:

If you forgot about the anti-fascist activism and went about your life, it's likely you would henceforth never encounter a single fascist, much less have to defend yourself against one, whereas if you define yourself in opposition to a thing, you cleave yourself to it. (In the same way, if you defined yourself as an anti-Islamist, I'm sure you would find yourself in fights with Islamists.)

What if part of your life involves, I don't know, being a practicing muslim for instance. Or an openly trans person? Or, god forbid, being black. For those with less privilege than the copious amounts you obviously have, as evidenced by your abstract nonsense, you might find their experiences differ.

bootsy
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Sep 19 2017 22:33

So lettersjournal, are you saying that if we just ignore the fascist movement completely, this new and cutting-edge strategy of your's will result in an inevitable collapse of the fascist movement? Do you think that, if only the German working class realised this profound wisdom 100 years ago, the Holocaust might never have happened and Hitler may never have even taken power?

... A ludicrous argument. The major lessons to take from the early resistance to fascism is that 1) we will have to out match them in zeal and brutality 2) when fascist politicians advocate genocidal violence and expansionist war we should take them at their word 3) the working class movement should aim to crush fascism in its infancy, before any of us get faced with such terrible decisions as whether to ally with our enemies in a popular front or whether to passively face fascist annihilation. Because in reference to number 3, communists and anarchists didn't suddenly ally with the bourgeoisie because they just forgot about the class war out of the blue, they did it because once fascists had taken power in Europe they had to decide between two equally poor choices - whether to fight alongside our enemies of yesterday and potentially live or whether to fight alone/not at all and passively go to their deaths. This is the point which gets left out of many Bordigist influenced critiques of Anti-Fascism and although I think the popular front policy was still a mistake it is firstly not an inherent part of Anti-Fascism and secondly it was based upon the brutal necessities of the period.

In reference to number 2, quite a large number of people of many political persuasions considered Hitler to be little more than a crazy windbag, who used anti-semitism and ultra-nationalism in a cynical way for the sake of seizing power. How tragically wrong they were!

If we don't want to be put in a situation where we must choose between death and collaboration with our enemies we should crush the neo-fascist movement while it is small and weak, and we should keep our collective boot on the movement's collective throat until capitalism is finally destroyed and the material basis for fascism has been removed for good.

I also think its worth adding that I don't think fighting alongside Marxist-Leninists counts as a class collaborationist 'popular front', since at this point Marxist Leninists are not a part of the ruling class (much to their annoyance I'm guessing). Until Antifa partisans seriously suggest allying with the US Democratic Party or the Labour Party in UK and NZ (my country of origin), can we drop the allegation of popular frontism? Can we deal with the Anti-Fascist movement that actually exists? Thanks.

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Sep 19 2017 22:31
lettersjournal wrote:

If you forgot about the anti-fascist activism and went about your life, it's likely you would henceforth never encounter a single fascist, much less have to defend yourself against one, whereas if you define yourself in opposition to a thing, you cleave yourself to it.

You what, so what about when they tried to burn our squat down three times then. And racist attacks are definitely a worse danger.

bootsy
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Sep 19 2017 22:44
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All of us face a difficult situation: there are a lot of bad things going on in the world, and there are a lot of forces more powerful than us trying to grab our attention and recruit us for this or that enthusiasm. Why this enthusiasm instead of that one?

Because fascism is a political movement which explicitely aims at crushing the workers' movement, trade unions, socialists, communists, anarchists and so forth as well as undermining working class solidarity by attacking migrants, blacks, Muslims, Catholics, Jews and so on. They are fundamentally more dangerous than any drug dealer. Their success comes at the direct expense of our communities, our aspirations, our needs and desires and our movement. They are not our only enemy, not by a long shot, but they are still an enemy who is totally clear about their desire to crush everything we stand for...

And they are gathering momentum and influence, at least in the US and Europe. If we fail to crush them while they are still small and weak we may face annihilation at their hands at some point in the future. Fascists are more than just a social ill, they aspire to be our executioners and make no secret of this fact. Its possible that if we just ignore them their movement will whither up and die, sure its possible. But thats not a strategy, thats just burying your head in the sand and counting on blind luck to keep you safe. Given what is at stake I think it would be a profound blunder to leave our fate and theirs up to luck.

Black Badger
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Sep 25 2017 17:41

Yeah, we have to hunt them down... smh

http://blackrosefed.org/proud-boy-storm-houston-book-fair/

Tom Henry
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Sep 25 2017 23:04

bootsy is right that there is a lot of work to be done here.

And I think that it needs to be done at all levels of society, not just 'on the streets'.

We have to recognise that there are many journalists, politicians, community workers, union leaders, lawyers, religious organisations, etc that are also doing the job of resisting fascism.

We should join with these sectors - we should even get jobs in these sectors to become even more effective. You can still fight on the streets if you are a lawyer or journalist, etc.

Also, perhaps we should ask ourselves what we are doing in our communities that will help build a bulwark against division within the class?

What I want to know is: are we doing enough?

One thing I do want to object to though is that bootsy is, unconsciously I am sure, promoting an insidious Euro-centric and US-centric attitude here.

Is it the case that we only get frightened of fascism when it raises its ugly head in the cosy Western democracies, with their beautiful architecture and pleasant coffee shops? Even if we actually live on the other side of the world to Europe and the US?

Below is a link to a list of the '49 current dictatorships and authoritarian regimes' that exist around the world.

Why are these places ignored?

People in these countries are on the front line in the struggle against fascism:

https://planetrulers.com/current-dictators/

PS Merriam-Webster definition of fascism:

Quote:
[Fascism] stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
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Sep 25 2017 23:37

Tom Henry reduces every question concerning real needs of real people to a rhetorical, moral and/or philosophical question. Which is why nearly everthing he says is irrelevant to anything but further philosophising.

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 00:18

eh?

Why is there no discussion of expanding our anti-fascism beyond 'the street', and beyond the world's leading democracies?

And we must ask ourselves what we are actually doing in our neighbourhoods? Not that this means we can't travel to other places too, or go to live in different countries and fight there.

It all smacks of white privilege under threat to me.

Your response is a joke from the world of blinkered reality. Except it's not funny.

Fleur
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Sep 26 2017 00:41

Pretty sure most people here do give a damn about people living under totalitarian regimes in other parts of the world but there is bugger all we can actually do about this, so fighting against fascism, in whatever form that takes, in our own countries is the best we can do under the circumstances.

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 01:01

Yes, Fleur, I am saying that it appears to me that we should up the ante, get involved in far more than what people talk about here, become much more effective, do more than Antifa as well as doing Antifa.

If it looks like a religious group, or a journalist, or a politician, or athletes, or a community organisation, etc, are doing a more effective job than the proclaimed anti-fascists then perhaps something vaguely ridiculous is going on. Are we only effectively laying the basis to be able to say: "look I told you so" - Or are we actually concerned about doing stuff?

I also think it is not appropriate to dismiss out of hand the notion of white privilege and the part it might play here, as well as the Euro- and US-centric aspect that might be underlying positions and attitudes.

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Hieronymous
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Sep 26 2017 01:07

Tom Henry, you are just being a guilt-mongering troll. What "more effective job" do you do?

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 01:33

Hieronymous, the point is not to ask each other what we are doing specifically but to ask ourselves if we think we are doing enough. I personally do not think I am doing enough. It is easier if one is young and active to make choices that might make your life more useful to 'the struggle' - this is what I have done in my own youth (but not enough!) and currently. This is the start of a discussion on this issue which I am grappling with in my own thinking and practice.

But trying to close down the issues I have raised here is very dodgy, Hieronymous. Maybe you should head back to your coffee shop, have a soy latte, and cool off mate?

This is how anything serious and challenging on these threads ends up in pathetic abuse.

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Sep 26 2017 03:22

Tom Henry, you are very dodgy. I wish we could trade you to the local yoga studio and get S. Artesian back.

You think this is "pathetic abuse"? Who the fuck are you, a white victim? A thin-skinned snowflake? A doormat for 3rd world anti-imperialism?

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Sep 26 2017 02:37
Tom Henry wrote:
PS Merriam-Webster definition of fascism:
Quote:
[Fascism] stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

You really are quite daft. Here's an accurate definition:

Mark Bray wrote:
[fascism is]…a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

(p. 10 of Mark Bray's Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook; the quote is borrowed from Robert Paxton's 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism)

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 04:53

You can't even read, Hieronymouse. Read my posts here again so you look less stupid - where did I criticize Antifa?. I suspected the soy latte quip would set you off.

Best thing for you to do would be to run off to your play pen, have your little tantrum there, and try not to think about your Western Civilization crashing down around you.

Hereonmymouse's reply:

Quote:
You can't even read, Tom Henry. You're the one who looks stupid. You're the one who drinks soy latte. You have coffee with the alt-right.

As to your quote defining fascism - are you arguing here, from your Californian condo, that you think the rise of fascism in the US is worse than the plight of proletarians in dictatorships around the world. You have to get a sense of perspective mate.

I dunno. Calm down? Stop drinking? Don't be such a slapped arse, you twit. hahaha

[EDIT: in Post 52 Hieronymous associated me with Milo Yiannopoulos - which is why I wrote "You have coffee with the alt-right" above. But Hieronymous has replaced that subsequently and with no note with the current text in post 52.]

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Sep 26 2017 03:21
Tom Henry wrote:
You can't even read, Hieronymouse. Read my posts here again so you look less stupid - where did I criticize Antifa?. I suspected the soy latte quip would set you off.

Best thing for you to do would be to run off to your play pen, have your little tantrum there, and try not to think about your Western Civilization crashing down around you.

Hereonmymouse's reply:

Quote:
You can't even read, Tom Henry. You're the one who looks stupid. You're the one who drinks soy latte. You have coffee with the alt-right.

As to your quote defining fascism - are you arguing here, from your Californian condo, that you think the rise of fascism in the US is worse than the plight of proletarians in dictatorships around the world. You have to get a sense of perspective mate.

I dunno. Calm down? Stop drinking? Don't be such a slapped arse, you twit. hahaha

Apparently, maturity isn't one of your strong suits.

DevastateTheAvenues
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Sep 26 2017 03:22
Tom Henry wrote:
eh?

Why is there no discussion of expanding our anti-fascism beyond 'the street', and beyond the world's leading democracies?

And we must ask ourselves what we are actually doing in our neighbourhoods? Not that this means we can't travel to other places too, or go to live in different countries and fight there.

It all smacks of white privilege under threat to me.

Your response is a joke from the world of blinkered reality. Except it's not funny.

I wholeheartedly support this position. Please, Tom Henry, lead by example and turn your attention towards whatever you think is the worst possible problem, regardless of your actual ability to affect the problem in question without cocking it up. All questions are at once dissolved to either a reductive moralism or do-nothing nihilism depending on who you want to browbeat and points you want to score. Nuance doesn't exist and every little thing someone does to make their lot better in capitalism is really just a profound statement that the person in question only wants that little thing and literally nothing else and is therefore not really revolutionary, or is actually a secret fascist or Leninist at heart, and the reason this is the case is...what, again? And for some reason this isn't just obsessive moralism on your part, obviously.

Do something like, I don't know, flying to Uganda to hunt down Joseph Kony or something. Or maybe take the nihilist route, cease the useless propagandizing because nothing anybody does can ever get us closer to the revolution, and never post again. We'll be right behind you, I swear.

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Sep 26 2017 03:38

World famous nihilist Tom Henry en route to the airport on his mission to fight fascism "beyond the street," fly to Uganda to capture Joseph Kony, and smash US/Euro-centric white privilege in the process. Hurray!

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 03:36

Tom Henry wrote:

Quote:
Yes, Fleur, I am saying that it appears to me that we should up the ante, get involved in far more than what people talk about here, become much more effective, do more than Antifa as well as doing Antifa.

In the context of:

Quote:
We have to recognise that there are many journalists, politicians, community workers, union leaders, lawyers, religious organisations, etc that are also doing the job of resisting fascism.

We should join with these sectors - we should even get jobs in these sectors to become even more effective. You can still fight on the streets if you are a lawyer or journalist, etc.

And also:

Quote:
It all smacks of white privilege under threat to me.

In the context of:

Quote:
Is it the case that we only get frightened of fascism when it raises its ugly head in the cosy Western democracies, with their beautiful architecture and pleasant coffee shops? Even if we actually live on the other side of the world to Europe and the US?

Below is a link to a list of the '49 current dictatorships and authoritarian regimes' that exist around the world.

Why are these places ignored?

People in these countries are on the front line in the struggle against fascism:

https://planetrulers.com/current-dictators/

Tom Henry
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Sep 26 2017 03:52

By the way, I am not a nihilist (not even a nihilist communist). Just if anyone sensible is reading this and is wondering.

DevastateTheAvenues
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Sep 26 2017 03:58
Tom Henry wrote:
By the way, I am not a nihilist (not even a nihilist communist). Just if anyone sensible is reading this and is wondering.

So you're going to go hunt down Kony then?

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Sep 26 2017 04:48

EDIT: my bad, I was feeding the nihilist troll.