Societal upheaval and glorious slaughter are nearly at hand. Lace up your combat boots, don your Antifa-brand black t-shirts, and select your finest identity-obscuring face mask: The Revolution starts this Saturday.
So what we’re gonna do, see, is we’re gonna kill every Trump voter, conservative and gun owner. Possibly with firearms. How will we know who voted for Donald Trump, you may ask? We’ll just know, and this psychic insight will allow us to successfully track down and eradicate 33% of the American population. Don’t ask how this is feasible, or why people who fundamentally oppose the tenants of fascism would enact a coordinated mass killing, or how small, autonomous bands of antifascists organized this without being shut down by the FBI —
“Just ’cause” should be enough. If you were dissatisfied with last November’s election results you know what I mean.
Liberals cling to institutions: They begged to no avail for faithless electors, they see “evisceration” in a friendly late-night talk-show debate, they put faith in investigations and justice with regards to Russian interference and business conflicts of interest. They grasp at hypotheticals about who could have won, were things not as they in fact are. For political subjects so tied to the mythos of Reason, it is liberals who now seem deranged. Meanwhile, it is the radical left—so often tarred as irrational—who are calling upon both US and European histories of anti-fascist action to offer practical and serious responses in this political moment. For all the ink spilled about rising fascism, too little has been said about anti-fascism.
The history of anti-fascism in 20th-century Europe is largely one of fighting squads, like the international militant brigades fighting Franco in Spain, the Red Front Fighters’ League in Germany who were fighting Nazis since the party’s formation in the 1920s, the print workers who fought ultra-nationalists in Austria, and the 43 Group in England fighting Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. In every iteration these mobilizations entailed physical combat. The failure of early-20th-century fighters to keep fascist regimes at bay speaks more to the paucity of numbers than the problem of their direct confrontational tactics.
A more recent history of antifa in both Europe and the United States illustrates the success these tactics can have, particularly when it comes to expunging violent racist forces from our neighborhoods and defending vulnerable communities, while also creating networks of support that do not rely on structurally racist law enforcement for protection against racists. Anti-fascist tactics focused primarily around physical force proved effective in forcing neo-Nazi groups out of entire neighborhoods in Europe and the United States in the 1980s. Back then, as longtime organizer and member of the Industrial Workers’ World General Defense Committee (GDC) Kieran Knutson told The Nation, fascist and anti-fascist formations grew out of youth subculture scenes. Taking on and largely defeating neo-Nazi gangs, multi-racial crews of anti-racist skinheads and punks coalesced and grew into semi-formal Anti-Racist Action (ARA) chapters nationwide. “At its peak, in an era without cell phones or internet, ARA had over 100 chapters across the US and Canada,” explained Knutson, adding that students, older leftists, feminists and more joined efforts to counter a broader group of racist organizations, from the white power music scene to KKK rallies. The network faded in the 2000s, drifting in part to the anti-globalization movement, but as Knutson “the several thousand veterans of this movement are still out there—many still involved politically in anti-racist, feminist, queer, labor, education and artistic projects.”
Brain-warping video of the day: Following the Elizabeth Warren incident, Sean Spicelord performs verbal back flips to convince us that Coretta Scott King would have wanted shitbird Jeff Sessions to run the Department of Justice.
This demand for a general strike looks less like that intensification and more like an attempt to leapfrog all the hard, long-term political work that goes before. At least some of those arguing for the general strike seem to sense that there is an element of bad faith here. For instance, Francine Prose added the qualification, which I have seen repeated in a number of places, that only those “who can do so without being fired” should go on strike. This must be the first time someone called for a general strike but exempted most of the working class.