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What do anarchists do about right wing politics?

+1 vote
To make this simple, what i mean by a right wing in this qestion is characterized by:

-unquestioning patriotism

-xenophobia and racism

I'm just asking this because people are still afraid of neo-nazi-esque organizations and opinions during the trump era. I can't really blame people for being afraid of the right because right wing politics can be pretty blatantly ugly. The typical anti-fa line is suppression and shaming, but it doesn't seem to work. The reason that many people have lost interest in far-right ideas seems mostly to do with the civil rights movement of the 60's and just a general cultural nihilism and skepticism towards people who seem to "have the answers".

So what type of attitude or action should anarchist take when it comes to right wing politics?
asked Jul 29 by Nihilist (-470 points)
edited Jul 29 by Nihilist

unquestioned patriotism is not just a right wing thing. i would say most ideologues are unquestioningly patriotic to their ideologies.

as to xenophobia and racism, i would treat that as i would any form of bigotry. when someone acts in ways that are oppressive and authoritarian towards another, i think they should be dealt with directly, by those being treated that way (along with their allies). how they deal is up to them. that is based on action/behavior. ideas - and words - are a different thing to me. i find it a bit hypocritical - and a slippery slope - when lefties act to prevent righties from talking (or vice versa). obviously people have very different ideas about what it means to be "free".

that's a good point about unquestioning patriotism, there are people on the left who advocate very patriotic and loyalist ways of thinking, it's just that unquestioning patriotism is the typical fascist line and it has a lot in common with racism and xenophobia (i.e., nationalism and racism go hand in hand)
the attitude or action i would take would all depend on how i encounter "right wing politics"....

do you mean in a conversation with a person? one you know well or barely at all?

and the meaning of "should" take? toward what purpose?

I think nihilist meant they're chauvinists. Chauvinism seems more prevalent among right-wingers than left-wingers or people that could care less. 

I gotta say, groups like the alt-right to a degree monopolized off the talking points of occupy wall street and tweaking them slightly by blaming some ethnic/racial group, usually the Jews. They've been pretty successful doing that throughout the years.

Do they even care about ethics in video game journalism anymore???

I personally will continue to ignore them for reasons that may or may not be obvious.

1 Answer

+2 votes

Personally, if I engage with these sorts of folks, I tend to challenge their assumptions where they come up vis a vis conversation. I challenge assumptions, ask questions that allow me to delve deeper, and state my perspective with as much candor or guard seems appropriate to the situation.

There are times that is not appropriate, and dealing with racism, patriotism, and xenophobia needs action, a quick perusal of IGD or Anews will give ideas of what this might look like in different situations. I am wary of antifa as a primary focus for anarchists, and I live in a particular place where being actively anti-fascist does feel like something that anarchists need to actively engage in, even if I find no personal drive to engage in street fighting, etc. Living in a place that has been identified as a future aryan homeland creates particular... challenges?... opportunities? IDK. It is hard to dismiss the actions of antifa living where I do, but I am wary.

(i might amend this answer, as I am not totally happy with it and suspect I am not answering your question, but I also might let it sit and let comments allow me space to further hash out what I want to say)

answered Jul 30 by ingrate (21,620 points)
Do you live in Alabama or one of the other deep south states? That's where i'd assume crackers would want to place their future aryan cracker homeland.
I don't, would love to hear perspectives from anarchists in the deep south though. Sadly, racists have staked multiple parts of the US as potential "homelands," so I doubt my experience is unique to where I live.
im not completely against the suppression and shaming if we are talking about things that are very violent and oppressive, it just seems to me that most people now prefer to get in yelling matches and trying to make people feel bad for having opinions, which actually strengthens the right-wing persecution complex. I feel like with some of those neo-nazi demonstrations it's better just to ignore them, that's far more damaging to their message than trying to argue with people who have incredibly stupid opinions.
what is this wariness towards antifa?  i guess i can see why normal antifa wouldnt really be that useful in many circumstances, but as an outsider to most anarchist movements, i have to say it looks like a riot.  :D  a good laugh.  is there something i am missing?  i can see how people would take it way too seriously, but thats true of fucking everything including not taking things seriously.  i dunno.

I kind of view antifa and/or smug leftists as pulling the Streisand Effect for neo-nazis, the alt-right, and other right-wingers in the US. It's totally backfiring, imo. Like these protests of a 7 neo-nazis demo that'd otherwise no one would care or know about. It brings so much attention to those 7 neo-nazis and as they say "there's no such thing as bad press" that potentially helps them grow to 8 neo-nazis or maybe 10, and so on.

To some extent I wondered how much of a part of smug liberals in the US had towards influencing people towards right-wing ideas. Like they used to scream and shame people as racist white nationalists for disagreeing with the former president. It was kinda funny, but got old

thats a fair point, though i guess an argument could be made to the idea that it creates a fame associated with resistance, which given that they want fame an attention anyway, could be considered a good thing.  i guess it partially hinges on whether you think that these right wing elements wouldnt be able to get attention without the attention brought by counter-protest / streetfighting -i dont really know how 'anti-fascism' manifests itself, though i imagine more as the first, this isnt really based on anything but cynicism-.

given how popular bigotry and jingoism has tended to be, i very much doubt this personally.  the only reason i could see someone believing this is with some sort of idea of 'progress' ie that people are generally better these days, something i also doubt.
@shinmin: I don't think antifa in any way makes racism less popular, they might be able to intimidate neo nazis when they are lucky but this doesn't change anyone's opinions, people who are scared or have emotional hang ups often want to stick to their guns so to speak. I really liked the approach that the lady had in the documentary "the white right" where she goes and interviews neo nazis and at the same time questions their ideas
@nihilist, i also dont think antifacist action makes racism less popular.  i also dont think that is the point.  it seems to me that the important factor isnt how popular x idea is, but how powerfully that idea is imposed on the world, though of course the two are interconnected.  indeed racism is a very powerful idea itself, as it brings people together united in a common cause, a common fear, and a common anger.  i dont see antifascist action as something that 'changes peoples minds' but as a way that certain people, people who say are antifascist, enact their will on the world.  but i dont live anywhere that it is done, and i dont really do anything that could be considered 'antifascist' myself.

to come at it from another angle, i dont really believe that disengaging with society will make society go away, or weaken society in any meaningful way, but that also isnt the point.  i dont want to disengage with society as some sort of debate, to prove that i right and that my way is better.  the point is to move myself away from society, to create distance and so autonomy and independence.  to change *my* world, not *the* world.  similarly i could see someone arguing that the point of antifacist action isnt to make racists less racist, but to keep them away, or to maintain a level of power over racism.

also the idea that 'debating' and 'questioning' neo nazis, or indeed anyone, out of there position as a means to tackle a shift in power i think is laughable.  to have your ideas questioned you have to allow them to be questioned, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to a minor extend, and thats not something most fucking anarchists can do, let alone neo nazis.

@shinmin - My wariness is on a few levels.

I see antifa becoming what I can best describe as a "thing," by which I mean that it is both developing into a specialized class or identity, and is developing a sort of an ideology (even while not having an explicit ideology beyond being anti-fascist). The ideology is a semi-inconsistent sort of purity politics that manifests in no-platforming as a concrete methodology. While I am all for not giving fascists, racists, and the extreme right any space and attacking their beliefs and groups however one sees fit, I am wary of how this plays out once the idea that we can give absolutely no platform* to people who act, or hold belief in "bad" things who should be no platformed starts to look a lot different, and as someone who has friends that some of the most well known and accessible voices of antifa have done a lot of work to smear people and projects as being proto-fascists, or at least creating an entry point into anarchist circles for fascists. As this becomes more generalized, it starts to be applied to situations where in fact nuance and critical engagement are more helpful than throwing punches or shutting down events.

My other main concern is anti-fascist anarchists (which ought to be a redundant statement) entering in to larger coalitions in the name of antifa which often include groups that are hostile to anarchists. On the one hand, I don't believe that anarchists should only act with other anarchists, at least not in every situation, but there is a way in which anarchist formations are being used as front line shock troops while leftists and liberals continue to do their politicking. To be clear, I don't think these anarchists are naive to this, at least not most (most I have engaged with are fully aware and are acting based on their beliefs and what they think is the best course of action, eyes wide open to the risks), but that these other parties have found ways to harness anarchist action to ultimately undermine anarchist intention and achieve political power or the ultimate reinforcing of state control.

I also think some fascists and far right actors have figured out how to use the imagery of street fighting and violence to their own advantage, either as a recruitment tool to disaffected individuals looking to belong to something and have an enemy to fight, to leverage scary antifa to make them look like victims, and to gain some degree of legitimacy through increased media coverage. I can't gauge how effective this actually is (I suspect the recruitment more so than the other two, but this is where hearing from someone in say Alabama would be helpful, as I live in a pretty liberal/progressive corner of the world).

Taken together, and combined with my own opposition to fascism, it just leaves me both hoping that fascists get their asses kicked in any and every way possible, and unsure that that is what is actually happening. Complicated, wary. This is like a massive multiplayer game of chess, and often it seems like anarchists aren't really looking at the whole board.

There are some other concerns that are bouncing around in my head, but I need to shape them more, maybe will post more later.

*As a funny aside, when I first heard the phrase "no-platforming" my mind went immediately to some sort of anti-platformist thing, and I was like, "doesn't sound too shabby."

@shinmin: queer ultraviolence is a pretty entertaining book about the concept of asserting yourself over the world, just a reccomendation...

I think that if anti-fa is not about combating fascism itself, rather than just fighting people who are fascists, then it's a pretty fucking pointless thing. I guess it's not a good idea to fight the state, but just singling out one element of the state and fetishizing how terrible it is sounds like an authoritarian tactic. Making racists afraid just makes them more racist
Related to the attempt to make antifa a wider coalition than just anarchists, I see the potential to slip into what I think of as the Fighting for Our Lives trap of trying to make it so palatable to non-radicals that it becomes watered down from any actually meaningful resistance to fascism. Again I'm not anti-antifa, just not willing to ignore its potential shortcomings as a tactic.

"anti-fascist anarchists (which ought to be a redundant statement)"

indeed, as anarchist should be redundant with anti-patriarchy, anti-racist, etc.

to the point of providing a platform for such views, i personally would much rather know who holds those fucking fascist, racist, patriarchal, etc, views, than to let them hide in plain sight - especially through being silenced by folks i supposedly agree with. not saying to encourage them to hold rallies and shit; but i prefer the enemy i know to the one i don't.

@funky: That's the thing, once someone critiques an authoritarian, they hide in a figuritive sense if they are beating your head into the ground
@nihilist  i think that fascism is first and foremost composed of those who themselves perpetuate fascism.  fascist behaviour /is/ fascism.  so to me 'fascism itself' is just people who are fascist, not some ethereal fascist force moving on the face of the earth.  im not at all sure how you would go about combating 'fascism itself', but it sounds wayy too 'metaphysical' - as @dns might put it- for my liking.

also i find the insistance that 'making racists afraid makes the problem worse', i.e. the narrative of appeasement, to be a bit tired.  i am a little sick of the idea we should be avoiding conflict in general.  i find it nauseating and limp.  personally i think history is very much not on your side on that one, but im willing to hear counterpoints.

@funkyanarchy, why would you rather know who the fascists are than have them stay in the shadows?  /if/ you know about them, you arent the only people who know about them.  presumably you know of them because they have increased their profile in general, which would seem to me to be a bad thing, no?


also @ingrate i dont mean to ignore you points, its just the only thing i can really say honestly in response to the concerns you raise is that i agree they are things to be thought about, i just as of yet have no thoughts on them.  at least, no interesting ones worth raising.  indeed; complicate, wary.  that being said, i am skeptical of 'big picture thinking', though i admit that this is possibly only because im not very good at it.
shinmin, i agree but...

i like the emphasis on behavior, because it focuses on people who do fascist things, regardless of what they call themselves (and there are many, of course)... but fascism is a thing that exists to the extent that any ideology exists. ie, it is a body of ideas that people support, reject, etc. right? can people do non-fascist things in the name of fascism?
but to skyline's point....where does the fascism "exist"....in someone's brain, no? i mean, an idea only exists in someone's mind, and i doubt any idea (or body of ideas) manifests identically in more than one person's mind....

so like skyline, i don't see fascism as a thing unto itself, but rather a name one might give to a way a person thinks or acts or talks or writes. not that an idea can't get expressed by one person to another....who then also begins to think in a similar way.....but i don't see the ideas existing in a disembodied state.
ba@, i doubt anything is exactly the same for anyone regardless of whether it's a material thing or not. is identical-ness required for something to impact other things (in this case, us)?

an abstractjon by definition isn't embodied, but that doesn't mean abstractions don't influence people..

regarding your question about identical-ness of an idea to make an impact....

no, not required to impact someone....

yes, i agree that abstractions influence people....

but i intended to mean something other than those points of yours that i agree with....so i guess it didn't come across very well.... :)

basically, that "fascism" doesn't exist "by itself" as a thing without a person.
shin: "why would you rather know who the fascists are than have them stay in the shadows?"

for much the same reasons i want to know where the poison oak is in the forest, or where that bug-eyed dude with the ar-15 is, or where that nuclear waste is buried. i could say the same about things/beings that i like/enjoy/feel good about. having (reliable - meaning usually first hand) information about the world around me is vital to my survival and enjoyment of life.

i happen to find many left-wingers to be every bit as annoying and (sometimes) dangerous as many right-wingers. they all think they know what is "right" (heh heh) for everyone. fuck em all.
@funkyanarchy yes i supposed knowing where things are is useful.  i guess i just always thought one of the good things about knowing where your enemies are is knowing where to send your -violent- opposition.  it seems to me that fascists can choose to be open or choose to hide, and thats prior to any action taken by anyone else.  there are good reasons for them to do either.  but since i dont really do anything, violent or otherwise, or know of any local fascists, well other than a couple of their faces, ive mostly run out of things to say.

"one of the good things about knowing where your enemies are is knowing where to send your -violent- opposition"

absolutely! i would expand that to include whatever response one chooses to have. from violent opposition/attack to conscious avoidance (and everything in between); context will always help determine what my response is.

i think there are probably times when "ignorance is bliss" makes sense. having people around that would choose to kill, injure or imprison me or those i care (which would of course include cops, etc as well as right/left wing wingnuts) about is definitely not one of those times.