Have you ever been in a discussion in an ostensibly Progressive or Left venue only to suddenly find someone promoting a meme that seems drawn directly from the swamps of far Right extremism? Have you wondered how such a thing could come to be? A new article at Political Research Associates, Drawing the Line Against Racism and Fascism by Spencer Sunshine, examines this phenomenon and draws some provocative conclusions.
In the past weeks there has been a heightened discussion here on Kos about the use of such memes by Progressives and others on the Left. This article provides some useful insights that could help move the discussion forward, whether or not one accepts all of it's conclusions.
For many decades, the Far Right has disguised or rebranded its politics by establishing front groups, deploying code words, or using other attempts to fly under the radar.3 As the years pass by, some of these projects have taken on lives of their own as these forms have been adopted by those with different agendas. Simultaneously, there is a revival of fascist influence within countercultural music scenes. And intertwined with these changes is a renewed attempt on the part of some White separatists to participate in, or cross-recruit from, progressive circles.
Based on my own experience researching and organizing
against Far Right extremism, I can second this without reservation. Far too many well intentioned folks are enthralled by stereotypical media depictions of the Far Right as ignorant, borderline morons incapable of pursuing sophisticated political and propaganda strategies. This is a dangerous misjudgement.
Far Right cross-recruiting from the Left has long been a problem, and some Far Right groups are now in a renewed period of doing it—while intentionally disguising and/or soft-selling their real aims. In recent years, this has been observed in anti-war, progressive populist, radical Left, anarchist, environmental, animal rights, anti-Zionist, counter-cultural, and religious (especially esoteric, occult, and neopagan Heathen) circles.4 Some begin by repeating a sophisticated left-wing critique of problems with contemporary society, draw upon Leftist symbols and cultural orientation, and then offer racial separatism (along with the rest of the Far Right package) as the answer to these problems. European New Right ideologue Alain de Benoist—who promotes ecology and denounces capitalism, the consumer society, and imperialism—is a prime example.5
Again, this comports with my own observations and research.
Antisemitism is a main theoretical plank for fascists and other Far Right actors, and Holocaust denial has always been a tactic with the goal of re-legitimizing fascism in the eyes of the public. Those who deny the Holocaust—one of the best-documented events of the last century—have no place in progressive political circles. The same goes for those who repeat traditional Nazi-era antisemitic conspiracies, such as that Jews control the government, banking system, or the mass media. This includes the propaganda group If Americans Knew or the American Free Press newspaper, which, while repeating classical antisemitic narratives, deploy code words such as “Zionists,” “Jewish neocons,” or the “Frankfurt School”—instead of “the Jews.”18
This is an extremely important point. Given the debate and conflict over Israel policy and actions regarding the Palestinians, there has never been a time when the Left was more vulnerable to this variety of racist sentiment.
The evidence shows that Far Right cross-recruiting and participation in progressive circles will not go away, and progressives should adopt policies—and have plans ready—to deal with anyone who falls under the above four categories who wants to enter, attend, or participate in any progressive organizations, physical spaces, events, or demonstrations.
The fight against such ideologies is at bottom a political struggle. As such it cannot be won by administrative means. It has to be fought out in the arena of public debate and mass agitation/opposition.
In order to effectively combat these efforts by the far right, it's important to be fully informed as to threat they pose. I highly recommend this article, including its copious foot notes, as a part of the process of self education.
Comments are closed on this story.