Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Am I A Fascist?: An Open Letter to the Left-Wing Anarchist Movement

by Keith Preston

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence…”
-John Adams

“Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.”
-Bertrand Russell

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Fascist Party?”
-Senator Joseph McCarthy (paraphrase)

Roughly fourteen years ago, I created a very minor stir in the anarchist milieu in North America with an “Open Letter to the Anarchist Movement” that was printed in some of the leading anarchist publications of the day: Ideas and Action, Fifth Estate, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed and others. That article strongly criticized the then-nascent anarchist tabloid “Love and Rage” and argued that an authoritarian presence was taking root in the anarchist movement as a result of the influx of refugees from authoritarian tendencies within the New Left including ex-Trotskyists, ex-Maoists, ex-Weatherpeople and others. I argued that the modern anarchist movement was in the process of abandoning classical anarchist values such a mutual aid, voluntary association, individual autonomy, decentralization, secession and tolerance in favor of welfare statism, identity politics, race-baiting and race-hatred, misanthropic variations of “environmentalism” and cultural Marxism. I no longer have a copy of that article, but readers who have access to back issues of anarchist publications from the late ’89/early ’90 period may be able to locate it.

Now I return with another “Open Letter”. I recently came across a rather crude and semi-literate web site called Anti-Fascism.Org where I found I had been categorized as one of the great fascist writers of the post-WWII era. Some of my more recent articles and the platform of my organization, American Revolutionary Vanguard, were classified as leading documents of contemporary fascism. This scenario from the Theatre of the Absurd continues a trend that has been developing in the past few years whereby a certain number of monumentally ignorant people within the anarchist milieu, chief among them “Reverend Chucko” Munson of Infoshop.Org, have attempted to defame me with the antiquated slur, favored left-wing epithet and broad brush libel of “fascist”. Some have even gone so far as to hurl death threats in my direction. Ordinarily, I would ignore such petulance and childishness. I was once a teenager incarcerated in a maximum security facility with multiple murderers and child rapists. I used to hang with the Pagans and Hell’s Angels. Some of my closest friends have been life-long members of the urban gang culture. I care nothing for throwaways from exurbia who think they are doing their part to bring down the System by renouncing deoderant, gorging themselves with tofu and calling their bourgeois parents Nazis for voting Republican.

It is for two purposes that I reluctantly write this piece. One is my horror at the desecration of the legacy of classical anarchism being purveyed by many in the so-called “anarchist” movement of today. Anarchism was an ideological system created by some of history’s greatest thinkers-William Godwin, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin. Anarchism is the logical heir to the revolutionary liberal movements of the Enlightenment. Past generations of anarchists have endured murder, torture, imprisonment, exile and ridicule for the very basic rights that people in modern societies take for granted like free speech and the freedom of workers to organize unions. Anarchists were once a fierce revolutionary movement that struck terror in the hearts of despots worldwide. The valiant anarchists of Spain fought a two-front war against the twin totalitarianisms of Fascism and Communism and, in the midst of a war, carried out economic experiments that might still prove to be a prototype for the liberation of working people from the modern manorial system of corporatism. It is sickening to see such a noble past being defiled by the nutjobs, freaks, dysfunctional personalities, punks, brats, crackpots, thugs, crybabies, mediocrities, Peter Pans, cultists, ignoramuses, sociopaths, reactionaries, authoritarians, totalitarians, Communist dupes, left-wing fascists, liberal butt-lickers, tree-huggers, intellectual incompetents and stooges for the left-wing of state-capitalism that comprise the bulk of today’s “anarchist” movement.

Second, there are indeed honorable and decent people in the contemporary anarchist milieu who engage in much self-sacrifice for their ideals. I know a young man and young woman from the anarchist scene in my own community who not long ago put themselves on the line by traveling to the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel to work on behalf of the beleagured Palestinian people. People whom they do not know and who have never heard of them. They could have very well ended up like Rachel Corrie. This same young woman recently endured arrest at the hands of my city’s stormtrooper police force for protesting the current murderous US assault on the people of Iraq. There are other anarchists in my community who have engaged in direct confrontation with the police and openly defied the notoriously corrupt municipal government on behalf of people whom most others would never give a second thought-the homeless, the poor, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts and others. Some have engaged in candlelight vigils outside the jail on behalf on drug war prisoners and distributed copies of my anti-police state pamphlets to the families of inmates. Some have gone to city council meetings and attacked the city government for its destructive policies towards the community’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Some will gladly work long hours with no pay distributing food to the local poor. One very astute fellow from the local anarchist scene tells me he believes the local anarchist movement is much superior to that of other cities. I suspect he is correct. Yet I have no doubt that there are anarchists of similar dedication in other places. It is to these people that I address the bulk of my comments here.

Am I now, or have I ever been, a fascist? In a word, no. I have been instinctively anti-authoritarian all of my life and anti-statist for all of my political life. I was involved in the anti-apartheid and anti-Central American war movements in the 1980s. I support self-determination for blacks and other captive nationalities within the US. I have met Lorenzo Komboa Erving and agree with the general outlook of his book “Anarchism and the Black Revolution”. I favor the creation of self-defense organizations for the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, runaway kids and other street populations. I favor prisoner organizing and the eventual elimination of prisons. The majority of my current political interests involve opposition to US imperialism abroad and creeping police statism domestically. I also favor cooperatives, anarcho-syndicalist unions and worker-run industries as an antidote to state-capitalism. I have no beef with sexual minorities and favor the full participation of women on an equitable basis in the struggle against the System.

Most of the people reading this will know me primarily from my web site Attackthesystem.Com. I invite you to read my articles on the Commentary page. From these you can get a very thorough look at my actual beliefs, background, objectives, etc. Those with questions, disagreements or concerns are invited to contact me for personal discussion or debate. My home phone number, e-mail address and postal address are provided on my and We can combine the critique of these analysts with that of competent left-wing commentators like Howard Zinn, Alexander Cockburn, Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal. Second, there needs to be peaceful and, as much as possible, legal demonstrations against the US regime. Forget about foolishness like blockading traffic, throwing rocks, etc. This only alienates more moderate or mainstream persons and invites increased repression. Local resolutions condemning the actions of the regime cannot be supported strongly enough. We should rally behind local leaders who advance such resolutions. We also need to reach out to US military personnel who may have doubts about the war and, where possible, encourage disobedience, desertion or mutiny. Virtually all religious denominations in the US, excepting Zionist Jews and pro-Israel dispensationalist Christians, oppose the war. With this in mind, churches and mosques may be a source of grassroots opposition to the government’s actions.

The primary task that anarchists should currently devote themselves to is the development of an infrastructure that could potentially replace the US regime as its credibility diminishes. A revolution similar to those that occurred behind the Iron Curtain at the end of the Cold War is what I have in mind. This best strategy for achieving this end would be the emergence of secessionist movements at the local level. This is what is most compatible with American history and political and cultural traditions. This is also what is most consistent with the manner in which the resistance movement has evolved thus far. Individual cities, towns, communities and regions should simply declare themselves independent of the US regime, abrogate the laws and committments of the regime and form a confederation for the purpose of mutual defense against central power. The militia movement of the 1990s was on the right track in this regard. An essential lesson of the Iraq war is that even the US military machine, with its unprecedented power, is vulnerable to guerrilla warfare waged by decentralized militia and paramilitary forces. What should replace the US regime when it collapses? For practical purposes, we might look to Norman Mailer’s 1969 campaign for mayor of New York City. Says Mailer:

“I ran for mayor of New York in the hope that a Left-Right coalition could be formed and this Left-Right pincers could make a dent in the entrenched power in the center. The best to be said for that campaign is that it had its charm. I am not so certain, however, that this idea must remain eternally without wings. It may yet take an alchemy of the Left and Right to confound the corporate center. Our notion was built on the premise that we did not really know the elements of a good, viable society. We all had our differing ideals, morals, and political ethics, but rarely found a way to practice them directly. So, we called for Power to the Neighborhoods. We suggested that New York City become a state itself, the fifty-first. Its citizens would then have the power to create a variety of new neighborhoods, new townships, all built on separate concepts, core neighborhoods founded on one or another of our cherished notions from the Left or the Right. One could have egalitarian towns and privileged places, or, for those who did not wish to be bothered with living in so detailed (and demanding) a society, there would be the more familiar and old way of doing things-the City of the State of New York-a government for those who did not care-just like old times.”

Would such a system be “true” anarchism? Obviously not. Would this be an enormous step in the right direction? Hell, yes! As the British publication "Voice of the Resistance” puts it:

“Consider the ancient Greek polis or city state. Here was an institution that truly allowed for diversity of government. Although no overarching state structure existed, a variety of communities thrived across ancient Greece, often with very different systems of government ranging from the quasi-democracies of Athens to the more communistic regimes of Sparta. It is not too difficult to envisage an adapted form of such a system as an alternative to the American imperialism of the modern age. This, surely, must be anarchism at its most practicable and useful.”

Precisely. Let those who prefer anarcho-syndicalism or anarcho-communism or anarcho-capitalism do as they wish. Let Christians, Muslims, Jews or racial separatists, whatever their race, have their own communities. Let those who wish to live by the US Constitution, the Magna Carta, the Articles of Confederation, the Confederate Constitution or old English common law have their own sovereign townships. Let anarchists of all stripes form communities based on the teachings of Proudhon, Santillan, Bookchin, Chomsky, Zerzan or Rothbard, depending on whose version of anarchy they prefer. Let those who want Communism or municipal socialism go their own way. Let those who want to worship David Koresh or the Rev. Moon as the messiah do so. Let urban gangs run their own turf. Let drug dealers and prostitutes form red light districts similar to those found in Europe. Let even those who are so foolish as to wish to keep the present system do as they wish to themselves so as long as they don’t inflict themselves on the rest of us.

The struggle against the state is now an international struggle. There is really only one government nowadays and that is the imperial empire of the US ruling class and their junior partners in Britain, Israel and the EU. Let us struggle for self-determination for all cultures regardless of their beliefs. “Voice of the Resistance” continues:

“The alternative to the imperialism of America and the New World Order is not some different and new form of imperialism-it is not some other globalizing dogma, to be imposed at gun point upon the world. The alternative is the creation of a new and beautiful world of a million different communities and homelands, each seeking its own destiny in its own way. Let communist homelands flourish alongside racial nationalist homelands! Let Islamic homelands live in peace with Christian homelands! And let them all unite in the principled struggle against the bland and murderous American capitalist neoliberal imperialim that threatens to destroy so much that is noble and good.”

Certainly, such a system would be the ultimate in tolerance, diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism. These are, of course, the values that should be the essence of an authentic anarchism. A while back, I met a young woman from Portugal who told me that at one point in her life she had been hanging out with neo-nazi skinheads and then, at a later point, started hanging out with “anarchists” and along the way noticed that the two groups were largely interchangeable in the degree of their intolerance and dogmatism. Is this what anarchists should aspire to? I have nothing but the utmost respect for those anarchists who are putting themselves on the line in a genuine fight against the System. But I want nothing to do with those anarcho-losers for whom “anarchy” is simply a world where they actually have friends, get laid and don’t get beaten up for their lunch money.

I suggest that every anarchist reading this ask themselves this question: Would you want to go into battle during a revolutionary civil war, such as that fought by the anarchists of Spain, with the likes of Chuck Munson or any of the other raving, incoherent nut cases who post to the typical anarchist discussion list at your side? I didn’t think so. We need an anarchist movement that emphasizes quality over quantity. Many of those currently in the movement are a liability. Let them go join the RCP or some other loser outfit. Meanwhile, let the rest of us take anarchy to a whole new level. Death to the State! Death to the US Empire! Above all, Death to Cultic-Leftoid Anarcho-Totalitarianism! And for those readers who are by now calling me a Nazi, remember that no one ever fantasized about being sexually ravaged by someone dressed as a leftist!