Following fairly logically from the position that fascism is just a capitalist policy option, the U.S. left (also the British or at least the old Searchlight people along with their many other blemishes) has tended to view the actual fascist and neo-fascist groups as more or less of a joke. Their political positions are treated as propaganda that should not to be taken seriously, as just a cover for an opportunistic mixture of thugs, nuts, and cops that is essentially in the pay of sectors of the capitalist ruling class. Accompanying this is the terminally foolish conception of fascist cadre as cowards and bullies who will run from anyone willing to fight. Such positions should have died quietly a quarter century ago with the appearance of the Turner Diaries in this country. This novel, based of Jack London’s Iron Heel, was written by William Pierce, who until his recent death was head of the fascist National Alliance and previously a major figure in George Lincoln Rockwell’s Nazi group. The Turner Diaries is not a cartoon-Klan concoction. It elaborates a radical critique of the existing capitalist social structure and goes to some lengths to differentiate revolutionary fascists from reactionary, but reformist, right-wingers. Beyond a political perspective, the Turner Diaries lays out a moral and ethical framework for U.S. fascism which, whatever else can be said about it, is not opportunistic or lumpen. The left in the U.S paid essentially no attention and, with few exceptions, drew no political conclusions. Much of it is probably still, after two decades, familiar with the Turner Diaries only through its mention in newspaper accounts as a major influence on Timothy McVeigh, the Order, the Posse Commitatus, the Phineas Priesthood, the World Church of the Creator, etc.
Although the Turner Diaries were clearly revolutionary, they make a narrow and moralistic attack on what they picture as the essential corruption of U.S. society. Pierce is not enthused about anti-capitalism. His criticisms of U.S. capitalism focus on excesses and abuses, criticizing the alleged dominance of the financial element over the productive (sic) element. William Pierce was totally aligned with the Hitler wing of the Nazi spectrum. His politics rested on a mix of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, myths of a heroic white past, and other assorted aryan garbage. His vision of an alternative society was hierarchical, authoritarian, and patriarchal. This worldview may find mass support in fundamentalist right-reactionary circles, but it has distinct limitations in popular appeal elsewhere.
Pierce’s attempt to create an American variant of classical German Nazism has resulted in new fascist formations that frontally attack him and his organization, the National Alliance, for being insufficiently anti-capitalist, insufficiently militant, and far too bureaucratic and hierarchical. A struggle is developing among fascists over whether they should try to corral and capture the generic right or, alternatively, whether they should confront and challenge right wing variants of reformism and parliamentarianism while looking elsewhere for a political base. This provides a good place to raise a question mentioned earlier. Might an essentially pro-capitalist fascist tendency heading a mass reactionary movement develop the autonomous strength to impose fascism “from below” on a corrupt and weakened capitalist ruling class? There is absolutely no doubt that this is the intended and preferred strategy of the National Alliance and a number of other fascist groups in this country and elsewhere in the world. They would like to gain hegemony over the massive amorphous right-reactionary base and build incrementally from this base towards power. (Of course, another part of their perspective involves the penetration of key institutions, the military and the police and the development of real military assets of their own.) These fascists advocate both open and covert participation in the Reform Party, in the Right to Life movement, and in various conservative political and social movements in order to implement their perspective.
This strategy has obvious parallels to approaches of the traditional Marxist-Leninist left. Whether the strategy is advanced by authoritarians on the right or on the left, it generates the same sorts of criticisms and opposition. Capitalist development creates an anti-capitalist fascism that will neither retreat nor evaporate when confronted by what it sees as pro-capitalist fascism. Long before Pierce’s strategy succeeds, it has created its own fascist challenge, a challenge that it will have great difficulty defeating or absorbing.
Which variant of fascism will prevail? Will they cancel each other out? I have my opinions but I could be wrong. What I do know is that, on this point as on all others, the most dangerous left assumption is that the easier road is the one that we will be traveling. The worst error the left could commit in this situation is to assume that Pierce’s variant of fascism will ultimately prevail because it looks most like the best recognized historical model, German National Socialism. This assumption might ultimately prove to be true, but acting on it now only means that fascism will be effectively discounted as an ideological challenge, whatever significance it is assigned in other respects. This then becomes another support for an ultimately suicidal complacency about the left’s own perspectives and visions. The only remaining question will be whether we get done in by the fascists or by the capitalists.
Some of the conflicts and contradictions in the fascist camp are apparent in the fascist music/cultural magazine, Resistance. Recently the magazine was taken over by the National Alliance, and its revitalization and reorientation admittedly took a lot of Pierce’s time. It is clearly an attempt to appeal to and organize radical white skinheads. In the first issues after the magazine came under National Alliance control some polemical articles by orthodox fascists led to an outraged and hostile response from the magazine’s audience. One article criticized “undisciplined” and “tattooed” skinheads and argued that they should join the army and learn military skills. Another attacked the conception of “leaderless resistance” as infantile and amateurish. A further argument challenged any orientation to the “working class”. The reaction to these traditional fascist positions led to the dismissal of one editor, and a formal editorial apology from his successor.
It is likely that Pierce's successors would have to modify his entire conception of white aryan culture if they want to seriously contend with more radical fascists for this base. I wouldn’t presume to predict how this situation will ultimately work out. However, I do think that while the likes of Pierce might prevail organizationally and/or through force for a period of time, it is unlikely that they can win a conclusive ideological triumph.Third Position
However unfortunate this was for him and his organization, Pierce’s categorical critique of U.S. society in the Turner Diaries provided part of the impetus for the reemergence of the Strasser/Rohm “socialist” wing of fascism in the U.S., the so-called “third position”—a fascist variant that presents itself as “national revolutionary”, with politics that are “beyond left and right”.
(There appears to be two distinct wings to the third position. One calls itself the International Third Position, ITP, and tends to be more predictably racist, anti-feminist, anti-semitic, homophobic, etc. There is also a distinctly religious character to their politics. The other wing is called “National Revolutionary” or “National Bolshevik”, and is much more radical; categorically attacking “Hitlerian fascism”, and going to lengths to argue that they support all movements that are genuinely anti-capitalist. Some National Revolutionaries like the NRF in England are still overtly racist and white supremacist, despite their support for certain liberation movements; e.g., the Irish and Palestinian. Others, as indicated in some quotes I will introduce later, claim to completely reject white supremacy. Various National Revolutionary groups and ideologists also have differences about anti-Semitism that parallel their differences on racism and anti-imperialist national liberation. I would recommend that people look at the material of both groups. This can be done easily by beginning from the websites for “americanfront” and for the international third position.)
This third position variant of fascism poses a different and, I think, greater danger to the left than Pierce and the National Alliance. It makes a direct appeal to a working class audience with a warped, but militant, socialist racialist-nationalist program of decentralized direct action that has at least as much going for it as the warped reformist, nationalist, and pervasively non militant schemes of the established left. Not only does it intend to appeal to the working class and dispossessed—in distinct contrast to groups like the National Alliance; but at least some elements within it explicitly aim to recruit from the ranks of the militant left, and not from the radical right.
It is one thing to talk about abstract potentials for a militantly anti-capitalist brand of fascism. It’s another to show evidence that something like this is actually developing. I believe that there is some evidence in this country and that there is a great deal of evidence in the rest of the world. The first indicators appeared when fascist groups began to move away from their traditional base in white racist reaction and look for recruits and influence in areas which the left naively believes are part of “its movement”. I’m including a statement about the Seattle WTO demonstrations from our World Church of the Creator friend, Pontifex Maximus to illustrate this development:
“What happened in Seattle is a precursor for the future—when White people in droves protest the actions of world Jewry not by ‘writing to congressmen’, ‘voting’, or other nonsense like that, but by taking to the streets and throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of the enemy’s machine. I witnessed some of what happened in Seattle firsthand, for as chance would have it, I was in Seattle from December 2 until December 5 to meet with Racial Loyalists there and speak at the yearly Whidbey Island vigil honoring Robert J. Mathews. I witnessed some of the marches, and while there was certainly a fair amount of non-white trash involved in them, the vast majority were White people of good blood, who can be mobilized in the future for something besides their economic livelihood or environment; their continued biological existence. It is from the likes of the White people who protested the WTO (and who in some cases, went to jail for illegal actions) that our World Church of the Creator must look to for our converts—not the stale ‘right wing’ which has failed miserably to put even one dent in the armor of the Jewish monster. Did the right wing hinder the WTO? No. They were too busy ‘writing their congressmen’—congressmen who were bought off a long time ago, or waiting for their ‘great white hope’ in shining armor who they can miraculously vote into office. The reality, though, is that there is invariably a kosher U or K on that armor. How many defeats must they suffer before they realize that a change in tactics is advisable? No, it was the left wing, by and large, which stymied the WTO to the point where their meeting was practically worthless, and we should concentrate on these zealots, not the ‘meet, eat, and retreat’ crowd of the right wing who are so worried about ‘offending’ the enemy that all too often, they are a nice Trojan Horse for the enemy’s designs.”
So Matt Hale believes, “It is from the likes of the White people who protested the WTO (and who in some cases, went to jail for illegal actions) that our World Church of the Creator must look to for our converts—not the stale ‘right wing’.” Is he just deluded? I don’t think so. On the one hand, Matt Hale carries some baggage that would hinder his approach to our constituency, though the baggage is to some extent disposable. Weighing against this, he can appear to be, and probably is, more militant, more “revolutionary”, and particularly in military ways, more effective, than the existing left. Hale’s position shows the will and intent to break out of organizing approaches that have entrapped fascists before. We had better plan on the emergence of fascists that are substantially better able to exploit these initiatives than a hopeful, but frustrated, aspirant to the Illinois bar.
Consider the following passage from a statement by Louis Beam, the advocate of “leaderless resistance” and former head of the Texas Klu Klux Klan, who speaks to and for a militant, but more populist than socialist, variant of the third position: “While some in the so-called right-wing sit at home and talk about waiting for the Police State to ‘come and get them,’ some other really brave people have been out confronting the Police State, instead of hoarding guns that will never be fired, these people were out bravely facing the guns of the New World Order.
“...My heart goes out to those brave souls in Seattle who turned out in the thousands from both Canada and the U.S. to go up against the thugs of Clinton and those who put him in office. I appreciate their bravery. I admire their courage. And I thank them for fighting my battle...
“Soon, however, there will be millions in this country of every political persuasion confronting the police state on streets throughout America. When you are being kicked, gassed, beaten and shot at by the police enforcers of the NWO you will not be asking, nor giving a rat’s tail, what the other freedom lovers’ politics ‘used to be’—for the new politics of America is liberty from the NWO Police State and nothing more.” (L. Beam, Radical Okie Homepage)
The left had better begin to deal with the fact that issues that are regarded a part of our movement; “globalization”, working class economic demands, “green” questions, resistance to police repression etc. are now being organized by explicit fascists and others who might as well be. Nor do we have a patent on decentralized direct action. That is exactly what the fascist debate around “leaderless resistance” is about. Finally, the question of who and what, exactly, is anti-capitalist remains very much unsettled. Some of the fascists take positions that at least appear to be much more categorically oppositional than those of most of the left. I said earlier that many third position fascists explicitly aim to recruit from the ranks of the left. This isn’t as quixotic as it might appear. Indeed, elements of third position politics are hard to distinguish from common positions on the left, even from positions held in some of the groups that are closest to us. For example, some punks and skinheads who view themselves as working class revolutionaries, some elements of RASH, and even some participants in our own anti-fascist organizations are ambiguous on issues which should clearly differentiate right from left. These ambiguities, and actually this may be too mild a term, include romanticized views of violence, male supremacy, susceptibility to cults of omniscient leadership, and macho opposition to open debate and discussion with respect for individual and group autonomy.
There is a more serious similarity between third position ideology and the views of one important tendency in our section of the left. Various green anarchists advance a strategy of anti-capitalist de-industrialization and ruralism based on decentralized cooperatives. Various fascist national revolutionaries explicitly argue for a similar strategy. Of course, the fascists present this position in opposition to multiculturalism and, more particularly, in opposition to immigration and foreigners. No significant element of the left in this country would currently accept these positions, although this may not be so true elsewhere in the world.
Even so, many U.S. leftists do believe that large sections of the population are so deformed by their patterns of consumption and by their acquiescence in relationships of domination and subordination that they cannot be considered as potential revolutionary subjects. This is a position which can also be found, not coincidentally, in such artifacts of the dominant culture as the movie, The Matrix. When the left combines these elitist perspectives with militant, but diffuse, actions against capitalist targets, the result can take on more than a passing resemblance to the “strategy of tension” admired by many European fascists and acted on by some.
Of course a major goal of our political practice should be to increase the “ungovernability” of capitalist society. But this cannot be done without taking adequate account of the effects of our actions on the actual living conditions of masses of people. We have to recognize and criticize the elitism and arrogance in our camp that writes off large sections of people as terminally corrupted. Blood and soil fascists, who are mainly concerned with “their own kind”, can, and do, treat masses of less favored people as redundant and mere objects. We can’t.