Here’s why, in a nutshell:
As President Donald Trump was holding a press conference attacking the “alt-left” as equally culpable for the violence and hatred in Charlottesville, West told his Dartmouth class he was standing with 20 clergy members and social justice activists singing This Little Light of Mine while nine military-style units of white nationalists marched past them shouting and cursing in their faces.
“We would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and anti-fascists,” West said.
What the so-called Marxists, “responsible leftists,” academic and non-academic socialists miss, besides everything, in their denunciations of antifa is precisely that– that there are fascists organizing demonstrations as a cover in order to physically assault, injure, terrorize black people, brown people, workers organizing for a better wage or better working conditions, and women, and anybody else who might stand in their way.
While the so-called Marxists, the “responsible leftists,” academic and non-academic socialists point to the massive demonstration against white supremacy in Boston as the “go to” template for defeating the nazis, the so-called Marxists, “responsible leftists,” academic and non-academic socialists not only miss, but work to obscure and sequester the real point: that Boston would never have occurred if it were not for the courage of those who demonstrated alongside antifa in Charlottesville; those who confronted the nazis in Charlottesville; those who defended Cornell West and the clergy members.
Boston never would have happened without those who battled alongside antifa; San Francisco, where the nazis decided not to show up, would never have happened. Berkeley, where the nazis did show up and were thoroughly routed, would not have happened without antifa in Charlottesville, without those who marched alongside antifa.
We are not anti antifa, because antifa would have stopped the beating of special education teacher De’Andre Harris at the hands of the nazis, while the Charlottesville police stood by and did nothing, which is precisely what the police do, being separated from nazis by less than a single degree.
Is this really news? Did IQs just drop sharply, as Ripley put it in Aliens? Did everyone suddenly forget Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama, recruiting a posse of the Ku Klux Klan members to attack SNCC workers attempting to register African-American voters? Right, it was 50 years ago, or was it? Maybe it was yesterday. It sure as hell is going to be tomorrow.
Did everyone forget Bull Connor, allowing the KKK to assault civil-rights workers in Birmingham?
Did everyone just fall off a truckload of pumpkins, being brought to market from Amnesiaville?
Is antifa in and of itself the program for social revolution? Of course not. Since when has that ever been the question to ask? Since when has that ever been the determining criteria for support, no-support?
Is antifa sufficient? Of course not. Is it essential? Of course it is.
Those who raise that issue, demanding complete programmatic elaboration before deigning to offer support raise that demand as nothing less than misdirection. Does anyone think the International Socialists represents in and of itself the program for social revolution? Those in the organization might, but that is a measure of their isolation, their loss of reality, thinking that an organization can represent the complete struggle of a class for emancipation, when the class itself has not yet initiated the struggle for its self-emancipation.
Does anyone think that the Internationalist Perspective, a grouplet whose musings are the ideological equivalent of an obsessive-compulsive continuously washing his/her hands in order to get out, out that damn spot of real class struggle, real history, has anything that amounts to a program for revolution?
Of course not. There is no complete program for revolution, and there will not be one that develops separate and apart from the concrete struggles that antifa itself has mobilized to engage.
It is imperative that we move towards that program, and we can only do that by assessing the victories, however small, and the defeats, however large, and preparing ourselves for the obvious and forthcoming change in tactics, and strategies, of the fascists. We do that only by assessing tactics, changing tactics, elaborating strategies, articulating the outlines of programs for the class as a whole to grasp, engage, alter, and most importantly, supersede.
So the nazis absorbed several defeats in Boston and the Bay Area. The nazis expected that. They know that they have a friend in the White House; they know they have friends in state houses; they know they have friends in the houses of Congress; they know they have friends in the state legislatures. They know, most of all, they have friends in every police department, in every law enforcement body in the United States, from the attorney-general to the county sheriff.
The nazis know a thing or two about terror; after all their normalizer-in-chief is a landlord, a real estate “developer” and nothing gets done in that business, the capitalization of property, without terrorism, without wrecking peoples’ lives; without throwing people into the street and running them over.
The nazis will adjust accordingly. They will wage terror campaigns relying heavily on operating from a distance and as individuals or small groups, “fire teams” they will call them getting a vicarious thrill from the military nomenclature like they do from their military camouflage gear, and their military assault rifles.
Some will target specific individuals who have been identified as antifa either through the nazis’ own networks, or through their access to those of the law enforcement agencies.
Some will target individuals and groups indiscriminately.
They, the nazis, all are in love with the notion of being “shooters”– Charles Whitman being first forever in their pantheon of heroes, but unlike Whitman, these nazis are not “simple psychotics,” they’re ambulatory. They think they have a purpose. And the purpose is to pass among us unseen, unnoticed, until, like cicadas, they can emerge in a swarm.
So while we prepare to protect our flanks, and our tail ends, from those with Dodge Challengers; while we can, will, and must mobilize thousands against the nazis, and around programs calling for disbanding all government bodies engaged in voter suppression; dismantling the ICE and CBP in their entirety; eliminating all right-to-work laws, and all laws interfering with women’s access to free, safe health care, we need to prepare to meet the next, and next style, of attacks.
August 28, 2017