Antifa Ruin Leif Erikson Day for Keystone State Boneheads

from Philly Antifa

Acting on an anonymous tip sent by an infiltrator within Neo-Nazi circles, Antifa Philadelphia, Love City Antifa, local Anarchists and several other organizations/individuals arrived at Fairmount Park Saturday morning to confirm that Keystone State Skinheads were indeed holding their Leif Erikson Day event.
Even before the Nazis had arrived, there were indicators that the tip was true. Civil affairs and Uniform PD were on the scene around the Gazebo, and a small detachment of Antifa were being shadowed by bike cops.
Eventually though, Antifa made visual confirmation of Mark Daniel “Illegal Aryan” Reardon heading towards the Gazebo on Lemon Hill on his red bike.
Reardon met up with Bryan Christopher Sawyer, the model who was fired from his job at the PA Academy of Fine Arts after posting a video of himself harassing a black woman with racist and sexist insults and abuse. Sawyer was repping Red Ice, a Neo-Nazi media company based in Sweden.
Bryan Sawyer (l) and Mark Reardon
Bryan Christopher Sawyer

Antifa attempted to approach Reardon and Sawyer to discuss some of their activities, but unsurprisingly they elected to run to the safety of Philly Police Department who had begun to congregate up around the Gazebo to undertake their traditional role as protectors for Fascists and Nazis.

By now, KSS began to arrive in carloads. We blasted the info out on social media in hopes of gathering some more opposition on short notice. Surprisingly, this appears to have been a new low in terms of attendance for KSS for this event. They managed to muster only about 25 Nazis to rally despite having opened up the event to strangers like Reardon and Sawyer and having gathered 40+ for the last 3 years since moving the event underground following a disastrous 2013 event.

Anthony James Olsen of Philly KSS holding pole. Wearing a mask (if they believe in what they’re saying why are they wearing a mask huh?) is Mikey Marcink, Indiana Blood and Honour.

Their original plan was to march all the way to the art museum to give speeches in front of the Washington Monument in Eakins Oval which were to be broadcast on Red Ice. Once Antifa began to form up, though, that plan was quickly abandoned in favor of their time honored tradition of saying some dumb shit in a megaphone at the Thorfin Karlsefni Statue while Antifa chanted, shouted at and heckled them. After maybe 20 minutes at the statue, police pushed Antifa down the sidewalk and street to escort the Nazis back up Lemon Hill and to their cars.

As the Nazis left, Anti-Fascists blocked Lemon Hill Road to get pictures of the vehicles for future identification of any Fascists yet unknown to us.

The leaked info also gave Anti-Fascists the details on the KSS after party in FDR park, which was to be held in the stone pavilion behind the Swedish History Museum. Anti-Fascists also blasted this info out and small groups began arriving in the area.
This proved to be the one major mis-step Antifa made that day. By just releasing the info and not giving a point for opposition to converge, a roving band of about 15 KSS bones were able to target small groups of Anti-Fascists. One car with 2 Anti-Racist Punx was surrounded by KSS, some of whom were armed with pistols. Fortunately, they were able to de-escalate the situation and were uninjured.  Less fortunately, 3 Anti-Fascists who had arrived on the scene to try and help evacuate the Punx were recognized from the earlier demo and attacked by KSS. The Antifa fought bravely, using mace and fists to defend themselves against the bones who were armed with various weapons. Two of the Antifa sustained minor injuries.
It could have been even worse, but a wedding was being held at the Swedish History Museum.Bystanders began recording the incident on their phones which prompted the KSS bones to run (well, one was limping) for their cars and leave the area. As a result, the KSS after-party ended before it could even begin.
While the Nazis’ event was totally ruined and shut down prematurely both at Fairmount and FDR, we cannot claim full victory when any of our comrades are injured. We also recognize that the situation in FDR park could have gone much worse. This op was planned on almost no notice and questionable intel which presented a real challenge for us. That all said, it’s safe to say that Leif Erikson Day 2017 was a disaster for KSS thanks to the bravery and hard work of local and regional Anti-Fascists.
Below are some pics of the Fascists who showed up Saturday.  Our goal is to identify every single participant and expose them as the Nazis they are to their neighbors and co-workers. If you have any information on any of the Fascists who were there this weekend, e-mail us. When you come to Philly to rep KSS, Blood and Honour or any other Neo-Nazi organizations, and attack Anti-Racists, we will make you regret it.

 

Front row from left to right: Ian McCorts, Ryan Wojitowicz, Bob Gaus, masked nazi, Tim Wylie. Behind Wylie holding Norweigan flag is Liam Schaff, a longtime KSS associate that hasn’t been seen in many years. In the far back with the Anti-Antifa shirt is Joey Phy of Philly KSS. In front of Phy with the goatee is Bryan Vanagaitis. Next to Vanagaitis with the sunglasses and Anti-Antifa shirt is Pat Rodgers. Behind Wojitowicz with his sunglasses on his forehead is Travis Cornell.

10 years on and smaller than ever… Keep it up, yall.

Antifa on a Conservative Campus: Possibilities

from Radical Education Department

Recently, we’ve seen powerful Antifa actions on college campuses like Berkeley and the University of Virginia striking back against emboldened white supremacists and fascists. We’ve also seen how crucial Antifa is on college campuses after neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer proclaimed they are targeting colleges as recruiting-grounds.

But what if you’re on a conservative or even reactionary campus?  This situation poses special challenges for Antifa.  It may be difficult to find anything beyond a small group willing to mobilize against fascism and its roots in the white supremacy, misogyny, and imperialism central to capitalist society.  And activists confront not only widespread apathy,  but also the real possibility of backlash from both administrators and many other students and faculty. The threat to contingent faculty is especially great. The situation can seem hopeless.

Still, there is great value in cultivating a radical Antifa presence on conservative campuses.  In this post, I point out that importance by drawing on my own experiences as part of a small Antifa group on a conservative campus.  And I start to assemble a list of other, further radical possibilities beyond those we explored.  I hope, then, this reflection could be helpful to people in similar situations.

1. Some background: Villanova and the Charles Murray Action

Villanova University is a notoriously conservative school.  Many students in its overwhelmingly white and upper-class student body vocally support the Trump administration (with “Make America Great Again” signs and parties, for example; check out this endorsement of Trump in the college paper).  It was in this context that white supremacist physical violence erupted on campus.  Two of my own students of color mentioned to me the fear they felt for their safety on campus.

Villanova has also been openly hostile to progressive activism.  For instance, one contingent faculty-person in our group–Nova Resistance–was explicitly threatened with being fired for another, very benign and non-disruptive, organizing project on campus.  In recent years, Villanova administrators rescinded a speaking invitation to a queer activist.

We formed Nova Resistance to disrupt an invited talk by the white supremacist, anti-worker, and misogynist pseudo-intellectual Charles Murray in March 2017.  In the lead-up to the event, two of us had tried to create a large faculty and student action; they were either ignored or met with anemic, sanctimonious arguments for “free speech” or “boycotting.”

Ten things you can do to combat racism and xenophobia ...

In the days prior, one of us hung very simple posters across campus to call for resistance.  We distributed it by slipping it secretly inside the student newspaper and taping it across many campus buildings.  Nova Resistance officially met for the first time only hours before the event began.  Members made signs, and made a plan for the action.  Some of us were very new to more disruptive, small-group tactics.

By the day of the talk, we were only a handful of activists, with at least one person coming from off-campus.  The event was heavily guarded many hours before.  A police helicopter circled overhead; campus swarmed with armed police carrying many thousands of dollars of military-style equipment; there were numerous conspicuous undercover cops; and so on.  The talk was to be held in a secure basement location on campus with very limited seating–obviously chosen because it is the building that houses campus security.  Moreover, we discovered that, in addition to campus police, the university paid some $15,000 to hire the police force from Radnor township.  Clearly, administrators were spooked by the ghost of Middlebury.

Four made it into the crowded event, while a few others remained outside to prepare for a protest and teach-in after our eventual ejection.  As soon as Murray took the stage, two from Nova Resistance stormed the front of the event, blocking the projector screen with a banner. The plan was for the two to stage a silent action during the event while a banner and signs were held to under-cut the talk.  Others were to create an increasing disruption of ridiculous noises, cheers, heckling, etc., all as a way of interrupting and hopefully halting the talk.

Almost immediately, the two of us who were standing at the front were accosted by belligerent audience-members.  One person in the reserved seats in the front row–neither security nor a talk organizer–grabbed the shirt of one of us and seemed nearly on the verge of punching him. The talk’s faculty organizer, as well as an unaffiliated, liberal  professor, approached the two Nova Resistance members at the front, trying to convince them to cease the disruption.  Another member of our direct action team went to the front of the room with the other two.

Fairly quickly amid these confrontations, one of the three activists at the front began more disruptively yelling about Murray’s fascistic ideology, the school’s implication in it, and so on (departing from the group’s plan of silence).  However, the activists refused to engage directly with the attempts at heckling or negotiation and instead resolutely stated that they refused to have their university provide a podium for a reactionary eugenicist, racist, misogynist hack. After around 15-20 minutes of this, campus security threatened to arrest the activists if they did not allow themselves to be escorted out of the event.  They chose the latter option in order to re-consolidate outside. One member filmed the encounters and eventually posted them on our social media outlets.

Outside we rapidly escalated.  One of us brought a megaphone.  Using this, we organized an impromptu, direct-action “teach-in” immediately outside of the windows of the Murray talk.  The crowd that formed around us was perhaps 40-50 strong and fairly receptive–unusual for Villanova’s campus–though the crowd was largely passive.  We screamed and chanted (“No Murray!  No KKK!  No fascist USA!” etc.) into the open windows of the event with the megaphone, creating additional disruptions, although the windows were rather quickly closed.  The police then confronted us, telling us we had to cut the megaphone (on threat, apparently, of arrest).  We continued without amplification for a while, and then left. Members of Nova Resistance were approached by local news outlets for interviews and quotes.

We were not ready for the next steps.  We had no statement prepared and hadn’t set up any social media outlets to post videos or analysis or to garner more support and visibility.  Later that day we whipped up a Facebook page and began posting media, and within a few days we submitted an article for the school newspaper and created a manifesto-style statement, posting them as well.  But our lag left us without a voice at a time when our actions were being interpreted and either supported or condemned without our own voice helping to shape the narrative.

(It should also be noted that the school newspaper, The Villanovan, warped the statement they ran without consulting us, toning down and pacifying our language.)

Nova Resistance then began to meet regularly, renaming itself the Radical Education Department (RED).  We reframed our task beyond Villanova as the creation of a radical left think-tank developing Antifa practices across college campuses.  We used the visibility and experience from the event to inform a number of articles in left popular media (for example, this, this, and this).

‘Leif Erickson Day Celebration 2017’: Slim Pickings for the Boneheads

from Idavox

It didn’t take long for antifa to mobilize against the latest outing by the Keystone State ‘Skinheads’ (KSS) and friends and even less time to send them packing. Props go to Philly!

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Oct. 14, 2017 – Alerted by a tip off, antifa from Philadelphia and other areas of the state were able to rout a significantly small group of neo-Nazis who came out for the “Leif Erickson Day Celebration” on Boathouse Row. Antifa were also able to for the first time converge on their after rally event at a park in South Philadelphia, which ended in an altercation that had the neo-Nazis cut their event short.

Each year for the past decade, KSS, which prefers to go by the name Keystone United, would attempt to hold a rally at the statue of the Icelandic explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni, but after 2013, when there was a massive number that turned out to oppose them, they have attempted to conceal the event from the public to avoid such opposition, even holding the rally at night. This year, they attempted to hold an afternoon event once again and were set upon by antifa before they even left their usual staging area at the gazebo in nearby Fairmont Park that overlooks the statue. This marked the first time in four years the neo-Nazis were opposed.

10/14/2017: Tim Wylie, holding the stick and wearing glasses, is followed by Mark Daniel Reardon, checking his phone, and Anthony James (AJ) Olsen, trying to take pics on the far right.

A paltry 24 persons came out to rally this year, but even with the short notice antifa managed to bring out 30 to counter protest. At a nearby pavilion in Fairmont Park, there was a memorial service for a bike messenger that recently passed away, and while no one attending the service participated in the counter demonstration, some speakers shouted out their contempt for the assembled neo-Nazis to cheers.

Those among the neo-Nazis, who came from as far as Albany, NY and Indiana with just a few of them currently living in Philadelphia, were many that have been seen in past years, but new faces included Mark Daniel Reardon, who according to Philly Antifa fled his apartment when community members learned that he had posted fliers around West Philadelphia, looking to recruit for a violent neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen and model Bryan Christopher Sawyer, who does work for the White Supremacist podcast Red Ice and once lost his job at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when he videotaped himself harassing a Black woman with racial slurs, posting the video on his Facebook page. KSS associate and convicted felon Tim Wylie also participated in the rally, and on Thursday, he is scheduled to appear in court on weapons charges, including one for providing false information on an application while attempting to purchase a firearm in July 2016. He has participated in a number of rallies and events with KSS in the past, including an anti-refugee rally in the Pennsylvania State House in 2015.

Anthony James (AJ) Olsen

After some time at the gazebo, the rally participants then march down to the statue with antifa in front of them chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” and antifa then blocked them from getting near the statue and began either shouting back and forth with the neo-Nazis, or loudly debated them, KSS associate Bob Gaus, who appeared to lead the rally denying that neither he nor anyone he was with was a Nazi, but instead a White Nationalist.

Although according to some information, the plan was supposed to have been to march to the Washington Monument in front of the nearby Philadelphia Art Museum, the presence of antifa might have thwarted those plans, and the assembled retreated back into Fairmont Park to return to their vehicles. It was learned however that they ended up in South Philadelphia at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park for an after party, and antifa followed them there. At some point there was an altercation, at which time the neo-Nazis ended their event and left the park.

One week earlier three times as many antifascists came out to the same statue to claim it and the day from the neo-Nazis that annually hold their event in that location. No neo-Nazis came to oppose or attempt an event last week, although police fortified the statue, which was vandalized with red paint, with barricades and officers guarding it.

Films Against Fascism

from Facebook

Come watch antifascist films at the Wooden Shoe!
Free food! Vegan options available.

Recommended donation: $10.
All proceeds go to J20 defendants.

[October 22 from 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM at 704 South St]

Some Tips on Recent Things

Submission
George Ellsworth Lewis III had his neighborhood flyered and was visited by antifascists at his local favorite bar.

The Thorfinn Karlsefni statue got tarred, glittered, and spray painted before Lief Erikson day.

A banner for Scout Shultz in solidarity with those who’re fighting cops went up.

Nazi-Punching 101 with Linda Tirado

from Facebook

What’s so hard about denouncing Nazis? It should be clear that there is no room for equivocation or mincing words. Nazis must be denounced and stopped. How do we reach out to poor white youth who are being recruited into white supremacist groups? What do we say to liberals who want to find a way to de-escalate without calling out the harm done by hate groups? How do you answer the messed up and false equivalency of the violence perpetrated by white supremacists and Nazis to the acts of resistance by Antifa and others who demonstrate solidarity with marginalized communities?

Linda Tirado is a freelance writer and activist who has spoken around the globe about what it’s like to be poor in America. She is the author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. Before she wrote books Tirado was a night cook in rural Utah. Described as having “a way with words that’s both breezy and blunt,” she works to make the lives of America’s working class slightly more tolerable, although she dreams of the day that America wakes up and realizes that there’s no moral distinction between collecting food stamps and writing off business lunches on one’s taxes because either way the taxpayer is feeding people.

[October 19 from 7-9pm at Wooden Shoe Books 704 South St]

Philly Antifa Flyer Against Daniel Reardon and Jeff Thomas in West Philly

from Philly Antifa

Earlier this week, the avenues of West Philadelphia were blanketed with myriad of posters, warning residents of the presence of local neo-Nazi scum Mark Daniel Reardon, and his corny ‘Not a Nazi’ side-kick Jeff Thomas. This past spring, Reardon was driven from his apartment when community members learned that he had posted fliers around University City, looking to recruit for Atomwaffen, a violent neo-Nazi organization. Since then, Reardon has been forced to hide his wretched self away, spending his time re-tweeting Pepe the frog memes and periodically leaving his sad, lonely cave to get food from the Checkers on 43rd and Market.

Thomas resigns himself to attending Trump rallies and infrequently posting stickers and Alt-Right fliers around town. Oh, and getting in Facebook arguments about how he’s “totally not a racist,” despite being at the Unite the Right rally, and working security for known Holocaust denier Augustus Invictus. Pitiful as both Reardon and Thomas are, Charlottesville serves as proof that fascist and white supremacist groups are growing emboldened, and that individuals are becoming more committed to their racist ideologies, and backing them up with violence and terrorism against our communities.

While its easy to spot the bad guys at events, or the dude strolling along the street with a swastika on his arm; what about the Nazis living down your block, or working in your midst? We’re here to remind them that there will be no comfort for them, no community spaces that are accessible, or that feel safe. No individuals will be allowed a platform to exercise racist rhetoric, or recruit for their misguided and genocidal causes.

So keep your eyes open for these scum, skulking around West Philly and beyond, and give us a shout if you should happen across them. Know that while they are undoubtedly grade A tools, take note that we also believe them to be dangerous (as all white supremacists are), so please exercise caution.

Yo Nazi scum! We’re watchin’!

In solidarity, and with fury

Anti-Racist Leif Erikson Day – THIS SATURDAY 10/7/17

From Philly Antifa

Where:  Thorfin Karlsefni statue, Boathouse Row, Kelly Drive, Fairmount Park

When: Saturday 10/7/17 12-3 PM

What: Oppose White Supremacy, Colonialism and Fascism

It’s that time of year again…

This month will mark the 10 year Anniversary of the first time Keystone State Skinheads, aka Keystone United, held their “Leif Erikson Day Celebration” along Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park.

The event, innocuous sounding and followed by a “family-friendly” BBQ, was a big hit among the more “respectable” elements of the Neo-Nazi skinheads scene. It also had the added advantage of being booked during the weekend that the Anti-Racist Action Network’s national conference had been occurring for years, reducing the possibility of militant opposition.

The third year, 2009, Philly was invaded by Neo-Nazis from all over the country including representatives from The Vinlanders Social Club and Volksfront, two crews that had been bitter rivals in the past. This rang an alarm for Anti-Fascists in the region as to the long term damage an event like this could create by giving KSS both a foothold to rally in Philadelphia while also providing an opportunity to resolve conflicts within their movement.

2009 was also the first year when Antifa were there to oppose the Nazis. A handful of Anti-Racists from One People’s Project and associates blocked the Thorfin Karlsefni and heckled the nazis while they gave speeches. They also prevented KSS from laying their wreath. It was symbolic victory, but one that drew a line in the sand and foreshadowed the resistance that was to come.

2010 was an anomaly. The departure of the creator of LED from KSS had thrown them into disarray. A small band of Antifa were in the park but the nazis were no shows. When OPP posted a story about it, local nazis from the Council of Conservative Citizens, including KSS co-founder Steve Smith, threw together a photo op unannounced to save face.

2011, or the “Occupy LED” year, saw an influx of people who came over from the Occupation of City Hall, with Antifa numbering around 40 at their height against a slightly smaller group of KSS.

In 2012  a committed band of Antifa showed up and blocked the statue, heckling the 20 or so boneheads from KSS and Hated Skins that showed up.

2013 was a peak year of resistance to LED, and the final year that KSS was able to attempt to publicly announce their plans to rally in Philly. Mobilizing for weeks in advance, Anti-Fascists from Philly and the surrounding area were able to draw several hundred people to protest. Despite KSS drawing boneheads from as far away as Texas, they were outnumbered 4 or 5 to 1. Jeered and booed the entire day, forced to abandon their traditional march in favor of being walked down to the statue by the hand by Philly PD, it was an embarrassing defeat that KSS is yet to recover from.

Since then, the past three Octobers KSS has kept all details of the event secret, even from many in their own movement. While they have been able to rally in the dead of night for photo ops, the event no longer serves as a recruiting tool, nor is it a feather in the cap of KSS. Instead, it is an obligation to be fulfilled as quickly and quietly as possible, lest people realize that KSS has no public presence in Philadelphia to speak of any more.

We have confirmed that KSS WILL BE HOLDING a LED celebration in Philly at some point in October. Will it be another late night lurk in the shadows or will KSS dare to show their faces in Philly? Time will tell.

Rather than waiting to hear, after the fact, that the Nazis were in Fairmount Park, Anti-Racists in the area are appropriating Leif Erikson Day as a day against White Supremacy, Colonialism and Fascism. Let that be the legacy of this event, which was started to build Neo-Nazi organizing capacity in Philadelphia and has instead built our networks and groups.

Several different organizations in Philly are working together on this, reuniting as the “Philadelphia Residents Against Racism” coalition. We support this initiative and encourage our readers to join us in Faimount Park on October 7th to rally for a free and equal world and proudly claim that Philly is and will remain an Anti-Fascist city.

Here are some of the past organizers and attendees of Leif Erikson Day:

Steve Smith is a longtime Neo-Nazi. He is a former Klansman, co-founder of KSS and Luzerne county republican committeeman.
Anthony James (AJ) Olsen – Philadelphia director of Keystone State Skinheads (KSS)
Joey Phy, longtime Philly KSS Member and Neo-Nazi
Bob Gaus, Co-Founder of KSS and longtime Neo-Nazi who lives in Harrsiburg
Joseph Hoesch, Philly KSS member and co-founder.
Matthew Heimbach, Head of Neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker’s Party, who has spoken at several LED events.
Brien James, former head of Vinlanderss Social Club, current head of American Guard
Ryan Wojitowicz (l) and Jason Honeywell (r), KSS members.

 

Bryan Vanagaitis, KSS member formerly of Philly now living in Harrisburg area.
Ron Sheehy – Sheehy engages in racist trolling online under the username Tremley, attends KSS events and was spotted in Charlottesville at the Unite the Right Rally.

See you in the streets,

Anti-Racist Leif Erickson Day

from Facebook

Every October for the past decade often around Columbus Day Weekend, which is also around Oct. 9 – Leif Erickson Day – Keystone State “Skinheads” (aka Keystone United) and their supporters come to Philadelphia, PA to hold what they call their “Leif Erickson Day Celebration” at a Viking Statue ( that’s not of Leif Erickson) on Boathouse Row. Residents have come out to oppose them, most notably in 2013 when the neo-Nazis were overwhelmed by the opposition to their event. Since that year they have done everything they could to avoid the opposition whenever they organize this day. They didn’t have an event in 2014 until they were mocked, and over the past two years haven’t announced publicly or online, and held the event at night when no one is around to see them.

Well just like last year, we intend to come out regardless of their plans and celebrate us as a people. We will gather at the Thorfin Karlsfeni statue on Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive and rally against Racism, Colonialism, and KSS organizing in our city and state.

In the wake of Charlottesville, where several of the Leif Erickson Day Celebration attendees were seen, communities have been working to confront and keep down the activities of neo-Fascist in this society. Philly will be no different. We are calling on all Anti-Racists and Anti-Fascists to join us in confronting KSS & Co. and showing them that they are (still) not welcome in Philadelphia.

[October 7 from 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM at 1 Boathouse Row]

Popular- Front Antifa (Part 1): Towards a Broad-Based Struggle

From Radical Education Department

The resurgence of Antifa has placed the problem of fascism front and center for radical politics today.  It also raises a key strategic question: if we are to disrupt, dismantle, and transform fascism–to ensure “no platform for fascists”–what is it that makes the Trump regime fascist, and what are its sources and mechanisms?  Discussions on the left surrounding these issues have often been limited.  They tend to focus on governmental or state fascism, endlessly comparing and contrasting past fascist governments and the current, American one.  In doing so they miss a broader socio-political fascism: the Trump regime is one expression of a diffuse fascistic desire for violent domination as well as of the fascistic social structures in which that desire is generated and cultivated.

The task of Antifa must be to challenge not only narrower, governmental fascism but also its broader social roots.  This project entails standing in radical, active solidarity with struggles against white supremacy, misogyny, anti-worker class warfare, transphobia, xenophobia, and beyond, as one node in a broad-based, radical left struggle.  In this post, we sketch the need for such a popular-front Antifa.

Some Limits to How We Are Talking about Fascism

Discussions about the term “fascism” raging on the left since the Trump campaign have often been deeply limiting.  They tend to be obsessed with a fairly narrow understanding of fascism as a phenomenon of state, which they explore by comparing and contrasting 21st century America and 20th century fascist governments.  Such analysis certainly has value, particularly in raising the alarm, but leaves us with a seemingly endless debate. Many argue that we can and should unequivocally call the administration fascist given its white supremacist and nationalist policies, cultivation of white supremacist violence, demonization of immigrants, attacks on the media, and so on.  But as others point out, certain hallmarks of past fascist states are missing, like a wholesale attack on individualism.  Others chart a middle path: “No, but …”  Across the debate we find a dizzying array of new terms: Trump is a “proto-fascist,” “neo-fascist,”  or maybe an “ur-fascist.”

This endless battle misses history.  It presents “fascism” as though it were a fixed set of characteristics, failing to ask: how might fascism, like a virus, become “resistant,” taking on new forms and strategies that allow it to survive in changed contexts?  Moreover, when we assume that fascism is solely a function of who is in charge of a country’s political machinery, we come to see Antifa, in turn, as a highly specialized struggle, implicitly rejecting any deep connection between Antifa and the vast array of other social struggles with which it might create a mass radical project.  We thereby also ignore the much wider, fascistic base on which Trump builds. To combat the limits of this discussion, we must shift our gaze.

Fascistic Desire and a Popular-Front Antifa

Beyond the left’s endless debates, we should recognize that the Trump regime’s ambiguous state fascism embodies a much broader desire to violently dominate humans and nature that is diffused throughout American society.  State fascists cannot rise to power without mobilizing and constantly reproducing this desire, but the latter can and does assume both explicit and implicit forms, within and outside the machinery of state. The desire for domination is generated in structures that have always organized life in American society: imperialism; militarization; local and state police; misogyny; the construction of masculinity as authoritarian violence; white supremacy; American nationalism’s constant refrains of exceptionalism; and many more.  The capitalist order, inherently authoritarian, provides the framework in which all these develop: it seeks to capture every part of society and every moment of life for a brutal competition in which a few heroes will rise to rule over the unwashed masses.

o-REVOLUTION-FIST-facebook

Such structures organize the violent domination and eradication of human and non-human life, constituting socio-political fascism.  When we call them, and the desire for domination that they nurture, “fascistic,” we point out that they make state fascism possible. At the same time, the term highlights the fact that state fascism is a symptom of a much broader problem that must not be reduced to an issue of who runs the government.  A fascist state is the reflex of an obscene social order trying to defend itself against the threat posed by a dominated populace.

From this shifted perspective, we do not need to endlessly debate just how fully Trump fits into a fixed definition of fascism derived from the past.  Instead, if we recognize the Trump regime as emerging out of the convergence of particular fascistic tendencies at a given time and in a given place, we can see that its ambiguously fascist form is tailored to the American context and sensibilities, accommodating itself, for instance, to American individualism by forgoing appeals to mass unity.  Whether Trump is a “proper” fascist–whether he fits into a rigid definition taken from the past–matters much less than that he is opposed as the governmental voice of a pervasive fascistic violence.

Nor do we have to see Antifa as a specialized, narrow struggle against a particular regime.  Antifa can see its work as inseparable from all those that struggle against fascistic desire in the diverse, irreducible forms that make an obscenity like Trump possible: against white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, anti-worker class warfare, and beyond.

Pursuing its task–”no platform for fascists”–Antifa would then attack socio-political fascism in all its many forms.  It would stand in radical solidarity with, and constantly learn from, a vast array of left social struggles–and so aim to be one part of an intersectional, popular-front Antifa.