The Beyond Anti-Fascism, But Not Without It statement was circulated in December, 2017, generating a number of both positive and negative responses.
Positive responses include Hillary Lazar’s piece, Connecting Our Struggles: Border Politics, Antifascism, and Lessons from the Trials of Ferrero, Sallitto, and Graham, in the forthcoming print issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (N.30, “Beyond the Crisis”), as well as other writing we’ll be sharing on-line soon.
Negative responses included critiques that the call was, a) being improperly essentialistic about identity politics and b) disregarding the fact that some of the white men writing about fascism/anti-fascism are Jewish and therefore it was insulting to say they don’t understand the history of fascism.
In light of these responses, we have rewritten the statement and are including it in the new print issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory. Below you’ll find this new version, followed by a reflection on how we got from the original to this one, and what we still find inadequate and needing in our discussions of fascism and anti-fascism. And here we really want to encourage you to use our comments section for discussion, or send us your thoughts to be considered for posting on-line.
(Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative)
(Anti-fascist demonstration, London, 1935)
Since Trump’s election, fascism has barged onto center stage, moving more brazenly into public space, mainstream media and public discourse than it has in decades. This renewed and emboldened presence of overt fascism has been met by an explosion of analysis and discussion about its history and politics, and the conditions necessary for its emergence. A proportionally growing attention is also being paid to the history and politics of anti-fascism.
This is welcome, and it is crucially needed. However, it’s also true that the bulk of the writing and speaking on fascism and anti-fascism—the better-selling books, the high-profile interviews–are being done by white men.
With the growth of the Alt-Right and the Trumpist movement in the US, the Left has grappled with how to understand and define fascism in the 21st century context. The conditions, players, and tactics are fundamentally different than its first manifestations, and so many antiquated studies have left inarticulate descriptions or inadequate culprits as roadmaps for understanding fascism today. Instead, these twenty-five statements are a proposal for how to understand the essential core of fascism–what binds it together as a modern impulse despite its different manifestations across cultures and time.
Fascism in the 21st century has direct continuity to the insurgent movements that tore apart Europe, culminating in the Second World War. The methods, tactics, and strategies have changed, but the potential of the genocidal-racialist machine remains, and the ideologies are linked through history.
Fascism does not necessitate a specific type of statecraft (or a state at all), nor does it require a particular party apparatus, a fixed demographic of finance capital, or economic depression. What it does require is mass politics, popular support, and the ongoing destructive upheaval of class society.