Spencer Sunshine – Rebranding Fascism
The Anarchist Library
Title: Rebranding Fascism
Date: January 28, 2008
Notes: Published in The Public Eye, Winter 2008.
Source: Retrieved on 9th June 2022 from politicalresearch.org
On September 8, 2007 in Sydney, Australia, the antiglobalization movement mobilized once again against neoliberal economic policies, this time to oppose the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit. Just as during the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington, in 1999, the streets were filled with an array of groups, such as environmentalists, socialists, and human rights advocates. And also just like in Seattle, there was a “Black Bloc”—a group of militant activists, usually left-wing anarchists, who wore masks and dressed all in black.
In Sydney, the Black Bloc assembled and hoisted banners proclaiming “Globalization is Genocide.” But when fellow demonstrators looked closely, they realized these Black Bloc marchers were “National-Anarchists”—local fascists dressed as anarchists who were infiltrating the demonstration. The police had to protect the interlopers from being expelled by irate activists.
Since then, the National-Anarchists have joined other marches in Australia and in the United States; in April 2008, they protested on behalf of Tibet against the Chinese government during the Olympic torch relay in both Canberra, Australia, and San Francisco. In September, U.S. National-Anarchists protested the Folsom Street Fair, an annual gay “leather” event held in San Francisco.
While these may seem like isolated incidents of quirky subterfuge, these quasi-anarchists are an international export of a new version of fascism that represent a significant shift in the trends and ideology of the movement. National-Anarchists have adherents in Australia, Great Britain, the United States, and throughout continental Europe, and in turn are part of a larger trend of fascists who appropriate elements of the radical Left. Like “Autonomous Nationalists” in Germany and the genteel intellectual fascism of the European New Right, the National-Anarchists appropriate leftist ideas and symbols, and use them to obscure their core fascist values. The National-Anarchists, for example, denounce the centralized state, capitalism, and globalization — but in its place they seek to establish a system of ethnically pure villages.
In 1990, Chip Berlet showed in Right Woos Left how the extreme Right in the United States has made numerous overtures to the Left. “The fascist Right has wooed the progressive Left primarily around opposition to such issues as the use of U.S. troops in foreign military interventions, support for Israel, the problems of CIA misconduct and covert action, domestic government repression, privacy rights, and civil liberties.” More recently, the fascist Right has also tried to build alliances based on concern for the environment, hardline antizionism, and opposition to globalization.
Fascism has become increasingly international in the post World War II period, particularly with the rise of the internet. One of the most obvious results of this internationalization is the continual flow of European ideas to the United States; for example, the Nazi skinhead movement originated in Britain and quickly spread to the United States. In trade, Americans have exported the Ku Klux Klan to Europe and smuggled Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi literature into Germany.
The National-Anarchist idea has spread around the world over the internet. The United States hosts only a few web sites, but the trend so far has been towards a steady increase. But it represents what many see as the potential new face of fascism. By adopting selected symbols, slogans and stances of the left-wing anarchist movement in particular, this new form of postwar fascism (like the European New Right) hopes to avoid the stigma of the older tradition, while injecting its core fascist values into the newer movement of antiglobalization activists and related decentralized political groups. Simultaneously, National-Anarchists hope to draw members (such as reactionary counter-culturalists and British National Party members) away from traditional White Nationalist groups to their own blend of what they claim is “neither left nor right.”
Despite this claim, National-Anarchist ideology is centered directly on what scholar Roger Griffin defines as the core of fascism: “palingenetic populist ultranationalism.” “Palingenetic,” he says, is a “generic term for the vision of a radically new beginning which follows a period of destruction or perceived dissolution.” Palingenetic ultranationalism therefore is “one whose mobilizing vision is that of the national community rising phoenix like after a period of encroaching decadence which all but destroyed it.”
For the National-Anarchists, this “ultranationalism” is also their main ideological innovation: a desire to create a stateless (and hence “anarchist”) system of ethnically pure villages. Troy Southgate, their leading ideologue, says “we just want to stress that National-Anarchism is an essential racialist phenomenon. That’s what makes it different.”
Why should we pay attention to such new forms of fascism? There is no immediate threat of fascism taking power in the established western liberal democracies; the rise to power of Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s occurred in a different era and under different social conditions than those that exist today. Nonetheless, much is at stake.