Responding to Fascist Organizing, por William Gills (Center for a Stateless Society):
When neonazis march through a town their action is precisely that: an action. A demonstration of force. A threat. A two part declaration: “We will exterminate you. Here are the tools we will use, the strength we have amassed for the task.” Its character is hardly invisible to those targeted.And yet, true to form, most liberals are seemingly incapable of recognizing the act for what it is, of looking beyond their noses to any semblance of context. In the liberal’s mind a march of goosestepping nazis carrying weapons through a black neighborhood is just a parade of people with bad opinions. (...)[W]e would never want to give the state the capacity to determine what discourse is permissible, or to prosecute nazis for their beliefs (despite conservative hysteria by all accounts the vast majority of antifascist activists are anarchists who have consistently opposed state legislation and the “antifa bolts” famously stand for opposition to Bolshevism as well as fascism). The reality is that every individual is capable of greater perception and intelligence than the state, of directly seeing realities the state is structurally incapable of parsing. When a trusted friend tells you someone raped them you’ll likely cancel your date with him, even if your friend’s testimony alone wouldn’t and shouldn’t be sufficient to convict in a court of law. As autonomous individuals we can and should take actions that based on our more intimate and direct knowledge — knowledge it would be impossible to systematize or make objective in some legal system. It will always be possible to construct threats of violence sufficiently obscured as to be rendered invisible or plausibly deniable to some observers but crystal clear to the recipient(s). This is one of the innate failings of codified justice systems, abstracted to some level of collectivity, and part of the reason ethics enshrines individual agency above legality. (...)
Fascist recruitment doesn’t function in terms of persuasion, it functions in terms of promises of power.Authoritarian personalities flock to movements that promise them comfortably easy solutions, but more self-aware authoritarians flock to movements that promise them power.
This is why fascists — and those other self-aware authoritarians in their general orbit including Stalinists and Maoists — focus so strongly on aesthetics and rituals that reinforce perceptions of broad popularity, community, strength-by-association and general social standing. Those movements that only whine, offering victimization narratives and promises of power without any tangible content to them, rarely recruit any lasting base of self-aware authoritarians (although a few will surreptitiously set up shop to prey upon the few true believers and deadenders). Appearance of strength and legitimacy is everything, without it fascist movements dry up. No self-aware authoritarian wants to back a loser cause.This is why refusing fascists the legitimization of a platform and violently countering their rallies has worked so well historically. The authoritarian base that fascists recruit from, don’t share the instincts of proponents of liberty, they aren’t attracted to underdogs with no hope, they aren’t compelled to self-sacrifice in defense of the weak, they’re attracted to supermen on the rise. When a nazi gets up on a stage to call for genocide his arguments don’t matter, it’s the potency of the act, the very fact that he was able to get on that stage and say such things in the first place, that recruits. (...)Regardless of whether or not you agree with it or consider it ethical, people punch fascists because it frequently works.When you hurt a proponent of liberty we flock to each other’s aid, when you hurt an authoritarian other authoritarians are instinctively disgusted by his weakness and most scuttle further away. Sure, a tiny embittered core remains, some fools without the self-awareness of their own authoritarianism and other authoritarians now too invested to escape, and some misguided defenders of underdogs might come to their aid, but the compounding growth of the movement is derailed: few authoritarian personalities feel much inclined to join a bunch of powerless whiners.There are, of course, complexities. Many authoritarian communists, for instance — despite similar totalitarian aspirations as explicit fascists — vary in degrees of self-awareness among their base about their hunger for power. Movements like Stalinism and Maoism depend on broad bases of leftist fools who swallow the simplistic doublethink necessary to see Assad or Bob Avakian as noble oppressed underdogs. Still, when anarchists have fought them in the streets, as for example in Athens or Minneapolis, there has appeared to result a shrink in their base, or at least a bluntening of their power. Certain currents in today’s alt-right follow a comparable dynamic, mixing self-aware authoritarians alongside psuedo-libertarian fools who swallow the doublethink necessary to see people organizing for racial genocide as allies and feminist media reviewers as dire enemies.It will certainly be the case that the tactics and strategies employed with such success against boneheads in the 80s that drove them off the streets and largely dissolved their ranks will transfer in their entirety to the fight against garbage-tier memelords like Richard Spencer, but it also does not appear that antifascist groups are copying them over fullcloth. There have been many eras and contexts of resistance to fascism, with many differences between them. The awkward dance of someone like Spencer as opposed to an outright prison nazi is to try to look like a hardass to cement his base while playing the victim for liberals to milk them of prestige and legitimacy. This is not an easy dance, and is prone to derailment from multiple fronts.