Some Theses on New Afrikan Antifascism
To be black in America is to be anti-fascist. It’s common sense that this country, in relation to us as a people, is a fascist one and one that must be destroyed so that we can finally enjoy peace and plenty as a people. Anti-fascism is seen by many as being a radical colonizer movement, this is a mistaken notion. Black people have always been in the vanguard of the anti-fascist struggle in this country because we have always been at the vanguard of the anti-American struggle. To be anti-American is to be anti-fascist. Antifascism is not simply colonizers beating each other up at shitty punk shows, or jostling back and forth and throwing rocks and smoke grenades at each other in the streets. These things attract media attention because colonizers always center each other in their coverage and analysis and many of those who now call themselves “anti-fascists” are objectively enemies of our people because they do not engage in a decolonial, anti-American, anti-settler praxis and they do not steel themselves in theory.
Many see anti-fascism and the revolutionary movement in general as a sort of scene, shunning the hard work of base building, developing rock solid organizations that can withstand inevitable state repression, and instead devoting great attention to things most likely to involve spectacular aesthetics and high drama for them to brag about to their friends at the inevitable post-action drinking party. This is all well and good, but it’s not building a revolutionary movement. Indeed, Nazis should be physically destroyed wherever they are found, but once you pull up one weed, it comes back, because soil grows weeds. You have to use a variety of methods and be vigilant in weeding to prevent the return of poisonous weeds. This is why we must uproot the toxic, poisonous soil that is America to really be antifascists. Many white antifascists approach antifascism in a tokenizing and saviorish fashion. Lorenzo Ervin lays out this attitude very well in The Progressive Plantation:
“ For years now, it has been made apparent to me that the idea of white people creating and leading anti-racist movements of other whites is total nonsense. I have had to learn this through bitter experience from dealings with groups like the Anti-Racist Action (ARA), Love and Rage, and others in the Left that white people have no real clue how to fight racism and, if they do, they certainly are refusing to demonstrate it in any real fashion.
The apparent strategies of these groups is to chase after neo — Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the Church of the Creator and others to upstage them and disrupt their racist events. Although, I fully understand that we must confront fascist paramilitary movements, this alone is a flawed strategy however and no more eliminates racism than dancing in the streets, but it makes white people feel they are accomplishing something and it certainly helps with recruitment. But as a person of color, I do not feel this movement in any way ensures my safety from violence by right-wing paramilitaries or the police, the latter of which kill upwards of 1,000 people each year. Yes, I acknowledge the Klan is dangerous, but this is not the 1920s when they had millions of members.
The truth is these white radical groups deal with racism from a totally white perspective. They generally have no ties or accountability to the Black/POC communities and do not work with activists of color except in a strictly token and manipulative fashion. This leads to serious isolation from the communities of color and dangerously backward ideals about racism, which they feel are academic anyway.
Some years ago, I attended an ARA convention in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is the home of Oho State University and at least a third of the city’s population is Black, but there were hardly any other Black people in attendance, except one guy who called himself a “Black skinhead,” a middle aged Black woman and a few other people of color, maybe 20 in all. It was clear to me that there had been no attempt to bring in folks from the Black communities in Columbus and other Ohio communities with substantial Black populations like Cleveland or Cincinnati. They did not even attempt to bring Black students off the OSU university campus.
Thus, you had this weird spectacle of hundreds of white people in a huge auditorium arguing and giving sanctimonious speeches about racism, from which most Blacks/POC were excluded. In attendance was every “alphabet soup” leftist sect you can (or can’t) think of: SWP, ISO, IWW, SL, SLP, Love and Rage and so on, under the banner of Anti-Racist Action.”
This attitude can only be eradicated through Black people taking our rightful place at the head of this movement and struggling againt those who continue to engage in such behaviors. White people tend to enter into this shit because they want to feel good about themselves, satisfy their already massive egos, or get revolutionary street cred. We simply want liberation of our people and not to be killed in the streets every day.
Street actions and confrontations are good. They build cohesion and allow the implementation and sharpening of military tactics that can be used against both the police and the fascists. However, we must heed Maoist military theory. Mao taught that no battle should be fought unless we are sure of winning. What is winning in this context? As few people arrested as possible, fascists forced to cancel events, fascists seen getting injured on camera, fascists afraid to appear in public, fascists doxxed and denied employment or terminated, police forced to withdraw, avoidance of doxxing and other retaliatory attacks. How do we get to this point and accomplish these goals? By having as broad a base as possible. This is why base building is important. An example of what happens when you do not have a mass base built beforehand is the Greensboro Massacre of 1980 — of course, a tragedy, but the result of poor planning and an incorrect line not rooted in practice. The Amilcar Cabral collective wrote a very sober and very good critique of the leadup to this tragedy:
By 1979, the WVO was well as ultra-left “communists” generally in this country, were under pressure. Having grown out of the upsurge in the anti-war and Black Liberation struggles of the late 60’s and early 70’s, these people have been out here as communists for almost 10 years now and have built no significant base among any sector of the masses. It was getting increasingly difficult for the leaders to hold their organizations together and particularly to get their members to continue to do distasteful (for them) things like working in factories when so little results could be seen. After all, patience is not one of the petty bourgeoisie’s main virtues. In a more and more frantic search for a gimmick many of them decided that the problem was that they had not been forcefully enough telling the masses how great the “communists” were and how they were born to lead them. So they began all sorts of prancing and posturing. They also began to desperately search for some daring acts to demonstrate to the masses their “heroism” and other “leadership qualities.” Basically, it’s a question of putting on a show in order to impress the “feeble-minded masses.” This was the reason for both the RCP and WVO’s anti-Klan activities. Not that they thought that the Klan was a real danger to the masses but because the situation offered such wonderful opportunities for street theater. The RCP’s leadership ordered several of its members to smash the Klan exhibit in Winston-Salem. Just afterwards they told us that in their view the Klan was not a real danger in the south. “Then why did you send us in there to risk our lives?” “Because it was a good opportunity to get out our line.” Just before China Grove WVO told some of us that they saw Populism and not the Right, as the main danger in the country. Then why did they begin to put their main energies into smashing the Klan? The same reason.
The WVO’s violent rhetoric leading up to November 3rd wasn’t directed tat the Klan, it was directed at the Black masses. Revolutionaries have a responsibility to lead in tactics and strategy to help to direct the masses ongoing fight more sharply at their real enemy. What the WVO was doing was tailing what they assume to be the spontaneous militant sentiments of Black people. Since the Klan was getting some serious publicity, they assumed Black people must see the Klan as an immediate danger, even if they didn’t. So WVO raised “Death to the Klan” to gain points with the masses. To them, “Death” was just a word. They came from almost exclusively academic backgrounds where they were taught to talk, theorize, polemicize, etc. but not to grasp the concrete connection between words and deeds, the actual effect of rhetoric on material reality. Thus they misjudged the effect of their rhetoric on both the masses and the Klan. Black people generally see the Klan not in terms of how much publicity they get but what measure of actual threat they pose to the Black community and more importantly to the ongoing struggle of Black people. Therefore, while being somewhat concerned by the increase in Klan activity, few Black saw the need to make fighting the Klan a major activity as long as they confined themselves to holding exhibits or showing movies. Moreover most Black people saw fighting the Klan in the context of building the Black Liberation Movement generally or for some, simply defending the Black community. “What we need to do is get our people organized.” Therefore, Black people generally found the anti-Klan activities lightly amusing and entertaining. As the violence of the rhetoric intensified, people began to see it as needlessly provocative even before November 3rd. By the time WVO’s open letter came out, you began to hear a lot of “these people are crazy.”
Essentially, don’t do things because you can or an opportunity presents itself. Do things that you know you can win. Know and do constant surveillance on your enemies and build as broad a base as possible so that when you mobilize to shut things down with force you are not slammed between fascists and cops both of whom want to hurt you. Black people are always targeted first for arrest and receive longer sentences, so it would behoove us to know what the fuck we’re getting into before we move. This shit has a high chance of getting you arrested, that means you’ll need bail money. Before every action you should make contact with trusted legal workers who can ensure that comrades, especially nonmale comrades, are released as soon as possible. Unlike many of our white comrades, our parents and relatives don’t have thousands of thousands of dollars just laying around to come bond us out of jail, and black led efforts are poorly funded anyways. So, it’s good to have organizational funds set aside for legal expenses to avoid having to make gofundmes and other things of that nature and throw yourselves to the mercy of the internet gods everytime somebody gets arrested. This is also a sign of professionalism and discipline.
Numbers. After Charlottesville more and more people of varying political stripes got into anti-fascism. Only a fool would turn them away. Yes, many have uneven and sloppy political development, but if someone is willing to throw down in the streets and boost our numbers to actually help do something constructive, they should be welcomed. Political development comes through struggle. Liberals and social democrats who are given to pacifism shouldn’t be trusted for obvious reasons. Many comrades are disabled, have kids, are employed in sensitive positions, or have various anxiety disorders that make their efficiency in a street situation dubious at best. By no means should they be turned away — we can’t bring down America with just a handful of oftentimes warring affinity groups, mass organizations, and sects. A comrade with skill in computers can be used to gather intelligence. A comrade who is a lawyer can help get people out of jail. A comrade who knows people who knows people can help pull strings. Avoid purity tests and lifestyle checks — people from all walks of life have skills and talents and connections that should be placed at the disposal of our movement. Only a fool would turn them away.
Theory. You need it. Study as much shit that’ll show you the true face of America as possible. Disseminate this information. Show it to all your comrades and hold study groups. This will sharpen your analysis and help win more and more people over to the position that America is an unsalvageable country. Many new antifascists have the position that fascism is some sort of distortion or bastardization of what they see as real American values, they need to be broken from this and exposed to the real nature of this country from the beginning to right now. This can only come through study and development through ideological debate and struggle in a comradely fashion. Study and teach especially about the armed struggles and mass struggles that were waged in the United States. Everyone should be familiar with Nat Turner, the Deacons for Defense, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, the Young Lords, and various other formations.
The masses. You need them. Again, this shit ain’t a scene. Antifascism is a 24/7/365 thing and eyes and ears are needed everywhere. When you doxx, spread this information through flyers, social media, and conversations with your friends, classmates, coworkers and neighbors. Don’t just restrict it to a small circle, grow your circle, sharpen people up politically, and bring more and more people into the antifascist movement. The antifascist movement must be rooted deeply in the Black masses because, like I’ve already said, we are the revolutionary vanguard in this country and our rightful place is at the head of all movements that have the potential to overturn this country.