It has been nearly a month since the action at Charlottesville shook the political terrain in the united $tates. Without a doubt we will be spending many more months unpacking the serious consequences of the events as they unfolded, and the new situation we are faced with. Many have already issued statements, analyses and criticisms, and we certainly encourage everyone to read and debate these issues with tremendous rigor and introspection. We absolutely intend to carry on analyzing these events, but for now we feel there is one very important and often overlooked topic which should be addressed.
The “Civil” Society Shutters
After Charlottesville there was a large-scale media blackout of fascist/alt-right outlets and personalities, with publications like The Daily Stormer and Radix Journal being ordered to vacate their digital space within 48 hours. It did not stop there, google even took it upon themselves to preliminarily delist several of these websites from their search engine so that they could not be reached through google. In addition to the web hosting services being denied to alt-right, the popular web security service “cloudflare” also dropped support for The Daily Stormer, and issued a statement detailing their decision to terminate service. In it, the CEO of cloudflare admitted that the decision was made personally and he warned that such a precedent being set for actions of that type could be very dangerous as such power to restrict internet access, in his view, should never be held by an individual.
This did not begin or end with web hosting, however certainly it was the webspace providers who proved to be the most important aspect of the broad denial of services to the alt-right and their allies. The Daily Stormer, in the 24-hour period of August 12th, received more than 800k visitors to their website tuning in to the live updates for the rally in Charlottesville. The site was ranked by alexa as being more popular than the most popular far-left websites, and even approaching the popularity of some more “mainstream” websites. This is very significant for a website that deliberately seeks to be more infamous than famous, only publishing the most repugnant and vitriolic racist content. The revocation of web hosting services and subsequent denial of new opportunities has thrown a major wrench into the ability of Andrew Anglin (the chief editor of The Daily Stormer) to reach his audience.
Putting Together the Pieces
What we can see is that this was an incredible and highly organized effort to entirely block out whatever online influence the alt-right had by the neoliberal establishment wherever it had the ability to do so. This has certainly taught us two very important lessons we should not soon forget: (1) the alt-right is an effective counter-hegemonic political movement that does, to a large extent, threaten the existing neoliberal establishment, and (2) that this neoliberal establishment has exercised an impressive and highly terrifying display of power in an attempt to silence them. Both of these lessons have been widely overlooked both by the liberal media as well as by left-wing organizations and publications. Even now there is a narrative being spun that the alt-right and their allies simply are the establishment, and that they represent the dominant ideology rather than a third, counter-hegemonic position.
Similarly, there has been little serious discussion about the dangerous display of power shown by the neoliberal bourgeoisie in their near-complete blackout of the alt-right and their allies online and in the media. Certainly it has been discussed by various libertarian groups, some left but mostly right, and bourgeois “rights” organizations such as the ACLU who are notorious for their “banner-blind” approach to the defense of so-called civil liberties. However, for the most part the left has seemed rather unconcerned with the demonstration, and even somewhat in support of such a policy. Naturally, the neoliberal “left” has nothing to fear from such actions, but those on the far-left should be more cautious with how we handle this situation. On one hand, we endorse and share the “no platform” policy toward the far-right, and have shaped Antifa activities around this principle. On the other hand, however, we must also realize that such activity among the giants in the bourgeoisie sets a precedent that is equally dangerous, if concrete measures are not taken, to our own political infrastructure.
This has already been demonstrated in germany, where the government recently shut down one of the most influential left-wing websites involved in the coordination of the anti-G20 actions in Hamburg. This did not come directly after the events in Hamburg, which took place in early July, but rather it came after the events in Charlottesville and the extensive media blackout against the alt-right directly afterward. Certainly if the aftermath of Charlottesville was not the motivation to shut down Linksunten, it was definitely an important precedent on which to model the decision. This is something we can definitely expect more of in the future, especially as the Democrats slowly come around to disavowing the activities of comrades who engage in Antifa actions, and the left in the united $tates in general. It could prove even more devastating if the decision were ever made to comply with the more than 300k signatures on the petition demanding Antifa be considered a terrorist organization/coalition by the united $tates government. The actions lead by the bourgeoisie in this moment, although progressive in only the most superficial and peripheral way, are in the long term exceedingly dangerous for communists.
One, Two, Three Positions
This is where the classic insinuation that the alt-right is “simply the establishment” begins to crumble, and a much more disturbing and politically dangerous picture comes into view. To really understand what is going on and what to do about it, we must first understand and accept that there are 3 basic political poles at the moment with their own distinct objectives all in contest for state power: neoliberal capitalism, the alt-right, and the communist left. We can imagine this trichotomy as a triangle, along the edges of which we find the varying shades of political opinion strung out between the 3 core hegemonic groups, each as far from one as they are from the other. Between these groups, you find the transient middling tendencies that vacillate between two (or perhaps all three) poles. It is here that you find the neoliberal and post-structuralist “left”, the so-called alt-lite, and libertarians among others; all define their politics between the positions declared by the hegemonic groups.
Very thorough and rigorous research has already been conducted and published on the particularities of the alt-right position by very capable comrades, and we strongly suggest that everyone read the materials gathered by comrade Matthew Lyons and others. However, for the purposes of concise understanding, we cannot go into the greatest detail, as we might like, into the workings of the alt-right and what it stands for, but we can summarize its essential position. The alt-right, as described in its own “Charlottesville Statement” juxtaposes itself both to neoliberal capitalism and to Marxism on the basis of an extreme idealism, understanding politics and social relations as emanating from identity, rather than identity emanating from politics and social relations. Further, they fundamentally believe in an essential being that defines humans throughout history, and strongly reject historical materialism. The fundamental identity, in their perspective, is race and it is race that forms the foundation of their political movement.
This is juxtaposed, as well, to the neoliberal quest for marketization of identity for the sake of further developing the imperial consumer society. The alt-right strongly rejects the liberal notion of inherent progress, and the neoliberal teleology of the “end of history” thesis. The neoliberal project is more positively defined by the existing state structure, the bourgeois democracies of the imperialist countries and their push toward financialization and greater consumption. Within this hegemonic core we find not just one, but all leading parties in the current neoliberal establishment, representing only varying opinions and objectives within the overall paradigm of bourgeois democracy. The ultimate objectives of neoliberal capitalism being further globalized finance, and the supremacy of bourgeois-imperial interests in the First World. To these ends, they are less concerned with the prospects of “identity” outside of its marketability, and place production in command of all social and political institutions and objectives.
All of which is, of course, in opposition to the dialectical materialist, communist left that forms the final hegemonic core. Understanding that it is proletarian politics that must command production, and that identity—insofar as it is “unpolitical”, that is unconscious—must be organized into class struggle against imperialism. Our politics are just as irreconcilable with the alt-right and neoliberalism as the two are from each other, and one should not expect stable peace between any two sides for any longer than it takes to suppress the other. So while the neoliberal establishment appeared, for a brief moment, to be ambivalent to the activities of Antifa in relation to the alt-right, this is not a stable relationship and, in fact, is already in the process of shifting.
The Coming Strategic Shift
On the horizon we can see that our day is coming, and soon we will end up in a similar situation as the alt-right, and perhaps worse off if we do not adequately prepare for the possibility that we may have our online infrastructure altogether smashed by bourgeois institutions—let alone the rest of our so-called civil liberties, that exist only so long as the state perceives no existential threat. Unfortunately, other than the few—but absolutely invaluable—left-wing publishing companies and physical information networks that exist effectively offline, a vast majority of our communication infrastructure is currently subject to the tactical objectives of the neoliberal bourgeoisie, and is only safe insofar as we have ensured its continued existence. The internet has been an invaluable resource for the promotion of communism and anti-imperialism in the 21st century where it is available. The bourgeoisie has shown how effective such a campaign of suppression can be against a counter-hegemonic movement, and demonstrated their capacity and willingness to launch one.
We must rapidly respond to these new conditions of struggle and develop the necessary skills and structures to make the possibility of such bourgeois repression irrelevant to our movement. That is not to say that we should push for an entirely offline movement, it would be ridiculous not to make use of the incredibly valuable tools that are offered to us on the internet. However, a dependence on this infrastructure, and thus on a faith in the bourgeoisie to allow us to intensify the struggle against them, would be disastrous for us. It should be in the immediate priorities of all communist organizations and collectives to set about immediately preparing alternative networks for disseminating information, resources and propaganda, and strengthening those already existing. Of course we have our physical groundworks, but it is clear that this physical work still depends to a great extent on the virtual work and resources we have at our disposal. We should opt for a more flexible and diverse strategy, rather than solely on the tools allowed us by our enemies.
Furthermore, we must realize that the “three way fight” we are now engaged in is a more complicated one than simply “left vs. right” and that the endorsement of state repression against the alt-right can also have extremely negative consequences against our own institutions and forces. As well, any reluctance among communists to seek principled unity in the fight against fascism will have disastrous effects on our movement. However, we should always remain fixed in our position that even in the fight against fascism, it is imperialism that is the primary enemy in the quest for state power and the final victory of communism. While participating in the movement against fascism, our uninterrupted attention should be given to the construction of institutions, networks and programs that will ultimately carry all our successes into our overall struggle for state power. We cannot allow ourselves to be the blunt instrument of imperial parliamentarism, or backhandedly endorse the expansion of bourgeois power.
State Power and the Alt-Right
This is particularly important, because we must understand where the basis for the alt-right exists, and how it is fed by the current social relations in order to beat them. Ultimately, they are a product of the very system they wish to destroy: neoliberal capitalism. We should understand that the common petty bourgeois response to the media blackout does nothing to truly defeat fascism or the alt-right, but only temporarily stall its quest for state power, or its effects on those who already hold state power. After all, it is capitalism and class society that has laid the groundwork for the fascist movement, and thus the alt-right, to arise in the first place. If we endorse the actions of the bourgeoisie in their crusade against the alt-right, and therefore allow for the strengthening of the neoliberal bulwarks, we do not end the prerequisite conditions for fascist violence but, in truth, prolong them.
Without the ideological systems of race and nationality, it would not be possible for an identitarian movement rooted in racial stratification to exist, nor would it be possible for the imperialist and settler-colonial systems we are familiar with to exist either. It is along these fractures, where the bourgeoisie simultaneously requires the existence of racial/national oppression and resents the limitations it places on the velocity of exchange and volume of accumulation, that the possibility of the alt-right was created. In the conflict between national and imperial bourgeois class interests, the alt-right represents the suppression of all competing interests to that of racial/national identity. Moreover, the alt-right’s identitarian movement directly utilizes institutions and tools that came about through the development of capitalism-imperialism: the concept of “europe” rooted in a pseudo-biological idea of racial and cultural similarity etc.
In short, the preservation of the neoliberal state and the reinforcement of its power is, in the long term, the preservation of fascism and the alt-right. There can be no real victory against fascism through the empowerment of the bourgeoisie and the institutions of bourgeois rule, rather this can only serve to further suppress the ability of revolutionaries to defeat imperialism in the final instance. We must point out this inconsistency in the petty bourgeois and left-liberal programs posed to defeat fascism, and we must be even more rigorous in rooting out such opportunist notions as they appear on the communist left. Such reckless support for the excesses of bourgeois rule in the guise of combatting fascism does nothing to strengthen the revolutionary position, it only strengthens imperialism.
Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Fascism
Our resolution should not, then, be strictly toward the abandonment of the wider “anti-fascist” movement on the grounds of its inability to fundamentally deal with the causes of fascism. Rather, we should use the strategic cover it offers, and push back against the steady march of the alt-right and their allies toward state power, while also planting the seeds of anti-imperialist struggle all along the margins of the movement. As communists, we cannot allow ourselves to be consumed in the temporal unity with the wider anti-fascist forces (including many neoliberal elements) to the point of serving their interests rather than our own. When the dust settles, and if we have been successful in the struggle against fascism and temporarily stomped it out of existence, then we will still have to contend with the surviving imperialist world-system.
If we have spent this entire time struggling only in the narrow interests of anti-fascism, then we will have made ourselves powerless when the attention of neoliberal society is no longer divided amongst two enemies. Therefore we must be busy at all times preparing for the resumption of hostilities, which will come periodically in greater intensity throughout this struggle, and we should not allow the bourgeoisie to further arm itself with those tools it will use diligently against us. At the moment, it seems that the alt-right have gotten the brunt of a more intense form of bourgeois repression, but it is these same tools they are developing against the alt-right and will soon be used against us. For the sake of our survival as a movement, and for the sake of the anti-imperialist struggle overall, we must oppose the attempts of the bourgeoisie to sharpen its repressive apparatus, criticize and publicize its intent, and prepare for its implementation.
Furthermore, we must prepare ourselves endlessly for a more intense struggle, lacking the current conveniences (as little as they may seem) we now have at our disposal. Real efforts must be made to further diversify our networks, and to reinforce our centrally anti-imperialist position. It must be endlessly restated that our goal is to secure state power (and, in the case of the united $tates, nullify settler sovereignty), not simply beat back the most regressive and reactionary elements in settler-colonial/bourgeois society. So while we must pursue the anti-fascist struggle, it necessarily must be from our own interests—not those of neoliberalism—and must be geared toward the simultaneous construction of the broadest possible front against imperialism, anchored in the struggle of the global proletariat. To do otherwise is to invest in the liquidation of the communist movement.
- “Why We Terminated Daily Stormer” (Cloudflare)
- “Germany, in a First, Shuts Down Left-Wing Extremist Website” (New York Times)
- “Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization” (White House Petitions)
- “The Charlottesville Statement” (Altright.com)