Anarchosyndicalism against fascism: a response to recent insinuations

Spanish anarcho syndicalists in 1936 fighting the fascists

There may be problems with some people who identify with anarchosyndicalism, but it is not because there is any inherent correlation between it and fascism.

The question of anarchosyndicalism's theoretical stands against fascism, as well as it's long history of fighting against it, is certainly deserving of a long, well-documented article. But that is not what this is going to be. Rather, l would like to take on some recent insinuations, published in relation to the Michael Schmidt case, that there is some sort of inherent link between fascist ideology and anarchosyndicalism. This idea, l find, is grossly incorrect, but one which has been floating around for a while. However, as l come from a region where anarchists have actually flirted with fascists and sometimes ideas have intersected, l am interested in seeing how this can happen, with a view towards eliminating racist, nationalist, ethnopluralist and other ideas unworthy of an egalitarian anarchist movement.

A few weeks ago, one anarchist was observed linking syndicalism to fascism on the internet and now, in the 5th part of the expose on Michael Schmidt, Alexander Reid Ross and Joshua Stevens seem to posit whether there is a positive correlation between national and anarchist syndicalism. What they are saying is not exactly clear for me and l will quote the passages to let readers contemplate what is being said.

„A clear example of this strategy appears in Schmidt’s understanding of nationalism and anarchism in terms of syndicalist thought. “I don’t think that there is any real correlation between anarchist syndicalism and national syndicalism,” Schmidt told us in our interview — a strange denial given that a number of origin voices within national syndicalism, including Mussolini, Valois, and De Ambris, either had been or were supporters of anarchism. However, Schmidt did admit, in a rather glaring contradiction of his own stated views, “I do feel that there is the possibility of purist syndicalism in the post-revolutionary period approximate [to] national syndicalism[.]” In other words, as in the case of the “proper Boerestaat,” a de facto white nationalist state in Africa could function on the basis of syndicalism — i.e., there is not only a correlation, but a positive correlation between national and anarchist syndicalism.”
and
„Schmidt sought to forward white nationalism using an approximation of anarchist syndicalism as leverage to reopen the colonial legacy of the Afrikaner volkstaat. „

Due to somewhat ambiguous language, l could imagine that either the authors are claiming Michael Schmidt sees a correlation between national and anarchosyndicalism, or that they do. ln either case, the correlation is posited in the article.

ln my opinion, anarchosyndicalism cannot have any correlation with national syndicalism for exactly the same reason that anarchism cannot have any correlation with national anarchism. Both anarchism and anarchosyndicalism, are ideas which are supposed to be essentially egalitarian, therefore, all other ideas which divide people or assign them hierarchical roles in society are anathema to the beautiful idea that l and many comrades hold in our hearts: a world where the divisive and categorizing ideas of nationalists really have no place.

l really don't think this should be hard to understand. National anarchists exist, they call themselves anarchists, but for most legitimate anarchists, they are people who have encroached on our idea and perverted it. There is no shortage of anarchists screaming at the top of their lungs that National Anarchism is not anarchism, just like there is no shortage of anarchosyndicalists fighting against national syndicalism and other ideas related to nationalism and fascism.

This should be painfully obvious. Therefore, anybody who argues that there is some intrinsic correlation between anarchosyndicalism and national syndicalism or fascism, in my opinion, is mostly tendaciously showing their dislike of this anarchist tendency. Because why would anyone give credibility to the anarchists denouncing National Anarchism, but not to the anarchosyndicalists denouncing national syndicalism? Why not say anarchism has a correlation with National Anarchism because some nationalists wanna call themselves anarchists?

This, of course, does not mean that there is no problem for anarchosyndicalism in relation to nationalism and other matters. But simply this problem is similar to the problem faced by any other anarchist: how to keep these ideas away and effectively fight their growth. lt may come as a surprise to the ones insinuating otherwise, but anarchosyndicalists, at least the legit ones, are no less antifascist then they are.

Since l have been talking about the problems of nationalist ideas encroaching on the anarchist movement for the last 25 years, l certainly hope that none of the „syndicalism is close to fascism” people will claim that l support a fascist ideology or something of the sort. l hope rather that they will hear me out and stop making such insinuations that are essentially untrue.

To deal with the issue itself, the encroachment of nationalist ideas has been a problem in the places l lived, Russia and Poland, but it is clearly not limited to these. For example, there are also some types of nationalists in Spain. And if we talk about fascism, we can see that in the US, for the last 40 or so years, there have been tendencies which clearly were attractive to the far right. lf we put a microscope to it, we would find that some post-left celebrities had considerable interaction with essentially right-wing nuts and even came out in defense of white secessionist militias (like Hakim Bey, who l debated the issue with more than once).

This problem clearly is not something exclusive to anarchosyndicalism. To say so is ingenuine. lt would be like saying that some ecological anarchists went to the far-right, so there is a correlation between ecology and fascism.

l am curious what Reid Ross will say about Russia. (There is a chapter about it in his upcoming book.) There were quite serious problems there and, what might be news for some, is that, quite sadly, the problem was noticeable in certain circles of people calling themselves „antifascist”. l wonder if Reid Ross also will expose the long cooperation of some Russian „anti-fascists” with Russian nationalists?

ln case people are not aware, antifascism has a long tradition as an official ideology, promoted by the state in some countries. ln these places, a type of patriotic anti-fascism developed. There are also traditions of patriotic leftism, such as the PPS in Poland. Currently, with the situation in Ukraine, we saw a strong move of nationalist antifascism, trying to pass itself off as something „anti-imperialist” and gaining support amongst people in places like Spain, ltaly and Greece. Some anarchists were among those supporting.

ln Russia, the organization Autonom, plus projects connected to it, had many people who fell into the patriotic camp and eventually it had a split, with nationalists and homophobes breaking off or forming their own distinctive faction. The problems with their increasingly frequent cooperation with nationalist elements and problems with discussion with this had gone on for many years.

A rather long article would be needed to understand all the intricacies of this, but maybe l could mention one case to illustrate how certain ideas get legitimized in anarchist movements. National identity, as people may know, has been a point of manipulation by the Soviet state and then later by Russia. Patriotism has always been fueled by threats from the outside. ln recent years, this has grown to include threats to „unique Russianness”. The global world is seen as encroaching on Russian culture. With these ideas, people who were nationalists were able to pass themselves off in the anti-globalist movement with no problem. So one of the main Eurasianists of Ukraine was active in the PGA for a bit (and was their „infopoint”) and lndymedia chartered a right-wing nut in Russia … This kind of thing was becoming rather common since many leftists and some anarchists are focused anti-Westernism and anti-Americanism and see it as some equivalent of their ideas. Nationalists were able to go around in these movements, presenting their ideas as some legitimate defense of their ethnicity. And many an anarchist defended this as being distinctly different than nationalism.
ln the case of one person, who currently is one of the right-wing „anarchists” and homophobes poisoning the scene in Russia, a huge amount of debate was generated concerning his ideas. ln this case, we found anarchosyndicalists in Russia presenting very coherent argument, comparing his ideas to ethnopluralism and pointing out the problems for anarchists. ln short, the ideas of this person mean that people of other ethnicities inherently threaten pure ethnic identities, thus a king of cultural separation must remain in place.

l wouldn't like to get into all the details, arguments and counterarguments of this case because l had enough of it already when it was happening. But l would add that anarchists were threatening to beat up one of the anarchosyndicalists making the anti-nationalist analyses. Later, the mood of homophobia increased amongst self-professed anarchists. Arguing shit like, LGBT issues divide or scare the working class and are „secondary” (an argument we've heard numerous times in Poland as well), some homophobic anarchist tendencies grew, threatening LGBT activists who wanted to participate in some demonstrations. Then actually there was a physical attack on another anarchosyndicalist for their support of joint actions with feminist and LGBT activists.

Here, l specifically mention the positions of my anarchosyndicalist comrades for a reason. lt was they who most consistently, over many years, criticized the influx of not only national, discriminatory and neo-fascist ideas into the anarchist scene and clearly said that we have nothing in common with them. On the contrary, some anarchists took the position that we should in fact find the common things and only that attitude could result in the growth of the anarchist movement. The other attitude, more critical, was usually labelled „sectarianism”.

(Now, when a few of their old comrades are more clearly close to fascism, they create the narrative that they were „infiltrated” or that people changed their views.)

This is important because l believe there is some kind of connection with tendencies to water down anarchism to a minimum, seek out common points with as many people as possible and to becoming the victim of fascist and nationalist influence. l don't want to make this into an absolute correlation – because it isn't. But l see this to be a tendency where l live as well.

ln Poland there is a very long history of anarchist cooperation with the right and the influx of right ideas. A careful study of our „secret stash” in our library is very telling. The „secret stash” started years ago when we decided that we couldn't, in good conscious, sell certain „anarchist” or anti-globalists publications that we kept getting from people, so we put all that stuff in the refrigerator, where it could be read rather by people who wanted to criticize it. The stash contained lots of shit, like articles saying things like if the author doesn't like black people, it's not anarchist to force him to be with them, or booklets espousing something close to national syndicalism, discussing Sorel's and Pilsudski's ideas. The anarchist movement, in short, produced a lot of shit in their publications and continues to sell more, in the name of „open-mindedness”. For, for example, if you go now to Poznan, you can find a new right-wing book on Franco sold in the anarchist bookstore. Since some of my comrades were involved with the arguments on that, let's just say that, in short, there are enough anarchists who will argue that anarchist bookstores have some sort of moral right to sell things like this and are not too concerned that they are actually spreading dangerous ideas.

lf we dig deeper, we probably would find some more people around the world whose idea of libertarian behaviour would legitimize the distribution of books published by the far-right.

The difference of opinion on this issue has been sharply debated here for at least the last 15 years. Most recently this has been a topic in the anarchosyndicalist movement, so here l will add something to the question of whether or not anarchosyndicalism can have any correlations with national syndicalism.

Last year, during elections, at least two members of the organization Workers' lnitiative, which sometimes calls itself anarchosyndicalist (although sometimes not), ran in elections with fascists or right-wing nationalists. The more famous case was in my city (Warsaw) and the member is a very prominent member of that union and long-time activist. lt was famous enough that the mainstream press printed an article about it as well. Again, l will not go through all the details and arguments because it is simply sickening.

We never hid the fact that this happened (although we see plenty of people trying not to see this, just like some people did not want to come to terms with the fact that Schmidt is a sleazy racist and probably worse). But we reject any notion that this proves that anarchosyndicalists are close to fascists. Because for us, this is just more proof that these people are not anarchosyndicalists. And just like anarchists have a moral right to say that National Anarchists are not anarchists, anarchosyndicalists also have the right to say that certain people or tendencies are not anarchosyndicalist, no matter how they might label themselves.

The justifications l heard for many weeks during the internet debates of this topic showed that, despite all the references these people made to anarchosyndicalism, they were quite far from these ideas. lt is important to note that only many, many weeks after did the organization respond, claiming that member simply did not know he was running in elections with a few fascists. And the explanation that „we criticized him”, was taken a sufficient for some organizations to declare the problem solved. ln fact, most of the criticism instead went to anarchosyndicalists who opposed this, who were attacked while defending their members' rights to do as they want. This has been argued for many years as the definition of freedom and anarchism. Tellingly, the whole incident did not result in any expulsion or similar process against that person, who was back on the street at a demo with at least one of the fascists shortly after.

l don't think here l have to explain much why electoral escapades and fascists have nothing to do with our anarchosyndicalist ideals. What is more relevant is the way that they justify these things to themselves. That is, by arguing, among other things, that a union cannot invigilate in the politics of their individual members.

ln my opinion, this is not a question of invigilating or not; it is a question of taking clear stands and consistantly incorporating this into your organizational politics. Anarchosyndicalism, by definition, is connected to the creation of anarchism and is more clearly interested in anarchist means. Among other things, the organization must function according to our non-hierarchical principles and must avoid certain collaborationist and hierarchical models. Our ideas must clearly demonstrate a rejection of nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and other ideas which run counter to the idea of egalitarian society. This has to be not only in theory, but in practice.

Anything else isn't really anarchosyndicalism.

To come back to Michael Schmidt and the points made by the authors of the expose or by some other people, it may be worth pointing out that Michael Schmidt is not an anarchosyndicalist and never was one. That said, he certainly spoke a lot about anarchosyndicalism and tried to define it more to his liking. However, this does not prove any correlation between anarchosyndicalism and national syndicalism. This proves that Michael Schmidt, who had, at the very least, poor national politics, tried to create a confused and revisionist vision which would include the likes of Connolly in a „broad” tradition that he and Lucien van de Walt tried to fashion.

One thing needs to be pointed out. Often in this or other discussions, people use the terms „syndicalism” and „anarchosyndicalism” interchangeably. This is quite annoying and shows that people are not too clear about what they are talking about. For me, „syndicalism” is an extremely broad term, meaning „unionism”, and with more implied characteristics than expressed ones. Syndicalism in fact can be nationalist, socialist or whatever. lt can also be anarchist. Because syndicalism is not connected to anarchism, only to unionism.
So if you tell me syndicalism can be nationalist, l would say that is true. But anarchosyndicalism, which is predicated on an egalitarian society, cannot be.

ln some countries, this question is problematic, because some people use the terms „syndicalism” and „anarchosyndicalism” interchangeably and don't see much of a difference. This makes a lot of confusion in my opinion. Another issue is related to the conception of the organization. There are some tendencies which might stress the economic and class focus of a union and want to downplay other issues of egalitarianism. This tendency is visible in the political thought of Michael Schmidt, among others. My opinion is that this way of viewing anarchosyndicalism threatens to make it not anarchist syndicalism, but some form of syndicalism.

Many years ago, our forefathers and sisters (but mostly men), split with the Marxist train of thought. The lWA was later born, refusing to compromise on the issue of the Party and State, in the name of the class struggle.

A century later, some anarchists and anarchosyndicalists, frightened that they are too irrelevant, actively seek the cooperation of authoritarian leftists in building a „mass movement”. Having problems with „the mass”, some proponents of class anarchism, anarcho-communist and anarcho-syndicalists, have resorted to „broadening” the tradition, to focusing on class but downplaying other important issues of egalitarianism. ln essence, they are approaching the Marxist position of building an lnternational where everyone will fight agaist capitalism as the most important thing and the issue of anti-statism or other specific anarchist claims are put on the back burner. This is something that is happening now and is a concrete threat to the anarchist character of anarcho-syndicalism. lt is much more relevant than the threat of fascist infiltration. However, for the organizations and movements which have already moved to the „broad tradition”, infiltration can be an issue.

Anarchosyndicalism needs to be more relevant to people, this is for sure. And it also needs to gain in strength. But it cannot compromise its positions to do so.

lf anybody does not get the dilemna, they can look at our situation. For anybody who is not aware, Poles just voted in a Parliament consisting of 6 right-wing parties, with a few fascists here and there. Without going into a long explanation of how the right-wing got working class people hooked, it is enough to say that it is easier to get working class people by your side with nationalist slogans and by carefully avoiding talking against the church, about womens' rights, etc. The conclusion is not hard to draw: if our main goal is to grow and show we are „mass”, then the easiest way to achieve this is to turn a blind eye, be soft on nationalism, etc.

At some point, Schmidt even suggests that anarchists should use nationalism more, to get those people on their side.

For us, this would just be counterproductive. Using soft nationalism to attract people to a movement which should be anti-nationalist is not likely to get the effect you want.

Anarchosyndicalism, by its definition, must be antifascist. There is no correlation between it and national syndicalism or fascism.

But any time that the anarchist aspect of syndicalism is drowned under the issues of „pragmatism”, „massiveness”, and all other points that seek to water it down, there is a risk of the organization simply losing its anarchist character. This l think has already happened a few times. This doesn't mean that these organizations will be infiltrated by fascists, but when people start sweeping incidents under the carpet, this increases the chance that some really bad ideas can infect them.

Let's not turn a blind eye to this issues. The Michael Schmidt case has, l hope, because of his celebrity, drawn attention to potential problems and how certain ideas could be smuggled into our movements. Let's not let this happen.

Comments

akai
Nov 15 2015 21:34

Oh look, l thought l'd look and see if any of these debates are on line but found thi s: http://libcom.org/library/pierre-joseph-proudhon-uncomfortable-thinker-nicola-chiaromonte

Entdinglichung
Nov 15 2015 22:06

according to German Wikipedia: Freund was during the 1920ies for a few years a member of the antiauthoritarian "Free Socialist Youth" (FSJ) and then an SPD member, after 1933, he was first involved as an editor in the weekly Blick in die Zeit, a paper run by social democrats which was up to 1935 when it was banned on of the few papers in Germany which managed to print uncensored news (mainly by quoting extensively foreign papers), after some professionel problems, Freund joined the NSDAP in 1940 and was aligned to an anti-semitic research body of the SS, after 1945, he was again close to the SPD ()with other people who worked 1933-45 on Blick in die Zeit) and became an important scholar, the Sorel book was republished in a new edition in 1972

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Freund

akai
Nov 16 2015 12:15

May have been an important scholar, but his political history shows he was fucked in the head.

Entdinglichung
Nov 16 2015 12:30

my guess is, that he belonged to what was called the neo-revisionist "activist" wing of the SPD before 1933: mostly younger politicians like Mierendorff, Leber, Schumacher, Haubach, etc. who belonged mostly to the party's right wing but were pressing to a more combative stance towards the Nazis but unlike the left wing of the party not through a revitalization of class struggle and a united front policy but through a more emotional, nationalistic, etc. style to beat the Nazis on their own terrain (including street politics)

Anarcho
Nov 22 2015 18:16
akai wrote:
Apparently Shapiro was one who saw the genesis of fascist ideas in France and had his theories not only about Sorel but also Proudhon as being a source for fascist thought.

Shapiro was a joke -- his so-called critique of Proudhon just showed how little he understood Proudhon or, more accurately, how willing he was to distort Proudhon's ideas to support his thesis. I critique some of his nonsense here:

Proudhon: Neither Washington nor Richmond

also:

"Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: an uncomfortable thinker" by Nicola Chiaromonte

I would go so far as to say, if you take Schapiro seriously then you simply don't know how wrong you are... he is up there with Marx for deliberate distortion about Proudhon.

syndicalistcat
Nov 23 2015 19:26

Anarcho's claim that the Roberts book is some kind of credible treatment of syndicalism doesn't hold up. Syndicalism was a mass unionist trend built by worker militants, mainly auto-didacts, who were active in union organizations. To put it another way, syndicalism was a trend in radical labor movement politics, not developed in separation from the labor movement by isolated intellectuals. But the Roberts book never actually discusses the labor movement. It never actually discusses the reality of the USI for example. Rather, it solely focuses on certain individuals...Alberola, Sorel, Rossoni mainly. But Sorel was an isolated intellectual with no connection to the CGT militants in France. Moreover, there is no evidence that very many actual syndicalist militants paid much if any attention to Sorel. Yet Roberts defines syndicalism by reference to the writings of Sorel....a completely bogus methodology.

Rossoni at least had been involved in Italian revolutionary syndicalist activities. As someone pointed out, De Ambris, who was general secretary of USI, was a member of the Italian Socialist Party, as was Mussolini. As was the case in USA in years just before World War 1, a substantial part of the left of the socialist party was syndicalist in Italy. Musscolini was also a socialist & part of this direct actionist left of the socialist party. When Mussolini moved towards nationalism in 1915, it was De Ambris and other USI people from the socialist party left who moved to nationalism with Mussolini. It was at that point that the anarcho-syndicalists in USI rallied & at the 1916 congress removed De Ambris and the other nationalists from the secretariat of USI. At that time the nationalists split from USI, but they only took out 15,000 members, according to the account by Gwyn Williams in "Proletarian Order". that was only 10 percent of the membership at the time.

So this means they didn't even get that much support from the other USI members from the left of the socialist party. USI had been formed originally as a united front of militants with a direct action, syndicalist, anti-parliamentary orientation, including people from Socialist Party as well as anarchists. So the idea there was some major support for Mussolini's rightward moving nationalism among Italian syndicalists at the time is without foundation. People like Roberts are charlatans with an anti-syndicalist ax to grind. They try to make their case by not actually looking at the actual syndicalist movement but focusing on only a small handful of individual intellectuals.

so the people who went with Mussolini were *abandoning* syndicalism. When Rossoni visited the USA after World War 1, his former comrades of the Italian Syndicalist Federation in USA refused to talk with him. He was persona non grata.

Moreover the union that De Ambris, Rossoni and the others formed, UIL, very soon became characterized by a stance of class collaboration & conciliation towards Italian employers. In other words, they were rejecting syndicalism. Syndicalism is based on a hard class line...seeing an unbridgeable class antagonism between the dominating classes and the working class. To move to a conciliatory and corporatist direction is to abandon syndicalism. "National syndicalism" is no more syndicalist than "national socialism" is socialist.

The people who went from syndicalism to Mussolini were abandoning syndicalism by moving to the right. There is a long history of this...of former radicals moving to the right...examples of former anarchists, communists, syndicalists, socialists moving to the other side. This is a well known story.

Anarcho
Feb 27 2016 15:29
syndicalistcat wrote:
Anarcho's claim that the Roberts book is some kind of credible treatment of syndicalism doesn't hold up.

I said it was the standard work on the subject -- namely the "syndicalists" who became fascists. Roberts showed that these intellectuals came out of the Marxism and that the USI rejected their turn to nationalism in 1914.

syndicalistcat wrote:
But the Roberts book never actually discusses the labor movement. It never actually discusses the reality of the USI for example. Rather, it solely focuses on certain individuals...Alberola, Sorel, Rossoni mainly.

None of which changes my point, which was Roberts is the standard book on these intellectuals who came out of Italian Marxism, proclaimed themselves syndicalists and latter turned to nationalism and fascism.

I thought that was obvious in my comments -- particularly when I quoted Roberts on how these intellectuals became isolated in 1914: "The syndicalists failed to convince even a majority within the USI"

syndicalistcat wrote:
So the idea there was some major support for Mussolini's rightward moving nationalism among Italian syndicalists at the time is without foundation. People like Roberts are charlatans with an anti-syndicalist ax to grind. They try to make their case by not actually looking at the actual syndicalist movement but focusing on only a small handful of individual intellectuals.

As Roberts indicated -- his book is focused on a few intellectuals and as I noted, it is usually anti-syndicalists who misuse it to claim that "most" syndicalists became fascists!

as I indicated in the articles I linked to ("The irresistible correctness of anarchism" and "A.5.5 Anarchists in the Italian Factory Occupations"

Reddebrek
Apr 2 2016 08:06

Re-read the blog and the comments, and this stuck out to me.

kingzog wrote:

Problem with anarchist nationalism is it supports a blood and Soil corellary, often masked by localism, federalism, and the romantic valorization of pastoral life. These things run much deeper. Combine this with the naive lack of an approach to political power and its fertile ground for third positionism. Look at how the FORA was unable to deal with politics and fell into the arms of Peronism, for instance.

What on earth are you talking about? FORA was driven underground when Peron came to power with a number of its members tortured to death. Despite that it continued to resist clandestinely organising strikes and demonstrations. The union confederation that capitulated to Peron was the CGT, an organisation that was founded by a merger of Marxist socialists and Marxist leaning syndicalists.

kingzog
Apr 2 2016 16:21

Actually I was incorrect, the trade union movement itself, which remained syndicalist, fell into the arms of Peron. The FORA, however, as an institution had essentially ceased to exist by the early 30's and only remained in existence on paper.

kingzog
Apr 2 2016 16:24

In fact, I can't even find info about it under peron, looks like it officially dissolved around 32, but somehow survived in some fashion within a successor type org.

akai
Apr 2 2016 19:34

FORA-AlT never dissolved. There was, long before 1930, a division in FORA, V Congress and lX Congress, the current organization deriving from the V Congress. lt never dissolved. There was some activity in the 40s and 50s, but not like before. lt was repressed, people were arrested for being against the government in the early 50s. But still it held a 6 month strike of port workers in 1956 - which was really something. You shouldn't confuse the lX Congress FORA from the V Congress.

Reddebrek
Apr 3 2016 07:03
kingzog wrote:
In fact, I can't even find info about it under peron, looks like it officially dissolved around 32, but somehow survived in some fashion within a successor type org.

Really? That must have been an exhausting 3 minute search you undertook.

akai
Apr 3 2016 07:50

Good one. smile

lt should be pointed out that the politics of FORA V was quite different than FORA lX and it was the latter which forayed into alliances and dissolved into them by 1930.

This shows that there is often a tendency in wider revolutionary syndicalism that moves in a crappy direction, however usually this results in splits with anarchosyndicalists.

What is more interesting is how some anarchists defended FORA lX ... but that is a different story.

Agent of the In...
Jun 12 2018 16:44

I'm not sure if this should be given its own thread, but last year, Reid Ross published a piece demonstrating 'how fascists court the post-left', which was inevitably shared on FaceBook over 2000 times. It angered a lot of post-leftists, whom issued a wide range of responses, some sincere attempts at rebuttal, others not so much. Ross followed those responses with a second piece, with the aim of defending his position.

I noticed there doesn't seem to have been any discussion regarding this on this site, which is understandable, considering the focus is on post-leftism. But what I find interesting in all of this is the author's continued treatment of syndicalism, in a way that is kinda muddled. The author also talks about the "utlra left", communisation theory, G. Dauve, et al., in an attempt to show their influences on the kind of post-leftist and individualist/egoist ideas that lends itself towards fascist entry-ism.

I wonder what thoughts any of you have on this, if you have the time to read those two pieces above, if you haven't already.

R Totale
Jun 12 2018 18:11

I read the first one at the time, can't now remember how many of the responses and counter-responses I got through. I thought this bit was pretty sloppy:

Quote:
Even if they have for the most part denounced Guillaume and his entourage, the ultra-leftist rejection of specialized antifascism has remained somewhat popular—particularly as expounded by Dauvé, who insisted in the early 1980s that “fascism as a specific movement has disappeared.”

(highlighting mine)
I don't like the suggestion that the ultra-left/Dauve critique of specialised antifascism somehow undermines the position of those ultra-leftists who broke with Guillaume - that "even if" seems to suggest a contradiction that I don't see myself.

Also, because I think most of the post-left is absolute garbage but I like Ultra, I thought this bit was worth taking seriously, and that he really could've done with providing more evidence for it:

Quote:
In another unsettling example of crossover between post-leftists and fascists, radicals associated with a nihilist group named Ultra harshly rebuked Rose City Antifa of Portland, Oregon, for releasing an exposé about Jack Donovan. An open member of the violent white nationalist group, Wolves of Vinland, Donovan also runs a gym called the Kabuki Strength Lab, which produces “manosphere” videos. As of November 2016, when the exposé was published, one member of Ultra was a member of the Kabuki Strength Lab. Although Donovan runs a tattoo shop out of the gym and gave Libertarian Party fascist Augustus Sol Invictus a tattoo of the fasces there, a fellow gym member wrote, “Obviously Jack has very controversial beliefs and practices that most disagree with; but I don’t believe it affects his behavior in the gym.” Donovan, who has publicly parroted “race realist” statistics at white nationalist gatherings like the National Policy Institute and the Pressure Project podcast, also embraces bioregionalism and the anticipation of a collapse of civilization that will lead to a reversion of identity-bound tribal structures at war with one another and reliant on natural hierarchies—an ideology that resonates with Ultra and some members of the broader post-left milieu.

FWIW, this is a discussion I had with someone involved with Ultra on the topic:

me wrote:
while I'm being nosy, do you have any idea what the deal is with Alexander Reid Ross claiming that Ultra people defend Jack Donovan?
them wrote:
well, arr is a fucking toad, but the truth is that one person who was sort of part of the ultra clique (we don’t have any kind of membership) went to the same gym as donovan and co and was defending the gym itself, quoting another gym-goer as saying that Jack and co kept their politics out of the gym (a claim that I’m honestly very skeptical of. ARR posted the quote from the other gym-goer and attributed it to ultra.

the one person who was part of the ultra clique, in my honest opinion, was waaay too soft on the issue, but saying that Ultra is pro-donovan or soft on the fash is just fucking irresponsible, especially when you consider that arr and I have mutual friends and have talked to each other before. he legit could’ve asked, but he didn’t because whatever he says, he is not a fucking journalist.

me wrote:
I did think it seemed pretty irresponsible for him to claim something that serious and then not provide screenshots, or a link, or any kind of context at all for readers to make up their own mind about what was going on.
them wrote:
i mean, like i said, the ultra person handled the situation poorly. i was on the thread too, and I also handled it poorly, albeit in a dif way, but sloppy fact-checking, nonexistent argumentation, guilt by association, those are the tools in arr’s box.

Also, I think he missed a trick by not pointing out that as well as Exile and Sadie going over to the fash as individuals, there was a concerted effort made by some of their friends, including an article in Black Seed, to defend them and discredit their critics as being witch-hunting moralists. The "Field Guide to Straw Men" article, imo, does a very good job at establishing the fact that there definitely are some people in the post-left scene, just as in many other spaces, who definitely are willing to turn a blind eye to this shit.

Finally, I guess that the publication date being last spring means that it predates most of the controversy over the ITS/GITS/Wild Reactionaries, but the whole Atassa/LBC drama shows that there are definitely some post-left nihilist types who have no standards whatsoever, even if the Wild Reactionaries aren't quite coherent enough to be called fascists. If anyone doesn't know what I'm on about, "Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions" is long but it absolutely annihilates the Atassa/LBC crowd.

Agent of the In...
Jun 14 2018 16:38
R Totale wrote:
If anyone doesn't know what I'm on about, "Of Indiscriminate Attacks & Wild Reactions" is long but it absolutely annihilates the Atassa/LBC crowd.

I honestly could not read through that whole piece. I'm sure the author does some "annihilating", but the text itself is pretty dense, and is revealing of the author's clique ness, as well as contempt for what they perceive as left or social anarchists.

As for ARR; while there is definitely a level of irresponsibility on his part, what's telling about his approach to exposing fascist entry-ism, is that he seems to actually believe that these fascist tendencies are indeed 'syncretic', a word he uses a good number of times in his work. "Anarcho" or "syndicalist" fascists/nationalists like to present themselves as having successfully combined Left and Right ideas, or having transcended the dichotomous Left-Right political spectrum. Afaik, they are the only ones who describe their pet ideologies as 'syncretic', as a way of signifying their so called theoretical accomplishment. I think he misses the distinction between the content of these types - which is straight up fascist - and how they would like to present themselves.

Following from this, I think he presses too hard on trying to establish a bridge, which exists on an intellectual plane, between Left and Right, in a way which might prevent him from being able to appreciate the finer details.

R Totale
Jun 14 2018 20:31
Agent of the International wrote:
I honestly could not read through that whole piece. I'm sure the author does some "annihilating", but the text itself is pretty dense, and is revealing of the author's clique ness, as well as contempt for what they perceive as left or social anarchists.

Hah, fair enough. That text is definitely one where I kind of think that it's good, but the author certainly wouldn't have much time for me. But the fact that the author is so firmly in the anti-civ/nihilist/whatever camp is part of what makes it interesting to me - like "class struggle anarchist says anti-civilisation nihilist anarchists are acting like dangerous idiots" isn't really news, "anti-civilisation nilihist anarchist says anti-civilisation nihilist anarchists are acting like dangerous idiots" is kind of more notable, if you know what I mean? But anyway, thinking about it I probably should've recommended these two much shorter pieces as starting points for anyone who's not encountered the ITS controversy before:
There’s Nothing Anarchist about Eco-Fascism: A Condemnation of ITS
Not Our Comrades: ITS Attacks on Anarchists

Quote:
As for ARR; while there is definitely a level of irresponsibility on his part, what's telling about his approach to exposing fascist entry-ism, is that he seems to actually believe that these fascist tendencies are indeed 'syncretic', a word he uses a good number of times in his work. "Anarcho" or "syndicalist" fascists/nationalists like to present themselves as having successfully combined Left and Right ideas, or having transcended the dichotomous Left-Right political spectrum. Afaik, they are the only ones who describe their pet ideologies as 'syncretic', as a way of signifying their so called theoretical accomplishment. I think he misses the distinction between the content of these types - which is straight up fascist - and how they would like to present themselves.

Following from this, I think he presses too hard on trying to establish a bridge, which exists on an intellectual plane, between Left and Right, in a way which might prevent him from being able to appreciate the finer details.

Hah, your critique of ARR is much more well-thought-out and intellectual than mine, I'd not really gone much further than "this guy feels like a kind of sloppy writer who has some tendencies towards sensationalism".
Oh, and we've also established that, as well as fascists themselves, people who've copied and pasted bits written by fascists from their wikipedia pages will also tend to describe them as syncretic, but that's a whole other story.

R Totale
Aug 15 2018 18:27

Not actually new, but new to me: another critique of ITS highlighting exactly how weird the conclusions the "eco-extremists" have arrived at are.

Quote:
And it is that several blogs that were participating in one way or another in the dissemination of these criticisms (translating, sending, publishing), we started to receive ridiculous threats from these people, in which, in addition to revealing data relating to comrades (and compromising their security and that of those spaces), are also happy about the attacks of the Islamic State in large European cities as well as the death of one of our comrades, for example Heather Heyer, whose fatal attack at the hand of neo-Nazis during a counter-demonstration in Charlottesville a few weeks ago was celebrated by an email we received recently.

Then I’ll transcribe a fragment of one of the… intimidating(?) messages which I did get, as I find it especially revealing. I do not transcribe it in full because in the non-diffused part this gang of parapolice mouths give data about specific comrades, informing of where they collaborate or stop collaborating in their political action; to spread it, would compromise those people.

“(…) the anarchist humanists of the United States were trampled by the neo-Nazis (the two sides are both cocksuckers), the Islamic State finally hit Spain where you find yourself, son of a thousand whores!

While it is true, none of these events were perpetrated by eco-extremists, it is a sign of the savage curse that has fallen on you and your loved ones for defaming us. Fucking Atheist, care that the ancestral spirits get loose and they will torment you until your death!”

In the face of this, I can only burst out laughing, though bitterly. It does not stop me being curious that the person who sent me this crap (and whose e-mail, incidentally, is “agrio@riseup.net”), made from a Riseup account. Is Riseup not a server managed precisely by those American “humanist anarchists” who are compared to neo-Nazis and whose murder they celebrate so merrily? What happens, perhaps, your spirits and your wicked middle-class college witchcraft of savage rebellion does not allow you to develop your own server from which to communicate?

Red Marriott
Aug 19 2018 12:13
R Totale wrote:
sloppy fact-checking, nonexistent argumentation, guilt by association, those are the tools in arr’s box.

The truth of this can be seen from Page 1 of this thread; where A. Reid Ross & co's misuse of historical facts to attempt to distort the relations between historical anarchism, syndicalism & fascism are exposed by several posters. Fortunately, in the case of Shmidt, the indisputable facts and Schmidt's later admissions were plentiful enough to override ARR's association with the original exposure of Schmidt.