Feb. 6th, 2017

tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
I used to be a pacifist. It's easy to be one when you aren't being attacked.

Large-scale violence always starts with ideas and rhetoric, because rhetoric eases organizing and large-scale violence requires the consent and participation of many people. How do you let people know you don't take their ideas seriously? How do you defend yourself against ideas that can only cause harm to you? Communicating that you will refuse to listen is one way, but it doesn't scale. No-platforming powerful fascists does scale. So does punching one on camera.

Here's a FAQ list of things people have asked me -- or, in some cases, things they would have asked me if they had thought to ask rather than assuming an answer -- about why I think fascism must be stopped by any means necessary.


  1. When you say "fascist", are you just talking about anybody you disagree with?

    No. I'm using the word in its accepted meaning. As with any other word in any language spoken by humans, there is no "objective" meaning. Like any other word, "fascism" is meaningless except in the presence of a particular shared understanding between speakers. I expect that people listening to me will have a bit of basic historical knowledge, and understand the meaning of "fascist" by example, the way we understand most concepts: the Nazis during World War II are the best-known example, but the past 100-odd years in Europe and North America have seen a number of others. In ordinary conversation, I don't stop to elaborate all that -- it would be hard to talk about fascism without having to explain a great deal of denotative and connotative meaning every time, since after all, words are useful because they mean things. But since this is an FAQ, I'll quote Emily Gorcenski; her definition of "fascism" coincides with mine.

    There is a tendency, built from 40 years of online debates, to call anything you disagree with "fascist."

    Likewise, anything authoritarian gets called fascist, too, as if people assume that only fascists can be dictators.

    Fascism is a political theory that jelled in the early 1900s and found particular traction in Central Europe.

    The word comes from an old latin term, where leaders carried rods, or fasces, tied together to symbolize strength.

    The core belief of fascism is strength through unity. That the state is stronger if all parties are unified.

    The politic also suggested that fragmented liberalist parties needed to be subjugated and could be ruled by a minority fascist party.

    Given the timing of the rise of fascism, technology was critical in the theory. To fascists, the purpose of tech was to strengthen the state

    Dissent by other parties was weakness, only the party could determine its own fate.


    I'm quoting this entire thread because to have a conversation, it's important to agree on shared vocabulary. Of course, you are free to define "fascism" to mean anything you disagree with, but that's not how I define it, and if you're committed to a different definition, then it's unlikely that reading this FAQ will help you much.

  2. Okay, sure, I accept that definition of "fascism". But Trump isn't a fascist, is he?

    Yes, he is -- not because I disagree with Trump (I'm not sure Trump has a coherent enough ideology for the word "disagree" to denote much, though Steve Bannon certainly does), but because he fits the definition of "fascist." Quoting Emily Gorcenski again:


    So let's look at how we're using the term today. Is the modern GOP a fascist party? Is Trump? His supporters?

    Trump won with the minority popular vote. So there's that. He's controlling narratives away from negative views of his party.

    His policies involve cutting off resources for marginalized communities. His supporters call anyone not a white man a "snowflake."

    His rise to power was strongly aided by technology. He wants to march tanks through DC in a show of military might.

    He has a singular focus on restoring manufacturing jobs to the US at the expense of other services.

    And he and his team regularly harp about "unity" and patriotism.

    So yes, Trump is a fascist and his team promotes fascism.

    Not because I disagree with them, but because actions align with fascist policy.

    If you talk like a fascist and you act like a fascist and you govern like a fascist, you're probably a fascist.

    [...]
    TLDR: fascism requires mandatory unity for strengthening the state and isn't about dismissing speech or dissent.


  3. Well, okay, maybe he's a fascist, but the people elected him, so don't you have to accept him as our leader?

    No. Donald Trump exploited a loophole in the Constitution in order to take over the government. Voting in the US is based on the electoral college because the founders foresaw that the popular vote might result in the election of an incompetent leader. They thought that the job of president was too important to entrust directly to the majority. They wrote the electoral college into the Constitution to provide an additional layer of oversight, so that electors -- who were supposed to be trusted representatives of the people in their home state -- could use their discretion and use their vote in the best interests of their constituents, which meant usually but not necessarily voting the way the numerical majority did.

    In 2016, the electors failed to do their job by keeping Trump -- deemed incompetent by both Democrats and Republicans with any degree of governance experience -- out of the White House. The system does not do in practice what the Constitution intended it to do, and the fact remains that Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote by 2.86 million votes. We are experiencing minority rule.
    It is “desirable,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of” president. But is “equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.” These “men”—the electors––would be “most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” And because of their discernment—because they possessed wisdom that the people as a whole might not—“the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

    As Michael Signer explains, the framers were particularly afraid of the people choosing a demagogue. The electors, Hamilton believed, would prevent someone with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. And they would combat “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” They would prevent America’s adversaries from meddling in its elections. The founders created the Electoral College, in other words, in part to prevent the election of someone like Donald Trump. -- Peter Beinart, "The Electoral College Was Meant to Stop Men Like Trump From Being President"
    In addition, a fascist cannot legitimately lead a representative democracy, because fascism is incompatible with democracy; a two-party (or more-party) state where both parties have meaningful influence is not a fascist state.

  4. Doesn't it undermine democracy to deny that the current government is "legitimate"?

    No, the fascist currently controlling the regime is who's undermining democracy, as well as the Nazis he has appointed as strategists. To accept a fascist government as a legitimate one means it's legitimate for a democracy to operate not based on the consent of the governed, but based on the will of the minority, backed up by a monopoly on violence. When you decide that the opposite of democracy can be democracy, you undermine democracy.

  5. So why are fascists so bad? Aren't they entitled to their own opinions? What effect do fascists really have on people's lives? Sure, I get that the ones in Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy were bad, but that was a long time ago. Are the ones now really so bad? They have nice haircuts and dress nicely, after all, they don't look like a bunch of thugs.

    Zoë Quinn is a video game developer who was targeted by the GamerGate coordinated harassment campaign starting in 2014. GamerGate began with an aggrieved, abusive ex-boyfriend determined to ruin Zoë's life, and quickly evolved into a campaign to purge women from the video game industry. Somewhere along the line, fascists recognized that GamerGaters were their fellow travelers and co-opted the movement into a much broader coalition of angry young white men who helped get Trump elected. I know it sounds weird. But there are people who wrote it all down. They also warned you at the time that GamerGaters were dangerous, but most people just dismissed them as basement trolls.

    Like many of us, Zoë was glad to see a certain neo-Nazi shithead get punched in the face, and wrote this to contextualize why:


    Reminder: before you msg me about my joy in that "alt right" shithead punched, remember that the movement has tried to kill me for years.

    I don't talk about it much anymore because I don't want it to be The Only Thing About Me, but they've literally tried to kill me. A lot.

    at the height of it, a lot of people just watched. People did the two sides shit then too. People said it was too messy and looked away.

    People thought the people trying to kill me were too ridiculous to take seriously. Or that they were just having an opinion.

    While the Discourse did its thing, they tried to kill me. Literally, actually kill me, beyond the damage they actually succeeded in.

    So if you were around for that, and were silent then yet defending nazis now, you need to take a really hard look in the mirror.

    Cause I'm just *one* of the people they personally singled out and targeted.

    i can tell you right now after years of work, advocacy, and protecting and hiding their other targets and asking for help, it's not enough

    So maybe I just don't need to hear another uninformed take on how we just need to try more discourse to solve the problem, like I haven't.

    [...]

    They celebrate people they hate scorning them. You can't shame people who are proud of the horrible shit they do.

    So yeah, I'm gonna enjoy watching a video of the self proclaimed leader of a movement that tries to kill me getting socked in the head.

    the only good thing about these little shits stalking me years after the fact is that I can fill my timeline with videos of it that they see

    I hope it makes their ideology feel unwelcomed and unaccepted, because all the Discourse has failed and people in power failed to help too."


    Listen to Zoë. She has the authority that comes from the lived experience of being targeted by fascists just because they need a target to hurt in order to prove that they're strong. They didn't succeed in killing her, which is why her Twitter handle is "UnburntWitch". But this is what fascists do to people. The only difference between GamerGate/Trump-style fascism and Nazi Germany is that Trump is just getting started.

  6. Why is fascism different from other political ideologies? Would you say that any Republican political leader was illegitimate just because they were a Republican?

    No. Fascism is different from other political positions because, by definition, what defines a democracy is intolerance of fascism. Democracies are not democratic unless it's accepted as a basic principle that every adult human (the definition of "adult" doesn't matter as long as there's a consistent and widely accepted one, which is not to discount the injustice of laws that strip voting rights from disabled people and convicted felons) is a person who deserves to have a say, and that no single individual's voice matters either more or less than any oher. When we start questioning that, when we start saying that some lives matter more than others and one person's vote should mean more than a different person's vote does, then we are no longer a democracy.

    Of course, democracy has always been aspirational. The founding fathers owned slaves. However, reverting what progress we've made does not bring us closer to the democratic aspiration.

  7. Can't we defeat fascism using the marketplace of ideas?

    No, because fascism operates outside the rules of any marketplace of ideas, using violence, not rational discourse or persuasion. Free markets (of any kind) can't exist without regulation, because a game with no enforcement of rules is a game at which people will cheat. When it comes to protecting what we value, few people take a laissez-faire approach: the only places where people don't lock their doors tend to be ones where everybody trusts our neighbors. We cannot trust fascists and thus cannot leave the gates of our marketplace of ideas open to anybody who wants to come in and flip all the pushcarts.

  8. No, but really, if we just explain to the fascists why they're wrong, won't they change their minds?

    There's no historical precedent suggesting that has ever been effective. It's certainly true that individuals who hold horrible sets of beliefs, like Derek Black can, over time, with exposure to a variety of perspectives, change their mind. However, if we wait for every fascist to attend college and hope that they will expand their minds to see that reason is a better way to make decisions than coercion, a lot of people will be dead before they graduate. It's nice when horrible violent people decide to stop being horrible and violent, but nicer still when my friends and I can be alive because fascists haven't been allowed to murder us, regardless of whatever intellectual journey those fascists might be in the middle of.

    As [twitter.com profile] meakoopa eloquently explained, to allow open debate on whether genocide is good or not is to allow genocide to happen:


    "every liberal democracy realizes early on there are some positions which must prima facie be aggressively excluded from public discourse

    u can't even articulate WHY they are unreasonable bc to articulate WHY they are unreasonable is to itself open the possibility of reason.

    this is why u can't allow "just hypothetical" questions abt whether Jews or blacks, as Spencer posits, are innately inferior/destroyable.

    Nazi theorists like Carl Schmitt VERY QUICKLY diagnosed this weakness in

    U can collapse a democracy by insisting the democracy had a right to end itself: Hindenburg to Hitler, "the peaceful transition of power."

    Intolerance cannot be tolerated, bc this corrosive effect means the law can be co-opted by, and so protective of, fascism.

    Fascism wriggles into democracies by insisting on right to be heard, achieves critical mass, then dissolves the organs that installed it.

    WHICH MEANS the stronger it becomes, it cannot be sufficiently combatted with reason. Bc "reason" becomes the state's tool to enforce.

    [...]

    some positions must be excluded from discourse. Some positions you do not listen to - u can only punch.

    A society that begins to entertain why some members of its polis might not belong invites catastrophic decay. Those voices must be excluded.

    [...]

    All of American history is an exercise in one debate: "who is the 'we' who are the people?"

    [...]

    hello! unexpectedly a lot of responses to this thread. almost all vector around "does this mean I can exclude [group/race I hate]?"

    This question vexes the Frankfurt school. But democracy is only form that can even DIAGNOSE the problem.

    "you haven't solved the problem." no; the problem is self-replicating and -perpetuating. The point is u must articulate problem AS problem.

    You cannot take as given that allowing free and open debate about genocide will stop fascism. Because it never, ever has.


    Emphasis added.

  9. Fine, there might be a few bad guys we can't convince, but surely the majority will see they're wrong.

    History suggests otherwise. As Rachel Stark points out (read the whole thread), no-platforming is the only effective defense against fascists because the wrongness of their position is not obvious -- over time, fascists have adapted and found ways to re-brand themselves that bypass people's defenses, much like pop-up ads that make it past your ad blocker. Ideally no-platforming would be done peacefully, and it usually is, but sometimes peaceful methods fail, and punching a Nazi if it prevents genocide is a moral imperative.


    So I am 100% pro punching Nazis & tired of hearing this debated, but I wonder if folks realize WHY anti-fascists punched that Nazi.

    We don't punch Nazis out of anger (though we are mad), or to change their minds (they don't want to change)...

    We don't even punch Nazis because it feels good (though it feels SO good).

    A central Antifa (anti-fascist) principle is that fascists CANNOT be allowed to have a platform.


  10. I thought you were against the violence committed by the military and police. What's the difference between that, and the violence that self-appointed anti-fascist activists sometimes commit?

    The military and police defend the state and protect wealth; anti-fascist activists defend justice. Under a trustworthy government, the military would do the job of protecting that government from corruption by anti-democratic forces, and the police would do the job of protecting individuals from each other. In reality, the military and police both protect the wealth of the few and nothing else. Thus, as citizens, our interests are not and cannot be aligned with the state, and the military and police act against us, not with us. They started the war; anti-fascism is us fighting back. (I am not an anarchist, but I am one in circumstances like right now, where the government does not have the legitimacy that arises from the consent of the governed. A government elected by a small minority of the people, which -- more importantly -- is driven by a political philosophy that explicitly disregards the consent of the governed -- is not legitimate.)

  11. Violence makes me feel bad. Can't we just have peaceful debate?

    Violence makes me feel bad, but genocide makes me feel worse. I can't honestly say that seeing one advocate of ethnic cleansing get punched feels worse to me than witnessing a genocide would feel.

    As [twitter.com profile] AmyDentata put it:

    "If you want peaceful debate then don't advocate dehumanization and genocide. Otherwise get punched

    The liberal nonviolence purity test exists because the state needs you to be ineffective against its own violence. This enables fascists"


    You have a choice between violence against fascists to protect democracy, and violence against democracy to protect fascists. As long as you're comfortable with it, I can't tell you which one to pick.

  12. But I don't like punching people. I'm small and I'm afraid I would just get stomped.

    You don't have to. Even if it's not safe for you to risk jail time or a beating, you can still refuse to listen to fascists and to people floating the "but you have to tolerate different opinions" sealioning that I talked about. Anyone can refuse to listen! Also, you can make friends with people who do punch fascists and bake them a nice loaf of vegan banana bread.

  13. Can't we use, idk, the rule of law, or democracy, somehow, to stop fascists?

    No. Fascists operate outside the rule of law and therefore, the rule of law cannot stop them from destroying democracy.

  14. Isn't democracy strong enough to survive anything?

    How would you prove that claim? Democracy is a fairly new idea and arguably has still never been fully implemented. The democratic aspiration is not so strong as to be able to survive a persistent, sustained, organized effort to kill it, because aside from the inevitability of death, there's very little that is. So the idea that democracy isn't under an existential threat from fascism seems like magical thinking to me. If fascism doesn't pose an existential threat to democracy, what does?

  15. But my free speech?

    If you're not a fascist, you have nothing to worry about with respect to your free speech. "Human beings are good with slippery slopes: we build stairs."

    Alisha Rai quoted two different tweets from the same fascist, Dan Adamini, who on one occasion wrote:

    "Violent protestors who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery."

    and two days later wrote:

    "About to go on the air, lots of hate coming from the tolerant left."

    "You're so tolerant" is the kind of contemptuous sarcasm whose intent is pretty clear: to manipulate, to shame through an attack on your self-image as tolerant, an attempt to make you disintegrate in the face of the supposed disconnect between your self-image and yourself. Feigned concern over free speech from those who want the monopoly on free speech does the same work. By saying "but free speech!" you tell people like Adamini that you're easy to manipulate.

  16. But like, don't Milo and all those people have some valid points? I mean, don't some people get awfully mad about people like Milo hurting their feelings? Isn't it fair to call those people special snowflakes who need to be in safe spaces all the time?

    If you don't like safe spaces, start by refusing to make any space you're in a safe space for fascists. The idea that fascists only "hurt feelings" is useful to them: we know we're in a culture that devalues emotions and, indeed, anything culturally coded as feminine. If you can get people to disconnect their rational minds from their emotional selves, you can cut of their innate sense of right and wrong and get them to carry out an evil agenda for you. So feelings matter. Yours might well be trying to scream at you that you do not need to sacrifice yourself for fascists' supposed free speech rights, and you ignore them at your peril.

    Even more so, fascists don't hurt feelings for its own sake. They hurt feelings in order to see what else they can get away with. Attempts to shock and offend with words alone are boundary-testing. They want to see if they can get away with using their power to make you feel horrible, small, disgusted, less than human, silenced, invisible, or any number of other things. If they observe that they have the power to make you feel something (which they do, because you're human and living humans have feelings as a result of things other people do, at least occasionally), they'll get a sense of how much power they have to do more than that to you.

  17. What if someone thinks I'm a fascist and tries to silence me?

    Then prove them wrong. The fact that sometimes people are wrong about things does not need to be a reason never to take action.

  18. But what if they punch me accidentally?

    Apologies in advance. Get an ice pack and reflect on what you just sacrificed for freedom.

  19. Okay, fine, I see now that fascism and democracy are incompatible. So what do we do about it?

    You should listen to the people who have been fighting fascism for decades and use that knowledge to inform your action: the most comprehensive guide is M. Testa's Militant Anti-Fascism: A Hundred Years of Resistance.

  20. Somebody told me that discriminating against them for their political views was exactly the same as racism.

    It's okay to treat someone harshly because they want to kill you. They can and should stop trying to kill you, but a Black person can't stop being Black.

  21. Okay, but didn't you say before that I also shouldn't discriminate against queer people who chose to be queer?

    Note the words "and should" in that sentence.

  22. Who are you to tell people they shouldn't be trying to commit genocide?

    Who am I, indeed? The question is: do you think you should tell people they shouldn't be trying to commit genocide?

  23. Somebody told me that it's wrong for me to fight fascists, because they just disagree with me and I have to accept anybody who disagrees with me.

    That's straight out of the Nazi playbook. Ask them why they're using the Nazi playbook if they're not a Nazi. I am being very literal here. There is a Nazi playbook, and seeding doubt this way is in it.

  24. What about Godwin's Law?

    Godwin's Law was repealed on November 8, 2016.

  25. Somebody asked me for an objective definition of fascism.

    Ask them for an objective definition of "objective."

  26. Somebody told me that I was intolerant of differences of opinion because I said genocide is bad.

    The last couple of things are all examples of sealioning, defined by Erica Friedman as "a specific, pervasive form of aggressive cluelessness, that masquerades as a sincere desire to understand." Fascists understand that if they front-load their preoccupations with gaining power through violence and with ethnic cleansing and racial purity, they will meet resistance. So they test people's boundaries and defenses by sealioning: asking people to justify democracy starting from zero axioms. But logically, you can't prove anything if you don't start from axioms. The value of democracy is self-evident and an argument with a person who does not accept it is a waste of time, because arguments are only useful between people who are willing to listen to each other. People who are prepared to destroy you don't need to listen to you. The purpose of these questions is to make you doubt; fascism itself admits no doubt.

    Punching a Nazi is one way to say "I do not believe this kind of discourse should be treated in any other way than with a swift kick you-now-where. It is not worth the breath that it would take for me to explain why this discourse is wrong." There are other ways. If it's your co-worker talking fascism at lunch, then words are an appropriate way to shut them down (if they escalate, one can consider other remedies). If it's Richard Spencer giving an interview to the news media that could make fascism look appealing to thousands or millions of people at once, then someone showing up to interrupt him doesn't make for a good story, but punching him does.

  27. Why are you talking about Nazis, anyway? I thought we beat the Nazis in 1945 and they're gone now.

    While Nazism in Germany (and beyond) was a specific historical phenomenon, neo-Nazi movements have flourished everywhere that doesn't explicitly try to stamp them out (e.g. Germany) since the end of World War II. Nazis are a specific kind of fascist, but the advantage of talking about "Nazis" is that the word is recognized, whereas many people think "fascist" is just a generic insult that means you don't like somebody's views. On the other hand, we all know Nazis are bad. At least, I thought we all knew that until the past couple months. It's also really not a stretch: just read Steve Bannon's CV and find out what he thinks about Jews.

  28. I get all that, but still, isn't there some non-violent way to stop Nazis or fascists? Isn't violence bad?

    Again, listen to the people who actually have relatively-recent experience defending their spaces against Nazis: here, [twitter.com profile] puckett101 shares their experience in the punk/hardcore music scene, which -- like 4chan-ish messageboards later on, has long been a recruiting ground for Nazis because it's a good place to find and corrupt alienated young white people. What both groups have in common is a strong commitment to shocking their parents, and when that involves dyeing your hair pink and having gay sex, that's good, but when Nazis figure out that you can talk kids into being Nazis by telling them it will shock their parents, that's bad.


    ...There was a good chunk of my life when I think everyone I knew had put hands on a Nazi.

    And here's why - it was never "just one" Nazi skin. One became six became 20.

    Nazi skins showed up, pushed people around, took over the venue and turned everything to shit with bullying, abuse and their Sieg Heiling.

    [...]

    In the punk and hardcore scenes I was part of, discourse led to more Nazis showing up and more problems.

    The only reaction that prevented Nazis from becoming a problem was not letting them in. AT ALL. EVER.

    And if they somehow got in? Or wouldn't go away? We had no choice but to defend ourselves.

    [...]

    So no, I don't feel bad that a white supremacist got punched in the face. I don't think dialogue is the solution.

    And I think those things because I and people I know dealt with actual Nazis for years.

    If you want to clutch your pearls, fine. If you want to understand the flip side, talk to some folks from the ARA or a SHARP.

    Because old punks are some of the only folks in America to have dealt with actual Nazis on a regular basis.

    [...]

    tl;dr Nazis are like vampires - if you let them in, they'll just start sucking and the only way to get rid of them is a right/left cross.


  29. I think I can figure out a way to stop Nazis without punching. Should I try to come up with one?

    You can if you want to. While you're thinking about it, I'm going to be over here supporting the people who are actually stopping Nazis and fascists in the only way we know how. This is a classic "the perfect is the enemy of the good" situation. Personally, I won't let your unfinished project to come up with a perfect solution to the attraction many people have to fascism stop me from supporting those using the good solution, and punching Nazis is good.

  30. I feel uncomfortable. Doesn't that mean you're saying something bad?

    No. Sit with that discomfort and learn from it. Also, read these words from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail":

    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.


    Whether or not you're white (and most of the people who ask these questions are white, because having to struggle to survive as a member of a subjugated minority group makes it hard to forget that subjugators cannot be controlled by being nice to them -- but not all are), ask yourself whether you recognize yourself in MLK's description of "the white moderate". Do you, too, value the absence of tension more than the presence of justice? Consider the possibility that what is making you uncomfortable is not injustice, unfairness, or immorality, but rather, the presence of tension -- which you can learn to be comfortable with if you realize that it is a necessary part of pushing ourselves collectively closer to justice.

  31. Okay, fine, we should stop Nazis. But I don't know any, so what am I supposed to do?

    If you work at a big enough company, you work with Nazis. If you're a white person living in a white-dominated area, then you probably don't live too far from Nazis. Nazis keep their views hidden when it's not safe to express them, so do your best to make it unsafe to be a Nazi and they won't be able to organize themselves well enough to build concentration camps.

    A lot of us nerds on the Internet spent time on 4chan (I didn't, but that doesn't make me a better person -- I did spend time on Reddit, after all) and [profile] spnbmb described in detail the ways in which 4chan and 8chan denizens make no secret of their fascist views when they believe no one's watching (while engaging in more socially-acceptable behaviors, like sealioning and decrying anti-fascist violence, in public). Contextualizing Richard Spencer (that guy with the punchable face) and who he is, [twitter.com profile] spnbmb wrote:


    If you think Spencer's views are somehow outside the norm for his political peer group, I have news for you: he is toning it down a LOT.

    I spent most of 2016 monitoring various /pol/ and /k/ boards on a daily basis. What Spencer says in public is just the tip of the iceberg.

    "Right wing death squads" is a popular phrase & aspiration. Are many of them basement-dwelling LARPers? Sure. But look at Dylann Roof.

    I witnessed firsthand the percolation of memes & talking points from imageboards to social media to "alternative" news to mainstream.

    [...]

    Meme magic is indeed real, in a way. If you don't understand imageboard culture, you won't understand what's happening now.

    GETs and blessings of Kek are a new spin on Nazi esotericism. Memes are the new propaganda ministry. Digging/doxing is the new SS.

    All of these things are now amorphous & crowdsourced. You have a highly tech-literate group of angry disenfranchised men with a goal.

    The most important thing about this situation is that the movement is self-directed and *self-motivating*. They do it all for free.

    Nazis got uniforms & paychecks & met in buildings with a Reichsadler above the door. Today, they are all around you. How many have you met?

    Not everyone will be as obvious as Spencer, with his (hip) Nazi youth haircut and Pepe pin and openness about his views. He is a rarity.

    [...]

    I actually agree with Spencer — many /pol/acks do indeed hate him. They hate him because he is labeling the movement and attaching his name.

    [...]

    Trump's campaign absolutely monitored and took direction from /pol/, and vice versa. Do you think Trump's pepe tweet was an accident?

    That's why Trump was indeed memed into presidency. Trump's campaign is absolutely connected to /pol/. Why aren't you connected too?

    [...]

    antifa: your enemies have been absolutely salivating for 'the day of the rope' & say trump will allow it. they're preparing for it. are you?

    [...]

    the line between 'ironic' fascism and actual fascism has always been paper thin


    If you're a tech worker, you know people who don't think 4chan is so bad. Which means you probably know Nazis.

  32. Why are you quoting tweets? Don't you have more reliable sources to quote?

    I could quote Hannah Arendt, but then you would just tell me that -- in the words of Ann Reed -- "history is in the past, it's not like it is real."

  33. I know you're talking about current events, but still, why aren't you quoting the New York Times or the Washington Post?

    Good question. Why do you have to go on Twitter to see these critical perspectives; why are you not finding them in major, respected, liberal publications? Sit with that question.

  34. But a lot of people support Trump, so don't I have to treat that as a normal political point of view that I have to respect?

    Who told you that you have to respect all points of view? It wasn't me.

  35. No, really, a lot of people support him, so we can't just reject him out of hand.

    If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you take time to rationally deliberate over whether you should jump off a cliff too?

  36. I like to be polite. Isn't it rude to tell somebody their ideas aren't worth listening to?

    Maybe, but I don't want to ask anybody to die so someone else can practice good etiquette. When somebody is lying, you are not obligated to keep talking to them as if the lies are true. In fact, to talk to them at all is to cede ground: you admit that their lies could be true. Walking away may be rude, but I think letting your friends die is also pretty rude.

  37. I'm a Republican and I feel bad. Doesn't that mean you must have said something wrong?

    No, other people aren't obligated to refrain from saying anything that makes you feel bad.

  38. No, but really, I'm a Republican and I don't support Trump. Aren't you wrong for stereotyping me?

    In a word, no. If your Republican representatives in the House and Senate wanted to show they're not like Trump, rather than just telling us, they could always refuse to vote for Trump's cabinet nominees, which so far almost none of them have done. I don't really care whether your Republican representatives disagree with Trump and are too afraid to stand up to him, or genuinely agree. A genocide that people went along with because they were scared kills people just as dead as a genocide that people went along with whole-heartedly.

  39. Well, I'm a Republican and I don't agree with what my congresspeople and senators are doing, either.

    At least so far, it's still legal to leave a political party that doesn't represent your views.

  40. But I'm a Republican, I just don't agree with anything the Republican Party is currently doing.

    I thought Republicans didn't like identity politics.

  41. You can't hate me for who I am.

    I don't hate who you are -- I'm a die-hard optimist, so I think there's a good person hiding somewhere inside you, even if that good person is scared of the fascist who also lives inside you. But I hate what you're doing to me. If you choose to ally yourself with the Republican Party in 2017, fascism is what you're telling the world you stand for and we are not going to let you forget it. Words have meaning: if you say you're a Republican, then it's not a personal attack for me to tell you that you're a Republican, because you just told me that. You are free to value your party loyalty, but I am also free to draw conclusions based on who you do and don't stand in solidarity with. That's kind of how this whole "freedom of opinion" thing works. Also, we warned you this would happen.

    If you say "I'm a fascist" and I say "so you're a fascist" and then you say "You're hurting my feelings!", you're lying about either one or both of those things.

  42. What about unity and acceptance? Aren't those values important?

    Hey, Republicans, it's never too late to change your mind. But as long as you say you are standing with fascists, I will believe you. Do you really want me to not believe what you say? Words matter. If you say "I choose to align myself with a party that's been taken over by white supremacists, but don't call me a white supremacist", I'm not going to automatically defer just because you said that. It's time for you to make choices. Which side are you on? (Your options are "The Nazis" and "Everyone Who's Not a Nazi.")

    Also see what [personal profile] solarbird addressed to self-identified anti-fascist conservatives.

  43. Was that exhausting to write?

    Yes, but less so than having to explain it from first principles every time someone pipes up with "if you fight fascists, doesn't that make you as bad as fascists?" Now I can just paste a link.

  44. Why do I have to think about this? I found life easier when I could play music or mess around with computers and know that democracy was a given.

    You and me both, friendo.




"Maybe you missed this, but you’re not in a dialogue. Your views are beside the point. Argue all you want—your adversaries are glad to see you waste your breath....

This is not a dialogue. How could you be so naïve? A dialogue—from which some of the participants can be deported at any time? A dialogue—in which one side keeps shooting and incarcerating the other side? A dialogue—in which a few people own all the networks and radio stations and printing presses, while the rest have to make do with markers and cardboard signs? A dialogue, really?"
-- "This Is Not a Dialogue: Not Just Free Speech, But Freedom Itself", CrimethInc

"The only slippery slope we have to worry about is from tolerance of Nazis to governance by them. The tipping point is RIGHT IN FRONT OF US.
Do not engage.
********Debating a Nazi is conceding the point that some people might be inhuman.*********
Do not acknowledge they have a "side." There is some speech that does not deserve "free expression" or "equal protection," and genocidal speech is at the head of the line." -- Tarin Towers

"The essence of fascism, as historians like Robert Paxton never fail to remind us, is not in ideas but in emotions. Robbing fascism of its virility and hyper masculine pretence is to rob it of its primary capacity to grow and survive. We have to confront the crucial question: are we more interested in upholding the slogan “Don’t Be Evil” or in making sure that no evil occurs? Is instilling fear in the hearts of fascists or fascist-curious individuals, even at the cost of isolated violence preferable to allowing fascists to consolidate power and therefore commit greater atrocities?" -- anas el hawat, "In Defense of Assaulting Fascists"

Further reading

I'll continue to add to this section as I find new articles.

  • "Free Speech and the Paradox of Tolerance", Julia Serano: "I think that “freedom of speech” is a lovely aphorism. And aphorisms are useful. But I am not gullible enough to believe that “free speech” (as free speech absolutists envision it) actually exists, or that it is something that I have ever truly possessed. The truth of the matter is that there are two types of speech or expression: those that we (either as individuals, or as a society) are willing to tolerate, and those that we do not. (This is explained compellingly here.) You may cherish a particular word, idea, expression, or identity. But if enough people collectively refuse to tolerate it, well . . . you can shout “free speech!” at the top of your lungs all you want, but it isn’t going to protect you.

    Believing that freedom of speech is generally a good thing — an ideal worth striving for — but also knowing that speech can be (and often is) used to suppress other people’s freedom of expression, the question becomes: How do we best strike a balance between these two competing forces?"
  • "but we are seeing now that if we fight, if we put on pressure, if we make our voices heard, we no longer have to go by those old rules" -- [twitter.com profile] spacetwinks
  • "Nazis, No Platforming, and the Failure of Free Speech", Stephanie Zvan: "The assertion that instead of punching, we should be engaging Nazis on their arguments is pure free speech fetishism. It’s assigning power to argument that hasn’t been demonstrated. The idea that we’ll convince anyone that all human life is deserving of protection through the exchange and support of logic propositions is ridiculous. That’s a value proposition. Those aren’t instilled through debate. They’re instilled and maintained through socialization.... Still, though, most free-speech advocates do nothing to ensure good speech beats bad speech. They treat it like a true fetish. Or worse, they prioritize promoting the bad speech."
  • 'I love it when they mock our tolerance as though it should be endless and apply to everything when they "tolerate" fucking nothing.' -- [twitter.com profile] Charlotte_Stein
  • "Because Ignoring It Worked So Well", by Stephanie Zvan: "A problem we don’t or won’t know about is a problem we can’t fix. If only 1 of 10 people have heard what Yiannopolous has to say and half those people find it disgusting, then yes, calling lots of attention to him might double his audience. But if 4 of 10 people now know what he has to say, there are now six times as many people who may be ready to do something about him.

    That is actual progress. Pretending he doesn’t exist is not."
  • "Drop Apocalyptic Thinking and Get in the Streets: On White/Male Voices Stifling Resistance", by Real Talk WOC and Allies: "People of color never had the luxury of trusting institutions."
  • "Why Punching Nazis Is Not Only Ethical, But Imperative", by Katherine Cross: "The vulnerability of Nazis cannot be revealed through debate — many thinkers who lived through the Second World War, from Karl Popper, to Hannah Arendt, to Jean Paul Sartre, have been quite clear about why dispassionate discourse with men like Richard Spencer is not only pointless, but actively dangerous.

    The use of force, by contrast, does reveal the shared humanity that Nazis deny. Our vulnerability is one of the things that links us all, seven billion strong, in a humane fragility. These are essential aspects of our humanity that both Nazi mythology and channer troll culture deny. Punching a Nazi, by contrast, reveals it. It reveals they are no masters, but quite eminently capable of fear, of pain, of vulnerability. And that takes the shine off; it eliminates their mystique, and it puts the lie to the idea that their ideology is an armor against the pains of modernity.
    That alone justifies Richard Spencer being punched in the face on camera."
  • "True cruelty is allowing a bully to demean his own humanity through harming others. Stopping the bully is an act of love." -- [twitter.com profile] AmyDentata
  • "Everybody Hates the Berkeley College Republicans", anonymous: "In the aftermath of the Berkeley College Republicans’ defeat, we’ve seen an increase of interest in radical anti-fascist politics taking hold throughout the campus. Students saw a stark contrast between the out of touch administration at UC Berkeley, which sought to protect Milo as he planned to out undocumented students, and the black bloc that helped shut the event down and kick far-Right scum off the streets. We think it is important to discuss what else has happened in the week following that demo because it is relevant to discussions about the role and efficacy of militant anti-fascism in the context of a growing far-Right movement that is itching to get off the internet and into the real world."

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Tim Chevalier

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