“Seemingly limitless is the depth of degradation of bourgeois white America for it has now produced still another phenomenon which, by comparison, pales—or more precisely put, unifies all other manifestations of reaction.”—Raya Dunayevskaya
A thousand or more Nazi, Klan, and “Alt Right” protesters invaded the campus of the University of Virginia, Aug. 11, attacking small groups of students and counter-protesters. Their torchlight march rang with Nazi chants of “blood and soil!” and “white lives matter!” For all its echoes of Germany in the 1930s, it was a register of what Donald Trump’s racist support base is aiming at today.
The genocidal ideology that the march embodied was acted upon at the next day’s rally in downtown Charlottesville, when a young Trump supporter drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascists, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people. This was a naked act of white supremacist terrorism.
This fascist demonstration was part of a planned “Unite the Right” weekend. Any who may have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by the idea that Trump’s racist, misogynist, bigoted, authoritarian movement has been neutralized by the bourgeois establishment should have had a rude awakening. Trumpism and fascism are too deeply a part of capitalism in crisis to be so easily disarmed by it.
Trump’s monstrously hypocritical statement about violence “on many sides” was meant, and was taken, as a tacit sign of support for these attack dogs. Those right-wingers who pretended to distance themselves from Trump’s statement, like Senator Ted Cruz, bear their share of responsibility for emboldening these Nazis.
REACTION TAKES TO THE STREETS
The “Unite the Right” rally was organized by Jason Kessler, a promoter of anti-Semitic and white nationalist ideas, who has made a name for himself in fascist circles by attacking liberal Charlottesville’s local government. His claimed reason was to protest the city’s decision to take down a statue of Confederate General Lee and rename “Robert E. Lee Park” as Emancipation Park.
In reality, this was about seizing an opportunity to organize a reactionary movement. The fascist base that supported Trump’s election has become frustrated with the limitations bourgeois democracy still confers on their grasp of state power. They are furious at the opposition to Trump’s agenda that was sparked by the Women’s March, and by the airport occupations in opposition to his attempted Muslim ban. So fascist leaders have decided that, in order to advance their agenda, they need to “occupy public space” and confront “Cultural Marxism.”
Part of the “Unite” rally’s purpose was to bring a new generation of internet-bred “Alt Rightists” into the streets, and under the aegis of fascist organizations. Thus, also on Aug. 11, neo-Nazi figure Richard Spencer, who was prominent at the rally, released “The Charlottesville Statement,” a fascist manifesto calling for both a “white America” and a war against Muslims and immigrants in Europe.
Both Spencer and Kessler are University of Virginia alumni. They are pseudo-intellectual products of decades of racist ideological development, taking in classic fascism of the 1930s, American racism, apartheid, and the “clash of civilizations” thesis used to justify the Bosnian genocide.
FROM STATE POWER TO ORGANIZATION
With allies holding state power (Russian President Putin and his ideologist Alexander Dugin, Trump and Stephen Bannon, and various European reactionaries) the “Alt Right” organizes its own publishing houses, discussion forums, parties and militias. While denouncing “Communism,” it adapts organizational forms and concepts from classic fascism or Stalinism.
These fascists sometimes even claim to be anti-capitalist, at least in opposition to “globalization.” They see a genocidal dictator like Syria’s Assad as an ally in this—it is no coincidence that the murderer in Charlottesville has Assad’s picture on his Facebook page, or that the rally included chants of “Assad did nothing wrong!” At the same time, they continue fascism’s hatred of the Left—that is, of the revolutionary Left that encompasses Black Lives Matter, women’s liberation, LGBTQ rights, and multi-ethnicity.
These struggles negate fascism at its root by reaching for freedom from the web of oppressions that characterize this capitalist, racist, sexist, heterosexist society. Black Lives Matter has issued the most profound challenge to American “civilization.” The Women’s March raised demands that go far beyond investigating Trump’s ties to Putin. The logic of these struggles is revolutionary, and working out that logic in theory and in practice can put an end to the inhuman society that gives birth to endless varieties of fascism.
The invasion of Charlottesville and UVA is likely to be only the beginning of a new phase in fascist counter-revolution and the fight against it. This is a worldwide struggle, and it is a local street fight. It is also a struggle over the meaning of history and the idea of freedom. Ultimately, victory will demand a philosophic clarity about the goal of a totally new society that has the liberation of all as its basis—that is, not only what we oppose, but what we are for.
–The Resident Editorial Board of News and Letters Committees, Aug. 13, 2017