By Cassandra Devereaux
Looking through the history of white nationalism and fascism in the U.S. and beyond, it’s striking that it is always married to anti-communism. While they tend to be unclear on what communism is, attributing it to such Democratic Party figures as Nancy “we’re capitalists” Pelosi and the most milquetoast of centrist policies, they understand communism to be the greatest oppositional force to fascism and white supremacy. In this, they’re correct. From Marx’s support for the abolition of chattel slavery in the United States to the Soviet opposition to the fascist Anti-Comintern Pact nations in WWII, it’s been communists who have led the charge to stop them. Martin Niemöller wrote of the Nazi concentration camps,
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist…”
And so the Nazis did, outfitting communists and then socialists writ large with red triangles on their concentration camp uniforms. Decades on, Fred Hampton of the communist Black Panther Party said,
“We say it’s no longer a question of violence or non-violence. We say it’s a question of resistance to fascism or non-existence within fascism.”
Another thread running through right wing discourse is the perverse and ironic use of the word ‘freedom.’ Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was heralded by supporters of Governor DeSantis as a win for freedom. Book bannings are lionized as serving freedom. Trans sports bans? Freedom, somehow. And, of course, advocates of the Northwest Initiative claim to serve ‘white freedom’. The right wing, without any apparent self-awareness, invoke freedom while working to crush it because by ‘freedom’, they mean white heterosexual cisgender Christian hegemony. To put it another way ‘freedom for me, not for thee’ which is no freedom at all. In contrast, Communists understand freedom as liberation from oppressive structures and crushing conditions. Angela Davis said,
“The idea of freedom is inspiring. But what does it mean? If you are free in a political sense but have no food, what’s that? The freedom to starve?”
Of course, where there is white supremacy, there is homophobia, transphobia, and all the assorted hatreds of LGBTQIA2S+ peoples. Hate is a comorbid condition. Just as anxiety disorders are often comorbid with substance abuse, hatred of Black, Brown, Asian/Pacific Islander and indigenous peoples walks hand in hand with hatred of Jews, Muslims, and of non heterosexual/transgender people. There are always outliers like Andy Ngô and Milo Yiannopoulos who support fascism and serve as deflections when fascist racism and homophobia are called out. However, fascism is an ever tightening circle and those who are useful today are purged tomorrow, finding expulsion if not a gruesome end.
While droves of white nationalists have already relocated to the Pacific Northwest, so many more, a vast majority, have not. We can look to Coeur d’Alene, but have to remember it’s only one focal point in a fascist phenomenon that can be found from the grandest metropolises to the tiniest villages in the United States, Canada, and beyond. Coeur d’Alene is not the only land in the United States that has known genocide. Every inch of the 50 states has. While the now destroyed Aryan Nations’ land is perhaps the best known white nationalist compound, it is far from the only one. The destruction of Aryan Nations just gave way to new organizations and avenues for hate to advance. Communists cannot become complacent but must fight fascism wherever it makes itself known. We must be the proverbial knife at the throat of white supremacy, and we must never relent in our opposition to fascism. We are uniquely qualified to do so. Where fascists want to scapegoat oppressed people, we build bonds of trust and solidarity across lines of poor, working class, and oppressed people. They do it with lies and scapegoating. We do it with sober analysis and the truth.
But to do this, we need to build a united front of militant opposition of anti-fascists all across the left. We are not engaged in a mere rhetorical battle. This is no war of words, but a struggle against a militant and murderous movement that grows bolder every day. Far right white supremacist mass shootings have become commonplace. At a Turning Point U.S.A. conference last October in Idaho, one anti-masker asked:
“At this point, we’re living under corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns? No, and I’m not — that’s not a joke. I’m not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”
He wants to commit mass murder because he was asked to wear a bit of cloth on his face. Future killers and terrorists wait in the wings, and a third of registered Republicans now say that political violence is needed to save the United States. The party establishment gives cover to white supremacist murder by blaming videogames and, with unchecked ableism, scapegoats mental illness. They consciously and deliberately feed the white supremacist beast by cosigning racist conspiracy theories.
This is a party that engineered the successful destruction of bodily autonomy with the SCOTUS’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. The Supreme Court Republicans successfully stacked now invites cases that will allow them to overturn the rights to same-gender love, marriage, and access to all contraception. This bourgeois state will never fight the structures that give us white supremacy. The truth of this can be seen as the far right becomes mainstream and Democrats are unable or unwilling to stand in their way. Every time the right fails, such as on January 6 and in Coeur d’Alene, it deflects, scapegoats those they hate, and becomes further entrenched in white supremacist radicalization.
Centrists such as Democrats are unequipped to fight back. Even given differences between racist organizations, since the Greensboro Massacre and the first Aryan World Conference, the far right successfully unites and acts. It kills. We need to set aside differences between organizations on the left to fight back. As the far right becomes mainstream and Democrats are unable or unwilling to stand in their way, we see that we’re the only ones able to oppose them. We must unite with every poor person, every worker, and all oppressed peoples willing to stand and fight the right.
Huey Newton, Chair of the Black Panther Party said,
“We have two evils to fight, capitalism and racism. We must destroy both racism and capitalism.”
This work is before us. We can build a new world in the shell of the old. We will destroy white supremacy, as we must.
Poor people, workers, and oppressed people unite! All power to the people!