What Works Against the Far Right

By Joseph Orosco (December 21, 2018)

Jason Wilson has written a good piece in The Guardian outlining how nonviolent action against far right and neo Nazi groups has been effective so far in dismembering those movements.

This has been on my mind this week since news broke that notorious Springfield neo-Nazi Jimmy Marr was hospitalized after an altercation with Corvallis activists. Marr has been in town over the past year several times to lend support to Andrew Oswalt, the OSU grad student who was recently convicted of felony hate crimes. The immediate buzz on local social media followed the usual paths: “Antifa” is a violent organization, “Antifa” is just as bad as Nazis in that they are willing to use violence against people they disagree with, Nazis will go away if you just ignore them, etc.

Wilson points out that doxxing of Nazis—identifying participants of far right protests, rallies, demonstrations, and street fights and sharing this information publicly, especially with employers—has been one successful way to disempower them. (This can go both ways though.  Apparently, neo Nazi groups have been trying to doxx the Corvalis antifa group that was arrested in the fight with Marr.  I’ve noticed this since one of the people arrested was Bart Bolger who I interviewed for Anarres Project a few years ago.  His interview has gotten significant hits in the last few days.)

Denying Nazis platforms has also worked in a variety of cases, the most notable one being Milo Yiannopolous, who has gone bankrupt. This is one of those tactics that seems to rile supporters of “free speech” who argue that Nazis have the same right to air their views in public as anyone else. I see a lot of citing of the famous Skokie case in which the Americans Civil Liberties Union defended the right of the National Socialist Party USA to march through a largely Jewish neighborhood of Skokie, Illinois. But times change. After the Charlottesville protest in 2017, the national ACLU seemed to suggest that it saw contemporary neo-Nazi and white supremacists groups in a different way and is not prepared to defend their right to the public square as quickly. The significant difference seems to be that the newest far right groups are explicitly coming to street brawl, armed with clubs, shields, armor, and guns.

At the same time, I started looking at scott crow’s newest collection Setting Sights: Histories and Reflections on Community Armed Self Defense. Crow is hoping to set up a theoretical framework for understanding and justifying the use of weapons for “liberatory community armed self-defense”. This is different than “armed struggle” which is the use of military style violence by guerilla armies or militia to accomplish political goals. Instead community armed self defense takes into “account unrecognized types of violence and the limits marginalized groups face in their ability to determine their own futures or collectively protect themselves” (p. 9) crow wants to bring out the stories of groups ranging from Spanish and Russian anarchists to AIM, the Deacons for Defense, the Black Panthers, the Zapatistas, and the modern group Redneck Revolt. In the process, he’s showing how many supposed nonviolent revolutions (such as the Civil Rights Movement) were undergird by organizations willing to use guns for self defense from white supremacist and other far right groups.  The book has a great promo video you can watch:

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