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The Problems of Liberal Anti-Fascism

If we want a fascist-free world, we need to break from what we have and build a better one.

From O. Berkman

 

Nazi “German-American Bund” rally in Madison Square Garden (New York, 1939)

Some Starting Thoughts

I write this piece not to drive people away from anti-fascist movements or to create sectarian division. But, I write this piece instead to draw attention to flaws in our movements and push us—collectively—to be better. If we wish to truly defeat fascism, it cannot come at the expense of the peoples and movements most affected by them and indeed, will not come through means that lack a grounding in material reality (ie. through liberalism).

In the following sections, I’m going to walk you through a synthesis of thoughts which critique liberal approaches to anti-fascism, as I believe these approaches limit our ability to build movements and grow beyond a reactive (usually reactionary) position.

For the purpose of this piece, as well, I wish to make several things clear. Firstly, I will not be making great distinction between white nationalist movements of earlier eras, the classic fascists of the 1930s, and every formulation since. All arise from similar conditions and practices—and indeed, are entirely aligned today. While it may not be precise enough for some, for the purposes of our work here, it is enough to be correct.

Secondly, much of this piece will rest upon this premise: Fascism is the logical, violent, and near-certain extreme of Capitalism and the State. If for some reason you have no will to consider this, then you will find yourself at a crossroads with me. But, I will delve into this in more detail as we go forward.

The Mythologization of Fascism

To begin, let’s set out another simple premise. Fascism is not an incomprehensible evil. To cast fascism in such a way—as an evil outside of human understanding—separates the capacity of humankind to carry out fascistic acts and how those acts build from more deeply ingrained structures of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, et al. In fact, even our own movements have dabbled in such structures historically through scientism and eugenics.

Fascists inject themselves into every subculture they can manage and recruit broadly across class lines—they form real movements and have held real power, bringing about real consequences. The point of this is best described in summary in the introduction to Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem where it is said that

[n]early everybody who attended the trial of mass killers after the war, some of them respected doctors and pharmacists, came away with the disconcerting impression that the killers looked pretty much like you or me. The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explode our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial. In a similar vein, Simone de Beauvoir said that at his trial after the war the French Nazi Pierre Laval seemed commonplace and inconsequential, an unimaginative and feeble little fellow.

While one may not agree with Arendt’s broader perspective in other matters, insights found here and elsewhere regarding the trials of Nazis are illustrative. One could surely make similar observations of most Klansmen, neo-Nazi punks, and online Pepe-pinned ‘western supremacists’—that these people and their movements arise from normal people under the conditions of our world and through the slow embrace of fascist ideology.

This is not to downplay the vileness of fascist acts, but to highlight that such acts are not distant from where we stand or from the everyday. Fascism can grow anywhere under the right conditions and in banal kinds of people. Arendt’s “Banality of Evil” has become somewhat cliche, but its reality is underplayed in liberal discourse.

To portray the fascist as an unspeakable monster is to salve ourselves of the reality that such beings share in our humanity and immersion in the society in which we ourselves were forged. It is but our ethics and convictions which separate us from them, rather than the fascist zeitgeist serving as some Elder God out of the pages of Lovecraft bringing forth people to thralls. For the liberal, this lack of introspection serves to preserve the sanctity of their existing society and cast the fascist as an aberration to be cleansed—rather than as much a part of that system as their own liberalism.

But to hold to such a view weakens the ability of anti-fascist movements to act. With every thought of the fascist as an impossible evil, there becomes less motivation to engage in counter-education or community defence and more desire to rely on State protection. When, in truth, the State will just as-easily defend the fascists as it will our own.

In liberal anti-fascist conceptions then, we are left with an inaccurate depiction of the enemy (the fascist) and limit our own understanding of both how they arise and what tactics can stymie their growth. However, this is not the sole issue created by liberal anti-fascism.

Reduction and the Other

While painting fascist ideology as the creeping shadow beyond the horizon, the individual fascist receives a different look in liberal conceptions of antifascist struggle. Too often, the fascist is passed off as an uneducated working class Joe against an enlightened, if not beloved, liberal elite. And while there are fascists that arise from the working class, too often liberals engage in a class reductionism of the issue and ignore the cross-class nature of fascist ideology. This cross-class nature of fascism is one of the key dangers of the ideology itself—as it displaces class solidarity with solidarity centered on white racial (or ‘western’) supremacy.

One only needs to look at Chris Hedges paean to solely non-violent confrontation with fascism to see this at work. In the hackneyed How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’, Hedges decides to needlessly attack anti-fascists who engage in confrontation and bring forward a softening of the fascist image.

In a classic liberal maneuver, Hedges claims that all sides are equal and that “The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war”. An analysis which engages in the very class reductionism of fascist movements I’ve mentioned earlier. Also, it’s clear that Hedges simply doesn’t understand the history of radical movements on the left.

Why do I malign this so-called Marxist professor so? Because he states that fascists and anti-fascists “mirror each other, not only ideologically but also physically—armed and dressed in black, the color of fascism and the color of death”, which frankly reveals his complete (and likely willful) lack of understanding of black as a colour used by anarchists and other revolutionaries. But this equivocation seems aimed to soften the fascist image.

The softening of the fascist image comes to its furthest extent, however, as Hedges proclaims that “[t]he white racists and neo-Nazis may be unsavory, but they too are victims. They too lost jobs and often live in poverty in deindustrialized wastelands” and so on. Again, Hedges’ oversimplifies fascist movements and engages in a reductive narrative. Why? Because this narrative supports a bland, disengaging liberal fascism. Instead of (or complementary to) the great fascist shadow, comes the notion of sad, white underclasses drawn to fascism without choice. While this leaves out the many who choose not to engage so, it continues to erase the ruling class engagement with fascism.

This narrative of Hedges has a contemporary in the-fascist-as-crazy narrative. While being incredibly ableist, this narrative is meant to remove agency from fascists. Just as in Hedges’ narrative of white underclasses pulled irrevocably to fascism, here the fascist is an aberration and drawn to fascism due to their so-called ‘insanity’ or other ableist garbage. This saneist discourse should be equally and vigorously dismissed—most importantly due to the insult this serves to those engaged with mental health and other disabilities. Othering these peoples as a means to condemn fascists is never justifiable, accurate, or based in anything but a need to deflect from dealing with the systemic roots of fascism. Both of these narratives disconnect people from the fascist struggle, as they are kept outside of it. In turn, liberal anti-fascism remains distant from other, everyday struggles.

Disconnect from Everyday Struggle

As established above, fascism neither creeps in from the shadows or arises out of places centered in liberal condescension. As noted in the first section, these fascists are still part of the societies we live in and grow within those very spaces while violent and vile.

But just as vile fascism is part of the fabric of the societies we live within, so too is resistance within ourselves. However, liberal anti-fascists distance this singular form of resistance from broader struggle. By focusing solely on fascism in a vacuum, liberal anti-fascism robs our resistance of its groundedness in other, deeply related struggles. Fascists feed on Islamophobia, transphobia, and anti-Semitism to recruit and grow their ranks. But the liberal anti-fascist addresses these issues separately or arising solely out of a legalistic narrative of rights bestowed by the State. What people truly desire though, is an anti-fascism that does not leave them behind and connects to deeper, inherent principles of our lives. Replacing a liberal reliance on the State with principles of community defence and resilience can only grow our movements.

Indeed, anti-fascists that tie their work to attacking the structures that oppress our peoples and allow for fascists to thrive, will find they have beaten back more than just the individual or small collectives of the enemy—but opened avenues to uproot them. At Gods and Radicals, the phrase ‘beautiful resistance’ is raised and I think it’s a good one to consider for this struggle. If we do not have a beautiful vision beyond what is, what has allowed the fascist to rise forward, why would people aim to follow us into combatting them and not fall into the all-sides-are-the-same rhetoric used by liberals such as Hedges or fascists such as Trump? Our vision has to come alongside our diversity of tactics.

As well, while Hedges is wrongheaded in his approach, it can be said that fascists feed on poverty and systemic economic inequality—you know, capitalism—in both their targeting of rich and working class folks (though, for entirely different reasons of course). We cannot truly beat back the fascists without grounding in these struggles. We cannot work in a vacuum, as the fascist certainly does not. If we make effort in our work to include tackling what white and western supremacy actually means in the everyday then the resistance to fascism will take on the character of those who fight it. We, those who are left out by liberals and sometimes by our comrades, can fight not just for some idea—but for our communities, for our future, for our lives.

But, if fascism is so tied to our broader struggles, what does that make it in relation to our interlocking systems of domination and control?

Fascism-within-the State and Capital

Fascism exists, as I stated in the beginning, as the logical, violent, and near-certain extreme of Capitalism and the State. The legitimacy of the State and the current arrangement of Capital rests on fundamental grounds that allows for the growth (and regrowth) of fascist movements across Europe, the colonial so-called Americas, and beyond. For this commentary, I’ll bring my focus to the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe shared territories where I currently lurk, but these comments could apply more broadly with some modification.

First, look to the arrangement of territory under the settler colonial state in these territories (and the colonialist mentalities here and in Europe that built them). The scientific eugenics, displacement of territory, and supremacist fervor—all of which express themselves in fascist ideology—were critical to the founding of these colonial states. The State is built, from its first stone, either through such a process or in other territories through the capital generated by such processes. Until these underlying foundations are toppled, fascism will remain a threat.

Second, look to the targeted and vast police brutality towards Black lives—even if many anarchists don’t seem particularly up to that task—and ask yourself, is fascism not bolstered by a State which carries out such violence with-or-without them? Can we be surprised when white nationalists rise up, knowing that the State already well-endorses their program? Sure, this hides behind a liberal facade of bad apples and lone actors—but that’s never quite true, is it? Look at the case of Pedro Hernandez and see one of the few cases where the State is caught out—without an outright body on its’ hands, if not a soul—for another reminder of what the truth is here.

Third, with every monster like Arpaio, there are deportations and restrictions to freedom of movement across these territories everywhere. It can be no wonder that groups like PEGIDA, Soldiers of Odin, La Meute, and countless others can wander these territories with impunity and inspire further violence, when the State has tacitly approved of it. For the liberal narrative, these people—like all the arms of the State above—are fundamentally exceptions and these foundation stones of the State are historical curios. Or, at worst, these things should inspire actionless pity.

And all this aside from the State defending fascists or outright starting and funding fascist organizations.

But, this should underlie why liberal anti-fascism ultimately falls short. The liberal narrative relies on making the fascist an aberration to the system, rather than a function of it. Particularly comfortable, white, upper and middle class liberals seem to think that if they break down individual fascists, if they talk them out of their immediate actions, if they just say the right words, arrest the right people, and let the system go back on humming then everything will be fine.

This is false. The State rests itself—as all the above attests—on grounds which allow for the fascist to thrive. If we want a fascist-free world, we need to break from what we have and build a better one. We can’t do that just by addressing far right groups in a vacuum, just as much as we can’t ignore the threat they pose. We have to build an anti-fascist movement that allows for a diversity of tactics, yes, but a fullness of objectives. We have to create visions—even if not unified in what those are—that take fascism up from the root, the State, and address the underlying causes that allows them to recruit across class and attack those vulnerable.

To The Liberals Who’ve Read This Far

At the very beginning, I said that my purpose here was not to drive people away from anti-fascist movements or to create sectarian division. But, I wrote this piece instead to draw attention to flaws in our movements and push us—collectively—to be better. And I’ve spent all of that time being fairly hard on liberal anti-fascists. I don’t, for a moment, wish to see this propell you away from anti-fascist organizing. Instead, take a breath. Take a moment.

If you can see from all I’ve said that there is more to this than passively talking to Nazis and ignoring wider systems of oppression, then we’re on the same page again and you know to abandon your previous liberal approach. As an individual, as a collective, you all can take up different ways of approaching this issue of anti-fascism. I’m not demanding that you necessarily close your laptop right now, pick up a brick, find your best black hoodie and hankie, and club the nearest fascist you see (though, what you do is up to you, really). Instead, take up whatever tactics you feel are best—no need to front here—that fit with this wider analysis you’re now considering and the radical group you’d want to work with. Learn from those around you, listen to those who’ve been impacted by the fascists and by the State most—those criminalized and marginalized, those who’ve long-fought fascists and the State with radical and revolutionary perspectives.

But don’t back down now. If you can see that there is so much more work that interlocks with anti-fascist struggle, then it’s time to take stock, reflect, and build a deeper, radical, and effective anti-fascist movement.

Yet, if after all this you still want to maintain the existing order of things and be a liberal anti-fascist. Well, maybe, you’re part of the fucking problem.


O. Berkman

O. Berkman is an indigenous anarchist writer on topics of history and currently anti-fascism located in shared territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe (so-called Southern Ontario, Canada). They write about other stuff too, but we’ll include that here as we go.


14 Comments »

  1. The author says:

    “For the liberal, this lack of introspection serves to preserve the sanctity of their existing society and cast the fascist as an aberration to be cleansed—rather than as much a part of that system as their own liberalism.”

    The problem is, this same lack of introspection that they attribute exclusively to “liberals” could just as easily be extended to the entirety of the left-anarchist crowd. This lack of introspection can lead to any number of different conclusions, only one of which is the misguided attempt to engage fascists in polite conversation in the hopes that they’ll go away. The assumption that you occupy some sort of elevated position merely because you also have a critique of capitalism and the state fails to account for the fact that “mass movements” themselves are an outgrowth of mass society and are required by the dominant social order as a means of periodically dissipating tensions within it. In stead of either polite conversation or action-for-action’s-sake, I would suggest abandoning any ideas you might have about “movement-building” and assess each potential threat on an individual basis. Don’t rule out the possibility of violent confrontation but don’t let it be your default response either. Listen closely to what the fascists are saying at a given time and place and try to determine if the threat is immanent or if they’re just blowing off steam.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As dialectical materialism proposes, active responses should be appropriate to material conditions. If the fascist protests, we counter-protest more loudly. If they get violent, then we must also be ready to respond in kind. Since the fascist has a tendency towards violence as exemplified in history recent and ancestral, then we must always be ready for violence where fascists are concerned, even if it is unnecessary. We do not have to be violent, but preparation is essential, or we may end up the victims of a prepared assault where we came only to protest in peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The fatal flaw with dialectical materialism is that it makes no room for contingency in the play of events. There can be no “science” of history, there can, at best, only be an imprecise effort to anticipate the relative probability of certain outcomes. To a limited extent, dialectical materialism might be a useful lens through which to analyze the process of industrial production, bur relying on it or any other philosophical “system” to “predict” how a multitude of thinking, feeling individuals are going to behave in real space and time is a recipe for disaster. As soon as you throw thoughts and feeling into the equation, you have already exceeded what “material conditions” can account for. If you’re going to fight fascists, then leave your prefabricated doctrines at the door and deal with the immediacy of the situation in which you find yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So I feel like parts of your comment is a touch misplaced, in context. My argument around a lack of perspective here is regarding the nature of fascism in itself.

    In regards to tactics, there can surely be other gaps in perspective… But these areas of lacking are different and deserve their own areas of discussion.

    Nothing in this piece suggests a default position or tactic, per se, but a need for openness and acceptance of the tactics folks choose. As noted in the piece, “take up whatever tactics you feel are best—no need to front here—that fit with this wider analysis you’re now considering and the radical group you’d want to work with”.

    But in terms of analysis and positioning, an anti-capitalist, anti-Statist position is critical to advance the cause of antifacism. To downplay this kinda misses the point of the article.

    While one can criticize mass movements, depending on the framework of such things, we have to differentiate between movement-as-mobilization within mass society versus movements-as-collections of forms of long-term organization.

    All in all, a lot of valuable threads here but they need to be taken for their own merits.

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  3. “But in terms of analysis and positioning, an anti-capitalist, anti-Statist position is critical to advance the cause of antifacism.”

    That’s all well and good as far as it goes, but a critique of capitalism and the state still only provides a partial picture of why mass society tends toward authoritarian control, culminating at its furthest extreme with fascism and various other forms of autocracy. You’re preaching to the choir if you want to convince me that capitalism and the state are bad. I get it, and I agree. My point is that left-anarchist critiques of the current social order are too limited in scope, focusing only on the most obvious lumbering bureaucratic giants that exercise power in the most heavy-handed possible fashion. What is of even more interest to me are the more subtle and diffuse modes of social control that are already active within capitalist liberal-democracy that are laying the groundwork for more abject forms of domination on a daily basis. Even if we never actually witness latter-day SS Storm Troopers goose-stepping their way down Front Street in Toronto while they roll in the Panzer tanks, it is these more “everyday” modes of social control that keep people confined within the routines of commodity consumption and what passes for “freedom” within the democratic state.

    Furthermore, it is these very same modes of control that are frequently replicated within the ranks of the very “mass movements” that have sworn to resist them. The idea that the human population is an undifferentiated “mass” to be molded into servants of whatever ideology happens to demand their attention lies at the heart of not only the existing social order, but also radical social movements on both the “left-” and “right-wing” of the now outdated political spectrum. This isn’t to say that fascists, neo-Nazis, and other assorted tyrants shouldn’t be resisted if and when they rear their ugly heads, but that the manner in which they are resisted as well as the theoretical critiques that inform this resistance need to be radically questioned and, where necessary, uprooted and abandoned. From my perspective, this implies a critique of “movement-building” as such and the collectivist groupthink on which it is based.

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    • I mean, it’s a little odd to talk of “the more subtle and diffuse modes of social control that are already active within capitalist liberal-democracy that are laying the groundwork for more abject forms of domination on a daily basis” as if that isn’t part of the above discussion inherently, already. The most blatant examples of the issue at hand (none of which really above relies on Panzer tanks, to be fair) illustrate the point for those less ingrained as we in the broader anarchist and antifascist position. That doesn’t imply a rejection of the more subtle issues at play, but clearly framed for ease of immediate understanding.

      Moreover, the division between individualist and collectivist thought–is at least, for me, a bit dogmatic in itself. In these spaces, we have to be flexible enough to work in either individual or collective capacity (as the situation requires or presents itself). Perhaps I’m too much of a believer in anarchism-without-adjectives, but I’ve never set too much of a foot in denying possibilities in either manner of organizing (or what the resultant whatever-after looks like). If there is one thing that bothers me about particular formations of individualist takes, though, is a kind of reductionism that takes place as to the possible value of collective action. This is not to claim that all collection action is good or that we cannot critique underlying social formations of various movements, but what you’ve implied here reads as a broad generalization.

      Equally, while I do mention ‘an anti-fascist movement’ and ‘movements’ at various points, I wouldn’t want to close the door to other formations of organizing to resist. That said, if we dive head first into fairly obtuse, sectarian lingo I don’t think we really accomplish much to broaden the reach of what we’re trying to get across in the setting of this particular piece. The essay, at least in my attempt here, raises numerous caveats to the idea of uniformity among how one might choose to resist and, certainly, this might take forms of individualist action outside of movements or with other formations–so while critiques of mass movements are fair, they miss the nuance I’ve tried to incorporate here and imply things (ie. the idea of the human population as being an undifferentiated “mass”) which I don’t think are present here. As well, while the means differ in granular detail, they are not (or should not) be entirely opposed unlike liberal means–as they align largely and acknowledge the fascist as a function of the broader systems at play while refusing to allow mass society to simply reset to the usual condition.

      In short, I’d argue that a focus on broader material structures and such, does not deny the need to also, co-equally, work on more subtle forms of social control. In turn, while the division between collective and individual action is a popular one in anarchist circles (esp. when speaking in a post-Left milieu), I strongly feel that the dichotomy is artificial and not-necessarily-required.

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      • “Moreover, the division between individualist and collectivist thought–is at least, for me, a bit dogmatic in itself.”

        I actually agree with you that the dichotomy between “individualism” and “collectivism” is largely a false one, although this premise leads me to a different set of conclusions. To clarify where I’m coming from, it may be helpful to make a distinction “collectivity,” which I understand to mean an organic [i]process[/i] of voluntary association between autonomous individuals, and “collectivism,” which I understand to be a social ideology that views “The Collective” as a reified abstract entity into which individual difference is effectively subsumed. So I guess you could say that I am for collectivity but against collectivism; which is to say that I support voluntary, informal association between autonomous individuals as a process whereby those individuals pursue their shared desires but reject any and all notions of a unifying collective identity. My contention is that the idea of “mass movements” is fundamentally predicated on the latter rather than the former. While you could very well argue that [i]collectivity as a process[/i] is precisely what groups such as Antifa are aspiring to put into practise, I would respond by saying that the notion of the human population as a “mass” to be won over to their way of thinking is so thoroughly ingrained in left-anarchist notions of “movement-building” that they inevitably fall back into collectivism despite their best efforts not to.

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    • Since, for some reason, I cannot reply to your above comment, if history cannot be scientifically analysed then the majority of historians are out of a job, as are archaeologists and so forth. I think you misunderstand dialectical/historical materialism, given that it is a basis for analysis rather than a ‘philosophical “system” to “predict” how a multitude’ behaves. It is also a very poor model for understanding industrial production, by the by, since it is a socio-economic rather than a microeconomic or systems mode of analysis. It is about determining why people behave as they do, by relying on concrete evidence in their real, existing circumstances. Nobody fell into white supremacist rhetoric simply because they felt like it, there is always a reason why, and we must deal with that reason as much as the supremacist currently in our face. As you said, if you’re going to fight the fascist, you must deal with your immediate situation, and if you deal with it badly, you may be killed. So it helps to have a solid idea of how fascists operate in order to deal with the fascist on your doorstep, before you rush headlong into a bad decision based in ignorance.

      Also I cannot note the irony of you condemning my use of an analytical technique in one comment and then declaring the need for theoretical critiques in the next, even if I agree. Although, I must add that if one’s revolution is based on ideology rather than concrete goals and methods to achieve them, it is doomed to fail. Ideology is, after all, a spook. To some extent these goals must generalise groups of people, unfortunately, since ‘give all the people a house’ necessitates the agglomeration of ‘people’ so that a system may be created whereby they may acquire a house.

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      • ”if history cannot be scientifically analysed then the majority of historians are out of a job, as are archaeologists and so forth.”

        Why does the analysis of history necessarily have to be a “scientific” process?

        ”It is about determining why people behave as they do…”

        Then please tell me: from a dialectical materialist perspective, why do people behave as they do?

        ”Nobody fell into white supremacist rhetoric simply because they felt like it, there is always a reason why…”

        Nor did I suggest otherwise. But the question is, can those reasons be adequately deduced from “material conditions” or is there more to it than that?

        ”So it helps to have a solid idea of how fascists operate in order to deal with the fascist on your doorstep…”

        Define what you mean by “solid idea.” Are you looking for scientific certainty or just a reasonable basis to suspect that something is the case?

        ”Also I cannot note the irony of you condemning my use of an analytical technique in one comment and then declaring the need for theoretical critiques in the next”

        It’s only ironic if you assume that “analytical technique” and “theoretical critique” are one and the same thing. The mere fact that they rhyme does not make them synonymous. Surely one can engage in theoretical critique without entertaining any illusions that it will yield “scientific” results?

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  4. Fredrich’s variance with O. Berkman’s essay (which I agree with) is perhaps invited by Berkman’s call for “liberal introspection” to me, his one tiny misstep. Liberals are nothing if not introspective, since introspection is the process by which the bourgeois subject is constantly reified, together with its pet affects, “free speech” and “private property.” Liberalism is nothing if not the never-ending Romantic quest for Me!Me!Me! What liberals actually need is “extrospection,” a thankfully unnecessary coinage since the term “historicization” is readily available.

    As a just-flipped conservative, during the ’16 GOP primaries I was able to recognize that the most salient difference between myself and the Trumpanzees (as we Never-Trumpers called them) was race. They were white, I was black, and that made all the difference in the world to how “Make America Great Again” and the politics of xenophobia registered. I knew that had I been white, that Orange Hoodoo might have worked on me, too. I’ve certainly seen it work on quite a few white conservative friends of mine. It wasn’t personal. It was strictly history. It was only after seeing that, that the entire edifice of conservativism collapsed around me and I saw that “ideas” are usually just material conditions made verbose.

    Liberal antiracism is inadequate because liberals see Radical antiracism as a threat to their “rights” as a bourgeois subject, among which is the “right to be Fascist.” Liberals fancy themselves as having reached into that Romantic interiority of theirs and independently “chosen” not to be Fascist, and will fight Radical antiFascism because it threatens that “right.” They aren’t so much AntiFascist as AntiCommitment or AntiDecision; what they want to defend is the imaginary bottomless well of psychological potentiality, within which we can always “talk about it,” forever.

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    • I guess my question remains is what liberals are doing really, honestly introspective on an individual level or is it just another form of mythology building? But I think you’re entirely right to say that this not-entirely honest reflection is centered in their ” never-ending Romantic quest for Me!Me!Me!” and that historicization is probably a more accurate, if slightly less accessible way to get at what I was going for there.

      And, indeed, rights-narratives in liberal frameworks of anti-rascism and so-called anti-fascism (as I’ve met folks who’d call themselves such, even if they could be more accurately termed as you say) see all radical action as a threat. Their version of their rights is entirely dependent on the edifice of the State, capital, and related forms of social control. But, on a hopeful note, much like you saw the difference between yourselves and the conservative edifice, one can hope that some of the more liberal sort can have the scales drop from their eyes regarding the dead-end that such a position represents. The work rolls on.

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      • “Their version of their rights is entirely dependent on the edifice of the State…”

        Are you suggesting that there is a version of ‘rights’ that doesn’t depend on the edifice of the State?

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    • Just to be clear, I agree with O. Berkman insofar as I think that a little more introspection on the part of everyone involved in the “Antifascist Movement” is sorely needed – not just liberals. As for the “bourgeois subject,” I would argue that the process of its reification has little if anything to do with introspection. If anything, the liberal-democratic notion of “The Citizen” is merely the explicitly ‘political’ reiteration of Descartes’ Cogito, which is basically the presupposition of its own activity: to say “I think, therefore I am” is to presuppose both the ‘I’ that thinks and the ‘I’ that is. “The Citizen” is therefore the presupposed political subjectivity that one inherits by virtue of the ‘rights’ conferred upon each individual by the State within a given geographic territory.

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