For Working Class Self Defense against racist white nationalism, white supremacy and fascism:
Build a United Front of working class Black, Brown, Immigrant, LGBTQI, Muslim and Jewish, interfaith and spiritual Communities!
For Mass Labor-Centered Assemblies and Mobilizations to Smash the Fascist KKK, Nazi and ‘Alt-Right’ Terror!
In every union hall and community center build and train disciplined non-sectarian, integrated Labor Self-Defense Guards!
Emboldened by Trump, neo-Nazis, KKK and other fascist groups have been staging racist mobilizations not only in smaller cities like Charlottesville, but also in major metro urban working class centers such as Berkeley, Boston and Seattle. As shock troops of divisiveness and hate, racist terrorists intend to instill fear among Blacks, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, women, LGBTQI folk in order to divide and crush the multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi gender working class.
Make no mistake, they emerge now not because of Trump but because the unfolding crisis of capitalism has created such disparity that their “American Dream” has crumbled and they scapegoat you for it.
The murder of Heather Heyer and the August 11th-12th provocation have unmasked, for all to see, the fascist underbelly of the mis-named ‘Alt-Right’. Those chanting “blood and soil”, proudly offering up the Nazi salute as they Heil Trump, and cry “Jews will not replace us!” are the vanguard of a nascent fascist movement which if not stopped now will propel the likes of Richard Spencer, Baked Alaska and the Based Stickman into the mainstream. Their leaders (see Vice Interview 8/16) celebrate Charlottesville as a victory and promise more blood, egging on malcontents like those that murdered Heather Heyer, Tyler Magill, beat senseless DeAndre Harris and injured 19 others (five critically). A Trump supporter driving a car into anti-fascist protesters has horrified the world. But “Oathkeepers“ acting as demonstration Marshals lend cover to the fascists’ claims that they are only exercising free speech as they march with tiki torches and attack and brandish and discharge firearms at those who object to them.
Capitalism Creates the Conditions for Fascism
With the world economy still not recovered from the 2008 crisis, with the capitalists still unable to restore their declining rate of profit through the destruction of capital, the US imperialist ruling class, while not willing to engage in a costly fascist experiment at this time, are more than willing to keep the fascists in the wings as shock troops to crush a resurgent workers movement. It is the economic outcome of the capitalist crisis that creates the conditions for fascism to grow. So for instance, every sort of supplier, salesman and boss in the construction industry, and many of the formerly privileged labor aristocrats have been ruined by the elimination of 1.7 million jobs in construction that existed before the 2008 stock market crash (Economic Policy Institute of the AFL-CIO, Aug. 18, 2017). It is the ruined middle class (petty bourgeoisie), the small businessmen, professionals, students and the lumpen that have no prospects that are driven to a reactionary despairing frenzy, what Leon Trotsky referred to as white hot capitalist reaction against the working class, that form the social base of fascist movements.
The Communist Workers Group (CWG – USA) agrees with Marxist economist Michael Roberts, author of The Long Depression, that the 2008 economic crisis was primarily brought to a head by the dynamics of the capitalist system itself, by what Karl Marx called the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (TRPTF).
We agree with Roberts that we are at an economic precipice, that the so-called recovery is weak and that Capital has not restored its lost rate of profit. The U.S. is a declining imperialist power and the days of post-WW II and the post 1989 unipolar hegemony are waning. Trump promised to “make America great again,” but that is just populist demagoguery. Capitalism is a history of peaks and troughs, with every crisis having a tendency to become sharper and longer. The stock market right now is peaking, with the media selling us full employment and inflated stock prices that don’t reflect the profit rates. And Trump’s full employment claims that the media hypes are based on the average wage and do not take into account workers trying to survive on sub-living wages. The stock brokerage newsletter “Gains, Pains & Capital,” quoting the IRS, showed a real decline in collected payroll taxes in April for 2016 vs. ‘15. For many youth, a college degree means heavy school loan debt and grim job prospects. Trump is a product of the capitalist system which in crisis produces the fascist resurgence as an option to seemingly expensive bourgeois parliamentary democracy. These reactionary forces instead of blaming capitalism blame Jewish bankers, Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, women, LGBTQI folk and leftists (Marxists and anarchists) for shrinking business opportunities.
Historically, the relatively “privileged” layers of the middle class and lumpenized elements are drawn to white nationalism and white supremacy because it gives them an “other” to blame for the economic crisis they are powerless over. They are powerless because their middle class and lumpenized condition is separated from the social relations of production. They have neither the investable resources of big capital nor their hands on the levers of production as does the working class. Only capital and labor have real power in society. Fascism is an existential threat to the existence of the organized working class. It is crucial that the working class organize and mobilize to drive the fascist KKK, Nazis and other ‘Alt-Right’ racists from the streets.
The fascist groups focus their recruitment efforts on a ‘no hope’ generation of students at elite colleges and universities, but this is not their exclusive focus. Where prisons are schools for revolution, such as at Attica in the early 1970’s, since the ‘80s prisons have been recruiting grounds for Nazis and similar groups. We notice a growth of Ku Klux Klan style groups, and these have pulled in members of the ‘no hope’ generation in the Bible Belt Christian right milieu of small-town America, as well as lumpenized Iraq and Afghan war veterans. Naturally, as more usually the case historically, the ruined small family farmers are a source of recruits too. We see foremen workers’ anxiety over their mortgages and kids’ future. We see the former union membership that are now “independent contractors” driving for Uber to try to make ends meet. For all of these there has to be a scapegoat explanation of their misery where Marxism makes no challenge to puncture it. We begin puncturing it here and today.
Trump is not a fascist, but a racist, reactionary populist “know-nothing” wannabe Bonapartist who has few qualms about putting the wind in the sails of the Nazis, KKK and other ‘Alt-Right’ groups. Are we at a turning point now after the recent fascist mobilizations? The fascist ranks are split with lots of different factions and they have not coalesced into a mass fascist organization. They don’t have a lot of ideological differences to sort out, though. Right now their donors are testing who can build a fascist movement. In response to those who say ‘ignore them and they will go away,’ it is essential for the working class to recall that Mussolini started with 54 in his outfit and Hitler joined the German Workers Party when it had 100 members or less. Their rapid growth was repeated in Greece in 2009 with the Golden Dawn which emerged from the slime during the crisis only to be projected onto the national scene gaining significant percentages of the popular vote in the last two elections. So it is imperative to keep our eyes on our biggest enemies, such as the capitalists and foundations who fund the racist organizations such as “ACT For America” coalition. We have identified a .
The ruling class knows they are sitting on a tinderbox and they rightly fear a class conscious working class mobilized for class struggle under our own banner. But right now, the normal methods of bourgeois ‘democracy’ are sufficient for them to maintain their class rule. They have their two major political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, which the working class is tied to, along with a servile labor bureaucracy, a decimated labor movement and a weak ‘Left’ without revolutionary working class leadership. Capital right now rules by throwing in state repression here and there; unleashing their racist cops, La Migra and the National Guard against the working class and oppressed; and they are keeping the fascists as their shock troop reserve, waiting in the wings ready to crush the workers movement if necessary. So this is not a turning point, the fascist movement is too toxic for the established Right to outwardly embrace right now. Indeed Trump and the recently ousted Bannon are increasingly isolated from the ‘mainstream’ of bourgeois politics, but this could change very quickly. August 10th saw a 3-day stock market drop that had the billionaires freaking out, which follows the 2016 major contraction internationally in investment in production (). It is not just Michael Roberts saying the world economy is not stable, the bourgeoisie knows it too. They recognize the class war and they come to the fight prepared.
Charlottesville, Trump, and the Democratic Party
The aftermath of Charlottesville saw Trump initially refusing to condemn the fascists outright and blamed “all sides” and said the answer is “law and order.” Then two days later bowing down to pressure, he denounced the KKK/Nazis as “repugnant”, then backtracked again and blamed both sides to the satisfaction of Klansman David Duke. Even the bourgeoisie was troubled by the fascist terror in Charlottesville as it sparked outrage worldwide and drew too much attention to the reality of racism in capitalist America. Better to keep things like this in the shadows to maintain the aura of respectability. Former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and five military joint chiefs denounced the fascists in Charlottesville as did multiple Democratic and Republican politicians, which is easy enough to do. Trump has brought a lot of unnecessary overhead and instability to bourgeois “democratic” class rule that threatens to explode into mass struggle against capitalism. A large percentage of workers and youth are sympathetic to socialism. Workers, women, the Black, Brown and immigrant communities, LGBTQI folk and youth are sick of the con game.
A “red-brown” alliance is crystallizing in Democratic Party circles at the same time as states are banning demonstrations. Consider how many times the Workers World Party (WWP) has endorsed Democratic Party candidates, from at least 1975 down to today. This despite their support for Muammar Khaddafi and the Assad dynasties. This puts them in league with the “Christian” rightists and David Duke.; and so far this has only caused them to shrug. “Tankies” like the WWP and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) dismiss the operation of the laws of history. (The WWP et. al. see anti-imperialism behind every comprador upstart where the fascists see them more clearly as the capitalist thugs and anti-Semites they are.) Their political coincidence with the fascists is not accidental. It is the expression of their petty-bourgeois class identity operating inescapably in the crisis. And we can expect fascism to grow at the expense of the ranks of petty-bourgeois socialism, as it did in the 1930s. Take a look at this!
Ex fascist Christian Picciolini interviewed on Democracy Now on 8/18/17:
“You know, I, myself, have a very checkered past. When I was involved in the movement, I was invited to Libya by Muammar Gaddafi to receive money to start a revolution against the Jews. I committed acts of violence that nearly killed many people. I stockpiled weapons to prepare for what I believed was an inevitable race war.”
“Following Duke’s statement praising Assad, the crowd was shown chanting, “Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice for you, Bashar.”
“It saddens my heart to tell you that part of my country is occupied by Zionists,” Duke said, “just as part of your country, the Golan Heights, is occupied by Zionists. [They] occupy most of the American media and now control much of the American government…It is not just the West Bank of Palestine, it is not just the Golan Heights that are occupied by the Zionists, but Washington D.C. and New York and London and many other capitals of the world.”
To Survive, the Working Class Had Better Fight
Antifa has risen to prominence in the wake of Charlottesville and other fascist mobilizations. Along with Redneck Revolt and the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) General Defense Committee, anarchist workers and youth have been at the forefront in defending the anti-fascist demonstrations against attack. Antifa has come under fire by Democratic Party liberals, the ACLU, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and so-called progressive activists, for “violence,” implicitly if not explicitly equating them with the Nazis and KKK. These groups effectively repeat Trump, Fox and the likes of ex-Vice reporter gone solo, Tim Pool’s “violence on both sides” denunciations. Self-styled anarchist Chomsky chimed in and even called Antifa a “major gift to the Right” and he claims that denying the fascists a platform is “wrong in principle”.
The Klan and Nazis are not a debate club, but paramilitary right-wing organizations who incite and commit racist terror. They are a mortal danger to the workers movement and all their intended targets. Their idea of free speech is as expressed by Dylann Roof, Timothy McVeigh and James Fields. Their ‘free speech’ technique is the noose, the bullet and the bomb. With the support of Breitbart News, Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting, they propagate a program of “Free Speech, (Confederate) Heritage Defense and Anti-Marxism.” The fascists use their rallies as a recruiting ground for their genocidal program. Under the cover of ‘Alt-Right’ acceptability, the “very fine people” Trump refers to are arming for race war and establishing a whites-only United States where they will be the capitalists’ state, the one legal ‘body of armed men.’
The Communist Workers Group (CWG) is not against peaceful demonstrations, but we are against a one-sided class peace where the masses are left defenseless. Liberals cheer when Governor McAuliffe bans all demonstrations at Confederate Statues and other white power monuments, little realizing they have handed the fascists a victory for free. It does not bother this “Resistance” that they have joined in denying the working class and those targeted by the fascists their right to self-defense! Demonstrating by the tens of thousands against the fascists in Boston does nothing to overturn the “no demonstrations” laws in 20 states. The fascists will never respect these laws and the police will never enforce these anti-free speech laws against fascists! Pacifism in the face of white supremacy only serves to politically and literally disarm the masses and is suicidal. The lessons of history are clear enough for those who do not wish to be fooled and misled. No more Dachau or Auschwitz! The CWG remembers the heroism of the 1943 Jewish Warsaw Ghetto fighters and the Soviet and Jewish prisoners of Sobibor! We honor the Auschwitz-Birkenau Jewish revolt of 1944!
The history of the labor movement and other social struggles in the United States has witnessed self-defense organizations take shape, from workers picket lines to defend a strike, to the 1930’s-40’s Minneapolis Teamsters defense guard that drove the fascist Silver Shirts from the Twin Cities, to Robert F. Williams and the Deacons for Defense and Justice who organized in the face of KKK terror, to the Black Panthers against racist cop terror. Self-defense is a necessity of the moment tactic, not a strategy of so-called ‘violence’. Today Antifa fills the vacuum left by the shame-faced union bureaucracy and their socialist apologists who in their fetishized pacifism refuse to build (or even contemplate) building workers self-defense organizations.
As Charlottesville showed, as heroic and defensible as Antifa’s actions are, their political program of organized groups of leftists attacking the white supremacists has limitations, especially if the balance of forces are equal. Antifa turns what can be adventurous confrontations from a tactic to a strategy. The day before the main rally in Charlottesville saw the white supremacists marching at the University of Virginia with tiki torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, a surreal modern-day version of the Nazi Brownshirt marches. This caused the famous half-stepper, ‘the left Reverend’ Cornel West to say that only the presence of 350 Antifa outside the church where he and 20 church folk were singing ‘this little light of mine’ saved them from the fascists surrounding the church. West misses or refuses to make the important point. The relationship of forces was adequate on August 11th-12th; but this won’t guarantee anyone’s safety in days to come. We need, like water or air, mass Labor, Black and Brown workers’ defense guards, trained and armed to defeat fascists and white supremacists! It is worse than useless to repeat the insane idea to trust the FBI or other government agencies to “handle” sociopathic forces that are creations of the ruling class!
August 12th Charlottesville videos show the fascists marching through the crowd in a very organized manner, attacking the anti-fascist protesters. Three armed fascists were posted outside a synagogue. Antifa courageously defended the demo. Sporadic confontations with the fascists by a relatively small number of Antifa are no substitute for the forces required for working class victory: history shows these are mass organized trained and disciplined contingents of Labor, Black and Brown self-defense guards organized from out of our union halls. Such displays of the power of labor will send the fascists scurrying. The workers movement cannot allow the fascists to march through our towns and attack oppressed peoples and the anti-fascist demonstrators. Labor defense guards and mass mobilizations of workers centered on the unions are not on Antifa’s political radar. In a Democracy Now! interview, the author of the upcoming Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook barely mentions the working class, and then only in the context of Redneck Revolt, a worker self-defense organization that focuses on organizing working class whites against capitalism and white supremacy. In Charlottesville, Redneck Revolt successfully defended their safe rally site from fascist provocations, to their credit.
The very powerful ILA (International Longshoremen’s Association) with a heavy concentration of black proletarians and with ports organized along the East and Gulf coasts, were only a few hours away from Charlottesville. What was needed in Charlottesville and everywhere was the mobilization of the actual mass of the organized working class that works in strategic industries.
There is a big and qualitative difference in social power between several hundred or thousand Antifa workers from various atomized industries and workplaces and organized, militant and disciplined trade union contingents from the ILA and other unions. The police are less likely to attack the anti-fascists where the ILA manifests the power to shut down the ports. It also doesn’t sit well with the millions of other trade unionists to see their sisters and brothers beaten by the cops or terrorized by Klansmen, Nazis or white supremacist college preppies. And labor defense guards organized today against fascists and racist cop terror can also be mobilized tomorrow to defend picket lines and seize workplaces.
The ILA and the ILWU (International Longshore & Warehouse Union) has mobilized against the KKK before, notably in 1982 in Washington DC. ILWU Local 10 have pledged to march in San Francisco on August 26th where the white supremacist Patriot Prayer organization is staging a ‘free speech’ provocation. The Alameda Labor Council (AFL-CIO Central Labor Council) has endorsed the “peaceful” counter protest in Berkeley at the UCB campus, some blocks away from the fascist “Anti-Marxism” rally at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park (!!!) on the 27th. Of course, just like AFL-CIO President Trumka’s and other labor bureaucrats’ denunciation of the Nazis and white supremacists, these are public pronouncements that do little to mobilize the heavy battalions of labor to fight. The trade union bureaucracy is busy preparing for the next election cycle to revive the fortunes of the Democratic Party, not mobilizing the ranks to fight.
The Bay Area Rally against Hate coalition made up of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the Morenoites, USec, Labor Rising, and other leftists, and the Berkeley Democrats, along with a smattering of workers — this popular front club is going to hold their ‘non-violent’ rally on August 27th, not where the white supremacists are rallying, but on the “other side of Downtown”. If what is desired is putting the local fascisti to rout, this is demobilization of the struggle. This is a demobilization if what is desired is a pedagogy in action that increases worker militancy.
Putting the fascists to rout and increasing worker militancy is the historic occupation of the vanguard, who will demand Jobs for All, sharing the available work at no cut in pay (30 hours work for 40 hours pay), Free Universal Quality Medical Care (socialized medicine), Free Universal Quality Education from daycare thru post graduate. To win, new unions and old must assemble a unionized army of the unemployed to demand work at union wages for all. Mass meetings of the working people and the oppressed can then discuss how to fight for every demand arising from their social situation, including transitional demands that place socialism on the order of the day, such as nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under workers control without indemnification to the major shareholders. By degrees workers can win some concessions and/or learn why they cannot under the dictatorship of capital, and it will be their own revolutionary workers party who teaches this lesson and why workers must take political power to plan the economy and have any future. Democratize our unions to fight for working class political independence! Break with all bourgeois parties and their parliamentary fetish! For a Fighting Workers/Labor Party that fights for a workers government!
What the anarchists, the Antifa, Redneck Revolt and much of the rest of the Left miss is the organization and mobilization of the international working class as a class under our own banner united in a revolutionary international workers party and armed with a revolutionary political program to sweep fascism and capitalism away. To defeat all imperialisms internationally we must defeat fascism too!
Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! For world socialism!