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Challenging the Far Right
While the tactics used to fight the far right should be different from
those used to confront the religious right, the basic theory of organizing
remains the same. The theoretical and academic concerns discussed in
this paper have real meaning for community organizers seeking to confront
racism and antisemitism and other forms of supremacy in local areas.
Since the needed solution will be based on the analytical framework,
there is a need to understand the framework before organizing effectively. The
overt and conscious racism and antisemitism of the old Ku Klux Klan or
Neo-Nazi groups is easy to point out and organize against. With the rise
of new paranoid conspiratorial movements, with more coded and obscure
messages, this task becomes more difficult.
The forms of prejudice become
important to decode. Overt or covert? Conscious or unconscious? Institutional
of individual? Personal or political? Is it possible to drive a wedge
between persons who hold prejudiced views and persons spreading messages
of race hate? Is this ignorance or ideology? These are important questions
for the community organizer. In times of economic and social distress,
people often turn towards swift solutions and the strong leadership
of the "man on the white horse." Authoritarianism undergirds militarism
outside our borders and repression inside our borders. When combined,
as it is now, with the theocracy of right-wing fundamentalists, and the
corporatist assumptions behind global restructuring on behalf of multinationals,
the goal of democracy seems hopeless.
It is easy to see why febril conspiracy
theories about secret teams, evil elites, bilious bankers, corrupt
politicians, jack-booted Gestapo's, and UN troops carrying new world
orders have such
an attraction to some on the left. They certainly are far more entertaining
than systemic analysis and social movement theory. The problem,
however, is not some mythic cabal of secret elites that confused conspiracist
columnists such as Alexander Cockburn imagine ruling the world. That
analysis leads us into the arms of the proto-fascist militias and
us to set aside the struggles for racial and gender justice.
heed the words of the late African leader Amilcar Cabral who advised: "don't
shoot shadows." We must call the demons out by name: Racism, White
Supremacy, Antisemitism, Homophobia, Patriarchy, Corporatism, Authoritarianism,
Militarism, Reaction, Christian Theocracy, Neofascism, Neonazism, Race
War, Genocide. These words and the concepts behind them are woven throughout
books such as Roads to Dominion by Diamond and White Lies -
White Power by Novick, despite their disparate perspectives. They
give us the vocabulary and vision we need to block the right-wing backlash
and begin rebuilding a truly progressive movement for peace, economic
fairness, and social justice. Liberal demonization of all conservative
Christian evangelicals as Bible-thumping stormtroopers, and all members
of the armed militia movement as neonazi terrorists makes a serious
public discussion of fascist potentials in these movements difficult.
genocidal racist and antisemitic hate groups, neonazi organizations,
remnants of the splintered Ku Klux Klan, and other such groups with
fascistic tendencies are unlikely sources of large-scale proto-fascist
although they can be aggressive and murderous on an individual level.
Acts of terrorism from the far right are more likely to cause state
repression than a fascist mass movement.
The best defense against fascism is a truly democratic alternative to
the status quo. Human rights organizers working for social and economic
justice need to encourage forms of mass political participation, including
democratic forms of populism, while simultaneously opposing scapegoating
and conspiracism that often accompanies right-wing populism.
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