Review of Failed Führers by Graham Macklin

Graham Macklin, Failed Führers: A History of Britain’s Extreme Right (Routledge, 2020). Review by Spencer Sunshine

Graham Macklin’s Failed Führers is a major new study of the British fascist movement, and will likely be the central reference point for scholars of that movement for the foreseeable future. … Failed Führers is a collective biography of six British fascist leaders of both the pre- and post-war periods. While this seems like an odd, if not downright antiquated, approach, it actually works quite well in helping Macklin cover a large amount of ground. The narrative arc doesn’t get turgid as it is frequently moving from one figure to the other. This structure also helps avoid a degeneration into a sectology illustrating how This Group begat That Group which splintered into Those Groups—although there is still plenty of that for the discerning sectologist!

The first figure featured in Failed Führers is Arnold Leese, who was active starting in the 1920s and became more and more focused on antisemitism as he pivoted his allegiances from Mussolini to Hitler. He continued his fascism career postwar, as did Oswald Mosley, the most famous of the six outside of Britain. The outline of Mosley’s prewar career is generally known, including his wartime detention, but I was fascinated to learn how extensive his work was postwar and how he was somehow rehabilitated into the mainstream, appearing, for example, on William Buckley’s Firing Line. The third figure, A.K. Chesterton (not to be confused with his relation G.K. Chesterton) also straddled the war. But he was best known for founding the League of Empire Loyalists—who, as the British empire crumbled, did what it said on the tin, albeit with a fascist core. The League wound up by fusing with other groups to become the National Front, the best known of the British fascist parties—at least to fans of 1970s punk rock and two-tone ska, as well as to watchers of the National-Anarchists. Fourth is Colin Jordan, who was mentored by Leese. Jordon was an openly neo-Nazi ideologue and organizer who was a cross between his contemporaries George Lincoln Rockwell and William Pierce. Fifth and sixth are John Tyndall and Nick Griffin; both of them overlapped in both the National Front and British National Party (BNP), which each led before being deposed (Tyndall from the BNP by Griffin, no less). Today, Griffin is the only living figure of the bunch. 

Read the full review at Three Way Fight

“Leftists on Left-Wing Antisemitism” panel

“Leftists on Left-Wing Antisemitism”
May 4, 2021, 1pm EST

https://yivo.org/Leftists
Free but advance registration required

There is a robust discussion inside the Left about antisemitism in its own ranks. This is not just related to Zionism, Israel, and Palestine, but also involves questions about conspiracy theories, notions of secret elites, and critiques of financial capital—as well as how to deal with openly antisemitic actors. This unique panel will bring together four scholars and activists on the Left, who have a range of different views to discuss this. What does antisemitism on the Left actually consist of? Where do different parts of the Left stand in relation to this issue? How is it addressed or ignored? And what are constructive ways the Left can better deal with antisemitism?

Moderated by Spencer Sunshine, this panel will feature Sina Arnold, Shane Burley, Keith Kahn-Harris, and Joshua Leifer.

About the Participants

Sina Arnold is a post-doctoral lecturer and researcher at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technische Universität Berlin. A social anthropologist by training, her current work focuses on contemporary antisemitism in Europe, memory politics and racism, left movements in Germany and the United States, as well as on (post-) national identities. She is the author of Das unsichtbare Vorurteil. Antisemitismusdiskurse in der US-amerikanischen Linken (2016) and From Occupation to Occupy: An Empirical Study of Antisemitism Discourses in the Contemporary US Left (forthcoming from Indiana University Press). Arnold also has twenty years of experience working in social movements against antisemitism and racism.

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It (AK Press, 2017) and Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse (AK Press, 2021). His work has been featured in places such as NBC News, The Daily Beast, Truthout, Al Jazeera, Jacobin, Haaretz, and The Baffler. He recently edited a special issue of the Journal for Social Justice on “Antisemitism in the 21st Century.”

Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer, based in London. He is the author of six books, including, most recently Strange Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and the Limits of Diversity (Repeater, 2019) and Denial: The Unspeakable Truth (Notting Hill Editions, 2018). Kahn-Harris is a Senior Lecturer at Leo Baeck College, Project Director of the European Jewish Archive at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and holds visiting fellowships at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College, and the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics at Durham University.

Joshua Leifer is an assistant editor at Jewish Currents. Previously, he was an associate editor at Dissent, and before that, at +972 Magazine. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, Jacobin, n+1, Haaretz, and elsewhere.

Moderator Spencer Sunshine is a researcher, writer, and activist regarding the Far Right as well as antisemitic currents on the Left. He has been part of several actions to help drive out Holocaust Deniers and other antisemites from left-wing circles. Sunshine is the author of the guide 40 Ways to Fight Fascists: Street-Legal Tactics for Community Activists (PopMob, 2020), and is currently working on a book about the origins of James Mason’s book Siege and its influence on today’s advocates of neo-Nazi terrorism.

“I’ve Been Tracking the Far Right for Years. Then Lin Wood ‘Exposed’ Me as the QAnon Shaman”

My crazy story about how a longstanding antisemitic conspiracy theory about me, cooked up by fascists, was picked up by a Trumpist attorney during the Capitol takeover – who accused me of being an antifa double agent posing at the “Q Shaman.”

“When the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, I was sitting in my Brooklyn apartment in my pajamas, following live Twitter feeds. At some point I started getting messages that someone was accusing me of being a prominent QAnon activist who’d been photographed at the riot. As someone who’s written about the far right for years and had been the subject of their conspiracy theories before, I shrugged it off.

Then I started getting more messages. This time from old friends—classmates from college, even ex-girlfriends—to see if I was OK. It slowly dawned on me that the tweeter was not a run-of-the-mill unhinged person but a famous unhinged person: Trumpist attorney Lin Wood, who worked on the Kraken lawsuit and had over a million followers. Threats naturally followed, and Wood’s tweet was reported in The New York Times as part of a story debunking the false claims that antifa had secretly stoked the right-wing violence.

Wood’s Twitter was quickly suspended, but not before the post had, at least the last time I took a screenshot, 28,000 retweets and 47,000 likes. For days, right-wing social media and blogs have, repeating Wood’s claim, declared that I am actually the QAnon activist Jake Angeli. Nicknamed “Q Shaman,” he is known for his distinctive outfit—including Halloween-ey plastic horns and face paint—and high-octane rants against a supposedly satanic, pedophilic “deep state.” ”

Read the whole article at the Daily Beast

Trump Loyalists’ Breach of Capitol Is Likely to Embolden Far Right Street Forces

“The dramatic events yesterday at the U.S. Capitol further open worrisome possibilities for future far right violence and disruptions. An escalation in aggressive actions seems likely, especially in the remaining two weeks of Trump’s term, but the effect may last much longer. However, there is also the possibility that both this and similar recent events could further widen the internal fissures on the right, to the detriment of the Trumpists.

Most immediately, Trump loyalists’ breach of the Capitol will undoubtedly embolden far right street forces who believe that the election was stolen. There were far right demonstrations outside state capitols yesterday, although — contrary to rumors — none were “breached.” (Protesters who entered the Kansas statehouse had a permit to do so.)”

Read the entire article at Truthout

“2020 Was a Record Year for Far Right Violence in the US”

“The year was quite active for the far right in the United States, especially after its relative downturn in 2019 as a violent street movement — at least compared to the recent past. Although the far right may not have committed as many high-profile massacres as previous years, 2020 saw more murders and car attacks at demonstrations than any year in recent memory.

While the openly fascist wing of the “alt-right” continued to implode over the past year, some on the far right picked up steam: the Boogaloo movement — a new grouping of younger activists with militia-style politics, but the look and feel of the alt-right; Gropyers — white nationalists and their allies who are trying to influence the Trumpist movement from inside; and followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who believe Trump is always about to arrest a cabal of liberal, deep state, satanic pedophiles. Moreover, aggressive street demonstrations led by the Proud Boys reached a fever pitch, inspired by comments from Donald Trump, and renewed opposition to the revived Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.”

Read the full article at Truthout

“Far Right Monitors Anxious About Lingering Possibility of Post-Election Violence”

“Despite much concern over far right armed rallies and voter intimidation, the election has unfolded relatively peacefully. But those who monitor the far right do not believe we are out of the woods yet. Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud have the potential to convince his base that Joe Biden’s election is illegitimate, and to energize Trumpists into further action.

Last week, Trumpist crowds gathered outside some voting count locations, such as in Maricopa County, Arizona. But Saturday, rallies which had been planned in advance became even more aggressive after the announcement of Biden’s victory. In several cities, Proud Boys appeared after their leader, Enrique Tarrio, announced that “we’re rolling out. Standby order has been rescinded.” (Trump has previously told the notoriously violent group to “stand back and stand by!”) Violence predictably followed as Proud Boys showed up to rallies in Salem, Oregon, and Sacramento, California. Armed militias also came to a rally of 2,000 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which attempted to disrupt a pro-Biden gathering. But state authorities have intervened to stave off more serious violence. For example, in Philadelphia, which has been one of the contested hot spots, two men were arrested last week for possession of unpermitted firearms after police were tipped off about threats against the ballot-counting location.

How long this comparative level of calm will last, however, is not clear.”

Read the full article at Truthout

“Organizers Are Gearing Up to Resist Far Right Intimidation at Polls “

“As the election approaches, progressives are experiencing a lot of fear and anxiety. Of course, a major fear — beyond Trump winning — is that he will lose but refuse to step down. But far right intimidation at the polls themselves, as well as pre- and post-election violence, are also possibilities — and progressive organizers are making plans for all of these scenarios.”

Read the full article at Truthout