“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.”
“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 Standby order has been rescinded.”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.”
“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.”
“On Wednesday a number of anarchist Facebook accounts, some of which were associated with the antifascist movement, were removed without warning. These included It’s Going Down — a widely followed news and media platform publishing original content and reprinted analyses about “anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” — and the longstanding anarchist group CrimethInc, which describes itself as “a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action.” The removal of these anarchist accounts was part of a general purge, which also included many far right accounts, including those associated with paramilitaries and conspiracy theories that have inspired violence.
… This is the first time a coordinated removal of multiple U.S. anarchist and antifascist accounts has happened on Facebook. In addition to It’s Going Down (IGD) and the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective, banned accounts include the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which has organized some of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland, Oregon; Enough is Enough, a German anarchist news platform; various chapters of the JohnBrownGunClub, an armed left-wing community defense group; a number of members of the anarchist think tank Center for a Stateless Society; and accounts for the radical musicians Sole, Time, and Calm.”
I have a short overview up at Toward Freedom on how the Far Right is fulling the increasingly unhinged pro-plague rallies across the U.S.
“The Thursday, April 30 armed demonstration inside of the Minnesota state legislature shows increasing level of unhinged reactions the far right is having to state government attempts to counteract the Covid-19 pandemic. The Lansing, Michigan protest featured members of the Michigan Liberty Militia. (Bringing the weapons in was technically legal because of the state’s lax gun laws.) Some state senators were so fearful they donned bulletproof vests. The state guard had to step in to stop the armed far rightists from forcing their way onto the legislative floor.
This is just the latest in a series of protests which have been ongoing in the United States since early April against the Covid-19 quarantine measures. While some kind of chaffing at the restrictions is to be expected, the rallies are almost entirely run by far right activists, including armed militias, and white nationalists are frequently sighted in attendance.
Wealthy conservatives started the protests, and they have have been egged on —at least in states where there is a Democratic governor— by President Donald Trump. Now the protests are using increasingly inflammatory rhetoric as firearms are seen at them more and more often.”
Since its launch in June 2019, Timber Unity has become a major political force in Oregon, with many on the right looking to it as the future of conservative politics in the state, and the GOP has eagerly embraced it. But Timber Unity wildly misrepresents itself as having mainstream politics. From its inception, it has attracted a range of Far Right supporters who are visible and vocal in the movement. Timber Unity rallies have repeatedly included militias, QAnon followers, advocates of “Constitutional Sheriffs,” anti-vaxxers, and Islamophobes.
“An estimated 22,000 people attended the rally against looming gun restrictions in Virginia yesterday in the state capital of Richmond. The week leading up to it was filled with warnings of potential violence, wild conspiracy theories, threats against lawmakers, and indications that white supremacist groups would attend. Three neo-Nazis were arrested before the event for threats related to it, and the governor passed an emergency decree banning guns inside the rally due to threats. After the buildup, the rally itself was anticlimactic; there were no incidents and only a single arrest. But the events have energized the Patriot movement and militia groups to encourage the formation of new, armed political forms in rural Virginia counties, many of which have vowed to reject the gun restrictions.”
The Institution for Social Ecology (ISE), founded by Murray Bookckin, recently hosted me on a panel at their 2019 annual gathering. I spoke about experiences I had working against the Patriot/militia movement in Oregon in 2015 and 2016, who were espousing a program of Far Right decentralization. This posed special challenges to left-wing decentralists — like social ecologists and anarchists.
My presentation lasts about 20 minutes, and it starts around right after the 30:00 mark.
(I answer some questions too, and around 1:38:20 i explain some of the intricacies of cattle ranching politics, which i found fascinating.)
I have a new piece up at Truthout, roleplaying the possibility of Trump trying to serve more than two terms. At what point would he actually attempt this, and what might happen in response?
“Donald Trump’s contempt for democracy and open sympathy for authoritarianism are visible in his recent comments about serving longer than he is legally allowed to. On June 16, 2019, he tweeted that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer” than two terms.
In fact, Trump has variously suggested that he should get two extra years as a consolation prize for the Russia investigation, that he will serve up to five terms, and that he will indeed only serve two…..
Some have responded to Trump’s latest statements on term limits by speculating about his mental state or making comparisons to Hitler. A more interesting approach might be to role-play several scenarios in which Trump actually does try to unconstitutionally break the term limits. These scenarios, of course, are a game of speculation, but they are instructive: Given the unpredictability of the Trump presidency and its anti-democratic actions thus far, it’s important to consider what ‘staying longer’ would truly entail.”