Every year I do a year-end wrap-up of the U.S. Far Right. So here’s what’s happened in 2021 and let’s all hope for a lot less from them in 2022! (Links below for past years)
“Even With Trump Out of Office, the Far Right Continued to Mobilize in 2021”
Although Donald Trump has been out of power for nearly a year, the far right in the United States is still going strong. The January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was easily the year’s most important event, and its fallout has, in many ways, defined 2021. Arrests, lawsuits and congressional hearings are still ongoing.
Even without Trump’s tweets to guide them, the far right failed to collapse, as many had hoped. Excepting a gruesome mass murder in Denver, Colorado, at the year’s end, the bulk of right-wing violence has been committed by the politically moderate Trumpists, as opposed to open white supremacists — its traditional perpetrators. The Proud Boys have continued their campaign of violence. A split in the Republican Party between the moderates and the Trumpists has likewise failed to emerge. In fact, the latter have arguably only increased their grip on the party. Right-wing conspiracy theories also continue to mutate and gain popularity, especially those about COVID-19.
On November 17, 2021 I hosted my last online panel for a while at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It’s now available online, so if you missed it here’s your opportunity to check it out at your leisure.
All political movements use music, and National Socialism is no exception. Both Hitler’s Nazis and postwar neo-Nazis have used different kinds of music in various ways. This panel will explore how German Nazis used music to help facilitate mass murder during the Holocaust, as well as how neo-Nazism became entangled with various music-based subcultural scenes and their connections with political organizations. From the NSDAP to the American Nazi Party’s record label, to the Nazi skinhead movement, to NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) and even fascist reggae, this panel will document and reflect on how, why, and in what ways National Socialism has come to be tied to various musical forms.
This panel is moderated by researcher, writer, and activist Spencer Sunshine and features Luca Signorelli (author of L’Estetica Del Metallaro), Shannon Foley Martinez (consultant for American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab), Kirsten Dyck (author of Reichsrock: The International Web of White-Power and Neo-Nazi Hate Music), and Edward B. Westermann (author of Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany).
Chip has researched, written about, and organized against fascists and the Far Right for four decades, co-founding a think tank dedicated to this, and influencing hundreds, if not thousands, of people along the way.
Although I had already done activism and research on fascists and antisemites, Chip (as he is known to one and all) was the one who encouraged me to get more deeply involved in the work. He solicited from me, and then convinced his think tank, to publish my first major article on this subject in 2008. Later I ended up as a Fellow at that organization.
But more than that, over the intervening years Chip has been a resource and a friend. I’ve asked him for advice many times, and we have done talks together, even co-authoring a journal article. But at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chip was forced to retire for health reasons. It is with great sadness that the journal article we did together turned out to be his last, and furthermore two talks I booked for him in March 2020 ended up being his final public appearances.
Although I already had written about the Far Right and have a different approach, Chip is the closest thing to a mentor I have had. And in appreciation for him, I and three others—two others who had worked at the think tank, Abby Scher and Pam Chamberlain, as well as Matthew Lyons, the co-author of Chip’s magnum opus, Right-Wing Populism in America—assembled this festschrift together. Chip has been such a mensch over so many years to so many people that our solicitations received an incredible response. Almost everyone we asked, no matter how famous or busy they were, contributed a piece. Indeed, Chip is one of the only people who can be said to have influenced everyone from the militant antifascist movement to the U.S. Justice Department, and this anthology reflects that. The articles themselves range in length from a paragraph to full-length essays. They include both personal and political stories about Chip, analyses of his work, and essays on the Right which are dedicated to him.
I encourage everyone to buy this book, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed working with Chip.
Exposing the Right and Fighting for Democracy: Celebrating Chip Berlet as Journalist and Scholar Edited By Pam Chamberlain, Matthew N. Lyons, Abby Scher, and Spencer Sunshine
Part I: The Early Years Part II: Analysis Part III: Practice Part IV: Legacy
40 Maneras de Luchar contra los Fascistas:Tácticas Legales Callejeras para Activistas Comunitarios
Edición original: agosto de 2018 Edición revisada: agosto de 2020 Ediciónen español: mayo de 2021 Gracias a Eberhardt Press por la impresión y el diseño inicial
I. COMO COMENZAR 1. Más información sobre los movimientos de extrema derecha 2. Encuentra colaboradores 3. Preste atención a la extrema derecha local
II. TOMAR ACCIÓN 4. Publica tu investigación 5. Eliminar y reemplazar la propaganda de extrema derecha 6. Impulsar a grupos públicos para que se opongan al fascismo 7. Dificulta que se reúnan los grupos de extrema derecha 8. Refuta sus mentiras 9. Utilice el sistema judicial 10. Exponer a los fascistas en casa y en el trabajo 11. Tumbar al fascismo en las redes sociales 12. Evita que la extrema derecha ataque a eventos de gente progresista 13. Genere brechas entre individuos y grupos de extrema derecha 14. Encuentra nuevos colaboradores 15. Organizar recorridos de bares antirracistas 16. Ayude a los fascistas a salirse de esos grupos
III. SE PROACTIVO 17. Envía tu mensaje primero 18. Desarrolla programas educativos 19. Celebra eventos conmemorativos 20. Haz un espectáculo 21. Organizar cursos de formación y ferias de recursos 22. Forma un equipo de respuesta a emergencias 23. Recluta a personas tempranamente y con frecuencia 24. Recauda fondos antes de que lo necesites
IV. CONTRAMANIFESTARSE 25. Ganar el apoyo de la opinión pública 26. Impulsar a los funcionarios locales para que hagan lo correcto 27. Organizar contramanifestaciones 28. Presiona a los establecimientos comerciales y de alquiler locales para que no traten con fascistas 29. Documente sus manifestaciones 30. No te quedes en desventaja 31. Avisa quiénes son los fascistas y llama a tus amig@s y colegas
V. DAR APOYO 32. Apoyar a las personas amenazadas 33. Establecer un lugar seguro 34. Ayude a las familias de las víctimas 35. Ayuda a lxs heridxs 36. Apoyar a lxs que son blancos de la ley 37. Apoyar a lxs activistas encarcelados 38. Advertir a las personas amenazadas 39. Dar publicidad a las amenazas y los ataques 40. Apoyar a las comunidades que rechazan el reclutamiento fascista
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.
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 was recently on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to talk about conspiracy theories, and how i became the subject of one. I always feel awkward on live TV, but people seemed to really like this panel, so here you are.
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 TheNew 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.” ”
“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 furtherwiden 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 permitto do so.)”