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.)
“The far right in the United States changes its look every few years, cycling through hoods, shaved heads and boots, polo shirts and fashy haircuts, and even three-piece suits. But one thing remains constant: Its bigotry and scapegoating drive its followers to kill. And they do so again and again.
The slaughter of 22 people in an El Paso, Texas, Wal-Mart on Saturday was a dramatic example of this trend. It was the largest massacre by a single, open white nationalist in recent history. …
Trump is the gasoline for this explosion of murder, while 8chan — and other ideological white nationalists — are merely the match. …
We all need to take a role in the fight against the far right and its violence. This fight requires antifa activists doxxing and pressuring fascist propagandists, and it also requires everyday people speaking against the stoking of fear and resentment against scapegoated groups. We all need to take action because it’s abundantly clear that the government is not going to do this for us.”
I have a piece in the new European publication, The Battleground, about the attempts by Senator Ted Cruz and Donald “Cheeto Mussolini” Trump to get the federal goverment treat antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. It also looks at how the German antifa movement influenced the evolution of their US cousins as Anti-Racist Action wound down, and a new generation of antifascist activists arose.
“The United States is having its third wave of “Antifa panic” in as many years. Donald Trump’s 27 July tweet called for Antifa—short for antifascist activists—to be declared “a major Organization of Terror”.
This produced a pushback, especially in Germany, sending #IchbinAntifa trending on social media.
Antifa is not an organisation at all, but a decentralised, leaderless movement that opposes fascism and the far-right. Although most of its work is legal and non-violent, the movement is best known for occasional street fights with extremists.
Recently in the US, Antifa has become a bogeyman among conservatives, like 1950s anti-Communism.”
“The non-binding Senate resolution introduced this week in an effort to label “antifa” as “a domestic terrorist organization” is the product of years of well-publicized lies about antifa propagated by the right-wing press.
Senate Resolution 279 (S.Res. 279) which Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) introduced on July 18, and which was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is the most serious attempt so far by the right to capitalize on a panic it has manufactured about antifa. Short for “antifascist,” antifa is a highly decentralized movement made of differing groups and individuals who counter-organize against fascist and other far-right organizing. It has exploded in popularity since 2016 but has no leadership, no national decision-making structure and no organized funding base.
But for two years now, a number of the more conservative media outlets have been erroneously portraying antifa as a highly disciplined organization that functions as the underground, paramilitary wing of the Democratic Party. They claim it is funded and controlled by liberal financier George Soros, who is portrayed as the movement’s “puppet master” — and who, just coincidentally, happens to be Jewish.”
I have a new op-ed in the JTA, which is a large Jewish wire service. It’s a reflection on the new wave of Jewish radical left groups, like Outlive Them NYC and RAYJ – Rebellious, Anarchist, Young Jews; the role of anti-zionism on the Left in general; generational rifts and the Jewish institutional crisis; and how the Jewish community as a whole can move forward while embracing its differences.
Spoiler: the large, well-funded – and aging – “Zionist” Jewish institutions (ie, almost all of them) should embrace working with this new wave of younger, and largely anti-Zionist, Jewish radicals.
“It is an increasingly frightening time to be Jewish, even in the United States. The postwar taboo against anti-Semitism is collapsing, and this affects all Jews – regardless of their opinion on Zionism. The attackers in the Poway and Pittsburgh synagogues didn’t litmus-test their victims on Israel before murdering them.
Amid the impulses to assimilation, this new wave of radicals are among the small number of Jews who are actively seeking to retain and nourish Jewish culture. And, even though they are born out of the anti-Zionist community, which has been excluded from mainstream Jewish life, some of the groups – especially Outlive Them – are throwing a line out to the mainstream.
The mainstream Jewish community should grab this rope. After all, there are no shortage of opinions among Jews. There is no reason that Zionism and anti-Zionism – like secular identity versus religious observance, Hebrew versus Ladino language, and Ashkenazi versus Sephardic liturgy – should not just be another difference within a tradition that has retained cohesion even after several millennia of communal disagreements.”
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.”
The first is that I have set up a Patreon. If you enjoy my work, I strongly encourage you to make a monthly financial contribution to help make this work possible. Patrons will get exclusive monthly content, as well as freebies!
Second, I also have an e-newsletter, the Sonnenschein Update. This will come over every month to notify you about important new publications, as well as urgent activist appeals for mutual aid.
I did a short interview with Its Going Down about the meaning of the Christchurch massacre and how we should respond.
“IGD: What are the main takeaways from the massacre in New Zealand?
Spencer Sunshine: Unfortunately these attacks are depressingly common, but here are some thoughts:
1) While our hearts go out to New Zealand’s Muslim community, we shouldn’t look at this as not just targeting them—just as we can’t look at the 2018 Pittsburgh massacre as just targeting Jews or 2015 Charleston massacre as only targeting the black community. Nazis and other White Nationalists target a huge range of people, including: black folks and all other people of color; religious minorities, including Muslims & Sikhs; both religious and secular Jews; feminists; immigrants and refugees; Communists, socialists, and anarchists; antifascists; LGBTQ people; interracial couples—as well as anyone who stands in their way or stands up to them, including white, Christian, cis-het men. They are at war with almost everybody in our communities. Here, truly, and injury to one is an injury to all.”
What will happen to the U.S. neo-Nazi movement if its largest party collapses?
“For the first time in decades, it is possible that there will be no U.S. neo-Nazi party large enough to hold public rallies. In a story worthy of a plot-twisting HBO special, Black civil rights activist James Stern convinced the leader of the largest U.S. neo-Nazi party, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), to officially make him their president in order to help protect the party from a lawsuit. Afterward, he said, ‘As a Black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them,’ and that he intends to dismantle the group from within.
The NSM is important for opponents of the far right to watch because it is the largest open neo-Nazi group in the United States. As such, it is the furthest stop for a public, organized group on the right wing of the political spectrum. And after the 2018 collapse of the Traditionalist Worker Party, another large fascist party, the NSM has been the only neo-Nazi group able to hold public demonstrations of even a moderate size.”