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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 asks us to set aside the struggles for racial and gender justice.

We must 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. Overtly 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 mass movements, 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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