Fascism & The Harsh Lessons Of Failure

A protester dressed in a yellow raincoat holds a sign reading “Fascism is so 1930s.” Protest against Trump travel ban, American embassy in London, February 4, 2017. (Flickr / Alisdare Hickson, CC SA license)

That Which Doesn’t Kill You Leaves Scars

(Previous Issue: Stay and fight fascism where you are.)

I’m in a strange position this month as a gonzo journalist, because I can’t really write about the major action I attended last month.

The short version is that I attended a counterprotest against the Austin version of the national “March 4 Trump.” We were badly outnumbered, surrounded and attacked by fascist Trump supporters. I survived a serious assault and was hospitalized overnight. I now face a misdemeanor assault charge even though I was the victim, along with hospital bills, and this charge prevents me from writing much more.

Still, here’s the main lesson I learned — at least the one that’s safe to share:

We are not ready.

While we laughed at militias and sent jumbo buckets of lube to the Bundy Ranchers, they were obtaining military training and preparing for war … against us.

While the Left argued about whether or not it’s okay to say “All Cops Are Bastards,” they were infiltrating the police and making an institution built on racism into one that openly equates the phrase “Black Lives Matter” with terrorist threats.

Just as so many of us grew up dreaming of being part of a 1960s-style revolutionary fight for justice, the fascist far-right grew up fantasizing about busting hippie heads, just like Granddad did in the John Birch Society.

Donald Trump supporters confront protesters outside Trump rally in Asheville, NC. September 12, 2016. (Flickr / Will Thomas, CC license)

Not only are they more tactically prepared but, while we were sleeping, the Left allowed the fascist far-right to hijack terms we thought were ours, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and tolerance. We let them win this battle.

Don’t believe me? Post about militant resistance to hate speech on your Facebook wall, and see how fast your “liberal” friends, or their friends, will race to defend genocide as a valid point of view.

Now they occupy the White House, and the Left still can’t agree on whether being antiwar or even antiracist is a fundamental principle of our work.

What can we do? Educate ourselves, share skills with each other, build stronger networks, and prepare to fight. That’s been the core of my work since the beginning of the year through the Oh Shit! What Now? collective here in Austin. I know similar people across the country doing this kind of work, and it’s wonderful, and it’s inspiring.

But it’s not enough.

From my vantage point in April 2017, it looks as if the activists that stormed the airports and marched for women are going home, and our movements failed to attract even 1% of them to long-term movement building and resistance.

Democracy may ‘die in darkness‘ but the military-industrial complex thrives with the support of the mainstream and even the left media. The so-called resistance is waiting for a red-scare Get Out Of Jail Free card that will never come: impeach Trump and we can all go home.

I can’t close this issue with a truly hopeful message, except to say we’re still here and we’ll still be here, building real resistance in local neighborhoods, in high schools and on college campuses, in cafes and in living rooms.

It’s not enough, it’s never enough, but we fight anyway. Let’s find each other.

So fascism called men from the middle classes to recover their heritage of being holy warriors, to sweep the decayed old bourgeois order away in a campaign against two classes: to seize State power from the bourgeoisie and completely eliminate the working class left. — J. SAKAI, “THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION” FROM “CONFRONTING FASCISM: DISCUSSION DOCUMENTS FOR A MILITANT MOVEMENT

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