Tag Archives: enemy

On Fascism: One Anarchist’s Response to CrimethInc’s Podcast #11

In a recent podcast, CrimethInc presented a feature on fascism and anti-fascism.  In this feature, Clara presented that fascism “attempts to be a popular movement: which “advocates for strong centralized power in the state.” In this way, fascism “offers an authoritarian vision of society as a solution.” Clara also presented that another “core principle is nationalism,” and that this translates, often, into “hatred of the outsider.” Fascism is also “virulent” in its “opposition to communists, anarchist, and most other radicals.”

For the purposes of the podcast, this served as a good working definition, though a somewhat superficial one. What follows is my response, an effort to provide a fuller context and, hopefully, a much greater appreciation for the reasons that anarchists more than anyone recognize the danger that fascism truly represents.


Let’s start this off by talking about freedom. To approach this from a purely Anarchist perspective, I think that’s where we have to start, because ultimately freedom is the true point of conflict. As I think this will demonstrate, Anarchists more than anyone else are for freedom, and fascists more than anyone else are against freedom. And this, then, would explain why the struggle between Anarchists and fascists is such a bitter and important one. In fact, if freedom matters to you, then this ongoing battle is more important than anything else.

But before we get rolling too fast, before we get ahead of ourselves, I think we need to define “freedom.” If we don’t, we’re left with everyone thinking of freedom in a million different ways – in a world where we have something called “freedom fries,” no less – and that can only lead to confusion. So, for clarity, let’s define freedom. For that purpose, I would like to defer to Ward Churchill who has defined freedom as “the absence of external regulation.”

I think that’s a good definition. The more external regulation you have – the more someone or something else is telling you what to do – the less free you are; the less you have someone else telling you what to do, the more free you are. So, without getting into the questions of all the potential activities we either have or lack the freedom to engage in, we have a decent, working definition of what freedom is.

This is important, because everything else rests on this.

So now, imagine a continuum, a line. Often we see this in order to compare and contrast liberals, who occupy the left end of the line, with the conservative, who occupy the right end. But for our purposes, these “liberal-conservative” concepts are really irrelevant. We just want to borrow the line, the continuum.

At one end, let’s imagine freedom – absolute freedom. This is the total absence of external regulation – as free as it gets. Way down at the other end of the continuum, we have absolute non-freedom, which is the total and complete domination of external regulation. This would be the extreme of being controlled by someone or something else, 24 hours a day.

So we have our opposites, our points of reference, absolute freedom and the total absence of freedom, and all the points on the line between them would represent some interplay, some compromise, of varying degrees of freedom and regulation.

Now, having established that, what is another term for “external regulation”?  When we speak of someone or something that exercises authority to regulate us, the word we usually use is “government.” To regulate is to govern, and governing is conducted by a government.

This is important, because we turn back to our continuum and at one extreme end; we find absolute freedom, the complete absence of “external regulation.”  This extreme end, freedom, has no external regulation, no regulating, no governing – no government.

Absolute freedom, then, the absolute absence of external regulation, is absent the “external regulator” of government. This point on the extreme end of the continuum is the absence of government.

People who advocate such absolute freedom are labeled “Anarchists.” Everyone else in the entire spectrum of politics and social order advocates at least a minor amount of external regulation, a minor amount of imposition or individual freedom, a minor amount of “government.”

(A small side note here, but likely, most people if presented with the freedom to non-freedom continuum and asked what they believe to be ideal, would likely point to the Anarchist extreme of absolute freedom – particularly people in the U.S.  They would unhesitatingly point at absolute freedom even though most people, in reality, are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum ideologically. This is because we live in a culture that gives a lot of lip service to freedom while sliding ever further away from it. Keep in mind, the majority of the U.S. population also self-reported to believe in all ten of the Ten Commandments, but the average person could only name three of them…which would indicate that we’re working with a deeply irrational group of people who deeply believe in things they don’t know.)

Given this analytical framework, before we move on, it might be important to point out that everyone on the continuum, besides Anarchists, are Statists – that is, they believe in government. Also, everyone but Anarchists are defined by the degree to which they oppose absolute freedom.


In The Doctrine of Fascism by Benito Mussolini,1 the Italian dictator wrote, “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception is for the State…”  For the fascist, “…all is comprised in the State and nothing spiritual or human exists – much less has any value – outside the State.”

Elsewhere he wrote, “The capital point of the Fascist doctrine is the conception of the State, its essence, the work to be accomplished, its
final aims. In the conception of Fascism, the State is absolute before which individuals and groups are relative.”2

And Giovanni Gentile, in the Philosophic Basis of Fascism, wrote, “The politic of Fascism revolves wholly about the concept of the national State…”3

Given these quotes, we can see that what distinguishes fascism as a political philosophy is its belief in the absolute transcendence of the State, of government, and simultaneously, the “anti-individualistic”  position that nothing human, i.e., individual freedom, exists. Thus, fascism occupies the opposite end of the freedom spectrum from Anarchism. It seeks to eliminate all human freedom and to subject all to the dictates of an all-powerful State – the perfect and absolute negation of all liberty, all individuality.  Nothing matters but the State.

It follows then, as a natural corollary, given that individual freedom is inimical to the State, that the State would seek, under fascism, to wipe out all individuality, all human distinction, all diversity. For the transcendent, fascist State, there can be only one perfect subject, the perfect “National Socialist Man,” as Hitler advertised and promoted him.4 With imposed homogenization, conformity, uniformity, anything “other” must be eliminated.

So, anyone religiously, politically, racially, artistically or sexually “other” than what the State has decreed to be optimum for the State’s interest, must be eliminated. Fascism, then, is a dream of a freedom less world of automatons marching in lockstep, surrendering all individuality in deference to the State.

Only Anarchists Can Oppose Fascism

If we return to the freedom-versus-non-freedom continuum, there are some rational conclusions we have to draw. First, we recognize that only the extreme position on the far end of the continuum advocates for absolute freedom, which is the absolute absence of external regulation, which is the complete absence of the State.

Every other position accepts some degree of regulation, of external control, of State intrusion. This means that every single political philosophy, with the exception of Anarchism,5 accepts the existence of the State and, on this point, every political position except for Anarchism is in agreement with fascism.

Viewed this way, the entirety of the political spectrum – from communists to social democrats to republicans – is really nothing more than a sliding scale of how many degrees removed from fascism each position is. One step removed from absolute fascism may represent the hard-liners of the Republican Party – a kind of “fascism light,” – with liberal democrats several steps removed, but still firmly in the throes of state-worship.

Thus, even communists and socialists share the same belief in the necessity of the State, but differ with the fascists only in the amount of power that should be invested in it. In the analogy of state worship, fascists sit in the first pew while the communists and socialists sit in the very back – but they all attend the same service. The only socio-political formations that do not bow to the fascists’ god are Anarchists.

As a consequence, only Anarchists can present a full and complete critique of fascism. This makes Anarchism particularly deadly to fascism and explains why, historically, fascists seek to eliminate Anarchists first and foremost.

The Fascist Threat

We can now turn to the reality that confronts us, which includes Nazi Skinheads wearing Swastikas and waving flags while marching through minority neighborhood. And, certainly, as Andrew from the New York City Anarchist Black Cross pointed out in the Crimethinc podcast, these elements cannot be ignored. But realistically, these misguided flag-wavers do not hold State power and given their outspoken advocacy for an ideology most would find at least troubling, this fringe will likely never attain State power.

The true fascist threat comes from those who do wield State power and implement policies and programs that are distinctively fascist in that they serve a transcendent State. While Barack Obama does not wear a Nazi uniform or march with the Hitler Youth, he does approve the vast invasion of the world’s telecommunications; he send drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad; he authorizes the detention of ideological enemies. In short, he serves a de facto fascist agenda, an agenda of extreme and absolute non-freedom thinly-disguised as a representative republic.

The State is central to fascism. If you want to defeat fascism, defeat the State.  Only Anarchists can do that.6

End Notes

1 Readings on Fascism and National Socialism, by selected members of the Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado, 1952.

2 “The Value and Mission of the State,” Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 We have to imagine that the “National Socialist Woman” would also exist, though she isn’t mentioned.

5 By “Anarchist,” I mean anything that fits our definition of advocating absolute freedom and the complete absence of external regulation, whatever advocates of such a position may call themselves.

6 To clarify, anyone who designs to destroy the State and abolish it, whatever his or her politics would be, de facto, an Anarchist. Thus, only Anarchists can abolish the State, as only Anarchists would undertake to do so.

An Open Letter to Occupy Regarding the Controversy Over “Demands” and the Movement’s Way Forward

      A recent article in Rolling Stone presented a picture of Occupy divided over the issue of “demands.” According to the article, one faction opposes demands while another views demands as a practical and inevitable strategy. The article leaves the distinct impression that either Occupy is divided or else the mainstream media, who hasn’t been able to wrap its mind around the reality of what Occupy is, has itself become obsessed with the issue of demands and lacks the imagination to conceive of any other way for Occupy to proceed.

      I would like to add my voice to the dialogue. I would suggest that making demands would be very difficult, if not impossible. Before making any demands, at least 3 questions must be definitively answered: (1) Who is making the demands?, (2) To whom are the demands made?, and (3) What will be done in exchange for the meeting of demands? If you do not have the answers to those questions, then you cannot effectively enter into any demanding or negotiating. You may as well make your demands to the wall.

      As to the question of who is making the demands, Occupy presents itself as a movement of the 99%. That means anyone making demands must be making them for the entirety of the 99%. As I am part of that 99%, for the purposes of informing anyone seeking to make demands, the two non-negotiable demands that should be made on my behalf are: (1) The immediate and complete abolition of the global system of capital, and (2) The immediate and complete abolition of the United States as an incorporated entity, including its state subsidiaries. All other points are negotiable for me. Good luck.

      But I think this presents my point succinctly that it is impossible for anyone to present demands on behalf of the 99%.

      The second question, to whom the demands are made, is just as complicated. Some in Occupy want banks re-structured, some want recognition of Occupy’s right to exist in public spaces, and some may want the release of secret documents linking space aliens to the JFK assassination. All of these demands require negotiation with a variety of different institutions and governments on many levels. This requires the juggling of millions of demands issued to thousands of agencies and organizations, and juggling the various responses. Again, good luck.

      And this brings up another issue to consider, related to power relationships. When issuing a demand, you’re recognizing the authority of the person or entity to grant or deny the demands. You are, in essence, accepting that they have the right to exist, and you are seeking resolution with their legitimate exercise of power. I do not think this can be done on behalf of the 99%, as some of us do not recognize the right of governments, banks, or corporations to exist. They have no authority; they have the power to compel.

      That brings us to the third question, what will be done in exchange for the meeting of demands? Before a representative of Occupy (however that would work) could present demands (whatever they would be), the representative would have to be able to guarantee that, when demands are met, Occupy would relinquish something or give up something, or refrain from something. That is how demands work.

      It must be understood by everyone at the table that, related to Occupy, if all demands are met, then everyone involved in Occupy will pack up the tents and apply for work at WalMart and Starbuck’s, resuming their shopping at the mall. If Occupy’s representative cannot guarantee the authorities that the 99% will return to dragging stones up the side of the pyramid when demands are met, then there is no way to issue demands; the demands are meaningless because even if they are met, nothing will be resolved.

      For my part, I only hope there are others as unreasonable as I am, and that they will not resume their roles as slaves under any conditions, that the system can meet their demands when it ceases to exist.

     So, having presented what I hope is a brief and effective argument for why demands are an impossible way forward, I would like to provide an alternative way of viewing the current reality, which may inform us as to an effective way forward.

      Occupy is a system that poses as an alternative to the hierarchical, corporate, global-colonizer system (we can just call it “the enemy system”). It may seem strange to think of Occupy as a system because it is consciously unsystematic, but it is a system in the same way that biosphere is a system, containing a diversity of life. In many ways, Occupy is the un-system.

      All the same, Occupy, as a system, is facing down an enemy system that does not tolerate alternatives to itself. How many people do you see foraging? Hunting the buffalo and living in a wigwam? Exactly. The enemy system eliminates alternatives. It does not play well with others.

      Your system, Occupy, cannot co-exist with the enemy system because the enemy system will attempt to eliminate you through whatever means are available. It will send its cops and military to crack your skulls. It will send snitches to infiltrate you and divide you. It will unleash propaganda to isolate you and brand you as terrorists. It will then confine you and neutralize you and maybe kill you.

      The reality is this: We have two systems, opposing cultures, and one will eliminate the other (or, in the instance of Occupy prevailing, weaken the other system so it no longer has the power to eliminate you). This is a culture war. That may not be the term you like, but whatever euphemism you choose, the reality is what it is. A hostile system is at war against you, and you can either win or lose.

      The longer the enemy system exists, the more it will harm you. As Ward Churchill, Derrick Jensen, John Zerzan, and a host of others have pointed out, your interests are best served by taking down the enemy system as quickly and effectively as possible. Then we’ll all be free to live as we choose, without interference.

      If Occupy is to move forward according to this mode, then I would like to propose 7 principles to guide Occupy:

  1. Occupy must be led by no one.

     Because the enemy system is centralized, hierarchical, and rigidly structured, Occupy can only defeat it by being what it is not. Being leaderless, everyone must lead themselves and thus have the transformative experience that will never again let them become sheeple. A leaderless Occupy is more difficult to defeat.

  1. Occupy must proceed according to no plan.

     With no leader, no architect, there is no one to herd Occupy into conformity to a singular plan. Variety and diversity of tactics forces the enemy system to herd cats. If anyone come up with the perfect plan, burn it immediately.

  1. Occupy must have no targeted end-point.

     For reformists seeking to make demands, this point will be difficult. To proceed with no end-point is to view yourself as developing a way to live into the future, for yourself and your children. It implies no compromise, no return to the enemy system. It says you will live as you live until the enemy defeats you or goes away.

  1. Occupy must develop a new currency of support.

     The enemy system rewards its supporters with pay that translates into material goods. You end up with unhappy slaves with large piles of material stuff.

      Occupy must have a different “currency.” Rather than paying supporters with money that translates into material goods, Occupy must re-pay supporters with support. In other words, those who give support will get support. You are rewarded not with material junk, but with community and belonging and care and support. Social support must be Occupy’s currency.

  1. Occupy must proceed incrementally.

     Occupy’s advantages are its diversity and de-centralization. Each autonomous group can develop its own strategies and approaches to living, and those efforts will become part of Occupy’s collective knowledge as each group builds upon the ideas of others and perfects others’ failures. This provides a start-stop-start progress, unlike the enemy system which attempts to impose one uniform program for success.

  1. Occupy cannot prevail all at once.

     There is no magic button to push to make 8,000 years of control programming go away. There are, however, a million very practical buttons to push repeatedly and in no particular order that will make the control program collapse fairly quickly. It will not collapse at once but will unravel, faster in some places than in others. At some point in the future, we will realize the enemy system has gone away completely.

  1. Occupy must recognize no authority but its own.

     The 99% have no presidents, no representatives, no congress, no courts. The 99% have no bosses, no bankers, no managers. The 99% have no joint chiefs, no police, no military. All of these things are the property of the 1%. They are all components of the enemy system that we must reject.

      By this view, we should have no illusion of any authority but our own authority. We have no one to negotiate with. There is no one who has authority to “grant” us the future we strive to construct directly.

      I suggest these 7 points as a general guide. I hope they provide a kind of framework for moving forward without the reformist model of making demands and negotiating with the enemy system. It is my hope that these principles can guide Occupy not only to defeat the enemy system, but also guide Occupy into the future beyond the enemy system’s collapse.

      I think these principles shape localized communities we all deserve.

* * *

By ____ _____1