Thursday, November 19, 2009

Considering the effects of the anti-NSM action two weeks later

Local videographer and anti-fascist bulldog Dennis Gilman has posted up his much-anticipated video from the anti-National Socialist action a couple weeks ago. The video is quite interesting and in particular I enjoy the way it complements the point that PCWC was making with regard to the rally.

Unlike so many liberals and pro-immigrant movement movers and shakers, who would rather have ducked their heads in the sand as the racist NSM pranced about on the state capitol lawn (and in fact denounced the action in some embarrassing cases), PCWC wanted the National Socialist Movement to get some attention precisely because we wanted to highlight both the overall reactionary climate and rhetoric surrounding the "mainstream" anti-immigrant movement (after all, what attracted these NSM scum to Phoenix if not the tenor of the reactionary politics?), but also specifically to point out the congruence between the NSM's vile message and that of the "mainstream" anti-immigrant types. We at PCWC see no light between them. Dennis seems to have caught onto the same theme and he does a great job, especially in the first part of the video, of making that overlap in message starkly clear.

One week after the NSM strutted its sad sack stuff and then had to slink away in shame, one of those mainstream anti-immigrant groups had a rally on the very same lawn in front of the capitol that the NSM occupied. The NSM showed their ugly faces and were promptly booted to the curb by an obviously defensive Nativist crowd, fearing the association, which left the pathetic local NSM cadre (a far cry from the only slightly less pathetic "crowd of 40" from Texas and Cali that showed up two weeks ago) to shout and wave their swastikas and Hitler paraphernalia impotently from the sidelines.

Denouncing the Nazis at his rally, Jim Fairmont of the equally racist American Citizens United said, "That's a completely, you know, racist organization. This is not about racism, it's about law enforcement. Period." Sure, dude. Given the fact that these very same Nazis had previously found the anti-immigrant protests safe territory, one wonders if this confrontation would have happened had the anti-NSM action not taken place.

Aside from successfully checking the NSM's recruitment aim (something that would have gone un-countered had no confrontation taken place, as so many liberals had advised), there are other successes that anarchists should take from this. The new split in the reactionary movement, along with the fact in the popular imagination the so-called "Nativist" movement must now run from an association with National Socialism is a tremendous victory for the anarchist and migrant/immigrant movement.

And, as Dennis points out in his video, the fracture created by this action hints at the potential of fanatical organizing to open spaces wide enough even potentially to consume reactionary politicians like Russell Pearce. And it's more evidence of the usefulness of a fanatical politics in a state so overwhelmingly reactionary as Arizona. In this case, the NSM itself served as our fanatical foil, creating an all or nothing, in or out dynamic that forced people to make a choice. Now they can be held accountable for that choice and more than a few have egg on their faces for not turning out now that the action is widely understood to have been successful. The venue created an unambiguous space for anarchists to step forward and we will benefit as a movement because of it.

Consider also that we were able to persuade some of our libertarian friends join us and to assert their commitment to anti-fascism and to the traditional libertarian open border position. We may find that our allies may lie in places that, thanks to the limitations of ideology, we have not previously looked. We must also continue to look for fissures and other points of potential fracture in the movements of our opposition and then charge ahead into the gap. We can remake this debate if we try.

Finally, I want to point out one other facet of the action which as far as I know no one in the mainstream press caught onto, namely, the alliance of Native youth and anarchists in the streets (not that these are necessarily exclusive). We've all worked hard at this and it was a real pleasure to take it to the street together and to see it deployed successfully. Together we took the battle to our common enemy and shut them down. This is a great victory and something I know we at PCWC hope to continue to build on for further actions. Not only that, but this is a validation of the strategy of autonomy and insurrection. As one comrade recently told me, we come together for specific actions and purposes. We don't build new, bulky organizations. We build affinity, get people moving and attack, attack, attack. Look for the weak spot and strike!

Thanks also to Dennis for the shout out to PCWC. Much appreciated. Below I have posted the video as well as a couple of links to the two essays that we put out in advance of the action, framing our position, as well as an analysis of the event by PCWC comrade Crudo, one of our friends from Modesto Anarcho. I think in hindsight they may now be interesting to review what we accomplished versus what we wanted so we can improve our efforts in the future. We must constantly consider the results of the applications of our theories. That's our path to kicking over this whole miserable system.

(1) PCWC announces the Inglourious Basterds Bloc against the National Socialist Movement anti-immigrant rally November 7th.

(2) The NSM offers nothing for the white working class but more exploitation and misery.

(3) Phoenix: Where Anarchists Pack Heat and Send Nazis Packing


wind-up bird. said...

So now the nativists and the anarchists are united in denouncing Nazis. How does this "remake the debate"? What debate is it anyway? Also, have you read "when insurrections die" or are you familiar with this line of critique of anti fascism and what do you think of it?

Phoenix Insurgent said...

Of course I read that essay years and years ago. I think you have misinterpreted the conclusions of the essay if you think that it says that you shouldn't go after fascists at all. Gilles Dauvé point is one of orientation and the failures of common/popular fronts, of which this is not.

This is a different animal entirely because the action is aimed in several directions, one of which is towards the left in town. We sought no common front with them, instead we used the Nazis as a fanatical foil through which to attack the left as much as the right.

Further, this isn't part of an ongoing anti-fascist campaign. It's battle with an anti-fascist character in a larger war which goes specifically beyond anti-fascism. Clearly we have to keep the NSM in mind as our enemies and right now very tiny players on the scene (and I think this action has set them back in their organizing by denying them what had been fertile ground -- in effect hitting them twice but only having to do it ourselves once), however we at PCWC are just as oriented towards attack with regard to the left and liberals in town. If you could hear the whining that is coming out from many sectors of the left-aligned movement I think you would understand what I am saying. Our action did not create more space for them to organize. Quite the opposite, it left several left-oriented leaders with quite a bit of egg on their faces.

Again, I think this is more in line with Dauvé's point as I remember it than in contradiction to it as you assert. Further, I think we established that there is at least a potential limit to the Nativist debate and that they are indeed vulnerable on the charge of racism. That's important to know because up until now they had kept up a good masquerade.

In terms of remaking the debate, I am referencing the emerging third pole in the immigration debate which we and other comrades are pushing, focusing on freedom of movement and freedom from dislocation, which can reframe the debate away from the far off border and racist scapegoating and onto the extension of the border into the city and the congruence between the sheriff's evictions and the deportations (both of which, for instance, come, amongst other places right out of the Wells Fargo building in Phoenix, it turns out, since the Sheriff rents space there for his offices).

What's more, it moves the discussion into territory that the Nativists would prefer not to, namely foreclosures and the spread of the surveillance state here in town. Already libertarians and constitutionalists on the right are oriented against the last of those two (read my analysis of the anti-camera/anti-checkpoint movement for more on that). Connecting the two, as we understand them to be, has potential to undermine their arguments and to play on their sympathies.

This action got libertarians on the right to stick to their anti-fascism and challenge white supremacy and to, in effect, come out against the attack on migrants. This is good because it begins to press on a potential fracture in the anti-immigrant movement, which is composed of many libertarians and constitutionalists. I hope that answers your question.

I encourage you to look into the tag for "fanaticism" for more information on how we are framing our actions. I will perhaps write something at some point about the "fractures and fissures" that we have been pursuing at a later date, but, again, neither of these two strategies has anything to do with an anti-fascist common front.

Just because a specific action goes against Nazis doesn't mean that it means that there must therefore be a left-anarchist common front as the next stage. I think we have avoided this quite skillfully, if I may say so. Of course, to do that, we had to know it was a potential outcome. And of course we did know that and that's why you don't see one.

晴天 said...
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