Showing posts with label justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label justice. Show all posts

Monday, October 8, 2018

Best Friends for Fascism

Journalist Elizabeth King published a piece in Truthout which very much resembles a piece I wrote for Jewish Currents last year. In it, she makes the case, as I did, that befriending fascists just allows them to have friends in spite of their fascism. Unlike my article, she points to some failed attempts at befriending nazis:

Writer Quinn Norton was briefly hired then let go from a position with The New York Times this year after tweets came to light in which she spoke favorably of a now-notorious American neo-Nazi called “weev” (whose real name is Andrew Auernheimer). Norton had referred to Auernheimer as her “friend.” Auernheimer, who co-runs the Daily Stormer, a website that is massively popular with neo-Nazis, appears on white nationalist podcasts and incessantly calls for genocide against non-white people.

Despite all this, Norton found it appropriate to maintain a friendship with Auernheimer. “I have been friends with various neo-nazis in my time, yes” Norton tweeted when asked about her relationship with Auernheimer in 2014. “I have never agreed with them, and I’ve been clear on that.”

This latter statement in particular exemplifies a sort of “holier-than-thou” position that fascist-adjacent people sometimes deploy in order to skirt accountability for their relationships. In attempting to show that she, a good person, can be friends with a Nazi and still be good herself, Norton is also attempting to show that she is above the peskiness of partisan biases: the ultimate tolerant liberal.

However, other tweets where Norton used the n-word also recirculated amid the public outcry that accompanied her hiring at the Times, as did a 2013 Medium post where she called Nazi leader John Rabe her “personal patron saint of moral complexity.” Rabe was a leading figure in Nazi Germany, and also helped thousands of Chinese people avoid being killed during the Holocaust. That is, there are at least two Nazis about which Quinn has kind things to say. Still, Norton also claimed on Twitter in February amid all this backlash that on the rare occasions she still speaks to Auernheimer, she brings up “the racism” and attempts to address it with him.

Even if Auernheimer were open to leaving the Nazi movement, and even if Norton were herself a staunch anti-racist, it’s not only a matter of disagreeing “with the racism” when it comes to helping fascists change their ways. Indeed, if Norton had hoped to somehow neutralize Auernheimer’s hate or make the world safer via a friendship with Auernheimer, she failed spectacularly. Auernheimer is still a prominent player in the fascist scene and shows no sign of giving up on the movement any time soon.

This is in no small part because it’s actually quite difficult to deradicalize a neo-Nazi, and the process has to start with a genuine desire or need to change on the part of the fascist.
Feels vindicating.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A comment on the Raworth-Milanovic debate

A friendly critique of Kate Raworth's book Doughtnut Economics by Branko Milanovic on the Brave New Europe blog has locked the two in a heated debate. One point of contention, has the two in a war of art references, Giotto's "St. Francis" versus Rodin's "Gates of Hell." This rhetorical sticking point appears to be a debate over nature versus nurture. While Raworth appears to regard such a debate sufficient to prove her point, Milanovic appears to take a more structural view. However, in his rejoinder to Raworth's reply, Milanovic plays to Raworth's critique on the question of human nature rather than reasserting his own.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Who Will Disrupt the Disruptors? A Review of Live Work Work Work Die

The final words of Corey Pein's Live Work Work Work Die are, "Off with their heads." In an engaging, hilarious, and gutwrenching first person account of the netherworld of Silicon Valley startup culture, Pein implores the reader to consider seriously the titans of tech are leading us into. By his account, it is a highly stratified society in which the toiling masses take turns pretending that they are among the tech elite.

Monday, June 11, 2018

PE of Fash Week VI: Fake News and Mutual Aid (Reading List)

This last class in the political economy of fascism minicourse is meant to emulate the periodic "debriefs" I have programmed into the full-semester version of the course. I believe it is extremely important that, after rendering the coherence of fascism on its own terms, one take the time to debunk its central claims. Although I do this throughout the course during the lecture/discussion, designating an entire week's readings to such an exercise is, in my view, crucial in distinguishing this course from one of simple fascist indoctrination.

As I repeatedly say, fascism is disturbingly compelling. When one takes the time to piece it together into its coherent esoteric ideology, one is engaged in the exact game that draws people into fascism -- a game driven by curiosity and the self-satisfaction of figuring it out. In addition, fascism does point out valid contradictions about the way society operates (largely borrowing from leftist rhetoric). These critiques are then used to leverage a political race to the bottom, justifying underhandedness on the basis of a perceived supernatural enemy's underhandedness.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

PE of Fash Week III: Eugenics and the Alt-Right (Reading List)

This class is intended to address what I consider to be the closest historical precedent to the alt-right: the eugenics movement. I say this not only by manner of ideological comparison, nor only manner of social insertion. I say this because the core organizations the bred the original alt-right - VDare, New Century Foundation (American Renaissance), and the National Policy Institute - are part of a non-profit financial network that has preserved eugenics since its decline following the discovery of DNA and the sequencing of the human genome.

The "required" readings cover the history and present of the eugenics movement. The Belkhir & Duyme piece explores the core assertions and fallacies of the eugenics movement both in its historical manifestation, but also in the present day. The Smedley & Smedley piece adds color to the Belkhir & Duyme piece, going beyond the mere refutation of biological, especially genetic, origins of social identity and aptitude constructs to give an accounting of the historical and social origins of these constructs using race as its case study.

The piece by Baker is presented as a means of focusing on how eugenics functioned logistically to popularize their approach. Baker's piece, which highlights the attempts by the organized eugenics movement to appeal to Christianity, is especially illustrative given that the movement ultimately wasn't able to get enthusiastic support on the basis of tying eugenic beliefs to Christianity. However, in the process the movement underwent numerous, ultimately cosmetic changes, hiding and repackaging core principles to appeal to an audience averse to themes of biological evolution, birth control, and selective breeding.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Liberalism Is Probably Impossible Reader

Since the Democratic Party and its enabling non-profits have recently staked their hopes on an electoral process that they have insisted for over a year was compromised by foreign actors, I have been thinking about the consistent failure of electoral strategy in light of fascist upsurge. What history demonstrates time and again, from the Pact of Pacification to the Sermon on the Mount, is that a brutal government cannot be thwarted through obsequiousness. Liberalism, understood not as a political orientation but a governmental paradigm, ultimately proves impossible. Whatever is won in the moral spectacle of violence cannot make up for the literally everything that is materially lost. Suffering is suffering. Dying is dying. Below, I present five texts that tackle different aspects of the logic and application of liberalism which prefigures its own demise.

Shawn Rosenberg - Against Neoclassical Political Economy: A Political Psychological Critique

Ed White - The Value of Conspiracy Theory

Frederick Shauer - Uncoupling Free Speech

Mitch Berbrier - "Half the Battle": Cultural Resonance, Framing Processes, and Ethnic Affectations in Contemporary White Separatist Rhetoric

Frantz Fanon - On Violence (from Wretched of the Earth)

Jean Paul Sartre - Preface to Fanon's Wretched of the Earth

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

All That For This

Published an article over at Jewish Currents today about the first round of acquittals in the J20 trials. The process dragged out for almost a year, and somehow made it to a jury despite some rather unusual procedures. Here's a sample:

During the pretrial, hearing dates were rescheduled without notifying defendants who were required under penalty of arrest to attend. Law enforcement agents were demonstrated by the defense to be lying on the witness stand, and in closing arguments, lead prosecutor Jen Kerkhoff all but told the jury that their instructions were irrelevant and that reasonable doubt “doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
“We saw that the U.S. Attorney’s office has no problem with the fact that their interests overlap with [rightwing organizations] Project Veritas or the Oath Keepers,” explained Menefee-Libey. “We also saw that the DC Superior Court is willing to let all of these things proceed under their legitimizing purview. This was procedurally strange, but politically and morally terrifying and abhorrent.”
What the trials have helped bring to light above all else is the absolute disregard for procedure on the part of the police.
According to court documents, law enforcement had infiltrated the planning for all three events but zeroed in on the the anti-fascist, anti-capitalist bloc, which departed from Logan Circle at 10:00 that morning. Despite apparent concerns about their undercover infiltration methods, the DC police opted not to contact the protest organizers, as required by the department’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) regarding First Amendment activity. On the day of the protest, moreover, the police violated more of their SOP: In radio communications entered into evidence, the police commander and frontline officer discussed whether the protesters were anarchists, and made the call to mass arrest before the march even left the park, which violates their SOP requirement that protesters be arrested and charged individually. (Since the SOP was issued in 2004, mass arrests have been effectively prohibited in DC.)
Certainly going to be chilling to watch the prosecutor bring 188 more people to trial.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Why I Went on a Nazi's Podcast: Approaches and Goals

Plenty of far leftists have ended up in far right media in one way or another, mostly by accident. One of the hosts of a podcast I have been on twice (holiday episode coming soon!) called 2 Spicy actually got blindsided by Gavin McInnes in 2014 before he had made a name for himself beyond his status as persona non grata at Vice. (Apparently, McInnes only varied by degree from the rest of Vice's leadership.) Heather made the unfortunate mistake of taking an invite to do media without doing background research. Always do background research.

I've done a bit of background on the show I'm set to go on. (I'm writing this in advance of going on the show.) If you haven't heard of Millennial Woes, you're not missing much. His only noteworthy accomplishment seems to be speaking at the 2016 Maggiano's Seige NPI conference. Literally. Millennial Woes (who, despite having been doxxed as Colin Robertson still told me to call him 'Woes') is a 35 year old Scottish white nationalist with a mean antisemitic streak, anti-immigrant views, and a strange ambivalence towards bestiality. After he was doxxed (as a result of his only noteworthy accomplishment), his messaging suddenly became extremely conciliatory with regard to racial violence. You know how fash do.

Every year, Millennial Woes does a month long series of interviews he calls Millenniyule. This year he had designs to do 50 interviews in December. As a result of a fight on Twitter, I became one of them. What I hope to lay out here is how it came about that I got this "opportunity," my rationale for accepting it, my strategy for approaching it, and my goals.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Feds are Stalkers

On Thursday November 16th, Agent Eric Fagen, a task force officer in the FBI’s Philadelphia field office, visited my parents’ house to question my mother about me. Upon being told about the encounter by my mother, I contacted the activist lawyer who is representing me pro bono. Because it was after business hours, she resolved to contact the agent the next day which she did on the morning of the 17th. My lawyer has yet to hear back from this agent. She says that it is not uncommon, once the FBI finds out that a person they’re interested in questioning has a lawyer, for them to back off.

The Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination provides strong protections for anyone who may be questioned by law enforcement in connection with a criminal investigation. Federal agents often attempt to make direct contact with individuals who may be willing to speak to them without the advice or presence of counsel. This tactic is intended to take advantage of the ignorance, isolation, and intimidation that an FBI visit necessarily evokes to get people to forgo their legally protected rights in a moment of panic. For this reason, people whom agents know to be represented by counsel are far less attractive targets for questioning.

As I frequently say, there is no law; there is only enforcement. Irrespective of one’s rights on paper, agents of the state seek to use any means at their disposal – however legally dubious – to fatten the purse of the state and the corrections corporations it subcontracts through fines, fees, and prison labor. This is the necessary consequence of capitalism. The state apparatus must ultimately be maintained by the same incentive structure upon which all other economic phenomena rest – the acquisitive drive for profits above all other values.

I have no knowledge of, nor have I been charged with, any federal crime. I will not cooperate with any law enforcement investigation as is my legally protected right. I especially will not cooperate with any FBI investigation as their protocol requires that the only official record of any interrogation is the agent’s handwritten notes which are notoriously inaccurate. For more information on why you shouldn’t talk to the FBI, please view this instructional video.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Back from Boston

This past weekend, I attended the Boston Anarchist Bookfair to lead a workshop titled "How to Talk to a Nazi." I first gave the workshop as part of the DC Action Camp put on by #DisruptJ20 in advance of the presidential inauguration. The workshop has since become a zine called "You Can't Punch Every Nazi" that I released in June and updated last month.

Because of some last minute scheduling changes, I was also able to table and sell the zine. I got invited to some parties and met come great people. Learned some stuff about the Boston "Free Speech" rally in August that wasn't reported in the news. Look forward to what happens this weekend.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Universities Are Protecting Free Speech for Bigots at the Expense of Student Safety

"When I see these people on the roofs," said University of Florida (UF) student Ebony Love, gesturing to the groups of snipers on nearby campus buildings, "I understand the reason why they're up there, but at the same time, you have to take my money and pay for that, but I couldn't get an escort to walk me to my classes, and you said you were going to post security outside these classes and you didn't."

When I talked to her, Love was leaning on a police barricade set up outside of the auditorium on campus where prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer was due to speak on October 19. The night before, however, Love was escorting a student to an 8 pm exam. She and another student sat watch outside for two hours in lieu of the campus security she said the university had promised but failed to provide.

Continue reading at Truthout

Monday, October 9, 2017

The One Thing Media Won't Tell You About Antifa

Since Richard Spencer was punched twice at the presidential inauguration, liberal commentators, egged on by their right-wing counterparts, have been pontificating about the ethicality of violence against fascists in light of their grade-school understanding of civic engagement. Confronting fascism is essential to guaranteeing a society free and safe for all of us. It makes no sense to defend the free speech of a movement that, according to a July headline on AltRight.com, wants to “get rid of democracy.” But while physical struggles between antifa and fascists have dominated press coverage since Charlottesville, tackling fascism requires more than confronting them in the streets.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Interview on "The Radical Imagination"

Last week, I sat down with Jim Vrettos for The Radical Imagination on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. We had an hour-long conversation about policing, pedagogy, and antifa. Watch it in full below.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the Associated Press (AP) has updated its style guide to change the standard usage of the term ‘alt-right’. The guide, widely followed across the US media, first added the term in November of last year, after Donald Trump won the presidential election, revealing the alt-right to be more than an electoral flash in the pan.

The update added anti-Semitism to the original definition. It now reads:

‘A political grouping or tendency mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism; a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.’
Both the original and updated AP definitions resemble early attempts to explain fascism in the decades following the second world war. Like the style guide versions, early writers focused attention on regime or movement attributes. This approach, often employing lists of various sizes, proved either too inclusive, or not inclusive enough.

Continue reading at Red Pepper

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sculpting the Present

Since the slaughter in Charlottesville by James Alex Fields Jr, of Vanguard America, a flurry of opinion has descended around the appropriate way to confront the various fascist organizations colluding and vying for institutional power. But however well intentioned, most of this commentary is poorly informed.

Rather than interrogating the motive force behind the far right, such debates largely fall along the lines of what the morally proper thing for an individual opposed to fascism ought to do.

Missing from much of this debate is why Richard Spencer’s coalition of Nazis was there in the first place. Spencer and his ilk had come to Charlottesville twice before their reprise on the 11th and 12th. In all three cases, they assembled by a statue of Robert E. Lee due to be removed by the city.

Continue reading at The Leveller

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What Is White Genocide?

Drexel University politics professor George Ciccariello-Maher has come under fire from right wing media outlets for tweeting an incendiary call for white genocide this Christmas.

To those uninitiated to the white nationalist underworld, any call for genocide would be reprehensible. However, the term "white genocide" has an insidious history as a propaganda tool.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Resources for Organizing

Since the election of Trump, I've been getting a lot of people reaching out asking how to get involved in the resistance against him and his fascist acolytes. While I have on occasion been giving out the names of organizations for people to tap into, I've also been pushing people to organize the heretofore apolitical spaces that they frequent (work, school, church, synagogue, union, etc.). My reasoning is two-fold. First, it's really easy to plug into a bunch of organizations and burn out taking on too much work. Second, there is no guarantee that under a Trump presidency, any organizations - whether they be the Democratic party, minor socialist parties, or even small community groups - will continue to exist under a Trump national security state.

To this end, I am compiling a list of resources to help the novice activist get started to organize where they're at. In this guide, you will find the resources you need to push your colleagues to political action, run meetings, and plan a political strategy.

Happy organizing!

Friday, July 22, 2016

All Your Faves Are Problematic

One of my favorite magazines, Orchestrated Pulse, published a piece by Ray Valentine critical of the viability of lone wolf tactics in building a broader left.

While I don’t dispute any of the facts presented in the article, to my mind, there are some omissions that I think calls into question the absoluteness of Valentine’s moral thesis. The failure to consider the material realities of security policy and liberal politics, in my estimation, weakens Valentine’s argument that the left (or perhaps, more appropriately, society from a leftist perspective) cannot benefit from condoning independent acts of mass violence.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Oh What, We're Not Gonna Strike?

You know me. Why would I ever pass up the opportunity right? It should probably come as no surprise that I am asking my fellow workers in the City University of New York to vote 'no' on the proposed pay cut and power grab from Governor Cuomo, Bill De Blasio, and Chancellor Milliken.

So a union is supposed to fight for worker power, right? To get a better living standard, worker control, and worker democracy, that's not happening right now. The union leadership tell us that this was the best they could get.

CUNY workers should have their suspicions.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Full Amnesty

This week, I wrote a post on the New School Economic Review blog advocating for a complete abolition of immigration restrictions. Here's a sample:

From my interactions with Branko both in person and online, I'm fairly certain that he has absolutely no desire to embrace racism and would likely rebuke it at any opportunity. However, the geopolitical paradigm he crafts here makes such a result nearly inevitable. By essentializing historically fluid categories such as national culture and language, Milanovic sets up a framework in which migration is an invasive force. By treating geographic income disparities as historically neutral and sacrosanct, he sets up a Paretian world in which changes are only permissible insofar as they are immediately beneficial to everyone involved. In other words, Milanovic's assessment of migration creates a paradigm in which only the wealthy should be allowed to migrate.

For Milanovic, migrants bring nothing but their monetary endowments to their new host countries. Anyone migrating without her own wealth, according to this reasoning, will merely drain the system. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, studies show that more often than not, migrants end up in forms of employment that create the opportunity for the creation of new higher-skill job in complementary sectors. All of this amounts to the strengthening of the very systems which Milanovic claims they will destroy.

Far from being idle surplus population, migrants provide an overwhelming economic boon where institutional systems support it. Historically, this institutional support has not led to the destruction of national culture and language, but rather its expansion. When flocks of Jewish and Slavic migrants fled the Ottoman and Austrian persecution in Milanovic's native Serbia in the latter part of the 19th century, they brought with them cultural and linguistic traditions that have since become so sewn into the fabric of this country as to go without notice.

Read the full post here