By JOHN LESLIE
The Proud Boys and “3 Percenter” militia are mobilizing to join in a “We the people” rally of far-right forces in Philadelphia on Nov. 17. These reactionary forces are organizing under the banner of free speech and support for Trump, but are threatening to engage in violence against opponents. These proto-fascist and reactionary actions require a serious counter-mobilization of the broadest possible social forces.
The 3 Percenter Militia, a gun-carrying “patriot” group that claims to support the Constitution, is acting as “security” for the rightists’ rally in Philadelphia. They and the thuggish Proud Boys are less interested in speeches than in intimidation and the threat of violence against people whom they see as opponents—communists, anarchists, liberals, feminists, LGBTQ people, and anti-fascists. It’s worth noting that another militia formation, the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia, has declined to attend the Nov. 17 event due to the possibility of confrontations.
While a mass fascist movement is not on the agenda at this moment, these far-right groups are still dangerous. The far-right groups are arming themselves, training, and organizing. The far right, including fascists, have been energized under Trump. In the drive towards the midterm elections, Trump increased the virulent tone of his speeches, characterizing immigrants and refugees as dangerous criminals and terrorists. Far-right ideas and talking points, including anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, are becoming more mainstream inside the Republican Party.
Ultimately, the question of fighting fascism poses the question of which social class holds power. Fascism is a symptom of capitalism in crisis, meaning an effective fight against reaction requires consistent anti-capitalist politics. Working-class political independence is a crucial element of this fightback. We reject the notion that you can defeat fascists by voting for the “lesser-evil” Democratic Party.
Defeating fascism depends on our ability to build united-front-type mass actions. Effective united-front actions require getting the unions involved. The unions are the mass organizations of workers and, as such, play a pivotal role in offering a counter to fascist ideas and actions. The unions, and mass organizations of the oppressed, are also essential to the formation of defense guards to stand against the violence of fascist groupings.
The united-front tactic serves to unite disparate forces in action around a limited set of demands or slogans. High levels of political agreement are not a prerequisite to the formation of United Fronts. The united front was originally conceived by the Communist International in the 1920s as a way of building unified fights against the bosses by making agreements for action between Communist Parties and other, at times reformist, working-class parties. Unfortunately, the refusal of the Stalinist Communist Party in Germany in 1933 to seek a united front with the Socialists eased the way for the Nazis to come to power.
United-front mass actions can help workers and oppressed people learn their own potential power. Marxist writer John Berger referred to mass actions as a rehearsal for revolution.
We can’t rely on the capitalists’ cops, courts, or politicians to protect us against the fascists. U.S. socialist leader Farrell Dobbs laid out the role of police in relation to fascism: The capitalists’ “tactic is to protect the rights of the fascists while at the same time using fascist forces to try to keep others from exercising those rights. One of the forces used to implement this is that most malevolent of all the repressive instruments of capitalist rule, the police forces. The police structure is of a character that makes it a breeding ground for fascists.”
Dobbs continued: “In any kind of confrontation between anti-fascist and fascist forces, the basic line of the cops is to protect the fascists in any way they can and to join in the victimization of the antifascists.” Dobbs’s observations have been confirmed time and again. In the last year, in Charlottesville, San Francisco, Portland, and New York City, the police have looked the other way when the Proud Boys, and other rightist goons have attacked counter-protesters.
As the capitalist crisis deepens, the possibility exists that the ruling class will want to use fascism as a weapon against the workers’ movement. This will require an equally hardened mass response against fascists. Defeating the right will depend on the independence of working people and the oppressed and the broadest possible mass counter-mobilizations. As the Proud Boys and other rightist goons mobilize under Trump, it is essential to build a movement to oppose them.
Effectively fighting against the rightist threat, and opposing fascism, requires that we build a revolutionary workers party. Moreover, the growth of the far right internationally means we must uphold a clear internationalist stance. A revolutionary international must be rebuilt to take forward the fight of the oppressed and exploited on a world scale.