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tv   On Contact with Chris Hedges  RT  September 30, 2017 5:29pm-6:01pm EDT

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armed and dressed in black the color of fascism and the color of death r t correspondent on your problem looks at the origins of mt for. you know they show up in the helmets of the black man they've got clothes or they've got everything and. recently there's been so much noise made a bow and you'd think the movement was something new but it's actually been around for decades and existed all over the world after world war one brought about the end of the german and russian empires in europe was thrust into an era of political unrest as competing idiology has battled for control in russia the bolshevik revolution brought about communism but as fears of communist revolution spread across the european ruling class in germany italy and eventually spain a counterforce took over fascism the us many communist socialist leftists and others fighting for their survival against hitler mussolini and franco literally
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took up arms against the fascist state these are the roots of n.t.v. because the end is by nature a decentralized movement it's difficult to trace its exact history in the united states the groups like anti-racist action founded in one nine hundred eighty eight represented a nationwide network dedicated to disrupting nazi and white supremacist rallies what's more black bloc tactics developed in west germany have been employed in the united states most notably during the world trade organization protests of one thousand nine hundred nine in seattle and during occupy wall street which swept the country in two thousand and eleven more recently groups calling themselves and tea fire have sprouted to combat what they describe as emboldened white supremacy in the age of trump with activists violently disrupting rallies planned across the country such an action came to a tragic and this year when activist heather higher was killed by a nazi sympathizer. as she and others gathered to protest
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a unite the wright rally in charlottesville virginia ultimately empty pfizer decentralize movement which will exist as long as there is a fascist force to oppose. thank you anya i'm joined today by mark breyer historian of human rights terrorism and political radicalism in modern europe was one of the organizers of occupy wall street and he is the author of the anti fascist handbook as well as a lecture at dartmouth college so let's open by talking a little bit about. what you do in the book the history of the movement what its aims are and what its tactics are and we should be clear that i've been very critical of the black bloc just from the start. but go ahead i mean you you spent a lot of time kind of building. the genesis of this movement right so anti fascism can be traced back one hundred years we can look at the pople in italy who fought against mussolini's blackshirts all the different communist and socialist factions
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that fought against hitler in germany that we can take a look at the international brigades joining from around the world to fight in the spanish civil war but really what people miss is that after world war two despite the defeat of the axis powers militant anti-fascism didn't entirely go away in britain it continued on word and it sort of reemerge throughout continental europe and north america largely in the eighty's and ninety's and so the argument that milton anti-fascist put forward is that if you look at the historical fascism of the twenty's and thirty's small groups often grow large parliamentary politics and civil debate can't consistently be counted upon to stop their advance and so the idea is to organize against small and medium sized fascist groups as if they could be the germs of the seeds of future fascist movements or regimes and essentially not allowing them to articulate their politics in a collective way or to become mainstream in society but when you talk about organize. this is about adopting tactics what we call
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today d. platforming doc singing which is exposing people's personal information and you seen. forms of coercion violence to shut these groups down and that's something that you endorse that's correct well so you're entirely correct but this sort of other part of it to point out is that as a whole the percentage of what anti-fascists do that could be called violent is a minority is a small percentage agree or disagree with it a lot of what they do is as you said research figuring out who far right groups are who their members are tracing them across various social media platforms trying to organize boycotts or campaigns or pressure against venues to prevent the far right events from happening really when we can see is that when it comes to a conflict that's often kind of a last resort when these kinds of groups come out onto the streets and are trying to organize the question i mean my criticism of it is that it plays into the hands
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of the state and that it's counterproductive and that's the first quarter. and you know you cite many historical events including the rise of fascism within germany although i think as you correctly point out in the book. you have a figure for what the nazi party was polling in nine hundred twenty eight or nine twenty seven and what the polling after the crash and it was the great historian of hillary care show has written you know without the depression the nazi party would have never been a factor in german politics on it which you also get course but as you well know there were numerous street clashes not only between what were they the red the red on friendly run fighters of the commons party but also the socialists had their own kind of paramilitary groups and. many historians say that because of those frequent clashes and we should be clear that the left was shut down before the nazis came to power the head of the communist party was already in prison by
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one nine hundred thirty two and that that kind of a law and order rhetoric on the part of the capitalist class on the part of the right wing and on the part of the nazi party. played in the hands of the fascists well we can see that by the time the early thirty's rolled around it's true that the nazis were on the ascent but it's also true that the communist party was on the ascent so really the losers in this were the socialists and we can see that the conflicts that emerged in the twenty's emerged not primarily because either the socialist party or the communist party were advocating a confrontational strategy against the nazis in fact the opposite was true they were trying to hold back their rank and file militants from going after the nazis and so the red front fighters league which was established not really primarily initially as an anti-fascist force more as kind of a revolutionary militia in the tradition of the proletariat hundreds and others that came before it were had essentially their hands tied so if we talk about the
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conflicts certainly you can make the argument that the nazis did capitalize upon the chaos of the weimar republic there's no question about it they look they went out to look for i mean they went out look for the went out and created it they went out and intact a leftist social centers and bars and you know at the end because of the media they were quite. astute in blaming the violence that they that they initiated on the left but the question is if you were a rank and file socialist or communist and you had your local bar in the nazis brownshirts came in and started beating your friends up what would you do so i think that we can disagree on what we do but plenty of people would fight back so to some extent i'm not sure if the left could have entirely avoided these conflicts if the nazis were coming at them we can see that the socialist and communist party leadership did everything they could to try and stop them so the notion that an aggressor. of anti-fascist strategy was to blame for what happened the twenty's it doesn't really recognize the fact that most of that was really trying to stay out of it but had to defend themselves by the time they actually shifted towards more
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of an aggressive strategy it was when they were in clandestine indian exile so we need to keep that in mind that we can't really assess and aggressive anti-fascist strategy in the one nine hundred thirty s. in germany because it wasn't really fully put into place i one of my criticisms of where you're coming from is that i don't look at the. flag waving lower class. people showing up in places like charlottesville as ascendant politically in a way that the nazi party was certainly not the same or not and in fact the forces of repression in the forces that we have to throw already have power so that when you focus on these disenfranchised them economically they come from much the same classes and tea for the black bloc i mean they're on the fringes economically often of society what evidence do you base that off of especially in terms of the left because i'm not entirely sure that there is data to argue about the class background or not i don't i don't think there is
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a date yet but isn't there but certainly having been around occupy wall street as you were a lot of these people many college educated got out of college with tremendous debts and found there was no place for them in society they were working at fairly marginal jobs which were not capitalizing on their own education i mean so it's anecdotal but i think there are ok good evidence there and so. my criticism is that the danger doesn't come i don't defending what they do when they're under no we both find the right one does the right of course but the danger comes from militarized police forces a system of mass incarceration i teach in a prison my students were not put in those cages by neo confederate but when you know from a trailer park they were put in cages by the democratic and the republican party the wholesale surveillance the the corporate kind of coup d'etat that's taken place
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that is even raiding civil liberties driving a century already has driven the working class into poverty destroying the middle class these are the forces that already have power and that's a big difference from the one nine hundred thirty s. right but i guess i don't see it as an either or i think that we can be against those things we can organize against them and also recognize that white nationalists have been responsible for a significant amount of violence have also influenced the public discourse to the point where you know we can see that a very significant number of people believe that white christians are the most oppressed demographic of society there's a lot of course opposition to affirmative action a lot of that is not all come from valid white nationalists but certainly i think they play a disproportionate role in furthering these politics and you know we may disagree on the degree but certainly they've had an influence on the trumpet ministration and even in small doses we can see that they can be dangerous for local communities we've seen that they will kill people so i guess i just don't see it isn't well
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there or i'm not i don't i don't in any way want to pretend or say that there isn't a moral issue between the left and the right what you're going to get to the article did suggest no though in the article that i wrote out of was very clear and listed the numbers of murders and home asides that have been committed by the right we're going to far as i know and committed not so i want to be very clear on that but the argument that i had written was that. the left which i support is squandering its moral capital but we're going to come back about when we return we'll continue our discussion with mark bright author of the ad a fascist handbook.
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i'm going to do just that if you're watching all of. us. called the future we go from you're going to. everyone in the room should experience for the job and you'll get it on the old the old. the old according to just. welcome our moral come along for the ride to. your launching in our team america got special report today about
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the stuff made his mind up by basically everything that you think you know about civil society have broken down. there's always going to be somebody else one step ahead of the game. we should not be on the normalising mile. we don't need people that think like this on our planet. this is an incredibly. situation. people have got to know whether or not there present or support american people deserve to know the real difference at this point does the name of the guard to get the military industrial i'm sure we shall never go. to war you should know that. yes we do but we. think.
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there's a real irony going. responsible points in the people and there is always well that's what i think it was it always seemed something. ordinary no wholesale surveillance you feel you have already while those who and who is interested in trying has used social media always on the story because it's garbage in real genuine. with chris adams welcome back to on contact let's get back to our conversation with mark brader author of n.t. for the anti fascist handbook so mark respond to that before the break my argument that. that the left actually the anti capital stuff actually has moral capital and by engaging in the kind of street violence that characterizes the nativists and the neo fascists and the oh they're squandering their moral capital well i think also
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we need to be clear on what the left looks like so a lot of the anti-fascist we're talking about are revolutionary socialists of different strands and don't necessarily feel like they're exactly the same politics as your average bernie sanders voter or your average hillary clinton supporter there is a variety of the left there is a revolutionary politics involved in this but i think that we can see for example with the clergy in charlottesville that think the anti-fascist for defending them that there is a growing awareness. among people who have seen the utility of anti-fascist measures that these people are standing up to the far right and so i don't think that it's as black and white as you're painting it well the question i mean we have to stand up to the far right which is let's be frank they're not on the streets they're in power now they're both you know but i mean i think we've got people in the streets or more being used i don't think trump has any particular idiology other than greed in our society are and that void will probably be filled by the christian right christian fascists of color and by these nativists and neo we've
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already seen that the question is who is the enemy and how are we going to take the enemy down and the adamy is already in power the corporate state the coup is already over and yes they may use these figures. but we are in a situation that is in essence revolutionary we are no rebel and if we are going to bring down. this power structure it's got to be through mass mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people into the streets and you saw for instance in berkeley where this is often the case where most of the majority of the demonstrators were peaceful nonviolent. there was a small activity of violence by
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a small group of black bloc and tea for whatever but what was disseminated throughout the corporate media and why and why were those images useful to the corporate state because number one it demonizes the protest movement we saw this with occupy which was a nonviolent movement and it frightens people away from the movement and these are classic counterinsurgency techniques sure well we can also look at that same dynamic happening throughout the entire history of anti-fascism and draw perhaps different conclusions from that so we can look at the battle of cable street in one thousand thirty six when the british you know fascists tried to march through the east end of london a predominantly jewish neighborhood and the jewish population and many other anti-fascist stood up and blocked their advance so if you read the british press at the time you get the same response that these are hooligans that these are dangerous violent people and they should be denounced the question is in part what do communities that are under attack do when they know that if they stand up and
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defend themselves they're going to get bad press and the anti-fascist perspective is yes mass mobilizing is important yes popular politics is important we should put forward broad anti-racist propaganda but the order of explanation is different rather than turning to the masses side which isn't necessarily directly under attack and going by their playbook sometimes smaller groups are under attack need to prioritize their self-defense and it's a different order of explanation in terms of. what the question is you know we can't play into the agenda of the corporate state which seeks to shut down the anticapitalist movement including the non. violent and how they want all of us gone sure and we can't we you know this was the brilliance of martin luther king so martin luther king's giving a speech in birmingham and a white twenty four year old neo nazi gets up and starts punching him in the face and king just continues to speak to him quietly and refuses to press charges. i covered the war and sorry of our cover the civil war in el salvador i'm not
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a pacifist you know it when when you are occupied. as the iraqis are occupied or as we attempted to occupy viet nam the the the occupier speaks only in the language of violence and only responds to the language of violence my fear with the left is that it adopts that abstract hatred the abstract hatred that racists use towards people of color or the g b l t community or the muslim community is adopted by the left towards the fashion so they know there's a deep human ization there and a kind of belief that all rational discussion is impossible therefore and i think you're right in the book quite clearly the idea is to essentially not to. reach out to them as other human beings but to make them too frightened to come out of their houses we owe i mean i guess i'm just not terribly concerned about people
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dehumanizing fascists personally and we can have a difference of opinion about that i also the other question i would pose to you because to get your response is so if it is fine to organize popular self-defense under occupation how bad does the threat of violence have to get before the becomes legitimate right and no dozen people that was able to disagree about that but anti-fascist argue have to stop it before it gets to the wrong question well than tell me what the right question to if you are going to employ violence or let's say use lethal force. then you have to i have to have access to instruments and weapons of lethal force that can counter the state so that no for instance rebel or guerilla movement ever succeeds unless they are bordered by a state by which they can gather weaponry carry out training i mean this for instance was the role of tunisia in the algerian civil war and my argument in
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criticism of anti for in the black bloc is that the the language the state speaks and it is increasingly speaking of lethal force militarizing our police departments putting tanks on the streets of ferguson is one that we can never compete against we're not going to create staging areas in canada or mexico to carry out an insurgency and therefore we have to find tactics that have worked in the past revolutions i believe are fundamentally nonviolent movements in the sense that and as crane brinton and other historians davies have written no revolution succeeds and lest a significant portion of the ruling apparatus in particular the security apparatus refuses to defend a discredited regime that's something i watched with the with the collapse of the stasi state in east germany where they honaker the communist dictator sent down an elite paratroop division the leipzig and. they wouldn't fire on the crowd it was
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over same with the when they sent the cossacks in to to crush the bread riots in st petersburg and the cossacks refused to bizarre was over that is just true and revolution after revolution after revolution and that only happens when you reach out not to all of the i'm not naive enough to tell you that you know there are plenty of sadists and torturers and within the system but enough. people within the system to create. anti-fascist are not trying to organize an armed uprising they're trying to stop small and medium sized fascist groups before they advance and they recognize that the business of doing that is dangerous and that even if a group does it nonviolently the consideration of being attacked by them and having to deal with that is very legitimate especially when we can see that the police are often more sympathetic to the right and that as the f.b.i. has documented there has been extensive white power infiltration into local law enforcement so. point taken on the question of insurgencies but that's not really
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the politics that they're trying to promote here what is i mean one of i think you read my article i mean one of my criticisms was the idea of of resistance as catharsis it's not about how we feel as a well i think that most anti-fascist and i interviewed sixty one anti-fascist from seventeen different countries most of the people that i spoke to don't fit the sort of media stereotype of some sort of crazy bloodthirsty violent person but are people who are environmentalist and unionist and activists a variety of backgrounds who would much rather be doing that work than having to confront the far right but they believe that there is a threat in their communities that they need to respond to and so i think the notion that these are thrill seekers and these people love to just sort of engage in violence isn't borne out by any evidence and certainly didn't reflect the interviews that i conducted so what's the endgame if you managed to get the fascists or the neo fascists off the streets we're still in trouble right which is why that many anti-fascist think of militant anti-fascism as essentially a fire fighting operation dealing with an immediate emergency of the organized far
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right on the streets and so if you push them off the trees then you simply go back to doing the other kinds of movement building and organizing that you and i to some extent agree on what that could look like and go back to that so we can see that the rise and fall of militant anti-fascism in the u.s. and elsewhere over the past decades has everything to do with the rise and fall of the far right so it's not generally conceived of as a politics that can solve all problems it's about addressing a specific role does violence have when we are confronting the true engines of oppression which is corporate power. well you know people disagree with what to do and is not designed to change all of society right it deals with the specific part of it but i think the notion that the ruling class will voluntarily hand over their wealth to create a social society is not is not true that we agree and so i think that you know revolutionary politics does have to have it on the menu at a certain point people will disagree on what that looks like when that comes but i
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think you know one of the historical lessons is it's often hard to turn on military resistance when it's too late and so that that i think needs to be borne in mind as well but it's also you know can be deeply counterproductive rosa luxemburg who was assassinated. in berlin in the uprising did not support the opera that's correct and so uprisings are not always a good idea in fact they're usually not a good idea but they can be sometimes and so the question is in my mind not to condemn a specific tactic or politics or strategy in the abstract universally but to look at what i would go back to weaponry because in you know in the french revolution the crowds. were carrying muskets and so was the swiss guard that were texting the royalty there's a disparity now in weaponry that doesn't make that possible right and so you're right from what you said before that some of it has to do with with the need to turn certain parts of the military against the state to have them put down their weapons to not not open fire on populations and in that sense it is
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a question of popular politics but what we're talking about here is not is not a recipe for changing all of society it's a politics aimed at self-defense around a specific threat i guess the definition of self-defense is one we're going to have to quibble over when a southern poverty law center has said when these far right groups especially in open carry states and these people are heavily armed we could have had a bloodbath worse than we had. you know just don't go well i think that's terrible advice i think we do need to organize against them we can disagree on how to do that but i think the one of the best takeaways from the politics of anti-fascism is . stand in solidarity with each other across different political and tactical and strategic lines because when we get divided that's when where we can just ok great mark thanks that was mark rey author of the any fascist him. street clashes do not to stress the ruling elites these classes divide the underclass they divert activists from threatening the actual structure so powerful they give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and
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expand the powers of internal security when empty for assumes the right to curtail free speech it becomes a weapon in the hands of its enemies to take that freedom away from everyone especially the anticapitalist the focus on street violence diverts activists from the far less glamorous task of building relationships and alternative institutions and community organizing that alone will make affective resistance possible we will defeat the corporate state only when we take back and empower our communities as long as the acts of resistance are forms of personal catharsis the corporate state is secure indeed the corporate state welcomes this violence because violence is a language you can speak with a proficient c. and ruthlessness that none of these groups can match. thank you for watching you can find us on our t. dot com slash on contact so you next week.
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i. had independence referendum slated to begin within hours police reinforcements ready to barcelona while madrid says that it's nice to shut down most of the polling stations. it's now been two years since russia launched its first strikes in syria we take a look at what has changed in the meantime. and i grow.


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