General Info resources:
General Info resources:
Dan Carlin’s Common Sense podcast has been a helpful tool in helping me take a step back in my thinking on the topic. Things like: “Punch a Nazi!” creating a dynamic that helps a fascist cause. Nazi Germany saw rampant violence between street factions during the rise of The Third Reich. It solidifies the dividing lines between factions who should actually be participating in local democracy. Throwing a punch at a neo-nazi doesn’t shake the foundations of the world; it just pisses that guy and his friends off and convinces them they are in the right.
It doesn’t help that, with the changes to the executive powers with each successive administration, have given the president the power to unilaterally declare war without Congress’ involvement. He already has launched a powerful missile strike, on a whim, against another sovereign nation. We have a system in place currently that makes it very easy to enable an authoritarian regime. Both parties are to blame, and both parties are now publicly eating themselves, for all the world to see.
I think those who vocalize their willingness to physically fight facists are very purposefully strengthening the dividing line between themselves and those who espouse facism. It’s not an unintended side effect.
I don’t understand the implication that direct action against facism and being involved in local politics are mutually exclusive. Surely you can both work to get out the vote or even reform the system and still be ready to fight someone who is actively working to put those with different ethnicity or sexuality in fear.
We went to an anti fascist rally in Edinburgh and the most heartening thing was that the anti fascists outnumbered the racists by like 20:1.
Plus we had fun chants
Lately, I’ve been of the mind that fascism needs to be nipped at the bud, and that necessarily involves direct counter demonstrations to meet theirs wherever they crop up.
That was exactly what we did. It felt wonderful and cathartic and the anti-fascist atmosphere was amazing. Seeing 500+ people laughing at the one guy who tried to square up to us with a Nazi salute was an amazingly empowering experience.
Your second point is certainly true, and I should have had that in mind during the writing. But as to the nazi-punching, the result of that is not that the nazi feels disempowered, as should be our goal. The nazi who gets punched wants to get his friends together and tear some shit up, and the person reaping the whirlwind might not be the person who did the punching.
There’s a strong correlation there that violent demonstrations between civilian groups, and not between civilians and government powers, has a negative effect on the anti-fascist cause. A divided people cannot easily come to consensus on the source of their woes, and the source of their woes is, in this case, the government we helped put in place.
They are offensive, for sure - but surely just because it’s on the internet doesn’t imply it has power. I figure the rise is very much because they now feel empowered by recent events (elections, referendum results, refugee crisis, terrorist attacks across the Western world, etc). Nobody actually handed them the scepter, though, right?
Look at Brexit. The campaign for it was very rough, and the people that crawled out the woodwork were not particularly Britain’s best side - but the campaign didn’t create them, I think - it just gave them an outlet to have their voice heard. Those who ended up in charge were still pretty much as textbook establishment as it gets.
I imagine drawing the average population towards your political sway is what still gets you the win, or at least the power to influence it. Le Pen wouldn’t be a problem in France (eg see earlier years) had the Socialists in charge not disenfranchised so many, the Democrats not having solutions to what people in fly-over states are going through, etc.
I guess what I’m saying is - you’re not going to change these idiots’ minds. I’m very glad/comforted that people are standing up to them, but on the larger scale it seems to me it’d be more beneficial to, you know, actually provide a valid alternative for the whole wave of disillusion they’re feeding off.
I really have a hard time with the “punching nazis” thing. I go back and forth on it personally but have publicly (and by that I mean within my circle of friends) stood for punching. I have some questions about the way you’re explaining the argument against it. When you say it solidifies dividing lines between factions who should be participating in local democracy, I’m not quite sure what the response ought to be from an antifa to a fascist when they’re espousing hate or neo-nazi ideology. As for whether it pisses that fascist off and emboldens his friends, I guess I’m not convinced allowing them platforms to speak does anything different? If that makes sense? Like, they get to espouse their shit. Do they not still feel emboldened? Are we talking about sowing brazenness rather than letting it fester and grow?
I’m working on building my background of knowledge for these sorts of discussions, and so if you’d be willing to elaborate, I’d appreciate it.
Only 7 posts in before somebody made an argument against punching nazis!
There isn’t a whole lot you can do about fanaticism, it’s true. But I stand by the idea that punching someone, anyone, who holds a different view than you is at least an un-American thing to do. If you aren’t American, that doesn’t mean much, but the principles should be the same: whatever strategy you adopt, it should focus on destabilizing fascist groups.
That destabilization does not occur if it’s civilians against against civilians; that destabilizes the people as a whole and lays the foundation for a civil war. That scenario is one we have all the elements for today, and it’s scary. Taking away someone’s platform to vent, much like not lancing a boil in time, will only compound the problem. There are dangers to this as well, but there is a cost-benefit analysis that should be done in each case.
I don’t know that I have a strategy to destabilize fascist groups; this administration has focused on a divide-and-conquer policy, even within its own cabinet, and that is deliberately to keep any one voice from having too much pull in the Oval Office. Divide-and-conquer is as old as warfare itself, so we should be adopting strategies to pull these groups apart under their own steam. Inception their asses into cutting the legs out from under each other. If you can convert someone with these leanings when faith in their group is at a critical low, that seems like a strategy.
Forgive me, I’m sort of making this up as I go along.
I’m just interested in other methods. Recognizing patterns is key to breaking the bad ones.
But if you see someone getting beaten up by Nazi’s, hell yeah you punch those Nazis. I advise against it as anything but defensive action.
I think for a lot of people “punching nazis” has been their entry point into the anti-fascism.
Punching Richard Spencer, who just a week before was hailed with Nazi salutes, days on the heels of an apparent pseudo-facist’s election, while Spencer is on camera and smugly explaining his pepe pin seems like an obvious and excellent ideological response. Even better, the next shot is of him virtually running away. Even better, the person throwing the punch did so anonymously.
That’s not quite the same question as punching all Nazis.
The question of whether or not you should punch someone with rotten ideologies doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In comfortable times, it’s certainly impolite and we rely on and hope that the horror of a rotten ideology gets gently shushed and shown the door. It usually does.
And then it slinks around outside with everyone and thing that’s also been left out of polite society (like the sexually outre, the sex worker, many women, most people of color). Still comfortable inside here, though.
We’re also not sitting through the last days of the Weimar while communists and fascists fight over the bones of civilization (as much as conservatives like to pretend we are). The punching a nazi question isn’t about what insurgent ideology gains sway in this country (or Britain, or maybe even Greece, etc), it’s about the ideology that appear to have perhaps already seized power.
And it’s not the same question as to whether or not black bloc should show up at an anti-Milo rally at Berkley.
And it’s not really all that germane, I think, to the original post (though that punch of Richard Spence certainly is).
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You did, and that’s to your credit. But either there’s another, another, another war, or we try something else. A lot of decisions today are being made on an emotional basis, as we’ve seen with Big Orange and his chocolate cake, so it doesn’t seem that contentious to propose a different idea.
Some would say that Nazi ideology is inherently violent, and any act of violence done to them is self defense because of that. When they are saying “Jews and black people need to be removed from the country and we need you to help!” how is that not violent? How are you supposed to ‘debate’ with someone who position is ‘you and your family don’t deserve to live’
You’re quite right, which is why I say the best trap is the one you get the opponent to build for itself. People have been punching Nazis in the street for decades, and yet, here we are. As we saw in the election, you can’t always tell who the fascist/racist is until they act on it; in the voting booth, in the street, whatever. Introduce a set of circumstances that makes them tear themselves apart, as they are actively attempting to do to us. A divided enemy is a weak enemy. Divide them and make them fall on each other.
(Refer to the OP’s post on memetics and you’ll start to see what I’m on about. Ideas are bulletproof, yada yada.)
So many good points. We’ve got to look at the results, not the reactions.
I’m gonna poke my head in to highlight something in the forum rules real quick:
Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree
You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:
Ad hominem attacks
Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
Let’s make sure that when we’re discussing and debating these points, we don’t resort to ad hominem or condescension in the process.
On top of that, let’s try to refrain from gatekeeping in any kind of context. Some people have more experience than others, but that doesn’t mean we should be swinging it around too much. Let’s focus on debating points, not posters.