Anti-fascists defeats Spencer and the TWP

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Date:

You may remember a few months back the liberal left claiming that physically confronting fascists would just make them stronger. Well turns out they were wrong, US fascist Richard Spencer, famous for getting punched, has just surrendered and called off the attempt to continue his college speaking tour.

This follows the successful disruption of many of his events culminating last week in a pitched battle in East Lansing, a university town near Detroit where his neo-nazi bodyguard, the Traditonalist Workers Party were handed their asses on a plate. Spencer as usual was safe inside, behind police lines while his cannon fodder took another beating. But presumably they have told him they have had enough because a few hour ago he tweeted "Long story, short: The college tour idea was to engage with students and community, not have pitched battles. Antifa has escalated; they are nasty; and the police aren't policing them properly. We have to recalibrate and find a model that works.
...
I don't have any definitive answers at the moment. But we will find a way. The Alt-Right must continue to interface with the public. That said, the forces against us are tremendous."

There is a report on what went down in East Lansing and then Detroit at https://itsgoingdown.org/igd-east-lansing-michigan-confronts-alt-right/

As usual the police arrested some of the anti-fascists, details of donating to legal costs at https://itsgoingdown.org/support-antifascists-arrested-east-lansing/

The leader of one of the more violent groups in the US who do security for Spencer - Matthew Parrott of the nazi Traditionalist Worker Party said afterwards
"The antifa have actually pretty much succeeded in achieving what the progressive left cannot, which is fully and finally deplatforming the hard right. That's no small victory. They have demoralized and disabled the majority of the altright, driving most of them off of the streets and public square. They appear the be a pretty robust and functional part of the total leftist ecosystem to me."

Shortly after this the TWP collapsed due to the sort of internal personalised fighting that often follows defeat.

Far-right groups use that notion of 'tolerance' and 'free-speech' as cover to organise around their agenda of subjugation and extermination. Once they gain any kind of significant foothold within mainstream society they become much more difficult to contain, and inevitably they will attack migrants, people of colour, left groups and unions, queer people, and whoever else they deem to 'degenerate' elements within society.

Fascists represent a direct physical threat in the present even at a small size. People often make the mistake of thinking that until 100,000 fascists are goosestepping down the main street in a Nuremberg rally after entering government that fascism isn't a problem.

That's not what a study of the history of fascism indicates. It also doesn't indicate that reasoned debate is enough to stop them, as attested for instance by many holocaust survivors.

Anti-fascism isn't limited to physical confrontation. It also includes 'fact checking and presenting a good argument for your ideology', community work, trade union organising, hosting gigs, and so on, which forms the bulk of what anti-fascism is in practice.

But also the fascists need to be nipped in the bud before they can become too numerous and too powerful. Particularly as an ideology which worships brute power, facing physical defeat is humiliating and signals that they are not in control.

Of course, we don't want to shred any ideals we hold for the sake of stopping fascism. That's not what is being suggested. It is not that free speech doesn't matter, it matters hugely. That's one of the reasons fascism must be stopped, because under fascism there is no free speech.

Even when fascist groups are small they induce a chilling effect on freedom of expression, using violent intimidation to keep marginalised people quiet and invisible.

We understand the appeal of wanting to take what seems to be a principled stand on freedom speech and saying that there are no exceptions. But when one reads the history of fascism and anti-fascism over the past 100 years it is clear that this approach represents leaving the door wide open to the most poisonous, tyrannical, ideology known to humanity. That's an empirical result which is something that is difficult or impossible to convey concisely.

It's also useful to consider that what is more at issue here is the 'right' of fascists to organise (rather than just 'free speech').

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