... Following the imprisonment of Bill White and the disbanding of the American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP), Illinois remained relatively quiet after the ANSWP’s last event, a protest against an Elie Wiesel speech at St. Xavier University. But during the current crisis, neo-Nazi elements have been gaining in strength. Some former ANSWP members regrouped to form the Illinois National Socialist Front (NSF). The Illinois NSF has been having monthly barbeques throughout Illinois, drawing as many as thirty attendees to each barbeque. They held a rally with the NSM and Klan members at the end of September outside of St. Louis, one in Skokie in April, and a couple of flyering events on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. In Chicago, local Nazi punk gangs have been attacking people of color, immigrants, and queers. Even though they remain quite powerless within the current situation, they are organizing always with the intention of becoming a constituting force that posits law.In September of 2008, a counter-demo was called against the ANSWP’s demo against Elie Wiesel. A shouting match ensued, there were a lot more anti-fascists then fascists, and in the end, the Nazi’s van had its tires popped. All in all, liberals and the police neutralized any revolutionary Anti-fascist efforts; free speech won the day, and a message of anti-hate prevailed. Perhaps the Nazis were influenced by the vandalizing action of some person(s), but more likely left with a sense that they can safely demonstrate in Chicago. Over the summer, the NSF attempted a demo at the International Socialist Organization’s national socialist gathering, Socialism 2009. With only a few members present, and a crew of hooligans ready to meet them, the Nazis simply went home. In November, some anti-fascists convinced Phillip Anderson, leader of the NSF and another member to come visit Chicago on the grounds that they were interested in starting a Chicago NSF Unit. Naturally, the NSF members got the shit beat out of them, and even better, because they were seen pulling a knife, they got arrested and everyone else got away. And finally, also in November, David Irving, a Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer, attempted to arrange a speaking event in the Northwest Suburbs, and fell victim to hooliganism as he so frequently has throughout his speaking tour. Having had so many previous encounters, he had a cop (who was quite literally a Nazi) present, but was unable to stop the disruption. Almost a dozen people burst into the restaurant; masked and clad in black, they began to throw chairs, scream, ruin his merchandise, and even scuffle with attendees before exiting. Unfortunately, in the anti-fascists efforts to pick up a comrade left behind, a car circling the area was stopped by police, and the passengers were taken to jail and given disorderly conduct charges.These efforts are to be applauded to the extent that the content of anti-fascism was not an appeal to an alternative of more democratic values or a more capitalist capitalism, but that the gestures alone revealed everything necessary; a commitment to stomping out fascism at any costs, and more importantly, no desire to appeal to its democratic sister system of management. But where to go from here? A storm lurks in the distance. On March 21st of next year, the NSF is planning a “White Pride World Wide March” in Chicago. This event is sure to draw Nazis from across the Midwest and perhaps even the nation, and will undoubtedly become a giant spectacle within a stream of spectacles. Perhaps the recent “Inglorious Bastards Bloc” in Phoenix provides an example of how to proceed. Any events that involve anarchists publicly packing heat, let alone when Nazis are around, perks our interest. But more importantly (to the extent it influences conditions materially), the discourse surrounding the demo was framed in terms of “Anarchists/Fascists”, ”Proletariat/Capital”, and “Racism/Anti-racism”. It was many things, but it was never “Democracy/Fascism”. When the confrontation here ensues, the police could simply prove too much of an obstacle for us – unless we are incredibly diligent in recruiting comrades locally and from around the country. By framing the discourse in the same manner as Phoenix, we can immensely aid our local efforts by not only striking against Fascism, but weakening and defaming the counter-revolutionary monolith that is Chicago’s established left. A direct assault against their ignominy will take the form of exposing the poverty of their discourse. Their narcissistic rage will form smiles across our lips, if we can manage it.More critically, there have been limitations that we would like to see transcended concerning local anti-fascist hooliganism. The hostilities to this point have been waged in a private manner; like two gangs competing for power, can we instead find methods for a more inclusive hooliganism or collective forms of violence? Imagine not just ARA chapters that fought the NSF, but old women throwing vegetables and kitchen utensils as they walked down the street, bus drivers refusing to transport them etc. By making it a public affair, we can also eliminate the suicidal tendency implicit in taking them on alone, and perhaps even increase our power by generalizing social conflict. But the militant form, similar to the ELF and ALF, has not necessarily transformed the content; nor has it amplified hostilities across the social terrain. Perhaps if we are conscious of this limitation, such affective gestures between friends can allow them to realize it’s not just the INSF and other street fascists that these tactics can be applied too; banks, police stations, or wherever one locates the flows of capital can be attacked just as easily as Nazis by friends sharing interests and complicities. But this link is tenuous, at best. Anti-fascism may be doomed to run aground the same rocks as identity politics and single-issue struggles.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
An excerpt from an article published at the Chicago Chapter of the Imaginary Party documenting recent Chicago antifa activity: