Excited to welcome the amazing historian, activist, and author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, Mark Bray to Against Everyone! You've probably encountered the anti-fascists "antifa" movement in some way or another since the now-iconic video of neo-Nazi organizer Richard Spencer getting punched in the face on camera. Since then, anti-fascists activists have been completely misrepresented in media and misunderstood by the non-activist public, derided by the right (like when Donald Trump ejaculated the word "Antifa!" on stage) as well as by liberals. Mark puts the antifa action and organization in the context of history, illuminating how it's not just a bunch of angry college kids, but a rich and thought-out set of tactics and web of movements throughout history.
IN THIS EPISODE
- Why people who are against antifascist action often believe in the Myth of Progress: 1:50
- Why the impossibility of utopia can combat the fantasy of progress: 6:45
- How to implement one the ground activism while retaining the vision. And why: 12:10
- The people who whine “THAT’S NOT GOING TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING”: 13:35
- Is the general engagement with a state traumatic?: 17:00
- Netflix and chill? Nah, Hitler or chill, bro.: 19:40
- Recognizing all violences without dismissing differences between them: 21:00
- The problem with “talk it out with the enemy” is that most people who say it don’t believe it: 23:20
- The racist kids Conner grew up with, the Nazi organizers who exploited them, and what to do with the various levels of racism and fascism: 26:20
- The little bird and the forest fire: 31:40
- “If I can’t stand by the bar and drink while I watch people dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”: 36:00
- Where’s the line between fascism and other oppressive structures of power?: 37:20
- Who deserves engagement and who deserves dismissal and derision: Anti-sex worker and anti-porn activists use fascist rhetoric - And why you shouldn’t engage with them: 42:25
- Why “no platform” is a worthwhile tactic and why it’s so misunderstood: 49:50
- Charlie Hebdo and why free speech matters, but not the “support our troops” version of free speech: 52:30
- Can fascism be eliminated?: 1:03:00
Here's Mark’s website and a link to his other book, Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street.
In Mark's book and on the show Walter Benjamin comes up, and he is definitely worth checking out. Particularly of relevance is Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (also sometimes translated as "On the Concept of History") which you can read here,
But if you’re new to Benjamin, better to start by reading Michael Lowy’s truly excellent book, Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History’ in which Lowy tackles Benjamin’s essay section by section in plain and accessible language.
I mention, briefly, a world where we’ve abolished work. I talk about it at length in episode three of Against Everyone. Here you go.
To complicate violence and the concept of violence a bit: Here’s a short overview of Martin Luther King’s ideas on violence, written by Carwil Bjork-James. And here’s Slavoj Zizek’s book, Violence which is about, um, you know.
I mention the main architect of the Irish peace process, John Hume. Here’s a trailer for a documentary about him, In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America. The film isn’t distributed in the US, but keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, you can read his book, A New Ireland: Politics, Peace, and Reconciliation.
I wrote about the racism I grew up with here.
My essay, “If You’re Against Sex Work, You’re A Bigot,” is about how anit-sex worker and anti-porn activists use the tactics of bigots and fascists to attack sex workers.
My thoughts on free speech and the misguided lionization of Charlie Hebdo is here. “I Signed the PEN Dissent Letter (or: I Refuse the “Support Our Troops” Version of Free Speech)”
For some more context on free speech and France: Here’s a profile on Hanane Charrihi, “Muslim daughter of terror victim: I fear Isis and racists in France". And a review article, “’A Distinctly French Universalism’: Translating Laïcité after Charlie”
I talk about problems with identity politics, even though we need to utilize and defend identity politics in AEWCH 7: Selfie Politics.