If you become an Insider before the end of November, you'll get a copy of scott crow's "Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams" and a bunch of other cool stuff including stickers and zines.
scott crow (always in lower case) is an anarchist organizer, a member of the animal liberation movement, and an experienced (though retired) antifascist activist. That last has made him in demand recently, making the rounds in the media including even a rather surreal appearance on Fox News.
We got together recently when he brought over some copies of his book "Emergency Hearts," and I asked him about the limits of antifascism and the next steps.
scott crow: Somebody asked me -- a reporter asked me the other day -- they're like can you build movements on antifascism? I said no, because it's a reactionary set of ideas, and strategies and tactics that are really good for this very limited thing, which is confrontation and bringing witness, if you want to use that term, to egregious exclusion -- neo-nazis and fascists of all forms. I hate saying fascists because there's a bunch of different, there's all the different --
Kit O'Connell: All the flavors.
sc: All the flavors.
KO: 64 flavors.
sc: It's a spectrum, right?
sc: But there are limits to it because it is a politics of reacting to something that is rising or fear of something that may become bigger. And so I think that we have to be careful to build a politics on that. And this is my larger issue with the United States is that the politics here, the street politics, are largely reactionary. We already are in a politics of antifascism and we just don't call it that.
We can't -- It's not been an effective movement. What we've seen, we got to see that when it mattered, antifascist ideas took root really fast and began to do the -- put the tactics into play, put the actions into play very quickly over the last year and a half. All the things, seeing the rising fascism, the new form of it that we had. And I think that's really important.
And it also created a space where those who would not engage in those ideas, were able to see some validity in it, which we've never gotten before. So even people who were straight ticket Democrats in electoral politics, even if they disagree with fighting in the streets they were able to go, 'you've given us space to go oh my gosh we need to fight fascists on these other fronts' -- with the choice of access to abortion, immigration, the nationalism that's happening right now. They are able to fight it in their own way, again, given this sort of permission because kids are willing to fight in the streets.
KO: So what would you say -- say a group of antifascists came to you and said, 'Look, we've chased our local nazis off the streets, they're not openly showing up anymore. What's next?' What do you think is the next step? What should we build from this moment?
sc: Well, I think, we've talked about this before. I'm not into the politics of reaction. You need dual power. You must resist on one hand, but you have to build and create on the other hand. Largely, we're stuck in the politics of resistance on one hand, of trying to stop the bleeding, trying to stop the onslaughts that are happening to immigrants, to women, to undocumented people, to prisoners, to queer people, you can just go down the list right?
We do that fairly well. We're great fire brigades. But I think if we really want to stop this stuff, we need to begin to think about what is it, how is it we want to build our power? How do we want to build autonomy? How do we want to build resilience, not just for myself or my group or my campaign, but larger than that? In my neighborhood, in my community, in my overlapping communities that I'm in, and then my larger, in the cities where we live, because we still live in cities right now.
KO: So what does that look like to you?
sc: I think that it starts with asking the question, 'What does it take to build power?' And we begin to have assemblies with lots of people to ask those questions. And the thing is maybe it just starts with groups of radicals and then you begin to take it outside. Radicals aren't going to solve the problem. We don't know any better or worse than anyone else, we can just identify issues a lot clearer often, but that doesn't make us have the answers to solve them.
And if we have no practice, if we have atrophy in trying to figure out what we want, we first begin to open that 'crack in history' that the Zapatistas talk about, and then we begin to ask the questions, and we begin to lead by asking: What is it that we want? How do we get there? What do you want? How are you going to get there?
That's a whole different set of things than saying 'this is wrong and we're going to stop that.' Do you see the difference? That's not even a subtle difference.
Image: Portait of scott crow by Ann Harkness, released under a Creative Commons license.
Be a part of the Gonzo Giveaway! Donate $10 or more per month on Kit’s Patreon before December 1, 2017 and you’ll get a bunch of cool stuff in the mail, including zines, a scott crow book, a vinyl decal from Proxy Prophet, and stickers from #catscult and Sleep Is Famous.
Plus you’ll help fund my journalism in the New Year.