Saturday, September 2, 2017

Horst Wessel Lied

("Horst-Wessel Song")

As always, a little history is in order.

It may be apparent that there is another of those gawd-awful "national conversations" going on about the recent (re-)emergence of Antifa, the active anti-fascists who aren't afraid of mixing thing up and physically fighting the rightists, fascists and neo-Nazis in street brawls that have gotten a bit of attention among the "news" media.

Yes well.

Horst Wessel was a Nazi who wrote the lyrics to a song that became the anthem of the Nazi Party in 1930 and of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Some say he wrote the music, too, but it's too close to the well-known hymn "How Great Thou Art" for that to be true.

Host Wessel became a Nazi martyr after his murder by a Communist in Berlin in 1930. Joseph Goebbels masterfully parlayed his death to enhance the Nazi Party and denigrate the Communists. They were, after all, arch enemies throughout the interwar and WWII periods.

For some reason, they're arch-enemies again. "Antifa" you see, are today's "Communists." The "Alt-Right" however you want to define it, are today's Nazis (some are literal Nazis, most are cosplayers).

Street brawls between Nazis and their opponents were a feature of the Late Weimar Republic in Germany. The authorities tended not to intervene (not unlike Charlottesville) and let the boys have at one another as they chose. Horst Wessel was one of the brawlers, but he was killed over a personal money matter between him, his girlfriend, and their landlady. Or so it would seem. The truth of the matter is subject to scholarly dispute to this day. Overlay the politics of the day (then and now) and there's no there's no telling what really happened.

It appears that the rightist media in this country is attempting to turn a fellow named Keith Campbell into a Martyr for the Cause (Horst Wessel?) because he was seen being beat up on camera in Berkeley. Antifa did the deed. Video clips I've seen show him running away from several black-clad dudes who catch up to him and start wailing away as he curls up to protect himself. A black man runs to his rescue and stops the beating while a crowd gathers, some threatening, others attempting to stop the violence. Eventually, the crowd disperses and Campbell is led away, shaken but ambulatory.

According to the reports I've seen, Campbell is a well-known white rightist provocateur who sees his mission as "defeating the left" by any means necessary. Yes well, that always turns out well, right?

As a provocateur, of course, he's more than a little interested in provoking his leftist/Communist/Antifa enemies into a fight, and so when it happened on camera in Berkeley, he gained cred and cachet both with the rightist and mainstream media as a poor little white boy being mercilessly beaten by "Antifa thugs."

Thus a narrative was established about the "violent left," versus the "peaceful right."

Of course it's not true, but that's another issue altogether.

As a sidenote, the use of "peaceful" as opposed to "nonviolent" to describe marches and demonstrations is very grating to me. Peaceful implies passive, whereas nonviolent can mean a lot of not very peaceful things at all. But somehow, during the last few years, demonstrations and marches have been categorized as "peaceful" or "violent" depending on whether somebody breaks a window, starts a dumpster fire, wears black or the police use chemical weapons against the demonstrators. It's bizarre. Another issue is the problem of categorizing protesters, counter-protesters, and civilian observers.  And then there are all the infiltrators...

Now that there are brawlers on all sides, it's all a muddle, no?

Anyway, one of the chief efforts of the Overclass during the current time of troubles has been to keep the Left (so-called) "peaceful" by any means necessary -- primarily by invoking Saints Ghandi (sic) and MLK incessantly and often inappropriately.

The fear of an active and muscular left (real or so-called) that fights back is palpable among Our Betters. There is no such fear of a violent right.

In fact, there's tacit and sometimes overt encouragement of it.

The more violence from the right including the Nazis, the better.

Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of "peaceful" demonstrators in Charlottesville were injured by white rightists rallying and going berzerk a few weeks ago. The white right and their allies have killed dozens of people and injured hundreds in the last few years, but it is always, always, always important to keep the Left (what there is of it) "peaceful," passive, and pathetic in the face of the violence both from the white right and the state. Don't forget what happened at Standing Rock and during so many other demonstrations for justice.

And then there's the whole frustrating and largely bogus "free speech" argument that I won't get into for now.

The point, ultimately, is that despite the disgust most Americans have for the white rightists, keeping them on an even or higher plane than the feared Left, and letting them be as unpeaceful as they want to be, while the Left (such as it is) does nothing or less is the received narrative.

So far, Antifa refuses to play.


  1. The guy with the Obama era Dodge Challenger which could have had a big block hemi for all we know, had two city blocks clear to aim and accelerate before he hit his target, the crowd.

    Obviously neither peaceful nor non-violent. I'm sure you know that he has been interviewed by NPR and Vanity Fair. Also the recipient of many on-line death threats, particularly targeting his parent's home.

    Since I trust you as a secondary source, I have this very important question. Is there a group that self-identifies as Antifa? Related, is there a group that self-identifies as alt-left? I would like to put this matter to bed.

    I feel that the loosely affiliated anarchists who wear black are mostly responsible for the violent resistance to the American White Supremacists and related KKK and Nazi groups.

    These guys have shown up in Portland, Seattle and now Charlottesville, not to mention Paris. Even if they do not self-identify as anarchists, I feel that this appellation is not unreasonable.

    Is there really an Antifa? Why would they adopt a name from the Nazi resistance of the 1930s?

    1. Junior,

      Sure there's an Antifa but it's not a group or organization, it's a movement. One is Antifa if one opposes fascism, nazi-ism and white supremacy and takes risks to do so. It doesn't require bloc-ing up, though black bloc tactics have been used and no doubt will continue to be.

      It's been pointed out that Antifa is not confined to anarchists, that it includes a wide cross-section of the left, as well as plenty of people with no particular political affiliation. The point is to engage in risk-taking opposition to the existential threat of fascism and Nazi-ism.

      Most Antifa action is nonviolent. In Charlottesville, it was almost entirely defensive -- defending against the violence of the "peaceful" Nazis. I've heard the claim by the Nazis that Antifa attacked their peaceful selves unprovoked, but I've yet to see anything that proves it. What I've seen is Nazis attacking and injuring (in one case killing) defensive counterdemonstrators who either got in their way or refused to let the Nazis pass.

      In Berkeley the situation was somewhat different.

      A relatively small group dressed in black aggressed against some of the fascists, whether "provoked" or not. Apparently this Campbell fellow was known to them and was targeted -- theatrically. When you see more than the five seconds tweeted out, it's clear the situation was both volatile and complex. Far more people acted to stop the beating than engaged in it.

      I've seen this in several other California confrontations between Antifa and white-rightist/fascists/Nazis, and it seems to be the same (relatively) few individuals who bloc-up and do the deed in Berkeley or wherever. Questions have been raised about them, but I have no answers. What they do is what they do, and they do not represent the overall Antifa movement.

  2. Che,

    I just read a very interesting article about the antifascist protesters, and the need for people like this to exist, whether or not they have to resort to using somewhat violent means. The article is mainly focused on the idea that the left is already losing the battle against the authoritarians/fascists/neonazis by allowing the media and politicians to equate the two sides morally and allowing them to condemn the two sides AS BEING EQUAL in malevolent intent: both those who are the neonazi facsists (and they happen to be the ones who started this crap) and those who are willing to put a fight against this shit before it takes hold here in the good old US.

    The idea that neonazis et al have some right to "free speech" when the very foundational doctrines of their existence hinge on the demand that certain religions, races and ethnicities lose all *their* rights (including the right to life; let's not forget the white supremacy people come right out and say they intend to kill blacks, Jews, etc.) sickens me.

    Chris Hedges, as an example of the left playing into the hands of the most repugnant of the far right, has always been knee-jerk anti-anarchist, anti black bloc, and does the right's job for it by comparing *them* to the white supremacists. This sort of false equating drivel and demand that the "nice guys" always "play nice" simply allows the bad guys to do what they want, achieve dominance, and is a huge part of how Hitler came to power.

    Anyway, the following article nicely dovetails with what you wrote here and has some very thought-provoking words about our social construct and how it can be easily manipulated. Don't let the title put you off. It's not just another "Trump as evil genius" piece.

    1. Hedges is one of those nonviolence absolutists, or so he says. What he means is that as long as violence is confined to the state and to its allies (like the neo-Nazis) it's all good. Martyrs on the Left are his ideal. Whatever happens, the (alt)left (personified in his imagination by the black bloc) should never make martyrs on the right or in the state.

      There's been much push back on his tired nonviolence tropes.

      Peter Gelderloos wrote "How nonviolence protects the state" as a counter to the absolutism of people like Hedges, and as an explanation of what they are actually doing. Soon enough it becomes obvious.

      One thing I noticed long ago was that the invocations of Gandhi and MLK always left out the fact that they did not denounce their allies, even when their allies were sometimes not nonviolent. I think it's absurd for absolutists to go around denouncing Antifa, the movement, because some antifascists bloc-up and kick the shit out of Nazis.

      The more I look into what happened in Berkeley, the more I question what happened. There was a pretty large black bloc, but they weren't violent; in fact, hardly anybody was. Interesting.

      Meanwhile, yes, I agree, the more Our Rulers push the envelope and get away with it, the faster our descent into oligarchic fascism. Trump is a perfect tool.

      Hope you're doing well...


  3. I'm okay. Not great, but not dead yet. Mostly, weary to the bone.

    This country is going to shit. Police armed with military weapons, privatized prisons with a requirement that a certain number of cells are occupied (Obama policy carried forward), protesters being given longer sentences than rapists and murderers, and a media that is intent on painting a picture of the politicians as being reasonable grown-ups (as they tear apart the last 100 years of social progress in the country) and anyone who protests these assholes as "violent", no matter what they do. The media, see, wants to think of themselves as being "fair" and "unbiased"; to that end, they interview numerous proponents of austerity budgets and war-mongering, and never talk to anyone who promotes the end of nuclear weapons and the wars abroad. They never give airtime to anyone who backs universal healthcare, etc. Not once, while Congress was doing its latest "healthcare overhaul" did I see one single person interviewed who supported universal healthcare. Not one single person was allowed to talk about how other countries mange their health systems and to present the math (hint: universal healthcare works mathematically. That's why all those other countries use some form of that system and none have gone back to insurance-only models.). For that matter, they never talk about climate change, either. What the media wants is another world war. Good for ratings or something.

    We are going backwards, socially and economically, so fast it's frightening. It's really startling to me how quickly Trump and the Republicans have managed to load the courts with right-wing conservative judges, lard up the regulatory agencies with imbeciles intent on destroying each agency, and shed so many laws that protected us in the workplace or the environment.

    And Trump isn't even the architect of all this. He's an idiot. But he is so stupid that it's easy for the ones who are really stage-managing the destruction to use him as a mouthpiece.

    And I am left with the unanswerable question of "Why?" Why do these people want to ruin the lives of most of their fellow humans? How can anyone be so callous and evil? And what the hell is the point? So they can get a few dollars more of grift money in their pockets? Is it that simple to get a man to sell his soul and sell out his fellow countrymen? Really?

    God. Anyway, antifa. No doubt part (how large a part is the question, of course) of what we have going on right here in the US is much like what we have done in other countries. Infiltrators and staged shit and the FBI/cops supporting both sides and then some really sketchy journalism about the ensuing fracas by the corporate media. What's real, though, is the spraying of tear gas, the broken heads, and the prison sentences. I say, if we don't scare the shit out these assholes and put a decisive end to this trend into authoritarianism, they are going to turn this place into some kind of giant feudal village real fast.

    - Teri

    1. When Bush the Lesser was "elected" Ms Ché was adamant that she would not be forced backwards. As a personal thing, I think she's been able to continue her forward progress, but it's in a context that has proved to be very backward trending. So I don't know...

      Meanwhile if you've got an hour to kill and you can stand to listen to some Millennial Bros talking shit about the anti-Antifa push from all sides, check out this podcast:

      It may be too late to reverse the trend. A huge part of the problem is that no one that I know of among the Overclass has any interest in reversing things or in anything that doesn't immediately enhance their bottom line. Without support among the highest of the mighty, ordinary schmucks have little option.

      Yeah, it boils down to money, but if the prognostications of climate catastrophe are anywhere near correct, the money is intended to assure the survival of a select few. We're already seeing it play out.

      But don't let the bastards get you down...!