Battle of the Streets: How Anarchists and Anti-Fascists are Winning the Struggle with the Alt-Right

THIS ARTICLE IS ADAPTED AND ABRIDGED FROM A LONGER ACCOUNT BY CRIMETHINC.

The alt-right—for the time being—is on the run. The convergence of fascist and white supremacist tendencies under a rebranded far-right umbrella that commanded so much attention during the 2016 presidential campaign and much of the first year of the Trump presidency has been successfully disrupted, cutting off the core leadership from the base of Trump supporters from whom they sought to draw power. Militant anti-fascists who took action in Berkeley, Charlottesville, and dozens of other cities should be proud of the role they played in achieving this victory.

This was not accomplished through a militaristic application of force. During the darkest days of spring 2017, when alt-right mobilizations were at their strongest, it was not certain that even the largest of black blocs could defeat the array of fascistic forces prepared to do battle. What tipped the scales, ultimately leading to the Nazis’ downfall, was the strength of solidarity between anarchist, left, and activist groups committed to combating white supremacy, patriarchy, and fascism. “Diversity of tactics” has been harshly criticized, both from the right and the so-called left. But the anti-fascist actions of the past year have shown that not only is it an effective strategy, but that it’s flexible and doesn’t divide, and brings disparate groups together in practical ways when there’s trust and solidarity.

As anti-fascist networks expanded and grew increasingly resilient, the ideologically heterogeneous networks of the far right imploded. The alt-lite turned on the alt-right, the civic nationalists turned on the ethno-nationalists, the patriot militias turned on the neo-Nazis, and the average Trump supporter who had dabbled in this growing movement was left confused and demoralized.

Only a few months ago, however, it seemed likely that 2018 would be a nightmare of a rapidly metastasizing fascist street movement. What can anti-fascists around the world learn from what happened in 2017? To answer this question, let’s back up and review the story.

FASCISM HITS THE STREETS

Fascists chose Berkeley, California as the center stage for their attempt to get a movement off the ground. The advantage shifted back and forth between fascists and anti-fascists as both sides maneuvered to draw more allies into the fight. Riding on the coattails of Trump’s campaign and exploiting the blind spots of liberal “free speech” politics, fascists gained momentum until anti-fascists were able to use these victories against them, drawing together an unprecedented mobilization.

The clashes that gripped Berkeley, Seattle, Washington, Charlotte, and other cities for much of last year were the climax of a sequence of events that began a year earlier. On February 27, 2016, Klansmen in the Southern California city of Anaheim stabbed three anti-racists who were protesting a Ku Klux Klan rally against “illegal immigration and Muslims.” Trump rallies became increasingly contentious in cities such as Chicago (March 11) and Pittsburgh (April 13) as protesters held counterdemonstrations to confront these open displays of bigotry. On May 6, a newly formed fascist youth organization, Identity Evropa (IE), held their first demonstration on the other side of the Bay—an ominous portent of things to come.

On June 26, over 400 anti-racists and anti-fascists converged on the state capitol in Sacramento to shut down a rally called for by the Traditionalist Workers Party, a neo-Nazi organization based in the Midwest. The rally was initially billed as an “anti-antifa” rally, organized in response to the protests at recent Trump events. It was also an attempt to build bridges across various far-right tendencies. The majority of the anti-fascists wore black masks; other crews represented various leftist cliques. Together, they successfully prevented the rally from ever starting. Comrades held the capitol steps, chasing off scattered groups of Nazis and alt-right activists.

About three hours after the counterdemonstration began, two dozen members of the Golden State Skins, geared up in bandanas and shields decorated with white power symbols and the Traditionalist Workers Party emblem, suddenly appeared on the far side of the capitol and attacked the crowd. Six comrades were stabbed, some repeatedly in the torso, while riot police watched impassively. Nearly all those targeted in the attack were either Black or transgender. Miraculously, all of them survived.

The events in Sacramento helped usher in rapid transformations of the local anarchist movement. A network of comrades formed Northern California Anti-Racist Action (NOCARA) to research and document increasing fascist activity across the region. Other crews linked up to practice self-defense and hone their analysis in the rapidly shifting political terrain. Antifa symbols—the two flags and the three arrows—quickly became as ubiquitous as the circle A in the Bay Area anarchist milieu. Some lamented this as a retreat from struggles against capitalism and the police into a purely defensive strategy singularly focused on combating fringe elements of the far right. But the majority understood it as a logical step made necessary by the rising tide of fascist activity around the country and the world. They aimed to situate an anti-fascist position as a single component of the larger struggles against capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy that comrades had been engaged in for years. Most participants had cut their teeth in various rebellions and movements in the Bay area over the preceding decade, including Occupy Oakland and Black Lives Matter. They saw antifa as a form of community self-defense against the violent reaction to those struggles for collective liberation. Many were also eager to use anti-fascism as a means to open a new front against white supremacy and the state.

On November 9, the night after Trump’s electoral victory shook the world, a march of thousands followed by the most intense night of rioting in recent memory took place in downtown Oakland. Fires broke out in the Chamber of Commerce, the Federal Building, and the construction site of the new Uber building. Angry crowds of thousands fought police with bottles, fireworks, and even Molotov cocktails as banks were smashed, barricades blocked major streets, and tear gas filled the air. Other cities across the country also saw significant unrest; rowdy protests in Portland, Oregon lasted for days.

The tone for 2017 was set on the cold morning of January 20 in Washington DC. As mainstream media pundits nervously reiterated the importance of a peaceful transition of power, a black bloc of hundreds chanting “Black Lives Matter!” took the streets to disrupt Trump’s inauguration. In the course of the day, hundreds were arrested, a person in a black mask punched Richard Spencer as he tried to explain alt-right meme Pepe the Frog, and video of the incident went viral.

That same evening in Seattle, Milo Yiannopolous spoke on the University of Washington campus as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Milo had made a name for himself over the previous year peddling misogyny and Islamophobia in his role as tech editor for Breitbart News under the mentorship of Steve Bannon. He had become a leading spokesperson for the alt-right auxiliary known as the alt-lite. The logic behind his tour was similar to IE’s strategy of targeting liberal university enclaves using a provocative model of far-right activism rebranded for a millennial audience.

Hundreds turned out to oppose Milo’s talk in Seattle. As scuffles unfolded outside the building, a Trump supporter drew a concealed handgun and shot Joshua Dukes, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, in the stomach. Milo continued his talk unconcernedly as the critically injured Dukes was rushed to emergency care. Fortunately, he survived, though he spent weeks in the hospital.

On February 1, Milo arrived in Berkeley for the final talk of his tour, hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans. Days earlier, his talk in nearby UC Davis had been successfully disrupted by student protesters; all eyes were now on UC Berkeley campus.

Let’s pause to review the situation—because that day in Berkeley, in spite of the criticism that antifa later received, demonstrates perfectly why a more confrontational approach was an important part of the pushback against the alt-right, and why the response would have been far less successful if it had been confined to a more mainstream-acceptable program of march-rally-chant-speeches.

As fascist mobilizations increased, the stabbings and other physical attacks had, predictably, been mounting. Not recognizing the threat, many liberals—including the administration of UC Berkeley—continued to defend it on the grounds of “free speech.” That opened the way for additional tragedies. With so much implicit institutional support for fascist organizing, law-abiding rallies could not halt the growth of the menace. Milo came to Berkeley to foment misogyny and Islamophobia and with the express intent to teach his audience how to dox undocumented people: an act that would have had real consequences for many human beings.

The sound of explosions filled the air as fireworks screamed across the plaza at the riot cops, who hunkered down and retreated from their positions. Under cover of this barrage, masked crews attacked the fencing and quickly tore it apart. Thousands cheered. Police on the balconies unloaded rubber bullets and marker rounds into the crowd, but ultimately took cover as fireworks exploded around their heads. With the fencing gone, the crowd laid siege to the building and began smashing out its windows.

“The event is cancelled! Please go home!” screamed a desperate police captain over a megaphone as the crowd roared in celebration. A mobile light tower affixed to a generator was knocked over, bursting into flames two stories high. YG’s song “FDT” (Fuck Donald Trump) blasted from a mobile sound system as thousands danced around the burning pyre. Berkeley College Republicans emerging from the cancelled event were nailed with red paint bombs and members of the Proud Boys, the “Western Chauvinist” fraternal organization of the alt-lite, were beaten and chased away. Milo was escorted out a back door by his security detail and fled the city. A victory march spilled into the streets of downtown Berkeley, smashing every bank in its path. Milo’s tour bus was vandalized later that night in the parking lot of a Courtyard Marriot in nearby Fremont.

The cover of the next day’s New York Times was headlined, “Anarchists Vow to Halt Far Right’s Rise, With Violence if Needed” below an eerie photo of a hooded, stick-wielding street fighter in Berkeley. “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted that morning before threatening to withdraw federal funds from UC Berkeley if the university could not guarantee “free speech.” Milo had been stopped and militant anti-fascism was now a topic of national conversation.

But the thousands who had gathered to protest on February 1 would have had little impact without the couple hundred individuals who showed up in black bloc—to much cheering from the rest of the crowd—and took concrete steps to prevent Milo’s speech. Law-abiding rallies would have permitted fascist organizing to continue spreading unchecked.

Yet, a confused controversy over free speech was just beginning. Liberals quickly fell into the trap set by the alt-right. UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich, who had been Secretary of Labor under Clinton, embarrassed himself by groundlessly claiming that “Yiannopoulos and Brietbart were in cahoots with the agitators, in order to lay the groundwork for a Trump crackdown.”

From organizing “white safe spaces” to pretending to represent a new free speech movement, the ascendant fascists understood that the hollow rhetoric of liberalism utilized by hacks like Reich could be weaponized against anyone opposed to white supremacy and patriarchy. Liberal enclaves were especially vulnerable to this strategy. They had become the chosen terrain on which 21st-century American fascism sought to step out of the internet to build a social movement in the streets.

“WE WOULD HAVE BEEN CRUSHED LIKE COCKROACHES”

Various far-right and fascist cliques hastened to take advantage of liberal confusion around the emerging free speech narrative. On a tactical level, they had proved they could leverage the necessary resources and foot soldiers to hold the streets in enemy territory. Anti-fascists had been forced into a downward spiral of responding to each new move without a strategy of their own. Paranoia, anxiety, and self-criticism characterized the local anarchist movement during late spring and early summer.

Yet important changes were underway. Many Bay Area activists who had remained outside the fray thus far were, nevertheless, not convinced by the “free speech” rhetoric that had confused so many liberals. Militant anti-fascists had no interest in giving the state additional repressive powers to criminalize or censor speech. That was never what this struggle was about. Confronting fascist activity in the streets to stop its normalization and proliferation is a form of community self-defense. Increasing numbers of anti-racists understood this. Bay Area movement organizations such as the prison abolitionist organization Critical Resistance, the Arab Resource Organizing Committee, white ally anti-racist groups such as the Catalyst Project and the local chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and the Anti-Police Terror Project, who had played a leadership role in the local Black Lives Matter Movement, began to work with those who had been in the streets throughout the first half of the year to build a coordinated response.

Many of these groups had previously been at odds with anarchists. Some of the most bitter disputes revolved around issues of identity and representation within the various social movements of the preceding decade. Many anarchists rejected most forms of identity politics after seeing them used time and again by reformist leaders from marginalized groups to manage and pacify antagonistic movements. Liberal city officials, organizers of non-profits, and some social justice groups had regularly dismissed local anti-police and anti-capitalist rebellions in Oakland and elsewhere as the work of white anarchist “outside agitators” corrupting otherwise respectable movements led by people of color. This paternalistic and counter-insurrectionary narrative intentionally obscured the diversity of participants in these uprisings and erased their agency.

Things had begun to change in 2014 as anti-police rebellions spread across the country and the forces of racist reaction mobilized in response. Despite unresolved tensions, the anarchist movement played an important role in helping sustain struggles against white supremacy and other movements of oppressed people. Increasing numbers of activists and movement organizations supported the uprisings and understood the necessity of working together as part of a united anti-racist front. This convergence helped lay the groundwork for the unprecedented alliances that arose out of anti-fascist organizing.

The urgency of building these coalitions was tragically underscored on May 26, when a white supremacist cut the throats of three people who had intervened to stop him from harassing a young Muslim woman and her friend on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon. Two of the men died. The attacker, Jeremy Christian, had attended Free Speech Rallies organized by the Portland-based alt-lite group Patriot Prayer. At his arraignment, Christian yelled “Get out if you don’t like free speech… Leave this country if you hate our freedom—death to Antifa!”

A few weeks later, on June 10, thousands of anti-racists and anti-fascists in Seattle, Austin, New York, and elsewhere successfully mobilized against a day of anti-Muslim rallies attended by various groupings of neo-Nazis, militia members, alt-lite activists, and alt-right activists. During the Houston rally, scuffles between patriot militia members and an alt-right activist attempting to display openly fascist placards exposed growing cracks in the far-right alliance that had built up during the spring.

On July 9, the growing anti-fascist network in the Bay Area held a packed forum in the Berkeley Senior Center, blocks from the site of the spring clashes. Speakers from the coalition helped educate the hundreds in attendance about the rising tide of white supremacist and fascist activity and the necessity of organizing for community self-defense. The crowd left the forum energized and eager to mobilize.

Attempting to heal the divisions already appearing among the alt-right, leaders including Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo called for a mobilization in Charlottesville, Virginia, promoted throughout the summer as a “Unite the Right” rally. Building on their successes in targeting liberal enclaves over the previous months, alt-right leaders including Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo aimed to take their movement-building to the next level by forging an alliance with Southern white supremacists under the banner of their rebranded far-right activism. The August 12 rally was supposed to be the turning point that could transform the young movement into an unstoppable reactionary force under the cover of the Trump regime.

Instead, it turned out to be a historic disaster for the fascists. Anarchists and anti-fascists managed to interrupt the rally, ultimately forcing police to declare it an unlawful assembly. The white supremacists retreating from the streets of Charlottesville knew that they had lost: their rally had been cancelled and the media was turning on them. They had failed to create a situation in which the volatile white resentment they drew on could be gratified by a successful show of force. That is why James Alex Fields, a member of the fascist organization Vanguard America, plowed his car into a crowd of anti-fascists that afternoon, killing Heather Heyer and grievously injuring 19 others.

Fascists had sought to attain the upper hand in the media narrative by presenting their opponents as enemies of free speech. But after “Unite the Right,” the alt-right was inextricably linked with images of armed Klansmen and Nazis carrying swastika flags. The connection between far-right activism and fascist murder had become too obvious for anyone to deny. Charlottesville immediately became a rallying cry for an emerging broad-based anti-fascist movement that mirrored the microcosm of cross-tendency networking unfolding that summer in the Bay Area.

The heroes of Charlotte were the anarchists and other militant anti-fascists who put their bodies on the line to throw the “Unite the Right” rally into chaos. Grotesque images from the streets of Charlottesville on August 12 showed armored fascist street fighters engaged in combat with outnumbered anti-fascists. These delivered a body blow to the alt-right’s stated goal of using the rally to legitimize the popular movement they hoped to build. Anti-fascists had forced the alt-right to show its true face; the results were catastrophic for the movement’s future.

Resistance movements are always strongest when they are not alone. When rebellions in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco are simply militant outliers or exceptions that prove the rule, they are ultimately isolated and neutralized. Comrades are most effective when their actions are a reflection of what is happening elsewhere around the country. If “Unite the Right” had taken place without interruption, fascists and racists around the country would have been emboldened and violence would have metastasized. Instead, the events in Charlottesville kicked local anti-fascist coalition building into high gear. Within hours of Heather’s murder, nearly a thousand anti-racists and anti-fascists gathered in downtown Oakland and marched to the 580 freeway, where they blocked all traffic and set off fireworks in a display of solidarity with comrades in Charlottesville. Many drivers waved and raised fists in support. Over a hundred solidarity demonstrations took place around the world over the following days.

The national discourse around militant anti-fascism that had begun in response to the events in DC on January 20 and Berkeley on February 2 shifted dramatically. After Charlottesville, anti-fascists were suddenly riding a tidal wave of support from the left and many liberals. Cornel West, who had attended the counterdemonstration with a contingent of clergy, pointedly stated on the August 14 episode of Democracy Now, “We would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists.”

If anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville had limited themselves to law-abiding, passive protest, they would have abandoned activists like West to the violence of the fascists, while police would likely have permitted the rally to continue.

FORGING A DIVERSE COALITION

By mid-August, a network of spokescouncils, coalition meetings, assemblies, and trainings were bringing together a diverse range of activist, left, and anarchist tendencies in the Bay Area on a nearly daily basis to prepare for alt-right rallies planned for the August 26 and 27 weekend. Honest conversations about how to allow for a diversity of tactics while respecting different risk levels and different vulnerabilities forged an unprecedented level of trust and solidarity. On August 19, in Boston, Massachusetts, over 40,000 counterdemonstrators confronted a few dozen alt-right activists and Trump supporters, including visiting alt-lite celebrity Kyle Chapman, who were attempting to host another “Free Speech Rally.” This was the largest demonstration against fascism and the alt-right in the US in 2017. It was another sign of the turning tides. In Laguna Beach, just down the coast from where 2000 Trump Supporters had marched with DIY Division in March, a small “America First” rally against immigration was vastly outnumbered by 2500 anti-fascists and anti-racists.

Morale was high among Bay Area anti-fascists and anti-racists as the weekend rallies approached. Local graffiti crews lent support, spreading a campaign of writing anti-Nazi and anti-Trump messages in cities around the region. Various local businesses announced that they would not serve alt-right rally attendees while opening their doors to offer spaces of refuge for anti-fascists. Calls to action emerged from almost every single Bay Area activist and movement organization. A common thread in many of these calls was a respect for different approaches to confronting fascism and a commitment to “not criminalize or denounce other protesters.”

Two major rallies against the alt-right and against white supremacy were planned for Sunday in Berkeley. The first was organized by a coalition including local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), campus student groups, and a range of unions. It began across downtown on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus at 10:30. By 11, thousands were in attendance. Other smaller groups went straight to Civic Center Park, where numbers had been growing since early in the day. As noon approached, nearly a thousand anti-racists and anti-fascists milled about between concrete barriers and various layers of fencing as hundreds of riot police monitored the scene under an increasingly hot sun. The few anti-fascists who arrived with their faces concealed were tackled by police and arrested for violating the emergency ordinances.

A few blocks away, in Ohlone Park, the second rally, organized by the local chapter of SURJ and other anti-racist groups, was just beginning. Thousands were preparing to march. The call to action for this mobilization explicitly asserted the necessity of confronting fascists with a diversity of tactics and asked all attendees to respect those utilizing more confrontational forms of resistance. As a sound truck began leading the crowd towards Civic Center Park, a black bloc of nearly 100, many wearing helmets and protective gear, emerged from a side street ahead lighting off flares and chanting “¡Todos Somos Antifascistas!” The bloc parted for the sound truck and joined the front of the march to the cheers of the crowd. There were now nearly 10,000 anti-fascists of all stripes on Berkeley’s streets.

The black bloc doubled in size as it marched. Riot police standing guard around the Berkeley Police station on the corner of Civic Center Park looked on in dismay as the bloc led the crowd to the edge of the outer security perimeter. Tensions quickly escalated as riot police formed a skirmish line along the perimeter facing off against the bloc. One cop attempted to grab a masked comrade’s shield; others forced him back. Another cop fired a rubber bullet into the bloc as masked comrades with shields moved to the front line. A speaker on the sound truck announced that those wanting to help form a defensive line could move forward with the black bloc and all others could step back across the street to the steps of the old City Hall to hold space. Dozens of large shields were distributed from others in the crowd to those on the “defensive line.” Riot police strapped on gas masks and aimed their projectile weapons at the crowd. A major clash between two well-prepared sides was about to break out.

Suddenly, the cops pulled back. All riot police in Civic Center Park had been ordered to withdraw to side streets in order to avoid instigating a riot. The crowd surged forward over the concrete barriers with the black bloc at the front chanting “Black Lives Matter!” Thousands flooded into the park, openly disobeying the emergency ordinances. Many chanted “Whose Park? Our Park!”

A second march from the morning rally arrived in the park and members of the DSA, carrying red flags, gave high fives to members of the black bloc carrying black flags. Clergy members made speeches and sang from the sound truck as people dismantled more of the police barriers. After an hour and a half of holding the park, the decision was made to leave together. Clashes had been minimal, the police had been forced to back down, and no one had sustained serious injuries: this was undeniably a massive victory.

A diverse yet united front of 10,000 anti-fascists had finally settled the score in Berkeley. As the black bloc joined the march out of Civic Center Park, they chanted “This is for Charlottesville!”

The top story of next morning’s San Francisco Chronicle began,

“An army of anarchists in black clothing and masks routed a small group of right-wing demonstrators who had gathered in a Berkeley park Sunday to rail against the city’s famed progressive politics, driving them out—sometimes violently—while overwhelming a huge contingent of police officers.”

What this description left out was the coordination and solidarity with thousands of other demonstrators that had allowed this “army of anarchists” to take back Civic Center Park without any significant clashes. That was the important story of the day. But the narrative emerging from the anti-fascist victory in Berkeley looked very different to those who were not there. Corporate media described anarchists and militant anti-fascists as hijacking an otherwise peaceful movement, painting a picture of a disturbing street battle between extremist gangs. The short-lived window of mainstream support for militant anti-fascism that had opened after the tragedy in Charlottesville was closing. As long as anti-fascists were understood only as victims of white supremacist violence, liberals could support them. Yet as soon as those wearing black gained the upper hand, they were described as a threat to the status quo—potentially as dangerous as the Nazis themselves.

“The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted,” read a quickly-issued statement from Democrat house minority leader Nancy Pelosi. “I think we should classify them as a gang,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin. “They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach.”

The diverse coalition that had been forged over the summer stood its ground. “We have no regrets for how they left our city. We do not want white supremacists in our city,” said Pastor Michael McBride in a press conference on the steps of the old City Hall the following day. “We don’t apologize for any of it,” said Tur-Ha Ak of the Anti-Police Terror Project. “We have a right and an obligation to self-defense, period.” A declaration of victory published by the Catalyst Project stated that it was “hard to convey how meaningful it was, after Charlottesville, for a very disciplined group of antifa activists to offer protection to the crowd from both police and white supremacists.”

Within activist, left, and anarchist circles in the Bay Area, there was no infighting after August 27. The unprecedented levels of trust and coordination that had developed between various groups held firm. Compared with the intense sectarian conflict that followed the spectacular demonstrations of the Occupy movement and the various waves of anti-police rebellions in the Bay, the revolutionary solidarity of 2017 was unheard of. This was the real victory of the Battles of Berkeley.

NO GOING BACK

The emergent fascist social movement that grew throughout the first half of 2017 was now in ruins. Anti-fascist victories in Charlottesville, Boston, and Berkeley had shattered reactionary dreams of a far-right popular movement coalescing in Trump’s first year. The various tendencies that had converged under the banner of the alt-right were running for cover and turning on each other.

Nowhere was this clearer than in DC on December 3, when Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker’s Party, former IE leader Elliott Kline, and other fascist leaders attempted to hold a rally. They were forced to cancel their march when less than 20 people showed up. They had failed to reignite the momentum that neo-Nazis and white supremacists rode on in 2016 and early 2017. The disintegration has continued into 2018.

Yet the struggle against fascist and reactionary forces in the Trump’s U.S. is just beginning.

There is no going back to a time before the stabbings, doxxing, Pinochet shirts, Pepe memes, torch-lit marches, and murder. Movements struggling for collective liberation must remain hardened and ready to face down whatever future fascist mutations rear up from the cesspool of the far right. This is especially true for the anarchist movement in the U.S., as anarchists have stuck their necks out further than almost anyone else to combat the rise of the alt-right. We cannot lower our guard; comrades will have to continue prioritizing individual and community self-defense for the foreseeable future. Many of these radicalized fascists will seek to exploit future crises to jumpstart their movement-building in new and unexpected ways. Other far-right activists will likely attempt to gain positions of power—no doubt already considerable—within law enforcement and other security agencies. Lone-wolf attacks and other manifestations of far-right violence will almost certainly continue.

But if the threat of an imminent far-right popular movement with a fascist vanguard continues to recede, the politics of militant anti-fascism can evolve. This is what happens when we win.

We mustn’t forget that fascists took advantage of the contradictions inherent in liberalism and the elitism of liberal enclaves to gain strength in 2016 and 2017. We must not water down anti-fascism via “popular front” politics until we find ourselves defending a lite form of liberal capitalism. We must defend ourselves against co-optation as well as fascist agitation. The victories of 2017 afforded us a brief opening to catch our breath and reaffirm the profoundly radical nature of our struggle for collective liberation. Imaginative revolutionaries must now lead new offensives on their own terms that bring us all closer to the world we wish to build.

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