antifascism, new book, Three Way Fight -

Three Way Fight book announcement and excerpt

Mirrored from the Three Way Fight blog.

We are publishing a book! Three Way Fight: Revolutionary Politics and Antifascism is forthcoming from PM Press and Kersplebedeb Publishing in May 2024. The book is edited by Xtn Alexander and Matthew N. Lyons, with a foreword by Janeen Porter and an afterword by Michael Staudenmaier. Here’s the description from the publishers’ websites:

What’s the relationship between combating the far right and working for systemic change? What does it mean when fascists intensify racial oppression and patriarchy but also call for the downfall of economic elites or even take up arms against the state?

Three way fight politics confront these urgent questions squarely, arguing that the far right grows out of an oppressive capitalist order but is also in conflict with it in real ways, and that radicals need to combat both. The three way fight approach says we need sharper analysis of far-right movements so we can fight them more effectively, and we also need to track ongoing developments within the ruling class, including liberal or centrist efforts to co-opt antifascism as a tool of state repression and system legitimation.

This book offers an introduction to three way fight politics, with more than thirty essays, position statements, and interviews from the Three Way Fight website and elsewhere, spanning from the antifascist struggles of the 1980s and 1990s to the political upheavals of the twenty-first century. Over fifteen authors explore a range of topics, such as fascist politics’ relationship with patriarchy and settler colonialism, Tom Metzger’s “Third Position” (anticapitalist) fascism, conflict within the business community over the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump administration’s shifting relationship with the organized far right. Many of the writings address issues of political strategy, such as tensions between radicals and liberals within the reproductive rights movement and the George Floyd rebellion, video gaming as an arena of political struggle, and the importance (and challenges) of approaching antifascist organizing in ways that are militant, community based, and nonsectarian.

Like the Three Way Fight website, this book is intended to promote discussion and debate to strengthen radical antifascist analysis and strategy. To help do this, in the coming months we’ll be putting together a series of events with the book as focal point.

The origins of three way fight politics (book excerpt)

The following excerpt from the introduction to Three Way Fight: Revolutionary Politics and Antifascism outlines the major political developments in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s that helped bring three way fight politics into being.

As a concept and a political project, three way fight (3WF) was shaped by earlier developments in the U.S. left, in large part by two organizations: Anti-Racist Action (ARA) and, even earlier, the Sojourner Truth Organization (STO). Anti-Racist Action was a large, decentralized network of local groups focused on a physical, direct action approach to combating fascist and far-right organizing. ARA, which was founded around 1987 and reached its greatest extent and level of activity in the 1990s, emerged from skinhead and punk subcultures but grew beyond these scenes to become a broader, more diverse youth-led movement. While most ARA members were nonaligned ideologically and joined the movement simply to organize and fight the fascists and far right, a significant number of members were anarchist or antiauthoritarian in orientation. However, Marxist, feminist, and other perspectives were also represented and showed ARA’s organizational nonsectarianism. Unlike liberal “anti-hate” organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, ARA explicitly rejected relying on the police or the courts, and some of its chapters organized against racist police violence and state repression as well as the far right. While ARA did not take a position on capitalism or the overall political system, it included a number of currents that advocated a more radical and at times comprehensive revolutionary anticapitalist and antisystem analysis and approach to struggle.

Unlike ARA, STO was a relatively small Marxist organization, and it was active from 1969 to about 1985. It was an offshoot of the New Left based primarily in the Chicago area. STO developed a distinctive form of independent Marxism—influenced by W.E.B. Du Bois, Antonio Gramsci, and C.L.R. James, among others—that emphasized working-class agency and targeted racial oppression as a key contradiction within the US working class. STO practiced a rare combination of revolutionary politics and public openness about internal debates and disagreements. STO also developed a concept of fascism that sharply challenged both Stalinist and Trotskyist assumptions, arguing that while fascism has “intimate connections with the needs of the capitalist class,” it also “contains an anti-capitalist ‘revolutionary’ side that is not reducible to simple demagogy.” Although it was always a small organization, STO influenced a number of later leftist organizations, and former STO members have been active in a variety of campaigns and projects.

Other currents have also contributed to the development of three way fight politics. A notable example was the loose network of independent revolutionaries that included J. Sakai (best known as the author of Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat), Butch Lee (contributor to Bottomfish Blues and co-author of Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neo-colonial Terrain) and Bromma (author of Exodus and Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart of Globalization). Influenced by Maoism but applying it in unorthodox ways that even many anarchists engaged with, these writers have, since the 1980s, put forward sharp and original critiques of modern capitalism’s changing landscape with a strong emphasis on white supremacy and male supremacy both in the structure of society and within political movements.

Another early influence on three way fight politics was the Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL), which was active from about 1972 to 1989. The RSL’s politics evolved from Trotskyism to anarchism, and several of its former members helped found the Love and Rage anarchist organization in 1989. In parallel to STO, the RSL identified far-right and fascist forces as an organizing—and terrorizing—force within working-class communities, and it sought to build a diverse multi-racial, militant and working-class opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. The RSL promoted an early “them, them and us” approach that saw antiracist forces as being in a struggle against the KKK and nazis on one side and the police and the state on the other. While the RSL’s positions on fascism have received little attention in recent decades, and its writings on the issue are difficult to locate, its approach to antifascist organizing has had a lasting impact.

During this same period, some investigative journalists began to study the emerging rightist movements in ways that would directly inform three way fight analysis. Of particular note were Sara Diamond, who broke new ground in studying the Christian right as a well-organized, politically autonomous mass movement, and Chip Berlet, whose work included both anti-nazi organizing and investigation of police and FBI repression, and who helped found the antirightist think tank Political Research Associates in 1981. Berlet’s 1994 report Right Woos Left warned against far-right infiltration of the antiwar movement and the spread of conspiracist ideology in sections of the left. Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons coauthored Right-Wing Populism in America (published in 2000), which traced the long history of US movements that have combined antielitism with efforts to intensify social oppression.

The growth of ARA in the 1980s and 90s was part of a broader upsurge of confrontational “antifa” organizing across much of Europe and North America. In 1997, Minneapolis ARA and the Toronto-based Anti-Fascist Forum helped found the International Militant Anti-Fascist Network. The new network was weakened by deep political disagreements at its founding conference and lasted only a few years, but its launch statement declared, in terms that helped further revolutionary currents within ARA,

We stand for the physical and ideological confrontation of fascism, and we are not fighting to maintain the status quo. We see the challenges facing us as a three cornered fight, between the militants, the fascists and the state. We recognize that the ultimate guarantee against the far right penetrating the mainstream, is a strong politically independent working class movement.

Around this same time, increased focus on clinic defense and an ongoing internal debate led ARA in 1998 to add a commitment to “abortion rights and unrestricted reproductive freedom for all” to its Points of Unity. The new language reflected a struggle against sexism within ARA, but also many militant antifascists’ developing understanding that the far right encompassed Christian rightists as well as neo-nazis and that the fight against patriarchy must be at the forefront together with the fight against white supremacy.

Two events around the turn of the millennium—the Battle of Seattle in 1999 and the 9/11 attacks in 2001—highlighted the need for fresh thinking on the relationships between far-right politics, the capitalist state, and the left. The Battle of Seattle was a series of militant mass protests against the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle in November and December 1999, and it marked the rise of the “antiglobalization” movement as a broad-based challenge to transnational corporate power. Politically, antiglobalization was all over the map, from the anarchist-oriented “black bloc” forces who targeted capitalist property and any symbols of power, through reformist NGOs and labor unions at the center, to hard-line nationalists and far rightists. Many ARA activists and other antifascists rallied to the movement’s militant, anticapitalist wing, where they found themselves confronting not only global corporations and intergovernmental bodies but also both procapitalist liberals and fascists—as well as the wider spread of fascistic ideas such as antisemitic conspiracism—within the movement’s own ranks. Part of this struggle is documented in the 2000 book My Enemy’s Enemy: Essays on Globalization, Fascism and the Struggle against Capitalism, which was compiled by the Anti-Fascist Forum and included an essay by Sakai.

Less than two years after Seattle, the September 11 attacks showed even more dramatically that global capitalism’s enemies could be found not only on the radical left but also on the far right. In destroying the Twin Towers and damaging the Pentagon, al-Qaeda struck at prominent symbols of Western imperialism and capitalism. But these attacks, which killed some three thousand people, were carried out in the service of a political vision that was profoundly authoritarian and reactionary. The United States responded with the decades-long “War on Terror,” increased repression both at home and abroad, and a wave of racist attacks against people of color, particularly Arabs and Middle Easterners. US fascist groups both fueled these fears and looked for ways to take advantage of them. Radical antifascists found themselves forced back on the defensive, yet they began to analyze the attacks, the responses to them, and their wider implications.

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