To Fight the GOP’s Radicalized Base, We Have to Push Left

Fascist ideologies really rely on systems of bordering and ordering, of deciding who has the right to life and under what conditions,” says Harsha Walia. In this episode of “Movement Memos,” Kelly Hayes examines the state of right-wing power in the United States, and engages with commentary from authors Shane Burley and Sarah Kendzior, writer and organizer Harsha Walia, and President of the Texas Civil Rights Project Mimi Marziani.

TRANSCRIPT

Note: This a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.

Kelly Hayes: Welcome to “Movement Memos,” a Truthout podcast about things you should know if you want to change the world. I’m your host, writer and organizer Kelly Hayes. One of the topics we have tackled repeatedly on this show is the rise of right-wing power and how we can fight it. Today, we are going to hear from multiple people whose insights I think are deeply important in this moment, including authors Shane Burley and Sarah Kendzior, writer and organizer Harsha Walia, and the President of the Texas Civil Rights Project, Mimi Marziani. After a recent right-wing rally in the Capitol turned out to be a flop, I am a little concerned that people might have the wrong idea about the state of right-wing power and how it’s manifesting in our lives and in our politics. Trumpian movements are in disarray, and we are seeing some messy outcomes for them, like Gavin Newsom’s swift defeat of a recall effort in California, and thousands upon thousands of Republicans dying of a preventable illness, but as evidenced by the spread of COVID-19, people in a state of disarray can still have tremendous impacts. Right-wing movements also have the benefit of being strategically aligned with the Republican establishment, whose decades-long scheme to create a reboot of the Jim Crow era is fully on track. So with the help of today’s contributors, we are going to reflect on what we should expect from right-wing movements, in the coming months, and what we should be doing to alter our current political trajectory, because if we stay on our current course, I don’t think any of us are going to be happy with where it lands us.

So about that rally that flopped in D.C., I can understand how the specter of more chaos in the Capitol may have been very attention grabbing, after what happened on January 6, but the popular sentiment among right-wing conspiracy theorists in the run-up to September 18 was that this event was a false flag, and that it’s real purpose was to deliver them into the hands of law enforcement. So this was not a party they were ever excited about attending. For the right, the current political moment is not about spectacles outside the Capitol. It is a moment of mass participation at the local level and online, however off-kilter, or incoherent some of that participation might be. We are seeing right-wing protesters descend upon school board meetings, to rage against masking and critical race theory. And while some of those interventions are disorganized and chaotic, The Leadership Institute, which has trained generations of right-wing activists, is also running a 20-hour online course to train Republicans to run for local school board seats on platforms attacking critical race theory. That organization was apparently following the lead of Intercessors for America, a group of so-called “prayer warriors” for Trump, who created a toolkit to help people who are angry about CRT run for their local school boards. These attacks on what’s being characterized as critical race theory in schools are a battle over reality, waged by a group of people who are immersed in their own fiction, and their mission is to prevent any accurate accounting of this country’s racist and genocidal history.

We are also seeing a militant opposition to vaccines among right-wing groups and zealots, and it’s important that we understand the resulting escalations in mass death that we are witnessing as political outcomes, because these fatal acts of harm and self harm are, for many people, highly political. And as Republicans pass waves of draconian legislation at the state level, we are seeing right-wing activists being welcomed by Republican officials into vigilante roles that position them as enforcers in emerging voter suppression efforts, violence against protesters, and the policing of reproductive rights.

Police and border control agents continue to enjoy bipartisan support for their violence, as Democrats trip over themselves to establish that they’re pro-cop. According to the Washington Post, 921 people have been shot and killed by the police in the last year. Black, Latinx, Native and disabled people are, as always, experiencing disproportionate levels of police violence. On Sunday, the El Paso Times reported that a border control agent on horseback struck Haitian refugees with a whip. Even though law enforcement agencies have bipartisan support, they are aggressively fascistic entities, both in their practices and in their politics, and their incredible reach has to be taken into consideration when we examine the state of right-wing power in the U.S.

All of that said, I promise this is not an episode about how screwed we are, because I don’t subscribe to that kind of thinking. But I do think we need to understand what we’re up against and contemplate what the moment demands of us. And personally, when I think about the movement work that needs to be done, I see a lot of hope in that work — and for me, that work is really the only place where hope resides, because if I thought this all came down to supporting the Democrats in a fight against the Republicans, I would crawl under my bed. This is about us, as everyday people, reorienting ourselves and our politics in an era of crisis, and challenging entire systems to make change, and that is work that I believe we can do.

So when I am trying to make sense of the far right, one of the first people I turn to is my friend Shane Burley, the author of Fascism Today: What it is and How to End It and Why We Fight. Over the weekend, I asked Shane for a brief rundown on the current state of right-wing power, and this is what he had to say.

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Shane Burley: Trump may be gone, but he left his imprint on the GOP and that will last for a very, very long time. But he has also left an imprint on the base of the GOP, which has a reciprocal leg, that relationship with their actual party leaders, which are in state power, so that gives them a reciprocal relationship with state power. And so I think what you’re going to actually going to see is there’s been obviously a shift to the far right on policy issues like abortion or on immigration. And you’re going to see for them to work with their base in that enforcement mechanism.

So this happens in both official and unofficial capacity. In official capacities there’s obviously the reporting on each other dynamic around the Texas anti-abortion laws. There’s also the same thing in immigration laws. And this was really true in SB 1070 in Arizona years back, which I think we’ll see repeated as organizations like Fair Numbers USA pushed for immigration policy that involves the GOP base, it lets people kind of participate. And then there’s also the other signaling of social control that happens between the political right and state power as expressed to the police and on the grand vigilante groups, like the Proud Boys that enforce a certain social control. There’s that back and forth relationship.

So Trump may be gone and no one’s more happy about that than I am, but that dynamic remains. And what’s happened over the last few years is that the GOP base has been radicalized. They’ve been pushed further to the right. And they’ve also heard that they’re invited to participate in this. And so I think you’re going to see the logic of participation carrying itself out a lot.

That’s what happened to all through the rebellion against the mask mandates, was that invitation to participate. “We opposed the mask mandates at a policy level, you oppose them at the grassroots, ground up level,” and that’s happening, that back and forth is continuing and it’s continuing to radicalize. The Texas law is not going to be the only thing, they’re going to push more of these and they’re likely going to push immigration restrictions and they’re going to push a huge amount of voter restriction laws, which are going to require people on the ground to report things, to participate in that in some way.

I think what the GOP’s political stake in this is hoping to stave off demographic changes in voting patterns by restricting demographic groups from voting because they believe that they’re going to be basically in 10, 15, 20 years their base isn’t going to exist. So this is grasped, but they’re going to hold onto this. Because the Democratic Party is not a party of the left and they’re not ones that live in the real world about the opposition that they’re facing. They just simply do not have the capacity to put up a resistance to that. The radical left involves itself much less in electoral politics than the radical right does, so they don’t have that base there either.

So I think it’s really difficult to see what the pathway to protect against those specific things are. Obviously large on the ground mass movements are always a useful thing, but the functionality, what strategies and tactics they take, I think is more confusing.

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What right-wing movements do, but far right especially, as they capitalize on these edge arguments or these edge pieces of energy right now that’s around de-masking and vaccines. So they’re not disingenuously, but exploitatively joining up with these anti-mask protests. They did this in Olympia Washington recently, where they’re trying to protest vaccine mandates. And that’s, I think, where they’re going to drive a lot of their energy. And what’s concerning about those, is that those are not just far right rallies in as much as we think of the far right as Proud Boys or formal white nationalists organizations, these are really large masses of unincorporated people, and that’s what the far-right wants.

They want to find masses of people that can act as a vanguard within. So that’s what they’re doing now. I think that the far right is pumping conspiracy energy into vaccine mandate discussions and mask mandate discussion so much that that’s going to lead also to seemingly impulsive acts of violence, these regional acts of violence. But it’s also the flip side because of the merger of the far right, with the central apparatus of the GOP and a lot of areas they’re actually having real influence on state policy as well. So we’re not going to be able to get over the hump on appropriate vaccine and CDC guideline applications because of these movements. And I think that’s going to keep the virus continuing and that’s going to keep the conditions that build far right movements. And it’s going to build on itself over time and continue forward. There’s really not an end in sight to this process. Hopefully, there is enough that has been done in terms of the vaccination campaigns that in the next year or so, we’ll start to see some changes, but they are working so hard to maintain these conditions that it’s really hard to see.

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KH: Some people may be confused as to how our trajectory could be quite so bleak if the Democrats have control of the House, Senate and the presidency. With that kind of helm control, the Republicans would govern mercilessly, and they would most likely reconfigure the rules to ensure that they never lost power again. But the Democrats have thus far proven unable to pass voting rights legislation, which means that, in addition to failing to address issues like climate change, which are a matter of survival for most life on Earth, the Democrats appear poised to allow Republicans to gain permanent control of the federal government. My friend Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, recently shared some thoughts with me about the state of voting rights in the U.S.

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Sarah Kendzior: I think one of the biggest dangers that I’ve been harping on for a long time is the attack on voting rights. Going back to the partial repeal of the VRA in 2013, and the refusal of various officials in power to remedy that. They campaigned on promises to remedy that, the Democrats did. This was a cornerstone of all of these Democratic campaigns and they pointed to victories in Georgia, in unexpected House victories in 2018 as evidence of this, that we’re in some sort of new era of empowerment. And then have gone on to do basically nothing to protect it. And they treat it as an optional issue, which is both, it’s legally insulting because they’re throwing away a constitutional right. It’s morally abhorrent because many of the activists and volunteers who were out there campaigning for the Democratic Party during a pandemic, are the ones most likely to be impacted by this mass disenfranchisement that is going to happen, especially in places like Georgia, places like Florida, where it’s not just a matter of traditional voter suppression methods, but of state legislatures being able to literally throw away your vote.

And of course, if you can’t vote, then your impact on policy decisions and on things that are going to be enacted is going to be limited. And I know this, because in Missouri, they’ve already gone this route. We voted for progressive ballot initiatives, protection of labor unions, raising the minimum wage, getting dark money out of politics, all this stuff in 2018. And then the GOP legislature is just like, “Yeah, screw you, we’re not going to do any of that,” and our votes were meaningless. And it’s just that same philosophy and action extended to actual candidates, actual potential politicians. So they’re digging their own graves here, and it’s going to have ramifications into other fields.

So there’s that, on a structural level, but then we also have all of these violent, far right groups that were already there, that have already shown they’re serious, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, all of the other militant groups, often white supremacist groups that showed up in the Capitol attack, and they were not held accountable. The government has only pursued low-hanging fruit. And by pursued, I don’t even mean arrest. I mean, exposed, and highlighted, and looked at the mechanisms of organization, of funding, of permissibility, of who gets a pass. Because if you look at who is organizing this stuff, it’s people like Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Lin Wood, very wealthy, very powerful actors.

So this is not quite the grassroots movement it’s presented. It’s being led by people who want to turn the United States into a very different type of country, and even a worse situation than we currently have and the current situation is very bad. Or, to destroy it for their own profit and personal gain. And, all of this is being treated as if it’s like a hypothetical scenario or if it’s not really happening. It’s happening right now. It’s an ongoing emergency. And, I have, I guess, theories about why the Democrats are so incredibly ineffective in combating this. But at this point, complacency is complicity. There is no difference. And we are the people who have to bear the brunt of it, ordinary Americans already living in a very difficult, very chaotic environment with the pandemic, and with all of this uncertainty that we’ve been through in the last few years, have to deal with this on top of it.

It’s just abdication of responsibility toward the public and toward the public good. And yeah, I don’t know what’s coming, but unless they take things head-on, unless they confront these problems directly and communicate with the American public honestly, then I don’t see better days in sight. Because if people don’t understand the extent of the problem, they’re not going to be able to envision solutions or new ways of being as a country, as a society, or what have you.

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KH: In the realm of voter suppression, Texas lawmakers also recently passed Senate Bill 1, an expansive voter suppression bill, which, like the state’s civilly enforced abortion, enlists the assistance of everyday people in suppressing the rights of their neighbors. The law boosts protections for partisan poll watchers, who will most likely escalate their harassment of Black and brown voters. The bill also complicates or eliminates voting methods that are popular among disabled voters, elderly voters, and Black and Latinx voters. Republican officials were especially determined to quash innovations that were popular in Harris County, such as drive through voting and a 24 hour voting day, likely because Biden led Trump by about 30 points in that county. People who want to help disabled voters fill out their ballots in Texas will now have to submit to an application process, and any misstep on their part could lead to criminal charges. The bill also makes it a felony for election officials to send out unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to voters. Importantly, the bill also feeds into Republican myths about voter fraud, and the vilification of migrants, by creating a monthly review system to check the state’s voting rolls for undocumented voters — even though there are few to no known cases of undocumented people voting in Texas. I recently talked with the President of the Texas Civil Rights Project, Mimi Marziani, whose group is helping to wage the current legal fight against this bill. She had an ask for our listeners and also some thoughts about the emotional nature of the moment.

Mimi Marziani: These new restrictions on voting are deliberate. They are meant to make voting more difficult, especially for people of color, for younger people, for people with disabilities, in some cases for women. And they are meant to do so, so that the people who are currently in power can stay in power. And when that happens, the democratic process has broken down; it’s been perverted. And we know, time and time again in our history, that that is a big green light, when the federal government has to get involved.

So the number-one thing people can do is call their senators. The House of Representatives has already passed a couple of voting rights bills. They have already demonstrated that they have the appetite and the will to pass this. It keeps falling in the Senate, and in fact, out just this week is a new measure that as I understand it has the buy-in of lawmakers from across a range of political viewpoints. And so the law exists; we just need the political will to get this done in the US Senate.

You know, the other thing that I would say is to recognize that even though this has been a hard year in Texas … And believe me, I mean, we are in court fighting SB1, on behalf of community groups, and we’re going to continue fighting as hard as we can. But I think it’s also important to recognize that we just saw evidence of the power of community organizing, of collaboration, of diverse coalitions. Those were the elements that allowed us in Texas to mitigate, I think, some of the worst possible provisions that could have been in this bill. And ultimately, they weren’t. And so to me, that reminds me why it is so important that everyday people get involved.

We saw, throughout this legislative session, over and over, hundreds of people driving from across the state and waiting to testify until three, four in the morning, against this SB1 bill. The irony was not lost, by the way, that people were waiting. The lawmakers were doing their business, and four in the morning, and had such an urgency. They couldn’t just wait until the next day. That would have been much more convenient to people. But they’re forcing people to stay up all night to pass a bill that would prohibit voting at those exact hours. So we should all nod to that irony. That said, people did it. People persevered, and they did it.

I had the huge fortune to speak at a number of large rallies throughout the legislative session, where thousands and thousands and thousands of people turned out, from faith leaders to civil rights leaders, to Willie Nelson, to business leaders. And then thousands and thousands of everyday citizens, and together, we were able to be much louder than any of us was alone, and we absolutely made a difference. And so I think listeners, understandably, could be discouraged right now. This has been a hard period of time in Texas. It’s been a really hard time for our country.

But I do want folks to stay hopeful and recognize that social movements have always looked like this, throughout our whole history. They’re long. They get messy. And they can get very dark before the dawn. But we also, in our long proud history, have, even if it’s subtly, marched towards progress. And that keeps me getting up in the morning, and I hope that your listeners take that to heart, as well.

KH: I appreciate the reminder that even in places where Republicans are passing horrific legislation, there are people on the ground, fighting tooth and nail to make that legislation less harmful and to challenge it in court. In Texas, we also have Dr. Alan Braid, a physician in San Antonio, who has gone public about violating the state’s new abortion law, in order to create a test case. We are also seeing legal action and a lot on the ground organizing from abortion fund organizers, some of whom are distributing pregnancy tests and emergency contraceptive pills and connecting people with abortion funds in other states. That kind of resistance matters, and those people deserve our support.

I recently saw a scholar, whose opinion is pretty well respected among liberals, suggest that it was time to move out of red states, and I hate that we have to have this conversation every so often, but we really have to remember that when our advice is to flee, we are only talking to the people who can afford to flee. Which means, we are telling all of the people with resources to abandon all of the people who do not have resources, and many of those potentially abandoned people are highly marginalized individuals, who people of means should be fighting for. So while I am not going to tell anyone not to move to a state where they might feel safer, I am saying that preemptive obedience, surrender, and the mass sacrifice of people are a recipe for everything that we’re afraid of. So we should be careful about what we call for as a remedy or a response when dark days are upon us.

We already have an astounding level of complicity in the United States when it comes to the mass sacrifice of human beings for the sake of maintaining order under this system. That complicity is baked into this country’s history, and it’s part of the social fabric of this society. Without genocide and chattel slavery, the United States would not exist. Today, we have the prison system, policing, our many levels of border security, and a labor market where essential really means “expendable.” Our cooperation with those systems has positioned us to accept even more mass death and unnecessary suffering, now and in the years to come, if our patterns of acceptance and complicity are not broken. But it’s also important to remember that the ascent of fascist politics is a global phenomenon. I recently had a conversation with Harsha Walia for a book Mariame Kaba and I are working on, and she was kind enough to share a few words about the global context of our right-wing spiral.

Harsha Walia: Really, I think it’s important to pay attention to the ways in which the rise of the right and particularly fascist movements in Europe have been taking hold. Because a lot of the largest kind of far-right gatherings are happening in Europe. That’s where people are going to train. That’s where these networks are being built and bolstered. And so I think that’s really important.

One of the things that I write about in Border & Rule is based on a lot of research that researchers have been doing on the rise of the right. And one of the things that they find in common, around the world, around the rise of the right because, of course, the rise of the right looks different in different contexts … in India, for example, the rise of the right is aligned with white supremacy, but it’s actually Hindu fascism, which has always been violent. And so it’s important to pay attention to these differences.

Whiteness is global, but also so are other forms of violence like Zionism and Hindutva for example. But one of the things that was synergistic between different forms of right-wing fascism was a deep hatred towards migrants. Anti-migrant xenophobia was one, not the only, but one of the things that almost all right-wing fascist forces had in common. And that has been even further escalated in the past few years with the rise of ecofascism, where kind of no matter where you are, the rise of the right is increasingly connected to ecofascism. And so I think these kinds of global trends are important to pay attention to because while we tend to the specificity of where we are, knowing what’s happening around the world … because the right travels, the right literally travel and their ideas travel.

And so I think we need to also be paying attention to and being vigilant about what are the things, what are the tactics, what are the ideologies that they’re sharing because that needs to then become central to how we respond so that we don’t fall into those same kind of traps. And that for me is one of the other critical reasons that we need to be fighting against bordering regimes and bordering practices because fascist ideologies really rely on systems of bordering and ordering, of deciding who has the right to life and under what conditions. And so we really have to fight that wherever and however it takes place.

KH: What Harsha said really encapsulates it all for me: We have to fight “systems of bordering and ordering, of deciding who has the right to life and under what conditions.” We are not in a position where we can afford to merely counter the right. They are waging a mass battle right now. Their culture war has an astronomical body count. We cannot simply have movements that seek to fend off their advances. We need movements that exist in opposition to their death-making to have mass momentum. Raging against the vilification and abuse of migrants is crucial anti-fascist work, because fear mongering about migrants is one of the number one social weapons of fascist movements worldwide. And it’s a tactic that wins the complicity of a lot of people who probably think their politics are more progressive than that, but the angle succeeds by playing on people’s fears. This approach could be particularly effective in the U.S. in an era of catastrophe, where hundreds of millions of people are displaced globally. Our government will continue to portray those people as menacing hordes, and expect us to tolerate them being corralled into deserts or into the sea, or contained in sites of disposal, or returned to countries where conditions are crumbling, because we’re afraid that there simply isn’t enough land or sustenance for everyone, even as billionaires launch themselves into space. We have to start from a place of demanding a completely different social and political relationship with migrants and the disasters that are affecting them. As Harsha reminded me during our conversation, we have to remember the connections between our struggles. Because, if we look at the fight against prisons and policing, and the battle for life on Earth, and the struggle for migrant justice — these issues only exist in silos because they have been placed in silos, in part because of the nature of the nonprofit system. We are talking about battles against human disposability, and to stop the continued wholesale destruction of the natural world. These fights are intimately connected in causation. And we need robust, overlapping movements that challenge disposability, capitalism and state violence in all of its forms.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t call your senator about some of the laws that are on the table, or that are being enacted. I think it’s important to do that, and to support the people who are fighting some of these wretched laws in court, and to reduce harm on the ground, but I think it’s going to take so much more to change the political weather, here in the U.S. and globally, and for that, it’s not simply a matter of what immediate actions we take, but also what we cultivate. The right-wing is creating training courses and toolkits, but we also have an unprecedented amount of political education content at our disposal, thanks to the strategic moves some people have made during the pandemic. And we can make more. We also have the opportunity to build relationships and ask radicalizing questions about why we should accept this dilapidated version of normalcy. If we want to change what’s politically possible, and if we want to be ready to fight for each other, and care for each other, come what may, then we need this to be an era of mass radicalization for the left that makes Occupy seem like a blip by comparison.

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KH: I do want to circle back to the subject of COVID, and how the right-wing is interacting with it, and Shane Burley did leave me with a few more words on that subject that I would like to share with you all.

SB: I think right now there’s also a period of conspiracism, something that is unprecedented to a degree. There’s always a lot of conspiracy thinking at the heart of right-wing movements. And I think there’s sometimes a difficulty about being able to parse out what’s a conspiracy thinking and what’s just false consciousness or bad politics, or uncomfortable ideas about the world or wrong ideas about the world. But no, that’s not what’s happening, what’s happening is our basic consensus of their standing of the world is not being shared. Basic understandings of like materiality and viruses and just in medicines. Very, very, very basic stuff is not having consensus or what we’re having right now is hundreds of thousands of people dying of a virus that they do not need to be dying of.

That we have all the tools to manage with and that the insurrection right now is creating a voluntary biological mass weapon against folks with compromised immune systems, young people, people all across the world, in reality, that doesn’t need to be. And that I think is a signal of what the future of right-wing politics is, which is to build up a populous energy on denying basic reality with absolutely no concern to what the cost is.

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KH: The pandemic has been a frenzied moment of mass radicalization for the right, and it has also been a moment of mass activation on the left, but we need more momentum. We have numerous fronts on which to build that momentum, and by ending pandemic unemployment benefits and allowing mass evictions to spread, the government is creating countless sites of political potential, where people could begin to ask the right questions. A politics that puts the survival of human beings ahead of authority and profit should not be radical, but it is, and we need to nurture those politics, and that fundamental idea, in all of our spaces. I still believe that forming neighborhood mutual aid pods, to address COVID-related needs, or for climate preparedness, is a hugely important step for a lot of people. Our shared reality has fractured and it will continue to fracture. Sometimes, people wonder how someone can see what they’re seeing and reach different conclusions, and the truth is, we are not all seeing the same things. We are seeing what algorithms are curating for us, according to our existing biases, which only reinforces the walls between us. In a world that is unmooring us from one another, we need to anchor ourselves to each other, and we need to do so out of a commitment to the very basic, and very radical principle that our collective well-being and survival comes first. If we do that, we can gain crucial ground on any number of fronts, in drastic ways that could shift everything.

To build momentum against right-wing movements, we need life-giving movements that are politically transformational. That means our fight will never be as simple as supporting Democrats over Republicans. At the national level, the Biden administration is deporting Haitian refugees en masse without testing them for COVID. Sending people back to a country that’s asking for a humanitarian moratorium on deportations in the wake of a terrible earthquake. At the local level, Democratic mayors like Lori Lightfoot, in Chicago, where I live, are administrators of austerity, environmental violence, and human disposal. Our movements will have to challenge these practices across the board, regardless of the decider’s political affiliations. Any hesitancy to do that harms us greatly right now.

There is a lot of disaster ahead. And the fascistic right-wing answer, and the neoliberal and capitalist answer, to these events will be to allow surplus people to die. And it’s crucial that we understand that we cannot separate a fight against right-wing power, or authoritarianism, or any of these evils, from a need to reject the norms of capitalism and how it functions. Capitalism disposes of surplus people, and the United States has already created those disposal mechanisms. They don’t have to be invented by any fascist or authoritarian regime. We already have the prison industrial complex, where people who no longer have a place within our economic system wind up. We already have schools, hospitals, and social services that have embedded modes of surveillance, containment and disposal. We already have a system of bordering that is dehumanizing and deadly. So the fascistic right-wing forces, who aren’t satisfied with the current level of racism and disposability we’ve got going on, already have the fabric and the foundation that they need to enact every heinous thing they might want to do, and it isn’t enough for us to be reactive, and say, “No, you will not take this evil to the next level.” We have to say that, but we also have to attack that fascistic social fabric, and those mechanisms, that are already disposing of so much life, and that will only become more horrific under the dominance of right-wing power. We have to be willing to delegitimize the means by which their violence is enacted, and not simply quake at the thought of escalation.

Both Democrats and Republicans want you to remain calm, and to continue to enact the norms of capitalism, while the world burns down around you, and as millions of people needlessly die, whether they’re dying of COVID, starvation, drowning in flood waters, or dying of dehydration as they traverse deserts. The powerful are counting on you to harden to all of that, and remain committed to normalcy. Because that’s what will keep the wheels of the system turning. Our cooperation and willingness to see each other sacrificed, en masse. They are counting on individualism, and they are undermined by our collectivity, when we put human survival and decency first. You cannot truly fight fascism unless you understand that.

So I want to ask all of us, myself included, to think this week, about who we haven’t been fighting for, due to a sense of inevitability. And whether those people are Water Protectors engaged in a pipeline fight, or incarcerated people, or even someone you know personally, I want us to defy whatever sense of inevitability might be holding us back, and do something to help. Every jailbreak begins with a decision to reject the inevitable, and we definitely need a collective jailbreak of the imagination. I believe we can shake the world and change the weather. I believe we can redefine what’s possible. But to do that, we are going to have to cherish one another’s survival, and we are going to have to be able to act on that concern together.

I want to thank our listeners for joining us today, and remember, our best defense against cynicism is to do good, and to remember, that the good we do matters. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets.

Music by Son Monarcas, Valante, and Dew of Light.

Show Notes

  • I consider Harsha Walia’s book Border & Rule an essential text and it’s currently available at a considerable discount from Haymarket Press.
  • Don’t forget to check out Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It by Shane Burley, as well as Shane’s most recent book, Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse.
  • You can find Sarah Kendzior’s most recent book, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, here, and you can also check out her podcast, Gaslit Nation.
  • If you would like to check out some online movement education resources for people who want to push left, I recommend checking out the show notes of our last episode.
  • You can learn more about the Texas Civil Rights Project and how you can support voting rights here.
  • You can find a list of organizations that are supporting people in Texas who need abortions here.
  • If you are looking for more information about how to support Haitian refugees, Haitian Bridge is a group of dedicated Haitians and Haitian-Americans committed to assisting, empowering and amplifying the voices of Haitian and other Black immigrants.

Further reading: