We get two different styles here. James Murray tries to come on like a cowboy guerrilla, but sounds suspiciously like a Village Voice columnist. Arch, hip, tossing down gleeful putdowns and copping smug macho poses. He says his Militia buddies are no more racist than other white people (not too reassuring to me), are disenfranchised white “(re)proletarians”, and whatever the hell their political ideas are doesn’t matter since shooting is the only reality. In fact, to Murray violent disorder is the main vein to liberation. Provocative, funny, maybe exciting to some,even. Dave Stock, on the other hand, lays down tracks in a steady, relentless progression, factually puncturing Murray’s balloon. But both sides do make points.
I’m not going to re-cover their ground (you should read this exchange yourself), but instead want to widen our angle of vision here. What is important but seldom discussed is that there’s an entire history of interaction and cross-recruiting between the armed white Right and the Left. In fact, white anarchists have at times played a role in the rise of real fascism (as have white socialists and communists). Murray, the man of pure action, isn’t talking much about that.
“The idea”, Murray says, is “to makes ourselves ungovernable” through violent chaos and warlordism. “Disorder will be the launching point for a thousand flowers blooming.” The concept that chaotic violent “Destruction “is itself creative, satisfying, purging of the stale old life, is actually not new but a familiar theme in white male politics, reoccurring in times of crisis over and over again. In Italy it was proclaimed by many avante-garde intellectuals and artists after World War I, men who supported the angry leader of the anarcho-syndicalist faction of the social-democratic party. His campaign for a new cult of masculine Destruction led him to state power (as he said, “War is to men as Motherhood is to women.”). That was Benito Mussolini, of course, founder of the first modern European fascism.
In Germany, the Communist Party organized hundreds of thousands of men into an anti-capitalist–but thoroughly hierarchical and patriarchal- politics of white men’s revolt. At one point in the 1920s that Party even entered into a national liberation united front with the National Socialist Party , urging all German men to put aside ideology and join together in fighting the oppressive Allied foreign occupiers. While many communist men died fighting Hitler, many party members joined the Nazis. Adolph Hitler himself said back then, “There will always be a place in our ranks for the Communist militant”. One study estimates that as much as one third of the Gestapo were former Communist Party men.
Capitalist society always produces men who are killing mad, angry at being ground down, desperately wanting to strike back, to “be Somebody”, to be part of a winning team. This is no secret. These men can simply be violent criminals, be part of a Left revolt , or join the Right- and sometimes go through all three.
In the 1960s economically depressed white Wisconsin farmers rallied to the banner of the National Farmers Union, and won Left praise for their militant and even violent protests against agribusiness. Boycotts were called, and farmers who wouldn’t go along found their barns burned late at night. But no one talked about the fact that these same angry white men were raping and killing Indians, and that their militant white men’s subculture was also trying to physically exterminate the American Indian Movement in Wisconsin. It was the same politics in both cases, fighting and even killing for the land and patriarchy that was theirs.
This brings up “politics”. In his second letter, his rebuttal to Murray’s reply, Dave Stock really pushes for the recognition that these armed white men are not just angry rednecks (“casually racist” as James Murray puts it) without politics. He shows that they have political agendas, visions and ideology of their own, deeply rooted in their settler culture of men who conquer and rule others as a way of life: livestock, women, other races, nature. There’s a lot that gets stirred up here, from the muck of centuries. Maybe part of our future, too.