Fighting Fascism, Fighting Capitalism

by Jeff Monson

Growing up in rural Minnesota and later in the suburbs of Seattle, my only experience with fascists and skinheads was watching the movie American History X or reading the history of the Nazis and the atrocities committed during the Second World War. For the most part I was unaware fascism really even existed anymore, and if it did exist, it was certainly not threatening or relevant. This view has certainly changed the past few years, although the complexities surrounding fascists and even more so the anti-fascist groups that oppose them has created as many questions as definitive answers.

My career as a mixed martial arts fighter has afforded me the opportunity to travel overseas with most of the recent bouts taking place in Europe and Russia. Being known as an anarchist certainly has not helped gain sponsors or get invited to participate in some fighting events, but it opened up opportunities to meet anarchists, communists, anti-fascists, and other groups identifying with the struggle against the destructive forces of capitalism, racism, sexism, and other isms that plague society.

I am often contacted to participate in meetings, do a talk, teach a seminar, and even engage in direct action activities. I have been able to be involved with different groups in Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Ukraine, and Russia. To be sure this has been a wonderful experience, and I have learned a great deal about activism outside the US. In my experience there is a common theme within these groups in Europe and Russia not seen in America, and that is a preoccupation in combating fascists.

Of course fascism is bad and we should do everything in our power to stop it, but here is where it gets a bit confusing to me. In all my many visits to Europe and Russia (or anywhere else for that matter) I have never encountered a fascist to my knowledge. Now I have done jiu-jitsu (grappling) seminars in Russia where the anti-fascists have emailed me after, saying there were fascists participating in the seminar and I took pictures with them now on fascist social sites–but no one has ever identified themselves as a fascist to me. I have never witnessed any planned attacks or violence that is said to occur from the fascist groups. I am not doubting that fascism exists, or that there is violence that happens, but what is the consequence of focusing on them as the main problem? I noticed over the course of time requests for open discussion and meetings were being replaced with requests for purely self-defense seminars, “to be ready for the fascists when we see them around the city.”

I’ve touched on the fact that despite frequent visits to Europe and Russia, I haven’t actually encountered any fascists, skinheads, or the like myself. This, to be honest, has made it difficult for me not to marginalize the anti-fascists. I have tried to find justification in the energy spent on the anti-fascist movement but isn’t it capitalism that is the real enemy? I’m sure government and the financial institutions are more than happy to have anarchists and anti-fascists clashing in the streets with skinheads, keeping the attention elsewhere while they continue exploiting and stealing money and labor from us all.

I have had the privilege of talking to some people who have offered another way of thinking about this anti-fascist movement. We get taken advantage of by employers who steal our time and labor, banks who make us servants by putting us in a forever spiral of debt, and the money we do earn goes to companies who profit off what we need to live. So who exactly do we fight? If I walk into a bank and confront a bank teller about my house in foreclosure, I will be told (if not escorted out) that he/she just works there, and doesn’t have anything to do with bank policies.

Another example is Occupy Wall Street. People from many different backgrounds, occupations, etc. and came together because of a single reason—grievance over the policies of big business, banks, and the government which makes it all possible. Although I would argue that Occupy Wall Street made a significant contribution for the working class, even if it isn’t currently visible, financial institutions and governmental policy really weren’t affected at all. Actually hurting these institutions takes time, coordination, and involves many people. So going back to our anti-fascist friends in Europe and Russia, who are of course under the yoke of capitalism and being exploited by the these large seemingly untouchable institutions—here exists a real opportunity to fight (often literally) a force such as the fascist groups who support the tyrannical powers that are our oppressors. The irony of course being that the fascists are being exploited in the same manner. It may be difficult to “get the man” as you’re being crushed by the capitalists surrounding you, but much easier to confront the skinheads making rounds at the bus depot.

In many instances it seems the goal of changing society or even local social change instead became literally preparing for battle with the fascists. Lost in this fascination with the fascists is the real enemy. The state, banks, and corporations’ coalition continues to exert control over us and squeeze every penny from our pockets through global capitalism. Just a few years removed from the economic meltdown, banks’ profits at are an all-time high, while workers continue to be displaced, work longer hours and people are still losing their homes. But aren’t these fascists part of the working class as well? Are they not suffering the same economic hardships and exploitation? I am not advocating for sympathy for a twisted racist ideology, but I am asking if efforts would be better served fighting the common enemy–the orchestrators of economic oppression (capitalists). I can’t help but think these elites watch us fight each other in the streets and feel a sense of comfort that we are venting out frustration on ourselves and do not turn on them.

 

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2 Responses to Fighting Fascism, Fighting Capitalism

  1. siyaeric says:

    I have to agree with you on that one comrade, the more we divert our concentration and strength, I might succumb to an ideological trap

  2. Aina says:

    Be that it is a flawed system, it is still a human governed system. The problem i’ve had with most anarchists & the ideology itself is that anarchists call everyone that disagree with them as Facists & racists. So each time I run into them, i’m always struck by the fact that they believe that it isn’t ONLY the political system that needs changed, but that they believe the human social system needs to be changed..And by that, I mean pretty much that they feel people need to be re-educated as to what being human, and how they feel about other humans, should be. That alone, that idea that people need to be re-educated like that, is facist to me. It is one thing to try and enforce a different political ideology, but you cannot remove peoples culture. This is my experience with anarchists and why I cannot and will not abide by the principles of them. You however expressed yourself in such a way that was more rational than what i’ve typically seen. Capitalism is what it is, don’t you think that it being a product of human will, makes it something that need to be respected, but regulated? It’s like communism, communism always sounds good to people, very utopian and all, but when it is has been practiced and applied it is always a tyrannical dictatorship. This is why Democracy works best, my own home land was an actual Empire before the end of the 1940′s. We know what real imperialism and facism is, and like you I don’t see any around, but I also don’t see capitalism always leading to greed. This is why the idea of Social Entrepreneurship has grown substantially. It’s business that helps distribute to the local population and not just the wallet. This system we have doesn’t require that all people re-educated on how to live life because that is evil. It just means people need to be exposed. Teaching people to physically fight those that they feel are facists will only lead to you being responsible for at times random attacks on people. Let me be clear, people will identify ANYONE as a facist, or an evil do-er, or whatever else, regardless as to if that person actually is guilty of doing anything wrong or not. This anarchist movement needs to become something less violence oriented and more mutually validating if it won’t end up looking like a complete joke. Look to the hippies and what they did, they changed the policies and methods of the U.S. through peaceful movement.

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