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Antifa: A Look at the Antifascist Movement Confronting White Supremacists in the Streets

A timely Democracy Now episode: reblog link

I am deeply disturbed to see videos of Nazis, or equivalent extremists of any stripe- disturbed to see them at any time or place, and of course more so when our government either condones it or actively supports it (as happens from time to time for “strategic” reasons), and more so still when when it is here in the US and when they put their words into action.

Unfortunately it isn’t the first time for any of these “more so’s”.

There are 3 ingredients that intensify this latest episode.

First is the Trump factor, which starts off the media spectacle charged up with the nasty national energy that’s been building on all sides since last summer., when everyone realized Trump would take the Republican nomination, that a huge section of the American population didn’t really care, and the Democratic leaning part of the media had no idea how to respond (their response basically got him elected, IMO).

Secondly, you have the thing with the confederate statues. Although not unjustified, it’s a losing idea just because Democrats will be going back in 3 years to ask white rural Americans for their vote. Attacking a symbol of an ideology, or a statue of a dead person is not impossible, but it’s really hard, especially when you’re a minority party and you must rely purely on rhetorical persuasion. When that is your only tool, it’s much easier to bring down a living person with flaws visible in real time, but at the moment even that’s not working. There are other responses that could be done that could be comparably powerful but leave the door open to reconciliation (remember South Africa? Truth and Reconciliation?) – again, in light of the need to get the same people to vote for you – for example, erect monuments along to all the victims of slavery etc.

And the last ingredient, of course, we now have the Antifa.

With the federal government being semi-controlled by a gridlocked and still incomplete Trump Administration, no help will come from there. And as the experience of BLM showed, police forces in a lot of places are, frankly, sympathetic to some degree of white supremacy. Thus it makes sense for citizens to take matters into their own hands.

However…

Despite my deep respect for the gentleman in the video, the “any means necessary” attitude will cause some problems.

For it to work, first of all, it can’t be a cushy middle class movement. We’re talking about a movement that is advocating preparation for street battles with Nazi thugs. It’s going to have to be the kinds of people who go to the boxing gym on the wrong side of the tracks – pardon the metaphor. Such a movement will not be tolerated by mainstream Democrats, in fact they’re going to see it as an even bigger threat to themselves than the white supremacists – those, after all, are a useful motivational focus point to get out the vote. The corporate liberal wing of the D party will assume that when (not if) they get into power, they can simply order the criminal justice system to take care of the white supremacists, or confine them to their home states. Probably, but the cost of potentially being wrong on that one is terrifying.

You could, potentially, have something that parallels the relatively good outcome of the civil rights movement, which finally succeeded in the 70’s. But a lot of other things were going on then. It might not work.

And as I mentioned earlier, there is a total lack of awareness in terms of political strategy. In 3 years, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you’re going to ask people to vote for you, first of all in primaries (where the South counts the most), then in a general election. 2016 showed that both parties are deeply mistrusted.

The Democrats are scared enough that they are now bouncing around from one scare tactic to another, running out of options and paralyzed by the need to cater to their corporate wing. A militant leftist movement (vs the generally friendly Sanders movement) could put them over the edge into a terminal panic, and they could end up doing something really, really dumb.

The Republicans, meanwhile, just sit back and enjoy the show. They can flush the whole thing together with Trump, any time they want. The crazies can go start a 3rd party, and if such a party takes states, it could send the 2020 election to the House of Representatives where the party controlling the most states (again, the R’s) wins. Or the Republicans put up a clean cut fresh face, like Marco Rubio, except this time they’ll be ready to defend him.

From the point of view of the Democrats — I’d say the focus should be on condemning any racially motivated violence or violent extremism in the strongest possible terms. Then, stop. Change the subject to economic matters. In the US, Race is not a battleground that favors Democrats at this time. When you actually do get a Democratic Congress and President, then maybe do something about the BLM thing. Like, I don’t know, require that you have black police in black neighborhoods? I’m sure the Obama administration came up with lots of great ideas that were never implemented. Implement them. AFTER you get elected.

Stop Making Sense

Amy Goodman speaks with Mark Bray about one of the groups who confronted the white supremacists in the streets, the antifascists known as Antifa. Bray is the author of the new book titled Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. (Democracy Now!) 

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musical interlude CCX

Street Fighter II interlude: Bonus Stage vs Car

Thanks to the miracle of youtube, we found this never-released footage from the cash-for-clunkers program…

(for anyone who doesn’t recognize this- Street Fighter II [wiki] was an iconic 1990’s 2-player fighting game, sort-of the Mario Brothers of fighting games. This despite its somewhat offensive stereotypes of pretty much every nationality represented by the characters in the game. After defeating several enemies the single-player mode, you got a little break from the fighting, where you had 30 seconds to score bonus points by doing as much damage as possible to a parked car.)

 

musical interlude CCIX

Been bussyyyyy. Heard a good mix of this track on the way to work this morning… TODO: update link, if a better audio cut turns up on youtube, not super thrilled w/ the vid

Sen. Schumer: New slogan for D party, repudiates Clinton [CNN]

After 6 months of focus-grouping and strategizing, Sen Chuck Schumer presented the new “message” of the Democratic party: “Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages”, if I remember it correctly (it’s not actually repeated in the article).

Anyway, that’s not too bad. “Good Jobs for All Americans” may’ve been catchier, IMO, but at least the slogan spells out a specific path. As part of the announcement, Schumer repudiated the previous “I’m with Her” slogan of the party’s 2016 campaign.

link: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/24/politics/schumer-clinton-2016/index.html

My reaction: about 18 months too late. Nevertheless, I applaud the recognition that the 2016 strategy was a complete disaster. At this point, the goal for 2018 for Democrats is to prevent the Republicans from making further gains in the Senate – half a dozen Democrat Senate seats in swing states are in play. Winning back the House is technically possible as well, but a long-shot.

upcoming: US energy topics

I think I’m going to try to do a series of short posts in the next month or two on topics relating to US energy- to expand on a bunch of stuff the electric-vehicle post a couple days ago brings up. The ultimate motivation is the political connection. Some subjects:

  • use patterns of electric and generation-fuel in the US, by region (i.e., where the significant improvements can be made, both in environmental impact and cost)
  • wind vs solar in the US, by region
  • battery storage technology, and when it will become competitive
  • economics of competing power generation – capacity utilization, sunk cost, and conditions for one technology to “knock out” another (regardless of subsidies), applied to: coal, natgas, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, and battery storage.
  • natural gas in the US – shale, pipelines, export, politics, and permitting (or lack thereof, due to ongoing gridlock in the Trump transition)
  • the timing of coal retirement in the US, and the window of opportunity it creates
  • differences in US vs EU electricity and electric-generation-fuel markets
  • more on electric vehicles
  • where electricity infrastructure subsidies in the US actually go, where they could go for max benefit in terms of: cost, environment, political strategy. impact of pressure on state finances.
  • renewable energy in large relatively poor countries around the world

The New Working Class [Gabriel Winant / Dissent]

Another article (from Jun 27) on the troubled relationship of the Democratic party to the working class.

link: https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/new-working-class-precarity-race-gender-democrats