CN: extensive discussion of the escalation and resistance of fascism; mention of 45, suicide, impact of the pandemic, police brutality and police corruption.
Kella here to give the context for today’s guest post, which is a little unusual. If your social circles are progressive in the same way mine are, then you’ve heard warnings about the continuing escalation of fascism, and the threat of violent backlash if Trump loses the presidential election. According to The Guardian, “Nearly half of all Americans (47%) say they are worried about the possibility of Trump losing the election but refusing to concede defeat.“
I have continued to hear people say “prepare yourselves!” and “get involved! Fight back!” but rarely offer specific ideas about how to do that. I think it’s safe to say that the average American citizen isn’t well-versed in tactics for resisting a fascist police state.
But then Ruth Kaplan, a good friend of mine, made a comment thread in which she offered a string of suggestions. This friend has been heavily involved in the BLM protests in Portland, she’s seen the policy brutality and corruption first hand, and she’s well versed in the organizer side of protests. As a result, her suggestions were so good and solid, that I asked her if I could just copy and paste them into a blog post, and she agreed!
I understand if this framework seems over the top to you and you don’t think we’re on the brink of societal collapse, but it’s important to understand that if the current state of affairs feels normal to you, that’s part of the slow creep of fascism. Hundreds of deaths a day due a pandemic is not normal. Having the postal service compromised and disrupted is not normal. Private militias or law enforcement being called on to guard voting stations is not normal.
So, maybe we should err on the side of reducing the harm that already exists regardless of whether that harm is likely to continue to escalate. Here’s Ruth Kaplan’s facebook post:
Hey, liberals. Are you feeling freaked out by Trump telling his white supremacist thugs to “stand by”? That’s completely valid. Wondering what to do about it? Talk to your friendly local anti-fascists! We’ve seen this coming for a while, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it, and we’re hella down to help you prepare.
It’s okay if this is your wake-up call. It’s better late than never. But hopefully now we’re all very on the same page that you can’t play the new game by the old rules.
What are some steps you can take? Some are extremely simple or just things that hopefully you want to do anyway!
Go talk to your friends about how they’re feeling.
A lot of people are terrified, sad, stressed, having breakdowns. Some people are in mental health crisis. Some are suicidal. GO TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS. Are they ok? Find out. Even if you feel awkward about reaching out.
Slipping into fascism is heartbreaking, stressful, and scary, especially for people who are queer, BIPOC, Jewish, activists, and disabled. Go find out who in your circles needs help and then help them.
Are you a person who has more money than what is necessary to cover your needs?
Please start doing mutual aid! Find someone who needs support to stay housed or to afford food. If there are no people in your circles in this situation, go outside of your circles to find people in danger of being unable to afford shelter/food/medication/other essentials.
This tactic obviously ties in with the first one. Pretty heavily. We will all be stronger at resisting fascism if we help people meet their basic needs.
Donate some money to bail funds or crowdfunding for lawyers.
Increasing state repression means there’s a lot of people being arrested for specious charges, a lot of people trying to defend themselves in court or to sue for the horrible ways they’ve been treated by law enforcement. The people facing state repression are disproportionately poor. Help them resist.
Go do some reading about communism and anarchism.
Seriously. Read about what they actually mean, not what the people who use them as buzzwords to whip ignorant people into a frenzy pretend they mean.
You don’t have to support them. Really, I am not telling you to go embrace an ideology that isn’t what you believe in. But stop letting people manipulate you through fear and ignorance.
Right-wingers spread panic by saying, “Antifa is in favor of anarchy!” Here’s the thing—a lot of anti-fascists ARE in fact anarchists. It’s a political ideology that probably doesn’t mean what you think it means, and you need to be able to have a realistic idea of what it does mean.
To be honest, I’m not an anarchist myself. But I have a lot of friends that are, and they’re not evil, and they don’t want to murder good Christians in their beds or whatever ridiculous lies get told about them. Go do some research and stop relying on lies and hyperbole to form your opinions.
Do you have a job that supports law enforcement, whether directly or that sells goods or services?
If your job directly supports them, quit, right now. Really. If your job sells goods or services to law enforcement, organize your coworkers and demand that your bosses stop taking contracts from law enforcement agencies. If they refuse, walk out.
If you know someone who does the above and ends up without a job, help them! Find them a new job. Give them money for rent while they’re looking. Hire them if you own a business.
Boycott businesses that refuse. Law enforcement officers are the foot-soldiers of fascism. They are not your friends, and you do not need to be polite to them.
Yes, this includes law enforcement run by Democrats. There are a ton of Democrats that are pretty fucking cozy with fascism, and the sooner you understand this, the easier it’ll be to avoid being complicit.
Are you good at deescalation and mediation?
Holy hell, your skills are so very needed. Help protesters avoid violence from right-wingers—some are too radicalized to be reasoned with, but a lot of them will listen to someone who can get through to them. Hold some free trainings.
TALK ABOUT THIS SHIT.
The fascists’ best tool is normalization, distraction, getting people to look away and stop resisting. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your family. If Trump pulled the shit he’s pulled on any given day in the last month six years ago, the news cycle would have ground to a halt and people would be beyond appalled. Now there’s a lot of tired resignation going on. Don’t let them wear you down with the sheer amount of evil crap they throw out—speak up about how awful and unacceptable it is.
We’re in this together. There are more of us than there are of them, and we absolutely can avoid becoming/staying a fascist dictatorship. But we’re going to need to work together, and we’re going to need to face hard truths head-on.
Again, whatever you think Germans should’ve done during Hitler’s rise, you should be doing that now.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) September 21, 2020
About the writer: Ruth Kaplan comes from Portland and hopes to see a world without police, without ICE, and without prisons.
Kella here again: I also wanted to offer this very informative article, “10 things you need to know to stop a coup” by Daniel Hunter. The title sounds scary and dramatic, but most of the advice is simple and practical. There are also pieces of advice that were a complete surprise to me, like this one:
“Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals.
In Argentina in 1987, a coup got started when an Air Force major, resenting attempts to democratize the military and bring it under civilian control, organized hundreds of soldiers at his base.
While the civilian government tried to quietly negotiate a settlement, people took to the streets. Against the government’s pleading, 500 regular citizens marched to the base with the slogan “Long live democracy! Argentina! Argentina!” They could have spent time attacking the major. Instead, they were appealing to their fellow citizens to choose democracy.
The major tried to keep them away with a tank, but the protesters entered the base anyway, and he knew that open firing on nonviolent civilians would cause him to lose more credibility. Soon 400,000 people took to the streets in Buenos Aires to rally in opposition to the coup.”