Fascism is the most lethal threat to the indigenous peoples movement and democracy in the United States. The Minutemen and Tea Parties are probably the most familiar of the white supremacy factions.
As Paul de Armond noted in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, volume 2, issue 2, 1999, “Fascism is a form of social change as a movement and a form of social institution as an establishment. It is neither a political ideology, a religion, nor a mental illness, though it manifests itself in all these forms. It is a rationalization of theft, just as statism is a rationalization of power, capitalism is a rationalization of acquisition, and sociopathy is a rationalization of the irrational. Anti-fascism is a form of informational public health, related to epidemiology.”
In this review by de Armond titled A Time for New Beginnings, he examines the history of ideas motivating the fascist movement in the United States. In his article, Paul locates Wise Use and Christian Patriots within that movement. In his view, a study of the American far right was overdue, and he notes the U.S. Taxpayers Party was a merger of the Christian Right with Christian-Patriot white supremacists, that emerged as an important fusion party of the extreme right during the militia organizing drive of 1994. As Paul observes, USTP’s constitutionalist ideology, choice of phrases and catalogue of enemies provides targets for its brigades, much like the Tea Party does today.
Rather than toss political labels around, de Armond urged a behavioral definition of fascism, such as the Reagan administration’s use of the American extreme right to organize paramilitary action in Central America. He reminds readers that it was state and local governments that used armed right-wing paramilitaries like the Klan to attack civil rights activists, and that there is a continuity of the American paramilitary right that includes the Klan, Minutemen, Aryan Nations, Militia of Montana, Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord.
With each successive wave of violence, notes Paul, the expressions of establishment surprise have become a predictable ritual, and that “It is only in the case of the most horrifying or politically inflammatory violence that significant law enforcement resources have been committed.” As he observes, there have been three waves of right-wing militia organizing since the 1960s, which one can get more detail about in his report Racist Origins of Border Militias.
Wise Use and the Tea Party — along with the Christian Right — constitute the movement and institutionalization of American fascism. There are several books by our colleagues in the Public Good Project Bookstore that elaborate on parts of Paul’s analysis, but I figured this might suffice for an introduction.
As de Armond observed at MetaFilter, October 1, 2010, “There are two major threads to white supremacy: revolutionary and mainstream. The skinheads, neonazis and Klan are revolutionaries. That is the smallest faction. The mainstreamers are far more numerous, and their rhetoric is strongly reflected in the Minutemen (anti-immigrant groups) and Tea Parties. The main difference between the two factions is their approach to electoral politics.
The revolutionaries reject electoral politics and the mainstreamers embrace it.
Zeskind’s book, Blood and Politics, is framed around an analysis of the revolutionary/mainstreamer factions.
There is a third faction, the separatist anti-government survivalists known as the Christian Patriots. They propose withdrawal from society and creation of isolated areas under their own law and authority. These were the groups behind the militia violence of the 1990s. They draw on a mixture of revolutionary and mainstream propaganda and ideology. The hard core of the Christian Patriots are racist Christian Identity believers who rejected the overtly revolutionary approach of Aryan Nations under Richard Butler. John Trochmann of Montana, now a fairly obscure character, was the paradigmatic leader of Christian Patriot militias in the 1990s. Pat Buchanan’s political persona was a fusion of mainstreamer and Christian Patriot influences.
All three groups have adopted a core ideology of white racialist nationalism. The core to this is an idea of distinct racial classes to citizenship, and the separation of races by both law and custom.
The sunlight v shunning debate is an old one. Every time there has been a crisis, the sunlight approach wins. The key to defeating reactionary racist politics is education and exposure. They work mostly by deception, infiltration and subversion, and these tactics are impossible when they are subject to scrutiny and exposure, leading to confrontation and rejection. Shunning them actually gives them additional cover.
The worst setbacks to the Tea Party have been due to exposure, not people trying to ignore them.”