Nazis Out of Our Neighbourhoods! Nazis Out of Everywhere!

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Jul 092022
 

From Montréal Antifasciste

Anti-fascist demonstration at the trial of neo-Nazi Gabriel Sohier Chaput

The Montréal Antifasciste collective invites comrades and allies to join us outside of the Montréal Palais de Justice on the final trial date of neo-Nazi ideologue and propagandist Gabriel Sohier Chaput. The struggle against the far right, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and all other fascistic and hateful ideologies is first and foremost a matter of community self-defence, and not of police repression or court proceedings.

From 2012 to 2018, using the pseudonym “Zeiger,” Sohier Chaput was involved in a number of neo-Nazi projects, including the Daily Stormer website and the Iron March forum. He is now charged with hate speech in connection with a single article out of the hundreds he has written. (Read Montréal Antifasciste’s exposé on Zeiger here: https://montreal-antifasciste.info/gabriel-sohier-chaput-aka-zeiger.)

The first three days of his trial, held last February and March, revealed a botched police investigation and a poorly prepared prosecution, which is all the more galling given the overwhelming mass of evidence already assembled by journalists from the Montreal Gazette in a series of articles published in spring 2018 based on research carried out by anti-fascist activists. (Read a summary of the first three days of the trial at: https://bit.ly/3nDhzHn.)

At the time, Montréal Antifasciste wrote: “It is clear that the police and the crown completely ignored our work and that of the Gazette journalists who publicly exposed Zeiger. . . . This shocking lack of preparation confirms two things that we have always known: 1) the police do not take the threat represented by the far right and neo-fascist currents at all seriously; 2) it is not in the courts that true justice is to be found but in community solidarity and self-defence.”

Sohier Chaput was never called to account for his central role in the Iron March forum, a key meeting place for neo-Nazi militants around the world who are disposed to engage in violence against their enemies, notably the Atomwaffen Division, an organization that recently made headlines in Québec following an RCMP operation in Plessisville and Saint-Ferdinand. The evidence shows that Sohier Chaput was an Iron March moderator, as well as having published numerous essays on the forum and having promoted the establishment of an international neo-Nazi network that was to include a clandestine terrorist wing. He also organized an immense digital archive of fascist works for this network and re-published James Mason’s Siege, the principal ideological text used by the Atomwaffen Division and the so-called “accelerationist” tendency of the international neo-Nazi movement. Sohier Chaput also joined other white supremacists at the infamous “Unite the Right” rally, in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, where an anti-racist activist was killed by a neo-Nazi.

There can be no doubt as to the central role that Sohier Chaput played in the neo-Nazi ecosystem from 2012 to 2018, a period marked by the Donald Trump presidency and the rise of the alt-right movement, just as there can be no doubt as to the contributions he made as an ideologue and a prolific propagandist. He himself has stated that he published hundreds of articles in which he unquestionably incites hatred against and encourages the harassment of Jews, Muslims, racialized people, LGBTQ+ people, feminists, progressives, etc. Nonetheless, this major propagandist of racial hatred is likely to walk out of court today entirely unscathed, because the police and the crown didn’t consider it necessary to make use of the abundance of evidence anti-fascists had gathered against him. At most, he will receive a symbolic sentence and then be turned loose to return to his toxic activities.

In a leaflet that will be distributed at the demonstration, the Montréal Antifasciste collective explains: “As anti-fascists and anti-racists, we believe that combatting the hateful positions of white supremacists cannot be left to the police and the courts. Rather, it is the responsibility of the community at large, in solidarity with the groups and individuals who are being targeted. It falls to each and every one of us to identify and flush out the Nazis and other fascists in our neighbourhoods, to expose, isolate, and neutralize them by any means necessary. It is also our responsibility to deal with anyone who tries to follow in their footsteps and emulate them. . . . Whatever the verdict in Sohier Chaput’s case, his punishment will certainly not be commensurate with all the harm he has caused. In the final analysis, far from the closed doors of the Palais de Justice, our communities are responsible for our own safety. We must organize ourselves to resist the harm done by racists/sexists/homophobes/transphobes like Sohier Chaput. We must deny Nazis, white supremacists, and other fascists space to grow and develop. Finally, we must all continue to fight the far right and the fascist threat in our daily lives, at our workplaces, in our neighbourhoods, in our cultural spaces, and everywhere else for as long as it takes!”

The Hypocritical Conduct of a Hegemon in Crisis

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May 232022
 

From Montréal Antifasciste

The treatment of the topics recently dominating the news should be causing the bullshit detectors of those of us who haven’t turned ours off to be vibrating to the breaking point. If we just take as an example one factor, the shift from the end of the crisis that never ends that we call the pandemic to the newly announced geopolitical crisis in Europe, we will see the speed at which the focus of public attention can be can be redirected without it being clear who is making the decisions or why. From all COVID all the time, we’ve made the leap to Putin and only Putin faster than a speeding bullet, and the threat to world stability is suddenly refocused from COVID variants to the imperial interests of a billionaire autocrat, who only recently was described as an indispensable trade partner, even if he was a little cringeworthy, given the overall degree of his murderous proclivities.

At the same time, the intersection of the two crises served to expose to the stark light of day a number of the profound hypocrisies that the hegemonic neoliberal system can normally conceal using a variety of contrivances and a certain amount of window dressing. We intend to address certain more or less flagrant double standards that have dominated official discourse and the current approach to pressing issues in recent months.

In a context in which the bourgeois centre hopes to reconstruct the neoliberal colonial order—and is experimenting with new authoritarian ways of doing so—while the far right is increasingly presenting itself as a valid “anti-system” alternative, we encourage those who see themselves as progressive to recognize liberal hypocrisy, to refuse to play along, and to join the anti-fascist and anti-capitalist social movements that simultaneously struggle against neoliberal hegemony and the fascist option.

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We are not the first to comment on how timid—not to say sympathetic—the policing of the anti–health measures brouhaha in Ottawa, in February 2022, was compared to the normal robust reaction used to repress civil disobedience actions on the part of social movements at the other end of the political spectrum. Rarely have we seen so many police officers taking selfies with and giving the thumbs up to people participating in a mass civil disobedience action—one that was only a stone’s throw from Parliament! And, of course, there were the hugs, the energetic high fives, and the touching expressions of goodwill. Nor have we ever seen such well-documented participation of past and current members of the Canadian military, including military intelligence and the special forces, and of the police in the organization of a siege[i]. One would be hard-pressed to find evidence of a parallel sympathy among law enforcement for ecological, anti-capitalist, or anti-racist movements or for Indigenous resistance demanding respect for the integrity of ancestral territories in the face of the ruthless assault of the fossil fuels industry.

Let’s recall that only a few weeks before the pandemic began, in the winter of 2020, the RCMP was called upon to intervene and dislodge at gunpoint the land and water defenders who had raised barricades to block the Coastal GasLink pipeline on the ancestral territory of the Wet’suwet’en nation, in British Columbia. The solidarity actions organized across Canada were likewise repressed. No later than September 2021, a few months before the anti–health care measures circus in Ottawa, the same RCMP used a chainsaw to demolish a cabin built by militants on the projected route of a pipeline underneath the Morice River, to brutally dislodge the occupants, two freelance journalists. We doubt the police took the time to gently brush the snow off of their clothes before arresting them, as they did with the anti-maskers in Ottawa.

In a certain number of reports produced in recent years by federal government agencies tasked with monitoring this sort of thing, the far right has been unequivocally identified as a growing threat to Canada’s security. Nonetheless, when a handful of organizers clearly identified with far-right milieus announced their intention to organize a truck convoy to converge on Ottawa, occupy the area around Parliament Hill, and remain there until all health measures were lifted, or, in some cases, until the Trudeau government was removed from power and replaced by a mixed committee that included the leader of the malcontents and his beloved spouse, curiously the intelligence and national security services, the federal police force, and the provincial and municipal forces all failed to take advantage of the week-long interval before the big rigs arrived to hash out and put in place a plan to prevent the announced occupation. Then we got the high fives, the thumbs up, and the touching expressions of goodwill mentioned above.

Two weeks later, after residents of the neighbourhood under siege—and not the public authorities—obtained an injunction to stop the excessive noise, after a resident—and not the public authorities—filed a civil complaint against the organizers of the siege and the occupation, and after the community—and not the public authorities—began to physically prevent the convoy from refueling, the former drama professor and fan of face-painting who plays the role of the prime minister announced that he was enacting the “Emergencies Act.” The same government that had shown itself to be incapable of preventing what had been announced and could easily be anticipated several weeks before it happened chose to make use of an exceptional measure never previously enacted, without in any way proving the necessity to do so, and with the shameful support and allegiance of the social democrats who hold the balance of power.

Some progressive observers who had been fulminating about the conspiracy theory movement for months joined the standing ovation when, following a lengthy grace period, the occupation was faced with a mild form of repression. More than a few of them also welcomed the application of the Emergencies Act to suppress a few hundred frustrated cranks[ii]. That sort of enthusiasm for repression betrays a poor understanding of the relationship between the bourgeois state and social movements. The primary utility of the measure for the government, beyond the immediate powers conferred to cripple this expression of anti-vaxx organizing, is creating a precedent for suppressing future manifestations of popular dissent and disobedience, whether they be progressive or reactionary. This precedent should give pause to anyone who sympathizes with movements for social and economic justice, decolonization, or environmentalism, which might, at some future point, feel the need to engage in civil disobedience. It’s not terribly difficult, for example, to imagine what the reaction of the state will be when an Indigenous community next decides to adopt extralegal means to defend its territory or when a new generation inevitably decides to take direct action to demand radical social and governmental transformation to address the pressing climate crisis we are facing. While this exceptional legislative measure was used on this occasion against a group with reactionary impulses that we find repugnant, there is nothing to guarantee that it won’t be invoked in the future to squash demands that we feel a strong commitment to. History teaches us that repression is almost always much more energetically and forcefully used against progressive movements than it is against reactionary movements.

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The Kev-Kév-Kev caravan came to its end, just as everything does, and following a long series of dubious decisions, a show of force as spectacular as it was unnecessary, and a doubtful volte-face, public authorities told us that it was no longer necessary to freak out about the virus, finally decreeing that the time had come to “live with COVID” (i.e., broadly speaking, to stop giving a shit). At this writing, however, as a sixth wave of infections begins, this paradigm shift has yet to translate into the end of Québec’s extraordinary state of emergency rationalized by the health crisis.

It was only a few days before cute infographics of soldiers replaced the colourful charts detailing the number of new COVID cases on the daily news. In the weeks leading up to the invasion, while people were zoning out and watching toboggan and figure skating competitions, the media and the commentators began to slowly beat the drum and to dust off the ageless smoke machines to once again pump out the “fog of war.” Who was good and who was bad was established, and the geostrategic stakes were rapidly delineated—obviously, with particular care taken to massively simplify the whole affair and entirely obscure Western responsibility. The scene was set, and when, on the day after the Olympics ended, Putin finally set his plan in motion, we suddenly found ourselves faced with the first war on European soil since the end of the war in the former Yugoslavia, in the early 2000s.

And the liberal bourgeois system got thoroughly tangled up in its doubles standards.

With the choir singing an arrangement from a well-known score, the politicians, the media, and the established experts preformed classic numbers from the jingoist repertoire. We can forgive younger people unfamiliar with the tune: the refrain focuses heavily on the absolute depravity of the evil one, accompanied by a succession of couplets, sometimes doleful, sometimes laudatory, chronicling the horrors of war, the desperation of the citizenry, and the almost superhuman courage of the politicians and soldiers chosen for the role of heroic figures of the resistance.

Let us be perfectly clear: the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a horrifying imperialist adventure, violating both international law and basic human values. While NATO, the United States, and the European Union bear a good deal of responsibility for the chronic instability in Ukraine over the past twenty years, and in spite of the enormous complexity of the issues at play in the contested provinces, Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs surrounding him are solely responsible for invasion and the war they have launched against their neighbour, an unquestionably sovereign nation, given the lack of evidence to the contrary. The situation is, in fact, so complex that beyond this basic certainty, we must have the humility to firmly resist the temptation to “Westsplain” things. Our main concern here is to expose the double standard at play.

Let’s start with the evil one himself. Vladimir Putin is unquestionably a complete piece of shit. But this billionaire autocrat, whom we demonize, has for quite some time been a key ally of the international capitalist order. Let’s not forget that Russia was part of the G8 during the recent golden age of globalization, from 1997 until the annexation of Crimea, in 2014. The Russian capitalist aristocracy, those we call “the oligarchs,” profited in profound ways from the integration of “their” economy into the international market, and for their part the Western powers generally closed their eyes to the Russian strongman’s anti-democratic, and often fascist, inclinations, which reflect a comfortable marriage of mafia and KGB methods. Let’s just say that until very recently the West treated Vladimir Putin more like an embarrassing cousin who liked to torture small animals in the shed than like the crazy and bloodthirsty tyrant they now tell us he is[iii].

These much-maligned oligarchs, whatever we say, are not fundamentally different from the major Western capitalist “families.” They constitute the dominant class around Vladimir Putin and preside over the destiny of the nation with no regard for democratic processes. There are some people who are inclined to say that our billionaires are less evil precisely because they accommodate these processes, to which we respond that one must be fairly naïve to believe that the large bourgeoisie do not exercise a determinant influence on the politics of our countries, just as is the case elsewhere. Some actors, such as the Koch family, in the United States, do so more or less openly, while others proceed with greater discretion. And what can we say about the democratic values of that bastion of kindness governing Saudi Arabia, a stalwart ally of both Canada and the United States? While we don’t adhere to the hypothesis that the Russian billionaires are fundamentally different from other billionaires, we can all nonetheless doubtless agree that billionaires form an international class that shares a common interest in exercising a controlling influence over the world’s governments and does not, in general, give a shit about the common good[iv].

Speaking of oligarchs, it’s more than a bit ironic that a key link in Canada’s fossil fuel network is a pipeline company that a billionaire in Putin’s immediate orbit, Roman Abramovich, owns a 28 percent stake in. Notably, his company is behind Coastal GasLink pipeline that the Wet’suwet’en are resisting. Curiously, Justin Trudeau waited two weeks before imposing the same sanctions on Abramovich as he did on others close to Putin during the early days of the invasion, even though his immediate connection to those sanctioned was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt. The barrage of sanctions deployed against the Russian oligarchs notwithstanding, the mutual interests of Russia and the West, above all Western Europe, in the energy business remain inextricable. We also note in passing that France was still delivering weapons to Russia no less than two years ago.

What is there to say about the famous freedom fighters draped in their national colours, whose courage we are invited to applaud and whose praises we are urged to sing, all without really giving it much thought? That is another issue that is too complex for us to sum up in a couple of catchy phrases. Suffice it to say that it is entirely legitimate to take up arms to defend yourself against an invader, and that the armed resistance, far from being homogenous, encompasses numerous currents that are sometimes antagonistic to each other. In the final analysis, we support the civilian population and its legitimate desire for self-determination in the face of both the Russian Federation and the West. That said, it would be more than a bit embarrassing for an anti-fascist group to remain silent about the fact that the paramilitary Azov Battalion (notoriously rife with neo-Nazis) has been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard since September 2014, evolving into a regiment that the Ukrainian state considers an essential element in its national territorial defense. The experts whose job it is to explain this sort of thing stress that with 2 percent of the national vote in 2019, the political coalition of Ukrainian ultranationalist and neo-Nazi parties is hardly at the doors of power[v]. It also needs to be said that Russian propaganda vastly exaggerates the importance of neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian state apparatus. It is nonetheless worth more closely examining the presence of ultranationalists and neo-Nazis in the armed forces, whether within or outside of the national army, because that is where they are most active and exercise the most influence. No one seems to really know the extent of their influence, something that absolutely must be kept in mind. Yet the traditional media sought and seeks to minimize and downplay the integration of a neo-Nazi-influenced regiment into the national army. There was understandable outrage when a neo-Nazi militant was uncovered in the Canadian army, but for some reason that escapes us, we are now to believe that there is no need to get excited about the thousands of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists in the Ukrainian national army.

There’s certainly grounds for raising an eyebrow when Putin reinvents himself as antifa and claims he want to “denazify” Ukraine from top to bottom using mortars, all the while quietly deploying neo-Nazi mercenaries in the Donbass region and fully tolerating neo-Nazis from around the world who seek refuge in Russia. That said, we think the media’s tendency to reduce the presence of organized neo-Nazi militias within the Ukrainian state to a footnote is dangerous. They don’t even pretend to be interested. In a March 11, 2022, Radio-Canada report on Canadian volunteers in Ukraine, you can clearly see a “civilian” wearing an Azov Battalion patch and engaging in combat training with a “Finnish instructor.” Are we to deduce from this complicity that the neo-Nazis are also good guys? That, in any case, is how the management of Meta—Facebook and Instagram—seem to see it, having decided in February 2022 to revise their internal policy banning the Azov Battalion, now allowing it to utilize these platforms to praise the courage of its combatants. No one seems to be even vaguely considering the possible long-term consequences of integrating neo-Nazi militias into the national army, of the consolidation of an international neo-Nazi brotherhood in the context of a military adventure financed by the West, or of the transformation of thousands of neo-Nazi militants into national heroes endowed with a mythical aura by a traumatized civilian population. Does no one remember the previous occasions when the major Western powers supported and armed “freedom fighters” with dubious moral convictions, say, in Central Asia and the Middle East?

Whatever actual percentage of the Ukrainian army is made up of neo-Nazis, the manufacturing of consent in this case is, in the final analysis, based on the “unprecedented” courage of the civilian population in the face of a catastrophe. Obviously, the Ukrainian population has exhibited extraordinary courage, but, given the hyperbole at play here, are we to consider other examples of resistance, to whit, that of the Palestinian people against the occupation and Israeli apartheid for the last seventy years, to take an obvious example, less courageous or of a lower quality? A viral meme from the early days of the invasion placed a Ukrainian Molotov cocktail and a Palestinian Molotov cocktail side by side, the first labelled “Heros” and the second “Terrorists.” It would be hard to better summarize the double standard of Western commentators as to the relative legitimacy of different national resistance movements. And there are others that they never mention at all (in Syria, in Yemen, and in Kashmir, for example), or when they do deign to mention them, they hastily dispense with them as “civil wars” or “terrorist insurrections.” A key difference is that often these conflicts can be attributed to the questionable actions of Western powers and their allies and partners in the geopolitical configuration of the hour. And that isn’t to even mention the numerous invasions and regime changes, proxy wars, and “special military operations” conducted by the United States since World War II, with the complicity of our governments, that in no way fall short of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. It is not, however, necessary to go so far afield to expose this double standard: here in so-called Canada the media has never called upon the lexicon of bravery when describing Indigenous land and water protectors. They are more than happy to fall back upon rhetoric about criminality and delinquency. Security experts called upon to comment when Indigenous communities and their allies interfere with industrial activity on Indigenous territory give full-throated expression to calls for the means necessary to dislodge them rather than remarking on the immense courage it takes for Indigenous people to mobilize to fight the state and its police forces, large industry, and public opinion that opposes them. In this regard, one need only think of Gilles Proulx. One of the most strident anti-Indigenous voices in Canada, Proulx, who openly called upon the white population to use violence against the Kahnawake community, in 1990, remains until this day one of the talking heads regularly promoted by the Québecor machine.

Let’s round this out with a discussion of displaced populations. We deplore, with good reason, the forced exile of the Ukrainian civilian population. As we write this, more than four million people have had to flee the country, and that increases daily. It is both normal and desirable that humans feel sorrow when confronted with the suffering of others. The catch becomes apparent, however, when we consider that this sympathy is flexible in a way that indicates a certain structural racism. The problem isn’t that we are moved by the fate of the Ukrainian exiles and go to extraordinary lengths to welcome them, but that we are, on the other hand, insensible to the fate of the Yemenite or Kashmiri refugees, for example, and that we treat the Syrian refugees in Europe as an alarming “migrant crisis” that can only be addressed with repression. In August 2021, the CAQ government said that it was ready to welcome “a certain number” of Afghani refugees; on March 7 of this year, the same government announced that there would be “no limit” to the number of Ukrainian refugees Québec was prepared to take in. In March, Canada introduced “a new path to immigration for Ukrainians who wish to settle in Canada either temporarily or permanently,” an extraordinary measure that it never felt a need to put in place to welcome refugees from other countries torn apart by war. It has even proven incapable of bringing in the forty thousand Afghan refugees it promised to welcome. In the United States, Joe Biden says he is ready to welcome Ukrainians with open arms, while thousands of refugees fleeing horrifying conditions in Latin America languish is ICE prisons awaiting deportation.

What underlies this different treatment? Is it a natural reflex to more easily feel pain at the suffering of others who look like us, or is it the result of subtle conditioning? Are we encouraged to value the lives of Westerners more and to quietly consider the lives of others as less precious? Why did so many journalists and commentators feel the need to stress that these refugees have blue eyes and blond hair and are immigrants of “a superior quality” who drive cars like ours and share “our civilizational model,” as Fabrice Vil noted in an article published in La Presse, on March 4? Earlier that week, this same newspaper quoted a sniper from Québec who said that he was “not terribly thrilled about the idea of shooting at Russians” because “they are a European Christian people” whom he “doesn’t detest,” a statement that wouldn’t be out of place in a discussion among white supremacists. And then, of course, there is the nightmarish experience of the African nationals turned away at the Polish border and harassed by gangs of racist thugs while white families were greeted with open arms.

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We could carry on page after page describing the overabundance of hypocrisies small and large in recent news reports. There is no shortage of examples.

Some people catch a whiff of conspiracy theory thinking in this sort of exposé of the subtle procedures used to encourage adhesion to the dominant narrative and discourage any real reflection on certain contradictory and embarrassing aspects. That, however, is based on the sort of “evidence” that some so-called experts on “radicalization” use to underpin their “horseshoe” theory, making the questionable assertion that there an alignment of sorts between the “two extremes.”

We are not, in fact, talking about a plot conceived behind closed doors by soap opera–style pedo-Satanists or the famed “globalists” of myth and legend. We are also not talking about directives of a mysterious origin whispered into Adrienne Aresenault’s headset. Cultural hegemony and the reality of a widespread intangible pressure that operates simultaneously on multiple levels to affirm and consolidate the dominant discourse becomes, at the end of the day, all the proof necessary. There are numerous techniques of persuasion, and it is obvious that the despotic means used by Vladimir Putin (repression of political opposition, criminalization of dissent, monopolization of the message, restriction of freedom of the press, etc.), which are coercive, differ from the gentler methods used here and elsewhere in the West, which are based most notably on repetition and consistency, pressure to conform, and an a priori reliance on the rarified knowledge of experts. Should we not recognize these processes, which, although less crude, are still not terribly subtle?

Our intention is not to minimise Putin’s crimes or to displace all of the blame onto Western imperialism, which is the disgraceful position of left-wing camp known as “tankies.” Nor are we arguing that there is a widespread international conspiracy, and that we should hunt for the names and addresses of the putative conspirators. We are simply acknowledging the intangible pressure of the hegemony that conditions our consent. Our point is that the consent being manufactured does not, for example, favour a radical anti-war sentiment among the population but, rather, focuses on demonizing an enemy and ingraining antagonism. Beyond that, there is certainly no attempt being made to clarify the role of the West in creating the ever-increasing instability in Ukraine over the last twenty years. There is also no talk about what underlies the diplomatic setbacks, end even less about the radical proposals that just might bring an end to Russian aggression, the dissolution of NATO being an obvious example. At the same time as we are being presented with the very real horrors of war, we meet an enemy that is given form by a barrage of detail down to the most insignificant minutiae, establishing which camp we belong to and to whom we owe our allegiance. We are being groomed to accept the harsh reality of a new cold war, with all that implies, most obviously, militarization and skyrocketing military budgets. The next round could, of course, involve China, were the latter to invade Taiwan. With no obvious light at the end of the tunnel, it’s going to take more than rainbows for us to chill out.

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As we have already said elsewhere, the growth of conspiracy theories seen in recent years is the result of the convergence of a number of factors, of which three key ingredients are: 1) political opportunity—an ideologically motivated and militant populist far right is more than happy to feed the conspiracy theory frenzy, which creates a fertile terrain for them to exploit; 2) a plethora of unregulated information—the erosion of critical thought, the multiplication of social media platforms whose very structure favours the creation of filtered bubbles/echo chambers and the influence of toxic and nefarious actors who crank out disinformation; and, most importantly, 3) widespread popular resentment that translates into a popular decline in confidence in the centers of power, i.e., politicians, the intellectual class, and traditional media.

A recent study on “confidence in the institutions” showed that Canadians and Quebeckers increasingly distrust the government, corporations, and the media. Shocked as always, the key interested parties and their analysists catastrophize when relaying these statistics, without delving in the slightest into what might underlie this lack of confidence or making even a minor attempt to determine if these very institutions might not themselves bear a certain responsibility for this outcome. It would seem obvious that this distrust is the result of the fact that the neoliberal system as a whole is clearly crumbling and is no longer able to paper over the ever-widening cracks opened up by the cascading crises. Nonetheless, the system’s advocates endlessly multiply the powerful means at their disposal to convince us that capitalism is the best system possible, and that everything will work out, and as long as we listen to them, we will carry on following them down the road to disaster. It shouldn’t come as a shock that under these circumstances those who suffer the daily consequences of this system are gradually losing confidence in the overlords and their accomplices.

Denial is not generally a sound foundation upon which to build a political project. We believe that the progressive camp is condemned to remain entangled in the status quo, if not even worse, if it persists in ignoring the reasons for the current impasse and for this “loss of confidence in the institutions.” Although the liberal choir sings in every key that capitalism is the only viable model, it is, in fact, the capitalist system as a whole that generates these crises and is leading humanity to ruin.

As anti-fascists and anti-capitalists, we believe it is necessary to think these issues through and develop a resistance not only against the far right and the fascist threat but also against the bourgeois state and the related institutions of power that reinforce neoliberal hegemony and the colonial order. The bourgeois state is not interested in our well-being, and the interests of different social classes are irreconcilable today, just as they always have been. It is certainly the case, in any event, that while wars are declared by the rich and by nationalists, it remains the case that it is generally the poor who die at the front.

Faced with the far right and the fascist threat, on the one hand, and neoliberal hegemony, on the other, our greatest hope is to see the forces devoted to freedom rally around a project that is simultaneously anti-racist and anti-fascist, feminist, anti-capitalist, and anti-colonial.

The Québec government has already signalled its intention to reform the health care system in a way that favours “a more far-reaching reliance on the private sector.” In other words, pandemic or not, hot or cold war, the CAQ remains a right-wing conservative party whose main concern is the defense of an unequal and unjust social order. When François Legault waxes poetic about his “achievements,” it is only to piss yet again on the common good. The working class and the progressive social movements must unquestionably form a common front in the coming years to block all of the efforts to forcibly dismantle the social safety net. We must demand, to the contrary, the massive investment in health care, education, and social services that will be required to meet the major challenges we can anticipate. At the federal level, the government undoubtedly intends to redouble its efforts to develop the fossil fuels sector to partially make up for the loss of Russian production on the international market. Social movements have an obligation to act in solidarity with the communities that will be sacrificed to the interests of fossil fuel development and must be ready to engage in an intense struggle to defend the territories and the sovereignty of the First Nations. On the international level, it seems inevitable that before long we will need to (re)build a massive anti-war movement to, among other things, resist intense internal pressure to (re)militarize national economies and play a role in escalating conflicts.

Finally, as always, we encourage our supporters to renew their anti-fascist practice, i.e., community self-defence, without ever losing sight of the revolutionary horizon, because we will never gain our freedom with petitions. In this difficult time, never forget the old libertarian communist slogan:

No war between nations! No peace between classes!

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[i]               That’s all a bit messy, one must admit. By the way, has there been an official survey of vaccination rates among police forces in Canada?

[ii]               Notably, the main promoters of the convoy have been accused of “counseling” various mischief, while coordinating very publicly for several weeks, in contrast to the conspiracy charges brought against a group of anti-capitalist activists held responsible for the ruckus at the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010.

[iii]              We have noted over the course of a number of years strong links between the Russian state and certain North American and European far-right currents. Although many politicians and “experts” close to power have exaggerated this influence (blaming Russia for the election of Donald Trump, for the anti-vaxx movement, for the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, etc.), it is not a complete invention. We don’t know if this connection reflects an ideological engagement with the far right on the part of the Russian state or if it is simply a practical way of stirring up shit on the political terrain of rival powers (it is also worth considering the influence of Aleksandr Dugin in Russia). Whatever the actual motives, this influence is certainly among the reasons that the majority of far-right pundits in North America support Putin in this war, while a minority denounce both parties and consider the conflict to be a “fratricidal war” between two majority-white Christian nations.

[iv]              Beyond direct political influence, a sociopath like Jeffrey Bezos, to name but one, seems far more concerned with his future go-kart track on Mars than with the survival of the 99% of humanity.

[v]               Let’s not forget that three years before the March on Rome and his installation as prime minister of Italy, Mussolini only won 1.5 percent of the vote in Milan in the 1919 general election. Also, the NSDAP only won 2.8 percent of the popular vote in Germany in 1928. Electoral results are a poor indicator of which way the wind is blowing during periods of crisis.

Reflections on the Anarchist Demo at the Russian Consulate

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Apr 122022
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

On Sunday, March 27, 2022, a small but determined group of anarchists marched to the Russian consulate in Montréal, in solidarity with anarchists, anti-fascists, and anti-war movements active in the territories of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. We held up banners saying: “НЕТ ВОЙНЕ” (No War); “ПУТИН: ИДИ НА ХУЙ” (Go fuck yourself, Putin); “Solidarity with UKR[ainian] and RUS[sian] War Resisters”; “Fin aux Tsars! Up the Ⓐntifascist resistance partout”; and the anti-fascist flag. Despite our small numbers, we briefly took the streets, blasting a very sick playlist of mostly Ukrainian and Russian pop music and post-punk tracks. When we reached the consulate, we ziptied the “НЕТ ВОЙНЕ” and “ПУТИН: ИДИ НА ХУЙ” across the gate doors on the front of the consulate. We read the following communiqué from an action that had targeted a recruitment centre near Moscow in early March:

The other day I set fire to the military registration and enlistment office in the city of Lukhovitsy, Moscow Region, and filmed it on gopro. I painted the gate in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and wrote: “I will not go to kill my brothers!” After which I climbed over the fence, doused the facade with gasoline, broke the windows and sent Molotov cocktails into them. The goal was to destroy the archive with the personal files of conscripts, it is located in this part. This should prevent mobilization in the district. I hope that I will not see my classmates in captivity or lists of the dead. I think it needs to be expanded. Ukrainians will know that in Russia they are fighting for them, not everyone is afraid and not everyone is indifferent. Our protesters must be inspired and act more decisively. And this should further break the spirit of the Russian army and government. Let these motherfuckers know that their own people hate them and will extinguish them. The earth will soon begin to burn under their feet, hell awaits at home too.

As we left, several people egged the consulate.

The following are reflections from a few participants in the demo:

We want to make our reasons for participating in this action clear, and to explain why we think it is essential to support the anarchists, the anti-fascists, and the broad masses of people resisting the invasion in Ukraine — as well as all those in the region who are opposing the war, sabotaging the war machine, and helping refugees and people fleeing the conflict.

1. We have acted in solidarity with anarchists and anti-fascist comrades resisting the invasion, and with love in our hearts for expressions of autonomous and anti-fascist resistance against the invader.

It should go without saying, but as anarchists, we oppose hierarchical military institutions, and consider neo-Nazis like those who founded the Azov Regiment to be our enemies. We understand that the nature of territorial defense in response to an invasion makes deciding how to engage incredibly messy for people on the ground. We know that the territorial defense units (voluntary ‘civilian’ units) in Ukraine are subject to the Ukrainian state’s command structure — in theory, if not always in practice. From what we understand, anarchists and anti-fascists in Ukraine are organizing together (and with locals) within these units to carve out as much autonomy as possible for themselves and their ideas, while also surviving heavy shelling, missile strikes, and the targeted murder of civilians (among other horrors). We think that the experiences of the regular people that are currently being bombed, raped, displaced, tortured, and killed, must be at the heart of any analyses we put forward, or actions we take.

So, we declare our support for anarchists in Ukraine, both those who were there before the invasion began, and those having more recently entered the country. This does not mean that we think they are beyond critique. Rather, it means that we respect and support their decision to stay and fight, or the decisions of those who have chosen to go and fight by their sides. We think that this kind of armed self-defense is consistent with a long history of anarchist resistance to the expansion of authoritarian regimes. Present-day Ukraine differs from Rojava, Chiapas, and other ‘revolutionary’ territories; it is a deeply flawed capitalist democracy with marginal liberatory social movements. Nevertheless, it is clear that a life under Putinist Russia would be far less free. This reality is reflected in the fierce resistance to Russian advances.


Competing visions of society will no doubt emerge in the rubble of war: some liberatory, many more deeply horrifying. Regardless of how the war progresses, we think it will be essential that there are people in Ukraine who share our ethics and values. For years, anarchists in Ukraine have been actively organizing against both the Ukrainian state and the local far-right. In the months and years to come, they will be the ones best positioned to continue to fight nationalism, fascism and any manifestations of centralized power and authority. They are also the people who will best generalize anarchist ideas and actions in their own context. We want to see these people survive and flourish.

2. We act in solidarity with all those who have fled Ukraine, and we support initiatives that help people continue to flee. We are against borders, against conscription, and against any privileging of those with Ukrainian passports and/or ‘whiteness’.

There has been a marked difference in how the Canadian state and mainstream society have responded to Ukrainian refugees, as compared to refugees from Libya, Sudan, Syria or other non-European countries. We see this not only in immigration policy decisions, but also in the rhetoric of the Canadian government, which has stated that “Ukrainian immigrants have helped build this country”. This statement refers to the waves of Ukrainian immigrants who fled immiseration under the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, and later, under the Soviet Union. During the first immigration wave of the 1890’s, Ukrainians were ‘recruited’ to Canada as cheap, non-British, labourers, used to build rail-lines and to ‘settle’ indigenous and Métis lands in Western Canada.

The disposibility of these immigrants was made clear when, under the War Measures Act during WW1, members of these same Ukrainian communities were deemed ‘enemy aliens’, and sent to internment camps. In 1919, Ukrainian communities, tired of exploitation, participated extensively in the Winnipeg General Strike, where the North-West Mounted Police (yes, those same NWMP established to supress indigenous rebellions and enforce the reserve system) massacred some 80 striking workers. The years that followed were filled with xenophobic panics about the ‘dangerous foreigners’ fomenting labour radicalism.

Canada always has, and always will, pit dis-enfranchised people against one-another to maintain and expand its capitalist and colonialist project. It makes immigrants fleeing misery into the shock troops of colonial expansion. It embraces ‘model’ refugees in order to discredit migrants who have crossed borders for reasons that the state deems ‘illigitimate.’ However, we believe firmly that people can refuse to be tools of the state. Instead, we can be inspired by our own stories of disposession to build powerful solidarity with one another.

We have also read the stories of black, brown and Roma people trying to flee Ukraine, who have faced racism, and received less support than white refugees. In a context where racist, islamophobic, and anti-immigrant hysteria is on the rise in Europe, it is not hard to see how racism has fundamentally structured the metting out of sympathy and support afforded to different people fleeing war. It should be noted, however, that the many Ukrainian guest-workers currently living in Western Europe have rarely been received with the same compassion and enthusiasm that Western countries are now expressing towards war refugees. The degree to which Ukrainian refugees are currently being embraced as ‘fellow Europeans’ was hardly a given.

As anarchists, we do not accept an analysis whose only conclusion is resentment towards the Ukrainian refugees who have, undeniably, been treated better than non-European refugees in similar circumstances. For instance, it shouldn’t be surpising that Canada (a country founded on genocide) is once again making racist immigration policy decisions. However, these infuriating disparities should never become a justification for inaction, or a reason to withhold solidarity from people who need it. Instead, we will continue to take action and organize against borders, and to destroy the values of white supremacy that shape our world. We hope that among those who are just now becoming acquainted with the horrors of war and displacement, we will find new comrades who will join us in standing against racist borders everywhere.

Support all migrants, fuck all borders, free movement across invisible lines for everyone, always.

3. We act in solidarity with those who take action against the war and its profiteers in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and in “the West.”

In Russia, many thousands have been arrested for protesting the war by an increasingly autocratic and repressive regime. In North America, we have seen people target the weapons contractor Raytheon. In Western Europe and Turkey, there have been actions against the mansions and property of Russian oligarchs. In Belarus, there has been a campaign of sabotage targetting the rail lines that transport Russian troops to Ukraine.

We are also inspired by the long history of anarchist anti-militarism, and sabotage of the war industry. It is important to identify how the nations we live in (and our local capitalists) profit from this war, and to target them accordingly.

4. We have acted in accordance with our principled belief that, all throughout history and all across the world, people should be supported when they defend themselves against destructive invaders.

We have noticed that mainstream Canadian media is suddenly quite excited about regular people making molotov cocktails and attacking tanks with tractors. While it’s great to see support for people defending themselves, in our own context, let’s not forget to support Indigenous land defense too. We support community autonomous action and self-defense against destructive invaders everywhere: from the Wet’suwet’en yintah in so-called “British Columbia”; to the streets of Kharkiv and Kyiv; to Rojava, Yemen, Palestine, and beyond!

5. We have acted with the knowledge that Western countries are also finding ways to profit from the war.

In Canada, we can see how sanctions against Russian energy imports and the pause on Nordstream 2 have been used to shift European fuel reliance towards Canada and the U.S. This benefits the owners of U.S. and Canadian energy companies, and further threatens Indigenous land defenders who have been fighting against fossil fuel exploitation and for sovereignty in their territories. While we think that pointing to “NATO aggression” as the root cause of the war is a deeply-flawed and myopic analysis, it is clear that Western powers have been more than happy to leverage the war towards their own ends. We have no problem extending a big Fuck You to NATO as well.

6. We will never act in solidarity with nazis.

Much of the discourse about the war that we have seen coming out of certain parts of the left has emphasized the existence of the Azov battalion, and speculations about the role of the far-right in Ukrainian society. In the past decade, Ukraine (like most every country in the world) has seen a resurgence of far-right, authoritarian, and ethno-nationalist sentiment. While this is certainly concerning (especially for Ukrainians), Ukraine is hardly unique in this regard. Nor is it unique in having found adherents of far-right ideologies involved in its military. What’s more, in recent years, it seems that Ukrainian society has fared no worse than the societies that gave rise to the likes of Trump, Éric Zemmour, or the AfD.

What has perhaps been unique in the Ukrainian context, is a war that has been ongoing for eight years. The war in Donbas not only galvanized local fascists, but has notably attracted far-right adventurists from Western countries seeking-out battlefield experience. These contemptible grifters have fought enthusiastically on both Ukrainian and Russian sides of the war, depending on the particular flavour of fascist ideology that they subscribe to. (And, for all his talk of “denazification,” Putin himself is by far the premier backer of far-right movements all over the world.)

Fascists of all stripes will tend to try to leverage war and conflict towards their own ends, and this war will be no exception. We suspect that in this context, the best antidote to armed neo-nazis intent on expanding their social base, is in fact, well-organized, armed anti-fascists. We strongly reject an analysis that frames any anarchist who has taken up arms in this situation as a nazi-collaborator. The fact that both anarchists and neo-nazis have independently taken up arms in the face of military invasion by no means implies collaboration. To be clear, we think that such hypothetical alliances would be completely unacceptable, and ones that we would refuse to ever support. However, anarchists in Ukraine have long been at the forefront of countering local nazis, and we believe that materially supporting these anarchists is one of the best ways to help them maintain an uncompromising anti-fascist position under incredibly challenging circumstances.

We really shouldn’t have to say this, but the vast majority of Ukrainian civilians currently being bombed, shelled, killed, tortured and displaced are most certainly not neo-nazis. Given that ‘denazification’ has been the crude and increasingly exterminationist rallying cry for Putin’s vicious, imperialist war, it feels especially important to be clear and intentional in how we discuss the (real, but relatively marginal) presence of neo-nazis in Ukraine.

——————————————————————————–

War is fucked, and it isn’t always clear what anarchists anywhere should be doing in this context. We inform ourselves by reading interviews with anarchists on the ground, by talking to friends and family who are more closely connected to the events, and through critical and analytical discussions within our circles. Deciding that this situation is too complex to engage with would only cede space to ideologues, who simplify and cherry-pick history and current events in order to build arguments that benefit their economic interests and political cliques.

This time we were a small group, but we hope to inspire other anarchists around us to engage with this conflict. We will continue to mobilize the rage and heartbreak we feel at both the mass graves in Mariupol and Bucha, and at the structural racism that underwrites indifference to bombings and displacements elsewhere in the world, in order to act in solidarity with all people suffering due to geo-political machinations and imperialist ambitions.

Solidarity with the inheritors of the anarchist tradition in Ukraine!

Solidarity with the anarchist and anti-fascists arrested and currently detained in Belarus, for allegedly disseminating anti-war and anti-police materials!

Solidarity with all the anti-war arsonists, hackers, and demonstrators in Russia!

Solidarity with the London Makhnovists, the yacht blockaders in Turkey, and all others taking direct action against the holdings of the Russian ruling class around the world!

Against great games and autocracy! For anarchy and self-determination!

The Montreal Sholom Schwarzbard Crew

 

Montreal Anarchist Solidarity with Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine and War Resisters in Russia and Belarus

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Mar 292022
 

From No Borders Media

(March 27, 2022) A small group of Montreal-area anarchists gathered downtown earlier today, and marched to the Russian consulate in solidarity with anti-fascists and the anti-war movement in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Protesters held up banners reading (in a mix of English, French and Russian): “No to war!”, “Putin: Fuck Off!”, “No more Tsars! Up the anti-fascist resistance everywhere!”, and “Solidarity with Ukrainian and Russian war resisters”. At the consulate, whose gates were already vandalized with red paint, protesters attached the banners, and read a communiqué from an anti-war action in Moscow. Before leaving, a few protesters egged the front of the consulate.

Solidarity with people resisting war and occupation, not with states, not with any fascists, and not with NATO.

(Photo and report by No Borders Media)

facebook: www.facebook.com/NoBordersMediaNetwork/posts/1208123346261692
instagram: www.instagram.com/p/CboaPmlMlmK
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Communique from Operation Solidarity, Kyiv

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Mar 272022
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Greetings, comrades!

We are the Ukrainian anti-authoritarian volunteer network, “Operation Solidarity”.

Since the first days of escalation by Russia, we have taken part in the resistance against the invasion, as have the majority of Ukrainian anarchists and anti-authoritarian left activists because we believe that this war is imperialist and usurping.

This is not a war of “de-nazification”, as the Kremlin claims. The problems of the far-right in Ukraine exist as they do in many European countries, but their scale is highly exaggerated by Russian propaganda which exploits antifascism. Life in Ukraine is incomparably more free than it is in Russia, which has only become increasingly fascistic during the course of this escalation.

Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population does not need to be “liberated”. As of now, this war is primarily being waged in regions where Russian language prevails, where local people join the territorial defense units en masse, craft Molotov cocktails, and construct barricades to repel the so-called “liberators”.

Though we remain critical towards the actions of western countries up until now, responsibility for this war lies solely with the highest seats of power in Russia, unrelenting in their ambition to expand their sphere of influence.

The war in Ukraine is a people’s war. We cannot stand idly by!

Presently, our comrades have joined the territorial defense and have formed their units there. The primary objective of Operation Solidarity is to provide them with everything they need. Such needs include: procuring high-grade body armour, ballistic helmets, tactical medical kits, and a myriad other military equipment. As of now, obtaining such vital necessities is impossible in Ukraine.

Additionally, Operation Solidarity aids refugees, distributes precious medications, and lends ever important and tangible support to local anti-authoritarian initiatives. We collaborate with the feminist cooperative ReSew, Lviv Vegan Kitchen, as well as a courier initiative distributing medication in Kyiv.

Finally, we receive and review applications from international volunteers who have opted to join the anarchist unit of the territorial defense and help facilitate their journey to Ukraine.

At this time, we call for your solidarity. Lukewarm, indecisive stances and abstract denunciations of war in general will not help us stop the dictator. Hence, we encourage you to state your concrete position in whatever form you can– we will spread your expression of solidarity here in Ukraine. We ask you to support our volunteer organization! Our duty is to provide our comrades with everything they need, and that cannot be accomplished without your help!

Greetings from Kyiv,
Operation Solidarity
https://t.me/solidarnistinua

White Lives Matter: Neo-Nazi Initiative Has a Quebec Franchise

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Mar 212022
 

From Montréal Antifasciste

Warning: This article includes screenshots of chat room conversations and visual elements of an antisemitic and racist nature.

White Lives Matter (WLM) is a neo-Nazi initiative that over the past year has spread to a number of areas in the US and Canada, as well as to New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in the world. The network’s first documented action was a series of decentralized demonstrations on May 8, 2021. The low turnout for these events led some observers to conclude that the undertaking had failed, but that optimistic assessment proved premature, as the network continued to grow, with an increasing number of actions over the past year.

WLM signals an attempt to reconsolidate the neo-Nazi milieu via decentralized chat rooms on the Telegram app. This approach is in part an effort to circumvent various obstacles, ranging from censorship on the major social media platforms to doxxing and other forms of resistance from the antifascist movement, as well as eventual criminal prosecution. It also parallels the international tendency amongst neo-Nazis towards clandestine, decentralized, and “leaderless” forms of activism, a trend with roots stretching back to the 1970s. Over the years, this has given rise to the “accelerationist” current and the increased prevalence of “lone wolf” mass murderers.

The WLM project also reflects substantial frustration with the marginal status of the neo-Nazi far right and a desire to move beyond the current subculture and the ideological quarrels among different tendencies and to form an activist network able to exercise genuine influence.

Although WLM is beyond any shadow of a doubt a neo-Nazi phenomenon, the American organizers’ original intent was to soften the movement’s image, which concretely translated into a superficial reticence to openly identify with the Nazi legacy or to use the swastika or other Nazi symbols in public discussions or on the stickers that the movement’s activists put up in public. Participants were also instructed (an instruction they often ignored) not to discuss the “Jewish question” or to encourage violence on public channels. Despite this, the chat rooms are completely saturated with Hitler memes, explicit references to historical Nazism, and unbridled racism of the most extreme variety—jokes about lynching Blacks, Holocaust denial videos, discussions asserting that Jews are not human and must be exterminated, etc.

The world as imagined by members of the White Lives Matter

WLM is not a formal organization; each local group has its own Telegram channel moderated by its own admin or admins. Nonetheless, it is a well-coordinated project, many of the channels having been created in 2021 by a small original group, which then sought out activists in each region to act as admins. Propaganda promotes shared methods and goals, and dates for actions and decisions regarding “messaging” appear to be centralized.

Telegram channels can be strictly unidirectional (like an email newsletter, with the content entirely determined by the admin), or they can take the form of an open chat, somewhat in the style of a public Facebook group. In many cases, the unidirectional channels include a parallel chat room – this is the basic structure of the WLM regional groups. Once these virtual spaces were established, the participants were encouraged to print WLM posters and stickers (typically, different variations on the central racist theme of the “great replacement” and the oppression of whites at the hands of other groups), to coordinate outreach and propaganda campaigns, and to take photos of their actions and post them on Telegram to encourage other people to also get involved.

Some WLM outings have received coverage in the Canadian media (e.g., posters in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and New Battleford, Saskatchewan; in Toronto, where they have joined demonstrations against public health measures; see also the recent report on WLM activities in Montreal in Pivot), but mostly they have gone unnoticed. In some cases, local groups have met in person to coordinate more ambitious actions, e.g., banner drops in public areas.

This structure and approach is not unique to WLM; it is also shared by various other groups on the far right at the present time. Telegram provides a platform that allows individuals to get involved according to their own comfort level, and to become integrated into a community of sorts, with no need to meet or talk to anyone in person, all the while being encouraged to develop activities suited to their own capabilities.

As of this writing, many WLM channels are to all intents and purposes dormant, with less than a dozen members. Meanwhile, some groups in the US have taken their activities off the internet and into the streets in the form of banner drops, organized outings, leafletting, etc. In the areas where it is most active, WLM has been entwined with other neo-Nazi groups, such as the Folkish Resistance Movement (whose propaganda has been distributed in Saskatchewan and Alberta),[1] the Canada First group in Ontario, which received a certain amount of visibility at the so-called “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa, and the attempt to set up a group called “Nationalist 13” (“13” symbolizing “anti-communist”) in southern Ontario.

Examining the WLM’s internal chat logs, obtained from comrades with Cornvallis Antifa, it appears that in Canada the user known as “McLeafin” was brought on board by the US organizers in April 2021. He then set up a number of channels for different provinces and proceeded to seek out recruits to act as admins.

Continue reading on the site of Montréal Antifasciste

Spring Is Coming: Take to the Streets against the War

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Mar 052022
 

From CrimethInc.

The following call to action originally appeared in Russian on avtonom.org, the platform that emerged from the Russia-wide anarchist network Autonomous Action.

Our Russian colleagues report that, under a new law introduced this week, those who are found guilty of spreading misinformation about the invasion of Ukraine can be sentenced to years in prison. This apparently includes those who simply refer to the invasion as a “war,” rather than a “special operation,” as Putin’s government has insisted on doing. In this context, demonstrators show tremendous courage taking to the streets.

The next mass day of protest is scheduled for this Sunday, March 6. We hope their efforts will be echoed by demonstrators around the world, placing pressure from all directions on the Russian government, the global capitalist class, military profiteers, and all the other forces that are abetting the invasion.

To support political prisoners in Russia, donate to the Anarchist Black Cross in Moscow here. To support anarchists in Ukraine, donate here or here. There is also a solidarity structure to support refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

The chief supporters of the prevailing order in Russia today.
Anti-war demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Spring Is Coming: Take to the Streets against the War

The Russian army has invaded Ukraine. Putin has lost his senses and his army is bombing cities, shooting civilians, and killing children. More than one million people have fled the country in order to escape from Putin’s “liberators.”

We refuse to submit to Russian military censorship. We say openly and clearly: this is war. This is a war of conquest and the Russian army is running it. With weapons in their hands, Ukrainians are successfully defending themselves from the invaders, but we, who are inside Russia, cannot stand aside from these events. We must show each other and the world that we are against this war, that only Putin and his gang need it. To be against the war is genuine anti-fascism right now.

March 6, this coming Sunday, is the general day of anti-war actions in Russia. Take the central square of your city! One of the meeting points in Moscow is the Square of the train stations at 15:00. There are also meetings at 19:00 and other times. Decide and organize for yourselves, team up with your friends. The main thing is to get out on the streets.

The Russian authorities are panicking now. They have realized that they are losing this war. That is why they hysterically threaten anti-war protesters—with expulsion, or with dismissal, or with immediate conscription into the army, or with jail. Don’t be afraid of them. Ukrainians in their cities go out into the streets with bare hands to protest against the invaders. They are standing against solders with riffles, against tanks. How can one be afraid of the rusty machinery of the Russian police?

We demand an immediate end to the war. We demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. This is the main condition for any further action: the aggression of the Russian Federation must stop. We must stop the slaughter of people. Yes, Putin didn’t ask us when he planned the invasion—but we didn’t stop him in time. So it is important to do it at least now.

Of course, our main goal now is to stop the war in Ukraine. But we have to fight for the future of Russia, as well. There isn’t much time left for this deranged dictator. His small victorious war didn’t go according to the plan and now his removal is only a matter of time and concrete means. But what happens next, after Putin?

The lands of the “Russian Federation” are now at a historical crossroads. The collapse of Putin’s regime may trigger the process of liberation. Sure, they won’t lead to anarchist ideals immediately—but at least Russia will no longer be at war with the rest of the world and with its own population. In this wave of changes, there will be opportunities for serious changes in the political system towards greater decentralization—for example, the complete abolition of the presidency and the transition to a parliamentary republic, which we have been talking about for a long time.

However, there’s another possibility for “what comes next” after Putin: the regime transforming into a pupal stage, into an even more authoritarian regime—the complete closure of all borders and the cessation of international contacts. Blocking half of the Internet in Russia tonight is only the first sign. There will no longer be any forces left for aggressive wars, but this will not make it easier for the inhabitants: they will find themselves in a state reminiscent of North Korea. And there is absolutely no anarchist movement in North Korea. None.

The face of the future of Russia as well as the present? It remains to be seen.

Now, in the coming days and weeks, we all have a unique window of opportunity. Putin’s authoritarian regime has made a fatal mistake and is reeling. If the psychopath in the Kremlin does not press the nuclear button, he will not live long. And now everything depends on us, the inhabitants of Russia. If we remain silent, then the agenda will quickly be hijacked by isolationists and conservatives, who are in the majority in the upper levels of power. But if we are active, we will win. A rusted leviathan needs only to be pushed and it will crumble into dust.

Take the streets on March 6. If you can’t go out on March 6, go out on other days. If you can’t go out at all, protest against the war in other ways: distribute leaflets and posters, stick up stickers, write “no war” on medical masks, hang posters from balconies. Finally, talk to people. This is now more important than studies, more important than work, more important than anything else in the world. Now the fate of not only Ukraine, but also Russia is being decided. Our future is being determined—and only we will be responsible for what it will be.

Winter is ending. Spring is coming.

Autonomous Action

A sticker reading “No War” in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A sticker reading “No War” on an urban map in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A sign affixed to a backpack via charming pins, belonging to a Russian anti-war protester.

Gridlocked: The Freedom Convoy and the New Canadian Populism

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Feb 202022
 

From subMedia

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular movement demanding an immediate end to vaccine mandates and other restrictions on daily life has shaken the Canadian state to its core. Its calls have deeply resonated with members of settler-colonial society in which public health measures and other forms of collective solidarity are seen by some as an affront to individual freedom and an undue hindrance on capitalist enterprise. While the movement is now facing the brunt of a massive wave of state repression, from which it is unlikely to recover, the contradictions it has exposed are only set to get worse.

Ill Winds from Ottawa

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Feb 162022
 

From CrimethInc.

Thinking Through the Threats and Opportunities as a Far-Right Initiative Gains Momentum

Opponents of vaccine mandates have established protest encampments in Ottawa and elsewhere around Canada, blockading several routes crossing the United States border. Far-right organizers and former police officers have prominent positions in this movement, and police have taken a relatively hands-off approach thus far; it appears likely that the model currently being tested in Canada will appear elsewhere around the world shortly. In the following extensive report, our correspondent in Montréal explores the sequence of events that led up to these developments, reviews the agendas of the various forces vying for control, and reflects on what we can do in a situation in which the far right has gained the initiative.

To preface this report, it is necessary to deal briefly with the question of whether the anti-mandate protests in Ottawa represent a movement for “freedom,” as the participants insist.

On October 25, 2021, officers of the New York City Police Department participated in shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge—where they famously kettled and arrested Occupy protesters almost precisely ten years earlier—to protest against a vaccine mandate for municipal employees. While we passionately believe that people must be free make their own medical decisions and determine their own risk tolerance, the police were effectively demanding the right to expose those they arrest to even greater medical risk. This is a particularly clear-cut case showing that the movement against vaccine mandates is not necessarily a movement against state control or in favor of medical autonomy.

An authentic movement for freedom and medical autonomy would oppose all the forces that compel workers to expose themselves to COVID-19 against their wishes—in other words, it would be explicitly anti-capitalist. Likewise, such a movement would support striking students intent on determining for themselves which risks they wish to take.

When anti-mandate protesters maintain that borders should be tightly controlled by passport checks, yet decry vaccine passports as “fascism”—when they complain about police checking for vaccine cards, but support police in arresting and imprisoning people by the million—when they object to the government placing limits on economic activity, but not to the vast economic disparities that force workers to face potentially lethal risks simply in order to pay rent—they are not taking a stand in favor of freedom so much as they are willfully changing the subject from the encroachments of state power as a whole to a few details of state policy. This is part of the process through which a spurious right-wing opposition functions to redirect rebellious impulses into ersatz movements that ultimately strengthen state institutions.

It is possible that a consistent movement opposing state control in favor of medical autonomy could serve as a space in which those who oppose vaccine passports could go through a process of political development. But for this to be possible, these movements would have to foster a systemic analysis of power, whereas in fact, they are dominated by right-wing elements intent on limiting their political horizons. Therefore, at the minimum, it is necessary to oppose and outflank the right-wing elements in these movements—which is the subject of the following text.

The paranoid fears concerning vaccination and the conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19 concern entirely the issue of the loss of autonomy. They allegorically (and distortedly) project real economic and social experience onto the body. In this manner, they both express and repress the experience, just as dreams, and more generally, the language of the unconscious, do: it’s not, allegedly, that the small store owner or the small businessman has been crushed by large states’ economies of scale, but rather that there is a plan to control his/her brain, or his/her body, his or her reproductive capacities.

Because the anti-vaccine unconscious is, like every form of mass irrationalism, the exact opposite of what it believes it is—because, in other words, it is a deeply conformist way of thinking—it is also a particularly fertile ground for the development of forms of racism, among which the anti-semitic and the Sinophobic elements are predominant.

-“The Anti-Vaccine Unconscious

Without further ado—the report.

Continue reading on Crimethinc.

A Retrospective of the Counter-demonstration of 12 February 2022, Opposed to the Demonstration in Support of the “Freedom Convoys”

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Feb 142022
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

We were more than 150 on Saturday morning gathered to oppose the far right, which is currently riding the wave of anger at health measures to advance its political agenda. Among the demonstrators we were confronted with, if the most widely waved flags were those of Canada, others were raising high flags of the Front canadien-français, a far-right ultra-nationalist collective with a Catholic heritage [note: we are told that the flag in question, the Carillon-Sacré-Coeur, is not the flag of the Front canadien-français. The flag dates from the early 20th century in Ultramontanist circles. The FCF was a small group created and dissolved in recent years that appropriated this flag, like various right-wing nationalists.MTL CI]. The extreme right-wing populist of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, was also present.

The energy of the counter-demonstrators was very good, despite the sadness of the event. We chanted loudly for hours “A-Anti-Antifascists” and “Neither Trudeau nor covidiot, the solution is not fascist”. Our biggest victory was to deprive the demonstration of all its flag-wearing trucks and cars by blocking the exit to the parking lot. Even in a small, well-motivated group we are really capable of curtailing the movements led by the extreme right.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Despite the situation across Canada, millions in funding from obscure sources, and the spirit of the freedom convoy movement inspired by last year’s assault on Capitol Hill, the SPVM deployed at least as many fascists in police clothing as there were counter-demonstrators to surround us and block any attempt to move. In riot gear, many of them proudly wore “thin blue line” patches. Mixed with rage and sadness, we waited for a long time surrounded by riot cops once the demonstration had left their place of departure. It was pitiful to see so many riot cops putting us in cages without paying attention to the fachos gathering in our neighborhoods.

The situation is extremely worrying. As anti-fascists, we cannot allow the seed that is being sown to germinate. We must organize and multiply counter-demonstrations, let’s be on the lookout for what is being prepared in our neighborhoods. As an extremely well-funded fascist mobilization takes shape and is protected by cops with symbols that have a more than alarming background, putting forward antifascist perspectives in our struggles seems more than imperative.

Photo: André Querry