The Continuing Fictitious Struggle

Antifascists and others on the Left like to believe they have been struggling against the same Right for almost 100 years. But there is little evidence for this assumption.

Breitbart last week published a commentary about homosexuals who were demonstrating against the Israelis and calling themselves “Queers for Palestine.” The commentator reminded the activists that while the Israelis are quite tolerant of gays, the Palestinians treat them rather brutally. This may all be true but is also irrelevant for why gays, Black Lives Matter, and other groups on the intersectional Left have taken the side of the Palestinians (really Hamas) against the Israelis. They are siding with what they imagine to be a permanent revolutionary Left, all the parts of which form a harmonious whole.

According to this enduring myth, which finds expression in, among other sources, Mark Bray’s The Anti-Fascist Handbook, the current Left is a continuation of the Communist-led Popular Front of the 1930s, while the unchanging enemy is fascism. While the fascist enemy may vary, depending on what the self-described Left decides to crusade against, the Republican Party and the Israeli government are now stand-ins for Hitler, the former apartheid government in South Africa, and other villains of the Left.

What happens politically or culturally must be understood through these ideologically shaped lenses: Antifascists believe they are still in a struggle that erupted between Right and Left almost 90 years ago, and whomever they designate as “fascists” become the heavies in this morality play.

There are two problems with this game. First, the Right—or what is designated as such—keeps changing so that it ceases to resemble what it once was. Second, the antifascist, pro-LGBT, feminist Left is not the equivalent of the old interwar Left. The fascist enemy, one may be led to believe from reading Bray or Jason Stanley, the author of How Fascism Works, is white, male, Christian, and a sworn enemy of Third World immigration, gay marriage, and other current sacred cows.

Among their other enormities, fascists are also occupying land that nonwhites or Muslims are now claiming. The Israelis, for example, are surrogates for the hated Christian West, who keep postcolonial Muslim revolutionaries from taking back Palestine, where presumably they would erect an antifascist state. If there is a connection between Hitler’s Third Reich and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we may have to leave it to antifascist luminaries to explain it to us.

It is also hard to figure out how immigration restrictionists are fascists, since fascists were typically expansionists, not people who wanted to close their borders and hang out with their own kind. According to Jason Stanley, “Fascist opposition to gender studies flows from its patriarchal ideology.” It may be difficult to pin this on the interwar Right since the present feminist movement with its list of demands (for lesbians, the transgendered, etc.) did not exist in the 1930s, except as a very marginal presence. It is hard to imagine any political faction in the 1930s, whether on the Left or on the Right, coming out for “gender studies” that advocate sex-change operations and declare gender differences to be social constructs.

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