The spreading battle against the forces of economic globalism is shaping the extremism of the new millennium.
As the streets of Seattle exploded into 1960s-style violence last November, stunned Americans were told that "anarchists" and other left-wingers were leading a huge riot aimed at protesting capitalist globalism.
Black-masked youths vandalized corporate property, squatters put up "Rent is Theft" signs and hundreds of protesters engaged in pitched street battles with rubber bullet-firing police as they contested the growing power of the pro-free trade World Trade Organization (WTO).
And these reports were true — but only to a point.
Right alongside the "progressive" groups that demonstrated in Seattle — mostly peaceful defenders of labor, the environment, animal rights and similar causes — were the hard-edged soldiers of neofascism. They carried signs decrying "The New World Order Agenda," bitterly denounced "Jewish media plus big capital" and, in at least one case, fought it out with black youths amidst the tear gas.
The "Battle in Seattle" brought erstwhile antagonists together to face a common enemy in the streets.
What was behind this truly remarkable mix? How was it that members of the far "left" and "right" found themselves facing down police together? In the answers to these questions may lie the shape of future American extremism.
"The New American Patriot will be neither left nor right, just a freeman fighting for liberty," white supremacist ideologue Louis Beam wrote in the aftermath of Seattle. "New alliances will form between those who have in the past thought of themselves as 'right-wingers,' conservatives and patriots, with those who have thought of themselves as 'left-wingers,' progressives, or just 'liberal.' "
"The new politics of America is liberty from the NWO ["New World Order"] Police State and nothing more," Beam wrote. Whatever their political sympathies, the violent Seattle protesters were bravely fighting the "Police State goons" who were there "to protect the slimy corporate interest of 'free trade' at the expense of free people."
The common enemy was, in a word, globalism.
'A Precursor to the Future'
More and more, people on both ends of the traditional political spectrum — particularly those who are young — are finding that their world views overlap. They are opposed to what are seen as the homogenizing forces of globalism.
They despise capitalism, with its tendency to concentrate wealth and to make people and economies more and more alike — turning the planet into what is seen as a bland and materialistic McWorld. They pine for nations of peasant-like folk tied closely to the land and to their neighbors. They fight for a pristine environment, a land unsullied by corporate agriculture and urbanization.
They detest man-centered philosophies, seeing animals as no less important than humans. They reject rationalism in favor of a kind of mystical spirituality. Above all, these mainly young people — in some ways, the descendants of the "back-to-the-land" hippies of the 1960s — favor decentralization.
One neofascist group in Britain — which is experiencing a similar left/right convergence — puts it like this: "The [National Revolutionary Faction] is committed to fighting globalisation whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. ... There will definitely be a convergence between groups presently considered to be opposed to one another...
[W]e are witnessing the gradual emergence of two distinct phenomena: the centralists and the decentralists. The time is approaching when activists from all anti-Capitalist groupings will be forced to decide which side" they are on.
Just listen to Matt Hale, the leader of the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator, who was in Seattle: "[T]he riots ... can be considered the first riots in recent memory by white people. ... What happened in Seattle is a precursor for the future, when white people in droves protest the actions of World Jewry ... by taking to the streets and throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of the enemy's machine. ...
"It is from the likes of the white people who protested the WTO and who, in some cases, went to jail for illegal actions, that the World Church of the Creator must look for our converts — not the stale right wing which has failed miserably to put even one dent in the armor of the Jewish monster," Hale said.
"[W]e should concentrate on these zealots, not the meet, eat and retreat crowd of the right wing." American Front and the Third Position
That the right and left share certain ideas is not an entirely new phenomenon. Since the 1980s, neo-Nazi Tom Metzger, leader of the California-based White Aryan Resistance, has rejected the left-right dichotomy and concentrated on labor issues he believes will draw in working-class whites. Concerns about ecology and animal rights also have been long shared by progressives and many neofascists.
But in the aftermath of Seattle, it is clear that this left/right convergence on many issues is growing. Today, this phenomenon is most evident in the development of the so-called "Third Position" — neither capitalism nor communism, as its backers say, but a third way.
Already, these ideas have had a real impact on the American racist rock scene. They have influenced many of the U.S. "racialist" elements of neo-pagan religions like Odinism and Asatrú. They are important to many members of the American-based Hammerskin Nation, the largest neo-Nazi Skinhead coalition in the world. But they are most explicit in the Harrison, Ark.-based group American Front (AF).
Started around 1990, the neo-Nazi AF was long based in Portland, Ore., headed by a Skinhead named Bob Heick, and composed mainly of other Skinheads, many of whom had records of violence. But when it was taken over in the last couple of years by its current leader, James Porazzo, the group's mailing address was moved to Arkansas.
At the same time, af began to adopt explicitly Third Position ideas, using as its slogan, "National Freedom, Social Justice, Racial Identity."
What Porazzo says he is working for is "social revolution in a racialist context." "We propose a workable, realistic alternative, and that is Separatism!" he says. "White autonomy, Black autonomy, Brown autonomy and death to the current twisted system. ...
The only other obvious route would be an eventual winner take all race war: I don't think anyone with any sense would want that. ... [L]et me make it clear that American Front would rather fight the REAL ENEMY — the system."
For Porazzo, that system is "the dictatorship of the dollar." Behind this tyranny, behind the capitalist and globalist forces Porazzo sees sweeping the world, lie "the Zionists and the Race that spawned them ... a filthy, evil people the world would be better without." Charging interest, he adds, "is a filthy Jewish practice."
Fighting Globalism with Cmdr. Doolittle
AF is not the only explicitly Third Positionist U.S. organization. The American Coalition of Third Positionists, a group based in Rockville, Md., publishes a newsletter called Neither Left Nor Right. American Skinhead publications like Thule, Fenris Wolf and Hammerskin Press have carried ads in recent months touting Third Position ideology.
And in Canada, affiliates of the Liaison Committee for Revolutionary Nationalism — a Europe-based Third Position coalition that counts the AF as a member — are located in Saskatoon and Hearst, Ontario.
Third Position ideas have also made themselves felt in such places as the American Nationalist Union (ANU), a group that opposes "Third World" immigration and calls for "voluntary racial separation." The January issue of ANU's Nationalist Times attacks other right-wing groups for not recognizing the contribution made by leftists in Seattle and being too focused on race and taxes.
Seattle, it says, was "the first large-scale display of grassroots anti-globalist dissent in America in years."
Feeding into this anti-globalist vision shared by many on the left and right are very real economic dislocations. Martin Lee, author of The Beast Reawakens, a book on the rebirth of European fascism, says such pressures are important: "As economic globalization has accelerated, producing definite losers and winners, so too has the momentum of neofascist and right-wing extremist organizations."
The radical right has added other ideas into the mix. More and more, its ideologues applaud the actions of terrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front and sometimes violent "deep ecologists" like those in Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front, which claimed the $12 million arson of a Vail, Colo., ski resort in 1998.
They support the "national liberation" struggles of countries with terrorist histories like Iraq and Libya. They cheer black groups like the Nation of Islam.
This embrace of non-white battles against the "New World Order" is particularly remarkable. Most Third Positionists spring from a neofascist and anti-Semitic background. Yet, calling themselves "national revolutionaries," they say they must support anti-capitalist, anti-communist struggles everywhere.
"Europe is our home," one British Third Positionist group leader wrote recently. "[B]ut ... the struggle is one. So if we end up in the jungles of Paraguay fighting alongside the National Revolutionary Parrots League of Commander Doolittle, it would mean that we would have to say: 'OK, it is a little warmer here.
The people are a little more dusky than back home. But the struggle continues.' Why? Because the New World Order is seeking to establish itself everywhere." Ecology for Aryans
It isn't only the specter of globalism that attracts those on the "left." Concerns about the environment have also brought traditional "leftists" into bizarre coalitions with right-wing extremists — a fusion known as the "green-brown" alliance.
It is a fusion with a long history.
Since its beginnings in 19th-century Europe, ecological thought has been associated with the racist right, with key early thinkers calling for Teutonic racial purity and a "survival of the fittest" attitude to famines and similar disasters in the undeveloped world. Many war-time Nazi officials were distinctly ecologically minded.
Forty years later in America, Tom Metzger's neo-Nazi war tabloid was declaring, "Ecology is for Aryans, too." Also in the 1980s, American Ben Klassen, founder of the neo-Nazi Church of the Creator, said in his book Salubrious Living that whites should "avail ourselves of a clean, wholesome environment; fresh, unpolluted air; clean water; and the beneficial therapy from the direct rays of the sun."
At around the same time, several heroes of the counterculture of the 1960s became embroiled in debates after making allegedly racist remarks. Edward Abbey, author of the "deep ecology" classic The Monkey Wrench Gang, bemoaned the immigration into the United States of "culturally-morally-genetically impoverished people."
David Foreman, the founder of Earth First!, was forced out after describing an ongoing Ethiopian famine as "nature's method of population control."
Then, in 1998, the Sierra Club was nearly destroyed by an internal debate over immigration. Members were asked to vote on a resolution declaring both legal and illegal immigration to be an environmental ill. After a public and embarassing debate, the measure was defeated — but only after 40% of those polled backed it.
Today, the radical right's use of "green" issues is growing. In a December editorial, for instance, Tom Metzger says that in the past environmentalists and racists "damned" one another. "Not so in the 21st Century," Metzger said in his WAR tabloid. "The best interests of the Environment will meld into the best interests of Race. The health of the Race and the health of the Environment will be one."
As the German Nazis said: "Blood and Soil."
"Ecology is warped for mystical-nationalist ends by a whole series of neofascist groups and parties," Janet Biehl, a specialist on "eco-fascism," wrote recently. "Their programmatic literature often combines ecology and nationalism in ways that are designed to appeal to people who do not consider themselves fascists... ." American Front, for instance, describes itself as "whole-heartedly a Green movement."
'Wake Up and Smell the Tear Gas'
Another fertile area for Third Position growth is among the followers of pre-Christian polytheistic theologies, notably the racist elements of Odinism and Asatr ú.
Racist adherents of these nature-based belief systems — mainly young Skinheads — long for a return to the genetically based tribe, or folk. They mythologize the misty past of white northern Europeans as a romantic tableau of boar-slaying warriors, dewy-eyed Aryan maidens and pristine Alpine scenery — precisely the kind of vision of nature-loving, fiercely independent peoples held up by most Third Positionists.
In Seattle, the left and right did not exactly march arm in arm. Militia members decrying international conspiracies were largely ignored. Members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance who were there reported back about "the most utterly disgusting street punks and campus Jews" they had met — and battled — in the streets.
Still, it seems clear that the hard right will draw increasingly from the ranks of its former enemies. "The radical Left has much more potential to produce true Revolutionaries than the Right," the AF's Porazzo says. "We're seeing more Leftists coming to the Revolution and American Front than I ever dreamed possible.
These comrades have, generally, been able to grasp [our] ideas much, much quicker than the ex-Rightists... ."
Or, in the concluding words of Louis Beam's angry essay: "A new dawn is breaking upon the American political scene. The old words of divide and conquer will come to mean less and less to thinking people. There will be no meaningful differences between those who want freedom.
But rather, just 'Americans' who want to be free and are fighting the Police State to gain that freedom. Wake up and smell the tear gas, freedom is calling its sons and daughters."