Debating the militia

Jim heartfield Jim at
Wed Jun 3 03:02:43 PDT 1998

In message <v03102800b19a316494d6@[]>, Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at> writes
>However, as I noted in other posts, I do think that some on this
>list--many? hard to say--are more willing to make efforts to not only
>understand but also to demonstrate understanding toward militia men,
>anti-abortion Catholics, etc., in contrast to the kind of dismissive (and
>sometimes overtly negative) comments that come in the direction of
>so-called identity politics of women, queers, people of color, etc. I don't
>think I am the only one who sees the difference.

I think you should name names if you are going to criticise people.

I read the discussion rather differently.

Nobody here takes the _ideas_ of the militias at all seriously, but they do want to understand the social experience they represent. On the politics of identity, of which I know I have been critical here, it is because I do take the ideas seriously that I think they are worth criticising.

Speaking as a non-American, I have been perplexed by the 'militia' movement and learnt a great deal from these posts.

My provisional opinion on the phenomenon would be to question Katha's identification of militia ideology and the fascism of the thirties (perhaps because I'm just reading Robert Black's brilliant Fascism in Germany).

One rather obvious distinction is that the fascists' raison d'etre was to mobilise amongst the middle classes a counter-weight to the mass workers' parties. From what I can see the militias are not a counter- weight to anything.

Maybe this sounds obvious, but as an observer from the outside this ideology sounds remarkably similar to the politics of the Republican majority forged by Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan. All the principal themes are there: right to bear arms, a streak of survivalism, hostility to the UN, 'family values'. That that section of the working class that was won to the right through an identification with nation and a coded hostility to minorities.

I guess the difference is that they are no longer the insiders that they were in the eighties. The collapse of the Republican government must mean the collapse of the republican majority as a social bloc. Is this not where the militias have made their recruits? Their own distinctive ideology seems to represent an involution of Republicanism, along the lines indicated by Patrick Buchanan's bid for the candidacy:

National chauvinism is turned into isolationism; Race suprematism is turned into a white victim-culture; Distrust of big government is turned into hostility to all government; religious belief in the apocaplypse is concretised; Cold war paranoia turned into UN/ZOG paranoia.

It all sounds pretty unpleasant, but unless I'm reading it wrong, it is the ideology of a social force that has been defeated. -- Jim heartfield

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