Debating the militia

Charles Brown charlesb at
Wed Jun 3 08:14:04 PDT 1998

Jim's sketch is valid. The militia's anti-government emphasis has some sincererity whereas Reagan's was demogogic. But obviously they both draw upon the same American political mythology of Levelling.

There is some danger that the militias could become the mass troops of an American variant of brownshirts, based on a different dynamic than in Europe in the 1930's. However, the militia would not be part of a sharp military hierarchy like Nazism or Fascism. They are libertarian, levellers, quasi-insane democrats. Acutally, now that I think of it , they are anti-republicans with a small "r". They are crazy about direct democracy, in two senses of "crazy" - enthusiastic and warped idea of it. They are mad democrats and archaic libertarians. This does not contradict with the idea of them being a defeated social force. But their being defeated creates a danger that they could be part of a chaotic, non-hierarchical, fascistic resolution of their crisis of defeat.

Charles Brown

>>> Jim heartfield writes

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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