Confronting the Right: An Introduction

Against the Current, No. 194, May/June 2018

The Editors

WITH THE GROWTH of the reactionary, racist and sometimes violent, even terrorist right wing in the present period under Trump, a multifaceted discussion is happening in left and progressive circles about what these developments mean and how to respond.

The articles we’re presenting here touch on a number of issues. Does the growth of right-wing quasi-populism, so dishonestly but skillfully manipulated by Trump and rightwing media, foreshadow a brand of “American fascism”?

When purveyors of white supremacy are invited to speak on college campuses, are they actually aiming to win support — or rather to provoke trouble and gain publicity? What tactics to oppose them are both principled and effective?

Should they be regarded as promoting “hate speech” — and should that kind of speech be shut down, and if so, how and by whom?  Is there a clear distinction to be made between Nazilike organizers like Spencer, as opposed to intellectual racists like Charles Murray or loudmouth provocateurs like Ann Coulter? (For an additional useful contribution on the subject, see Samuel Farber in Jacobin, “A Socialist Approach to Free Speech,”

What are the threats coming from state legislatures and the U.S. Congress on progressive forces, particularly the growing pro-Palestinian movement?

For our previous coverage, see Aliya Miranda’s account of Gainesville students and the community confronting Richard Spencer (ATC 192) and Michael Principe’s discussion of Charlottesville and its aftermath (ATC 190).

The contributions we present here by Mark Bray, Purnima Bose and Martin Oppen­heimer take up some of these questions, which we recognize are by no means settled. We anticipate further contributions and discussion — and we hope our readers are inspired by the example of FC St. Pauli in Hamburg, Germany!

May-June 2018, ATC 194