As we described here and here, an anti-communist group said months ago that they would come to Marshall Park on December 28th. What really happened was that they soon cancelled their march citing “safety concerns”, and no anti-com group showed on the day December 28th. The following is an analysis of this experience.
Summary of eventsAntifascists in Charlotte propagated an event to de-platform fascists at 4 PM at the Martin Luther King statue in Marshall Park and arrived there at that time. From 4:00 until about 5:30 they stayed at that location, which is on some high ground near the perimeter of the park. During this relatively long amount of time a fascist, who was recording this group, was identified and run out of the park by local antifascists. Antifascists in Charlotte did not move the perimeter down closer to the other antifascists, as well as the Indivisible crowd that was gathering, until it was getting dark and the rally was starting by the pond. In total there were about 45 masked antifascists and probably another 55 liberal attendants there. During the rally there were some uniting points among all those present, but there was also some back and forth between antifascists and Indivisible when the organizers of the Indivisible march promoted electoral politics and the murderous protectors of capital, CMPD. After this a sidewalk march lasting about 45 minutes went on throughout downtown, leading back to the park. About half way through the march the liberals separated from the larger group of antifascists (which consisted of both Charlotte and visiting comrades). The reasons that the march split are not completely clear to us. The march ended back at Marshall Park and it was over at that time.
During this demonstration there were things that went relatively well, and things that need great improvement. The best things that antifascists in Charlotte did represented a refusal to compromise politics. These good aspects principally derived from unity in strategy, and manifested in two ways: physically driving out the one fascist who showed, and shutting down the politicians who made statements in support of the police. The errors that occurred here, which were serious and many, were due principally to mechanical materialism and also manifested in lack of thorough planning.
Success or failure?
To put Thursday’s action into context, this was the first antifascist action we have had disciplined participation in. Concealing one’s identity is a misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina. What can be said is this experience put into practice the slogan, “dare to struggle, dare to win” because for once in Charlotte a group united by a common enemy used the masking tactic and encouraged sympathetic onlookers to join with flags and masks. Legalism is very popular in the US left today, and our city and state make no exception to this. Legalists would insist that we in practice tail the anti-mask law— in facing this question they often show up to antifascist protests unmasked using the argument, “it’s not worth risking arrest this time.” But to get arrested for this would’ve been worth the benefit of showing some relative degree of militancy, however modest. For what’s one misdemeanor charge compared to the risk of posing absolutely no threat by not incorporating even the most basic tactic in militancy?
However, overall we cannot claim yesterday’s action as a complete victory. It had relatively progressive aspects that needed to happen and be tested out. But if we measure the success by the fact that only one fascist showed up and that no one was arrested, then we are only using factors determined by outside forces. To do this would neglect the necessity for antifascists to take on responsibility for internal things that happened, and be accountable to our ideology: Maoism. The analysis of this action comes down to one fundamental question: can all the shortcomings be blamed on outside factors, or can we learn from these failures, synthesize them into more knowledge, and in the future make the leap from knowledge to practice again?
The Peruvian Communist Party (PCP) writes in its Fundamental Documents, when speaking about Mao, that:
“In Marxist philosophy he developed the essence of dialectics, the law of contradiction, establishing it as the only fundamental law; and besides his profound dialectical understanding of the theory of knowledge, whose center are the two leaps that make up its law (from practice to knowledge and vice versa, but with knowledge to practice being the main one).”
The last set of emphases here is our own. To us, at first, this emphasized part seemed backwards. This was because we understood materialism mechanically, which most of the mistakes made on Thursday reflect. What the above is truly saying is that lessons learned from practice mean nothing if those lessons cannot be incorporated back into practice again. Indeed on Thursday we did not incorporate the lessons we have theoretically learned from the International Communist Movement (ICM) into practice. In order to correct this error we must truly make this leap and not dogmatically emphasize practice without its contradictory aspect, theory.
Communist organizing in street demosIn this document the PCR-RCP provides a great framework as to the way demonstrations should be organized.
For security purposes we will not go deeply into how this was expressed on the ground. Suffice it to say, we could have had much better planning and solidification of roles ahead of time. In many ways the direction of this entire demonstration was scattered and confused. If one person knows exactly what their role is in relation to the greater collective of people on the ground, they are less likely to be confused, looking to the next person for answers they should be able to provide, and more likely to be decisive. If a person knows their role and sees a situation that is not their job to handle, they should know who to look to for that answer because that representation is decided ahead of time and no one leaves their post generally. Not having a thoroughly-enough planned division of labor, for the leadership of this group, represents a remnant of last-minute type planning which, while acceptable for the revisionists, is unacceptable for serious revolutionaries. Truthfully the lack of planning comes from a deeply-rooted inability to accept the necessity to be thorough and apply a dialectical materialist analysis to concrete conditions. If we had understood the gravity of the situation more deeply, we amongst local antifascists would have planned more thoroughly.
Though we did not have enough follow-up and dedication to make it really happen, the plan was to have “unity in strategy and autonomy in tactics“. Something good that ended up coming out of this was that the group of people representing Charlotte were united in action while standing around the statue. In general Charlotte’s antifascists did not leave to take breaks, nor did they give up in maintaining this post as a whole unit. This represented a relatively higher stage of development because rather than being spread out and on individual time, they were united in one purpose: defending the people who had gathered in the park against fascism. This type of unity and relative discipline is something we have no choice but to strengthen in the future. The vast majority of people involved in this bloc did not move and did not stop chanting (the errors of which we will elaborate), but it did take an amount of dedication that was unprecedented in our experience. Out of the good and bad aspects of this period of time spent chanting around the MLK statue, the good aspect can be attributed to a relative amount of discipline.
However, with all this said, the call to remain around the statue for over an hour was inappropriate and did not take into consideration the changing conditions. We could have done a better job in uniting all those who can be united on the ground.
Later in the demonstrated we marched. Quite frankly in this march we lacked militancy. The lack of militancy was reflected in not taking the streets at any time and instead being on the sidewalk. This stemmed from weak leadership. We did not truly confront our enemy at that time: the police. Exhaustion from having chanted for too long played into this. This error had some remnants of legalism to it, but mostly was a failure to identify and act on the contradiction as it existed at that time. We had prepared for an anti-fascist march and did not think far enough ahead to the specifics of carrying out a degree of militancy in the march in case they did not show. But to blame lack of planning alone would be an excuse; the true problem is we did not act swiftly and take advantage of the fact that there were people there that may have been militant if the bar for militancy had been raised by locals. Instead of making a powerful act of actual resistance we basically followed the police throughout downtown. This amount of timidity veered to the right of the revolutionary thing to do in that situation. This is because the population of the march about half way through was thoroughly antifascist. In this situation, objectively, we let our enemy guide our resistance. We ourselves would never get a permit but this was the rally of another group, who we were there to protect, and that group had been in contact with CMPD. In the future, we will learn from this mistake, to be able to apply the necessary amount of militancy for a given situation. Something that will be useful to us in the future is using dialectical materialism to figure out how to analyze a situation and be confident enough to take the streets, while being organized enough to effectively resist the police to the point where we won’t immediately be shut down for doing so. We do not have the answer to this yet and surely avoiding arrest at all cost will not give us this answer. Though we did not avoid arrests at all costs, this particular instance of not taking the streets still represented a rightist decision because in this contradiction between antifascists and the police, the police had the actual power of the march itself the entire time.
Revolutionary ThanksThe call to action for D28 was concretely put out only around two weeks ago, and with such short notice it was likely that not many groups would show. We are grateful that comrades from the IWW, Redneck Revolt, and other organizations (who we will not name here because we don’t have their permission yet) came out with the anticipation of confronting fascists with us. We extend our deepest thanks to these comrades for taking up the call for all antifascists to come out and set a precedent for what’s not welcome in Charlotte. Without them we would have been a very humble group and we recognize that when fascist presence is a threat, that threat unites revolutionaries and communists. We also are grateful to have been in solidarity with the advanced masses who came out to the Indivisible march.
There were a couple of missed opportunities for the communist presence to lead and lay the foundation for more principled unity among all those present. Since we were the first force there, we could’ve spoken before the liberals got the chance to, and let those in attendance know how reformist their leadership was about to be. In this way we could have united with the intermediate and advanced masses that were attracted to the more liberal protest by showing them ahead of time the difference in the tailist methods of the liberals and those of the antifascists, and letting them decide for themselves. This would’ve been proactive, honest about political differences, and thorough. This also would have allowed for more unity between the antifascists representing Charlotte and those who took up the call to travel here. Failure to do this specifically represented the mechanical materialism and failure to analyze concrete conditions.
Antifascist ChantsWhen it comes to the chanting it is clear that we made a mistake in using certain chants at inappropriate times. We basically kept chanting nonstop for over an hour while we were not moving. For example we said, “Whose streets? Our streets!” at a time when we were not at all taking the streets. We also said “Nazis go home” when in fact the only fascist who came had already been pushed out, and run off. This reflects a thoroughly movementist error in that chants were being said for the sake of doing so, without critical application to the existing conditions.
Planning chants and thinking ahead of time about the amount of time necessary to chant–and take short breaks in between–would’ve helped significantly because our nonstop chanting reflected a sort of panic and confused direction. We also needed to be able to get our message across without reaching exhaustion. If more politically sound decisions had been made ahead of time about the content of the rally we had planned starting at four, then this aspect would’ve gone much more smoothly. But more planning is not the whole answer because there are deeply rooted political mistakes being reflected in this error and others from Thursday’s demonstration. The movementist impulse to keep on doing what you know time and time again rather than correctly applying what you know in given changing situations is a trademark of the revisionists and our mistake in this way reflects the fact that we have not yet fully ruptured from this in practice. Though the chants we did were more catchy, original and more radical that those the revisionists use, our dogmatic application of this previously decided tactic without taking notice to the contradictions present at the given time was very similar to their dogmatic application and inability to change things when necessary. We mistakenly relied on a previously decided list to keep afloat the entire time spent surrounding the statue. The charge of “dogmatism” is commonly misused by revisionists in situations it doesn’t belong in, but for this particular example dogmatism is to blame for the error of the incessant and inappropriate chants. It seems like an ultra-leftist error but truly it is right in essence. This also reflected mechanical materialism because it did not make principal the necessary leap from knowledge to practice. This same error also showed up in the lack of militancy that later manifested in our march ending up on the sidewalk. There is some understanding of the theoretical backing for leadership, yet in practice we are falling back into the old ways that we know how to do which is incontinent action. This represented incontinent action because theoretically we approved of what was was good (militancy), but in the moment following habit desired what was bad (safety and repetition of the same thing over and over again), and following desire we did what was bad. For more clarification on this idea please read “On Contradictory Action“ by Red Guards Austin. In this way the necessary theory and the concrete practice are still in contradiction and the key of learning how to really do the thing–through doing the thing– has not yet been realized. For this mistake we cannot blame the revisionists who taught us these ways as they are long gone, but can only take responsibility ourselves and commit to rectify for it.
The content of chants must appeal to the masses, not just existing left groups. While genuine originality in making chants is admirable, it is necessary to criticize chants like “Every nation, every gender, throw a Nazi in the blender,” and, “…the right can’t meme” which came up on Thursday. These particular chants were proposed and continued by forces who were more anarchist in tendency and we did not participate in them not out of sectarianism but for principled reasons. The reason these chants aren’t particularly good is because they remind one of a joke which is more likely to make other leftists laugh rather than truly attract the non-left masses to the seriousness of the need for antifascism. These seem harmless but take the shape of leftism-as-subculture which was thoroughly criticized in “Everywhere a Battlefield“ by Red Guards Austin. The intent here is not to attack those comrades who made these chants but to criticize the theoretical backing that is not represented in them. Again the creativity aspect is definitely a good thing that can be united with, but that creativity could be better channeled into chants which are not comedic and instead reflect the serious threat of fascism with a serious message. If anyone who liked these chants has questions about this criticism please contact us directly and securely at QCMC@protonmail.com so that we can elaborate on this criticism more deeply.
Running out the lone fascistAs soon as it was confirmed that there was a fascist present, about 15 antifascists gathered around him, not letting him escape without following. Soon, he pretended his phone had “died,” hid behind the police, and left like the coward he is.
This fascist, Manuel Luxton, who was in camo pants on the day of, had previously been recording the antifascists at the top of the hill. On his twitter page, he confirms his presence at the rally, as well as, refers to himself as a “National Socialist.” He also reposts Hitler “memes” as well as retweeting multiple fascist sources. He is not welcome in Charlotte.
Manuel Luxton, who was present that day, is a fascist.It is clear that he was recording those he saw as a threat and also who were the first line at a common entrance to the park. With all our mistakes, we were united in action and masked somewhat uniformly, and therefore this is who in particular he saw as his biggest threat. He was right that it was these antifascists who opposed him and ran him off. Charlotte antifascists were ultimately successful in running him out and away from the park, but we could’ve taken much better advantage of the situation. Here was the one person that represented everything we came out to shut down. To put it plainly if we had moved closer to the spot where Indivisible and the visiting antifascists were gathering earlier on, the fascist would’ve surely moved closer, and even more of the liberals as well as the revolutionaries could have been active in outnumbering and isolating him. This would’ve taken more decisive guidance on the part of leadership to make happen. Even though this situation particularly of handling the antifascist was overwhelmingly positive, the reaction of antifascists to this Nazi’s presence could have been much more swift and decisive.
In the current antifascist movement it is common to appear only where fascists and other reactionaries appear. This is noble resistance. However, this is not the only capacity that antifascist action should be present in. If antifascists only show up when fascists are present, then objectively we are tailing them and allowing them to be the only ones who make the first move. Again our experience in this struggle is completely new so in no way should the necessity to confront fascists be belittled. Rather, anti-fascism needs to start addressing two sides of this thing rather than one side of it. Fascists by their very existence are making an offensive attack on many oppressed groups. Therefore for antifascists to only organize in reaction or defense is not correct. The only force that can truly defeat fascists is one that takes offensive measures when necessary. Even in their infancy, and at every step along the course of their development, they must be concretely opposed. In opposing them we not only send them a message, but we learn through practice and consolidate our own forces as well. In the future we must consider situations like Thursday’s demo to be serious practice for future demonstrations where we will not get so lucky.
Contradiction between antifascists and reformistsThe contradiction between the united front and fascists disappeared along with the fascist walking away. With the material exit of this contradiction the other contradictions already at play re-emerge as dominant. In this case that meant between the police (and politicians who support and give them power) and the antifascists, who are anti-police. Once the Indivisible rally began it became clear that many of their lead organizers are either in office, or are running for office. Clearly this became just another platform to push their line of integration back into the existing system. Yes, they were against fascists, but their ultimate answer for how to end fascism will ultimately get people killed if followed, and it also can’t materially destroy the soil out of which fascism will always regrow. The people who were there because of being attracted to the liberal rally were objectively being manipulated by the politicians. However, we know that many have the possibility of being won over to genuine antifascism which is necessarily anti-police. The forces of Charlotte’s antifascists shouted over a politician as she made pro-police remarks shouting, “Fuck the police,” as well as the name of Keith Lamont Scott, who was murdered by CMPD last year. To be clear this was overwhelmingly the right thing to do, and we will do it and encourage other groups to do it in the future. Arguments that are generally against this opposition to electoral politics should be correctly identified as liberalism and torn apart. It is absolutely necessary to oppose politicians when they crop up trying to turn the rage of the people, and the defense of the people, back into the existing capitalist system. What we can work on and improve in the future is winning over the intermediates who were standing with them. In this instance we could have put more thought in recruiting them over to our side and reaching their hearts and minds earlier on by emphasizing our propaganda and outreach and really having one on one conversations with people. It would have been appropriate to start this before the liberal rally began. Hopefully the fundamental difference that came to a head around the existing system reached some of them and planted seeds of the possibility for an entirely new system; certainly it is good that politicians were publicly opposed. We encourage those with doubts in the existing system to challenge electoral politicians at demonstrations where they are given a platform. Their phony “answers” encourage the maintenance of the existing, rotten system. They do not deserve the people’s trust.
In ConclusionIn their initial propaganda, the anti-communists even went so far as to propose a “torch rally” reminiscent of the white nationalists in Charlottesville. But in Charlotte, NC, we will do everything we can to stop this from happening. Local antifascists hope to develop the struggle against rising fascism because left unchecked the fascist movement will continue to attract people and become even more serious, not less. We cannot capitulate to the rising threat of fascism because it puts the people at risk.
We will steadfastly work to correct the mistakes made here, and will continue and develop further the good things that Thursday’s demo contained within it. We will do this at any action in the future, certainly not perfectly, but are committed to thoroughly correcting mistakes and listening to criticism completely to dissect its correct and incorrect aspects. It is necessary to have a deeper understanding and correct dogmatism by putting theory into practice then back into theory again, in an endless spiral that describes the development of the world.
The practice necessary to make this happen will have to be another street demonstration; if we avoid street demonstrations for too long we run the risk of repeating all these mistakes again, and just as bad, the next time pushed to take action. Another street demonstration will take place in Charlotte, NC. It will manifest in a revolutionary May Day action on May 1st, 2018.
Mask up to protect yourselves
Correct mistaken practices
Get serious about antifascism
—Queen City Maoist Collective