sternhell,fascism,direct action

snichols/bbogert hithere at
Thu Sep 21 01:52:14 MDT 1995

I just finished Sternhell's _The Birth of Fascist Ideology_. I have a
visceral reaction. Not just because of general reflections on the state of
the U.S. (and elsewhere).  But because "Direct Action" was a battle-cry
comrades of mine used not too long ago.  What are the implications of
up-by-your-bootstrap tactics in a dull and depressing time?  (If we can't
agree on a platform, we can at least agree on the action). At the same time,
how does one avoid becoming the next Louis Feuer (your irrational sit-in's
interfering with our reading of _Capital_)?

"Direct action" was quite popular in certain circles in the Bay Area in the
mid-80's (street protests, sit-ins, blockades). Tired of politicians and
polite demonstrations, twenty-somethings began to develop a secular, at
times militant practice of Direct Action (distinguishable from PlowShares
actions or the explicit pacifist commitments of bodies like the Livermore
Action Group). The movement itself broke apart, the play of the race card,
helped by police violence. I never did finish my analysis -- the dialectics
of the Steve Biko Sit-In.

I know this list is devoted to theory, but I think the interaction of theory
and practice is important. Sternhell emphasizes the proto-fascist
substitution of the Nation for the syndicalist Proletariat. However, I was
pleased to read in the Village Voice that direct action tactics may be
moving radical politics forward in New York (coordinated blockades at
diverse sites building trust between diverse ethnic groups, according to the
story). Ideas?  How can theory help us get us beyond the rainbow fragments?

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