We are living in troubling times. The election of Donald Trump not only speaks to the current state of US politics, but to an ongoing shift across the Western world. In Europe far-right and nationalist parties are making electoral gains not seen since the Second World War, while their street level movements are growing in size and influence by the day. While Canada has it’s own unique history of reactionary movements, the far-right here has been emboldened by the events south of the border; racists are increasing their public activities, and attempts are being made to grow white nationalist movements and far-right groups at a grassroots level. Anti-immigrant and anti-refugee propaganda on the streets is becoming more common, and everyday instances of Islamophobic violence are intensifying – most notably the January shooting at a Quebec City mosque.
In the United States, the election of Donald Trump has been huge catalyst for the far-right. His campaign found supporters in veryone from the KKK, armed militia movements, to neo-Nazi street gangs. White Nationalism has seen its biggest growth in decades, and now includes a slew of new faces, including hipsters, ‘Men’s Rights’ activists, campus groups, and internet trolls. Most notable of this cesspit has been the fascists of so-called ‘Alt-Right’, whose influence now goes directly to the White House, via Trump’s closest adviser, Steve Bannon. Trump’s campaign and its aftermath has seen an explosion of activity from these groups – hate crimes have skyrocketed and confrontations with antifascists have become increasingly violent.
How did we get here? Why has the far-right broken through at this time? How can we understand the history, politics, and practices of the far-right, and what does it look like in the US from the Presidency to the streets? And what are people doing to resist?
As part of a multi-city speaking tour in the Ontario and Quebec, US anti-fascist researcher Spencer Sunshine (www.spencersunshine.com), PhD, spoke to these questions and more. Sunshine is the lead author of the report “Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement”, and his articles on the far-right organizing, from militias to unorthodox fascists, have appeared in Truthout, Colorlines, The Progressive, and Public Eye. Follow him at twitter: