Authoritarian political leaders and violent racist nationalism are a resurgent feature of the present historical conjuncture that will not be resolved by electoral politics or bipartisanship. The widespread support for Donald Trump in the United States, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary, among others, is an expansive turn to counterrevolution and punitive governance in an era of escalating ecological crisis, political antagonism, and social uncertainty.1 Responding to the urgency of the current moment, this special issue of Critical Ethnic Studies explores what the analytic of fascism offers for understanding the twenty-first-century authoritarian convergence by centering the material and speculative labor of antifascist and antiracist social movements and coalitions. Contributors to this special issue build a critical conversation across multiple world contexts and explore a variety of ways of theorizing what fascism and antifascist movements might mean during the current moment or historically with relevance for the current moment.
This special issue examines fascism as a geopolitically diverse series of entanglements with (neo)liberalism, racial capitalism, imperialism, settler colonialism, militarism, carceralism, white supremacy, racist nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and heteropatriarchy. We thus aim to contribute to recent scholarship emphasizing both fascism as a global phenomenon and radical internationalist forms of antifascism to challenge the Eurocentrism common within studies of fascism.2 By emphasizing fascisms in the plural, we seek to address two problematics in particular. First, our intention is to highlight the global proliferation of fascist formations within and beyond the United States and Europe over the course of the Cold War and into the contemporary political conjuncture. Second, we aim to center the historical, political, and epistemological variety of antifascist collective organizing undertaken by Black, Indigenous, and other racialized peoples across the planet. The essays, interviews, and documents included here make clear how racialized and colonized peoples have been at the forefront of theorizing and dismantling fascism, white supremacy, and other modes of authoritarian rule. In our introduction, we make a case for understanding critical ethnic studies as a pivotal intellectual and activist formation that helps us name and dismantle the current manifestations of fascist violence.
Colonialism, Imperialism, and Fascism
Reframing and pluralizing fascism through a cartography of anticolonial and decolonial struggle that does not take Europe as the center is a challenge that asks us to reckon with the emergence of fascism as shaped by continuities and ruptures among feudalism, industrial capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and liberalism. We are thus less concerned in this special issue with the “proper” historically delimited event of fascism in Europe between 1919 and 1945 than with the broad resonance and rhetorical salience of fascism.3 Acknowledging that fascism as such is always shaped by the dynamics of particular places and conjunctures, most salient in this regard is an analysis that simultaneously de-exceptionalizes fascism and seeks to comprehend its specificity in an expanded global context. In her 1923 address and resolution for the Enlarged Plenum of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, Clara Zetkin argued that “fascist forces are organizing internationally, and the workers’ struggle against fascism must also organize on a world scale.”4 She contended that fascism emerged as a “sham revolutionary program” in response to “the imperialist war and the accelerated dislocation of the capitalist economy,” and as a necessary counterforce, “in contrast to the Second International, the Comintern is not an International for the elite of white proletarians of Europe and America. It is an International for the exploited of all races.”5 The global arena of racialized violence, plunder, and exploitation was in this sense an arena extended through imperialism and colonialism.
Between the end of World War I and the early Cold War, numerous anticolonial writers of color emphasized the direct connection between the atrocities of imperialism and fascism. They persuasively argued that fascism was fundamentally entangled with the form and practice of colonial rule, racialized organization of dispossession and death, and insatiable imperial aspiration in order to insist that defeating fascism required ending all manner of colonialism and imperialism. George Padmore first wrote about what he called “colonial fascism” in How Britain Rules Africa (1936), further developing this analysis in publications over the next two decades.6 In his 1938 address to the Peace and Empire conference, Jawaharlal Nehru observed that “the essence of the problem of peace is the problem of empire,” declaring that fascism is simply an “intensified form of the same system which is imperialism.”7 Writing in 1949, Claudia Jones called attention to the “growth of militancy among Negro women” as having “profound meaning, both for the Negro liberation movement and for the emerging anti-fascist, anti-imperialist coalition.”8 In the wake of World War II and rising tide of anticolonial independence movements, in Discourse on Colonialism (1950/1955) Aimé Césaire described the “decivilizing” consequences of colonialism for colonizers themselves as a root cause of Nazism and other Euro-American fascisms.9 During the present conjuncture, when the question of fascism appears resurgent, genealogies of anticolonial and anti-imperialist critique are indispensable for understanding and dismantling the far-reaching entanglements of right-wing authoritarianism.
Fascism as a heuristic in this sense can be thus important for several reasons. First, an analytic of fascism situates right-wing reaction within the historical and material crises of imperialism of which fascism is in some fundamental sense symptomatic. To invoke fascism is to place various iterations of authoritarianism and state and extralegal violence directly in relation to racial and gendered capitalist crisis and the expanded reproduction of imperialism. Second, the mass appeal of authoritarian nationalism and white supremacy has been historically galvanized during moments of intensified precarity and insecurity of the so-called middle class. For instance, Trump’s base was and remains primarily middle-income white people as well as particular factions of corporate capital and is not principally a movement of working-class or impoverished white people, even if it has also successfully recruited from these sectors. Third, fascism as an embrace of punitive governance partially animated by a politics of fear, cruelty, racism, and heteropatriarchy is essentially reactionary. This reactionary appeal to the certainty of authority and order against demonized and otherized groups emerges in opposition to the promise and popularity of a radical politics of redistribution (for instance, in relation to anarchist and communist revolutionary movements during the interwar period and Cold War era) and abolition (as against the Movement for Black Lives and initiatives to defund the police today). During the current moment, it is also a revanchist alignment against the momentum of trans* and queer liberation, climate justice, migrant and asylum seeker assertions of life against border imperialism, and Indigenous peoples’ demands for the return of stolen land.10 This reactionary disposition is of the utmost significance, especially in that it requires a focus on that against which it is organized and defined. Although horrific, raw power and rule by violence in this sense are in many ways the least stable basis of authority and control.11
Without overstating continuities or equivalencies, we contend that naming fascism often serves to index the relationship among state power, imperialism and colonization, religious/racist nationalism, and white supremacist terrorism as the reactive conditions of counterrevolution and racial capitalism. The racial terror and genocide wrought by slavery and colonialism preceded, were coconstitutive of, and continued after Mussolini’s Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and Japan’s Shōwa nationalism. There are multiple valences for an expanded frame of fascisms. Among the most frequently referenced examples of links between European fascism and colonial policy are Germany’s 1904–1908 genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples in South West Africa (now Namibia) and U.S. policy toward Indigenous peoples and Jim Crow laws as models emulated by the Third Reich.12 In the immediate aftermath of World War II, African American petitions to the United Nations, such as W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP’s 1947 An Appeal to the World: A Statement of Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress—which condemns the United States as part of “the imperialist block which is controlling the colonies of the world”—and the 1951 Civil Rights Congress’s We Charge Genocide: The Crime of the Government against the Negro People, were exemplary of a burgeoning Black antifascism.13 In turn, similar demands for redress and liberation framed in relation to fascism extended through the 1955 Bandung Conference, the 1966 Tricontinental Conference, and the growing momentum for worldwide decolonization.14
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Black Panther Party likewise called out as fascist the constitutive white supremacism and imperialism of the United States—brutally enacted by the everyday actions of the police, counterinsurgency operations, and the military—and sought to build a broad coalition of activists with such initiatives as the United Front against Fascism conference in 1969.15 Such activist groups as the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Anti-Racist Action in the United States and the Anti-Nazi League and Anti-Fascist Action in Britain were explicitly organized against the fascism of the racist New Right and skinhead gangs of the 1970s and 1980s.16 More recently, a heterogeneous group of antifascist organizations, initiatives, and actions sometimes collectively referred to as Antifa—or, in the case of Donald Trump’s “anti-Antifa” campaign, conjured into a single vilified and violent organization—have mobilized against right-wing and white racist terrorism. In each of these instances, the continuities, tensions, and disjunctions of what gets named fascism in particular times and places matter within and across national and international frames. Working against the mainstream representation of antifascism as predominantly white, we aim to think with such genealogies to further question how fascism as a heuristic can be more thoroughly situated with respect to imperialism and settler colonialism. Our effort here is a provisional exploration of what such a heuristic might offer regarding anticolonial thought and action as one especially salient arena of struggle. At the same time, we aim to be attentive to how centering fascism can itself obscure arenas of struggle. For instance, Anne Spice notes, “I deliberately refuse to differentiate between the ‘colonial’ and ‘fascist’ forces we oppose, because I think that anti-fascist organizing often ignores the (centuries) of experience that Indigenous peoples have in standing up to the imposition of state violence, surveillance, military occupation, and extra-legal violence.”17
Fascisms, Organized Violence, and Regimes of Knowledge
The analytic lens of fascisms in the plural explored in this special issue of Critical Ethnic Studies is a means to address the multivalence of the recent ascendance of authoritarian far right movements in historical perspective. This multivalence is frequently manifest in contradictory or seemingly incommensurate ways—for instance, as for and against state power, as anti-intellectual yet deeply invested in particular traditions of thought and interpretations of history, as populist but exclusionary and narrowly defined by race or religion, and as illiberal yet constitutive for certain variations of neoliberalism. Across this spectrum, fascism’s relation to organized state and extralegal violence is an effort to impose a particular regime of knowledge and aesthetics of power.
We thus seek to draw attention to invocations of fascism as articulating these entanglements. Although we want to point to the fascist tendencies often at work in liberalism and neoliberalism, we are wary of hyperbole or conflation, such as with the Comintern “third period” formulation of “social fascism” that cast New Deal liberalism and Nazi Germany as virtually equivalent. We believe that insights can be gained by thinking with reference to fascism—as well as what Nikhil Pal Singh calls the “afterlife of fascism,” Alberto Toscano names “late fascism,” or Enzo Traverso refers to as “neofascism”18—across multiple and categorically slippery sites, such as in the United States and U.S. colonial contexts of policing,19 new modes of racialized surveillance and counterinsurgency,20 white supremacist vigilantism,21 migration, refugees and borders,22 anti-Muslim racism,23 and the ongoing dispossession of Native peoples.24 The authoritarian convergence is at once an appeal to concerted brute force against those deemed enemies and a way of knowing the world. Fascisms reference real-time spectacles and structural formations of state violence, a heuristic for intellectual and activist practice, and manifold objects of deeply contested historical knowledge.
This special issue points to the epistemological challenges that fascism brings to bear on critical intellectual practice in a few ways. First, our work is premised on the understanding that fascist formations represent a dire threat to critical thought, creative practice, and collective study. This threat is not only to professionalized research cultures and pedagogies in academic institutions. Nor is it only directed at—and produced by—culture industries. Fascisms are threats to critical thought, creative practice, and collective study enacted in quotidian activist, artistic, and community encounters. Fascisms seek to destroy nonnormative and subjugated knowledges for survival under conditions of imperial and colonial domination.
When viewed from the horizon of knowledge production, the racialized criminalization of enemy figures and groups central to shoring up fascist domination has deep epistemological implications. It opens up how fascisms insist on regimes of knowing (and unknowing or deliberate acts of ignoring) premised on a volatile cohabitation of silence and monumentality.25 In its insistence on silence, there is compulsion to manifesting and imposing secrecy, erasure, and removal of dissent and difference. Fascist regimes of silence are fundamentally imperialist technologies whose unrelenting condition of possibility is the erasure of the presence of Indigenous people, their relation and claim to land, and their modes of governance. Thus, here we speak of fascist silence not merely as negative, repressive power but rather as a performative force that employs destruction to calibrate capitalism’s labor exploitation and the racialized nativisms central to state authority. Fascist fields of silence target for destruction both Indigenous ways of knowing and governing and the knowledge born out of Black and migrant indigeneity, belonging, and movement.
In its simultaneous drive for monumentality, fascist knowledge regimes also seize “scholarly and popular mediums,” in Toni Morrison’s words, to “palisade all art forms,” “create sources and distributors of information who are willing to reinforce the demonizing process,” and reward “mindlessness and apathy with monumentalized entertainments.”26 In this way, we are also interested in exploring how fascisms require regimes of knowledge that stem from epistemologies, aesthetics, and juridical structures that underpin colonial racisms. We know, for example, as noted above, that Nazi jurists and legal scholars produced an array of studies on the racist statutes embedded in U.S. federal and state laws as a way of building the juridical infrastructure of the Third Reich. This example points not only to a racialized fascist jurisprudence but also connects to the ascendance of area studies and the knowledges produced out of imperial and settler state formation. Fascisms are predicated on and perpetuate the militarization of knowing. Thus, how do fascisms proliferate a certain regime of study and a cross-colonial politics of knowledge whose vocation is to perpetuate imperial responses to capitalist crisis? Fascisms highlight within imperialism’s expansionist response to capitalist crisis an interconnected settler logic of state-sanctioned migrant and refugee punishment, racialized and gendered predatory value regimes, and the criminalization of Indigenous governance.
Antifascist Solidarities and Critical Ethnic Studies
In the specific context of this journal, we ask, how does a consideration of fascisms in the plural build out an understanding of the intellectual genealogies of critical ethnic studies? How might reckoning with fascisms engage critical ethnic studies as an intellectual, scholarly, and activist formation entangled with antifascist struggle? Because of the centrality of racial capitalism in manifesting fascist governance, devotion, and aesthetics, this special issue of CES understands the anticolonial and anti-imperial struggles articulated with critical ethnic studies to be a key repertoire of antifascist intellectual production, cultural work, and movement building. In doing so, we grapple with the challenge of mapping, periodizing, and naming the phenomenon of fascism, especially when we suspend the Eurocentric framings that have prevailed in its study. Eurocentric framings have patterned a causal structure with a certain set of origins, expectations, and responses to fascism as a sociohistorical phenomenon for antifascist praxis. Through this causal structure, fascism emerges as a historical phenomenon across a spate of European nation-states—Germany and Italy, most notably—between World Wars I and II, of the early twentieth century. A predominant aspiration of conventional analyses of fascism is the quest for underlying forces and structures that catalyzed the supposed break or deviation from the civil norms of liberal democracy toward an elite-induced mass will to subsist in and with violence. This imperative is often paired with the task of establishing criteria or sets of thresholds for making fascist governance or sociality thoroughly distinct from liberalism, even as these interpretations concluded that fascism stemmed from the contradictions of colonial and imperial racisms perpetuated under liberal governance.27
While the Black radical intellectual and cultural work in that earlier period is formative of a number of urgent framings of race, culture, and empire for critical ethnic studies, fascisms also highlight the resourcefulness of this work for drawing a critical break with liberal and Eurocentric framings of fascism. For Black radical workers in the early twentieth century, fascism appeared as an apparatus of capitalist labor control, one that drew from the punitive cultures of colonial slavery and liberal techniques of racialized labor segmentation. “Many of the radical Black intellectuals who witnessed the rise of fascism in Europe,” argues Cedric Robinson, “were convinced that whatever its origins, at some point fascism had become an instrument of capitalists with the objective of destroying working-class movements.”28 Rather than seeing fascism as a nationally bounded event, the analysis of racial capitalism animating Black radical antifascism helps us name fascism as a mode of power dispersed throughout colonial modernity’s violent cross-imperial regime of spatial and racial control. Such a reading of fascisms speaks to the urgency of the Black radical internationalist and transnational organizing.
Fascisms highlight the ways in which Black radical horizons of liberation exceeded incorporation and integration into the “national culture” of racially segregated liberal states and bent toward the material and speculative building of a global anticolonial and anticapitalist alliance. By deliberately framing fascisms as a heuristic to read into the Cold War, we can see an array of state-sanctioned racialized, militaristic, and punitive practices—what Kelly Lytle Hernández describes as “frontlashes”—mobilized to eliminate the Black radical building of political power with classes of colonized laborers across the globe.29 Fascisms call attention to how the elevation of a Euro-American liberal antifascism continues to serve as a domesticating intellectual and cultural force, one that casts the horror of European fascism and Soviet totalitarianism as the foil against which the militarized and carceral expansion of the warfare-welfare state would be pursued as freedom.
When viewed through the register of fascisms, this instance of counterrevolutionary domestication of Black radical struggle casts a different light on the many generative studies that have situated the rise of civil rights, ethnic studies, and discourses of multiculturalism within a broader Cold War strategy of U.S. statecraft to disavow its colonial entanglements with slavery, genocide, and racial punishment. Here we see a shared horizon between genealogies of Black antifascist critique and the robust critique of racial liberalism fostered by the emergence of ethnic studies in the United States. As nodes in a global network of anticolonial struggle in the 1960s and 70s, the Black, Indigenous, Chicanx, Latinx, Asian American, working-class, feminist, and gay, lesbian, queer, and trans movements that fostered the emergence of ethnic studies insisted on accounts of Euroamerican liberal modernity as a mode of power grounded in ongoing cycles of colonialism, imperialism, racism, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism.
In this matrix, the analytic power of fascism took an array of directions. Building with the prescience of Black radical antifascism, the Black Panther Party invoked the term to call attention to the capitalist state’s counterrevolutionary repertoire of violence and control and out of a practical urgency for multiracial coalition and alliance. Asian American activists and cultural workers excavated transpacific histories of racialized exclusion, concentration, and incarceration throughout the twentieth century in a way that pointed toward fascism as a mobile technology of racialized domination.30 In the same period, Chicanx and Latinx movements connected what Carey McWillams termed and Curtis Marez subsequently cited as the “farm fascism” of U.S. agribusiness to both overlapping settler colonial invasions in the U.S. southwest as well as an apparatus of U.S. imperialist violence in Latin America.31 Adjacent to the emergence of Native North American urban movements and the emergence of a global Indigenous rights movement, these struggles informed the student strikes at San Francisco State University that were undertaken under the banner of the Third World Liberation Front. As Gary Okihiro reminds us, the Third World Liberation Front’s effort to incite a radical program of liberatory study can be seen as a particular working out of an anti-imperialist analysis of U.S. culture that affirmed “spatial and ideological affiliation with the Third World and its peoples, not the nation-state.”32
Our emphasis on fascisms and regimes of knowledge therefore is another way of wrestling with the epistemic potentials and paradoxes of critical ethnic studies in our current moment of danger. This is significant for, as Chandan Reddy illuminates, “critical ethnic studies points to how alternative epistemological accounts of race, or better, differing relations to our extant means of knowing, can defeat the fatal coupling of late modern US racial transformation with the growth of [the] state.”33 Fascisms thus highlight the methodological urgency of studying the dialectic of modern racisms and state formations.
In a notable example of antifascist ethnic studies methodologies reevaluating racial liberalism in the Americas, Jack D. Forbes locates the rise of fascism as appearing in “a set of mutually-supportive values which go to make up” cultures of secular and sectarian imperialist domination. In particular, he traces the rise of fascism in the relationship between imperialist domination and the emergence of the “mob” as a distinct social formation. For Forbes, the category of the mob, “as a political-religious tool,” “means more than just the masses throwing rocks or burning; it also means ‘frenzied’ armies of true believers.”34 Such a labor allows Forbes to connect what he terms “proto-fascism” from the premodern religious empires across Europe to the “frontier fascisms” of the Spanish and British empires in the Americas and on into the twentieth-century conjuncture of Cold War geopolitics and neoliberal state evisceration in which armed white fascist mobs with lineages to slaveholding and union-busting organizations have become emboldened.35
At the same time, the epistemic implications embedded in the constellation of antifascism and critical ethnic studies point to radical limits on fascist violence implicated in decolonial and anticapitalist work on race. By not presuming fascisms as nationally or normatively bordered, anticolonial struggle affirms fascisms—and, by implication, imperialist racial capitalism—as punctuated with multiple modalities of subversion, escape, protest, and counter governance. The term fascisms gives a name to heterogeneous cycles of imperialist epistemic violence whose limits are perpetually drawn in dialectical struggle with anticolonial, anticapitalist action and potential. This analytic, practical, and theoretical maneuverability speaks to the radiant insights brought about by thinking in “solidarities of nonalignment,” to quote the title of a kindred CES special issue edited by Michael Viola, Juliana Hu Pegues, Iyko Day, and Dean Saranillio. The editors use the phrase out of the urgency to name “new analytics that foreground Indigenous territory and Black women’s fungibility and accumulation that might reveal an abolitionist and decolonial anticapitalist politics.”36 By repoliticizing, respatializing, and retemporalizing anticolonial struggle to name a practice of working with disparate legacies and logics of anticapitalist movement building, the editors situate critical ethnic studies as a place where “nonaligned theoretical frameworks and oppositional movements” can be placed “in deeper dialogue” to “make visible what has gone unnoticed or been obscured.”37
If nonaligned planetary cartographies of radical antifascism and critical ethnic studies do the work of marking specific limits to our current multifascist moment, how, exactly, does it represent those limits? The articulation of an antifascist critical ethnic studies therefore also brings to light a distinct set of issues for understanding fascism’s coupling of aesthetics and politics, or what Walter Benjamin termed the “aestheticization of politics.” For Benjamin, the aestheticization of politics was not only a naming of how European fascism monumentalized ideal types and criminalized figures to stylize political violence and control. It was also a way of coming to terms with the political effects and possibilities that mechanized regimes of photographic and cinematic visuality opened to cognition, affect, and sensibility under capitalist modernity. His analysis points to the aesthetic as a contested category of artistic valuation, technological mediation, and social cognition that was and remains central to Euro-American colonial domination. “All efforts to aestheticize politics culminate in one point,” Benjamin writes. “That point is war.”38
Anticolonial struggle sheds a distinct light on the photographic modernity of fascisms as a modernity of total warfare waged with weaponized visual signs. Consider the legacies of anti-Black, anti-Mexican, and anti-Indigenous lynching photography; the photographic capture of Native children in U.S. boarding schools; the emergence of war photography; racialized histories of surveillance, forensics, and criminal and immigrant database construction; and the hardening of the anthropological gaze for imperialist knowledge across the planet. This list is necessarily incomplete but nevertheless points to the colonial modes of racialized control of Indigenous, Black, and migrant peoples that photographic visuality amplifies under liberal statecraft. Formulated under the duress of these conditions of racialized domination, the definitions and enactments of culture articulated in genealogies of critical ethnic studies build deeper dimensions to genealogies of antifascist aesthetic experimentation. These dimensions to aesthetic analysis, according to Kandice Chuh, emphasize “sensibility as a crucial domain of knowledge and politics; it affords recognition of both the relations and practices of power that legitimate and naturalize certain ideas over others, and the knowledge and ways of living subjugated or disavowed in the process.”39 Fascisms in the plural thus not only gesture to what can be visually mediated as violence but also bring into focus spectral forms of domination, destruction, and performed ignorance that aren’t always evident in the historiographies or popular narratives of Cold War liberalism and neoliberal revanchism. Fascisms as a heuristic call attention to flexible and brutal repertoires of racialized domination that are also profoundly frail in the sense that they monopolize violence and repression with a fanatical shortsightedness.
The interviews, political education documents, essays, syllabus, and forum gathered here do not aspire to a uniform perspective on the question of fascisms. They approach the question askew, working through the inflections and enjambments of the authoritarian convergence in the historical present. Some speak to the utility of fascism or fascisms as an analytic, others implicitly or overtly question the extent of its relevance for the struggles they discuss, and still others consider attributions of fascism to be an impediment to addressing the conflicts underway. The special issue opens with Manu Karuka’s interview with Subin Dennis concerning the Bharatiya Janata Party (or Indian People’s Party) and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India to underscore the multiplicity of global contexts and to situate the project of critical ethnic studies in relation to this expanded frame. This is followed by an interview with Cristien Storm and Kate Boyd of the Seattle-based collaboration If You Don’t They Will and a sample of the interviews and images that compose the collaborative’s no. NOT EVER. exhibition about grassroots organizing against the white supremacist Northwest Territorial Imperative, a late-1970s and 1980s call to (re)create a white homeland in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The political-education document section showcases the anticolonial/antifascist liberation struggle and political-education initiatives of Amílcar Cabral and the PAIGC (Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde / African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) during the late 1960s and early 1970s through Sónia Vaz Borges and Filipa César’s cinematic and critical reflections on this history and its recovered archival fragments. Vaughn Rasberry’s “Colonial Fascism” course syllabus maps a pedagogical itinerary for further study.
The assembled essays proceed from inquiries that speak to the question of fascisms in the plural from various authoritarian convergences to direct engagements with specific fascist genealogies and formations to possible lessons for sustained antifascist and anti-imperialist struggle. We begin with a reassessment of the dynamics of power/knowledge in order to complicate sometimes overly reductive approaches to fascist epistemology. Nadia Abu El-Haj critiques liberal conceptions of the supposedly inherent and progressive consequences of knowing and making visible, the purportedly incontrovertible transformative power of “truth,” focusing on the example of the U.S. public engagement with the post-9/11 wars and disputes over the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. Anne Spice analyzes the “traces of fascist practice” in the brutal everyday war of colonial capitalist occupation and the criminalization of Indigenous land defense on Wet’suwet’en territories. In his study of Filipino authoritarianism and its historical relation to fascism, Allan E. S. Lumba examines the deployment of state and extralegal forms of counterrevolutionary punishment and policing under the regimes of Manuel Quezon, Ferdinand Marcos, and Rodrigo Duterte. Focusing on examples in the Americas, Macarena Gómez-Barris considers how figurations of authoritarian capitalism are structured by colonial and patriarchal relations and theorizes the “need for transversal and decolonial, cuir-trans*feminist approaches to imagine a future beyond the fascist shadow of our time-space present.” Johanna Fernández situates U.S. fascism in a global and historical context, showing how and why contemporary right-wing and white supremacist reactions to political and economic crises of 2008 can usefully be understood in relationship to the white property-holder retrenchment against Reconstruction during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Nicole Nguyen and Yazan Zahzah track continuities in the U.S. War on Terror and anti-Muslim racism to argue that labeling Trump a fascist wrongly casts him and his policies as aberrations from the U.S. norm and provides ideological cover for the Biden administration’s plans to expand domestic antiterrorism legislation targeting Muslim, Arab, Black, and other communities of color. Alyosha Goldstein surveys internationalist anticolonial solidarities that have linked antifascism and anti-imperialism since World War I and situates Indigenous peoples’ movements and settler colonial contexts in relation to this history as crucial for the sustained making of a shared horizon of struggle. And lastly, a forum on Kevin Wilson Jr.’s film My Nephew Emmett with commentary from Erin Gray, Linette Park, LaShonda Carter, Bridget R. Cooks, and a response from Kevin Wilson Jr. confronts the legacy of racial terror—echoing Langston Hughes’s contention in 1936 that “fascism is a new name for that kind of terror the Negro has always faced in America”40—that continues to be enacted and resisted today.
As a contribution to grappling with the uncertainties of the current conjuncture, we hope that this special issue offers resources and inspiration for collective study and contestation of fascisms in the plural during the urgency of now and the near future.
Alyosha Goldstein is a professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Poverty in Common: The Politics of Community Action during the American Century (2012) and the editor of Formations of United States Colonialism (2014) and has coedited special issues of Social Text, Theory and Event, and South Atlantic Quarterly. Goldstein is completing a manuscript on colonial governance, racial capitalism, the jurisprudence of redress, and histories of Native and Black dispossession in what is presently called the United States.
Simón Ventura Trujillo is an assistant professor in the English Department at New York University. He is the author of Land Uprising: Native Story Power and the Insurgent Horizons of Latinx Indigeneity (University of Arizona Press 2020).
On the often neglected ecological dimensions in this regard, see The Red Nation, The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth (Brooklyn, NY: Common Notions, 2021) and Andreas Malm and the Zetkin Collective, White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2021).
See, for example, Samir Gandesha, ed., Spectres of Fascism: Historical, Theoretical and International Perspectives (London: Pluto, 2020); Julia Adeney Thomas and Geoff Eley, eds., Visualizing Fascism: The Twentieth-Century Rise of the Global Right (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020); Patrik Hermansson, David Lawrence, Joe Mulhall, and Simon Murdoch, The International Alt-Right: Fascism for the 21st Century? (New York: Routledge, 2020); Daniel Brückenhaus, Policing Transnational Protest: Liberal Imperialism and the Surveillance of Anticolonialists in Europe, 1905–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020); Arnd Bauerkämper and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, eds., Fascism without Borders: Transnational Connections and Cooperation between Movements and Regimes in Europe from 1918 to 1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017); Mark Bray, Jessica Namakkal, Giulia Riccò, and Eric Roubinek, eds., “Fascism and Anti-Fascism since 1945,” special issue, Radical History Review 138 (October 2020); Kasper Braskén, Nigel Copsey, and David J. Featherstone, eds., Anti-Fascism in a Global Perspective: Transnational Networks, Exile Communities, and Radical Internationalism (New York: Routledge, 2020); Hugo García, Mercedes Yusta, Xavier Tabet, and Cristina Clímaco, eds., Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016).
For arguments that likewise challenge narrow definitional originalism while also emphasizing the importance of historical specificity and the significance of attributions of “fascism” more broadly, see, for example, Geoff Eley, “What Is Fascism and Where Does It Come From?,” History Workshop Journal 91 (Spring 2021): 1–28, and Shane Burley, Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It (Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017).
Clara Zetkin, Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win, ed. Mike Taber and John Riddell (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017), 73.
Zetkin, Fighting Fascism, 34, 67, 61.
George Padmore, How Britain Rules Africa (1936; New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969).
Quoted in Michele Louro, Comrades against Imperialism: Nehru, India, and Interwar Internationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 230.
Claudia Jones, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women” (1949), in Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment, ed. Carole Boyce Davies (Oxfordshire, UK: Ayebia Clarke, 2011), 74.
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham (1950; New York: Monthly Review, 2000).
See Roderick A. Ferguson, “Authoritarianism and the Planetary Mission of Queer of Color Critique: A Short Reflection,” Safundi 21, no. 3 (July 2020): 282–90, on the specific utility of a queer of color critique in analyzing the present authoritarian convergence.
Kyle Burke, Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018); Gerald Horne, White Supremacy Confronted: U.S. Imperialism and Anti-Communism vs. the Liberation of Southern Africa from Rhodes to Mandela (New York: International, 2019); Daniel Geary, Camilla Schofield, and Jennifer Sutton, eds., Global White Nationalism: From Apartheid to Trump (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020).
Zoé Samudzi, “Reparative Futurities: Thinking from the Ovaherero and Nama Colonial Genocide,” Funambulist 30 (July–August 2020); Jürgen Zimmerer and Joachim Zeller, eds., Genocide in German South-West Africa: The Colonial War of 1904–1908 and Its Aftermath (London: Merlin, 2008); James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017); Edward B. Westermann, Hitler’s Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars: Comparing Genocide and Conquest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016); Jens-Uwe Guettel, German Expansionism, Imperial Liberalism and the United States, 1776–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). For a generative resituating of the Nazi Holocaust in relation to the context of decolonization, see Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009).
Highlighting the significance of Black antifascism, Christine Hong argues that “Black radicals during World War II wielded the term fascism to expose the illegitimacy and counterrevolutionary nature of the racial capitalist state, including waging its domestic war” against Black people. Christine Hong, A Violent Peace: Race, U.S. Militarism, and Cultures of Democratization in Cold War Asia and the Pacific (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020), 183.
See Adom Getachew, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019); Jini Kim Watson, Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (New York: Fordham University Press, 2021); Luis Eslava, Michael Fakhri, and Vasuki Nesiah, eds., Bandung, Global History, and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Quỳnh N. Phạm and Robbie Shilliam, eds., Meanings of Bandung: Postcolonial Orders and Decolonial Visions (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); Christopher J. Lee, ed., Making a World after Empire: The Bandung Moment and Its Political Afterlives (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010); Anne Garland Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism, and Transnational Solidarity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018); John Munro, The Anticolonial Front: The African American Freedom Struggle and Global Decolonisation, 1945–1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: New Press, 2007); Robin D. G. Kelley, “A Poetics of Anticolonialism,” in Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, 7–28.
Robyn C. Spencer, “The Black Panther Party and Black Anti-Fascism in the United States,” January 26, 2017, https://
dukeupress .wordpress .com /2017 /01 /26 /the -black -panther -party -and -black -anti -fascism -in -the -united -states /. See also Robyn C. Spencer, The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016); Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016).
Hilary Moore and James Tracy, No Fascist USA! The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2020); David Renton, Never Again: Rock against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976–1982 (New York: Routledge, 2018). For an excellent primary source survey of the U.S. context, see Bill V. Mullen and Christopher Vials, eds., The U.S. Anti-Fascism Reader (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2020).
Anne Spice, “blood memory: the criminalization of Indigenous land defense,” in this volume.
Nikhil Pal Singh, Race and America’s Long War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017); Alberto Toscano, “Notes on Late Fascism,” Historical Materialism, April 2, 2017, http://
www .historicalmaterialism .org /blog /notes -late -fascism; Enzo Traverso, The New Faces of Fascism: Populism and the Far Right (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2019).
Julian Go, “The Imperial Origins of American Policing: Militarization and Imperial Feedback in the Early 20th Century,” American Journal of Sociology 125, no. 5 (March 2020): 1193–1254; Marisol LeBrón, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019); Stuart Schrader, Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019); Brendan McQuade, Pacifying the Homeland: Intelligence Fusion and Mass Supervision (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019); Micol Seigel, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018); Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton, eds., Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2016); Alfred W. McCoy, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009); Laurence Armand French, Policing American Indians: A Unique Chapter in American Jurisprudence (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2019); Luana Ross, Inventing the Savage: The Social Construction of Native American Criminality (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998).
Ruha Benjamin, Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Medford, MA: Polity, 2019); Nicole Nguyen, Suspect Communities: Anti-Muslim Racism and the Domestic War on Terror (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019); Ronak K. Kapadia, Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019); Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015); Brian Jefferson, Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020); Alex Lubin, Never-Ending War on Terror (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021).
Kathleen Belew, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018); Monica Muñoz Martinez, The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018); Matthew N. Lyons, Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire (Oakland: PM Press, 2018); Alexandra Minna Stern, Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (Boston: Beacon, 2019); Daniel Martinez HoSang and Joseph E. Lowndes, Producers, Parasites, Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019); Dylan Rodríguez, White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logics of Genocide (New York: Fordham University Press, 2021).
Harsha Walia, Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (Chicago: Haymarket, 2021); Alison Mountz, The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020); Todd Miller, Empire of Borders: The Expansion of the US Border Around the World (Brooklyn: Verso, 2019); Catherine Besteman, Militarized Global Apartheid (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020).
Nguyen, Suspect Communities; Sohail Daulatzai and Junaid Rana, eds., With Stones in Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and Empire (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018); Junaid Rana, Evelyn Alsultany, Lara Deeb, Carol Fadda, Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Arshad Ali, Sohail Daulatzai, Zareena Grewal, Juliane Hammer, and Nadine Naber, “Pedagogies of Resistance: Why Anti-Muslim Racism Matters,” Amerasia Journal 46, no. 1 (2020): 57–62.
Joanne Barker, Red Scare: The State’s Indigenous Terrorist (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021); Nick Estes, Melanie K. Yazzie, Jennifer Nez Denetdale, and David Correia, Red Nation Rising: From Bordertown Violence to Native Liberation (Oakland: PM Press, 2021).
Manu Vimalassery, Juliana Hu Pegues, and Alyosha Goldstein, “On Colonial Unknowing,” Theory and Event 19, no. 4 (October 2016). Denise Ferreira da Silva, “Toward a Black Feminist Poethics: The Quest(ion) of Blackness toward the End of the World,” Black Scholar 44, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 81–97.
Toni Morrison, “Racism and Fascism,” Journal of Negro Education 64, no. 3 (Summer 1995): 384.
The most influential analysis of fascism from this perspective is Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951), which argues for situating fascism in relation to imperialism while formulating an equivalence between Nazism and Stalinism ultimately amenable to the propagandistic ends of Cold War liberalism. For an important critical reading of Arendt in this regard, see David Myer Temin, “‘Nothing Much Had Happened’: Settler Colonialism in Hannah Arendt,” European Journal of Political Theory (2019): 1–25. For an account of fascism as interconnected with liberalism, see Ishay Landa, The Apprentice’s Sorcerer: Liberal Tradition and Fascism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012).
Cedric Robinson, “Fascism and the Response of Black Radical Theorists,” in Cedric J. Robinson: On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance, ed. H. L. T. Quan (London: Pluto, 2019), 155.
Kelly Lytle Hernández, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).
Cathy Schlund-Vials and Viet Thanh Nguyen, eds., Flashpoints for Asian American Studies (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018); Jinah Kim, Postcolonial Grief: The Afterlives of the Pacific Wars in the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). For an analysis of the recent conjuncture, see Simeon Man, “Anti-Asian Violence and US Imperialism,” Race and Class 62, no. 2 (2020): 24–33.
Carey McWilliams uses the phrase “farm fascism” to describe the apparatus of racialized and gendered migrant labor exploitation at the heart of U.S. agribusiness. See Carey McWilliams, Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California (Boston: Little, Brown, 1939), and Curtis Marez, Farm Worker Futurism: Speculative Technologies of Resistance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
Gary Y. Okihiro, Third World Studies: Theorizing Liberation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 7.
Chandan Reddy, “Critical Ethnic Studies,” Kalfou 1, no. 1 (Spring 2014): 149.
Jack D. Forbes, “Fascism: A Review of Its History and Its Present Cultural Reality in the Americas,” Explorations in Ethnic Studies 5, no. 1 (1982): 3–25. See also Simón Ventura Trujillo, “The Indigenous Materialism of Jack D. Forbes: Notes toward a Speculative Historiography for a Future without Europe,” Theory and Event 23, no. 4 (October 2020): 1106–29.
Forbes, “Fascism,” 17, 7.
Michael Viola, Juliana Hu Pegues, Iyko Day, and Dean Saranillio, eds., “Solidarities of Nonalignment: Abolition, Decolonization, and Anticapitalism,” special issue Critical Ethnic Studies 5, nos. 1–2 (Spring 2019), 13.
Viola et al., “Solidarities of Nonalignment,” 8.
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility: Third Version” (1939), in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings; Volume 4, 1938–40, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings, trans. Harry Zohn and Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2003), 269.
Kandice Chuh, The Difference Aesthetics Makes: On the Humanities “After Man” (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 3. Also see David Lloyd, Under Representation: The Racial Regime of Aesthetics (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019).
Langston Hughes speaking at the American League against War and Fascism’s Third Congress. Quoted in “Introduction: Anti/Fascism in the United States,” in Mullen and Vials, The U.S. Anti-Fascism Reader, 8.