“Gonzo Notes” is Kit’s newsletter of political analysis and direct action tips.
That Which Doesn’t Kill You Leaves Scars
I’m in a strange position this month as a gonzo journalist, because I can’t really write about the major action I attended last month.
The short version is that I attended a counterprotest against the Austin version of the national “March 4 Trump.” We were badly outnumbered, surrounded and attacked by fascist Trump supporters. I survived a serious assault and was hospitalized overnight. I now face a misdemeanor assault charge even though I was the victim, along with hospital bills, and this charge prevents me from writing much more.
Still, here’s the main lesson I learned — at least the one that’s safe to share:
We are not ready.
While we laughed at militias and sent jumbo buckets of lube to the Bundy Ranchers, they were obtaining military training and preparing for war … against us.
While the Left argued about whether or not it’s okay to say “All Cops Are Bastards,” they were infiltrating the police and making an institution built on racism into one that openly equates the phrase “Black Lives Matter” with terrorist threats.
Just as so many of us grew up dreaming of being part of a 1960s-style revolutionary fight for justice, the fascist far-right grew up fantasizing about busting hippie heads, just like Granddad did in the John Birch Society.
Not only are they more tactically prepared but, while we were sleeping, the Left allowed the fascist far-right to hijack terms we thought were ours, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and tolerance. We let them win this battle.
Don’t believe me? Post about militant resistance to hate speech on your Facebook wall, and see how fast your “liberal” friends, or their friends, will race to defend genocide as a valid point of view.
Now they occupy the White House, and the Left still can’t agree on whether being antiwar or even antiracist is a fundamental principle of our work.
What can we do? Educate ourselves, share skills with each other, build stronger networks, and prepare to fight. That’s been the core of my work since the beginning of the year through the Oh Shit! What Now? collective here in Austin. I know similar people across the country doing this kind of work, and it’s wonderful, and it’s inspiring.
But it’s not enough.
From my vantage point in April 2017, it looks as if the activists that stormed the airports and marched for women are going home, and our movements failed to attract even 1% of them to long-term movement building and resistance.
Democracy may ‘die in darkness‘ but the military-industrial complex thrives with the support of the mainstream and even the left media. The so-called resistance is waiting for a red-scare Get Out Of Jail Free card that will never come: impeach Trump and we can all go home.
I can’t close this issue with a truly hopeful message, except to say we’re still here and we’ll still be here, building real resistance in local neighborhoods, in high schools and on college campuses, in cafes and in living rooms.
It’s not enough, it’s never enough, but we fight anyway. Let’s find each other.
So fascism called men from the middle classes to recover their heritage of being holy warriors, to sweep the decayed old bourgeois order away in a campaign against two classes: to seize State power from the bourgeoisie and completely eliminate the working class left. — J. SAKAI, “THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION” FROM “CONFRONTING FASCISM: DISCUSSION DOCUMENTS FOR A MILITANT MOVEMENT“
Gonzo action tips
In a previous issue of “Gonzo Notes,” I recommended some simple computer security tips that everyone should take. Consider this your second lesson, so do those steps first if you haven’t yet.
This time I’m going to add an additional recommendation: You should use a Virtual Private Network to protect your online browsing behavior. VPNs are receiving more attention than ever after Congress voted to allow your Internet Service Provider to sell your personal browsing data, as I reported for Lee Camp last month.
In my article, I recommended readers start using a VPN but, as Krebs on Security points out, not all VPN providers are created equal. Brian Krebs is also correct that the vote doesn’t really change anything. The Obama-era FCC’s online privacy rules never had a chance to become active, and personal privacy online should be everyone’s concern no matter what party occupies the White House.
A VPN adds an extra layer between the user’s ISP and the internet, theoretically providing you with a bit more security and privacy. However, this essentially transfers trust from the ISP to the VPN. That’s why it matters which one you select, and those “free” VPN services probably aren’t a great option.
My recommendation is to decide what you can afford to pay each month (or annually) for a VPN, and look for a good deal — but research the VPN provider before you buy, and make sure it fits your needs. Krebs linked to this fabulous side-by-side comparison chart of popular VPN providers from That One Privacy Site that can help you make a more informed decision (thanks Kade and Humorless Queers for bringing this to my attention).
Remember, a VPN does not provide you with total anonymity or protection from government and police surveillance, but it should be a part of your tool kit.
Are there other security concerns you’d like me to cover here? Email GonzoNotes@kitoconnell.com.
Fascism & The Harsh Lessons Of Failure (Gonzo Notes) by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/2017/04/10/fascism-the-harsh-lessons-of-failure-gonzo-notes/.