Who will be Eugene? The Street Movement, The Fascist Threat, and Strategic Suggestions for Moving Forward

This piece is also appearing in the Student Insurgent. However, we thought it important enough to also publish here on our own blog. It was written a few weeks ago, and a lot has happened since then. At that point in time, the now seemingly-omnipresent chud caravans had just started up locally, and since then the level of fascist violence and intimidation has escalated significantly, both locally and nationally. So if the discussion of fascism as a distraction seems flippant and brief here, keep in mind this context. Even so, we stand by our assessment that ultimately the grassroots fascists are an obstacle to overcome in the fight for liberation: the goal is the abolition of the racial capitalist State, not the defense of liberal democracy from a fascist seizure of power. The project of America is already the project of fascism. Self-defense against fascists is a vital need, but we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that merely beating back the chuds will win our safety. In the words of Idris Robinson, “[t]here is simply no way to avoid the spiral of violence that began at the very moment when the first wooden ships reached the shores of the Atlantic.”1

Here in Lane County it is well known that we have a fascist problem. From long-standing Nazis Judy and Jimmy Marr in Springfield—known for driving around a swastika-emblazoned truck and doing anti-semitic banner drops on I5—to more recently active Patriot militia members, Oregon’s white supremacist history has some present-day enthusiasts. The Patriots have been a presence on the streets in the past few months, holding “flag waves” and Back the Blue rallies in response to the various protests and riots prompted by the George Floyd Rebellion, and having some mixed success in counter-protesting anti-cop/pro-Black Lives demonstrations. This group is a loose coalition of right wing “patriot” types, out and out Neo-fascists, and Trump supporters.2 With the specter of a right wing power grab looming close on the horizon, anxieties understandably abound about the possibility of fascist street violence. We’re here to say that this is a real threat that will certainly have to be met with militant organizing and community action on our end. Eugene/Springfield has mobilized successfully against fascists in the past and we can do so again. We can also organize for so much more.

Right now in Eugene, protesters are confronted at almost every protest by a sizeable group of Lane County fascists who make it a point to show up and oftentimes attack the participants. This has been largely responsible for killing the vibe around town and foreclosing on the possibilities at demonstrations.

If anything is going to take shape here in Eugene, we are going to have to figure out how to deal with this problem, without necessarily becoming defined by this struggle alone.There is a lot of brave and incredible work being done on the anti-fascist front,³ however we would argue that the only thing fascists are more effective at than dishing out random violence is taking our time and energy to the point that we forego the creation and implementation of our own liberatory project. Effectively dealing with the fash may sometimes look like directly and violently confronting them when it’s necessary or beneficial to do so, but we think that a priority must be put on sidestepping them, juking them, and pushing them aside so we can push for an insurrectionary break with the State and capital (in some ways, J25 was an example of this). However, if possibilities emerge to cut them off from their sources of support and disrupt their organizational and logistical cohesion through subterfuge, sabotage, and other subtle means, then those opportunities should be seized upon: use your imagination! This goes for all our enemies. Anyway, grassroots fash are a real danger but ultimately a distraction. If we spend all our time fighting them, then they’ve already succeeded in defusing our revolutionary energies.

Right now, revolutionary forces in Eugene find themselves in a predicament when it comes to the actors in town, as it is not just the Fascists who are keeping the party from really getting started. Perhaps even more effective than the fascists at containing unpredictable energies are the activist-left “movement” types in town who take peoples’ genuine interest and energy and divert it into harmless channels while speaking the language of revolution but strategizing around reform.  We would argue that there are 3 “poles” in Eugene, and a 4th one that nebulously exists but would do itself a favor by articulating and networking with itself, counter to the other 3.

Right now we have:
“The Movement” official – Represented most clearly by Eugene Black Unity, though not exclusively. These people generally stick to a reformist and non-violent stance, though they coopt the slogans and rhetoric of genuine abolitionists. They seem to engage as if they are a part of a movement, similar to the civil rights era, when the reality is that we are in an active conflict, or insurgency. As such, their strategies are ineffective for the times. The EPD generally leaves their events alone since they know this is the case, too. They are more or less facilitated by the police as well, as part of a counter-insurgency strategy on their end.

The State – Represented by City Management and The Eugene Police Department. They speak the rhetoric that change is necessary, yet only offer things such as committee proposals and repression as their solutions to the current crisis. The City of Eugene works hard to manufacture the veneer of a progressive liberal oasis, though it would like you to ignore the largest per-capita homeless rate in the entire United States, with tens of thousands sleeping on the street each night. Important to keeping the peace here is an effective counter-insurgency strategy which is enforced by the EPD, who have police escorts for reformists, and tear gas, raids, and batons for everyone else. Luckily for us, by their own admission they are out of practice in effective strategies for things like crowd control. This was especially on display during the July 25th riot where they made only a few arrests, and ended up antagonizing people even more by teargassing residential streets. Their mistakes can be taken advantage of by anyone bold enough to try it.

The Fascists – Very unpredictable and violent but not the smartest bunch. They seem to have some wild cards in their ranks but generally keep their distance as long as nothing goes down, or people step into their turf, like in Thurston or Springfield. The Fascists have the advantage of being well-armed and more or less protected and endorsed by the State, but they are at a disadvantage when it comes to commitment and numbers. Their central issue lies in the fact that their fight is entirely reactive; they’re trying to prop up dead institutions of whiteness, cisheteropatriarchy, and colonialism, and to continue the capitalist exploitation and resource extraction that is poisoning the Earth. As such, their program only appeals to a shrinking amount of the population, and everyday becomes harder to justify. The lack of young people in their ranks speaks volumes to this phenomenon.

Unfortunately for revolutionaries in Eugene, much of the space is taken up by these 3 entities. There was never the growth of a really militant street force here, as many so-called activists, organizers, and even revolutionaries did all they could after the M29 rebellion to disparage and discredit the people who would actually have been able to make something like that possible. Feeling a total lack of support, many of those people never came back to the streets with such ferocity, and unfortunately many alleged participants are facing severe charges. There have been good things that have come since then which have shown us we are capable of a lot more, such as the Hunger Strike at the Lane County Jail, some rowdy noise demos at the jail, a few instances of the Police HQ being attacked, and the J25 riot, but rebels have never been able to constitute themselves as a consistent material force in this town for a while.

What we are lacking in Eugene is a 4th “pole” which is capable of going beyond reform, and on a revolutionary offensive. We are thus proposing the creation of such a pole. The task is to fuse militant knowledge with the masses of everyday folks who see no future in this reality and are ready to fight back. This is not to propose the creation of a vanguard, whether that be socialist, communist, or anarchist, but a genuine engagement by revolutionaries with the people around them with the intention of forming a base of power that makes us all powerful. We believe that this necessitates good faith engagement with known comrades through networking and discussion, and engagement with comrades unbeknownst to us through means such as propaganda. This will require orienting our strategies away from the tired model of organizing activist milieus and attempting to make contact with the proles directly.

There is no denying that the situation we find ourselves in is profoundly unsafe, and that things will only continue to deteriorate from here. Thus, it is on us to seize the opportunities, before someone else does it for us. While we should resist pyrrhic self-destruction, letting our actions be motivated by some shallow desire for “safety” will only lead to greater hardship. A world-historic storm has been brewing for quite some time—we got a taste of it this summer, from perhaps some of the same clouds that unleashed the worldwide deluge of 2019, but it was only but a taste. There is no running, no hiding from this storm, only meeting it with more or less courage and preparedness. What this is means is finding eachother and learning how to fight through fighting, learning how to love through loving, learning what community means by making it, and learning what insurrection means by manifesting it. The only “safety” worthy of the name lies within the real movement of combat and collective love that blows apart the present state of things.

“On the one hand there is the existent, with its habits and certainties. And of certainty, that social poison, one can die.

On the other hand there is insurrection, the unknown bursting into the life of all. The possible beginning of an exaggerated practice of freedom.” – At Daggers Drawn With the Existent, Its Defenders, and Its False Critics




Your Friends @ Dispatches from Eugene

@Letsgoeugene on twitter dot com



1. https://illwilleditions.com/letter-to-michael-reinoehl/

2. This twitter thread has some info on some of the internal dynamics of the group as of a few months ago https://twitter.com/mgbelka/status/1295162575357788160?s=20

3. Eugene Antifa has been doing a lot of important work tracking local fascists and they post a lot of info to their blog: eugeneantifa.noblogs.com