“The South Will Rise Again!” so says The League of the South

Secessionist and nationalist movements are frequently lumped into the category of “hate groups” due to their hyper niche ideology focused on eliminating some form of tormenter. For some its the “Jews” while for others its African Americans, foreigners, gays, or any other segment of society which fails to meet their standards. Applying the label of hate group conjures up images of hooded white men chanting racial slurs while marching in lock-step around a burning cross. Any more, the designation leads to a quick dismissal by the larger activist community, and allows these groups to operate with impunity in the shadows. Thus is the case with the emerging League of the South.

Founded in 1994 by a group of Southern academia and attorneys, LOS claims ideological kinship with the League of United Southerners and the Italian national-populist movement, Lega Nord. According to their own website, LOS was formed as a secessionist movement brought about because of the corruption of the United States government. Their formation in the mid-nineties follows the marked increase of anti-government groups during the same time. Founders and early members of the group include the attorney who defended Martin Luther King’s assassin, and a weapons trafficker who was building his own armory with stolen US military assets.

LOS is careful to avoid the label of “revolutionary”, which would denote the violent overthrow of the US government. Rather, LOS claims to be a pure secessionist movement seeking legal separation from the United States. LOS leadership encourages their adherents go through a process they call “abjuration of the realm” which in short, is the complete removal of oneself from the power of the government. An extrapolation of this hints at traditional sovereign citizen actions like refusing to pay taxes, refusing to vote, and recusing oneself from the census. Indeed, LOS feels the current US government constitutes an unholy empire, occupying southern lands and that through abjuration the entire south can become a sovereign nation with its own commerce, customs, and rule of law all favoring a Christian Southern Lifestyle.

LOS recently garnered media attention due to a rallies in Montgomery, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida. In Alabama, a small contingent of LOS members participated in an anti-gay marriage rally. According to LOS, gay marriage is not in-line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, therefore is not tolerable. In April, LOS combined with the Republic of Florida Militia to protest against the Students for Justice in Palestine, and their burning of a Confederate flag. To LOS, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of their culture and heritage whereas to the Students for Justice in Palestine, it represented hate and violence a la the Ku Klux Klan. While protesting against the Students for Justice is hardly indicative of a hate group, LOS’ description of the protestors as “trannies” left little doubt as to their ideology.

LOS membership numbers are unknown, but based on their social media page and publicly available photographs, they probably number anywhere from 30 to 50. There is no indication LOS has influence outside of the southern states, but within that region they are definitely on the move. They revamped their website recently, moving away from “Dixie Net” to a more professional URL. They also maintain a facebook page complete with a banner showing members holding signs reading, “Immigration hurts southern workers” another indicator of their bias against anyone but their own “kind.” Page admins bragged recently about new members with diverse skill sets volunteering their time to improve their image. There is also unconfirmed reports from late 2014 indicating the group was building and training a paramilitary force for protection.

Time will tell if LOS makes an aggressive move into the militia realm or will stay a club-like secessionist movement. In either case, if the last few months are an indicator of what’s to come, we may be seeing more of the League of the South.

2016 Preview: Gender Equality and the Perils of Patriarchy!

In October 2014 a clothing company smashed the delicate sensibilities of Americans by producing a viral-destined video of eight-year-old girls dressed as princesses, educating the world on gender pay equality and various conjugations of the “f-word.” The creators made the dubious claim the video was meant to draw attention to the plight of equal pay for equal work, despite it being the sole source of internet traffic to their on-line store. And, in typical partisan fashion, the video was defended on the left and vilified on the right. Its overall message however seemed to be missed by everyone; Feminism was back in style.

To be fair, feminism never really went away, but it has taken a far back-seat in recent years. During the hiatus from the spotlight, feminist adherents used to the time to re-tool their messaging just in time for what may prove to be a pivotal moment for them; the 2016 General Election. The first change was to move away from the name “feminist” and adopt a more social-justice minded label like gender equality. While the term “sexism” still exists, it is reserved for the hardcore activists. The term has morphed to gender discrimination or the more cryptic term, Patriarchy. They also moved quickly to push phrases like “rape culture” and “man spread.” All of these are dog whistles to the newcomers of the social-justice scene, specifically millennials, and meant to keep the fires burning.

To the activists and advocates, gender equality and the systematic oppression of women transcend nearly every social-justice boundary in modern society. The student loan industry is collapsing, but the crisis is much worse for women. The living wage fight, also known as “Fight for $15”, has been painted as very much a women’s issue. Nearly every reputable news and commentary site has done a spread on the “pay gap” with some saying it exists due to longstanding patriarchy, while others state it isn’t nearly as bad as some think. Politicians have unabashedly cited the pay gap as the driving force behind gelastic legislation meant only embarrass the other side. Unemployment in America is still staggeringly high, and women are making up an increasingly larger group in the overall numbers. Finally, gun control has been framed as an imminent women’s issue, closely linked to rape and domestic violence.

Social issues aside, feminism has taken on some major powerhouses in the United States over the last few years. Groups like “Ordain Women” challenged the LDS church on matters of gender equality by demanding women be allowed into the Priesthood meetings. The NFL came under direct fire from women’s groups after serious allegations were made against their handling of known abusers. The NFL’s fumbling of the issue led to an open discussion about the prevalence of domestic violence in America. Silicon Valley, well-known for its hipster/millennial population took a direct hit from women for its acceptance of a male dominated culture. Even false allegations of rape at UVA were seen not as giant hoaxes perpetrated on the public, but aides in a much-needed dialogue on rape and abuse on American college campuses.

None of this has happened in a vacuum. There is a noticeable crescendo in the volume and tempo of the new feminist movement. It leads to the inexorable conclusion that the next election will be all about the ladies. Take the two strongest candidates thus far for President; Elizabeth Warren (powerful despite having yet announced), and Hillary Clinton. Both women are strong advocates for women’s rights, and threaten the patriarchal political system in the U.S.. The Republicans will immediately face charges of sexism and patriarchy the moment they select their candidate, provided it is a male. The feminists will use their experience over the last few years to shred any candidate that threatens their advancement. In fact, they’ve already begun with the media induced smack-down of Rand Paul. The feminist activists learned a lot from the success of Mitt Romney’s binder comment, and will undoubtedly ramp up the pressure as the election nears.

Feminism is not dead. It is alive and well and if all indications are correct, the movement is about to undergo a long-awaited renaissance.

The Revolutionary Communist Party’s New Face

Ferg Revcom

Its unlikely many of today’s activists understand the significance of the “Second Red Scare” let alone the driving force against Communism in the 40’s and 50’s. If they did, then they would undoubtedly understand the American Right’s reaction to the modern iteration of Communism and its place in the nationwide spread of direct action. From Ferguson to Oakland, one organizing entity has reigned supreme, despite being low-key and benefitting from pseudo journalism, rebuffing claims of their presence.  They reached their zenith in April with the #A14 Shutdown movement against police brutality. The resurgence of Communism in the form of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has been baffling to some, and down right aggravating to others. In all of the confusion two questions must be answered, Who are the “Revcoms” and why now?

Whose Revolution?

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA like many other activist groups trace their lineage to one or two movements existing in the 1960’s. As with many of these groups, the Revolutionary Communist Party, also known as Revcom, was formed after a split from a larger group. In this case, Revcom was a break-away group from the Students for a Democratic Society. Co-Founders Carl Dix, and Bob Avakian formally organized Revcom in 1975 and based it off of Avakian’s plethora of writings on what they termed, “the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.”  In short, Avakian and his comrades believe in the destruction of the current political, social, and economic systems in favor of a vanguard-led society where the workers produce and trade goods and services without the burdens of capitalism. In this new-found society old vestiges of patriarchy, oppression, capitalism, and racism would be a thing of the past. Freedom would be found in the ability to produce and consume as one great communal collective.

Why Communism Now?

Avakian and Dix are old school activists who understand that the bold, in-your-face direct action favored by millennial activists will not work. Instead, they favor a far more intellectual approach to revolution. Unlike socialist-anarchists, Revcoms choose to “smash the system” by highlighting obvious manifestations of the oppressive system one at a time, and organizing activists to confront those elements, all the while pointing out how obvious it is that change is required. All the while Revcoms hint that their system in the best alternative.

This is what led Revcom to the current “police reform” movement. To Revcom, Mike Brown, Walter Scott, and Eric Garner are all victims of the capitalist bourgeoisie oppressing African American men at the heel of white cops. The police are the jackbooted thugs of the system, therefore they are the most obvious target for direct action. Hence, the #A14 Shut Down against police brutality. Dix is no stranger to anti-law enforcement movements. He is the driving force behind the “Stop Mass Incarceration Network” (SMIN) which focuses solely on law enforcements’ interaction with Black America. #A14 was held on SMIN’s traditional day of action and not so incidentally, it was also Equal Pay Day. More on this another time.

A quick review of photographs from the “Hands Up” and Black Lives Matter events across the country reveal a large number of Revcom signs and supporters. The prevalence of Revcom paraphernalia is a sign Dix and Avakian have succeeded in connecting with the disenfranchised African American community, a plight they failed at in 2005. The question is, how deep is the connection? The presence of their propaganda is not necessarily a sign Communism is becoming more popular. Marches and rallies are great places to spread one’s ideology, but not a great place to understand them. For this reason, Revcom may be experiencing a flash-in-the-pan resurgence based only on the disquieted voices in the BLM movement. In fact, if history is any indication of future behavior, once people get to know Avakian and his cult-like following, they will more than likely move away from the group.

Revcom’s resurgence may soon prove to be more than just a temporary flash, as there are indications the group is moving into the “Fight for $15” living wage demonstrations. In the meantime, however they appear to be happy supplying signs, tracts, and web space for the Black Lives Matter movement. A decision that may not bring many converts, but has succeeded in bringing attention. Something Avakian craves.