On October 12, Gavin McInnes, the leader of a fascistic street gang called the “Proud Boys,” was invited to address the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York. Afterwards, his followers participated in a violent brawl with protesters outside the event.
Subsequent to the incident, video footage surfaced showing bands of Proud Boys, joined by members of other far-right extremist gangs, running through the streets of New York. Some are wearing red Trump “MAGA” baseball caps. In one video, a large number of Proud Boys are shown beating two figures on the ground.
During parts of the brawl itself, by many accounts, the police stood by and did not intervene. On his internet show, McInnes acknowledged that “a lot of cops listen.” In the aftermath of the brawl in New York, nine Proud Boys and three Antifa members were charged with rioting, assault and attempted assault.
The event exposes the close ties between a faction of the Republican Party and the political gutter of open racists, bigots and the “alt-right.” The McInnes event was also noteworthy for its specifically anti-communist character.
McInnes is a fascistic provocateur and an emerging figure in the so-called “alt-right.” On his internet show, he shouts vulgar racial slurs. He incites hatred and bigotry of all kinds, including against women, immigrants and Muslims. He brags about his guns and threatens to kill his opponents. He is a self-described anti-Semite. He yells about how “cultural Marxism” is destroying “Western civilization.”
The “Proud Boys” are a violent far-right gang, launched in 2016 by McInnes, who takes inspiration from the fascist movements of the 20th century. Meetings consist of beer-drinking rallies from which women are excluded. Its members appear in force at right-wing rallies and events, claiming to provide “security” while they carry out attacks on counter-protesters. This is the world of the American “alt-right.” Nazi and Confederate flags comingle, and firearms are proudly brandished.
Proud Boys were in attendance at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, during which counter-protester Heather Heyer was murdered by an “alt-right” fanatic. Also last year, five Canadian Armed Forces personnel identifying themselves as Proud Boys disrupted an indigenous protest in Canada. The Proud Boys have appeared in Portland, New York and Berkeley, targeting and attacking left-wing protesters.
The “Proud Boys” claim to be a fraternal organization. Women are excluded. They have initiation rituals similar to college frat houses. Members are required to observe various strange moral codes. For example, members are forbidden to masturbate or view pornography. The Proud Boys have been described as an “alt-right fight club.”
Membership in the Proud Boys is granted in degrees. A first-degree recruit must declare: “I am a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.” The second degree, according to the available accounts, involves the initiate getting punched by other Proud Boys until he names five breakfast cereals. A “Proud Boys” gang tattoo is required for the third degree. To earn the highest degree, the aspirant must “get beat up, kick the crap out of an antifa,” referring to the anti-fascist anarchist affiliation.
“We will kill you,” McInnes said on his show in 2016. “That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell. We will kill you ... We will assassinate you.” Their internet postings include videos and photos with captions such as: “Proud Boys destroy the left!”
What does the well-heeled Republican Party establishment in New York want with McInnes and his fraternal organization? The Metropolitan Republican Club, located on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, has a 100-year history as a bastion of New York’s conservative elite. Its past invitees have included governors, senators and presidents.
The occasion for the invitation of McInnes is significant. McInnes was invited to commemorate the political assassination of Japanese Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma on October 12, 1960.
Asanuma was a prominent figure in post-war Japan and a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party. He was assassinated during a televised debate in advance of parliamentary elections. While he was speaking in front of the cameras at Tokyo’s Hibiya Hall, a right-wing terrorist rushed the stage armed with a Japanese traditional sword, stabbing and killing Asanuma before being restrained.
This barbaric political murder was viewed by millions of people on Japanese television. After his arrest, the assassin wrote on the wall of his cell: “Seven lives for my country. Long live His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor!”
In far-right corners of the internet, where an image of the assassination has become a “meme,” this political murder is being celebrated as a triumphant “answer” to left-wing politics. In an Instagram post in advance of the event, McInnes called the assassination of a socialist politician an “inspiring moment.” At the Metropolitan Republican Club, McInnes apparently re-enacted the event with a toy sword. One can imagine the merry chuckles of the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen in attendance.
The celebrations of the Asanuma assassination have a specifically anti-Marxist and homicidal character. Footage of the assassination has been uploaded numerous times to YouTube, where one can find comments such as the following: “The answer to communism.” “Badass saved his country from Marxism.” “Communists must be stabbed anywhere and anytime they are.” “This is what happens to socialists and critical theorists who play traitor to their own nation and people.” “Death to traitors!”
The Republican Party has tried to distance itself from the street brawls that followed the McInnes speech. “Gavin’s talk on Friday night, while at times politically incorrect and a bit edgy, was certainly not inciting violence,” read an official statement released last week. According to the Republican Party leadership, a man who gives the Hitler salute is merely “politically incorrect” and “a bit edgy.” As for the political content of the event itself, a celebration of the murder of left-wing and socialist opponents, the Republican Party headquarters was apparently not displeased.
Compelled to take notice of the Proud Boys in the aftermath of the brawl, even bourgeois commentators have acknowledged the historical parallels to the 1930s. Against the backdrop of unprecedented political instability, a section of the political establishment is cultivating ties with fascistic forces, seeking to develop the necessary attack dogs to unleash against the population in the event of social upheavals.
Figures such as McInnes are quite conscious of their role. “At the very least, people of the right,” he said, speaking at the Metropolitan Republican Club, “let us scum in.” And in certain quarters, both in the US and internationally, the necessity of mobilizing these elements is recognized. So far, by one count, McInnes has appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News a total of 24 times.
These “alt-right” forces have been emboldened by the toxic atmosphere of official politics in the United States. The Republican Party openly courts them, and they have observed the elevation and “normalization” of their co-thinkers such as Steve Bannon under the Trump administration. They have also drawn strength from the rightward lurch of the Democratic Party and its media allies, including their ever-more obsessive focus on the politics of race, gender, and sexual orientation.