Red-Brownism in the Biden Era
Fascism, and its influence on the left, remain a threat.
As I’ve written about previously, there is a phenomenon known as red-brownism, where socialists are sometimes pulled in a fascist direction by anti-establishment, anti-liberal propaganda. As Duginism puts it, “beyond left and right but against the center.” While it felt omnipresent during the Trump era, his loss was a brilliant blow to the global fascist movement. With it, the anchor of the “brown” side was lost.
However, in many ways, red-brownism has accelerated in the Biden Era. Hopefully, this is due to a struggle to stay relevant. Many of the anti-establishment social media personalities are reporting downturns in subscribers — by being louder, they can try to stay relevant. But the efforts have potentially dangerous consequences.
As always, the nexus in American media for red-brownist activity is Tucker Carlson, who has featured guests like Jimmy Dore on his show recently — a YouTuber comedian known for his advocacy of the “Force the Vote” movement, an ill-designed plan to bring Medicare-for-All to a vote in Congress.
Due to their non-compliance with the plan, the members of “The Squad,” the progressive wing of the House of Representatives, are targeted with hate. Though most of the folks participating in such attacks are ostensibly good faith leftists, the end result is not a good one — at best, time is wasted, at worst, what little staunchly progressive power exists in the House might falter.
As of now, the Democrats control the executive and legislative branches, with the majority in the Senate only due to the presence of the Vice President — keeping us far from the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. Power to move things leftward is existent but weak. Much as the worst elements of American politics were defeated — for now, at the national level — we are vulnerable to disruption in our uphill battle to get bills passed.
More than ever, it is crucial that everyone use their voting power to get and keep Democrats in office at every opportunity — something the Jimmy Dores of the world seek to disrupt. This is explicitly not to rule out criticism of the Democrats, an activity I engage in myself. But, when red-brownism thrives on propaganda and disinformation, we must be careful to always vet our sources and claims.
The fascist Russian government continues its disinformation campaigns through outlets like RT and Sputnik News. There is no shortage of novel attack vectors in the wake of events like the January 6th insurrection and the widespread vaccination campaign against COVID. The insurrection at the Capitol should, even half a year later, remain an incredibly potent reminder of the importance of keeping American fascism at bay. It failed once, but that does not mean it will fail again.
Furthermore, if we do not fortify our electoral gains in 2022, the Trump-appointed judges, especially in the Supreme Court, and GOP-controlled state governments will ensure the reactionary backlash will be fierce. We are already seeing a surge of bills targeting trans people. Hopefully, like Prop 8, it will be the last throws of transphobic bigotry — but it could also be part of a re-igniting fascist fervor.
All it takes for red-brownism to score a minor victory with you is to make you apathetic enough to not vote. The best thing you can do to ensure that, even if you are rightly critical of politicians, you don’t perpetuate red-brownism is to vote, to support Democratic campaigns, and to encourage others to do so. If you must, curse them out before you check their box at the ballot.
As a society, we have massive problems of climate change, infrastructure, and inequality we need to fervently fight against a racing clock. Even beyond the threat that Republicans pose, Democrats are the only hope at the ballot box of making a difference — at least for the foreseeable future. This does not preclude so many other forms of leftist organizing and activism, but ensure you are a net positive in the best bulwark against institutional fascism we still have: electing Democrats.