He ends the introduction with an apt warning: “Simply put, they are one of the most dangerous and influential extremist groups in America, growing at a time when federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly targeting the far-right. Consider extremism as one of the country’s major threats.”
Campbell, who has covered the Proud Boys as a HuffPost reporter since the protests began in 2017, of course, attests to this characterization over the course of the book. It offers a deep and revealing history of the group as the brainchild of MacInnes and his increasingly radical and hateful right-wing cadre; the rising career of January 6 rebel Ethan Nordian, and the central role played by the Proud Boys in the attack on the Capitol; Their grotesque initiation ceremonies reflect a deeply twisted and misogynistic sexual ideology; their disturbingly close and friendly relations with law enforcement authorities; And their endless stream of organized attacks on liberal centers like Portland, the Bay Area, New York City, and Seattle has now turned into localized attacks on school boards and city councils in suburban and rural areas across the country.
We are proud guys It clearly shows how these latter attacks were not just gangs of thugs assembled for violence, but carefully planned events. A document (published this week guardian) written in anticipation of a planned January 10 march on New York City—published the day before the January 6 uprising, and later canceled after many participants were arrested—for planned violence. Shows the depth of their calculations, as well as their self-concept as a paramilitary force whose sole purpose is to violently defend both Trump and his political agenda.
“These guys see themselves as super soldiers, like some kind of military outfit,” Campbell explained. guardian. “On one level it’s funny, because nothing is really going to pan out the way they say it will. But on another level, it’s worrisome because it shows that they’ve done this stuff. How much thought
The document also shows how the decentralized structure of the Proud Boys enabled their post-revolt strategy to emphasize smaller local events revolving around various right-wing causes—including ” Includes critical racial theory” hysteria and “groomer” rhetoric targeting the LGBTQ community. It was authored by Randy Ireland, president of the New York-based Hell’s Gate Bridge chapter, and was circulated via Telegram to at least nine other chapters.
“Chapter leaders like Randy can create their own events, run independently of each other,” Campbell said. “Enrique Terrio and other leaders are in prison, but these people are going to continue what they are doing.”
This framework enabled their strategic and tactical transition after the 2021 launch. “In a short period of time, they created a rubik by which any group could go from a street-level militant gang to the neofascist enforcement arm of an entire political party,” Campbell writes.
The Proud Boys have always been about bringing violence, and that’s what they did on January 6. From attacks on police barricades to the first breach of the Capitol, to the search for members of Congress to “bring justice.” T. played their part for, and in the months to come, that has been their role in small-town America as well.
The centrality of this theory of abolitionist violence—its celebration and cultivation, training and preparation for it, the important role it played in organizing events designed to provide opportunities to direct them against their imagined enemies—is one that not only Different from arrogant boys. Common street gangs and brawlers, but deftly defines them neofascists– that is, a modern iteration of fascist organization copying its essential elements. As historian Robert O. A central “mobilizing passion” of fascism, says Paxton, is “the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the success of the group.”
MacInnes, Campbell explains, always put this ethos front and center at Proud Boys. raison d’être: “Fighting solves everything,” he told his talk-show audience during the early stages of its formation. “We need more violence from Trump’s people.” He celebrated it on his show: “Remember the violence? Remember how fun it was? Remember the fight? There is no happier man than a boy who has just won a battle. “
There are other parts of Proud Boys culture that confirm this identification, all of which represent essential aspects of fascism as it has been identified by scholars and analysts in the last century, when the phenomenon first emerged:
- Its palagenetic agenda: the belief that their violence would bring about a phoenix-like rebirth of the nation returning to a mythical golden age. Oxford Brookes professor Roger Griffin defines fascism as “palegenetic transnationalist populism”, that is, a “modern political ideology that aims to transform the social, economic, and cultural life of a country by basing it on a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity.” Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as liberty and individual rights, and often pushes for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy.
\A key symbol of this mythic core is the red Make America Great Again ballcap that is part of the Proud Boy uniform, and central to Donald Trump’s slogan to his belief system. It is also included in the organization’s opening pledge to “refuse to apologize for the creation of the modern world” as “Western chauvinists”.
- Their hatred for weakness. Paxton describes this as another key “mobilizing passion,” that is, “the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, a right Darwin is determined by the sole measure of the strength of the group in its struggle.” Sociologist Harold Ofsted sees this as the most essential characteristic of fascism: “Its essence is that the strong rule over the weak, and that the weak Despicable because they allow themselves to be ruled. Nazism did not emerge in Germany in the 1930s and it did not disappear in 1945. It is an expression of deep-seated emotions that still exist within us and in our environment. McInnes often puts it simply: “It’s fun punching these kids because they’ve never been punched before.”
- Its mistreatment of women and hatred of feminism, along with a twisted version of male sexuality. Both Hitler and Mussolini were passionate in their sexism: “The Nazi revolution will be an entirely male event” was one of Hitler’s most repeated phrases. The boys’ insistence on male-only friendships, combined with a puritanical approach to prostitution and pornography and a strange quasi-mystical approach to sex, mimics actual fascist ethos. McInnes, notes Campbell, “was convinced that if men stopped gravitating to porn, they would be more attracted to their wives and girlfriends, enjoy better sex lives and higher testosterone, and become better fighters.”
- Its authoritarianism, or what Stanley Paine called fascism, is “a characteristic tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether the command is initially selective to some degree or not.” For the Pride Boys, Donald Trump constitutes this “great leader,” and their loyalty to him is unquestionable—or at least it was in the years leading up to January 6th. That loyalty, Campbell notes, intensified after Trump announced the Proud Boys. During his only debate with Joe Biden – “Stand back, and stand up”.
- Its cult of heroism. As Umberto Eco said, in a fascist society, “everyone is educated to be a hero.” Proud Boys, like all right-wing extremists, think of themselves as heroes dedicated to saving the world—a kind of heroism that consequently justifies any kind of action, especially the violent kind. Furthermore, since there can be no hero without an identifiable enemy, and these enemies actually define what kind of hero one is, they draw their enemies from whatever cultural strands serve their purpose. begin to recreate and create them: for the arrogant boys, it’s Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other supposedly “Marxist” elements. This mindset fuels their self-concept as “super-soldiers,” as Campbell describes it.
Ultimately, the whole project of fascism is to overthrow liberal democracy by weaponizing it—for example, free speech in advocating an agenda of repression—and threatening its co-principles with violence and intimidation, all of which To dislodge it with tyranny. Right-wing rule by a powerful dictator. In this respect, the Proud Boys now play a similar role to the historical paramilitary street-fighting forces that have always played central roles in the rise to power of fascists, especially in Germany and Italy.
In Germany, they were called Sturmbteilung (“Storm Detachment”), or SA, but were known as Brown Shirts. In Italy, they wore black and were therefore known as blackshirts or “squadristi”. Their official name was Milizia Voluntaria per la Secureza Nazionale. (MVSN, “Voluntary Socialist Militia for National Security.”)
These thugs have historically served several functions: to intimidate and threaten the left with violence; publicizing those leftists as the source of violence; and establishing a common cause with mainstream elements (primarily businesses, corporate owners, and landowners) threatened by leftist causes.
German propaganda was particularly prone to promoting images of heroic brownshirts victimized by violent leftists. The Nazi marching song — “Horst Wassel Liede” — was a celebration of a young brownshirt who had been killed by leftists. This appeal was central to the Nazis’ ongoing campaign to present themselves as the only effective defenders of mainstream society against the threat of an evil, nefarious left that was part of a global communist conspiracy.
The Proud Boys have also made much of the violence directed at them by local fascists, sensationally demonizing those who come to resist their urban encroachment by elevating their existence into a national threat. And equally, they have responded by describing them as subhuman—”communists” or “Marxists” or “pedophiles” or a dozen other epithets that evoke abolitionist hatred, only to be dropped from helicopters. are fit
Their self-righteous belief in their own myth of heroism led them to besiege the Capitol on January 6 and attack police officers they had previously seen as their allies. And even though they failed in their attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power that had long characterized American democratic stability, their firm belief in this myth ensured that they would not stop. They will never give up. And they haven’t.
Campbell emphasizes that the Proud Boys—like all neofascist organizations—are the tip of the spear in the right’s ongoing war on democracy, and he explores their multifaceted relationship with the Republican Party, which in most respects They have become partners. And their future looks promising at least.
“As it stands today, we are witnessing a hardened national movement of violent men, committed to radical and ultra-nationalist causes, and now, with years of experience under their belts, other violent men. lead groups into battle,” he writes. Near the conclusion. “They’re respected and normalized by sections of the political right, they’re running for office, they’re policed in their ranks and standing up for them, and they have media personalities to promote them and draw attention to them. is a collaborative network.”
Anyone trying to understand how and why American democracy is under attack owes it to themselves to read. We are proud guys. Campbell has written the definitive text on organization to date, and the lessons and warnings it contains are worth noting.