Trump and the Third Position

Third position fascism’s championing of anti-capitalism is perhaps one of its most nefarious components. Its appeal to those on the Left as well as to those “insurgent workers and declassed strata” arises due to an aporia of the Left, where anti-capitalist movements are unable to sufficiently distinguish themselves from these fascist anti-capitalist movements.


Exiting the Democratic Party primary race in much the same way that he emerged, with an uneventful sputter, Bernie Sanders tepidly endorsed Hillary Clinton as democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States in July of 2016. The public reasoning for this move has been oft noted by the United States press: joining a shared political battle against Donald Trump. Like rats to the pied piper, out crawl the once Sanders-supporting liberal commentators to call for a lesser of two evils position for democrat voters. From journalists like the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, to noted left intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, the Trump spectre has convinced many that, given they consider only two candidates in the race eligible, Clinton is the more desirable candidate.

But what becomes of those voters who remain unconvinced? While in a recent Pew Center study 85% of surveyed Sanders supporters vowed to back Clinton in the upcoming election, some 35% believed that Clinton and Trump were comparable in their level of honesty, and only 46% thought that Clinton would eliminate the monied influences of special interest groups from American politics, a major rallying point among Sanders voters. Curiously, 9% of respondents claimed that they would now vote for Trump, a trend also observed by a poll in the liberal publication the Guardian conducted in March of 2016. The poll claims that in-step with supposedly national trends, the majority of respondents who are interested in making the Bernie to Trump switch are white, of a low-income socioeconomic bracket, and “anti-establishment.” Besides simply playing into a mainstream media misrepresentation of Sanders’ base, which it most certainly is, the Guardian study raises interesting questions on a confluence of concerns addressed by the two candidates.

Of all issues that would push Sanders supporters to the Trump side, the Guardian identified a concern over economic issues, namely ‘free trade,’ and corruption as two of the most important. “Donald Trump is the only candidate besides Bernie Sanders who cares about curtailing Free Trade,” claims one of the interviewees. “This is my only reason for supporting him if he makes if to November and Clinton is the Democratic nominee.” Despite being himself  a quintessential example of the American capitalist class, Trump has effectively rallied voters to his camp by bemoaning unbridled global capitalism, complaining that corporations like Boeing and Ford Motors have robbed American workers of their jobs.

Although these numbers are small, this should be concerning. Trump’s potential to recruit from the Left in any capacity, as Charles Post has pointed out, is the result of the subordination of mainstream left politics, social movement building, and organizing to the rapidly right-leaning Democratic Party.  The appeal of Trump’s blurring of left and right politics doesn’t stop at Bernie supporters, however. Between infamous white nationalist and renowned American Freedom Party (formerly American Third Position) politician William Daniel Johnson becoming a Trump delegate in California, and the considerable enthusiasm Trump has been paid by white nationalists on websites like Stormfront, the Trump campaign has clearly become a rallying point for neo-fascists of all stripes.

While the discussion of whether Trump is or is not a fascist has been debated thoroughly elsewhere[1], it’s also important to explore the effects of Trump’s campaign in terms of who it excites. Trump’s appeal to those nominally on the Left as well as those on the extreme Right  has made him a conduit for myriad forms of fascist organizing, largely because feelings of economic dispossession experienced by the white working and middle classes are recognized by fascists and effectively funnelled into discontent around issues of race. This is evidenced by Trump’s appeal to both former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, who is now running for a senatorial seat because of his enthusiasm for Trump, and to third position “race realists” like Jared Taylor of American Renaissance. To understand the fascist excitement for Trump and its connection to beyond left and right politics, one should first explore how fascism has transformed since World War II.

Third Position

In the essay “Fascism & Anti-Fascism,” Don Hamerquist argues that traditional leftist models for understanding fascism and fascists, as the shock troops of the ruling class deployed at a time of economic crisis, is outdated. A trend in contemporary fascist movements emerging today is that they identify as both revolutionary and, as Hamerquist puts it, militantly anti-capitalist. For Hamerquist, the rise in significance of third position fascism is evidenced by the World Church of the Creator’s (WCOC) support of the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, where Matt Hale, the church’s founder, praised the anti-capitalist actions of the protests and exhorted white nationalists to recruit amongst them.

The historical lineage of third position in the Euroamerican tradition lies within the “left” strand of the National Socialist German Worker’s party, i.e. Strasserism, as well as the socialist origins of the Italian Fascist Party. Otto Strasser’s left-wing brand of National Socialism emphasized socialist economic principles, advocating for a form of racial socialism that was anti-Jewish and anti-bourgeois. Elements of this kind of fascist anti-capitalism have been reappropriated by third position fascism movements like the WCOC, blurring the lines between revolutionary left and right movements.

Third position fascism’s championing of anti-capitalism is perhaps one of its most nefarious components. Its appeal to those on the Left as well as to those “insurgent workers and declassed strata” arises due to an aporia of the Left, where anti-capitalist movements are unable to sufficiently distinguish themselves from these fascist anti-capitalist movements. Third position fascism therefore challenges the Left via a competition for political and ideological space in regards to revolutionary anti-capitalism via a mystification, and even at times advocates for recruiting among left anti-capitalists as Matt Hale famously called for after the Battle in Seattle[2].

For Hamerquist, third position’s potential to seduce the left working class presented its greatest danger to the revolutionary left. J Sakai, in his complementary essay “The Shock of Recognition: Looking at Hamerquist’s Fascism & Anti-Fascism,” contributes many important additional points to this picture, but also provides two crucial contestations that are helpful in thinking through Trump and the third position. First, Sakai questions whether or not third position fascism, while revolutionary in a sense unfamiliar to the left, is authentically anti-capitalist. Contemporary manifestations of fascism, like the WCOC, are anti-globalist and against what Sakai refers to as “world-spanning “‘multicultural’ bourgeois culture,” while championing an older brand of capitalism that hopes to restore power to “local male classes” in which “they and not the bourgeois will be the one’s giving orders at gunpoint and living off of others.”

This leads to Sakai’s second contestation. That fascism’s real appeal, in Germany and Italy, was never really to the working classes, but instead a lower middle-class and declassed base anxious over their loss of status. Similarly, in the United States, Sakai argues that the popularity of white nationalism is derived from largely from de-settlerization. As capital globalizes, and as the American white settler lower-middle classes and labor aristocracies lose ground on economic and cultural power to the increasingly multiethnic bourgeois, white nationalist fascist resentment begins to bubble up. The important point, however, is that fascism is not derived from poverty or the poor and working classes; in its American white nationalist form, it has a particular class composition laden with resentment that, while anti-bourgeois, is less anti-capitalist than Hamerquist supposes.

Trump’s Appeal

While the Trump campaign has explicitly distanced itself from the likes of Duke and other white-nationalists, this hasn’t stopped them from organizing in support of him. But what about Trump is appealing to white nationalist and neo-fascist groups?

Major media publications that have covered the white nationalist attachment to Trump report that it has to do primarily with his harsh stance on illegal immigration and his promise for a ban on Muslims from entering the United States. “We agree with him primarily because of his anti-immigration stances,” the American Freedom Party’s Johnson says. Johnson sees hope in Trump’s immigration proposals to push the United States towards becoming what he describes as a “white ethno-state,” which he sees will guarantee the survival the white race. Duke echoes these claims, saying in August 2015 that Trump’s stance on immigration addresses the “greatest immediate threat to the American people.” “Someone who wants to send home all illegal immigrants and at least temporarily ban Muslim immigration is acting in the interest of whites, whether consciously or not,” claims Taylor, in response to Trump’s disavowal of his support in regards to Taylor’s campaigning on Trump’s behalf.


Taylor’s comments in particular demonstrate that white nationalists and fascists aren’t acting naively. Actors all across the white nationalist and neo-fascist landscape see both pluses and minuses in Trump’s platform. The goal is not necessarily to get Trump elected, but instead to use his campaign as a vehicle for their own organizing. “The march to victory will not be won by Donald Trump in 2016,” argued Matthew Heimbach, founder of the white nationalist group Traditionalist Youth Network, in 2015, “but this could be the steppingstone we need to then radicalize millions of White working and middle class families to the call to truly begin a struggle for Faith, family and folk.”

Preoccupied with his positions on immigration, what many neglect as attractive to white nationalist groups is Trump’s stance on globalization, so-called isolationism, and the taming of capital. Trump’s criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership resonates with many white workers who are anxious about the prospect of losing their jobs to offshoring; but it also takes up issues addressed by anti-capitalist activists on the Left as as well as third positionists on the Right. “[Globalists] promote open borders. That’s wrong. They promote consumerism. That’s wrong. Consumerism is destroying the environment” argues Johnson, in an interview from May 2016. “Globalists promote multiculturalism and diversity, and that is killing the white race. Nationalism promotes a homogenous population. Globalism is empire-building by corporations.” “[Trump is] promoting nationalism as opposed to globalism,” claims Johnson, “then boy, we’re all for him.”

American third position organizers’ resentment toward globalization and capitalism are authentic. Globalists, for Johnson, represent a new turn in the capitalist order that threatens to dethrone whites from their dominant position within the United States ruling class. Trump as a business person, although thoroughly enmeshed within global capital relations, symbolizes for the American Freedom Party and others a shining example of the white capitalist class who is willing to challenge the new globalized multiethnic bourgeois. As Sakai points out, the third position’s anger toward globalization is primarily anti-bourgeois and working against the de-settlerization of capital, which resonates with Trump’s two-pronged proposal to both deport immigrants and abolish international trade relations. “The people who support Donald Trump go all the way from people who are annoyed by ‘press 1 for English’ to people like me who have a sophisticated understanding of race,” claims Taylor, “they’re all motivated basically by the same thing and that is the historical American nation being transformed and dispossessed.”

After Trump

What Hamerquist gets, and Sakai points this out as well, is that the contradictions of capitalism open up revolutionary potentials for both fascist movements as well as the revolutionary left. The emergence of pseudo-insurgent populist candidates on the Left and Right in the 2016 presidential election exhibits capitalism’s contradictions coming to a head in the American context. Third position politics of the American Freedom Party or the WCOC variety sees this and is watching the situation closely.

Sakai argues, however, that it is questionable whether or not fascism really can compete for the same people as the Left when it comes to organizing, as the fascist base is very differently classed than that of the revolutionary left. Something similar can be said when it comes to cross-political spectrum Trump supporters. Trump supporters’ median income is purportedly several thousands of dollars more than most Americans, parallel to Sakai’s claim that fascism’s base of supporters is not composed of the working class.  This should arouse suspicion toward the viability of fascist recruiting via Trump across the Left and Right; like Trump’s Sanders’ base is predominantly white, but in terms of class Sanders supporters are more varied and tend to be less wealthy. Second to economic issues, the Sanders to Trump converters interviewed by the Guardian voiced their discontent over Clinton and “corruption” as their second-most predominant concern. These voters are likely frustrated with the American democratic system, and not likely to be seduced by fascists attempting to capitalize on Trump’s appeal.

Nevertheless, Trump does appear to vindicate Hamerquist thesis of the Right, and fascism’s, transforming composition. Insofar as Trump’s campaign does exhibit fascist tendencies, he shows that like third position, he does not align with the Old Left’s understanding of fascism as a tool in the hands of the ruling class at a time of capitalism’s crisis. Trump’s so-called alienation of big business is capitalism run out of control of big capital, as Sakai argues; Trump seeks the retribution of the white lower middle classes for the injuries done to them by the increasingly multicultural bourgeois. Thus, with a Trump presidential victory seeming less and less likely, the Left should increasingly focus on what his failed campaign means for fascist organizing. The confluence between his points of view, restricted immigration and a disconcertion of globalized capital, and those of various neo-fascist groupings make the task of revolutionary left organizing that much more important in the months to come.


[1] Some of the most interesting perspectives in this debate on the far-left have drawn out over the course of the discussion between Matthew Lyons, on his blog Three Way Fight, and Alexander Reid Ross in his articles on Trumpism available on It’s Going Down.

[2] Hamerquist quotes the following from Hale, “What happened in Seattle is a precursor for the future—when White people in droves protest the actions of world Jewry not by ‘writing to congressmen’, ‘voting’, or other nonsense like that, but by taking to the streets and throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of the enemy’s machine.

I witnessed some of what happened in Seattle firsthand, for as chance would have it, I was in Seattle from December 2 until December 5 to meet with Racial Loyalists there and speak at the yearly Whidbey Island vigil honoring Robert J. Mathews. I witnessed some of the marches, and while there was certainly a fair amount of non-white trash involved in them, the vast majority were White people of good blood, who can be mobilized in the future for something besides their economic livelihood or environment; their continued biological existence.

It is from the likes of the White people who protested the WTO (and who in some cases, went to jail for illegal actions) that our World Church of the Creator must look to for our converts—not the stale ‘right wing’ which has failed miserably to put even one dent in the armor of the Jewish monster. Did the right wing hinder the WTO? No. They were too busy ‘writing their congressmen’—congressmen who were bought off a long time ago, or waiting for their ‘great white hope’ in shining armor who they can miraculously vote into office.

The reality, though, is that there is invariably a kosher U or K on that armor. How many defeats must they suffer before they realize that a change in tactics is advisable? No, it was the left wing, by and large, which stymied the WTO to the point where their meeting was practically worthless, and we should concentrate on these zealots, not the ‘meet, eat, and retreat’ crowd of the right wing who are so worried about ‘offending’ the enemy that all too often, they are a nice Trojan Horse for the enemy’s designs.”

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