Publisher: AK Press
Released: April 13, 2021
“Burley’s meticulously observed, fluidly written collection is a must-read for anyone interested in the far-right’s evolution during the Trump era, and its opposition. A collection that delves into the howling abyss and emerges with aplomb.” —Talia Lavin, Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy
“Shane Burley’s on-the-scene observations about the toxic presence of the Alt Right and other forms of far-right extremism have always been filled with keen insights, informed deeply by the realities he has witnessed and experienced. That same wisdom is also extraordinarily prescient about the challenges we all face in dealing with these realities, which remain very much with us going forward well past the Trump years. These essays are essential reading.” —David Niewert, author of Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us
“Shane Burley’s work is invaluable to understanding fascism and the far-right in the U.S., as well as parsing the challenges facing the working class and political activists in our current moment. His reporting is thorough and imbued with critical nuance as well as deep compassion for the people whose stories he illuminates, and a principled commitment to the greater struggle for liberation. This collection of essays is a must for every radical bookshelf.” —Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue
These essays, many published here for the first time, cover the shifts in rhetoric and tactics of the Alt Right since their disastrous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, and the explosion of antifascist, antiracist, and revolutionary organizing that has risen to fight it. Burley unpacks the moment we live in, confronting the apocalyptic feelings brought on by nationalism, climate collapse, and the crisis of capitalism, but also delivering the clear message that a new world is possible through the struggles communities are leveraging today. Burley reminds us what we're fighting for not simply what we're fighting against.
Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker and author of Fascism Today: What It is and How to End It.
Natasha Lennard is the author of Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life.
More Praise for Why We Fight:
“No writer is more knowledgeable about the recent politics and culture of fascism and antifascism in the U.S. than Shane Burley. As a journalist, Burley has closely followed local and national struggles against white supremacy. As a theorist, he has helped us to situate the Alt Right and anti-fascism within broader conceptual dynamics. Finally the broad range of his work making sense out of this era of struggle has been gathered together in Why We Fight—an invaluable resource for fighting fascism and imagining a new world in the 21st century.” —Mark Bray, author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook
“Shane Burley writes with the expertise of a lifelong researcher and the clarity and nuance of a seasoned storyteller. The essays and dispatches in Why We Fight lay bare the history behind the propaganda fueling America’s far-right today, and shine a bright light on the people squaring up with white nationalists in the streets and fighting for a better future.” —Patrick Strickland, author of Alerta! Alerta! Snapshots of Europe’s Anti-Fascist Struggle
“Shane Burley has emerged as one of our most important political thinkers and researchers. His essays, often on the very front lines of struggle, easily transcend the political moments they were written in. He challenges his readers to think deeply about the roots of resurgent fascism but inspires them to refuse to cede anything including culture and joy to a jackbooted future. He is also a fantastic writer and you’ll find strains of some of the great newspaper columnists of yesteryear, like Breslin and Royko, here in this collection.” —James Tracy, coauthor of No Fascist USA!: The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today’s Movements
“Shane Burley was one of the very first to take the Alt Right seriously as the emerging new face of White Nationalism, and he has remained one of its closest watchers. This collection is a clear and concise history of its ups-and-downs under the Trump administration.” —Spencer Sunshine, researcher of far-right movements
“Shane Burley is a journalist and thinker for our time, a time challenged by fascists in the streets and in the White House. With this essential book, Burley reports on the eye of the storm, so that we may better understand it, stop it, and build a better world. He sheds a necessary light on a dark, toxic corner of American politics and culture, and reports on the hopeful organizing efforts to dismantle fascism today.” —Benjamin Dangl, author of The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia
“Shane Burley is one of our best chroniclers of the fascist resurgence today. More than simply why we fight, this book is essential for grasping what we are fighting and how. With a topographer’s precision, Burley charts the contours of the motley fascisms of the present, showing us why they must be crushed and the best weapons we have for doing so.” —George Ciccariello-Maher, author of Decolonizing Dialectics
“Shane Burley is a literal antifa ideologue.” —Andy Ngô
“The 21st century has brought, and will continue to bring, fresh political horrors for working people around the world. In the U.S., the decrepit dream of sustained neoliberal order has died, and we are now witnessing monstrous, reactionary forces emerging—from digital cellars to corporate board rooms and Fox News, from right-wing think tanks and militia groups to astroturfed Political Action Committees—to replace it. With a centrist political establishment that is either unwilling to fight for us or, more frequently, perfectly willing to capitulate to our illiberal enemies, we, the people, are on our own. It is for this reason that Shane Burley’s work is so vital and, frankly, indispensable right now. While mainstream media outlets devote all their energy and oxygen to hand wringing over 'civility' and drawing false equivalences between the 'political extremisms' on the left and the right, Burley has regularly put himself in harm’s way to bear witness to the fascist creep in America. With an inexhaustible commitment to the struggle for justice, compassion for working people, and care for his readers, Burley’s writing provides us with thoughtful but clear-eyed analysis of the forces we’re up against and with coverage of the many brave people and organizations who are fighting for what’s right.” —Maximilian Alvarez, host of Working People podcast
“From the streets of Charlottesville to the bleachers of Major League Soccer, Burley’s Why We Fight is a clear-sighted and utterly compelling collection of stories of fascist creep and organized resistance. Beyond its chronicling of the bumbling and violent rise of white-supremacist groups during the last few years, Burley’s most important lesson is this: Fascism will come for us all if we let it, but we are neither alone nor powerless to fight it. Read this book then give it to a friend and then organize.” —Vegas Tenold, author of Everything You Love Will Burn
“Shane Burley is one of the most important, thoughtful, and moral chroniclers of American fascism working today. The collected works in Why We Fight are invaluable, at once a vivid and accessible account of the origins and rise of the Alt Right, and an urgent call to antifascist action in the Trump era. Read this book.” —Christopher Matthias, Senior Reporter at Huffington Post
“Shane Burley is one of the premier researchers covering fascist and far-right resurgence and regroupment in the United States today. From explicating antisemitism and deconstructing the myth of the ‘lone wolf,’ to uncovering fascist self-help gurus and publishing houses, Burley helps the public to understand the contemporary far-right’s strategy and tactics. Rejecting the appeal of both accelerationism and passive waiting, Burley retains an active, radical hope for human liberation that meets the fascist threat squarely and does not compromise on its demands.” —Joan Braune, author of Erich Fromm’s Revolutionary Hope: Prophetic Messianism as a Critical Theory of the Future
“When history recounts this era, the work of Shane Burley is going to be among the required reading, and this book is why. He is one of the most important documentarians of these days and particularly those who have made them so dark. He also spotlights those that fight them and keep them from making this society worse. Burley provides a definitive guide towards making sure nothing like the Trump/Alt Right era ever happens again.” —Daryle Lamont Jenkins, One People’s Project
“Climate change and emboldened right-wing movements threaten to crack open the already deep fissures in our world into unprecedented chaos. Yet every crisis is an opportunity. In Why We Fight, Shane Burley steps into the breach. These essays help us understand the crises we face—their origins, their dangers, their weak points. Carrying on the torch of antifascist truth-tellers the world over, Why We Fight is a first-rate analysis of the present and a sobering reminder that we find hope in the struggle.” —Dan Berger, coeditor of Remaking Radicalism: A Grassroots Documentary Reader of the United States, 1973–2001
“An insightful observer of the US far right, as this accessible collection of essays demonstrates once again, Shane Burley’s analysis is always worth reading.” —Graham Macklin, Failed Führers: A History of Britain’s Extreme Right
“Often when you read collections of journalism, they suffer from the defects that key moments are missed, or big ideas are repeated from piece to piece. The whole is less than the parts. Unusually, Burley’s book is stronger than the individual pieces. He has plainly spent many hours choosing which pieces to select and rewriting them, making sure that they fit together. They range so widely, they cover such a large ground of strategic thinking—both on their side and ours—that what emerges is an important, clear and coherent account of America as the tear gas blew, a Ten Days That Shook The World for a new generation of anti-fascists.” David Renton, author of No Free Speech for Fascists