Airbnb and the Power of Anti-Fascist Markets

Anti-fascism comes in all shapes and forms. Whether it be the ultra-patriotic types harking back to the legacy of WWII, the III% who put that Identity Evropa kid in a chokehold in Texas, the black bloc protester who punched out Richard Spencer, the antifa rioters who trashed Milo’s events, the programmers who are letting us kill virtual Nazis in the upcoming Wolfenstein and Call of Duty games, the political caucuses dedicated to stomping out fascist entryism in their party, the self-defense groups arming and training marginalized people to protect themselves and their communities, or the anarchist militias fighting ISIS overseas, they all play into the same understanding that fascism is inherently antithetical to freedom. Even if we can’t agree on what true freedom looks like, we at least know it’s not that, so we unite.

Preparing for the upcoming Unite the Right rally, Airbnb decided to take their own stand against fascism by canceling all accounts and reservations they could find associated with those attending or involved with the rally organized by white nationalist website The Daily Stormer. In their cancellation notices, they cite their Terms of Service which includes the Airbnb Community Commitment, the company’s personal non-discrimination policy which was established in 2016 to combat racism among Airbnb hosts. In conjunction with the Community Commitment policy, they also launched an ad campaign to raise awareness to the issue and make their stance clear.

Now Airbnb is by no means the perfect ally. They are a capitalist business model trying to bottle itself uneasily as part of the sharing economy and have come under criticism in the past for the racism of hosts using their platform, leading them to create the aforementioned Airbnb Community Commitment policy. While this doesn’t mean that bigotry won’t continue to be a problem within the sharing economy in general and Airbnb specifically — #AirbnbWhileBlack unfortunately won’t be going away anytime soon — these account removals and Airbnb’s other anti-discrimination practices do play a role in combating fascism and prejudice.

There is reason to believe that many of these rentals would have been used as meeting spaces for various hate groups, and, with more and more people choosing Airbnb over traditional hotels, these cancellations leave many fascists and their sympathizers scrambling to find alternative housing arrangements, hopefully leaving some to cancel their trips altogether. Cancelling fascist host accounts also takes away a revenue stream that could potentially be poured back into fascist organizing. Playing right into Airbnb’s hands, many fascists have called for a boycott of Airbnb, removing themselves from the platform and making it that much safer for the rest of us.

The Unite the Right rally includes fascitarian favorites Richard Spencer, whose attempt to attend the 2017 International Students for Liberty Conference ended with Muslims for Liberty spokesman, Will Coley, Jeffrey Tucker, and a whole crowd of fellow libertarians shouting him down and running him out of the hotel and led to the creation of the Libertarian Anti-Fascist Committee; Augustus Invictus, who recently fled the Florida Libertarian Party for the Republicans after receiving backlash from actual libertarians; and Chris Cantwell, who has also abandoned the libertarian movement in favor of an alliance with white nationalists. It is because of the tireless work of anti-fascist libertarians that these fascists have distanced themselves from the libertarian movement, making themselves known for what they really are. We must continue this trend both within the libertarian movement and the market as a whole.

We must continue to push companies to take these stands and make things safer for their customers and our communities. Whether it’s companies like Lyft donating money to the American Civil Liberties Union to fight against Trump’s travel bans or anti-fascist activists convincing hotels and other venues to cancel events that provide a platform for fascist speakers, we must make the market respond to our demands by creating a culture that doesn’t tolerate that kind of violent hatred and oppression. If you truly believe that the market can regulate itself through voluntary action then get out there and prove it.

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist