This blog article is a study of Antifa, I purchased and read the Antifa Handbook with the sole purpose of understanding this confusing and complicated movement. There will be quotes take from this handbook.
“Antifa or anti-fascism is an illiberal politics of social revolutionism(sic) applied to fighting the Far Right, not only literal fascists.” “Despite the various shades of interpretation, antifa should not be understood as a single-issue movement. Instead, it is simply one of a number of manifestations of revolutionary socialist politics.” “…it is vital to understand anti-fascism as a solitary component of a larger legacy of resistance to white supremacy in all its forms.” “Of all recent social struggles, anti-fscism faces perhaps the most difficult road toward establishing itself as an extension of over a century of struggle against white supremacy, patriarchy, and authoritarianism.”
There is a dearth of ant-fascist literature, according to the author of the handbook this is the first book written on the subject in English and certainly the most comprehensive study. The reason why more studies haven’t been attempted is the supposed fear of the backlash from fascists and the police. According to the author, this book attempts to prioritize the immediate need to make available the insights and experiences of current and former anti-fascists from two continents.
“Europe and the United States have witnessed an alarming lurch to the right over recent years in response to the 2008 economic crisis, austerity measures, the strains of an increasingly post-industrial economy, cultural and demographic shifts…” After Trump became President in 2016 there was an increase in hate crimes by white supremacists. This is is listed as the reason Antifa came about. “…eradicating this reactionary hatred will require organizing on all fronts to project an alternative revolutionary vision, in the short term anti-fascists are among those most committed to weeding out racists, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes (sic).”
“…the Center for Democratic Renewal emerged out of the outrage following the acquittal of the Nazis and Klansmen who gunned down five Communist Workers’ Party members and injured ten more at a 1979 anti-Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.” Another group the Anti-Racist Action (ARA) group was initially formed in Minneapolis spread throughout the U.S. in response to racist activities. Their activities were listed as Education, through leaflets, Direct Action via spray paint, crow bars and bricks and Confrontation listed as open. Nice peaceful movement. The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee developed out militant resistance to white supremacist terror as epitomized by the Black Panther Movement and the Black Liberation Army.
The ARA became a victim of their own success, they were able to suppress according to anti-fascist groups suppress the Neo-Nazis and fascist groups in the U.S. from the early 2000’s to The election of President Trump, which saw a resurgence of white-supremacist activities. However Antifa saw a favorable climate in the Obama administration, and started organizing groups throughout the country. According to the newly formed Antifa and the ARA the “Trump campaign created a platform for the alt-right to mobilize white anger against feminism, Black Black Lives Matter, Muslims, and Latinos. His victory emboldened explicit and implicit white supremacy, energizing supremacy…”
To delegitimize President Trumps’ inauguration they engaged in targeted property destruction of corporate enterprises. They targeted a Starbucks, Bank of America and a McDonald’s restaurant. They also destroyed several ATMs and set a limousine on fire. Over 200 people were arrested and charged with felony riot, inciting to riot and conspiracy to riot, charges amounting to potential sentences of up to 75 years. “The mass arrest and excessive charges are clearly an effort to curb disruptive protests, and are in line with recently proposed legislation to criminalize blocking roadways….” Additional Inauguration day violence occurred when a black-clad anti-fascist punched a white-supremacist Richard Spencer in the face while he was giving a sidewalk interview.
“Since the establishment of ARA and its growth in the nineties, most American antifa have been anarchists or anti-authoritarian communists. Certainly, some have been Stalinists (sic) and other kinds of authoritarians who have supported the efforts of the Soviet Union and similar regimes to very narrowly delineate the range of acceptable speech. From that standpoint, free speech as such is merely a bourgeois fantasy unworthy of consideration.” Not all antifa members agree with this viewpoint some have different views on freedom of speech. They believe that freedom of speech is not simply a neutral ideology, it has ethical components as well. For example if the speech being made is pro fascist, it is the moral and ethical right of the anti-fascist to stop that speech by force if necessary.But who gets to decide what is a fascist ideal? By trying to protect the citizenry from fascism they are essentially impinging on their rights. Antifa doesn’t see it that way. Antifa also considers defacement of public monuments to be a form of free expression.
“…anti-authoritarians seek to abolish prisons, states, and the very notion of citizenship—-thereby eliminating this black hole of rightlessness (sic). They also aim to construct a classless, post-capitalist society that would eradicate significant discrepancies in our ability to make our speech meaningful amount of time that we have to do so. By not devoting resources to prisons, police, and the military, such a post-capitalist society would be able to put far more into supporting education, the arts, and collective expression and inquiry. While the creation of a classless society would eliminate the majority of crime stemming from capitalist antagonisms, antifa members argue that methods of restorative justice should replace police and prisons in addressing conflicts that still persist.”
According to Mark Bray there is a consistent pattern with antifa groups. When local fascist groups decline, so does the local antifa group. This has happened continually throughout the history of the anti-fascist movement. “While the liberal alternative to militant ant-fascism is to have faith in the power of rational discourse, the police, ad the institutions of government to prevent the ascension of a fascist regime.” According to Mark Bray this has failed several times in the last century, ie Italy and Germany in the 1930’s, which saw the rise of Fascism and Nazism respectively. Antifa is now the defacto protector against fascism.
While militant anti-fascist activities are the most visible aspects of the antifa movement, many antifa groups organize to fight all forms of oppression such as homophobia, capitalism, patriarchy and etc.
There are three main arguments that anti-fascists use to justify their use of violence. First they make a historical argument based on the accurate observation that governments have consistently failed to halt the rise of fascism. Given that fact the only answer is to halt that advance by force. Second they point to the many successful examples of militant anti-fascism shutting down or severely hampering far-right organizing since WWII. Third, fascist violence often necessitates self-defense. Basically shut down by any means necessary before it becomes a problem.
The under privileged in general “have the power to strike back at the racial hierarchy that underpins the very essence of whiteness. This does not mean adopting a conservative color-blind outlook, but rather targeting sources of white privilege and struggling in solidarity with the disinherited of the world. This does not mean exterminating people who are currently categorized as white, but abolishing the classificatory (sic) scheme that renders them so.”
“…as a modern identity forged through slavery and class rule, whiteness is indefensible. The only long-term solution to the fascist menace is to undermine its pillars of strength in society grounded not only in white supremacy but also in ableism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, nationalism, transphobia, class rule, and many others.
After reading this Handbook on Anti-fascism, I have come to some conclusions. First of all this is something that most people can agree on, true fascism is bad. If Hitler had won the second world war, this world would be a lot worse than it is now. So based on that premise ant-fascism should be a positive thing. However, antifa has taken it to a whole new level. They have gone to other side of the spectrum. There view of what society should be is totally unworkable. There is no incentive to produce anything of value. Who will produce the food for the people to eat. Millions of people starved in both Russia and in China, before they finally figured out how to fix their system. Even communism has some form of governmental structure. The society envisioned by antifa has none of that necessary structure. Society as we know it will end and will be replaced by anarchy, starvation and disease. Our country will resemble a post apocalyptic world. There will however, be freedom of speech as long as it doesn’t upset the powers at be.